Working Girl

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I didn’t watch Working Girl until I was in my early 20’s.  It is one of those films that is shown late at night a couple of times a year, so one evening, I was bored and decided to give it a chance.  I’m glad I did because I love it.

Directed by Mike Nichols and released in 1988, I don’t think things have changed all that dramatically for women in the workplace since then.  This film will resonate for many women in business and secretaries/PA’s who were better than their job.

Tess McGill (Melanie Griffith) is a secretary from Staten Island who wants more out of life and wants to be taken seriously by her idiot male colleagues.  She has a degree in business, which she achieved through attending night school.  Her boyfriend, Mick (Alec Baldwin), doesn’t understand why Tess wants more out of life and wants her to settle down with him.

Tess and Katherine

Tess keeps being promised an executive position, but it never happens.  After getting her own back on her colleagues for another stupid prank they’ve played on her (involving the amazing Kevin Spacey as a slimeball), Tess is moved to another department to work for a new female executive, Katherine Parker, played to bitchy perfection by the wonderful Sigourney Weaver.  At first, Tess is encouraged by working for a female boss, but it turns out Katherine is no better than her old colleagues.  She just patronises Tess in a passive aggressive manner.

Jack and Tess

Disheartened, one morning on the Staten Island ferry, Tess has a brainwave for an important client, Trask, to make an investment in radio, but knowing nobody will take her seriously, she takes matters in her own hands.  Whilst Katherine is out of the country because of a skiing accident, Tess wangles her way into an important party, by using Katherine’s name, so she can meet executive Jack Trainer (Harrison Ford at his most charming).

Jack Trainer: “You’re the first woman I’ve seen at one of these things that dresses like a woman, not like a woman thinks a man would dress if he was a woman.”

Jack likes Tess’s pitch and says he will back her.  Whilst they work on their pitch to Trask, Tess and Jack fall for each other, but Jack just happens to be Katherine’s boyfriend and Katherine returns from Europe…..

Without spoiling any more of the plot, I hope I have told you enough to make you want to watch the film.  I haven’t seen Melanie Griffith in anything else, but she is fantastic in this.  She portrays Tess as sharp, witty, likeable and just the right side of cute.  The supporting cast are great, including Joan Cusack as Tess’s best friend, Cynthia, who has the brilliant line to Jack “can I get you anything? coffee, tea, me?” and Philip Bosco as Mr Trask.  The ending of the movie leaves you grinning and I love the song “Let the River Run”, which won Carly Simon an Oscar.  Just watching this film for the 80’s hair and fashion is a must.  Enjoy!

Tess McGill: “You bend the rules plenty once you get to the top, but not while you’re trying to get there.  And, if you’re someone like me, you can’t get there without bending the rules.”

Images: IMDb

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Blade Runner

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Blade Runner.  My husband’s favourite film ever.  No pressure there then.  I was a bit ‘meh’ about watching this when I first met my husband back in 2001, but I am so glad I did.  This is cinematic art.

Directed by Ridley Scott, Blade Runner is based on the novel by Philip K Dick, ‘Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?’.  Released in 1982 the film performed disappointingly at the box office.  That Summer was dominated by Spielberg’s E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial.  Many popular films have started this way; Austin Powers and The Bourne Identity by example.  After home viewing and word of mouth, along with Blade Runner’s re-release in 1992, the film achieved cult status.

Set in 2019 (which must have felt very far off back in 1982), in a dystopian LA, the androids, called replicants, are organic engineered robots, created by the Tyrell Corporation, who look like humans.  Their function is for work or pleasure, on other planets (colonies).  They are banned from Earth.  Any replicants who return to Earth are hunted down and ‘retired’ by blade runners.  Replicants also have an ‘expiry’ date.

Harrison Ford plays Deckard, an ex-blade runner who is asked to retire a group of four very dangerous replicants (Pris, Leon and Zhora) led by Roy Batty (played by Rutger Hauer).  Sean Young plays a replicant called Rachael who works for the Tyrell Corporation.  Her gorgeous wardrobe/look is 40’s in style and she is reminiscent of screen sirens such as Hedy Lamarr.  It’s her character that makes Deckard (along with Roy later) question what he does.

If you love sci-fi, this film is for you.  If you love design and amazing cinematography, this film is for you.  It has all this in spades.  Visually, this future world, although dark and almost permanently raining, is stunningly beautiful in it’s sci-fi noir theme.  Ridley Scott’s films have a very distinct style and this is no exception.

I will leave you with a quote from the most famous scene, improvised by Rutger Hauer, which is Roy’s speech to Deckard:

“I’ve seen things you people wouldn’t believe.  Attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion.  I watched C-beams glitter in the dark near the Tannhauser gate.  All those moments will be lost in time…like tears in the rain…”

Trivia:

When Pris (Daryl Hannah) runs away from JL Sebastian and skids into his car, breaking the window with her elbow, it was a genuine accident and it was real glass

The first cut of Blade Runner was 4 hours

Harrison Ford and Ridley Scott had a disagreement/falling out for years over the Director’s Cut, which implied that Deckard was a replicant

This is Rutger Hauer’s favourite of his own films

Martin Scorsese met Philip K Dick in 1969 to discuss a film adaptation, but it fell through

All these fantastic images courtesy of IMDb

So, why start a blog on films?

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For myself.  I have always loved films.  

For other women.  Women are often patronised when it comes to films.  We are often told we are only meant to like chick flicks when many of us actually love a variety, if not all genres of film.  

For anybody that loves films.  

Lastly, for my eldest son.  He is only 5, but already I see so much of myself in him.  He already has a love for films.  He is a sensitive, imaginative little dreamer.  Dreamers are often told to wake up, but I want to nourish that side of him.  Without dreamers, we would have no movie industry, or indeed other art forms.  I love the following quote from one of my favourite directors, Tim Burton:

“Certain things leave you in your life and certain things stay with you.  And that’s why we’re all interested in movies – those ones that make you feel, you still think about.  Because it gave you such an emotional response, it’s actually part of your emotional make-up, in a way.”

I have never forgotten the first film I saw that got me thinking, I love this, I would love to be a part of this, I love films.

I was 6 years old.  It was the early 80’s.  My family were visiting our relatives just outside Berlin and my older cousins had to entertain me (my brothers were 4 and 2, so with my parents) one afternoon.  They took me to the cinema.

Their local cinema was a beautiful art-deco building, which was wonderfully old-fashioned in every respect, complete with ushers.  The event started with a couple of old black and white serials, Flash Gordon and the Lone Ranger.  After a rest break (love that) it was time for the main feature.  The lights dimmed and a respectful silence fell (no mobile phones then) with a hushed sense of excitement filling the room.

From the start, with that opening scene, where we don’t see our hero’s face until several minutes into the movie, I was hooked.  The film?  Raiders of the Lost Ark.

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The music, courtesy of the legendary John Williams, the cinematography, the pace, the banter between Indy and Marion….perfect popcorn pitch and tone.  Yes, at 6, I was probably too young for such a film.  Clearly, back then people didn’t worry quite so much about stuff.  However, I didn’t understand bits of it and it wasn’t until I watched it again when I was 9 or so that I thought, oh, that’s a bit scary.  The bit I took away with me was the opening scene.

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I can almost (hmm, almost) forgive George Lucas for those three films because he created Indiana Jones.  He wrote it because of those old black and white adventure serials he watched as a boy that used to be standard in all cinemas before the main film.  Therefore, it was fitting that my first viewing of Indiana Jones was in the same setting.

Film Facts:

Indiana Jones was actually Indiana Smith when Lucas first wrote the script

The film was made with an $18 million budget and grossed $384 million, worldwide

Tom Selleck was wanted for the role of Indy, but could not commit because of his contract playing Magnum PI

In Empire magazine’s list of the best 500 movies of all time, Raiders came 2nd after The Godfather (another favourite of mine)