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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LA Confidential

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“Come to Los Angeles! The sun shines bright, the beaches are wide and inviting, and the orange groves stretch as far as the eye can see. There are jobs aplenty, and land is cheap. Every working man can have his own house, and inside every house, a happy, all-American family. You can have all this, and who knows… you could even be discovered, become a movie star… or at least see one. Life is good in Los Angeles… it’s paradise on Earth.” Ha ha ha ha. That’s what they tell you, anyway.” Sid Hudgens – LA Confidential

LA Confidential was a story written by author James Ellroy in 1990 and it was adapted into a movie in 1997.  I was late to the party in watching the film.  I don’t think I saw it until a few years ago, but wow, it is a film worth waiting for.

I knew the synopsis of the story and was fairly neutral on my thoughts towards the film, which is,sometimes, the best way to be.

LA Confidential is film noir in style and tone.  The plot, without ruining it for newbies, revolves around a homicide in a diner, which is not as cut and dried as it first appears and leads to the seedy underbelly of LA.  It is not pretentious, it does not need to try and be clever….it is clever.

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The costumes, set designs, music and locations are perfect, the plot is gripping, but it’s the cast that pulls this film together.  Guy Pearce, Kevin Spacey and Russell Crowe are not playing quintessential heroes, in fact they are pretty unlikeable characters, on the face of things, but you end up rooting for them.  There is a buzz/chemistry, call it what you will, that is bouncing off the cast. Everyone is at the top of their game.

Kim Basinger won the Best Supporting Actress Oscar for this movie and quite rightly so.  Her understated portrayal of Lynn Bracken, a woman who has seen her LA dreams of acting take a different career path, gives the film it’s emotional centre.

Unsinkable?

Russell Crowe’s career flew to a whole new stratospheric level on the basis of his turn as rough cop with a heart, Bud White, rightly so.  Guy Pearce, as Ed Exley, trying so hard to climb the career ladder that he pisses everybody off.  Kevin Spacey as Detective Jack Vincennes, smooth, friends with everybody, but underhanded and sneaky.

In short, if you love a good thriller, you need to watch this movie.  LA Confidential is in my top ten movies.  It is Hollywood at it’s best.

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LA Confidential Trivia:

Many of the events in the film were in fact based on real life events

Russell Crowe got the part of Bud White on the strength of his performance in Romper Stomper

Kevin Spacey’s character, Jack Vincennes, was based loosely on Dean Martin

The Director, Curtis Hanson, said that Kim Basinger was the first and only choice for the role of Lynn Bracken

Images: IMDb