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Arts & Culture

Midnight Madness Bradness Movie Series

Okay, personally I have always had a problem with John Hughes and I think it stems back to

The Breakfast Club. The film's about a group of kids condemned to a Saturday morning detention at a Chicago school. There's the a school jock (Emilio Estevez), a rebel (Judd Nelson), a brain (Anthony Michael Hall), a beauty (Molly Ringwald) and a shy girl (Ally Sheedy). Sheedy's character was a delight. A kind of pre-goth chick with quiet, lethal attitude. She dressed in black, covered her face most of the time and when she did talk it was to spew some sarcastic comment. So how does Hughes reward this character's cleverness? He has Ringwald's character give her a makover so that Sheedy emerges with her face freshly scrubbed and wearing a pretty pink (am I remembering that right?) bow in her hair. YUCK! Anyway, I've never been able to forgive John Hughes for that. He teases with rebellion but in the end opts out for conformity. But go see this because it established the Brat Pack.

Next up is Flight of the Navigator. Twelve - year-old David Freeman (Joey Cramer) disappears on a futuristic spaceship only to return eight years later to find he hasn't aged but everything else has.


First rule of fight club... don't talk about fight club (20th Century Fox)

On September 29, there is the perennial midnight favorite, David Fincher's Fight Club. The film reteams Fincher and Brad Pitt, the director and star of Seven . As with Seven, Fight Club is a disturbing and subversive look at America.

In the film, Edward Norton plays Jack, a young man whos fed up with his life and job. He tells himself, you are not your job, you are not how much you have in the bank. But he doesnt believe it. He concludes that this is your life and its ending one minute at a time. He finds a measure of relief from his insipid existence by becoming a self help junkie signing up for workshops on everything from testicular cancer to tuberculosis. Then he meets the charismatic Tyler Durden (Brad Pitt) and everything changes. Tyler tells him that the things you own end up owning you and its only after youve lost everything that youre free to do anything. And what they choose to do is fight each other and the rush they get from this bloodletting soon attracts a following and Fight Club is born. But things quickly spiral out of control and Jack finds himself in a nightmare from which he cant wake.

Fincher is the perfect director for this descent into hell. He has a knack for creating a relentlessly dark visual style that sucks you in. He takes you places you dont want to go yet cant resist visiting. Like David Cronenberg, Fincher has no interest in comfortable cinema. He wants his audience to squirm. Even when the film is funny--which it frequently is in the early goings--its disturbingly funny.

In the past, though, Finchers one big problem has been coming up with satisfying endings to his unnerving films. And unfortunately, Fight Club continues this tradition. The film works well as a disturbing comic nightmare about the growing emasculation of the American male and the first half bristles with savage humor and visual ingenuity. But when Tyler begins turning his fight club groupies into a militia of anarchists, the film looses its edge and its dynamism. And like Finchers The Game, Fight Club ends with a less than satisfying twist.


Pitt deserves credit for not only taking on a non-glamor role but also for taking on a film that challenges mainstream conventions. He charms and unnerves as Tyler. Norton, whos lost the menacing stare and buffed up bod from American History X , makes Jack a stooped shouldered drone who rebels in a most unexpected manner.

On October 6, Pee Wee (a.k.a. Paul Reubens) heads out for Pee Wee's Big Adventure . The adventure centers around Pee Wee's beloved red bicycle. When the bike's stolen, an epic search begins. Shades of the Italian neo-realist classic, The Bicycle Thief... no really. On his journey, Pee-Wee encounters waitresses, escaped convicts, truck stops, and more. Tim Burton directs this mad adventure with whimsy and inspiration. The film is an explosion of color and audacious imagery. Toto, we're not in Kansas any more.

Jim Henson's Labyrinth plays on October 13. The film was produced by George Lucas, written by Monty Python's Terry Jones and stars David Bowie. That combo alone should entice you to this fantasy adventure. Teenage Sarah (the beautiful Jennifer Connelly) makes a terrible wishthat her baby brother (Toby Froud) would be taken by goblins. Much to her surprise and dismay, the wish comes true. Jareth the Goblin King (David Bowie) whisks the boy off and now Sarah must rescue him by breaking into the Goblin castle. Fun and visually appealing.

Another 80s teen standby screens on October 20, Karate Kid. Daniel (Ralph Macchio) is not making the transition from the east coast to the west with much success. He keeps getting beat up (and rather brutally too for what's essentially a teen comedy) and needs a way to fight back. Enter Arnold... umm I mean Mr. Miyagi ( Happy Days' Pat Morita). Mr. Miyagi is the super at Daniel's apartment and just happens to also be a grand master of karate. Mr. Miyagi takes Daniel under his wing and teaches him both karate and discipline. This is Rocky for the teen set.

Now for something warm and fuzzy, sort of. On October 27 you can enjoy Joe Dante's Gremlins. Rand (Hoyt Axton) is looking for a little something to bring home to his son Billy (Zach Galligan), and he settles on a cute little pet from a Chinatown shop. But there are three simple rules to follow: don't get him wet, keep him out of bright lights and never, ever feed him after midnight. Of course the rules aren't followed. And cute little Gizmo (the name Billy gives to his "Mogwai") ends up being the cause of chaos and terror in Billy's small town. The movie serves up a head-on collision between Norman Rockwell's Americana and the horror of an alien invasion. The film is sly, funny and out of control.

And speaking of out of control, Mel Brooks goes on a rampage as he sends up the whole Star Wars universe in Spaceballs (November 3) . So instead of Darth Vader, Princess Leia, Luke and Han we get King Roland of Druidia trying to marry off his daughter Princess Vespa to Prince Valium, only to have her kidnapped. So who does he call on for help? Lone Starr (Bill Pullman), a roguish mercenary, and his sidekick Barf (John Candy). The film will have a new animated series based on it coming out this year. So may the farce continue to be with you.

Inconceivable! Princess Bride back on the big screen (20th Century Fox)

The midnight madness ends with two of my personal favorites: The Princess Bride (November 10) and A Christmas Story (November 17). A Princess Bride is an irresistible charmer. If you can't warm up to this film, you're either dead or undead. The fairy tale romance is framed by a story involving a grandfather (Peter Falk at his endearing best) trying to cheer up his sick grandson ( The Wonder Years' Fred Savage). The boy objects to a tale involving kissing but will admit to passing interest if there are fights. So Grandpa begins to spin his tale of Buttercup (the lovely Robin Wright) and her Westley (a dashing Cary Elwes). Get ready for Mandy Patinkin's swashbuckling pirate, Christopher Guest's smarmy count, Chris Sarandon's repulsive prince, and Wallace Shawn's "inconceivable" traitor. Rob Reiner directs with a mix of affection for the fairy tale genre and a hip sense of how silly it all is. This one is an absolute delight.

And finally the film adaptation of Jean Shepherd's A Christmas Story. This is a tale of obsession. Nine-year-old Ralphie (Peter Billingsley) wants one thing for Christmas: a Red Ryder Carbine Action 200-Shot Range Model Air Rifle BB Gun. That's it. But it's 1940s Indiana and his mom keeps warning that he can't have it because he'll shoot his eye out. But obsessions have to be dealt with and this film delivers a holiday classic that even I can embrace. Chief among the pleasures is Darren McGavin's performance as Ralphie's put upon father. Directed by Bob Clark, the film is nostalgic without being sappy, and it maintains a smart and warmly appealing sense of humor throughout. So celebrate Christmas a little early with this one.

So if you are one of the midnight maniacs who like watching movies into the pre-dawn hours, then there should be plenty for you to choose from in this eighth installment of the Midnight Madness/Bradness Film Series.

I'd also like to mention the cool folks co-sponsoring the series' weekly trivia contest: Citizen Video , ComicKaze , Mysterious Galaxy and .

Purchase tickets at Landmark's site . -----