Something Wild

I went to work not feeling much like working.  I was getting discouraged at the way the summer was coming to an end.  I heard about the A’s trade with the Dodgers, giving up Josh Reddick and Rich Hill for three minor league pitchers.  I returned home and had my late lunch and fell asleep.  I watched “Something Wild” on Blu-ray.  The first half is like a screwball comedy.  The second half still feels to me like it runs too long.  There is some stalking and some threatening and round-the-clock driving.  I wondered how many hours it takes to drive from Virginia to New York City.  Melanie Griffith was Lulu, and I thought this was the best role of her career.  It was “Body Double” that convinced Jonathan Demme to put her in the cast, and she has a lot of life and spirit that comes across the screen.  Jeff Daniels was in “The Purple Rose of Cairo,” and he is also very good as Charlie.  I couldn’t quite agree with the view that not paying for your lunch makes you a closet rebel.  You are hurting somebody.  It felt like I was seeing a combination of “Desperately Seeking Susan” and “After Hours.”  Maybe there was also a bit of “Bringing Up Baby,” but instead of the animal being a leopard, it was Ray Liotta.  The most interesting moments we see of Charlie are when he is playing along with his role as Lulu’s husband, all the while oblivious to the threat that Ray is.  I took note that the band at the reunion played the songs “I’m a Believer,” “Before the Next Teardrop Falls,” and “Fame.”  There are some interesting side characters, like the guy who sells Charlie the shirt that says “Virginia is for lovers,” and the girl outside the church.  Demme caught Melanie Griffith at the right time.  She is funny and more enjoyable to watch than she was in “Working Girl.”  I don’t know what happened to her after I saw her in “Celebrity.”  John Sayles and John Waters made cameo appearances within a couple of minutes of each other in scenes that were supposed to be across the street from each other.  The screwball comedy or romantic comedy part of the movie doesn’t come to an end before the threatening, scary part hits us.  The audiences of 1986 probably rejected the movie because it was too unusual with the radical change in tone.  The complaint that I have is that the movie slows down during the second half.  The whole stakeout bit in the car isn’t so intriguing.  I kept wondering what happened to Irene.  Kevin Kline was a primary choice for the role of Charlie.  Perhaps he would have done a better job, in fact.  Some of the scenes with Lulu and Charlie were funny because Lulu took charge.  I don’t see those scenes playing out the same way with Kevin Kline.  He’s capable of being wild and crazy himself, and so he wouldn’t have been much of a contrast with Lulu, and thus he would have been less funny.  I kind of miss this world of the 1980s, without cell phones.  I kept thinking how Ray drove around so easily and found Charlie’s house without any problem without any help from Siri.  The disc had a special feature with Jonathan Demme helpfully talking about the making of the picture.  He was down in the dumps after a bad experience making “Swing Shift.”  He had the right script, and he put together a good cast.  Even with its flaws, this was in my mind Jonathan Demme’s best film.  He would go on to direct “Married to the Mob” and “The Silence of the Lambs.”  One of the late shots in the movie makes it look like Jeff Daniels is going to get run over by a bus.  It’s sad to think of Melanie Griffith now after her bad plastic surgery.  I didn’t see her in “Hawaii Five-O.”  Ray Liota would go on to make a classic movie with Martin Scorsese.  I don’t know if the younger generation knows Jeff Daniels for anything other than the Dumb and Dumber movies.  The high definition disc was not noticeably better than the DVD edition, although it has been a while since I saw it on DVD.  I would put “Something Wild” on a list of my favorite films of the 1980s.  I saw Bette Davis on the Merv Griffin Show.  She and Watler Pidgeon smoked too much.  I was rather amazed that they were smoking at all on a television show.  I also saw Alfred Hitchcock on The Dick Cavett Show.  He talked about a special effect from “Foreign Correspondent.”  He was promoting his new film at the time, “Frenzy.”  He seemed to have quite a bit of life left in him, so it is somewhat surprising that he would make only one more film, which was “Family Plot.”  Hitchcock again singled out “Shadow of a Doubt” as a personal favorite.  I saw Simon Helberg on the Stephen Colbert show.  He was there to promote “Florence Foster Jenkins.”  I wasn’t eager to sit through another season of The Big Bang Theory.  Some of the people who died on August 1 include Enrico Caruso (1921), Alexander Graham Bell (1922), Warren G. Harding (1923), Pietro Mascagni (1945), Fritz Lang (1976), Raymond Carver (1988), William S. Burroughs (1997), Shari Lewis (1998), and Cilla Black (2015).  Today is a birthday for Mary-Louise Parker (52), Apollonia Kotero (57), Joanna Cassidy (71), and Isabel Allende (73).

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