Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Throwback to innocence

I accidentally caught 1988's Bright Lights, Big City last nite on the telly. Since I watch virtually no TV the only reason I had the tube on was to accompany me while I repainted some furniture. I usually refuse to watch television movies on private networks because they're interrupted by interminable commercial breaks. Hamilton's CHCH-TV has commercial breaks but they last only two or three minutes making watching a movie a hell of a lot easier... I can't remember if I saw this film before. I remember reading Jay McInerney's novel. (He wrote the screenplay to this too and James Bridges (deceased) directed.) It certainly is a novel of its times - capturing that Manhattan world of glitzy Eighties fashion, drugs and rock music....At the time, the novel seemed so cutting edge and risque, depicting that semi-dangerous world of cocaine-sniffing Yuppies living on the edge to the nightclub sounds of Bryan Ferry and Depeche Mode. But watching it from the vantage of 2010 it almost looks innocent, like watching a movie from the 1950s....For starters, there is the way everyone is dressed. The Eighties must have been fashion's last gasp. In virtually every scene these avant-gardists are dressed-up! Michael J. Fox's Jamie Conway and Kiefer Sutherland's Ted Allagash are wearing ties. Virtually every other man in the movie is in a suit. The women universally are very femininely-dressed - in actual dresses and silky blouses. At house parties, of all places, women and men are dressed to the nines, like at what would be considered a formal function today (ha). Are the Eighties the new Fifties, with attitude?... Even the bad boys of this movie - Fox and Sutherland's characters - seem clean cut, almost innocent-looking, by today's standards. Today's world, by contrast, seems so much more degraded, from graffiti-strewn buildings to tattoo-strewn arms to more debased ways of speaking and an all-too-knowing-and-cynical culture....The Eighties, innocent? Who wouldof thunk?

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