Tuesday, June 10, 2014

stand by me [1986]

i was a stephen king nut in the mid-80s.  i even tried my hand at writing short horror fiction.  i was a kid.  i didn't know any better.  most of that fiction is i think mercifully lost.  at any rate, this is a pretty good flick and maybe the only non-spooktacular movie ever created from king's oeuvre.  the source story, 'the body', is a pretty good read too.

what had me scratching my head when we ordered this movie via on-demand thru our roku saturday night was how long we've been able to watch movies in our homes.  see, i first saw this pic on VHS tape played on a VCR and rented from a mom&pop video.  lemme tell you kiddies how wonderful it was to watch uncut movies in your home at any time.  the mom&pop video store was a magical place that smelled of popcorn.  the store usually had some sort of hollywood style lighting and a TV showing the newest feature.  i logged many many hours in our store called The Jazz Bird.  i remember the small crush i had on the girl working behind the counter.  she was a fashionable thing dressed in the latest guess jeans and esprit sweaters.  her perfume was outta this world.  i never learned her name.  pity.

but i quickly got over that crush.  that's what happens in life, right.  so this movie starring the late and very great river phoenix, wil wheaton and corey feldman and directed by rob reiner is about three boys who go on an adventure to find the body of a boy who disappeared in the woods a few days before and was struck by a train.  heavy on the nostalgia as the pic is peppered with songs and quotes from late 1950s rock&roll and TV shows.  yet it works.  the nostalgia is leavened by a pungent sadness.  the facts of aging and the visceral immediacy of death keeps the treacle of fond memory at a minimum.

but what exactly is wrong with sentiment and nostalgia anyway?  for these are engines that move this movie.  even better phoenix is such a gifted actor -- oh how i miss him! -- that he makes nearly anything he was in shine brighter.  the casting is perfect, the direction is solid, the editing couldn't be better and the photography is a bit on the lush side but that works too since most of this movie takes place in the woods of oregon.  i think richard dreyfus, who narrates the movie as a grown-up wheaton said it was oregon but the town is called castlerock, a frequent burg in the fine state of maine used in many of king's tales.

nick enjoyed the flick.  so did i and anna too.  i think she told me to hush up when i was reciting dialog as it happened onscreen.  i've seen this movie so many times over these three decades i nearly have it memorized.  oh, another delight is the small role of wheaton's recently deceased older brother played by the always terrific john cusack.  


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