There was a time, way back in the early 90’s, when Vanilla Ice was a Thing. So much so that he was given his own movie, appropriately titled Cool as Ice. A loose remake of Marlon Brando vehicle The Wild One, the film stars Ice as Johnny, a free-spirited MC who rides around on his cool motorcycle along with his beat-supplying dance crew. One of their bikes breaks down in a small conservative town and they’re forced to stay a few days, shacking up with an old bike repair odd couple.
Smithereens is the debut feature of Susan Seidelman, who is beloved by me simply because she made Desperately Seeking Susan, a movie I watch really often. Her first film similarly explores a hip New York subculture, but this one focuses more on the fading punk scene of the early 80’s and the encroaching commercialism. This is a community that’s more style over substance, so self-centered they can’t see how lackluster their surrounding culture is. Susan Berman stars as Wren, a wannabe punk rocker who spends most of her time hanging around punk clubs and bars, trying to make connections with musicians.
Ok I have to preface this with saying that I did NOT know what I was in for with Rock ‘n’ Roll Nightmare, and it turned out that was a very good thing. So if you don’t want to know anything else, just be aware that this movie starts off as a seemingly cliche cheesy horror movie but then it has this magical ending. MAGICAL. The story is generally concerned with rockers Triton and their supportive ladies/wives, who all take refuge in a remote Canadian farmhouse to record their next album. But uh oh, turns out the house is haunted by a variety of demons, who can take the form of their victims and seem to be as hungry as they are sexually frustrated. Will the band make it through the recording session?
Is it that time of year again? WHY YES IT IS! Every year the Somerville Theatre hosts the 24-Hour Boston Science-Fiction Marathon, which in recent years has also expanded into a festival for new sci-fi films, and the marathon itself now includes a few of the festival picks. So it’s basically a lot of nerds young and old gathered together in a gorgeous and spacious theater, armed with pillows, blankets, laser blasters, and caffeine, yelling geeky jokes at the screen. This year (my fifth in a row!) I’m proud to report that I stayed up actually the entire time- usually I nod off during one or more movies, but I was honestly 100% awake for the whole event, which means I won.
Tracing the short-lived career of folk-rock singer Rodriguez and its strange aftermath, the film follows the impact of his music on the people of South Africa during Apartheid. Though virtually unknown in his United States home, there Rodriguez is more revered than Elvis Presley and his politically-charged songs are considered integral to the development of revolutionary opposition in the 70s and 80s. Long thought dead by a dramatic on-stage suicide, he is discovered alive and working in construction in Detroit decades after his only two records had been released, thanks to the efforts of diehard South African fans in the music business.