St Elmo’s Fire (1985) Film Review


What happens when college is over and you are in the real world, facing debt and joblessness, growing up, having to take responsibility for your life? In the current era, this is a question dealt with in Girls and the answer is: inappropriate sex and relationships, poor life choices and drugs and alcohol. What about the mid-eighties? Actually, it’s pretty much the same. But with bigger hair, and the ability to be a star playing saxophone in a college bar (and jeepers, playing the saxophone makes you sexy to all the chicks and really, really sweaty).

It was a classic tale with many members of the “brat pack” of the eighties: Emilio Estevez, Rob Lowe, Andrew McCarthy, Demi Moore, Judd Nelson and Ally Sheedy. Friends from college being forced to face their demons. And there is not a single character that I did not want to slap. For me, this doesn’t hold up at all… but I think that if I had loved it in the way I loved Young Guns and The Lost Boys, I would probably be ranting and raving about it here. I can see what people would love, I just can’t love it myself.


The Way (2010) Film Review



Give a film wide shots of beautiful landscape and it is hard to go wrong. The most marvellous thing about The Way for me was the inspiration to go to Spain, to walk El Camino de Santiago (the pilgrim’s walk) to laugh, to love, to eat, to drink, to live. It also had Martin Sheen, who I adore, playing Tom and also Emilio Estevez at his goofy, grinning best, as Tom’s son, Daniel. Emilio directed the film, and I can’t help thinking that that is the main reason that a big name like Sheen would be on such a small production.

The Way is a gentle film, exploring the journey of a grieving father as he travels the pilgrim’s walk in Spain.

It’s not an in-depth study. Several of the characters feel incomplete and superficial, lacking the depth of reality, although this did mean that when Estevez hit the mark, it was strong. Unfortunately, he didn’t quite hit the mark all that often. A lot of the poignant moments were veering far too close to cheesy to cause an emotional reaction.

Along Tom’s journey, he meets several characters who, against his and sometimes, their will, they end up travelling together. It had a bit of a Wizard of Oz feel, even to the point that the large Dutchman seemed quite lionish, and the spindly smoking Canadian had straw-like hair. At times, this seemed unlikely, and when they eventually get a night in a good hotel, the coming together of the group seemed forced and false. But despite the holes in the story and the under-developed characters, I quite liked this film.

See this if you have been to Spain, or if you’d like to. Enjoy the views. Be inspired. Gently.

Young Guns (1988) Film Review


John Tunstall, (Terence Stamp) takes in young men who are at risk of running astray and becoming trouble makers, and gives them a sense of self-worth. He teaches them to read and do good work, and instills in them a sense of right and wrong. It’s the Wild West, so morals are, at the best of times, dubious. Tunstall gets killed by the evil Lawrence G. Murphy (Jack Palance. Believe it, or not), and his young men go out avenge his death. They’ve been deputized, but this does not mean they can do anything. Amongst their number is Billy the Kid (Emilio Estevez) who is a loose cannon.

This was one of my favourite films as a teenager. Several of my friends and I must have watched this a hundred times. We knew all the lines, knew everything about the film. Then, a few years ago, a friend and I re-watched it, and I hated it so much. It was totally and utterly awful. I felt that my memory had let me down, and I felt sad. Then this same friend stumbled across it on television, watched it and all the old love was back. I gave it another go, and it was wonderful. I have no idea why we hated it for that brief moment.

I should be clear – I don’t think it is a great film. But for me, it was a film for that time of my life. I was a teenager and the film was full of handsome young men (Emilio Estevez, Kiefer Sutherland, Lou Diamond Phillips, Charlie Sheen). There was a bit of humour and a lot of action, both of which I still love in a film. I think had I been an adult watching it then, I’d have hated it; or perhaps I wouldn’t have been that harsh on it, but I wouldn’t have had the reckless love for it that only a teenage girl can have.