Summer of '42 is the epitome of nostalgia. The film was written by Herman Raucher, whose character, Hermie is based on. The film was made first, but Raucher was asked by the studio to write a novel version of the screenplay to release before the movie to build anticipation. It worked, the novel was a bestseller and the movie was a huge hit. Raucher was able to secure 10% rights to the movie, plus royalties for the book, which paid him millions. Summer of '42 is a gentle, agreeable movie about a young man's recollection of his summer of 1942 on the island of Nantucket, long before every square inch of the island was built up by people. Hermie, a 14 year-old boy, has 2 friends on the island. His interactions with them are realistic, as the boys are immature, emotional and restless. They talk about girls, and attempt to meet them at the movies and "make out" with them. Hermie sees an older woman who is seeing her husband off to war on a ship. Hermie ultimately befriends the woman, carrying her groceries home and offering to help her at her cottage. Their interactions are meant to be awkward, with Hermie attempting to act more mature than he really is. When Hermie visits the woman, Dorothy, at her home one evening, he discovers her husband has been killed at war and finds Dorothy drinking, smoking and weeping. He says only "I'm sorry," and they embrace, dance and cry together in a deeply moving and sincere scene. Dorothy takes Hermie to her room, and they disrobe. We are left to believe they make love, with Hermie later following Dorothy to the porch. She says only, "Good night, Hermie." He leaves, returning the following day to find only a note from Dorothy. She says she must go, there is much she must do. She hopes he will find a proper way to remember their night together, and that he be spared "all senseless tragedy." The movie is at its best with several speechless, quiet scenes featuring a beautiful score and a idyllic seaside backdrop. Summer of '42 might feel too light and subtle for some viewers, like a pleasant made-for-tv drama. But the story is well-written, and the actors succeed at giving life to their characters. They feel like fairly real people, and they make the film believable. Summer of '42 is a favorite of mine and an underrated, almost forgotten gem.
In my opinion, this may be the most overrated, unfairly praised film ever made. I loved Jordan Peele's first film, Get Out. That movie was well-paced, well-written, and had great poise and a wonderful message. The execution was nearly perfect too. By comparison, it is baffling how bad this movie really is. The first 30-40 minutes are simply boring and fail to generate any meaningful background or suspense. Yes, we KNOW something bad is going to happen. But really nothing the family does with their bickering and weird interactions adds to this film. However, the opening 5 minutes on the boardwalk and in the house of mirrors at the beach are promising, and I was very interested. But after that, the main character is not well-defined. The family simply complains and acts strange until the night their evil twins arrive. I lost interest soon after, with the movie quickly turning into torture porn, like that movie Funny Games (another unpleasant mess). Many people acted strangely or suspiciously or awkwardly in Get Out, but we ultimately learn WHY they are acting that way. The plot unfolds and makes sense. Some critics even noted how "confusing" this movie is, while at the same time, "something important seems to be going on." Huh? So, if the movie is too confusing and incoherent, surely "something" smart must be happening, because it's Jordan Peele! That's what I feel happened here with the 94% RT score. So many people gave Peele partial credit simply for trying something else on the heels of Get Out. But this movie doesn't deserve any of the credit that Get Out did, and I am skeptical that Peele can pull off another hit like Get Out after seeing this and his Twilight Zone offerings, which I feel are pretty bad.
WarGames is just a fun, tense, well-paced thriller and slice of early 1980's cold war Americana. Really well cast, with super likeable young stars Matthew Broderick and Ally Sheedy, matched up against always perfectly smarmy Dabney Coleman with a dash of Barry Corbin's military moxie. This movie belongs in a time capsule of 1980's classics. The music is well done, the supporting cast is terrific. It even feels somewhat plausible that a young, gifted underachiever could accidentally hack into the U.S. military computer to play a fantasy wargame, and instead almost start world war III. Nothing was more terrifying at that time than the prospect of WW3. This is simply an underrated, enjoyable thriller that helped launch both Broderick and Sheedy, and is better than several other cold war thrillers of that era. I never get tired of watching Broderick outsmart federal officials with his ingenuity.
Some movies feel small, almost forgettable, yet authentic and well-made. Tex is a movie that feels real. It's not profound or self-important. It's about a 15 year old kid in Oklahoma trying to find his way in the world, as he struggles with poverty, puberty and growing up. The movie is based on a book by young author S.E. Hinton, and she somehow hits the nail right on the head again with a portrait of dusty, rural youth and the normal stuff most of us go through. Tex is poor, his mother having died when he was 3 and his father being absent or irresponsible. He is raised mostly by his much more mature older brother, Mason. Their relationship, and the pain Tex goes through when Mason sells his horse, feels real. Of course, no one knew at the time that this cast (Dillon, Estevez and Tilly) would all become young stars. Even Metzler, who plays Mason, earned a Golden Globe nomination for his role. The acting is solid, the backdrop feels authentic and vast. Heartbreak, first love, hitchhiking tragedy, and drug deals gone bad are all featured. A lot happens to Tex in this movie, but Matt Dillon handles it with aplomb. Just a solid character study of poor kids in OK dealing with not fitting in, trying to survive and the challenges of growing up.