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August 25, 2009


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Thanks for the great link, and thanks to Matt and Aaron for the great film-- I can't wait to see future installments!

Aaron Aradillas

Part 2 is already up. It just gets darker and darker from here on out.


Very interesting. I can't wait to see how it gets darker from part 2.


I'm really looking forward to the rest of this series. I was 9 years old in 84. An average afternoon at that age frequently involved playing Star Wars or Matchbox or whatever for a while and then retiring to someone's rumpus room to watch a video. The video would be whatever we could manage to afford that month or something taped off that one kid's HBO subscription/ the Sunday Night Movie. So we'd watch "Superman II" pretty much every day for a month. And then "Empire Strikes Back" for a month. And then "Gremlins" and "Ghostbusters" and "Temple of Doom" and so on. The result being that I'll be able to mentally frame by frame these films til I'm on my death bed (the bed that eats!!) but haven't ever really stopped to examine them the way I would an Ozu or Tarkovsky. Watching that video brought me back to reading Thomas Disch's "The Dreams Our Stuff is Made Of" and examining the underlying ideas of all the science fiction paperbacks I was devouring during this same period.

I'd write more but I have to go watch "Streets of Fire" now. I'm very much not kidding. Look- I know the film is... less than perfect but you can feel Hill's love for it in every frame. Also: Diane Lane.

Account Deleted

Great work Aaron. As a 10 year old in 1984 i'm getting a huge kick out of this.

Interesting comment about Temple of Doom being the progenitor of the 'too much stuff' blockbuster, I hadn't really looked at it that way before. I still feel Doom was the last blockbuster that Spielberg was 100% invested in, compare the energy and love of cinema evident in Doom to the slightly embarrassed air that permeates Last Crusade. You can almost see Spielberg moping around on set wondering why Empire of the Sun tanked.

I'm hoping The Abyss gets some coverage in the 1989 section, i'm always at a loss as to why this wonderful film is ignored. Michael Bay has spent his entire career remaking that film on dry land.



Aaron Aradillas

@otherbill: I've never read Disch's "The Dreams Our Stuff Is Made Of," but you have me interested. Much the way Glenn and his generation of critics were shaped by the New Hollywood, I feel our generation--the Internetters as one critic labels us--was shaped by the second half of the 1980s. With Matt's brilliant editing, I'm just trying to make sense of it all. I mean, what does it say that both Temple of Doom and Do the Right Thing take up equal space in our minds?

@markj: I think you'll be happy with the 1989 section of the series.

And, yes, Streets of Fire is genius. Any film that features The Blasters AND Willem Dafoe is aces in my book.


STREETS OF FIRE is awful. But I see what Hill was going for and wish he would have ignored the MTV esthetics that failed to sell the film. SOF suffers from Hill's total lack of humor and therefore the film never feels fun or takes off. Harlan Ellison reviewed it best in "Watching."


But there are some admittedly cool things in there like Dafoe, and especially Amy Madigan. I liked seeing Rick Moranis too. And I'd like to see the 70mm version too...


Aaron, just wanted to say I emailed Glenn's link to a friend of mine who teaches film at Salisbury, and we've been talking about what a useful tool it would be for teaching the form of the video essay. Thanks again for the great work.

I had a question about process: you mentioned, "With Matt's brilliant editing, I'm just trying to make sense of it all." I'm wondering about your collaboration, and how it unfolded. Did you and Matt kind of sketch things out generally, then he started editing clips, and you wrote your script based on those patterns? Or did you write the script, and he edited off that? Or...?

Aaron Aradillas

@Brian: I wrote a script--about 15 or so pages--that had both suggestions for clips and the narration. The piece was originally going to be broken up into 2 parts, but we quickly realized this was bigger than we thought.

I gave the greenlight to add or subtract from my script. (This is my first video essay. (Like almost everything I attempt, it became bigger than I intended.) I would say 60-70 per cent of my script is preserved. Some clips were replaced with others. Sometimes we dropped clips because narration or a scene said all that needed to be said.

A good example is Part 4. I only wrote a couple of lines regarding Lethal Weapon 2 and The Abyss. It was Matt who fleshed that section out. In retrospect, I can't believe I didn't write more about those films. The same is true of Field of Dreams. I didn't even have that in my original script.

On the other hand, the connecting montage that opens Part 3--1985-1988--was something I came up with in one long late night rush. I suggested the clips and music cues. That little piece is almost as I wrote it.

Seeing as I don't live in NYC (yet), I had to trust Matt and his editorial decisions. The fact that we have similar tastes creates a beautiful shorthand when we're talking about ideas at 3:00 A.M.

I can't wait for our next collaboration.

Shawn Stone

I remember feeling horrified by TEMPLE OF DOOM when it came out, as I had loved the first Indy and was appalled by DOOM. (Where was Karen Allen, I wondered.) Those clips reminded me WHY I hated it.

Loved GREMLINS, though. And GREMLINS 2, with Tony Randall as the voice of William F. Gremlin (so to speak), is genius--but that's for another day.

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