Rupert Pupkin Speaks: Olive Films - ROLLER BOOGIE and BABY IT'S YOU on Blu-ray ""

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Olive Films - ROLLER BOOGIE and BABY IT'S YOU on Blu-ray

ROLLER BOOGIE (1979; Mark L. Lester)
ROLLER BOOGIE, like ROCK 'N' ROLL HIGH SCHOOL, is a movie that just makes me smile. While it's not as buoyant and wonderful as RNRHS, it is nonetheless a charming and fluffy confection that is completely embedded in the time it was made. I have an ongoing crush on Linda Blair in her post-EXORCIST films and this piece of ridiculous Roller-Disco silliness is perhaps my favorite. The now cliched "save the rec center" plotline is the narrative thrust here and it precedes the BREAKIN' films by  few years. No opportunity for a roller skating dance sequence is spared, in fact the whole film is obviously built around them. Warning: If you aren't on board after the opening celebratory roller-conga line (joined at one point by a couple making out on top of a dumpster), you should probably turn the movie off. I have an affection for movies based around fads in general and the idea that roller disco was a thing for a small segment of the late 1970s is fascinating to me. The fact that it spawned not only ROLLER BOOGIE, but the equally awesome (and much more difficult to track down) SKATETOWN U.S.A. is a pretty glorious thing in my mind. And let's not forget XANADU folks, there's another roller disco movie that I love with the fiery passion of a thousand suns. Anyway, Linda Blair's romantic interest in ROLLER BOOGIE is real-life skating champion Jim Bray. His skills as a skater certainly outweigh his skills an actor, but that is okay because he makes it work between the two of them. I like athlete actors in movies sometimes because they bring a somewhat raw, real quality to their performances that can be compelling in its own way. Between what Bray brings and the overall liveliness of the other actors and the catchy soundtrack (featuring an opening tune by Cher), ROLLER BOOGIE has an ineffable pizazz that is just a hoot. It truly is love on wheels.

While watching ROLLER BOOGIE please keep in mind that director Mark L. Lester would go on to make COMMANDO with Arnold Schwarzenegger and DP Dean Cundey would shoot most of John Carpenter's movies as well as the BACK TO THE FUTURE Trilogy and JURASSIC PARK.

Special Features:
No special features, but the transfer looks pretty solid and is absolutely a step up from the DVD.

BABY IT'S YOU (1983; John Sayles)
I came to John Sayles' work almost by accident in kind of a back alley way in that I found him through his Roger Corman genre scripts and then moved on into his more significant indie film work. I got heavy into his movies just prior to 1996 when LONE STAR came out. I remember going at least twice to see that film at a little art house theater in Madison, Wisconsin. The first time was for me and the second time I brought my parents (who also dug the movie as I did). LONE STAR was something of a culmination of more than a decade of excellent cinema from auteur Sayles. I call him an auteur, but I don't mean it perhaps what some may think of as the traditional sense. His movies are not endlessly stylish, but more practical and pragmatic and centered purposefully around character. 
And speaking of actresses I have crushes on, I can't deny that Roseanna Arquette is another such lady. Not only is she stunningly gorgeous with vibrant eyes that are nearly electric to gaze upon, but she also has this manic and contagious energy about her that I get a real kick out of. I'm thinking of her in movies like AFTER HOURS where she's the kind of gal you'd ride across New York City at midnight on a Tuesday to hang out with on the off chance that something unforgettable might happen. BABY IT'S YOU is not only one of my favorite Roseanna Arquette performance, it's also one of my favorite movies. Arquette plays Jill, a kind of straight-laced academic type A personality who finds her life turned slightly off-kilter when she catches the eye of a boy in her high school who is know primarily as "The Shiek" (Vincent Spano). The Shiek is a very working class hustler type who is really not a compatible fit for Jill, but he is drawn to her and pursues her with fervor. His devotion and persistence as well as his moxy ultimately wins Jill over and she finds herself at a crossroads when she is ready to go off to college. The Shiek is not going to college. That's not his path at all. His path is to end up elsewhere (not where you'd expect by the way). BABY IT'S YOU was scripted by John Sayles, based on a story by producer/actress Amy Robinson. You definitely get the sense that it's based on some kind of personal experience for her and that makes it feel quite genuine. It resonates universally too in that it reminds us all of that relationship we may have had in our youth that was problematic, but there was just something really potent about it. The memories we have of that person stay with us throughout our lives.
Like ROLLER BOOGIE, BABY IT'S YOU was shot by one of the great cinematographers ever (in this case, Scorsese collaborator Michael Ballhaus). The film is set in 1966 and thereabouts and it also has a vibrant soundtrack (some of which was rescored for the home video release of the movie) which consists of tracks from Frank Sinatra, Bruce Springsteen and the Shirelles to name a few. In fact, the film has what I believe to be one of the best uses of a Frank Sinatra song in cinema that I can think of. It is used to purposefully and so movingly, it won't soon be forgotten once seen. 

BABY IT'S YOU has a great poster too that I have always found a perfect fit and one that is subtle in a way that no key art from a present day movie ever is. It's simply a yearbooks spread with the activities of the two main characters juxtaposed. Jill has a lengthy list of activities that are demonstrative of the achiever that she is and would look great on any college application. The Shiek's activities list consists of one thing and one thing only: "Woodshop Monitor" ( I love the idea that this would be a thing that you would even put in a yearbook). I always adored that. It really says so much about these two completely disparate people that somehow find a spark igniting between them.

Special Features:
No special features, but the transfer looks good and is better than the DVD by a good bit. 

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