Reviews: Throwback Edition

Sasha Larson

Batman2Revisit the best in ’60s movies, ’70s TV and ’80s music with Carpe Diem’s throwback reviews.

“Batman” a fun loving romp

Comparing the Gotham City of today to the Gotham City director Leslie Martinson portrayed 50 years ago in the camp classic “Batman: The Movie” is almost like comparing “The Road” to “The Babysitters Club.” Modern Gotham is gloomy and filled with the constant threat of danger around every corner. Martinson’s 1966 Gotham is colorful and inviting, assuring its inhabitants that help is always on its way.
Batman and Robin (the delightful Adam West and Burt Ward) embody the city’s watchful protectors, ever-ready to pounce on Gotham’s mostly non-threatening evils. Their dime store costumes, Robin’s consistent exclamation of “Holy (insert contextual pun here)!” and the Caped Crusader’s sincere over-acting are cheesy to say the least. But these features make the film so enjoyable.

This film contains, in no particular order, pirate henchmen playing viola, a porpoise sacrificing itself in front of a torpedo and a kidnapping from someone on a flying umbrella. “Batman: The Movie” never wants its audience to take it seriously, it just wants them to have fun.

The movie showcases a wonderfully casted rogues gallery of villains, including Frank Gorshin as the Riddler and the iconic Cesar Romero as the Joker. The villains band together to take over the world and share scenes with such brilliant on-screen chemistry you don’t want them to end.

The plot is ultimately forgettable: the foes target a knock-off version of the United Nations and dehydrate their security counsel. It also has pacing issues, a slightly overlong climax, and fight scenes that look like someone shaking a jar of jelly beans. Some film tricks, like the screen backgrounds while Batman and Robin are in vehicles, show their age. However, all of these elements propel “Batman: The Movie” into being its own work. The excellent casting, lovable characters, and self awareness generate a film that is hilarious and intriguing. “Batman: The Movie” is best punctuated by an excerpt from the producer’s note at the start of the film: “To fun lovers everywhere, this picture is respectfully dedicated.”
– Carter White

Outrun law with Bunch and Sundance

At first glance, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid may seem like a boring, outdated flick. Even its most intense, climactic battle scene isn’t punctuated by swelling musical scores like movies of today. However, the film’s timeless and dynamic main characters: Butch (Paul Newman) and Sundance (Robert ReButch Cassidydford) bring the whole production to life.

The film begins slow paced and sepia, with lengthy scenes that fool viewers into thinking it’s a tired spaghetti western. To settle your fears, the movie transforms. It pulls that Wizard of Oz trick and the picture becomes full color once skilled gunslinger Sundance arrives. When they rob the first train (they are quite courteous, even asking nicely before blowing up the safe) – that’s where the movie really starts.

The outlaws’ escapades remain charming as they hold up banks, trains and more banks, always on the run from the posse of the law. Despite their best efforts, the search party always finds a way to track them. Discouraged by their persistence, Butch and Sundance move to Bolivia, hoping to continue their crime spree without being chased.

In return for great characters, the film sacrifices more compelling and dramatic plot points. Despite this, you won’t regret watching. Newman and Redford make it work and work well. Their performances pay off in humourous hold up scenes, filled with fantastic little moments like learning how to rob a bank in Spanish. You’ll find yourself laughing along and rooting for the two criminals even as their actions ruin the Western economy.
– Derek Walker

Talking Heads remain timeless as ever

As David Byrne’s extraterrestrial vocals reverberate over African beats and time-honored golden age synth, one can only want to burn the house down as the Talking Heads begin their quintessential 80s soundtrack. “Speaking Tongues” blends the decade’s peppiness with driving lyrical commenTalking Headstary on real life issues, creating a captivating look into the time. The third track, “Girlfriend is Better,” contains an exhilarating one minute keyboard solo and numerous repetitions of the title, producing the image of an austere dance club. The album continues with a mix of buoyant dance tracks and deliberate lyrics. The clap beat and giddy keyboard entice the listener further with “Pull Up the Roots,” a nice kick to keep the album engaging as the quick pace may start to tire the listener. Byrne gets a little quieter when he confronts divine topics like spirituality and the concept of pulling up the roots of society to find happiness. Lines like “I don’t mind some slight disorder” show how perfection comes from flaws. You won’t regret taking a time warp back to the ‘80s with the Talking Heads. Enjoy a comprehensive look at the era through their wild and compelling music.
– Sam Jones

Bleach out in the 90s

It seems Kurt Cobain haBleachd two intentions when writing Nirvana’s first album “Bleach” in 1989: to sing honest lyrics and to do it loudly. Cobain expresses relatable insecurities in each song. “In my eyes, I’m not lazy/In your eyes, I’m not worth it,” he yells in “Scoff.” Listening to these insights throughout the album will definitely give you goosebumps. His unperfected screeches accompanied by sporadic electric guitar chords gave listeners of that era just what they wanted – rock ‘n’ roll. Unlike later albums “Nevermind” and “In Utero,” this album doesn’t give the impression of a band ready to take over the world, just three people who want to make music. If you want to explore a more raw side of Nirvana, check out this album.
– Hannah Jones

Kids, keyboards make catchy kitsch

It’s a rags-to-riches story for the ‘70s: working widow Shirley Partridge struggles to provide for her brood. Her five kids form a jam band in their garage. When Mom takes the mic, the Partridge Family is born – a singing sensation sweeping the nation in a funky school bus, crooning “I Think I Love You” to oddly formal dinner clubs. At turns wholesome family sitcom, funky music showcase and teen heartthrob expose, “The Partridge Family” once served as quality prime-time entertainment. Now, its dated backdrops, groovy wardrobes and goofy script cheese seem more like a surrealist time-hop.

Partridge 3Every throwback has its eye candy, and this show’s got two flavors: eldest brother Keith (David Cassidy) and big sis Laurie (Susan Dey), the former a sweet, impressionable guitarist, the latter levelheaded, studious and a wizard at the piano. The pair – along with inseparable little sibs Chris and Tracy – often find themselves playing second fiddle to enterprising, money-minded middle child Danny. The redhead’s get-rich-quick schemes and constant bickering with moody band manager Reuben Kincaid quickly steal scenes, often whole episodes. But the thirty-minute blocks aren’t totally cookie-cutter; they can just as easily dissolve into Comedy Central-level sibling roast sessions.

Season one, amid bizzaro psychedelic transitions and far-out guest stars, manages to find solace in realism: Shirley’s narration underscores her woes as a single mother, morality watchdogs oppose the band playing at a feminist rally, the kids flip when Mama meets a man. Later seasons stray from their acid-trippy predecessor, meeting compromised characters and sketchy schemes instead. Though with a theme song like “Come On Get Happy,” a peaceful, corny ending is a no-duh. Wild plotlines and a talented six-some? The Brady Bunch can’t compete.
– Sasha Larson