Monday, June 23, 2008

Film Review: Streets of Fire

1984’s “Streets of Fire” is billed as a “rock and roll fable,” and that seemingly pretentious label is actually quite appropriate. The film has an unusual look: a stylish hodgepodge of images that evoke American culture: rock and roll, vintage cars, Capitalism and class struggle. Walter Hill directs a cast of deliberately stereotypical characters: the loner tough-guy hero (Michael Paré of “Eddie and the Cruisers”), the damsel-in-distress (Diane Lane of “Unfaithful,” and “The Perfect Storm,”), and the villain (Willem Dafoe of “Platoon,” and “Spiderman”). Contrasts abound: the music is 80’s pop, the clothing and automobiles are from the 50’s and 60’s, and the entire movie plays out against a backdrop that looks like a movie set. This is one of those genre defying films that requires you to believe in the world it presents to you. Films such as “Legend,” “Dark City,” “Phantom of the Paradise,” “Blue Velvet,” and “Moulin Rouge” share this surreal quality. The plot is simple: bad guy steals girl, good guy (ex-boyfriend), goes to rescue her. One performance in particular that makes the movie memorable is Amy Madigan (“Pollock” and “Field of Dreams) as a spunky, philosophy-spouting, spoiling-for-a-fight drifter who offers (for a price) to help the hero rescue his ex-girlfriend from the motorcycle gang that kidnapped her. The soundtrack boasts a Top 40 hit by the late Dan Hartman (“I Can Dream About You”) as well as the talents of Ry Cooder, Jim Steinman, Stevie Nicks, and Maria McKee, among others. This is a largely undiscovered gem of a movie that is well worth taking the time to view.

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