Friday, June 13, 2014

Then and Now

For this month’s post, I decided to participate in a fun blog hop hosted by The Armchair Squid, Suze, Nicki Elson and Nancy Mock called Then and Now, where we’re supposed to watch a movie we loved when we were younger and see what we think of it now. Little did I know that the exercise would prove to be a lot more challenging than I expected. Why? You ask. What could be so hard about watching a movie and talking about it?

Well, first of all, there was the issue of choosing the film. My first impulse was to select a movie from one of my favorite directors, John Hughes, but as you can see here, I’m pretty much obsessed with the man, so how could I rewatch his films with fresh eyes when I never outgrew them? I went through a list of non-Hughes films and there were a few that I recalled fondly that I hadn’t seen in ages, but I was confronted with another problem: FEAR.

As I mention in this post last year, I have become a lot more critical of films and books since I started to write. As my expectations have grown, it’s increasingly difficult to find stories where I can lose myself and not think about what the director or writer were trying to do. My fear when watching a once-beloved film was that I would realize that it was not as wonderful as I remembered, and that nostalgia wouldn't be enough to forgive all the film’s flaws.

I pondered for a few days about movies that I used to like but wouldn’t be overly devastated if I discovered all their imperfections and I finally picked one that:

1) I was desperate to watch when it came out, but had to wait a few years due to my age;
2) was incredibly popular during my childhood years; and,
3) I hadn’t seen in a VERY long time.

So without further ado, I bring you...


Flashdance, for those who haven’t seen it, is the story of an 18-year-old girl who is a welder by day and dancer by night. She lives in a warehouse-turned-apartment with her massive dog and dreams of becoming a ballerina. The problem is she’s a self-taught dancer who doesn’t have the education nor the references to enter the prestigious dance school of her dreams. Her best friends also have goals of their own: one longs to be a professional ice skater while another one is a short-order cook who wants to become a stand-up comedian. As Alex witnesses her friends’ dreams collapse, she must find the strength to go along with hers, even it means swallowing her pride and having to face rejection.

My first reaction when I watched the film again was excitement over the soundtrack. My friends and I used to sing these songs to the top of our lungs (even though we didn’t know what exactly we were saying) and we used to play the tape over and over again during our first dance parties. I am convinced that a big part of Flashdance’s appeal was the music.

The second thing I noticed was how young Jennifer Beals was (I'd thought the character was in her twenties, but she was only eighteen). I also questioned details I'd never considered before: Where is Alex’s family? How did she become so independent at such a young age? How did she meet her mentor, Hanna, the lady who encourages her to apply to dance school? And how and why did her elder friend die? Last but not least, how did she learn to weld (and what on earth was she building)?

 
Another interesting observation is that this time around, her love interest Nick (Michael Nouri) didn’t seem as ancient as I remembered. When I first watched the film in my early teens, I was extremely disappointed with the actor selection (my apologies, Mr. Nouri) mainly because he was SO MUCH OLDER than the protagonist, but now I realize he HAD to be older in order to be her boss and help with her audition.

The other detail that blew my mind was how many sexual comments between Alex and Nick I had missed when I first saw the film (and how I may have been too young when I watched it!). I didn’t even think it was weird that she removes her bra in front of him!  (She probably wants to be more comfortable, I thought.)
 

Plot wise, it’s not the most complex or unpredictable story, but it follows a familiar underdog/Cinderella journey that pleases most audiences. It also offers a few positive messages. One, the 80s became a turning point for women’s fitness. In Flashdance, not only does Alex ride her bike everywhere, but she also works out at her home-gym (an impressive routine which I tried to mimic once but somehow was not as graceful as she was) and lifts weights with her friends. Two, Alex is a good role model. Despite her youth, she has a clear sense of right and wrong (something her best friend doesn’t always have). She initially declines Nick’s invitations because she “doesn’t date the boss,” she’s self-sufficient, doesn’t allow men to disrespect her and saves her best friend from ending up in a strip club for the rest of her life. In addition, she has sophisticated tastes like going to the ballet with her elder friend and eating lobster (in a very provocative manner!) But the best thing is that the film sends an encouraging message about following our dreams no matter how far-fetched and difficult they may seem.

In the end, I’m happy to report that I still found this film enjoyable.

 
What do you think of it?

35 comments:

  1. ...I've never seen it. I was also too young when it first came out and have never gotten around to it in the years since. It would have been impossible to grow up in 1980s America without some awareness of this film, thought. I have always thought the welding was an odd choice.

    I'm glad to hear the movie holds up. Thanks for joining us, Lorena!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You're welcome! Let me know what you think if you end up watching it.

      Delete
  2. I saw this years after it was first popular, so any qualms I had were more about the fashion and the guy being older than her and that being weird. As soon as you said she was 18 I immediately thought, how does she have that apartment and a dog already, so young? So many kids now either are in college or they live with their parents until they can afford to be independent. Making her at least 20-22 seems more reasonable. But who am I to question... *what a feeeelin?*

    So much of her style has come back in and out. Those half sweatshirts and wide neck dance type attire is big right now in younger fashion.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I remember that in the 80s we used to mock 70s fashion (until it made a comeback). Now we're experiencing the same thing with the loose shirts and tight leggins. I think my biggest issue with 80s fashion is the hair and the shoulder pads!

      Delete
  3. Babe, can you believe I've never seen this? This reminds me of my confession about 'Secret Admirer.' Are you going to give me 'Flashdance' for my b-day next year? :D

    Okay, so I'm listening to 'What a Feeling' as I read your words and type mine back in response. I find it adorable that you tried to mimic the workout routine. It makes me miss you so much. :(

    I'm glad the movie held up for you. I'm reading that most of the movies people have chosen have held up for them. Either that or they have very strong responses about the movie as a whole or some aspect of the movie that really doesn't work for them.

    The bit about taking the bra off to be comfortable made me laugh. As did, 'What on earth was she building?' No way in hell agents now would let us get away with such a gap in the narrative before submitting, right? ;)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. "Babe, can you believe I've never seen this?"

      Noooo! What kind of an 80s fan are you? ;-)

      "Are you going to give me 'Flashdance' for my b-day next year?"

      Good idea! Ha, ha!

      In all seriousness, I'm not sure you would like this one. It has its raunchy moments. :p

      Delete
  4. The soundtrack probably was more popular than the movie. I used it in the aerobic classes I instructed. Wish I had that energy back!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I would have LOVED to be in your aerobics class!!!!

      Delete
  5. All your questions are spot on! I've asked the same ones, too! What kind of company hires on an eighteen-year old welder? The age gap in the romance is what gets me every time I go back and watch this film. Mr. Nouri seems just too old for her now as I thought when I first watched the film. The other day I watched "License to Drive" (you know, one of those films with "the Coreys" in it) and again, Heather Graham's very young, very innocent looking teenage character is dating a guy who looks to be in his thirties. Where are her parents?

    Ahh...the 80s!

    Thanks for sharing this one!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The age difference bothered me then, not so much now. I think it's because she's supposed to be so mature and independent. ;) I mean, look at where she works! She could have ended up with a worst boyfriend.

      Delete
  6. X and I saw this movie at the drive-in not long after it came out. Favorite Young Man (now 34) was a toddler who fell asleep in the backseat. It was a big deal for us to go to a movie, and we loved it. I'm not sure how I'd feel about it now because the plot has so many missing links. I don't know if I had learned that Jennifer had a double for the dancing. I always felt bad that the dancer didn't get any credit. Now it amuses me that during her big audition, the guy from the break dancing scene wears a wig and does one of the stunts. It's probably kind of cheesy, but I suspect I would still enjoy this movie. Oi! When she comes out at the end and he's waiting there with her dog -- who wouldn't love that?

    Love,
    Janie

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Janie, I love that scene where Nick is waiting with flowers and the dog. I love your anecdote about watching it at the drive-in (in my country they never had this so I find it totally exotic!!)

      Delete
  7. I always had a problem with the neighborhood bar has such an elaborate set-up for the girl to dance at.
    And at eighteen she is dating a much older man.
    But i agree with the fact she is self sufficient, no matter how far fetched, and to follow your dreams.

    cheers, parsnip

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. "I always had a problem with the neighborhood bar has such an elaborate set-up for the girl to dance at."

      You're right. There is no way that guy would have spent all that money in lightning, stage design, special effects. But I guess it works to differentiate it from the tacky business across the street. It's funny that you mention this because it was the first thing I noticed this time around (it never bothered me before).

      Delete
  8. I think this is a great pick. I saw it in the theater when it first came out and loved it then. The soundtrack was a cassette I played often--really great energetic music. I watched this a few months ago and still thought it was great--a little dated perhaps, but a good depiction of that era. This film never fails to lift me and make me feel inspired.

    Lee
    Tossing It Out

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. In total agreement. Thanks for stopping by!

      Delete
  9. I didn't realize she was only 18 either! Glad it holds up. I think even back then I knew it was somethint to not be taken too seriously, but it sure was fun. And yeah, the guy seemed ancient, haha.

    I totally get your fear of not wanting to see the movie and have it ruine through different eyes.

    Thanks for playing along on the hop!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you for organizing it. It was fun. :)

      Delete
  10. I must confess I liked Beals much better in "The Bride" and never understood this movie, but Michael Nouri..Man, he was cute!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I never saw The Bride. It's with Sting, right? You know, Nouri has grown on me. As I mentioned in my post, I didn't like him when I first watched the movie, but now I think he's kind of cute. :)

      Delete
  11. Never saw this one, but saw it advertised a lot. She's got the big hair of the day.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yeah, the hair is one of the most memorable things. Mine looked just like hers (maybe even curlier!)

      Delete
  12. This film has MANY PLUSES for me... All that you mentioned but one you forgot.... What about the MOST AMAZING DANCING?! This film was chock full of it. The one dance her blonde friend did, I don't remember the character's name but I remember the song MANHUNT! AMAZING choreography! This is a classic 80's film which will never "become old!"

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I agree! I love the choreography in this film, especially the last scene! I used to always get a lump in my throat when I watched it. :)

      Delete
  13. I remember the main character's fascination with observing her surroundings and incorporating those patterns into her routine. The big audition scene is one of the most wonderfully filmed dance sequences I've ever seen.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. "I remember the main character's fascination with observing her surroundings and incorporating those patterns into her routine."

      Good observation. I only noticed that this time around when she mimics the ballet on TV and then stops in the street to watch the breakdancing guys.

      Delete
  14. I haven't seen this one, I think I too was too young when it first came out. The soundtrack seemed to have a life of it's own though, cause we all know those songs! As well as the scene/dance with water coming down over her in the chair.
    Thanks for sharing this on our Bloghop!

    Nancy at Hungry Enough To Eat Six

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Nancy, I definitely think the music became bigger than the film. Those who haven't seen it still know the songs.

      Delete
  15. I haven't seen this film recently, but when I first saw it, I loved it. It's funny as we get older, we become less accepting and start asking more questions. Not a bad thing.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. "... as we get older, we become less accepting and start asking more questions."

      True, but even worse if you become a writer. :)

      Delete
  16. We started to watch this a few years ago with the kids, during our "back to the 80s" phase, only to realize it was much raunchier than Sixteen Candles and the like. My daughter stills says she was traumatized by the film! Oops. I watched it as a teenager and I had totally forgotten that aspect of it. Glad it help up for you ... we should probably try again now.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yeah, I was a little traumatized too by the strip club scene when I first saw it (I think i was 12 or 13). I wish they would have kept it cleaner so younger audiences could have watched it. I just don't think all that raunchy stuff was necessary.

      Delete
  17. I am ashamed to admit that I never saw this movie, but the soundtrack was AWESOME!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I honestly think that if it weren't for the soundtrack, nobody would have watched this film. :)

      Delete

Disclaimer: The views expressed on this blog are the sole responsibility of each sister and do not reflect the opinions of the entire sisterhood.

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.