Scrooged (1988)

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Since it’s Christmas I think it’s only right that I review a few crimbo movies. So to kick us off this month we have, my favourite Christmas movie, ‘Scrooged’. It’s basically a retelling of the classic Charles Dickens story A Christmas Carol. Frank Cross (Bill Murray) is the a head of a TV network which is soon to show a live version of A Christmas Carol. However Frank is not a fan of Christmas as it really doesn’t hold good memories for him. One night he is visited by his old, long dead boss who tells Frank that he’ll be visited by three ghosts in order for him to change the error of his ways.

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Frank used to be happy. However somewhere along the way he became consumed by work and completely miserable. He had a great girlfriend called Claire (Karen Allen), and things seemed fine. However that was a long time ago and now he’s a sour, hateful man. The first ghost to help Frank see where he went wrong is the Ghost of Christmas Past (David Johansen), an alcoholic, chain smoking cab driver. The ghost takes Frank back to when he was a small child, however all it does is remind Frank of how much he hates Christmas. The ghost then takes Frank to the time he met Claire, which slightly improves things, but not enough to change Frank.

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The next opportunity falls to the Ghost of Christmas Present (Carol Kane). She shows Frank all the people he is making miserable now, trying to somehow shake Frank into changing. This ghost is batshit crazy. She pokes, prods and punches the shit out of Frank all whilst giggling manically. I could go on and tell you the rest of what happens, but pretty much everyone knows the Scrooge story.

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Everyone is on top form. Bill Murray is fantastic as the sour faced, cynical Frank Cross. Carol Kane and David Johansen are brilliant as the ghosts. You have excellent supporting roles from great actors like John Glover, Robert Mitchum, John Forsythe, Alfre Woodard and even Bobcat Goldthwait as the screechy voiced Elliot Loudermilk. I do love this film, with it definitely being my favourite Christmas movie. I always try to squeeze it in at least once a year. I’m sure many have seen it, however if you haven’t then give it a go.

4/5

JM

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Cruising (1980)

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Steve Burns (Al Pacino) is a New York police officer. He is young, handsome and has a great girlfriend called Nancy (Karen Allen). Steve has aspirations  to get higher up in the NYPD and wants to be a detective. He is informed by his captain, (Paul Sorvino), that dismembered body parts are turning up around the city and that someone is murdering young gay men using S&M methods. Steve is asked by his captain if he’ll go undercover into the gay club scene to catch the killer, as he fits the victim profile. Steve is told that going undercover will help his chances of becoming a detective, so he accepts.

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Steve begins to trawl the gay nightclubs and leather bars looking for anyone that could be the killer. As he delves deeper and deeper into the seedy world of sex he begins to doubt his abilities to continue as he feels the job is changing him. You get the impression here that his character is fighting his own sexuality. The reaction to the murders from Steve’s colleagues also prompts Steve to think twice about continuing, plus the fact that he never gets to see his girlfriend Nancy.

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The face of the killer is never revealed. He just whistles a tune and sings “who’s here…..I’m here”. There are clues later on as to who the killer could or couldn’t be, so it’s definitely worth paying attention. I did hear from William Friedkin who is the director that the film was heavily cut, so this does have an effect on the narrative as you feel some information may be missing. There is also a disclaimer at the start of the movie as some gay men found the film very offensive, though there are many people that do like the movie. The film is very ambiguous in places, leaving you to decide as to the identity of the killer.

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The film is pretty full on. The scenes in the clubs are very explicit. This is down to the fact that Friedkin filmed in the real clubs around the meat packing district in New York, so the background extras are real club goers doing what they’d normally do. If the subject matter of this movie makes you uncomfortable, then steer clear. If however, like me, you are an open minded film fan and like to try new movies out, then jump in. I would recommend it to most people. As far as I know there are no plans for an uncut/extended release, so you’ll have to make do with this one. Enjoy!

4/5

JM

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