Friday, August 08, 2014

#761. Mock Squid Soup: Stand by Me

Coming at us from Mock and Squid is a monthly movies bloghop, Mock Squid Soup.  The inaugural meeting concerns 1986's Stand by Me.

We're going to rewind a little before we reach the movie, however.  Stephen King's book Different Seasons was released in 1982.  The '80s were a boom decade for the Maine native.  This was the first time he consciously stepped away from the horror genre.  Clearly fans still found plenty to connect with, King's patented intimate viewpoint of humanity coming to the forefront of his storytelling for the first time.  The book was a collection of novellas that went on to great pedigree.  (Each of them are loosely associated with a season, so that's how the title came about.)  The first novella in the book is Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption, which of course later became the movie The Shawshank Redemption; this is arguably King's best-received story to date.  The second is Apt Pupil, which also became a movie.  The fourth is The Breathing Method, which to date has not been adapted into cinema.  The third is The Body, which became Stand by Me.

Now, Stand by Me was a movie that for me originally was best known as the secret (or not-so-secret) origin of Star Trek: The Next Generation actor Wil Wheaton.  Later, it became, cruelly, perhaps the defining film of the late River Phoenix's career.  Rounding out an excellent ensemble were Cory Feldman and Jerry O'Connell as the other two lead boys as well as Kiefer Sutherland, John Cusack, and Richard Dreyfuss.
via Prime Movies
The irony of the movie is that the way the boys talk would become the pattern of geek talk, Internet speak.  The adventure itself is something that would become known as Spielbergian thanks to The Goonies from a year earlier (which was...directed by Richard Donner, with a script from Chris Columbus...based on a story from Spielberg), which for me actually means...Super 8, J.J. Abrams' 2011 movie.  Any fan of Stand by Me owes it to themselves to watch that one, too.

But I will round out this retrospective talking about River Phoenix.  The dude had obvious talent, from an early age.  He's this generation's James Dean.  Stand by Me remains his Rebel Without a Cause.  He made a few other movies, but none of them seem to have particularly stuck out in the same way.  The closest, and I'm always meaning to watch it, would be My Own Private Idaho.  The other one I've seen so far is The Thing Called Love, released in 1993, the same year he died.  It's about aspiring country music performers, and co-stars a young Sandra Bullock.  It may not be a classic but it's entertaining.  The lost movie Dark Blood was finally completed a few years back and released to the general public.  I want to see that, too.  It should be worth noting River's kid brother Joaquin turned out to be an exceptional talent, too.  You may know him best from Gladiator, but I'd recommend you catch Two Lovers.  He's received great acclaim in recent releases The Master and Her, and of course is perhaps best known for the notorious experiment known as I'm Still Here.  He also played Johnny Cash in Walk the Line.  I also recommend Buffalo Soldiers and Signs.



I love how you can always incorporate the past into the modern. i.e. Your relating the movies dialogue to geek talk, internet speak. I would never have thought of that. I loved Joaquin in Walk The Line. I think he still gets overlooked by his brothers well known demise.

mshatch said...

I loved Different Seasons. And Shawshank Redemption was another great adaptation of an SK book. I loved Tim Robbins and Morgan Freeman in that film.

The Armchair Squid said...

Thanks for joining us, Tony! The funny thing for me was that as much as I admired the young actors in the film, I never really sought out their other work. I loved the movie so much that I wasn't really comfortable seeing them play other characters. I did see My Own Private Idaho - good movie. When I saw Jeremy Maguire, I didn't even realize that Cush was Vern!

Cherdo said...

Great post, Tony! I loved the section about River Phoenix.


Pat Dilloway said...

I haven't seen that movie in a long time. I'm more familiar with the Family Guy version by now than the regular one.

Tony Laplume said...

David, thanks!

Marcy, only critics hate to admit how awesome Shawshank Redemption is!

Squid, Jerry O'Connell surprisingly has had a really successful career. I know him best, other than Stand by Me, from Sliders. He lost the weight and has never looked back!

Cherdo, thanks!

Pat, there's a Family Guy version???


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