The View From Here
Rourke? Ryder? Basinger? Welcome to the 1980s. Again
In one of the best scenes in The Wrestler, Mickey Rourke's Randy and Marisa Tomei's Cassidy are propping up a bar, discussing the generally woeful state of modern music. They concur that Guns N' Roses, Motley Crue and Def Leppard set the bar astronomically high back in the day and, grumpy spoilsport that he was, "that Cobain pussy" pretty much ruined it all. The Nineties "sucked". And the Eighties? "Man, best shit ever!"
Of course, a lot of what makes this scene particularly funny is how we're viewing it through the prism of Rourke as he is now, as opposed to how he was then, at his peak, in the same time period Randy is praising so effusively. More broadly, it also says much about how people develop a critic-proof love for the music that soundtracked their youth, when they were young, virile and carefree. For Hollywood, the Eighties has always been a Year Zero. It was the era of the high concept movie, a model that still governs today's blockbuster industry. It was also the decade where most of cinema’s biggest names found their mark: Tom Cruise, Will Smith, Eddie Murphy, Johnny Depp. If any further proof were needed that the Eighties were Where It's At as far as the movies are concerned, look no further than The Expendables: an action caper that stars Sylvester Stallone, Mickey Rourke (again), Dolph Lundgren, Eric Roberts and Arnold Schwarzenegger (sadly, Jean-Claude Van Damme and Kurt Russell turned it down). Quite whether The Expendables will be full of knowing winks-to-camera and heavy doses of irony, it's too early to tell (though, according to some pictures online this week, Sly's certainly gone overboard to pump up for the shoot). But one thing is certain, Hollywood likes the Eighties. Although, it's harder to tell what they think of Bret Easton Ellis' version of the Eighties.
Ellis has already had films made of three of his Eighties-set books – Less Than Zero, The Rules Of Attraction and American Psycho. None of which, particularly, have been huge smashes; while preferring to touch on certain dark truths about Eighties’ America (the cocaine, the suits, the egos, the dreadful music), they’ve never come with the rosy-nostalgia that Hollywood likes to employ when looking back at the Eighties.
The latest Ellis adaptation to come to the cinemas, The Informers, is based on a collection of loosely connected short stories. They were originally published in 1994, around a decade after Ellis wrote them, as an exigency because his next planned novel, Glamorama, was way behind schedule. As per Ellis, it's full of hardbodies, drug addicts, vampires, rock stars and other habitues of Ellis' shadow Los Angeles. It's now been made into a film – hey, that's why we're here – but what seems so interesting is how it's apparently provided a rehabilitation facility for several of (at time of filming) Hollywood's Least Wanted.
What’s important to remember is that the film finished shooting in December, 2007. This was when one of its stars, Mickey Rourke, still figured he'd probably only be invited to attend awards ceremonies if he was first presented with a pair of rubber gloves and shown the way to the kitchen, a bowl full of soapy water and a pile of dirty dishes. It also stars Kim Basinger, who hasn't really made anything of significance since 1997’s LA Confidential. And then there's Winona Ryder. I admit, at this point, that the bit at the end of Edward Scissorhands when a heavily aged Winona tells her grandson that, in fact, Edward is alive and well and living in secret in the castle and the only reason it snows is because he's making beautiful ice carvings of her as she was in her youth can, on a bad day, reduce me to something close to tears. Snuffles, at least. All the same, it's with a hard heart that I say that the last time she hit the headlines was in 2001, when she was arrested for shoplifting.
Still, it’s these three who pretty much topline The Informers. Here’s the trailer. Tell me what you think.