A and A's Movie A Day

Watching movies until we run out.

Movie 44 – Empire Records (Remix! Special Fan Edition)

Empire Records: Remix! Special Fan Edition – April 13th, 2010

First things first: We are watching the special “fan remix” of the movie. There are some odd differences, like the vinyl obsession the movie has in this version and some additional dialogue that changes pacing. And then some good differences, like a little more character development and background for everyone. But overall it’s pretty much the same movie.

Second things second: We usually skip the beginning of this movie. The bit where Lucas goes to Vegas and marries a mobster’s wife and gets a hit put out on… Wait, no. The bit where he goes to Atlantic City and loses a ton of money that’s not his. This is because it is painfully wincetastic. I hate seeing Lucas lose it all. I hate it. It’s necessary for the plot, since everything hinges on Lucas’s actions and the missing money and all, but it’s not easy to watch.

So, the plot, for those who need a quick overview: The movie takes place mostly in an independently run music store and focuses on the employees and their trials and tribulations on one particular day when a semi-washed-up musician is in the store for a signing and one of the employees, upon learning that the store might be sold to a big corporation, has lost 9,000 bucks using the day’s revenue to gamble in order to pay off the store’s debt. But that’s only the underlying story that binds everything else together.

It’s an ensemble movie with a great cast. Take a look and see who’s in it: Liv Tyler, Robin Tunney, Anthony LaPaglia, Renee Zellweger, and then both Rory Cochrane and Johnny Whitworth were regulars on CSI: Miami for a while. And they’re all so young, geez. So the movie follows a lot of little stories in addition to the big one: One employee (Corey) has had a crush on the visiting musician (Rex Manning) since she was a little girl and wants to lose her virginity to him that day. Another employee (AJ) has had a crush on Corey for ages and wants to tell her that day. Corey and her best friend, Gina (also an employee) have a huge argument and then there’s Deb, yet another employee, and Mark and Berko and Eddie and Warren (whose name isn’t Warren). Everyone has something going on. Everyone has some sort of personal revelation or crisis and when you’re the age these characters are supposed to be? That’s par for the course as far as I recall. Really, it’s about the chaos of working in a quirky place and being a young adult and all the things that make life frustrating and upsetting and awesome. It can feel disjointed at times, flipping from story to story, character to character, hour to hour, but I can roll with that.

I’ve seen criticism of this movie that says no place like Empire Records exists and to that I say bull. I worked at a place very similar to Empire. Andy and I both worked at an independent video store when I was in college and it was quirky and crazy and chaotic. Watching this movie takes me right back to the good times I had there, combined with the AV crew in high school (another wild place and time for me and Andy). So screw that criticism. This movie fits my life experience, minus Rex Manning and the gigantic party at the end. There are plenty of scenes and lines that are awesome on their own. This movie definitely gets quoted frequently in our household. The characters, stereotypical as they seem at first, are fairly well put together, even without the additional development that this version gives them. So even without the sentiment, I think I’d love this movie because even with the disjointedness of some of it, the writing is very solid in a lot of places and full of snappy humor. But add in the sentiment of making me feel like I’m right back in the moments I loved about high school and college (and the Best of the ’90s soundtrack) and I’m hooked. I will stop on this movie whenever I pass it on television. I will watch it over and over and laugh at the shoplifter chase and subsequent photo session and wince at Gina and Corey’s fight and subsequent breakdowns and love it.

April 13, 2010 Posted by | daily reviews | , , | 1 Comment

Empire Records (Remix! Special Fan Edition)

April 13, 2010

Empire Records (Fan Remix)

This movie occupies a special place in my heart because I used to work at this store. Well not literally. I used to work at the little independent video chain TLA Video. But it was totally this store. Full of glorious freaks. Our store manager lived in a little apartment building with one of the keyholders and they drank together late into every night. His girlfriend (another keyholder) was nominally going to the local college, but hadn’t been to any classes in months and was spending about every night with the manager. We got calls for her at the store from her advisor because she wasn’t ever in her dorm room and didn’t answer her phone. There ws the kid obsessed with Devo and the Beastmaster movie. The artsy girl who eventually moved to New York to attend film school. It was a tight knit crew of drunks, stoners and crazies and at times I desperately miss it.

This movie captures that spirit perfectly. The spirit of a group of misfits in a store outside the clean-cut corporate world of today. I think there are still stores like this out there. Places where vinyl records are making a comeback. Off the beaten track. Somehow co-existing with the Best Buys and Walmarts that have taken over the entire retail industry.

We’re watching the “Fan Remix” version of the film in accordance to the rules of our project because it is slightly longer than the theatrical version. This recut version of the film has a lot of deleted scenes. Some are kind of cool (like Rex Manning talking about how the studio has killed his career.) Most, however are unnecessary. And with a movie I love so much and have watched so many times it’s distracting. It changes the timing and the tight pace of the film. When you have a movie that’s this perfect you really don’t need to mess with it. Luckily we do own the original theatrical version of the film as well, so it’s all okay.

I’m in love with all the people in this movie. Mark and Eddie and Lucas and A.J. and Joe… and the store itself. I wish I could shop there now. I wish I could be buying all my DVDs from a little indie store and not from faceless mega-corporations. I should really go out and find such a place.

Damn the man. Save the Empire.

April 13, 2010 Posted by | daily reviews | , , | 1 Comment