“Time Capsule” – Matthew Sweet

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Picking my favorite Matthew Sweet song is difficult, but “Time Capsule” from the 1993 album “Altered Beast” is a standout in my mind, especially the chord changes and lyrics. One of the best songs of the 1990s.

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“Why D’ya Do It?” – Marianne Faithfull

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Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned … especially when she’s in her late 30s, has lived a very hard life, and sounds like she could literally tear your head off with her bare hands.  You thought Alanis Morisette’s “You Oughta Know” sounded angry?   You thought Glenn Close in “Fatal Attraction” was nuts?  Hell, you thought Trent Reznor sounded pissed off against the female race on NIN’s first two-three albums?  Faithfull could easily kick all their asses without breaking a sweat and then go after the “bad boyfriend” in this song with a knife and fork.  Yikes.  A really, really angry song with a lot of bad language, so you know the drill.

“At Close Range” (1986) dir. James Foley

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Another sadly neglected/forgotten film from the 1980s, “At Close Range” is based on the true story of the Pennsylvania crime family led by Bruce Johnston, Sr. Christopher Walken is in his scariest role ever as the crime boss Brad Whitewood, Sr., a role turned down by Robert DeNiro because he thought it was “too dark” (which is really saying something). Walken’s character may be one of the most evil I’ve ever seen in a film … a cold and ruthless mammal (I can’t bring myself to call him a man, let alone human) who has absolutely no soul. Sean Penn plays his son Brad Jr., a teenager going nowhere who becomes part of his father’s gang. Penn’s character later finds himself in way too deep and learns way too fast that his father’s “love” is expressed solely for the purpose of disarming someone and keeping them under their control. The acting by all parties (especially Walken, Penn, and Mary Stuart Masterson as Penn’s girlfriend) is outstanding. With the possible exception of “Glengarry Glen Ross,” this is director Foley’s finest film. A great film, but terribly disturbing and sad.

“The Falcon and the Snowman” (1985) dir. John Schlesinger

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One of my favorite films from the 1980s (and one of the most sadly forgotten/neglected) is John Schlesinger’s nail-biting account of two young American friends during the 1970s (one an idealistic communications worker, the other a drug dealer) who decide to sell information to the KGB. Based on the true story about Christopher Boyce and Daulton Lee’s descent into treason, it’s extremely well-acted, well-written, well-directed. This is the kind of film that would have won multiple Oscars during the 1970s, but was dumped into theaters January 1985, the traditional no-man’s land for films studios are looking to give a token release to before writing them off as losses on their annual reports. It’s a real shame, because this deserved much better. Timothy Hutton and Sean Penn are incredible in this film as Boyce and Lee. I wish the quality of this trailer were better, but this is what we have to work with.

“Hopscotch” (1980) dir. Ronald Neame

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Is there any cooler actor than Walter Matthau? OK, maybe there a few that are cooler … or maybe several. Who cares, allright?  As one gets older, one begins to appreciate the laconic, laid-back, sardonic charm of the ultimate intelligent curmudgeon. It’s hard to pick a favorite Matthau film, but “Hopscotch” is my favorite. This is completely fun from start to finish, and if you’re a fan of “Fletch,” “Hopscotch” is one of the best smart-ass dialogue films of all time. Many people thought this was an odd choice for The Criterion Collection, but I don’t. It’s been a favorite of mine ever since my Mom took me to see it when I was 10, which was especially cool due its R-rating and multiple “F-bombs” throughout.

“The Wanderers” (1979) dir. Philip Kaufman

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Philip Kaufman is one our most sorely underrated directors. He’s not held in the same light as other directors of the era like Martin Scorsese, but when Kaufman is good, he’s great. His 1978 “Invasion of the Body Snatchers” remake is considered one of the best remakes of all-time. 1983’s “The Right Stuff” is rightly considered one of the greatest modern epics. 1988’s “The Unbearable Lightness of Being” is probably the best and classiest high-brow boner film of all time. And 1979’s “The Wanderers” may be Kaufman’s most beloved film.

The trailer here is pretty abysmal, but don’t let that dissuade you from seeing the film. It’s a darker, grittier “American Graffiti,” but also a lot of fun. And if you enjoy the movie be sure to read Richard Price’s novel that the movie was based on. Some people prefer the much darker novel to the film, but Price himself admitted “I love that picture. It’s not my book, and I don’t care. The spirit is right, and the way Phil Kaufman directed it showed me another way of looking at my own book.”

“Outside of Time” – Von Lmo

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Speaking of bands from another planet, here’s Von Lmo. Who’s Von Lmo, you may ask? Why, they’re the band from the future … here now! As geeky and insane as this premise is, Von Lmo backs up their monkey shines with some of the sickest and heaviest sounding lead guitar I’ve ever heard. C’mon Earthlings, get off your ass and ADVANCE YOURSELF!!