Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Girlz in the Hood

The 80s were a strange time in filmmaking. It seemed that no matter when a film's time or place were set, they were still obsessed with making it seem of the moment. It took me years to realize Dirty Dancing was supposed to be set in the early 60s. (Who do they think they were fooling? No one in the 60's had a teased mullet like Swayze was sporting. Try imagining that on Don Draper). And there seemed to be an unusual amount of fantasy movies that came out in that decade as well (Legend, NeverEnding Story, Labyrinth, Working Girl– Melanie Griffith's gravity-defying hair had to be the work of magic) that don't always hold up to recent viewings. I watched NeverEnding Story a couple of years ago with some friends. It had been years since I'd seen it and was excited to relive my childhood. Big mistake. Huge. I can't imagine what I liked about it as a kid (other than the princess that wears necklaces on her head, of course. A look my 6-year-old self decided to make their own). The movie was soooo slow and more bizarre than magical. So, it was with some trepidation that I watched the first film in The Film Experience's Hit Me With Your Best Shot Third Season–a film I'd never actually seen before–the 80s fantasy film, Ladyhawke.

I kept telling everyone about how I needed to see Ladyhawke and everyone's response was, why? I feel like people know of it, but no one has actually seen it. One of my friends asked if there was time-traveling in the plot. Spoiler Alert: there is not. There is, however, a tragically romantic curse that keeps the lovers apart while they are together. (Aren't those always the best kind? I want people to suffer for their love. To love is to burn, to be on fire... ) By day the lady is in the form of a hawk and by night her lover, the knight, takes the form of a wolf. Thus preventing them from being human together at the same time. Aww...

Unfortunately, for a having the film named after her, there is not nearly enough lady (plenty of hawk). Instead, we are saddled with a fresh-faced Matthew Broderick as a thief named Mouse. They should have named the film Ferris Bueller Annoyingly Talks to Himself in a Quasi-British Accent for Two Hours. It was seriously grating. I'm not sure what he was trying to do with that character.

Since the transformations revolve around sunrise and sunset, there were some beautiful long-shots of mountains and lakes bathed in golden light. But, just like when I visit a museum, I'm not here for landscapes. I need a face. Luckily, the film has one of the most gorgeous faces to ever grace the screen, Michelle Pfeiffer. I was a little obsessed with her Catwoman as a kid. I may or may not have walked around the neighborhood with a one-handled jump rope wrapped around my body to simulate her look with a whip. And Ladyhawke is one of her few films that I hadn't seen–and really the only reason I was watching the movie now. After a torturous, Pfeiffer-less first half-an-hour of the film, I was starting to get antsy. Just give me what I came to see already! Finally, at about the 24 minute mark, the pay-off:

Such a dramatic entrance to the film as she slowly turns her head in a black hood until we get a full shot of her face. That face! I don't see how anyone could have chosen a shot that isn't of Michelle. And, as I'm sure you can guess from my necklace as headwear and jump rope/whip anecdotes, I love a good accessory. There's something so theatrical about a hood. The mystery of the way it hides your face. And it's best if it's attached to a flowing cloak or created by a draped piece of cloth–somehow a hooded sweatshirt doesn't have the same, romantic effect. It's definitely Michelle's accessory-of-choice in the film as she's again spotted wearing another hood, this time in red:

So effortless, even Little Red Riding Hood would be jealous.

I'm not really sure what else happened in the movie–something about an archbishop and a drunk priest and breaking the curse while going through a sewer. I kinda just let it play in the background and came back if I heard some Michelle or if I felt like rocking out to the 80s-tastic synth score (cause that was a good choice for a period piece–electronic music). But, my one take-away is: nothing makes a tragic lover look more chic than an amazing hood.

After the jump, a celebration of the hood.


  1. I like your line "not nearly enough lady plenty of hawk". I can never get enough of Michelle, especially wearing that hood!

    I enjoyed your entry and it's always a pleasure to meet another Pfeiffer pfan.

  2. thanks for the compliments! it's true, michelle is the best part of 'ladyhawke' and she rocks a hood like a boss.

    nice to meet a fellow pfan as well. i'll see michelle in anything. even 'dark shadows'...