' ' Cinema Romantico

Friday, September 25, 2020

KIT Keep it Together

If some days the terrors promised by so many apocalyptic tech-noir films seems right around the corner, other days technology proves our only respite, like the Brown Bear webcam livestreaming straight from Brooks Falls along the Naknek River at Katmai National Park & Preserve in Southern Alaska. The sight of bears fishing for salmon and the sound of rushing water plunging over rocks pacifies. My Beautiful, Perspicacious Wife introduced me to this webcam a few years back and if one of us or both of us had a rough day, we’d lose ourselves in the livestream. Of course, this is 2020. And in 2020, where we have learned that “virtually nothing” equates to roughly 200,000 and that American executive governance has been reduced to magical thinking and trolling, every day is a bad day. As such, we’ve foregone watching the Bear Cam for a few minutes here and there on the small screen of our phones and taken to watching the bear cam for hours at time on the big screen of our TV. And though there is no way I could ever literally turn and live with the animals, as Whitman wrote, boy is it heartening to imagine turning and living with them anyway. These bears, they are so placid and self-contain’d. I sit and look at them long and long. 


The new Katy Perry album, “Smile”, has been heralded as a return to form, of sorts, for the musical superstar, meaning that after the wellness goo of “Prism” and the ineffectual confessions of “Witness”, she has re-embraced the exploding bubblegum pop of “Teenage Dream.” This yielded some minor accusations of being out of step with our present. We’re in the middle of a pandemic! Who wants to smile? But look at the album cover. Not only isn’t Katy pointedly not smiling, she’s not smiling while wearing a clown costume, a double ironic counterpoint to the record’s title. Indeed, the superb, thunderous opening cut, “Never Really Over”, evokes how painful memories might fade but never disappear, the ticking clock as the song concludes suggesting their return is only a matter of time, getting “Smile” off on a contrasting gloomy foot. And though many lyrics in the ensuing tracks espouse maintaining happiness at any cost, Katy’s voice hardly believes what she’s peddling, whether it’s “Not the End of the World” or a plea to “Cry About it Later” because “tonight we’re having fun.” The latter is such fiction, in fact, that she immediately follows it with another crying song, “Teary Eyes”, nothing less than that dancing, crying girl meme come to life. The booming banality of “Champagne Problems”, meanwhile, only brilliantly (if unintentionally) underlines the insignificance of those bubbly troubles. Even on the excellent, inspirational “Daisies”, Katy does not so much sing “til they cover me in daisies - daisies - daises” as scream it. By that last “Daisies”, you want to giver her some room; she’s screaming to keep from falling apart.


As 2020 drags on into its undoubtedly terrifying final act, the air of America has come to evoke that scene in “Return of the Jedi” when our rebel friends are in the cockpit of the stolen shuttle trying to slip through the Imperial fleet to reach the forest moon below. “C’mon,” Han Solo offers, “let’s keep a little optimism here.” Of course, because it’s Harrison Ford, this plea for optimism sounds oddly pessimistic. That’s how any dose of optimism feels these days, futile, like the piped-in noise at sporting events that’s supposed to fool me into thinking everything’s normal when what it does is not simply remind me how  abnormal it is but how profoundly skewed our priorities are. We’re more devoted to finding a way to play football than to control the pandemic. And though the former could well dovetail with the latter, finding a way to implement the same sort of rapid testing for athletes across the full spectrum of society, that would require true leadership at the top. Instead we are stranded with a shit-for-brains more concerned with personal grudges and paranoia than people, continually claiming we’re rounding the corner or glimpsing a light at the end of the tunnel, like he’s Captain Carol Burnett (Matt Damon) on that episode of “30 Rock” promising the plane will take off in another half-hour, publicly downplaying, to use his word, COVID-19 while privately he does nothing about it, focused instead on ostensible election fraud limited to the Facebook chat groups he apparently frequents and within the doughy environs of his minimal brain. And while I want nothing more than to believe everything will be fine come November, that norms will hold, that our election will transpire freely and fairly, so many meeting our faithless, fearful leader’s recurring fascist overtones with a mixture of Kool-Aid, cowardice, and slippery political calculus leaves me feeling less than optimistic. 


From a distance, that might not look like a bear. But it is a bear, I assure you, one we glimpsed not on the Falls cam this past Saturday but on the River cam, a little ways down the Naknek. This bear had staked out a shallow spot in the water, away from the shore, all on its lonesome, beneath the picturesque clouds, in the shadow of the mountain, and just...permission to speak freely? That bear just chilled the fuck out. Eschewing fishing and roving and rough-housing, that bear wasn’t doing, that bear was being, the apex of existence.

Being, what the French call Être, has been in short supply in 2020, if achievable at all. And if being is not the secret to life, though it may be, I’m still running tests, it is at the very least my own emotional sustenance. Without it, I’ve felt adrift, angry, exhausted. But that bear gave me hope. Not that everything will be all right, mind you, but that in this time of extreme unpleasantness, I might still summon the emotional wherewithal to be.

Thursday, September 24, 2020

Ray of Light

Earlier in the Pandemic, maybe in April, perhaps May, possibly June, who knows, time is irrelevant now, My Beautiful, Perspicacious Wife and I found an episode of “Murder, She Wrote” showing on one of those weird channels with commercials for things like a full-size replica of Noah’s Ark for $49.99. “Murder,” I said in faux-deep baritone while taking a long pause, “she wrote.” My Beautiful, Perspicacious Wife just looked at me with great concern. I explained that’s how Pat Summerall, the old CBS NFL play-by-play man, would read the “Murder, She Wrote” ads since it always followed “60 Minutes” which always followed pro football on CBS Sundays. Unlike, say, Christopher Walken, who once said his first task with any screenplay he received was to remove all his character’s punctuation, Summerall honored punctuation to a tee. It wasn’t “MurderSheWrote”, all the words inelegantly piled on top of one another, it was “Murder-“ dramatic pause “-She Wrote.”

There are many lost arts but this is one: sports broadcasters reading ads. Do they even read ads anymore? They must, if not like they once did when broadcast TV was paramount. With so many college football games on ESPN, I suppose, the only relevant ads, really, are for, like, SportsCenter and SportsCenter doesn’t leave as much room for flourish, frankly, as “Murder, She Wrote.” Not that I can hear Chris Fowler, or even Joe Tessitore, emphasizing that comma with similar Summerall-ian flair; reading ads is just a job requirement. 

It was not, however, just Summerall who read ads. I’ve been re-watching old Nebraska football games via YouTube in lieu of my beloved Cornhuskers playing new games so far this season. One game I watched was their 1987 wild-assed affair with Arizona State. Midway through, Keith Jackson, the signature voice of college football, was tasked with reading an ad. This ad:

Like Summerall, Jackson, when confronted with these obligatory ad reads, could not help but embellish. But where Summerall was succinct and monotone, so much so that you were not sure if he was even in on his own proper punctuation joke or if he was just reading it the way it was written, Jackson was folksy, alive to the absurdity.  

The above he read began this way: “Tonight a blonde bombshell finds true love on ‘Once a Hero.’” [Beat.] “That’s what it says here.”

At that moment you can practically see the incredulous look on Jackson’s face, as if the spotter to his right and the statistician to his left were snickering and he’s communicating, hey, this ad isn’t my idea. He continues:
“Then Daryl Hannah, Tom Hanks, and John Candy are involved in the biggest fish story in history.”

If initially he poked fun at the proceedings, here he gives that “biggest fish story in history” all he’s got, treating Ron Howard’s 1984 romantic comedy with as much reverence as he might, say, Eddie Robinson, (at that time) the winningest college football coach in history. I kept wondering what Jackson might have sounded like reading other movie ads. “They shouldn’t have put him in the water,” you can hear Jackson saying of the ABC Saturday Night Movie Special “Striking Distance,” “if they didn’t want him to make waves.” 

Summerall, on the other hand, would have been aces with “Signs.” “Then, after ‘60 Minutes’, M. Night Shyamalan’s ‘Signs.’” [Dramatic pause.] “It’s happening.” 

Wednesday, September 23, 2020

Cinema Romantico's Ultimate Hypothetical Movie Oral History

There has been a rash of movie oral histories the last few years. On one hand, I understand this, it’s a neat pitch to your editor, writing something like a mini tell-all about a movie with a relevant anniversary or that has recently returned to the discourse. But an oral history suggests a study of a movie paramount to the culture and the majority of movie oral histories these days……I dunno, man. Do we need an oral history for “Mighty Ducks”? “She’s All That”? I think the movie oral history might have finally jumped the shark when I clicked over to The Ringer the other day and found an oral history of “The Town.” “’The Town?’” I thought. “We need an oral history of ‘The Town?’” “The Town” is, like, fine, just fine, but an oral history? C’mon, man.

I know why there is an oral history of “The Town” on The Ringer, of course. The site’s founder is one of Boston’s most famous sons. If it’s your site, you get to commission whatever oral history you want. And that, as it had to, got me to thinking (instead of reading the oral history of “The Town”). Because if Cinema Romantico were to commission an oral history, what oral history would it be?

An oral history of… The Paperboy. I have so many questions for Nicole Kidman. In fact, if the writer (me) gave the rough draft of the oral history to the chief editor (me), the chief editor would probably say, “Wait, this isn’t an oral history. This is an interview with Nicole Kidman. Why are there so many questions about ‘Australia?’ Why are there even more questions about ‘Malice?’”

An oral history of… Elizabethtown. It is not so much that Cameron Crowe’s, shall we say, less than lauded romantic comedy possessed a semi-troubled production history and an unexpected pop culture afterlife that would render it perfect for an oral history as it is Cinema Romantico, an avowed “Elizabethtown” stan, being the only blog in the stars willing to take on this task.

An oral history of… Cocktail. Coughlin’s Law: the clearest truth lies at the bottom of the glass.

An oral history of... L.A. Story. Honoring the film’s coffee ordering scene, an entire oral history done in the space of 20 seconds.

An oral history of... Ocean’s Twelve. The film’s own loopy artiness examining artifice and performance feels like the perfect vessel for satirizing the oral history. Then again, I don’t want my send up of the genre to be quite so conspicuous. Which is why I might also consider...

An oral history of… The Fugitive. If only because this movie had arguably Hollywood’s two most irascible leads as its stars who would probably grunt off participating meaning that the entire oral history of “The Fugitive” would be left to Joe Pantoliano and Julianne Moore and Jeroen Krabbé and Richard Riehle and Tom Wood.  

An oral history of… Serendipity. Like “Elizabethtown”, which we love as equally, if not as equally questionably, as this unremembered not holiday classic, we would treat a “Serendipity” oral history seriously. So seriously, in fact, that it would be less revealing, never mind interesting, than just kind of confounding, a series of interview subjects – Cusack, Beckinsale, Leo Fitzpatrick as the heroic leasing temp – expressing palpable confusion as to why this movie has an oral history in the first place.

Tuesday, September 22, 2020

The Sleepover

“The Sleepover” opens with adolescent Kevin Finch (Maxwell Simkins) standing before his grade school class, tasked with giving a speech about his family history but reciting the plot of Ridley Scott’s 2015 film “The Martian” instead. His teacher calls him out, of course, and his dad, Ron (Ken Marino), lightly scolds him. If it is meant to be funny, it is also intended to evoke Kevin’s penchant for tall tales and how “The Sleepover” will gradually become a tall tale itself as Kevin and his sister, Clancy (Sadie Stanley), discover their mother, Margot (Malin Akerman), is a high end thief in witness protection. But Kevin reciting the plot of “The Martian” rather than concocting his own cockamamie story from scratch also evokes how director Trish Sie’s film is less an original movie, in narrative or rendering, than so many borrowed ingredients and spare parts. It was distributed by Netflix, after all, just another cog in its content machine, where the ultimate point is not so much carefully crafting a fresh product as following a formula to get it made as soon as possible to upload it and provide the masses something else to watch. “The Sleepover” is one part “Goonies”, one part “Spy Kids”, one part “Adventures in Babysitting”, one part “Date Night” but with little creativity and even less panache of its own, a movie as a Jetson food pill, the kind not really designed to be criticized, let alone reviewed, never mind enjoyed, just consumed. 

Even the film’s title proves perfunctory as the sleepover in question, in which Kevin’s friend Lewis (Lucas Jaye) stays over the same night Clancy plans to sneak out with her best friend Mim (Cree Cicchino), is mostly just an excuse for this quartet to be present when Margot and Ron are kidnapped by thieves from her previous life after an inadvertent viral video betrays her location. After disappearing, a U.S. Marshal (Erik Griffin), having become aware of Margot’s exposure, appears, tied up by the kids in Christmas lights and questioned. It’s not a striking image, per se, though it sticks out given the film’s basic visual template, but it at least suggests a sort of rewiring of a cliché, putting the kid gloves on hostage-taking, or something, a quality in scant supply. Indeed,  as “The Sleepover” progresses, flitting back and forth between the kids searching for their parents and their parents trying to survive being enlisted for a big heist, it rarely sees these events through the eyes of a child. 

“Adventures in Babysitting” may have been trite in its romantic machinations, with one hopeless crush juxtaposed against another hopeless crush, but it succeeded by virtue of so many joyfully outlandish set pieces – need I mention The Babysitting Blues? “The Sleepover”, on the other hand, manages little in the way of such inventive spirit, falling back on typical genre elements, like a tricked out car the kids briefly pilot, a sequence that was played out when Richard Grieco did it in “If Looks Could Kill.” (Another ingredient!) “The Goonies”, meanwhile, in both its narrative and Oregon locations, embodied a true sense of adventure, getting lost somewhere else. Its characters, as its nicknames attest, were archetypes but also felt alive. The atmosphere of “The Sleepover”, however, is as sterile as the mansion where everyone eventually meets while the characters are reduced to tics, like Clancy’s fear of playing cello in public, that are never elevated beyond the humdrum, the child performances simply not enough to compensate. 

In the adult storyline, meanwhile, Margot is supposed to be tempted by a return to her old lifestyle, though Akerman never quite plays it that way, offsetting any of the ostensible tension between her and Marino. As if sensing this, then, Marino just goes all in on comedy. In doing so, the ideas of strengthening a romantic and familial bond just sort of fall by the wayside, overrun by his fish out of water insistence, though who knows what else he was supposed to do. When the movie won’t even give you lemons, just run around like a chicken with your head cut off. 

Monday, September 21, 2020

Bill & Ted Face the Music

Earlier this year, at the height of the boomer v millennial war raging across the Interwebs, Alex Pappademas wrote a piece from the perspective of Generation X, framing their notorious ambivalence and insignificance through the doomed campaign of its first Presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke. Pappademas concluded by urging them (okay, okay, us) to eschew statues and forgo naming monuments for our own, aligning ourselves instead with younger generations to offer help in any way we can since, hey, it’s their world now. Of course, William S. Preston Esq. (Alex Winter) and Theodore Logan (Keanu Reeves), two of cinema’s most celebrated Gen Xers, wound up with statues and schools named after themselves in a future they helped create, having saved the world, seemingly at odds with the entreaty of Pappademas. But then, that apparent incongruity is what renders “Bill & Ted Face the Music”, the third film in this series after 1989’s “Excellent Adventure” and 1991’s “Bogus Journey”, as something more than a quick cash grab, which would have been antithetical to Generation X, and more like a proper framing of the historical record. 

When last we left Bill & Ted, they and their band, Wyld Stallyns, had won Battle of the Bands, tendering utopia across the land. “Face the Music”, however, opens with a prologue evoking a VH1 Behind the Music special which, as any Gen Xer who sacked out on the couch for a whole weekend during the 90s can tell you, never end well. It does not end well for Bill & Ted. Though it is prophesied they will write and perform the song uniting the whole world in rhythm, the two middle-aged San Dimas dudes have hit a songwriting wall, uncertain that fulfilling the prophecy is in them. “I’m tired, dude,” Ted says to Bill. Where once the tenor of Reeves’s So Co Spicoli-ish voice sounded so carefree, so earnest, so youthful, in this line reading it bears all the tire marks of middle age, a surprisingly poignant, even painful, moment of which there are many in “Face the Music” despite its commitment to comedy.

Indeed, even Bill & Ted’s bro bond, once their greatest strength, has become a weakness. Bill & Ted’s wives, the Princesses, Joanna (Jayma Mayes) and Elizabeth (Erinn Hayes), have grown weary of their husband’s emotional entwinement, so pronounced the couples reside in side-by-side homes, and insist on therapy. Rather than attend a session one couple at a time, however, Bill & Ted and Joanna & Elizabeth attend together, much to the comical confusion of the therapist (Jillian Bell), who tries ridding these two dudes of their tendency to see Joanna and Elizabeth strictly through the prism of their own inseparable friendship. Director Dean Parisot, though, is not interested in placing this co-dependency under the microscope, just humorously acknowledging it and moving on. There are more pressing matters, in a manner of speaking, namely that time and space are about to collapse in on themselves because Bill & Ted have failed to write their world-saving song. As such, the two friends time-travel into the future to try and find the place where the song exists and bring it back, a tacit acknowledgment of where their own present failure, providing a twinge of melancholy to the entire quest.

Keeping with the spirit of twos, a parallel story emerges. As Bill & Ted go forward, their daughters, Wilhelmina “Billie” Logan (Brigette Lundy-Paine) and Theadora “Thea” Preston (Samara Weaving) go back in time, creating a band out of most excellent musicians who will help their dads play the song to save the world. As both these stories unfold, in the future, The Great Leader (Holland Taylor), convinced Bill & Ted’s death, not their song, will heal the world, dispatches a robot (Anthony Carrigan) to kill these two would-be rockers. Carrigan is funny in playing a kind of confused, mechanized version of self-actualization though, alas, Kristen Schaal as Kelly, the daughter of The Great Leader, feels constrained, which is no easy anti-accomplishment given her unique zaniness.

Of course, it’s not really Schaal’s movie, nor Carrigan’s, not even William Sadler’s, back again as bass-playing Death, this time playing the Grim Reaper as something akin to a day job until such time as he can get back into the recording studio and jam. No, this is Winter and Reeves’s movie and the nearly 30-year break has not lessened their surfer dude screwball rhythms – listening, absorbing, confirming, proceeding – which in our present world, where most comedy is digested in GIF-sized bits, feels at once archaic and refreshing, as Zen-like as it ever was. The fate of the world might be at stake, but they take the edge off. Lundy-Paine and Weaving, meanwhile, rise to the occasion by not doing Winter and Reeves impressions, not exactly, more exuding the sensation of having inherited their dads’ prominent tics while still existing on their own wavelength. They also prove to be more talented, more informed musicians than their fathers, not just “Face the Music’s” secret ingredient but its ultimate message, the daughters’ movie as much as the dads’.

There are elements of a mid-life crisis movie here. In their time-travels, Bill & Ted confront older, disappointing versions of themselves before eventually confronting their elderly selves seemingly near death. But the whole point of death in “Bogus Journey” was to prove that it’s nothing to fear and that holds true here. If there is almost too much plot, so much so that sometimes “Face the Music” can feel as if it is spinning its wheels, that also feels true to Bill & Ted’s quest, which comes to be less about saving the world, in fact, than watching the world pass them by. Their prophecy gives way to insignificance, innately Gen X and true to Pappademas’s plea for deference. Bill & Ted don’t so much face the music, it turns outs, as pass the torch.

Friday, September 18, 2020

Friday's Old Fashioned: The Italian Job (1969)

The opening credits of “The Italian Job” (1969) show what movies can do. A Lamborghini Miura, piloted by Roger Beckermann (Rossano Brazzi), a cigarette coolly dangling from his lips, winds its way along the Colle del Gran San Bernardo connecting Switzerland and Italy, putting us right in the passenger seat for head-spinning panoramic views of the Western Alps. Sure, sure, Beckermann is not long for this world, his luxurious car blown up in a mountain tunnel by the Italian mob, of whom this notorious thief has run afoul. But that’s not going to mellow “The Italian Job’s” buzz. We see Beckermann again, in fact, via video, passing along details to ex-con Charlie Croker (Michael Caine) about the heist of $4 million in gold giving the movie its title. It’s akin to the IMF receiving instruction in the “Mission: Impossible” TV series and subsequent movies, though less serious, underscored in how Charlie is snacking as he receives Beckermann’s casual directive. The side profile shot of Charlie, looking up at the screen, makes him look for all the world like he’s watching a movie. 

The proper story starts with Charlie exiting jail and going straight to a suit-fitting in a stolen car, demonstrating the film’s prevalent carefree attitude. Indeed, he picks up the plans for the job from Beckermann’s widow (Lelia Goldoni), dressed in black but willing to interrupt her mourning for a roll in the hay with Charlie. The scene segueing to this roll in the hay, in fact, contains a multitude of rolls in the hay, Charlie finding himself in the company of 12, 13, 14, 15, who knows, young women, all of whom have been enlisted purely for his pleasure. Afterwards, he departs the room and enters the hallway, wobbly, hardly able to stand he’s so worn down, and in that moment you can see the line connecting Michael Caine to Mike Myers as Austin Powers.

This is the Swinging 60s, after all, pre-crisis of British manhood, the one A.O. Scott wryly mentioned in his review of “About Time.” In “The Italian Job”, the sun, to paraphrase Scott, has not yet set on “John Bull’s manly old empire.” Quite the contrary, as Charlie goes to show, not to mention Mr. Bridger (Noel Coward), the gang’s benefactor who, despite being locked up in prison, is nothing less than a sort of virtual British King. His introduction is pompously played to the hilarious hilt, escorted to the bathroom by several deferential guards, accompanied by Rule Brittania on harpsichord, a kind of metaphorical ascent to the, ahem, throne. Not to suggest he doesn’t rule with an iron fist. Coward, that old pro, improbably combines the vibe of King George III in “Hamilton” with Michael Caine’s own Jack Carter, a mafioso as royalty, or something, epitomizing the movie’s tendency toward both goofball and violence.

The team Charlie puts in place is mostly beside the point, even Benny Hill as the computer expert enlisted to manipulate a traffic jam so the crew can pilfer the gold who offer suffers form a particular fetish, one intended to generate a few ostensible laughs. Maybe it was A Different Time, I don’t know, but they seemed like jokes that would still play in 2020 at Mar-a-Lago which means they’ve always just been south of sophomoric and manifestly stupid. In any event, Caine’s performance is truly that of a team leader, massaging egos but also breaking skulls, in a manner of speaking, when required. Caine impeccably manages these disparate tones, the master of ceremonies and the star of the show, the Danny Ocean and the Rusty Ryan and even the Linus Caldwell, getting off a few good disbelieving one-liners. 

Unlike modern films in this vein, “The Italian Job” is in no hurry, taking its sweet time to put all the pieces in place for the heist, where the crew’s escape vehicles from the scene of the crime are Mini-Coopers, a Union Jack as mode of transport. This glorious car chase is epitomized in the moment when the fleet ascends the Fiat Building, evades the cops and then descends, captured not in suspenseful close-ups but frequent, comical long shots, letting us take in the whole scene like an entertained spectator. The cop cars are less pursuers than continual butts of the joke, like the sequence where they haplessly try following the Mini-Coopers thrrough the River Po and across a low dam. This moment, like others, is scored to Don Black and Quincy Jones’s “The Self Preservation Society”, underlining the inherent comedy, though the chase is equally funny when remaining au natural, such as the Mini-Coopers briefly invading a wedding party as the cars roll down the church steps. A stunt in which a car jumps from roof to roof was so dangerous that producer Michael Deely apparently had a plane on standby to whisk him out of the country in case things went wrong and the Italian authorities came calling. Perhaps that is hyperbole, but it speaks to how a movie can transform something so precarious in reality into something so blithesome on screen.

The chase ends, of course, high in the Alps with a literal cliffhanger. Perhaps, as some have convincingly argued, this emblemized Britain’s place in the world at that moment in time. Or perhaps it just goes to show that how it ends doesn’t really matter after all the joyful thrills we’ve already been through.

Thursday, September 17, 2020

Ray of Light

Though this blog’s beloved “Roxanne” was released in the 80s, a very, shall we say, specific looking, feeling, sounding decade, it simultaneously cultivated a feeling of timelessness. This stemmed from its source material, Edmond Rostand’s everlasting 1897 play Cyrano de Bergerac, and which was emphasized in both Steve Martin’s often courtly, if relentlessly comical, air and in the soundtrack, employing Strauss’s Blue Danube Waltz and a Mozart string quartet. Still, if there was a decade that was difficult to entirely excise from a film, even a nominally ageless one, it was the 1980s. And so, the Me Decade emerges in “Roxanne” anyway, in the fashion, like Daryl Hannah’s striking jean jacket, and the music, which is not all familiar classical arrangements. The “Roxanne” score is a vintage slice of 80s synthesizer and soft rock saxophone, yes, but I’m thinking just as much about another song, one that appears in the background during a scene at the small Washington ski town watering hole.

It is not a song that dominates the scene like Teena Marie’s “Lead Me On” when Maverick and Goose enter the “target rich environment” in “Top Gun” because “Roxanne” is not that kind of movie. But the song is noticeable, underlining Roxanne’s would-be romance with Rick Rossovich’s hunky but hapless firefighter, and my ears always perked up when I heard it. It was not, alas, included on the official soundtrack, near as I can tell, though IMDb’s soundtrack credits helpfully list it. Oh. Right. The song. It’s called “Can This Be Love?”, written by Janet Minto, Pamela Barlow, Rick Boston, and some dude named –(assumes Dave Barry voice) I’m not making this up – Jeff “Skunk” Baxter. I dunno. A Jeff “Skunk” Baxter track seems like it would be more Skynyrd-y to me but appearances deceive. And anyway, it was performed by Minto and Barlow, who, I learned through the helpful Reverb Nation, were a songwriting duo in the 80s who, as “Roxanne” suggests, dreamt up songs for TV and movies. (Minto was also once married to some guy whose name I forget.) And Reverb Nation, as you can see below, helpfully provides the cut that the official soundtrack does not, one a little more buoyant in its club-readiness than Teena Marie’s boldly swaggering cut.

I have nothing else to say. Why would I? This Ray of Light is purely about the song, which flashes us back to, well, who are we kidding here, not a better time, per se, but that one its brief, transfixing spell of pure 80s provides resplendent temporary amnesia. Feel the glow! Let it show!