by Erika Bromley and Patrick Bromley
Erika: Babe! It’s been a looooong time since we wrote a “Shelf Life.” 1996 week for F This Movie Fest (11th year!) seems like a good time to get back in the habit.
Patrick: I’m excited to be celebrating 1996 week with you! So many good movies came out that year. We’ve already been re-watching a bunch of the ones we own and have seen in the past, so it should be fun watching a couple ‘96 movies we own but have never seen.
Erika: It seems like 1996 was the year I really started seeing any movie I wanted to - and it makes sense: I was old enough to drive, I had an old, used Chrysler Laser that my grandparents and parents bought for me, and I was working after school and on weekends at a new job… Blockbuster Video! The '90s were a dream. As I browsed our 1996 movies (should we re-order our collection to be organized by release date?), Feeling Minnesota stuck out to me right away. First because I thought I had seen it. Keanu and Diaz, Delroy Lindo, a certain look on the DVD cover that I remember staring at 1,000 times on the Blockbuster Shelf, “Two Thumbs Up” from Siskel & Ebert… this movie screamed familiarity AND approval. But I could not remember one thing about the plot and quickly realized I had never actually watched it despite likely having taken it home from BBV 50 times. I know you’ve seen it. What did you remember most about it before this rewatch?
Patrick: So I actually saw Feeling Minnesota opening night back in 1996, but I’m not positive I’ve seen it since then. It was one of those movies I was super excited about because it combined things I loved: romance, violence, Keanu Reeves, and “I Will Dare” by The Replacements. I can’t remember hearing much about writer/director Steven Baigelman since this one came out, though a look at his IMDb page shows that he has continued to work, albeit not that often. My memory of the movie has always been that it’s not as good as I wish it was but that it ultimately wins me over by virtue of its casting, which is pretty fantastic. It’s one of those movies in which everyone who shows up is someone you’re happy to see show up.
Patrick: I do remember your silver Laser! It was one of the earliest things I loved about you. There are so many more.
My aforementioned affection for the cast and my nostalgia for this period go a long way towards making the movie still watchable for me, because this viewing made me realize it’s maybe not all that good. I’m not sure I have much patience for this kind of post-Tarantino nonsense anymore, in which lovable losers plot and scheme and kill one another. Done right, it can make for some of my favorite movies of all time (you mentioned True Romance when we were watching it), but Feeling Minnesota isn’t really an example of the formula done right. There’s plenty of stuff I like, be it some of the performances or some music choices or the image of Cameron Diaz running away from a pursuing car in a wedding dress, but it’s all disjointed and weirdly dull beyond a certain point. There’s a big thing that happens that makes me check out and I don’t know if the movie ever recovers. I don’t want to say too much.
This was your first viewing. What did you think? Was it everything you hoped it would be when you saw that cover box at BBV in the ‘90s?
Erika: Everything and more. No -- actually, it exceeded my expectations in the way that almost any movie can on a certain day where you just feel like watching a movie with big stars doing… anything. That almost sounds like a diss on the film, but I don’t mean it that way. For the past few months, I’ve realized that I really miss star-studded studio movies -- which this in 1996 was not! Sure, it has a great cast, but I would not define it as a typical “studio movie” for that time. Watching it now, it feels like something we just never get anymore. A version of this today doesn’t have stars like Diaz and Reeves -- and while that it totally ok, I do miss when we had more of a variety in terms of budgets, studios, stars, independents, etc. I think you know where I am going with this, but I don’t even want to go there.
Patrick: Yeah, I like the actors but I don’t think the movie is great. Watching it with you was so much fun, though, just like watching all these movies from 1996 with you has been fun. Was it really a better time for movies or are we just nostalgic for that time in our lives?
Patrick: My pick is something of a cheat on a couple of different levels: first, we didn’t own it at the time I picked it and I had to order it from Amazon (we didn’t own any ‘96 movies I haven’t seen and it’s a movie I have wanted to own since it was released if that helps) and second that it only played for like one month in one theater in 1996 but still counts as a ‘96 release. It’s Albert Pyun’s Adrenalin: Fear the Rush, a Pyun joint I’ve never seen until now.
Erika: I am glad you included that note - but also, I knew you would, because we both have an allergy to misrepresenting things like that. I wonder if people who don’t know us very well know that about our personalities. Big picture: it is SO not important to anyone I’m sure, but I always have liked that we both are similar in that way. I can’t even share an article on social media without giving credit to the friend who sent it to me or first shared it - even if they would never know.
Patrick: Never apologize.
Erika: My first takeaway -- this story is about people being quarantined due to a virus. Ummm… what were we thinking?
Patrick: Yeah, those first few minutes hit pretty close to home, didn’t they? Thankfully, the rest of the movie didn’t, as it just involves Henstridge and Christopher Lambert and a couple of other future cops (the distant future of 2007) chasing down a mutant in an abandoned prison before it can infect the entire population. It’s a pretty straightforward premise, brought to life with Pyun’s usual energy and visual flair.
Like most Pyun movies, Adrenalin: Fear the Rush (a terrible title that could literally mean anything) was taken away from the director and recut, in this case by the Weinsteins, from 117 minutes down to a trim 76. It’s all action, no character, and while it works in its own way, I’m of course much more interested in the Pyun cut. Apparently that version is available on a Dutch DVD that we probably won’t be buying. The movie is clearly shot and set in Eastern Europe, but the Weinsten cut changes the location to the least convincing Boston I’ve ever seen on film. Feah the rush, kid!
Important question: was this your first Pyun?
Erika: Nope! I’ve seen the video for “Blood and Roses” by The Smithereens that Pyun is credited as having directed. Same with Ice-T’s “Always Wanted to be a Ho.” I know you KNOW Pyun, but do you REALLY know all of Pyun?
Patrick: He’s made so many movies that very few people REALLY know all of Pyun, including me. I do my best.
Erika: I also saw Nemesis as a part of your birthday tweet-a-long that we did in March of 2020 near the start of most people sheltering in place during this pandemic. Even though it was a couple weeks after F This Move Fest, people were still really into it and loved it! Since we were still in “major SIP” last year, we did #FPatricksBirthday again, but this year… you are telling me I absolutely cannot plan it. Boo.
Patrick: People are sick of me. I don’t want to make it any worse.
Erika: Fine. I’ll RESPECT YOUR WISHES I guess. I remember thinking Nemesis was fun to watch with a group like that, but I sadly don’t remember it enough. I do feel like I’ve sort of absorbed Pyun just by living in a house with you. You’ve often had Pyun on while I am grading papers or similar, for example. But this was a dedicated, proper, focused Pyun for me. I liked it enough?! I couldn’t get over all the quarantine imagery. I was very happy to see Natasha Henstridge as previously mentioned. I don’t know that this one has anything I’ll need to revisit it for, but a film like Cyborg which I know he directed seems to have more of the elements I would be looking for in a Pyun movie. Do you agree?
Erika: “Pyun with You” is the name of my next (first?) romantic comedy script. And subsequent book and podcast. No one is allowed to steal this. I just trademarked it. Let’s finish this piece with your top five Pyun that anyone reading should check out if they are interested in discovering more of his work!
Patrick: Right now, it would be:
The Sword & The Sorcerer
Brain Smasher: A Love Story
This is all subject to change, of course, because my favorites are constantly fluctuating.
Erika: Thanks for watching these with me, Babe. I’m not sick of you yet. But I am sick of the giant gaps between each of our Shelf Life pieces! Maybe we can hit a new goal for 2022!
Patrick: I’m into it. Happy 1996 week, Bue!