Tag Archives: Ellen Barkin

The Set of 400: #281 – My Favorite Radio War of the Worlds Explanation

Today! Because it’s not my goddamn planet. Understand, monkey boy?

The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension (1984)

Directed by W.D. Richter

Starring Peter Weller, John Lithgow (x2), Ellen Barkin (x2), Christopher Lloyd (x3), Jeff Goldblum (x2), Lewis Smith, Clancy Brown, Rosalind Cash, Ronald Lacey, Vincent Schiavelli (x3), Carl Lumbly, Dan Hedaya, Jonathan Banks, John Ashton, Yakov Smirnoff

Playing like the third or fourth sequel to a property that didn’t previously exist, The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension doesn’t waste a ton of time explaining the hows and whys of the title character – a brain surgeon/rock musician who heads up a crime fighting team named the Hong Kong Cavaliers, none of whom appear to be from southern China. But there’s no reason to get too bogged down in all that – this movie plunges you straight into the action, with Banzai breaking the ethereal barrier to the 8th Dimension, and all the alien invasion/global intrigue that follows.

Quite the crew!

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The Set of 400: #358 – My Favorite Genital Surprise

Today! Because you’ve got to be a fucking Rembrandt to put on makeup –

Switch (1991)

Directed by Blake Edwards

Starring Ellen Barkin, Jimmy Smits, JoBeth Williams, Lorraine Bracco (x2), Tony Roberts, Perry King, Lysette Anthony, Catherine Keener, Bruce Payne, Jim J. Bullock, Tea Leoni, Michael Badalucco, Victoria Mahoney, Basil Hoffman

Not to be confused with the Bateman/Aniston film of the same name plus a TheSwitch was another cable staple of mine from the early ’90s, and man, the characters largely do not hold up. It’s a bunch of ’80s chauvinist dudes and vengeful, bitchy women thrown into a light-hearted Blake Edwards romp. It’s as 1991 as a movie can feel. Oh hey, and our second jaunt through ’91 in three days! I told you it’d get some love!

So while a lot of the antics are dated and borderline offense in retrospect, the reason this movie retains a spot on this big list is wholly Ellen Barkin’s tremendous performance, as the murdered jerk Steve reincarnated (that’s not really the right word – transmogrified, I guess?) as a woman, in order to find any women who liked him, and thus get into heaven. Don’t worry about the plot, it wildly doesn’t try to make sense. And while it does pay some quick service to how hard it is to be a woman in this asshole-prism of a man’s world, this is mostly an excuse for dude-trapped-in-a-hot-woman’s-body hijinks, of which there are many. The early promise of Barkin’s career never totally panned out – even though she’s had a fairly solid run in movies and TV, by and large – but I’d have to say this is her best overall performance. And it carries this film through its awkward twists and turns and bar fights. Continue reading

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