People think the Cold War officially ended with the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989. That may technically be the right answer, but the actual end of the Cold War happened in Moscow on Christmas Day, 1985. That’s when American boxing champ Rocky Balboa knocked out Russian behemoth Ivan Drago in such a humiliating fashion that even his own countrymen were Team Rocky by the end of the slugfest. It was such a blow to morale that the USSR never recovered. Continue Reading →
Married to the Mob
Every month, we at The Spool select a filmmaker to explore in greater depth — their themes, their deeper concerns, how their works chart the history of cinema and the filmmaker’s own biography. For February, we’re celebrating acclaimed genre-bender Jonathan Demme. Read the rest of our coverage here.
So there’s this girl, okay? And she was bad for a long time and now she’s trying to be good. And there’s this boy, and he’s good too. Like, an officer of the law, good. He’s a real straight shooter and she’s a lady with a past but they meet and they spark and soon they’re in love. But there’s a problem - he needs her to go back to her old life and pretend she’s still bad to help catch some of the bad guys she used to run with; and if she doesn’t, she might get busted herself. That’s the plot to Jonathan Demme’s 1988 Married to the Mob. It’s also the plot to Alfred Hitchcock’s 1946 Notorious, but told from the woman’s perspective, and a comedy. The result is a sweet, oddball movie that works more than it doesn’t, but is a little at odds with itself. Demme’s desire to make a charming, screwball comedy about a bunch of wacky larger-than-life characters doesn’t always mix with his desire to subvert a cinema classic and show a woman trying to survive in a man’s world.
Michelle Pfeiffer stars as Angela de Marco, a dissatisfied mob wife who uses the death of her husband Frank (Alec Baldwin, maximum greasy) to leave the insular world of organized crime to start fresh. Her pampered life may have been suffocating but it was also very comfortable, and when the movie focuses on her struggle as a single mom in Manhattan it is funny and well observed. Her one room studio apartment with a toilet in the kitchen doesn’t impress her son and there’s not much work available for a former mob-wife with no employment history. But Angie is scrappy and doesn’t take any shit; so when she applies for a job at a chicken joint and catches the manager spying on her as she’s changing into her uniform, she storms out. Eventually, she’s hired at a local salon, run by a Jamaican immigrant named Rita (played by reggae singer and actress Sister Carol East). Continue Reading →