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  Into the Night It's Four In The Morning
Year: 1985
Director: John Landis
Stars: Jeff Goldblum, Michelle Pfeiffer, Richard Farnsworth, Irene Papas, Paul Mazursky, Roger Vadim, Kathryn Harrold, David Bowie, Dan Aykroyd, Carmen Argenziano, Michael Zand, Hadi Sadjadi, Bercue Gramian, John Landis, Bruce McGill, Vera Miles, Clu Gulager
Genre: ThrillerBuy from Amazon
Rating:  5 (from 2 votes)
Review: Ed Okin (Jeff Goldblum) is having a problem with life, but the only thing he can pin down about it for sure is the fact he can't sleep - he hasn't had a good night's slumber for a good five years. After spending another restless night, he gets up to have his breakfast and his wife (Stacey Pickren) asks him if he's all right, then tells him to "Have a nice day" as she walks out the door to go to work. This bothers Ed, and he tells his colleague Herb (Dan Aykroyd) so when he's driving him to their aerospace engineer jobs; Herb suggests that Ed should stop worrying and add a little excitement to his life, and how right he is...

Into the Night was director John Landis's first film after the Twilight Zone controversy, and as if to show their support a host of his fellow directors and industry people appeared for him in cameo roles, and even supporting parts. As for the narrative, it was one of those films where a professional type, dissatisfied with his lot, is whisked up in an adventure thanks to a mysterious woman: After Hours was probably the most extreme version, and one of the directors appearing was Jonathan Demme, who would offer his own idea of this plotline with Something Wild.

But something wild is what Into the Night is not, no matter how it strives to be, as it never picks up steam, moving from scene to scene with a real lack of tension. Part of the problem is Goldblum, who being an insomniac has a spaced out quality throughout meaning you never feel he is in any danger as he might wake up at any minute. There are sequences where Landis and scriptwriter Ron Koslow deliberately play with perceptions such as the visit to the television set, but not sufficiently to present a dreamlike atmosphere, never mind a nightmarish one.

The mysterious woman who Ed meets is Diana (Michelle Pfeiffer, not giving anything away), but not before he arrives home early from work to discover his wife in bed with another man. She doesn't know he knows, but understandably he is less than happy to spend another night in bed with her, so he gets up and starts to drive the streets of Los Angeles aimlessly. Stopping in an underground car park he is shocked when Diana lands on the hood of his car, rolls off and gets in the passenger side, demanding he start driving away from the four Iranians (including Landis for some reason) pursuing her with guns.

Here Ed's transition from a sleepwalking life into something more vital begins, although it's difficult to tell from Goldblum's bemused performance. The action takes place over the course of two nights and a day rather than one night alone, hopping from dangerous event to quirky set up without settling, but without injecting much excitement either. Ed helps Diana out of various scrapes, due to politeness it would seem, meeting an Elvis Presley impersonator, a selection of gangsters, a hitman played by David Bowie in (believe it or not) the film's best performance, and an Iranian Mrs Big, all because of stolen emeralds. It's a nice idea, almost an eighties variation on an Alfred Hitchcock theme, but it still feels flat and inconsequential. Music by Ira Newborn and B.B. King.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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John Landis  (1950 - )

American writer-director who made a big splash in the comedy genre, starting with The Kentucky Fried Movie, Animal House and The Blues Brothers. An American Werewolf in London was an innovative blend of comedy and horror, and remains his best film.

Mega-hit Trading Places followed, but after a tragic accident on the set of Twilight Zone: The Movie, Landis' talent seemed to desert him, and he offered up some increasingly unimpressive comedies. He returned briefly to horror with Innocent Blood, and after a long spell away helmed Brit comedy Burke and Hare; he also directed Michael Jackson's "Thriller" and "Black or White" videos.

 
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