Editor’s Note: Madness To Creation had such an amazing experience interviewing one of Hollywood’s elite journalists and movie critics in Tara McNamara. In this interview, we are going to learn about her HDNet Iconic 80’s with Lea Thompson, along with getting inside her mind on how she critiques movies, along with the role that women and sexuality plays in movies nowadays. Fans can follow Tara McNamara at the following location:
Fans can also check out more information on the special here.
Madness To Creation: I am so excited to talk with esteemed journalist Tara McNamara on her 80’s Movie Week with Lea Thompson, which is appearing on HDNet Movies this week. Give us a plug on what fans can expect.
Tara: I’m really excited about it too. “Iconic 80’s” on HDNet Movies from July 22nd to July 27th, with the 80’s movies, We’re going through a nostalgia phase right now, and they have such an interesting collection of films that are all worth seeing and exploring. Some of them are great, some of them are not great, but I think the cool thing is looking at these films and seeing how people are today, the 80’s were the formative years as it’s just an interesting time in film, the fact that there was a genre called “teen sex comedy”, and that’s something that doesn’t exist anymore for good reason, but there’s so many different things that we can see how we became who we are today or they’re time capsules, we can look back and see what was going on at the time, so I’m just thrilled about this event.
Madness To Creation: What movie or experience are you looking forward to the most at this event?
Tara: I think the kickoff night July 22nd is really exciting, we’re kicking off with a film called “Some Kind of Wonderful”, which is a John Hughes/Howard Deutch film and of course stars Lea Thompson, but I think it’s really important too because Lea is celebrating on the 23rd, the next day of our movie event, she’s celebrating the 30th anniversary of her wedding to Howard Deutch, the director of “Some Kind of Wonderful”, so I think that’s really special and awesome, and I love the fact that Amanda Jones walked away with some of the guys in the film, I mean it’s Amanda Jones, she’s going to get the guy that she wanted and she wantedthe director! *laughs*
But another movie that she stars in that a lot of people dismiss, or they haven’t seen it or heard of it, but I think is so worth watching is “Casual Sex?”, it was the first film that addressed AIDS and its impact, most of the films covered how it affected the gay community, this one covered how it affected dating, and it really takes you through what was going on and how difficult it was to be a woman at that time, in the early 80’s, sex was on an equal footing, but by the end of the 80’s, it really shifted, and we started to get into women feeling really shameful about it, and the films covered that and it covered how the dating pool was at that time, it really fascinates, and it also shows today as we try to give more female directors a voice and are more conscientious about that as this was an almost all-female production, and how the studio gets involved and how the male voices get involved, and it completely derails the film. For example, Andrew Dice Clay was hired as he was supposed to be a joke and he’s the buffoon of the film, and the way they painted it completely altered the film, I don’t want to give away too much, and if you haven’t seen it, I want you to watch it.
And then there’s “St. Elmo’s Fire”, which is such a great 80’s film, which gave us “The Brat Pack”, and I love it, it’s one of my favorite films, and they wrap up on Monday with “Johnny B. Goode” with Anthony Michael Hall and Robert Downey Jr. in ways we have never seen them before. *laughs* Anthony Michael Hall is this football hero, he is the cool guy, he is not the nerd, and Robert Downey Jr is this frenetic off-the-wall sidekick where they must’ve let him go, he’s just insane. I am thrilled about every night, but the 22nd is just an amazing, amazing lineup. I know that this site covers music, so Xanadu is being shown on July 25th, and it’s such an amazing and beautiful film.
Madness To Creation: I cannot wait for my readers to check this out. You brought up an interesting point that I want to touch on, and that’s misogynistic treatment of women in the 80’s, In your view as a film critic, has there been a paradigm shift, or how do you see that in your view?
Tara: I’ve been covering films for 15 years, and I work a lot with the family-based films, so I’ve been really impressed with how responsible Hollywood has become when it comes to covering women, it’s now so noticeable when women are being treated like an object or is sexualized. One thing that you think of is the teen pregnancy rate, it sounded really dramatic from the 80’s, a lot of people credited “Teen Mom” for that, but I think it’s the movies. If you look at the 80’s, when you’re a teenager or younger than that, you’re always looking to films subconsciously and you’re looking for clues on how you’re supposed to behave, “oh that’s how a 13 year old acts, oh that’s how a 17 year old acts, oh that’s how I’m supposed to be when I’m 21”, but when you’re viewing a film, it’s such an immersive environment and your brain is shut off, but it’s still collecting those messages, so if you look at movies from the 80’s, teenagers had nothing else on their minds besides having sex and being angry at authority, even with a movie like “Footloose”, they show a scene where Ariel and Chuck are buttoning up their pants in a field, it’s in there every single time, and now teenagers don’t have sex unless they’re in a monogamous relationship, it is well thought out, and it’s simply not on-screen and I think we’re not sexualizing our teenagers now, I think that’s different.
Madness To Creation: Let’s transition towards your film journalism career. Tell us about your craziest interview or someone that the public has a misconception about but is like the biggest sweetheart of a person.
Tara: I have two answers for those questions. The craziest interview I’ve ever conducted was with Miley Cyrus. I interviewed her during her Hannah Montana days for Variety. She was being recognized for her accomplishments and she called me from the set of Hannah Montana and I asked her about her music environment, I just asked her about her country music audience because of her dad and how they loved you, and I asked her, “have you ever thought about doing country music”, and she got really indignant and said that her dad did not make country music, and she got really angry, and I said would there ever be a moment, and then she hung up on me. I know! I do feel that she has came a long way, and I do have a theory on Miley Cyrus that we can get into another time. *laughs*
Madness To Creation: I would love to follow up with you on that, maybe some other time we can!
Tara: Absolutely! This is totally off the subject on what we’re talking about but I think that Billy Ray Cyrus was really mistreated by the country music community while having a crossover hit, and I have no doubt that Miley was aware of that, and she doesn’t want to be controlled like that and she wants to develop her own image, but that’s for another conversation for another time. But the interview that has surprised me was with Nicole Kidman. It’s clear that being a mother was the most important thing to her, she’s been a mother in every way that she can, she’s adopted, she’s had a pregnancy of her own, she’s had a surrogate, so this is something that matters to her, and I asked her why [at that time] she hasn’t played a mother in any films other than horror films, first of all, she’s really warm, sweet, and funny, which I don’t think always translates into her films. She told me that people don’t see her that way and she said that in a really sad way, and I felt bad for her and I told her, “you’re a producer now, why don’t you put yourself in that kind of role”, and since then she has, so I’m taking responsibility for that.
Madness To Creation: That’s awesome, way to help guide a famous movie star in Hollywood!
Tara: That will be my victory! *laughs* But I really think that she is wonderful, and is also terribly shy, and I think that kind of comes off as cold sometimes, but I think over the years she’s showing to be a warmer person on-screen.
Madness To Creation: You’re called The Family Flick Chick. When you’re getting ready to critique a film, what are a couple of nuances that you look for?
Tara: I think that when films inspire independent thought, although sometimes filmmakers do that in a way that’s appalling, but I think that’s also encouraged. What I’ve learned is that parents have different trigger points, things that upset them, so in the family film space, I work with Common Sense Media, and they’ve done a really great job of breaking things down by category. For me, the way sex is portrayed in films that it’s shown to concerns me, that is my number one thing. Cursing I can live with, but I know people that get upset when there’s a lot of foul language in films, and for other people, it’s violence. As a parent, we all have that one thing that really bothers us. I’ll tell you one thing that I’ve really learned from running a site where kids are the movie critics, is that they’re taught not to curse, and when there’s cursing in a film, it pulls them out of the movie, because they think, “whoa, you’re not supposed to be cursing”, but when there is a curse word, it could be because the filmmakers are just putting their own voice in it. I think “Guardians of the Galaxy” is a really good example of that, and that’s more about the filmmakers than the need to curse, it really pulls them out of the moment, it really makes them, but they also feel that they need to include it in order to make it feel authentic to teenagers, but with teenagers if they didn’t put it in there, they wouldn’t really notice.
Madness To Creation: We also cover mental health awareness here, do you see films nowadays addressing mental health concerns today? What is your take on that?
Tara: Absolutely, I think this is something that we’re getting into more and more as it is affecting our society more and more, as we are more aware of mental health. In the movie “St. Elmo’s Fire”, Jules(Demi Moore) is definitely going through something, she is really having a mental health crisis to some degree, and it’s not really until the end that some of her friends recognize that is what is going on with her as she is engaging in really risky behavior, as it is such an 80’s film that they’re concerned about her dating her boss, but not worried about the fact that she’s snorting coke constantly! *laughs* But I do think we’re seeing that being addressed more and more, it’s what Hollywood is so good at doing, Hollywood really has the ability to open people’s minds, change people’s perspectives, and being able to give the audience another way to think for all of us to be on the same page. A movie that I was just thinking about is called “The Farewell”, but it’s not so much about mental health, but it’s about culture and it really challenges what us Westerners and us Americans think is sort of the way to act, it’s fascinating to think about the way that the audience is supposed to think about their own perspective on something that all of us Americans believe is the right way to behave, looking at what is ethical and not ethical, I think that is something that Hollywood has the power to change, and I think they’re actively working on it.
Madness To Creation: Absolutely, we all need help in shedding light onto mental health. Before I let you go, why don’t you give one last plug on your 80’s Movie Week on HDNet Movies with Lea Thompson.
Tara: I really hope everyone watches, and every single night we show four films, on Wednesday we can look at misunderstood creatures and family films, for instance, “The Toy” is in there is something that you have to see, I mean Richard Pryor is in a family film! It’s so bizarre because you have a rich white Southern kid buying a black man to be his toy, it’s crazy on that level, but on another level it speaks on what is going on with kids and parents at the time, kids were kind of questioning the way they were being parented and parents were sort of very distracted in the 80’s, and they’re all making money and really starting to get into this materialistic world, which only escalated as the 80’s continued, and how much kids resented that, they really only wanted their family to be with them, but we only thought about that because we didn’t have a war or a financial crisis or something that could bring our country together, when those things happen it brings us together to focus on things like that. But I think every single night really offers something special. On Saturday, you have films like “Stripes”, “Seems Like Old Times”, and “Neighbors”, but every single night has something really amazing and worth watching, it will leave you smiling or leave you aghast, one way or the other *laughs*, but I really hope everyone watches and enjoys it.
Madness To Creation: This has been a delight, you have such a warm and bright personality, this was one of the most fun interviews I have ever done.
Tara: Thanks so much for interviewing me, I really appreciate it, let’s talk again soon!
And there you have it! Check out the schedule for “Iconic 80’s with Lea Thompson” on HDNet Movies:
Mon., July 22
SOME KIND OF WONDERFUL (1987) – 8pE
CASUAL SEX? (1988) – 9:45p
ELMO’S FIRE(1985) – 11:20pE
JOHNNY BE GOOD (1988) – 1:15aE
Tues., July 23
PUNCHLINE (1988) – 8pE
MY STEPMOTHER IS AN ALIEN (1988) – 10:05pE
THE INCREDIBLE SHRINKING WOMAN (1981) – 12aE
REPO MAN (1984) – 1:40aE
Wed., July 24
HARRY AND THE HENDERSONS (1987) – 8pE
SHORT CIRCUIT (1986) – 9:55pE
THE TOY (1982) – 11:40pE
THREE O’CLOCK HIGH (1987) – 1:30aE
Thurs., July 25
MURPHY’S ROMANCE (1985) – 8pE
PRIVATE SCHOOL (1983) – 9:55pE
AGAINST ALL ODDS (1984) – 11:30pE
XANADU (1980) – 1:35aE
Fri., July 26
CHRISTINE (1983) – 8pE
SILVER BULLET (1985) – 9:55pE
THE BRIDE (1985) – 11:35pE
Sat., July 27
STRIPES (1981) – 8pE
SEEMS LIKE OLD TIMES (1980) – 9:55pE
NEIGHBORS (1981) – 11:45pE
JUST ONE OF THE GUYS (1985) – 1:25aE
ABOUT HDNET MOVIES
HDNET MOVIES showcases the best in box office hits, award-winning films and memorable movie marathons. Launched in 2003 by visionary entrepreneur Mark Cuban, the linear TV network and VOD service programs a diverse slate of top Hollywood films in high definition. HDNET MOVIES is widely distributed by major cable, telco and satellite TV providers in the U.S. For further information, visit www.hdnetmovies.com.