Rex Manning Day: Empire Records (1995) – A (Not So) Quick Capsule Review

Rex Manning Day: Empire Records (1995) – A (Not So) Quick Capsule Review

Quick Review

Phil’s (Not So) Quick Capsule Review:  Empire Records was a massive bomb on it’s original release.  Critically and commercially.  Roger Ebert hated it (that said he hated The Usual Suspects…), Variety labelled it as “Soundtrack in search for a movie”  and it grossed under £300k on it’s theatrical release.   Yet as the years go on so the cult around Empire Records continues to grow and grow.  From regular midnight screenings to the annual Rex Manning Day celebrations (8th April) more and more people have come around to the fact that Empire Records is, actually, pretty damn good.

The story, as such, is about an independent record store on the brink of a take over by a nasty big multi national chain called Music Town stuck with a eclectic team of broken teens and an ego manic musician reluctantly there to plug his new album.  In reality it’s coming of age story that kind of ends up being a 90’s Breakfast Club set in a Record Store rather than a detention.  But, like many a cult hit, this film is less about the story and more about the feels & the characters.  And that is something this film has in spades.

Backtrack.  I discovered Empire Records in a video shop in my home town of Lewes (Lewes Videos take a much deserved bow) thanks mostly to it’s excellent owner who had an ability to find little heard of classics and fill his shelves with them.  From 80’s actioners Action Jackson, Never To Young To Die and my love of Jackie Chan – without that shop I’d probably not be writing this review here.   See before the internet, before Facebook and Instagram a cult hit became a cult hit often from a knowledgeable video clerk pointing you in the direction of something a little special.  Yes the Tarantino stories of video shop life weren’t all exaggerations!  Sadly those days have now passed but I do wonder if this film came out now and had similar reception if it’s fandom would grow as much as it has or would it’s 30 score on Metacritic or sub 30% on Rotten Tomatoes consign it to some little seen Sky Movies channel at 4am in the morning?  

It was a film that initially felt ahead of it times whilst being a launch pad for the careers of at least 3 big stars (Zellweger, Tyler and Tunney).  And this is the key Empire Records continued success.  The cast are brilliant.   Be it Liv Tyler’s innocent but broken Harvard student Corey or Rene Zellweger’s s–ty Gina, Maxwell Caulfield egotist singer Rex Manning or Anthony LaPaglia heart of gold store manager Joe… Empire’s characters resonate hard. For sure it’s not the best acted or directed film of the 90’s. But it’s cast gave it heart and soul, making it relatable.

Oh and the soundtrack.  I’ve seen empire Records well over twenty times. But the soundtrack I’ve listened to hundreds.  And much like the films cast it’s full of oddballs, strangeness, 2nd tier hits and one hit wonders it’s soundtrack delivers an eclectic mix from Coyote Shivers to Edwin Collins.  Look beyond the official soundtrack album to Spotify playlists that have been created with music that didn’t make it to the CD and you’ll find even more quirky tracks covering Gwar, Dire Straights and many more.

I have to admit part of the original appeal for me was Liv Tyler.  Empire was Tyler’s third film (after the very good Heavy and the little seen Silent Fall) but I’m pretty sure I caught it after seeing her in Stealing beauty (a wonderful film in itself). I had a major crush so anything with Tyler in was a draw for me.  She still remains a very underrated actress, with film appearances fleeting after the early successes.

No commentary for this film could pass without reference to the wonderful creation that is Rex Manning.  Part Hoff part every one hit wonder clinging to his heyday singer that’s ever been, former teen star Maxwell Caulfield who himself has something of a high and low filled career (see the critically hated Grease 2) delivers a note perfect slimeball performance backed up by the so bad it’s brilliant ‘Say No More Mon Amour’ track.

Don’t get me wrong the film has flaws.  It’s random to the point of being totally undisciplined, certain characters (Mark) seem like they are in a different film and it’s no surprise that few of the male cast broke big down the line.  BUT no work of art, no movie is perfect and it’s flaws just make it that bit more real.

Even thought Empire Records flopped on it’s release, in the 20 plus years that have followed it’s cult has grown enough for it to get some much needed love back from the rights holders. A ‘Fan Edit’ a few years back was released  (I’m not a massive fan as it kills the pacing and makes certain sections drag longer than they should) and a US Region A BluRay Release.  Outside the official stuff, there’s Etsy shops galore with pins, name badges and posters and Rex Manning Day has become a thing.  No really.

Empire Records was of it’s time.  And like many films I hold dear from my formative years, it’s one that stuck with me.  I’ve never shown it to anyone that didn’t love it.  I embrace it’s flaws.  I love it’s quirkiness and like Warren I too deep down just wanted Joe to give me a job.

Damn the man, Save The Empire! 

 


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Podcast: Ross And Phil Hijack – The Education of Josh – Empire Records (1995)

Podcast: Ross And Phil Hijack – The Education of Josh – Empire Records (1995)

Ross and Phil Talk Movies The Podcasts

To celebrate Rex Manning Day, here’s the Empire Records edition of The Education of Josh.

Josh has seen loads of films. Mostly Disney. Phil has seen loads of films that Josh should have seen but hasn’t. Join Phil as he takes Josh through an education in movies – Film by Film.  This episode Phil educates Josh on: Empire Records (1995)

Films Discussed: Empire Records, Everybody Wants Some, The Breakfast Club, Dazed & Confused 

Hosted Phil Hobden (Ross And Phil Talk Movies) and Josh Morris (The Smoking Lamb)

#TheEducationOfJosh #RossAndPhilTalkMovies #MoviePodcasts #Podcasts #TheSmokingLamb

For more on Phil Hobden check out www.philhobden.co.uk , Twitter (@PhilQuickReview) and Instagram (RossAndPhilTalkMovies)

   

 

 

 

Click Here for Related Content 

Happy 2019 Rex Manning Day!

Happy 2019 Rex Manning Day!

A Blog

“We mustn’t dwell. No, not today. We can’t. Not on Rex Manning day!” -Mark (Ethan Embry)

April 8th is a big day for Empire Records enthusiasts as it’s been deemed Rex Manning Day.  And thus we celebrate that day every year at Phil’s Quick capsule Review.

From TIME magazine:
“Rex Manning was the fictional pop star in the 1995 movie Empire Records. On April 8, “Oh Rexy, you’re so sexy” Manning has a scheduled appearance at a struggling independent record store that the staff (which includes Renee Zellweger and Liv Tyler) is desperately trying to save from turning into corporate chain.

While the film flopped, making a mere quarter million dollars during its two-week theatrical run, it quickly became a cult classic — and the fake-tanned Rex Manning became an icon.”

“Who knows where thoughts come from. They just appear.”Joe

 

Check out the soundtrack on SPOTIFY

 

 

 


Follow us on Social Media:

 

 

Podcast: The Education Of Josh… Empire Records (1995)

Podcast: The Education Of Josh… Empire Records (1995)

The Education of Josh The Podcasts

Josh has seen loads of films. Mostly Disney. Phil has seen loads of films that Josh should have seen but hasn’t. Join Phil as he takes Josh through an education in movies – Film by Film.  This episode Phil educates Josh on: Empire Records (1995)

Films Discussed: Empire Records, Everybody Wants Some, The Breakfast Club, Dazed & Confused 

Hosted Phil Hobden (Ross And Phil Talk Movies) and Josh Morris (The Smoking Lamb)

#TheEducationOfJosh #RossAndPhilTalkMovies #MoviePodcasts #Podcasts #TheSmokingLamb

For more on Phil Hobden check out www.philhobden.co.uk , Twitter (@PhilQuickReview) and Instagram (RossAndPhilTalkMovies)

   

 

 

 

Click Here for Related Content 

Rex Manning Day: Empire Records – A (Not So) Quick Capsule Review

Rex Manning Day: Empire Records – A (Not So) Quick Capsule Review

All Things Film Blog The Blogs

Phil’s (Not So) Quick Capsule Review:  Empire Records was a massive bomb on it’s original release.  Critically and commercially.  Roger Ebert hated it (that said he hated The Usual Suspects…), Variety labelled it as “Soundtrack in search for a movie”  and it grossed under £300k on it’s theatrical release.   Yet as the years go on so the cult around Empire Records continues to grow and grow.  From regular midnight screenings to the annual Rex Manning Day celebrations (8th April) more and more people have come around to the fact that Empire Records is, actually, pretty damn good.

The story, as such, is about an independent record store on the brink of a take over by a nasty big multi national chain called Music Town stuck with a eclectic team of broken teens and an ego manic musician reluctantly there to plug his new album.  In reality it’s coming of age story that kind of ends up being a 90’s Breakfast Club set in a Record Store rather than a detention.  But, like many a cult hit, this film is less about the story and more about the feels & the characters.  And that is something this film has in spades.

Backtrack.  I discovered Empire Records in a video shop in my home town of Lewes (Lewes Videos take a much deserved bow) thanks mostly to it’s excellent owner who had an ability to find little heard of classics and fill his shelves with them.  From 80’s actioners Action Jackson, Never To Young To Die and my love of Jackie Chan – without that shop I’d probably not be writing this review here.   See before the internet, before Facebook and Instagram a cult hit became a cult hit often from a knowledgeable video clerk pointing you in the direction of something a little special.  Yes the Tarantino stories of video shop life weren’t all exaggerations!  Sadly those days have now passed but I do wonder if this film came out now and had similar reception if it’s fandom would grow as much as it has or would it’s 30 score on Metacritic or sub 30% on Rotten Tomatoes consign it to some little seen Sky Movies channel at 4am in the morning?  

It was a film that initially felt ahead of it times whilst being a launch pad for the careers of at least 3 big stars (Zellweger, Tyler and Tunney).  And this is the key Empire Records continued success.  The cast are brilliant.   Be it Liv Tyler’s innocent but broken Harvard student Corey or Rene Zellweger’s s–ty Gina, Maxwell Caulfield egotist singer Rex Manning or Anthony LaPaglia heart of gold store manager Joe… Empire’s characters resonate hard. For sure it’s not the best acted or directed film of the 90’s. But it’s cast gave it heart and soul, making it relatable.

Oh and the soundtrack.  I’ve seen empire Records well over twenty times. But the soundtrack I’ve listened to hundreds.  And much like the films cast it’s full of oddballs, strangeness, 2nd tier hits and one hit wonders it’s soundtrack delivers an eclectic mix from Coyote Shivers to Edwin Collins.  Look beyond the official soundtrack album to Spotify playlists that have been created with music that didn’t make it to the CD and you’ll find even more quirky tracks covering Gwar, Dire Straights and many more.


I have to admit part of the original appeal for me was Liv Tyler.  Empire was Tyler’s third film (after the very good Heavy and the little seen Silent Fall) but I’m pretty sure I caught it after seeing her in Stealing beauty (a wonderful film in itself). I had a major crush so anything with Tyler in was a draw for me.  She still remains a very underrated actress, with film appearances fleeting after the early successes.

No commentary for this film could pass without reference to the wonderful creation that is Rex Manning.  Part Hoff part every one hit wonder clinging to his heyday singer that’s ever been, former teen star Maxwell Caulfield who himself has something of a high and low filled career (see the critically hated Grease 2) delivers a note perfect slimeball performance backed up by the so bad it’s brilliant ‘Say No More Mon Amour’ track.

Don’t get me wrong the film has flaws.  It’s random to the point of being totally undisciplined, certain characters (Mark) seem like they are in a different film and it’s no surprise that few of the male cast broke big down the line.  BUT no work of art, no movie is perfect and it’s flaws just make it that bit more real.

Even thought Empire Records flopped on it’s release, in the 20 plus years that have followed it’s cult has grown enough for it to get some much needed love back from the rights holders. A ‘Fan Edit’ a few years back was released  (I’m not a massive fan as it kills the pacing and makes certain sections drag longer than they should) and a US Region A BluRay Release.  Outside the official stuff, there’s Etsy shops galore with pins, name badges and posters and Rex Manning Day has become a thing.  No really. 

Empire Records was of it’s time.  And like many films I hold dear from my formative years, it’s one that stuck with me.  I’ve never shown it to anyone that didn’t love it.  I embrace it’s flaws.  I love it’s quirkiness and like Warren I too deep down just wanted Joe to give me a job.

Damn the man, Save The Empire! 

IMDB Rating: 

 

Author: Phil Hobden

Happy Rex Manning Day!

Happy Rex Manning Day!

All Things Film Blog The Blogs

“We mustn’t dwell. No, not today. We can’t. Not on Rex Manning day!” -Mark (Ethan Embry)

April 8th is a big day for Empire Records enthusiasts as it’s been deemed Rex Manning Day.  And thus we celebrate that day every year at Phil’s Quick capsule Review.

From TIME magazine:
“Rex Manning was the fictional pop star in the 1995 movie Empire Records. On April 8, “Oh Rexy, you’re so sexy” Manning has a scheduled appearance at a struggling independent record store that the staff (which includes Renee Zellweger and Liv Tyler) is desperately trying to save from turning into corporate chain.

While the film flopped, making a mere quarter million dollars during its two-week theatrical run, it quickly became a cult classic — and the fake-tanned Rex Manning became an icon.”

“Who knows where thoughts come from. They just appear.”Joe

 

Check out the soundtrack on SPOTIFY

 

 

Empire Records (1995) – A Hall Of Fame Quick Capsule Review

Empire Records (1995) – A Hall Of Fame Quick Capsule Review

Hall of Fame Quick Review

Phil’s (Not So) Quick Capsule Review:  Empire Records was a massive bomb on it’s original release.  Critically and commercially.  Roger Ebert hated it (that said he hated The Usual Suspects…), Variety labelled it as “Soundtrack in search for a movie”  and it grossed under £300k on it’s theatrical release.   Yet as the years go on so the cult around Empire Records continues to grow and grow.  From regular midnight screenings to the annual Rex Manning Day celebrations (8th April) more and more people have come around to the fact that Empire Records is, actually, pretty damn good.

The story, as such, is about an independent record store on the brink of a take over by a nasty big multi national chain called Music Town stuck with a eclectic team of broken teens and an ego manic musician reluctantly there to plug his new album.  In reality it’s coming of age story that kind of ends up being a 90’s Breakfast Club set in a Record Store rather than a detention.  But, like many a cult hit, this film is less about the story and more about the feels & the characters.  And that is something this film has in spades.

Backtrack.  I discovered Empire Records in a video shop in my home town of Lewes (Lewes Videos take a much deserved bow) thanks mostly to it’s excellent owner who had an ability to find little heard of classics and fill his shelves with them.  From 80’s actioners Action Jackson, Never To Young To Die and my love of Jackie Chan – without that shop I’d probably not be writing this review here.   See before the internet, before Facebook and Instagram a cult hit became a cult hit often from a knowledgeable video clerk pointing you in the direction of something a little special.  Yes the Tarantino stories of video shop life weren’t all exaggerations!  Sadly those days have now passed but I do wonder if this film came out now and had similar reception if it’s fandom would grow as much as it has or would it’s 30 score on Metacritic or sub 30% on Rotten Tomatoes consign it to some little seen Sky Movies channel at 4am in the morning?  

It was a film that initially felt ahead of it times whilst being a launch pad for the careers of at least 3 big stars (Zellweger, Tyler and Tunney).  And this is the key Empire Records continued success.  The cast are brilliant.   Be it Liv Tyler’s innocent but broken Harvard student Corey or Rene Zellweger’s s–ty Gina, Maxwell Caulfield egotist singer Rex Manning or Anthony LaPaglia heart of gold store manager Joe… Empire’s characters resonate hard. For sure it’s not the best acted or directed film of the 90’s. But it’s cast gave it heart and soul, making it relatable.

Oh and the soundtrack.  I’ve seen empire Records well over twenty times. But the soundtrack I’ve listened to hundreds.  And much like the films cast it’s full of oddballs, strangeness, 2nd tier hits and one hit wonders it’s soundtrack delivers an eclectic mix from Coyote Shivers to Edwin Collins.  Look beyond the official soundtrack album to Spotify playlists that have been created with music that didn’t make it to the CD and you’ll find even more quirky tracks covering Gwar, Dire Straights and many more.


I have to admit part of the original appeal for me was Liv Tyler.  Empire was Tyler’s third film (after the very good Heavy and the little seen Silent Fall) but I’m pretty sure I caught it after seeing her in Stealing beauty (a wonderful film in itself). I had a major crush so anything with Tyler in was a draw for me.  She still remains a very underrated actress, with film appearances fleeting after the early successes.

No commentary for this film could pass without reference to the wonderful creation that is Rex Manning.  Part Hoff part every one hit wonder clinging to his heyday singer that’s ever been, former teen star Maxwell Caulfield who himself has something of a high and low filled career (see the critically hated Grease 2) delivers a note perfect slimeball performance backed up by the so bad it’s brilliant ‘Say No More Mon Amour’ track.

Don’t get me wrong the film has flaws.  It’s random to the point of being totally undisciplined, certain characters (Mark) seem like they are in a different film and it’s no surprise that few of the male cast broke big down the line.  BUT no work of art, no movie is perfect and it’s flaws just make it that bit more real.

Even thought Empire Records flopped on it’s release, in the 20 plus years that have followed it’s cult has grown enough for it to get some much needed love back from the rights holders. A ‘Fan Edit’ a few years back was released  (I’m not a massive fan as it kills the pacing and makes certain sections drag longer than they should) and a US Region A BluRay Release.  Outside the official stuff, there’s Etsy shops galore with pins, name badges and posters and Rex Manning Day has become a thing.  No really. 

Empire Records was of it’s time.  And like many films I hold dear from my formative years, it’s one that stuck with me.  I’ve never shown it to anyone that didn’t love it.  I embrace it’s flaws.  I love it’s quirkiness and like Warren I too deep down just wanted Joe to give me a job.

Damn the man, Save The Empire! 

IMDB Rating: 

 

Author: Phil Hobden

Filmsploitation’s 100 Best Films… #75-51

Filmsploitation’s 100 Best Films… #75-51

Uncategorized

Part Two of our run down of Filmsploitation’s 100 Best Films as chosen by a select team of hosts, podcasters, fans and writers from All Things Film, Filmsploitation and the Filmsploitation Facebook group.

So here’s numbers 75-51…

 

Filmsploitation’s 100 Best Films… #100-76

Filmsploitation’s 100 Best Films… #100-76

Uncategorized

Part one of our run down of Filmsploitation’s 100 Best Films as chosen by a select team of hosts, podcasters, fans and writers from All Things Film, Filmsploitation and the Filmsploitation Facebook group.

Check back tomorrow for Part 2!

So here’s numbers 100 – 76…

 

 

Blog: All Things Film – In The Defence of Top Gun

Blog: All Things Film – In The Defence of Top Gun

Uncategorized

Okay so I get A LOT of flack for liking Top Gun and rating it in my Top 10 films of ALL time… I get it. BUT having watched the last 40 mins again last night I ask you to consider the following the next time you take the EVRY easy route to slag off this 80’s Staple:

The film has THE best arial photography EVER in a film. It has never been beat. And now adays it never will. All done with ZERO CGI

The film actually hasn’t dated that much other than maybe a few scenes. For an 80’s film thats pretty good.

There is ZERO CGI and everything feels real. Because it was. Something NO modern action film manages.

It’s a film that is so burnt into the culture of films that even if you haven’t seen it you know it or have talked about it .

The soundtrack is about the best soundtrack for a film ever. And it set the standard for soundtracks to follow.

It won an Oscar.

The film has been been spoofed and copied. Even Tarantino tried to take the mickey (and got it totally wrong). Yet somehow the film manages to never be tarnished by it.

It has heart. But actually doesn’t take itself too seriously. It kinda knows it’s silly.

It has a plot. The top fighter pilots in the world compete to find out whose the best. Maverick looses best mate, looses confidence, gets thrown into world changing events, finds his mojo wins the day. It’s the same plot as a million films but it still has a plot.

Style over substance? Hell year. And what style! Visually the film is beautifully shot. From a technical POV it’s also pretty flawless.

Its the film that introduced Michael Ironside to the mainstream. That also made careers for Tim Robbins, Meg Ryan, Tom Cruise, Michael Ironside, Val Kilmer, kelly McGillis, Jerry Bruckheimer, Tony Scott and MANY more. Just from THAT point of view was their a more influential film of the 80’s?

Who cares if it’s gay. I thing people doth protest too much… enjoy its camp.

They made a 3D Imax version that actually worked!

It’s tightly edited, has beats in all the right places and isn’t over long or filmed in such a way you can’t see anything.

Will ANYONE still be talking about films like The Dark Knight trilogy or Transformers or John Wick or whatever else that’s coming out this year in 30 years time? No. But Top Gun will STILL be debated.

So yes it may not be your tempo and that’s fine. But it’s actually still a damn fine and even important film..  Go on watch it again… I dare you!

 

Author: Phil Hobden

 

To hear more on films like this (and others like it) make sure you download the Filmsploitation podcast, part of the All Things Film network.