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Posts Tagged ‘Movies’

John Hughes: Patron Saint of Teen Flicks August 7, 2009 5 Comments

I am not going to sit on my ass as the events that affect me unfold to determine the course of my life. I’m going to take a stand. I’m going to defend it. Right or wrong, I’m going to defend it.”Ferris

Cameron Frye, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.

As a teen, when most adults were the enemy and just didn’t get it, John Hughes was the grown-up we could trust. Maybe it’s because he listened to his young cast about soundtrack, wardrobe and even storyline (perhaps he even listened a little too much regarding that last one. I still think Andie should have ended up with Duckie in Pretty In Pink. And I thought Allison Reynolds (Alley Sheedy) looked better before she was made up all prissy) Or maybe because he could recall vividly all that it meant to be in this strange, weird stage of transition. Whatever the reason, John Hughes’ movies were a graduation from childhood and Disney-esque films to young adulthood and movies that featured problems we faced and understood; like fitting in (or not), how to break out of that box once you have fitted in (or not), weighing up the pros and cons of conformity, and love and sex. Especially love and sex. Instead of dismissing feelings that we dealt with at that time for anything apart from Puppy Love or hormone fueled indulgence - Hughes made the courtship machinations between his couples as complex, exciting, intense and, most importantly, legitimate as any so-called more sophisticated fare. John Hughes took us seriously and these were OUR movies. When The Godfather was still that bloke who’d give you a fiver when he came to visit, we knew what The Breakfast Club was alllllll about.

lockersHe also introduced the exotic idea of lockers to the less fortunate of my generation. As convent school inmates in Ireland, my friends and I weren’t all that interested in the fashions that we knew we could never wear to school. Or the ‘Prom’ – we had a ‘Debs’ and anyway, we were better off there as most people are of legal age to drink by the time the Debs rolls around. And our classes (or grades, depending on your location) were too small to have real cliques. No, it was the lockers. We claimed it was because we were fed up of dragging 40 pounds of books behind us but there was something deeper about the draw. It was your own space in a building where you had little to no control. You could put up pictures and other personal items and make it your own. An extremely attractive notion when you’ve got to wear a uniform.  And, we innately understood the underlying excitement and seething sexual-political potential that these simple devices held. There was utter fascination with this apparent Mating Ritual that occured around lockers in these cool American High Schools. What happened at your locker could make or break you and there never seemed to be any teachers around. During the tiny breaks from classes before the bell rang, these kids hooked up and broke up. Romance and heart-break had to fit in between English and History. Relationships were solidified and burned in these few moments, enemies became friends and friends turned into enemies, hopes and dreams came true or were crushed. These small instances became whole worlds usually climaxing in that most sacred portion of the school day - lunch. We wanted these experiences and adventures, so we wanted the lockers. Alas, we did not get. Bloody nuns. Why give us boys but no lockers? Maybe, like most things, it was better in the movies. So we lived vicariously through Molly Ringwald.

16 candles

When my 30th birthday passed certain close family members by (no names but you know who you are) I was right in Samantha ‘Sixteen Candles’ territory. It took me until I’d reached that ripe age to fully understand just exactly how Sam felt. Wow, does it hurt. It’s funny how much we DON’T change. Yes, people mature, they marry and have children, swap a principal for a boss and classmates for colleagues but is anything really all that much different? We still want to feel popular and special and when we are forgotten, it totally sucks and our feelings are put through the ringer. Sometimes I wish it was still acceptable to go to your room, slam the door and sulk. Not that I don’t still do that, it’s just not something that is normally acceptable for a 34 year old woman to do. But, like Samantha, things wound up OK, better than I could have hoped. And it’s still fun to piss off authority figures. Like, when the Grumpy Old Cow from across the way recently came to complain about the noise that a few friends and I were making, we asked her if it was a ‘ruckus’ and then we all demonstrated the ‘ruckus’. We could barely keep it together and when she left, very annoyed, we broke down, wetting ourselves laughing. Such joy! Partly because it was genuinely funny but more because it meant that we weren’t so far removed from our younger selves, because the Grumpy Old Cow didn’t get the reference. It was a short-hand that we all identified with, even though we all came from different backgrounds and cultures. Nobody had to even say the name of the film, we knew at once. After all – Only the meek get pinched. The bold survive.

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What girl didn’t try to apply lipstick from her bra? What boy didn’t try John Bender’s spit-release-and-catch? Myself, I was somewhere between Allison Reynolds and Ferris Bueller (with a little Bender thrown in) but Hughes’ movies helped me realize that I was, all at once –  a brain, an athlete, a basket-case, a princess and a criminal.  As well as a ring-leader, a willing follower, a trouble-maker, a peace-keeper, a cynic and a romantic. Danke schoen, John.

CORRECTION Obit John Hughes

So, in ending this piece, I’d like to say: Ladies and gentlemen, you are such a wonderful crowd, we’d like to play a little tune for you. It’s one of my personal favorites and I’d like to dedicate it to a young man who (probably) doesn’t think he’s seen anything good today – John Hughes, this one’s for you.

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Top 10 Onscreen Couples July 11, 2009 3 Comments

My Aunt Brenda and Uncle David are celebrating their 30th (!!!) wedding anniversary this month. 30 years! They are an amazing example that true love and soul mates really do exist and are a real inspiration to me. After all this time, they are quite delirious about each other and still manage to embarrass their kids with loving displays of affection. Hooray for them! As their one-time flower girl, who was christened ‘Lampshade’ at the ceremony for my fantastic pink meringue-dress that I picked out myself, I wish them a very happy and beautiful anniversary. In their honour, here’s a list of my favourite onscreen couples from film and television:

secretaryMr. Grey and Lee Holloway – SecretaryMy Dad used to say; “For every old sock, there’s an old shoe”, meaning that there’s someone for everyone. Or, as an old friend said to me at a college party where we hid behind curtains in order to leap out and ’scare’ people; “I need to find a ‘curtain-er’ of my own”. There’s a shoe or curtain-er for all types. Lee finds hers in Mr. Grey. There’s something romantic and balanced in this unconventional relationship. He’s the S to her M. That he puts so much thought into her ‘punishments’ thrills her, particularly when her family treats her like a fragile piece of glass. Expressing affection can be tough, so when you find a way that works and someone willing to bring that out in you, no matter how weird to outsiders, you should fight for that. Even if it means relieving yourself at a desk and sitting there for 2 days straight in a wedding dress.


Marge and Norm Gunderson – Fargo: Marge married Norm ‘Son of a’ Gunderson and while there’s murders, stolen cars and Mike Yanagita afoot, she still makes time to hear all about the painting he’s going to enter for a stamp competition and he always gets up to make her breakfast. It’s not sexy, it’s not ‘hot’ but it’s true love – it’s a marriage. When everything has been solved and the bad people have gone to jail, Marge comforts Norm, who’s upset about his 3rd place in the contest and that his painting will only appear on the 3 cent stamp (”People always need the little stamps when the postage gets raised, Hon”) and they get back to what’s important; waiting for their baby to be born. They’re content with their lot and represent the happy ending that none of the other characters will find.




Top 10 Character Actors June 13, 2009 7 Comments

character-actorThese are the workhorses of the acting industry – the actors who work almost everyday of their lives. As an actor making a great living – this is where you want to be. You work constantly, rarely get bothered in your daily life by strangers when you walk to the shops and if the movie/TV show/play tanks, nobody blames you. Usually, these guys have many other strings to their bow – some are also stunt men, writers, directors, musicians but all possess a chameleon-like quality, making them utterly invaluable. They can hop from stage to film to television to adverts to voice work and it’s never frowned upon. Sure, you’re ‘That Guy From That Thing!’ to most people but quite a few on this list have cult followings, which is always WAY cooler than being common or garden famous. Your fans will seek you out in whatever your latest project is, and, in reality, your more well-known colleagues are normally jealous of your freedom. Also, if you have a opportunity to play a really juicy part, there’s every chance you’ll get nominated and since you’ve probably worked with everybody, you’ll have loads of mates that’ll vote for ya. This is why the ‘Supporting Actor’ Oscar so frequently goes to ‘That Guy From That Thing!’. You go with your practically-anonymous selves!

Clint Howard -A child actor, he started before younger brother Ron and then watched Ron zoom into roles like ‘Opie’ and ‘Richie Cunningham’ that brought Ron much fame. However, the Howard Family must be the nicest, most stable and loving family in the world because there’s no jealousy or bad vibes – only public displays of support and strong familial bonds. Now that Ron’s a big-time director, he puts Clint in practically every movie he does. Not that Clint needs the work, he’s a favourite of so many other directors but because they actually like and respect each other. When MTV began their Movie Awards show, the first recipient of the ‘Lifetime Achievement Award’ went to Godzilla. The 2nd went to Chewbacca. Clint collected the 3rd and the entire Howard clan, parents and kids and all, showed up in formal wear to cheer him on. Clint took his award so much to heart that MTV quit giving it out. Clint couldn’t be topped.


(Rock on, Clint!!! I’m not putting this here as a joke, I really, really like this. Hey, if Warners wants to go with an older ‘Joker’ sometime, I have my hand up for Clint in a ‘Yea’ sort of way.)


Top 10 Movie Mothers May 8, 2009 6 Comments


"I'll ask you just one more time...Where the hell is the PTA meeting at?"
“I’ll ask you just one more time…Where the hell is the damn PTA meeting at?!?”

Instead of an introduction like I normally do, I’m going to give Paul and Storm the honours. Take it away, boys -


Peg BoggsEdward Scissorhands – This lovely, adorable suburban Mum/Avon Lady is frightened at first when she happens upon Edward but her terror at his appearance quickly turns to concern, then the maternal care kicks in. She’s the one who really takes the time and effort to get to know Edward and is rewarded with unconditional faithfulness from him in return. I never completely bought the love story between Kim and Edward but the bond between him and Peg seemed to sprout faster then the woman could grow her hair for him to cut. I mean, by the end of the movie, she’s practically bald.



Top 10 Movie and TV Firsts April 22, 2009 5 Comments

"Open hailing frequencies, Lieutenant."

"Open hailing frequencies, Lieutenant. Heh-heh-heh"

A lot of the visual mediums and standards we have today have roots in some of the weirdest places. TV can sometimes trump film for branching out and taking risks, which is why I’m mixing them together. These are all random but interesting bits of trivia. As Bob Marley once said, “In this great future, you can’t forget your past”.

The First Interracial Kiss On TV- Star Trek – Lt. Uhura and Capt. Kirk – Episode “Plato’s Stepchildren” – The actual ROLE of Lt. Uhura was a first in and of itself, where a black woman had a commanding part on the bridge of the Enterprise and wasn’t a maid, a slave or a nanny. Originally, Spock was supposed to be the one to kiss Uhura while under alien influence but Shatner fought them on this saying, “If anyone gets to kiss Nichelle, it’s going to be me. I’m the captain!”  The network was extremely nervous – and in 1968, who could blame them? Kudos to them for letting the creators go ahead with it at all, and may have only allowed it because Star Trek wasn’t very popular during its initial run. They shot two versions of the scene; one where Kirk is fighting the mind control and they-almost-but-don’t and another where he really, really isn’t fighting very much at all and it’s Snog City. Shatner crossed his eyes during the former, rendering the take useless so the network had no choice but to air the kiss. (Some might argue that a kiss – a peck on the cheek-  between Nancy Sinatra and Sammy Davis Jr. a year before on a variety show was the first but the Trek smooch was scripted and thought-out) This episode was so volatile at the time it wasn’t aired in the American South and was banned in England for 25 (!!!) years. When Nichelle Nichols was thinking of leaving the show because she was sick of playing a “telephone operator in space”, it was Martin Luther King Jr. – no less -  who convinced her to stay. He told her; “For the first time the world will see us as we should be seen — people of quality in the future. You created a role with dignity and beauty and grace and intelligence. You’re not just a role model for our children, but for people who don’t look like us to see us for the first time as equals.”  MLK – Freedom-fighter, orator, symbol of equality and peace among races and… Star Trek geek.

First ‘Talkie’ – ‘The Jazz Singer’ – 1927 was the end of one era and the beginning of a new one in filmdom. The Jazz Singer mesmerized movie punters who lined up around the block to hear their silver screen idols actually speak for the first time. The opposite of video killing the radio star, ‘talkies’ were bad news for stars with less than dulcet tones. This was cleverly outlined in Singin’ in the Rain and for some jobbing actors, being a voice double became a new way to pay the rent.

First Woman Nominated For A Directing Oscar – Lina Wertmuller – The name Lina Wertmuller isn’t very well known nowadays but in 1976, she made history as the first woman to be nominated for the Best Director Oscar for her film, Seven Beauties. She was a protégée of Federico Fellini and an Assistant Director on his classic, 8 1/2 Weeks. Since then, only two other women have achieved this honour – Jane Campion for The Piano and Sofia Coppola for Lost In Translation (Sofia probably would have won but Peter Jackson’s work on The Lord of the Rings Trilogy was due that year) Among her other accolades, she holds the Guinness World Record of ‘Longest Film Title’ – Un fatto di sangue nel comune di Siculiana fra due uomini per causa di una vedova. Si sospettano moventi politici. Amore-Morte-Shimmy. Lugano belle. Tarantelle. Tarallucci e vino (Translated and shortened to ‘Blood Feud’ or ‘Revenge’ for us English-speaking types) and was sufficiently famous back in the day to be parodied on SNL by Laraine Newman.


Top 10 Cool Movie Girls April 17, 2009 6 Comments

Got Brass In Pocket

Got Brass In Pocket

These girls don’t really ‘kick ass and take names’. They don’t have semi-automatic weapons or special powers. They’re regular chicks who overcome extreme obstacles in creative, interesting ways and for that, I salute them. In random order:

Chris Parker – ‘Adventures in Babysitting’ – After her boyfriend cancels on her, Chris decides to make the best of it and earn some easy money babysitting. Mistake! When she and the suburban kids head into the city to rescue Chris’ friend, they get shot at, car jacked, kidnapped, escape, sing the blues in a club and are involved in a gang altercation on a train. Oh and she finds out her no-good boyfriend is cheating on her with some slut that belongs in a ‘Prince’ video. But she comes through with aplomb, keeping her charges safe and gracefully fending off the clumsy advances of the two teenage boys in her care. The parents don’t find out about their little ‘trip’ so she still gets paid. What a gal.

(Legendary Screamin’ Jay Hawkins joins in as – what else – a blues man.)

Coach Molly McGrath – ‘Wildcats’ – The South Central High Wildcats may be the worst football team in Chicago but they REALLY do not want a female coach. So, of course, that’s exactly what they get in Coach McGrath. They torment her until she reaches breaking point and challenges them to a stamina running contest – their co-operation vs. her quitting. Failing to inform them that she ran the Boston Marathon, twice, she outlasts them all and then calls them pussies. They cannot argue with this.