Watched, Read, Reviewed: May 2020

Hi All. Here’s another roundup post with everything I watched in May. Looks like it was X-Men Month in our household…

MOVIES WATCHED IN MAY

MOVIES WATCHED (ranked best to worst):

Hachi: A Dog’s Tale – I was surprised when this movie turned up in the IMDb Top 250 (a bit later, after starting my project HERE). So I figured I’d check it out as a part of the project that I’m never ever going to finish. This is a lovely, heartwarming & very understated film. It’s inspired by a great true story about a very loyal dog in 1920’s Japan. I’d love to now see the original Japanese film Hachikō Monogatari from 1987. I unfortunately found out a bit too much about the story beforehand so I won’t spoil it if you don’t know it. I think this is one where you’re better going into it without knowing the story beforehand. If you’re a dog lover, you’ll love this film. – 7.5/10

Fruitvale Station – I watched this at the beginning of May & it of course became even more relevant later on. This is also, unfortunately, a true story. From Wikipedia: “Fruitvale Station is based on the events leading to the death of Oscar Grant, a young man who was killed in 2009 by BART police officer Johannes Mehserle at the Fruitvale district station of the Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) system in Oakland.” This was Ryan Coogler’s directorial debut and starred Michael B. Jordan, who of course went on to also be in Coogler’s Black Panther. Jordan was great in this & I always like this sort of approach to telling a story, especially a true one (showing a simple day-in-the-life of the person). The movie follows Grant on his final day, leading up to the fatal shooting. It obviously gets tense as it leads up to what you know is going to happen so it’s of course not an easy watch (which is why I admittedly don’t watch true stories often – I want movies to provide escapism from how shitty the world can be). But it’s a good & important film. – 7.5/10

The Wraith – I’m always a little shocked when I discover the existence of an ’80s movie that I somehow never saw. This 1986 film showed up on Amazon Prime UK so I had to give it a watch (even though it stars Charlie Sheen. Ew.). But I loved the sound of it from the plot. From Wikipedia: “The Wraith tells the story of an Arizona teen who mysteriously returns from the dead as a supernatural street-racer driving an invulnerable supercar. His intent is to take revenge on the gang who murdered him.” That sounds weird as shit & right up my alley.

The movie is fun & kind of what I expected, although it could’ve been a little cooler. Not sure how, but it obviously didn’t quite make it to cult level status although it had that potential. I think it needed to be a little more bizarre. For a weird plot synopsis, the movie itself wasn’t weird enough. Plus Sheen was a bit dull – maybe this would be a cult film now had it starred someone else? Hell, his brother Emilio would’ve been much better. Which made me think that I really want to watch Repo Man again, as I don’t remember much now but love Harry Dean Stanton.

This is another thing I love about discovering ’80s movies I never saw: I love spotting so many actors I liked, especially if they’re obscure actors I recognise from other ’80s films. Two not-so-obscure ones in The Wraith but it was great seeing Randy Quaid and Clint Howard (this was a big role for him! He’s usually not much more than a cameo). Anyway – it’s a fun movie but it could’ve been better. I want to give it a higher rating than this. I’d probably like it more if it had been one I’d managed to see when I was a teenager. – 6.5/10

The Wolverine – Wait, was this the bad Wolverine movie or the REALLY bad one?? Oh yeah – the really bad one was Origins. And I’d seen that one before, so it’s in the Rewatched section below. I don’t have the energy to write about the X-Men films, which I watched ALL of (other than Logan & Dark Phoenix) during lockdown. Here’s how I feel about X-Men: I know nothing whatsoever about the comics but absolutely loved the first film when it came out. I was a nerd in my mid-20s & it was the first “superhero” thing I really went for. I just liked the concept & thought the characters were great. I even bought some damn toys (including Professor X, as I already loved Patrick Stewart from Star Trek: TNG). Then the second movie was great. Then…. they all went downhill from there. Damn. But I still really like the whole X-Men thing overall so I’m giving even the worst films no lower than a 6/10. I just wish the movies were better as I still love the story & the characters. Maybe I should look into the comics, huh?

Anyway – the reason for rewatching them all was because my daughter showed an interest in seeing them. She’s very into “girl” superheroes at the moment & spends a lot of time drawing them. Two of her favorites are Kitty Pryde & X-23. The other two are Jessica Jones & Kate Bishop, who I know nothing about, but we managed to find a comic series containing both of them & aimed at pre-teens & she absolutely loves it. And she’s gone for the X-Men movies big time, which is interesting as she didn’t go quite so much for the MCU stuff (as she was too young to grow up with those, I guess, so only saw some of the later films & missed out on watching the characters develop). It’s just interesting as I felt the same way in far preferring X-Men to other superhero stuff at the time. I think it’s great that I was able to pass my nerdy X-Men toys onto my daughter 20 years later. 🙂

Oh yeah – was I meant to be reviewing The Wolverine?! It sucked. I only watched it a few months ago & barely remember it already. Yikes. And I think I fell asleep through part of it. But it sucked a bit less than Origins. How did they make such a mess out of movies about such an awesome character twice?! Luckily Logan turned out good (which is too violent for the kid so she’s not seen that one, FYI). – 6/10

X-Men: Apocalypse – Ugh. This one was a mess too. It’s such a mess that I’ve ranked it below The Wolverine. However, I’m not sure which one is actually worse. But I just didn’t go for these “First Class” younger X-Men movies as much. Give me old Patrick Stewart instead! But Michael Fassbender is hot, so… I guess there’s that. What even happened in this one again?! Okay – I think I watched too many X-Men movies in one month. Can’t keep them straight! But that’s the problem with superhero movies, which is why this genre is not truly a favorite of mine: They’re all too similar. Same with the MCU films. At least the MCU films did a better job with the origin stories, which I mostly preferred to the Avengers movies as you get much better character development than you do when too many superheroes are all crammed into a movie together. I wish the X-Men movies had managed to do as good of a job following an overall story arc like the MCU movies did. – 6/10

Dark Places – Oh, look – it’s young Beast from X-Men! Holy shit – I barely remember this movie either. It was only three months ago! My mind has clearly been elsewhere during this pandemic. What’s sad is that I also read this book. From what I remember of the book, this was a faithful adaptation. It just wasn’t my favorite story from Gillian Flynn. Flynn also wrote Gone Girl, which was a very enjoyable book (review here). But what I liked even more was her novel Sharp Objects (sort-of review here). That book was fucked up! And the TV adaptation with Amy Adams was decent. Dark Places was okay but meh. The characters are all pretty hateful (but that’s the case with all of Flynn’s books that I’ve read). Here’s the synopsis from IMDb: “Libby Day was only eight years old when her family was brutally murdered in their rural Kansas farmhouse. Almost thirty years later, she reluctantly agrees to revisit the crime and uncovers the wrenching truths that led up to that tragic night.” – 5.5/10

Rewatched:

I discussed how I feel about X-Men above so I’m not going to discuss each film below. The above were first-time-watches for me but I rewatched all of the below movies in May as well.

X-Men – Yay! – 7.5/10

X-Men 2 – Yay too! – 7.5/10

X-Men: First Class – Not bad but prefer the older characters – 7/10

Mulan – I want to like Mulan more than I do. I like the story & her character but the rest of the characters & the film are a bit weak. My daughter was obsessed with this one in May and watched it over & over. I actually badly want to see the live-action film as it looks so damn good from the trailer. And I’m someone who HATES all these horrible live-action versions Disney have been doing. Beauty And The Beast with annoying Emma Watson? Yuck! – 7/10

The Fox And The Hound – I’ve always been fond of this one, as well as The Rescuers, as for some reason I remember both very well from a young age. Not sure how I saw them, as renting movies obviously didn’t exist at that point (god I’m old). With The Rescuers, I think it’s partly due to having a book of it as a little kid as well as a View-Master reel or whatever you called it (goddamn – I really AM old). And I assume I saw it in the cinema on some re-release. I’ll have seen The Fox And The Hound on its original release, so I guess I really liked it as I was the right sort of age for it. And I’ve always liked “animal” Disney stories the most. So I rewatched this one with the kid in May (is it obvious that Disney Plus was new to the U.K. at the start of lockdown?! Perfect timing). Anyway, on a rewatch I have to admit that this is certainly one of Disney’s weaker films. Don’t get me wrong – it’s still far better than movies from that horrible mid-90s into early 2000s Disney phase (Sorry, Hercules & Emperor’s New Groove lovers). Tod & Copper are still completely loveable, though. – 7/10

X-Men: Days Of Future Past – Wow – I was harsh in my original review of this (linked). I liked it more the second time around. It’s far better than Apocalypse! – 7/10

X-Men: The Last Stand – Hmm – 6.5/10

SpaceCamp – I remember liking this movie a lot at the time (1986) but hadn’t seen it in years. Must admit that I thoroughly enjoyed the rewatch. I want to give it a higher rating but know that would be due to nostalgia. It’s a VERY ’80s film so may seem a bit dated now but, for me, that’s a big part of its charm. However, it’s a very fun story for kids so I think any watching it now would still have a lot of fun with it. What was really interesting was seeing Joaquin Phoenix (then Leaf Phoenix) as a young child star again. I still see him that way even now (I was instead a big fan of brother River thanks to Stand By Me) but I think anyone younger watching SpaceCamp now would find it very weird seeing the Joker as this sweet little kid.

Screw it – I’m giving this a score that’s probably half a point more than it deserves. I just still really like this one. And if you have young kids interested in space travel, I’d still recommend this movie. Here’s the synopsis from IMDb: “The young attendees of a space camp find themselves in space for real when their shuttle is accidentally launched into orbit.” And I now see why it failed at the box office, as I just read this at Wikipedia: “The film received mixed reviews and is famous for being a “marketing nightmare,” as it was released less than five months after the Challenger accident of January 28, 1986 (although filming was completed before the disaster occurred). The film performed poorly at the box office, grossing less than $10 million in the US. The script was later adapted into a novel, which did include references to the Challenger explosion and some of the kids’ decisions to attend Space Camp in the wake of said tragedy.” FYI: SpaceCamp stars Kate Capshaw, Lea Thompson, Kelly Preston (R.I.P. – still in shock at her recent death), Larry B. Scott, Leaf Phoenix, Tate Donovan & Tom Skerritt – 7/10

Mannequin – Cheesy as fuck but I’m an ’80s kid so of course I still appreciate this stupid movie. – 6.5/10

National Treasure – Decided to rewatch this with the kid as remember liking it the first time around. It was still enjoyable but more boring than I’d remembered. Honestly, there’s too much in the way of boring American history in this film. America – Fuck Yeah! I imagine this movie didn’t do as well outside the U.S. Sorry, it probably doesn’t help that History was always one of my least favorite subjects. I prefer sci-fi & the future to humanity’s horrible past. I also thought this movie had more of an Indiana Jones vibe to it but it’s really just Indiana Jones if he wasn’t sexy as hell and if he tried to teach you a little too much about history along the way instead of just melting the baddies’ faces off. – 6.5/10

You’ve Got Mail – This movie is cute and I still like the Tom Hanks/Meg Ryan combo but this is the worst of the films they did together. Tom Hanks’ character is also kind of a dick in this one. Tom Hanks can’t be a dick! No, it just doesn’t work. But this is still worth watching if you like these old rom-coms which rarely get made anymore. Why did that stop?! It’s admittedly not my favorite genre but the movies were enjoyable & inoffensive and had some great stars. Just be sure to watch Sleepless In Seattle first as it’s much better. But their best one by far is the quirky Joe Versus The Volcano (which I realise won’t be everyone’s cup of tea). Apparently they also did a movie called Ithaca together in 2016 but I don’t know a thing about that one (I see it was directed by Ryan, though – I’d like to see that now). – 6.5/10

X-Men Origins: Wolverine – God this one is bad. It deserves a much lower rating but I just can’t help but still like the whole X-Men thing… – 6/10

BOOKS, TV, MUSIC, MISCELLANEOUS THIS MONTH

MUSIC & BOOKS

Nothing “new” to mention here. I’ve just been listening to my usual Apple playlist A LOT lately (it’s one of the best things about working from home: music all day long). One thing I’ll say is that I’ve really been enjoying all the Jóhann Jóhannsson soundtrack stuff that keeps popping up on my playlist while I’m working (particularly the Mandy score). What a loss to the filmmaking world – he did fantastic scores.

I also continued reading Frank Herbert’s Dune throughout May (finishing in June).

TV SHOWS WATCHED

The Golden Girls – As I said in my April roundup post, I thoroughly enjoyed watching this on Channel 5 during my lunch breaks. I’m really missing it! Now I just work through lunch some of the time. Bring The Golden Girls back!!!

– As I also mentioned, the UK finally got Disney Plus (in April?), so a lot of time was spent watching Disney stuff those first few months. I especially enjoyed watching all the Silly Symphonies with my daughter. Man, I spent a small fortune many years ago trying to buy all those up when they were released in fancy metal tins. Love them. I especially liked the one that introduced Donald Duck as a character. We also enjoyed Pixar In Real Life, some of which are fun & some a bit meh. I swear no one in the Brave episode knew who the hell Merida was & people didn’t seem to catch on to the Up stuff either. Wow – I’d instantly recognise all Disney & Pixar references in real life. And all the Disney & Pixar shorts are great. Where The Golden Girls stopped showing during my lunch breaks, I still sometimes stick on a Disney or Pixar short to watch with the kid during lunch now. She also really liked the Forky Asks A Question shorts. I find Forky a bit annoying, though. Can only take him in small doses, so the shorts are just the right length.

– We did enjoy watching the Andrew Lloyd Webber stuff they showed on Friday nights during the start of lockdown. Very cool that they did that. Can’t say I loved all of them, though. I just have no class. My favorite was probably Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat but we stopped watching The Phantom of the Opera out of boredom. Sorry. See? No class! Jesus Christ Superstar was also disappointing, as I really like the 1973 film. We’ll watch the film version next Easter instead…

– Finally, I started catching up on the latest season of Grey’s Anatomy in May. God that show annoys me. But I can’t quit watching after so many years! And they had the dumbest “write-off” of a character yet with Alex Karev. WTF was that?! Dumb as hell. That was more stupid than when the guy who played George clearly pissed them off on the show so they had his character get hit by a bus & end up in the hospital completely unrecognisable so that they didn’t even need the actor to film that final episode where they kill him off. Haha. So petty.

BLOG PLANS FOR AUGUST

Well, I’ve managed to do my roundup posts up to May now. Didn’t think I’d manage as don’t feel like writing lately. So I guess I’ll try to post June & July as well.

Upcoming Movies I Want To See:

Haven’t bothered with this section as not much is really coming out to see. Plus, I won’t be going to a cinema again for a very, very long time. Feel bad about that as, obviously, movies are my main hobby & I was a regular customer before the pandemic. But I don’t have the money now plus I don’t think it’s safe. Luckily no one reads this blog anyway. 🙂 But the only reviews that ever get any hits are the ones for current releases and I won’t be seeing many of those now.

As for films that were meant to come out in 2020, these are the only ones I badly want to see:

Bill & Ted Face The Music – I NEED to see this. I’m a big Bill & Ted fan (the whole family are big fans) but it was just announced that it will be a cinema-only release in the UK. Extremely unimpressed at that. Why can’t it be video on demand here as well?!?! This has been my most anticipated movie since the second it was announced. Now we have no clue when we’ll be able to safely see it in the UK plus it’s released an entire month after America gets it anyway. So, yay – the whole movie will have been spoiled by then. Just like how The Mandalorian was spoiled for us. Great.

Mulan – At least it’s looks like the UK might get a chance to see this one? Who knows, though – we still get screwed over on later releases for some of the Disney Plus stuff too.

Top Gun: Maverick – I admit it – I love Top Gun. I was really looking forward to this.

Dune – Well, I finally read the book! I mainly want to see this, though, as Denis Villeneuve is my favorite newer filmmaker.

As I mentioned the great Jóhann Jóhannsson above, here’s something of his from the Mandy score:

Platoon (1986) IMDB Top 250 Guest Review

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Today’s IMDB Top 250 Guest Review comes from John of 501 Must See Movies Project . He also reviewed Amadeus HERE. Thanks for the reviews, John! 🙂 Now let’s hear his thoughts on Platoon, IMDB rank 144 out of 250…

There are still some movies up for grabs if anyone wants to do a guest IMDB Top 250 review. You can find the list of remaining films HERE. See the full list & links to all the reviews that have already been done HERE. I’ve stopped receiving so many guest reviews now so if you send yours soon, it should post soon. I only have enough for the next month.

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The first casualty of war is innocence.

Charlie Taylor (Charlie Sheen) is a green, fresh to arrive recruit in Vietnam.  Platoon follows Taylor and his company as they cope with the hardships of war, and the film brings back the reality of what went on over there to the big screen for the first time since Apocalypse Now (1979).

The unit breaks into two contrasting camps: one with Sgt. Barnes (Tom Berenger), who believes in total war and winning at any cost, and Sgt. Elias (Willem Dafoe), who is battle-tested but gracious in contrast to Barnes.  Each side as plenty of support, and they battle,  as Taylor puts it, “for possession of my soul.”

Platoon features a whole slew of familiar faces (Charlie Sheen, Tom Berenger, Willem Dafoe, Keith David, Johnny Depp, Forest Whitaker, John C. McGinley, Tony Todd, Mark Moses), many of which were at the beginning of their careers.

A couple of things added to the authenticity of this film.  Oliver Stone’s experience in Vietnam, woven throughout the characters Taylor encounters, and the preparation the actors went through in making this film.  They trained for two weeks before filming began, building camaraderie as a unit, digging foxholes, encountering “night attacks” to get used to the special effects that would be used.  The familiarity these actors had with their weapons made the actions and emotion seem genuine.

The acting in this film is top-notch.  The characters evoke strong emotions in the audience: you either really like or really hate what a person says or does.  I found myself completely disgusted with some of the men in the Barnes camp as they abused and mistreated both Vietnamese peasants and their fellow soldiers.  An interesting commentary on this came from Taylor as he was airlifted out at the end of the film.  He describes that the Vietnamese weren’t the enemy, instead we were our own enemy.  There is a lot of killing, granted, but more of it being American killing American than one would expect.

I believe I’ve said it before, but Willem Dafoe is probably one of my favorite actors.  This film is one of the reasons for that opinion.  He is a strong, committed character whose performance I felt stood above all the others. I also found it interesting that he never wear a helmet.  Ever.  Tom Berenger, though I don’t agree with his characters outlook and way of carrying himself, brings that type of soldier to life and it fully committed to his character.

Charlie Sheen does very well in this movie as well.  The contrast and how quickly his idealized or unaware outlook at the beginning of the film is quickly shredded and almost gone by the end of the film.  He quickly loses the label of ‘new meat’ and becomes one of the guys.  His judgement and discernment remain, though, which is refreshing and relieving.

It’s interesting seeing John C. McGinley in a role like this after watching him at Dr. Cox on Scrubs, but hey that might just be me.

Platoon is considered one of the best films of the 1980s, it won the Best Picture Oscar in 1987.  It’s authenticity and superb acting both contribute largely to its success.  It’s one I enjoyed, and I’d definitely recommend seeing.

My Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars.

 

Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (1986) Guest Review

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This review for the John Hughes Blogathon comes from The Dirk Malcolm Alternative. Thanks for joining in on this blogathon! Let’s hear his thoughts on Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. 🙂

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FERRIS BUELLER’S DAY OFF (Hughes, US, 1986)

“The sportos, the motorheads, geeks, sluts, bloods, waistoids, dweebies, dickheads – they all adore him. They think he’s a righteous dude.”
– Grace, the school secretary

I am presently trying to compose a list of the 100 best films that have been produced since STAR WARS (1977). John Hughes is a post-New Hope auteur who created a new strain of Teen Movie for the multiplex generation. Why do I think FERRIS BUELLER… deserves a place on the list above his other films? THE BREAKFAST CLUB is more important as it launched the careers of many of the so-called brat pack. HOME ALONE, that he wrote, was more commercially successful. PLANES TRAINS AND AUTOMOBILES is funnier.

But, FERRIS… is wise.

It has a wisdom that transcends the ‘teen flick’ with all of its usual angst: the struggle to get noticed in a world that doesn’t care and the consuming need to find a partner. Its about more than that, its a manifesto for a way of life. Ferris is a righteous dude.

It is a simple story with a flimsy central motivation. Ferris is a well-heeled high-school kid who has a bedroom kitted out with state-of-the-art gear and loving parents who are working hard to meet his every desire. However, he has a significant lacking in his life, he doesn’t have a car, so he needs to ‘bum’ lifts from friends. To satisfy his desire for wheels plots a day off from school to spend it driving in a Ferrari belonging to his friend’s dad. I know. It’s terrible isn’t it? It’s one of those ethical dilemmas that is only matched by De Sica’s Antonio Ricci stealing a bike so he can get work to feed his child. But, of course, Ferris is not really interested in European socialism:

“I’m not European. I don’t plan on being European. So who gives a crap if they’re socialists? They could be fascist anarchists, it still doesn’t change the fact that I don’t own a car.”

Being both European and a socialist, I should find Ferris annoying, with his first world problems and arrogance, but Hughes gets away with it because Matthew Broderick is so charming and charismatic. From the opening moments when he takes the audience into his confidence and he describes how to avoid school, you are willing to come along on the ride. Some of my favourite moments are those where he turns up the charm and pulls off audacious flim-flams. He manages to get his girlfriend out of school thanks to an elaborate hoax, and have dinner at an exclusive restaurant due to his quick wits and confidence trickery.

Broderick is so good that it is possible to overlook the contribution of some of the other characters to its success. Jeffery Jones is great as the Principle driven crazy by his suspicions about Bueller. Jennifer Grey has the ultimate bitchy resting face as Ferris’s sister who is horrified to see the school beguiled into a ‘Save Ferris’ campaign when rumours of his impending kidney transplant take hold. Alan Ruck as Cameron has a troubled expression that’s a great foil to Broderick’s sure-footed bravado and he looks like a piece of coal is actually up his arse, slowly turning to a diamond. He’s never certain that he should go along. He’s got a bad cold, Ferris treats him badly, and it’s HIS dad’s car:

“My father spent three years restoring this car. It is his love, it is his passion.”

“It is his fault he didn’t lock the garage.”

The tension between the free-wheeling Ferris and the up-tight Cameron is the eternal battle between the id and the ego, the libertine verses the prig, tackling the ultimate question of modernity: how is it possible to be free in a society that demands order through the regime of school, work and the sense of duty towards parents. Ferris triumphs because he is willing to step outside of the hurley burley and find pleasure:

“Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”

There’s a timelessness to his message. It’s a middle-aged man speaking through a teenager. Every time I see the film, it makes me feel great, because its about the struggle for independence and the need to be free (at least once in a while). Ferris’ wisdom is the reason it belongs within the post-Star Wars cannon.

The film is made up of episodes that I’ve given the Dirk’s Five treatment, four good and one dud:

Bueller?… Bueller?… Bueller?

1961 Ferrari 250GT California

Has there been a better use of John Williams’ music for STAR WARS? Not even George Lucas can match the moment when the valet-parking attendant launches this ultimate, classic sports car over a bump in sheer exuberance.

The brilliant-red car is a fetish object (can you hear Yello’s ‘Oh Yeah’ without thinking about it?) throughout the movie. There were only 100 made, so you don’t need to be a car lover to cringe every time Cameron takes a blow at the bumper. Its a symbol of his relationship with his father and the source of his anxieties (the registration plate is NRVOUS). When it reverses through the plate window to crash at the bottom of a ditch, its not just its rarity that makes you bite your knuckle, its the realisation that things are never going to be the same again.

“Pucker up buttercup”

“This is George Peterson!” Cameron takes on the role of Sloane Peterson’s dad to get her out of school to join Ferris on his day off. He says that she needs to attend the funeral of her grandmother. Principle Rooney thinks it’s Ferris so lets rip:

Uh, yeah, sure, no I’d be happy to, yeah you, uh, you you just produce a corpse, and uh, I’ll release Sloane. I wanna see this dead grandmother first hand.

The timing of Jeffrey Jones’ reaction when his secretary tells him that Ferris is on line 2 is comic genius. As is his reaction when he sees Sloane apparently smooching with her ‘father’: “So THAT’s how it is in their family.”

Ferris’ Bedroom

I want one of those machines that you put a floppy disc in and it makes sick noises. He has the best graphic equaliser I’ve ever seen in a movie (not sure that its quite optimised for the acoustics of his room). It’s real pleasure to pause the image and study the posters on his wall too.

The contraption he creates is a fore-runner of Kevin’s devices in HOME ALONE, except they don’t actually look physically possible.

Art Institute of Chicago

I love the moment when they move through the museum in a link with the children, it is such innocent fun and joyous. The scene in the gallery offers a moment of calm meditation in the middle of the city. Chicago features heavily in the film with lurid, bright colours captured by cinematographer Tak Fujimoto (best known for his work on BADLANDS(1973))

The Dream Academy’s cover version of The Smiths’ Please Please Please Let Me Get What I Want plays over a steady slide-show of Hopper, Kandinsky, Picasso, Giacometti, Pollock and Mattisse. Most notably Seurat’s A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte.

Its at this point you realise that there is something to Ferris’ mantra. Stop and look once in a while. This great art could pass you by.

I yell “RAT!”

The Parade

I know that its a much loved scene, but after the time in the gallery I think this is wrong note in the film. The action transforms into the stuff of musicals with Ferris leading the crowd in a rendition of Twist and Shout. It seems oddly out of place and its the only moment that suddenly dates the film.

The parade scene in EASY RIDER (1969) has a similar effect of unbalancing things: they don’t look like they are part of what’s going on.

He should stick to singing in the shower.

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CPD Classics: Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (1986) Review

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Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (1986) by ME, Cinema Parrot Disco! Finally writing some reviews!

Directed by John Hughes

Written by John Hughes

Starring:
Matthew Broderick
Alan Ruck
Mia Sara
Jeffrey Jones
Jennifer Grey
Lyman Ward
Cindy Pickett
Edie McClurg
Ben Stein
Charlie Sheen
Kristy Swanson

Running time: 102 minutes

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
The film follows high school senior Ferris Bueller (Matthew Broderick), who decides to skip school and spend the day in downtown Chicago. Accompanied by his girlfriend Sloane Peterson (Mia Sara) and his best friend Cameron Frye (Alan Ruck), he creatively avoids his school’s Dean of Students Edward Rooney (Jeffrey Jones), his resentful sister Jeanie (Jennifer Grey), and his parents.

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My Opinion:

If you’re my age, there’s a 90% chance that you love Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. (Disclaimer: I pulled that statistic out of my ass). Although, personally, this is probably my third favorite Hughes film, I do think it’s his *best* film. The character of Ferris Bueller is possibly his greatest creation (and he created LOTS of memorable characters). Who wouldn’t love to be like Ferris? So carefree & living life to the fullest. As he famously says: “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it”. For a teen film, that’s actually a pretty deep & meaningful statement said in such a simple way. Everyone knows it’s the way we should ALL be living our lives yet so few of us remember to. I’ll admit right now that I’m a Cameron, not a Ferris. I don’t want to be a Cameron and everyone knows you should NOT be a Cameron. So why are there still so many of us in the world??

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So Ferris and his girlfriend and his best friend take a day off of school & spend the day doing various things around Chicago. So what? Well, what do YOU do when you decide to fake a sick day? I doubt many of us manage to do half as much as Ferris & co. Hell, I’d probably just mope around the house all day the way Cameron would choose to if Ferris would let him. Ferris lives LIFE and even the simplest things, like going to an art museum, are treated as something fantastic & beautiful. And call me sappy if you want but the museum scene with the magnificent Dream Academy version of The Smiths’ Please Please Please Let Me Get What I Want is an absolute classic. It’s beautiful & it’s moving and this is from a film aimed at TEENS.

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That’s what I loved about John Hughes – he treated teenagers as human beings with feelings and deep emotions and BRAINS. Now that I’m far (far… FAR… Oh, so damn far!) from being a teenager, I’ve forgotten what it’s like to be one and, as Allison from The Breakfast Club would say, my heart has died (in some ways…). Ferris Bueller’s Day Off gave us teens that, upon first glance, just wanted a “day off of school” but, by the end of the film, we realize that these teens skipping out on a day of school want the same thing all of us want: To find joy in the little things and to simply live each day as though it’s our last (which sounds corny & obvious but I’m not a good writer like Hughes – he said it much better with the “Life moves pretty fast” line). In this movie, it’s a coming-of-age thing as the three of them think about what they’re going to do with their lives outside of high school and you can tell that even Ferris is a little scared. This theme works just as well for any generation and any big life changes we experience: marriage, birth, death… I think this is a big part of the reason why Ferris Bueller’s Day Off remains so well loved even today. The clothing styles may change but the themes are timeless.

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Summary:

Um, that was all almost deep for me! I didn’t even really discuss any specific things from the movie. The characters are very strong as are the actors and there are so many great lines, funny moments, and excellent song choices (as I’ve said before, John Hughes really knew how to choose the right songs for his films). But there’s really no point discussing the specifics anyway – most everyone has seen this film by now or at least knows some of the more famous scenes. I love that it’s John Hughes’ “love letter to Chicago” as well as I grew up not terribly far from there and have had a bit of a “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” day in Chicago (but not fully – yes, this IS something I plan to do someday). The overall theme I discussed above isn’t enough to make a movie – it’s the combination of that plus the characters Hughes created here and his writing and the music and the humor and just… EVERYTHING coming together and being so RIGHT. That’s why Ferris Bueller’s Day Off is loved by so many, including me, and why it’s a CPD Classic.

My Rating: 9/10

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Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (1986) Guest Review

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This review for the John Hughes Blogathon comes from Zoe of The Sporadic Chronicles Of A Beginner Blogger. Thanks for being a part of this, Zoe! Let’s, um, see what she thought of Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. 🙂

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heathen
ˈhiːð(ə)n/
noun
derogatory

1. a person who does not belong to a widely held religion as regarded by those who do.

More commonly referred to as “Zoë”.

When Table 9 Mutant announced a John Hughes Blogathon I was like uhm, okay. I really wanted to be involved and I am not really familiar with his work, and this seems like a good way to figure some things out. I know that all and sundry is going to do Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, and I know that my selection was not really anything unexpected, but I figured that the best place to start with in terms of John Hughes’s work would be one of his most beloved and all time famous movies… a movie even I know about even though I have never watched. So here is just another one of numerous Ferris Bueller entries, but I can guarantee it will probably be one of the only (if not the only) reviews that does not jump about and sing praise for the classic film.

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“Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”
– Ferris Bueller

I won’t lie. I have been trying. I have been trying really hard and I have been unsuccessful. I know that the world loves this movie, I know that everyone is a huge fan, that everyone has faith and adores it and it has cult status and all that, but I am not a fan of Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. Maybe it is because it is too 80s? Maybe because it is freaking ridiculous? I don’t know. I really don’t. I didn’t find it to be funny or memorable or charming, and Jeanie (Jennifer Grey) truly grated on my absolute last nerve from the off. What a resentful, bitter bitch! Dean of Students Edward Rooney (Jeffrey Jones) was ludicrous, and I cannot ever imagine someone having such a hard on for one student (and I went to school with some serious chops in my life). The premise was silly, and it is called a coming of age film… how?! The most he did was bunk a day and excuse it later by saying he needs an off day in his life with his friends before they all go their separate ways… how does that even work? We call them weekends… but whatever. Not saying we don’t all need to put in that one false day every now and again for sanity’s sake, but this really just didn’t come together for me nicely.

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“It could get wrecked, stolen, scratched, breathed on wrong… a pigeon could shit on it! Who knows?”
– Cameron Frye

I was not a fan of the acting at all (though Matthew Broderick gave a fantastic performance, he played that self-assured and overly cocky teenager very well), I didn’t enjoy the events, and I have never seen someone plan a day to bunk that well in my life, and I met some people who were pretty creative. I know it isn’t supposed to be too serious and all that, but I didn’t find it light-hearted and fun, either. It was just boring, plain and simple. It didn’t reel me in even remotely. The movie itself is only like an hour and forty minutes, but it felt like a century to me. I even had to watch this movie over two sittings. That peeved me!

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“The place is like a museum. It’s very beautiful and very cold, and you’re not allowed to touch anything.”
– Ferris Bueller

I didn’t really feel that there was any real character growth. I mean sure, Cameron Frye (Alan Ruck) finally grew a pair in terms of his jackass dad, but we don’t actually see anything come to fruition from that, which was disappointing. Then there is Jeanie, who gets two words from druggie Charlie Sheen, and all of a sudden she is over hating Ferris, but gung-ho on helping him? People don’t let things go that quickly, and she has always despised her brother for getting away with everything all the time. Not to mention, how freaking retarded were the Bueller parents?! Tom (Lyman Ward) and Katie (Cindy Pickett) were preposterous and stupid and silly, and how do you blow off your daughter and believe your son in an angel? I mean I know how that happens, but it is like they didn’t even have the time of day for her, and I think that just irritated me (thinking about parents and favouritism among kids and all that). I know some parents are love blinded by their kids, but this just tells me they had the intellect of a pea!

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“In a nutshell: I hate my brother.”
– Jeanie Bueller

Alright, I am going to stop bitching now. There were some things that were pretty cool about the film I suppose. You will have to find that in everything. Cameron kicking the shit out of his dad’s Ferrari, so worth it. The massive (though completely inexplicable) town party was cool, even though it was strange how it all joined together for the film. I have always only caught scenes of it over the years, and those never really impressed me, so I figured maybe if I watch it all then I will understand the hype and cult status and lurve… nope. I really wanted to like this movie, I truly did. Instead I am going to have to go with having totally missed it here. This was not even like a teen feeling movie, but something for kids.

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“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 doesn’t think he’s seen anything good today – Cameron Frye, this one’s for you.”
– Ferris Bueller

Alright, moment of truth… overall I will be nice about it and score it a 5.5/10. Well, T9M, I am really sorry. I know you love yourself some Hughes, but this just didn’t work for me in the slightest. Maybe my next endeavour will impress me more!

Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (1986) Guest Review

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This guest review for the John Hughes Blogathon comes from Mark of Fast Film Reviews. Thanks for joining in, Mark! Let’s see what he has to say about Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. 🙂

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Ferris Bueller’s Day Off

The simple tale of how a high school senior spent one glorious spring day playing hooky after faking an illness. It doesn’t sound like a saga destined for greatness, but Ferris Bueller’s Day Off has become iconic. Perhaps it’s lead actor Matthew Broderick’s delicate balancing act. He gleefully inhabits a character that is a smug smartass, yet we are delightfully happy to see him succeed.

He urges his buddy Cameron Frye to borrow his Dad’s prized sports car then manipulates the administration into releasing his girlfriend Sloane Peterson (Mia Sara) for the day. News of Ferris’ infirmity grows. We are made aware of the public’s concern for the boy’s health at various moments during the chronicle. Apparently news of his sickness has spread far and wide in the school and throughout the city. People really like this boy. Definitely not in the Ferris Bueller fan club is Dean of Students Edward R. Rooney (Jeffrey Jones) who makes it his mission to prove the truant boy is not really sick. Ferris’ sarcastic sister Jeanie (Jennifer Grey) is also not taken in by her brother’s shenanigans. Her brother’s ability to go unpunished for his many misdeeds, provokes a hilarious mixture of outage and jealousy in her. Grey also registers considerable chemistry at the police station with a dangerous rebel played by Charlie Sheen.

John Hughes would go on to write bigger hits (Home Alone). But of everything he directed, this was his biggest box office success. It’s easy to see why. Part of what makes this comedy so winning is the utter innocence of it all. Ferris’ indulgences comprise of nothing more than trips to a fancy restaurant, the Sears Tower, the Art Institute of Chicago, the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, and a Cubs game at Wrigley Field. Ferris famously crashes a parade celebrating German-American culture. His lip-synch to the Beatles’ “Twist and Shout” is a highlight. Indeed the spectacle was enough to push the hit back onto the Billboard Top 40 charts back in 1986. Music figures prominently in inspired bits elsewhere. An instrumental version of The Smiths’ “Please, Please, Please, Let Me Get What I Want” at the museum is fittingly poetic. And nothing underscores a teen’s desire to drive a 1961 Ferrari 250 GT California Spyder convertible more perfectly than “Oh Yeah” by Swiss electronic band Yello. The song has become a symbol of want.

For anyone who was in high school when this came out, the production will resonate even more as pure nostalgia. Much of the teen movie is well crafted lightweight fun. But as the film’s final coda unfolds, Ferris’ altruistic motives become apparent. His objective to help his best friend achieve a deeper sense of self-worth resonates long after the movies fades.

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