Watched, Read, Reviewed: August 2021

Happy September. September?! Holy shit – when did that happen????

Here’s all I watched & read in August, spent mostly in bed recuperating after a hospital stay. So I was allowed to watch a lot of stuff (what else could I do??). 🙂

MOVIES WATCHED IN AUGUST (ranked best to worst):

Man On Fire – I reviewed this in full at the link. I decided to finally watch it after seeing a thread on Twitter of movies with very different audience & critic ratings (audiences loved it & critics hated it). I really enjoyed it. No, it’s not some good “Oscar worthy” film but it’s a very enjoyable revenge thriller. And it may be predictable but the friendship between Denzel Washington’s & Dakota Fanning’s characters was fantastic & they worked so well together. Plus Denzel is always absolutely perfect in this type of role. Don’t listen to the critics! They need to learn to just enjoy movies sometimes. – 7/10

Fantastic Planet (French: La Planète sauvage, Czech: Divoká planeta) – Well, this was bizarre!! I won’t say much about it here as I reviewed it in full at the link. This is the strange sort of shit I’m always searching for as I get so bored with mainstream movies since I watch way too many. I’m not sure what the hell was going on but I liked it. It had surreal artwork & a trippy, groovy score so was my type of thing. It’s on the Roku Channel in the U.K. if you’re interested. Here’s the plot synopsis for this animated allegorical tale (from IMDb): “On a faraway planet where blue giants rule, oppressed humanoids rebel against their machine-like leaders.” And I’ll give you one more image below to give you an idea of the animation style… – 7/10

Once Upon A Time In America – Being stuck in bed recuperating after a hospital stay made me decide to finally watch this almost-four-hour epic because what the hell else was I going to do with my time? It’s also a part of my IMDb Top 250 Challenge so it gets another movie crossed off of that list. I reviewed it in the full at the link so luckily don’t again have to say I didn’t love this film. Oops – Just said it! But I’m not a big gangster film fan & everyone was too hateful. I’m definitely a bigger fan of Leone’s Westerns but there’s no denying that this was still a good film even if I didn’t love it. – 7.5/10

Nomadland – And I watched this one while in the hospital as part of my Best Picture Project. Not gonna lie: It’s good but a bit boring. I’m gonna be real! Yes, I’ve ranked Man On Fire above this. Yes, Nomadland is certainly a better film than Man On Fire. But there are no butt bombs in this! I think it’s a deserving Best Picture Winner compared to the other nominees this year but, overall, it’s far from the best winner in the history of the Oscars.

I found the “houseless” lifestyle portrayed in this fascinating and guess I never exactly realized that there are people who live that way (but I’m a bit sheltered). I know there were real-life nomads playing characters in this & they were all very good. Frances McDormand, as always, was also very good as was David Strathairn. It’s not a film I can fault in any way & I thought they did a good job of portraying McDormand’s character’s heartbreak over the loss of her husband as well as her entire town & way of life. Yes, it’s a good film & deserves a higher rating. It’s just one of those movies that I feel I’ve seen once & have no need to see again. I miss having Oscar winning movies that I truly loved & enjoyed. – 7/10

Thrashin’ – Oh how I love finding ’80s movies that I somehow never saw at the time! I enjoyed this. Yes, it’s cheesy. Here’s the IMDb synopsis: “Two skateboarding gangs battle each other for supremacy, and a member of one gang falls in love with the sister of his rival.” It stars Josh Brolin as the main character with one of the two assholes from Weird Science (Robert Rusler) as his punk rock skateboarding rival. It also had one of the Lost Boys vampires, Sherilyn Fenn, and of course Tony Hawk with a cameo but it must have been very small because I didn’t notice him. Oh!!! And the Red Hot Chili Peppers were in this performing at some club or whatever. So that was cool – It made it feel a little more credible as this sort of California scene makes me think of the Chili Peppers. Romance & skateboarding rivalry in ’80s California. What more can you ask for from a movie?! I love the ’80s. I don’t care. I enjoyed this. (Kind of feel like giving it a higher rating but then it would be the same as what I gave a Best Picture Oscar winner….). – 6.5/10

Fear Street Trilogy: Fear Street Part One: 1994, Fear Street Part Two: 1978, Fear Street Part Three: 1666 – I reviewed this trilogy at the link so I’ll just say it was fun but certainly not perfect. It had a good soundtrack (especially 1978) & I’d say the overall story that runs through all three films does come together pretty well. Oh, it’s also super gory so don’t be fooled by the R.L. Stine name! These are full-on slashers. I’d watch more if they make more. The trilogy was clearly made by lovers of old school slashers & they did a decent enough job of trying to be like those. – Part One & Two: 6.5/10, Part Three: 6/10

Cruella – Also reviewed this at the link so I don’t have to bitch about it again here. Mainly, I was mostly annoyed that it didn’t totally suck like I was expecting. Okay – the story itself was stupid as shit & completely pointless. But, damn – it had some fun outfits and an absolutely kick ass soundtrack. Why did they have to use such good music in a stupid Disney live-action thing?! Ugh! I loved hearing so many good songs but, man, those songs deserve to be in far better films. – 6.5/10

The Goldfinch – First of all, I read this book and it felt like it took me FOREVER because it was so damn long (seriously – I think it took me about a year to read). It’s a long book and spends a very long time developing the characters and spans many years, so there was no way a 2 1/2 hour movie was going to do it justice. As much as I hate a mini series & dragging a story out for TV, I think this probably should’ve been a mini series instead. However, I thought the film did a surprisingly good job squeezing in so much of the story. It mainly skipped over the time the main character spends as a boy in Las Vegas which, to be fair, dragged on for way too long in the book anyway. The only thing that was a shame was that it meant cutting out quite a bit of the Boris character, who was possibly the best thing about the book (besides wondering what would happen with the painting).

I think the movie kind of made me further appreciate the book as it is actually a decent story. So I’m giving this a decent rating as the movie was far better than I was expecting. However, if you’ve not read the book, I think the movie would probably be difficult to follow as they really do gloss over stuff. I have a feeling that those who liked this movie did read the book first. But I’d only recommend the book if you like reading epic stories with fairly unlikeable characters. Not gonna lie – the book was a real slog to read. Maybe it’s why I quite liked the movie… I don’t know. It’s a hard one to recommend! I can understand why it got poor reviews but it’s a pretty damn good adaptation. I liked it. – 7/10

– Wonder Woman 1984 – Was glad to finally see this without extra cost but had extremely low expectations due to terrible reviews. Well, it’s not that bad. It’s certainly not as bad as its IMDb rating (5.4/10). Okay, it’s also not very good but I didn’t hate it. I thought the first Wonder Woman was quite good so it’s a shame this didn’t live up to it. I think Wonder Woman herself was perfectly fine in this, so they didn’t ruin the character, and the story wasn’t awful. I think the main two problems were 1. The movie was too damn long and 2. The villains were rubbish. Kristen Wiig’s wasn’t quite so bad & they did a decent job developing her character and letting us see her rise & fall. Pedro Pascal was terrible, however. I mean the character as well as the acting (sorry, I don’t think he’s very good despite loving The Mandalorian – that show would be just as good with a different actor). Oh – I also don’t think they did a very good job of making this look like it was set in 1984 just by throwing a few ugly outfits on people and having Chris Pine give a fashion show. And where was all the ’80s music?! Disappointing, as I love the ’80s. Meh. Whatever. There are far better superhero movies but also worse ones. I’m bored with them all. This one will just be very forgettable. – 6/10

Wish Dragon – This was fine. I don’t have a lot to say about this animated film other than that it was better than a lot of the stuff that slightly bigger studios such as DreamWorks put out. Here’s the IMDb synopsis: “Determined teen Din is longing to reconnect with his childhood best friend when he meets a wish-granting dragon who shows him the magic of possibilities.” I liked the animation, the characters were likeable, and the dragon was fun (even though he was a bit too similar to Aladdin’s Genie). It’s also not quite as “kiddie” as it looks. It’s certainly appropriate for very young kids but I’d say preteens would be perfectly happy watching this too (the main boy & girl are 19 in this). Decent film for one that I believe went straight to Netflix? – 6.5/10

Bliss – I was really looking forward to seeing this as I really liked Mike Cahill’s Another Earth & especially I Origins. This one is unfortunately not nearly as good. I was intrigued by the concept & did like the story. Here’s the IMDb plot synopsis: “A mind-bending love story following Greg who, after recently being divorced and then fired, meets the mysterious Isabel, a woman living on the streets and convinced that the polluted, broken world around them is a computer simulation.” It started out okay but the story got messy & it just didn’t work as well as his other films. The biggest problem was that it felt completely miscast. Owen Wilson & Salma Hayek were okay but just didn’t really work together. They’re also too famous – This would have been better with lesser known actors. Too bad Cahill didn’t use his usual favorite, Brit Marling. She’d have been good. Oh well – I did still like the story so it was worth a watch but I’d highly recommend his other films first. – 6/10

Black Christmas (2019) – Er. Um. UGH. Okay… This movie was mostly pretty damn terrible but for some reason I kind of liked it? At least at the beginning – that all went out the window at the very end. Holy hell! What a pile of shit ending!!! First of all: Yes, I saw the original but it was many many years ago so I should probably rewatch it. So I won’t be comparing them as I don’t remember that one well enough. I just wish Blumhouse would stop rebooting or remaking (or whatever you want to call it) old horror films. Well, that’s plenty of studios, actually. And these newer films are sometimes so different than the originals that I don’t understand why they use the same name. No, I lie – they use the same name because they’re more likely to make money from a known name. Pisses me off. Honestly, they could’ve given this one a completely different name from the original as I don’t think they’re very similar beyond the setting.

So. They kind of had a good idea here but just did such an awful job of cramming the agenda into this film. Spoiler: It’s basically about the rape culture at universities. Which is an important and serious topic not really suited for this seriously stupid horror movie. To be fair, it maybe could have worked if the film had treated the topic more seriously and if the ending hadn’t been laughable. It’s a shame as a well written film on this topic could’ve turned out well. Maybe a more serious type of horror such as Midsommar? Hell, that’s basically a toxic-male-hating film too about slightly inattentive boyfriends, right?

I did really like Imogen Poots in this so luckily the main character was fine. I like her in most things but I mostly think I just love that name. POOTS! Imagine having to grow up with the name Poots!! Her main SJW best friend (sorry to use that phrase but it’s the whole point of that character) was okay but very quickly gets on your nerves as you’d expect. I did kind of like the one friend who was really dumb (she was also good in The White Lotus). And one other thing I did really like in this movie was their song. That was a good scene. I like seeing rapists named & shamed. So the movie started out well…

While I do think this movie ended up being dreadful thanks to its ridiculously over-the-top ending, I think it has been unfairly rated way too low on IMDb. 3.4/10?! Okay, that will be those who see it as having a man-hating agenda. I suppose it does but I think it could have gotten away with it & done a better job of making its point if the ending wasn’t SO in-your-face about, um, toxic masculinity. Dammit! This movie made me use the phrases SJW & toxic masculinity. Phrases I steer WELL clear of on Twitter! And I’ve written waaaaay more than I wanted to about a pretty bad horror movie. I just wish it had done a better job of making its point in a more subtle fashion. Cramming your beliefs down viewers’ throats never works, even when viewers agree with what you’re trying to say (as I do). – 5.5/10

The Big Year – This was fine? A very safe & inoffensive movie. Here’s the Wikipedia synopsis: “It was based on the 2004 nonfiction book The Big Year: A Tale of Man, Nature and Fowl Obsession by Mark Obmascik. The book followed three men on a quest for a Big Year – a competition among birders to see who can see and identify the greatest number of species of birds in North America (north of Mexico) in a calendar year.” So it’s an intriguing story. I had no idea this was a real thing that people do?! Of course the characters themselves are fictional (Owen Wilson is especially over-the-top in his bird obsession) but it’s still interesting that people do this in real life. As I said, it’s just a very safe film. Pleasant. The kind of thing you can have on in the background while visiting with family on a Sunday afternoon. So… somewhat forgettable but was a nice watch & I always love Jack Black. Steve Martin was also good but Black was the best character & he was very understated compared to his usual sort of crazy antics. – 6/10

Over Her Dead Body – This sucked. Cliché & predictable every step of the way. The story is about a controlling woman (Eva Longoria) who dies on her wedding day (you’ll see the obvious death coming a mile away). She then haunts the first woman who shows an interest in her husband-to-have-been about a year later & tries to keep them apart. I 100% watched this because I love Paul Rudd. Who doesn’t?! A controlling dead bitch wouldn’t keep me away from him either! But, of course, she sees the error of her ways and that she needs to let him move on with his life. Duh. I’d have given a spoiler warning there but it’s not a spoiler when you already know the stupid ending from the very start. Whatever – it’s a dumb romcom & not trying to win Oscars or something. So I’ll be nice with my rating since Paul Rudd was of course adorable in this. – 5/10

Movies Rewatched:

Rear Window – Finally convinced my daughter to watch her first Alfred Hitchcock film! 🙂 And I started her on my favorite. I’ve always loved Rear Window & how we get a glimpse of various peoples’ lives through their windows. I was always most concerned about Miss Lonelyhearts & loved the newlywed couple who kept their blinds closed for days. Plus James Stewart is always great & Grace Kelly is gorgeous & classy in all her fancy outfits. I know I always wear a dress & pearls around the house like in the above photo! Such a fun & stylish film. Trying to convince the kid to watch The Birds next. Let’s have another look at Grace Kelly… – 9.5/10

The Lost Boys – YES! Adore this movie. And, yes, it’s my favorite vampire movie. Of course – I was a young teenager when it came out & had a crush on The Two Coreys. I don’t know what else to say about it but you’ll either love this lightweight teen horror comedy or you won’t. The characters are fun, everyone is young & pretty & super cool, and it has great quotables. Death by stereo! Love it. Oh, and it has that greased-up saxophone player. Hubba hubba. Maggots, Michael! You’re eating maggots! –9/10

Ferris Bueller’s Day Off – Reviewed this in full already for the big John Hughes Blogathon I did years ago. Obviously, I’m Gen X so naturally a big fan of John Hughes (which is why I did the blogathon). Still think this one is great although The Breakfast Club is still my favorite. – 9/10

Wreck-It Ralph – I liked this one a lot the first time I saw it but it grew on me more & more and it’s now easily one of my very favorites of modern-era animated Disney. I think the story is very clever and I love the characters (yes, even Vanellope although I’m sure she gets on some people’s nerves). And I like the Sugar Rush song (seriously – I have it on my Apple playlist). Is it normal for me as an adult to rewatch these movies as much as kids do?! – 8.5/10

Robin Hood (1973) – For whatever reason, I’d not watched this Disney movie a million times like a lot of the others so figured it was time for a rewatch as I didn’t remember it well. I really enjoyed it! Not sure why I never watched it much. The characters and a couple of the songs were fun. Glad I gave it a rewatch after all these years. – 7.5/10

Spider-Man (2002) – Not sure if I have the energy but think I need to rewatch all these Spider-Man movies before the new film comes out. Mainly need to watch with my daughter who hasn’t seen any pre-Tom-Holland ones. Wanted to watch the second of these before rating this one as I seem to remember it being quite good? I like this one, though. We’ll give it a 7 & see if 2 is a 7.5! Don’t remember loving any of the rest. Still think the first couple of Tobey Maguire ones are the best, though, even though I think Tom Holland is decent. – 7/10

Attack The Block – I really like this one although I can’t explain exactly why as the main characters are a group of young criminals. But the aliens are quite effective and it’s a decent alien invasion movie, which I always enjoy. – 7/10

Practical Magic – A bit girly for me but I have to like chick flicks sometimes, right?? – 6.5/10

The Island – Think this is pretty decent for a, uh, Michael Bay film. Until it turns too Michael Bay-like at the end. But it starts out well & the story is fine & Steve Buscemi is in it & Steve Buscemi rules. So, good enough. – 6.5/10

The Hole (2009) – Trying to ease the daughter into horror as she’s not a big fan like I was at her age. Well, she didn’t like this one. It’s a very odd film. Expected so much more from Joe Dante as Gremlins is awesome. But this one is weird. It’s not really scary but it’s hard to know what sort of age it’s aimed at as it IS far too scary for kids at least. But teens & older would mostly find it silly. I don’t think it’s a horrible film – I think it’s just one that would only be liked by a small percentage of people if they’re just the right sort of age when they watch it. I just don’t know what age that might be! 10/11/12, maybe? – 6/10

Okay – as I was stuck in bed for most of August, I usually had movies playing in the background so put on a lot of favorites. I’ve already reviewed most of them in the past: The Wizard Of Oz, My Neighbor Totoro, Kiki’s Delivery Service, The Jungle Book, and The Aristocats (I love this one & think it’s an underrated Disney classic).

Shorts:

Short Circuit Shorts: Season 2 – These are really good animated shorts on Disney Plus. Of season two, Going Home really stood out. It was heartbreaking but a great short film.

BOOKS, TV, MUSIC, MISCELLANEOUS THIS MONTH

TV SHOWS WATCHED

Okay, I also watched way too many TV shows while stuck in bed. These are in no particular order…

The White Lotus – Enjoyed this! It’s certainly not for everyone but I liked the dark humor & the characters were good. And Jennifer Coolidge was as fun to watch as always. And, MAN, I hated that newlywed husband! What a prick. I also liked that it was a short series. I hate things that drag on for years. I think a new series will focus on new people? Will definitely check it out based on Season 1.

Erased (Boku dake ga Inai Machi, 僕だけがいない街) – This was quite good. I knew nothing about this Japanese anime series so am glad I gave it a chance. Here’s the IMDB synopsis: “29-year-old Satoru Fujinuma is sent back in time 18 years to prevent the events leading to his mother’s death, which began with a series of kidnappings while he was in 5th grade.” Again, I really liked the “one short series” thing.

Cruel Summer – This was kind of terrible and cheesy but I also kind of liked it? It was very “YA” and the acting was all pretty dreadful other than from the actress Olivia Holt. But I think I’ll forever be a sucker for YA drama. I don’t believe this was based on a book but this is exactly the kind of guilty pleasure YA stuff I still like to read. There’s a lot of back & forth as to who is telling the truth and you never know who to trust. It’s also set in the ’90s, which was fun, back when I was just a little older than these characters. It takes place in flashbacks all exactly three years apart in the two girls’ lives. Here’s the IMDb synopsis: “In a small Texas town, popular teen Kate, is abducted. Seemingly unrelated, a girl named Jeanette goes from being a sweet, awkward outside to the most popular girl in town, but by 1995 she has become the most-despised person in America.

Dark: S1 E1 – The hubby & I have decided to start watching this but have only seen one episode so I can’t say much yet. I’m certainly intrigued, though!! Very good first episode.

Nine Perfect Strangers: S1 E1-4 – My god – look at all these “adult drama” TV shows I watched in August! Not normally my type of thing. I’m liking this okay but The White Lotus was much better than what I’ve seen of this so far. Still interested to see what happens, though, and I think the acting is very good. I especially like Melissa McCarthy in this much more serious role & Bobby Cannavale. They’re really good so far. And I’m interested to see what will become of Regina Hall’s character (and all the guests, really).

Monsters At Work: S1 E6-9 – Yep – I love this show!! Said more about it HERE. Hope there’s a Season 2!

Steins;gate: S1 E1 – Decided to check out this anime series after really liking Erased. Well, the first episode hasn’t grabbed me. Will try a couple more…

The Crown: S4 E3-4 – Finally watching the Diana episodes I’ve been looking forward to for ages! I’m enjoying them but I don’t buy into the person playing Diana at all. Which is a shame.

TV Shows Rewatched:

Star Trek: The Next Generation: S1 – This is an all-time favorite of mine so am enjoying revisiting.

The Golden Girls: Various episodes – Can always stick on an episode of this to cheer me up. 🙂

Grey’s Anatomy: S1 – Daughter wanted to watch this as it’s her friend’s favorite show. Oh boy – I’d forgotten how inappropriate some of it is. But it’s rated 12, so, oh well – I guess I saw similar shows at her age. Anyway – I’ve watched this show for 17 years & have a love/hate relationship with it. Seeing Season 1 again was strange. It really was a better show at the start…

BOOKS READ

If It Bleeds by Stephen King (Four Story Collection: Mr. Harrigan’s Phone, The Life Of Chuck, If It Bleeds & Rat)Oops. I read another Stephen King book… Well, I enjoyed it. I always love his shorter story collections. I’ll say just a tiny bit about each. Not sure what to rate it as it’s good but not as strong as some of his other collections. I suppose I’d give the whole thing this: – 3.5/5

Mr. Harrigan’s Phone – Really liked this very simple story of a boy who gifts an iPhone to an elderly neighbour. But the story of course gets a little more weird later on…

The Life Of Chuck – Thought this three-part story (told in reverse order) was interesting. The first story was really good & very clever when you later realise what’s going on. The second story was okay & the final one was good with the right amount of creepiness but also strong characters & not a full-on “horror”.

If It Bleeds – This is a short story continuing on from The Outsider (which I actually didn’t like very much). However, it revolves around one of my favorite new Stephen King characters: Holly Gibney from Mr. Mercedes. She’s a love her or hate her & I love her so like that King keeps using her as well as other likeable previous characters. So I enjoyed this story mainly because I got to revisit these characters again.

Rat – This is the most “Stephen King” story about a writer (shocker! can’t remember if he was also in Maine…) who makes a deal with a talking rat when he wishes to write a successful novel. It’s a twist on The Monkey’s Paw and is a better story than you’d think it could be considering it has a talking rat. But King can write the weird stuff well!

BLOG PLANS FOR THE COMING MONTH

No plans for September but am considering doing October Horror Month again since I skipped it last year. But it would just be me reposting reviews of all the horror movies I’ve watched in the past year.

**I end these posts with a good song from one of the movies I watched but the Fear Street Trilogy & Cruella had LOADS of good songs! Well, I already posted David Bowie’s The Man Who Sold The World & I Wanna Be Your Dog by The Stooges in those reviews. So here’s Time Of The Season by The Zombies (which was in Cruella):

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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John Hughes Movie Quote Of The Day: Ferris Bueller’s Day Off

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“I do have a test today, that wasn’t bullshit. It’s on European socialism. I mean, really, what’s the point? 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.”

Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (1986)

**Okay – I LOVE how successful this blogathon has been but MAN I miss posting random stuff & current movie reviews (Just saw The Zero Theorem yesterday – review in April after this blogathon!). But two things I love have come together so I must share this immediately. Mondo posters and Frozen!!! Check out this Frozen poster by Tom Whalen for Mondo. Nice! Link here: GeekTyrant. There’s also a poster in the link for American Hustle which is way better than the movie. You can read my review for Frozen HERE. Spoiler: I loved it. 🙂

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John Hughes Movie Song Of The Day: Ferris Bueller’s Day Off

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The Dream Academy – Please, Please, Please Let Me Get What I Want (Instrumental)(featured in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, 1986)

**The painting is A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte by Georges-Pierre Seurat.

This is one of my personal favorites of all the songs used in John Hughes movies. I think Hughes picked the perfect songs for his films. I should make a Top Ten! Man… I really haven’t posted much of my own stuff for this blogathon. I think it’s time I start writing something! Thanks again to all who have participated – I still have lots of reviews to post from all of you. (Still waiting for some, too! *Hint Hint* No one is probably reading this anyway…). 😉

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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My Top Ten John Hughes Movies

Been meaning for ages to do my top ten list of movies from 80s teen comedy genius John Hughes. I’ve been thoroughly annoyed (that is, extremely pissed off) ever since hearing a few weeks ago about the plan to remake Weird Science. Honestly, Hollywood, come up with some original ideas instead of destroying one of the best things about my teenage years – John Hughes movies. Just come up with some original ideas overall! Enough with the remakes!!!

Anyway, here are my Top Ten John Hughes movies in order starting with my favorite:

1. The Breakfast Club

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2. Ferris Bueller’s Day Off

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3. Sixteen Candles

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4. Weird Science

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5. National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation

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6. Pretty In Pink

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7. Home Alone

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8. Uncle Buck

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9. Some Kind Of Wonderful

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10. Planes, Trains & Automobiles

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And my favorite John Hughes creation: Jake Ryan. Ruined boyfriends for me for life, though. 😉

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My Top Ten Shower & Bath Scenes In Movies

Ever since I reviewed John Carpenter’s The Ward & happened to mention the shower scene with Amber Heard, I see variations of the search term “Amber Heard shower scene” bringing someone to my blog on a daily basis. Pervs! So, screw it – I’ll make a list! Here are my top ten movie shower (or bath) scenes starting with the best:

1. Psycho

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Obviously.

2. Hardware

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Such an underrated cult classic! I never know anyone who has seen this movie. And the shower scene is awesome with one of the BEST movie songs ever – The Order Of Death by Public Image Limited.

3. Carrie

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Dirty Pillows!

4. American Beauty

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“This will be the high point of my day: It’s all downhill from here.”

5. Ferris Bueller’s Day Off

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“I recall Central Park in fall.”

6. Weird Science

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“If you ever get the chance, shower with them. I did. Mmm, it’s a mindscrambler. Hurts so good.”

7. A Nightmare On Elm Street

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One, two, Freddy’s coming for you…

8. The Shining

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All work & no play makes Jack make-out with creepy dead woman.

8. It

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Argh! Pennywise! Creepy f@#king clown!!! I don’t even want this damn picture on my blog!

10. Blade

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Cool bloodbath (well, more like bloodSHOWER) club scene. Set to the tune of the Pump Panel remix of New Order’s Confusion.

Honorable Mentions:
Slither
Arachnophobia
Fatal Attraction
What Lies Beneath
Pleasantville
Porky’s
Pretty Woman
The Big Lebowski
Stoker

For the guys:
Starship Troopers (I hate this movie)

Words to bring the pervs in: Hot, Steamy, Sexy, Naked, Boobies. Lol! They’ll be disappointed – my list isn’t very hot or steamy. 😉

Here’s Amber Heard wet in the shower in The Ward:

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Hardware shower scene with Public Image Ltd song The Order Of Death: