Tuesday, 11 August 2009

John Hughes

For many the passing of John Hughes last Thursday will have gone unnoticed. Certainly my parents generation will have shrugged their collective shoulders at the news and wondered what all the fuss was about. But for a generation of thirty somethings he was the film maker that defined our teenage years.

He got what it was to be a teenager. The chaos of growing up and the self absorbed angst that strikes us all. And best of all he didn't judge us for it, he encouraged it.

The Breakfast Club and Ferris Bueller's Day Off are two of my favourite films. They are both funny as f***, they both kick ass, and they both make you think. If you're in your 30's and you haven't seen them, be ashamed.

I am a geek, so I totally relate to Anthony Michael Hall's character in The Breakfast Club, but who hasn't had a teacher that you'd want to write an 'essay like that' for? Just to stop and make them reflect for a second. The collection of stereo-typical school kids from different cliques grow during the course of their Saturday in detention, discovering they have much more in common than they thought. Heart warming, and for the 15 year old me back in 1987 (I must have seen a pirate copy) it sent me a message that, I guess to an extent, I've clung to ever since. I'll leave you to figure out what that was, but it made a difference.

Ferris is something else entirely. There have been many cool characters in many films but at sixteen I wanted to be Ferris. Watch it now and it's a weird film. Matthew Broderick's asides to camera, letting you know Ferris knows we're watching and in on the joke. The implausability of it all. But yet, somehow it works as one of the most uplifting films I've ever seen. I know the gags inside out by now, but they're like meeting up with old friends, they never fail to raise a smile.

But God was Ferris cool. Hot girlfriend, bunking school, confident but not arrogant. Even his sister, who completely hates him, steps in at the death to stop him being caught out because, guess what, she loves him too.

It's a movie that's pure fantasy but I love it for that. And best of all I love it for that Ferrari careering out of that garage the wrong way. Rarely has there been a better 'f*** you' moment in a film.

I think one of the most telling things about John Hughes is that most of my generation will have a film of his that is in their top ten movies. Whether it's Pretty in Pink, one of the above, or even Weird Science, Hughes just captured what it was to be a teenager in the mid eighties. There's such a warmth in them that I don't see often enough in films today.

I watched Ferris Bueller two weeks ago. It made me miss being that age, when the world was still full of infinite possibilities. However the world is still there and still full of them. Cinema is at its best when it reminds you of stuff like that.

'Don't you forget about me.' We won't Mr Hughes, I can promise you that.

John Hughes (1950-2009)