Tag Archives: film

[film]don’t you forget about me: a look back at the breakfast club

“…And these children
that you spit on
as they try to change their worlds
are immune to your consultations.
They’re quite aware
of what they’re going through…”

DAVID BOWIE

Teen angst has been a selling a point for movies for a very long time. It’s forever immortalized in movies from Rebel Without a Cause to Carrie. Perhaps the most perfect storm of teen angst can be found in the Breakfast Club however. Telling the story of five teens serving detention on a cold day at Shermer High School in Shermer, Illinois, the Breakfast Club is very much a story told through the lens of youth and a world that doesn’t understand them. To be honest, it’s a world that very much does not want to understand them. It’s the penultimate teenage feeling of us against the world. The moment when a loose collective becomes a unit to fight against the ultimate tyranny of the adult world.


What is it about this particular teen angst film that endures when so many others tarnish with time and growing up? The reason is likely equal parts nostalgia, quotability and just being an all around well done film. It is the rare film that you can watch as an adult and, instead of finding yourself rooting for the adults, you find yourself partially a teenager again, full of hope and existential angst all at the same time. The adults run the gamut from clueless to indifferent to outright antagonistic and there isn’t a positive one in sight. These are not the adults any of us wanted to grow up to be, but had no choice in becoming.

“When you grow up, your heart dies.”

~Allison

Some days it does feel as if your heart has died. You look at yourself and see missed chances and opportunities. You hear the way you speak to your children or about the next generation and realize that you have become every adult you hated. Sure, you try and fight it. You even tell yourself that maybe your parents and teachers weren’t as bad as you thought (in most cases at least). To be honest, you’re probably right. The Breakfast Club (and movies like it) tap into the way teenagers have always felt and will always feel. It gives you the empathy to understand that what your own teenager hears you say is not at all how you meant it.

Obviously, all impact a film has on someone is completely subjective. All men I’ve dated (including the one I married) have at least a little bit of John Bender in them. He was probably my first full fledged film crush and created a blueprint for what I looked for. Also, for better or worse, I operate under the impression that all of the Midwest is like Shermer, while accepting it’s a pretty flimsy basis for thinking that.



The Breakfast Club put together five archetypes that we can all see ourselves in a bit. I’ve always fancied myself a halfway point between John and Allison, a little rebellious and a little weird at the same time. Much like David Bowie’s “Rebel Rebel” is my favorite song, Breakfast Club is my favorite 80s movie. It takes one perfect day and lets us live on that edge of hope that these kids are going to be okay and their happy endings are more than a moment waiting to shatter when they walk off screen into their real lives. John Bender’s triumphant fist in the air at the end is all that we need to be left with.

Dear Mr. Vernon,

We accept the fact that we had to sacrifice a whole Saturday in detention for whatever it was we did wrong. But we think you’re crazy to make us write an essay telling you who we think we are. You see us as you want to see us – in the simplest terms, in the most convenient definitions. But what we found out is that each one of us is a brain…

…and an athlete…

…and a basket case…

…a princess…

…and a criminal…

Does that answer your question?

Sincerely yours,
the Breakfast Club

Advertisements

[film]star crossed

True story: I am not an overly romantic person. Or, if you ask my husband, a romantic person at all in any traditional sense. It took him a long time to fully get used to the idea that, no, I don’t actually want flowers and, really, I’m okay skipping all the traditional trappings of Valentine’s Day.

I don’t harbor the amount of bitterness that some people do to the holiday though. I’m not specifically anti romance. I am anti cookie cutter get a girl flowers, jewelry and candy romance. (Off topic: My husband does have my version of romance down. One example: I was obsessed with Popples at one point and he put a ton of work into tracking one down for me as a gift. It was back when we were first dating and it was the sweetest thing anyone had done for me ever at that point.) I’m also pretty anti cookie cutter romantic movies that tend to feel like they’re just the film version of hearts and candy romance. I do however enjoy a well done story about star crossed lovers across genre lines.

Presented here however is five of my go to romantic movies, some more traditonal than others.

Natural Born Killers (1994)

This is my husband and I’s movie so putting on this is list is almost obligatory. It’s also the tale of star crossed lovers who overcome all odds to be together forever. There’s also a good old fashioned killing spree, a ton of social commentary and an insanely good soundtrack.

Romeo + Juliet (1996)


Worth noting, I actually love Shakespeare, but in general struggle to ever connect with productions of Romeo and Juliet. Aside from the story being a little silly, it just doesn’t resonate with me like other Shakespeare plays. This is the only version that I genuinely love. Claire Danes’ acting aside, there isn’t much fault in it. It’s visually stunning and (again) has a fantastic soundtrack.

Moulin Rouge! (2001)


Yes, the second Baz Luhrmann movie on this list. Again, visually astounding, incredible soundtrack, etc, etc. I actually went through a phase where I was obsessed with this movie so it may actually be a case of the less said the better, but sex and absinthe fairies, oh my.

Stardust (2007)


In my world there is very little that Neil Gaiman can do wrong, and though the film adaption is quite a bit different from the book, this is Gaiman perfection. It’s snarky and romantic, smart and sexy, adventurous and funny. It puts the literal star in star crossed. (Also Claire Danes is delightful in this to balance out how not delightful she is in Romeo + Juliet.)

Princess Bride (1987)


I mean, you didn’t think any list about star crossed lovers wouldn’t have the greatest romance of all time, did you?

[film]shadow of the vampire

Vampires are not necessarily my thing. Don’t get me wrong, I like them well enough. I even went through a phase where I was pretty obsessed with the history and lore of them. Said phase also corresponded with my so goth I wished I could shit bats and be a character in a Poppy Z. Brite story so take that for what you will. At the end of the day though, I don’t love vampires or vampire stories. I will always choose Frankenstein’s Creature over Dracula. Werewolves are inherently more interesting to me with the beast inside all of us metaphor. Vampires are, by and large, a pretty boring lot who all took the script of Stoker and Rice and ran with it.

That being said there are some great and fantastic tales featuring the bloodsuckers. Let the Right One In, Dracula’s various film incarnations and What We Do in the Shadows are a few examples. By and large my favorite though is Shadow of the Vampire. It’s not strictly a horror movie. It belongs more to the class of highly fictionalized dramas based on actual cinematic history. It frequently gets grouped together with the also amazing Gods and Monsters. Where Gods and Monsters sticks fairly close to James Whale’s real life though, Shadow of the Vampire goes for the completely fantastical. It imagines what would have happened if Max Schreck of Nosferatu was in fact perhaps an actual vampire.


The first way Shadow of the Vampire goes completely right is casting. Willem Dafoe is barely recognizable as himself and plays Schreck with equal parts horror, pathos and humor. John Malkovich as obsessed film maker Friedrich Wilhelm Murnau gives us some of his best vintage of disturbing Malkovich. Eddie Izzard and Cary Elwes both play small parts to excellent effect for both their wheelhouses.

Shadow of the Vampire relies heavily on the man or monster trope. First in leaving the audience questioning for most of the movie whether Schreck is an actual vampire or just a really really dedicated method actor. Secondly in the monster created by being consumed by obsession Malkovich presents. By the end the question is presented of who is the bigger monster and who has caused the most damage.


All around, it’s as close as you get to a perfect vampire film as you can get. There are a few plot holes granted. (Like if Schreck doesn’t cast a reflection how does he show up on film exactly?) It’s not enough to take anything away from the movie though and that’s why it’s my favorite vampire film.

[PopCulture]Roland, Mary Jane, RiRi, Ghostbusting & the Evolution of Nerd Culture

RiRi Williams, Iron Heart

 

My name is Jade and I am a lover of myth and fairy tale. (This is related to the topic, I promise.) I have grown up in a generation where the way fairy tales are brought to life in cinema has been constantly criticized on one hand and praised on the other. The original stories were seen as something pure that shouldn’t be adjusted for mass appeal. I actually used to be very much in this camp until the day I realized that my issue was much less with the Disneyification of fairy tales and much more with a fascination with dark and gory story lines.

Here’s the thing: Stories are not a static and staid thing. They grow and change with generations. Even the Brothers Grimm themselves cleaned up the stories they heard so they would be more palatable to children. Fairy tales grew as folk tales grow, changing from teller to listener to teller. A story that is frozen as only one thing is not a story that will survive and retain relevance through time.

Can anyone even picture anyone else as Nick Fury?

 

There is a huge lesson here that I think certain pockets of nerd culture could learn from. Personally, every time new casting or a comic that is bending gender or race is announced, I get a little excited. It’s not a guarantee that the finished product will be good, but more representation of women and PoC is not a guarantee of something being awful. At the same time I’m excited, part of me is just waiting for the other shoe to drop. Let’s for the sake of argument call this shoe the “old vanguard”. They are people who fondly remember a time when nerd culture was a bastion of white male dominance. It was the equivalent of the tree house with a “no girls allowed” on it.

Times have changed though. In the fifteen plus years I’ve gone to conventions I have watched more women and PoCs attend them. I’m well aware that it’s never been the fact they didn’t like comics and sci fi and fantasy, but there is a growing acceptance and welcoming atmosphere. That’s important. It changes the demographic.

In changing the demographic, the stories also change. We get female Ghostbusters. We get Idris Elba as Roland from the Dark Tower. We get 15 year old RiRi Williams as Iron Heart. We get Zendaya as Mary Jane. We get Miles Morales as Spiderman. We get Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury. These are a few examples. What they all mean is: We get to see ourselves on screen and in media. We get to see the stories evolve to reflect that more women are in STEM now than ever before and things are looking even better for the next generation. We get to see stories where a black man is the hero and the villain and is fully humanized. We get to see the stories grow up and show that we are all heroes. We are all villains. Not just straight white males.

Idris Elba as the Gunslinger

And maybe that’s the real root of their anger. The stories are evolving, because society is evolving and old modes of guaranteed power and position are shifting. The status, as Doctor Horrible would say, is not quo. That’s not necessarily a bad thing though and here’s to continued changes and improvements in nerd culture and at large.