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This is the blog of Ian Rosales Casocot. Filipino writer. Sometime academic. Former backpacker. Twink bait. Hamster lover.

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Saturday, May 30, 2020

entry arrow10:00 AM | The Film Meme No. 36

[36th of 100]. Everyone who has ever been a teenager, at least starting in the 1980s, has been through a John Hughes phase, or at least have a favorite John Hughes movie. It's an inevitability. For many, it's The Breakfast Club, an unlikely teen movie where all high school stereotypes we know gather for a Saturday detention in the library, and then after the expected hostility erupts between them as tokens of their cliques, gradually begin to mesh, then to talk, and then to share their feelings -- earning Hughes the moniker "the philosopher of the teenage soul" from critic Roger Ebert. Many love the zaniness of Weird Science, the invisibility parable of Sixteen Candles, the class divide love story of Pretty in Pink [or its reverse, Some Kind of Wonderful]. I love most of all this 1986 movie about a popular, clever, devil-may-care kid with all the obvious privileges who transcends high school cliques, and makes it his business to get away with playing hooky on a beautiful Chicago day with his girlfriend and his neurotic best friend. It is a movie of exquisite, if bordering on fantastical, execution, made alluring by what it has in excess: mood sharpened by charm. You see it in our protagonist constantly breaking the fourth wall to apprise us of the details of his shenanigans. You see it in his ingenuity and drive just to have a good time, including commandeering a city parade for the musical joy of all. You see it in the film's embrace of grea Chicago sites -- from Willis Tower to Wrigley Field, from the Art Institute to Lake Shore Drive, embuing them with the sheen of "cool." [That impressionistic Art Institute sequence is one for the books.] You see it in the cruel but hilarious comeuppance of our bumbling antagonist, Vice Principal Rooney, or the knowing "This is all unfair!" frustrations of Ginny, our protagonist's sister -- both of whom provide the perfect, and complementary, contrast to our hero's titular day-off. We really should be seething at our protagonist's abundant selfishness and utter disregard for almost everything -- he lies and manipulates, too -- but he is played with such charm by Matthew Broderick that we somehow forgive him for his trespasses, and understand the urge to ditch school. [But he does get away with things a little too much, no?] I have probably seen this movie a thousand times, and it has never failed to entertain -- and to think I stumbled on it quite by accident in high school, renting out the Betamax purely from the promise of Broderick's smirky mug on the cassette jacket. It was my introduction to the teenage world of John Hughes. I don't question why Hughes's films seem to transcend generations of teenage lives, from Generation Xers to Millennials, with young people today still making a claim of "being seen" in a John Hughes film, and not just depicted as aspirational Hollywood fodder played by actors who are clearly no longer teenagers. Hughes "saw" them. He respected how they saw the world from the narrow viewpoint of that magnificent but also horrible time of being adolescents, ravaged by hormones, a nebulous sense of self, and the constant demands for conformity. He gave them the words with which they can try to express themselves, and to find the answers to the question, "Who the hell am I?" What's the film?

For the introduction to this meme, read here.

[0] This is Where You Bite the Sandwich