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Death of John Hughes

Posted by: Matthew Turner 07/08/2009 @ 16:08
Subject: Film

Films seen so far this year: 261
Films seen this week: Home, Mega Shark vs Giant Octopus, The Meerkats, Beautiful Losers, Hairspray (the John Waters original), G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra, The Ugly Truth, Katalin Varga, The Yes Men Fix The World, White Lightnin', Bunny and the Bull, The Merry Gentleman

RIP John Hughes
Like film fans everywhere, I was shocked and saddened by the death of John Hughes, the famous writer and director, last night. Despite the fact that he hadn't directed a film since 1991 (the admittedly pretty awful Curly Sue), he had been secretly writing or at least contributing to screenplays again under the pseudonym Edmond Dantes and I'd never quite stopped hoping that he would one day return to making teen movies. For my money, The Breakfast Club is one of the best, if not THE best teen movie ever made – I saw it on video in 1987, when I was 16. A friend of mine said that if you see it at the right age, it feels “so perfectly true; universal and yet written just for you. It's your favourite film all through adolescence” and I think he's absolutely right. It was certainly the film my best friend and I quoted from all the time back then. I also really like Sixteen Candles (which I saw much later) and have fond, nostalgia-tinged memories of Weird Science, Ferris Bueller's Day Off and Planes, Trains and Automobiles, but The Breakfast Club will always have a special place in my heart.

Anyway, I've been trawling the internets for some suitable tribute material and I've come up with the following: this 47-minute interview (Hughes famously became something of a recluse in the ‘90s and refused all interview requests), John Hughes interviewed by Molly Ringwald, this John Hughes Spotify playlist, this John Hughes video montage, this Breakfast Club retrospective, this piece by Hughes on his early writing career and, last but not least, this heartwarming tribute from a woman who wrote Hughes a fan letter as a teenager and became penpals with him. (If you only click one of these links, click that one). Rest in peace, John Hughes. As for me, I'll be watching The Breakfast Club this weekend in tribute.

Films I'm Looking Forward To: Fantastic Mr Fox
I'll admit, I was sceptical when they released the first stills from Wes Anderson's /films/wes-anderson-film-director-447.html upcoming Fantastic Mr Fox – I thought they looked too much like a TV advert for something or other. However, now that the trailer's been released, I'm happy to say it's shot up my Dying To See list like a rat up a drainpipe. I'm particularly pleased to see that it's going to be very much a Wes Anderson movie (the trailer doesn't even name-check Roald Dahl!), at least as far as the supporting cast (Anderson regulars Bill Murray, Jason Schwartzman and Owen Wilson, alongside leads George Clooney and Meryl Streep) and the Anderson-style credits are concerned. The combination of stop-motion animation and puppetry looks very distinctive (a friend described it as “clockwork animation” and I think that sounds about right) and, judging by the trailer, it's going to be full of great lines and gags. Can't wait. The film's been chosen to open this year's London Film Festival on October 14th and it opens properly on October 23rd.

Top 10 Films On Release This Week (as recommended by me):
Four new entries this week, with French gangster thriller Mesrine: Killer Instinct (part two, Mesrine: Public Enemy Number One is out on August 28th), delightfully bonkers horror Orphan, surreal French drama Home and dumb-but-fun blockbuster G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra all making it into the top ten. I also really liked The Yes Men Fix The World, which takes the invisible number 11 slot. Technically speaking, both Star Trek and Drag Me To Hell are still on release, although - at least in London - they're only playing in cinemas that you wouldn't want to see them in, so I've taken them off the list.

1. Moon
2. Frozen River
3. Mesrine: Killer Instinct
4. Orphan
5. Public Enemies
6. The Hangover
7. Home
8. Antichrist
9. G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra
10. Coco Before Chanel

DVD of the Week: Flight of the Conchords, Season 2: Born to Folk (out now, RRP £24.99)
This week's DVD of the Week is the Flight of the Conchords season two box set. Bret McKenzie and Jemaine Clement (from Eagle vs Shark) play Bret and Jemaine, a New Zealand folk duo living in New York, along with their hapless band manager Murray (Rhys Darby, hilarious) and their biggest (and only) fan, Mel (Kristen Schaal). Interestingly, the first series was written around the songs, so the comedy wasn't as strong as the music (usually a series of brilliant parodies), whereas this time, the scripts came first and the songs were written afterwards, so the individual episodes are much funnier.

The songs overall aren't quite on the level of the flat-out brilliance of the first season, but there are a handful of great ones, and the Michel Gondry -directed episode (Unnatural Love, in which Jemaine accidentally goes out with an Australian) features Carol Brown or The Choir of Ex-Girlfriends (see below), which is utter genius. The box set is a vast improvement on the extras-free season one box set too. The extras package includes: a 25 minute documentary, 22 minutes of very funny deleted scenes (essentially an entire episode's worth), seven minutes of outtakes and some specially-filmed featurettes (Dave's Pawn Shop Commercials and Murray and Greg's Consulate Meetings). Highly recommended.

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