Category Archives: Movies

Remembering John Hughes

Let me start by saying that though I am a child of the 80’s, my early adolescence was not shaped by the films of John Hughes (after all, I was only four when The Breakfast Club first hit theaters) that are so often referenced as generation-defining films.  My childhood certainly was marked with films he wrote (National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, Home Alone, Uncle Buck, etc.) and I have had the opportunity in more recent years to see and fall in love with many of his classic, often iconic, always quotable films.

Since his passing a little over a week ago, there have been a number of tributes posted online in various forms.  I’ve decided that rather then try to write pages of memories and remembrances about where I was when I saw which film, I’d link to a few of the favorite tributes I’ve seen over the last week.

One of the best (and from what I can tell, one of the most referred to) tributes is “Sincerely, John Hughes“.  I’ve seen several links and references to it on different sites over the last few days.  It’s a wonderful recounting of a series of letters written between the author (while she was a teenager) and Hughes between the years 1985 and 1987.

Hughes wrote the film, National Lampoon’s Vacation, and (and this was something I didn’t even know until a couple days ago) it was based on a short story he originally wrote for the National Lampoon magazine called, “Vacation ’58”.  If you’re interested in reading the original short story (and I definitely recommend that you do – it had me laughing out loud at several points), you can find it here.

Eric Hynes gives a wonderful commentary on both Ferris Bueller’s Day Off and why the proliferation of VCR’s in the 80’s made it possible for teenagers to embrace and own (both physically and metaphorically) John Hughes’ films to an even greater extent.

The Mystery Man on Film has posted a list with links to five of John Hughes screenplays including National Lampoon’s Vacation, The Breakfast Club, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, and Home Alone.

Finally, what tribute collection would be complete without a tribute video.  To that end I leave you with this: a 1991 tribute video made for Hughes when he was named Producer of the Year by the National Association of Movie Theater Owners (having just produced Home Alone).


There are two extremes when it comes to movie spoilers: those who want to know everything and wouldn’t care if you tell them the end of the movie and those that go so far as to avoid movie trailers for fear of learning too much.  I find myself somewhere in the middle – leaning slightly toward the “I don’t want to know” end of things.  I like watching the movie and if I know how it ends or major plot twists then I end up spending half the movie waiting for said twist instead of getting into the story.

That said, I still thought this video was hilarious.  The two guys in the video spoil 100 movies in less then 5 minutes.  You’ve been warned:

ht to Chris Davis for the video
ht to Wooster Collective for the picture

Top 10 Jackie Chan Stunts

I saw this video a few months ago on Marko’s blog and was just stoked on it.  Seriously, there are few greater action stars then Jackie Chan.  Not only do his movies contain fantastically choreographed fights, stunts, and gags, but he’s made his career from being known for doing all of them himself.  While I’ve enjoyed some of his more recent Hollywood movies, you really need to go back to his early Hong Kong days to see him perform his most insane and death-defying stunts.  That’s where this video spends most of its time.

Oh, and if you’re looking for a great Jackie Chan flick, go pick up The Legend of Drunken Master.  It’s one of his best.

Pangea Day

Pangea Day is a remarkable idea. It’s happening this Saturday, May 10th all around the world. The goal is to have a global film festival over the course of one day. There are eight official Pangea Day sites along with thousands of user-organized screenings.

From the Pangea Day website:

In a world where people are often divided by borders, difference, and conflict, it’s easy to lose sight of what we all have in common. Pangea Day seeks to overcome that – to help people see themselves in others – through the power of film.

On May 10, 2008 – Pangea Day – sites in Cairo, Dharamsala, Kigali, London, New York City, Ramallah, Rio de Janeiro, and Tel Aviv will be videoconferenced live to produce a program of powerful films, visionary speakers, and uplifting music.

The program will be broadcast live to the world through the Internet, television, digital cinemas, and mobile phones.

I’m excited to see which films they choose and to how the festival turns out. Here’s a great promotional video that they released a little while back.

Sundance Global Shorts

A little while back, the Sundance Institute asked six influential independent filmmakers to each produce an original short film intended to be viewed on the small screen of a mobile phone. They’ve put them on their website and you can watch them all here.

My favorite is A Slip In Time by Valerie Faris and Jonathan Dayton (who directed Little Miss Sunshine). It’s an amazing slow-motion study of slapstick comedy. They take a lot of the classic silent-era movie slapstick gags like getting hit in the face with a pie, slipping on a banana peel, etc. and shoot them with a high-speed camera. The results are beautiful and whimsical.

Altogether, I think my order of favorite to least favorite of the five films is:

  1. A Slip In Time
  2. La Revolucion de Iguodala
  3. Reno
  4. Learning to Skateboard
  5. Los Viajes de King Tiny

So if you get a chance, swing by the Sundance site and check out the shorts.

The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters

The King of Kong: A Fistful of QuartersWhen I was a kid, the first game I bought for my Nintendo Entertainment System was Donkey Kong. It’s the classic arcade game that put Nintendo on the map and it’s the driving force behind the recent documentary, The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters.

The story revolves around two people: Billy Mitchell, the Donkey Kong world record-holder and Steve Wiebe, the challenger. As the story begins, Billy’s record in Donkey Kong (which is considered the toughest of the classic games) has gone unbeaten for over 20 years. He’s a record-holder in several other classic arcade games and comes across as cunning, devious, and obsessed with winning. Steve is a middle school science teacher who always seems to get the short end of the stick. He discovers a natural ability for Donkey Kong and decides to take a run at the record.

What follows is an engaging, entertaining, funny film that really finds its heart in the strange and endearing cast of characters. And the characters are really what carries this film beyond its premise (I mean let’s face it, a documentary about people playing video games can really only go so far if the people doing the playing are dull). Steve becomes the kind of underdog challenger that you can’t help but root for; especially as Billy pulls out the stops to keep his place on top. The other characters that populate the film’s world of competitive classic gaming are also wonderfully interesting and fascinating to watch.

As I spend this month working on a underdog, against-all-odds sports film, this unlikely story put me in the right mindset as I’m framing the script. The film even has a sequence set to the song, “You’re the Best” from The Karate Kid soundtrack. How can you go wrong with that?

I definitely recommend checking it out. In case you’re interested, here’s the trailer: