18 January 2011

The Breakfast Club and a Quasi-Tribute

The Breakfast Club, 1985

Plato once said, "Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a difficult battle." I think that no film embraces this message as well as The Breakfast Club, John Hughes' story about "Five strangers with nothing in common, except each other." 

It's the story of five teenagers forced to spend a whole Saturday in detention together. They couldn't be any more different. There's Brian 'The Brain', Andy, 'The Athlete', Allison, 'The Basket Case', Claire, 'The Princess', and John, 'The Criminal'. They don't know each other, but they don't like each other.

As the day goes on however, they realize that they have more in common than they know. They share their heartbreak, rage, fears and anxieties with each other and grow closer than they ever could have imagined.

The Breakfast Club illustrates the hardships, frustrations, and pressures associated with being in high school. I don't think anybody has ever captured exactly what it's like being a teenager better than John Hughes. He always had the most perfect understanding of what teens went through, and how difficult, frightening, and glorious it is. His greatest films show this talent time and again: along with The Breakfast Club there was Sixteen Candles, Pretty in Pink, even Ferris Bueller's Day Off.

John Hughes truly was the voice of a generation and continues to inspire.

John Hughes
February 18, 1950
August 6, 2009

P.S. I realized that this was supposed to be about The Breakfast Club, but somehow it segued into John Hughes. Oh well, what do you want me to do?

01 January 2011

Buon giorno, Principessa!

La Vita e Bella (Life is Beautiful), 1997

I first watched this movie in my 10th grade film class. We were doing a unit on foreign films, and someone recommended we watch this one as our example. Before I had watched this movie, I had never seen a foreign film. 

I think I had the same attitude that a lot of Americans have. Kind of an "I don't want to read a movie, I want to watch it." And so I had never had any kind of interest in foreign films, and I can't remember, but I must have come to class that day with a hint of reservation about seeing this Italian film.

But from the word go, all reservations went out the window. I was surprised by how natural it was for me to read the subtitles and still  be able to pay attention to the action of the film. I didn't miss a beat, and I was so drawn into the story. I laughed so hard, and cried even harder.

Life is Beautiful is a truly genius piece of cinema. Not since Charlie Chaplin made fun of the Nazi party in the Great Dictator had somebody dared to ridicule Hitler. And not since Sophie's Choice was revealed was a concentration camp so heartbreaking. Roberto Benigni did just that in Life is Beautiful. His character turns the experience of a concentration camp into a game to devastating results.

But for all its heartbreak, and there is plenty, you walk away from the movie feeling glad to be alive and agreeing that, in spite of everything, life truly is beautiful.