30 April 2010

John Hughes Kicks James Cameron's Ass -- Or Movies Can Make Your Heart Dance



I used to like to go out dancing. Of course there was a fair amount of liquor consumption involved and as much as I liked dancing I was really looking to...but this is a family blog.

I can still bust a move and do so from time to time, usually in the privacy of my own home with only immediate family as horrified onlookers. But dancing is not solely a physical activity and it doesn't just involve enjoying the rhythms of music. Your heart and soul can shimmy and shake and samba without your moving a muscle or hearing a beat.

What pray tell do I mean? I will answer with questions. Ever been in love? Ever gotten really, really good news? More relevant to this blog, ever really enjoyed a movie? Even a scene from one? If you answered "yes" to any of these questions you have danced while standing still. (If, on the other hand, you answered "no" to all these questions, you have my deepest sympathies.)

A great film in of itself will make your heart dance. Fellini has sent my vascular organ to tripping the light fantastic with such masterpieces as La Dolce Vita (1960), 8 1/2 (1963) and Amarcord (1973). Such artistry! Truffaut does it, Scorsese does it even educated fleas does it. If you know what I mean. The maestros of cinema create scenes so moving that one can't help but move.

Earlier today I had the misfortune of hearing the first half hour or so of the mega blockbuster from James Cameron, Avatar. No special effects ever conceived could make up for the film's amateurish dialogue -- it must have been written by a 15 year old. This is the nonsense that drew legions of fans? How very sad.

Later I come home and oldest daughter was watching Ferris Bueller's Day Off (1986). I've always admired this film from John Hughes as 103 minutes of pure fun with many a truth about being a teen mixed in. But it is in making the seemingly odd comparison with Avatar that it really shines. FBDO means to entertain will dignifying its audience. It's silliness is intentional. There is no better example than the scene above. Go ahead, watch it. It'll do you good.

Too many movies (see Avatar) aim to wow us, dazzle us, impress us. Too few want to touch us, caress us, move us.  They don't try too hard.  They tell a story in the most interesting way possible. Speak some simple truths, give us reason to smile and boogie, even if but internally.

As Ferris himself would say, "life moves pretty fast if you don't stop and look around every once in awhile, you could miss it." And then think of all the dancing your heart would miss! Hey ya know what I just realized? All this stuff that gets your heart dancing, well it's good for you. The exercise strengthens the heart. Hughes was no great auteur but he kicks Cameron's 3-D butt.

But as Ferris would also say: "You're still here? It's over. Go Home...go.

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