Wednesday, August 05, 2009

R.I.P. John Hughes, viva Machete and the continuing amazing glory that is "Where the Wild Things Are"

I'm not sure there's anything terribly profound I can say about the fact that John Hughes died of a heart attack at the far-too-young age of 59 while out on a walk yesterday, but it's certainly a cautionary tale. I never thought the man was a terribly out-of-shape-looking guy, but to only make it that long in our world is just thoroughly depressing (and, yes, you can thank me for stating the obvious.)

I was surprised to see from his IMDB resume that, although he wrote or produced a ton of movies, he actually only directed eight flicks. But when your first four directing gigs are, in this order, "Sixteen Candles," "The Breakfast Club," "Weird Science" and "Ferris Bueller's Day Off," in the space of only three years from 1984-'86, you clearly know what you're doing. The man just got exactly what it was like to be a teenager in the '80s, which I was, and for that I can only say thanks.

Of those four classic flicks, I know many people would pick "The Breakfast Club" as the best, but for me it was always "Ferris Bueller's Day Off." It was one of the first movies that taught me how directors can give their movies a sense of place, which Hughes did so perfectly with Chicago, and it was just so much fun to watch Matthew Broderick, Mia Sara and Alan Ruck romp their way through it.

For me, however, Hughes made just as much of a mark with his music selections, specifically for "Pretty in Pink" and "Some Kind of Wonderful," two movies he wrote and produced.

There might not be a finer movie soundtrack than the one for "Pretty in Pink," and I just wore a hole through my cassette copy of it in the '80s (sadly, I tried to buy it on iTunes this morning, but it's somehow not even available.) Starting with OMD's "If You Leave" and continuing through Suzanne Vega and Joe Jackson's "Left of Center" (my favorite track) and the Psychedelic Furs' title track, and then, of course, finishing up with "Please, Please, Please Let Me Get What I Want" by the Smiths, it had just enough angst but was mostly just an aural confection I couldn't put down for at least six months straight or so.

"Some Kind of Wonderful" was in so many ways just a pale knockoff of "Pretty in Pink," but in terms of the soundtrack it stands up pretty well over time on its own too. "The Hardest Walk" has always been one of my favorite Jesus and Mary Chain songs, and to this day I still can't get that crazy Lick The Tins version of "I Can't Help Falling In Love," later used in Stephen Frears' "The Snapper," easily one of my favorite comedies, out of my head.

Rest in peace indeed, Mr. Hughes.

OK, enough of that. This is the last post I'm going to do for more than a week because I'm headed to Mexico City with my brother and the rest of the Minnesota Volunteers to watch the U.S. men's soccer team hopefully not get crushed in a World Cup qualifier at El Azteca, and just goof off for a solid week in that crazy city, so nothing but good news from here on out.

And speaking of crazy, I'm now certain it's not gonna get much better than what Robert Rodriguez is cooking up with "Machete."

The movie itself, of course, springs from the I-guess-no-longer-fake trailer that was sandwiched between "Planet Terror" and "Death Proof" in "Grindhouse," and it was easily the best of the intermission fare (except for maybe that great use of the Danger Doom/Talib Kweli track "Old School" over the be right back titles.)

And now the actual movie about a Mexican federale who takes revenge on a U.S. Senator who has framed him for murder is attracting just a wild cast. Danny Trejo, of course, will play Machete himself, and Variety now confirms he'll be joined by no less than Robert De Niro, Jessica Alba, Steven Seagal, Michelle Rodriguez, Cheech Marin, Don Johnson and even Lindsay Lohan. Take a second to take that all in.

Shooting is gearing up now in Austin, with Rodriguez's longtime editor Ethan Maniquis serving as co-director, and this will be out sometime next year. Even if it somehow turns out to be awful, which I really can't see happening, you can at least probably be guaranteed it won't be boring, so I can only bring it on.

OK, before I head off south of the border, I'll leave you with the best three videos I found this week, and yes, we will eventually get to "Where the Wild Things Are," and you just have to believe me that it's well worth the wait.

First, though, comes this little bit of thorough cuteness from "(500) Days of Summer" director Marc Webb, featuring his two almost unbearably charming stars, Zooey Deschanel and Joseph Gordon-Levitt. As you'll see and hear, the dance they perform is to a tune from She & Him, the great collaboration between Deschanel and M. Ward, and if you don't own their album "Volume One," I really can't recommend it highly enough. Enjoy.

Next up comes the fairly promising trailer for "The Vampire's Assistant," the first movie based on books from Irish author Darren Shan's "Vampire Blood" trilogy. While I'm growing just about as tired as anyone of stories of young vampires (though not of "Let the Right One In," which the Macon Film Guild will be screening twice on Oct. 30 in honor of Halloween, huzzah!), I don't think you can go wrong when the elder vamp in this case is played by John C. Reilly and the "Cirque du Freak" contains, among other performers, Salma Hayek as the bearded lady and Patrick Fugit as the snake boy. This is coming out Oct. 23 and is being directed by Paul Weitz. Enjoy the trailer.

OK, I've definitely saved the best for last, because this second, third or whatever it is trailer for Spike Jonze's "Where the Wild Things Are" is truly just a wonder to behold. You get to hear a lot more of James Gandolfini as one of the main wild things, and we finally get to see young Max (Max Records) bellow "Let the wild rumpus start." He also gets another fantastic line, but I won't spoil it for you, because this two-and-a-half minute bit of goodness is just the perfect way to start off a Friday. I can't wait until this finally comes out in October. Enjoy.

And with that I'm off to Mexico City until Aug. 15, and in my mind I'm already there. Peace out.


jeremy said...

I put up a link to Beware of the Babylon's John Hughes in memoriam podcast on my FB profile. Good stuff--the best music from his films with some of the most memorable lines.
Can also be found at

hope the weekend treats you well . . . I'm sure you'll be first in line to see GI Joe :P

Reel Fanatic said...

I'll definitely check it out on my lunch break, Jeremy ... I'm still not sure if my senses can handle the assault that is sure to be "G.I. Joe," but if I do go see it, it will have to be after "Julie & Julia," because I love me some movies about food

jeremy said...

And I just ran across this wonderful blog entry that I had to pass along:

once again, a good weekend to you sir. may it be filled w/ milla jovavich and steve zahn!

Lorraine said...

Knew you'd have a good tribute. We've been educating our daughter on 80s films this summer and one of the things (besides the excellent soundtracks) that I've marveled at is how Hughes' films still hold up. They've had as much resonance for a 21st century 15 year old as they did when they were first released.

Demko said...

si se puede.

See you tomorrow in Mexico.

Justin said...

The Deshcanel/Gordon-Levitt video is a ton of fun. I want to see their movie but it hasn't been anywhere close to me. Sigh.

Reel Fanatic said...

They were indeed very educational movies, Lorraine, along with being entertaining, and that's the saddest thing that's missing from the "teen flicks" of today

And even though I didn't put "(500) Days of Summer" in my top 10 so far for the year, Justin, it is one that I liked quite a bit, so I hope you get to see it before it hits DVD, but definitely then

And to mi hermano, si se puede indeed

Mercurie said...

It is sad about John Hughes. I can't say I was a huge fan of his, but I did like a few of his films a good deal. And you are right--he could come up with some good soundtracks!

Wow. Good to see things are getting done on Machete. It seems as if I have been waiting on that forever!

RC said...

Oh man, those pics of Selma Hayek as a bearded lady --- crazy!!!

I'm still on the fence about Where The Wild Things Are -- I like the story, I like Jonze, but I am also apprehensive about children's story adaptations.

Reel Fanatic said...

I usually am too, RC, but I've become so obsessed with this one that it seems like I've seen tons of footage already, and each time it just looks better and better ... so, if it is indeed somehow awful, it's gonna be the letdown of the year for me

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