In what way does the author’s use of the prison symbolize the protagonist’s struggle?

Ferris Bueller

There is a subset of movies I’ve now watched so many times (through childhood, through working at a video store, through having basic cable since I was eight) that they are hard to review in an objective manner. They are some of my favorite movies not because I think they are the best, but because they were formative and are now sources of comfort more than pure entertainment.

The list includes Die Hard, Big, The Princess Bride, The Breakfast Club, Field of Dreams, and Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.

As a child growing up amidst cul de sacs–opposed to being a rogue cop battling terrorists or midwestern baby boomer with a midlife crisis–Ferris Bueller’s Day Off had the most direct influence on what I believed “cool” and adolescence to be. If not for my almost-always temerity, it would have likely served as the template on how to actually act.

Obviously, this influence was not unique to me: John Hughes supplied a world of quotes, clothes, and music to a generation. In the middle of a Tuesday afternoon, I skipped out on work and watched Ferris Bueller at the Paramount with some of his progeny. All of us–and there were a lot–took the bait of playing hooky because we were still trying to fulfill the fantasy of being rad, carefree, and charming. Some brought their kids.

Seeing the movie alone and on the big screen for the first time allowed me notice some things I hadn’t before: The kid picking up his bag by himself in the hallway, Rooney quoting the from Burial of the Dead to Sloan, and the truly amazing Zapp song when the trio discovers how many miles have been put on the Ferrari. These are incredibly minor things (I have already seen this movie probably 50 times, after all) but they add even more. The things everyone remembers and know so well (Cameron staring into the Seurat, the parade, Ben Stein, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera) hit as strong as the first time. In the writing, acting, and editing there is amazing sense of timing. In part, I imagine this is due to Hughes’ obsession with mix tapes.

Unable to replicate the personality of a Shermer, IL kid, I tried to replicate Hughes’ ability in building something anew through other peoples’ songs. This actually got expensive, and embarrassing, when the habit culminated in releasing a ska compilation during high school.

And yet, the three-quarters-selfish, one-quarter-giving urge to make a mix and some tangential mythology of my own remains. Just this summer I fretted long and hard over what songs to put on a mix for Some Girl in Lousiana via the International Mix Tape Swap. Were these songs too well known? Too obscure? Too hard? Too soft?

I wanted some of the validation John Hughes had, but Some Girl in Lousiana never wrote back to tell me what she thought. The cycle of fantasy and reality John Hughes tapped into so well continued.

After the movie I went back up the street to work.

Pretty in Pink and Ferris Bueller’s Day Off will be showing at the Paramount Theater as part of their Summer Film Series on Wednesday, August 4, 2010.

I want to swim in a cool, cool place.

Download “I want to swim in a cool, cool place.”
(Originally made for the International Mix Tape Swap)

  1. No Age – Everybody’s Down
  2. Damien Jurado – Arkansas
  3. Lil’ Wayne – La La La
  4. The Black Keys – The Only One
  5. Madness – On The Town
  6. Pinchers – Agony
  7. Lindstrøm & Christabelle – Keep It Up
  8. The Mekons – Club Mekons
  9. Total Noise – Stay
  10. Nas & MF Doom – Street Dreams
  11. Teddy Pendergrass – Set Me Free
  12. Godley & Creme – Cry
  13. Jill Scott – He Loves Me (Lyzel in E Flat)
  14. Ray LaMontagne – I Still Care For You
  15. George Harrison – Give Me Love (Give Me Peace On Earth)
  16. Raekwon – Pyrex Vision
  17. Joanna Newsom – Soft As Chalk
  18. Robert Palmer – Woke Up Laughing

EVEN MORE–FRIENDS’ BANDS EDITION: Total Noise (also on the above mix) told me it was fine to share their debut album. I have been listening to it a lot and really recommend it. While not available for free, Jack Dolgen’s also awesome and catchy-as-anything album will be available through iTunes on August 24, 2010 (pre-order available). As a compromise between downloading and buying, you may stream Love Inks’ debut EP that will have you feeling wistful and joyous at the same time. Finally, Soft Healer is going to be releasing stuff soon and you should definitely get it and see them play your town as they are great, too.