Wednesday, March 7, 2012

The charms and delights of Pretty in Pink

I absolutely and sincerely love John Hughes' Pretty in Pink. It does have some strikes against it, I freely admit - it's dated at this point (and it feels like it), the dialogue is often clunky, the whole "rich boy with girl from the wrong side of the tracks" conceit is both cliche and often mishandled, it has some deeply cheesy moments, and the prom dress Molly Ringwald's Andie fashions for herself is quite possibly the most heinous garment ever committed to film. Seriously:

It's so terrible. I have seen this movie quite a few times, and I honestly can't figure out how she even got the damned thing on. I think the filmmakers must have had to sew poor Molly Ringwald into it. It's choker-tight around her neck and sack-like everywhere else. This thing hurts my feelings, it's so ugly.

Even with all that, though, this movie is truly affecting and wonderful. Part of it is because John Hughes is just a damned genius when it comes to teen films - he's so good at getting the right ambience, at mining tender and poignant moments out of hackneyed situations and pulling terrific performances out of his young actors. This is particularly true for James Spader, who I adore - only three years after Pretty in Pink, he would star in the classic indie film sex, lies and videotape - who is a brilliant, sleazy presence, swanning around the school in sock-free loafers and linen leisure suits. It's obvious that he's a star in the making. Molly Ringwald is excellent as always, with an occasionally petulant good-girl vulnerability that makes her a thrill to watch. Jon Cryer is a joy to watch as the quirky, lovelorn Duckie, who sets the goddamn screen on fire when he does a dance to - of all the songs - Otis Redding's "Try a Little Tenderness." (Seriously.) Even Andrew McCarthy, who grew on me upon repeat viewings, is easy to dismiss as a bland pretty boy (his character's name is Blane, which Duckie hilariously dismisses as a "household appliance), but there's something quietly wonderful about him, too. His indecisive, weak-willed character is perfectly suited to him (something of a backhanded compliment, I know), and he has this meek, slightly pained smile that he affects, and it's stunningly effective. He isn't the most dynamic performer, and it's probable that he just lucked into the role, but I actually think he's kind of perfect in it.

As with so many great teen films, it has a lot of style, from the stellar new wave soundtrack to the thrifty, of-the-moment clothing. I know I came down hard on that prom dress, but I love Duckie's prom outfit almost as much as I loathe that dress: a blue smoking jacket, black pants, a bolo tie, and white loafers. I would have loved to have had a prom date who was outfitted in such a way. Duckie, you did prom right. His style is pretty killer in the whole movie, actually - flamboyant and offbeat but also surprisingly current. He pretty much looks like a modern hipster, in a lot of ways.

It's Duckie, and his lovelorn aching for Andie, that makes the film. I may have mentioned this before on this blog (I certainly intended to, at any rate), but I love the decision not to have them end up together. I love that the fact that he wants her the most, and deserves her, doesn't mean she'll love him back - or even that they'll be right for each other. A lesser film would have had him "earn" her, but that isn't the point. That isn't how these decisions are made. It makes the conclusion infinitely more effective, having him let go of that particular dream in favor of new ones. R.I.P. John Hughes, you brilliant devil.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Here's how it is.

My Firefly-related OCD wants to follow that up with "The earth got used up..." But I will restrain myself. (This time. I make no promises about gratuitious Firefly-quoting in future.)

*Dusts off cobwebs*

Okay, so I disappeared from the internet. I've been hiding in something of a corner over here for some time now, but I'm starting things up again. Because I need to actually start communicating with the world again, at least a bit, and putting some creativity out there - because I know it's still in there, but it's gotten a bit of a beatdown of late.

Here's what's happened -

I graduated from my big fancy college last May. (Small fancy college?) I kind of can't believe I pulled it off, and believe me it was touch and go there for a while - stopped going to classes, kind of fell off the face of the earth a little bit, got myself thrown into the hospital, had some breakdowns, kind of stopped eating, refused to talk to anyone about it or ask for help. It wasn't pretty, and graduating was kind of a close thing, to be honest. But I got through it. Somehow. Two majors in seven semesters. I can't say I exactly recommend my method of coping, to anyone, but I managed. I got my degree and got out of there.

I've been home ever since. Aimless, and pushing all those feelings of anxiety and frustration way the fuck down, so that I'm sleeping too much and not doing a damned thing of any value any longer. That's part of where this blog comes in. I don't know what I want to do with the rest of my life, but I know I need to write (at the moment television writer is kind of my dream job, and I foresee it staying that way), and in order to do that I need to get my shit together a little bit, get myself out there and stop it with this hidey-hole bullshit. I don't know when I'll move out, and frankly I'm terrified of leaving, but I'm scared of staying, too. I know this kind of stasis and arrested development (ha!) can't, and shouldn't, last.

I should have left Smith. I should have transferred somewhere less academically demanding so that I could focus on other things. Learn to drive. Get a job. Get in a real relationship. Maybe study abroad, even. Have actual life experiences. But I didn't, and now I have to make up for all of it.

So, the blog is coming back. (The posts won't be like this, I promise. I'll try to keep the self-indulgent bullshit to a minimum and talk about more interesting things.) I have some ideas and I am open to suggestions. Pop culture stuff, fun stuff, beautiful stuff. Exciting and life-affirming and analytical. Bringing myself into it, just better. I want to do all of this better. And enjoy myself. Good resolutions, yes?

Join me. Play with me.

To reward you for listening to me thus far, please enjoy this buddy-comedy version of Tyrion and Bronn in Game of Thrones: