Tuesday, 29 June 2010

"Oh, he's very popular Ed. The sportos, the motorheads, geeks, sluts, bloods, wastoids, dweebies, dickheads - they all adore him. They think he's a righteous dude" - Ferris Bueller's Day Off

       Kids bunk school all the time. We too need a day off from the early morning bus rides, hours and hours of dreary class work, dreadful teachers, suffocating uniforms and all the god-forsaken school rules. However no kid has ever or will ever have a day off like the one and only- *insert drum roll* Ferris Bueller. Ferris Bueller’s Day Off showed kids everywhere what having a really good day off feels like- expert faking out parents advice, calling the dean as your girlfriend’s father to get her off school, going to Chicago in your best friend’s father’s Ferrari, getting a table at a ‘snooty’ restaurant, watching a baseball game, seeing and literally imitating art in the Art Institute of Chicago and obviously Twisting and Shouting on a float in downtown Chicago.

      That is just the top layer of the film. Like many other John Hughes classics, you have to go through it layer by layer, top to bottom, light to deep to get the various aspects of the film. Ferris is the perfect kid. He’s popular, charismatic, smart, insightful and can do anything that he wants. His one day off creates despair amongst everyone as ‘Save Ferris’ signs pop up all around the city, and a very helpful and slutty nurse is sent to him to make him ‘feel better’. He faces the very common problem of last year in school, and being close to your friends in those last days. He can be called the narrator, as he very often breaks the fourth wall and addresses the viewers, telling them about various things in his life and mostly his best friend Cameron’s life. Matthew Broderick’s most memorable role, he is absolutely delightful as the incredible Ferris Bueller. The people onscreen and the one watching them all want to be his friend. I know this is a lousy comparison as Ferris Bueller's Day Off came out in 1986 and Skins in 2007, but he’s a nicer, cuter and less manipulative, all American version of the character Tony Stonem. In all probability Tony was loosely based on Ferris himself, his “On the Street Where You Live” being a bit like albeit not remotely as memorable or fun-filled as Ferris’ “Danke Shoen” and “Twist and Shout.” Ferris is the person who wants to preserve the little things in life, which he knows make it worth living. Constantly we are told by the other characters how he helps them with their problems. He can solve anything with wit and charm. Ferris is the guy for whom everything always works out, and you cannot even hate him for that as he tries to make everything work out for you as well.

      The other very important character was that of Ferris’ best friend Cameron, played by Alan Ruck. He is the quintessential John Hughes teenager. Eternally frightened of and never loved by his parents, Cameron is the sadder character whose life is a total contrast to that of Ferris’. Again, he is like Sid Jenkins, except he is cuter and doesn’t wear glasses, and not that desperate to get laid- though Ferris does tell us that in his mind it is ‘the end-all and be-all of human existence’. And there is an obvious attraction between him and Ferris’ girlfriend Sloan, though nothing happens. I am going through a major French New Wave phase right now (will write about that soon) and I thought that if one mixes Cameron and Ferris, and adds a great deal of French, the result would be one very beloved Antoine Doinel. He has a very strong friendship with Ferris, who keeps trying to save him by doing daring things, and he makes Ferris happy by doing those things. Alan Ruck was considered for the role of John Bender in The Breakfast Club, and his character is like Bender’s in many ways also. On the outside he can put on accents and call the dean or a restaurant for a bit of fun, but his grief and anger is always built up inside. Apart from the Parade scene, which Ferris does for Cameron, my other two favourite scenes were of Cameron. The first was when he sees the Georges Seurat's A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte. He keeps focusing on the painting until it becomes a set of dots. This shows his weakness of focusing on the problems of his life so much that he stops seeing or feeling anything else. Cameron is always scared of his parents, saddened by their fighting and, he gets sick a lot as that is the only thing that makes him feel better. The other scene is when he kicks his father’s precious Ferrari repeatedly to take out all his anger, and then it falls out of the window. This reminded me of the scene in Rebel Without A Cause when the inspector tells James Dean’s character to hit the desk to let go. The reason why he reminds me and probably many others of all these famous youthful characters is because he faces the many problems of identity, adjustment, happiness, confusion that all young people have to face and overcome in their lives. He is the sadness of our youth Ferris is the joy. Again, he reminds me of Harold and Ferris reminds me of Maude.

      Another important character was Jeannie Bueller, Ferris’ sister. She is played by the Dirty Dancing’s Jennifer Grey. While Cameron is understanding about Ferris’ popularity, Jeannie is envious. She hates the fact that he never gets caught. Throughout the film she is shown resenting people trying to ‘save Ferris’ until she meets the junkie played by Charlie Sheen (I was like WHAT??) in the police station who tells her that it is because probably of her own insecurities and inability to not get caught is what makes her hate Ferris so much. She too is a very obvious teen, envious of the popular but likeable nonetheless. Sloan, Ferris’s girlfriend and a potential future wife is played by Mia Sara is another character in the film. She is just normal and does not appeal to viewers as much as the above mentioned characters and that of the dean does. She is awfully pretty, and makes a cute girlfriend of a cuter Matthew Broderick. The last important character was that of the dean, Edward R. Rooney played by Jeffrey Jones. He is the arch nemesis, out to get the happy-go-lucky Ferris. He is the adult who cannot let kids have fun. He is a comedic villain, a lot like the bad guys of Home Alone and Baby’s Day Out (My Favourite John Hughes Films!). He and his adorable secretary, Grace have many hilarious conversations and the entire incident with the Bueller dog is quite funny. Ferris’ parents are highly desirable fools!

      This film wouldn’t be the classic it is if it hadn’t been made by the superb John Hughes. John Hughes is amongst the only filmmakers who always focused on the ups and downs, the ins and outs, the tears and smiles of youth. His love for Chicago is apparent in the film. Many things in the film like the Cameron-painting scene are about his own youth. Also due to listening the White Album everyday of the shooting, there are many Beatles references in the film. The film has a broad appeal. Though it does show the anger and despair that teenagers from the 80s and even today face, it sugar coats it in the sweetest, most innocent, hilarious way- with witty lines and unforgettable characters. The scenes in the film are legendary- The Parade of course is a dream scene, all of Ferris’ narration, the ending when Ferris rushes home to ensure that his parents don’t catch him, despite running into them in the street many times, and the ‘actual’ ending in which Ferris talks to the viewers saying, “You’re still here? It’s over. Go home.”
      Ferris Bueller’s Day Off is what I call one of those ‘good’ films in which there is humour, storyline, brilliant characters, epic lines, evergreen scenes, a deeper message and well, a happy ending. I know happy endings can get a bit cheesy, but films like these, where you fall in love with the characters, you never want anything bad to happen to them. I like drama sure, but I prefer films in which it’s not the only genre. Ferris Bueller’s Day Off is a look at life by a happy teenager, (if there ever was an oxymoron…) who has said it many times, and I repeat,

      “Life moves pretty fast. You don’t stop and look around one in a while, you could miss it.”

Friday, 11 June 2010

You're an idealist, and I pity you as I would the village idiot. -Stanley Kubrick

General "Buck" Turgidson: Mr. President, we are rapidly approaching a moment of truth both for ourselves as human beings and for the life of our nation. Now, truth is not always a pleasant thing. But it is necessary now to make a choice, to choose between two admittedly regrettable, but nevertheless *distinguishable*, postwar environments: one where you got twenty million people killed, and the other where you got a hundred and fifty million people killed.

President Merkin Muffley: You're talking about mass murder, General, not war!

General "Buck" Turgidson: Mr. President, I'm not saying we wouldn't get our hair mussed. But I do say no more than ten to twenty million killed, tops. Uh, depending on the breaks

If it can be written, or thought, it can be filmed. -Stanley Kubrick

Wednesday, 9 June 2010

I pretty much try to stay in a constant state of confusion just because of the expression it leaves on my face - Johnny Depp

      Between Johnny Depp's birthday last year and his birthday today, a miraculous thing has happened. My mother, who used to cringe at his face and never remember his name and could not, for the life of her, understand why I love him so much- she almost screams out his name when he comes on TV, with obvious appreciation and delight in her voice. This is not because I have bombarded the house with his pictures, because I haven't (yet). It is also not because she's been watching any of his films, because she hasn't (she's into Hindi soap operas). It is simply because he is such a fantastic actor that watching mere minutes of him at his art makes you a fan. And I have seen 25 of his films (he's made 40+. I am depressed).

      John Christopher Depp II was born on 9th June, 1963 to a waitress and a civil engineer. With a childhood of constant shifting and family tension, an adolescence of rock 'n' roll and struggling in L.A. in his late teens and early 20s, including a job as a telemarketer for fountain pens- today, on his 47th birthday (and he looks gorgeous as ever) Johnny Depp is one of the biggest stars of Hollywood and also amongst its most critically acclaimed actors. But this is almost copied from Wikipedia.  So what is it that makes me love him so very much, and call him my most favourite actor ever?

      Though it sounds terribly clichéd, but it is his choice of characters and roles and the way that he enacts them perfectly, to the point of becoming the character itself for everyone. He is a chameleon actor, and so very apt at choosing such different roles that you never know what he is going to do next. But it isn't the choice alone. I mean people like Taylor Lautner who go from being part fish in one film to part dog in another, that science and nature would fall at their feet! However Johnny Depp, who indeed plays characters that are poles apart, but he puts his soul and thoughts and feelings into it, and creates a character that is so very different than what must have been written in the script, though infinitely better of course. He himself has said, "With any part you play, there is a certain amount of yourself in it. There has to be, otherwise it's just not acting. It's lying." This has to be my most favourite quote on acting, because there is truth in it. I have always thought that the best of actors are those who are able to do a variety of roles, but their own identity is never lost it. I'm digressing here but Meryl Streep, who is considered to be the greatest actor of today, can play a Holocaust survivor, a writer obsessed with orchids, a selfish actress with an obsession with beauty, a paranoid aunt, a fashionista from hell (clichéd again), a formidable nun and a beloved cook brilliantly, and still be Meryl Streep. It is absolutely amazing!

     So this is my tribute to my greatest actor, Johnny Depp. As it is his roles which I love the most, I would like to talk a bit about my favourite ones.

  1. Edward Scissorhands- The very first film I remember seeing of JD is that in which he plays a man created by a scientist, who dies before giving him a real pair of hands. Instead he has 'scissorhands'. JD started gaining popularity because of this role, and that is because it was played to such a perfection. This character is so dearly beloved. Edward has the epitome of unrequited love that can be felt by anyone, a real man or a man-made one. JD as Edward was adorable and tragic at the same time. My heart cries out for his naivety and innocence, which is so unscrupulously exploited first and then punished by the wicked, wicked world. I don't think that a very gentle person with such hazardous characteristics and absurd background like Edward has been portrayed before on the silver screen. And of course, his love for Kim is so pure and untouched, a love that was even true in real life- JD and Winona Ryder were, are and always will be one of my favourite couples ever *sob*. Edward really makes one realise that it isn't important to be 'normal' to love and be loved. I think this is a JD trait too. Edward embraces the weird and darkness and all he gives is love and hope. He is a beautiful person and my favourite JD character.
  2. Captain Jack Sparrow- Actually, I might have never put this character up in this list, because it is my favourite character of all time. But as a JD character, it would be my second favourite. I know that didn't make any sense, but what I mean is that Capt. Jack Sparrow is not JD, he is a person himself. What JD has managed to do with this character is that he has literally breathed life into it. Talking about JD and talking about Capt. Jack are two very different things. Call me a crazy fan, but there must be people who agree with me. Yes Capt. Jack is based on Keith Richards; yes none but JD could have played him so mesmerisingly; yes it is a desecration for anyone who assumes the identity of Capt. Jack except JD, but Capt. Jack is not just a character. He is the ultimate cult hero- a pirate, a drunk, a warrior, a genius. The fact that JD played him just adds to his character. And thus being not a character, Capt. Jack Sparrow as a character, is JD's second best yet. Capt. Jack is a hilarious, ingenuous pirate who can get out of any situation using his wit, sword and conversation skills. He is to be revered for his love of freedom and rum. JD got his first and very-eagerly anticipated Oscar nomination as Capt. Jack, and also the superstar status he has, and not necessarily enjoys, today.
  3. J.M. Barrie- Oh this role and this film! JD's most poignant and touching role to date. As the reclusive playwright with the imagination of a child, JD plays J.M. Barrie when he had met the Davies family and wrote the play that is as everlasting as the boy himself, Peter Pan. I had always loved the children's tale, but when I saw this film and how Barrie was enchanted by the everyday games and plays of the Davies boys, which led him to write it, I grew to love it so much more. It is Barrie's Neverland that we see in the play, and it is JD's Barrie who shows us the Neverland and its humble beginnings in the film. His love for the children and their mother, who is played by another favourite of mine- Kate Winslet, his indifference and ignorance of the real world, his gentle manliness, his kiddish delight; all of which led to JD's second Oscar nomination, is a nothing but sheer pleasure to watch.
  4. Sam- I have already written about this role in Benny and Joon and how it should have been Sam and Joon instead because JD is simply superb in this role. He plays an eccentric young man, who can make bread rolls dance and toast bread using the iron and also swing by windows. I love characters like these- old-school, funny and sweet. And JD was just that.
  5. Ed Wood- Even though JD has played nothing but eccentric and abnormal characters in Tim Burton films, I personally think nothing comes close to Ed Wood. Ed Wood is based on the real life cross-dressing, terrible director of the 50s, whose films now have a cult status. He is blindly optimistic, filled with weird ideas that always manage to fail. His creepy vision and deplorable effects, and affection to equally insane characters like Béla Lugosi and Vampira- the character is spot-on crazy genius! JD is genuine and funny and light-hearted and stunning in black and white, even in a dress. His ability to just morph into the role of the nutty filmmaker is extremely commendable.
I also love every other character he has played, notable mentions to all those in Burton films, Roux in Chocolat, Sands in Once Upon a Time in Mexico, Don Juan in Don Juan De Marco, Inspector Abberline in From Hell, Mort Rainey in Secret Window and John Dillinger in Public Enemies.

      I am reiterating by saying how much I love him. All I want is for him to win that Oscar he so truly deserves. I can't think of what else to write, so I am going to conclude by putting some of my favourite quotes by His Greatness, Johnny Depp Himself...

"If there's any message to my work, it is ultimately that it's OK to be different, that it's good to be different, that we should question ourselves before we pass judgment on someone who looks different, behaves different, talks different, is a different color."
"Am I a romantic? I've seen Wuthering Heights ten times. I'm a romantic."
"People say I make strange choices, but they're not strange for me. My sickness is that I'm fascinated by human behavior, by what's underneath the surface, by the worlds inside people."
"The only gossip I'm interested in is things from the Weekly World News - 'Woman's bra bursts, 11 injured'. That kind of thing."
"There's a drive in me that won't allow me to do certain things that are easy."
"The term 'serious actor' is kind of an oxymoron, isn't it? Like 'Republican party' or 'airplane food.'"
"There are four questions of value in life... What is sacred? Of what is the spirit made? What is worth living for, and what is worth dying for? The answer to each is the same. Only love."

HAPPY BIRTHDAY JOHNNY DEPP! (from your adoring crazy fan)