Pop Culture Princess

Pop Culture Princess
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Tuesday, April 03, 2018

Ready Player One revvs up your reading engines for movies of the 80's

Judging by the box office numbers this past weekend, Ready Player One has clearly whetted more than a few pop culture appetites for the 1980s and beyond.

While you could binge watch a number of movies from that time to either catch up or refresh your memory, I find that reading a few good books on film is a more leisurely way to do that. To get yourself off on the right track, here's a trio of themed works that should do the job nicely:

LIFE MOVES PRETTY FAST: Writer Hadley Freeman takes a look back at that cinematic decade with movie fan love and offers a few eye-openers about some of those well known flicks and their content. Who would have thought that Dirty Dancing actually has some positive messages about feminism or that the original Ghostbusters could provide a solid platform for good adult friendships?

Well, she has and Freeman also highlights the sparkling intelligence of Nora Ephron's romantic comedies, how Eddie Murphy became a Hollywood superstar instead of a onscreen sidekick and the enduring legacy of John Hughes' teen films.

Reading this book seems like having a good conversation with a friend while re-watching one of your mutual movie favorites and having a bowl of popcorn on hand is certainly a good idea indeed:

BRAT PACK AMERICA: One of the big sticking points about movies of the 80's is that many people feel as if the settings of those films were as real as their own backyard.

To that end, Kevin Smokler takes a tour of fan favorite locations, some of which are harder to find than others. He does get to attend "Goonies Day" in the town of Astoria in Oregon, enjoy a Lost Boys beach tour and seek out the elusive Shermer, IL that John Hughes created.

Adding in interviews with actors and movie makers of the time, Smokler invokes that deep down nostalgia that film fans have that make these movies as memorable as they are(and yes, Virginia, there is no Shermer in Illinois):

DON'T YOU FORGET ABOUT ME: Speaking of John Hughes, it is hard to get away from his considerable influence when talking about the eighties on film. That's perfectly understandable as most of us from those days have at least one of his teen focused films that meant a special something to them.

To get some more personal perspectives on the Hughes phenomenon, Jaime Clarke brings together a series of essays by modern day writers such as Julianna Baggot, Tara Ison and Moon Unit Zappa as they examine a particular film that spoke to their sensibilities.

For me, one of Hughes' best work was The Breakfast Club and having Ally Sheedy(who plays my favorite character in the film) provide an intro for this book is a considerable bonus there:

Yes, I do know that many of the 80's references from the book did not make it into the RPO film(even Steven Spielberg has limits and one of them is copyright law) but I have no doubt that there is enough that made it into the final cut to count.

Besides, you can always pick up the novel and enter Ernest Cline's OASIS that way as well. Movie magic is a powerful force, no matter what era you find yourself attached to, and combining it with book love makes for a strong pop culture spell of true enchantment:

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