No 88 - Ferris Bueller's Day Off
Director - John Hughes
I have been proved wrong. Toy Story was not my hundredth blog. Don't Look Now was.... I have been erroneous. I apologise.
This weekend I have enjoyed the delights of the London Film Festival and have been fortunate to see three fantastic films: The Road - bleak, harrowing and full of hope. Fantastic Mr Fox - Gorgeous anarchic excellence. Cold Souls - quirky and slow burn and lovely. However none of them are on the list (though the next time they do one, The Road should be there) so I won't dwell on it.
This morning, well... this afternoon... I dragged my broken hungover body off to watch films and watched this genius snapshot of John Hughes brilliance.
This film is brilliant because of the bizarre presentation, actively breaking the fourth wall as Ferris discusses his thoughts directly to the camera. Plans on how best to skip school, his thoughts on Cameron, his best friend. His worries about new school. Rather than a narration, every seen is punctuated by Ferris talking straight to camera, or looking straight to camera. This is a film where the lead allows us to share the joke, where the lead acknowledges that we are in on it.
It also helps us to relate quickly to Ferris, who is instantly likable - though it may be early on, this is a career best performance from Matthew Broderick. Ferris is charismatic, witty, brave and impossibly cool. IMPOSSIBLY cool. Like, so cool that the film becomes a fantasy - there is no way Ferris would get away with the shit he pulls. But he does. With aplomb. It is not a serious situation. It is a fantasy and Ferris is pure wish fulfillment.
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.
I mean - just look at the twist and shout scene. That is fantasy. That is not real life,
Whilst Ferris is fabulous, the other cast are equally exciting. Firstly, I wish to discuss Ed, the dean of Ferris' college, played by Jeffrey Jones. I was about to say that he is another figure of excellent 80s and 90s cinema (especially playing satan in Stay Tuned) who is no longer prominent. However... IMDB informed me he is in Deadwood. Another reason to check it out.
As the principal of the school, Ed seems woefully unprofessional. Skipping school in order to spy on someone who he believes (correctly) is truanting. Rather than go through the official channels, he decides to break into Ferris' home and spy on him. Cue hundreds of hilarious hi jinks as he gets gradually more bedraggled, attacked and ridiculed.
John Hughes did not treat his teacher characters kindly.
One teacher that does get away without looking ridiculous is the Economics Teacher played by Ben Stein. I really like Ben Stein's performances in films. He is so monotone and dead pan. His constant repetition of Bueller is a tiny but hilarious scene.
The final, important character is Cameron. He is so fabulous. His transformation from uptight to relaxed and joyous to his final angry desperate breakdown. He is the pivotal character in this film. It is about the power that Ferris has over his friends - it is wonderful.
The most moving scene in the entire film is the moment where Cameron looks at "A Sunday Afternoon On The Island Of La Grande Jatte" by Georges Seurat. The editing is done so wonderfully and Alan Ruck's performance is so moving. It is lovely to watch.
This film is all about Cameron. Cameron and his father's fabulous fabulous car. It may be Ferris Bueller's day off, but it is Cameron Frye's film. He is the one who is changed. He is the one who has the experiences. He is the one who has the development. He is also the one who trashes a potentially priceless car and has the most repercussions to deal with.
Ferris doesn't change - he is just a flighty breeze. Strutting through life with a confidence and brazenness which no one else can touch.
Like I said.... Ferris Bueller is impossibly cool!