Hadley Freeman is a writer who has a love for 80s movies that is unparalleled by anyone I have known in real life. She feels about the genre like I feel about a select few (specifically, Dirty Dancing and Steel Magnolias, so I was over the moon they each had their own chapters) and does an excellent job giving insight both into individual films, as well as the landscape of cinema in the 1980s. And she does so with great humor, in depth personal self-reflection, and a great book is born.
I read this for the Cannonball Read non-fiction book club, buuut didn’t actually stop by the online discussion thread, or even get around to writing my review until just now. I think because of the format, each chapter discussed a different movie, I found it hard to wrap my mind around for a discussion of it. I would be interested in debating some of her thoughts and conclusions, but largely I found myself nodding in agreement, and total agreement with the author doesn’t make for good discussion. That being said, I did enjoy this book and I have recommended it to very many people I know, so my reading of it was not all for naught.
I think it is best read and put down again over a few weeks, and not power read on a deadline as I did, because it can be a bit dense, and repetitive, as she comments on the industry, its problems and successes. There is a lot of information in this book, so taking it one chapter (thus one movie) at a time would make for a more palatable experience. This book also has lots of insight from key players, as she as a journalist was able to interview many of the actors and filmmakers. That adds authenticity (and delighted giggles) because I mean, who doesn’t dream of talking with Wesley, of Princess Bride.
A common takeaway is that so many beloved movies couldn’t be made today because the film industry is more concerned with performance in international markets, and cranking out money makers, than taking a chance on a weird little film like Back to the Future. As my brother could do a one-man performance of Back to the Future I can’t imagine a world in which it doesn’t exist.
Freeman is mostly successful, though I would say her preferences and opinions on what is THE BEST should be taken with a grain of salt. I hadn’t to my knowledge seen Pretty in Pink and she lauds it as one of her all-time favorites so I gave it a go. Um, it isn’t for me. But would I have the same affection for it if I had seen it when I was much younger? Probably so.
If you have an affection for 80s movies, and a rich nostalgia for how good movies USED to be, than this book is for you, and could even be revisited from time to time, as I intend to do in the future.