Who doesn’t have a soft spot for 80s movies? From Dirty Dancing to When Harry Met Sally, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, Back to the Future and Ghostbusters, they’re fantastic – and now our friends at Readings bookstore have found a book the explains why we love them so much. (Definitely one to read with a bowl of popcorn.)
My two all-time favourite movies, Aliens and When Harry Met Sally were made in the 80s. My favourite action hero – Indiana Jones – hails from the same period, Dirty Dancing is my number one dance movie (sorry, Centre Stage, you’re a distant second), I watch Die Hard every year around Christmas and I think John Hughes is kind of a genius.
Obviously, when I heard a book about 80s movies was being released, with a title that references Ferris Bueller’s Day Off no less, I had to read it.
(Want to reminisce on some of the all-time best 80s movies. We’ve got you covered. Post continues after gallery.)
Life Moves Pretty Fast is written by Hadley Freeman, a journalist who works for the Guardian newspaper in the UK.
She’s an unabashed fan of films made in the 80s (Ghostbusters is her all-time favourite), and her book is a love letter to the booming creativity of 1980s Hollywood.
But Life Moves Pretty Fast is more than simply a fan gushing about old movies – Freeman gets to the heart of why we still love these films. As she writes in her introduction, ‘these movies didn’t just make us all happy, they teach you more than you learn from movies today’.
With chapter titles like ‘Dirty Dancing: Abortions Happen and That’s Just Fine’, ‘Pretty in Pink: Awkward Girls Should Never Have Makeovers’, ‘Steel Magnolias: Women are Interesting’ and ‘When Harry Met Sally: Romcoms Don’t Have To Make You Feel Like You’re Having A Lobotomy’, it’s clear from the get-go that this is a book interested in the way women are portrayed in film.
Freeman makes a convincing argument that today’s Hollywood films are far more conservative in their portrayals of women than the films of the 1980s. I particularly enjoyed her analysis of teenage girls and fashion, and her assessment that in 80s films, the teenage heroines dressed for comfort and for themselves, rather than to look sexually available (Pretty in Pink and Some Kind of Wonderful being two notable examples).
Some of the most interesting parts of the book were the stories behind the films. Freeman goes deep into the history of movies such as Ghostbusters and Back to the Future, and her analysis of Eddie Murphy’s career is a highlight. It’s also a rather funny book, with some light-hearted touches such as blog-style listicles (‘Ten Best Love Songs on an Eighties Movie Soundtrack’) at the end of every chapter that will either annoy or amuse readers.
Life Moves Pretty Fast is an entertaining read that I recommend for film and pop-culture junkies – if you’re the kind of person who likes talking and reading about movies as much as you like watching them, you’ll enjoy this book.
Be warned though – you’ll want to go back and re-watch a lot of films. In fact, the best way to read it is probably in tandem with an 80s movie marathon and plenty of popcorn (I suggest kicking things off with a viewing of The Princess Bride).
Buy Life Moves Pretty Fast here
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