When we think about ’80s teen movies, one name automatically comes to the forefront: John Hughes. That titan, beloved enough by the filmmaking establishment and by the average cinephile to be potentially getting a Criterion release of his most famous films, isn’t the end-all-be-all name that his acolytes would have you believe that he is. In fact, a great deal of the best comedies from that era came from women — who arguably created (and perfected) the genre in 1982, and who spent the rest of the decade innovating it. In honor of these wonderful efforts, Brattle Theatre has set aside a section of its “A Year of Women in Cinema” series to focus on their achievements, and it’s a can’t-miss weekend of camp cinema right in the heart of Cambridge.
On Friday (August 11), they’ll be showing the Susan Seidelman-directed Desperately Seeking Susan, which stars Madonna and Rosanna Arquette on the run from some mobsters after trolling the classified ads. That’s paired with the theatrically released Buffy the Vampire Slayer (which was technically released in 1992 but who really gives a shit), directed by Fran Rubel Kuzui and starring Kristy Swanson as the titular character. It’s not canon, but it’s still written by Joss Whedon, so it’s a lot of fun. Speaking of male writers getting credit over female directors in the minds of many, they’re showing Amy Heckerling’s Fast Times at Ridgemont High on Saturday (August 12), which was written by Cameron Crowe and who deserves significantly less credit for it than he normally gets. Heckerling’s ah-may-zing and deserves as much credit as Hughes does for crafting this empathetic blend of humor that the man made a mint off of.
Also on Saturday, they’re showing the ’80s camp classic Valley Girl (directed by Martha Coolidge), which stars Nicolas Cage in one of his earliest (and most ridiculous) roles. That, of course, was released in the wake of the Frank Zappa song of the same name, but it’s more of a Modern English type of movie than something you’d see a Mother of Invention involved in. Then, on Sunday (August 13), they’re showing Penelope Spheeris’ Wayne’s World (‘92 again, but who cares?), which you already know is the shit and you should go out and buy your tickets right fucking now if you’re as intelligent and smart as we think you are, and another Martha Coolidge picture, Real Genius, which features a still hot-as-fuck Val Kilmer, a deadly laser, and one of the absolute best Tears for Fears needle-drops that you’ll ever hear. What more do you need?
So, for the best in ’80s cinema, directed by some of the best women who worked in Hollywood in that era, head on down to the Brattle this weekend. And forget about John Hughes! God, he’s so grody.
‘A YEAR OF WOMEN IN CINEMA: ’80s COMEDY’ :: Friday, August 11 through Sunday, August 13 at The Brattle Theatre, 40 Brattle St. in Cambridge, MA :: Various times, all ages, $11 to 13 :: Event info