Life Moves Pretty Fast Book Review – Journey into 80’s Nostalgia
Nostalgia abounds in the beautifully fanatic and heartwarmingly sincere book ‘Life Moves Pretty Fast: The lessons we learned from eighties movies (and why we don’t learn them from movies any more) by Hadley Freeman. This book covers some of the best films the 80’s had to offer, dealing with women in movies, race in Hollywood and Social Class struggle in America. All with a healthy does of movie quotes and pure love fandom.
I may not be a child of the 80’s but my mum made damn sure that I was well versed in the majesty of that decade! Thank you Mamma!
The 80’s was a special time for cinema and it really brought around a good grouping of classics and off-beat indies. The impact of this time can still be seen in cinema today, just look at every sequel (Top Gun 2019), remake (Ghostbusters 2016), reference (Deadpool meets Ferris) and pure homage to this time (Ready Player One, Summer of ‘84, Stranger Things, IT etc.) it’s hard to deny that the 80’s is still going strong and nostalgia is alive and kicking.
Our introduction begins with a quote from Easy A (one of the best teen comedies of recent years!)
“Whatever happened to chivalry? Does it only exist in 80’s movies? I want John Cusack holding a boombox outside my window. I wanna ride off on a lawnmower with Patrick Dempsey. I want Jake from Sixteen Candles waiting outside the church for me. I want Judd Nelson thrusting his fist into the air because he knows he got me. Just once I want my life to be like an 80’s movie, preferably one with a really awesome musical number for no apparent reason. But no, no, John Hughes did not direct my life.”
Tone and standard set. Even modern movies know that the 80’s had it going on. Hadley gives the reader some backstory on her life and how she came to fall in love with the films of this decade. It’s personal, friendly and utterly absorbing. Then comes the best bit, the analysis of some of the best the 80’s had to offer. We delve into everything from ‘Pretty in Pink’ and ‘Breakfast Club’ to ‘Ghostbusters’ and ‘Three Men and a Baby’. We transcend race with Eddie Murphy and embrace our inner weirdo with ‘Batman’. The tone is conversational but the thoughts and musings are definitely analytical.
Hadley’s love for this decade is clearly woven within the pages, but this isn’t just a gushing love letter to a generation of films written by a wistful teenager. She brings solid analysis to the table and covers some very real topics, one chapter is named ‘Ghostbusters (with a Segue in to Top Gun): How to be a Man, clearly dealing with how masculinity is represented in 80’s pop culture. Her work is backed up by interviews with academics, film critics, directors, actors and other film elite. Girl know her facts and can reference with the best of them!
This book is the only type of love story I enjoy reading, the love of pop culture and movies! Hadley is so enthusiastic in her discussion and she gives an amazing insight in to a female’s perspective on the movie machine. I often felt like I was a reluctant Dirty Dancing fan, I wouldn’t feel proud to say it in certain crowds, but after reading her amazing take on the film I feel I have more honour in my conviction. Ask ‘Do you Love Me?’ now and I’m gonna say yes.
The way she tackles the Hollywood system of the 00’s onwards is very eye opening. While reading it the sad realisation that cinema will never again be like that was hard to take. We no longer get mid-range movies, we seem to be pushing away from original and daring ideas and focusing on franchises and sequels or adaptations with guaranteed audiences.
Hadley discusses how lucrative foreign markets for films have turned Hollywood in to a robotic system that churns out the same things time and time again. Male action star with big booms and minimul context, rinse and fucking repeat. Alongside this the discussion of women in lead roles, or even a full female ensemble cast, was approached and I was somewhere between burning fury and astonished laughter (one screenwriter claiming he can’t write women as he doesn’t understand them). Women can’t front films? Women don’t make money? Okay Hollywood, I completely believe that.
However, there is hope! With streaming services such as Netflix, Amazon and Shudder creating original content we can start to see creativity coming back to the forefront. They take risks, not all of them pay off, but at least they are fucking trying!! Bring back my mid-range movies that actually have something to say! Oh, and blow your Transformers up your arse while you’re at it!
Now that my rant is over I just want to finish with the positive. This book is insightful, well-crafted and sincere. It may not have every 80’s film in it and it may completely bypass my favourite genre (horror) but if it included everything we wanted it to it would turn my bag into an offensive weapon. So we stick with the 336 pages of nostalgic love instead. It was a joy to read and I found myself smiling and laughing out loud on public transport (which often meant I got two seats all to myself!). If you’re pondering what to get the cinephile in your life as a warming Christmas pressie, then this is a definite.
Life Moves Pretty Fast: The Lessons We Learned from Eighties Movies (and Why We Don’t Learn Them from Movies Any More)
Hope you enjoyed!
Any film book recommendations for me? 🙂