Don’t You Forget About Me (2009)
Directed by: Matt Austin
An open letter to the filmmakers behind “Don’t You Forget About Me” - Matt Austin (director/writer), Michael Facciolo (writer/producer), Kari Hollend (writer/producer) and Lenny Panzer (writer/producer):
First of all, congratulations are in order. You spent over two years producing a documentary that gathers a very impressive group of people from all walks of life to talk about the legacy of John Hughes. You were able to wrangle interviews with actors, producers and crew who worked with Hughes, modern filmmakers who were influenced by his work, modern-day teens who are still inspired by his movies. Hell, you even got an interview with Roger Ebert, in what must have been one of his last interviews before he fell ill and lost his voice forever. You got the voice of a generation of filmgoers to be in a movie about the voice of a generation of filmgoers. Kudos to you. I’m sure it wasn’t easy.
I know it would be easy to beat yourself up because you weren’t able to get an interview with many of Hughes’ main actors. The Brodericks, Ringwalds and Michael Halls. But the people you did find are uniquely able to paint a vivid picture of one of modern cinema’s seminal artists, a man who took the teen movie to unparalleled heights, then slowly faded away into the ether.
But that wasn’t enough for you was it? You just had to do it. You had to take a movie that could have been a one-of-a-kind portrait of one of Hollywood’s most elusive figures and make it about yourselves, didn’t you? You had victory within your grasp, but the second you turned the camera on yourselves, you exposed yourselves for the fame whores that you are.
Instead of a tribute to the films created by the man you purport to respect, you decided to stalk him, to flush out where he lived and (oh so nobly) try to bring him out of hiding. Because you think you’re special. Because you think that the effort you put into this film makes you more worthy than the rest of the world to sit at the feet of the master. If you respected John Hughes half as much as you say you do, you’d have made this a celebration of his work and a meditation on the system that drove him into exile. But instead, we’re teased with real insights from the people who knew him, culminating in a sub-Michael Moore attempt at ambush journalism.
I respect and detest your movie. I’m in awe of the group you assembled, of the insights you were able to get from Hughes’s collaborators. And I resent the living hell out of the fact that you thought that it was all secondary to showing us how hip and clever you are. And now John Hughes is gone and people like me will watch this movie hoping that it serves as a fitting tribute. And instead we’ll be graced with the privilege of hearing your thoughts on “The Breakfast Club.” If I wanted to know what some random assholes thought of John Hughes’s films, I’d read the IMDB user comments section.
You’re not the reason John Hughes went into seclusion, but people like you may be the reason he stayed there. Shame on you for squandering this opportunity. The only reason you’re getting the 2-Ramis rating is out of respect for Hughes and the people you were able to assemble to talk about his movies. Next time, focus more on them and less on yourselves.
On a lighter note, I’m still picking up new subscribers and I’ve gotten several new reader recommendations in the last day or so. I look forward to reviewing the ones I haven’t seen. And to the new readers, I’m not always this negative. I promise.