PDA

View Full Version : Chelsea's "Mean Girls" Review



chelsea jubis
05-09-2004, 09:30 AM
Last weekend I went to see this movie with my best friend and my brother. We loved it. But, we could also all agree that it's not an ingenious work of art (like Majid Majidi's "The Color Of Paradise").
In the movie Cady (pronounced like Katie) is told by her parents that they are going to move from Africa and go live in the U.S. She has been homeschooled her entire life and doesn't know what high school is like. So, she goes to school and she is completely isolated. On her second day she meets Janice (a cool, independent artist) and Damian (as Janice puts it "Almost too gay to function"). They become her friends and show her around the school. They introduce her to the school's different groups (the mathletes, the girls who eat their emotions out, the girls who don't eat anything, the sexually active band geeks, the burnouts, the wannabees, the jocks, the cool asians, the plastics and so on). Cady is asked to sit at "the plastics" table by the queen-bee Regina George (pure evil) and her followers Grechen Weiners (a rich, gossipy girl whos father invented Toaster Strudel hahaha) and Karen Smith (Blonde, Air Head, anything that means dumb). They want her to join their crew and become "one of them". Janice thinks this is a great way to get Regina back for starting all these rumors about people (like saying that Janice is a dyke). So, their plan for ruining Regina's life has begun. Cady goes shopping with them after school and learns that they have rules for dressing. (never wear the same thing twice, pink on Wednesdays, colored shoes on Monday, no patterns or designs with jeans, jeans on Fridays only, no boots or strappy shoes with mini skirts, no all solids or clashing patterns, Tuesdays shirts with slogans, designs on tops must color match skirts, shoes (not boots must color match skirts, no black shirts Mondays or Tuesdays Talk about a pain in the butt). One night at a party Regina kisses the guy that Cady likes (who just happens to be her ex-boyfriend). That is when their plot after Regina begins (you enjoy a funny, semi-emotional story the rest of the time). In the end everything turns out great and everyone gets what they deserved.
I think this movie is WAY more realistic than any other movie that has tried to show the public the life of a teenager. All the rumors and gossip. The way that people have their own little groups to hang out with, it's all true (minus that everyone carries a Louis Vuitton purse). It's also the best of the 3 "blockbusters" that Lindsey Lohan has put out recently (even though I liked her character in Freaky Friday better).
I'd definitely reccomend it for a teenage girl and if you want a good laugh.

pmw
05-10-2004, 08:18 AM
I think you hit on many of the reasons why I put this one on the forums. The movie, while clearly part of the highschool-teenager-learns-valuable-lessons genre, is so well written that it's appeal goes beyond that of a simple highschool movie.

Tina Fey's screenplay is fantastic and leaves no sector of the student population untouched by its sharp whiticisms: the Plastics, the Matheletes and everyone in between (herself, a teacher, included).

Fey has penned a real teenage classic, which is nice to see. She has worked Saturday Night Live back to a level that it hasn't seen in a while, while still maintaing the networks insistance on broad audience appeal, and the movie does the same. Highly recomended.

chelsea jubis
05-11-2004, 09:19 PM
Thanks for the compliment! I like those (since I'm new here). I think it is great movie. Tina Fey is awesome! (I LOVE SNL!) I think everyone about to enter high school should watch it just so they know what they're getting into. Hahaha!

Chris Knipp
05-16-2004, 02:07 PM
.Have you seen Heathers, Chelsea? Mean Girls is said to be a kind of Heathers knockoff. I've been wanting to see Mean Girls -- I love Heathers -- and will try to do so now.

Chris Knipp
05-16-2004, 02:46 PM
Christian Slater. Star of "Heathers."

He's in a lot of movies. He's acted in 40 or 50 films. He's in no less than five new ones coming out soon. But his great period was 1985-1995. Youth stuff. After all he was basically a child actor who graduated very successfully into youth pictures, and then has faded from the limelight.

'85 His childhood classic: Legend of Billie Jean(with his sister, Helen)

'86 Name of the Rose. Nude scene. Good for the Tiger Beat hearthrob rating.

'88 Tucker. As Junior Tucker. Jeff Bridges son. Directed by Coppola. Not a big role, but still good company. Big stuff.

'89 Gleaming the Cube (skateboard movie with spy plot--fun).

'89 Heathers. Teenage revolt, dark social comedy. Cultish youth flick. In this he hones his amphetimine Jack Nicholson voice.

'90 Young Guns II. Yeeahh, well. . . .For those who like such stuff, this fills the bill.

'90 Pump Up the Volume. High school revolt leader, companion piece to Heathers. With very cool River Phoenix girlfriend Samantha Mathis.

'93 True Romance. Tarantino flick directed by Tony Scott. The ultimate. QT's most entertaining screenplay.

'94 Interview with the Vampire. With Brad, Tom, Kirsten, Antonio. Not too shabby.

'95 Murder in the First. Interesting Thirties coutroom drama. Somewhat misfired, but costarring with Gary Oldman, Kevin Bacon, William H. Macy. Nice crew.

Since then, some trouble with the law and alcohol, a lot of movies, many of them like the title of one of them, Very Bad Things. . . or maybe just mediocre.

Can Slater ever become a hot item again? Well, that's kind of doubtful at this point, but the good thing is he's working.

Chris Knipp
05-16-2004, 03:59 PM
Christian Slater turns 35 this August 18th. Yes, Chelsea, he's over the hill.

JustaFied
05-16-2004, 08:40 PM
Originally posted by Chris Knipp
Christian Slater turns 35 this August 18th. Yes, Chelsea, he's over the hill.

Wow, you just made me feel old. I turn 30 in July, guess I'm over the hill too.

We grew up on Christian Slater movies. I thought Heathers was awesome, but I was 16 or 17 when I saw it. You might want to wait a couple more years, Chelsea. The ending is pretty disturbing, particularly in light of Columbine.

Untamed Heart was one of my favorites; somehow he gets Marisa Tomei to fall head over heals in love with him. That's what did it for me, I was hoping the same thing would happen to me, LOL.

Thanks for the review Chelsea. I'll be sure to go see Mean Girls.

HorseradishTree
05-16-2004, 09:04 PM
Christian Slater's best performance, in my opinion, was in The Name of the Rose. That whole flick was just so beautiful, and I'm surprised it never came to great acclaim.

Chris Knipp
05-17-2004, 02:14 AM
Perhaps a fine film, but surely not Slater's best work, a minor part for him. It would be a huge put-down to say that was the best thing he ever did.

And yeah, JustaFied, you're over the hill, like the guys in Queer As Folk. Get a life. Later you'll learn that even forty is young.

oscar jubis
05-17-2004, 03:05 AM
Originally posted by JustaFied
I thought Heathers was awesome, but I was 16 or 17 when I saw it. You might want to wait a couple more years, Chelsea. The ending is pretty disturbing.

Chelsea went to Orlando with her choir to sing at Downtown Disney, and the end of the school year is keeping her busy. She always liked to write and loves to post here. Credit goes to the makers of Eternal Sunshine and Children of Heaven, movies she loves so much she has to tell the whole world. Thanks for your kindness guys. She'll be posting soon.

My reason for posting is that I thought of renting Heathers for her but decided against it exactly because of the violent ending. She's always avoided violent images, even the PG-13 kind. It's a shame because I think she'd otherwise enjoy this excellent movie. Does anyone remember just how graphic and pervasive the violence is? I seem to remember a gun fight and some type of explosive, but vaguely. It's her decision but "waiting a couple more years" makes sense to dad.

Chris Knipp
05-17-2004, 04:15 AM
Well, it's not my job to approve or restrict viewing for teenage girls. From Roger Ebert's review of Heathers:



'Teenagers don't have any trouble with it," the film's director, Michael Lehmann, has said of the movie. "It's always adults that are shocked."JustaFied was right: this movie is awesome. It's an extremely funny and witty high school satire that's way cleverer than you'd ever expect from the genre, but there are no two ways about it: it's a comedy about killing -- killing off people who are mean and deserve to die. The humor is black -- but it all grows out of the same bright, cheerily imagined school social scene Chelsea described in reviewing Mean Girls. It introduces madeup slang, which adults at the time thought was real and tried to master. If you take the plot very seriously you've probably missed the point completely. The main character, Veronica, plots with Slater's character, J.D., to kill off her ultra snobbish friends ( who're all named Heather). Don't look too hard for a positive, upbeat message, but this is, in a sense, the revenge of the Nerds. The snobbish alpha females are shown up for the vacuous little monsters they are. You don't see anybody die -- well, maybe one or two. It's all black humor, and you never feel sorry for the victims. There's no gunfight. It's kind of like Oscar Wilde, with a vicious edge, and set in an American High School. The unworthy and pretentious are demolished with withering repartee. At the end, Christian Slater's nihilistic, cool outsider character, a rebel as he is in Pump Up the Volume, tries to blow up the school. There's a big explosion, but I don't think anybody gets hurt. Both J.D. and Slater's ultimately tiresome Jack Nicolson schtick wear thin and are rejected, but the ultimately decent Veronica, played by Winona Ryder in one of her most notable roles, triumphs and grows wise, like a perverse version of a Jane Austen heroine. As Lehman said, Chelsea would understand better than you. I haven't seen Mean Girls yet, but as a fan of Heathers, from which it seems to be derived, I want to. Heathers is almost certainly far superior to Mean Girls and somewhat in the same vein, certainly in the same territory, but bolder and wittier. If Chelsea isn't ready to see it now, she will be in a year or two, since she likes this subject matter and is into movies, but JustaFied may be right to say she ought to wait a couple years to see it. Though overjealous parents may misunderstand the movie and see it as more lethal than it really is, on the other hand youth is wasted on the young and so are really witty youth movies. I doubt very much that my 15-year-old goddaughter Leila would really appreicate it; but I suspect she might before long. Right now, she likes Zoolander. Not a perfect movie (Heathers, that is), but a funny one with lots of quotable dialogue, and a must-see for all fans of the Eighties youth genre of which this has to be considered one of the triumphs.

I've gone on at excessive length, but I really like the movie. Talking about it makes me want to see it again. The ending is a bit weak, even though it ends with a bang, but the meat of it is in the center somewhere. The opening croquet match ("It's your turn, Heather." "No, Heather; it's Heather's turn") cracks me up. Deliciously absurd and over the top at times. I was just so glad that it got made.

JustaFied
05-17-2004, 11:05 AM
It certainly is a black comedy, so best not to take it too seriously. That said, some of the violence is still a bit disturbing.

At the end of the film, Christian Slater's character is setting a bomb in the basement underneath the school gymnasium, which he plans to detonate during a pep rally. Winona Ryder catches him, she's got a gun, he "gives her the bird", and she shoots off his middle finger. It's a pretty gruesome image. Then, he goes outside, straps large amounts of explosives to his body, and detonates himself. Such images could potentially be disturbing to a 12-13 year old viewer, particularly the idea of a gym being blown up during a pep rally. I mention Columbine because it shows that large acts of violence in a school setting can indeed occur. I think I have the same opinion of someone at that age seeing Elephant, a beautiful but haunting film which may not be appropriate viewing for some people. Maybe it's an age-appropriate thing, maybe an issue of determining maturity level of the viewer, I don't know for sure, and it's certainly not my decision to make.

I disagree with Chris in his statement that there's not much of a positive message in the film. I think Winona Ryder's character, in a way, is very much a positive role model for teenage girls. Her parents are a bit clueless and naive, but they're sweet and lovable people, she appreciates the relationship she has with them, and she doesn't appear to be rebelling against them. That's nice to see. Also, throughout the film, she seems determined to avoid the conformist, nihilistic, and cynical elements of the school setting. She stops Christian Slater's character in the end before he can do more damage, and she ends up befriending the outcast girl in the school. She very much stands for something positive in the end.

Chris Knipp
05-17-2004, 12:41 PM
I think we basically agree.

Given my description, "This is a comedy about killing," parents and children can decide whether they want to watch Heathers. The issue isn't so much the level of violence or how "disturbing" a movie is (a decision hard to make till they've watched it and seen how "disturbed" they are, by which time it's too late) but that an unsophisticated person of any age may be unable to perceive clearly the context in which Heathers presents its violence.

Thanks for the corrections on the explosion at the end and also for the addition about Veronica being a positive image, which is quite true and which I should have mentioned.

I want to quibble with you a bit on the issue of positivity. I didn't really say "there's not much of a positive message in the film." I said:
Don't look too hard for a positive, upbeat message. . . That doesn't mean such a positive message ain't there. I meant that if you spend your time looking for the positive message, you might fail to tune in to the movie's mindset.

This is where the need for sophistication comes in. But whether a teenager is less sophisticated than an adult in judging a teenager comedy is a serious question. That's why Lehman the director said
Teenagers don't have any trouble with it. . .It's always adults that are shocked.

I also said (and this is meant as positive)
but this is, in a sense, the revenge of the Nerds. The snobbish alpha females are shown up for the vacuous little monsters they are. What I'm trying to get across is that this movie has a positive message, but that's not the primary way to look at it, because it's a sardonic, dark comedy. Such comedies come at their positivity crabwise, laced with ironies. We should also consider (in terms of positivity) that Veronica's romance with J.D. shows revolt against authority is a viable option to be considered, but one that has to be tempered with kindness. Mass murder is dis-recommended. But look at the sardonic context which such a statement establishes -- one in which we laugh at the idea of even having to say such a thing, but at the same time take note that, indeed, mass murder is a huge no-no. If you focus too much on seeking positivity in a comedy that's mostly a demolition of teenage snobbery, you will be disappointed. You won't find enough of the upbeat to suit, and you'll miss out on the wicked fun. Veronica indeed is a nice girl at heart whose outlook is recommended, but look at the very nasty business she goes along with at J.D.'s instigation. It's only when he wants to blow up the whole school that she draws the line.

HorseradishTree
05-17-2004, 06:42 PM
Originally posted by Chris Knipp
Perhaps a fine film, but surely not Slater's best work, a minor part for him. It would be a huge put-down to say that was the best thing he ever did.


Sadly, I think it is his best work. I never really liked Slater. His appearances on the screen always seem to make me cringe.

And last time I checked, Interview with the Vampire, for most, was a truly cheesy and dumb film.

Chris Knipp
05-17-2004, 07:36 PM
Then that leaves us with your huge put-down. You may be right but he has had much better roles in good movies. Have you seen True Romance and Pump Up the Volume? Don't you like Heathers? I thought you did. How could you enjoy it if his presence on the screen makes you cringe?

JustaFied
05-17-2004, 08:51 PM
Originally posted by Chris Knipp
What I'm trying to get across is that this movie has a positive message, but that's not the primary way to look at it, because it's a sardonic, dark comedy. Such comedies come at their positivity crabwise, laced with ironies.

I agree, and I like your crab analogy. Much more creative than I could've come up with, seriously. But, again, I agree, this film isn't intended to be a feel good, pick-me-up flick. It's a dark comedy, and it does achieve its positivity indirectly.

One more quible: from what I remember, Veronica is pretty uneasy about what they're doing from the start. Sure, she goes along with J.D.'s recommendations, but she's certainly not instigating them. Of course, that's no defense in the real world. But, it's not as if she has an awakening at the end and finally stands up to him; I think her turning on him is something that's been building throughout the entire movie.

As for Christian Slater, he's not a Oscar-calibur actor, but he does well in the roles he's in. He plays the introspective, sincere loner pretty well in "True Romance", and he's the '80's version rebel-w/o-a-cause in "Pump Up the Volume". He's not Jack Nicholson, sure, but he's not cringe-worthy either, in my opinion.

Chris Knipp
05-17-2004, 09:47 PM
We've ironed out all the wrinkles, now. I'm glad Slater isn't doomed to total oblivion. Maybe it was partly wishful thinking for me to say Veronica "triumphs and grows wise, like a perverse version of a Jane Austen heroine." It's so much more interesting when a character develops in the Jane Austen way because we learn with her and it's the most interesting thing that can happen to a character, but you're no doubt right to point out that Veronica just sort of loses patience, rather than grows wise.

We've gotten somewhat far afield from Mean Girls, and I think it's pretty sure we're focusing on the better movie, but have you seen Mean Girls, by the way?[

HorseradishTree
05-17-2004, 10:18 PM
Bah, I never said I was down with Heathers. In truth, it wasn't that much of an experience for me.

Remember Prince of Thieves? Why was he always smiling like a wormish villain? Wasn't he on the good side?

Feh...Bale is a better Christian than Slater, for sure.

Chris Knipp
05-17-2004, 11:36 PM
I wasn't talking to you. Just when JustaFied and I were massaging each other's egos, you have to pop back in.

I'm the one who's recommending Heathers.

I wouldn't rate Bale any higher, though he is much better looking, that's for sure, and he's got that English accent. He's no great wonder in the acting department though.

I guess the greatest Christian in film is Chris Marker.

But not all Christian Slater's movies are "cheesy or dumb." I think I've sought out the good ones. It wouldn't have occurred to me to go to see Prince of Thieves. You've gotta be selective.

JustaFied
05-18-2004, 09:51 AM
Originally posted by Chris Knipp
[b]I wasn't talking to you. Just when JustaFied and I were massaging each other's egos, you have to pop back in.

I have no ego, I seek only the truth. LOL.

Chris Knipp
05-18-2004, 11:22 AM
Cool.

chelsea jubis
05-19-2004, 09:35 PM
Hey! Back from Disney (I still have All County Honor's chorus to go...but the headache will soon fade). Chris, I will try to see Heathers. I have my ways, wether or not my father agrees *evil laugh*. Even though it doesn't seem too appealing after you mention the inappropriate violent ending. Key word:VIOLENT. I see you've been using the color. Well, I'm going to steal your font :D !
JustaFied, itz grt that sum1 finally got the lngo, ppl learn so fst! lol translation: It's great that someone finally got the lingo, people learn so fast! hahaha! Just teasing. But I noticed your use of "lol".
Hi HorseradishTree! lol :D
Anyways, I really haven't seen any of these movies. But Mean Girls is pretty good. I wouldn't say "Highly Reccomended" it's just to see for fun and laughs. It's not a "smart movie".

JustaFied
05-19-2004, 10:45 PM
Originally posted by chelsea jubis
JustaFied, itz grt that sum1 finally got the lngo, ppl learn so fst! lol translation: It's great that someone finally got the lingo, people learn so fast! hahaha! Just teasing. But I noticed your use of "lol".

Is that English? LOL. I think I've picked up some of the lingo, but much of it just gives me a headache. I think I've got LOL, ROFL, IMO, and IMHO, that's about it. I need a dictionary for the rest of it.

"Heathers" is indeed a violent movie, you've read our descriptions in this thread. It's also a clever, funny, intelligent film, so I suggest you see it at some point.

Again, thanks for the review of "Mean Girls". It's a film that wasn't even on my radar screen until I read about it here. There are lots of dumb, stupid movies out there that we try to avoid, I pegged this as one of them until I read more about it. Thanks again!

Chris Knipp
05-20-2004, 02:09 AM
Well, Chelsea, I went out and saw Mean Girls. And I think you have to see Heathers. I will be really interested to see what your reaction is. It's black humor, but I don't think it's really disturbing. There are way more disturbing movies in the world. As for Mean Girls, as you said, it's "not a smart movie." It has some good moments, and it certainly does play with the girls clique thing. That's a given of any movie about high school life but Mean Girls concentrates on it and on the new girl who gloms onto the queen bee and in the course of destroying her, becomes her; but then is redeemed and reformed and everybody lives happily ever after at the end (a bit of a contrast to the darker Heathers). It's entertaining, and there were twenty-somethings in the audience who lol'd beaucoup times. However I thought the action tended to be crude when people got knocked over or knocked down or run over by a bus (and then once they said they were just "play" run over -- okay, sure, great, but that's just being cruel and then chickening out). You know Lindsey Lohan, the star (who is well cast: she seems just right, pure enough, pretty enough, and then quite capable of morphing into a bitch, then reforming and becoming nice again), is on the cover of Interview magazine this month and it says "WHY IS AMERICA FALLING IN LOVE WITH LINDSAY LOHAN?" So she's hot.

The thing that bothers me the most is that some of the "kids" are played by actors who are -- and look -- so OLD. This is true 85% of the time in youth movies that the actors are older than their parts, but for instance Elephant (which you better not see -- that has a big-time violent ending, and this is no lol thing), which also has the cafeteria clique scenes, as they all do, the actors really are high school age and they're great. But in Mean Girls, gee, those Plastics all look so old and hard (I like Regina though--but the actress is 28!). And the dreamboat that Cady falls for in math class, well, he's cute and all, but he looks like he's ready for grad school! (He's not that old, but he is 23. and he looks older) I can appreciate that they may wind up using actors who are older than their roles, but in that case they should try to find ones who look younger than they are.Damien (the actor is 25), who's supposed to be "so gay he can barely function," rarely really does anything gay, and what's a young gay guy doing being big and fat? I'm afraid I found the Indian guy rather irritating, though I liked it when he got wild and rapped and ripped off his shirt after winning the math match, even though it was ridiculous.

I'm sure you saw things that were amusing to you -- the different groups in the cafeteria, the Vietnamese girls, for instance -- that meant more to you than to me, because the demographics were so different when I went to high school.

Whereas Heathers has made up slang not revealed to the audience, in Mean Girls there is one word one girl is trying to turn into slang, but it doesn't go over. Intellectually Mean Girls doesn't have the energy level or the creativity of Heathers. But it does touch a lot of bases and it does amuse. It certainly works up to a point as a high school comedy.

Chris Knipp
05-20-2004, 02:41 AM
Compared to the entertaining but not special Mean Girls, Heathers, while not a cinematic masterpiece, has a really clever, wicked, witty screenplay that has guaranteed it cult status. In my opinion, it's on a different level.

Maybe this difference is because Heathers comes out of the Eighties, when a lot of energy and talent was being focused in Hollywood on the young audience, which had emerged as a significant demographic. Hollywood was striving toward more serous, intelligent youth pictures than had ever been done before there -- stuff like the S.E. Hinton pictures, Tex, The Outsiders, Rumble Fish, That Was Then, This Is Now, plus other things like Valley Girl, Sixteen Candles, Stand by Me, The Breakfast Club, Say Anything, to name a few. This was the era of the "Brat Pack," which included Emilio Estevez, Rob Lowe, Andrew McCarthy, Charlie Sheen, etc. Other emerging male "hotties" were C. Thomas Howell, Ralph Macchio, Tom Cruise -- all the guys in The Outsiders. And there are others then, such as River Phoenix, John Cusack, Ione Skye, Lili Taylor, Crispen Glover, with serious acting talent. People think Keanu Reeves can't act, but he starred in a stunning debut film about kids enmeshed in a terrible crime, River's Edge, and also in the pretty interesting Permanent Record; the touching, poetic My Own Private Idaho, one of Gus Van Sant's most personal films, shows Keanu doing some good work next to River Phoenix doing superb work--that's 1991, but it belongs in the group. Matt Dillon seemed on a roll at first with the cult classic Over the Edge (where school kids set fire to their school with the adults chained inside), followed by Little Darlings, My Bodyguard, then Tex, Outsiders and Rumble Fish. The emergence of youth movies as a serious genre led to some real talent being applied and some movies of lasting interest being produced. In fact "Youth Movies of the Eighties" is a topic we ought to discuss on FilmWurld. The stuff that's coming out now is just much cruder. It's more extreme, it can go further, but it's less intelligent. It just doesn't seem to matter as much any more.

HorseradishTree
05-20-2004, 08:39 PM
Originally posted by Chris Knipp



Bale...is no great wonder in the acting department though.




First off, I want to let you all know that I would do a color, but, apparently, the one that seems to suit me best is black. So here we are.

I believe Bale to be a fantastic actor. From Empire of the Sun to Equilibrium, the guy's managed to amaze me. Even in real stinkers (i.e. Laurel Canyon), I was still thoroughly impressed with his ablilties.

Chris Knipp
05-21-2004, 01:31 AM
Black is a color I like too.

As for Bale, it's rather damning that his most mentioned performance is his earliest major one in Empire of the Sun. He has his admirers; he has his passionate fans. He's a strikingly handsome fellow, and in late years he has acquired a perfect sculptured physique. He tries hard as an actor; but in movies that isn't always what's called for. It's more the actor with lots of personality like Humphrey Bogart who just is himself, or the old shoe casual guy like Henry Fonda or Jimmy Stewart, who works best cinematically. Christian Bale is stiff; his performances are often wooden and vacuous. His American Psycho is cited by people as an accomplishment, but look, that is a man without any emotion--perfect for an actor who often seems like a department store manikin.. It's a virtue of sorts that he's a guy with leading man looks who will slide into the part of an evil or repellant character like Walter Wade Jr. in Shaft or Patrick Bateman in American Psycho. He has a certain egoless detachment about his roles that is admirable. In Equilibrium, he is not human. It's a physical action role, and he does well at that, but he makes Keanu Reeves as Neo look soulful, and that's weird. Reign of Fire shows him in a rare rough and ready, humane part, but the movie isn't exactly a venue for great drama, nor does his role have particular resonance. The Machinist (2004) sounds interesting and this may be the one that convinces me. But again it sounds like a tour de force where he makes up with an overzealous performance and extreme weight loss for a lack of innate acting talent. And his current project is as Bruce Wayne/Batman, a role where his terrific physique and dashing comic book hero looks will carry him through. Bale may be ideal for Batman, but that's not the sort of movie where you go to find dramatic gifts or Oscar performances in the lead. I'm glad you aren't sold on Laurel Canyon. Though I wouldn't go so far as to call it a "real stinker," that may be more because of a couple of friends who took it seriously than for anything in it that worked for me. He's just there in Laurel Canyon. It's not an important role. Bale's occasional big roles have been parts that were stunts, more than conventional acting roles. No, though I like to look at Bale, I don't think there's much there there, acting-wise. But I know there will be people who side with you, because his smooth, chiseled good looks inspire fan worship.

P.s. Where's Chelsea?

Chris Knipp
05-22-2004, 01:35 AM
Well, I guess that comment bombed. I seem to be talking too much on this thread. I'm talking to myself.

Chelsea, are you back?

I have a question. Are you going to see Saved? The ad is enticing: "Wickedly funny! A divine comedy." "Pretty damn funny..." "Smart and subversive..." and it has Macauley Culkin in it. After seeing him in Party Monster I think he's crazy. And that's good.

chelsea jubis
05-22-2004, 08:21 AM
You could say I'm back. This whole month has been back-to-back chorus shows, I feel like a puppet. We had a "surprise concert" yesterday on top of that this entire week I've been stressing over All-County Honor's Chorus. What kind of a nut makes kids learn a 6-part songs in three days? AHHHHHH!

Anyways, before I started babbling on I was going to tell you that, yes, I do want to see 'Saved'. I would want to go see it because of the critics saying that it's funny and smart. Even though I don't think I'll expect that much from it. Macauley Culkin has never really caught my eye. He is a good actor, but he looks like he should be playing the son of a rich snob, not an innocent boy in a wheelchair. Then again I haven't seen him since the Home Alone movies. So, we'll see. Mandy Moore must be good. I liked 'How To Deal'. It was entertaining. It is the perfect "date romance". My prediction of 'Saved' is that it will be better than 'How To Deal' but not a big 'Deal' (hahaha I'm such a nerd).

Chris Knipp
05-22-2004, 10:25 AM
Welcome back! I've missed you. You sound like a victim of child labor! (Just kidding.) Now everybody knows my secret, that I'm an old guy who loves youth movies. I have seen How to Deal twice. I will not reveal why. But I do like Mandy too, not just Trent. It would be great if Saved was another Heathers, but you can never get your hopes up about movies. As for Macauley, you know he's changed since Home Alone. In Party Monster he has an outrageous role and he is great in it. Views varied on the merits of that movie but gay guys kind of loved it.

chelsea jubis
05-22-2004, 11:02 AM
Correction: I AM a victim of child labor! (Just Kidding) My aunt and I drool over Trent every time we watch 'How To Deal'. She got in for me as a Christmas present and when we watched it we both were like "Trent! *Sigh*" hahaha. Now I want to see Party Monster before Saved so I can see Macauley grown up. I can't say anything really about Saved becoming a Heathers because I have yet to see the movie.

Chris Knipp
05-22-2004, 11:38 AM
See them all. I hope Oscar allows. Party Monster isn't even that good a movie, but Macauley is fun to watch in it. He's outrageous. He's so bold. Trent, yeah--droolworthy. Somewhat like Josh, not probably a major actor, but fun to watch.

Kids are so overworked today. It's school all day, then band practice, soccer practice, then homework. In my day you just hung out at the drugstore and went to art class on Saturday mornings. What're ya'all in competition for? LIfe, I guess. Fame. Success. Those weren't concepts I'd got my brain around when I was young. But you're all stars.

oscar jubis
05-22-2004, 04:00 PM
Written By: Chelsea Jubis
Oh, I will watch hem all, regardless of what my father says. *Evil Laugh* Josh hartnett?? Naw.

Kids are overworked! But, it's worth it as long as what you're working for pays off. I ask you this: will math and history really help us all to succeed in what we are working for? Don't think so! (hahaha Just Kidding)

Chris Knipp
06-02-2004, 12:15 AM
Brian Donnally's "Saved!" -- a review

by Chris Knipp

[w a r n i n g : s p o i l e r s !]


""Saved!" is another disappointing entry in the high school satire genre like its immediate predecessor, "Mean Girls." Set in a Born Again Christian high school, "Saved!" starts out with a cast of characters that might work – the unctuously “with it” school principal, Pastor Skip (Martin Donovan) who spins cartwheels on stage at the opening assembly and raps about being “down with” the Lord; his cute son Patrick (Patrick Fugit, later to pose as Jesus on the cross in a gold lamé loincloth), who’s just back from South American "missionary work" with his skateboard and better hair than the other boys; a (mildly) cynical handicapped boy, Roland (Macauley Culkin, not as outrageous or as good as he was in "Party Monster"); and Cassandra (Eva Amurri), the sole Jewish girl at the school and the only real Mean Girl in the bunch. She actually smokes and swears, and she and Roland get in a few good quips.

As always of course there’s got to be the queen bee of the alpha females, and she’s the ubiquitous and very grating Hilary Faye (Mandy Moore) a vicious blend of righteousness and excessive makeup who gets her nose into everything and comes out with nothing but a rage attack and a huge pimple on the chin. She’s so monotonous you know she’s going to get her comeuppance and be Reformed.

But the plot’s pivot point, which arrives early on, involves adorable waif Mary (Jena Malone), who gets pregnant with her gay boyfriend to "cure" him. That opening event dominates the plot and ultimately brings it down – how can you make fun of pregnancy? -- with a prom dance finale that’s an orgy of acceptance in which Patrick dates the visibly pregnant Mary, Hilary Faye is forgiven for her smug manipulations, and Dean (Chad Faust), Mary’s gay boyfriend, arrives with his gay roommate from the Christian brainwashing center as his date, and after a scuffle with Pastor Skip, they’re allowed in. Hilary Faye’s rebellion focuses upon ramming her car into a giant cardboard Jesus and knocking its head off. The kids promise to put it back together. Because of this curdling of the comedy "Saved!" has been called this year’s "Pumpkin," but "Pumpkin" was so weird that even when it turned sweet it still creeped you out. "Saved!" just sneaks away with its Christian slogans intact.

"Saved!" delivers too much nauseating Christian cant without satirical comment. The writing isn’t smart or bold enough. The director and writer, who themselves went to Christian school and camp, say their characters are like real life but toned down: "If anything, we underplayed it." Why "underplay" things in a satire? Like "Mean Girls," "Saved!" invites comparison with the standard for wicked American teenage comedy set by "Heathers" and "Election," and it doesn’t measure up. The teenage rebellion that leads to "Heathers'" murders and explosions or "Over the Edge's" school on fire, fizzles out in a few outbursts at the prom. There are some born again Christians who're already glad this movie was made -- and that's a sin.

oscar jubis
06-02-2004, 11:23 PM
Originally posted by Chris Knipp
The emergence of youth movies as a serious genre led to some real talent being applied and some movies of lasting interest being produced. In fact "Youth Movies of the Eighties" is a topic we ought to discuss on FilmWurld.

I've been wanting to join in but I can't seem to find the door. I think my problem is I don't know what you mean by "youth movie". Are Au Revoir Les Enfants and My Life as a Dog youth movies? How about Kids, Drugstore Cowboy and Rushmore? Hoop Dreams? Kael seems to regard 2001 as a youth movie when she wrote: "2001 is said to have caught on with youth; and it's said that the movie will stone you- which is meant to be a recommendation. The promotion has been remarkably effective with students." You define the parameters.

pmw
06-03-2004, 12:03 AM
Youth Movies of the 80's

That sounds like a great topic, although I would also ask which
films you are referring to. Perhaps we should bring back the
"Featured Forum" feature for this topic. I have a feeling its a big
one.

P

Chris Knipp
06-03-2004, 03:23 AM
A Google search of the phrase "youth +movies+ eighties"yields :


(From http://members.tripod.com/eightiesclub/id21.htm)Youth-oriented movies were big in the Eighties. Many critics missed the fact that at the core of a great many of these films lay a protest against wealth, status, conformity and conspicuous consumption. Some of the most notable films in this genre: The Breakfast Club (1985) looks at the dark side of being a teenager; Pretty in Pink (1986) examines teenage castes and cliques; Risky Business (1983) satirizes the greed and materialism of the era; The Sure Thing (1985) delineates the very real difference between love and sex; Matthew Broderick's title character in Ferris Bueller's Day Off (1986) defines the rebel kid of the Eighties -- a far cry from James Dean or a flower child, but no less symbolic of an era.


A group of young stars who became known as The Brat Pack dominated the youth-oriented films of the decade. Many of them joined the ensemble cast of St. Elmo's Fire (1985); they included Andrew McCarthy, Rob Lowe, Emilio Estevez, Ally Sheedy, Demi Moore and Judd Nelson. There were others -- Molly Ringwald, Matt Dillon, Charlie Sheen, Anthony Michael Hall, Sean Penn and Robert Downey, Jr. Born in the early Sixties, they were the hottest items in Tinseltown, and in both their performances and their not-so-private lives they represented the dreams and dilemmas of teens and young adults in the 1980s...(For more on The Brat Pack, see Material Things (http://members.tripod.com/eightiesclub/id299.htm).)

This gives you a rough idea. Obviously the awareness of the youth market as a big source of ticket sales was one of the motivating forces behind the boom in this genre in the Eighties, but I would maintain that there was a lot of talented work.

The Brat Pack discussion on this site isn't very good. They say Rob Lowe went on to star in sex, likes and videotape! How did they get that idea? You have to take the main young American film actors who starred in Eighties youth movies and see what their filmography contains. For John Cusack, mentioned on this site in connection with The Sure Thing, you also have Class, Sixteen Candles and Say Anything. I am trying to skim off the best ones. This is just a partial list. There was a real boom at this time in quite interesting, often smart movies about young people, and it was of course a great opportunity for young actors. We may have a lot of youth pictures now too, but the moment has passed. As I said earlier, the youth movies of today are more extreme and schlockier and they don't get the same kind of attention. I have mentioned others in this thread talking to Chelsea: the S.E. Hinton stories, Tex, The Outsiders, Rumble Fish, and That Was Then, This is now. Two of these were directed by Coppola.

I mentioned earlier that two of Keanu Reeves'early movies, River's Edge and Personal Record, are quite good examples of the Eighties youth genre.

If you go back eleven entries in this thread you'll find that I mentioned a lot of these names when I first used the phrase "Youth movies of the Eighties." I also mentioned there River Phoenix, Ione Skye, Lili Taylor, and Crispen Glover.

The movies I'm talking about are not blockbusters, though they were popular. They were character driven and not special effects spectaculars like E.T. They're American, so Au Revoir les Enfants or My Life As a Dog don't fit. And Kids and Rushmore are way outside the Eighties. Drugstore Cowboy is certainly an interesting movie, but those aren't the kind of more or less normal middle class young people the Eighties youth movies are concerned with.

oscar jubis
06-03-2004, 10:36 PM
Originally posted by Chris Knipp
They're American, so Au Revoir les Enfants or My Life As a Dog don't fit. And Kids and Rushmore are way outside the Eighties. Drugstore Cowboy is certainly an interesting movie, but those aren't the kind of more or less normal middle class young people the Eighties youth movies are concerned with.

Ok. I'm realizing I'm not a fan of the genre. There's only two films I really like that qualify as "80s youth movies": Say Anything... and River's Edge. Heathers is worth-watching. Breakfast Club (watchable) is all the Hughes you need to know. Fast Times at Ridgemont High is a sentimental fave because of early glimpses into the careers of the best (American) actor and actress of my generation: Sean Penn and Jennifer Jason Leigh.

But none of these films compare to their 90s counterparts. Kids, Welcome to the Dollhouse and, especially, RUSHMORE are significantly better films, in my humble opinion.

Chris Knipp
06-03-2004, 10:57 PM
Of course you don't like this genre, Oscar. It's not serious enough. It's lightweight stuff. Undoubtedly Rushmore and Election are better than most of them. But from the youth point of view there was better fare out there than there is now. Surprisingly many of the movies were definitive statements. Heathers is so much better than Mean Girls and Saved and other attempts at high school satires, and what you have to appreciate is that the focus on the demographic brought out a lot of young acting talent suddenly allowed to play the main roles in movies. John Hughes is like S.E. Hinton in fiction writing: they appealed to youth in a new way, talking freely and uncondescendingly to teenagers. Both are important contributors to the genre. I am talking about movies that were fun to watch, and I shouldn't be using phrases like "definitive statements" or "important contributors to the genre."

It's not really a genre. It's just something that happened in the Eighties, like Armani jackets, Reaganism and Yuppies. Not everything we talk about can be a Very Important Film with Profound Artistic Significance.

oscar jubis
06-03-2004, 11:53 PM
Originally posted by Chris Knipp
Of course you don't like this genre, Oscar. It's not serious enough. It's lightweight stuff.

Hey, I'm a huge fan of early-30s comedies and 50s musicals from Hollywood. More recently I've really liked Down With Love and the LOTR pictures.

But from the youth point of view there was better fare out there than there is now. Surprisingly many of the movies were definitive statements.

I am coming to the conclusion that I prefer the youth movies of the 1990s. To the titles I mentioned before add two excellent films featuring River Phoenix: My Own Private Idaho and Dogfight (both 1991).

Not everything we talk about can be a Very Important Film with Profound Artistic Significance.

I'm willing to keep "talking".

Chris Knipp
06-04-2004, 02:06 AM
Yeah, let's keep talking and I hope somebody else joins in. Is there anybody else out there?

I could argue that the good Nineties movies you mention with River Phoenix happened because of the Eighties movies. But My Own Private Idaho, a huge favorite of mine, really isn't a fair comparison, because it's not about "normal" kids with "normal" problems as the Eighties youth movies are; it's about street kids, wastrels and outcasts, even if one is the mayor's son. It's Pixote in Portland.

The reason it's harder to like the youth movies of the Eighties than the 30’s comedies and 50's musicals is that the Eighties are too close. They're just close enough and far away enough to be irritating. Fifties and Thirties movies are quaint, and therefore charming.

I will wager that you did not see the youth movies of the Eighties when they were pouring out, as I did. Or am I wrong? You can go back and "discover" the 30's and 50's comedies and musicals, but the Eighties movies are just something you missed-- intentionally!

For me this is how it is with Douglas Sirk movies. I am old enough to have been around when they came out and they were just the kind of conventional American claptrap that I avoided. Unfortunately I also avoided cowboy movies; now I am told that there were lots of cinematic classics among them that I must see. I only liked foreign movies and crime movies, noirs.

To me youth movies of the Eighties, though I was no longer really a youth, were what I would have liked to have coming out when I was the age of the actors, twenty years earlier. They were a dream come true. But in fact I could never have imagined any of them, or their actors, who and which were all so different from the few young movie stars or the allowable social behavior of my youth.

I think this is a group of movies that is unfashionable among those who currently call themselves film buffs. But that is their offbeat charm.

oscar jubis
06-04-2004, 02:49 AM
Originally posted by Chris Knipp
I hope somebody else joins in. Is there anybody else out there?

Yeah, where is everybody? Cinemabon is the only one with an Excused Absence.

I will wager that you did not see the youth movies of the Eighties when they were pouring out, as I did. Or am I wrong?

I saw them. I am that obsessive about movies. I honestly don't think very highly of American films in general during the 1980s, as I've explained elsewhere. This seems to apply also to youth movies in particular. Another title that comes to mind is Dazed and Confused(1993). It's mo' better than the 80s flicks.


Unfortunately I also avoided cowboy movies; now I am told that there were lots of cinematic classics among them that I must see.

When I entered college 25 yrs ago, I started to seek out all the wonderful films released prior to '65 or so. I tended to avoid Westerns and Musicals, two genres deemed old fashioned by my contemporaries. Eventually the best Musicals and Westerns won me over. Theatre screenings of westerns directed by Ford, Mann, and Hawks and Golden Age musicals did the trick.

JustaFied
06-04-2004, 07:38 AM
I'll quickly add a couple of my two cents, will try to expound more later, gotta go to work...

I was actually a little too young for the "brat pack" movies; graduated high school in '93, so they weren't quite as relevent to me when they came out. Did see The Breakfast Club on T.V. when I was in like 6th grade, and thought it was a really cool, serious movie at that time. These people were all so misunderstood...

I will admit to liking John Hughes movies when I was growing up. Yes, times have changed, I now realize them for what they are. But there was a wholesomeness (albeit a very WASPy one) and a tenderness to these people, their lives, that appealed to me. I grew up in a family situation that wasn't nearly as functional or happy as the one I was seeing in these films. Nothing really bad happened to them, they're lives were relatively pain free (except for the humor filled stresses of daily live); you can imagine the appeal. I thought Ferris Bueller's Day Off was pretty funny and cool. I liked Uncle Buck. I admit I was really touched by Home Alone, in the warmth of the family, the caring they had for each other. And, subconciously, my draw towards John Hughes films may have been a reason I chose to go to college in Evanston, Illinois, which is in the northern suburbs of Chicago, the heartland setting of Hughes' films. Of course, now I'm on the verge of 30, and my life hasn't turned out like that in a John Hughes' film. Imagine that?

As discussed earlier, Heathers is a landmark teen film of the '80's; it's a one of a kind.

Dazed and Confused came out in the '90's, and it's set in the '70's, so it doesn't really fit in the category. Something about this film still disturbs me. I think it glorifies pot smoking, and it's led to more teenagers smoking pot, and led to more films showing teens smoking pot. With a few exceptions, there was little drug use in the popular '80's movies. These kids had enough to worry about as it was. Seems like many movies today aimed at high school and college kids automatically throw in pot-based humor. It's part of the formula, and Dazed and Confused kinda set that tone.

I now consider two of the '90's high school films, Election and Rushmore to be far superior than most of the popular '80's films. Much more intelligent, clever, and insightful. I own both.

oscar jubis
06-04-2004, 08:36 AM
Originally posted by JustaFied
Heathers is a landmark teen film of the '80's; it's a one of a kind.
You guys clearly like it more than I do.

Dazed and Confused came out in the '90's, and it's set in the '70's, so it doesn't really fit in the category.
The parameters keep narrowing.

Something about this film still disturbs me. I think it glorifies pot smoking

Well, you certainly couldn't show anyone overdosing on the fragrant weed, or vomiting, or losing their sense of equilibrium. It just doesn't happen with cannabis. It facilitates a mellow, contemplative state in most people. Can't get away from the truth. Like it or not, the human race has been ingesting mind-altering substances throughout our history. Check out Ron Mann's doc Grass on the history of cannabis in the USA and our government's futile (and expensive) efforts to eradicate it.

With a few exceptions, there was little drug use in the popular '80's movies.

A movie that attempts to portray 70s or 80s teens without acknowledging the pervasive presence of drugs within our milieu is, to some extent, veering into Fantasyland.

I now consider two of the '90's high school films, Election and Rushmore to be far superior than most of the popular '80's films. Much more intelligent, clever, and insightful. I own both.

RUSHMORE is in a class, all by its glorious self. Thank you, Wes Anderson and Owen Wilson.

JustaFied
06-04-2004, 01:07 PM
Originally posted by oscar jubis
A movie that attempts to portray 70s or 80s teens without acknowledging the pervasive presence of drugs within our milieu is, to some extent, veering into Fantasyland.

I thought I might get some responses to my pot smoking comment. There is indeed a fine line between films that "ignore" teenage drug use, creating a Film Fantasyland, and those that include such scenes in a gratuituous or unnecessary manner, which tend to glorify its use in some ways and fail to show any negative effects (and yes, there are some, even if it is not an "addictive" substance in a clinical sense).

Dazed and Confused doesn't really "glorify" drug use in the sense that it doesn't create an unreal picture of the kids at that time. Still, I think it opened up the world of marijuana (and other drugs) to kids that had never really thought about it, and that to me is discouraging. As I said before, teenagers have enough to worry about without getting involved in drugs and alcohol. When you get to college, or as a young (or old) adult, it's a different story, you're older and better able to make more informed decisions. In some ways, I still admire the wholesomeness of Sixteen Candles, etc.. Sixteen year old kids should be worried about grades, and who to take to the prom, and finding a way to second base, not about hiding their bongs from their parents. Wait 'til you get to college for that...

It seems like most stupid teen movies now have the requisite "stoner" added to the mix. It's part of the formula now, and that's what makes me cringe. That's not particularly artistic, or "real", it's just a marketing ploy. It sells tickets, and many impressionable youth see it and it does influence the choices they make down the line.

Pot jokes become like fart jokes. It's a cheap laugh. It's lazy filmmaking. Rushmore doesn't show any drug use; is that "fantasy"?

Chris Knipp
06-04-2004, 02:01 PM
Two points about pot use in the youth movies of the Eighties and thereafter. First, it's not very interesting to watch how people act when they're stoned. It can be funny for two minutes, as in the quick tableaux of the stoner husband of Jennifer Anniston and his painter coworker in The Good Girl, who sit on a couch watching TV every night after work. Another couple of hilarious stoner quickies are the delicious Brad Pitt cameos in the motel in True Romance. And then there are the Cheech and Chong movies, which go back to the early Seventies. But generally speaking there isn't much material for interesting dialogue produced when people are stoned. Second, there were prohibitions on representing people getting stoned; it's a sensitive issue, as you have brought up, as to whether or not the filmmakers are "advocating" drug use. Incidentally, the Act I/Act II theater in Berkelely is showing Dazed and Confused as a midnight special these days.

It may seem that the Eighties youth movies are too lily-white but they do contain misfits. JustaFied has shown how they could be a positive image for kids at that time (while still dealing with solid issues) -- just as for me they were an image of how I wish my generation had been represented when I was growning up, instead of being invisible. If you don't think the stories have any teeth in them (and Ferris Bueller certainly doesn't--he leads a charmed life, with no consequences--but is that so different from Mark Twain's Tom Sawyer in many ways?), S.E. Hinton's novels about young people were some of the first to deal with hard issues like teen pregnancy, kids getting in serious trouble in school, drugs and drug dealers, shootings--a lot of it's there--and that's in Tulsa (but if you think Tulsa was a bland safe place, take a look at Larry Clark's famous photography monograph on speed freaks from the Seventies called simply Tulsa). But though Tulsa, the 1971 Larry Clark book, is shocking, it may seem tame to some people because we're so numbed to drugs and violence by now, because they're constantly increasing.


It seems like most stupid teen movies now have the requisite "stoner" added to the mix. It's part of the formula now, and that's what makes me cringe. That's not particularly artistic, or "real", it's just a marketing ploy. It sells tickets, and many impressionable youth see it and it does influence the choices they make down the line.


I'm not taking a position on marijuana, but just want to reiterate that no matter how bland or midcultish the youth movies of the Eighties may look to people now, they were full of fresh material then, and they are still watchable. Nothing was a formula yet, or done to sell tickets, except that simply having a movie full of young people sold tickets to people of that demographic. I don't know what movies can do to alter the social problems of the young generation today. Pot is everywhere, and there are many young people who have a problem with it, and parents suffering wondering what to do. I don't think the problem was as bad in the Eighties as it is now in terms of sheer volume of drug use by teenagers in schools, though it was no doubt on the rise. Movies don't create social problems they simply reflect them.

Chris Knipp
06-04-2004, 02:08 PM
It's admirable that you were openminded and became a convert to the great westerns early on. I am the victim of my own precocity. I became a film sophisticate quite young with very definite tastes which did not include popular kinds of movies very often. I still cannot imagine anything more boring than cowboys having a standoff in some god forsaken fronteir town. But in some degree I have gone the other way as an adult, perhaps starting in the Eighties, becoming more and more critical of the more esoteric cinematic darlings of the critics and more and more open (but with limits) to pop stuff.

Excactly how you (Oscar) can be unimpressed by the Eighties youth movies (and knowing them) yet not appreciate Heathers is a bit beyond me, but I suspect your innate niceness is holding you back there; it's a handicap I have noted earlier in this thread. (Note how I clothe my ad hominem attacks in flattery.)

JustaFied
06-11-2004, 07:00 PM
Originally posted by Chris Knipp
I don't think the problem was as bad in the Eighties as it is now in terms of sheer volume of drug use by teenagers in schools, though it was no doubt on the rise. Movies don't create social problems they simply reflect them.

Movies may not create social problems per se, but in reflecting them, they can help to establish "normal" high school behavior. This is the problem I have with Dazed and Confused. Yes, it's reflecting a slice of high school life in the late '70's, but it also works to establish what is cool for the impressionable youth of today.

At the same time, I don't want to see movies "whitewashing" the lifes of teenagers. As you point out, Ferris Bueller has no real problems, no concerns (a la Tom Sawyer). That's not particularly insightful filmmaking.

JustaFied
06-11-2004, 07:45 PM
What an appropriate week to revisit the '80's. Ronald Reagan is buried today, and we've moved far enough away from the years of his presidency to start looking back on them objectively.

What I've been struck by today as I've watched his memorial service and the tributes to him is the apparent wholesomeness, genuiness and integrity of the man. In many ways, these qualities (along with the naivete and simplicity) are found in many of the '80's high school films that have been discussed on this thread. The films are a reflection of an era, and that era is a reflection of Reagan himself. The outpouring of grief and the multitude of tributes to this man seem to reflect a need or a desire on the part of many to return to such an era of apparent wholesomeness and simplicity. Maybe we can convince John Hughes to come out of retirement now.

I've also been trying to come up with some explanation as to why high school films became so popular in the '80's. Demand for them, of course, but what fueled this demand? I can only think of a couple of mainstream films about teenage life in the earlier decades. Rebel Without a Cause is a landmark film and has had a clear influence on a multitude of later films. American Graffiti is George Lucas' romantic recollection of the days of his youth. But then the '80's hit, John Hughes burst on the scene, and the camera began to focus on the everday life of the average (white, suburban) teenager. Maybe it was just that this generation (my generation) had more money to spend, more time on its hands, and nothing else to really worry about. Vietnam was over, Watergate had passed, and the Hippies had become middle-aged burnouts. Social idealism was dead, personal idealism became the focus. The high school movie was born and is still going strong today.

Johann
06-12-2004, 12:33 PM
I hadn't realized this thread had taken off like a rocket.

I decided to join in after reading oscar's post about cannabis. As a frequent "indulger" of the herb, I have to say that it is not recommended in earnest. This is because it can get damn expensive (depending on where you procure it), which cuts into film money (theatre, DVD's, etc.), is not particularly healthy- anyone who thinks inhaling SMOKE is healthy has never heard of "death by smoke inhalation", and often times you lose track of time and fall asleep before you really want to.

So if you're gonna get stoned, beware.

80's youth movies. I'm the same age as Justafied, and like him those films kinda bypassed me. I was on a Rambo trip for about 4 years during the time of TEX, THE BREAKFAST CLUB and SIXTEEN CANDLES. One film I remember seeing a half dozen times was Lucas, a Charlie Sheen heartwarmer that wasn't a genius film but it had it's moments. Seems very dated now.

I agree totally about Dazed and Confused and My Own Private Idaho. Those 2 were a serious cut above, but they aren't 80's.
The 80's was a very odd decade for films. Some unclassifiable stuff came out then and generally I don't place a whole lot of importance on films from that time. A handful are in that class of great films that dominate the past:

Full Metal Jacket
The Last Emperor
Amadeus
Dekalog
The Horse Thief
Ran
Blue Velvet
Paris Texas

oscar jubis
06-14-2004, 12:34 AM
Originally posted by JustaFied
Rushmore doesn't show any drug use; is that "fantasy"?

Trying to catch up after about a week without internet. Rushmore does show 15 year-old Max getting drunk at a restaurant and acting like a jerk. But you are correct, there is no mention of illegal drugs in the film. It is a fantasy, so to speak, even though the point of departure for Anderson and Wilson is their own experiences attending private school in Houston and Dallas. Anderson, from the commentary to the dvd:
"Rushmore kinda has a fairy tale feel. It's a kinda unreal world that they're in. I mean we're not doing movies where the kids are wondering whether to experiment with marijuana. Stuff that we actually dealt with as kids. We're exploring something different".
Anderson is as much of a film buff as Tarantino. While Tarantino was watching kung fu and revenge action flicks, Anderson was busy with Welles, Powell and Pressburger, Preston Sturges,etc. What he shares with Scorsese is an exquisite taste in music, and a knack for matching songs and visuals. The soundtrack is mostly British Invasion semi-obscurities like "ooh la la" by The Faces ( with the refrain "I wish I knew what I know now... when I was stronger/younger") that add poignancy to the last scene. It's a brilliant film. The must-see followup The Royal Tenenbaums is clearly a notch below.
There's no litmus test. A great "youth movie" need not show drug use. But I hope some do because it happens.

JustaFied
06-14-2004, 10:10 PM
Originally posted by oscar jubis
It's a brilliant film. The must-see followup The Royal Tenenbaums is clearly a notch below.

Agree. Agree. "Rushmore" has really grown on me, it's a film I don't get tired of watching now. I actually went to school there (as did Wes Anderson), so it was a little tough to see the film objectively at first. "Tenenbaums" is great entertainment, but it still rings a little hollow overall, particularly compared to "Rushmore". Have you seen "Bottle Rocket", Anderson's first film? One of my favorites as well.

You're right about the feel of "Rushmore", deliberately intended by Anderson to be rather dreamlike. It is fantasy in a way. I stand corrected.

One last point (to beat a dead horse) about the marijuana thing: if it's portrayed in a "realistic" way, it's much easier for me to swallow. When it's put in a movie simply to get some cheap laughs, that's what I object to. For example, in the movie "Road Trip", one of the guys goes outside to unwind, lights up a joint, and starts seeing imaginary things, everyone laughs. Then he gets paranoid and runs back inside. Clever.

oscar jubis
06-15-2004, 01:33 AM
Originally posted by JustaFied
Have you seen "Bottle Rocket", Anderson's first film? One of my favorites as well.

I saw Bottle Rocket when released in '96 or so. There was something fresh and unhurried about it that told me to memorize the names of the auteurs. I felt the premise regarding bumbling wanna-be thieves was a bit worn, but the attention to character made up for it. An added bonus (for me) was the casting of Lumi Cavazos (Como Agua Para Chocolate, Sugar Town) as cleaning girl Inez. A promising debut I should watch again.

You're right about the feel of "Rushmore", deliberately intended by Anderson to be rather dreamlike. It is fantasy in a way.

Anderson and Wilson unhinged their creativity for their sophomore effort. Their confidence shows in bits like the scene at the twins' birthday party. While everyone is eating at tables surrounding the pool, Herman (Bill Murray) dives in. Anderson cuts to an underwater scene of Murray (think Hoffman in The Graduate). Out of nowhere a kid wearing a speedo and goggles swims past Murray, like a ghost or a guardian angel. This "character" reappears in the background of some scenes. Anderson claims the "part" was made up during shooting for a nice kid named Ryan, who was hired as an "extra" for crowd scenes. There's a method and a framework that allow for spontaneity and creativity here. There's a weight to the story that's perhaps not immediately apparent. Is there another film this good in Anderson and Wilson's future?

oscar jubis
06-15-2004, 01:58 AM
Originally posted by Chris Knipp
It's admirable that you were openminded and became a convert to the great westerns early on. I became a film sophisticate quite young with very definite tastes which did not include popular kinds of movies very often. I still cannot imagine anything more boring than cowboys having a standoff in some god forsaken fronteir town.

By 1970, I was a certified buff. John Wayne, Gary Cooper and Gene Kelly were "passe". I saw a lot of Godard, Truffaut, Kubrick, Altman, Coppola in the 70s. Not a single Ford western or classic musical until the late 80s/early 90s. As a youth I found it difficult to identify with the characters and situations inherent in the western and the musical genres. I wasn't "open" to them. Now I seek them out.

JustaFied
06-15-2004, 07:54 AM
Originally posted by oscar jubis
There's a weight to the story that's perhaps not immediately apparent. Is there another film this good in Anderson and Wilson's future?

Anderson's new film, "The Aquatic Life", will be released later this year. He wrote it alone this time, but Wilson's in the cast. Just my opinion, but I think Wilson's addition to their scriptwriting team grounds their films a bit more; on his own, Anderson tends to focus more the settings, music, and filmmaking style rather than the script itself. Wilson wrote less of "Tenenbaums" than their first two films, and it shows.

Notice how subtly "Rushmore" comments on sports and the jock culture? The wrestling scene is wonderful. There's Max and Mr. Bloom watching the wrestling match, and one of Mr. Bloom's sons (I couldn't tell which one) is on the mat, he has some other kid in a painful-looking headlock, and he's got this vicious snarl of victory on his face. Who says sports are noble? Then Max, the alternate, wanders onto the mat for his match and gets pinned in about three seconds. Also, the scene where Max has a model of his aquarium, which he uses to replace a portion of the baseball diamond. Subtle yet glorious.

Many of the minor characters were local kids and not professional actors. You mention the kid Ryan, who appears in at least 7-8 scenes, including the final one, completely randomly. The high school newspaper reporter ("my sources tell me there will be piranhas, is that true?") was a student at St. John's, aka Rushmore, as were most of the students in Max's plays. Woody, Max's long-haired assistant at his new school, was a student of my mom's, who was teaching at another private school in Houston.

I agree that the wanna-be-thieves idea in "Bottle Rocket" was a bit worn. Isn't really congruous with the nature of these characters at all. But it adds some funny scenes; the film's a hoot.

JustaFied
06-17-2004, 08:37 PM
I finally saw the film that is the subject of this thread, and I wasn't particularly impressed. It was a cute high school movie, it had moments that made me laugh, but overall there wasn't anything particularly memorable about it. It was a movie about teenagers for a teenage audience, that's it. Watching this movie, I realized what's different about it versus those high school movies I really appreciate (Election, Rushmore, Elephant): the ones I like aren't really intended for the high school audience specifically; they transcend the genre, they're films about high school kids, but they're films made for a wider audience. Mean Girls, like the '80's teen films that set the precedent, are films meant to entertain the kids. I liked them in the '80's because I was a kid then, and I feel a certain romantic nostalgia in remembering them now, but I feel a bit out of place in watching Mean Girls now at the age of 29.

Did notice that Mean Girls is set in the northern suburbs of Chicago, John Hughes country, and the main character's mom was a professor at Northwestern (my alma mater) and her boyfriend ended up going to school there also. What is it about this area of the country that is so conducive to All-American teenage flicks?

oscar jubis
06-19-2004, 02:09 PM
Originally posted by JustaFied
Anderson's new film, "The Aquatic Life", will be released later this year. He wrote it alone this time, but Wilson's in the cast. Just my opinion, but I think Wilson's addition to their scriptwriting team grounds their films a bit more; on his own, Anderson tends to focus more the settings, music, and filmmaking style rather than the script itself. Wilson wrote less of "Tenenbaums" than their first two films, and it shows.

This is very interesting to me. I am curious as to how you came to have this opinion? How were you able to separate what each contributed to the films? After all, no movie written exclusively by Anderson (Aquatic Life) or Wilson (Wendell Baker Story) has been released yet.


I agree that the wanna-be-thieves idea in "Bottle Rocket" was a bit worn. Isn't really congruous with the nature of these characters at all. But it adds some funny scenes; the film's a hoot.

Yes, it is.

tabuno
06-20-2004, 03:17 PM
Mean Girls isn't your typical she vs. them juvenile female movie. This movie takes an intelligent, new look at female bullying and avoids the usual pitfalls with a much more refined protagonist in the lead role. I enjoyed this movie and only time will tell if it can stand out on its own from the rest of the young adult movies of this year along with 13 Going on 30.

JustaFied
06-20-2004, 09:03 PM
Originally posted by oscar jubis
This is very interesting to me. I am curious as to how you came to have this opinion? How were you able to separate what each contributed to the films?

I'm not separating what each has added, not sure if that's possible. Evidently their writing style has been highly collaborative, and I imagine the end result is a scene that is a combination of their creative efforts. In that sense, they're different than a studio hiring a bunch of writers to throw together jokes and scenes and hope they have some cohesion.

In the interview with Owen Wilson on the Tennebaums Criterion DVD, he says that he wasn't able to contribute to the writing as much as on their first two films. Anderson says the same thing on the DVD commentary. Reason being that Wilson's become a certifiable movie star with a very busy schedule.

That said, I do find the story in Tennebaums to be more slight than in Rushmore, and I'm speculating that the absence of Wilson in the writing process added to that. The Tennebaums DVD behind-the-scenes feature on Anderson shows a director keenly focused on the sets to be the used on the film, the background paintings, the color of the carpet. To me, he is a director first and foremost, always focused on the image to be captured by the lens. Wilson, on the other hand, never has been involved in this side of the film making process. In that sense, his presence adds a nice balance to the team, as he focuses on the script itself.

Really just speculation on my part. Will be interesting to see how "Life Aquatic" turns out. Rumors of discord on the set...

oscar jubis
06-27-2004, 02:01 PM
Thanks, Justified. Besides Aquatic Life, there's a new film called The Wendell Baker Story, written by Luke and Owen Wilson, which may be pertinent to this discussion.

JustaFied
07-04-2004, 11:20 PM
Originally posted by oscar jubis
Besides Aquatic Life, there's a new film called The Wendell Baker Story, written by Luke and Owen Wilson, which may be pertinent to this discussion.

Yes, it's the other side of the coin, I guess; written and directed by the Wilsons with no involvement from Wes Anderson. We'll see if my hypothesis holds true. I'll be sure to catch it when it comes out.