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Thread: 18 TO PARTY (Jeff Roda 2019)

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    18 TO PARTY (Jeff Roda 2019)

    JEFF RODA: 18 TO PARTY (2019)


    OLIVER GIFFORD, TANER FLOOD, IVY MILLER, AND NOLAN LYONS IN 18 TO PARTY

    TRAILER

    The tremendous trifles of eighth graders waiting

    In writer/producer Jeff Roda's quiet directorial debut he captures the quintessence of middle school life, waiting. These eight or ten boys and girl, schoolmates who know each other, have gathered early to wait - at the end of any line - to get into a local nightclub in a warehouse covered with graffiti. When the door opens, they'll have to wait for everybody else to get in, but they've been promised, one of them says. that everybody will get in. John Hughes and Richard Linklater are guiding spirits, but what makes Roda's film uniquely real is that much of it is lame and flat, though it's nonetheless heartrending and sweet and frightening. There's also a slight aura of sci-fi. Some of their parents are at a "UFO meeting." There's been some stuff that hangs over the kids - deaths and suicides. There's really a little more than Roda can handle: a favorable reference to Our Town suggests that old warhorse is another model, even if its longings and visions of generations are a bit beyond the power or need of this writing. This is upstate New York in 1984, time of "fucking Ronald Reagan," so the glamor of iPhones is far off. And the absence of that distraction is a big plus. It enables the dialogue to cover more of the bases.

    Most of the characters are well drawn. The actors are young, and seem inexperienced, but that's deceptive. They are not. We see plenty of experience in the subtle nuances and bashful sweetness of Shel (Tanner Flood), a boy with a shy smile who is central, if anybody is. He's got a pack on his back. Why does he need all this stuff? He goes back and forth between his mom and stepdad and his real dad; maybe he lacks a sense of home. He's carrying the daypack because he's spending overnight with the hotshot of the group, the best athlete and artist, tall, handsome Brad (Oliver Gifford), who however reveals anger and frustration later. There's wise-guy "rich" kid Dean (Nolan Lyons), and a nerd who talks computers, Peter (am McCarthy). On the fringe, dramatic, is the bad boy with problems who's in therapy or juvie or something, Lanky (James Freedson-Jackson) whose refrain is "What! None o' you faggots want to get high!? Lanky's brother killed himself not too long ago. It's left a mark on Lanky he hasn't begun to deal with. On the side are a couple of current misfits, Kira (Ivy Miller), who reads about 21 shot in a Macdonald's in a paper: her interest in the news is taken as weird. Next to her is James (Erich Schuett), whose pencil-drawing of the faces of everybody, which he tacks on the wall, is also taken as weird.

    Shel plays soccer, but not "select" like Brad, he wants to go out for drama, he doesn't want to get a three-out-of-five, he wants "to do everything." This is his burst of enthusiasm when he kisses Amy (Alivia Clark) after he has gone to the "construction site" with her to "talk." Amy insists in going through his bag, and finds several tings. Shel disappoints himself and Brad by not succeeding in "messing around" with her as Brad urged him to. But later, after she goes off with Lanky for a while and comes back, he spontaneously, awkwardly, kisses her, and it means a lot to both.

    There's drama from Lanky and Brad, and color from Kira and James, and arguments from Peter and Dean and Missy (Taylor Richardson). But it's when Roda is carving on his little piece of ivory in sketching the achingly trivial and yet momentarily monumental conversation by the construction site between Shel and Amy that this little movie truly shines. Roda covers many bases and plays many tunes, but the tiniest moments are the most important.

    18 to Party, 80 mins., debuted at Woodstock Oct. 4, 2019 and played also at Big Apple Nov. 21, 2019 and Florida (virtual) Aug. 14, 2020. Screened for this review before its online release in virtual cinemas Nov. 6, 2020 in Los Angeles, New York, and major cities; North American VOD release to follow.


    ALIVIA CLARK AND TANNER FLOOD IN 18 TO PARTY
    Last edited by Chris Knipp; 11-05-2020 at 10:39 PM.

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