Now here is a theme I can't quite put my finger on. There are so many places I feel this can go what with so many movies that follow multiple characters and storylines. My mind instantly goes to something from Altman in the vein of Nashville or Short Cuts and beyond that to the Altman-inspired work of Paul Thomas Anderson in Boogie Nights and Magnolia.
But I don't really want to go there. I've used about every P.T. Anderson movie by now, and, as much as I love those Altman films, I haven't seen them in so long that I wouldn't even know what to say about them.
So, it's Thursday, which means it's time for another entry in Wandering through the Shelves' Thursday Movie Picks. This week...Intersecting Stories, but I'm throwing a curve ball...
...I'm going for a theme-within-a-theme on this one. The Teenage One-Nighter. Movies inspired by George Lucas' American Graffiti (1973). Movies that follow young people on intersecting rides through a fateful night when everything comes together in such a way that by the time the morning comes around you find yourself a little older, wiser, more firmly in love, filled with a better understanding of the world, even if you never left the haunts of your hometown.
Here are my picks:
Dazed and Confused
Dir. Richard Linklater, 1993
Last day of school. 1976. Suburban Austin, Texas. The incoming seniors, led by QB/budding pothead Randall "Pink" Floyd (Jason London) haze the incoming freshmen, led by ace little league pitcher/budding pothead Mitch Kramer (Wiley Wiggins). But then there's bonding and a failed kegger and running the roads, hitting up the local haunts, getting the resident old-head (McConaughey) to buy all the beer to replace said failed kegger and back and forth and back and forth. Plenty of "intersection." Plus, lots of weed and hilarious dialogue. It plays like so many youthful nights you know so well if, like me, you had these nights. And if you didn't, you wish you did. Admit it. Here is a film that deserves every bit of its status. It is warm, funny, over-the-top, great looking, and incredible to listen to.
Can't Hardly Wait
Dir. Deborah Kaplan and Harry Elfont, 1998
Graduation night. 1998. Suburban Philadelphia. The Sensitive Writer, Preston (Ethan Embry), has been crushing on Miss Popular, Amanda Beckett (Jennifer Love Hewitt), since freshmen year. She's been dating the Jock, Mike Dexter (Peter Facinelli), all that time. Preston's best friend, Denise (Lauren Ambrose), the above-it-all Arts Geek reluctantly tags along to the big Grad Party, where word has gotten around that the Prom Queen and King have split up. Time for Preston (and everybody else) to make his move. It's also Resident Nerd, William Lichter's (Charlie Korsmo) time to finally take his revenge, and it's White Black Guy, Kenny Fisher's (Seth Green) time to finally get laid. As the strands mix, you have standard high school party rom-com that really worked on me (and many people my age) simply because I was the right age. I could watch this movie on repeat.
The Myth of the American Sleepover
Dir. David Robert Mitchell, 2010
The days before the new school year. 2010. Suburban Detroit. Two guys, one starting high school, another a year into college, navigate the streets and houses of their neighborhood and even a bit beyond, both searching for that something just out of reach, longing for that youthful idealistic girl that's already slipping away. Two girls, both starting high school, navigate the streets and houses of their neighborhood, both searching for simply the same. None of them find each other or need to. David Robert Mitchell's film is not interested in payoffs or even setups. This is a simple wandering through a night where youth begins to meet adulthood, and, for the most part, the kids this story belongs to are fine to simply be young....at least for one more night.