Thursday, September 22, 2016

Thursday Movie Picks: Teen Angst

My own angst as a teen had nothing to do with the world-at-large. It was insular, singular, riddled in longing and unchecked romanticism. In fact, I recall a recent conversation with my wife about the "drama" flowing through the halls of the middle school where I work. Teenagers deserve their feelings, it was decided. I remember as much. The wanting. The realness of those feelings, mostly in my pining for what literature would call that Obscure Object of Desire.

This Thursday on Wandering through the Shelves Thursday Movie Picks is a gut-punch into the painful stress of my own romanticism, my own Teen Angst.

Here are my picks, all about boys, sensitive boys tortured by a search for the meaning of life and love:

Angus
dir. Patrick Read Johnson, 1995

Angus Bethune (Charlie Talbert), an insecure, overweight high school science nerd, who doubles as a pretty good football player and lives with his mother (Kathy Bates) and grandfather (George C. Scott, in one of his final roles), finally has it out with his lifelong nemesis (James Van Der Beek) while dealing with the torture of confronting his lifelong crush (Ariana Richards). I watched this movie all the time as a young teen. It seemed made for me. 

Terri
dir. Azazel Jacobs, 2011

Terri (Jacob Wysocki), an insecure, overweight high school kid, usually clad in pajamas, lives with his elderly uncle (Creed Bratton) and generally lacks any direction whatsoever. But he has compassion, specifically for the school's budding "bad girl" (Olivia Crocicchia) and its well-known "troubled kid" (Bridger Zadina), and he has support from the warmest assistant principal there ever was (John C. Reilly). This movie breathed life into me when I saw it. It contains a sleepover scene so true and painful, I can hardly stand to think about it. It just warmed my heart, broke it, and warmed it again. Here's my full review

Mud
dir. Jeff Nichols, 2013

Ellis (Tye Sheridan) is confident but naive, about to head into the world of high school as his family and his home crumble around him. He pines for an older girl, an unattainable one, as a drifter with a troubled past, a fugitive called Mud (Matthew McConaughey), spins a yarn about the beauty that got away, his lifelong love (Reese Witherspoon), who punished him as he punished himself. Few movies have taught me more about myself as a young man than this one. It is a masterpiece, one of the most beautiful stories ever told. 

23 comments:

  1. I loved Mud and enjoyed Terri as well. I'm glad you talked about it because it's such a small film. I haven't seen Angus though, I'll have to check that one out.

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    1. I'm pretty sure Angus used to come on TV when I was in high school. It's a solid teen movie. Nothing quite like it really. Terri is sort of in that vein but more "indie". Love it. And I love Mud so much.

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  2. Fantastic choices for the theme! Unfortunately I've only seen Angus, which was wonderful. Glad you mentioned George C. Scott-loved him, such a distinctive actor.

    I've put off watching Mud, a little McConaughey goes a very long way for me but I didn't realize Reese Witherspoon was in it, perhaps she'll balance it out for me. Plus the story sounds interesting. I've never heard of Terri but I'll have to check it out.

    I figured the choices this week would be on the heavy side, angst after all is not happy stuff. So I purposely cast around for a couple that were on the lighter side, one intentionally and the other falling into the campy category.

    Kitten with a Whip (1964)-After shivving a guard and trying to torch juvie hall, delinquent hellcat Jody (Ann-Margret) takes it on the lam roosting at the coop of rising politico David Patton (John Forsythe). Mad for a pad to lay low she puts the shine on him while throwing off lingo like "Why do you think you're such a smoky somethin' when you're nothin' painted blue?" Cool to her ridicule he gives her the gate. She splits but flies back to his igloo with two other hooligans and forces Dave to burn rubber down Tijuana way, it’s a bad scene though and they’re all slated for crashville. The tagline for this far-out opus? “She’s all out for Kicks…and every inch of her spells EXCITEMENT! She’s a real smoky kitten!” Its mad hipster crazy cool, baby!

    The Doom Generation (1995)-Two disconnected teenagers pick up sexy drifter Xavier, who radiates a savage vibe and who leads them down a path loaded with sex and violence. As they travel through a series of small towns a cloud of doom hangs over them which no matter how they try clings to them.

    Teen Wolf (1985)-Scott (Michael J. Fox) is a normal mopey teen mooning over a girl who doesn’t know he exists and playing on a losing basketball team. Then he begins to notice when he gets upset he starts to feel different. He father pulls him aside and shares something he’s kept from him. Surprise! He’s part werewolf. By letting his inner beast out he becomes popular, the girl notices him and the team starts winning but he has to control his anger or the wolf will take over. Silly but fun comedy is helped immeasurably by Fox’s charm in the lead.

    Honorable Mention-To Sir, with Love (1967)-Unable to find a job in his chosen profession American Mark Thackeray (Sidney Poitier) accepts a position teaching a group of angry rebellious teens in Eastern London. Using somewhat unorthodox methods he confronts their initial jibes and defiance ultimately garnering their respect and helping them work through their angst.

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    1. I can't recommend Mud enough, man. It just really really works for me on thematic and storytelling levels, and the filmmaking is solid too. Jeff Nichols knows how to movie.

      Kitten with a Whip sounds like the greatest things ever. The Doom Generation I saw when I was way too young for its brand of satire and have never been able to return to it. Araki has made some interesting films though. Mysterious Skin is unforgettable.

      Teen Wolf is a stone-cold classic that I really need to see again. So cool to see that one here.

      And I need to see To Sir, with Love. I've love Poitier in everything I've seen him in. Thanks for sharing.

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    2. Oh Mysterious Skin, I can't think of any other movie that I respected as much that I hope never ever to see again. I saw it in the theatre and both the buddy I went with and myself left the theatre in stunned silence and said nothing for a few minutes. It was profoundly moving, brilliantly acted and I don't think I've ever felt so sad and disgusted after watching anything.

      To exit on a much lighter note....here's a couple of links to a poster and the book cover for the ART that is Kitten with a Whip!! As you'll see they were shooting for the highbrow audience of the day.

      http://filmfanatic.org/reviews/wp-content/uploads/2008/02/Kitten-With-a-Whip-Poster.jpg

      https://yellowedandcreased.files.wordpress.com/2013/06/kittenwithawhip_1964.jpg?w=423&h=710

      Just for fun here's one of her other 1964 opus The Pleasure Seekers to give you an idea of the kind of stuff she was mired in before Carnal Knowledge rescued her career. Not that they're not fun in a shiny junk kind of way.

      http://www.chantrellposter.com/images/products/large/107.jpg

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  3. I've only seen Mud from your picks, I liked it but I remember being annoyed with Reese Witherspoon's character. I haven't heard of the other two, but both sound interesting!

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    1. I think you're supposed to be annoyed with her. She is damaged and manipulative. Both others are totally worth a try.

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  4. Thanks for the recommendation because I haven't watched any of these, haha.

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  5. I remember Angus, but I don't remember if I ever actually saw it or not. Strange.

    I'm kicking myself for STILL not having seen Mud.

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    1. I swear Angus came on TV or something when I was in high school. I remember watching it quite a few times. Loved it. And please see Mud. It is just wonderful.

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  6. Is that Lex from Jurassic Park in Angus??

    Heart warming choices here - Terri is a film I remember reading about and Mud is a film I should have watched by now.

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    1. It is her. No doubt.

      Hopefully you'll get to check these out.

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  7. Have not seen any of these films listed, although I do own Mud. I definitely want to watch it soon.

    As I am currently going through teen angst, I have seen a lot of movies dealing with the subject. Ghost World, The Breakfast Club, Heathers, Sixteen Candles, Heavenly Creatures, Me & Earl & The Dying Girl, Juno, etc.

    There is one upcoming film that I am absolutely excited about that deals with teen angst. The film is called The Edge of Seventeen. It's with Hailee Steinfeld, Blake Jenner, Kyra Sedgwick & Woody Harrelson. It comes out November 18. It just premiered at TIFF & it got excellent reviews. Definitely looking forward to that. Hopefully, it will live up to my expectations. (And if you're wondering, yes, the trailer for it is out).

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    1. All of your picks are great ones. The only one I haven't seen is Heavenly Creatures. I have heard of Edge of Seventeen. Will check it out. Sounds like a great cast.

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  8. I've seen Mud and it was much better than I thought it would be. I never thought of it for this week's theme but it works well. I haven't seen the other 2 but they sound so good and I would like to see them so they are now marked down for me to see

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    1. Right!? Same here with Mud. Hope you see the others. Both good ones.

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  9. I've only seen Mud and it's a great film. Need to see the others.

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    1. Glad to hear you love Mud. So solid. I think you'd dig the others.

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  10. I've only seen Mud and I liked it more than I thought I would. The other two sound good, I'll have to check them out.

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    1. Same for me. Definitely check the others out.

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  11. Mud is the only one I've seen - like it. I don't think I've heard the other 2 before now.

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