It’s has been a while since I have taken the time to write about any of the many movies I watch everyday. Let’s just say that my employment status hasn’t bettered and the distractions that shuffle in and out of my life, have escalated. But, I have decided to begin writing again. I owe it to no one, and no one requests it, but I somehow feel that need to express any thought I have when relating my life to the films I watch. Alas, that is the one activity that seems to be a constant in my life. And so, in keeping with the initial theme for this blog, confused-unemployed-college-graduate banter, we shall discuss “Adult World” (2013) starring Emma Roberts, Evan Peters, and once-charming, John Cusack.
Our main character, Amy, is everyone I went to art school with. And I begrudgingly include myself in this category. She is spoiled, whiny, and wholeheartedly believes that everything that comes out of her is worthy of attention. She is the epitome of our pseudo-artist generation that, while we do have a certain burdens over us (global warming, corrupt governments, and untrustworthy economies), we are eager to have our words read, our music listened to, and our politics revered. I, am sorry to admit, have a certain relation to this feeling (hence my blog). Amy is a recent college graduate with a poetry degree. She is dramatic in her delivery and naive with her words. In her search for the truth about her work, she finds herself working at a porno shop after having been cut off by her parents. Her adventure begins the day she starts the job. She befriends a drag queen, somehow manages to work for her favorite poet (John Cusack), finds love, and eventually finds some sign of poetic “voice”. “Adult World” is not only the title of the film and said porno shop, but the “thing” Amy must now subject herself to.
I’ll first admit I enjoyed the film. I am aware I speak biasly as I do find problems in its development as a story. But in those problems, I was bought by simple, yet quirky, moments. My first problem with the story was how she went into the porno retail job and its sudden after effects. I found it too easy. Happy-go-lucky, naive, all-American girl takes a job at a porn shop, shacks up with a drag queen, works for her favorite writer, and then these are her only birthday party guests and no one has anything to comment on it? I mean, a little realism doesn’t hurt anyone. I’ve lived in New York for almost five years and not even my life has any kind of resemblance to that narrative. Regardless, I enjoyed watching someone whom has a similar career fate as mine, struggle through it, been told it’s shit, while still working towards it with never ending hope. This is not a movie I would recommend for everyone. But I do commend Emma Roberts for her performance. She is whiny, but appropriately so. Her naivete becomes charming as those around her demonstrate a caring for her success. And, she makes you laugh once in a while. “Adult World” is a story about a poetess without poetry but definitely a sensibility. Plus, when does one not enjoy watching John Cusack being an asshole.
FINAL VERDICT: Recommended for the art school student and the teenager with an unfortunate wanting for a Sylvia Plath-esque fate.
I come from a country where opportunities don’t come by that easily and aren’t readily available to everyone. Having had the chance to move to New York City from Mexico to go to an arts college which gave me a space to start creating my own opportunities has been one of the most pivotal and life changing events of my life. Had I stayed home, I can’t say that my life and my person would have been the same. “Fame High” is a 2012 documentary by Academy Award nominee Hamilton Kennedy, that chronicles the journey of several liberal arts students at Los Angeles County High School for the Arts (LACHSA). We come to learn about a group of young teens whom, even with the weight of the world on their shoulders, fight from their young age to succeed in their chosen profession.
What most impacted me about the film was watching the kids, at such a young age, having to ask themselves the questions that most of us only consider during (or sometimes after) college. Going to a liberal arts high school wasn’t even something I knew as a possibility. During that time, I was looking into the future, seeing those wants as something of a future fantasy. Thankfully, the fantasy became a reality. But after seeing this film, I almost can’t imagine having that kind of pressure set on me. Where decisions I made at that time, would most likely define those in the future. I believe this is a must watch for any high schooler. It is a vulnerable time when they need to know that having what you want out of life is possible if you work hard at it.
Kennedy’s vision of the film revolves around a certain sense of awe for the teens he chooses to follow closely. There is a definite sense of sympathy, support and admiration for them. Almost as if he sees them as colleagues in the world of art they all take part in. This documentary will stay with you. The teens voices will resonate with you if you’ve ever had a dream. It is this kind of exposure that is needed in the world of art. A world that suffers from “real world” criticism, needs its young to express that liberal arts is nothing but hard work and many times, sacrifice. After watching the film, I am left with the similar sense of admiration and awe Kennedy instills in his work.
Recommended for: Liberal arts students, dancers, singers, actors, and musicians, and last but not least all high school kids.
School shootings are an all too common story. They have become the ultimate American plague. “Valentine Road” (2013) is an HBO documentary, directed by Marta Cunningham, which tells the whole story surrounding the death of young child Larry King. Eighth grader King, was shot twice by classmate Brandon McInerney while class was in session. Just the day before, Larry had asked McInerney to be his Valentine.
Cunningham’s work is brilliant in that the film goes back and forth between people who discuss Larry and those close to Brandon. The film begins with a description of the incident. As the film goes on, we further begin to understand more about both children’s lives. It also includes everything surrounding the trial of Brandon, during and after.
The difficult part about this film, which at the same time I believe is a successful part of it, is that it contains every emotion and opinion behind the situation. We hear from his teachers, many wanted him to be more precarious, or even hide, his true identity. We hear from friends that it wasn’t until he had been put into a shelter for neglected children, that he became happier and therefore opened up about his sexuality. Even though Brandon was a teenager at the time, because of the severity of the crime, he was being tried as an adult. I understand people fighting for him to not get life, he was just a kid. But at one point of the trial, A “Save Brandon” campaign also began. One of his lawyers even gets a tattoo in his name. Jurors at one point began wearing blue bracelets in Brandon’s support. This aspect made me incredibly uncomfortable. This becomes difficult to digest as the the different shots go back and forth between opinions. People around Brandon and Larry continue to give arguments against Larry’s behaviour as an excuse. “He shouldn’t have expressed himself too openly.” A juror says of Brandon, “He was solving a problem”. Another former teacher says she relates to Brandon, maybe not with a gun, but a good “kick” could’ve done it. The one teacher that supported Larry, who had shared with him her daughter’s prom dress, was fired and ended up as an employee of Starbucks.
The problem with the entire story is not what should’ve happened before the shooting or after. It’s that it happened. That is why the film becomes difficult to watch. An entire campaign for Brandon concerning teens tried as adults, develops. But there seems to be a lack of attention to educating on tolerance. I find it very scary that people use someone’s flamboyant character as an excuse and argument as to why they were probably shot dead. To hear from one of Larry’s classmates about her own fears of having the same happen to her, only heightens the fact that the core of the problem has not been dealt with. Brandon had also shown some signs of being interested in White Supremacy. He owned books and drew on the subject, a teacher arguing that it was only natural for a child to become involved in school subjects, the Holocaust. Larry was half Black. They also go on to argue that Larry’s openness of his attraction to Brandon, was a form of bullying and sexual harassment. They called his behavior ”deviant”.
This film is sad. But it is an important film to watch. Cunningham does not necessarily campaign for anyone specifically in the film but there is an inclination towards her sympathy to Larry. This aspect allows viewers to digest everything about the story and develop an own view. It demonstrates the world we still live in. That a child may be shot for demonstrating who is and society will argue that he had asked for it, is scary. As one interviewee explains, there is something wrong when, in a trial, a murder victim becomes the cause for his murder.
As it probably seems obvious, I am for Larry. I am militant about my concerns over intolerance. Specially when it involves children. Growing up is hard in itself. Trying to figure out who you are is never simple. School crushes, we all have them. Had it been a boy telling a girl on the school yard that he likes her, would have not been considered “taunting”. Larry, once he found himself in a safe space, allowed himself to become more vocal about who he was. Having been told a year before by another gay teen that he shouldn’t hide who is because it wouldn’t kill him, he began to embrace his orientation. For this, he did die.
FINAL VERDICT: Recommended for EVERYONE.
One of the hardest things to do is to admit that; when things go wrong in your life, the problem is not everybody else, it’s you. This, in fact, happens to me at times (maybe too frequently). Admitting to yourself that the reason things aren’t going as you planned because your head is in your ass is not an easy thing to do. Blaming the world, easy. When Lola is told by her fiance that he no longer wants to get married, her world is turned upside down. Sometimes when we get a curveball thrown at us, we begin to act out in ways we don’t even comprehend. We begin to associate the effects of those acts to everything else except ourselves. It is when we own up to our own bullshit that we can finally move on and be happy. “Lola Versus” (2012) is a story about a girl that unravels when her seemigly perfect life dismantles. It is about how we sometimes lose control over ourselves when one thing in our life goes unexpectedly.
“Lola Versus”, directed by Daryl Wein, contains one of the most unlikable characters in film. Perhaps because it is Greta Gerwig as Lola, some of her unlikability goes over my head. But, it is about a girl you want to slap and tell her to get over herself. Regardless, I understand the character. I can relate (unfortunately). I think a lot of girls can. It is hard to watch a film that contains ugly sides of us. But it doesn’t mean it should remain unexplored. The way in which this process of admittance is represented makes sense to me. I think the story allows us to see ourselves when things get rough; making us watch our own stubbornness and inner imaturity. Hopefully, after watching this film, we can tell ourselves: “You’ll get over this.”
FINAL VERDICT: Recommended Rom-Com fans, Greta Gerwig fans, and the dumped.
This is the ultimate modern-day coming of age film. It has elements of “Stand By Me” (1986), “Lord of Flies” (1990) and “The Sandlot” (1993). “Age of Summerhood” (2013) is an independent production from first time director Jacob Medjuck. While the consensus over its story content is below average, I personally think it is great. I was actually surprised at the already-public-”professional” criticism. True, it does contain a simple storyline, but the young actors’ acting is commendable and, dare I say, incredibly adorable. While it is composed of mainly children, this aspect of the film is somehow lost through the script. The production of the film in itself is beautiful. The cinematography is sensible; the characters are charming, the story fulfilling and the soundtrack is pretty great.
Set at camp, the film tells the story of a group of young kids and their experience there. While not a lot of action occurs, I think this film is about language. It is about the strong voice Medjuck and screenwriter David Willinksy give kids, allowing them to communicate. The film will not give us an insight into a child’s mind, but the writers voices are strong in them. It is as if as adults, they are speaking to their audience through a child’s body. By doing this they are allowing childhood to take some credit. While this may take away from some raw truths of rites of passage, I don’t believe this film is about representing an imaginative and fantastical world produced by a child. It is about allowing us to see ourselves in them; simply and sweetly.
FINAL VERDICT: Recommended for coming-of-age story fans, independant filmmakers, and boys with crushes.