Young Adult

March 8, 2012

The first thing to get out of the way when dealing with Young Adult is that Jason Reitman is not a good director.  His previous films have been, at best, blandly functional enough for the characters to carry it along without interruption, but at worst he displays little-to-no understanding of how to film two people talking as well as a penchant for jarring stylistic leaps that detract from the story.  There are some of those stylistic leaps that just don’t work in Young Adult, including some awkward handheld shots that don’t fit anywhere into the his already boring visual schema.  Needless to say, he is not up to the task of making Young Adult work the way it should.  As a dark character comedy, there’s a way to handle this kind of awkward humour that he clearly doesn’t understand, and on the other side of the card, there might have been subtle ways to tease out the depth of a number of characters, but we’ll never know because he doesn’t seem to understand that either.  Read the rest of this entry »


November 3, 2011

Azazel Jacobs’ Terri has all of the elements you’d expect from a reasonably low-budget American high school outsider indie.  Many of these films are content to trade out the mainstream tropes for slightly more alternative ones, using non-commercial elements and treating them with an honest sensitivity to give us a slightly more “realistic”, but hopeful, ending.  In fact, recounting the basic elements of Terri, one can have a pretty good sense of where it’s going to go.  The main character is an overweight high school student that lives with his clueless and goofy uncle.  There’s an awkward but well-meaning assistant principal, a strange and annoying skinny friend, and a pretty blonde with problems.  Even incident wise, there’s nothing particularly radical about it.  Difficulties with bullies, an unexpected connection with a crush, and a night of alcohol and drug induced self-discovery are all present.  As ever, it’s in the execution that this type of film will succeed or fail, and Terri succeeds to such a surprising degree that it might just be one of the best films of the year.  Read the rest of this entry »

I have always been partial to the romance of the Long Night. It must be something about the quiet of a sleeping city, or perhaps the onset of tiredness that allows defenses to crack combining with the dreamlike state of excitement that comes with being out and about when you’re normally not. Rules don’t seem to apply when you’re young and out late, and fittingly the night is always best when there is no immediate goal or straight line to travel. Meandering towards a vague destination only emphasizes the journey, and the discoveries to be made along the way. Also, I was pretty sure in high school that if I had one of these nights with a girl, she would probably really like me as she got to know me through the course of said journey. It is an adolescent fantasy of the indie-twee set: intelligence, wit, and sensitivity have a better chance of shining through at night, because when daylight hits they all go back to the popular ones. It is no wonder that, as a teenager and even today, I deeply cherish that particular indie sub-genre of the Long Night, a form that was ruled through the 90’s by Richard Linklater’s triple-hit of Dazed and Confused, Before Sunrise, and subUrbia. I’m not entirely sure if my being precious towards this type of film helped or hurt my viewing of Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist, but if it was the former, this must be absolute torture for someone who doesn’t care in the slightest for these films.

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