Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Youth in Revolt

Nick Twisp is sick of his life. His parents are both self centered jerks. He can’t seem to get out of the ‘friend zone’ with women. And his only friend is even more pathetic than he is. His mom’s new boyfriend (played unconvincingly by Zach Galifianakis, sorry Zach you’re just not the tough trucker type) is in a little hot water and wants the family to go in hiding with him in a nearby lake cabin of a friend of his. Nick goes because, as he puts it, what else is he going to do? He hopes it will offer him new opportunities for love or friendship and the very first night he’s there he falls for a beautiful, smooth talking, naughty preacher’s daughter. Problem is, she’s way too cool for him and way out of his league.
Nick has to do something about this, so he develops a tre chic alter ego named Francois who, he hopes, can guide him down the path of coolness. How can he go from being Dave Brubek to being Miles Davis? The rest of the movie is Nick indulging all of Francois’ whims in an attempt to win this girl’s heart.
The movie is fairly entertaining and Michael Cera is pitch perfect as Twisp and Francois. I also loved M Emmet Walsh and Fred Willard in their side roles. There were some funny and engaging moments. Overall, however, I couldn’t really get into it. This movie comes from a long line of recent ‘teen’ movies where the teens seem more witty, worldly and intelligent than most adults could hope to be. They read Dostoyevsky, watch Truffaut and listen only to new wave French music. Bullshit. There’s maybe one sixteen year old out of 60 million like this and yet most recent teen movies (thanks a lot Juno) make it seem like all of them are this way. Brainy, witty kids in high school hate high school because it seems like everyone else is a raving idiot, not because they prefer Jean-Pierre Melville over Robert Bresson. Please. It drives me too crazy to like a movie like this all that much. But, overall, it was watchable and had it’s moments. Don’t rush out to see it, but don’t balk at the idea if someone brings it over.
Saturday Afternoon

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

The Weather Underground

When politics are involved, things are never as simple as they seem. This is true from both sides of the portrayal of a thing. Opponents describe the something in simple, objectionable terms. The group called The Weather Underground was described as terrorists, extremists, anti-American. Proponents use equally simple terms, but one’s they hope to use as inspiration. They portrayed themselves as freedom fighters, righteous crusaders. In truth, neither side captures the picture fully. The 1970’s was a time of volatility in the west, as the world attempted to finally come to grips with it’s switch from a class focused system to one of merchants and industry.
Groups like The Weather Underground came along and created a defined approach to this switch and used methods that drew ire and admiration. But, in the end, these people were humans and humans are not one-dimensional sound bites. The Weather Underground (the documentary) tells the story of what really happened by both the people who fought this group, especially members of the FBI, and the members of the group themselves. It’s amazing to hear their tales and to see where they’ve ended up after years of seclusion and hiding, landing in anywhere from prison to running a bar to being a tenured law professor.
The Weather Underground tells a gripping tale in a gripping way. You see what happened through the eyes of those who were not only there, but intimately involved. Many groups had an impact on the 1970’s but very very few made a bigger splash than The Underground. To hear this story without all the fluff is worth the price of admission. Good stuff.
Worth Watching