‘Writers Choice’ is a monthly segment. Each month a theme will be chosen and the contributors asked to choose a film to mini-review based around said theme. This month’s theme is ‘youth’.
TRIGGER WARNINGS: ABLEISM, MURDER
The Goonies is a 1985 action-adventure-comedy directed by Richard Donner, starring Sean Austin in his first movie role. The story follows a group of friends attempting to save their neighbourhood, The Goon Docks, from being demolished by the expansion of the local county club. As they search Mikey’s attic, they stumble across an old, Spanish map detailing instructions on how to reach the ship of legendary pirate One Eyed Willie. The Goonies are sent on a whirlwind adventure through the secret tunnels and caves beneath the Goon Docks, followed close behind by a gang of criminals known as the Fratellis.
The entire film is an embodiment of youth, in my opinion – the Goonies’ journey is one we all dreamed to embark on when we were little. It’s all about that sense of childhood wonder, superstitions and beliefs, the stories we all told each other when we were young – which are enhanced by the characterization of the Goonies themselves. It’s one of those films you can’t not love – it’s just so endearing. And there are added 80s elements dotted throughout the film which can only make it better – A Cyndi Lauper song written for the movie itself? Yes please. –Jordan
TRIGGER WARNINGS: GUNS, DRUGS USE, RACISM
“Just pretend it’s a video game” is one of Spring Breakers most quotable lines that flawlessly describe the coked-out adventures of four college girls, Faith (Selena Gomez), Candy (Vanessa Hudgens), Brit (Ashley Benson) and Cotty (Rachel Korine). Within the hyperbole of dubstep drops and fluorescent bikinis, we witness a virtual reality; a film that is a definition of the youth culture of today’s Westernised generation.
Bouncing tits drenched in keg beer, a Skrillex heavy soundtrack worked into Cliff Martinez’s eerie sounds, a cornrow-sporting James Franco as drug dealer Alien, and a Britney Spears power ballad performed under a neon-lit backdrop – how can the film not be something of a fantasy, completely distanced from any other depiction of the life of college students?
Scripted and directed by the genius of Harmony Korine, Spring Breakers is written like a game. Starting as novice players, the group of girls level up, gain experience points and cooler weapons, loose lives like a side-scroller and are tested in a final boss battle with Alien’s rival, Archie (Gucci Mane).
95% of the film sucks you into a Starburst coloured void, nothing feeling overtly real. Then you have moments of thought that stop you from tumbling further down the rabbit hole of the unknown like Candy and Brit laying on a bed with a laptop propped up, smoking weed and watching a show online. Or when the girls are high on the ecstasy of life – among other things – riding their mopeds on a street that shares a similar look to the strip in Ibiza, having the time of their lives.
You’ll be echoing Alien’s dreary spring break mantra for days after watching the film, before it makes its way into your conscious and becomes a line to live by. –Cherokee
‘There were some buildings, they were these really tall buildings, and they could walk. There were these vampires and one of the vampires bit the tallest building and his fangs broke off. Then all his other teeth fell out. Then he started crying. And then all the other vampires said, “Why are you crying? Aren’t they just you’re baby teeth?” And, uh, he said, “no, those were my grown up teeth.” And the other vampires knew that he couldn’t be a vampire anymore so they left him. The end.’
Max’s story, and Where the Wild Things Are are pretty much why I love the thought of youth so much, and have this romanticized, nostalgic vision of childhood in general in my mind (as well as of my own childhood, even if I spent most of it on my mums play station). The whole movie makes me want to go to the woods and climb trees, hang with the Wild Things, dawn a scruffy crown, call myself king and just embrace not having to worry about my job or responsibilities (…or schoolwork or cleaning or washing or paying bills or budgeting…). It’s the best thing about Spike Jonze’s take on Maurice Sendak’s 1963 picture book. As you see Max delve into his own imagination, you get to go with him on your own mini adventure, in a haze of muted tones accompanied by Karen O’s reverie-esque music. The Wild Things are so uniquely beautiful and …sad, it just created this tone that is so original and strange for what at first glance seems to be a children’s film. But despite it being based on a children’s book, the film is weirdly dark and kind of strikes me as more of an adults film, made for us to look back on childhood in a dream-like fashion and explore our own imaginations again (cause obviously once you’re a proper adult you’re all boring and conservative and dull). It’s so lovely in the way that it encapsulates youth into this little bubble of imagination and fantasylands and creatures. In the end that little bubble pops and says ‘it’s ok, we have to get back to reality, but wasn’t that fun while it lasted’ – sort of like when we have to start taking care of ourselves. –Melanie
When I was contemplating which film could fit the theme “youth,” light-hearted, coming-of-age films ran through my head. But then I realized, my own childhood and adolescence were not all “fun and games.” I had just as many low points as high points. Drop Dead Gorgeous (1999), directed by Michael Patrick Jann, is a black comedy filmed in the form of a mockumentary that hyperbolizes the hardships of youth, while maintaining a genuine representation. The main character, Amber Atkins (Kirsten Dunst), decides to sign up for a beauty pageant in her hometown, Mount Rose, Minnesota. Her dream is to become as successful as her role model, Diane Sawyer, and to make her cigarette-smoking, binge-drinking mother proud. We have all been in the position of wanting to be the best of the best. Whether it was auditioning for a play or trying out for a sport’s team, we wanted to be recognized by our peers. We also hoped to get out of our hometowns for the opportunity to explore the unknown. Amber’s nemesis, Rebecca Leeman (Denise Richards), only cares about being the prettiest and most popular. Even her own mother, Gladys Leeman (Kirstie Alley), commits questionable acts to help her daughter be on top. There are several deaths (obviously), a lot of projectile-vomit, clever pokes at stereotypes, and constant witty lines that will make you fall in love with this film. Dark humor aside, this film is a coming-of-age story that is gritty and honest. Reality isn’t always “picture perfect”, even if pageants try to teach us otherwise. However, perseverance, good friends, and a little bit of talent can cause even the biggest underdogs to achieve their dreams. –Cristina
TRIGGER WARNINGS: RAPE, DRUG USE, HIV
There’s nothing I like to see more than a sixteen year old boy hold up a tampon, ask “how do these things work anyway” and then proceed to dip it in squash and drink from it.
Kids follows a group of, you guessed it, kids living in New York over the course of a couple of days. It pretty much proves that all adolescents growing up in 90s New York were messed up (see the basketball diaries). They do a lot of smoking and swearing and talking about sex and other teen stuff, but they live in New York which makes everything seem cooler and worth talking about. All the boys skateboard and they break into swimming pools at night and get into fights, like how you’re supposed to. The way it’s filmed everyone’s all greasy and their hair is in a real bad condition, but they all look so pretty.
Chloë Sevigny makes her screen debut as Jennie who, after getting bad news from a sexual health clinic, endeavours to seek out the boy responsible, who is too busy trying to have sex with virgins.
Kids also reinforces the age-old idea that teen boys are terrible.
You know a film fits the theme of youth when you find yourself repeatedly asking “Where are your parents??” –Joanna
TRIGGER WARNINGs: CHILD ABUSE, GUNS, DEATH
Stand by Me. Where do I even start with this film. Where do I even start. In the summer of ’59, four 12 year old boys find out the location of a body of a kid who’s been missing for a while.
So they go off to see it. Along the way they grow up slightly, learn more about themselves and each other, become better friends, and learn what to stand up for.
I chose this for the Youth Theme because its a story of growth. These four twelve year olds start off as twelve year olds, but you can see there’s so much more in each of them than that.
This film provokes the thought of youth because it reminded me what it was like to be a 12 year old. It made me glad that I grew up and I’m no longer 12 years old. These kids didn’t know the real world when the film started but as soon as they saw that dead body, they weren’t kids anymore.
The acting is phenomenal, the cast is perfect, the directing on point, the character development beautiful, the plot line thick. Overall it’s a hard film to pick holes in.
Stand By Me isn’t a rounded off, leave you feeling happy film. It’s not a huge budget blockbuster, and the quality isn’t from the production but from the people who made it. I think we can all agree this is a film you have to watch more than once in your lifetime. –Anand
What genre of film squeals “youth” more than the (sadly) short lived beach party movies? The simply titled “Beach Party” Annette Funicello and Frankie Avalon with their wacky, watusi dancing, bikini clad gang and focuses on their summertime adventures on the beach. Some of these adventures include the gang stopping a bike law from terrorizing their beach, Frankie Avalon’s character flirting with a foreign beauty while Annette’s falls for an aging anthropologist who initially came to the beach to study American teenagers. This film is stupidly funny and extremely entertaining; I think people watching it when it first came out were laughing at the awkwardly shot dancing scenes and use of slang. As much as these movies glorified youth culture they also completely romanticised it. “Beach Party” is all about fun, laughs and youth and because of its huge success it not only pioneered a genre, but spurred off 6 sequels “Bikini Beach Party”, “Ski Party”, “Muscle Beach Party”, “Pajama Party”, “How to Stuff a Wild Bikini” and “The Ghost in the Invisible Bikini”. All of these movies are wackier than the last and still fun to watch. –Monica
When you’re young and stuck in school, all you can really think about are the countless possibilities for the future. Although bored of studying and always dreaming of a more sophisticated and exciting life, Jenny, a bright, 16 year old school girl in London is top of her class as well as a dedicated member of the youth symphony orchestra with big plans to go to Oxford college. Her simple and tedious life of waking up, going to school, going to symphony practice, studying, and sleeping completely changes one day when she meets a man named David. David is 35 years old. He’s older, intelligent and sophisticated, and when he pursues Jenny romantically, she can’t help but be charmed by the fascinating world that he introduces her to. He takes her to concerts, fancy restaurants, plays and eventually even convinces her parents in to taking Jenny to Paris for a weekend. David and Jenny’s relationship continues to get more serious and as they spend more time with each other, bits of David’s not-so-glamorous life and true identity is revealed. I think this film is such an important film, especially for the youth, because Jenny is so relatable. She’s mature for her age, but she’s still a teenager. She’s smart, but she’s naive and curious. Some of her decisions seem reckless at times, but when you put yourself in her shoes and think about it, you’d have probably done the same thing. Everybody makes mistakes, but you can learn from them too. It’s just part of growing up. –Rena
TRIGGER WARNINGS: RACISM, RACIST VIOLENCE, KNIFE THREAT, DEATH OF A PARENT, WAR
For youth, I had such a wide spectrum to choose from, but I have decided to stay with Shane Meadows’ 2006 semi autobiographable drama about shaved heads and racist gangs. Shaun is a lonesome boy, living in working class england and struggling to cope with the loss of his father, and is defensive about anything related to him or the war that he died in. Having had a bad day confronting a bully for this reason, he happens across the charismatic Woody and his friends who are all older and into the skinhead music and fashion movement of the early eighties. They cheer him up and adopt him into their brotherly gang (His initiation process never fails to make me laugh with ‘honestly mate yuh look sterlin”), spending free days smashing up abandoned houses, kicking around and generally enjoying wearing ace fashion and being young, Things change drastically when the intimidating and confident ex prisoner ‘combo’ turns up out of the blue, crashing one of their parties, seeming to have strong ties with Woody. Manipulating Shaun by playinf on his emotions regarding his father, shaun is thrown into a dark side to the movement, which includes strong opinions of white supremacy, extremely racist attitudes and petty thuggery. This is England is a nostalgic, humane and down to earth look at the skinhead movement of the eighties and it’s cult racism. Unstyalised dialouge and realistic and brilliant acting give us a hard hitting, but light hearted in a way, drama about our not too distant past. Overall, the film expresses very apolitical views and shows how innocent and likeable people can get recruited into extremely nasty ends of spectrums. As for youth, it certainly shows a dark side to a generation of kids wearing fred perry t-shirts, doc marten shoes and getting stoned on the weekend with your brotherly companions. British drama at its best and still very relevant today. –Katie
TRIGGER WARNINGS: SELF HARM, DRUG USE
Laden with sex, drugs, piercings and family drama Thirteen is 2003’s answer to Spring Breakers. Catherine Hardwicke’s low budget debut wowed audiences at Sundance and gained an Oscar nom for its portrayal of ‘good girl gone bad’. Exploring a darker side to youth and ‘getting in with the wrong crowd’ this was also Nikki Reed’s first big screen outing, the story being largely based on her life as an adolescent.
Tracey (Evan Rachel Wood) starts out as your average run of the mill teen, until she befriends Evie (Nikki Reed), the most popular girl in school who sends her in a downwards spiral of drugs, theft and all around drama, jeopardizing her relationships with her family and previous friends. As things begin to get worse and worse Tracey begins to ostracize herself from everyone around her and must examine her behaviour before she’s too far gone.
Now, personally I love cliché high school movies about acceptance and discovery but this is where Thirteen differs. Although the drugs and theft may not be completely relatable to all, the gritty realism is. I’m sure many of you have experienced that high school and growing up is not a fun ride, and there are many bumps along the way, I couldn’t come across one person who says that they haven’t experienced or possess some of the negative attributes any of these leading characters have. This is why I chose Thirteen for the topic of ‘youth’ as opposed to the glitz and glam of other teen movies, the self-awareness displayed is something most of us could only dream of possessing. –Chloe