Fame. Like I said after I watched Mystic Pizza, the bildungsroman reached a huge peak in the ‘80s. I was totally sold on a few really awesome musical numbers in there, none of them feeling too super-campy-fabulous, but the real payoff is actually the stories in between. The few main chapters (auditions, freshman year, sophomore year, etc.) each present a few vignettes revolving around a collection of teen hopefuls. Success, stress, trauma, persistence. Great movie. I have no interest in the remake. Another wonderful, episodic film about New York teens (from a different demographic) wrestling with their fears and expectations is Metropolitan.
Mystic Pizza. The ‘80s were a golden era for coming-of-age movies like this one. Really great job at undercutting the drama with humor and twisting some of the scenes and characters in really smart, unexpected ways. Also features a wee young Matt Damon in a small role!
The Last Days of Disco. I loved Whit Stillman’s Metropolitan. (At this point I might as well complete the semi-trilogy with Barcelona). This one isn’t quite as fun or funny as Metropolitan, but it still has that same well-paced, compulsively watchable slice-of-life-ness to it. Some of the old characters reappear, slightly older, but still as earnest and floundering and full of shit. Sevigny’s character Alice is the most grounded of the lot. Worthwhile. And it’s got an UNDENIABLE SOUNDTRACK. Criterion essay. Ebert says:
The underlying tone of the film is sweet, fond and a little sad: These characters believe the disco period was the most wonderful period of their lives, and we realize that it wasn’t disco that was so special, but youth.
The Virgin Suicides. I liked this one. Quite a debut. Themes include boys obsessing over girls on their way to womanhood, the fascination with death, the penumbra of loss that affects a community, etc. I like the tie-in with the dying elms, leaving mute, immovable stumps in the yards. And while I often cringe at moments when films use popular song, I thought the inclusions of Heart’s Magic Man and Crazy On You were inspired. If there’s any complaint, some parts were too overt. You don’t need a narrator intoning, “And so we started to learn about their lives, coming to hold collective memories of times we hadn’t experienced” when that’s clearly suggested on the screen. Small quibble though. Worth watching. I wonder how the book compares.
Metropolitan. I loved it. What we have is a modern-day drawing room film/comedy of manners, with upper-crusty Manhattanite teens inviting a misfit into their fold. They go back and forth from debutante balls to house parties, gossiping and verbally jousting all the while. It’s very dialogue-heavy (they almost all speak in long, precise sentences, processing their emotions and ideals and the failings of society) and very funny. I think you could compare it favorably to Annie Hall or Manhattan, but with a younger cast. Ebert says. Criterion essay.