Looking for a few good rentals for the upcoming weekend? (Is it bad that I'm thinking weekend already?) Something to stimulate your writerly brain a bit, instead of the usual car chases and pedestrian romances?
Come to the land of indie film! This week I'm highlighting a few recent faves that feature teen boy protagonists and offer three very different takes on male adolescence.
Flixter description: A wealthy teen goes to a new public high school and ingratiates himself into its social fabric by using his charm to become the school's resident "psychiatrist."
My take: Fun and charming film about a nice kid who's had entirely too little parenting. Charlie's misguided attempts to become popular perpetually run afoul of adult rules, but his underlying vulnerability and caring attitude keep you rooting for him. I especially like the way the romantic relationship develops, founded first on a supportive friendship. It's rare to see that in teen films. The parent-child relationships are also done well, and not the usual cliches. I've heard others compare this film to Ferris Beuller's Day Off--I think CB is deeper and more concerned with teens having healthy connections with the adult world rather than simply kids gone wild, thumbing their noses at authority.
Description from the film site: Pope Dreams is about a directionless, 19-year old boy, Andy Venable, who works for his hard-case dad in a warehouse during the day and plays drums in a loud heavy-metal band at night. His only clear goal at the moment is to get his sick mother, a devout Catholic, to meet the Pope before she dies. While he's busy with that, he falls for a girl who's totally out of his league and gets discovered by two Broadway producers for a musical talent that just might be his true calling. Andy's a dreamer. But dreaming is easy. It's reality that's hard.
My take: I love independent film for bringing sweet stories like this one to the screen. Despite the rather silly title, this redemptive story of a teen boy totally adrift as his mother is dying of cancer hits many of the right notes and mostly avoids being maudlin. The romantic subplot will make your heart ache at times, but it serves thematic purpose. Andy learns, like the biblical Joseph whose brothers sold him into slavery, "you intended it for harm, but God intended it for good."
Brick Flixter description: "Brick," while taking its cues and its verbal style from the novels of Dashiell Hammett, also honors the rich cinematic tradition of the hard-boiled noir mystery, here wittily and bracingly immersed in fresh territory -- a modern-day Southern California neighborhood and high school. There, student Brendan Frye's piercing intelligence spares no one. Brendan is not afraid to back up his words with actions, and knows all the angles; yet he prefers to stay an outsider, and does -- until the day that his ex-girlfriend, Emily reaches out to him unexpectedly and then vanishes. Brendan's feelings for her still run deep; so much so, that he becomes consumed with finding his troubled inamorata. To find her, Brendan enlists the aid of his only true peer, The Brain, while keeping the assistant vice principal only occasionally informed of what quickly becomes a dangerous investigation.
My take: A stylish adaptation of the film noir detective genre, set among affluent, suburban teens embroiled in drug culture who speak in incomprehensible slang. Joseph Gordon-Levitt has grown up nicely since his Third Rock days and plays the smart, tough-yet-vulnerable leading man with aplomb. The Tiger Beat crowd won't see his appeal, but the smart, arty girls will.
As with most SciFi, you're thrown into a new world and must put the pieces together. The story's pace and tension keep you intrigued, even when the characters don't quite seem to be speaking English.
Do any of these sound appealing? Why or why not? What films do you recommend that feature teen guys?