Year 7, Day 307 - 11/3/15 - Movie #2,192
BEFORE: Today is my (our) 14th wedding anniversary, and we're allowing ourselves a special meal. We dine out often, but for something really special, there's a Brooklyn steakhouse we like to go to, and we've worked out how to order something like the perfect meal. It may be on the pricey side, but once a year we try not to worry about the cost. We start with an order of bacon, not just regular bacon (though that's good, too), this is thick-cut slab bacon, perhaps it's more accurately called pork belly, and they glaze it with some kind of sweet magic so it's ten times better than any other bacon. I'm not kidding, this stuff tastes like happy and it makes us somewhat mad that all food can't be that good. Then my wife gets a wedge salad with blue cheese dressing (not my favorite, but she likes it) and I get a crabcake appetizer, with some shaved fennel and a tangy remoulade of some sort. Surprisingly, we're still hungry after this and she gets a petite filet mignon with a burgundy shallot sauce, and I get the lamb chops with a pistachio nut crust, and we split some garlic mashed potatoes, creamed corn with parmesan cheese, and some maple-glazed carrots that, much like the bacon, taste like the adult candy version of themselves. Seriously, any other time I can take or leave carrots, not really a fan, but with the maple glaze, damn, they really shine. Compared with other meals, this dinner sort of feels like it's in Technicolor, and those other versions of lamb, potatoes, bacon and corn feel like they're in black and white. Jeez, the carrots aren't even ON the menu, you have to know to ask for them - now that's a Brooklyn insider meal.
This film seems a little out of place in November, because it might be something I should have had in my back-to-school chain in September, or perhaps the romance chain in February. But the actor linking places it here, it's serving a purpose as Logan Lerman carries over from "Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters", and he'll be in tomorrow's film as well. Anyway, next February's chain is all full up, and there's no room for this one there, I think.
THE PLOT: An introvert freshman is taken under the wings of two seniors who welcome him to the real world.
AFTER: Yes, it's a film about school, but it's also a film about fitting in by being yourself, and a film about love and attraction, and also a film about recovering from trauma - so it's not JUST a school film. Plus there's some Christmas stuff in there, so I feel justified in placing it here, this whole week is sort of leading up to winter and Christmas films. Sure, I could have saved this film for next September, but who knows if I'd be able to properly link to it then?
It took me a little while to determine this film was set in Pittsburgh (seniors discuss how hard it is to get into Penn State, or whether they'll be heading to NYU) but I still can't suss out the year. Kids in high school make each other mixtapes and dance to 80's music, and I can't tell if they're doing that ironically, but they're also unfamiliar with the David Bowie song "Heroes", which suggests the period covered is more contemporary. Not that it really matters, because the whole thing has sort of a timeless quality - it could be set in the late 1980's, or the 1990's, or last year. Though if it were really modern, you'd think the kids would have software on their phones that could help them identify that song they heard that one time.
Ah, a quick check of Wikipedia tells me this is based on a novel that came out in 1999, but was set in 1991-1992, that makes some sense. But the kids also perform at a weekly showing of "The Rocky Horror Picture Show", and maybe that was still a thing that was happening in Pittsburgh in 1992. I know there was a theater in NYC that continued to show it at least until the late 80's - nope, turns out they STILL show "Rocky Horror" weekly in Pittsburgh. Sure, it's an OK movie, and I'll consider watching it once every two or three years, but I just can't imagine people dressing up and going to see it once a week for any length of time. Doesn't that get boring at some point?
But of course, there are tie-ins with the sexual preference of several characters here, as the film also explores the pressure on gay teens to act or not act in certain ways, and the extra difficulties they have in fitting in and expressing themselves. But the main focus is still on Charlie, who's recovering from some tragedy that's unmentioned at the start of the film, then casually mentioned when he's at a party. But then later we find there's another tragedy he suffered, and then later we find out there's another one, and after a while I just started to wonder if there was any end to his miseries, or if the film was just going to keep piling them on.
The good news is, he's got aspirations to become a writer, so if he can survive high school, and all of its difficulties and awkwardness and his first relationship, he'll have something to write about. The bad news is, I'm sick to death of characters who are writers or aspiring writers, who can't wait to get in front of a manual typewriter (Really? In 1999?) and hammer out stories about their crazy friends, which will turn into THIS movie that you're watching now. Ho hum, try something new, please.
But I'm trying to be generous tonight, because some of the issues raised about mental illness and depression among people recovering from tragedy seem like they could be important and helpful to many.
Also starring Emma Watson (last seen in "This Is the End"), Ezra Miller, Dylan McDermott (last seen in "The Campaign"), Kate Walsh (last seen in "Bewitched"), Paul Rudd (last seen in "This Is 40"), Mae Whitman (last seen in "A Million Ways to Die in the West"), Nina Dobrev (last seen in "Let's Be Cops"), Johnny Simmons (last seen in "The To Do List"), Melanie Lynskey (last seen in "Seeking a Friend for the End of the World"), Joan Cusack (last seen in "Arlington Road"), Reece Thompson (last seen in "Dreamcatcher"), Zane Holtz, Nicholas Braun, Tom Savini.
RATING: 5 out of 10 Secret Santa gifts