Posts tagged “Coming of Age

Edge of Seventeen / When Guitars Were Illegal


Edge of Seventeen  -  Front DVD Cover  -  UK Release

One of the classics in contemporary American gay cinema, “Edge of Seventeen” recalls one high school student’s eventful and raucous coming-out during the steamy summer of 1984.  Eric (Chris Stafford) is a 17-year-old senior from Ohio who takes a summer job at a local amusement park.  Working alongside his best gal pal Maggie (Tina Holmes), the two idle away the days until Eric meets Rod (Andersen Gabrych), a sexy and openly gay college student.  Soon sparks fly and Eric must confront feelings he had long suppressed.  A funny, entertaining and insightful coming-of-age tale, Edge of Seventeen is enhanced by a great ’80s soundtrack (including Bronski Beat and Eurythmics), terrific period design and a high-energy, upbeat tempo, making this an exciting and original take on growing up and finding love.

1998  –  Certificate: 15  –  Rating Details: Some strong language, sex and drug use  –  American Film  –  7.5 out of 10

In the early/mid 80s, punk and new wave disintegrated into a mostly horrible hardcore noise of badly played, pretend heavy metal.  At the same time, 2 tone came, saw, conquered and quickly left.  Meanwhile, the charts filled up with synth-based pop and whining, pretty-boys and girls singing about mostly nothing.  (Unlike today, where it’s full of groups of boring guys with beards and guitars singing about absolutely nothing, boy-bands who get off on arousing ten-year-old girls, and wailing woman who are so heavy auto-tuned they may as well be aliens.)  And maybe my memory is playing tricks on me, but actually I’m pretty sure that for part of the early-mid 80s electric guitars where made illegal, (unless you were the Housemartins).  However, all these new bands were British.  I can’t really remember what was going on in America at the time, chart music-wise, but as a source of New Romantic and synthpop it really doesn’t feature in my memory.  I will admit to a certain, limited fondness for some of the music, but most of it wasn’t that good; but even Spandau Ballet had one decent song, (although the video should be certified X for fashion and pretentiousness.)

This film is set during that period and it has to be said it gets its look and vibe spot on.  It’s a shame it wasn’t released until 1998, as otherwise it might well be remembered fondly in the same way as many real 80s films from that period are now.  Maybe having a gay lead character in a teen drama would have been a bit too subversive for mainstream US cinema at that time.  After all, gay people (including lesbians) are obviously the 80s equivalent of Islamic State, hell bend on destroying the status quo of everything everyone else holds dear.  This film follows the same basic story as most coming-of-age films do, (but with added gay angst).  It’s well made, well-acted and at times it’s genuinely touching; (i.e. it’s got scenes that are hanky-friendly).  The ending is a bit jarring though and felt a bit out of line with the rest of the film.  Maybe I just wanted more of a traditional, happy conclusion; (I think I must be going soft or something).  For a movie about a young gay guy and the New Romantic scene in general, everyone really does come across as very typical and real.  It would have been so easy for it to features lots of caricatures.  Well worth watching.

This is a movie that majors on its soundtrack and with a long playlist of bona fide 80s hits, it contributes significantly to making the film what it is.  I was pleased to find out that despite my declining years and way too many gigs, my ears are still good enough to hear Jimmy Somerville’s singing.

The trailer’s a solid effort.

Movie Weather Forecast.  Warm, dry and sunny throughout.

Recommended for fast-food restaurant workers, New Romantics and any teenagers thinking of coming out.

No cats, chainsaws or decapitations.

Top badass moment?  There isn’t one.  Normally this is a sign of a potentially crappy movie, one filled with horrible characters, or one I was too drunk or tired when I watched it to remember properly now, but in this case it’s really a reflection of a lot of normal people doing their best.  That in itself is badass.

Edge of Seventeen at IMDB (6.8 / 10)
Edge of Seventeen at Wikipedia
Edge of Seventeen at Roger Ebert (2 / 4)
Edge of Seventeen trailer at YouTube


Puberty Blues / A New Type of Hero


Puberty Blues  -  Front DVD Cover  -  Australian ReleasePanel vans, drive-ins, friendship rings & surfie beads.  The ultimate coming-of-age film “Puberty Blues” is back.  Based on the novel by the same name, written by the infamous Salami Sisters, namely Gabrielle Carey and Kathy Lette, “Puberty Blues” traces the adventures of Debbie (Nell Schofield) and her life-long companion Sue (Jad Capelja).  Two teenagers are desperately trying to break into the “in” group who dominate Greenhill Beach.  Once they are accepted into the group, they realise that the laid-back, ultra-cool façade is just that: a glossy cover-up.  As they fall into all of the group’s vices, including drug-usage and casual sex, they willingly present themselves to the males of the group as virtual slaves, ready to serve their pre-chosen lover’s every need.  Soon though, the girls grow tired of playing the victim role, and they work to regain respect and equality.  From the Academy Award Winning Australian Director Bruce Beresford (“Driving Miss Daisy”, “The Club”, “Barry McKenzie” & “Black Robe”), “Puberty Blues” is the ultimate Australian beach classic.

1981  –  Certificate: M  –  Australian Film
7.0 out of 10

As you should already know, I’ve recently become a fully fledged Pavement Warrior, in recognition of my bravery in standing up to greedy, urban footpath-hogging bastards.  Just because this is an entirely self-administered qualification, shouldn’t reduce its significance.  Indeed, as I’m the only Pavement Warrior in existence, it does in fact make the award all the more special.  As part of my walk to and from work, I have to pass the planet-sized Tesco store on the Oxford Road in Reading.  Behind the store is its car park, a car park so big that the other side of it is hidden by the curvature of the Earth.  I have little choice but to cross this expanse of tarmac on my journey, corner to corner.  Given its lack of surface features I need to navigate by compass; the tarmac interferes with GPS signals by destabilising the Earth’s magnetic field, as its metallic components combine with a thousand lost Smartphone signals to set up a sort of virtual Faraday Cage.  Many a time I’ve come across lost shoppers, wondering hopelessly amongst the endless rectangular parking bays, surviving on the remains of their shopping, desperate to locate their cars before they starve to death; (which is somewhat ironic given the nature of Tesco’s core business).  In winter I battle hurricane force winds and horizontal rain; whilst in summer baking hot temperatures and sunlight reflected from the ground, test me to my physical and mental limits.  Now, you know those films where heroes walk out to their aircraft, before flying off to almost certain death?  I’m thinking of “Battle of Britain” or Tom Cruise in “Top Gun”.  (Except in the “Battle of Britain” they always ran to their aircraft and they were genuine heroes, whilst Tom Cruise swaggered to his jet like the overpaid Hollywood actor he is.)  Well today in the Tesco car park I saw something very similar.  Two guys were slowly walking out across the barren tarmac, their hair blowing in the summer wind, dressed in their Tesco high-vis jackets.  They were going to their home delivery vans.  I knew they were about to go ‘out there’ alone, face unknown horrors*, deliver their payloads and if lucky, God willing, return safely again.  (*Such as ignorant home-shoppers who don’t even help them carry the bags from the vans to their kitchen tables, because they paid a few pounds for the privilege of having someone else do their shopping for them and expect to treat the delivery guys like their personal slaves for five minutes.)  As they started their engines and drove slowly out of sight, I felt quite humbled and I’m not ashamed to admit it bought a lump to my throat.  Home delivery drivers are the new heroes!  This film has two heroes of its own.

Made in 1981, this movie is a nearly random slice of life in what I guessed passed for teenage normality in Australia around that time in the sort of place it features.  This appeared to consist of thoughtless guys on surfboards who just put up with girls so they could have sex, (or root them as they tended to put it); and stupid young women who went along with this.  It has all the normal stuff you’d expect, late periods, drug overdoses, drinking too much, ‘condom problems’, parental confusion, an ‘in-crowd’, drive-ins, ‘growing-up’, etc.  This is an unusual film, in that it’s pretty boring but weirdly compelling too.  For some reason Debbie reminded me of Wayne Rooney.  (Facially at least; I doubt Rooney’s body looks like hers in a bikini.)

I hated the theme tune.  Strangely it fitted the move well, but it was a dreadful dirge of the worst kind.  However, I did rather like the version of Split Enz’s “Nobody Takes Me Seriously” that plays over the ‘climatic scene’ near the end of the movie.

Recommended for surfers, Australians, fans of Australian school uniforms (like they used to wear in “Neighbours”) and Wayne Rooney haters.

1 cat, no chainsaws or decapitations. A lovely black cat makes an appearance in a bedroom scene.  (No, not ‘that’ sort of bedroom scene).  It provides a master-class in how to lay on a bed and look cute.

Top badass moment?  After 77 minutes of film-time living in the gender stone-age, Debbie and Sue finally realise that they can be something more.  Overcoming a lifetime of stereotyping has got to hard-core badass.

Puberty Blues at IMDB (5.7 / 10)

Puberty Blues at Wikipedia


Some Kind of Wonderful: 4.0 Stars


Some Kind of Wonderful  -  Front DVD CoverThis is a film about relationships, a subject I intrinsically know nothing about; (I blame it on my genes, it’s probably genetic or something).  As a result of this defect in my character, my entire understanding of this subject is based on films like this.  Like most other films of its type its plot is almost entirely unrealistic, which I guess must explain a great deal about my life.  The good guy always gets the nice girl in the end?  Don’t make me laugh.  When I can afford it I’ll be suing the makers of this film for messing up my life.  In my world, the 80s were full of crappy new romantic music and synth pop, (anarcho-punk and indie-pop were pushed to the sidelines) and everyone had bad hair and bad clothes.  Even I had bad hair; I can remember bleaching it and not getting it cut for over three years too; what a terrifying thought.  Scarily, this film makes the 80s seem quite cool, the fashion bearable and the music quite listenable.  See, I said it wasn’t very realistic.

1987  –  Certificate: 12  –  USA

Rating Details:  Language: Once strong, some moderate.  Sex/Nudity: Some mild references.  Violence:  Infrequent, mild.

This is a proper 80s teen classic.  It’s a classic film of its type and its era.  I hate myself for it but I really do like it.  A great bit of escapism.  From the great ‘drum intro’ at the start to the tear-inducing finale, its stupid plot and often annoying characters manage to be entertaining and often pretty funny.  I was never all that taken with Amanda Jones; she sometimes looked like a man in drag to me.  I couldn’t (and still can’t) really see what all the fuss was about.  Watts was about 100 times more interesting and better looking too.  And what a shame we didn’t get to know Duncan the skinhead more.  He was clearly the hero of the movie and someone we should have leant a lot more about.  And did anyone out there really not want Watts to ‘get her man’ in the end?  God, you’re a heartless bastard aren’t you!

Recommended for fans of classic genera movies and all things 80s; (just don’t admit the latter in public and keep taking the tablets, okay)?

One cat and no decapitations.  A quick run off scene (with dialogue) is all we get, cat-wise.  Shame.

Top badass moment?  Duncan and his gang gate-crashing Hardy’s party.  (What any annoying little prick he was.)  A rare, positive example of skinhead activism within in multi-cultural environment in a Hollywood movie.  That’s badass.

Some Kind of  Wonderful at IMDB


Teeth: 4.0 Stars


Teeth  -  DVD Front CoverDidcot in Oxfordshire is famous for one thing, its power station.  Its physical presence transforms the entire Vale of Oxford, whilst its six towers are visible from nearly the entire length of the Ridgeway; and probably from just about every other point in the universe too.  This film starts with (and features from time to time) a view of two cooling towers that look exactly like the ones in Didcot. There’s no totally explicit connection made between them and the film’s main character, Dawn, but as a guy who’s (as everyone knows) a bit of a sexual Adonis on the side, I’m going to be giving the ladies from there plenty of space in future.

2007  –  Certificate: 18  –  USA

Rating Details:  Very strong sexualised gore

Despite its leg-crossing plot, this is a pretty good comedy horror.  It’s really a coming-of-age comedy, with some ‘weird stuff’ added into the mix.  The story is a bit, em, different and for a film of this kind contains quite a few interesting ‘social commentaries’; if you took all the latter out of the film and analysed them, you’d probably come to the conclusion that we’re living in a pretty fucked-up world.  (Oh yes, I forgot, we are.)  The acting’s decent, it looks good and the funny bits are, by and large, funny.  It’s just crying out for a sequel though.  I thought Jess Weixler did a good job of playing Dawn, the character with the ‘special powers’.  Kudos to the make-up people as well, as they managed to make her look gorgeous in some scenes and a bit of a mess in others.

Recommended for dentists who’re considering expanding their work into gynaecology.  (That’s probably not a large number.)

No cats and no decapitations.  (It does however, feature examples of something altogether far, far worse than simply having your head cut off.)

Top Badass moment?  I guess it has to be Dawn dealing with her “unique selling point”.  She goes from prissy good girl to proto bad-bitch-from-hell in 90 minutes.  A new type of superhero for the 21st Century!

Teeth at IMDB