At 34, struggling Seattle musician Sam (Mark Duplass, “Humpday”, “The League”) finds himself broke, jobless and losing touch with the person he wants to become. When his girlfriend kicks him out, he’s forced to crash with his Aunt Sharon (Academy Award winner Melissa Leo, “The Fighter”) and is reluctantly enlisted to take her teen son, Oliver, and his friend Jake camping. Edgy, funny and honest, Craig Johnson’s film follows the trio into the rugged Pacific Northwest as unforeseen revelations and transformations force them to face adulthood. Set to a mesmerizing soundtrack featuring both emerging and established artists including Band of Horses, The Black Keys and Devendra Banhart, “True Adolescents” remind us that sometimes people need to get lost to truly find themselves.
2009 – Certificate: Not Rated – American Film
7.0 out of 10
I didn’t want to get up yesterday morning. It was raining outside (again), grey and unpleasant. On my journey to work, I was busy mentally congratulating myself on my meteorological forecasting skills and subsequent ability to make the journey during a break in the rain, just as it started to pour down for the last few minutes. I got soaked. It’s Fair Trade Fortnight and where I work was attempting to serve free tea, coffee and breakfasts to people outside; the rain pouring off the canopy in front of the building and onto the pavement was ‘intense’. Strangely, I left work at about six feeling quite upbeat. On my walk home I was wondering why, after such an unpromising start to the day, it had turned into quite a good one. I didn’t really come up with anything, other than there were a number of nice, small things and a lack of bad things, which probably did the trick. A CD/DVD I’d ordered on Sunday was delivered. This was unexpectedly early. I was due to have to go and do something all day, (basically sit and observe someone delivering a training course), but the date for this has now been changed, so I had an extra day in the office and got a lot of things done that I wasn’t expecting to get done. I had a nice lunch with a colleague in the cafe, something I don’t often do. Someone in the office got a grant of £2,500 to do some work; we were only expecting to get a few hundred, so this was a welcome surprise. For the first time that I can remember, all eight volunteers and staff were in at the same time today; the place felt quite alive and buzzy. Someone bought a big, homemade cake in. I completed a grant claim that’s been hanging about for ages and I’ve had loads of hassle over. I got a few other bits of outstanding work done that had been playing on my thoughts for a while. I didn’t go into Tesco on the way home and buy crap for my dinner; I came home and cooked proper food instead. So there you go, my recipe for an okay day.
A thirty-something guy takes his nephew and his nephew’s friend camping for a weekend. They all grow up a bit. The end. This is a decent enough film that’s worth watching mainly for Mark Duplass’ man-boy character, who’s funny but in a believable way. The main thing that bugged me was the fact that many of the various things that happen to them, especially the two most significant ones, don’t seem to get dealt will in any depth; they felt more like plot contrivances to take us towards the end, rather than big events that ought to have been considered in more detail. Shame that. It’s a decent enough watch though.
This film makes much of its musical content and the main character is also a guitarist/singer in a not very good indie rock band. Unfortunately most of the music is pretty mundane. That’s a shame too.
Like a lot of things, the trailer is there or thereabouts. It does a good job of not spoiling the film, but at the same time doesn’t tell you a great deal about it either.
Recommended for not-famous guitarists, rubbish indie rock bands, teenage boys and kindly aunts.
No cats, chainsaws or decapitations.
Top badass moment? The two lads ask Sam if he’s going to wear his hiking boots. Sam glances down at what looks like a rather battered pair of Converse baseball shoes on his feet and says, “These are my hiking boots”, (with the emphasis on “are”). Yeh, that’s rock ‘n’ roll for you! I then spent the rest of the film all tensed up, waiting for him to turn his ankle over. Weirdly, this fate befalls one of the other characters. As someone who sprained his ankle hiking a couple of years ago, I could relate to this, which makes it badass. Converse boots really aren’t good for hiking.
Cactus World is great! But however great somewhere is it can be nice to get away for a change of scenery. So I’ve been on holiday. And doing my bit for the environment, I thought I’d not go too far; as far as Eastboune actually, to walk the South Downs Way. About 99 miles across the wussy south of England, along what passes for high ground in these parts. In the balmy summer weather, across one of the most highly populated parts of the country, along a path that for most of its length is suitable for horses and mountain bikes too, with boots that would keep my feet dry even in the wettest conditions; what could possibly go wrong? I took a tent. In fact, following my experiences along Offa’s Dike two years ago (when I carried a rucksack weighing around 3 tonnes), I bought a brand new tent especially for this trip, in an attempt to reduce the amount of weight I needed to carry. This will be easy I thought to myself. It will prove I’m still a fit, youthful man, well able to tackle any personal or professional challenges, save the plant and probably get the girl too. It’s basically just going to be a long pub crawl. What could be easier?
Well for starters, the tent was a nightmare. How hard can it be to put up a small, sub £30 tent? So simple in fact that I didn’t actually bother to unpack it and try, until the first night I needed to use it; I’ve been putting up tents for years, tents have been around for a long time, the technology of tents is mature, I’m a fairly intelligent person, what could be simpler? Oops; bad decision. From the moment I stepped off the train in Eastbourne, the wind had started howling from the west, which just happened to be the direction I was walking in. Hurricanes and tornadoes are little more than paper fans in comparison. It was windy, even worse than Offa’s Dyke had been which is saying something. I hate the wind. What’s the point of it? At least rain has a use, but the wind? Having your hat blown off your head and being pushed backwards by the wind is funny the first time they happen, but on a non-stop basis they’re probably the least funny things in the history of the universe. Anyway, back to that tent. I finally found a place to camp on the first evening, near the path behind some brambles next to a fence.
In 1,000mph winds it’s hard to do much at all, but trying to put up a tent you’ve never used before, when you’re tired, for which there appears no physical way to actually erect it effectively even in perfect conditions, is not in my Top 40 of favourite things to do. Every time I put some part of it down, it blew away. In the end I tied the tent to the fence and laid in it corner to corner, in an effort to both hold it down and to fit into it, as it appeared to have really been designed more with ballooning for midgets in mind. Once inside, it was noisy too; imagine trying to sleep in a crisp bag with 100 people cooking popcorn, (the latter noise added to the mix by the rain.) Twice in the night I had to get up to re-peg parts of it down too. I was glad when the next day arrived.
The next day dawned with a howling wind still blowing. It wasn’t that cold, but the wind chill factor made it feel colder than Absolute Zero. The noise of the wind blowing past my ears also rendered the chances of my hearing the beautiful, subtle, quiet sounds of the English countryside, all but futile.
Now I probably ought to point out that there were some nice things about my trip. Many of the views were great:
The chalk cliffs along the coast are amazing:
The dew ponds up on the top of the Downs are intriguing and mysterious, (where do they get their water from?):
And the general weirdness of being in the south of England, yet feeling very isolated, are just some of them:
However, the highlight of Day 2 was crossing a small road in the middle of nowhere, to find a big mess of caravans and stuff in support of the London to Brighton Cycle Race. This included three ice cream vans. Near the end of the day, an ice-lolly, a can of Coke and a bottle of water can take on a significance of biblical proportions. The sugar rush from this lot was on the scale of a heroin hit too; as indeed was the price, a mere £4.20 for all three items. The temptation to just throw myself into the first aid tent and ask for salvation was difficult to resist too. Amazingly, this also signalled a sudden reduction in the wind. Despite all this, my attempt that evening to work out how to put up the tent properly, was again a miserable failure. I must have missed the part about “only suitable for people less than 3’ in height”; silly me.
Day 3 started with a bit of rain, no wind and no visibility. Great. Next time I’ll just sit somewhere cold and damp and stare at a grey wall:
Still, things were going okay really. I was averaging around 25 miles a day, probably as far as I’ve ever managed to walk in one go, even in the ‘old days’ of my youth where I thought nothing of doing the Pennine Way and Cleveland Way with equipment so old it was all made of stone. By midday, the fog had mostly gone, I’d found an amazing little caravan in the middle of nowhere selling nice things to eat, including vegan hot chocolate and the wind had (mostly) kept itself under control. The sun had even appeared from time to time. Cleary not used to this good fortune, I got as far as the early afternoon when I thought it would be an excellent idea to make things more challenging by suddenly falling over my own feet and spraining my left ankle; so that’s exactly what I did. This hurt, quite a lot actually. The one good thing was that no one saw me do it, so at least my dignity was reasonably intact. I also discovered that there is a God too. I know this to be a fact, as where I did it was about 100m from a main road and at the crossing point was a bus stop; statistically, I should have been miles from anywhere. Basically this was God’s way of saying, “go home Weeble and leave the tough guy stuff to those that can handle it.” So after doing totally the opposite to what the idiot on the telephone travel advice line told me, I got a bus to the station, a train to another station and a taxi home. So ended my summer holiday.
Well I got about half way, 50 miles in two days. I’m still suffering with my ankle a month later, although it’s slowly getting better (thanks for asking). I have taken it to a couple of gigs and found that skanking and generally jumping about on it hurts quite a bit. I haven’t walked into work on it yet, next week probably. And I will return to the South Downs Way again, once I’ve recovered.
Right now I’m listening to “Wrong Way” by the Undertones.