tideshift

Monday, September 18, 2006

Generation X Movie List

This is a list I put together for the class I'm teaching - which looks like it will mostly be men and women age 70 and over. Suggestions for additional films welcome. Most of the reviews and plot summaries came from www.imdb.com. (They're in no particular order, and I didn't do a very careful job of editing the summaries.)

Slacker. (R) Directed by Richard Linklater. Presents a day in the life in Austin, Texas among its social outcasts and misfits, predominantly the twenty-something set, using a series of linear vignettes. These characters, who in some manner just don't fit into the establishment norms, move seamlessly from one scene to the next, randomly coming and going into one another's lives. Highlights include a UFO buff who adamantly insists that the U.S. has been on the moon since the 1950s, a woman who produces a glass slide purportedly of Madonna's pap smear, and an old anarchist who sympathetically shares his philosophy of life with a robber.

Clerks (R). Directed by Kevin Smith. Dante Hicks is a clerk at a local convenience store in New Jersey. On one particular Saturday morning, he gets called in on his day off. Once there, he must deal with multiple problems. The shutters outside won't open. His ex-girlfriend, whom he is still in love with, is getting married. His girlfriend, who bugs him about starting college, has revealed certain, uh...stuff about her past. His boss hasn't come in to take his place. He has a hockey game at 2 o'clock. Another ex has died, and today's the last day he can go to her wake. He must deal with customers that aren't so intelligent. His friend, Randal, a clerk at the video store next door, is even less dedicated to his job than Dante, and is always bothering Dante's customers. And the biggest problem of them all: HE'S NOT EVEN SUPPOSED TO BE THERE TODAY!! Can Dante manage it all?

Garden State (R) Directed by Zach Braff. Andrew Largeman shuffled through life in a lithium-induced coma until his mother's death inspired a vacation from the pills to see what might happen. A moderately successful TV actor living in Los Angeles, "Large" hasn't been home to the Garden State in nine years. But even with 3,000 miles between them, he's been unable to escape his domineering father Gideon and the silencing effect he's had on his son from afar. Stunned to find himself in his hometown after such a long absence, Large finds old acquaintances around every corner living quite unique lives as gravediggers, fast food knights and the panderers of pyramid schemes. Meanwhile, at home, he does his best to avoid a long-simmering but inevitable confrontation with his father. By a twist of fate, Large meets Sam, a girl who is everything he isn't. A blast of color, hope and quirks, Sam becomes a sidekick who refuses to ride in his sidecar. Her warmth and fearlessness give Large the courage to open his heart to the joy and pain of the infinite abyss that is life.

Benny and Joon. (PG) Directed by Jeremiah Chechik. In a small town, an auto mechanic named Benny is devoted to taking care of his mentally ill sister, Joon, who can barely function alone in the real world despite being a talented artist. This relatively stable situation is shaken up when Benny is obliged in a poker game to welcome another player's relative, Sam, to his home for a few days. When Sam arrives, he quickly makes an impression with his quietly eccentric ways which emulate the antics of the great silent movie comedian, Buster Keaton. Without Benny's full knowledge, Sam and Joon finds themselves drawn to each other to the fullest degree. However when Benny finds out, it creates a rift in the siblings as they struggle to accept their relationship is profoundly changing with the presence of this odd newcomer.

Rushmore (R) Directed by Wes Anderson. Max Fischer is a precocious 15-year-old whose reason for living is his attendance at Rushmore, a private school where he's not doing well in any of his classes, but where he's the king of extracurricular activities - from being in the beekeeping society to writing and producing plays, there's very little after school he doesn't do. His life begins to change, however, when he finds out he's on academic probation, and when he stumbles into love with Miss Cross, a pretty teacher of the elementary school at Rushmore. Added to the mix is his friendship with Herman Blume, wealthy industrialist and father to boys who attend the school, and who also finds himself attracted to Miss Cross. Max's fate becomes inextricably tied to this odd love triangle, and how he sets about resolving it is the story in the film.

Royal Tenenbaums (R) Directed by Wes Anderson. Three grown prodigies, all with a unique genius of some kind, and their mother are staying at the family household. Their father, Royal had left them long ago, and comes back to make things right with his family

Reality Bites (PG-13) Directed by Ben Stiller. In this study of Generation X manners, Lelaina, the valedictorian of her college class, camcords her friends in a mock documentary of posteducation life. Troy is her best friend, a perpetually unemployed musical slacker. Vickie is a manager at the Gap who worries about the results of an AIDS test, while Sammy has problems grappling with his sexuality. When Lelaina meets Michael, an earnest video executive who takes her homemade video to his MTV-like station, she must decide what she values--the materialism of yuppie Michael or the philosophical musings of Troy.

Before Sunrise (R) Directed by Richard Linklater. Before Sunrise is a passionate and intelligent romance between a young American (Jesse) and a French student (Celine). A chance encounter on the train incites intrigue, and Jesse provocatively suggests that Celine postpones her return to France and embarks instead on a spontaneous expedition to Vienna. In the course of their 14-hour relationship, the two share in their love for the unrehearsed and their appreciation for the unexpected as they explore in a powerful meeting of hearts and minds. Dawn breaks. Sad in silence, they make their way to the station. As they bid each other farewell, Jesse is seized by another impulse - another encounter ?

Before Sunset (R) Directed by Richard Linklater. Jesse, a writer from the US, and Celine, a Frenchwoman working for an environment protection organization, acquainted nine years ago on the train from Budapest to Vienna, meet again when Jesse arrives in Paris for a reading of his new book. As they have only a few hours until his plane leaves, they stroll through Paris, talking about their experiences, views and whether they still love each other, although Jesse is already married with a kid.

Napoleon Dynamite (PG) Directed by Jared Hess. Preston, Idaho's most curious resident, Napoleon Dynamite (Heder), lives with his grandma and his 32-year-old brother (who cruises chat rooms for ladies) and works to help his best friend, Pedro (Efren Ramirez), snatch the Student Body President title from mean teen Summer Wheatley (Haylie Duff).
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (R ) Directed by Michael Gondry. A man awakes disheveled; impulsively, he skips work, heading instead to the shore. On this chilly February day, a woman in orange, hair dyed blue, chats him up: she's Clementine, he's Joel, shy and sad; by day's end, he likes her. The next night she takes him to the frozen Charles River. After, as he drops her off, she asks to sleep at his place, and she runs up to get her toothbrush. Strange things occur: their meeting was not entirely chance, they have a history neither remembers. Our seeing how the lacunae came to be and their discovery of the memory loss take the rest of the film.

Being John Malkovich. (R) Directed by Spike Jonze. Craig, a puppeteer, takes a filing job in a low-ceilinged office in Manhattan. Although married to the slightly askew Lotte, he hits on a colleague, the sexually frank Maxine. She's bored but snaps awake when he finds a portal leading inside John Malkovich: for 15 minutes you see, hear, and feel whatever JM is doing, then you fall out by the New Jersey Turnpike. Maxine makes it commercial, selling trips for $200; also, she's more interested in Lotte than in Craig, but only when Lotte is inside JM. JM finds out what's going on and tries to stop it, but Craig sees the portal as his road to Maxine and to success as a puppeteer. Meanwhile, Lotte discovers others interested in the portal.

Roadside Prophets (R) Directed by Abbe Wool Bizarre and surreal road movie about a biker and his unlikely sidekick. On a quest to fulfill a friend's last wish, Joe takes to the desert road on his 1957 Harley-Davidson and meets a succession of odd characters, including Sam. Sam begins following Joe, on a quest of his own, which necessitates staying in Motel 9's wherever they go. Themes such as friendship, faith, and isolation are brought into sharp relief by strange situations, the lonely road, and the stark emptiness of the desert. There are also several humorous cameos.

Orange County (PG-13) Directed by Jake Kasdan. Shaun Brumder is a local surfer kid from Orange County who dreams of going to Stanford to become a writer and to get away from his disfunctional family household. Except Shaun runs into one complication after another starting when his application is rejected after his dim-witted guidance counselor sends the wrong application. So, Shaun goes to great lengths with a little help from his girlfriend Ashley and his drugged-out loser brother Lance to get into Stanford any way they see fit.

The Tao of Steve (R) Directed by Jenniphr Goodman. In his early 30s, the beer-bellied Dex has things figured out. He's widely read in philosophy, he's studied Steve McQueen the prototypical cool American hero, and he's distilled Buddhism and Taoism into three laws that make him a hit with women: don't express desire, do something heroic in front of her, then retreat. A part-time job with young children, beer, guys, Frisbee golf, pool, poker, his dog Astro, and sex: what could be missing? Then, at his ten-year college reunion, Dex meets Syd, and the "Tao of Steve" may not be enough to get him what he wants. Plus, Syd remembers something important that Dex has forgotten. Can a cool smart guy, 50 pounds overweight, find his bliss?

Chasing Amy (R) Directed by Kevin Smith. A pair of comic book painters named Holden McNeil (Ben Affleck) and Banky Edwards (Jason Lee), who live in New Jersey, are best friends for about 20 years. They spend their time working in their studio, and in the evenings they are going out. But their friendship is about to be disputed for the first time in their life, when a beautiful young lesbian woman named Alyssa Jones (Joey Lauren Adams) enter their life and Holden fall in love with her. Now Holden has to deal with Banky's jealous, and with his new girlfriend's very rich pass.

Empire Records (PG-13) Directed by Allan Moyle. Empire Records is going to be turned into a Music Town. It is up to the wacky employees to figure out a way to raise enough money to help their boss Joe keep the store from changing hands. They also deal with problems amongst themselves, love, and a has-been spoiled rock star named Rex Manning.

High Fidelity (R ) Directed by Stephen Frears. Based on the cult novel of the same name by Nick Hornby, High Fidelity follows the 'mid-life' crisis of Rob (Cusack), a thirty-something record-store owner who must face the undeniable facts - he's growing up. In a hilarious homage to the music scene, Rob and the wacky, offbeat clerks that inhabit his store expound on the intricacies of life and song all the while trying to succeed in their adult relationships. Are they listening to pop music because they are miserable? Or are they miserable because they listen to pop music? This romantic comedy provides a touching and whimsical glimpse into the male view of the affairs of the heart.

subUrbia, a screenplay by Eric Bogosian, 1995, made into a movie by Richard Linklater in 1997. (from Olivia Lopez's reviews) subUrbia combines a sense of living in the eighties and nineties as an adolescent (ranging from late teens through early twenties) as an existence of despair, absurdity, alienation, and haphazard events. Nine characters, in their early twenties, all make up the scene set in suburban New York where pizza, beer, and curbside philosophizing intertwine. The characters are all representative of various types within Generation X: the disillusioned success who leaves small town America, the aspiring artist(s), the depressive "recovered" drug addict, and the militant neo-Nazi inclined reactionary/cynic.

Singles (PG-13) Directed by Cameron Crowe. Romantic comedy about six of the city's young people, most of whom live in the same apartement building and whose lives revolve around Seattle's ever-expanding music scene. The inter-related stories about each character's progress through the singles scene are intriguing and often very funny, and the soundtrack is a grunge fanatic's dream, with the likes of Soundgarden, Pearl Jam and Mudhoney.

Office Space (R) Directed by Mike Judge. Peter Gibbons just can't seem to catch a break. His girlfriend is cheating on him, he has an obnoxious neighbor, and he's completely miserable with his job as a small cog in a company called Initech. Then he visits a hypnotherapist, who dies just after putting Peter into a state of complete bliss. Free of worrying about making a living, he no longer feels the need to keep his job, just as the company is going through a massive downsizing. However, his new attitude only makes him more valuable in the company's eyes, and his friends Michael and Samir are fired instead. Together, they scheme to plant a virus inside Initech's computer system that will pull money into their own account.

3 Comments:

  • I'd take out "Benny & Joon" and add "Singles" instead. Other than that, a nice list!

    By Blogger MamaQ, At 2:28 PM  

  • both before sunrise and sunset may be too much. the second one is pretty boring. suburbia is kind of boring too, (although it stars the great parker posey). office space is a classic - that would be my one addition.

    By Blogger Dr.Nick, At 5:32 PM  

  • Whatever you do, do not take out Suburbia - it is one of the quintessential Gen X movies. I'm creating my own list for use in papers, books, and just for general nostalgia purposes.

    By Blogger Cee Kaye, At 6:02 PM  

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