The Bling Ring: These Kids Today

by Ethan Alter June 14, 2013 6:00 am
<i>The Bling Ring</i>: These Kids Today

Sofia Coppola's The Bling Ring is the second movie this year to cast a jaundiced eye in the direction of contemporary teenage culture. In March, Harmony Korine transformed Spring Break into a tenth circle of Hell in Spring Breakers and now Coppola presents the streets and nightclubs of Los Angeles as being overrun with roving packs of consumption-addicted high-schoolers, with too much money and not enough sense of responsibility. In a way, The Bling Ring is the closest thing the director has ever made to a horror movie, as these characters are as predatory and blind to the suffering of others as any cinematic serial killer.

The Perks of Being a Wallflower: Be My Teenage Dream

by Ethan Alter September 21, 2012 6:00 am
<i>The Perks of Being a Wallflower</i>: Be My Teenage Dream

Much like adolescence itself, the new coming-of-age drama The Perks of Being a Wallflower contains moments of beauty and insight drifting in a sea of melodrama. Adapted by author Stephen Chbosky from his 1999 YA novel of the same name (a book I must confess I haven't read), this is the kind of movie that my 14-year-old self probably would have fallen head over heels for, as it effectively transplants the '80s John Hughes model of teenagers with more heart than good sense talking endlessly about their problems to my old stomping ground in the early '90s. Twenty years removed from that time period (not to mention that version of myself), it's still easy to be pulled into the movie by the tug of nostalgia, but I can also see through the story's cracks more clearly, in the same way that whenever I re-watch The Breakfast Club nowadays, I actually find myself sympathizing with Assistant Principal Vernon for having to waste a whole Saturday babysitting a bunch of naval-gazing, back-talking teenagers.

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