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*** This review may contain spoilers ***
NEW PORT SOUTH
Aspect ratio: 1.85:1
Sound formats: Dolby Digital / DTS / SDDS
An unhappy student (Blake Shields) is prompted into rebellion against his teachers by what he sees as the mean-spirited bureaucracy of high school life, and his anarchy is fuelled by the story of a former student who appears to have been institutionalized against his will by an aggressive school administration.
An ode to conformity. Written by James Hughes (son of John) and directed by Kyle Cooper, NEW PORT SOUTH is an odd but intriguing film, in which Shields and his cohorts are roused to action by a series of unconnected incidents which begin to form a recognizable pattern of manipulation and tyranny by teachers against students. However, those drawn by the promise of seeing Authority Humbled are in for a nasty surprise: By concealing the truth of what happened to the former student whose incarceration sparks Shields' crusade, Hughes is able to fashion a climactic twist which completely undermines the central narrative, though not before Shields is unmasked as a tyrant-in-waiting, no better than the uncaring faculty he seeks to denounce. In other words, rules are there for a reason, no matter how petty they may seem, or how belligerently they may be applied by malicious teachers exercising a Hitler complex, while rebellion - no matter how well-intentioned - breeds corruption and anarchy. So knuckle down, kids - do as you're told, accept the disrespectful way you're treated by some of your teachers, and whatever you do, DON'T ROCK THE BOAT...
All dubious sermonizing aside, the movie is ignited by its strong cast of talented newcomers, including Shields as the increasingly disaffected protagonist (his showdown with snotty history teacher Todd Field crackles with real tension), and Will Estes as the aspiring artist forced to choose between obedience to his teachers or the moral uncertainty of his friends' rebellion. Curiously, director Cooper doesn't exploit Estes' teen idol good looks and refuses to indulge a romantic subplot with Estes' fellow student Melissa George, who hovers on the sidelines like an afterthought. However, despite its skewed viewpoint and a couple of confusing narrative leaps - one of the school jocks rallies too quickly to The Cause after being humiliated in a fight which ends with him having a staple-gun fired into his face, and there's a near-riot which erupts for no obvious reason during the final sequence - the movie is compelling in its own quiet way, and cinematographer Juan Ruiz Anchía makes a real virtue of the wintry Illinois locations.
"John Hughes' son wrote a high school drama! Wow!" I thought as I
checked the flick's info here on IMDb, late on a Saturday night, having
found myself watching the opening credits on BBC2.
I've just finished watching it, and sadly it was downhill from there on. Arguably you can't spoil a film this poor, but I'll leave the spoilers out of this review...
There's an awful lot of style over very little substance: unfortunately the style hasn't dated too well in the eight years since its release. As for the substance, the film tries to pose an interesting look at the nature of control in society through the microcosm of school-life; but beneath the shiny veneer, a remotely meaningful or relevant argument fails to materialise. Characters are painted in childishly broad strokes, falling into the kind of generic stereotypes the writer's father sought to question in Breakfast Club.
Director Kyle Cooper does a decent job keeping the pace up (perhaps relying a little too much on montages of information, which soon becomes a tiresome device, but at least pushes the story along), but his efforts don't sufficiently detract from the poor script and bizarre casting (how anyone is supposed to side with 'Maddox', when Blake Shields gurns and glowers his way through the part, I just can't understand), not to mention the numerous gaping plot holes (I'm all for creative license, but when the "bad guys" know the identities of the "good guys" making their lives a misery, but fail to act in any way to stop them, you really have to wonder why this script didn't undergo another few re-drafts before production - did Daddy even read it?).
I'm sure a younger audience might get some enjoyment from this film (and all power to them), but they're really better off sticking with Hughes Sr.'s high school output, and if the idea of school-time rebellion is what really appeals, the 1968 classic "If..." is a much more satisfying examination of the subject.
About five minutes in, and I saw where this was heading. Bunch of high school kids get annoyed by the school's administration and thoughts of rebellion start fomenting. I said to my girlfriend: if it gets below a 5 on IMDb, I'll go and read a book. It got 5.0, so she persuaded me to go on watching. What are the good things? Well, it is a good thing this film does not have a story, because you would surely be distracted from it by the editing. It's like the student's drawing that was torn up by one of the teachers, all the footage for this film was cut up in a freak accident involving a meat-grinder, and left half the stock destroyed, with the other half spliced into two-second bits. Even in a ten-second scene of the local TV news, there are about six cuts and three different angles. And then there are the montages. These are all set to electronic music, which forewarns you of yet another montage, so that like Pavlov's dog you start cringing every time you hear it, which is about every three minutes. Oh, I was supposed to say what's good about this film. Well, the film was shot very well, with a nice color palette, that nicely matched the emotional content - such as there was - of the scenes. Okay, now with the film's major flaw, and it wasn't the story, or lack thereof. The director made that fatal mistake of leading you astray about people and situations, not by clever storytelling, but by being highly selective about what to show about the main characters. That's just cheating. I guess he did it in order to make the central character more likable. But it just became plain annoying. If the story is full of holes, it's no good trying to patch it up by misdirecting the viewer. And often there wasn't even any point to it. And then the ending. Basically, the main villain of the peace turns out be an okay guy, if a coward. Plus it turns what seemed to be the whole point of the movie, that you should stand up for a just cause on its head, by the already mentioned misdirection, and makes it into a point about the nature of revolutions, that was already made, and much better, by animal farm. It also committed what I call the Bill Cosby sin: no matter how things may seem at first, in the end adults are always right, and children always wrong. And let's face it: unless you're me, that's just not true.
I really enjoy teen rebellion movies and have studied quite a lot of them this year for my A-Level media studies class. Although this was not one of my syllabus movies i saw it on T.v one night and thought it was really cleverly made and hugely under-rated. I mean, yeah, there have been a lot of these genre of movies made but this is different and contains other art forms within the movie, I mean how creative were those posters? Well I have told a lot of people about it and they have said it is really good so maybe it is young person thing, as I would say this film is directed for a teenage audience, but I would also say that if you are very big into films then you would have the knowledge to say whether it has been made well or not. I have Lent the DVD to my media lecturer so when he tells me what he thinks I will comment again. Peace.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I'm still trying to figure out if there was a point to this film.
For content that's supposed to be so 'rebellious' and 'controversial' the things that Maddox distributes to the students are awfully lame. Students seem to be easily swayed by vague anti-authoritarian sentiments and snippets of words illegibly scrawled onto leaflets. Rebel, everybody.
I suppose it would have been too much to ask to have a teenage rebellion film where a school fire alarm doesn't get set off.
Apparently a 'huge fight up on the football fields' is a fight that consists of two people.
Characters personalities seem to wildly vary at random. A football jock who Maddox was fighting (and who subsequently got a staple on the face) is all smiles and apologies the next day.
The fact that it doesn't come to any real conclusion of the plot makes me feel that the whole thing could have been fitted into a half hour after school special. If they had cut most of the attempted pseudo-glitch soundtrack.
The guy did a lot of title design for a bunch of movies and I guess one
he said; I should pick a cheap scenario, try to put as much title in it as
can ( cause after all i'm a title designer ) and try to persuade people
this is in fact a movie. One of the worst i've even seen that's for
If you fell the urge to see nice titles, go check out some posters don't
waste your time watching this.
It kinda ironic don't you think, did you saw the poster? the only part of his project that SHOULD had title work done have almost none !
The thing about New Port South is that it has kinda a cool build up but just lets if fall over in the end. Its like if you work really hard and save up money for your girlfriends Christmas present and she finds out your saving money so you say 'ah.... never mind Christmas'. If you have seen it, you know what I mean. The soundtrack is the computer- electric drum type thing which sounds like it was almost on a Linkin Park cd. The acting was OK, and again the story was neat but loose ends and actors that haven't been in a high school since Ace of Base had a hit make me wish that John Hughes talked to his son (??) about how to end a high school movie and then did the exact opposite.
this film is terrible. The characters are completely unbelievable, and
wildly inconsistent. The plot is awful and some of the classroom scenes
are cringe-worthy and make for uncomfortable viewing.
In fact the quality of the script and characterisation would suggest that this film was written by high school students, only the utter lack of credibility to the school environment would suggest that, in fact, the writers probably never went to high school. The acting in most cases was weak too, although a lot of this was down to a poor script and plot, i am not sure that any actors could have made this film watchable.
having said that the sound track was OK, and the cinematography was nice in places (although the editing was poor).
A great allegory for all human Revolutions. Replace the old regime with the new, tyrannize your followers. Give them something to believe on, then let your real self get in control. Strong story, very good director (strong on the graphics side), great acting. Only the music is overdone.
New Port South is the kind of movie you have to see for yourself. I know that if it had been marketed more, it would have been A LOT more successful. When my friend and I went to see it, there were only four people in the theater. We're 14 year old girls, the other two were a middle-aged couple. (The older couple didn't like it too much.) The man even went as far as to say, "Now I know why there were only four people here..." I completely disagree with him. I loved the movie, it was very thought-provoking, and I didn't understand it until the ending quote. It's basically about a group of students who decides that their school system isn't right, so they go against it, playing tricks and showing the administration that the school population can think for themselves. Any student can definitely relate to New Port South because every once in a while, every student feels like getting back at "the system."
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