It's the summer of 1994, and the streets of New York are pulsing with hip-hop. Set against this backdrop, a lonely teenager named Luke Shapiro spends his last summer before university selling marijuana throughout New York City, trading it with his unorthodox psychotherapist for treatment, while having a crush on his stepdaughter.
Charlie Kohler is a piano player in a bar. The waitress Lena is in love with him. One of Charlie's brother, Chico, a crook, takes refuge in the bar because he is chased by two gangsters, ... See full summary »
Little Billy witness his parents getting killed by Santa after being warned by his senile grandpa that Santa punishes those who are naughty. Now Billy is 18, and out of the orphanage, and he has just become Santa, himself.
Charles E. Sellier Jr.
In multiple shots the frame is reversed. At a party framed magazines on a shelf are reversed. During a conversation with his father, the logo on Colin's shirt switches from his left shoulder to his right shoulder (and reversed) and back to his left shoulder. See more »
"In no order of things is adolescence the time of the simple life." Janet Erskine Stuart
As a non-television viewing guy, I may have just been introduced to a reality-show type of documentary, American Teen, directed and scripted by the acclaimed Nanette Burstein. That this look into the life of four typical graduating teens at mid-America's Warsaw Community High in Indiana may look like an episode on Real World I have on good advice. That it frequently seems like a docudrama I have on my own counsel.
American teen covers all the bases with stock characters: the nerd, the queen, the outsider, the jock, but these are real teens with real challenges such as attracting dates, getting accepted to the right college, meeting dad's expectations-- well, you know the drill if you know teens, be they in Indiana or Los Angeles. Burstein was successful in allowing the legendary producer Robert Evans to tell his unique story in The kid Stays in the Picture. "Unique" doesn't generally apply to American Teen.
As I questioned Errol Morris's manipulations in his documentary Standard Operating Procure (2008) (re-enactments, arty images, and sublimating music), so I question Burstein's artful interpretations: animated sequences about the teen's anxieties and dreams and arguably rehearsed or set-up scenes, the most obvious a face-slapping reaction that looks rehearsed if not just plain lucky for the filmmaker to be there to catch it. Similarly, but less dramatically, is a father calmly telling his son to get a basketball scholarship or go into the Army. It's all too pat, or as several critics have said, "slick."
Maybe because I had several children who passed through senior high with similar experiences, I am not feeling enlightened by American Teen. A successful doc usually gives insight; this one gives me reservations about the durability of the real documentary.
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