Saturday, January 22, 2011

Film Lover's Companion - Notes from the Teenage Underground

Taking their anti-social edge one step further, seventeen-year-old Gem and her friends Mira and Lo have decided to go Underground. Their activities will be "extreme", "anti-establishment", "avant garde" and "debauched".

While Gem makes an underground film and Mira sets about pursuing "boys-without-barcodes" no one knows what it is that Lo – the most subversive of the three – has planned. But in the back of her mind, Gem's worried. She feels the balance of the trio's friendship is always weighted against her. And as the weeks draw closer to Christmas, appearances start to deceive and relationships flounder. For all the promise of the group, Underground seems a dark place to be.

It will take great films, bad poetry and a pantheon of inspirational guides – from Andy Warhol to Germaine Greer – to help Gem work out the true meaning of friendship, where family fits in, and that the best parts of life aren't always underground.

The Film Lover's Guide to Notes from the Teenage Underground
Remember I said after this post that there would be something else coming up for Notes from the Teenage Underground? Well, ta-da! I had so much fun writing my Film Lover's Companion for John Belushi is Dead at Mindful Musings, and Teenage Underground is so chock-full of movie references, the film geek in me couldn't stay away. So I have compiled a list of many of the films mentioned throughout the novel and why you should watch them!

Gem's Top 5 Favourite Films

How to Marry A Millionaire (Jean Negulesco, 1953)
One of my favourite three-girl-plot films (the other being Beyond the Valley of the Dolls if you're curious) and such a fun watch. Directed by Jean Negulesco (who Gem refers to as "King of the three-girls plot"), How to Marry A Millionaire centres around three female roommates and (not-surprisingly) their plan to marry rich. The film is so charming, has plenty of meet-cutes and the wardrobes of Betty Grable, Lauren Bacall and Marilyn Monroe are to die for! Like Gem, I love this because each girl gets both a 'lesson' and a happy ending.

Vertigo (Alfred Hitchcock, 1958)
Another incredible film! One of my favourites from the master of suspense, Alfred Hitchcock. I don't even think I can coherently state how amazing this film is (seriously, if you haven't seen it - do so now!). Jimmy Stewart is incredible as Scottie Ferguson, the acrophobic cop-turned-private investigator (though I'm very biased as I think he can do no wrong) and whilst I know reviews of Kim Novak's performance were mixed, I think she makes quite a good Hitchcock Blonde. Vertigo highlights Hitchcock's true mastery of the camera and the psychological-thriller plotline has gone on to influence generations of filmmakers.

Withnail and I (Bruce Robinson, 1987) - I love the scene where Gem and Rolf watch this together!
Chinatown (Roman Polanski, 1974) - there is a reason why almost every single screenwriting manual uses examples from this film!
Gas, Food, Lodging (Allison Anders, 1992)

Dodgy's films
Reservoir Dogs (Quentin Tarantino, 1992)
Oh Dodgy! This is such a quintessential male film-buff favourite (seriously, every guy in my film class picked this as their favourite film in our first tutorial). In Dodgy's defence, it is an awesome film with the nonlinear storyline, sharp dialogue and a killer soundtrack, all of which are now hallmarks of Tarantino's distinctive style.

Wild at Heart (David Lynch, 1990)
Jurrasic Park (Steven Spielberg, 1996)
Boogie Nights (Paul Thomas Anderson, 1997)
Rashomon (Akira Kurosawa, 1950)

Marco's choices

Earthquake (Mark Robson, 1974), one of the best-known films to come out of the boom of the disaster genre during the seventies. Starring Ava Gardner, who Marco hails as "the doyenne of disaster" and Charleton Heston, Earthquake shows us hysteria and a struggle for survival in Los Angeles, following an epic natural disaster (one guess as to what it is ...). There's something about the way people band together in disaster films which makes me enjoy them more than I feel I should.
Marco also recommends:
On the Beach (Stanley Kramer, 1959)
The Day After Tomorrow (Roland Emmerich, 2004)

Bev's Favourite
Easy Rider (Dennis Hopper, 1969)
The film that led the New Hollywood wave of filmmaking of the late sixties. A classic road movie, simple premise, fantastic performances and some very nice bikes. The whole bad-trip scene at the cemetery blows my mind every time I  watch it. I also kind of love that it's Bev's "cinematic equivalent to a pair of comfy slippers and a pack of Tim Tams".  In Notes from the Teenage Underground, Bev mentions that she and Rolf saw the film on an early date.

Bev and Gem
The Sandpiper (Vincente Minnelli, 1965).
C'mon, you know anything with Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton together is going to be good for some drama! Sorry, I haven't seen The Sandpiper myself so I can't say much more about it (except that Richard Burton's chest looks exceptionally hairy and manly in the poster).

Also mentioned as one of Gem and Bev's favourite films is my personal number one film choice for the holidays, It's A Wonderful Life (Frank Capra, 1946). If you watch this and not cry, I question whether or not you have a soul ...

Warhol and The Factory
Kiss (Andy Warhol, 1963)
Flesh (Andy Warhol, 1968)
Trash (Andy Warhol, 1969)
Ciao Manhattan! (John Palmer, 1972)
Basquiat (Julian Schnabel, 1996)
I Shot Andy Warhol (Mary Harron, 1996)

Also mentioned:
A Clockwork Orange (Stanley Kubrick, 1971), Ed Wood (Tim Burton 1994), I Love You, Alice B. Toklas! (Hy Averback, 1968), Midnight Cowboy (John Schlesinger, 1969), Raging Bull (Martin Scorsese, 1980), Rebel Without A Cause (Nicholas Ray, 1955), Summer Lovers (Randal Kleiser, 1982), Titanic (James Cameron, 1997), Three Coins in the Fountain (Jean Negulesco, 1954), Two Lane Blacktop (Monte Hellman, 1971).

Loved reading Notes from the Teenage Underground? Try watching:
Pecker (1998) and Cecil C. Demented (2001) - ok, so I know John Waters isn't for everyone but seriously, trust me on these two. Your mind will be blown and you may find yourself becoming a die-hard Dreamlander.
Nowhere (Gregg Araki, 1997)
Ghostworld (Terry Zwigoff, 2001)
Art School Confidential (Terry Zwigoff, 2006)


brave chickens said...

I don't watch many movies and it's with these types of books I feel sad that I've got no idea what they're talking about, unless I look up every reference on the interwebs :(

Miss Friday said...

Aww, that's a shame BC - I love these types of books because I am passionate about film (love it as much as I love reading) and I love it when one references the other and adds a new layer of meaning to the material.

At the same time, I also find film references interesting when I haven't seen the film mentioned - it usually makes me want to because I like to know why the author bought it up :)

Don't let it put you off BC (hopefully these film companion posts will, in the future, help to explain specific references or make note of why the film would be significant to the text)

Kalo Ben said...

I didn't see these movie, and also don't know what's "boys-without-barcodes" standing for. But thanks your sharing.

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