The Edge Of Seventeen (2016) Review

The Edge Of Seventeen (2016)

Directed by Kelly Fremon Craig

Starring: Hailee Steinfeld, Haley Lu Richardson, Hayden Szeto, Blake Jenner, Woody Harrelson, Kyra Sedgwick

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
High-school life gets even more unbearable for Nadine when her best friend, Krista, starts dating her older brother.

My Opinion:

Yes! Another funny, well-written, smart “teen movie”. I reviewed The DUFF last week, which I really enjoyed despite my teen years being far far behind me, and commented that I hoped more teen movies would go in that direction as I do still enjoy a good one. Trust me – no matter how old you are you never forget high school. It’s a traumatic time! I think I’ll forever feel like it was only yesterday that I finally graduated & escaped that f*^king place.

So, yeah – I wasn’t exactly the Homecoming Queen and I could totally relate to Hailee Steinfeld’s self-loathing, angst-filled, neurotic nutjob in The Edge Of Seventeen. Hubby was like “I think she may be even more messed up than you!”. Hahaha! Nice. Funny. Seriously, though – I’d have been friends with this character as a teen. Okay, I lie – I WAS this character (but not as crazy – Holy shit, Steinfeld’s character is HIGH MAINTENANCE!).

For those who may get annoyed by phoney teen angst movies, don’t automatically avoid this one. This is teen angst done right. It has the right balance of humor & of more serious issues. Think a cross between The DUFF (pure comedy) and The Perks Of Being A Wallflower (fantastic but a little too serious). The characters come across as genuine and I think it will speak to an audience of all ages from 15 or so & up. I do think certain teen films nowadays are written by people my age (like Perks), which is cool as it means people my age end up liking them but I’m not sure if they all work for actual modern teens. I think The Edge Of Seventeen avoids this problem. I can see a lot of friends my age liking this and, judging by the laughs & reactions of the much younger crowd in my cinema who made me feel very old, the younger generation seemed to be enjoying it a lot as well. I can find very little information on this film’s writer & director, Kelly Fremon Craig, but I’d hazard a guess that she’s written a bit of herself into these characters? I could be wrong but writing from experience often seems to make the most believable characters & she’s done an excellent job here. I’ll happily watch more of her work! Hopefully the positive buzz from this film is getting her noticed.

Just a quick FYI: the language & situations make this one not suitable for pre & early teens. It’s rated 15 in the UK and I think it’s rated R in the US?? Typical uptight America – R is too strict for this & means that 15 & 16 year-olds are missing out on a good movie. Maybe they should’ve added some guns & violence as opposed to swearing & sex talk, huh? Then it would be rated G in America! I’ve often thought the American rating system needs a rating in the middle, like a UK 15, which I think is the right sort of rating for this one. Sorry for the mini-rant… 😉 Back to the movie!

Besides Hailee Steinfeld’s darkly humorous unhappy teen, we have her parents and a very rocky relationship with her mother, her best friend who suddenly starts dating her attractive & popular brother who gets on her nerves, her crush, her teacher, and a boy who has a crush on her. They’re all great but the two stand-outs are Hayden Szeto as the adorably awkward boy with a crush on her and Woody Harrelson as the doesn’t-give-a-fuck teacher she confides in (probably due to seeing a bit of her own pessimistic attitude in him).

The chemistry between Steinfeld’s & Harrelson’s characters is great and I loved their complexity. There’s no sappy “teacher gives student meaningful life lesson” bullshit going on here. In fact, they speak quite horribly to each other & it’s hilarious. You can tell that, despite clearly thinking she’s a pain in the ass, Harrelson’s character also has a huge soft spot for this fucked-up kid. Both of these characters are two of the absolute best I’ve seen in a film this year and are why this shouldn’t be dismissed due to being a “teen movie”. Oh, and Hayden Szeto’s character with a crush on Steinfeld is probably the most likable character in a film this year. He’s hilariously, awkwardly adorable. Who is this guy?? He’s been in hardly anything! Put him in more movies! I’d have totally loved having a boy like him have a crush on me in high school. Damn you, Steinfeld – he’s a sweetheart. Date him! It’s like Molly Ringwald not wanting Jon Cryer in Pretty In Pink! Man, teenage girls are idiots sometimes. Anyway – Hayden Szeto, Woody Harrelson, and Hailee Steinfeld are all amazing in this but probably won’t get recognition due to the film being part of the teen genre.

Summary:

I’ve rambled on about this movie long enough. I’ve realized now that my saying this is something in between The DUFF & The Perks Of Being A Wallflower isn’t quite accurate. The Edge Of Seventeen is more like The Way Way Back with a girl instead of a boy as the central character & Harrelson filling the Sam Rockwell role in this one (their characters are quite different personality-wise but equally fantastic). I feel that teen movies get dismissed, especially if a girl is the central character, but this movie deserves recognition. If you liked The Way Way Back (I loved that one), you should like this one as well no matter what age or sex you are. Movies like these give me hope that maybe some modern teenagers will turn out alright after all & I appreciate filmmakers who credit them with some intelligence & don’t dumb their movies down for them. I still remember being a teen & I like to think I wasn’t a total idiot. And anyone who says they didn’t have a hard time in high school is a liar. Teen angst is real, people! I’m happy to say that The Edge Of Seventeen handles the angst in a realistic, humorous, and at times heartbreaking fashion.

My Rating: 8/10

You know I gotta end this with the brilliant Stevie Nicks song from my own teen years, which is not in this movie whatsoever. Wait – I wasn’t a teen yet when this was released… I just added several years onto my age there! Oops. Whatever. I love this song. 🙂

Advertisements

Sound City (2013) Review

20131124-012646 pm.jpg
Sound City (2013)

Directed by Dave Grohl

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
The film tells the story of Sound City Studios from its early days in 1969 until its closing in 2011. It then follows Dave Grohl’s purchase of the studio’s custom analog Neve console, which he moved to his personal studio, Studio 606. Famous musicians who recorded at Sound City reunite at Studio 606 for a jam session and to make an album of “all-new all-original songs, each one composed and recorded exclusively for the film within its own 24-hour session on that console.”

20131124-012944 pm.jpg
Artists Featured: (also via Wikipedia because I’m lazy today)

The documentary features interviews conducted by Grohl of artists associated with the studio:

Vinny Appice
Frank Black
Lindsey Buckingham
Johnny Cash (archival)
Kurt Cobain (archival)
Kevin Cronin
Rivers Cuomo
Mick Fleetwood
Neil Giraldo
Josh Homme
Alain Johannes
Jim Keltner
Paul McCartney
Barry Manilow
Rupert Neve
Stevie Nicks
Krist Novoselic
Stephen Pearcy
Tom Petty
Trent Reznor
Ross Robinson
Rick Rubin
Jim Scott
Pat Smear
Rick Springfield
Corey Taylor
Benmont Tench
Lars Ulrich
Butch Vig
Lee Ving
Brad Wilk
Neil Young
Warren DeMartini

Running time: 108 minutes

20131124-013052 pm.jpg
My Opinion:

It’s hard to review a documentary. Basically, if you like Dave Grohl and/or any of the artists listed above (and especially if you have any sort of interest in the music industry), I’d highly recommend this documentary. I mean, who doesn’t like Dave Grohl? Dave Grohl is awesome. I want to marry Dave Grohl. (But, I’m already taken. Sorry, Dave Grohl!).

20131124-013156 pm.jpg
Before watching this, I had watched another music documentary – Something From Nothing: The Art Of Rap (review HERE). That one was good but not very in-depth and was just a bunch of rappers showing off their rapping skills as opposed to exploring the roots of rap or anything like that (but I suppose it wasn’t called “The History Of Rap”). It was fun but a little shallow. And, I’ll admit – The music in Sound City is more my kind of thing so I was probably going to find this documentary more interesting anyway.

20131124-013249 pm.jpg
What I really liked more than anything about Sound City was Grohl’s infectious enthusiasm. He clearly LOVES music and what he does for a living and it really shows, making this documentary as enjoyable as the music he continues to (seemingly effortlessly) create.

20131124-013840 pm.jpg
Then, of course, it was great seeing interviews with and old footage of so many musical greats. The ones featured most prominently (from what I remember – I watched this months ago), were Fleetwood Mac (especially Stevie Nicks & Lindsey Buckingham), Tom Petty, and…. Rick Springfield! Yeah – remember Rick Springfield? Jessie’s Girl and all that? Well, he was a big heartthrob back in my day (sort of – the girls a few years older than me really loved him). Anyway! His story involving Sound City was really very touching and a little heartbreaking & he actually seemed a little… broken. Plus we all know about all the soap opera drama within Fleetwood Mac, which once again gets touched on in this documentary.

20131124-013834 pm.jpg
Many of the artists & those who worked behind the scenes at Sound City got a little emotional during the interviews & it all felt very genuine. This documentary had a lot of heart to it and Grohl’s dedication to this project really shows in the final product. Definitely worth a watch for anyone remotely interested in Grohl, the recording industry, rock music, or just a damn good documentary.

My Rating: 8/10

20131124-013930 pm.jpg