Addison Mehr is one of the many talented interns working on Teenage. When we learned about the period teenage film he’s making at NYU, we asked him to compile some of his favorite juvenile delinquent film inspirations… Keep an eye out for more profiles and interviews with our collaborators on the film.
THE LAST PICTURE SHOW
I grew up in the Adirondacks (aka the middle of nowhere) and for me this film perfectly captures the profound isolation and overwhelming boredom of small town America.
I relate to the whole world of the story and the idea of these individuals facing a hostile environment and really struggling to find their place. I think the performances here are stunning and the combination of “non-actors” and “actors” is totally seamless. To me this film is a true American masterpiece and It is amazing how it speaks to a world that no longer exists but somehow avoids nostalgia or sentimentality.
Growing up, the nearest movie theatre was over an hour away so to me going to the movies has always been a special experience. I think most importantly, the Last Picture Show speaks to the power of movies as a way to bring people together and a way for all of us to take part in the crazy shared dream that is film.
While most of the American PreWW2 JD films were general “social problem films” across the pond filmmakers were experimenting with more interesting ways to express the teenage experience on film.
In particular I love, Jean Vigo’s Zero De Conduit, a story of schoolboy rebellion that is heightened to cinematic poetry.
This kind of heightened stylization can be later traced to If…, Lindsay Anderson’s story of youthful yearning and rebellion. In If… I love how the cinematography shifts from black and white to color and accomplishes a certain distance from the reality of the authoritarian world in which these characters live.
One only needs to look at the balcony scene to see one of the most beautiful translations of love and longing on film.
TEENAGE WASTELANDS and DISTOPIAN VISIONS OF YOUTH.
In Jonathan Kaplan’s Over the Edge, we are faced with a vision of suburban sprawl and utter conformity in which the kids seem dislocated from any sense of time or place, almost as if isolated from history itself. Ultimately, the kids rebel, taking over a PTA meeting and burning the place to the ground.
This film is totally punk rock and deserves to be revisited. It was also Matt Dillon’s first role and the inspiration for the Smells Like Teen Spirit Video. Rock on.
What I really admire about this film is how the ultimate act of destruction is really an act of reclamation for these kids who have been comodified, ignored, and cast off by society. This film goes beyond glorification and is really a call for reformation.
Similarly, in Francis Ford Coppola’s Rumble Fish, we see a world of deterioration and decay as two brothers struggle to come to terms with the world around them. This film is a direct influence for “FORT APACHE.” I love the stark black and white photography and the whole stylized atmosphere of the film. Not to mention a reprise of Matt Dillon in the JD film and Mickey Rourke as a kind of teenage Jean Paul Sartre.
To me the JD film is about the universal struggle to find your place. It’s about pushing against boundaries and coming to terms with the world around you. It’s a genre that examines our very ideas of adolescence and social independence and its heart the JD film allows us to revisit, explore, and ultimately relate to the eternal metaphoric struggles of youth.
Addison is a filmmaker, intern for Teenage, and newly christened “adult”. He launched a Kickstarter for his short film adaptation, but can’t do it without your help. So for all of you bored and lonely teens out there check it out and get involved!