Wednesday, February 26, 2014

The Birth of Youth Culture uncovered in a new doc

I was invited to a preview of the new "Documentary" TEENAGE. Here's a couple of things about the film that I didn't know, when it began, as I ate my popcorn, in the private screening room. First of all it's an incredibly enlightening, interesting and good looking film, based on a few of the narratives in Jon Savage's TEENAGE: The creation of Youth Culture. While I find the tagline "Rebellion Never Gets Old" a bit disingenuous, It uses excellent and authentic archival footage from the beginning of the twentieth century, up to the end of World War II in 1945. Then in it's conclusion, where they show a few fleeting seconds of a few highlights of the decades to follow, that's it. So don't get your hopes up waiting for something you are familiar with, because it's likely you won't know anything of the history that is presented so well in the film.

Other than that, the main drawback, confusion, or illusion that disturbed me was the liberties the director took with "re-creation and dramatizing" the narrative stories told by some of Savage's actual interviewees. While indeed compelling, the re-enactments, as good as they were, and as close as you can get to making them match film quality, were obviously shot recently. The hair styles, mannerisms, and camera work made this "new" footage both apparent and bothersome, as if it were an 'Instagram' effect. It was annoying to several of us in the theater, and we brought it up to the director in the Q&A afterword. He rationalized that it was his story to tell in his film and that's just how he does it. He had no qualms at all in mixing all that incredible archival footage with his re-enactments, in my opinion this detracted from the overall credibility of the film. But honestly, now that i've told you that there is some "fake" footage in the movie, knowing in advance, it shouldn't bother you too much. But not knowing as i watched distracted me over and over. It's has both good stories and good history and it's good looking, and it's beyond anything you've seen from this time in the history of youth culture. So now that you know some of the vignettes are re-enactments, you won't have to second guess if the director is trying to get over on you, you should enjoy this film even more than i did. Very worth checking out when it opens March 14th in New York, and moves around the country after that. Go here for the full schedule of theaters and screenings internationally.

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