gen­er­a­tions may change, but teen angst still sells tick­ets

Austin American-Statesman - - FAITH & BELIEFS - By christy lemire

LOS AN­GE­LES — The tween girls who are fa­nat­i­cal about the “Twi­light” se­ries might not be aware of this, but Bella, Ed­ward and Ja­cob did not in­vent teen angst. Sure, ev­ery word and glance be­tween them feels like the end of the world, but it’s felt that way for a long time now.

With the re­lease this week of “The Twi­light Saga: Eclipse,” the third film in the fran­chise, here’s a look at some other movies in which, like omigosh, ev­ery­thing was su­per-dra­matic:

‘Rebel With­out a Cause’ (1955): The mother of all teen-angst movies, full of par­ents who just don’t un­der­stand and kids who elo­quently ex­press their frus­tra­tion and dis­il­lu­sion­ment. James Dean’s per­for­mance as a young rebel who moves to Los An­ge­les and clashes with bul­lies is con­sid­ered the best work of his short life, and since the film came out a month af­ter his fa­tal car crash, it added fur­ther hype to his tragic per­sona. Look­ing at Robert Pat­tin­son as teen vam­pire Ed­ward Cullen in the “Twi­light” films, it’s clear Dean is the in­spi­ra­tion: the wavy hair and side­burns, the jeans, the per­pet­u­ally sullen ex­pres­sion. If only Dean could have sparkled in the sun…

‘Amer­i­can Graf­fiti’ (1973): Di­rected and co-writ­ten by pre-”Star Wars” Ge­orge Lu­cas and in­spired by his own teenage years in Modesto, Calif., this com­ing-of-age dram­edy nonethe­less has great uni­ver­sal­ity. There’s plenty of fun to be had here over an Au­gust night in 1962, with long­time friends cruis­ing the main drag — jok­ing, flirt­ing, get­ting into trou­ble — one last time be­fore head­ing off to col­lege. But Lu­cas also keenly cap­tures the sen­sa­tion of be­ing in flux, of hav­ing to carve out a new iden­tity be­tween ado­les­cence and adult­hood, and all the ner­vous­ness and nostal­gia that go along with that. Ron Howard and Richard Drey­fuss lead a great, young cast.

‘Fast Times at Ridge­mont High’ (1982): Brac­ingly hon­est about the way teens talk and re­late, this com­edy is an early demon­stra­tion of writer Cameron Crowe’s ex­cel­lent ear for di­a­logue. The plot fol­lows a year in the life of a group of high-school stu­dents, but it con­sists of a se­ries of per­fectly ob­served mo­ments. “Fast Times” seemed su­per-racy in its day, with its sub­plots about teen sex and preg­nancy, but not gra­tu­itously so. Be­tween the sound­track (Tom Petty, Led Zep­pelin, the Go-Go’s) and the cast of then-un­knowns (Sean Penn, Judge Rein­hold, Jen­nifer Ja­son Leigh, Phoebe Cates, For­est Whi­taker), it’s a clas­sic and a quin­tes­sen­tial ex­am­ple of the genre.

‘The Break­fast Club’ (1985): You could also in­sert “Six­teen Can­dles” in this space, or “Pretty in Pink” or any num­ber of John Hughes movies. Teen nar­cis­sism was the man’s bread and but­ter. But “The Break­fast Club” was the heav­i­est of them all; its char­ac­ters took their navel-gaz­ing the most se­ri­ously. It also had that star-stud­ded Brat Pack cast of Molly Ring­wald, Emilio Estevez, Judd Nel­son, Ally Sheedy and An­thony Michael Hall, which makes it more rep­re­sen­ta­tive of the era than other Hughes films. Lots of fun parts, for sure — Ben­der mess­ing with Mr. Ver­non, the whole crew of Satur­day-de­ten­tion mis­fits rac­ing through the high-school halls. But the cry­ing and con­fes­sion on the li­brary floor are what you re­mem­ber most.

‘Say Any­thing …’ (1989): That im­age of John Cu­sack, hold­ing a boom box over his head and blar­ing Peter Gabriel’s “In Your Eyes,” has be­come iconic, short­hand, even a bit of a cliche, but it says it all. Once again from Crowe — this time di­rect­ing as well as writ­ing — but here he shows his ro­man­tic side. “Say Any­thing …” is all about long­ing for that first love, even though, on paper, that per­son might not be right for you. Doesn’t mat­ter. The ob­ses­sion and tor­ment, the vul­ner­a­bil­ity and doubt are all part of the process. And by show­ing all those sides of his char­ac­ter, Cu­sack forged his on-screen per­sona as a lead­ing man for the rest of us.

wArner bros.

Natalie Wood and James Dean helped cre­ate a genre in ‘Rebel With­out a Cause,’ a 1955 film re­leased a month af­ter Dean died in a car crash. The iconic ac­tor is clearly an in­spi­ra­tion for Robert Pat­tin­son’s portrayal of teen vam­pire Ed­ward Cullen in the ‘Twi­light’ se­ries.

Kim­ber­ley French sum­mit en­ter­tAin­ment

Will she or won’t she? Bella (Kris­ten Ste­wart) wants to be­come a vam­pire like Ed­ward (Pat­tin­son) de­spite his protests in ‘The Twi­light Saga: Eclipse.’

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