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You know, when I originally made my schedule for the Tribeca Film Festival, Sunday was going to be a day off. Days off are almost always doomed to failure at a film festival, because every time you talk to someone, you hear about more and more movies that you have to see. The holes in your schedule become opportunities to see these added movies. So it was that I ended up with three films scheduled on my "day off." I couldn't have been happier.
"Teenagers did not exist before the 20th century." So Matt Wolf's documentary reminds us in the early going, before a fascinating journey from the child-labor days of the early 20th century, through two wars, the Bright Young Things, the Hitler Youth, the jitterbug, and finally the dawn of the "teenager" as a concept. I don't think I expected this to be as studious as it was -- there was a Ken Burns quality to it when I think I was expecting something more bubbly and contemporary. I liked that my expectations were flipped; kept me on my toes. Also, I had a super fun/maddening guessing game happening throughout the film as I tried to guess a pair of the actors who were reading the various teen accounts. If you want to play along for yourself when you see Teenage, skip to the next paragraph NOW GO NOW. Otherwise ... okay, I correctly guessed Ben Whishaw was the British lad and needed the end credits to tell me that Jena Malone was the American girl.
Clark Gregg's directorial debut definitely packed the most star power of any film I've seen at the festival thus far. Featuring the talents of Felicity Huffman, Sam Rockwell, Amanda Peet, Allison Janney, William H. Macy, and Molly Shannon, this story of a Hollywood agent for kids (Gregg) desperately trying to claw his way to the top boasts some serious comedic chops. But when Gregg's character encounters a phenomenally talented young girl, it's Saxon Sharbino who ends up stealing the show. (Actually, sorry, that's not true. I mean, it would be true if it were physically possible to steal the show when Allison Janney is involved, but it is not. No hard feelings, everyone, but come on.)
Farah Goes Bang
After seeing writer/producer Laura Goode speak at the New Chick Flicks panel on Friday, I immediately put Farah Goes Bang on my list of Tribeca must-sees. I think it was the part where she acknowledged her film's debt to Thelma & Louise that did it. This time, it's a trio of women hitting the road, all in support of the 2004 John Kerry Presidential bid. Good and co-writer and director Meera Menon weave into this campaign story a personal tale of friendships and pesky virginity (at least for one of them) that adds up to something smart, affectionate, and very funny. Taking full advantage of the festival atmosphere, I was able to pull Menon and Goode aside for a brief chat afterward, the bulk of which was spent discussing the queen from RuPaul's Drag Race who makes a cameo appearance in the film's latter half. This one's a delight, people. Go see it.