Thursday, August 28, 2014

PALO ALTO (2014)

Written & Directed By: Gia Coopola 
Based On Short Stories Written By: James Franco 
Cinematography By: Autumn Durald 
Editor: Leo Scott 
Music By: Dev Haynes 

Cast: Emma Roberts, Jack Kilmer, James Franco, Nat Wolff, Zoe Levin, Olivia Crocicchia, Colleen Camp, Chris Messina, Val Kilmer, Janet Jones, Don Novello, Talia Shire, Emma Gretzsky

Shy, sensitive April is the class virgin, torn between an illicit flirtation with her soccer coach Mr. B and an unrequited crush on sweet stoner Teddy. Emily, meanwhile, offers sexual favors to every boy to cross her path - including both Teddy and his best friend Fred, a live wire without filters or boundaries. As one high school party bleeds into the next - and April and Teddy struggle to admit their mutual affection - Fred's escalating recklessness starts to spiral into chaos.

I really wanted to like this film. I was looking forward to it. Though I will admit I never read the book by James Franco. Though after watching this film I might want
to, to help fill in some of the blanks.

The writing in the movie has the skills, just nothing to really write about or say. Leaving it open to interpretation without having a real ending except for the film just to stop. Not even with intentions. Instead it feels like a relay of information of characters with no real point. I guess it's supposed to be about the plights of aimless youth.

I guess this is how youth films should be these days. No life lessons, yet seems to have some kind of meaning that really goes nowhere and leaves the characters to figure out things on their own. So that there is no preaching in this film.

With the film and camera's gaze into aimless youth. It's hard to get too invested as these kids aren't overcoming any real challenges. It's more like an observation of a social circle, yet the film tries to imply that there is a seriousness and point to all of this that is never given. It doesn’t even work as an anthropological study of generation. So after awhile you sit there and wonder what is the point. That is never answered, of course angst is required when it comes to teenagers, but here we are provided with no starting point or reasoning. They just are because they are of course some little explination is sprinkled about to let us draw our own conclusions

It's hard to feel sorry for most of these chapters as they are privileged and their problems seem mostly surface, but are like deeply felt. Though the film seems to liken that despair to some doomed poets.

There are some scenes that feel electric with possibilities only to deflate as the dynamic exciting possibilities never happens. Though if it did it would feel kind of exploitive at those points of the film.

One of two characters plights of being taken advantage of seem riveting and worth it's time. One reaches a natural conclusion the other remains a mystery.

The characters seem more than anything. That might be why the mood of the film stays slow, steady and Mellow. To condition the audience to the characters world and pace to understand them more.

The lead character is such a cipher. As he never has much to say and constantly throughout the film , but because of his art skills people keep telling him what a good person he is that it becomes annoying. Though it is hard to look at him for any guidance throughout the landscape of the film. As all he seems to do is sulk and react.

While his best friend on the other hand is the character of interest as he seems doomed. As he takes nothing seriously and once responsibility is needed he is quick to run away. Nat Wolfe in that role is one of the only people to make an impression as his character is such a live wire and unpredictable that he is everything the lead isn't. Entertaining, extreme and has a direction to go.

There is also the damaged character of Emily, the most interesting if they gave her more screen time. As she stays a mystery throughout other then she seems to constantly be seeking attention.

So much is said in silence in the film. While the film has beautiful shots that reminds one of a fashion shoot at times, As the hazy visuals and camera work that leave the action and states at the vistas and background while hearing sounds or a light score that are meant to make the audience use their imagination more. While letting is know what is happening though the focusing on background does help to give characters who seek to float around some depth. Some of the shots seem to want to suggest or meant to inspire depth

The film is full of sexually free teens and luckily not graphic when it comes to visuals, but in suggestions and hints. There is an affecting scene I when two characters are playing, Then all of a sudden hooking up that is jarring, but all the while excerpts are being read from the books as a sort of disorienting narration that sets the scene and bathes it in dramatic light. While again showing is kids acting out adult situations with a playfulness.

The film seems more memorable for it's scenes once in while rather than overall. Like when Teddy’s guardian, Mitch begins flirting and coming onto teddy out of nowhere.

It seems like the adults are mainly missing and if they are around they are clueless. Which might be what shapes the characters and their behavior --In the scene of Emma Roberts babysitting and allows to show her being a kid while handling an adult responsibility. It also shows that even when trying to act and behave like an adult she is still a kid at heart and seems to want to retreat back as more and more pressure is put onto her.

The ending or breakdown of the underage romance with her soccer coach after finding out certain secrets finds her acting more like an adult then him. Which might have been part of the attraction. As at first he seems to be more the responsible one overcome with feelings.

The two characters who seem like the stars of a romance this film will delve into at any moment. Are barely seen together throughout the film. They flirt in the beginning seeming to be graduating to romance then kept apart. Though by the end they are pledging love for one another out of nowhere.

It's a film where it never feels like it starts and before you know it half the movie has played and you are still wondering what exactly if any story their is, then just realize you have to go with the flow and just keep following so hopefully it will make some sense.

There is a skill and style evident in the direction of the film. --What is beautiful here is that the cinema has it's own language and that is really what saves this film. It's obvious that Gia Coopola has talent. i just wish she has the plot/story to go with it.

Though his film feels like a less specific/detailed version of a Sofia Coopola film.

As this film feels like pandering to a demographic of hipsters and on the process finds some depth though my that much. 

Grade: B-

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