For Your Consideration: May 2, 2014

Admit it. On Wednesdays, you wear pink. You fight the urge to say “you whore” whenever someone boos, you would seriously consider changing your name to Glen Coco, and sometimes you just have a lot of feelings. No one foresaw it on April 30, 2004 when “Mean Girls” hit theaters, but 10 years later, it reigns supreme as the most quotable movie of the century. But more than that, it is a membership card to a generation. Being able to quote Regina George or Janis Ian off the top of your head marks you as one of the millennial club, giving “Mean Girls” an iconic status few movies have been able to achieve. In honor of its 10th anniversary, we picked three other movies that take place in that most treacherous of jungles—the hallways and hangouts of high school.

– Elaine

“Rebel Without A Cause” (1955)

Cast: James Dean, Natalie Wood, Sal Mineo, Jim Backus, Ann Doran, Dennis Hopper

Available on Amazon Instant streaming, on iTunes, and on disc from Netflix

It’s hard to say why Jim Stark is angry. Is it the dysfunctional relationship of his parents, his new surroundings, or the pretty girl next door who already has a boyfriend? As “Rebel Without A Cause” unfolds, we learn that it’s all and none of these things. Jim Stark is angry because he is. 

Jim, the new boy in town, struggles to adjust to his new life, falls in love with an equally troubled girl, Judy, and befriends a disturbed younger student, Plato. As Jim, James Dean gives the performance of his all-too-brief career, fusing the uncontrollable rage of youth with the mournful vulnerability of a lost soul to tap into the heart of adolescence. In an iconic scene, Jim and Judy “adopt” Plato, pretending to be the parents he never had. It’s a wonderful moment that captures the confusion and absurdity of adolescence. Caught between childhood and adulthood, they mime their future by reaching into the make-believe of the past. We may never have been as angry as Jim and Judy are, but their confusion and pain resonate. Sixty years on, Nicholas Ray’s classic remains one of the most compelling portraits of how difficult—and how angry—growing up can be.

– Elaine

“Dazed and Confused” (1993)

Cast: Jason London, Joey Lauren Adams, Milla Jovovich, Shawn Andrews, Rory Cochrane, Adam Goldberg, Anthony Rapp, Sasha Jenson, Marissa Ribisi, Deena Martin, Michelle Burke, Cole Hauser, Christine Harnos, Wiley Wiggins, Ben Affleck, Parker Posey, Matthew McConaughey

Available on Amazon Instant, iTunes, on disc from Netflix

Richard Linklater’s time-bending ambitions started long before “Before Sunset” or “Boyhood,” as with his second feature the Texan native effortlessly transported audiences back to 1976 for one of his patented rambling, observational films. Linklater follows his rowdy and rambunctious group of teens over the course of one day and one night – but not just ANY one day and one night, no. It’s the last day of school, and the first, sweet hours of summer. For the students of Austin, the impending aimlessness is both liberating and just a little nerve-wracking: rising freshman are learning what it means to be thrust into adolescence, while graduating seniors contemplate whether they are doomed to become Matthew McConaughey (in what remains, even an Oscar later, his signature role). The characters inhabit more or less archetypical high school roles, but the near-total lack of plot makes this feel less like a manipulated world and more a relatable, inhabited one.

– Ethan

“Saved!” (2004)

Cast: Jena Malone, Mandy Moore, Macaulay Culkin, Patrick Fugit, Heather Matarazzo, Eva Amurri Martino, Mary Louise Parker

Available on Amazon Instant, iTunes, and streaming on Netflix

Coming out only a month after “Mean Girls” hit theaters, the equally witty (and more scathingly satirical) high school comedy “Saved!” couldn’t quite make it out of Lindsay Lohan’s shadow, grossing only a modest, indie-level-success $10 million. Of course, despite its likable cast of young actors (this was before Culkin started singing about pizza, remember), “Saved!” wasn’t nearly so “audience-friendly” in Hollywood’s eyes – its Christian school setting and tackling of polarizing issues like teen pregnancy, homophobia and religion may have warded off the cinematically unadventurous. But they missed out, as “Saved!” is raunchy, sharp, and touchingly earnest about its characters’ struggles, handling hot-button topics with compassion and hilarity. As high school goes in real life, the emotions flow so loud and large that sometimes you just have to break down laughing.

– Ethan

Trailers of the Week: The Tower

Gone Girl

David Fincher’s last effort, “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo,” felt mostly like the director was running in place – a genre exercise to keep him in shape, and not a whole lot else (Rooney Mara’s scathing performance as Lisbeth Salander was unfortunately balanced out by Daniel Craig sleepwalking his way through the entire film). Gillian Flynn’s thriller “Gone Girl” has a little more going for it, thematically: marital strife in hard economic times, ravenous media, dishonesty. The casting is also intriguing, with Ben Affleck continuing his efforts to reinvent and reinvigorate his place as one of Hollywood’s big-name leading men, and Rosamund Pike finally in a high-profile role worthy of her talent. This trailer is as stylish and intriguing as we’ve come to expect from Fincher projects (remember that phenomenal campaign for “The Social Network?”), but am I the only one getting a little bored of the same old shadowy aesthetic? I want to buy Jeff Cronenweth a nice standing lamp.

A Most Wanted Man

This year’s Sundance festival was generally perceived as a little lackluster (witness, no Sundance selection made it to Cannes’ Un Certain Regard this year, breaking with a sort of unofficial tradition of recent years). But one of the few consensus standouts was Anton Corbijn’s adaptation of John le Carré’s “A Most Wanted Man,” and in particular Philip Seymour Hoffman’s lead performance as weary German intelligence agent Günther Bachmann. It is continually sobering to know this will be one of our last chances to see Hoffman on the big screen, but it’s obvious even from this brief look that he will be as phenomenal as he ever was. He’s a perfect fit for a le Carré lead – dedicated, unglamorous, the definition of a slow burn.

Corbijn also seems a good fit for the material, coming off the heels of “The American,” another contemporary spy thriller that suffered only from a bit of a half-baked narrative. That shouldn’t be a problem here with le Carré at hand, and Corbijn’s controlled, precise style is an appropriate way to visualize a world where one false step has dire consequences. This one’s high on my most anticipated titles of the year.

Maps to the Stars

I just…I’m not even sure…what?

The Homesman

As with the above David Cronenberg nut-fest, Tommy Lee Jones’ “The Homesman” will premiere on the Croisette in May. And I’m not the most objective source here, considering my irrational fondness for all things frontier, but I love everything about this trailer. I love the concept. I love Tommy Lee Jones in this role, and even Hilary Swank, who’s been far too fond of baity prestige pieces of late, seems suited to her part. I love the ensemble, with interesting character actors like Tim Blake Nelson, John Lithgow, David Dencik, Jesse Plemons, and let’s not forget Meryl, filling out the cast. I love “The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada,” I love Kelly Reichardt’s “Meek’s Cutoff,” which has a lot of this particular flavor of homestead isolation. I’m all in.

The Rover

And of course, the only thing better than an American frontier Western is a post-apocalyptic future Australian Outback Western! I’m not entirely sure what accent Robert Pattinson thinks he’s doing, but Guy Pearce was terrific in “The Proposition” and he seems to be tapping into that same vein of TERRIFYING here. I’ve never seen David Michod’s “Animal Kingdom,” which was a surprise critical hit back in 2010, earning Jacki Weaver her first Oscar nomination and putting Joel Edgerton on the map. It’s certainly on my priority list to catch up with before “The Rover” debuts out of competition at a midnight screening at Cannes next month.