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SCREENING ROOM

Teens are heating up the screen

September 21, 2006|Susan King | Times Staff Writer

HAIRSTYLES, clothing and music have changed over the decades, but the trials and tribulations of being a teenager remain.

The American Cinematheque is saying "angst for the memories" with its current "Teens on Screen" retrospective at the Aero Theatre in Santa Monica.

Scheduled for this evening is the 20th-anniversary screening of director Tim Hunter and writer Neal Jimenez's "River's Edge," a controversial drama that deals with alienated teens and their surprising reactions when one kills his girlfriend and shows them her dead body. It stars Keanu Reeves, Crispin Glover, Daniel Roebuck and Dennis Hopper, as a psychotic with a blow-up doll.

Sharing the bill is Keith Gordon's underrated 1988 film, "The Chocolate War," a drama based on Robert Cormier's novel about boarding-school life. Ilan Mitchell-Smith and John Glover star.

George Lucas' 1973 masterwork "American Graffiti" screens Friday evening. This nostalgic comedy-drama set one evening in 1962 in a small California town is Lucas' most personal and humanistic film. The cast is filled with soon-to-be Oscar winners and superstars, including Ron Howard, Richard Dreyfuss and Harrison Ford. Equally fine are Candy Clark (who received an Oscar nomination for supporting actress), Mackenzie Phillips, Paul Le Mat, Charles Martin Smith, Cindy Williams and noted rock DJ Wolfman Jack. Vintage rock tunes add to the viewing pleasure.

Though Matthew Broderick is usually cast these days as an endearing nerd in such films as "The Producers," he was the ultimate cool high schooler 20 years ago in John Hughes' rollicking "Ferris Bueller's Day Off," which screens Saturday. The comedy chronicles a day in the life of the supreme slacker and master manipulator who fakes an illness to get out of school and then takes his girlfriend (Mia Sara) and neurotic best friend (Alan Ruck) on one crazy adventure after another. Jeffrey Jones and Ben Stein are the adults.

Following "Ferris" is Hughes' seminal 1985 comedy-drama "The Breakfast Club," about a group of high school misfits who bond during a daylong detention. Several leading members of the so-called "Brat Pack" -- Emilio Estevez, Ally Sheedy, Judd Nelson, Molly Ringwald and Anthony Michael Hall -- star.

Rounding out the teen festival Sunday are two exceptional films from French director Francois Truffaut: his first movie, 1959's landmark "The Four Hundred Blows," and his last movie dealing with children, 1976's "Small Change."

A former critic for Cahiers du Cinema and one of the founders of the French New Wave, Truffaut made his feature directorial debut with "The Four Hundred Blows," a semiautobiographical story of a lonely Parisian boy (Jean-Pierre Leaud) who feels unloved and misunderstood by his parents. Far more colorful is "Small Change," which revolves around a group of teens and children in a small French town.

Vintage De Palma

The Los Angeles County Museum of Art's "Dressed to Kill: The Stylish Thrillers of Brian De Palma" continues Friday night with 1976's "Carrie," the director's first unqualified hit.

Based on Stephen King's first best-seller, the horror film stars Sissy Spacek, in her first Oscar-nominated best actress role, as a shy high school student who literally destroys everyone and everything around her when she's ridiculed at the prom. John Travolta, William Katt and Amy Irving also star.

Following "Carrie" is another corker from De Palma, the erotic 1980 "Dressed to Kill," starring Angie Dickinson, Michael Caine, Nancy Allen (one of De Palma's wives) and Keith Gordon.

Though 1981's "Blow Out," scheduled for Saturday, wasn't a hit when it was released, the film features a terrific performance from Travolta as a decent average guy -- a film technician -- who gets caught up in political paranoia when he captures the sound of a car plunging off a cliff while recording random night sounds for a horror film.

De Palma directed Sean Connery to his one and only Oscar in the well-crafted 1987 action-drama "The Untouchables," which also screens Saturday. Connery plays a wise old Chicago cop who becomes the mentor to the brash young Treasury agent Eliot Ness (Kevin Costner). Robert De Niro swings a deadly baseball bat as Al Capone.

"Untouchables" also boasts an evocative score by Ennio Morricone and a sensational re-creation of the Odessa steps sequence from Sergei M. Eisenstein's "Battleship Potemkin."

Cliff Robertson headlines De Palma's romantic "Obsession" (1976), screening Sept. 29, playing a successful real estate developer whose life unravels after his wife and daughter are killed in a bungled kidnapping.

Fifteen years later, he goes to the church in Florence, Italy, where he had met his late wife, and finds an Italian art restorer (Genevieve Bujold) who resembles his former spouse. Faster than you can say "Vertigo," he attempts to transform her into an exact duplicate. Bernard Herrmann received an Oscar nomination for his haunting score.

*

Screenings

'Teens on Screen'

* "River's Edge" and "The Chocolate War": 7:30 tonight

* "American Graffiti": 7:30 p.m. Friday

* "Ferris Bueller's Day Off" and "The Breakfast Club": 7:30 p.m. Saturday

* "The Four Hundred Blows" and "Small Change": 6:30 p.m. Sunday

Where: Aero Theatre, 1328 Montana Ave., Santa Monica

Info: (323) 466-3456, americancinematheque.com

De Palma retrospective

* "Carrie" and "Dressed to Kill": 7:30 p.m. Friday

* "Blow Out" and "The Untouchables": 7:30 p.m. Saturday

* "Obsession": 7:30 p.m. Sept. 29

Where: LACMA, 5905 Wilshire Blvd., L.A.

Info: (323) 857-6010, lacma.org

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