Projections - Movie Reviews
With Jim Sabatini


Teenage

Teenage
Starring:
Documentary


Rated: No rating 
Reviewed by: Jim  
Release date: May 9, 2014 Released by: Oscilloscope Laboratories

The methodology of a cinema verite form may be in question Matt Wolf's Teenage that clearly augments its effect in a preternatural use of  "older" clips and archival footage.

It still succeeds in an evocative, surreal fashion that can point to documentary technique in a constructive, critical way like Sarah Polley's superior Stories We Tell enabled its viewers.

Here, a convincing account comes by way of his adaptation with musical mind Jon Savage who penned the progenitor with subtitle The Creation of Youth Culture, 1875-1945. Before the onset of the more famous Edison patents a child went straight to an adult (even if many adults were childish), but things began to change as child labor laws, the Boy Scouts and public schooling at least for a while diffused the youthful delinquent.

Then, World War I and its frenetic aftermath saw thrill-seekers give way to a Depression and the distress around employment underscored the hope and movement of groups like the Swing Kids and Hitler Youth in Europe and the New Deal's Civilian Conservation Corps in the U.S.

The Second World War and its repercussions really helped to distinguished the eponymous culture which was reflected in societal and commercial ways with the 1945 New York Times "Teen-age Bill of Rights" helping to instill a greater need for recognition and ultimately on a more chic, radical trajectory.

How the mores shifted, notably in the musical trends with the Jazz era and the Charleston, as well as icons like Frank Sinatra, helps complement visual examples and first-person diary readings and commentary from the times by Julia Hummer, Jena Malone, Jessie Usher and Ben Whishaw.

Essentially, there may be question to the integrity Wolf's dextrous nonfictional traversing. But, it colors a mania through identification and touches on insightful ideas that could very well presage a follow-up as anti-Vietnam protests and liberation campaigns further define what is often considered a rebellious demographic. Teenage may not really be that original when considering a memorable still of a reenactment but the emergence of what has been gathered and fabricated so effectively demands interest and educational value.

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