"Palo Alto" (2013 release; 98 min.) brings the story of a group of high
school kids. As to movie opens, we see best buddies Fred (played by Nat
Wolff) and Teddy (played by Jack Kilmer, yes son of Val--who also
appears in the movie) sitting in the car in an empty parking lot. Fred
eventually rams the car into a wall from short distance, freaking Teddy
out. We also get to know April (played by Emma Roberts, yes Julie is
her aunt), who is on the girls soccer team, coached by Mr. B. (played
by James Franco). Soon a theme emerges: what most high school kids care
about is to party, get wasted and smoke pot, and that's about it After
one of those parties, Teddy, driving under the influence, hits another
car. He barely avoids juve and must do 150 hrs. of community service in
the local library. At this point we're a good 20 min. into the movie
and to tell you more would spoil your viewing experience, you'll just
have to see for yourself how it all plays out.
Couple of comments: first, this is the big screen directing debut of Gia Coppola, yes THAT Coppola. Francis Ford is her grandfather and Sofia is her aunt. Gia was a mere 25 years old when this movie was shot. You can't help but wonder at the parallel between this and "The Virgin Suicides", Sofia's debut (when she was herself only 26 or 27). Second, the movie is based on James Franco's book "Palo Alto Stories" of a few years ago. I have not read that collection of short stories, so I can't comment how close the movie has stuck (or not) to the original stories. Third, Jack Kilmer absolutely steals the movie with his performance of the vulnerable Teddy. We surely have not seen the last of him. And Emma Roberts of course confirms all the good things that we have seen of her before, although hopefully she won't be playing a 16 yr. old high school kid much longer (she's now 23). "Palo Alto" contains so many "big" and "promising" names, yet in the end fails to truly set itself apart from other "coming-of-age" movies. It's certainly not a 'bad' movie, but in the end it feels like the sums of the parts don't make up the whole.
I saw "Palo Alto" this weekend at the Lincoln Center Film Society in New York, and the matinée screening where I saw this at was strongly attended, somewhat to my surprise. Despite its flaws, "Palo Alto" is still worth checking out, be it in the theaters or eventually on DVD/Blu-ray.
Action / Drama
Action / Drama
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October 22, 2014 at 06:20 AM