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Sundance Institute at BAM: American Teen

Documentary focus is something that, like car keys, should not be given unquestioningly to high schoolers.

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Sundance Institute at BAM: American Teen

Documentary focus is something that, like car keys, should not be given unquestioningly to high schoolers. American Teen, Nanette Burnstein’s particularly irritating Sundance favorite, follows a group of students into their senior year and, despite intimate access into its subjects’ triumphs and anxieties, can’t offer a single insight about adolescence that wasn’t already rancid in reruns of The Real World. (“My life sucks right now. What if it’s even worse after high school,” is about as contemplative as things get.) The Warsaw, Indiana setting—“mostly white, mostly Christian, and red-state all the way”—is promising, but the film is less interested in seeing how young people are formed by and react to their environment than in how they flatter audiences’ views of teen clichés. On the popular side, there’s basketball star Colin trying to wow potential college recruiters, and princessy “total bitch” Megan getting revenge on a rival prom-night decorator by spray-painting “fag” on his window. On the misfit side, there’s arty Juno-wannabe Hannah, who hopes to fulfill her “alternative girl” duties by leaving town for film school, and “marching band supergeek” Jake, who takes occasional time off from self-pity to tend to his video game collection and Kurt Cobain portraits. American Teen cries for some perspective: A crush, a break-up, or a game can be staggering events to a 17-year-old mind, but is that enough meat for a documentary? Then again, Burnstein’s previous project was The Kid Stays in the Picture; from propping up Robert Evans’s monumental self-infatuation to indulging adolescent egos is but a skip. The problem isn’t so much with the subjects per se as it is with the film’s insistently slick, reductive attempts to mold them into real-life counterparts to characters from some John Hughes comedy circa 1986. Tricked out with graphics and winking musical cues, the film looks for emotional truth in high school cliques but instead ends one Ally Sheedy cameo short of Not Another Teen Movie, Part Deux.

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Watch: Two Episode Trailers for Jordan Peele’s The Twilight Zone Reboot

Ahead of next week’s premiere of the series, CBS All Access has released trailers for the first two episodes.

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The Twilight Zone
Photo: CBS All Access

Jordan Peele is sitting on top of the world—or, at least, at the top of the box office, with his sophomore film, Us, having delivered (and then some) on the promise of his Get Out. Next up for the filmmaker is the much-anticipated reboot of Rod Serling’s The Twilight Zone, which the filmmaker executive produced and hosts. Ahead of next week’s premiere of the series, CBS All Access has released trailers for the first two episodes, “The Comedian” and “Nightmare at 30,000 Feet.” In the former, Kumail Nanjiani stars as the eponymous comedian, who agonizingly wrestles with how far he will go for a laugh. And in the other, a spin on the classic “Nightmare at 20,0000 Feet” episode of the original series starring William Shatner, Adam Scott plays a man locked in a battle with his paranoid psyche. Watch both trailers below:

The Twilight Zone premieres on April 1.

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Scott Walker Dead at 76

Walker’s solo work moved away from the pop leanings of the Walker Brothers and increasingly toward the avant-garde.

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Scott Walker
Photo: 4AD

American-born British singer-songwriter, composer, and record producer Scott Walker, who began his career as a 1950s-style chanteur in an old-fashioned vocal trio, has died at 76. In a statement from his label 4AD, the musician, born Noel Scott Engel, is celebrated for having “enriched the lives of thousands, first as one third of the Walker Brothers, and later as a solo artist, producer and composer of uncompromising originality.”

Walker was born in Hamilton, Ohio on January 9, 1943 and earned his reputation very early on for his distinctive baritone. He changed his name after joining the Walker Brothers in the early 1960s, during which time the pop group enjoyed much success with such number one chart hits as “Make It Easy on Yourself” and “The Sun Ain’t Gonna Shine (Anymore).”

The reclusive Walker’s solo work moved away from the pop leanings of the Walker Brothers and increasingly toward the avant-garde. Walker, who was making music until his death, received much critical acclaim with 2006’s Drift and 2012’s Bish Bosch, as well as with 2014’s Soused, his collaboration with Sunn O))). He also produced the soundtrack to Leos Carax’s 1999 romantic drama Pola X and composed the scores for Brady Corbet’s first two films as a director, 2016’s The Childhood of a Leader and last year’s Vox Lux.

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Watch: The Long-Awaited Deadwood Movie Gets Teaser Trailer and Premiere Date

Welcome to fucking Deadwood!

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Deadwood
Photo: HBO

At long last, we’re finally going to see more of Deadwood. Very soon after the HBO series’s cancellation in 2006, creator David Milch announced that he agreed to produce a pair of two-hour films to tie up the loose ends left after the third season. It’s been a long road since, and after many false starts over the years, production on one standalone film started in fall 2018. And today we have a glorious teaser for the film, which releases on HBO on May 31. Below is the official description of the film:

The Deadwood film follows the indelible characters of the series, who are reunited after ten years to celebrate South Dakota’s statehood. Former rivalries are reignited, alliances are tested and old wounds are reopened, as all are left to navigate the inevitable changes that modernity and time have wrought.

And below is the teaser trailer:

Deadwood: The Movie airs on HBO on May 31.

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