Bruce Willis and Reece Thompson in the film by Brett Simon

‘Assassination of a High School President’ on Amazon Prime Video

The name’s Bobby Funke. I write for the paper.” At least that’s how this picked-on sophomore imagines himself in Assassination of a High School President (2008): the loner who walks a straight line through the crooked halls of his corrupt Catholic high school. Funke (who is inevitably called “Funky” by his schoolmates) narrates his tale […]

Richard Linklater's 'Dazed and Confused

‘Dazed and Confused’ on Amazon Prime

Cinema has the unique ability to create a sensory experience vivid enough to make the past suddenly present and alive. Richard Linklater’s cinematic flashback Dazed and Confused (1993) captures a rich pageant of high-school life, circa 1976, in a mere 100 minutes, leaning on nostalgia without wallowing in it. Jason London is the center of […]

‘Freaks and Geeks’ – complete and restored on Hulu

Somewhere between Dawson’s Creek and Booksmart is the sharp, funny, and surprisingly poignant high school dram-edy (for lack of a better word) Freaks and Geeks (1999-2000). Linda Cardellini grounds the series as Junior Lindsay, the former class brain who rejects her place in the school hierarchy and, in startling identity crisis, gravitates toward the school […]

‘Night is Short, Walk on Girl’ on HBO Max

A teenage girl’s long, eventful night on the town becomes a fantastical adventure in Night is Short, Walk on Girl (Japan, 2017), an animated feature from Japanese filmmaker Masaaki Yuasa. A high school sophomore, known only as “The Girl with Black Hair” (or Otome), joins a pair of harmless con artists for a night on […]

Joseph Gordon-Levitt stars in the high school neo-noir by Rian Johnson

‘Brick’- High school noir on Amazon Prime

Brick (2005), the debut feature from Star Trek: The Last Jedi filmmaker Rian Johnson, puts the collected works of Raymond Chandler and Dashiell Hammett in a blender with a jigger of teenage melodrama and pours it into a high school mold. Joseph Gordon-Levitt plays things so close to his chest that he’s almost unreadable as […]

Selena Gomez, Vanessa Hudgens, Ashley Benson, Rachel Korine , and James Franco star in Harmony Korine's 'Spring Breakers'

‘Spring Breakers’ free on Kanopy and Hoopla

Spring Breakers (2012) is not your traditional fun in the sun spring break movie. But then you wouldn’t expect that from Harmony Korine, the self-appointed agent provocateur of American indie cinema confrontation, even with a cast that includes Disney Channel sweethearts Selena Gomez and Vanessa Hudgens. They play two of the four college girls (Ashley […]

Jonah Hill, Michael Cera, and Christopher Mintz-Plasse star in the raunchy comedy

‘Superbad’ – teenage kicks on Netflix

The raucous and raunchy comedy Superbad (2007) is the love child of American Pie and Dazed and Confused. Behind its floridly foul streams of profanity and adolescent preoccupation with sex and alcohol is a savvy evocation of teenage insecurity and the confused ideas and feelings about the opposite sex. It’s produced by Judd Apatow and […]

James Dean in ‘Rebel Without a Cause’ on HBO Max

Before the 1950s, there were no teenagers in the movies, at least not as such. There were adults and children, and that awkward age in between was largely seen as, well, that awkward period in between. You had kids on the cusp, troubled young adults, and juvenile delinquents, but the teenager, with his / her […]

Reese Witherspoon in Alexander Payne's satire 'Election' with Matthew Broderick

‘Election’ – Vote Tracy Flick on Amazon Prime and Paramount+

Election (1999), Alexander Payne’s wicked satire of power and (social) politics set in the overheated incubator of a high school student body election, is as sharp and perceptive now as it was in 1999. Matthew Broderick is the passionately dedicated and somewhat condescending civics teacher Jim McAllister, whose extra-curricular involvement helps compensate for a passionless […]

Adèle Exarchopoulos and Léa Seydoux star in 'Blue is the Warmest Color,' directed by Abdellatif Kechiche

‘Blue Is the Warmest Color’ on VOD and Blu-ray/DVD

Filmmaker Abdellatif Kechiche explores the lives of outsiders looking for their place in Blue is the Warmest Color (France, 2013) an intimate love story based on a graphic novel. Thanks to Academy rules for foreign films, it wasn’t eligible for an Oscar nomination due to the timing of its French theatrical release. But it took home […]