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April 19, 2003

Two Teen Films w/a Twist

I saw a double feature of two teen films last night-- and both ended up being two of the best films so far this year. But then neither is traditional Hollywood products or about folks Hollywood even usually portrays except as stereotypes.

Better Luck Tomorrow and Raising Victor Vargas are heartfelt comedies about two very different ethnic subcultures, middle class asian americans and poor latino Dominicans respectively, but both share a lack of formula and an awkward pain in their main characters that more mainstream films just don't offer.

Better Luck Tomorrow is far more aspiring to maintstream appeal with stylish edits and a guiding voice over-- but it's really hard to treat any movie quite the same when you are one of the only anglos in a giant theater of largely asian american college students. An underground marketing plan of mass emails and college organization event viewings is working to propel the film to wide release. And despite a few minor problems in the film, it deserves it.

Victor Vargas is unlikely to make the same leap, which is a shame because it is even better. Just by documenting the lives of Dominicans in New York - an exploding population in the city - it adds a different flavor to the usual formulas, where an intensely Catholic community and African heritage creates a different subculture even among latinos. And the main character, Victor Vargas, is an original, swaggering street style combined with dysfunctional love for his odd but not unrealistic family, stumbling towards an authentic connection with a pretty but shy girl who picks him as a boyfriend early on only to keep the other guys in the neighborhood from harassing her.

See either or both-- or the Hollywood teen plot formula wins.

Posted by Nathan at April 19, 2003 07:57 AM

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Posted by: asdfas at April 19, 2003 09:58 AM

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