All American High REVISITED

As the mission statement makes clear, informative sense, explaining that the world before mobile phones and reality television, there was only footage to hold within storages of memory. Cardboard Boxes to be cut and ripped open, to glimpse into the past. The graduating class of 1984 at Torrance High was brilliant, arrogant, decisive, indecisive, unsure, but completely sure of who they wanted to be, or rather, become. In Keva Rosenfield’s All American High REVISITED, these individuals tell their stories.

They open up their worlds with thin wrappings from their minds, what they believe the world should be, become, or if it should stay exactly as it was meant to stay. Their worlds become yours, or perhaps, ours, because our hopes are intertwined in this film. It’s not simply a documentary, but a documentation of what is meant to be great, and falls short sometimes, and by short I mean separate stories; and then, eventually, take the lead. These students take the lead later in their lives, regardless of their shortcomings in earlier times. Life is without a doubt, a hopeless regret, until you wake up one morning and you realize you became exactly who you are meant to be.

The most notable individual within All American High REVISITED is the immigrant student, who seems to understand the world as it has been handed to her seemingly spoiled, arrogant, and sometimes, inspirational classmates. She voices herself like she is not one of the crowd, and to be honest, respect is given to her by an audience rather than her peers. Of course, it seems like she fits right in, at times, but in her own words we find an understanding of who we, as an audience, are and who we blatantly want to become. That’s who they wanted, and that’s who they will always become. It’s what we are, adults who were once teenagers, and who are meant to become, or rather, became.

The power behind this film is the students. They are loving to their football team, their fund-raisers, their hopefulness, their lack of words as they described concepts that seemed so large to themselves, but began to understand once the larger world presented itself before them. Students, with hopes, goals, achievements—some that were plagued by the unity of arrogance, some with enough arrogance to make a difference. But these students learned, quite well, that they would one day become adults who actually live those aspirations and dreams, or perhaps, have the opposite come true. By opposite I mean that their careers are based around their personalities.

The world is most definitely, a scary place, especially inside a classroom. As the students raise their hands high, they are often questioning the world, rightfully and, without meaning to, wrongfully, but it’s their obligation to learn, but life teaches you and me much better. The students are you and I, both, me and you—that’s the focus of this documentary…that high school, no matter how far away, is a place where individuals learn about the world. Once they cross over from being a group of teenagers, and enter the adult world, adults learn about themselves

Let me tell you about myself when I was in High School. I was a loud mouth know-it-all who was enrolled in AP and Honors classes (this honestly made me believe that I was smarter than everyone else even though I wasn’t) who was ignorant in a lot of ways, but I always tried to help the underdog. I was one of the editors of my high school’s literary and arts magazine, Kaleidoscope. I was a new girl who learned to be a part of the crowd, sometimes. I made idiotic comments and talked back to some of my teachers, but I respected more of them than I talked back to. To be completely honest, I haven’t changed too much. In a lot of ways I have, or I did, in recent years, but that’s all a part of growing up. When I was growing up my mother always told me, jokingly, “It’s a conspiracy” because, to be completely honest, I watched too many movies growing up. I’ve found that her sarcasm shaped who I am…because I did take life too seriously. And then I didn’t. And then I did. Sometimes I still act like this, but I tend to joke around a lot more—even when I shouldn’t be—because it’s important to be able to laugh at yourself. To cry when you have to. In this film, I saw a lot of the things that I had seen growing up.

All American High REVISITED is a brilliant understanding of the humans and their kindness. The world is destructively real in many ways. In high school it’s a time to figure out how the world works before you’re set off onto a mission for intelligence and learning expressions through meeting new souls and their remaining helpfulness. But, it’s always important to be wise with your decisions when meeting certain folks. It’s worth a second, maybe a third, most definitely a fourth watch—for it is great.

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Hello, High School Flashbacks

Hello, Film Syrup viewers, we’re back! Film Syrup’s creative team: Paige Skelly, Roxanne Pfaus, Colleen Rowe, and our NEW creative accomplice – Sarina Penza! We have provided the following post and photos to recreate generally well known movie scenes and character interactions. It’s a reunion and you’re all invited:

Infamously horrifically portrayed, high school is often considered by many middle-aged bar goers at happy hour as a chunk of their prime years, while  others, tortured by the memories of themselves as the classic “geek,” pretend that it’s a portion of their history that’s unaccounted for. If you’re anything like me, you don’t care either way, but you expect the people who portray it to be so wonderful or so oppositely horrible to want to leave it behind and make new memories. As often is the case, logic is thrown out the window and run over by a steam roller when filmmaking is involved and stories have been and will continue to be created to exhibit remnants of these high school stories, whether they are exaggerated or completely made up. IMG_5529Among the high school movie classics, there’s a commonality for jealous or resentful friends to become murderers of the “Queen Bee.” It sounds extreme, because it is. Along with a setting and victim, this teen villain needs a weapon. For a sweet ending, the weapon in this case is a jawbreaker, (yes, the candy).

Pictures inspired by: Jawbreaker (1999), written and directed by Darren SteinIMG_5537On the left, our model portrays the originally innocent, “Fern Mayo,” (Judy Greer) who inadvertently walks in on “Julie Freeman,” (Rebecca Gayheart) portrayed by our model on the right, as she and her friends attempt to cover up the “accidental” death of the high school-famous, Elizabeth Purr. Fern makes a deal with the devil, Julie’s friend, Courtney Shayne, and trades her promise to keep their cover up a secret, so long as she becomes one of the most popular gals in school – ladies, I hope you are not taking notes.IMG_5533Fern Mayo renamed, “Violet,” is given this chance to surpass her role as a mousy “geek,” swimming helplessly at the bottom of the high school social pyramid, into the world that Julie Freeman and her friends control. For the first time in her life, Fern is making the decisions that lead other people to trip and fall before her.IMG_5596With this new found power, Violet has the world at the tips of her fingers, or perhaps, just a jawbreaker that is shaped like the world (It’s okay, sometimes people get confused about planet sizes. Astronomy isn’t typically a high school class). With this metaphor for power, the Jawbreaker, Violet sits on her throne, blinded with the power that her sweet tooth introduces her to. She just doesn’t realize that her throne is made of fake gold.IMG_5612Eventually, Violet loses the one true friend she might have, Julie, because of her obsession with being someone great – someone that people will remember.IMG_5611Regardless of what or who you want to be, you’ll always be the person you were before the facade someone else made for you melts like lipstick in the sun. It’s better to be just Fern Mayo than an accomplice to a murder. Choose the name you were given – if you resort to calling yourself a flower, there’s obviously something wrong with you. “I killed Liz, I killed the teen dream. Deal with it.” -Courtney Shayne (Rose McGowan) *** IMG_5650Surprisingly Jawbreaker isn’t the only movie where the protagonist is an accomplice to a high school murder. The infamous Heathers (1988) did it first. Directed by Michael Lehmann, Heathers follows a group girls, three who are appropriately named “Heather” and the other, “Veronica” (Winona Ryder). After one of the Heathers mysteriously commits suicide, there’s a buzz where this act of sadness becomes a craze, like a fashion statement would.IMG_5620Rudely absurd, this 80s flick is beyond ridiculous, especially when psychopathic J.D. (Christian Slater) comes into the picture. Why is everyone playing croquet when there are murders and faked suicides taking place? Here, we’ve replaced croquet with golf, modernizing the comedic aspects of the film, because regardless of what anyone says, this film is surprisingly, a comedy – well, a black comedy.IMG_5643J.D. definitely arises serious animosity between Veronica and the Heathers – or at least the ones who remain alive. Originally friends, these bratty chicks become enemies. What else is new?IMG_5678Watch out, Heather(s), with J.D. on her side, Veronica is unknowingly becoming the hottest murder accomplice in town. I wouldn’t get on her bad side.

IMG_5659The issue of Veronica attacking her friends becomes controversial, because the Heathers are typically horrible. With their feigned sadness and pouts, you start to hate them for their complete disinterest in the deaths of their friends and classmates, especially Heather Duke (Shannen Doherty).

IMG_5637Remember to keep your friends close, but your Heathers closer. *** IMG_5688With a lighter tone, we enter the world of the brave and the clueless. No, wait, it’s just the clueless. In the 1995 Comedy, Clueless, written by Amy Heckerling, rich and thoroughly aloof, Cher Horowitz (Alicia Silverstone) is obsessed with creating projects for herself to make over those who are, in her opinion, in need of extreme help.IMG_5732 IMG_5730Compared to the “teen dreams” in Heathers and Jawbreaker, Cher is much more open to helping others rather than screwing them over. Or really, in the case of those movies, killing them. She adopts confused, new girl, Tai (Brittany Murphy) as one of her projects – to re-do her shy, stoner girl “look” and make her into a member of the crowd. There is one aspect of Tai’s personality that doesn’t have to be redone for her to fit in: she is completely clueless.clueless 3While Cher dominates, it is not with vengeance, malice, or regret. Her original motives to impress her love interest and prove herself to him with charity work, something that he generally admires, turns into a mission that shows there are more depths to a seemingly clueless gal than expected.clueless 1 IMG_5695Although these girls aren’t very intelligent, they prove to be good people. Are these movies teaching us that you have to be mean, manipulative, and vindictive to resemble any form of a logical human being? Do we have a choice to be a clueless good-doer or an informed bitch? Just grab your furry pen and write a complaint, I guess. *** IMG_5757Cult classic, The Breakfast Club (1985), written and directed by John Hughes, should never be forgotten when referring to great setting-based high school films. The two female characters within the film, Claire (Molly Ringwald), and Allison (Ally Sheedy) are opposite poles with skirts on. Stuck-up, popular, Claire, and Grunge-inspired, introvert Allison are stuck in detention on a Saturday with their three male classmates.

the bfast clubThey’re portrayed as these female high school students who live in completely different worlds – Allison’s is painted black and Claire’s is showering her with diamond earrings. Criticized separately for being who they are, one assumes that the “perfect” high school female attraction would be a girl who sits at the median of their rotating spheres.

IMG_5769 IMG_5765After admitting to past offenses, getting stoned, dancing to a classic 80s playlist and requesting that the male “geek” write their papers as a joint effort, they eventually learn more about each other than they originally plan to.IMG_5799Don’t, Don’t, Don’t, Don’t forget about the basket case and the princess. Don’t you.. *** “This is what I know…I´m 25 years old and I have never really kissed a guy. A geek to the core, most of my childhood years were spent doing extra homework I requested from the teacher. High school was more of the same…IMG_5810I will stand on the pitcher´s mound for five minutes prior to the first pitch. If this man accepts my apology…I ask him to come kiss me…for my first real kiss.” (Never Been Kissed, 1999) Directed by Raja Gosnell, Never Been Kissed depicts the life of Josie Gellar (Drew Barrymore) and her return to high school at 25, as an undercover reporter for the Chicago Sun Times.IMG_5828Critiqued by the “popular” girls, Josie attempts to fit in by partying at the local venues where her classmates dwell, only to fully embarrass herself in front of everyone who matters for the success of her journalistic report. Her original objective becomes unfocused, but the result of her return to high school is unexpected.IMG_5871Initially, Josie’s high school experience (#2) isn’t successful socially. Her car is stolen by the “in” crowd, she’s repeatedly called a loser, is forced to wear a sombrero in her Spanish class as a result of her tardiness, and the list goes on like a consistent throb.IMG_5916With the help of her brother, Rob (David Arquette), who accompanies her on her trip down memory lane, Josie is accepted into the “cool” crowd, where prom costumes are styled based on Barbie-related wear.IMG_5926Regardless of her newly improved social status, Josie must still conform to popular norms, including beginning to ignore a classmate who was nice to her when everyone else treated her horribly.IMG_5930Kirsten (Jessica Alba), thinks that “YOU SO DO NOT DESERVE TO BE PROM QUEEN,” Josie Gellar. Which is probably a good thing…since you’re 25. Take it as a compliment and get back to your extremely legitimate job, leaving the ghost of high school past to perish in waves of forgotten memory behind you.

You should only return to high school in real life  when there’s a reunion or maybe not even for that. It’s a part of your past just like the period where you learned how to walk is. It happened, you learned “stuff,” -completely necessary stuff- and you moved on. For now, if you’re ever feeling nostalgic for unnecessarily small lockers, watch one of these films and reminisce. Stick to the films that preceded High School Musical – don’t be lame!

Team:

Writer/Photographer – Colleen Rowe

Stylist/Co-Photographer- Roxanne Pfaus

Model- Paige Skelly

Model- Sarina Penza

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