Posted by: ginalazenby | May 20, 2014

Palo Alto in Palo Alto … a tough place for kids today


Meeting first-time director and screenwriter Gia Coppola at the Palo Alto screening of her new movie “Palo Alto”

Funnily enough I happened to read about a new movie called Palo Alto set in … Palo Alto when someone called to invite me to attend a special screening of it, actually in Palo Alto itself. I decided to go. This kind of movie is not really my cup of tea but …. I went anyway and in the context of where I was, with people who grew up in Palo Alto explaining the nuances, I found it very interesting.

It’s an adaptation of a book by actor/director James Franco with  screenwriter and director Gia Coppola being none other than the third generation of her Hollywood dynasty family to take stories to the screen. The special screening on Saturday had Gia herself in the audience holding a Q&A afterwards hosted by James Franco’s mother.

The film is a coming of age teenage angst movie looking at that difficult period in life when a teenager transitions through into adulthood. For some their hours not studying seem to be awash with alcohol and drugs. James Franco resourced his own childhood and teen years to present these vignettes of schoolkids struggling to find their identity and their place in a world where adults did not have much understanding or time for them.  Some of the adults in the film had their own problems…. the main boy character in the film Ted went round to his best friend’s home and hung out with his Dad while the friend, Freddie, was out. Freddie’s Dad was high on drugs and hit on young Ted while sitting on the sofa. A young Ted, rather confused, brushed the guy’s hand off his hair and left.

For most of the movie I was praying that these scenes of disaffected youth were total fiction but talking to friends, sadly I find they are not. I do pity kids today. In this area of Silicon Valley with an extremely high level of wealth, there is enormous pressure on kids to succeed at school and many end up taking their own lives to escape the pressure. I heard stories of many parents so busy and distracted that they just don’t know how to support their teenage offspring.

If you are interested in a very artistically shot film about teens do go see it.




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