Picture the 1999 movie 10 Things I Hate About You and what’s the first scene you think of?
It’s Heath Ledger as Patrick Verona, sliding along the bleachers, microphone in hand as he serenades Julia Stiles’ Kat with the Frankie Valli classic Can’t Take My Eyes Off Of You.
Yes, The Dark Knight’s The Joker may be the character that looms as a cinematic icon but Heath’s Patrick is a romantic comedy icon – and it is this one very simple scene that ensures Heath’s status lives on with generations of new teens.
Patrick is the brooding bad boy with long hair, a devil may care attitude and a cigarette hanging from his lips; the boy your parents warned you about, the one who will break your heart.
But he’s also the boy who will attend Club Skunk for you, ask if you’ve seen his copy of The Feminine Mystique and buys you a Fender Stratocaster guitar.
And embarrasses himself in front of the entire school to perform with the marching band just to make you feel better about yourself.
What 10 Things I Hate About You also has going for it is that it is the quintessential teen movie.
Based on William Shakespeare’s The Taming Of The Shrew, the film tells a story of a headstrong and opinionated girl who loves ‘Thai food, feminist prose and angry girl music of the indie-rock persuasion’ and who refuses to fall in love but finds herself doing exactly just that.
And all without losing her feminist fire in the process.
In these times of change, it’s more important than ever that a film like 10 Things I Hate About You – which even at release was a movie that finally bought not only fun but also a grounding to teen movies that had been lacking – continues to remain in our conscious, an empowering film that can help anyone during those tough teenage years.
And just as in 2017, as we continue to fall in love with 1940s Marlon Brando’s Stanley Kowalski, 1950s James Dean’s Jim Stark, 1990s Ryan Phillippe’s Sebastian Valmont, Heath’s Patrick has also been cemented for all eternity in our hearts as one of the big screen’s ultimate teen crushes.
He really was too good to be true.
‘Antebellum’ has a ‘Get Out’ vibe, but doesn’t live up to its twist
“Antebellum” is built around a provocative twist, and it’s a good one — as well as one that definite..
“Antebellum” is built around a provocative twist, and it’s a good one — as well as one that definitely shouldn’t be spoiled even a little. Once that revelation is absorbed, however, the movie becomes less distinctive and inspired, reflecting an attempt to tap into the zeitgeist that made “Get Out” a breakthrough, without the same ability to pay off the premise.
Originally destined for a theatrical run, the movie hits digital platforms trumpeting a “Get Out” pedigree in its marketing campaign, since there’s an overlap among the producing teams.
More directly, the film marks the directing debut of Gerard Bush + Christopher Renz, who have championed social-justice issues through their advertising work. The opening script features a quote from author William Faulkner, whose intent will eventually become clearer: “The past is never dead. It’s not even past.”
If that sounds like a timely means of drawing a line from the horrors of slavery to the racism of today, you’ve come to the right place.
The story begins on a plantation, where the brutal overseers carry out grisly punishments against those tilling the fields. A few have just tried to escape, led by Veronica (Janelle Monae), and they pay a heavy price for their resistance, which does nothing to curb her defiance.
Also written by Bush + Renz, the script take too long before revealing what makes “Antebellum” different, but the middle portion — a “The Twilight Zone”-like phase when it’s hard to be sure exactly what’s going on — is actually the film’s strongest. (Even the trailer arguably gives away too much, so the less one knows, the better.)
The final stretch, by contrast, veers into more familiar thriller territory, and feels especially rushed toward the end, leaving behind a host of nagging, unanswered questions. That provides food for thought, but it’s also what separates the movie from something like “Get Out,” which deftly fleshed out its horror underpinnings.
Although the filmmakers (in a taped message) expressed disappointment that the movie wasn’t making its debut in theaters, in a strange way, the on-demand format somewhat works in its favor. In the press notes, Bush says the goal was “to force the audience to look at the real-life horror of racism through the lens of film horror. We’re landing in the middle of the very conversations that we hoped ‘Antebellum’ would spur.”
“Antebellum” should add to that discussion, so mission accomplished on that level. Monae is also quite good in her first leading film role (she did previously star in the series “Homecoming’s” second season), but otherwise, most of the characters remain underdeveloped.