User Reviews (10)

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  • Save yourself and find something else to watch. This "documentary", excuse me, "essay film", as director Charlie Lyne calls it, was so terrible that I feel it is my duty as a human being to warn others to avoid it at all costs.

    The director just stitched together 200 clips from movies somewhat related to adolescence and then pretended that simply describing the plot of each movie counts as deep analysis. The viewer is dragged through five insufferable chapters in which Lyne spends about 30 seconds on each film and then brusquely switches to another one without you even realizing it, so you're just confused most of the time. And the montages dotted throughout the film are just a jumble of random scenes weakly connected to each other and set to angsty music. It's like Lyne said, hey, I found a bunch of movies with scenes of people swimming in pools, so here's a five minute montage of that! And now here's a bunch of clips of people dancing around a fire! Ta-dah, film theory!

    Anytime Lyne does attempt any kind of actual analysis, it fails. He forces these deep analyses on movies that don't merit them. He also uses this ominous, horror movie-esque soundtrack throughout the film to add an in-your-face layer of angst to the whole thing. Most times it's laughable because it doesn't match the tone of what's actually happening in the clips, like in the "Euro Trip" section. I mean, it's "Euro Trip", not "28 Days Later", so chill.

    Also, please know what you're getting into. The description for this "essay film" should advertise that it's about horror/slasher teen flicks, because that's where the majority of clips in this film are from. If you don't like gore, don't watch this. There's little critical reason for including the bloody sequences from "Idle Hands", "Jeepers Creepers" or "Final Destination". There's also a desperate-to-be-subversive montage of violence that makes no sense in the context of the film and is just unnecessary and immature.

    The whole thing reeks of a desperate attempt by its director to be hip and angsty. But in his attempt to be deep, Lyne instead succeeds at making the movies he chose to include seem even more superficial and shallow.

    And to top it all off, the narration by Fairuza Balk is terrible. Her voice drones on and on, with this know-it-all, smug tone that matches the attitude Lyne probably had making this movie. She sounds like that pretentious self-proclaimed genius that sat in your Film Theory 101 class who thought that everything that came out of their mouth was just beyond the comprehension of mere mortals.

    This film just misses the mark in so many ways. I don't know how it was so popular in the festival circuit, but I really do hope this is not indicative of the future of film analysis. Because with this film, Charlie Lyne is just beyond clueless.
  • Out of the 18 movies I have so far watched at this year's Bergen International Film Festival, Beyond Clueless var the most powerful experience.

    The documentary might be describes as a seamless, intuitive flow of poignant moments from well known and somewhat obscure high-school films (in all genres: drama, comedy, horror, etc) narrated with a heartfelt approach to considering the deeper content of these works. As such, it elevates the genre from the cheap and somewhat ridiculed slots of popular culture to become insightful inquiries on what it means to grow up, to go through puberty and to become an independent person. As a 25 year old, my experience of the movie was a violent rush though a huge spectrum of emotions, both unsettling and ecstatic, somewhat like that of being a teenager again, but having my entire teenage life pass through my senses in the duration of a regular movie. What I experienced was possibly some of the most genuine catharsis I have had at a cinema.

    The narration was eloquent, intriguing and beautiful. As an MA in comparative literature I am qualified to assess the quality and validity of interpretations and analyses such as those that the film was making throughout the entire spoken monologue, and I must say that I was very much impressed with the writer's ability to make his views quite clear and coherent without succumbing to subjectivism or far-fetched theorism. At a few occasions the narrative and the accompanying images would intensify to a point where I was struggling to follow the line of reasoning, but this was certainly not the case most of the time.

    My only disclaimer would be that since the documentary focuses on movies from the 90s and early 00s, it probably won't speak to your heart unless you grew up in this era. The director if fully aware of this though, as I heard him talk about it when asked at the Q&A after the screening in Bergen yesterday. Without a specific focus and certain limitations, the movie would never have been able to make such a deep dive into certain themes, and would easily have become a more general and perhaps vague film-historical survey.

    Finally, a serious take on a genre that no one takes seriously. I never even went to an American high school, and yet I feel as if my teens and adolescent years (a vital portion of my life) have been legitimized and made meaningful. If you're a nostalgic sentimentalist in their twenties, like me, you don't want to miss this.
  • I tried very hard to like this film, but to no avail. I think I expected "Beyond Clueless" to offer an analysis on the effect that the films it featured (1990s and 2000s high school movies such as "Mean Girls" and "The Craft") had on its audience, or provide an argument that the frequent two-dimensional portrayal of teenagers represents adults' undermining the validity of authentic personalities of high schoolers. But no. Apparently the director refers to this film as "an visual essay"- however, the term "essay" infers that there will be an argument presented. There was no argument or original ideas in "Beyond Clueless", merely the summarization of plot points and archetypal characters frequently re-used in high school movies. While the visuals were interesting and entertaining, the film is basically like a really long trailer for both popular and obscure 1990's and 2000's teen-centric films.
  • I saw this at Branchage in Jersey and was very disappointed. I was expecting behind the scenes footage, interviews with actors, directors and writers. Instead, we got hit with the plot and supposed subtext of each film, most of which were obscure and crap. I even thought they might link back to the classic teen films that actually had value but no, they stuck with the crap like Cruel Intentions 3.

    First off, giving subtext to films that have no subtext is a futile exercise i.e. She's All That has nothing interesting to say at any point, the characters are as deep as a paddling pool, it was crap then and its even worse now. It's about vanity, we get it.

    The next thing is discussing subtext that is actually the context i.e. Josie and the Pussycats. The plot revolves around brainwashing to sell things, for the 2 people (I think I was one of those) that actually saw the cinematic release we got this. We don't need you to tell us that again, it was painful enough the first time.

    The Q&A with the director informed us that most of the budget was spent on lawyers in LA authorising the clips, they must have been rubbing their hands when you came a-knocking.

    Avoid unless you wrote any of the crap films used in this doc so you can have a good laugh as they over-complicate your one-track stoner comedy/girl takes off glasses and is now hot/girls being out of order to each other/jocks having a sensitive side screenplay.

    Mean girls is a good movie though.
  • This movie pretends to be a documentary- in the description offered at the Sonoma International Film Festival, it listed a "superstar cast" of people like Leonardo DiCaprio and Jake Gyllenhaal, when it fact it is merely a boring series of clips from movies those people were in. It's like watching a book report on teen movies. Fairuza Balk narrates in a flat voice with zero inflection that makes me wonder how she ever became an actress. The film makes no attempt at a central thesis, has no original footage or interviews with experts in any capacity, and should not be afforded any sort of attention whatsoever. Please do not spend money on this drivel.
  • "Beyond Clueless" is a dizzying journey into the mind, body and soul of the teen movie, as seen through the eyes of over 200 modern coming-of-age classics.

    Unfortunately, this "documentary" consists of nothing more than plot summaries. No actors or directors talking about the films, no film critics trying to analyze them. Just Fairuza Balk talking over the top of film clips, apparently sharing the opinion of one writer (though even this is unclear).

    It was great to see such films as "Idle Hands", "Ginger Snaps" and "Doom Generation" appear beyond the more mainstream high school films. Even "Jeepers Creepers", which has little to do with high school at all. (Though they are spot on to call out the gay theme.) So that was nice, even if the film as a whole is rather worthless.

    And why the focus on the 1990s? There is something to be said about teen movies of the 1990s, to be sure. But this film never made it clear about how they differ from the 1980s, 1970s or any other decade. What was the point of this selected focus?
  • culturalfatwa26 February 2021
    I'm a sucker for high school movies anyway. I think some of the little mini sketches of the films with the dead pan and sort of totalising narrative wasn't for me. Where the film succeeds much better is where it totally free styles.. Repeating the same corridor walk, bedroom scene, gun loading, locker checking etc etc.. Also sneaky peaks from the likes of American History X, Donie Darko etc.. The music from Summer Camp really adds to some pretty deft editing. Some really unusual choices (Bubble Boy!) and juxtapositions. No one really ever entirely gets out of school and that needs recording. I've seen this film catogarised as 'shallow and uninteresting' but sometimes your depths are, first encountered mucking about in paddling pools. An interesting premise which sort of delivers..
  • I watched this just two days ago and found it very useful in finding new teen films to watch! Maybe the purpose of this documentary should just be to provide film fans with some new ideas for something to watch on a night mid-week. The narration seems jarring at first but I soon got into it and found the flow of the whole doc very steady, there is nothing necessarily new said about the purpose of the teen film or the effect it may have on its viewers, but it is nonetheless fascinating to hear some of the film degree-type theory on the many films included.

    I'm trying to compile a list at the moment of all the teen films that I thought looked worthwhile watching in Beyond Clueless. I'm excited to start!
  • Beyond Clueless appears to be about American teen movies after Clueless up to 2006, but after ten minutes of watching, it becomes apparent that it's actually musings about the nature of the teenagers: they're conformist, struggling with sexuality...and that's about it. This naval gazing is merely illustrated with nearly 200 films (although as you would expect, most of these are simply shots of teenagers walking past the lockers, having sex, etc.).

    As this era of teen films is completely looked over in film history (apart from a cursory nod to Mean Girls), it would have been interesting to hear about the making of the films, their influence, etc. Picking a few films to study in closer depth would have made more sense, rather than giving the synopsis of a handful of films (I know the genre is predictable but what's the point in giving spoilers if you have nothing interesting to say about them). It was nice that some obscurer films were mentioned and it wasn't just teen rom-cons (note- there's plenty of nudity, it is very much teens rather than tweens) but there's no actual study of these films as films, rather as a backdrop for the filmmaker Charlie Lyne's naval gazing.

    Fairuza Balk's narration is supposed to sound artsy and intellectual but sounds more like she is bored out of her brains.

    You'd be better off going to the Wiki page for this film, which lists all the films shown in Beyond Clueless, and picking out a couple to watch.

    This filmmaker needs to go back to school to learn how to make a decent cinematic essay!
  • When this documentary is at its best it uses short clips from literally hundreds of teen movies from '90's and early '00's to illustrate the underlying themes of 'high school life".

    What I liked most about it is the way it does a kind of stream of consciousness speed read on a bunch of movies I was aware of but never saw. I suspect many of the scenes used to illustrate each of the chapter themes are the best bits of some of those films.

    As such "Beyond Clueless" is a personal tour of film moments and themes by the writer. At times there are insights and narrator Fairuza Balk gets her film The Craft featured at the start. Clearly some chapters are more insightful than others.

    This documentary reminded my of Mark Cousins - 'The Story of Film' opus. That was an idiosyncratic romp through film history that at times delighted but could also be a bit annoying.

    By contrast 'Beyond Clueless" mostly hist the mark in the way that it deconstructs the themes and nuances of dozens of teen films ( 180-200).

    It is almost like if you wanted to make a teen film you could pick sequences from the same set of films to make something much smarter than the originals.

    I have watched parts of this more than once and will use it as a guide to see if there are some hidden gems in the teen related genres that I should see