Saturday, May 7

The Julia Stiles Non-Required Viewing List

Meanwhile, Bookslut’s the Hollywood Madam affirms my long time suspicion that it is possible to teach a college (or high school, depends on your inclination) lit class using Julia Stiles’s filmography alone.

It seems like Ms. Stiles’ criteria for choosing her film roles depend on 3 things: (1) It must be based on anything Shakespeare, and (2) If that’s not possible, then anything classic may do; and (3) If still not possible, then act sullen and brooding enough to make people think it’s based on, if it’s not yet, a classic.

This looting of the literary canon to turn it into teen movie fodder can be traced back to when Alicia Silverstone first dressed in pink and said, “Whatever!” We have Amy Heckerling to blame for that 90s update of Jane Austen’s “Emma.” (But really, as far as Jane Austen is concerned, if you make me choose between teen movies and chick lit, I’ll pick the former any time.)

After that, it became a free for all. Rachel Leigh Cook’s idea of transformation from geek to babe was going down the stairs, slow mo, with Sixpence None the Richer singing in the background. What Pygmalion? That's "She's All That" for you.

And of course, Julia Stiles. My favorite performance is still her take on the wench in "10 Things I Hate About You." Because in her other movies, especially in that Othello remake, cleverly titled “O”, where her Desi really sincerely believes that she’s in a Royal Shakespeare Production. Besides, “O” is really all about Josh Hartnett, who can actually be pretty even with those eyebrows.

One of my favorite comfort movies is that ultimate of teen movie parodies, “Not Another Teen Movie.” It takes on the entire John Hughes ouvre from the 80s all the way to the late 90s teen movie revival. One of the beefs people poined out about NATM is that you have to be knowledgeable about every teen movie produced between 1980-2000. I say, you don’t really need to watch all the movies produced between that period. It’s not even confined to the works of Hughes and Heckerling and Stiles and Jennifer Love Hewitt. It also takes on Cameron Crowe for chrissakes. There’s really just this recognizable tract in that genre, in that slice of life termed coming of age that makes you feel like you’ve seen it before.

The only thing I dread is when N*Sync’s Lance Bass’s proposed update for The Great Gatsby actually pushes through. Paris Hilton as Daisy and the guy from The O.C. as Jay G? Oh yes, the rich really are different from you and me.

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