January 25, 2011

S.E. Hinton

After getting Dan S.E. Hinton's Novel "The Outsiders" (btw. bought in Austria at Thalia on the Landstrasse in Linz!) for Christmas, he not only developed an obsession with greasers and funny looking hair, but also with the author.

Written at the age of 17, Hinton deals with problems such as gang rivalry, poverty-realted violence, the gap between rich and poor and juvenile delinquency. Considering the rough outline of the book, the author doesn't forget to point out all the trouble, insecurity and prejudice that go hand in hand with growing up in a brutal, realistic and very sensitive way.

Another novel by Hinton, that deals with a similar kind of environment is called "Rumblefish", in which she examines the post-greaser era, where gangs have disappeared and the younger generation dreams of the past, while the older one struggles to fit in society.

Both books have been turned into movies by Francis Ford Coppola. The director said that after receiving a letter from an high school class, in which he was asked to turn "The Outsiders" (the students were reading the book at the time) into a film, he became curious.
Coppola claimed to have never heard of the book before, but shared the students' enthusiasm after reading it.

With a tiny budget and a bunch of young, aspiring actors Francis Ford Coppola did, what a lot of directors failed to do: turn a novel into a film, without ruining the story through adding unnecessities or leaving out important parts and by picking a cast, that is both fresh and authentic in their performance.

Nevertheless, critics all over the world didn't share this positive opinion or worse, didn't even care watching it in the first place. Even Coppola himself is said to have devaluated the movie by saying it was "Gone with the wind for 14-year-old girls". It was only until a few years later, that the movie got the popularity it deserved, but was and still is far from being a hit.

When taking a look at the cast from today's perspective, the lack of attention is hard to understand. Considering the film was shot in 1983, actors like Patrick Swayze, Matt Dillon, Rob Lowe and even Tom Cruise only just made their acting debut with "The Outsiders". Imagine a movie with such a cast in present times!
The Outsiders

The Outsiders

Almost parallel to filming "The Outsiders", Coppola turned to another S.E. Hinton Novel, named "Rumblefish".
After reading and watching the first novel, I was excited about finishing Rumble Fish and even more excited to see another Coppola-production with a simliar cast. Again Matt Dillon plays a protagonist, as well as Diane Lane, who also played an important role in "Outsiders". Names like Nicolas Cage (who is btw Coppola's nephew), Tom Waits or Dennis Hopper complete the cast. Micky Roeurke, whose pre-plastic surgery reflexion made it hard to believe it is really him and still makes my mouth water (yes, he was really, truly handsome!), made an extraordinary and spot on performance of the "Motorcycle boy", leaving most of the other cast out in the rain.

Considering the actors' solid performances it's a shame the director turned this beautiful novel to shit, by hardly sticking to the original text (which was one of the elements I found positive about "The Outsiders"), adding heaps of low-budget special effects and trying to turn it into something arty (I'm referring to an approx. 3 min. sequence in which Tom Waits a.k.a. "Benny" is loudly, if not penetrative chewing gum while wiping the counter grunting some sort of song).

I might have expected a "sequel" to "The Outsiders", at least in terms of quality and simplicity, but I truly got disappointed by this movie. The only reason I might watch it again is to glance at Mickey Rourke's mysterious, vulnerable and gorgeous character and maybe wish I was born in the 50ies in a novel that plays in a different country and be with a modern-age hero who digs fish and motorcycles (or at least I wish good ol' Mickey would've kept his fingers of drugs, alcohol and plastic surgery).

Yes, it's is indeed Mickey Rourke
Rumble Fish cast