FRONTRUNNERS: (2008) 80 MINUTES D: CAROLINE SUH DOCUMENTARY PLAYS: FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 28TH TO WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 3RD AT : 7 AND 9PM
First, I must say that the actual experience of watching this film was made even more enjoyable by my companion that day, Pallas. How better to watch a film about young people than to have one sit next to you while you see it? And she was VERY well-behaved, when she had a comment to make she did so by cupping her hands around her mouth and whispering into my ear, thus respecting me, the film, and the other viewer. It made me look forward to The 4th Annual Children‘s Film Festival–January 23rd to February 1st–even more than I already was! (Goddard had to start somewhere, ya know.)
Stuyvesant High School in New York City is for gifted students, (it’s been attended by such luminaries as Jimmy Cagney, Tim Robbins, Thelonious Monk and Dick Morris) and accepts only 3% of the 25,000 kids that apply. Which means they have the most intense student elections in this country. Frontrunners follows the stories of 2 of those students as they aspire to the highest office in their administration. To add to it’s expertise, Editor Jane Rizzo worked on Tanner On Tanner, Robert Altman‘s satire/valentine to our nation’s electoral system.
You know that these kids are destined for politics as I’ve never seen such lustrous hair and white teeth before, esp. in the top two candidates for School President–and I’m from L.A.! (Check out their school pictures, dramatically staged in front of the flag!). Hannah’s a gorgeous actress with impressive credentials (she appeared in Todd Solondz‘s Palindromes)–though when the film notes describe her as “the best hip hop dancer in the school”–a white chick from the Upper West Side of Manhattan?!!! (‘Nuff said.) She’s very talented in the Arts, and has personality galore, but little experience in school administration.
George, honestly, George IS Max Fischer, I lost track of all the clubs he founded (or is in), but they include the Juggling Club, the Bowling Club, as well as studying the rituals of his heritage, which includes Greek Dance. The Lounge is what gets me the most though–in true M.F. style, he has improvised a kinda bizarre meeting place for the intelligentsia who seek out his company by sectioning off an area in front of (what I assume to be his locker, thought he seems to use 2-3 more, with ropes that he appropriately uses to make a kind of triangle, draping material with (again appropriately) Greek symbols.)) When people arrive for an appointment (which are all recorded on in a file on his computer), he flips the material over the ropes to create privacy, and pulls down a sign that states that “The Lounge is in Session–Please Be Quiet” (or words to that effect). So then he opens the various lockers, pulling out collapsible chairs, Perrier, etc., to make his guests comfy, as only a good host does. He has tons of experience in school politics, but is viewed as kinda remote by the student body. The Lounge no doubt encouraged that impression. It makes me remember how strange we all were in High School. And how some of us have never grown out of it, really.
One of the students compares it to the Nixon versus JFK race, experience versus personality. There is a rather unpleasant televised debate, but I don’t know whether to be encouraged or depressed by how many of the students say they’ll wait until the School Newspaper (rightly/ironically titled The Spectator) endorses a candidate.
If you wanna see the real-life Max Fischer, this is the film to see!