(ru) wrote: A Place to Find Yourself and Your Art I found the soundtrack at the Tacoma library, the last summer I was living in Tacoma. (A long and involved story of loneliness, that.) And I checked it out, because I thought it would be funny. And I took it home, and I listened to it, and it wasn't funny. It was just good. Then some months later, when I was talking to a new friend in Olympia, at Evergreen, about how funny it was that it wasn't funny, if you see what I mean, and she (where are you, Dara?) said, "Have you seen the movie yet? It's really good!" So I rented it, and I was blown away. It didn't help that Paul McCrane was on [i]ER[/i] at the time, something which then amused both of us equally. I've never bothered with the remake, which seems from all accounts to be the way to go, but I'm seriously impressed by the original. And, no, I'm not sure I ever saw the TV show, though I do remember changing the channel past it when I was a kid. This is four years in the lives of a group of talented teenagers. Doris Finsecker (Maureen Teefy), Montgomery MacNeil (McCrane), and "Ralph Garci" (Barry Miller) are the main focus; they are actors. Bruno Martelli (Lee Curreri) is a musician. Leroy Johnson (Gene Anthony Ray) and Lisa Monroe (Laura Dean) are dancers, later joined by Hilary Van Doren (Antonia Fraceschi), and Coco Hernandez (Irene Cara) does a little bit of everything, it seems. They are all attending the New York High School of the Performing Arts. They come from varying backgrounds all over the city--Ralph, for example, is really Raul Garcia, a Puerto Rican from a poor neighbourhood who idolizes Freddie Prinze because he got out. Hilary is well off and uses Leroy, black and from the ghetto, to piss off her father and stepmother. Bruno is into electronic music and pines for Coco, who was involved with Leroy before Hilary. Monty is the gay son of a famous actress, and Lisa is having a hard time in the dance department. Despite the fact that I can't stand him, Leroy is possibly the most interesting character. He only auditions for the school because a girl he's with needs a partner for her own audition--and she doesn't get in. He is functionally illiterate and figures it doesn't much matter, because he'll just get by dancing. He's implied to live on the streets. He doesn't care about any of the girls with whom he is involved. He likes the sex, and he's perfectly willing to trade using Hilary in exchange for being used. He's young and hot, and he knows it. And apparently, much the same could be said of the late Gene Anthony Ray, who flunked out or some variation thereof from the real school on which this is based. (He died of complications from a stroke and was apparently HIV-positive at the time.) While it's true that he's more dynamic than Bruno, it's also true that Coco can't be unaware that at least Bruno cares about someone other than himself. Remarkably for a show-biz story, it doesn't much glamourize the arts. We repeatedly emphasize that art is hard work. The biggest problem Miss Berg (Joanna Merlin) has with Lisa is that she doesn't sweat enough. Doris idolizes Michael (Boyd Gaines), a senior when she and the others are freshmen, who turns down an acting scholarship in the hopes of fame and fortune--and ends up working in a pizzeria. Hilary makes an extremely painful decision--alone--in order to pursue her career. Leroy finds out that it does, after all, matter if he manages to graduate or not. Ralph finds a certain level of success at stand-up comedy (and we get a cameo of Richard Belzer as himself, not Munch!), but it isn't completely untroubled. Doris has a huge stage mother (Tresa Hughes) and not much personality. In their sophomore year, the actors have to reveal painful memories. And all the teachers emphasize that there are more people going for the jobs than there are jobs to fill, and that talent and hard work aren't enough. One of the biggest complaints I've heard about this movie is that it's improbable that Monty, poor thing, would be the only gay kid at the school and that he would be the only one to be single. But he's the only openly gay kid of the ones we know anything about; after all, Lisa never really seems to have sexuality at all. Neither does Michael, from what I can tell. He is shown hanging out with girls a few times, but Monty is hanging out with Doris all the time, so there's that. What's more, you certainly can't say that Hilary is actually happy, and Coco and Bruno go through some serious unhappiness. And I mean, this is eight kids in high school. Some of them may come to terms with sexuality later. Some of them may just choose not to mention it to the others. They aren't all friends with one another, after all. They know each other, but that's about it. And to be honest, I wouldn't be surprised if Leroy was willing to sleep with anyone. I just like to think that Monty is too smart for him.