Parents gone, party on

What's it like to be a teen in 2012 — the culture, the language, the norms, the values? Of course, adults can never know. The adolescent world, in all its vagaries, is beyond reach. Teens live inside the tent, the grown-ups on the outside. And even those who share the adolescent world, such as teachers and parents, are never really privy to what's going on. It's all need to know. And the oldsters don't need to know.

So, if parents see the just-released "Project X" (What are the chances?), they might ask, with furrowed brows: Really? Seriously? Is this what it means to be young today? Or is it all Hollywood hyperbole?

In a nutshell, "Project X" is about one night in the life of Thomas Kub (Thomas Mann), who has just turned 17. His parents are leaving for a weekend, and Thomas' friends, J.B. (Jonathan Brown) and Costa (Oliver Cooper), convince him that if they are ever to get any street cred at their high school (they're geeky and ignored by the popular kids), they have to throw a party that defines "cool." Parents gone. Party on.

Thomas, a cautious kid by nature, who worries a lot, wants to keep it to, say, 25 tops. Costa, who hails from Jersey, has a ton of attitude, tells him not to worry. Just a few hot girls, some guys, and Thomas can cut his cake before midnight and that's it. Thomas insists that no "randoms" can come, meaning the uninvited.

As if.

That's the narrative, which comes to an abrupt halt as it becomes evident that Costa has extended invitations to just about everyone younger than 18 and living in Pasadena, Calif. This is when the movie becomes an event and not a story. Let the games begin.

The three amigos are followed around by a kid with a video camera, Dax (Dax Flame), filming everything, giving the film an interesting, eye-of-the-storm point of view and a faux docu feel as the party abandons all restraint and drops off a cliff.

Where to begin: pervasive foul language, mayhem, destruction of private property, sex, alcohol, sex, a midget trapped in the stove, binge drinking, random acts of outrageousness, a high school version of spring break and girls gone wild, bedlam, more sex, drugs, a guy with a flame thrower, and Thomas' upscale house turned into rubble, all taking place at a level requiring suspension of disbelief.

This is not your grandfather's adolescence. This is way, way out on the edge of a fragile envelope, and if it's even close to reflecting what is going on inside the aforementioned tent, well, it's reason enough to ground everyone with a teen attached to their age. Go to your rooms, youngsters. We'll push the meals through an opening in the door. You're homeschooled forever.

Parents should see this film as a cautionary tale. And know that "Risky Business" was prologue, "Ferris Bueller's Day Off" a sweet romp. A dark page has been turned.

When it comes to modern dance, I am among the uninitiated. I had never heard of Pina Bausch, who, until her unexpected death, was the creative force behind Germany's Tanztheater Wuppertal.

Some called her a visionary, her mission to explore through dance the meaning and essence of the human connection.

While the film is an elegy for Bausch's passing, it also is a eulogy, featuring interviews with the company's central dancers. As well, it highlights four of her signature pieces: Le Sacre Printemps, Café Muller, Kontakthof and Volmond.

Dance for Bausch also was an examination of the artistic impulse, so very human, so fraught with risk and passion. For her, she pushed movement to the extreme, with boldness and, on occasion, a metaphorical violence and high drama.

Are her dance vignettes always accessible? No. Some, at least for me, were so abstract, so remote in their interpretation that they became elusive. Others possessed a power and force that were compelling.

Surprisingly, though the film pays homage to Bausch's genius, there is very little of her in it. There is no voiceover, no backstory. What happened to her? There's only the dance, an art form well beyond the George Balanchine Swan-Princess, movement that embraces the past and then transcends.

— Chris Honoré

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