This week marked the trailer release for Lukas Moodysson’s We Are the Best!, which chronicles the alienation and joys of outcast tween girls in 1980s Stockholm as they form a punk band. Also this week, Criterion celebrates a misunderstood boy’s quest for freedom in Paris during the 1950s with the Blu-ray release of François Truffaut’s The 400 Blows. Since teen angst is in the air, we felt compelled to round up films that tackle the topic — movies that offer a different perspective from the well-worn American Pies of Hollywood.
“In Unknown Pleasures, young people lack discipline. They don’t have any goals for the future. They refuse all constraints. They run their own lives and act independently. But their spirit is not as free,” director Jia Zhangke said of his 2002 film. The title of the movie comes from a pop song (also a poem by Taoist philosopher Zhuangzi) — an ironic play against the desolate city of Datong. There, the construction of a superhighway and abandoned factories are a mirror for the luckless residents who are filled with anxious uncertainty (the year is 2001). A trio of disaffected teens are at the core of this strange crossroads and numb themselves with pop music, Tarantino films, and cartoons while dreaming of faraway places.