BEYOND CLUELESS VHS PIZZA PARTY
A journey into the mind, body and soul of the teen movie.
I hurry down to Dalston under the promise of free pizza and a VHS screening of Beyond Clueless, Charlie Lyne’s hyped teen movie doc. Voodoo Ray’s is heaving with flashily dressed youngsters in bomber jackets supping from those iconic red plastic cups and there are lovingly designed badges and posters strewn all over the floor. The unruly amount of pizza crusts and empty plates tell me whatever is happening seems largely to have happened and I try to move past the fact that free pizza is looking unlikely by buying my pals a couple of slices between them to keep the wolves from the door. My West London guests are genuinely shocked by the hipness of the clientele which is quite fun to watch but there’s still plenty of time before the movie so we catch up and soak in the atmosphere of this little slice of Williamsburg in East London.
The time comes and we make our way a few doors down into a dingy basement also known as The Alibi. It seems our desire to catch up on the pizza fun has had the knock on effect of making us slightly late to the screening and finding a seat proves difficult. It is great to see so much support for a grassroots independent feature and the crowd is in good spirits thanks to the novelty of the whole thing. Just before the film starts our gang is cut in half as some of our number has to get home and pack for a food tasting expedition in Turkey the next day. Saying goodbye to them is difficult as some horribly obnoxious fat old American lady decides to make a point of being obstructive for no reason but hey, can't win 'em all.
The film itself is preceded with some vintage anti piracy ads fuelling everybody's nostalgia and giving the event a loving attention to detail that doesn't go unappreciated. Lyne’s encyclopaedic knowledge of 90’s teen movies certainly doesn't go waste either and we are taken on a dense and comprehensive tour of a genre which we all know and love. I was somehow quite surprised to find out Beyond Clueless is an essay-film and as such felt that it could have been a little shorter over all. The observations Lyne makes are smart, well formulated and well articulated but certainly nothing new and it retreads similar points quite often. There are of course some amazing forgotten gems in there as well as some unforgettably classic moments that holds the audiences interest. Something definitely worth mentioning is Summer Camp’s hypnotic soundtrack for the film which is truly exceptional especially during some of the film's standout montage sequences. Fairuza Balk’s almost alien-like narration also ensures the twinge of an erection from start to finish.
I was a little disappointed at how seriously the film took itself. As a fan of Charlie’s writing, in particular his film blog Ultraculture, I was expecting something a lot more fun and irreverent. It would have been nice to see some of that voice coming through in this film both structurally and tonally. In spite of this, Beyond Clueless is a well executed achievement and I am eager to see what Lyne will do next.
Check out Charlie Lyne's blog here: http://www.ultraculture.co.uk/
Keep up to date with Beyond Clueless news and screenings here: http://www.beyondclueless.co.uk/