There may not be any bit of Tulsa pop culture more hallowed than S.E. Hinton’s The Outsiders. Long before I moved to the Sooner State, I had some knowledge of Tulsa’s streets thanks to this classic of young-adult fiction. Fifty years on, the novel still pulses with life and feels worth celebrating. Tulsa certainly thinks so because there’s a large semicentennial celebration planned for the book this month.
Included in this bash will be several screenings of Francis Ford Coppola’s film adaptation of the novel playing May 7 at Circle Cinema. A lower-profile production than his films from the 1970s, Coppola’s ’80s take on the book is full of nuanced pleasures, heightened for residents by the director’s choice to actually film in Tulsa. On hand at the screenings will be actors C. Thomas Howell, Ralph Macchio and Darren Dalton, who play three of the main disaffected teenagers in the film.
Before Scarlett Johannson became a household name, she starred in a number of quirky indie films, none with a more devoted cult than the 2001 comedy Ghost World. Terry Zwigoff’s dyspeptic adaptation of a graphic novel by Daniel Clowes, the film follows smart-mouthed Enid (Thora Birch) as she drifts through life after her high school graduation. With a best friend (Johannsson) who’s changing faster than she is, and a potential older love interest (a touching Steve Buscemi), Enid must navigate the waters of adulthood as best she can. A somewhat familiar storyline gets pepped up by zippy dialog and some mortifying dark comedy. Get the new director-approved special edition from the Criterion Collection and add this wonderful film to your rotation.
Ah May, the beginning of blockbuster season proper. Though some always sneak in ahead of time, May is when the big studio guns come out literally and figuratively. This season is no exception as Disney bookends the month with two huge properties, Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2 and Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales. Of the two, I’m far more excited about Guardians (I stopped paying attention to the Pirates movies 10 or 12 sequels ago) and hope it delivers on some of the unfulfilled promise of the first film.
Despite its extraterrestrial setting and game cast, the first Guardians film fell a little flat; the plot never fully congealed. Even with Chris Pratt’s charisma in the central role, the cheeky humor felt slightly out of place with the attempt to create huge stakes. But there was enough to like, so a subsequent try may get things right. The film seems to aim at two goals: advancing the mythology of the Guardians themselves (while building their interpersonal relations) and getting ready for the subsequent appearance of archvillain Thanos in later Marvel films. Let’s hope the balance works nicely and one side doesn’t overwhelm the other.