In "Standing By Yourself," an upstate New York teenager turns the camera on himself and his buddies for a close-up look at their banal and ultimately sad daily existence.
By JOSHUA TANZER
Josh Koury has made one of the most depressing movies of the year. And I'm not trying to say that in a bad way "Standing By Yourself" is a really worthwhile hourlong documentary about a group of teenagers killing time in Clinton and Utica, New York. But the bleakness of their lives is only amplified by their very ordinariness. It's not a story of stunning revelations or catastrophic doom it's just a story about going nowhere.
Koury turned a camera on himself and his pals driving around, hanging out in parking lots,
drinking, smoking, popping pills and acting like idiots. When there's no booze, they "Tussin" i.e., down a bottle of cough medicine for its measly alcohol content. This is not groundbreaking subject matter, exactly, but it isn't really being offered as a juvenile-delinquency expose just a close-up chronicle of a few kids' daily life.
|STANDING BY YOURSELF|
|Produced by: Josh Koury.|
Featuring: Josh Siegfried, Adam Koury, Helen Koury, Roselyn Siegfried, Richard Koury Sr., Richard Koury Jr., Brandon Shorey, Dick Hunk, J.J. Angerosa, Heather Snoggle, Roger Bitteaker, Danielle Bookus, Dan English, Dave Teeple, Dave Goodfriend, Laura Ray, Jules..
Along the way, we get a good look at Koury's buddy Josh Siegfried, who's the only
one of these kids who's going somewhere down. At the beginning of the film
he's a cheeky kid out for fun with his friends. After spending a little time in jail,
he returns with a mohawk, a casually racist attitude, and a more serious determination
to screw up. By the end, he's in a perpetual daze, and all he can talk about is taking
drugs and getting more drugs. The humanity is draining out of him by the day. I saw the same kind of
zombification happen to plenty of kids growing up in a place far from Clinton, N.Y., and "Standing By Yourself" just
shows one of these extremely sad stories from a best-friend's-eye view. It made my heart ache.
|MAY 15, 2002|
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