Part psychological sexual thriller and part classic mystery, Backgammon explores sexual tension, danger and mind games between a group of college students during a getaway in a country mansion. When Andrew invites Lucian and his girlfriend Elizabeth for a weekend vacation, they don’t expect Andrew’s sister Miranda and her Baudelaire-obsessed boyfriend Gerald to show up as well. Overwhelmed by Gerald’s antics and the constant irritating horseplay with Miranda, Andrew and Elizabeth split. Lucian, however, decides to stay, as a simmering, sexual tension develops between him and the flighty, flirtatious Miranda. When Gerald explodes after losing everything during an alcohol-fueled poker game with Lucian, Miranda finally gives him the boot. But as she and Lucian begin to dance around each other, their surroundings show threatening signs that Gerald may never have left.
Men, Women and Children follows the story of a group of high school teenagers and their parents as they attempt to navigate the many ways the internet has changed their relationships, their communication, their self-image, and their love lives. The film attempts to stare down social issues such as video game culture, anorexia, infidelity, fame hunting, and the proliferation of illicit material on the internet. As each character and each relationship is tested, we are shown the variety of roads people choose – some tragic, some hopeful – as it becomes clear that no one is immune to this enormous social change that has come through our phones, our tablets, and our computers.
Palo Alto weaves together three stories of teenage lust, boredom, and self-destruction: shy, sensitive April (Emma Roberts), torn between an illicit flirtation with her soccer coach (James Franco) and an unrequited crush on sweet stoner Teddy (Jack Kilmer); Emily (Zoe Levin), who offers sexual favors to any boy to cross her path; and the increasingly dangerous exploits of Teddy and his best friend Fred (Nat Wolff), whose behavior may or may not be sociopathic. One of the strongest American directorial debuts of the past decade, Coppola’s film has a palpable sense of time and place, but her characters — seeking cheap thrills and meaningful connections — could be teenagers from any generation.