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By Jesse Fox Mayshark

SEPTEMBER 8, 1997:  Generation X is pretty old news by now--heck, we're pretty much just old, at least by the standards of the pop culture. In another five years or so, my peers and I won't even be part of that hallowed, much-pursued 18-to-34 demographic anymore.

Generation X movies have dried up too, as indie filmmakers have discovered a younger, more violent, more oversexed age group to glorify. Compared to the kids in Kids, a bunch of whiny, jobless twenty-somethings just aren't that interesting.

But the last gasp of Gen X films are still trickling out onto video, and they're not all bad, even if they mostly consist of, well, whiny, jobless twenty-somethings trying to figure out how to be grown-ups. Their titles pretty much say it all: The Low Life, Kicking and Screaming, Walking and Talking.

The Low Life (R, 1996), a study of aimless Yale grads trying to "make it" in L.A., at first comes on like a low-rent Swingers, substituting moodiness for that film's zingy repartee. But it builds dramatic steam, mostly thanks to the performance of Rory Cochrane as John, the smart, quiet novelist at the film's center. As he pursues a relationship with an unstable PR whiz (Kyra Sedgwick) and works a series of horrible temp jobs, the movie takes on unexpectedly affecting dimensions of comedy and tragedy.

The Low Life is in some ways indistinguishable from Kicking and Screaming (R, 1995), also about a group of aimless college grads. They're mostly writers (whiny, jobless twenty-somethings are almost always liberal arts majors), and they spend their time drinking, bedding younger women, and putting off big decisions. The cast (including indie icons Eric Stoltz and Parker Posey) is strong and the dialogue intermittently sharp, although it's hard to escape the feeling you've seen it all before.

Walking and Talking (1996, R) takes a somewhat different tack. Its three main characters (well-played by Catherine Keener, Anne Heche, and Liev Schreiber) are moderately successful in their professional lives but uncertain about their personal attachments. Heche can't decide whether to get married, and Keener's completely at loose ends. It's an American film, but it's the kind of low-key, intimate comedy British filmmakers specialize in.

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