Sitting in Bars with Cake
(Editor's note: A previous version of this review included the full name of the presumptive real-life inspiration for the film; upon a subsequent request to maintain their privacy, we have removed that sentence.) Continue Reading →
Landscape with Invisible Hand
Cory Finley is obsessed with money. His characters have nice things or want them. They live in beautiful houses or enviously plot to get them. Even in the year 2036, with aliens living on (or, more precisely, about two miles above) planet Earth, people still fret over money and try to make scads of it. That’s the state of things in his latest, Landscape with Invisible Hand. It’s a title with the same bespoke aestheticism as the stuffed ocelots and oversized chess pieces his characters own. It feels seemingly designed to scare off less curious viewers. While the film has an awful lot of plot, the undergirding is the same. As in his 2017 debut Thoroughbreds, his follow-up Bad Education, and even his episodes of the abysmal miniseries WeCrashed, the drama comes from the idea of what money does to the soul. Continue Reading →
In a media landscape with fewer and fewer options actually targeted toward adults (often tied to the death of the mid-budget movie), audiences take the scraps they're given and make the best of them. This is the space that Jules occupies, a sci-fi fairy tale about the specific loneliness of senior citizens who feel isolated, ignored, and afraid. It’s also a thin, often ham-fisted take on a tale that could have had real legs in more capable hands. Continue Reading →
For decades, the great American institution of summer camp has been fodder for cinema, and for good reason. A group of hormonal teenagers put together in an artificial environment is the perfect recipe for drama, with the gorgeous backdrop of the outdoors. Continue Reading →
Totally Fucked Up
It’s been interesting to follow the reception of teen movies from the 1980s and 1990s has changed in the decades since. Some, like Clueless and The Breakfast Club have endured as classics. Others are better left forgotten. Of these, many are victims of a sameness of perspective. In other words, many of them are built on cis, straight, and usually white protagonists, and have little to offer people from different demographics. Continue Reading →
The Doom Generation
“A heterosexual movie by Gregg Araki,” The Doom Generation’s opening credits read. It’s the first of many jokes for Araki’s first film with a crew, shot for $1 million in January of 1994. None of the humor is apathetic, though. It’s like its characters in that way: caustic, yes, even to a fault at points. But the kids at the center of The Doom Generation aren’t apathetic, at least not at the beginning. They’re a conceptual trio of id, ego, and superego filtered through Araki’s lens to serve the narrative, an anti-American mind due to their identities and personal lives. But as they realize their selves individually and as a whole, their heterosexual, monogamous environment relegates them to sameness. Continue Reading →
The Starling Girl
Jem Starling’s (Eliza Scanlen) wardrobe is too much for the Kentucky heat. Yet others say her bra is still too visible. She tries to praise the Lord through dance with attempts progressive yet accessible to her church. Still, her peers claim the music she picks is too aggressive. Her instructor, Misty (Jessamine Burgum), gently scolds her individuality in class. Meanwhile, at home, her family warns against not just sex but intimacy of any sort. Such is standard for a 17-year-old girl growing up a fundamentalist Christian. Body and soul are omnipresent in The Starling Girl, as much as they are mutually exclusive. Continue Reading →
The Accidental Getaway Driver
Divinity disappoints while The Accidental Getaway Driver surprises in this selection of genre offerings from the fest.
No amount of recasting could have possibly saved Eddie Alcazar's Divinity from its state of terminal confusion. That's a shame considering the number of the relatively famous names involved. They include, most mystifying of all, executive producer Steven Soderbergh.
A bewildering stew of sci-fi, social commentary, and general weirdness, the title refers to a drug developed by renowned scientist Sterling Perce (Scott Bakula) to prevent death. Ironically, he died before completing his work. Thankfully (?), his son Jaxxon (Stephen Dorff) solved the formula and sold it to the masses. It appears to do the job of forestalling death but with an unexpected side effect--the inability to reproduce. Continue Reading →