In Review: Flower

Director Max Winkler’s Flower attempts a coming of age to make John Waters proud, and comes up a good deal off the mark. The film stars an effervescent Zoey Deutch as Erica, a teenage miscreant to spend time with her friends trapping middle aged perverts into emptying their bank accounts after sexual entrapment. Her mother (played by the ever delightful Kathryn Hahn) has invited her newest suitor to live with them, and with him comes Erica’s would-be step-brother: a fresh-out-of-rehab, panic-attack-stricken overweight quiet guy named Luke (Joey Morgan).

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In Review: Unsane

Steven Soderbergh’s quiet return from non-retirement continues with a decidedly less fun entry than last summer’s Logan Lucky. This time the filmmaker goes for psychological horror with Unsane, a psych ward-set tale of compliance, paranoia, and dominance. The film is also a return to the low budget, grungy digital filmmaking that he has often been fascinated with, this time to equally grimy material.

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In Review: Love, Simon

If only more mainstream films could bestow the grace upon its subject and citizens as new high school romantic comedy Love, Simon. From the novel Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli, the film’s titular senior (played by Nick Robinson) is sitting on a big gay secret, one that becomes quickly apparent to not be as dire to an outsider as it is to the introverted, sensitive Simon. He has liberal parents, open-hearted friends, and the school already has an out gay kid, for God’s sakes. A love story shouldn’t be so hard to fathom, especially these days.

And all that changes when an anonymous student, dubbing himself Blue, takes to the school’s blind item blog with the cutting words “nobody knows I’m gay.” Simon reaches out under his own alias, creating an oasis of support and affection between the two young men with a safety net of unrevealed identities.

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In Review: Western

In the remote Bulgarian countryside, not far from the Greek border, a German construction crew begrudgingly brings infrastructure to an isolated village. The cultural divide between invaders and natives, not to mention the additional looming forces of migrants and organized crime, becomes exacerbated by the ingratiation of a loner Meinhard into the fabric of the local community. With nothing back home to keep him, Meinhard finds peace and purpose in the tightly knit Bulgarian community, quickly stirring the ire and competition of his nationalist crew. Such is the complex and engaging genre deconstruction of Valeska Grisebach’s Western.

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In Review: Thoroughbreds

Playwright Cory Finley has a mild writing/directing film debut in Thoroughbreds, a teen anti-romp in upper class psychopathy. Two former friends, Amanda and Lily, are thrust together in awkward circumstances and the tension quickly devolves into a codependent antisocial bond. There’s an only fleeting sharpness to to the film’s edge, an obviousness to sly shrug it greets its punishments. You know, like murder and stuff.

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