In Review: The Miseducation of Cameron Post

Desiree Akhavan’s The Miseducation of Cameron Post takes a look at christian gay conversion therapy camps with an eye as curious for the blasé as the insidious. As its titular hero is subjected to its invasive therapy as punishment for her sexual relationship with a friend, her experience within the camp’s sterile walls is a burden to be born for its monotony as much as its cruelty. Like the teenage years, sure, it’s hell. But it’s also incredibly mundane as you are waiting for your real life to begin.

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In Review: BlacKkKlansman

Some might be quick to call BlacKkKlansman a return to form for American auteur Spike Lee, but the film arrives with the conviction of a storyteller who never left in the first place. Which he truly is. Over twenty narrative features (in addition to documentaries and television) and he’s never taken a break from studying the micro and macro of race in America in works alternating between esoteric and accessible. But maybe the distinction is being made because after this extensive career, Lee delivers something to nearly match his most beloved works for their urgency.

Its true story is at once too wild to be believed and just crazy enough to be conceivable: John David Washington stars as Ron Stallworth, the sole black detective in the 1970s Colorado Springs police force who infiltrated the local Ku Klux Klan. What begins on a spontaneous action, Stallworth heads a task force that ultimately has Jewish fellow detective Flip Zimmerman assume his identity and makes contact with grand wizard David Duke. Adapted from Stallworth’s book by Lee and a screenwriting team of Charlie Wachtel, David Rabinowitz, and Kevin Willmott, if BlacKkKlansman were any more real, it would be fictional.

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In Review: Eighth Grade

Bo Burnham’s debut film Eighth Grade begins as outsider Kayla wraps up the unheralded school year of its title, solitary and not so hopeful about the impending high school years to come. To mark the occasion, her class is given their sixth grade time capsules, decorated and filled with an already dated optimism. Hers calls out from the unfathomably long distance of a few years time like a stranger, “To the coolest girl in the world”. Kayla doesn’t feel so cool, lesser so in the shadow cast by her own former earnestness.

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In Review: Don’t Worry, He Won’t Get Far on Foot

Gus Van Sant is a warmly holistic filmmaker, typically taking affectionate approaches to outsiders or internalized characters in fictional and true stories alike. His latest film, Don’t Worry, He Won’t Get Far On Foot looks compassionately at cartoonist John Callahan as he copes with alcoholism and the paralysis that resulted from a booze-induced accident. But unlikely Van Sant’s more complete visions, this film is defined almost exclusively by those cozy feelings to dull effect.

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In Review: Ava

Not to be overlooked in this year of startling debut films is Sadaf Foroughi’s Ava, a slow burn melodrama of female teenage angst in Iran. Economically staged to claustrophobic effect, Foroughi arrives with confrontational imagery perfectly matched to the rebellion at the film’s core. Here is an angrier, yet more patient peer to recent films highlighting young women pushing against the limits of what society expects of them, one that’s like watching a lit fuse get closer and closer to explosion. The tension is high, and the stakes are kept punishingly human.

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