Thursday, May 05, 2016

Film Week

A review of the films I've seen this past week.

Funny, clever coming-of-age movie about a 15 year-old girl (played by Bel Powley) who begins a sexual affair with her mother's boyfriend (Alexander Skarsgard). It takes place in 1976 San Francisco and focuses in part on her emergence as a cartoonist, taking the great Aline Kominsky as inspiration, giving the film a number of animated sequences that really pop with the excellent, period-specific soundtrack. Bel Powley is quite good as Minnie; what I liked most about the movie is how we watch the story and, even when she's at the lowest point, we're never invited to judge her. The movie doesn't take a negative view of female adolescent experimentation, which is refreshing. (Some of this is addressed through the girl's stepfather, whose judgment is distinctly unhelpful.) I also liked that even though Minnie's mother (Kristen Wiig) is definitely not well-equipped to be a parent, there's never any real animosity between them. The movie doesn't blame the parents for anything. I don't know, it's refreshing. ****

DOPE (2015)
Excellent, fun flick about a high school senior in Inglewood (played by Shameik Moore) with a geeky bent for 90s hip-hop. He's in a punk band with his two best friends, trying to avoid gangs, and nursing a crush on a slightly older girl (Zoe Kravitz, and... well, who wouldn't have a crush?). He and his pals wind up at a drug dealer's birthday party and some dope gets hid in his backpack, and he finds himself in the position of dodging rival dealers while being forced to sell drugs as his future (he wants to go to Harvard) hangs in the balance. The great thing here is that it's all hilarious; I remember seeing it compared to Pulp Fiction, which works but also doesn't quite get across how funny the movie is. Fantastic soundtrack. ****

Zalman King as a man who falls in love with a sleeping woman (Tisa Farrow) who has been used as a carnival attraction (The Sleeping Beauty) for eight years. He buys her and tries to turn her into his dream woman, bringing her into a series of erotic mind games he plays with a rich widow (Carol White). I see what director James B. Harris is going for, but it doesn't quite have the dreamy quality he thinks it does and comes off as pretentious. I was surprised to see Richard Pryor as King's junkie friend; interesting performance. Stylish, but not deep. ***

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