A single mother in 1979 recruits two younger women to help her raise her teenage son.
Directed by Mike Mills
Starring Annette Bening and Lucas Jade Zumann
Initial Review by Jon Kissel
Jimmy Carter's Crisis of Confidence speech holds a major piece of real estate in Mike Mills' semi-autobiographical film 20th Century Women. Derided at the time but seen as somewhat prescient decades later, Carter diagnosed the country's problems in a perilous economic time and recommended a series of solutions at the macro and micro level. He refused to coddle the country, saying that we all had a part to play in bringing things to their current state but that we also had the power, individually and communally, to improve things. One year later, Carter would be replaced by Ronald Reagan, a man who told the country flattering lies about itself and created a culture that would only exacerbate the problems Carter talked about, pulling the country further into selfishness and consumerism. In 20th Century Women, Reagan's so-called 'Morning in America' has not yet dawned, and the characters are all in various states of malaise. Like Carter, they prefer honesty and hard truths to hand-waving and pleasant lies. 20th Century Women isn't going for the big moment or the grand turning point, but does the hard work of small steps. It prefers low-key tragedies to grand victories, and defines aging as the world getting regretfully smaller but richer and deeper at the same time.
I Don’t Feel at Home in This World Anymore is a terrible title. I always hated calling How I Met Your Mother HIMYM but then I typed it two three times so from here on I’ll refer to this movie as IDFAHITWA. Shit, that sucked too - “this movie” - Perfect!
This movie is about Ruth, a nursing assistant played by Melanie Lynskey who embarks on a vigilante mission with neighbor Tony (Elijah Wood) to find who broke into her home and stole her computer and grandma’s silverware. Ruth is introduced as a fairly depressing character without much going for her, crappy house, bad neighborhood, lonely, weird neighbors, etc. When she is robbed and police do nothing it is a breaking point for her to seek justice. Ruth describes her brand of justice as not wanting people to be assholes anymore. That’s a big ask but a noble one. Between plaster casting a footprint in the garden and using her find my laptop app she is able to eventually track down the perpetrators with the help of Tony who joined primarily it seemed because he was into the chance to bust out his weaponry towards the aim of moral justice.
I’m not a fan of the review style that breaks down scene by scene and retells the story so I’ll end by summarizing- a string of events featuring multiple laugh worthy gags and a few oh shit moments and one very predictable gun malfunction lead this movie to a satisfying conclusion.
Brilliantly weird, A-.
I’ll start with a question: what is the quintessential summer movie?
For me, two films come to mind—“Jurassic Park” which I saw when I was 12 and was one of those cinema experiences that make you fall in love with going to the movies. The second was “Speed,” which came out the next summer and which I think I saw at least three times in the theater and I definitely owned on VHS.
I start with this question because I first heard about “Train to Busan” about a year ago on NPR. They ran a story because “TtB” is, apparently, the quintessential Korean summer movie. It’s the highest grossing Korean film in that country’s history and, according to the NPR story a year ago, almost 1/5th of the whole South Korean population had seen the film, which is a pretty remarkable number. I was, at first, reluctant to pick another Korean film since we’ve already had “Okja” in our queue this round, but I really wanted to watch a summer movie, and so why not watch one of the most successful ones in recent years that so few in the US have seen?
A few rounds ago, my pick was the horrendous Escape From Tomorrow, a low-budget movie that was filmed using guerilla-style tactics at the Walt Disney World theme park; I was intrigued by this because the movie poster had a blood covered Mickey Mouse hand on the front. I decided to select another Disney-related film, Walt Before Mickey—a bio-drama about the struggles of Walt Disney before his creation of the Mouse. After viewing this film, I checked out the film’s Wikipedia page, where I noticed the word “guerilla” in its “Production” section. It reads “… Director Khoa Le talked about the challenges of the project, having been hired at the last minute to direct and having little familiarity with Disney himself. He mentioned, 'I came from a short film background, indie stuff, so I knew how to work efficiently. … For most scenes the actors got only two takes. I had to go back to my grassroots of guerrilla filmmaking.’” After this statement, the quality of the film makes more sense to me. However, the problems with this movie begin before you even consider the film’s production. Can I just mention how horrible the script was?
In a world devastated by acid rain and a nuclear winter, a movie is born to leadoff 80's-90's nostalgia flicks. What I think the makers of Turbo Kid are trying to do is create some 1990s nostalgia with tons of gore to make that good-bad movie. For a while, they were succeeding, I appreciate that Turbo Kid got straight to the point, there wasn't a lot of lolly gagging. Grown men in a bar with their BMX bikes parked out front is funny. When The Kid gives Apple a ride on the pegs of his bicycle, that's classic 90's. I can relate to the bikes, the Viewmaster, and the distractingly bad SNES music.
But Turbo Kid never does anything. There is no story, there is no apex, and there are no on the edge of your seat action moments. My generation (born circa 1984) seems to love 80s nostalgia movies, maybe they're living vicariously through their older siblings, but I find them mostly lame. And unfortunately Turbo Kid can't survive on nostalgia alone. The gore is absurd and the soundtrack, even while reminding me of playing Super Nintendo, is atrocious.
I glanced at some of the Rotten Tomatoes (89% score) and they talk 80's retro for this movie, but I think it bridges the gap to the 90's as well. Turbo Kid looks retro and is mocking of 80's/90's action movies, so of course condescending critics are going to like it. Chop this movie into a series of it's bike chases and I'm down for 5 minutes of Youtube glory. Otherwise this is bad. C-
JUST SOME IDIOTS GIVING SURPRISINGLY AVERAGE MOVIE REVIEWS.
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