Two friends try and make up for their overly studious ways the night before their high school graduation.
Directed by Olivia Wilde
Starring Beanie Feldstein and Kaitlyn Dever
Review by Pierce Bauer
As DJ Shadow's "Nobody Speak" booms through the speakers, one of the numerous badass, bass-heavy hip-hop songs cycling through as a pseudo score for the film, the feeling of kicking down a door and making a grand entrance to a party emerges in Olivia Wilde's Booksmart. The film follows the one night journey of Molly (Beanie Feldstein) and Amy (Kaitlyn Dever), the epitome of BFFs, as they look to fulfill their final chance at adolescent partying. The premise is nothing new, but the audacious character work and superb mix of comedy with earnest teenage friendship is something that should turn heads. Living with the predetermined moniker of being a female Superbad lessens the movie's innovation from its teen comedy predecessor, but also should provide an accurate seal of approval for the level of humor and impact of the film.
Childhood friends turned filmmakers Jimmie Fails and Joe Talbot pour their heart and soul into their debut feature, The Last Black Man in San Francisco. Both natives of the titular city by the bay, Talbot directs and Fails stars in this autobiographical story of gentrification and mythmaking. The former unites the film with similarly themed and located 2018 entries like Sorry to Bother You and Blindspotting, but it’s the latter that infuses Last Black Man with a bittersweet romanticism and separates it from the anger of those other films. This is a lament instead of a screed, and it effectively communicates what’s at stake and what’s being lost.
Swiss Army Man, better known by its Sundance moniker as the 'farty boner corpse movie,' does certainly contain all those things. The marooned Hank (Paul Dano) finds Manny's (Daniel Radcliffe) dead body (check) on a beach and he soon discovers all the magical abilities this corpse is capable of. His farts (check) have the ability to both amuse and propel and ignite, there's a deep well of water inside him, and his erection (check) serves as a divining rod/compass. Manny eventually learns to talk, and, having no memory of life before his 'death,' it falls to Hank to teach him about the world and how people interact with each other, though Hank himself is generally unskilled at relationships.
My fraternity experience was valuable in a social, confidence-building, test of skills kind of way, but I never checked an ATM balance after I joined and found my account had mysteriously added a few zeroes. I could’ve got a cherry ride out of it, too, if only I had joined the Skulls, a riff on the Yale secret society that was in the news at the time of the film’s release thanks to generations of Bush family membership. Big-budget schlock director Rob Cohen attempts to mine some cultural criticism out of the aristocratic odor wafting off these kinds of elite organizations, but he surrenders to the impulses he would fully give himself over to in Stealth and The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor. Why make a compelling drama about class when a car chase set to late 90’s dirtbag rock will suffice?
We live in complicated times at this moment, but it’s easy to forget that our parents didn’t have it any easier, and arguably had it harder. They also lived through an unnecessary war, choking economic stagnation, and intranational conditions that erupted in violence. How film dealt with the 60’s and 70’s, specifically the Vietnam War, is an attempt at public therapy but it can’t help but fall into political poles. Some of the most memorable and acclaimed movies about Vietnam, like Apocalypse Now or Full Metal Jacket, focus on the insanity and the absurdity, and therefore split the right/left divisions. Platoon and Born on the Fourth of July work as axes to grind by their director, Oliver Stone, who remains justifiably angry at the government that deceitfully sent so many of its own citizens to kill and be killed. On the opposite end of the spectrum are films like the Rambo sequels and Hamburger Hill, works that feed into a victimization and a stabbed-in-the-back narrative that has sustained fascist movements throughout the 20th century and beyond. Hamburger Hill reeks of political messaging in the most blunt way imaginable, a film that laments the loss of life while reveling in blood and gore. Along with American Sniper, this might be the worst war film I’ve ever seen.
JUST SOME IDIOTS GIVING SURPRISINGLY AVERAGE MOVIE REVIEWS.
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