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The Neon Demon

Nicholas Winding Refn’s most recent project is the definition of “not for everyone”. At my screening (the red carpet premiere at Cannes), there were walkouts, gasps of disgust, and a whole lot of laughter. There was also a ten minute standing ovation, delivered by a crowd that would spill out onto the Croisette, tripping on their formalwear and ready to talk shit.

Neon Demon is the film I wanted Only God Forgives to be. I’m biased, of course. I love fashion, I love the cast, I love movies with a teenage female protagonist discovering something about herself. This film doesn’t have the strong arc of Drive, but it has the stylistic approach of Only God Forgives in a setting that I find fascinating. Add to that a sense of uncomfortable humour and indulgent delight that constantly makes you ask, “am I allowed to laugh at that?” pulled from Black Swan, and you’ve got Neon Demon.

This whole film is an indulgent romp through the fashion industry, pulling very real tropes and placing them in surreal version of Los Angeles. It’s a neon nightmare. I woke up the next day with the strange sensation of having a bad dream that involved Keanu Reeves and a cougar.

The cast does an amazing job. Elle Fanning is sugary sweet with unfathomable skin, and Jena Malone shines in a way I’ve never seen her before. Bella Heathcoate has some amazing deadpan comedic timing. The soundtrack moves perfectly with every image, punctuated by an amazing “Waving Goodbye” by Sia that I plan on listening to every day for the rest of the summer. And then Keanu Reeves shows up for a minute and confuses the hell out of everyone in the room with a cameo that (as much as I adore that man) is not truly successful.

Is it a good film? I don’t know. I heard a friend criticize it by calling it empty and vacuous, but so what? Very rarely do I get to sit in a theatre and think, “hey, a movie made for me!”. It’s disgusting, uncomfortable, and so much fun. Go see it! You might hate it but at least you’ll have an informed opinion.

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Beyond Clueless is less a documentary and more a tone poem or a visual essay. There are no interviews, no behind-the-scenes footage or stories to be found. Instead, we get ninety blissful minutes of in-depth analysis of my personal favourite genre of film: teen movies. It’s amazingly well edited and scored, and the director fantastically repurposed clips from over 200 different teen films between the mid 90s and 2000s. As someone who has seen at least 80 percent of the films discussed and shown in the doc, I can say it never felt boring. Check it out when it comes near you.

I finally watched this after having it on my list for a really long time, and it took me by surprise. It’s a vicious coming of age story about a character that I struggled to like, but also struggled to hate in equal measure. I’ve always liked Kristen Bell but she really went for it here in a way I haven’t seen her before. Though it appears to be on the lighter side of the dark comedy spectrum (based on the very sunny poster you see above), the film actually skews to the other end.

It’s a shame they only put Kristen Bell’s name and picture on the poster as well, considering how much they focus on her small-town friends. It’s very rare to find a movie that actually fleshes out side characters, but this one does it beautifully. Mamie Gummer is especially fantastic and deserves more credit than she gets, while Martin Starr’s extremely subdued performance surprised me.

There’s a lot of really fucked up shit in this movie, but it’s definitely worth a watch if you have the time. It’s on Netflix!

I got to see Richard Linklater present Everybody Wants Some!! tonight and it was the most fun I’ve had watching a movie in a long time. Some star making performances here, killer soundtrack, the perfect movie to throw on when you’re getting hype at a bud’s house before you go out. Fun and nostalgic but never outdated, cannot praise it enough. Linklater hits it out of the park, as always (see what I did there?). Brews, bros, babes, and balls. What else is there to say?

Hollie and I had the opportunity to see Boyhood last week and it was really lovely. It grew on me after I watched it. I keep finding myself connecting moments from my own childhood to that of the main characters’, which might be difficult at first, but that’s only because Richard Linklater takes such a different approach to coming of age.

Most directors tend to go for the showier moments of childhood (parents fighting, first kiss, first car, etc etc) but Linklater forgoes that route entirely. You learn about these moments as the film progresses, but it focuses on the smaller things. We don’t see Mason learn to drive, but we see his father breaking yet another promise to him. We don’t see his first kiss, but we see the aftermath of a broken heart. In this way, Linklater completely sidesteps what initially feels like “the action”, but by doing so reaches a whole different level of capturing childhood. It’s a true collection of small, important moments. I don’t know about you guys, but though I barely remember my high school graduation, I can’t forget the feeling of skipping a class and grabbing a sandwich. That’s what this film feels like.

I had a special connection to this film, considering the age of the main character matches up perfectly with mine (and his mother is the same age as mine). I don’t think that’s necessary though. You’ll probably cry anyway.

Such a cute little refreshing movie. I wasn’t a fan of the pacing, it made the film a very slow build. However, once it gets going, you’re pretty invested. Keira Knightley is really starting to show her range as an actress, she does such a great job (and she’s not a bad singer, either). If you’re looking for a cheerful, surprising and sweet Sunday afternoon movie, this is your best bet. 

So I’ve been hyped for this movie since September because who doesn’t love a trashy erotic thriller? And I got to see it tonight (for free) and it’s an instant sleepover party classic. It is an erotic teen horror thriller with camp, cunnilingus and cat scares. My face hurt afterward because I was grinning so hard the entire time. This movie is so intensely late 90s-early 2000s and it has literally everything I love in one package.

And it stars Jennifer fucking Lopez and the hottest guy to come out of the Step Up franchise. I LOVE THIS MOVIE.

I was at the Canadian premiere of Nymphomaniac Part 1 last night and it was amazing. I saw the censored version, and I’m looking forward to watching the full cut when it’s released. 

What I really want to say isn’t necessarily a review of the film. I went in expecting debauchery and disgust but instead I found an incredibly cathartic film that engaged me more emotionally than sexually. I’m not sure what’s to come in Part 2, but I felt deeply connected to Joe throughout the whole film. Each chapter takes on a new style depending on the subject, making each piece feel like your own recollection. There’s an entire chapter in black and white, which in any other film might have felt a bit too on the nose for the subject matter, but couldn’t have been done any other way. 

What makes this film so unique was that it presented an incredibly flawed female character who didn’t make me hate myself for identifying with her. As you watch the film you find yourself giving her so much space for flaw and humanity, and by the end, you want to give yourself a little bit of that space too. That’s why I found it cathartic more than anything. But I have a feeling that’ll be smashed to pieces in Part 2… which might not be such a bad thing.

Kristen Wiig does a great job in this short, easily digested movie about mental illness. I saw this a few days ago and enjoyed it, though I wasn’t blown away. The film’s greatest successes are in its humour, but the dramatic elements don’t always land. It’s laugh-out-loud funny from start to finish, which I wasn’t expecting. The jokes manage to be dark and frothy at the same time. Give it a shot when it comes out!