I saw eight films at my first Sundance Festival: THE DIARY OF A TEENAGE GIRL, BROOKLYN, IT FOLLOWS, SLEEPING WITH OTHER PEOPLE, THE BRONZE, MISSISSIPPI GRIND, RESULTS, and KNOCK KNOCK.
A sexually precocious teenage girl in 1970s California, soundtracked by Heart and Television - there’s no way I was going to dislike this movie. THE DIARY OF A TEENAGE GIRL is a messy, uncompromising look at the warts-and-all sexual awakening of 15-year old Minnie Goetz in 1976 San Francisco. Bel Powley is about to blow up following this film’s release, and with good reason: she’s incredibly believable as Goetz, full of needy lust - sexual, chemical, creative, and otherwise - personified. Kristen Wiig (as Minnie’s freewheeling, jealous mother) and Alexander Skarsgard (as her mother’s boyfriend and Minnie’s consistent lover) deliver strong supporting turns, especially Skarsgard who conveys the overwhelming desperation of a hunky dude moving towards middle-age who’s fallen pathetically in love with a fifteen-year old. While animation sequences don’t always quite work (but really, how much can you be bothered by animation that gives a shout-out to Aline Kominsky-Crumb?), this is a major debut for writer-director Marielle Heller, who allows Diary to transcend the usual trappings of the “young girl sleeps with older guy as a part of her sexual awakening” narrative by never judging or punishing Minnie for a second, even when her behavior veers into the dangerous. This will be an important film for teenage girls for years to come.
BROOKLYN was my biggest surprise of the festival, and on its face, seems like something we’ve seen a thousand times before. Saoirse Ronan plays Eilis, an Irish immigrant struggling to survive her first year in Brooklyn after leaving rural Ireland. Director John Crowley and screenwriter Nick Hornby (adapting a popular novel I’d never heard of) never let Brooklyn slide into treacle, and instead focus on Eilis’ small victories in America and nagging doubt about leaving her widowed mother and spinster sister back in Ireland. It’s been sometime since I’ve seen a movie I’d call legitimately sweet, something I could show my grandma, but Eilis’ romance with a shy Italian plumber, Tony (Emory Cohen, previously seen in The Place Beyond the Pines as B. Coop’s grown, asshole son) is damn near impossible not to root for. Julie Walters and Jim Broadbent are always a welcome presence, and their small parts here give the film some of its funniest and most touching moments, respectively. Domhnall Gleeson, as one of Eilis’ potential suitors, is perhaps a bit underused here, but that’s my only real gripe with the movie.
IT FOLLOWS may be Cronenberg-y in premise, but the directing feels much closer to Halloween by way of Gia Coppola. Between The Guest and this film, Maika Monroe has established herself as the best new scream queen we’ve had in years. Here she plays Jay, a high schooler who contracts an STD after sleeping with a new boyfriend that causes unrelenting figures - a grandma, a giant, a syphilitic woman - to follow her everywhere she goes, every day. Writer-director Robert David Mitchell figures out how to tease maximum suspense from these followers, who never stop walking towards Jay, intent on raping and murdering her, with simple tricks of filling the frame and precipitating the horror with a deliciously spooky score by Disasterpeace. Mitchell does some really fun stuff in terms of playing with time period - Jay warns a crush of his impending doom on a house phone, but one of her friends reads The Idiot on a tiny handeld device shaped like a seashell. It Follows leaves a lot unexplained, and it mostly works, at least to the extent that I’m still wondering about the film, even if I still have questions about the mechanics of the mythology.
Writer-director Leslye Headland self-described SLEEPING WITH OTHER PEOPLE as “When Harry Met Sally for assholes,” so clearly I liked it a lot better than that precursor film. Jake (Jason Sudekis) and Lainey (Alison Brie) meet again in a sex addicts meeting after losing their virginities to each other in college. They strike up an intense friendship after agreeing that sex would ruin their rediscovered bond, and their non-romance throughout the film provides us with one of the most believable, sexually tense onscreen pairings in recent memory. Sudekis is the real surprise here, giving Jake’s horndog ways and total devotion to Lainey an earnestness that’s unexpected. Brie is great as always, and Headland doesn’t shy away from showing the dark side of Lainey’s pathological hook-ups with a married ex-conquest, a mustachioed Adam Scott, in supreme douche mode. The movie could stand to lose ten minutes (which was true of nearly everything I saw at Sundance) and honestly, would’ve worked a little better for me if it chose to end on the bittersweet note the film seemed to have been building to, but it’s as funny and sweet of a rom-com as we’ve had in some time.
Opinion was sharply divided on THE BRONZE, but I found the “Bad Gymnast” riff to be quite funny throughout. Melissa Rauch (who co-wrote and produced with her husband) plays Hope Ann Greggory, a former Olympic bronze medalist who is still glorified in her small Ohio town after a Kerri Strug-esque win at the Olympics. Now though, Hope spends most of her days snorting Claritin (a plot point that’s conveniently neglected after the first act), masturbating to her victory footage, and stomping around Amherst, Ohio in her Olympic sweats like she owns the place, because she sort of still does. Her long-suffering father (Gary Cole) pushes Hope to coach a young gymnastics upstart in town after Hope’s former coach commits suicide, and promises Hope $500,00 to coach the young hopeful to the Olympics. The plotting of the film certainly isn’t revolutionary in terms of its reluctant old dog/perky new dog narrative, but Rauch inhabits Hope Ann with believable venom. Thomas Middleditch (as the twitchy owner of Hope’s former gymnastics studio) and Sebastian Stan (as a delightfully smarmy national gymnastics coach) create a second-act love triangle for Hope that gives us the long-promised payoff of “gymnast sex” teased throughout the film. I’m also pro any Ohio movie (somebody in the production HAD to have grown-up there) even if the film goes on too long and ends too tidily with a montage that Drop Dead Gorgeous did far better.
MISSISSIPPI GRIND was my most frustrating watch of the whole festival. For the first hour, Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck’s look at lovable losers and degenerate gamblers Ryan Reynolds (a smooth operator whose grey around the temples suggests he’s not quite as spry as he seems) and Ben Mendelsohn (greasy and great in cheap shirts, as always) is a fun ride as we watch the two amble down the Mississippi on the way to a card game in New Orleans with a $25,000 buy-in. But as the film moves towards its close (and conveniently remembers, y’know, these guys play high-stakes poker) Boden and Fleck lose the thread of grimy desperation for their leads, and go for a Hollywood ending that totally undermines the thematic intentions of the film’s first half. Robin Weigert, Alfre Woodard (as an Iowa bookie! I wanna see that movie!), and Sienna Miller are essentially reduced to one-scene roles, which is a damn shame. There were several other, better movies that existed within Grind’s runtime, and I’m so disappointed that Boden and Fleck chose to go for the happy ending instead of staying true to their characters’ more likely trajectories.
I don’t even know what to say about RESULTS, which failed to engage me from minute one. I guess on paper, to someone, somewhere, a personal fitness comedy involving a love triangle between Guy Pearce, Cobie Smulders, and…Kevin Corrigan sounds like a good idea, but director Andrew Bujalski never makes any of them feel like real people with real struggles. Guy Pearce wants to expand his small gym, and newly rich Corrigan gives him the means to do so, if they can stop fighting over Smulders. I’m sorry, but the suspension of disbelief over a Smulders-Corrigan romance is just too ridiculous, or at least it is as Bujalski portrays it. Results isn’t ever all that funny or romantic, needs a narrative engine, and has no discernable thematic takeaway. All three leads do the best they can with the material (but really, why are we trying to make Cobie Smulders a thing?) but this one is DOA. And there’s a totally wasted “Six Months in a Leaky Boat” song queue I’m still mad about!
Shame on me for thinking Eli Roth could produce something compelling, but I guess I was still dealing with a case of John Wick heart-eyes when I decided to see KNOCK KNOCK at a midnight screening. An inexplicable remake of 1977’s Death Game, Knock Knock finds Roth eschewing most of his usual gratuitous gore, but the film is still plenty icky, especially in terms of its incest fixation. Keanu Reeves stars as Evan, a devoted husband and father (snooooore) who answers the door one rainy night to find two beautiful girls (one of whom is Roth’s twenty-three year old wife) in need of a phone and a taxi (double snoooore). You can guess where things go from there, and honestly, until the tables turn on Evan, the film is enjoyable if slight. But once the women expose their true intentions to Evan, Roth never misses an opportunity to capitalize on the squick factor of two young women fucking an older man in his own home, in his own daughter’s bed. I’m sure Roth has convinced himself the film is somehow feminist in its depiction of all men as helpless to resist nubile jailbait, but he sure as hell doesn’t know how to convey that idea with any kind of deeper takeaway on a familiar theme that’s honestly done a lot better in Hard Candy.
Three of the films I saw were directed by women (one as co-director).
Four of the films I saw were written by women (two as co-writers).
Five of the films I saw featured female protagonists.
Putting energy into dance. Putting energy into the spiritual. Putting energy into meditation. Passive energy. Getting your groove on. Slow jams. Glamoring. Dazzling. Magicians. Sorcerers. Jedis. “These are not the droids you’re looking for.” Disappearing acts. Slipping in and out of roles. Con artists. Smooth operators. Soul men. Sex magic. Seduction. Ineffectual. Futile efforts. Sleazy actions. A weak father. Feeling that the men in your life are unreliable, weak or simply not around. No strong men in your life. Confusion about masculinity. The Sensitive Man. Spiritual men. Men who transcend the normal ideas of what it means to be masculine. Disillusioned with men. Feeling let down by men. Disappointed by people’s actions. Feeling that nothing you do matters. War of ideals. Compassionate action. Acting with sensitivity. Weak willed. Pushovers. Wafflers. Asserting your ideal visions. Acting on ideals. Championing the underdog. Spiritually competitive. Musically competitive. Poetry competitions. Asserting your imagination. The courage to let go.
The courage to act on behalf of a higher power. Using energy for a higher cause. Actions that serve a higher purpose. Sexuality that serves a higher power. Spiritual sexuality. Idealizing the sexual experience. Idealizing passion. Passionate about ideals. Wanting to physically merge. Physical surrender. Surrendering to your physical impulses, for better or worse. A drive that knows no limits. Having no boundaries surrounding what you will or will not do. Weak physical boundaries. Inability to say no. Acting like a martyr. Self-sacrificing. Spiritual energy. Refined, delicate energy. Actions that are dictated by other realms and otherworldly experiences. Spaced out. Asserting yourself in a chaotic manner. Unfocused energy. Diffused, permeable energy. Selfless efforts. Having no idea what to do next. Difficulty accessing personal will power. Difficulty acting on your own behalf. Putting yourself last.
Acute physical sensitivity. Dulling your senses as a way to cope with anger. Using drugs, alcohol, sex…or anything really to drift out of reality rather than deal with anger. Daydreaming as a response to anger. Spacing out to cope with anger. Finding a spiritual path that helps you release anger. Releasing energy through imaginative, dream-like experiences. Releasing energy through meditation. Active meditation. Active dreamers. Acting like a flake. Film actors. Magnetic sexuality. Conveying a sexual presence on film. The ability to mesmerize. Finding an outlet for anger through acting, dancing or music. Dancing your ass off. Competitive dancing. Violent dreams. Delusional behavior. Ecstatic dance. Moving energy in imperceptible ways. Dealing with forces that other people have trouble seeing or recognizing. Psychic energy. Reiki. Tai chi. Subtle force. Acting on dreams. Unrealistic approach. Indistinct sense of direction. Impatience that dissolves. Energy that dissolves. Force that dissolves. Courage that dissolves. Transcendental energy. Avoidance. Escape. Drifters. Grifters. Passionate poets. Melting sexuality. Pervasive lust. Fighting ghosts. Fighting addiction. Sexual fantasy.
July 19th 2015
I couldn’t decide which version I liked the best , I wasn’t happy with the colored version so played around and then couldn’t pick one that I liked the best :/
Anyway reverse pines ! Dipper looks like one smooth operator lmao I love it
Since people are showing their love for Gowland, I figured I would too! \(>w<)/ He's one of my favorites, and I'm also sad that he doesn't get a whole lot of attention. It's actually kinda funny, the other day I saw a CG of him kissing Alice (tongue and everything, go for it, ossan~!), and first I was surprised then absolutely delighted. Like, "F yeah, proof that even ossan gets some lovin'!" XD
Please do come and share.~
I’m happy to see so many people coming out with their appreciation and/or love for Gowland.
Ossan’s got the moves. Just look at this smooth operator bagging all the babes XD.
A couple of make up products you CANT live without?
I’d say some of my holy grail, cant live without products that I use daily are
NYX Blush in Taupe. My go to contour shade it never looks over done or unnatural blush it’s super cheap.
MAC Mineralized Blush in Dainty. My every day blush! Gives the cheeks a glow, looks good with every makeup look, a medium pink.
Hourglass Mineral Veil Primer. My holy grail primer. Feels like light weight silk on the skin, smooths out the skin without feeling thick and silicone like, keeps my makeup on and shine free for hoooours!
Maybelline Instant Age Rewind Concealer. I’ve used this as my under eye concealer for at least 3 years. Light weight, brightening, great coverage, blends easily, doesn’t crease, lasts all day. What else can you ask for?
Dior Skin Forever. My favorite foundation so far for combination skin. It’s light weight, doesnt feel cakey, long wearing, has a beautiful satin finish with a slight glow, isn’t matte/drying looking, looks natural and has a medium to buildable coverage. Checks off everything i’m looking for in a foundation!
Tarte Smooth Operator Amazonian Clay Finishing Powder. I swear by translucent powders because they keep your makeup on all day by soaking up excess oils, give the skin a more airbrushed finish and look a lot more natural than regular tinted, pressed powders. I use it as a setting powder or over pressed powder. I find the Tarte one to be extra awesome at keeping me shine free than other translucent powders i’ve found.
During high school, I was doing really good and I had my eye on this girl. Her name is Chung Lien and she was the top of my class with me a close second behind her. But she never noticed anyone around her, always preoccupied with grades.
One day I inched my way next her as she was studying and I guess I stared awkwardly enough that she finally looked up at me.
And me, being the smooth operator that I was in high school, well…
… kinda just looked back without saying a word.
Finally I asked her out in the cheesiest way possible, her father approved since he worked with my dad and I was alongside her with grades. We had our whole future planned out; we’d go to Harvard together since I was recruited to try out for an American football scholarship and she would be pursuing her doctorate in Gynecology.
But, one day my leg broke in a skirmish practice and I lost my chance for the try out that would have led me to the rest of my life. I couldn’t go on athletic scholarship. Which was fine, until one of my closest friends committed suicide promptly two weeks after.
Suddenly life wasn’t lining up perfectly with my plan. I went into depression, and soon my grades started dropping until I barely passed to walk at graduation. I soon asked Lien to break up, since I was only holding her back from her future.
She didn’t leave without a fight. I loved that about her.
It was a year or two after moving out, I was still in my slump until I met Emma in the city. She told me I was good-looking and offered me a job that payed well if I worked hard enough. When I walked her to work, we were in the club.
What would make Iwaizumi, Bokuto, Kuroo and Oikawa blush ?
Iwaizumi Hajime: Sincerity and compliments are what make this boy blush, he doesn’t care much for overly showy things. But a sincere action or something like a small genuine smile or laugh will have him blushing. Point out the fact that he’s blushing and he’ll blush harder.
Oikawa Tooru: Iwaizumi’s spicy bara arms. As much of a flirt as Oikawa seems to be, ridiculously flashy/romantic actions do make him blush a little, he can dish it out but there really is only so much he can take. However, comments that catch him off guard will make him blush ten times harder, genuine comments about himself rather than his looks. To his credit though, he is the sort that can hide his blush very well.
Bokuto Kōtarō: Akaashi’s sleeping face. Physical actions don’t overly make Bokuto blush, its more endearing words and heart to heart conversations that make him blush. You open up and tell this boy something sincere and from the heart, be it about him or yourself, either way, he’ll be a blushing mess.
Kuroo Tetsurō: Kuroo looks like a smooth operator, but really this boy is one giant dork and it really doesn’t take much to make him blush, though he tries his hardest not to and is the sort to quickly play it off. A sly comment/innuendo or a playful touch here and there will have him blushing.