Review: Marielle Heller’s The Diary of a Teenage Girl

diaryQuick: name a coming-of-age movie told from the perspective of a teenage girl that fully embraces—unburdened by shyness or irony—the complexities of its character’s sexual awakening, one that’s also written and directed by a female filmmaker. Hard, isn’t it? Continue reading


Review: The Tribe

the-tribeMyroslav Slaboshpytskiy’s The Tribe has ridden an enticing hook—it’s performed entirely in sign language, with no subtitles—to considerable critical and festival acclaim. But is there much to it beyond the admittedly fascinating formal gimmick? While it’s tempting to dismiss the familiarity of the film’s Eastern European miserablism, it’s also near-impossible to separate the unusual dynamic of the delivery from the well-worn material. As enervating as another trip through bleak violence and sex trafficking may be, there’s an undeniably compelling frisson in the The Tribe’s unique mixture of brutality and silence. Continue reading

Review: Andrew Bujalski’s Results

Results“That’s it, nice and slow,” Guy Pearce drawls in a comedic Aussie voice over a drum kick and a shameless simulation of Rocky’s latera title scroll, the sounds of his and Cobie Smulders’ moaning sex bleeding into a shot of Kevin Corrigan’s schlubby divorcee pleading outside his ex-wife’s window. With its subsequent montage of crisp gym shots percolating to composer Justin Rice’s riff on “Another One Bites the Dust,” Results is mumblecore alumni Andrew Bujalski’s most confident—and thrilling—opening gambit by a wide margin. It’s also a neat summary of the film’s asymmetrical romantic triangle between two personal trainers (Pearce and Smulders) and the nouveau rich interloper (Corrigan) who comes between them, a scenario that Bujalski deceptively cultivates without fuss under the guise of gentle satire. The workout doesn’t approach the transcendent core of his Computer Chess, but it confirms that 2013 breakout wasn’t a fluke: he’s well and truly left the lo-fi flexing behind for the more rewarding pursuit of ambition. Continue reading

Review: Hungry Hearts

hungryheartsIt used to be that filmmakers served up witchcraft, mutant babies, and the Devil himself as allegories for the anxieties of new parenthood. In Saverio Costanzo’s Hungry Hearts, we get something both blander and possibly more frightening: the 21st-century obsession with health diets as a menace to the family home. Pitched oddly between social drama and chamber horror, the resulting film is unfocused but sometimes unnerving, an uneasy fusion of realism and intimations of the supernatural that never fully takes hold. Continue reading