Don’t Call It A Chick Flick: Nancy Meyers’ The Intern

theinternNancy Meyers wants you to know just how much she loathes the term “chick flick,” and with good reason. She’s had to deal with the condescending label time and again over her 35-year career as a writer, producer, and director, as though her work, though occasionally frothy and vanilla to a fault, could somehow only appeal to a single gender, or worse, that a female filmmaker should by inference cater to an exclusively female audience. Continue reading

In Brief: Poltergeist (2015)

poltergeist

Be careful what you wish for: director Gil Kenan made a lively debut with the Steven Spielberg-produced Monster House, which lovingly resurrected the PG-horror vibe of the 1980s, but almost a decade later finds himself spinning his wheels with this flavorless remake of one of that era’s genuine classics. Competent but wholly unnecessary, Kenan’s Poltergeist does nothing to distinguish itself from Spielberg and Tobe Hooper’s original, consigning itself to the junkpile of countless cynical remakes in the process. Continue reading

Hell is a Teenage Girl: Mélanie Laurent’s Breathe

breatheToxic friendships between teenage girls have given us some memorable cinema, from the sarcastic (Ghost World) to the cruel (The Craft) to the outright deadly (Heathers). TO paraphrase Jennifer’s Body, hell is a teenage girl and two of them at war is enough to swallow the universe whole. Even within this fine tradition, it’s hard to imagine a movie that evokes the suffocating symbiosis of adolescent friendship better than Mélanie Laurent’s Breathe, a film of singular emotional precision that also packs a punch as thrilling as Carrie White’s ill-fated trip to prom. Continue reading

Stay High: Nima Nourizadeh’s American Ultra

americanultraWell here’s a real high concept movie, ho ho ho. Imagine a suburban American wasteland in which every dead-end stoner was really an undercover super soldier waiting to be weaponized at the flip of a suit’s switch, every beaten-up convenience store an activation point for CIA assassins slumming it in flannel shirts and Chuck Taylors. It makes sense that the government would tap its greatest natural resource: bored kids from middle-America, joint in one hand, joystick in the other; an instant army of clones with resilient bodies, limited short-term memory, and dubious ethical capacity ready to blindly serve their country. American Ultra isn’t quite that movie, but it’s got one great central gag that suggests it might have been—if only the creators had ditched the action template and let it run right off the rails into the weird places it needed to go. Gregg Araki would have known what to do. Continue reading