The obvious thing to call this film is a social satire. The humour is dry, pointed and often very, very funny. But Jarmusch is too clever and too careful a filmmaker to simply toss off a genre film for a few laughs.
Clumsily told yet intriguing because of its singular subject, Halston — director Frédéric Tcheng’s knock-kneed documentary on the pioneering American fashion designer ubiquitous in the 1970s, who made haute couture both aspirational and accessible — offers a trove of pop culture trivia.
The high school rite-of-passage film canon may have been raided here but its thieves — screenwriters Susanna Fogel, Emily Halpern, Sarah Haskins, and Katie Silberman, doubtless abetted by producers Will Ferrell and Adam McKay — have wrung every drop of weird, contradictory, and squeamish fun out of the teenage experience.
The movie rattles through ninety minutes of episodic jolts, the visual style is jumbled. Distinctive only in having a better effects budget than your average demons-in-the-attic quickie. While the super-parody elements offer a few snorts of amusement, the movie avoids taking on more complex ideas about Superman as an American ideal, though the filmmakers are obviously aware of the Bizarro context.
A first-person documentary about a Los Angeles couple’s decision to move to the country and start a farm overcomes its excessively preciously start to become a genuinely insightful meditation on agriculture, nature, and our precarious relationship to the planet that feeds us.
A Dog's Journey is a film that romanticizes the needs of the master over the beast. And while it's not untrue that domesticated dogs live to please, the willingness of the film to take full advantage of such unconditional devotion can feel exploitative.
Watching the teen romance The Sun Is Also a Star, starring the splendid-looking young couple Yara Shahidi (Blackish) and Charles Melton (Riverdale’s Reggie)), is something like wading through fields of pink candy floss and suddenly finding a speck of grit.
If you want to dramatize a real-life celebrity fraud tale, you can’t settle for the superficial. Either go for psychological truth or camp it up to the level of the superduperficial. There’s not much of either quality in JT Leroy, a film that offers colourful performances by Laura Dern and Kristen Stewart but fails to find any urgency in retelling the tale of an early 2000s literary fraud.
A dynamite ensemble cast and a truckload of heart keep the sentimental new comedy POMS from crumbling beneath multiple well-thumbed clichés including (but not limited to) plucky underdogs can triumph, friends are really important and life is short so live it fully.