Archives for posts with tag: teenage

shed

Stan (Jay Jay Warren) is a troubled teenager whose parents are dead and who consequently has to stay with his hard-drinking and emotionally abusive grandfather (Timothy Bottoms). Seeing his best friend Dommer (Cody Kostro) get bullied every day at school doesn’t make it any easier for Stan to stay out of trouble, and the fact that that the biggest and most handsome jerk of them all, Marble (Chris Petrovski), deflowered the girl Stan loves certainly doesn’t improve his mood. Meanwhile, the sheriff’s department also has an eye on him – and on top of all that, there’s a vampire hiding in the shed behind his house! When bodies start to pile up, Stan just wants all the chaos to stop, but vengeful Dommer gets some dangerous ideas about how a vampire might come in handy in evening up the score with his tormenters at school. Marred by some painfully generic dialogue, The Shed is nonetheless a successfully tense and sometimes humorous echo of the teen horror heyday of the 1980s. I give the drama a passing C but the scares definitely earn an A.

4 out of 5 stars. Ideological Content Analysis indicates that The Shed is:

[WARNING: SPOILERS!]

Drug-ambivalent. The grandfather stands as a cautionary depiction of an alcoholic, but Stan and Dommer get together and drink with no repercussions for either character apart from the grandfather griping about his grandson stealing his beer.

Anti-gun, guns appearing ineffective as a means of defense and mainly posing an offensive threat.

Anti-military, offering a degrading depiction of a Vietnam veteran in the grandfather, who brags about his service overseas while complaining that young people have no sense of duty.

Family-ambivalent. The characterization of the cruel grandfather is simplistically over-the-top, and parental figures and figures of authority generally are given negative depictions. Stan’s father selfishly committed suicide, and love interest Roxy (Sofia Happonen) mentions that her stepfather abused her mother. In each case, the character suffers from the absence of the real father. “We all hate our parents,” she claims. In one of The Shed’s lamest moments, young rebel Stan imagines the indignity of living in a “shitty suburban town, hating your neighbor, hating your wife, hating your parents for the way you turned out.” Militating against the anti-family content of the story, however, is the “In Loving Memory of Dad” dedication in the end credits.

Anti-Antifa. When, toward the end of the film, Dommer has decided to turn to murder, he appears in a T-shirt bearing an anarchist circle-A, anarchism being the ideology of choice of unhinged adolescent losers brimming with resentment and out for revenge.

Racist! The mixed-race Pitt (Francisco Burgos) is a second-tier bully and also a weak link when, after having joined forces with the protagonists, he shows himself a coward and falls prey to the vampire, becoming one himself.

Anti-Semitic! Probably not, actually; but with any vampire film there is always the question of the extent to which the filmmakers are conscious of and engage with the Judaic dimension of the European bloodsucker tradition. The case to be made for The Shed is flimsy, but it may be worth mentioning in this connection that Stan, hardly an archetypal Aryan hero, does have posters in his bedroom that feature runic writing. That the vampire is able to subvert mystery-meat Pitt and deploy him against Stan and Roxy could be read as reflecting Jewish manipulation of minority populations in majority-white societies, as well. As with many classic horror movies, the action in The Shed concludes with a purifying fire – which is, of course, to say a holocaust. The vampire might just as easily and perhaps more justifiably be interpreted as an expression of contagious and potentially homicidal or self-destructive teen angst, however. This reading would complement the movie’s doubly meaningful tagline: “Beware the evil within.”

Rainer Chlodwig von K.

Rainer is the author of Drugs, Jungles, and Jingoism.

Teen Spirit

Teen Spirit might be a fantastic movie; but, not belonging to the target demographic of teenage girls, I really have no idea and I don’t especially want to know. From my perspective as an irrelevant, middle-aged man, this is a pretty drab attempt at giving a new generation its Flashdance – a cultural touchstone referenced briefly in Teen Spirit. Elle Fanning does nothing to endear herself to this reviewer with her sullen, uncharismatic performance as Violet Valenski, a Polish girl who longs to escape humdrum farm life on the Isle of Wight by winning a singing contest. Supporting player Zlatko Buric is Teen Spirit’s sole saving grace as a washed-up Croatian opera singer and alcoholic, Vlad, who becomes Violet’s voice coach and manager. I suspected the movie was about to become fun and interesting when Vlad takes a shine to Violet’s stubborn mother (Agnieszka Grochowska) and tries to court her; but, alas, this little thread is abandoned in favor of several instantly forgettable Katy Perry tier synthesized musical numbers and brainless teenage drama.

2.5 out of 5 stars. Ideological Content Analysis indicates that Teen Spirit is:

Anti-Christian. Singing in a choir is boring for Violet, who wants to be the next Gwen Stefani. Her mother gives her a crucifix that belonged to her father, warning that she is unsure whether it brings good or bad luck. Violet, who finally decides to remove it, must come to the conclusion that Jesus is fake news.

Inclusive. Whites, blacks, and mystery meats intermingle freely, and Violet recruits a rock band of odd-looking black youngsters to tour with her.

Disingenuously pro-Slav. In contrast to the villains and prostitutes typically presented by Hollywood as representative Eastern Europeans, Teen Spirit offers Slavs a path to redemption by immigrating to Western Europe and becoming global citizens – in effect, ceasing to be themselves and reproduce their own cultures. Violet does, however, at least appear to stay true to her roots in that the ugly outfit she wears for her climactic performance seems to have been a designer’s botched attempt to glamorize an Adidas tracksuit.

Globalist. The arbitrary choice of the Isle of Wight as a setting appears to have no serious purpose, apart from promoting placelessness, as Teen Spirit might just as well have been set in any other region of the neoliberal West. Like every other such locale, no matter how remote or ancient, it exists as an interchangeable piece of real estate merely waiting to be populated with increasing quantities of diversity. The island ultimately validates its existence by integrating its cultural life with glitzy globohomogeneity. Teen Spirit’s end credits roll to Elle Fanning singing “Wildflowers”, the lyrics of which celebrate lost innocence and cosmopolitan triumphalism: “Every city was our city. Every road was our road.”

Rainer Chlodwig von K.

Rainer is the author of Drugs, Jungles, and Jingoism.

booksmart

Booksmart is, on the one hand, an involving study of two brainy teenage girls’ unique friendship, and, on the other, a comedy death-fart that did not make me laugh even once. Directed by Olivia Wilde and penned by Emily Halpern, Sarah Haskins, Susanna Fogel, and Katie Silberman – it apparently takes the combined creative resources of four women to put together a screenplay this unfunny – Booksmart is nothing if not a hoarse and harrowing howl of girl-power intransigence into the maelstrom of Trumpian apocalypse. Unsmiling lesbian Amy (Kaitlyn Dever) and smug, RBG-venerating Jewish fatty Molly (Beanie Feldstein) are academic all-stars who reach the end of their senior year with a sudden sense of regret at not having done any partying like their cooler peers during their time in high school. With one last night in which to revel before their graduation, Amy and Molly determine to cut loose and go buck wild whatever the cost. No one can fault the ensemble cast for the energetic, fully invested maniac performances on display; one only wishes the script had given the actors something a little more dignified to do with their talents. Booksmart is fast-paced and never exactly boring, but the accidental-finger-up-the-butt hijinks, microphone fellation, and scoldings about the difference between sexual orientation and “gender performance”, etc., failed to turn the engine in my inner gay pride parade float. This is a movie that does not so much attempt to tickle audiences’ funny bone as thrust its hand down its pants Don Lemon style before rubbing its malodorous fingers under the viewer’s nose in a botched, mentally ill attempt at seduction.

3 out of 5 stars. Ideological Content Analysis indicates that Booksmart is:

Multicultural and pro-miscegenation. The almost uniformly brilliant student body of the girls’ Los Angeles high school seems to be comprised entirely of homosexuals and diversity. Molly’s secret crush, as it turns out, is mystery meat jock Nick (Mason Gooding). Hip black teacher Miss Fine (Jessica Williams), meanwhile, has an end-of-year fling with a Mexican student.

Anti-white. “Straight white man, your time is [over],” proclaims a graduation speaker. In one of the more grotesque expressions of the dumb blonde archetype ever to hit the screen, an athletic but spastic girl named Ryan (Victoria Ruesga) appears to be borderline retarded.

Anti-Trump. The girls’ car displays “Resist” and “Warren 2020” stickers. So brave!

Pro-drug. A dose of psychedelic strawberries has the girls hallucinating and finding themselves in the bodies of Barbie-like dolls, precipitating the obligatory exploration of the objectification of women. Talk to the hand, W.C. Fields. This feminist comedy steamroller can’t be stopped!

Gay. “Amy, do you know how many girls are gonna be up your vagina at Columbia next year? Are you aware of it? ‘Cause I’m aware of it,” the heterosexual Molly assures her best friend. “Every time I come to visit you, you’re just gonna be scissoring a different girl.” Putting in what I suppose is intended as an endorsement of gender-neutral bathrooms, male and female students converge on the same facilities where they gossip, draw dicks, and write obscene messages on the walls. In addition, Booksmart truly puts the Globo in Globohomo by giving a shout-out to increasingly gay-friendly Botswana even as Amy laments the fact that she would be murdered in heterofascist Uganda.

Feminist. Molly aspires to be the next Ruth Bader Ginsberg, while Amy rejects male value altogether. “My Body My Choice,” booms a poster on her wall. “Honestly, ‘pushy’ is a compliment,” Molly observes. “You know who else was pushy? Diane Sawyer. Joan of Arc. Queen Noor of Jordan.” Tediously, one of the movie’s running gags is that Molly and Amy will periodically pause to give each other sassy pep talks and tell each other how hot, fabulous, and empowered they are – almost as if neither one is convinced.

Rainer Chlodwig von K.

Rainer is the author of Drugs, Jungles, and Jingoism.

 

Miseducation of Cameron Post

Chloe Grace Moretz, who began her career in a skintight superhero costume as a sexually exploited child in the disposable Kick-Ass films, embraces her prostitution to the cultural Marxist establishment in her role as a teenage lesbian cruelly condemned to be treated at a totalitarian Christian conversion therapy camp. There, she is insensitively disciplined by a suspiciously cold and masculine Christian psychologist (Jennifer Ehle) and mentored by a friendly reverend (John Gallagher, Jr.) who, unsurprisingly, turns out to be a recovered homosexual himself. The Miseducation of Cameron Post has little point apart from further demolishing western civilization and tediously depicting Christians as stupid, corny, boring, mean, and hatefully judgmental.

The other major objective of the film is to tempt young women into lesbian relationships. The unsightliness of male-male physicality is prudently kept off-screen, but more than one sultry scene of hot, quick lesbian seduction is featured. A key meta moment occurs in the sequence depicting Moretz’s first girl-girl experience. She and a friend (Quinn Shephard) are hanging out and watching Donna Deitch’s 1985 film Desert Hearts and find themselves overcome with lust during one of the movie’s lesbian scenes. This, of course, is how The Miseducation of Cameron Post is intended to function. With its much greater reach than this obscure eighties predecessor, The Miseducation of Cameron Post is designed to get mentally malleable adolescent girls to question their own pedestrian sexuality and wonder if it might not be more rewarding to luxuriate in a childless life of unending slumber parties and digitally induced, guy-free orgasms.

I find a great irony in this movie’s contrived shock moment of homo horror, when gay boy Owen Campbell, tortured by the contradiction between his Christian ardor and his burning desire to gobble a cock, freaks out and mutilates his genitals, leaving a pool of blood on the floor of a bathroom for Chloe Grace Moretz to find. Are Bible-thumpers really the ones bullying young men into cutting off their penises, though, or is that messaging emanating from some other quadrant of our cultural landscape?

3 out of 5 stars. Ideological Content Analysis indicates that The Miseducation of Cameron Post is:

5. Democratic. When Moretz and two of her pals at last escape from Sobibor, they hitch a ride in a pickup truck that boasts a Clinton Gore sticker – the Democratic Party being the vehicle that will carry Americans forward into a more enlightened future.

4. Multiculturalist. Moretz’s buddies at camp include American Honey’s mystery-meat dreadlocks vixen Sasha Lane and fellow pothead Forrest Goodluck, a laid-back Native American lad with “two spirits”.

3. Pro-drug. Dope enhances the thrill of an intense backseat lesbian encounter, and Moretz also bonds with her new gay camp companions over weed.

2. Anti-Christian. Yes, apparently Christianity isn’t quite dead yet – or, at any rate, Hollywood wants to make absolutely sure, and so continues to flog its carcass. “How is programming people to hate themselves,” the screenplay poses, “not emotional abuse?” (I wonder if the buffoon who wrote this line has, in this same spirit of fairness, taken an honest look at the ways in which whites are typically depicted in Hollywood fare.)

1.Anti-family, antinatalist, and pro-gay (i.e., pro-AIDS). Gay as the U.S.A. is these days, it still isn’t proactively putrescent enough to satisfy the ass venerators in Hollywood. Movies have given us gay teens, gay parents, gay artists, gay cowboys, gay scientists, gay singers, gay strippers, gay soldiers, gay superheroes, gay angels, gay Holocaust victims, and even gay Nazis – and yet, as The Miseducation of Cameron Post capably demonstrates, there remain still-ungay filmic frontiers to be reamed in trailblazing explorations. As long as there are virgin goyish bloodstreams yet to be blessed by the gift of a full-flowered autoimmune disease, and homophobic churchgoing bigots yet to be epically BTFO’d on the big screen with feels and thotness, Hollywood can hardly afford to flag in its valiant venereal efforts.

Rainer Chlodwig von K.

Rainer is the author of Protocols of the Elders of Zanuck: Psychological Warfare and Filth at the Movies – the DEFINITIVE Alt-Right statement on Hollywood!

Lady Bird

Greta Gerwig, an actress for many years, reveals herself to be a talented writer and director with Lady Bird, a standout coming-of-age story starring the excellent Saoirse Ronan as a mischievous, unappreciative Catholic schoolgirl with a “performative streak”. Lady Bird is the rare teen film that will be just as enjoyable, if not more so, to parents as to younger viewers, and the film’s development of its protagonist’s relationship and interactions with her parents, her sweet and vulnerable father (playwright Tracy Letts) and especially her stern but big-hearted mother (Roseanne’s Laurie Metcalf), is finely textured and affecting. Occasional grossness fails to ruin an overwhelmingly touching and funny film experience.

Five stars. Ideological Content Analysis indicates that Lady Bird is:

6. Pro-gay. Lady Bird, at first disgusted to discover that her boyfriend (Lucas Hedges) is gay, ultimately feels sympathy for his situation.

5. Populist. Lady Bird, at first ashamed of living in Sacramento, comes to accept her attachment to “the Midwest of California”. Gerwig set the film in 2002 and 2003, she says during her commentary, to mark the period she identifies as a key moment in “the erosion of the middle class”, with 9/11 and the Iraq War referenced as contributors to middle America’s decline. “Is this a joke?” the protagonist asks on seeing a picture of Ronald Reagan hanging in the home of a more well-to-do family. In a refreshing break from typical suburbs-bashing fare like Todd Solondz’s Happiness, Gerwig concedes that American suburbia is “in my bones”, and this affection communicates itself through the tempered and never obnoxious sentimentalism on display in Lady Bird.

4. Drug-ambivalent. Students share a rumor that their teacher Father Leviatch (Stephen Henderson) had a son who died of a drug overdose, but the overall tone of Lady Bird toward recreational substances is more permissive. “Her mom clearly knows that they’re high,” Gerwig observes of one scene in which Lady Bird’s mother encounters her daughter with a group of her friends. “She’s not gonna do it [i.e., reprimand them]. She’s gonna just leave,” Gerwig approves. Lady Bird’s grandmother, on the other hand, is said to have been an “abusive alcoholic”.

3. Race-ambivalent. Catholicism appears in Lady Bird as a successful model for peaceful coexistence of races, but the existence of sub-rosa racial tensions is also acknowledged, as when Lady Bird suggests that her adopted mestizo brother Miguel (Jordan Rodrigues) got accepted by a competitive university primarily because of his ethnicity and he in turn accuses her of racism. It is interesting to note that Miguel and fellow non-white adoptee Shelly (Marielle Scott) are usually framed separately, so that they never seem to be fully integrated members of the McPherson family. Mild moments of anti-white bias occur in Lady Bird when the protagonist is shown copying answers from an Asian girl during a test and when comparatively well-behaved Miguel and Shelly have to scold unruly white girls for wrinkling the magazines in a grocery store, where Lady Bird is also shown shoplifting. Her Asian boss at the coffee shop where she later gets a job also has to reprimand her for flirting on the clock – a second juxtaposition of oriental seriousness and work ethic as opposed to white American frivolousness.

2. Anti-Semitic! Lady Bird vomits after drunkenly kissing an atheistic New York Jew named David at a party. “We don’t have to constantly be entertaining ourselves, do we?” Lady Bird’s mother objects at her daughter’s fiddling with the car radio. Who but a hate-filled anti-Semite would object to a non-stop saturation diet of popular culture?

1.Christianish. Writer-director Gerwig had a Catholic upbringing and brings both an affectionate familiarity and an irreverence to her depiction of a Catholic high school, acknowledging Catholicism’s “theatricality” and making light of the superstitions associated with transubstantiated wafers and such. At the end of the film, however, the protagonist abandons her concocted identity as “Lady Bird” and embraces her given name of Christine, a marker of her identity as a Christian. In addition, after moving from Sacramento to New York, she feels herself drawn to the comforting beauty of a cathedral service with its choir. She returns, says Gerwig, to “the place that is home to her”.

Rainer Chlodwig von K.

Rainer is the author of Protocols of the Elders of Zanuck: Psychological Warfare and Filth at the Movies – the DEFINITIVE Alt-Right statement on Hollywood!

space

The appropriately odd-looking Asa Butterfield is cast as Gardner Elliot, the first human being born on Mars, in an ultimate emo romance fantasy that might just as well have been titled The Perks of Being a Mars Baby. The loneliest teen in the universe, Gardner, orphaned when his astronaut mother (Janet Montgomery) dies giving birth to him, is restricted to the planet of his birth because his heart and bones, having developed in the gravity of Mars, are unsuited to life on Earth. Consequently, he lives and mopes among the scientists living on Mars but strikes up a touching internet correspondence with Tulsa (Britt Robertson), an alienated high school girl living back in the States. Eventually, after surgical modifications allow Gardner to make to journey to Earth, he of course rejects being grounded by NASA and hatches a plan to escape, meet Tulsa, and track down his father, about whom he knows nothing. Robertson is too attractive to be convincing as a high school outcast, but does create a tear-jerkingly irresistible chemistry with Mr. Butterfield, who is perfect as the quintessential socially awkward Gen-Z outcast hothouse flower. Gary Oldman, too, is commendably present as the complicated elder statesman of the Mars program. A sweet film, and heartily recommended to angst-ridden teens of all ages.

5 stars. Ideological Content Analysis indicates that The Space Between Us is:

5. Class-conscious. Blue-collar Tulsa steals a BMW, confident that the presumably wealthy owner can afford the loss.

4. Family-ambivalent. The horror of Sarah Elliot’s childbirth scene is arguably antinatalist; but the film is largely concerned with the hole left in young people’s lives by the absence of conventional family structures.

3. Green. The exposition suggests that the likelihood ecological catastrophe on Earth could serve as a motivator for colonization of other planets. Wind turbines, meanwhile, illustrate the availability of alternative energy sources.

2. Capital-ambivalent. Sam’s Club, Tulsa explains, is like shopping a million stores at once with a trillion dollars to spend. In other words, she appreciates the cheap goods that neoliberalism has made available to the consumer. Gardner becomes ill during a visit to Las Vegas, however, when he is confronted with the dark side of globalization. Gaudy imitations of world cities thrown together in one neon hodge-podge disorient him and prompt him to observe that these things are not supposed to exist side-by-side. During this same sequence, Gardner appears to be horrified at the sight of a mulatto child.

1. Sexist! The Space Between Us seems at first glance to be promoting feminism with its depiction of a valiant female astronaut leading a trailblazing Mars expedition. It quickly undermines this deception, however, by having her turn out to be secretly pregnant, demonstrating that men and women bring different liabilities to the workplace.

Rainer Chlodwig von K.

Men Women and Children

This ensemble film follows the interrelated lives of a set of high school students and their parents in the context of twenty-first century connectedness that paradoxically has resulted in a profound disconnect for them all. Jennifer Garner plays a paranoid mother obsessed with controlling and filtering her daughter’s online activities. The daughter, Kaitlyn Dever, strikes up a friendship-cum-romance with Ansel Elgort, a sensitive, gloomy boy who quits the school football team after realizing that sports are meaningless. Meanwhile Elgort’s gruff football enthusiast father, played by Breaking Bad’s Dean Norris, attempts to cope with his wife’s abandonment of the family. Norris thinks he may have found a new love with Judy Greer, whose trampy daughter, played by Olivia Crocicchia, aspires to become an actress and promotes herself online with risqué photographs. Adam Sandler, meanwhile, adds another “serious” role to his résumé as a dull accountant whose marriage to Rosemarie DeWitt has lost its magic, with both seeking sexual satisfaction on an extramarital basis.

On the whole, Men, Women and Children makes for an engrossing and mildly artsy Hollywood social commentary, but some threads of the story are definitely more rewarding than others. The insights about the debilitating effects of online pornography are welcome, and the portions of the film concerning young lovers Dever and Elgort are touching and nicely played; but the story about the straying spouses takes Men, Women and Children into regions of moral repugnancy too extreme to qualify as entertainment – a circumstance that militates against what otherwise might have been this critic’s unmitigated recommendation. The film does, however, have much to say about the consequences of living in a deracinated, nihilistic, high-tech society centered on empty civic nationalism and in which “football served as a common language for which they [i.e., father and son] had no substitute.”

4 out of 5 stars. Ideological Content Analysis indicates that Men, Women and Children is:

6. Anti-Christian. The actions of Jesus Christ mean “absolutely nothing”.

5. State-skeptical. Garner’s surveillance of her daughter’s devices, while attacking the “helicopter parent” phenomenon as a sort of irrational paranoia, also serves as an allegory about the post-9/11 regime of domestic spying as the norm. The flaw in the analogy, of course, is that it suggests domestic surveillance is motivated by a misguided maternal devotion rather than a hostile mania for control.

4. Anti-porn. Sandler’s imagination has been vitiated by the instant gratification of online pornography. His computer, as a result, is also riddled with malware. His son, played by Travis Tope, has been rendered sexually dysfunctional by his own pornography habit. “By age 15,” narrator Emma Thompson informs the viewer, “Chris found it difficult to achieve an erection without viewing a level of deviance that fell well outside societal norms.” Now only the idea of female sexual domination arouses him, and he is incapable of performing with an actual girl. One wonders if Hollywood’s anti-porn stance as articulated in this film and in Don Jon (2013) is motivated by genuine concern for the public health or by worry about online pornography’s competing share of its target audience’s disposable time and income.

3. Slut-ambivalent. Elena Kampouris plays a girl who gets pregnant and has a miscarriage after losing her virginity in a sordid episode in the home of a friend. The audience is invited to hold blonde “bitch” Crocicchia in contempt when she says, “It’s a new era for women, okay? Just because I’m comfortable with my body and enjoy hooking up doesn’t make me a slut.” The film’s anti-slut credentials are, however, undermined by its comparatively casual treatment of marital infidelity.

2. Anti-marriage, pro-miscegenation, and anti-white. Sleazebag Sandler seeks and finds sexual gratification with a prostitute while his shiksa wife, Rosemarie DeWitt, signs up for an account with the Jewish homewrecking site AshleyMadison.com and takes the Allstate congoid, Dennis Haysbert, for her lover. DeWitt is eventually embarrassed to be found out by Sandler when he catches the witch in a bar with still another man, so that the film ostensibly shows that cheating carries risks; but Sandler’s response is tolerance, and his wife evinces embarrassment rather than actual regret. She clearly enjoys what she is doing, and Men, Women and Children makes a great to-do of eroticizing her first encounter with Haysbert. “I’m excited,” she says as she straddles the hulking, gorilla-faced lothario. “I want it […] in my mouth. I want that big penis of yours. I want it. I want your dick. I want you to destroy me with your big fucking cock.” The film, furthermore, could be argued to constitute de facto product placement for AshleyMadison.com’s AIDS-procurement service, suggesting as it does that women of Rosemarie DeWitt’s level of physical attractiveness can actually be met through the site. The viewer is left to assume, too, that, had Sandler’s wife not been caught in her infidelities, she blithely would have continued enjoying her shameless escapades.

1. Luddite. Technology has profoundly complicated the human condition, disrupting male-female relations and isolating individuals in a lonely cacophony. Like the Voyager outer space probe featured more than once in the movie, humanity has now entered treacherous “uncharted territories” thanks to technology.

Rainer Chlodwig von Kook

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The Jar

The Jar (1984) ***

Paul (Gary Wallace) is a dull, bearded man who will spend most of The Jar wandering through nightmares and staring at his surroundings with irritable angst after experiencing a fateful auto accident. The other driver, a strange old man (Les Miller), is shaken and uncommunicative, so Paul takes him home with him to his apartment. The elderly gentleman soon disappears, but leaves behind him a jar wrapped in a paper sack. Inside the jar is a little blue demon, and before very long Paul is suffering visions of his bathtub filling with blood and his shower head emitting rays of otherworldly light that transport him into a dark, rocky pit. Crystal (Karin Sjoberg), a beautiful, bright-eyed brunette with a dimpled chin, for some reason takes an interest in Paul, wants to date him, and attempts to drag this drab, unfriendly nutcase out of his madness and increasing isolation.

An offbeat, minimalist horror obscurity that will try and annoy all but the most open-minded seekers after the arcane, The Jar is a film that flouts conventions, refusing to conform to the expectations of genre buffs. People who rented the video based on the cover image of what the box describes as “a repulsive, embryonic creature” and hoped for another Gremlins (1984) or Ghoulies (1985) must have been sorely disappointed, as the thing only appears onscreen for a second or two at a time and is almost totally inanimate, to boot. Unremittingly weird and yet frequently boring, The Jar‘s most unforgivable fault is that next to nothing happens for the duration of its draggy 85 minutes.

On the plus side, The Jar has quite a few eerie moments and shows how scuzzy production values and a cast of non-professional actors can sometimes evoke more menace and atmosphere than high-dollar horror. The Jar, in a Vietnam flashback scene, also contains the most maddening helicopter noise ever heard in a film, the electronic sound design doing much to sustain viewer interest for much of this rather frustrating movie. Unsurprisingly, this was writer George Bradley’s and director Bruce Toscano’s only film.

3 out of 5 stars.

 

Getting Lucky

Getting Lucky (1990) ****

Bill (Steven Cooke) is a nerdy, liberal weenie and recycling enthusiast being bullied by the jocks at school when he fortuitously finds a recovering alcoholic leprechaun (Garry Kluger) in a beer bottle. Granted three wishes, Bill naturally wants a shot at hot cheerleader Krissi (Lezlie Z. McCraw), which brings him into intensified conflict with sadistic stud Tony (Rick McDowell), who also wants to get his paws on her. The hit-and-miss Irish magic results in such memorable moments as Bill being turned into a cat, Tony’s tennis racket coming to life and giving him a whacking, and Bill shrinking to mite size, riding a naked vixen’s bar of soap as she lathers herself, and bouncing around in Krissi’s panties and holding on for dear life in the perilous jungle of her pubes. Throw in a few quaint soft rock songs, and Getting Lucky has the makings of an 80s classic.

Admittedly, Getting Lucky, sporting its 1990 copyright, is not technically an 80s movie, but it does demonstrate nicely how the early 90s were in many instances a holdover, a culmination, or a last gasp of the 80s – and so it narrowly squeezes in as an 80s Oddities Month pick. Something of a straggler within its genre, Getting Lucky is essentially a throwback to the early-to-mid-80s variety of teen raunch comedy, a genre which had lost steam over the course of the decade, with the charming likes of Screwballs (1983) and Hot Moves (1984) having given way to lamely tame youth fare like The Allnighter (1987) and How I Got into College (1989). At the same time, Getting Lucky‘s imaginative nastiness is tempered by a sweetness and innocence that at times recalls The Virgin Queen of St. Francis High (1987).

4 out of 5 stars. Recommended to fans of films of this type.

 

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teenbeachmovie

Teenage surf enthusiasts Brady (Ross Lynch) and Mack (Maia Mitchell) find themselves transported into a 1962 movie musical called Wet Side Story after they catch a bogus wave and wipe out via a magical time warp, thus setting into motion Teen Beach Movie, a weak Disney Channel send-up of the classic beach party vehicles of Frankie Avalon and Annette Funicello. The two modern protagonists naturally set about infecting their more picturesque forebears with cultural Marxism, all while singing several songs, and also succeed in halting the dastardly plot of villainous real estate developer Les Camembert (Steve Valentine), who of course has no other aim in life than to rain on the fun of young, freewheeling surfers and bikers.

The songs, all fairly generic, are too obviously lip-synced, and an inescapable air of the plastic prevails for Teen Beach Movie‘s grinding duration. The principals in the cast, however, are uniformly photogenic, bright, and enthusiastic, doing whatever they can with such substandard material. Top-billed Ross Lynch and super-suave Garrett Clayton, who resembles young George Hamilton in Where in the Boys Are and may have been cast as “Tanner” for that reason, definitely have the look of ascendant stars, while fathers goaded into subjecting themselves to this wacky butt-wipeout of a flick may at least console themselves that the girls on display, from Mitchell to Grace Phipps and Chrissie Fit (who does a trampy Fran Drescher impression throughout), are all pretty easy on the eyes. Barry Bostwick – who, against all odds, has managed to add to his resume a movie even gayer than The Rocky Horror Picture Show – has a minor supporting role as Big Poppa, Mack’s grandfather.

ICA’s advice: gather the family around the tube for a wholesome screening of Point Break instead.

Point Break

2.5 of 5 possible stars. Ideological Content Analysis indicates that Teen Beach Movie is:

9. Pro-gay. The aerial view of a Busby Berkeley-style surfboards-and-beach-balls dance number is vaguely homoerotic.

8. Christ-ambivalent. Big Momma (LaVon Fisher-Wilson) is given to exclamations like “Hallelujah!”, but Big Poppa’s pendant resembles an inverted crucifix.

7. Antiwar. “All fighting ever did for us was stop us from seeing what we all have in common.”

6. Pro-immigration. Territoriality and tribalism are hangups to be overcome. Mack and Brady, when they first wash up on shore, are given a chilly reception as “ho-dads” or outsiders, but the bikers and surfers all come to accept them. “You guys are strange. I like that.”

5. Multiculturalist/pro-miscegenation. The 1960s “gangs” are retroactively integrated, with whites, blacks, and browns intermixing in dance.

4. Green. Camembert threatens to cause party-pooping climate change with his secret weapon.

3. Anti-capitalistic. Bad guy Camembert is described as an “evil real estate mogul”. Private schools, in this case the ominously monickered “Dunwich Preparatory Academy”, are characterized derogatorily. Riot and industrial sabotage win the day.

2. Pro-castration. Brady dyes his hair. Butchy (John DeLuca), the leader of biker gang the Rodents, cries with emotion and is revealed at the end to have an irrational fear of lighthouses.

1. Feminist. That protagonist MacKenzie goes by the mannish-sounding “Mack” for short is significant, as her abrasive feminism rears its nasty snout at every turn. Mack hates Wet Side Story, objecting to all of the motivationless singing and the fact that “the girls never surf as well as the boys.” Showing her stuff, she easily out-surfs the arrogant Tanner. “Why does she need a boy to be happy?” Mack asks Brady about one of the girls. “Because it’s 1962,” he explains. “Why should a boy influence what you choose to wear? Or anything you do?” Mack exhorts her still-feminine early 60s counterparts. “We can do anything a guy can do.” She encourages them to become more sexually aggressive and generally more assertive as well as less appealing in their apparel.

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