HOW TO TALK TO GIRLS AT PARTIES (2017)

May 31, 2018

 Greetings again from the darkness. Filmmaker John Cameron Mitchell exploded onto the scene in 2001 with his instant cult favorite HEDWIG AND THE ANGRY INCH, and in 2010 he delivered the expertly crafted and somber marital drama RABBIT HOLE. In his first feature film since the latter, Mitchell revisits the punk world in what has been described as Romeo and Juliet with punks and aliens.

Mitchell and co-writer Philippa Goslett adapted the screenplay from a short story by Neil Gaiman (“American Gods”). It’s set in 1977 Croydon (outside London) and though music plays a vital role, it’s not really a musical. And even with some funny moments, it’s not really a comedy. And while there are aliens, one wouldn’t label this as science fiction. There is a budding romance at the core, and maybe the romance description fits best … although, any unwitting group of film goers heading to the theatre expecting a typical romantic drama will likely walk out in the first 15 minutes.

Zan (Elle Fanning) and Enn (Alex Sharp) are star-crossed (or is it intergalactic-crossed?) lovers – she being an alien, he a young punk rocker. This is less about two worlds colliding than two worlds exploring each other: the freedom of punk vs the conformity of the alien colony. We cross paths with the local Queen of punk known as Boadicea (one of the most extreme Nicole Kidman roles of her career), the alien Stella (Ruth Wilson), and Enn’s punk mates Vic (Abraham Lewis) and John (Ethan Lawrence).

Far and away the most interesting puzzle piece here is the connection between Enn and Zan. Mr. Sharp (a Bob Geldof lookalike) and Ms. Fanning are terrific together and the film suffers when they aren’t on screen. Their live duet onstage is a true highlight and her wide-eyed curiosity combined with his zany punk persona provide most of the film’s energy.

Punk … the best thing to happen to ugly people” is likely the best line in the film, although Zan requesting “Do some more punk to me” isn’t far behind. There are messages here about parenting, diversity and globalization, but mostly it’s a creative and wild ride that’s not likely to please everyone … especially those looking for a Nicholas Sparks romance or anyone who might take the title literally.

The film is scheduled to show at the Texas Theatre in Dallas beginning June 1, 2018.

watch the trailer:

Advertisements

RABBIT HOLE (2010)

December 31, 2010

 Greetings again from the darkness. It would be very easy to dismiss this film as a depressing story or a real downer for the holiday season. Admittedly, the timing of its release is a bit odd, but that doesn’t change the fact that it’s a very well made and extremely well acted film. This is a character study in dealing with grief … the breathless grief of losing a young child. The story is told with respect, warmth and even touches of humor. Based on the acclaimed play from David Lindsay-Abaire, director John Cameron Mitchell stays true to the individuals within the story and avoids a weepfest.

Nicole Kidman plays Becca, who is married to Howie (Aaron Eckhart). The couple are 8 months removed from the death of their 4 year old son who was killed when he chased his dog into the street. 8 months or 8 years. When in group therapy, Becca and Howie meet Gaby (Sandra Oh) who has been in the group for 8 years. Healing has its own timeline for each person. Becca has little use for the “God people” or the group addicts and quickly stops attending. Instead, she spends her time lashing out at everyone … her husband, her mother, her pregnant sister … even her dog and a lady at the grocery store.

Oddly enough, it is her bond with the high school boy who was driving the car that killed her son that helps her break through. She senses his pain and he understands hers. The story does a subtle and terrific job of showing how we are all touched by grief and how it affects the way we live our life. The best scene in the film is with Becca and her mother (Dianne Weist) in the basement. Her mother honestly tells her that “it” never goes away, but it does change. The grief becomes “bearable”. That’s really the goal.

No matter how many books are written on the topic, no blueprint will ever be one-size-fits-all for coping with the void and emptiness from the loss of a loved one. This story shows that if you can keep moving forward and keep connecting with others, the burden will become bearable.

SEE THIS MOVIE IF: you enjoy character studies with outstanding performances … even if they are based around the process of dealing with grief.

SKIP THIS MOVIE IF: you prefer lighter fare in your holiday flicks – this certainly isn’t A Christmas Story