Guess I gotta talk Booksmart this week. I, uh, was not a fan. There are certainly some laughs to be had; you can’t make a movie where Kaitlyn Dever dances like a fool and Will Forte gets a scene where he tries and fails to keep his shit together and not have it be at least a little funny. But the laughs are drowned out by the script’s pervasive obnoxiousness and Olivia Wilde’s very first-timey direction, all omnipresent, blaring needledrops and unnecessary stylistic gambits (somebody at some stage of the process should’ve said no to the extended Robot Chicken sketch shoehorned into the middle). And the third-act “heart” feels pretty phony, backed up by the ending not even being able to commit to it before ending with an okay-enough joke. Not that Wilde can’t go up from here; her next movie is mercifully not a comedy (and not set in the present day, so it can’t be soundtracked by Wilde’s “Hot Hits of Today” playlist), so I have no trouble believing it’ll be a step up. But compare this to that other recent teenage-centered directorial debut from an actress and it just seems like a pale imitation; there’s more artistry and meaning in any single cut or transition in Lady Bird than there is in the entirety of Booksmart.
Anyway, there’s much better movies out this week, most of them out from Kino. They have a fine selection of Ealing comedies out this week, but my favorite is Dogtooth, being reissued in a special edition to capitalize on Yorgos Lanthimos now being everybody’s favorite Greek degenerate. Dogtooth might still be his best movie, or at least the one where his typically dry, violent comedy hits the hardest. I haven’t heard much about the other Lanthimos out this week, Alps, to suggest that it’s on the level with Dogtooth or his subsequent English-language work, but I seem to share enough of his sense of humor that I imagine I’ll like it even just a little bit. Certainly I’ll watch it before Mary Magdalene, the long-delayed Bible film from the director of Lion, now solely notable for getting Rooney Mara and Joaquin Phoenix together. That’s still more notable than anything around Men in Black: International, which is already a movie that doesn’t exist, or Ma, which had meme appeal until it turned out to be a movie from the man who brought you The Help.
Elvira: Mistress of the Dark RLJ
Fists in the Pocket (Criterion)
Kind Hearts and Coronets (Kino)
The Lavender Hill Mob (Kino)
The Man in the White Suit (Kino)
Mary Magdalene (Shout Factory)
Men in Black: International (Sony)
True Detective: The Complete Third Season (HBO)