by Jason Osiason

Cat Person: Emilia Jones, in a fantastic performance, plays a college sophomore named Margot, who’s a part-time movie theater concession worker and student working under her Professor, played by Isabella Rossellini, who notably sets the movie off with an impassioned monologue on how male ants die after mating with their colony’s queen. Soon Margot develops a crush on one of frequent yer enigmatic movie theater customers, Robert, played by Succession’s Nicholas Braun, who seemingly fails to realize her flirtatious gestures. Soon Robert comes to his senses, and the pair go on their first date, which turns into a bit of a disaster. She can’t get into the cool bar he excitedly suggested due to her young age, which he was also unaware of. Once they return to her college workplace to salvage the date, the film slowly drifts to horror as it begins its full commentary on self-perception in modern digital dating, shifting perspectives on sexual dynamics and the unbelievably lousy behavior all men are capable of. The film also features one of the most realistic portrayals of the worst sex we’ve all ever had and the headspace we are in despite giving our full consent. The filmmaking in Cat Person is also confidently directed, evocatively written, and extremely well-crafted. Still, despite how well-written much of it is, it also can feel overwritten at times that you wish some aspects, like the comedic cutaways, were toned down, and a full-horror third act that will either hook or lose the viewer. This viewer felt it worked mostly, as it didn’t play into full predictable expectations and still stayed true to its overall themes. Regardless of what side you fall on, Cat Person is destined to be a massive commercial hit because of the big swings it makes and fully justifies Emlia Jones as an honest to god movie star. [B+]

You Hurt My Feelings: Julia Louis Dreyfus stars as Beth, a successful novelist and college teacher with an upcoming fiction that is looking not to reach the success of her last non-fiction book on verbal childhood abuse. She’s married to a successful therapist Don who may be losing human touch with his client base lately. They have one aspiring writer son working on his first novel, in a long-term relationship, and working in a local pot shop. Nicole Holofcener made an entire comedy on how building resilience in your spouse, children, or anyone in your life could backfire. This is explored through Don’s many patients, her sister’s romantic relationship, her son’s romance, and most notably, her own. Beth accidentally overhears her husband’s harsh criticisms of her upcoming book while shopping with her sister, making her doubt her own writing and relationship. As relentlessly gloomy as this sounds, Holofcener swings it in a way allowing her writing to never been funnier! It is gutbustlingly hilarious, and Holofcener handles challenging relationship topics in insightful ways. Never have I seen so many layers of my parents’ relationship explored on screen. The minute the movie ended, for instance, I had to call my parents up to tell them the highly original scene of how one of Don’s patients, played by the scene-stealing real-life couple played by David Cross and Amber Tamblyn, asked for over $33,000 worth of marriage therapy—over the last two and a half years. I never found myself so thoroughly comedically satisfied by one of Holofcenter’s movies, and the film is destined to be a crowd-pleasing summer success with older audiences. [A-]

Rotting in the Sun: Sebastian Silva’s most successful film in years begins its first half as a meta semi-fictionalized version movie about a creatively aimless and highly depressed version of himself that plays like an NC-17 Curb Your Enthusiasm cynical satire on the gay lifestyle and the misery of the reign of appearance on social media and the hypocrisy it has over our lives. His pain is interrupted while on a sexually-charged beach getaway by real-life megastar social media celebrity Jordan Firstman, in an outstandingly vulnerable and endlessly entertaining first-ever performance that Silva’s character cannot personally stand but finds everyone else in the world worshiping, including the everchanging entertainment world that soon leads to creative collaboration on an upcoming pilot for HBO against his better judgment. Without spoiling the film’s biggest secrets, after building up its character and following a series of endlessly racy scenes and unsimulated sex acts that feel like a commentary of how ashamed we are to portray a genuine gay lifestyle on screen, the film channels to a more mystery element featuring the family maid played Catalina Saavedra, who is operating in an atmosphere of hysteria and fear, with splitting feelings of bolstering comedy. The pacing in the final act could’ve been tighter, but this is a committed, ambitious new film from Sebastian Silva that has ushered a creative reawakening in himself. [A-] 

All Dirt Roads Taste Of Salt: This is quite the gentle, contemplative, and utterly immersive lyrical tone poem on the rural reality of black life in Mississippi committed to the languid pace and non-linear structure of its apparent influences like Terrence Malick. The film is structured like a series of lived-in vignettes that are painstakingly gorgeous and moving but not particularly memorable as we don’t have any true sense of characters built-in. It is still a brutally effective movie because not much dialogue is ever spoken during its hour-and-a-half running time, and it’s a mastery for its first-time director Raven Jackson who can evoke so much feeling without saying much at all, relying on imagery and the rugged landscape only. For all its gracious elements, there’s an audience for All Dirt Roads Taste of Salt, and I’m somewhere at a distance just glad a movie like this exists. [B]

Talk to Me: Easily the sleeper movie of Sundance that will soon be on the world’s radar, Talk to Me relies on possession as if it were a teenage drinking game. Teens rowdily huddle around after a night of partying, and as the crowd screams and chants, begin an almost ritual thanks to a lit candle and embalmed hand while said person sits in a chair that allows a recently departed soul to enter their body without much consequence as long as they’re able to end it within two minutes. Disastrous consequences occur if the soul doesn’t leave the body in time, and you can anticipate where the film is likely going. So much of the script is your standard norm of horror. A rascal group of Australian teens gets way over their heads, are also in a love triangle relationship, and even the surprises are expected, but what sets this movie apart despite familiar character motivations is the directorial execution of its high concept that reigns brutalizing tense and grisly original from brothers Danny and Michael Philippou. What’s also sneakily smart about its concept is how it can be a non-obvious allegory on drugs and group peer pressure without ever feeling like a PSA horror movie, just a plain old great one. These brothers hold an enormous sense of self-discipline on when to startle, shock, and surprise their audience and receive an emotional response every time to what is happening on the screen leading to a chilling finale with a fantastic final sequence that is bound to set up a much bigger budget movie franchise. [B+]


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s