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Next Fest 2017: L.A. Times, by David Bax

13 Aug

Michelle Morgan’s L.A. Times is an attempt to update the ‘hyper-verbose, aimless young people’ blueprint of 90s fare like Reality Bites to the current day. From the opening scene, in which jaded but overly confident lifestylers at a bourgeois cocktail bar casually assert their opinions on the ethics of patronizing prostitutes, the hollow echoes of those Generation X forebears make themselves known. The roundabout speechifying and armchair psychology continues from that point on and never lets up. The characters in Reality Bites may have been full of shit but at least they pretended to stand for something. The people in L.A. Times can’t see anything beyond the ends of their noses, too vapid to understand the traditional cultural values into which they keep reflexively retreating. Unfortunately, the same can be said of the movie itself.

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Next Fest 2017: Golden Exits, by David Bax

13 Aug

In the first full scene of Alex Ross Perry’s Golden Exits, a palpable tension hangs over the seemingly innocuous preparation for a small dinner party. An archivist named Nick (Adam Horovitz) is about to introduce to his wife Aly (Chloe Sevigny) and her sister Gwen (Mary-Louise Parker) the assistant he’s hired to work with him over the next few months, Naomi (Emily Browning). Before the young woman even arrives, suspicions and accusations hang in the air, yet they remain unspoken. Of course they do; in Perry’s cerebral but yearning movie, everyone talks constantly but no one ever says what’s really on their mind.

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Next Fest 2017: Lemon, by David Bax

11 Aug

“It’s time for a new you. The old you doesn’t work anymore.” This specific sentence is spoken by Isaac (Brett Gelman) a struggling actor, as a part of commercial in which he isn’t wearing any pants. The line is not just a summation of the entire mission statement of advertising; it’s clearly about Isaac as well, in a bitterly funny way. That sardonic tone is the essence of Janicza Bravo’s Lemon. The accepted portmanteau for this type of story is tragicomic. But Lemon, Bravo’s first feature film, can’t seem to get the tragedy/comedy balance right.

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