Thursday, February 19, 2009


Adrian Lyne | 1980 | 106 min | US

Adrian Lyne's second feature is ostensibly one more coming of age story about four high school girls in the San Fernando Valley. But even the film's ad copy ("a rock'n'roll-filled trip through the fast lane of teenage life!") fails to adequately convey how quickly this movie flies of the rails. Each of the girls enjoys a share of domestic strain, romantic struggle, and some measure of substance abuse, and Lyne dives straight into it. Much of the story revolves around three friends attempting to save the marginally most tragic of the gang, fifteen-year-old Annie, but none of them are in much of a position to offer life coaching or an escape route. A happy ending never seems like it is very close or even particularly happy. The closing moments of Foxes are a perversion of a fairy tale ending rather than the fantasy we are often treated to.

Not that Foxes isn't ultimately a fun guilty pleasure. I find Lyne is at his best when he is slowly sucking me into discomfort, and Foxes is splendid at causing my brow to furrow. Opening with slow pan close-ups of sleeping teenage bodies, thirteen-year-old Laura Dern (in her credited debut) waxing poetic about diaphragms, and Randy Quaid setting the screen on fire as an alluring, rock album designing pedophile. This movie has a little bit of something to render everyone queasy. It's like a Winston Smith collage of terrible high school decisions.

None of this is by accident, of course. Foxes goes out of its way to be seedy and look dingy, often seeming to exist in an alternate California absent of artificial interior lighting.

Every member of the young cast does a terrific job. Even the smaller contributions are sharp, including those from a young Scott Baio, as well as Dern and Quaid, already mentioned. Jodie Foster is her creepy best leading the cast in her patented "stoic forty-year-old in a little girl's body" routine. Foster earns the spotlight, but most of the biggest whatthefucks come from Cherie Currie, the teenage lead singer of girl-group The Runaways, who plays Annie, the BURNED OUT fifteen-year-old runaway. That girl knows how to play "disaster whore" with shudder-inducing definition.

So, final verdict: fun, fucked, exploitive. Thus, big recommendation.

Saturday, February 07, 2009

Synedoche, New York

Charlie Kaufman | 2008 | 124 min | US

If you've been waiting for a longer, shittier version of eXistenZ, you're in luck!