Arthouse films in which the camera caresses young male bodies are usually directed by men, like Gus Van Sant or Larry Clark, so Eliza Hittman’s Beach Rats feels like an outlier. If anything, her follow-up to 2013’s It Felt Like Love is as much about a 19-year-old exploring his sexuality as it’s a chance for Pina cinematographer Hélène Louvart to linger on the panes of his face, the curvature of his lips, the contours of his torso. At home, Frankie (Harris Dickinson) hooks up with men he meets through a gay webcam forum, but with his friends—Brooklyn bros in tank tops and backwards hats—he hangs out on the boardwalk, smoking blunts and digging the heteronormative scene. When a pretty brunette (Madeline Weinstein) flirts with him one night, he flirts back, but the minute his friends abandon him, he looks frightened. When their first sexual encounter is a bust, he convinces her to give him another chance. His father is dying, and he’s eager for the kind of human connection his friends are unable to provide, and so he splits his life down the middle—gay in private and straight in public, a bifurcation bound to fail. Though the trailer portends vapid soft core, Hitmann has a sure and sensitive hand as a director; better yet, Dickinson registers as more than just a photogenic body. Though he’s certainly that, too. KATHY FENNESSY
Michelangelo Antonioni’s 1966 drama that you feel guilty about never having seen, now lovingly restored! All that painstaking work should make the cinematography shine like it’s never shined before, so the film can be at its most beautiful when you say, “Huh, always meant to see that, heard good things!” before folding this paper back up and returning it to the bus seat you found it on. I’m sure you’ll be in line when Michael Bay’s remake starring Mark Wahlberg and Rebel Wilson comes out in 2019.
See review, this issue.
★ Fast Times at Ridgemont High
In 1982, Amy Heckerling and Cameron Crowe provided one of the most incisive, insightful looks into what high school was really like. Thirty-five years of constant pop-culture referencing has rendered the film quaintly cliché, a collection of questionable fashions coughing up cornball dialogue. But two aspects of the film still ring as true today as they did then: The muted desperation humming under everything Judge Reinhold does (yes, his character has a name, but such is the curse of Judge Reinhold—everyone he’s ever played simply becomes Judge Reinhold), and the reluctantly charming relationship between Mr. Hand (Ray Walston) and his good-natured problem student, Jeff Spicoli (Sean Penn). BOBBY ROBERTS
Ferris Bueller’s Day Off
John Hughes’ late-’80s live-action Looney Tunes movie, starring Matthew Broderick as Bugs Bunny, Alan Ruck as Porky Pig, and Jeffrey Jones as a piece-of-shit pederast (AKA himself). In this story, Bugs is a ridiculously spoiled upper-middle-class brat who decides to fake death and con Porky into stealing a Ferrari from his emotionally abusive father so he and Babs Bunny (Mia Sara) can fuck around in Chicago all day. Along the way, Porky goes catatonic and learns to stand up for himself. Also starring the girl with the watermelon from Dirty Dancing and Charlie Sheen as an unapologetic cokehead (AKA himself). BOBBY ROBERTS
★ Hecklevision: Gleaming the Cube
Your opportunity to turn your phone into a weapon of textual comedic destruction, aimed at 1989’s Gleaming the Cube, starring Christian Slater as a skater who is also an amateur detective out to solve the murder of his adopted brother. Among its easily-spotted filmmaking influences are Rambo, E.T., Vice Squad, and Scooby Doo, channeled into day-glo “action” via Slater and the Bones Brigade, kickflipping all over the fucking place like a crew of coked-up Poochies. BOBBY ROBERTS
See review, this issue.
★ Kubrick on Film
See Film, this issue.
★ Kung Fu Theater: Shaolin vs. Wu Tang
This month’s installment in Dan Halsted’s ongoing celebration of all things whoop-ass is the only known 35mm print of this legendary 1983 Hong Kong classic, the kung fu equivalent of Avengers vs. Justice League, starring one of martial arts’ all-time best superheroes, Gordon Liu, performing frequent ballets of bonecrushing violence from mastermind choreographer Lau Kar Leung. Will Wu Tang defeat Shaolin? Will Shaolin best the Wu? Will they both realize just in the nick of time that they shouldn’t be fighting each other and team up to utterly dismantle the real villain? The satisfying answer to all these very obvious questions is sure to have you happily miming all the punches and kicks from your theater seat. BOBBY ROBERTS
★ Monty Python and the Holy Grail
Nerds have done their best to ruin Monty Python and the Holy Grail—quoting it at every opportunity, screeching “NI!”, ad infinitum—but even they can’t tarnish the glory of the 1975 comedy classic. See it on the big screen with a beer, as god (and Sir Robin the Not-Quite-So-Brave-as-Sir-Lancelot) intended. ERIK HENRIKSEN
More than enough has been written about how terrifyingly prophetic Sidney Lumet’s 1976 satire has turned out to be, but as far as I know, nobody’s pointed out that it somehow seems even more relevant in the age of Twitter. If this film doesn’t give you chills, you’re probably a sociopath. ERIK HENRIKSEN
Queer Commons: Check It
Queer Commons presents Dana Flor and Toby Oppenheimer’s new documentary Check It (produced by Louis C.K.), focused on telling the simultaneously hopeful and violent story of a Washington D.C. gang of Black, gay teenagers whose members are trying to leave behind their criminal lives and break into the world of fashion. Proceeds from the screening benefit the Trans Assistance Project and ORI Gallery.
Top of the Lake: China Girl
Jane Campion and Elisabeth Moss return to the cold, fucked-up world they brought to disturbing life in the acclaimed detective drama Top of the Lake. Season two introduces Gwendoline Christie as Moss’ partner, Alice Englert as Moss’ 17 year-old daughter (!), and Nicole Kidman as that girl’s adopted mother. Will shit get uncomfortably fucked up? Of course it will. But how the emotional turmoil unfolds (and engulfs) this amazing cast? That’s what Sundance Channel is hoping will keep you glued to the screen.
MEANS WE RECOMMEND IT. Theater locations are accurate Friday, Sept 8-Thursday, Sept 14, unless otherwise noted. Movie times are updated daily and are available here.