Sex Abuse Survivor Copes With Trauma In Surreal, Semi-Autobiographical Adventure
Amy (Amy Everson) has been left so haunted by demons after years of unspecified sexual abuse that today she dreams of crushing a rapist to death with her thighs. She also fantasizes about gouging out his eyes and sticking a pin in a penis.
Good luck to anyone who gets involved with the traumatized survivor, since she’s obviously still dealing with the fallout of whatever happened to her. Some of Amy’s suitors are oblivious of the warning signs, such as the cad who cavalierly suggested that the date rape drug, Rohypnol, doesn’t even exist.
Such callous behavior plays right into Amy’s belief that most men are exploitative jerks who think they have the right to grope her just because she’s female. She laments that they don’t understand that there are other forms of violence besides punching or stabbing or shooting with a gun.
Rather than retreat into her shell, Amy copes by creating elaborate costumes which make a feminist statement about the patriarchal state of the culture. For instance, she’ll strap on a fake penis and cover her face with a mask before taking a walk in the woods; or she might don a giant chicken mascot costume in order to follow a dude around.
Yet, despite her apparent disgust with the opposite sex, Amy hasn’t given up on finding Mr. Right. She hangs out at a pool hall where she peppers possible partners with probing questions like: “Do you prefer docile chicks?”
Inspired by its star Amy Everson’s real-life experiences, Felt is a surreal, semi-autobiographical adventure with a patently political agenda. Directed by Jason Banker (Toad Road), this unsettling experimental indie is simultaneously a psychological thriller which never affords the audience an opportunity to get comfortable in their seats.
A cattle prod of a picture which incessantly provokes and pushes the cinematic envelope while taking no prisoners in a very freaky battle-of-the-sexes.
Very Good (3 stars)
Running time: 80 minutes
Open Road Films
Rated R for profanity, nudity, sexuality, ethnic slurs, drug use and violence, all involving teens
College-Bound Kid Jeopardizes His Future By Associating With Unsavory Characters In Compelling Coming-Of-Age Comedy
17-year-old Malcolm (Shameik Moore) was raised by a single mom (Kimberly Elise) in a rather rough section of L.A. where he’s turned out to be more of a milquetoast than a menace to society. He’s actually so nerdy he’s formed a funk band called Oreo with a couple of fellow geeks, Diggy (Kiersey Clemons) and Jib (Tony Revolori). The tight-knit BFFs carefully negotiate their way through the perilous gauntlet lining their path to school, doing their best to hide the fact that they do “white sh*t” like getting good grades in hopes of going to a good college and making it out of the ghetto.
Malcolm has his heart set on Harvard, which just might happen, given his high SAT scores. In terms of his application, he still has to finish his personal essay and then do a decent job in his upcoming interview with esteemed alumnus Austin Jacoby (Roger Guenveur Smith), the check-cashing magnate.
However, what might prove more of a challenge is simply keeping his nose clean the rest of senior year. After all, he encounters danger on a daily basis, whether it’s bullies trying steal his sneakers or neighborhood gangstas pressuring him to join the Bloods.
Malcolm’s unraveling starts when, against his better judgment, he accepts an invite from a girl he has a crush on (Zoe Kravitz) to a drug dealer’s (Rakim Mayers) birthday party at an underground nightclub. His first mistake is even entering the seedy, subterranean rave. His second is asking Nakia to dance, because she’s also the object of the macho birthday boy’s affection.
Then, when a gunfight suddenly breaks out, Malcolm grabs his backpack and runs for his life, unaware that his rival in romance has hidden a stash of contraband there. So, the next thing you know, Malcolm’s on the run from a number of unsavory characters who covet the carefully-packed powdery substance.
Thus unfolds Dope, a cleverly-scripted, coming-of-age comedy reminiscent of the equally-sophisticated Dear White People. Narrated by Forest Whitaker, this laff-a-minute, fish-out-of-water adventure mines most of its humor at the expense of an emboldened 98-pound weakling who’s used to having sand kicked in his face.
The picture was directed by Rick Famuyiwa (Brown Sugar) who keeps you entertained by turning more than a few conventions on their heads. The film also features a very pleasant soundtrack which includes a couple of crowd-pleasing tunes by 11-time Grammy winner Pharrell Williams.
A rollicking roller coaster ride around the ‘hood that’s basically a hilarious cross between Kid And Play’s House Party (1990) and Harold & Kumar Go To White Castle (2004).
Excellent (4 stars)
Running time: 115 minutes
OPENING THIS WEEK
For movies opening June 26, 2015
Big Game (PG-13 for profanity, violence and intense action sequences) Political thriller about a hardy, 13-year-old hunter (Onni Tommila) who comes to the assistance of the President of the United States (Samuel L. Jackson) when Air Force One is shot down over Finland by terrorists intent on taking him hostage. With Jim Broadbent, Ray Stevenson and Felicity Huffman. (In English and Finnish with subtitles) Max (PG for action, peril, violence, mild epithets and mature themes) Man’s Best Friend saga about the brother (Josh Wiggins) of a late Afghan War vet (Robbie Amell) who adopts the dog that served alongside him on the frontlines. Featuring Thomas Haden Church, Jay Hernandez and Lauren Graham.
Ted 2 (R for sexuality, crude humor, pervasive profanity and drug use) Writer/director/producer Seth MacFarlane reprises the title role in this sequel which finds the anthropomorphic Teddy bear marrying his girlfriend (Jessica Barth) with plans for starting a family. Ensemble cast includes Mark Wahlberg, Morgan Freeman, Liam Neeson, Amanda Seyfried and Patrick Warburton.
Batkid Begins (PG for mature themes) Make-a-wish documentary recounting how the citizens of San Francisco collaborated to make 5-year-old cancer patient Miles Scott’s dream of becoming Batman a reality.
A Borrowed Identity (Unrated) Middle East drama revolving around a Palestinian teenager (Tawfeek Barhom) attending a prestigious Israeli boarding school in Jerusalem where he lands in hot water for falling in love with a Jewish classmate (Danielle Kitsis). With Razi Gabareen, Ali Suliman and Yael Abecassis. (In Arabic, Hebrew, English and German with subtitles)
Escobar: Paradise Lost (Unrated) Romance thriller, set in Colombia in the summer of 1991, about a Canadian surfer dude (Josh Hutchinson) who is pressured to serve as a hit man after falling for the niece (Claudia Traisac) of drug cartel kingpin Pablo Escobar (Benicio del Toro). Support cast includes Anne Giradot, Carlos Bardem and Brady Corbet.
Fresh Dressed (Unrated) Hip-hop documentary revisiting the rise in popularity of urban fashion as a consequence of the simultaneous mainstreaming of rap music in American culture. Featuring appearances by Pharrell Williams, Daymond John and Damon Dash.
A Little Chaos (R for sexuality and brief nudity) Romance drama, set in France during the reign of Louis XIV, where a couple of gifted landscape artists (Kate Winslet and Matthias Schoenaerts) fall in love while sculpting the royal garden at the Palace of Versailles. Directed by Alan Rickman who plays the king, and co-stars Stanley Tucci, Jennifer Ehle and Helen McCrory.
The Little Death (Unrated) Kinky sex comedy, set in Sydney, exploring the fetishes of five suburban couples. Ensemble cast includes writer/director Josh Lawson, Kate Box, Tasneem Roc, Lisa McCune and Damon Herriman.
A Murder In The Park (PG-13 for violent reenactments, disturbing images, drug use and brief profanity) Miscarriage of justice courtroom exposé suggesting that the Innocence Project had inadvertently set free on appeal a death row inmate who was actually guilty all along.
Runoff (R for drug use) Rural tale of survival about a woman (Joanne Kelly) desperate to keep a failing, family farm afloat after her husband (Neal Huff) falls ill and they’re threatened with foreclosure by heartless bill collectors. With Rashel Bestard, Tom Bower and Drew Cash.
What Happened, Miss Simone? (Unrated) Prestige biopic chronicling the life and times of the legendary Nina Simone. Produced by the late jazz singer and civil rights activist’s daughter, Lisa.