“Please baby please”
Aimed at fans of John Waters and Pedro Almodóvar, the arty oddity “Please Baby Please” is the kind of cinematic fetish object that should entice anyone who shares director Amanda Kramer’s singular fascinations. Set in 1950s New York, where even the hipsters have their hang-ups about sex and gender, the film is in some ways an exaggerated parody of mid-20th century pop culture – and, in more profound ways, an explanation of how fatter fashions, jazz clubs, beatnik poetry, and complicated hairstyles gave once-oppressed Americans an outlet for their unspoken desires.
The film has minimal sets and almost no plot. Kramer and her co-writer, Noel David Taylor, focus on recreating the overall vibe of 1950s movies, album covers, and pulp novels, using pithy serpentine dialogue and fiercely committed performances from and to the cast. At the center are Andrea Riseborough and Harry Melling, who play Suzie and Arthur, a boho married couple who witness a brutal attack by a street gang in the opening scene and get so excited they begin to rethink what they’ve always understood about violence and masculinity.
“Please Baby Please” usually consists of Suzie or Arthur interacting with other helpers, testing their new thoughts on sexuality and machismo through charged conversations or physical encounters. (Demi Moore has a memorable cameo as a glamorous neighbor who doesn’t want to be a “woman.”) At times, the film feels like a series of art installations or even avant-garde dance routines, abstracting and stylizing human passion until it resembles something out’ West Side Story’. The picture fits particularly well with the versatile Riseborough, who twists her face and voice into something cartoonishly broad and fascinatingly fluid, as if her physical presence alone proves how gender can be a construct.
“Please baby please.” Not judged. 1 hour, 35 minutes. Available on Mubi
‘Spoon of Sugar’
The psychodrama ‘Spoonful of Sugar’ is a semi-psychedelic twist on classic children’s stories. It’s about a nanny whose magical touch is reminiscent of Mary Poppins, even though she’s dressed like Little Red Riding Hood and gets through the day using mind-altering drugs (like Alice in Wonderland). Directed by Mercedes Bryce Morgan from a screenplay by Leah Saint Marie, the film gets too caught up in shock for shock’s sake in the last half hour; but for a good part, it’s a wild and unpredictable ride.
Morgan Saylor plays Millicent, an orphan trying to compensate for a terrible childhood by giving love to a child in need: Johnny (Danilo Crovetti), the ailing and emotionally distant son of successful author Rebecca (Kat Foster) and her handsome husband, Jacob (Myko Olivier). Rebecca and Jacob have their own problems – they seem to use much of the free time Millicent gives them to have kinky sex – but their problems don’t outweigh those of their nanny, who microdoses LSD and hallucinates all sorts. twisty things.
There isn’t enough plot in “Spoonful of Sugar” to fill its running time, though the performances are so lively and director Morgan’s visuals so vivid that the picture never gets boring. The movie works best when it makes the least sense. The thriller elements – about who this Millicent really is and what she might be capable of – are the stuff of Lifetime movies. But the nightmares the filmmakers conjure up are remarkable, pointing out some uncomfortable truths about the balance of power between parents, their offspring and the caretakers they let into the home.
“Spoon of Sugar.” Not judged. 1 hour, 34 minutes. Available on Shake
Current in multiple ways, the sports drama “Free Skate” is written by Veera W. Vilo, in which she plays the role of an Olympic-level figure skater who escapes the abusive rigors of a Russian program to start over in Finland, the country of her birth. from her deceased mother. While living with her grandmother (Leena Uotila), the skater – who is never given a name in the film – tries to restart her career by working with coaches who respect her input, give her more breaks and encourage her to fun to skate, not fear. But she cannot fully embrace her newfound freedom until she faces what happened to her in Russia.
Vilo based “Free Skate” in part on her own experiences as a champion gymnast—both what she saw firsthand and what she heard from others—and she and director Roope Olenius certainly lean towards the sordid and the sensational when it comes to international women. sport. They cover the body shaming and the mental cruelty, as well as the sexual exploitation. The drama gets overheated at times – especially in the third act – and the filmmakers apparently didn’t have the money or the cast to make the skating scenes look like part of a real world-class competition. Still, the film is visually sharp and quietly engaging, and Olenius and Vilo sensitively capture the isolation and self-doubt that can make an athlete’s life so lonely.
“Free skating.” In Finnish, Russian and English with subtitles. Not judged. 1 hour, 59 minutes. Available on VOD
The Australian crime drama ‘Transfusion’ is 25% a smashing genre film and 75% a melancholic character sketch – a balance that has tipped too far to the latter. Sam Worthington gives a strong performance as Ryan Logan, a special forces squad who returns home after being wounded shortly before his wife, Justine (Phoebe Tonkin), is killed in a car accident. Ryan’s story picks up years later, as his anger and PTSD make it difficult for him to hold down a job, and as his teenage son, Billy (Edward Friday Carmody), gets into more and more trouble. Ryan tries to make much-needed money by working for a corrupt old comrade (played by Matt Nable, who also wrote and directed), but his woes go from bad to worse. This plot is quite simple, but Nable overcomplicates it with a narrative structure that jumps in time without much effect. The movie’s handful of action sequences are good, but they’re sparsely deployed and overpowered by many slow scenes of characters boiling in self-pity.
‘Transfusion.’ R, for violence, language, teenage drinking and drug use. 1 hour, 46 minutes. Available on VOD; also plays theatrically, Laemmle Glendale
Writer-director Wayne David is aiming for a different kind of werewolf movie with his feature debut, “Wolf Garden,” but while the attempt is admirable – and some of the atmospheric effects are good – the overall picture feels over-the-top. David plays William, an anxious man hiding in a remote mansion where he pauses frequently to reflect on a happier time with his girlfriend, Chantelle (Sian Altman). Between taking time each day to feed a growling beast in a nearby barn, William engages in philosophical conversations about his cursed life with a mysterious visitor (Grant Masters) and receives concerned calls from friends and relatives who warn that his problems make the National news. The movie waits too long to explain what’s going on with William – long after most viewers will have figured it out. Despite some nice mood swings, too much of “Wolf Garden” is spent talking around the story rather than just telling it.
“Wolf Garden.” Not judged. 1 hour, 29 minutes. Available on VOD
Writer-director Jamie Hooper’s feature film debut, “The Creeping,” gets a little hampered by following the modern supernatural thriller trend of linking every jump-scare and creep-out with deep personal trauma. Despite this, the film works quite well, thanks to Hooper’s mastery of retro horror style. Riann Steele plays Anna, who returns to her family’s haunted home to care for her senile grandmother Lucy (Jane Lowe) and to get answers about strange experiences she had there as a child. When a ghost begins to haunt her, Anna realizes she must dig up some old family secrets to find peace. It’s not hard to stay one step ahead of Anna’s investigation, but that’s okay, because this movie isn’t really defined by its twists and turns. It’s more about the attributes, which Hooper and his crew deliver with panache: the dark shadows, the rich colors, and the beams of light that cast an eerie glow in the misty sky.
“The Creeping One.” Not judged. 1 hour, 34 minutes. Available on VOD
“Split at the Root” explores the Trump-era policy of family separation through the US immigration system by telling the story of how a Guatemalan mother’s plight inspired a network of angry mothers to take action — not just for this one woman, but for as many as possible women. Director Linda Goldstein Knowlton balances the hopeful example of these activists with the stark realities faced by the families they helped, who were in danger of arrest and deportation. Available on Netflix
Now available on DVD and Blu-ray
“The Texas Chainsaw Massacre” is one of the most terrifying and influential horror films of the 1970s, adding a subtle artistry to the tawdry tale of gritty hippies who cross paths with a family of cannibals. The new 4K UHD edition features four commentary tracks and hours of behind-the-scenes footage, covering the origins of this project and explaining why this shockingly titled smash hit is so beloved even today. Dark sky