In Your Queue: “To the Wonder”, “Gimme the Loot”


To The Wonder – Terrence Malick (2013)

It’s usually unfair to hold directors up to their past work, especially when that work is particularly great or terrible. Terrence Malick has almost always lived up to that kind of scrutiny, and when he hasn’t, he hasn’t missed by much. But with To the Wonder, Malick has delivered the first film that you might call routine.

The signature floating visual poem is here once again, and it guides us through the coming together and falling apart of Neil (Ben Affleck) and Marina (Olga Kurylenko), an American-French couple who leave the daydream beauty of Paris to settle in rural Oklahoma for his oil-field job. To the Wonder lacks the grand central ideas that have marked Malick’s films in the past – there is no war, no murder, no running from the law, no creation of life; it’s simply a love story with overtones of loneliness, alienation and emptiness. It works on that level, but with less natural efficiency than we’re used to. It’s a beautiful film, of course it is, but there is some assembly required to get to its aloof center.

Gimme the Loot – Adam Leon (2013)

Bomb the apple. A phrase like that sounds so sinister now, but 20 years ago, it’s all any tagger in New York wanted to do. They hoped to catch fame by getting their name on the Mets’ home-run apple. It’s been impossible ever since the idea was posed, but it seems like cake for Malcolm and Sophia (Ty Hickson and Tashiana Washington), two kids from the Bronx who want to be the biggest writers in the city but can’t get past a couple of white kids from Queens who keep wrecking their pieces. Twenty years of failure isn’t going to stop them, but the $500 they need to bribe a guard to get in might.

The apple exists as both a legend and a joke in New York, encapsulating the Mets’ position as lovable losers, and that team reputation runs as a direct parallel to that of Malcolm and Sophia, lovable losers who seem like they’ll never make it when their schemes to get the money turn toward ripping off Ginnie (Zoë Lescaze), a rich white girl Malcolm has a crush on. The charm of Hickson and Washington makes the film a success, though. There is an amiable Charlie Brown-and-Peppermint Patty quality to them as they run around the city fighting and bickering. They’re so close that the worst insults they hurl at one another roll off their backs, and their likability keeps you squarely on their side throughout the film.

In Your Queue: Gimme the Loot, Fat Kid Rules the World


Holy Motors – Leos Carax 

Nothing makes a bit of sense in Carax’s surrealist-absurdist masterpiece, but if it did, it would almost be a crime against cinema, so brilliant is its outcome. Set almost as a fluid series of short films that all feature the same morphing lead, played by Denis Levant, his French film works better the less you know going into it, but rest assured: You’ll either love it for its left-field inventiveness, or hate it for its strange, reckless meandering. For those of you who have seen Tokyo!, keep an eye out for the return of Mr. Merde, as well as a little number by Kylie Miogue. Available to stream on Netflix.

Gimme the Loot – Adam Leon

This recommendation unfortunately comes sight unseen, which I do feel very uncomfortable about, but as of this writing the film hadn’t filtered through to the various streaming platforms that it’s supposed to be available on (Amazon, YouTube, Playstation, Xbox). It’s an exciting film prospect nonetheless, or maybe it just seems that way to me because it’s a story so close to my wayward youth when I would have liked nothing better than to be the biggest writer in New York, as the films stars, Malcolm and Sofia (Ty Hickson and Tashiana Washington), aim to accomplish by tagging the Mets’ homerun apple at Citifield. In a time when subway cars have all become graffiti resistant and derelict buildings all inhabited by young white people in fedoras, it’s a daring and novel — and kind of charming — way to go about it. The apple is both a mythic legend and a joke in New York, and perfectly encapsulates the Mets’ lovable losers syndrome, which appears to parallel Malcolm and Sofia extremely well, even though they’re from enemy territory — the Bronx. I hope the film succeeds, but it seems worth a few bucks to stream even if it doesn’t.

Fat Kid Rules the World – Matthew Lillard

It’s strange to be recommending something — anything — that Matthew Lillard is involved in, but he’s got a strange winner of a film here in his adaptation of a YA novel about a fat kid who tries to step in front of a bus to end his daily dose of torment but is saved just as the bus is screeching to a halt by a ragamuffin street kid, who shakes the fat kid down for a few bucks immediately after. It’s Lillard’s first film as director and it shows a little bit in the structure and execution of the film, especially in the first act, but it’s not hard to get past when you look straight at the Angus-like story that ends up avoiding most of the pitfalls of the awkward coming-of-age story. Jacob Wysocki and Matt O’Leary work well enough in tandem as the nervous, overweight Troy and the druggie friend you hope your kid doesn’t make, Marcus, and the story fits so well in its Seattle backdrop, that it lands firmly outside of the realm of first time film. It’s not an Earth shattering film by any means, and stories about weight are hard to look at sometimes, but it’s a fitting and endearing movie for the times, that’s for sure. The film is available to stream on Netflix.