It rings false — Beach Rats is a catalog of desires, a kind of aesthetic carnival of lazy afternoons near the water, glistening skin, boardwalk trysts, neon clubs (which reminded me of Hittman’s excellent 2011 short Forever’s Gonna Start Tonight), desperate fumblings between bodies in secluded spaces, fireworks — but there’s an element of truth to it.
There is a recurring image in The Water Protectors of Wakpa Waste — the new documentary about anti-pipeline and extractive energy struggles on the Cheyenne River Sioux Reservation in South Dakota, and the people waging those struggles — that sticks in the mind: small icicles clinging to concertina wire.
In Kelly Reichardt’s masterful 2013 meditation on terrorism Night Moves, we’re slowly introduced to a trio of disaffected young people staging a dramatic intervention: the explosion of a dam. Memorably, and in true Reichardt fashion, that explosion, which by all standard narrative conventions should occupy the film’s central spot, registers in the narrative instead as a muted, distant noise.
Although their SNL shorts and music videos are generally cherished by comedy and/or cannabis enthusiasts, the Lonely Island boys haven’t had the best of luck on the big screen. Hot Rod raced through both theaters and the public consciousness, raking in all of $14M at the box office; a few years later, the Jorma Taccone-helmed MacGruber failed to recoup its budget, outpaced, as Matt Singer once pointed out, by Furry Vengeance, “starring Brendan Fraser as a real-estate developer at war with a raccoon.” It would’ve been hard for Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping to fall any lower on the scale of profitability than that cult-favorite MacGyer parody.
Anthology films, by their nature, are uneven, and so inherently disreputable. But when they work, they’re like a gift to viewers who really don’t want to sit through a 3 hour Marvel movie only to discover it’s also kind of uneven.
Poised somewhere between the fast-zombie viscera of 28 Days Later and the existential unease of Ex Machina, with a dose of Cronenbergian sympathy for the virus thrown in for good measure, The Girl With All The Gifts is micro-targeted to a very particular horror fanbase.