When it comes to movies starring Jennifer Aniston, the term "hit or miss" is something of an understatement. But add Yaslin Bay a.k.a. Mos Def, Will Forte and Tim Robbins to the mix and you've got yourself some undeniable possibilities for goodness. Such is the case with Daniel Schechter's latest film, Life of Crime. Set in the 1970s and based on Elmore Leonard's The Switch (also, incidentally, the name of a Jennifer Aniston movie), the film centers around a kidnapping under the false assumption that Mickey Dawson (Aniston) is given a shit about by her alcoholic husband, Frank Dawson (Robbins), a wealthy, thieving landlord with a penchant for affairs.

promotional poster for Life of Crime

promotional poster for Life of Crime

Mickey, very much the martyred housewife, goes through the motions of acting interested in her husband's social life, attending parties and country clubs, all the while only in it for her son's sake. The relationship she has with Frank is strained at best and abusive at worst. Her son, Bo (Charlie Tahan), also has nothing positive to say about the man, remarking, "He doesn't know shit." But even the offer of an affair by fellow country club-goer Marshall Taylor (Will Forte) doesn't make her feel any sort of excitement. If anything, it leaves her revolted.

Doing the blonde thing

Doing the blonde thing

And so, when she's kidnapped by two ex-cons named Ordell Robbie (Mos Def) and Louis Gara (John Hawkes), her reaction is understandably somewhat disturbed, yet also utterly zen. Knowing that her husband doesn't love her, Mickey laughs when Louis--who she strikes up something of a romantic rapport with--tells her they're asking for a million dollars (of which Frank swindled by skimping on the cost of his appliances in his apartments). 

Doing the aloof thing

Doing the aloof thing

The true apple of Frank's eye is Melanie (Isla Fisher), a buxom redhead with a lax attitude about everything, that is, until Ordell comes to find her and Frank in the Bahamas to personally extort his money. This results in Melanie using her charms on him to talk down his asking price and throw in offing Mickey for good measure (she can't have Frank feeling suddenly guilty and retracting his divorce papers, after all). 

Doing the terrified thing

Doing the terrified thing

In the meantime, Mickey must stave off the perverted actions of Richard (Mark Boone Jr.), the Nazi sympathizer/paraphernalia collector whose house she's being held captive in. Ultimately, Louis saves her from his raping clutches and takes her back to his apartment where they, surprisingly, don't consummate their relationship. In fact, it is this strange plot twist, for lack of a better term, that makes Life of Crime so interesting and so telling of the decade that was the 1970s. Rather than being an era of cliches, it was a time that emphasized change and revolution (albeit not quite to the same extreme as the 60s). Rather than allow herself to jump from one form of monogamy to another, Mickey merely seeks friendship from her former captors, who seems to know much more about living a life of excitement than she does.  

AuthorGenna Rivieccio
CategoriesMovie Reviews

With Cameron Diaz's recent track record of films (see: Knight and Day and What to Expect When You're Expecting, among others), it shouldn't have been so blindsiding to experience the particular brand of badness that was The Other Woman. Directed by Nick Cassavetes, best known for directing The Notebook and being the son of John Cassavetes and Gena Rowlands, The Other Woman is as schmaltzy as one would expect. What isn't expected, however, is the forced amount of female solidarity wielded at its audience throughout. The only thing these women have in common is wanting to get even

As a high-powered lawyer living in New York, Carly Whitten (Diaz) is accustomed to one-night stands and frivolous dalliances. So when she finds herself actually getting attached to her latest flame, Mark (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau), it comes as even more of a surprise to her than it does to her assistant, Lydia (Nicki Minaj, the best thing about this entire movie), who knows the ins and outs of her various "phases" in a "relationship" better than Carly herself. When Carly is about to introduce Mark to her father, Frank (for some incongruous reason played by Don Johnson), he reveals his true colors by bailing because of a plumbing emergency at his house, alternately known as, his wife, Kate (the especially hyper-annoying in this role Leslie Mann), says she's going to come to the city to see him if he doesn't come back to her that night. And this is how Kate and Carly find out about one another: Carly goes to Mark's house dressed as a sexy plumber (proving you can put "sexy" in front of any profession) only to find Kate is the one answering the door.

Ready to bone as a sexy plumber

When Carly realizes Mark is a two-timing son of a gun, she's all too ready to cut ties cold turkey. Kate, on the other hand, has other ideas about incorporating Carly into her future. Practically stalking her to the point of irking Carly enough to let Kate into her apartment, the two form an unlikely friendship that continues to seem unlikely throughout the entire movie. Just because the same guy fucked them over, we're to assume that they have an automatic rapport. They don't. This is made all the more clear by the addition of another mistress, Amber (Kate Upton), into the equation. In spite of her being younger, more attractive and dumber than a pile of bricks, Kate and Carly take a shine to her nonetheless. All in the name of taking vengeance on the same man.

Togetherness in the name of vengeance

Then again, maybe that's all it really takes to bond women together: A mutual ire for the same person--particularly if that person has a protruding appendage in the center of his legs. As ridiculous and hard to believe as it is, women can be that spiteful when it comes to exacting retribution on a man who's done them wrong. And so, on the one hand, it's nearly impossible to believe that these three extremely diverse woman with nothing in common on the personality front could force themselves to be friends with one another. But on the other, dime-store female solidarity can sprout at a moment's notice if it means inflicting the calamity a specific wrongdoing man deserves.


In spite of Karen O's somewhat vexatious methods for promoting her latest album, Crush Songs, there is an undeniable charm and honesty about the theme of her first solo work. Whether focusing on all of her sources of heartache is a gimmick or a genuine way to relate to her audience, the fifteen-track record offers a smattering of O's unbridled emotions when it comes to matters of love (and love lost or unrequited). The brevity of each song makes the run time top out at just over twenty-five minutes, which is rather impressive when you consider how quickly, yet in-depth she manages to cover the gamut of romantic relationships. Lost in love--like the rest of us

"Ooo" has the moody vocals of a Loretta Lynn and mirrors the tone of an old country song in terms of Karen O defending her man by asserting, "Don't tell me that they're all the same/'Cause even the sound of his name carries me over their reach back to some golden beach where only he remains." The first single from the album, "Rapt," is one of the longest (which is presumably one of the reasons it made the cut for single material--that, and it sounds most like a Yeah Yeah Yeahs song) and illuminates the dichotomous pleasure and pain of love with the lyrics, "Love is soft, love's a fucking bitch. Do I really need another habit like you?"


"Visits" sounds vaguely like the backbeat to Lorde's "Royals," but, this flaw aside, it has a special place on Crush Songs for its particular breed of fastness. It has one of the most jubilant-sounding versions of Karen O, in spite of her noting "I can't hold any soul." Channeling Lana Del Rey on "Beasts," Karen O evokes her darkest, most forlorn vibe on a song that laments, "My heart was never interested in lasting... Did you really love?" Surrendering to the beast that is love, O paints a grim portrait of vulnerability's consequences.

Album cover for Crush Songs

"Comes the Night" continues a sinister aural motif, with light baritone guitar strums that complement Karen O's aching voice. Just when you start to become enthralled by her tale, the song ends at a minute and six seconds. And, of course, as the lead singer of one of the most New York bands, it wouldn't be a Karen O album without a song called "NYC Baby." A sweet, nostalgic sort of track, O croons, "Left my baby in New York City/Oh what a pity he's in New York City/Rather have my baby much much closer to me lately than he's been."

Album cover for Crush Songs

"Other Side" finds Karen O hitting her lo-fi stride, with the distinct homemade sound of the record reaching one of its pinnacles--background noise and all. Though, let's get one thing straight: Julie Ruin by Kathleen Hanna this is not. "Come with me to the other side," O urges, whether as a lure to the object of her affection or a means to wear down someone she's already got in her clutches. Following is "So Far," another twangy sort of track that elicits comparisons to some sort of new-fangled Patsy Cline. The lyrics focus on post-breakup era sentiments as O gives the pep talk, "Hold your head high, leave your bed."

A triumphant solo artist

Once again, Karen O has a decidedly Lana Del Rey feel on "Day Go By," with a guitar riff that sounds faintly like "Brooklyn Baby." As the most obvious choice for single material after "Rapt," "Day Go By" has a less pronounced low-budget sound than some of the other songs and features lyrics that err on the more feel-good side (hear: "Gotta call the doctor doctor, gotta tell him that my pain is gone"). "Body," possibly the best offering on Crush Songs, explores the lovely, somewhat impossible notion of not settling for anyone less than what you're looking for with the assurance: "If you love somebody, anybody/There will always be someone else/So make it right for yourself."

Mourning love

"King" is one of the more anomalous songs on the album, referencing none other than Michael Jackson, which I guess counts as a form of love. Over the course of a minute and twenty-three seconds, Karen O explains, "King of pop is dead and gone away, no one will ever take his place/He's in his castle in the sky watching over you and I/And with his single sparkling glove/He blows us kisses to show us love/Is he walking on the moon?/I hope I don't find out too soon." "Indian Summer" possesses a slower than usual tempo and alludes to that strange time when one is more susceptible to falling in love: Indian summer.

Karen O's Crush Songs manifesto

"Sunset Sun" finds Karen O comparing sunsets and sunrises to relationships ending and beginning anew, promising, "Night has come, it's done.../Someday you'll know the one." "Native Korean Rock" changes the vibe altogether, with a pronounced rock-oriented feel akin to early Rilo Kiley. As a more empowering song than most of the others, Karen O practically screams, "You'll be fine, fine, fine." Especially if you listen to this album post-breakup.

Single cover for "Rapt"

"Singalong" closes out Crush Songs in a spirited campfire kind of manner, with whistling and other harmonies involved. An uplifting way to conclude an album about the peaks and valleys of love, Karen O shows us that she's capable of accomplishing what so many other solo artists who break away from their bands aren't: Establishing her own unique sound (see: Morrissey, Damon Albarn).



Sequels are always a delicate thing. On the one hand, everyone wants to see more of a good movie (e.g. The Godfather: Part II and Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle), but on the other, a part of you knows that you're likely to be somehow dissatisfied with the result. Robert Rodriguez's follow-up to 2005's (was it really all those years ago?) Sin City, Sin City 2: A Dame to Kill For, follows the same formula and features the same aesthetic, and yet, it seems to be lacking the same magic. Promotional poster for Sin City 2

Who is the dame to kill for, you may be wondering? Why Eva Green, of course. In the role of Ava Lord, a real Circe type, Green makes the most of showing off her body with what essentially amounts to non-stop nudity. After awhile, you stop even noticing those two nipples staring right at you. The film, in fact, centers mostly around her story line, as she reels Dwight back in to supposedly save her from her evil husband. With the sick minds of Rodriguez and writer Frank Miller joining together again, one would have hoped for some even more sadistic shit, but the sequel is decidedly short on disgusting and repulsive imagery (not counting Joseph Gordon-Levitt's fingers getting rearranged). More than that, Clive Owen is noticeably missing in the role of Dwight. Are we really just supposed to go along with Josh Brolin as his replacement? I don't fucking think so.

Eva Green as Ava Lord: a dame people kill for

Among other plotlines, Marv (Mickey Rourke) returns to start fights whenever possible, as beating the shit out of people is his primary passion in life. Plus, what else is there to do in Sin City if you're not bashing someone's face in out of frustration? Joining forces with Dwight and Nancy (Jessica Alba, also reprising her role) at different points in the story, Marv seems to serve more as the muscle in the script rather than someone with a worthwhile personal journey of his own (guess they gave that to him enough in the first film). The character of Johnny, however (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), presents one of the most intriguing tales and gets one of the more minimal amounts of screen time. As the bastard child of Senator Roarke (Powers Booth), Johnny has a gift for gambling that he uses against Roarke in a private poker game. Winning the game ends up costing him a few good limbs--and one good dame.

Joseph Gordon-Levitt as the beleaguered Johnny

Though Johnny isn't the only new character introduced into the mix, the other ones, like Joey (Ray Liotta) and Sally (Juno Temple) or Mort (Christopher Maloney) and Bob (Jeremy Piven), have such marginal, brief vignettes within the larger picture that there's nothing really compelling about watching them. Even a cameo from Lady Gaga, which should be, if nothing else, mildly entertaining, errs on the side of dull and inane.

Jessica Alba in a look inspired by Edward Scissorhands

While the pacing of Sin City 2 is definitely slower than its predecessor, it still feels like it has the high-octane energy you would find from a Quentin Tarantino movie--but it simply doesn't have the conviction. Whether it's because too much time has passed since the first one or it just doesn't have the charisma that Clive Owen brings to every film, Sin City 2 fails to achieve the same level of awe-inspiring reverence. Yeah, it's good and yeah there's still tits and violence galore--which is what we demand from Rodriguez and in general--but that's really about all you can say about it.



It's difficult to live in Los Angeles and not succumb to that disease known as narcissism, particularly as a gay man whose ego has been fed on a steady diet of prospective fucks. In Eric Casaccio's short film, aptly titled Narcissist, the psychosis of the typical vain bear is explored with the dexterous ease of someone who's all too familiar with the tale. Rob and Evan, a shattered relationship

In the opening scene, we meet Evan (Hunter Lee Hughes), an affable man who is blind-sided when his long-term boyfriend, Rob (Brionne Davis), breaks up with him over video chat--or rather, Rob's new boyfriend breaks up with Evan over video chat. Feeling vulnerable and depressed after such an unexpected blow (no pun intended), Evan begins to reminisce about the past, when things between Rob and him were at their peak. In sharp contrast to the callous version of Rob presented at the outset, in which he coldly states, "What constitutes a fuck is when I sweat," in reference to Evan being able to satisfy him. With such a derisive line, we see that there's a clear pattern with this particular narcissist. He acquires pleasure from building his boyfriends (a laundry list of them, summed up by all the photos he collects of himself and the boy du jour in the same exact location) up and then tearing them down. It's a perverse way to boost his own ego.

Film poster for Narcissist

Rob's fate as a lonely, middle-aged cipher trolling Grindr for fulfillment seems like a more than fitting vengeance for Evan, who goes on to find true happiness with someone who doesn't condemn him for his aesthetic or in the bedroom preferences. As the third short directed by Casaccio, Behind the Hype is more than ready to see what he's capable of doing with a feature length film. Considering the depth with which he's able to explore the theme of his choosing within such a short time frame (Narcissist clocks in at about 17 minutes), it's easy to imagine the impact he could have with the 90-minute realm.

Charlie McDowell's debut feature, The One I Love, views like a combination of The Stepford Wives, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and Rosemary's Baby. One, in fact, wonders if this was one of the initial elevator pitches when McDowell was initially trying to get funding (though, of course, when you're working with Mark Duplass, you come to realize that outside funding is unnecessary). After struggling to overcome the obstacle of infidelity in their relationship, married couple Ethan (Mark Duplass) and Sophie (Elisabeth Moss) decide to take the advice of their nameless counselor (played by Ted Danson) and head for a weekend getaway at a remote, picturesque house recommended specifically by said therapist. The result turns quickly sinister, unexpected and unnerving. Promotional poster for The One I Love

McDowell's deftness in unraveling the bizarre plot twist of the story early on in the film serves to reel us in and keep us hooked for the entirety of the narrative--no matter how macabre things get. At first, the weekend starts out normally enough, with Ethan and Sophie playing nice with one another in spite of the trust issues Sophie has with him after his committing of adultery. To loosen up a bit, the two smoke some pot and drink as though their marriage depends on it. When Sophie meanders into the guest room later that night, she finds a seemingly alternate version of Ethan: a cooler, more romantic, more attentive one.


Ethan urges her to spend the night in the guest house with him, leading her to return to the main property to collect her things. It's there that she sees Ethan sleeping on the couch as though he'd never left. Creeped out by how quickly he seemed to have returned to the house, Sophie asks how he got back before her. It is at this point that they get into an argument about the events that have happened over the past few hours. Confused by Sophie's anger, Ethan goes into the guest house to continue sleeping on a different couch, where he awakens to a very different wife, though she appears to look exactly the same. When Sophie and Ethan have the epiphany that they're co-existing with two doppelgangers of themselves, they both have very opposing reactions. Sophie, enamored of the more dashing incarnation of Ethan, wishes to stay and "explore" the possibilities, while Ethan is entirely averse to continuing with the trip.

Revelations on a weekend getaway

The implications of The One I Love are centered around two contrasting viewpoints of love and its evolution. On the one hand, you can be satisfied with the flaws and the complications, taking them as a part of the reason for loving the person you do, and, on the other, you can see it as a statement on never being satisfied after the so-called honeymoon period has ended. For Sophie, it's the former, as she can't help but be allured by "the other" Ethan and his charms. But, as is usually the case, one always presents their best form during the beginning stages. The real Ethan knows better, not exhibiting the slight bit of interest in "the other" Sophie, especially after she weirds him out by offering him bacon for breakfast--something the real Sophie would never do.

The creepy pull of the guest house

While McDowell's film has its occasional, mainly suspension of disbelief kinks, the admirability of him deciding to deviate so far from the norm of what a typical romantic comedy entails more than makes up for it. After all, we've long ago left the Golden Era of 90s rom-coms like My Best Friend's Wedding and Notting Hill (maybe it has to do with Julia Roberts aging). And with this acknowledgement comes the need for somebody besides Michel Gondry and Spike Jonze to stray from the prototypical formula of the boy loses girl storyline. Thank god we have  the dynamic duo of Mark Duplass and Elisabeth Moss, breaking out from her Peggy Olson mold, to help pioneer this new genre.

Michel Gondry holds the distinctive cachet of a director like Wes Anderson. Everything he does is fraught with whimsy, and the characteristics of an auteur. Thus, it can be difficult for a fan to admit when Gondry has ventured too far out of his ordinary wheelhouse, which is the case with his latest film, Mood Indigo (or L'Écume des jours in French, meaning Froth on the Daydream, also the title of the Boris Vian novel on which it is based). Like The Science of Sleep and Be Kind Rewind, Mood Indigo favors the fantastical in terms of special effects, layering them on much more thickly than the aforementioned films. Promotional poster for Mood Indigo

Gondry and co-writer Luc Bossi remain largely faithful to the premise of the book, which focuses on the affluent Colin (Romain Duris, of The Spanish Apartment and Russian Dolls). Colin's wealth mercifully keeps him from working, as he concentrates on more important things like playing a rare instrument, called the pianocktail, that makes cocktails while you play it. His friendship with Chick (Gad Elmaleh), a literary fanatic obsessed specifically with the works of Jean-Sol Partre (yes, a spoonerism for Jean-Paul Sartre--and how often do you get to use the word "spoonerism," by the way?), begins to shift when Chick meets a woman, Alise (Aïssa Maïga), with his shared passion for Partre.


Alise, who also happens to be the niece of Colin's servant, Nicolas (Omar Sy), helps nudge Colin toward the woman of his own fancy at a party. Chloé (Audrey Tautou, who, for some strange reason seems to be having trouble making a comeback), instantly allures Colin, though he feels tongue-tied and awkward upon their first encounter. Before going to the party, Colin specifically practices a dance to Duke Ellington's "Chloé." Incidentally, "Mood Indigo" is also the title of another Ellington song. Once the two start dancing together, their love is cemented, quickly leading to marriage and even more rapidly leading to Chloé contracting a strange illness while on their honeymoon. This illness involves a water lily growing inside of her, wreaking havoc on her lung. Colin goes bankrupt trying to give her the best medical care, only to lose her in the end anyway.

Awkward love

With a mood that shifts between light-hearted and utterly depressing, the severe contrast in tone doesn't quite carry off when viewing the movie as a whole. Of course, the cinematography, music and effects are what manages to salvage what the story lacks. As Gondry's seventh film, one would expect a bit more in the way of cohesion. However, it could be that adaptations are not what works for him. With Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind as the benchmark for what he's capable of directorially, Mood Indigo falls noticeably short.


Growing up is neither easy nor enjoyable most of the time, particularly as a boy at the dawning of the twenty-first century. Richard Linklater quite literally documents this experience in his latest feature, Boyhood, an epic twelve years in the making. Although some might be inclined to think that a film that uses the same children as they grow into adolescence errs on the side of gimmicky, Linklater's story, attention to pop culture detail and distinctive dialogue style proves that this film is anything but artifice. Mason Jr. (Ellar Coltrane) as a boy with his father, Mason (Ethan Hawke), and sister, Samantha (Lorelai Linklater)

Following the travails of Mason Jr. (Ellar Coltrane), a boy from a broken home, as he grows up in the strange time that was the early 00s, Linklater unfolds a plot that is mundane in theory, but layered with richness and relatability as you become increasingly invested in Mason's character and his interactions with other people in his life as he grows up (often times, sooner than he should as a result of being exposed to his mother's series of replacement husbands). Olivia (Patricia Arquette) tries her best to deal with the unexpected punches life throws her way, navigating the waters of parenthood on her own for most of her children's early life. Mason's sister, Samantha (Lorelai Linklater, Richard Linklater's daughter and no stranger to being in his films if you've ever seen Waking Life), has her own set of issues to deal with, though often serves as a constant source of annoyance to her brother.


After Olivia re-locates their family to Houston to be closer to her mother and go back to school, she quickly re-marries to her college professor, Bill Welbrock (Marco Perella), as a means to form an intact family. Combining her two kids with Bill's boy and girl, the couple seems happy for awhile, until Bill shows his true colors as a violent alcoholic. The trauma of plucking Mason and Samantha from a living situation they had become so used to causes emotional upheaval in their existence that they thought they had finally evaded. Transferring to different schools, the brother and sister start over again, while still remaining in close contact with their father, Mason Sr. (Linklater favorite Ethan Hawke). Many of the cultural references in Boyhood stem from conversations Mason and Samantha have with him, especially as he discusses politics pertaining to the hotbed issues of the moment: Bush's shittiness as a leader, the conspiracy behind the war in Iraq, etc.

Entering teenhood

Other pop culture moments with pronounced attention to detail include Sam singing "Oops... I Did It Again" at the top of her lungs much to Mason's annoyance and Mason watching this once viral Funny or Die video. And, in many ways, this is what makes Boyhood most interesting to watch: Seeing the events of the 00s unfold and their subconscious effect on Mason's development. It is particularly resonant for those who are actually Mason's age at the end of the movie. The fanfare surrounding the release of the movie is, in most respects, deserved, though it does show a very specific (read: white) experience in American youth culture. And that might not necessarily appeal to everyone who didn't grow up with a white middle class background. Other than that, however, the film is worth your near three hours of time, serving almost as a cautionary tale about investing too many emotions in your children (as evidenced by the scene in which Olivia sobs as Mason leaves for college and says, "I thought there would be more").


August 5th at The Roxy Theater in Hollywood, Beardyman will be performing in his own crazy or self described "silly"  way. I spoke with him earlier this week about his upcoming tour and it seems that every minute is planned! He is very much looking forward to returning to the States and performing on the Roxy stage. It's the little things in life tough too! He is looking forward to the split pea soup at his favorite spot just north of LA.

Pea soup aside, he will be bringing out his incredibly customized synthesizer (a word which he says does not quite do it justice) and using only his voice and the manipulation in the synth without any pre-recorded sounds or vocalizations.

The shows tend to be very improvised and very electronically based. After the show at The Roxy, he will be staying in Los Angeles to record an album in an hour with audience input. With crowd input and his improvisation, the album's sound is yet to be heard as it will rely on spurt of the moment creativity and inspiration. Wednesday at the Comedy Central stage at the Hudson on Santa Monica Blvd he will be performing his one album per hour showcase.

I first heard of Beardyman from a TED talk he gave (watch the video below) and I was blown away and I was so happy to be able to talk to him about his music. He started at 5 years old trying to make new sounds and accurately make sounds that he had heard in the world.

He has since created this magical device that I will be happy to see live at The Roxy. To get your tickets visit The Roxy/ Ticket fly



Cheers Behind The Hype. I am Ohio for the last time. Enjoy the shows and find me at
Instagram: @Tameaa

Sometimes, a movie likes to ride on its "indie" status. It Felt Like Love, the first film from writer/director/producer Eliza Hittman, is just such a movie. With a thin plot that focuses on a sexually immature teen named Lila (Gina Piersanti), It Felt Like Love is sparse in dialogue and lacking in visual richness. Being an awkward, gawky teenager is a plight that will always remain resonant, no matter how much technology and vernacular evolves. And yet, the struggles Lila faces in her coming of age story are generally unmoving. Promotional poster for It Felt Like Love

Wanting to desperately to be as desirable as her best friend, Chiara (Giovanna Salimeni), who seems to have no trouble attracting boys her age with her looks and confidence, Lila often appears pathetic and/or psychotic. With an opening scene that highlights this fact, we see Lila on the beach wearing unrubbed in sunscreen on her face as she watches Chiara and her boyfriend longingly.


Seizing any opportunity to seem like someone could be interested in her, Lila pursues Sammy (Ronen Rubinstein), an older tough guy whose reputation dictates that he's willing to bone whoever. This alone makes her a candidate for Ms. Low Self-Esteem. Although Sammy is somewhat willing to mess around with her, his ultimate interest lies in Chiara, as she comes across as more unattainable.

One of many uncomfortable moments

Filled with dull moments of quietness that are intended to be profound, It Felt Like Love is a mere one hour and twenty-two minutes long. However, it starts to feel a lot like hate by the final minutes.


Jenny Lewis has been in the entertainment business for longer than most people have been recovering from the 80s. Her transition into music in 1998 by starting a band with her boyfriend, Blake Sennett, that would ultimately become the successful indie outfit known as Rilo Kiley, was a fortuitous turn away from acting. When it all fell apart as a result of her breakup (a pattern eerily similar to her own parents, who were in a Vegas lounge act together that broke apart when their relationship did), Lewis began working on her own solo projects, in addition to other musical endeavors, including her collaboration on The Postal Service's 2003 wrist-cutting essential, Give Up. The Voyager, Lewis' third solo album, is the culmination of five years of work and reflection, specifically about the disbanding of Rilo Kiley and the death of Lewis' father. Lewis at work

The Voyager begins with "Head Underwater," an ode to taking a moment. Whether you actually do that by placing your head underwater to block out the rest of the world around you or through some other means (drugs anyone?) is at your discretion. Lewis describes, "I held my breath until it passed/I closed my eyes and I was free at last." The pain she experienced makes itself apparent in the re-telling of her coping mechanisms. The second track, "She's Not Me," which is also the name of a Madonna song that you should listen to, is self-evident in its title, detailing the ways in which one's ex is fooling himself into substituting one with another ho. Lyrics like, "Heard she's having your baby/And everything's so amazing/But she's not me/She's easy," combine just the right amount of woundedness and bashing.

Album cover for The Voyager

The first single from the album, "Just One Of The Guys," has a lackadaisical beat (perhaps to match Lewis' perception of men, or perhaps a result of her San Fernando Valley upbringing) that reels you in right away. Simultaneously lamenting and relishing the fact that, "No matter how hard I try to be just one of the guys/There's a little something inside that won't let me," Lewis gives us a firsthand account of having an unwanted biological clock. She hits the point home by saying, "I'm just another lady without a baby." And then there's the video, featuring Anne Hathaway and Kristen Stewart in their best versions of drag kings.


The laidback vibes continue on "Slippery Slopes." A comment on the challenges of long-term relationships, and the temptations that other people can present when you're bored and/or apart from the one you love, Lewis somewhat sardonically states, "I am still into you, dreams really do come true/I feel it everywhere, even in my red hair," then adds, "If you don't wreck it, then I won't wreck it either."

More album artwork

Lewis is anything but a late bloomer in terms of exposure to cracked outedness while serving time in Hollywood as a child actor (she had a role on Life With Lucy, one of Lucille Ball's many short-lived shows post-I Love Lucy, and, more importantly in Troop Beverly Hills with Shelley Long). And yet, the appearance of a song called "Late Bloomer" seems believable as Lewis sings in an autobiographical manner, crooning, "When I turned 16, I was furious and restless."

Southern California tableau

Possessing a country twang, "You Can't Outrun 'Em" is a song about Lewis' father and his ultimate demise. Singing, "I'm afraid you chose the red door with the triple six neon sign," Lewis could be speaking both to him or herself about the state of his health. Lewis, who had gotten closer to her father after he had spent most of her youth traveling (he, too, was a musician--which was, in part, what allowed her to forgive him for his absence: an empathetic understanding), also asks herself, "After all that you've been through, haven't you learned anything?", as though feeling she (and her father) should have somehow known better than to think they had more time together.


"The New You" addresses Lewis' metamorphosis and eventual ability to cope with the strife in her life. Looking at The Voyager as a form of therapy, she could be talking to any number of people when she accuses, "You perfected the art of making it all about you" (though, in all reality, she's probably continuing to talk about Sennett). Hawaiian waves of goodness and well-being wash over you when you listen to "Aloha and the Three Johns." Yet another song that sounds as though it's speaking directly to Sennett, Lewis questions, "Is this the beginning of our vacation/Or is this the end of our relationship?" The answer: it's the end.

Still from "Just One of the Guys"

A more rock-tinged sound accompanies "Love U Forever," which rehashes the encounter of a new love as Lewis sings, "When I met you, you were just a boy/And you were tongue-tied and wearing corduroys." Somewhat paraphrasing Jessica Simpson, Lewis assures, "I could love you forever"--though, of course, that never did happen (at least with Sennett, but who's to say it couldn't with her current boyfriend, Jonathan Rice?). The last track, "The Voyager," is a melancholic, symphonic bookend to an emotional album, and tells the tale of the voyager in all of us, whether this is a literal or metaphorical description. Combining her signature brand of sadness and sweetness, she recounts, "By the time I got your letter, I lost my mind/I was trippin'/When you gettin' better?, it's a jagged line." The chorus of the song also seems to be the overall theme of the album: "There are voyagers in every boy and girl/If you wanna get to heaven, get outta this world." Luckily, we have Lewis to take us to that place without ever having to leave the apartment (because you probably don't have a house if you're the type of person listening to this).


Joe Swanberg continues to rise through the ranks of independent film directors with his follow-up to 2013's well-received Drinking Buddies. This time, instead of focusing on the impossibility of male-female friendships, Swanberg centers his plot around the neurosis brought forth by the appearance of family. Playing the lead character, Jeff, Swanberg falls somewhat short in an acting capacity, which is only part of what makes this film a pale comparison to Drinking Buddies. Promotional poster for Happy Christmas

After breaking up with her boyfriend, the reasons behind which remain nebulous, Jenny (Anna Kendrick, one of those inexplicably annoying actresses you can't pinpoint exactly why you dislike) takes advantage of the kindness of her brother, Jeff (Swanberg), who offers her his basement in Chicago. Jeff's wife, Kelly (Melanie Lynskey, who you may recognize as the Jaclyn Smith-wearing, baby-toting in a bar woman in Sweet Home Alabama), becomes averse to Jenny after she gets trashed on her first night staying with them. Upon attending a party with her friend, Carson (the always blah Lena Dunham), Jenny gets out of control with her drinking and weed-smoking, prompting her to stubbornly pass out on the hostess' bed.

Jenny's first night out turns out to be a bust

Concerned about her behavior, Kelly feels reluctant about letting her watch Jude (Joe Swanberg's real life baby of the same name), their two-year-old son. Jenny, who was supposed to watch Jude the morning after her party, ends up being too hungover to do so, leading Kelly to call their former basement resident, Kevin (Mark Webber of Snow Day fame), to care for her son while she goes to brunch. Jenny awakens to find Kevin in the living room, and the three end up going to the park together. When Kelly returns, Kevin takes off, but not before getting Jenny's number so he can "lend her some DVDs"--a.k.a. sell her pot when she needs it. Jeff urges Kelly to give Jenny another chance to prove that her fuck-up was a one-time instance, and so, with no mask of certainty, Kelly leaves Jenny alone with Jude while she runs some errands.

Full-time fuck-up

After successfully keeping Jude alive for a few hours, Jenny and Carson pour themselves some drinks from the tiki bar in the basement and invite Kelly to join them. A few sips of beer later, Kelly confesses to feeling a tinge of resentment toward Jeff because she's the one who has to watch Jude all the time, leaving her no opportunity for writing (she had previously written one novel). Jenny and Carson encourage Kelly to keep writing and convince her that she can "have it all."


Filled with a renewed sense of hope for her career's potential as a result of this conversation, Kelly asks Jeff for the Christmas present of being able to go somewhere and write in private. Jeff is happy to oblige, offering up his empty production office as a quiet place for her to work. In the meantime, Jenny keeps herself busy by fucking with Kevin's head. Clearly the one who's more into it, Kevin treats her well and buys her a gift for the holiday, though ultimately ends up pissing her off anyway because he won't come home with her on Christmas Eve (he wants to, but has to wake up early to go to his mother's house the next day--proving that a mother always trumps a girlfriend in these Oedipal times). With her self-esteem in a shaky state after being what she perceives as rejected, she goes back to the basement and proceeds to drink and smoke weed. In this altered state, she puts a frozen pizza in the oven and forgets about it. About an hour later, the house is filled with smoke, setting off the alarm and waking up everyone else.

Christmas morning, after a night of drama caused by Jenny leaving the oven on

Jenny's selfishness and lack of concern is, presumably, supposed to be fascinating to the audience, but, for the most part, it's just vexatious. The main issue with Happy Christmas is how hard Swanberg tries to make his characters seem complex through simplicity, but with dialogue that consists primarily of "like" and "sorry," becoming engaged is a somewhat difficult feat.


As someone who has already played an emotionless alien earlier this year, there may be no better actress suited to the role of an all-knowing stoic than Scarlett Johansson in Luc Besson's Lucy. Like most Besson films, Lucy takes place in an "exotic" location--Taipei (a location portrayed in a manner that fortifies Tao Lin's decision to write his most depressing novel with this city as the backdrop and title). For some reason, our eponymous heroine is living there and dating a douche bag drug runner named Richard (Pilou Asbæk) who handcuffs a suitcase to her hand when she refuses to go in place of him to drop it off to Mr. Jang (Min-sik Choi), a notorious drug lord. Channeling

Upon fearfully entering the hotel room to gain an audience with Mr. Jang, a group of his lackeys comes down to greet her by shooting Richard as he watches from outside and then taking her up to Jang's room by force. Panicked and uncertain, Lucy imagines the worst when she sees the carnage Jang has already inflicted based on the body pile in his hotel room. After a translator instructs Lucy to open the suitcase handcuffed to her wrist via phone, Jang is pleased to find that the contents are bags of synthetic CH4, commonly delivered to fetuses in pregnancy for growth and development, but only in very minimal doses. When tested on one of their random addicts on hold in the hotel room, his reaction is delirium and euphoria, quickly negated by Jang's impromptu decision to shoot him.

Scarlett Johansson's expression for most of Lucy

Jang's translator then tells Lucy that the cold-blooded killer has a job for her. When she says she doesn't want a job, she finds herself waking up in a hotel room with her stomach freshly stitched together after being cut open so that Jang's henchmen could insert a bag of CH4 into her stomach in order for her to smuggle it through airport security (though with them body scanners these days, I don't really see how that's possible). Somewhere along the way, Lucy ends up in a holding cell where her captors not only try to rape her, but also kick her in the stomach, causing the CH4 to rip open and spread throughout her body--which imbues her with superior knowledge of everything, hence the Limitless comparisons.


Interspersed throughout the story are lectures from esteemed professor Samuel Norman (Morgan Freeman), who argues that if a human could tap into even 20% of his or her brain's capacity, complete control over one's body could be achieved (even though I kind of already thought most people do have control over their body, which just goes to show that I'm only accessing 10% of my brain). The only other species capable of doing this is, unsurprisingly, dolphins.

By the time Lucy has reached over 50% brain capacity, she can do just about anything

What is surprising, however, is that instead of seeking vengeance upon Jang once she goes to the hospital and gets her stomach emptied of the CH4 bag, she merely stabs him in both hands and accesses his memory to see where the other drug mules have gone so she can get the rest of the product for herself. It's a very zen attitude, if you think about it. With her new mission being to collect the remaining three bags and use them on herself for Professor Norman's continued research, Lucy has found her purpose within the minimal amount of hours she has left to survive at the rate her brain is expanding.

Promotional poster for Lucy

At times, Lucy can veer on the somewhat trite side, for example, with parallels between Lucy and the first bipedal human, which scientists dubbed Lucy when the skeletal remains were discovered in 1974. Nonetheless, Besson has always been a seasoned writer-director when it comes to making his films both entertaining and thought-provoking--not to mention that his soundtrack choices never fail to impress, Damon Albarn being a case in point on this particular film.


Every so often, a movie from India comes along that forces you to reassess your own priorities (I know, for me, the last one was Gurinder Chadha's Bride and Prejudice. Seriously.). Ritesh Batra's--previously known primarily for his short films--debut, The Lunchbox, is the type of movie to affect all the senses (except, of course, touch). Centered around the lonely lives of a widower named Sajaan Fernandez (Irrfan Khan) and a neglected wife named Ila (Nimrat Kaur), the two find themselves brought together by the unusual circumstance of Ila's lunchbox being delivered to the wrong address. And so, instead of winning back the affection of her husband through her cooking, she ends up currying (no pun intended) favor with Sajaan. Promotional poster for The Lunchbox

After being counseled by her "Auntie" (a term of respect for the more geriatric set in India) on how to cook an amazing lunch, Ila knows her husband, Ranjeev (Nakul Vaid), won't be able to resist her once he tries her latest recipes. She puts two and two together when Ranjeev's reaction to the food is lackluster. Thus, she decides to send a note to the person who is actually receiving her lunches. This strikes up a consistent daily correspondence that both Ila and Sajaan take pleasure in. Sajaan's highlight of the day, in fact, is Ila's masterfully prepared cuisine. So intense is his enjoyment that he can't even be bothered to train Mr. Shaikh (Nawazuddin Siddiqui), the man who is supposed to replace Sajaan when he retires.

Ila, as she prepares her Indian delicacies

Shaikh is an enigma in his own right, claiming to be a seasoned accountant, only to later be found out by the head of the department as a fraud. In the time before that, however, he manages to get into the good graces of Sajaan, who is both in need of a friend and takes pity on Shaikh when he tells him he's an orphan. They begin having lunch together most every day, giving Shaikh the opportunity to notice the glow Sajaan has about him when he eats Ila's food and reads her notes.


The most remarkable aspect of The Lunchbox is the manner in which it highlights how much easier it is to share a connection with someone you barely know, particularly in a city of millions. There is something simultaneously beautiful and melancholic about this fact, and how easy it is to drift apart from those who you're supposed to be closest to. In Sajaan's case, though, his wife was lost to death rather than Ila's somewhat more tragic circumstance of losing her husband on both an emotional and physical level. Her distance from him augments when she realizes he's having an affair--merely fortifying her interest in and attraction to Sajaan (mentally speaking, of course).

Riding to work in close quarters with Shaikh

As close as they feel to one another, revealing their innermost thoughts and observations of the world around them, a meeting between the two falls through when Sajaan has the realization that he's become an old man, smelling his residual malodorousness when he returns to the bathroom that morning to give himself a touch-up shave. And so, instead of approaching Ila when he sees her at the restaurant in which they're supposed to rendez-vous, he simply watches her, admiring her for her spirit and youth. In response to what she presumes is his callousness instead of his consideration, she sends him an empty lunchbox the next day.

Ila waiting for Sajaan

Very much a statement on Indian culture--with dialogue like "this country has no place for talent"--The Lunchbox is a much needed glimpse into the everyday life of denizens struggling to make a connection in spite of being constantly and quite literally pushed together. The closest resemblance to it in America is, of course, New York--but even that saturation of humanity doesn't compare to the kind in cities like Mumbai. How the love story ends between Ila and Sajaan isn't necessarily the point of the film. It's that they found each other at all.

Perhaps the only place in the world with a higher concentration of mafiosos than Southern Italy is New York City. In the early 1990s, warring crime families were preoccupied with power, glory and, above all, gold jewelry. Director Raymond De Felitta, no stranger to stories centering around New York-Italians, sheds light on a latter day Bonnie and Clyde named Tommy and Rosemarie Uva, two small-time crooks from Ozone Park, Queens (though in the movie, they're from the Bronx and Queens, respectively) who unexpectedly find a way to rob and take down the mob. Michael Pitt and Nina Arianda as Tommy and Rosemarie Uva, channeling a mafioso look of their own

Stylized in a way that requires far more attractive people to play the Uvas, Michael Pitt and Nina Arianda embody the roles of the passionate couple to an artfully artless level of perfection. After spending eighteen months in prison for robbing a flower shop, Tommy gets out to find that Rosemarie has stopped doing drugs and gotten "a real job" at a collection agency. Somewhat inspired by her newfound nobility, Tommy tries to emulate her by also getting a job at the same place. His attention is drawn away from the boredom and soullessness of asking people to pay up by the pomp and circumstance of the John Gotti trial.


Fascinated and repelled by the mafia because they killed his father after he couldn't pay them back for a loan, Tommy is drawn to the trial, where he hears Sammy the Bull's testimony against Gotti. Although the trial is open to the public, it seems as though Tommy is the only outsider interested enough to show up. His interest is further piqued when Sammy the Bull not only gives the addresses of several mafia social clubs, but also mentions that none of the "wiseguys" there are allowed to bring guns. An idea quickly brews in Tommy's head, prompting him to lure Rosie back into another brief flirtation with a life of crime.

The real Tommy and Rosemarie

Tommy's get rich quick scheme? Knock off the unsuspecting mafia members in the social clubs throughout New York. He promises Rosie that once they get enough money to get ahead, they'll stop and go back to living on the level. But, of course, the temptation of the cash proves too great to stop. As the two continue to gain notoriety not only among the crime families of NYC, including the boss, Big Al (played somewhat unconvincingly by Andy Garcia), the media and FBI begin to take notice as well. One reporter in particular, Jerry Cardozo (Ray Romano), highlights their story as one of human interest, and even goes so far as to get involved in promoting their well-being by purchasing them plane tickets to Mexico so they can escape the inevitable hit that's going to be taken out on them.

Robbing the mob

As his first major script, screenwriter Jonathan Fernandez does a precise job of setting the backdrop for a time in New York that people have a tendency to forget about (P.S. "Groove is in the Heart by Deee-Lite" is the perfect choice for establishing the tone for said time at the beginning of the film), as they're often too busy thinking about the 1980s or the years leading up to 9/11. But the inception of the 90s holds a very specific sort of untapped allure. New York was experiencing so many palpable changes and transitions (David Dinkins being one of the main ones). And this is a large part of what makes Rob the Mob so endearing: Its specificity...and yeah, the tragic love story element.




It's been too long since La Roux graced us with their debut self-titled album in 2009. Breathing new life into the electropop genre, it seemed as though the 00s finally had an answer to what had been missing in music since the 80s. Lead songwriter/vocalist Elly Jackson wrote the kind of songs that possessed that rare blend of profound resonance and a danceable beat. The enthusiastic response of her fans, however, left Jackson blindsided by the amount of fame and recognition she was receiving. Hence, the long hiatus until now. Trouble in Paradise album artwork

The first single, "Uptight Downtown," showcases some of what we had come to expect of La Roux based on her upbeat first album. Echoing the sound of an 80s David Bowie song (faint tinges of “Let’s Dance” come to mind), “Uptight Downtown” was followed up by the stylistically unexpected “Let Me Down Gently,” the second to last song on Trouble in Paradise. As one of the most melancholic tracks on the album, it perhaps represents Jackson’s own struggles with her longtime musical collaborator, Ben Langmaid, ultimately replaced by a bevy of supporting musicians including Mickey O’Brien, William Bowerman, Ed Seed Matty Carroll and Ian Sherwin.

The maturity that comes with a sophomore album

The second track, "Kiss and Not Tell," continues the uptempo portion of Trouble in Paradise, and most closely resembles the tone of "Bulletproof"--making it one of the strongest contenders for third single material. "Cruel Sexuality" is another album highlight in terms of La Roux's noticeably elevated confidence as a musician. Lyrics like, "Once you touch you believe/It's a dangerous scene when passion turns into greed," emphasize Jackson's continued improvement as a songwriter.


"Let Me Down Gently" reveals the same vulnerability we saw on songs like "Colorless Colour" and "Armour Love" from the self-titled record. "Paradise Is You" is a simple, heartfelt allegory about experiencing paradise through a specific person. Although Jackson cited Grace Jones and Tom Tom Club as her main influences for this album, the Prince presence is evidenced quite clearly on this song. Next up is the fanciful vibe of "Sexotheque," somewhat in contrast to the song's title in terms of lasciviousness. Jackson sings, "He never answers the phone... he's at the sexotheque," as though it is only a mild scandal.

The confidence of an 80s aesthetic

"Tropical Chancer" exudes the cockiness we have come to expect from La Roux at this point on Trouble in Paradise. Plus, it makes you think of Henry Miller, so you can feel slightly more literary as you dance to so-called vapid pop music. In what is possibly another none too subtle dig at Ben Langmaid, "Silent Partner" features catty remarks such as, "All I need is silence, I'm cryin' out for silence/You're not my partner, you're not a part of me." She had to have her final say on the matter, evidently.


Following is "The Feeling," which mirrors similar vocals to "I'm Not Your Toy" from La Roux's first album. Jubilant and expressive, La Roux tells us that she's "got the feeling," presumably love or a boner. And, all in all, that's just the feeling you're going to get from this nine-track (in keeping with the traditional style of 80s records) album, just in time to transition into the dog days of mid summer.

It's been a long time since someone's tried diligently to make a coming of age movie about girls. Maybe the last commercially successful time was Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood/Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants (I'm sure the word "sisterhood" has no bearing on either film's box office revenue...) and the last truly amazing time was Now and Then. Naomi Foner (a.k.a. Naomi Gyllenhaal, Jake and Maggie's mama) does her best to revive this genre, but can't help but veer toward something of a Lifetime vibe in Very Good Girls (the title alone is sort of a giveaway of the inevitable badness). Besties

Foner, who previously hit her stride with the scripts for Losing Isaiah and Bee Season, struggles to make her main characters, Lilly (Dakota Fanning) and Gerry (Elizabeth Olsen), come across as anything other than utterly vacuous. The two friends share an affinity primarily due to the fact that neither one has managed to lose her virginity. Otherwise, they are decidedly different, with Lilly's family being the stodgier, more conventional kind and Gerry's being the stereotypical bohemian kind. Moreover, the roles of their parental and sibling figures are wasted on the talents of Ellen Barkin (more plastic surgery laden than ever), Richard Dreyfuss, Kiernan Skipka and Demi Moore.

Promotional poster for Very Good Girls

The film's title becomes over saturated with irony when Lilly and Gerry encounter an attractive ice cream seller on the beach named David (Boyd Holbrook, who I guess is supposed to be a poor woman's Ryan Gosling). Gerry is the first to exhibit overt interest in him, which automatically leads David to favor Lilly. Oblivious to his disinterest, Gerry pursues David shamelessly, even going to the restaurant where he works for dinner with her parents. David's attraction to Lilly, however, grows stronger, and he ends up papering the area near where she works with a picture he took of her that features the caption, "Where do you live?" This would be much creepier if he wasn't good looking.


Unable to resist the temptation, Lilly gives in to David and loses her V-card (yes, I said V-card)  to him at long last. Her guilt over betraying her best friend reaches a crescendo when Gerry's father is killed in a subway accident (it's New York, so...um, I guess that's believable). Wanting to somehow absolve herself, she asks David to start seeing Gerry as some sort of emotional compensation for her loss. But Lilly's jealousy gets the better of her when Gerry lies and says she slept with David. This prompts Lilly to seek comfort in the grossness of her boss, Fitzsimmons (the undisappointingly smarmy Peter Sarsgaard, Foner's son-in-law). She can't bring herself to actually have sex with him, but still tells David she did in order to get back at him. In the meantime, she clutches nebulously to her breasts and I suppose we're maybe supposed to infer she's pregnant, though this is never addressed.

David, the object of both friends' affections

While the drama of the script is occasionally interesting, it's almost as though Foner relies exclusively on Fanning and Olsen prancing around in various states of undress to make up for character development and plot. And while that might work for anyone who's watching it specifically to masturbate, it doesn't really work from an audience engagement standpoint. But, on the plus side, at least there's some new music from Jenny Lewis on the soundtrack.





As a woman who understudied for Ethel Merman, Elaine Stritch is perfectly well-seasoned in how to be a charming sort of bitch. In fact, she may be the only living famous person able to carry off this persona. In Chiemi Karasawa's first directorial effort, Stritch is given the love letter she's long deserved, even if she does act a bit snide at times. And, to give you some idea of the emotions Stritch inspires in people, one of her AA comrades shown in the documentary appraises, "She is a Molotov cocktail of madness, sanity and genius." Promotional poster for Elaine Stritch: Shoot Me

Documenting her cameo appearances on 30 Rock and her Singin' Sondheim...One Song at a Time tour of major cities, Shoot Me is an eye-opening account of how to live your life fabulously during your golden years. Stritch herself quotes Bette Davis in saying, "Old age isn't for sissies." Indeed Stritch makes it look easy with her "one drink a day" policy, that is, until her diabetes catch up to her and land her in the hospital for a few days.


Equal parts candor and vulnerability, Stritch talks freely about her struggle with alcohol addiction and the daily temptation it gives her. The bittersweet part is, it's her one simple pleasure. When asking herself the question of what she would most want if stranded on a desert island, she states, "An open bar."

Performing Sondheim classics for her show at the Carlyle

It isn't all grim, though. Another key part of the documentary shows Stritch choosing the room and decor she wants for her own dedicated studio at the Stella Adler Theater, where she once attended. She also talks lustily about some of her former flames, including Ben Gazzara and what she hoped would be Rock Hudson (though she probably only later realized that any attraction he had for her was likely due to her fag hag tendencies).


Stritch's brushes with death throughout the film manage to keep her largely unfazed as she uses her humor as the ultimate defense against the reaper. By the end, however, she's decided that it may very well be New York City that's been the cause of her perilous health all these (65) years. And so, she departs for her sleepy hometown state of Michigan, leaving the city somehow less vibrant without her.




It's arguable that to be born in the ghetto is to be damned to a life of mischief and crime. Lofty Nathan's first documentary, 12 O'Clock Boys, explores how much one's interests are affected by his environment. Following a 13-year-old named Pug, Nathan shows us a world that Baltimore outsiders are unaccustomed to seeing. Promotional poster for 12 O'Clock Boys

On Baltimore's Westside, the 12 O'Clock Boys have established their domain. While all of them are decidedly young, the factions of prepubescent aspirants run together in packs. Nathan, who first discovered his subject while attending the Maryland Institute College of Art, takes a hands-off approach to documenting Pug's involvement in the gang, asking him no more than a few questions at the end of the film. Perhaps the laissez-faire vibe is intentional on Nathan's part, serving to mirror the indifference of the 12 O'Clock Boys to everything except the glory of riding.

Pug, the central subject of Nathan's documentary

As noted by one of the interviewees of 12 O'Clock Boys, "You'll learn the right way to do all the wrong shit in Baltimore City. You'll get a PhD in it." With this in mind, watching Pug interact with his family is telling of his motivations in wanting to escape to a life spent risking arrest for the thrill of hitting the 12 o'clock point on his bike--that instant where the front of it is completely aligned with the back wheel's ground point. In his mind, there is no greater achievement--every authority figure has set him up to think that way. Granted, there is one mention about the importance of school, but it's fleeting and instantly dismissed by Pug, who seems to know underneath it all that his opportunities are few and far between.

Hitting the 12 o'clock mark on their bikes earned the gang their name

Tracing Pug's progress as a wannabe 12 O'Clock Boy for three years, we see the shift in him from semi-sweet to completely hardened. The concluding scene shows him detachedly eating chicken and talking about his plans to steal his bike back from someone who swiped it. His focus on this goal comes across as rote, rather than passionate--as though his bike is all he really has now (it's almost De Sica-esque).