There's an unusual honesty to this film, which is an odyssey into the inner life of a teen girl. Gregg Araki has made a career out of understanding the often tortured inner workings of the adolescent mind, and this is one of his most beautifully crafted films yet, artfully circling around a central mystery while digging deeply into each of the characters. And while it seems a bit straightforward for an Araki movie, it's packed with his usual darker corners, especially in the surprising final act.
It's set in the autumn of 1988, when Kat (Shailene Woodley) feels her life fall apart. She's just 17, on the verge of womanhood when her mother (Eva Green) inexplicably vanishes, leaving her dad (Christopher Meloni) struggling to help her through puberty. Her best pals (Mark Indelicato and Gabourey Sidibe) are some help, but at the same time she begins to feel a growing distance from her boyfriend Phil (Shiloh Fernandez). Is all of this connected, or is this because of Phil's own family issues? As she plays through the various clues in her mind, the answers are also eluding the local tough-guy detective (Thomas Jane). A few years later, Kat returns home from her studies at Berkeley to visit her dad. And maybe this time she'll finally find out what happened.
The film is a beautiful depiction of the awkwardness of being a teenager, when everything seems wrong but feelings are so strong. Araki fills the screen with sumptuous imagery including dreamy sequences set in a snowy landscape where Kat mentally searches for her mother. And flashbacks offer more earthy glimpses into this difficult mother-daughter relationship, especially as Kat and her once-glamorous mother begin to shift in their roles. Clearly, Kat suspects that her mother ran away after seducing Phil, but the truth isn't quite this obvious.
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Gregg Araki - Photographs from the red carpet at the Los Angeles premiere of Magnolia Pictures' 'White Bird In A Blizzard' presented by FIJI Water and Physicians Formula - Hollywood, California, United States - Tuesday 21st October 2014
Shailene Woodley described filming sex scenes for 'White Bird in a Blizzard' as "awkward".
Shailene Woodley and director Gregg Araki.
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Continue reading: Shailene Woodley: 'White Bird In A Blizzard' Sex Scenes Were "Awkward"
It is a time for sexual awakening for Kat Connors (Shailene Woodley). The 17-year-old is born again into a new world of desire and pleasure when all of a sudden, out of nowhere, her mother, Eve (Eva Green) mysteriously vanishes. Kat tries to ignore it, and continue enjoying the moment that she has created for herself, although she steadily discovers that her mother's disappearance has affected her more deeply than she originally thought. Thinking that her mother, a stunningly beautiful yet clearly haunted woman, left the family to pursue an affair, Kat finds herself seducing her way to the truth, in an attempt to find out if her mother is still out there, somewhere.
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Just starting university, 18-year-old Smith (Dekker) hasn't decided yet whether he's gay or straight. It doesn't help that his often naked roommate Thor (Zylka) claims to be straight despite evidence to the contrary. His best pal is the sardonic Stella (Bennett), who has a crush on a hot girl (Mesquida). Yes, everyone's obsessed with sex, and they're experimenting rather a lot. But Smith is also haunted by nightmarish dreams about a redhead (LaLiberte). And when these dreams start invading real life, he's not sure what to do about it.
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Smiley Face's stoner heroine Jane F. (Anna Faris) may be about as dull as bongwater, so a story about her had better be sharp and stepped up for it to register, and it can't even for half a beat be afraid that it's not making sense. The best slapstick flicks -- of which the stoner comedy is the modern-day update -- do not care if you get the jokes or not, or even if you like them very much (those qualities help make everything from The Three Stooges to Airplane! to the aforementioned Harold & Kumar so charming). In this regard, Araki's approach to the material is rather cautious, as the genre goes; there's a been-there-done-that whiff about this humor, and he wants to endear us to Jane and her story too insistently. Most troublesome is that Araki and screenwriter Dylan Haggerty beat a very simple premise -- that this chick is baked out of her gourd -- into the ground over and over again. The entire extent of Smiley Face's comedy rests on Faris pulling the dopey stoner face and stumbling through the scenery as she scrambles to pay off her dealer so he won't confiscate her furniture.
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Those are the first words spoken in Mysterious Skin, and they come from Brian Lackey (Brady Corbet), a distressed 18 year-old, born and raised in a small Kansas community. The last thing he remembers about that night is rainfall interrupting his softball game, and then waking up at home with a nosebleed, five hours later. Plagued by unexplainable nightmares, blackouts, and more nosebleeds, Brain is convinced aliens abducted him during those mysterious five hours of his youth...
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The Doom Generation, hands-down one of the most horrid examples of filmmaking I've seen in ages, is a brain-dead, post-modern love story. The plot (what there is of it) tells the moronic tale of Amy Blue (Rose McGowan), her boyfriend Jordan White (James Duval), and some guy they pick up called Xavier Red (Johnathon Schaech). (Did you catch on to that ultra-clever color motif?) Altogether, these three embark on a nonsensical spree of sex, killing/mangling people, and then eating...and then repeating the cycle four or five times.
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Twenty years from now people will look back and say, "Man, everyone was so weird in the nineties!" and frankly after seeing this movie, I'll agree.
Continue reading: Splendor Review