Another crop of low-key films, but these had less of a theaterical release than our last batch, and are now currently available on Netflix.
Vincent N Roxxy…Another film centered on black/white love (Zoe Kravitz/Emile Hirsch) where the two lovers are headed for tragedy. One of these days maybe someone in the film industry will get tired of me complaining about this—one can only hope—and not feature this ultra-cliche anymore. Since most black/white couples in movies are either villainous, headed for death, or break up before the end, I’ll let you guess which one (or more than one) happens here, but this cliched, violent mess is made watchable by another strong Kravitz performance, as if we needed more proof she’s a star. Despite a nice ferris wheel scene between her and Hirsch, the movie never properly puts its title duo together, and saddles Hirsch with an overly brooding character usually paired up with Emory Cohen’s overacting brother. Grade: D+
The Drowning…Josh Charles steps into leading man movie stardom in this quiet indie that really does sneak up on you. In the beginning, he saves someone from drowning (the title is misleading, so don’t let that put you off watching this) but it turns out to be a recently-paroled teenager who killed an old lady when he was a kid, and, of course, Charles’s character is the child psychologist who recommended he be put away for the crime. Although the movie keeps Charles’s character in the dark about this kid for far too long—how could he really not know or strongly suspect the kid’s drowning is an attempt to manipulate him?—and you practically want to scream “He’s bad news!” at the screen, the film is a fresh example of the old “No good deed goes unpunished” saying, and even though the pacing is too slow for it to be a proper psychological-thriller and the questions too obvious and internal to call it a straight mystery, the ending is near perfect. And as “Vincent N Roxxy” proves, an ending can really make or break a middling indie. Grade: B
IBoy…The outrageously far-fetched premise involves the victim of a shooting getting bits of his IPhone smashed into his skull, and then being able to mentally access the internet. Eventually, he develops the skills to hack into a smart car, play games with a gang of rapist’s phones, and taunt a local drup kingpin. This is as close to an original superhero idea as we’re going to get in 2017, and that makes the outlandish plot (and overly grimy look of the film) easier to take. Grade: B-
What Happened to Monday…In a fatally overpopulated future, siblings are outlawed, and Naomi Rapace’s septuplets have to all pretend to be one person. This underrated Netflix offering features a career-best performance from Rapace (who has to differentiate the sisters without doing it too much, since they are genetically identical, essentially sharing the same public persona, and living sequestered as prisoners in the same apartment) and slyly sympathetic work from Glenn Close as a government baddie whose extreme methods obscure the fact that she’s probably right about overpopulation in general. [Although it’s a bit dated to have her styled to look like Hillary Clinton, that boogie-woman of pragmatic villainy only in rightwing fever dreams.] Grade: B+