If online trending reports are to be believed – still pretty big though, admittedly – Gen Z aren’t big on watching movies, succumbing instead to the shorter, smaller screen allure of TikTok and YouTube for their viewing pleasure. Perhaps that’s one of the reasons why there doesn’t seem to be a definitive canon of teen movies for the post-millennial generation – but then Hollywood has often struggled to capture contemporary youth when movies tend to be made by their elders.
That disparity isn’t entirely corrected by two Gen Z-themed movies hitting VOD last week, though both — at least in the minds of this craggy old millennial — have sharper teeth than many. their clumsy peers. The seductive elegance of Halina Reijn Body Body Body Cleverly weaves a critique of zoomers’ rapidly evolving identity politics through the more silly, traditionally teen-oriented genre prism of slasher film. by Lena Dunham pointed stick takes a more scruffy, less commercial form to examine the simultaneous terror and ecstasy of sexual discovery. Both seem essential and enlightening to me, whether the children watch them or not.
By acidly satirizing the language and psychology of cancel culture, safe spaces and performative social justice, Body Body Body is perhaps the most sympathetic from the jaded point of view of an elderly person. Reijn, the Dutch director who made his debut with the highly provocative rape thriller Instinct (2019), is a Gen X-er herself, and Sarah DeLappe’s clever, tricked-out screenplay (based on a story by Kristen Roupenian of viral Cat Person fame) is good-natured but also quite generous in its representation of university students determine the extent and limits of their privilege. The social barriers between them are highlighted by the traditionally class-conscious setting of the country house murder mystery, transplanted into a very American McMansion. Performed with screaming enthusiasm by a terrific cast – with Baby Shiva star Rachel Sennott stars as a titled moron, wielding a glow stick – it’s a witty, wicked time capsule.
pointed stick, meanwhile, proves that Lena Dunham’s ability to articulate the desire and restlessness of young women is not limited to her own generational self-portraits. Her first film as a director since the 2010s Tiny furniture depicts a kind of retarded adolescence, centering on Sarah Jo (a remarkable Kristine Froseth), a 26-year-old virgin still dealing with the trauma of a teenage hysterectomy. His tentative and hesitant discoveries of sexual pleasure and pornography take a wrong turn with a much older man. Dunham presents his heady, vulnerable journey with a directness that never turns sinister and an angst that never descends into moralizing fuss, weighing the perils and thrilling freedoms of shaping your sexual identity online.
Versus pointed stickthe glossy generational portrait of recent Zoomer comedies such as Jennifer Kaytin Robinson Revenge (Netflix) and Quinn Shephard Not good (Disney+) looks flimsy by comparison, though both of these satires of the dangers of social media have their poppy fun. In the first instance, an act of revenge porn in turn triggers its own revenge mission, with toxic masculinity an easy target. The latter offers slightly more divisive motives, as an aspiring influencer lies about witnessing a terrorist attack and is unprepared for the consequences. Both films rely on largely stereotypical characters to carry the social commentary they have to offer. Neither is as well-drawn as Olivia Wilde’s beloved Library (2019), a semi-sweet study in friendship, beautifully acted by Kaitlyn Dever and Beanie Feldstein, with something to say about the strange suspended reality of high school social hierarchies and how they break down in the outside world.
Stepping into a genre dominated by female directors and perspectives, however, Bo Burnham’s exquisite Eigth year might still be the funniest and most tender portrayal of teenage cinema experienced in the glare of webcam and smartphone. Even after four years, there’s already a quaint side to her portrayal of vlogging through which shy 13-year-old Kayla (the wonderful Elsie Fisher) discovers who she is and who she wants to be. Teens grow up fast, technology grows faster, and Burnham’s film delicately captures a particular state of being and expression before the pandemic. The progression of Gen Z in cinema has only just begun.
Also new in streaming and DVD
Brett Morgen’s large-scale audio-visual symphony for David Bowie has taken on a slightly trippy quality when seen and heard on the big screen, but will still enthrall the Thin White Duke obsessives at home. Largely eschewing the Wikipedia filmed format of many music documentaries, it instead cinematically evokes the artist’s swirling, restless presence and aesthetic.
A fearsome performance of conviction from Rebecca Hall sometimes comes close to making something meaningful out of this zany Sundance-acclaimed psychodrama, in which a successful single mother and businesswoman is undone by the apparent return of an abusive figure from her past. . As the #MeToo trauma escalates into surreal body horror, it’s ultimately more silly than sobering.
Oscar-winning visual effects artist Phil Tippett (jurassic park) makes its feature film debut with this playfully grotesque and hyper-stylized adult fantasy rendered in painstaking stop-motion animation. The soaring plot drags an enigmatic assassin through a series of lavishly imagined hellish circles; the disturbed world-building is the selling point.