Review: ‘Ladyworld’ with Maya Hawke,’ plus Bud doc ‘Kings of Beer,’ ‘Consequences’ and ‘Moop’
For a movie called “Consequences,” there are surprisingly few for the obstreperous teens who drive this dispiriting, naturalistic drama from Slovenian writer-director Darko Stante.
When the parents of 18-year-old Andrej (Matej Zemljic) give up on their uncontrollable, ne’er-do-well son, they send him to a youth detention center for structure and discipline. But after a rocky start as “the new guy,” Andrej realizes that the facility’s hamstrung administrators have little power and that psychopathic bully Zele (Timon Sturbej) and his lunkish henchman, Niko (Gasper Markun), largely run the joint.
Rehabilitation be damned, Andrej flies further off the rails as he gloms onto the volatile Zele, partying and plundering with him in their absence from the halfway house (which is most of the time) and starts doing Zele’s dirty work. Andrej is also hot for his opportunistic new cohort, who, despite a girlfriend, has no problem getting busy with model-handsome Andrej as well.
For all its loaded potential to evolve into a gripping look at life in a correctional facility plus an atypical spin on gay longing, the film squanders much of its running time with thin, repetitive scenes of young men behaving badly. In addition, Andrej proves more cipher than hero — or even antihero — leaving us emotionally stranded in an unwelcoming world.
— Gary Goldstein
In Slovenian with English subtitles
Running time: 1 hour, 35 minutes.
Playing: Starts Friday, Laemmle Monica Film Center, Santa Monica; on VOD Aug. 6
Director Amanda Kramer’s stylized yet stark “Ladyworld” is billed as a female “Lord of the Flies,” but barring that intriguing logline, and the stellar cast of young actresses she’s assembled, there isn’t much more pleasure to be found in this staid depiction of isolated madness, created alongside her editor and co-writer Benjamin Shearn.
Eight young women (Maya Hawke, Annalise Basso, Ryan Simpkins, Odessa Adlon, Ariela Barer, Tatsumi Romano, Zora Casebere, Atheena Frizzell) find themselves trapped together in a house after a cataclysmic earthquake leaves the structure nearly underground.
Their only rations are the birthday party supplies on hand, and in the early hours of their confinement, they subsist on cake and festivities, which soon grows tiresome, while darker impulses start to divide the group. Some girls paint their faces in clownish makeup and sing, following the entreaties of Piper (Basso), who grows into a powerful, charismatic cult leader of sorts. The emotional Dolly (Simpkins) becomes hysterical at every opportunity, while practical Olivia (Barer) struggles for the hearts and minds of these lost, fearful girls.
The sparse soundtrack is made up of silence and female voices keening, singing and shrieking, a deeply unpleasant sonic quilt. The girls communicate in songs and sobs, but is this apocalyptic tragedy even real? How quickly they fall into chaos when confined with each other alone. While “Mean Girls Apocalypse” sounds like a winning premise, and an incredible thought experiment, the result is something narratively slack and intensely off-putting, which no amount of excellent acting can save.
— Katie Walsh
Running time: 1 hour, 33 minutes
Playing: Starts Friday, Arena Cinelounge; available Aug. 27 on VOD
‘Kings of Beer’
Perhaps it should be obvious from its title that “Kings of Beer” isn’t just about beer in general; instead the documentary focuses on — and is a co-production by — Budweiser, a.k.a. the “King of Beers.” Directed by Sean Mullin, this is 83 minutes of marketing for mega-brewer Anheuser-Busch InBev, but it’s made with enough skill that it might bring some former fans back to the fold.
“Kings of Beer” follows the annual, year-long Budweiser Cup, a competition where the corporation’s breweries from around the world vie for their product to be named the best — and the most consistent — Budweiser American lager. Mullin introduces “Brewmasters” from Houston to Wuhan, China, giving us insight into them as people as and their passion for both beer and science.
“Kings of Beer” benefits from corporate funding, with charming graphics and warm cinematography from Daniel Vecchione, with especially loving shots of the various breweries and their beer. The film looks great and frequently entertains, though it bounces around a bit too much: Celebrity beer nerds like Aisha Tyler and “Beer Fest” director Jay Chandrasekhar wax romantic about the liquid, but their segments are neither as interesting nor as necessary as the less-famous Brewmasters at the film’s heart.
But even the local employees’ stories aren’t as well structured as they could be. It’s also impossible to forget the film’s real purpose: to establish the Budweiser process as a craft, with the final results as worthy of enjoyment as a microbrew.
— Kimber Myers
‘Kings of Beer’
Running time: 1 hour, 23 minutes
Playing: Available Friday on VOD
The epic story behind Arin Crumley’s Burning Man romance “Moop” is infinitely more fascinating than the lyrical and abstract film itself, which features some poetic images, but no cohesive narrative or plot. The fact that the film is even finished is a feat, after Crumley spent a decade stealing shots at the famed Black Rock City, Nev., arts festival, battling the powers that be to capture, create and ultimately release this film in its final form.
At one time titled “Matter Out of Place,” “Moop” blends the borders of documentary and fiction filmmaking. Crumley set out to first document the experience of his collaborators at the festival, who then performed re-created scenes as themselves. An opening title card mentions the “week long desert party,” but the festival’s real name is never used, despite the iconic imagery that gives it away. The introduction goes on to explain that though the film is a reenactment, “all main characters play themselves,” and “all supporting characters are actors.” This is at once too much context and not enough for this loosely structured project that wanders about the desert party, following several individuals who meet and mate in the sand, drifting together and apart.
While “Moop” might appeal to the Burning Man die-hard set, or for aficionados of the tales of doomed, Sisyphean film productions, beyond that, it’s not much more than a minor curio.
— Katie Walsh
Running time: 1 hour, 10 minutes
Playing: Starts Friday, Arena Cinelounge, Hollywood
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