Never Goin' Back, directed by Augustine Frizzell
(R, 1 hour, 25 minutes)
Never Goin' Back -- a raunchy shaggy-dog tale about two 16-year-old girls living without adult supervision in the slipping-down suburbs of Dallas -- is not a great film by any means, and almost everyone involved with it will soon go on to do better things.
Like many movies, it doesn't know how or when to end. But it is a likable and fairly accurate portrait of what we might ironically call bored stupid youth. Angela (Maia Mitchell) and Jessie (Camila Morrone), the best friends at the center of the film, are neither stupid nor boring -- though they often sound and behave like Beavis and Butt-head, Mike Judge's cartoon characters who starred in a smart show about dumb people.
Irrationally effervescent, Never Goin' Back concerns adolescent characters who've chosen hedonist nihilism in the face of hopelessness. If nothing matters, why not blow the rent money on a trip to Galveston?
While the cineplexes are flooded with fantasy, dystopian and romantic films derived from young adult literature (teen striving is the theme of Lady Bird and the Hunger Games series), and there's a tradition of grim naturalistic stories of wasted youth like River's Edge, The Basketball Diaries and Larry Clark's Kids, we seldom see troubled kids portrayed with empathy and wit. We like Angela and Jessie, even if Never Goin' Back often feels pretty pointless.
That it's not for everybody goes without saying.
Searching (PG-13, 1 hour, 42 minutes) A technology-focused thriller -- revealed through the cameras of computers and smartphones -- in which 16-year-old Margot (Michelle La) disappears after leaving a study party; her dad hacks into her laptop to find clues, where he finds out more than he wanted to know. With John Cho, Debra Messing, Thomas Barbusca; directed by Aneesh Chaganty.
Mandy (not rated, 2 hours, 1 minute) A ponderous, slow-moving, yet powerful revenge drama in which broken and haunted Red Miller (Nicolas Cage, totally inhabiting his character) traverses a rugged wilderness in 1983 in search of an ultra-violent religious sect responsible for the slaughter of Mandy Bloom, the love of his life, destroying the serenity of their rustic home. With Andrea Riseborough, Bill Duke, Linus Roache; directed by Panos Cosmatos.
The Spy Who Dumped Me (R, 1 hour, 57 minutes) A goofball comedy that gathered a small cadre of supporters during its theatrical release, this Los Angeles-based adventure follows Audrey (Mila Kunis) and Morgan (Kate McKinnon, who almost makes all this silliness work), two 32-year-old friends who are thrust into an international conspiracy when Audrey's former boyfriend -- who isn't who she thought he was -- shows up at their apartment with a tail of deadly assassins. With Justin Theroux, Hasan Minhaj, Jane Curtin, Paul Reiser, Gillian Anderson; directed by Susanna Fogel.
Our House (PG-13, 1 hour, 30 minutes) An earnest but not very original attempt at horror revolves around Ethan (Thomas Mann), who leaves college to take care of his younger siblings following the car wreck that kills their parents. He keeps up with his talent for science by working on a machine that can generate wireless electricity. Its power extends to being able to arouse dead spirits that haunt their house. With Nicola Peltz, Percy Hynes White, John Ralston; directed by Anthony Scott Burns.
Death of a Nation (PG-13, 1 hour, 48 minutes) A documentary based on ignorance, misperceptions and manufactured ideas that draws parallels between the presidencies of Abraham Lincoln and Donald Trump. One can't help but wonder if writer and director Dinesh D'Souza believes what he's selling here, or if he has simply discovered a lucrative revenue stream.
Custody (not rated, 1 hour, 33 minutes) An anxious, suspenseful, and anguish-filled divorce drama in which a broken marriage leads to an unforgettably bitter custody battle with a conflicted son in the center. With Lea Drucker, Denis Menochet; directed by Xavier Legrand. Subtitled.
Believer (not rated, 2 hours, 3 minutes) Effective but not exceptional, this more-or-less remake of 2013's brutal neo-noir Drug War features an ambitious police detective, determined to catch the wily boss of Asia's biggest drug cartel, seeks the assistance of a vengeful low-level member of the gang. With Jin-Woong Cho, Jun-yeol Ryu, Seung-won Cha; directed by Hae-young Lee. Subtitled.
MovieStyle on 11/02/2018
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