“Mistress America” – The Screwball Millennial Comedy

Noah Baumbach’s uncanny portrait of my generation is a modern screwball comedy masterpiece. Most movies about millennials obsess over portraying young adults often consumed with the terror of becoming “real adults.” The characters in all of these movies are too many times white & upper middle-class and while that can irk me to no end, there’s a potential universality in the story and emotions some filmmakers and tv showrunners often strive for but almost never do (see, Lena Dunham’s Girls or Gia Coppola & James Franco’s Palo Alto). The idea of someone clinging to the protective embrace of college and the college-life mentality like a life preserver in murky open waters shouldn’t be so specific to one view. Somehow filmmaker Noah Baumbach & actress/writer Greta Gerwig found a way to transcend that despite surface-level trappings that peg it as yet another well-off white liberal arts kids movie. Much like their last collaboration, Frances Ha, they hit that elusive universality in the tale of new college freshmen forcing themselves into worrying about what they should become that they hardly have time to be themselves. And all of this juxtaposed with a character who embodies the best hopes and worst fears weirdly associated with my generation.

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Remembering Wes Craven R.I.P. (1939-2015) – A Genre Master

Wes Craven (1939-2015) is one of the few filmmakers ubiquitous with the “Horror” genre who had not been relegated to mere cult-ish fandom. He was a genuinely admired filmmaker amongst critics and general filmgoers who might have even been exposed to his unique creative voice outside of horror & thrillers. He’s a filmmaker whose masterpieces and failures equally define him. He was one of the first few filmmakers whose entire filmography I learned by heart as a kid merely by meticulously combing through the local Hollywood Video & the library (the others were Steven Spielberg, Jackie Chan, Amy Heckerling and Mel Brooks). There was something about being a wide-eyed little kid with open-minded parents who let me scare the pants off myself with these films not to mention the old RL Stine novels and Teen Nick shows my classmates and I were obsessed with (Goosebumps, Fear Street and Are You Afraid of the Dark?). To this day I have no clue why my folks let me see and read these at a young age but, nightmares and occasional troublemaking language slip-ups aside I’m glad they did. Every time I popped in one of these on VHS or caught a TV broadcast of the Wes Craven or John Carpenter movies, whose promo art promised terrifying times ahead, I had my eyes glued to the screen when I wasn’t hiding under the covers or huddled behind my parents or badass babysitter. It was almost an exposure therapy challenge where if I could brave the horrors of these movies, certainly dealing with the bullies, “mean” teachers and awkwardness of my school days would be a walk in the park. I would never claim to be a “horror fan” but I’m certainly a fan of the greats like Hitchcock, Craven, Carpenter, DePalma, Kubrick and the like. Wes Craven died yesterday, at the age of 76. His movies scared, unsettled and entertained me and weirdly along with the Disney Renaissance movies and Bruce Lee martial arts epics, showed me how to not be afraid of what goes bump in the night.

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