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Eighth Grade is a Triumph of Bad Skin and Baby Fat

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“Thirteen-year-old Kayla endures the tidal wave of contemporary suburban adolescence as she makes her way through the last week of middle school–the end of her thus far disastrous eighth grade year before she begins high school.” 

That IMDB quote above sums up the story of Eighth Grade, but captures none of the nuances of Bo Burnham’s clever directorial debut. And that’s fine, because putting a finer point on the story might limit the audience in the same way giving the film an R rating did. Yes, this is some heady stuff, some of the sexual references may seem a bit too adult for your average thirteen year old. Still, this isn’t 1977, where your only choice for seeing naked humans might be sneaking onto the bookmobile and leafing through old copies of National Geographic. This is 2018, where all things good and bad are a thumb swipe away.

I would guess that thirteen year olds today know way more than I ever did at thirteen, and maybe more than I did at twenty. We insult them by suggesting they can’t navigate the sexual subjects Mr. Burnham handles with aplomb in Eighth Grade.

Not to say that it’s a dark film, just a complex one.

In a true breakout performance, Elsie Fisher plays Kayla, whose YouTube channel gets as many hits as she has friends… which is to say none. She’s a square peg at school who never came out of the shell she was in when she made that shoebox time capsule three years ago.

Kayla makes a few last ditch efforts to fit in before the school year ends, even if that means pretending she’s something that she isn’t. Or at least isn’t yet. Does she make all the right choices? No. Did you?

I saw the film with parents of young children and wondered if it played out like a horror movie to them. One scene in particular of a high schooler forcing a game of truth or dare on Kayla in the dark backseat of his car is appropriately creepy and expertly directed. Not to say that it’s a dark film, just a complex one. Even the trope that social media masks the truth more than reveals it is handled with a light touch. There’s a ton of laughs even if some make you uncomfortable.

Like last years Lady Bird, Eighth Grade succeeds in balancing the notion of what we are supposed to be with what we are becoming – and while most of us are not in eighth grade anymore, we are always becoming.

The cast of Eighth Grade take questions at Alamo Draft House in Brooklyn.

Using a host of pen names, Eric Curran has been blogging in one form or another for well over 10 years. He's a partner at One Track Mine, and also runs the blog Jealous Foodies.

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Top Five Avengers: Endgame Spoilers!

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Marvel did an amazing job of keeping the best moments from Avengers: Endgame out of the trailer. Let us ruin that for you.

I was reading Avengers comics before you could chew solid food and I never dreamed they’d be able to bring a realistic Iron Man and Hulk to the silver screen. But by golly, they did. Avengers: Infinity War may be the best silver screen adaptation of comic lore ever put to film. So my hopes were high that Endgame would be more of the same, which it’s not – but that’s ok. It still has kick-ass moments and is better than anything DC can bring to life. Blame it on the tropes of time travel, or maybe all involved could have used a break between films. Regardless, there are some wonderful moments on screen and somehow the trailers told you next to nothing.

Smartypants Hulk


I admit I knew about this going in. Yes, I searched for Hulk clips on YouTube prior to seeing the film, especially because there were no shots of Hulk in the trailers. Yes, Hulk has his shit together in this one. He wears glasses, he’s not rampaging, and he talks just like Mark Ruffalo. I miss seeing Hulk really let loose, but I have to say the CGI on Hulk (and Thanos) were once again state of the art. Just a reminder to Marvel – people love Hulk because Hulk smashes.

Captain Thor

Remember when Captain America makes Thor’s hammer move in Age of Ultron? Well, that was no fluke. Cap commands the hammer like he’s been swinging it his whole life. I guess he is worthy after all. Bonus spoiler: Old Steve Rogers at the end of the film is probably the best old man make-up you’ve ever seen.

Lebowski Thor


Which leads us to one of the films missteps. Five years after The Snappening, Thor has gained fifty pounds, a drinking problem, and a bad fake beard. It’s kinda funny, until you realize this guy is a God who has already seen some shit – including the death of just about every Asgardian. Funny? Sure, but a little silly for a movie that already set a tone of sadness.

Death of Black Widow


This was a surprise – especially since I thought they were doing a TV series. I guess that will be a prequel series? The scene between Black Widow and Hawkeye trying to sacrifice themselves before the other can is good stuff – and probably a lot cheaper to film than most of the rest movie. Now let’s put Red Skull to better use, shall we?

Death of Iron Man


Some say there wasn’t a dry eye in the house. Except mine because (spoiler alert) Robert Downey Jr. is just an actor pretending to be a comic book character that dies. You can’t fool me, movie! But in a world where it seems almost anyone can come back from the dead, who knows what the future holds for Tony Stark. Wouldn’t surprise me if he returned as some sort of hologram like Frank Zappa. No one gets that reference.

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Daniel Ortiz Rants On: Us

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A family’s serenity turns to chaos when a group of doppelgängers begins to terrorize them.20190324_073731

Rarely do I prepare myself to see a film, but Jordan Peele’Us is one of those rare movies I didn’t need to see more than one trailer for, nor did I need the hype of other critics. I also wanted to judge this film off its own merit rather than comparing it to his freshman standout, Get Out (which made my #1 film of 2017). Comparisons will be made, but I’ll try to keep them as minimal as possible.

The stand out feature is that this film is beautifully shot. The cinematography of this movie adapts to its environment seamlessly whether it’s a vibrant beach scene or a dark setting where just enough of the characters faces needs to be made out.

Also, I thought Lupita Nyong’o as Adelaide’s doppelganger, Red was a terrifying character. Everything from her awkward pantomimes to her unhinged voice was the thing of nightmares.

Now, there were a few (lots of) issues I did have with the film. I left the theater with more frustrating questions than fulfilling answers. It felt like too many ideas where in the plot and too much symbolism was forcefully wedged in to satisfy the expectations of the Get Out fans, but it came out as a jumbled mess of psychology that I didn’t want to spend my viewing time deciphering.

A lot of the horror that was built up for this film was also very deflating as the Wilson family was spared instant death and provided a background story by their doppleganger’s while others were swiftly killed before they knew what hit them. Halfway through the film, you pretty much knew they were safe from any death or violence which takes away all tension as a viewer.

The connection between the characters and their dopplegangers wasn’t fleshed out enough. Some things came off as inconsistent and driven for plot convenience, rather than a solution. I didn’t get many of the motivations and the decisions that drove the actions of our protagonists. I didn’t understand why the dopplegangers wore red jumpsuits and just one fingerless driving glove. The one symbolism I understood was the scissors, which if you look at the handle on the poster, looks like mirrored heads. This was the weapon used to cut the connection between themselves and their other half. Otherwise, I may need to see some other folks interpretations of the film.

Also, the editing was not good. There were scenes that were waaaay too long and could’ve used a few chops. The opening credit scene reminded me of an old horror movie from the 70’s (think the Amityville Horror ’79) where the title card has nothing going on, and as a viewer I felt stuck looking at a bunch of rabbits for what I assume was 3 minutes just waiting for the movie to get started.

Overall Grade: C-

There’s just too many questions, and too many inconsistencies to feel comfortable giving it anything higher. Maybe in the upcoming weeks certain plot revelations might come to fruition, but I’m not looking for Kubrick levels of hidden meaning, and this is not Kubrick-esque. I’ll chalk this up to a sophomore slump by Peele and the pressures of following up to such an acclaimed film. I just got hints of M. Night Shyamalan in this movie, meaning a Director/Writer who is owning a genre and gets type-casted to that medium. Let’s hope Jordan Peele doesn’t head down that same road.

Us (2019) 1h 56min | Horror, Thriller | 22 March 2019 (USA) Summary: A family's serenity turns to chaos when a group of doppelgängers begins to terrorize them.
Countries: USALanguages: English

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5 Geek Chic Trailers for Your 4K TV

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These luscious 4K trailers are in zippy 60fps for you VFX aficionados. 

Alita: Battle Angel 

Robert Rodriguez directs James Cameron‘s script melding state of the art effects with live action. We’ve come a long way since Who Framed Roger Rabbit?

Godzilla: King of the Monsters

Last stand-alone Godzilla movie before he kicks King Kong‘s ass in 2020. Epic visual effects create a scale worthy of your 4K TV.

Hellboy 

This reboot has big red shoes to fill.

Men in Black 4

I admit the best thing about this trailer is seeing Tessa Thompson in high resolution. Am I allowed to say that? #toolate

Avengers: Endgame

They don’t give a lot away in the new Avengers trailer, but it sure looks purty.

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