Based on just one of three stories from a novel by the Norwegian writer Olaug Nilssen, Turn Me On, Dammit homes in on the sex life of a teenaged girl named Alma. Actually, it’s not much of a sex life. Mostly she fantasizes, masturbating while talking to a genial phone-sex operator or discreetly rubbing her privates in public as she waits, eyes closed and dreaming dirty, for something — anything! — interesting to happen in Skoddeheimen, the isolated small town she reluctantly calls home.
Easy A is a pleasant enough high-school movie, and it’s certainly a sign of bigger things to come for the terrific Emma Stone, who tucks the whole film under her arm and runs with it. Stone plays the kind of teenaged girl who’s as bright and hot as the noonday sun but is still a wallflower at her high school. In other words, she’s a work of fiction – and one who starts getting noticed by her classmates only when she gains a reputation as a loose woman, displaying a red letter A on her chest.
Evil-but-gullible emo band’s attempted “virgin sacrifice” turns promiscuous teenager into demon-possessed cannibal. It’s up to her nerdy best friend to keep the sexiest high-schooler in Devil’s Kettle from eating her way through senior class.
That’s a fairly straightforward synopsis of Jennifer’s Body, screenwriter Diablo Cody’s much-hyped follow-up to Juno, directed by Karyn Kusama and just out on DVD and Blu-ray Disc. It sounds like a terrific idea for a comic horror movie, turning adolescent sexual insecurity into the stuff of nightmares, and it is pretty smart conceptually. Cast as the titular Jennifer, a sarcastic, wisecracking bombshell of a flag girl, Megan Fox acquits herself beyond the Maxim-girl status bestowed on her by the Transformers movies, turning in a fairly competent performance that progresses credibly from her character’s more human presence in the film’s opening scenes to the colder succubus she becomes. And Amanda Seyfried, all gasps and big eyes, makes a terrific mostly passive protagonist for the yarn, taking Jennifer’s transformation in from a not-so-safe distance.
Never having read a Harry Potter book nor seen a Harry Potter movie, I was keen to see exactly how confusing this fifth installment in the wildly popular young-wizard saga would seem. Happily, this is the kind of movie where nearly every character is identified by name (and loudly!) as they make their first appearance on screen. It doesn’t take much knowledge about the complicated backstory to enjoy the cracking coming-of-age story about responsibility to your conscience, the importance of friendship, and the evil that can be done by corrupt bureaucrats. (Alternate title: Harry Potter Fights the Power.) The picture is derailed occasionally by that rushed, strait-jacketed feel associated with slavish adaptations, and the last reel is a bit anticlimactic, but this is still an engaging yarn with some gorgeous special-effects work. There’s also a special pleasure in seeing so many very young actors holding their own in scenes featuring their prodigiously gifted elders—Fiona Shaw, Ralph Fiennes, Brendan Gleeson, Gary Oldman, David Thewlis, and Maggie Smith, just for starters. (Even Helena Bonham Carter shows up in a frightwig for what amounts to a cameo as a “Death Eater” named Bellatrix Lestrange!) Not a great film, but an ideal family matinée.
Amid the current cycle of films that exist primarily to exhibit an excruciatingly fetching array of young refugees from popular TV shows, I’ve got to say that it’s kinda nice to see a teen movie that harks back, unashamedly, to the days of sexually frank, borderline-offensive comedies about growing up with a dirty mind.