by Patrick Bromley
I only saw a single trailer for Assassination Nation, the new high school satire written and directed by Sam Levinson. I thought it looked slick and trashy and very, very snarky, like Heathers but updated for a generation used to social media and school shootings. And it is that movie, in a way, particularly in the opening moments when it flashes through a list of "trigger warnings" of all the stuff in the movie that's sure to offend or upset people. The montage rubs our noses in all the transgressive outrageousness we're promised over the next two hours and I steeled myself for some Joseph Khan shit. That the movie is something much greater and far more sincere was a happy surprise. That it wound up being one of my favorite movies of the year completely blindsided me.
There is so much about this movie that makes me sad about the world. Some of it has to do with what young people have face today, although Assassination Nation rarely editorializes on the perils of youth. It's frank and honest in a way that most movies aren't, never talking down to its characters or its audience. These are kids who know a lot about sex and sexuality but are also expected to navigate it in a way for which they still aren't prepared. They mock and shame one another for every little thing and yet are largely accepting of Beks (until they aren't), a trans girl refreshingly played for a change by a trans actress. As the film continues, what this is all really about comes more and more into focus, and while very little of the commentary on misogyny and toxic masculinity in many of its various forms is anything new, the film expresses it with such bold assuredness that it totally lands. Who could have guessed that the movie that opened with a bunch of bratty trigger warnings would be so passionate, so rousing, even so inspiring?
Tenebrae, but Argento took his camera up and over the roof and didn't have the benefit of computers). The film is bursting with color and energy and life, stylized in such a way as to both underscore a certain heightened reality and to reflect the way young people -- all the stars of their very own movies they assume everyone is interested in seeing -- interact with the world.