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It has never been easier to create. It used to be that access to the necessary tools to make movies was out of reach to most, but now, technological advances have largely democratized that access. However, just because you can make something doesn’t mean you have the means to ensure it is seen. If anything, this new level of access just means that there’s a whole lot more noise from which you have to separate the signal of quality work.

On the other hand, there’s someone like Cooper Raiff, who seems to have basically sprung forth fully formed as a filmmaker. He’s still young, but hey – when you’re in your mid-20s and have already crushed Sundance twice, you’re doing something right.

Raiff’s latest triumph is “Cha Cha Real Smooth,” currently available for streaming on Apple TV+; the streamer bought the distribution rights for the film out of Sundance (where it won the Audience Award) for $15 million. Raiff wrote and directed and, oh yeah, stars in the film, the story of an aimless recent college graduate whose side hustle hyping up bar mitzvahs leads him into some unconventional relationships.

Equal parts sweet and sharp, it’s a well-crafted portrait of a young man trying to figure out just what it is he wants from the world even as he struggles. He’s adrift and looking for some kind, any kind of connection. It is funny and poignant, radiant with goofball energy and offbeat sincerity, a compelling look at what happens next when you don’t know what happens next.

Published in Movies
Monday, 19 October 2020 14:07

‘S#!%house’ happens

Full disclosure: I love coming of age movies. I loved them when I was a kid. I loved them as a young man. And I love them still as I wander into middle age.

There’s a universality to the crossing of that particular Rubicon that I find appealing, a recognition of shared experience wherein the specifics might not be the same, but the big picture more or less is. A look at what it means to grow up, to start becoming the person we’re ultimately meant to be. I particularly enjoy those stories set in academic settings – the parallel educations that take place in those places.

Which brings us to … “S#!%house.” Yep – that’s the name. “S#!%house.”

But here’s the thing – the movie is as good as that name is terrible. This is a movie that won the top Jury Prize in the Narrative Feature section of SXSW this year. Virtual festival or no, that’s a big deal. It is a heartfelt and biting look at what it means to be a young person lost in a world they don’t fully understand and trying to figure out what happens next. Smart and sad and honest in the way of all top-tier indie filmmaking.

Oh, and it just happens to be the realization of an auteur’s vision – the film is written, directed and edited by Cooper Raiff, a first-time feature director at the ripe old age of 23. Oh – and he stars in it too.

Published in Movies

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