The Preppie Connection
Friday March 18 through Wednesday March 29 at IFC Center: $14
I have a few words for you: Connecticut, prep school, conspicuous wealth, cocaine. If you can get past all of those without your face falling off from cringing so damn hard, then read on– I’m guessing you’re a fan of Cruel Intentions. And if you puked a little, I’ll excuse you. The Preppie Connection, if you can stomach it, takes place at a prep school for the uber-rich and mega-privileged. Unfortunately for Toby, as a kid from a working-class background he only fits into one of those categories, and he has a hard time making nice-nice with the ridiculously good-looking party kids at the school. Hoping to win their attention, especially that of his love interest, a super-blonde girl who adores doing huge rails of cocaine, Toby gets a friend from Colombia to supply him with some high-quality disco shit. Things get out of control and, before you know it, Toby’s the kingpin of an “international drug ring.”
If anyone knocks you for wanting to go see what’s essentially the Bling Ring Part II– I mean, it’s definitely a guilty pleasure– tell them that, much like Sofia Coppola’s adaptation of Nancy Joe Sales’s story, The Preppie Connection is only a sort-of accurate account of real-life teenage criminals. In this case, the film veers from the actual story of Derek Oatis, a working-class kid who in the early ’80s got a scholarship to attend Choate Rosemary Hall, which boasts Dov Charney, JFK, and Ivanka Trump amongst its prestigious alumni. He recalled to the Hartford Courant that parents literally swooped down from the heavens in helicopters to the school for Parents Day, and that obviously it was a pretty tough place for a kid like him.
However, Oatis’s connection was a kid from Venezuela who made frequent trips back to see his parents. Also, Oatis and the other rich kids were busted early on for their little cocaine and weed smuggling operation, and for relatively small amounts– you certainly wouldn’t describe their operation as an “international drug ring,” unless you’d also say that about about ten teenagers passing around a bottle of Robitussin counts as an orgy. But don’t worry, Oatis is now a mildly successful attorney, which um, let’s just say that wouldn’t be the case if he were anything but a white male.
Friday, March 25 through Wednesday, March 30 at Metrograph: $15
Leave it to a director from Hong Kong to make a stylish, bizarro musical-movie about the wake of the 2008 financial crisis. Johnnie To– muse to Quentin Tarantino– directed Office, in a dramatic departure from his usual action-packed fare which include PTU: Police Tactical Unit (a six-film Hong Kong police action franchise) and Drug War. According to Metrograph, the film has taken on a cult following since its 2015 release in the U.S. (tickets are already selling out, so act fast). Adapted from a play by Sylvia Chang, who also stars as the big boss lady, Office will be shown here in 3D.
The story takes place inside a Chinese mega-firm, Jones & Sunn, where an army of employees battle it out to win the boss lady’s favor. The landscape here is a surreal one, with something almost like ’70s spaceship vibes, with crisp whites, and unyieldingly bright lights, and perfectly coiffed manes and pressed suits. There’s not a speck of dust or disorder to be found anywhere. The fact that this is a musical makes it all the more a weird, unsettling and superbly compelling critique of the particularly brutal Chinese brand of authoritarian capitalism.
Friday, March 25 (8 pm) and Sunday, March 27 (8 pm) at Anthology Film Archives: $11
With a soundtrack by Ornette Coleman, “Jazzman of the Bowery,” this super surreal avant-garde Belgian film from 1966 will blow your socks off if you’re any sort of jazz fan. Actually, Who’s Crazy? was almost lost forever, though it starred actors from New York City’s Living Theatre. (The group toured Europe from 1963 to 1968, after an awkward run-in with the IRS that resulted in one of the members appearing at a tax hearing while dressed like Portia from Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice). But last year the only copy of the film left was scooped up from the director, who apparently wasn’t too keen on it since it had been sitting in his garage for a million years, and restored.
The film loosely follows a group of mentally-ill patients who escape from an insane asylum, and after holing up in an abandoned countryside house, make the best use of their freedom by preparing as many eggs as their heart desires, among other things. Weird might be an understatement for the plot-line here. Anthology describes it as “a bizarre silent film with the greatest possible accompaniment”– Ornette Coleman and his trio provided the soundtrack by recording it in one sitting while watching the film. Go see it before someone else tosses it in their garage for the next half-century.
Friday March 25 through Thursday March 31 at Nitehawk: $11
In a way, Krisha seems like the inverse of August: Osage County, Tracy Lett’s 2013 film adaptation of her Pulitzer-Prize-winning play about a highly dysfunctional family’s reunion after the Weston family patriarch, Beverly (an alcoholic writer) suddenly disappears, leaving his equally bonkers wife, Violet (who had an addiction of her own, pills) alone with their caregiver. The rest of the family come to Violet’s side and help search for Beverly, and in the meantime years worth of resentment, anxiety, and trauma come to the surface and the family legit busts apart at the seams.
Krisha, on the other hand, centers around a Texas woman who, after being estranged from her family for years on end, returns to her sister’s home on Thanksgiving morning. The various family members are happy to see her, sort of, but also either stiff and unyielding to Krisha’s gaze (in the case of one of her nephews) or quick to criticize (especially her brother in law). It becomes clear that, as painful as her departure has been for the family, Krisha felt like it was the only way to “heal” and “become a better person,” and also to get clean. As the pressure from her family and her own anxieties reach their height, Krisha busts open a box marked “private,” and takes to the various pills and substances inside with gusto, lapping them up like a thirsty animal. Things really get screwy from there, until finally the Thanksgiving disaster reaches its peak in the form of a “culinary catastrophe,” as the Times called it.
The filmmaker, Trey Edward Shults, has drawn multiple comparisons to Cassavetes for Krisha, his debut film. And interestingly, Shults cast his aunt as Krisha Fairchild in the film, as well as his mother, and himself.