9 Movies We Loved This Year – BuzzFeed News

9 Movies We Loved This Year – BuzzFeed News

A24 / Courtesy Everett Collection

Suzanna Son and Simon Rex in Red Rocket

Red Rocket

It’s probably just me, but lately it feels like storytelling has been taken over by Marvel universes and absurd streaming-bait about feline subcultures and hetero masochism. I miss quieter movies with their slow-build character studies. Watching director Sean Baker’s Red Rocket, a portrait of fictional aging porn actor Mikey Saber (Simon Rex), was a reminder of how great those can be.

Baker wanted to capture the energy of “suitcase pimps,” porn impresarios he met while researching the adult industry for his 2012 film Starlet. And he found the perfect vehicle in Rex, a former model, MTV VJ, and white rapper known as Dirt Nasty who’s spent a lifetime around deluded LA actors, to masterfully bring the archetype to life.

In the film, Mikey returns to his small Texas town, which he’d left after convincing girlfriend Lexi (Bree Elrod) to move to LA and become a porn star with him. Now his estranged wife, she’s back in town, staying with her mom and stuck in a dead-end life.

Mikey is a compelling presence from the moment he appears onscreen, begging Lexi and her mom Lil (Brenda Deiss) to let him crash with them while he gets back on his feet. Soon he’s resettling into his old life, quickly finding his lane as a weed dealer, and we get snippets of his backstory as he reconnects with locals. As his moods shift, from whiny boy to daydreaming pothead and then to entitled harebrained schemer — and around again — the film really gives a sense of how circular his life is.

Without shying away from the darkness, the script finds the comedy of how some men exist in a kind of perpetual nowness, parasitically living off everyone around them, especially women — even, eventually, and queasily, a 17-year-old named Strawberry (Suzanna Son).

For all the acclaim about Baker’s ability to capture outsider class and gender perspectives, I find that the least convincing and most gimmicky aspect of his work — especially in 2015’s Tangerine. But he’s finally found a perfect muse in Mikey, and this memorable portrait of the amoral ruthlessness of a small-town con artist is some of his best work yet. —Alessa Dominguez

Where to watch: In theaters now

Paul Thomas Anderson / MGM / Courtesy Everett Collection

Alana Haim and Cooper Hoffman in Licorice Pizza

Licorice Pizza

Paul Thomas Anderson’s newest film, Licorice Pizza, is a delightful coming-of-age romp that could certainly be called a rom-com if PTA made rom-coms. Set in 1970s Encino, the film stars Philip Seymour Hoffman’s son Cooper as Gary Valentine, a fast-talking 15-year-old child star who is constantly reinventing himself to make money and be the kind of man twentysomething Alana (Alana Haim) would want to date. The will-they-won’t-they serves as the spine of this story, but this charming film is really a love letter …….

Source: https://www.buzzfeednews.com/article/karolinawaclawiak/best-movies-2021