Family history is a dependable theme for filmmakers to explore. The Last Black Man in San Francisco, however, is more about what it means to preserve that lineage. In their breakout feature film debut, filmmaker Joe Talbot and actor Jimmie Fails unpack an observational story that’s related to that, based on elements of Fails’ real-life experiences.
By: Jolie Featherstone When a movie opens with an inspirational, expletive-filled meditation guide voiced by Maya Rudolph, you know you’ve chosen the right movie.
Giant Little Ones is a very sweet movie about confronting and dealing with homophobia as a teenager. If that reads like I’m patronizing the film, I don’t mean to be. This is an important coming-of-age story with a unique voice, and filmmaker Keith Behrman should be proud of his accomplished indie. It’s a hopeful movie that will hit home with audiences.
Documentarian Rama Rau (The Market, League of Exotique Dancers) takes a break from documentary filmmaking to make Honey Bee, a coming-of-age drama for mature audiences.
By: Jessica Goddard Mid90s is a coming-of-age period piece, chronicling how a mild 13-year-old boy finds acceptance and belonging with a reckless crowd of skateboarders. Our pint-sized protagonist, Stevie (Sunny Suljic), perfectly captures the in-the-middleness suggested by the title – we can’t help but see a child when he’s next to his older (taller) friends, but the mischief he gets up to makes him feel much more adult than we’re comfortable with.
By: Trevor Chartrand Apatow-comedy veteran Jonah Hill has diversified his career path considerably in recent years, taking on darker and more intense roles. Now he’s taken another step into new territory, this time helming a film from behind the camera: Mid90s is Hill’s directorial debut, and it’s chock-full of surprises.
The Netflix Gods heard my distain for the streaming service’s teen flick hit To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before, and they’ve gifted me a charming high school comedy titled Sierra Burgess Is a Loser as an apologetic gesture. Call it coincidental timing, I call it wishful thinking.
By: Graeme Howard Simon Baker’s directorial debut Breath (adapted from the international best seller by Tim Winton) is, at first glance, a by-the-numbers coming-of-age surfing tale. However, the audience is treated to a thought-provoking surfing drama that succeeds in capturing the raw nature of the sport, while also exploring the spontaneity of youthfulness and the joyful exploration of curiosity, fear, and self-understanding.
A teenager’s public suicide sends shockwaves through their high school, as students and teachers alike reel and cope. On the fringe of the tragedy is Hashi, a shy creative writer who had a close friendship with the victim. Being generally shy and uncomfortable to begin with, Hashi – despite finding an emotional connection through poetry – doesn’t know how to exhale his pain. Unfortunately, he chooses ways to grieve that are detrimental to his life.
Craig Johnson (director/co-writer of The Skeleton Twins) returns with another sweet story about solving personal ambiguity with wonder, caution, and experience in Netflix’s Alex Strangelove. This time, the angst takes place in high school, as Johnson evolves the “teen sex comedy” sub-genre with positive (and current) messages of sexual orientation.