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Last updateTue, 18 Sep 2018 1pm

Bill Skarsgård gets perhaps his best showcase yet—outside of his Pennywise makeup, that is—in Villains as Mickey, a small-time crook who robs grocery stores with Jules (Maika Monroe).

When his car runs out of gas minutes after a heist, they wind up in the house of George and Gloria (Jeffrey Donovan and Kyra Sedgwick), who seem stuck in the 1950s, judging by their TV set. They also seem to be psychos, thanks to a secret in their basement. Mickey and Jules try to work their way out of the predicament, one that eventually involves Mickey strapped to a bed while Gloria does an erotic dance for him.

The film is strange, mostly in a good way; it’s oddly directed and written by the team of Dan Berk and Robert Olsen. Monroe, who is quickly becoming one of the more reliable cult-film actresses in the business, is great as Jules, who learns a few life lessons while dodging bullets.

Skarsgård has a great hyper energy and delivers the film’s best work as a lovable dummy. Donovan and Sedgwick are wonderfully creepy as the married couple who have a strange interpretation of what “family” is supposed to mean.

Villains is now streaming on Fandango Now.

Published in DVDs/Home Viewing

Writer-director Kelly Fremon Craig makes an impressive debut with The Edge of Seventeen, a darkly funny take on the life of a modern-day high school outcast.

Hailee Steinfeld gives her best performance since True Grit as Nadine, a highly intelligent teen going through an awkward stage when her best friend (Haley Lu Richardson) starts dating her brother (Blake Jenner).

Nadine is a practitioner of brutal honesty, which gets her ostracized at school and in trouble with her family. The only one who really stops to listen is a teacher (a hilarious Woody Harrelson) who actually has no choice, given his profession.

Craig’s screenplay is first-rate, and her directing leads to some great performances. Steinfeld is good enough here to be considered for her second Oscar nomination, while Jenner (who starred in this year’s Everybody Wants Some!!) is equally good.

This film is drawing comparisons to the best of John Hughes, and I would call the movie a good companion piece to The Breakfast Club. It’s good to see Steinfeld getting a role she very much deserves, and exciting to see a new voice like Craig’s on the scene. Kyra Sedgwick is also very good in a supporting role as Nadine’s mother, while Hayden Szeto does excellent work as a high school boy who hasn’t mastered the art of properly asking somebody out. (His performance is all the more impressive, because he’s older than 30.)

This is one of the better family dramas of recent years—on top of being a solid, funny comedy.

The Edge of Seventeen is playing at theaters across the valley.

Published in Reviews