Popcorn & Candy: Troubled Teens Edition

Popcorn & Candy was DCist’s selective and subjective guide to some of the most interesting movies playing around town in the coming week.



This week I wrote capsule reviews for the Washington City Paper of three films from the Washington Jewish Film Festival, and this was by far my favorite. I wrote, “Asher (Asher Lax) is at a crossroads. The 17-year-old works with his gruff father Milo(Yaacov Cohen) in his scaffolding business, but he is also getting ready for his high school matriculation exams with the help of literature teacher Rami (Ami Smolartchik). The hot-tempered student ends up in the principal’s office far too often, but even though Asher acts up in Rami’s class too, sometimes it’s just because he’s impatient to find out what happens at the end of that Greek tragedy. Israeli writer/director Matan Yair uses a naturalistic touch on this classroom drama, so much so that the movie’s central metaphor and on-the-nose literary references feel absolutely organic. That’s thanks to a uniformly strong cast and an especially sensitive performance from Lax, who was one of Yair’s students and in fact inspired the movie. The young actor comes across as a feral James Franco; volatile, impressionable, and finally heartbreaking in his struggle to communicate with his emotionally distant father—and to be receptive to an education that may open up a very different vocation. While many of the area’s film festivals promise far-flung stories but simply deliver the usual crowd-pleasers, Scaffolding is the kind of breakout drama that should find life outside the festival circuit.”

Watch the trailer.
Sunday, May 6 at 5:15 pm at Landmark Bethesda Row; and Wednesday, May 9 at  8:30 pm at Landmark E Street Cinema.



My Critic’s Pick for this Week’s WCP, where I wrote, “With a name that conjured sex and violence, four teenage girls in London teamed up in 1976 to form the first all-female punk band. The Slits, led by then-14- year old singer Ari Up, admitted that they were not musicians, but on tracks such as “Typical Girls,” their uninhibited energy brought shape to chaos. By the time they made their first album, Cut, released in 1979, they had developed a punk-reggae hybrid that was as original as it was influential. Director William E. Badgley, who will appear at the screening for a Q&A, combines vintage footage and contemporary interviews with the surviving members to paint a spirited picture of the short-lived group in this fascinating history of a lesser-known side of the punk movement.”

Watch the trailer.
Thursday, May 10 at 7:15 p.m. at the AFI Silver. 



As part of the EUROBEATS Music Festival, the House of Sweden will screen three music documentaries, including this 2016 film about the music culture that emerged in Communist Czechoslovakia in the 1980s–a scene that gave rise to a revolution. Also screening are The Punk Syndrome, about Finnish band Pertti Kurikan Nimipäivät, and Sonica Sequence, which follows Swedish musician Lisa Nordström on musical journeys  to Cuba, Japan, Cyprus, and Indonesia.

Watch the trailer for Vinyl Generation.
Sunday, May 6 at noon at House of Sweden, 2900 K St NW, Washington, DC. Free. RSVP here.



The Mary Pickford Theatre at the Library of Congress continues its monthly repertory series with a 35mm print of this rags-to-riches crime drama from 1950. Edmond O’Brien stars as an telephone lineman hired by the mafia to run a wire service for off-track betting. Directed by Joseph M. Newman (This Island Earth),  711 Ocean Drive tapped into a real concern at the time, so much so that the filmmakers received death threats before production even started, and producer Frank Seltzer even went on to testify before a U.S. Senate committee on organized crime. The movie’s promotional efforts were something of an experiment; this was one of the first movies advertised on the medium that many at the time considered a death sentence to cinema: television.

Watch the trailer.
Thursday, May 10 at the Mary Pickford Theatre, third floor of the Madison Building, Library of Congress. Free. Seating is on a first-come first-serve basis. Doors open at 6:30 pm.



In this 1990  rock opera adaptation of the Greek myth–on skateboards–a post-apocalyptic Hades (Gian-Carlo Scandiuzzi) runs the Euthanasia Broadcast Network (there’s still TV after the apocalypse?) and wants Eurydice (Megan Murphy) to join his mind-control operation. The heroic, guitar-playing Orpheus (Robert McGinley, who also directed), whose charges listen to some kind of vaguely industrial punk, descends into the media abyss for the rescue. In a Letterboxd review, Matt Lynch writes, “Probably the last descriptor the filmmakers wanted or expected to be applied to this is ‘adorable,’ but all there is to it is the admittedly charming DIY aesthetic and a slightly abstracted finale.”

Watch the trailer.
Monday, May 7 at 7 pm at Smoke and Barrel.


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