Wednesday, June 23, 2021

Bob's Cinema Diary: 6/25/21 -- 'Werewolves Within' and 'Kenny Shcarf: When Worlds Collide’

 Werewolves Within
A spoof-like take on werewolf movies, Werewolves Within tips its hand with its title. While  delivering a few jolts, the movie takes satirical aim at the predatory instincts of a group of residents in a small town where an oil company dangles major money to secure land for a pipeline. Director Josh Ruben assembles a strong cast and follows a familiar strategy, isolating his characters in a sleepy inn in the fictional town of Beaverfield. Sam Richardson plays a nice-guy forest ranger who arrives in the town at the film's outset.  Richardson's Finn  forms an immediate alliance with the town's mail person (Milana Vayntrub). She clues him into the secrets of the small population, which includes a married couple, the corporate guy who wants to build the pipeline, and others. An ominous trapper (Glenn Fleshler) lives outside the town and serves as the story’s principal red herring. Could he be the werewolf that's gradually depleting the town's population? More amusing than fall-down funny, Werewolves Within introduces sprinklings of topicality. Richardson's wonderfully sincere performance goes a long way toward keeping the movie on track.

Kenny Scharf: When Worlds Collide
If you're looking for a movie that understands and revives the chaotic feeling of the 1980s art world, Kenny Scharf: When Worlds Collide has plenty to offer. Focusing on Scharf, a graffiti artist who also works in a variety of other media, the movie tells the story of an artist who became known but never acquired the rocket-fueled fame of figures such as Keith Haring or Jean-Michel Basquiat. Directors Max Basch and Malia Scharf (the artist's daughter), tell the story of an era and of an individual whose work is steeped in pop-culture. The movie includes plenty of images of Scharf's work, as well as interviews with critics and fellow artists who help define Scharf’s place in the ever-flowing art stream. The directors include a  touching account of Scharf's loss of close friend and former roommate Haring to AIDS . It wasn't easy for Scharf to watch his friend anointed by an art world that never did as much for him. What finally sticks is Scharf's amazing productivity and his devotion to making art -- on canvas, on billboards, on walls, and on ordinary household objects. He came of age in a world in which trend sometimes outweighed trenchancy. But no matter which way the art winds blew, Scharf kept working and following his own path. He's still at it and still committed to the notion that to be meaningful art needn't be stripped of either playfulness or (heaven forbid) fun.

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