WHAT TO SEE: A Truly DOPE Teen Comedy, Pixar's Return to Greatness, BAMcinemaFest & More

The best new movies and repertory screenings for you to check out in NYC over the weekend.

WHAT TO SEE: A Truly DOPE Teen Comedy, Pixar's Return to Greatness, BAMcinemaFest & More
An image from DOPE (2015)

Good news: Your weekend moviegoing needs have been simplified. Every Thursday morning, our What To See guide will highlight the new releases opening in New York City and NYC repertory screenings that are most worth your time.

Here's your guide for the weekend of June 19 – June 21.

If you've ever wondered what Superbad would be like if A Tribe Called Quest and Pharrell Williams remixed it…
Dope (2015)
Director: Rick Famuyiwa
Stars: Shameik Moore, Tony Revolori, Kiersey Clemons, Blake Anderson, Zoë Kravitz, Kimberly Elise, A$AP Rocky, Chanel Iman, Keith Stanfield

A lot of ambition can go a really long way. In Dope’s case, heavy ambition is its ultimate savior.

A love letter to both hip-hop and modern-day individualism, writer-director Rick Famuyiwa’s fast-paced and wildly charismatic teen comedy is an explosion of energy and visual panache. Three Inglewood, California, high schoolers (Shameik Moore, Tony Revolori, Kiersey Clemons) play in a rap/rock band and geek out over 1990s rap music; they're nerds who, refreshingly on Famuyiwa's part, aren’t treated like nerds by all of their peers. One of them, a smart Harvard hopeful named Malcolm (Moore), ends up with drugs in his backpack, thanks to a run-in with a drug dealer (A$AP Rocky) who’s also tied to Malcolm’s dream girl, Nakia (Zoë Kravitz). Those narcotics alter Malcolm and his friends’ world into an After Hours-like comedy of misadventures and strange encounters.

There’s so much to love in Dope, but therein lies the film’s downside: there’s just too damn much in it. At a shade under two hours, it’s a bloated overshot from a filmmaker whose intentions are pure but whose reach is limited. Dope goes through more tonal shifts than a coffee-addicted bipolar schizophrenic, bouncing around from laughs to serious drama and drug culture violence, sometimes within the same 10-minute frame. It’s the performances and Famuyiwa’s live-wire spirit, though, that lift Dope above its scatterbrained flaws.

Movies for and about teenagers are in a great place right now, moving past the Twilight phase and into more grown-up sensibilities—see last week’s new release Me and Earl and the Dying Girl for a recent example. With Dope, Famuyiwa has given today’s hip-hop-loving youth their own Superbad, filled with characters who accurately represent the unclassifiable personalities and interests that make kids more deserving of progressive cinema than ever before. This is most certainly that.

Where to see it: Opening in wide release

If you've been impatiently waiting for Pixar to get back on its Up level, see…
Inside Out (2015)
Director: Pete Docter
Stars: Amy Poehler, Bill Hader, Kaitlyn Dias, Lewis Black, Mindy Kaling, Phyllis Smith, Diane Lane, Kyle MacLachlan, Richard Kind

The concept behind Disney and Pixar’s long-awaited return to Animated Masterpiece Theatre is children’s movie brilliance epitomized: Taking place mostly inside of the head of an 11-year-old girl named Riley, Inside Out turns emotions like Joy (voiced by Amy Poehler), Fear (Bill Hader), Anger (Lewis Black) and Disgust (Mindy Kaling) into cute little beings and watches as they dictate Riley’s moods and reactions as she adjusts to a new home and having to make new friends. It’s as simple as that—what causes people, namely kids, to behave a certain way in any given moment?

Since it’s Pixar here, or, rather, Pixar back on his Toy Story/Ratatouille/Up A-game, Inside Out pushes that ingenious premise to its highest emotional heights. Director Pete Docter and his Pixar colleagues smartly make the film’s at times heavy themes and grown-up moments palatable by having disarmingly accessible comedians like Poehler, Hader and Kaling embody humanity’s most complicated feelings, while clever little touches like employing janitors inside Riley’s head to clean away old memories and dated trivia like past presidents’ names keep Inside Out grounded in the necessary childlike playfulness.

In the end, though, Inside Out is Pete Docter’s show, once again confirming that there’s no better filmmaker when it comes to injecting animated kids’ movie with enough sentimental force to make the little ones’ parents cry. Inside Out’s climax, in particular, is up there with the instant-classic, time-lapsing opening sequence of Docter’s Up.

Where to see it: Opening in wide release

Here's a sex comedy for movie lovers who hate the ordinary....
The Overnight
Director: Patrick Brice
Stars: Taylor Schilling, Adam Scott, Jason Schwartzman, Judith Godreche

Talk about some Father’s Day weekend counterprogramming. Whereas a film like Inside Out makes for a nice afternoon spent together by daddy and daughter, the raunchy indie comedy The Overnight is the kind of Papa’s Day entertainment meant strictly for the parents to see with their friends—and, if writer-director Patrick Brice’s film properly works its magic, maybe even get them to end Sunday evening in naughty fashion.

Of course, sons and daughters won’t want to know anything about that, because, you know, gross. But even younger offspring will appreciate how The Overnight, which screened at this year's Tribeca Film Festival, subverts conventional sex comedy expectations. Adam Scott (Parks and Recreation) and Taylor Schilling (Orange is the New Black) play the parents of a kid whose friend’s parents, played by Jason Schwartzman and Judith Godreche, schedule an adults’ night with the other couple. Fun times are had, bonds are formed and, as the night progresses, possible swinging and lover-swapping gets suggested. And Scott and Schwartzman dance around naked.

Imagine being their kids.

Where to see it: Angelika Film Center, Friday and Saturday at 10:10 a.m., 12:20 p.m., 2:30 p.m., 4:40 p.m., 7:00 p.m., 9:35 p.m., 11:50 p.m.; Sunday at 10:10 a.m., 12:20 p.m., 2:30 p.m., 4:40 p.m., 7:00 p.m., 9:35 p.m.

NOTE: Adam Scott, Judith Godreche and writer-director Patrick Brice will be at the Angelika for post-screening Q&As following the 7:00 p.m. and 9:35 p.m. shows on Friday and Saturday.

Three reasons why the future of independent film will live in Brooklyn this weekend…
Krisha (2015), Breaking a Monster (2015), Advantageous (2015)
Directors: Trey Schultz (Krisha), Luke Meyer (Breaking a Monster), Jennifer Phang (Advantageous)

It’s, on the low, one of New York City’s most consistently great indie film showcases. Held annually every summer, the Brooklyn Academy of Music’s BAMcinemaFest corrals the strongest premieres from Sundance, SXSW, and the Tribeca Film Festival into an indispensable exhibition of cinema’s next great filmmakers.

This year’s lineup kicked off yesterday with The End of the Tour, in which Jason Segel plays the enigmatic and cult-favorite author David Foster Wallace; other 2015 highlights include Tangerine, a trans-centric, LA-set comedy shot on an iPhone; Queen of Earth, a psychological thriller directed Brooklyn native Alex Ross Perry and starring Mad Men’s Elisabeth Moss; and new films with Kevin Bacon (Cop Car) and Kristen Wiig (Nasty Baby) and a 20th anniversary reunion for Kids.

BAMcinemaFest reaches a 2015 highpoint this weekend with the NYC premieres of three excellent flicks. On Friday, there’s Krisha, which swept SXSW’s awards in March and blends fiction and reality to show a Texas family’s gradual implosion. Saturday brings Breaking a Monster, a highly entertaining documentary about Unlocking the Truth, a trio of teenage Brooklyn kids who atypically play heavy metal music and are entering the major label music scene. And on Sunday, “women in film” merges with progressive sci-fi in Advantageous, a dystopian and feminist Sundance breakout from San Francisco-based director Jennifer Phang.

Where to see them: Krisha, BAM Rose Cinemas, Friday at 7:00 p.m.

Breaking a Monster, BAM Rose Cinemas, Saturday at 4:00 p.m.

Advantageous, BAM Rose Cinemas, Sunday at 5:00 p.m.

Get familiar with one of the year's best performances…
Gabriel (2015)
Director: Lou Howe
Stars: Rory Culkin, Emily Meade, David Call, Deirdre O’Connell, Louisa Krause, Lynn Cohen, Alexia Rasmussen

This year’s fourth-quarter awards season will be dominated by A-listers and movies unsubtly engineered to attract Mr. Oscar, which means it’s pretty much guaranteed that a small, inconspicuous movie like Lou Howe’s Gabriel (a 2014 Tribeca Film Festival world premiere) doesn’t have a broke window shopper’s chance on Fifth Avenue of catching awards voters’ collective attention. But there’s no denying that Rory Culkin deserves to be in their conversations. His performance in Gabriel is a heart destroyer.

Emotionally crushing from beginning to end, Culkin mesmerizes as the film’s title character, a schizophrenic and deeply disturbed teenager who believes that his first girlfriend will come back to him, even though they’ve been separated for years and she’s not thinking about him. He returns home after a stint in a mental hospital, inadvertently shows his family that he’s still unwell and eventually finds the girl he once loved. And once their reunion happens, Gabriel shifts from its earlier sections’ profound sadness to a quietly scary will-he-or-won’t-he-snap climax.

Mental illness is rarely handled with such intimacy and honesty, and Culkin never overplays the character’s volatile mood swings and outbursts. There’s nothing artificial about Gabriel, unlike, you know, some of the movies that will inevitably push it out of any future awards chatter.

Where to see it: City Cinemas Village East, Friday, Saturday and Sunday at 11:00 a.m., 1:10 p.m., 3:20 p.m., 5:30 p.m., 7:40 p.m., 10:25 p.m.

Because some fathers would rather be scared than praised…
The Night of the Hunter (1955), Eyes Without a Face (1960) and The Shining (1980)
Directors: Charles Laughton (The Night of the Hunter), Georges Franju (Eyes Without a Face) and Stanley Kubrick (The Shining)

Every other dad will either be enjoying a fancy restaurant meal or a backyard BBQ party this Sunday—why not treat your pops to one of the sickest triple movie feature lineups imaginable?

Like they did for Mother’s Day, the Museum of the Moving Image will honor the city's patriarchs with a trio of horror classics, billed as "Horror Father's Day." Each movie is fueled by dysfunctional daddy issues. In the super-dark thriller The Night of the Hunter, the great Robert Mitchum gives one of the best villain performances ever as a sociopath who infiltrates a single mother’s life and gives her two children a real-life boogeyman to try to defeat. The underrated French-Italian gem Eyes Without a Face, meanwhile, is pure nightmare fuel, showing how a mad scientist’s plan to kidnap people and skin them in order to give his disfigured daughter a new face goes horribly wrong. And in The Shining—well, what more needs to be said about Stanley Kubrick’s masterful Stephen King adaptation other than to remind you that it’s singularly frightening and home to Jack Nicholson in Peak Creeper mode?

If anything, watching these three horrifying dads will make you want to extend Father’s Day into Monday for a weeknight BBQ. Whatever it’ll take to let your old man know his anti-Jack-Torrance demeanor is appreciated.

Where to see it: The Night of the Hunter, Museum of the Moving Image, Sunday at 2:00 p.m.

Eyes Without a Face, Museum of the Moving Image, Sunday at 4:30 p.m.

The Shining, Museum of the Moving Image, Sunday at 6:30 p.m.

For proof that you don't need words to tell amazing stories…
The Tribe
Director: Myroslav Slaboshpytskiy
Stars: Gregory Fisenko, Hryhoriy Fesenko, Yana Novikova, Roza Babiy

The old “you’ve never seen anything like this before” logline has been used to death, but every now and then a film comes along that undeniably warrants it. The Tribe is that kind of film. Made in the Ukraine, it’s a gritty high-school-set drama about teenage gangs, first loves and brutal violence, but that’s not what makes director Myroslav Slaboshpytskiy’s audacious movie so special. Its individuality and must-see nature stem from its experimental approach to storytelling: there’s no dialogue in The Tribe, its deaf teen characters interacting solely through sign language.

And it’s absolutely riveting. The proposition of watching a two-hour movie without knowing anything about sign language is understandably daunting, yet The Tribe’s brilliant cast and Slaboshpytskiy’s behind-the-camera confidence make following lead character Sergey’s (Gregory Fisenko) boarding school trials and tribulations basically effortless. Besides, images of a sickening back-alley abortion, intense violence and oppressive poverty don’t need words to deliver their maximum impact.

Where to see it: Film Forum, Friday, Saturday and Sunday at 12:40 p.m., 3:40 p.m., 6:45 p.m., 9:30 p.m.

Because there's more to auto-centric cinema than just Vin Diesel and Tyrese Gibson…
Two-Lane Blacktop (1971)
Director: Monte Hellman
Stars: James Taylor, Warren Oates, Laurie Bird, Dennis Wilson, Harry Dean Stanton

The term “car movie” in 2015 suggests multiple souped-up vehicles falling out of airplanes and parachuting onto highways for high-speed chases and shootouts involving armored trucks—thanks the box-office-breaking Furious 7 for that, as well as the entire Fast & Furious series. There was a time, however, where car movies didn’t feature explosions and impossibly high-concept stunts, and one of the better examples of automobile cinema’s simpler days is writer-director Monte Hellman’s Two-Lane Blacktop.

Best described as an existentialist road movie, Two-Lane Blacktop follows a pair of ’55 Chevy 150 drivers (James Taylor, Dennis Wilson) as they join a GTO owner (Warren Oates) on a four-wheel trip across U.S. Route 66, starting in California and heading towards the east coast. In lieu of action, crashes and people doing insane things like this, Two-Lane Blacktop’s narrative detours bring in colorful hitchhiking weirdos and Oates’ character’s hilariously bullshit personality adjustments each time someone new enters their lives.

It’s the kind of movie Vin Diesel’s Dom Toretto might watch while smoking a joint after an especially hectic day on the road.

Where to see it: Anthology Film Archives, Saturday at 9:00 p.m.

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