Zola ★★★★

Looks like a “Straight to DVD” crime thriller from 2008 - maybe they didn’t use enough pixels or bits or whatever, but it has a grime tinge to match the out of control behavior on screen. There’s really no reason that crime and exploitation movies of today can’t match this when it comes to production value - the locations are all hotels and clubs and cars, there are no high dollar names in the cast, they didn’t really use too many expensive hit songs on the soundtrack, and the special effects amount to a gun shot wound or two. Where other movies may struggle is with acting and storytelling. Taylour Paige is going to be a star, she’s hilarious and perfectly allows the audience to live through her disbelief of all the wild bullshit going on around her. Riley Keough (Elvis’ granddaughter?!) and Colman Domingo both slide in and out of accents smoothly, culturally appropriating and code switching respectively, creating tension and humor by making both of their characters seem unpredictable. Nicholas Braun’s boyfriend character was painfully goofy, eating shit again and again. Some of the cell phone gimmicks (constant alert notifications sounding off) were irritating, but filling the screen from corner to corner with stripper asses and weird, lumpy dicks offset that. By the way, I saw this at our local arthouse cinema (because it was released by A24), but it has lots of nudity and crime, so I felt childishly sleazy sitting alone on the second row surrounded by all these movie nerd couples. I guess I should have tried shocking them by pulling a Pee Wee Herman and openly masturbating, but I’m nothing if not graceful so I waited until I got to the urinal in the lobby.

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