From Superbad through to Lady Bird and Booksmart, the teen movie has introduced us to many a memorable pair of lovable high school outcasts.
Into that hallowed company we can now add the decidedly undynamic duo of PJ and Josie in this week’s fun-sounding new comedy Bottoms.
In a busy week for youthful misadventures, three friends head to Malia for a post-exam blowout in How to Have Sex, while a backpacking trip takes a sinister turn in The Royal Hotel.
Plus, get ready for five days of genre-hopping delights with the return of the Aesthetica Short Film Festival…
Despairing of their place at the bottom of the food chain, two high schoolers hit upon a novel idea to boost their social standing in this teen comedy.
PJ (Rachel Sennott, Bodies Bodies Bodies) and Josie (Ayo Edebiri, The Bear) decide to start a female fight club as a way of improving their popularity and getting closer to their cheerleader crushes – but their brainchild takes off in ways they were not expecting.
Impressive reviews suggest that director Emma Seligman has swapped the claustrophobic comedy of her 2020 debut Shiva Baby (in which Sennott also starred) for something bigger, wilder and weirder, with results that ought to appeal to fans of Mean Girls and But I’m a Cheerleader.
How to Have Sex
With their GCSEs done and dusted, three girls head out to Malia for a week of partying in this highly acclaimed British debut feature from director Molly Manning Walker.
The story follows friends Tara (Mia McKenna-Bruce), Skye (Lara Peake), and Em (Enva Lewis) as they throw themselves headfirst into the traditional rite-of-passage summer holiday.
Both a celebration of young female friendship and an unflinching look at the complexities of sex and consent, it’s been a hit with critics across the board, with Empire hailing it as a film ‘as enthralling as it is important’.
The Royal Hotel
Director Kitty Green won plenty of plaudits for her claustrophobic 2019 tale The Assistant, about a day in the life of a young woman working for a Harvey Weinstein-esque boss; this Australia-set psychological thriller reunites her with that film’s star, Julia Garner, for a more explosive take on similar themes.
Best friends Hanna (Garner) and Liv (Jessica Henwick, Glass Onion) are backpacking in the Outback when a cash-flow crisis persuades them to take jobs at a bar in a remote mining town.
What sounds like a simple gig turns increasingly tense as their daily ‘jokey’ interactions with the pub’s male clientele become ever more charged with a sense of threat.
Aesthetica Short Film Festival 2023
It’s back! York’s very own film festival returns for its 13th year, with venues across the city screening a dazzling array of shorts from Weds 8th through to Sun 12th.
The programme boasts the usual eclectic mix of genres from comedy to thriller to documentary and VR, plus more than 60 masterclasses and practical workshops – with speakers including acclaimed directors Mark Jenkin (Bait, Enys Men) and Sarah Gavron (Suffragette, Rocks).
If you can’t make it in person (or need a bit more time to make it through all 300 shorts on offer), the festival is also taking place online throughout November, with films and events available to access virtually.
With tickets starting from £7.50 for a single screening (usually comprising six shorts), it’s well worth checking out the full programme on ASFF’s website and taking a punt on something that catches your eye – based on the titles alone, I’m going to be making a beeline for Festival of Slaps and My Name is Edgar and I Have a Cow…
Other new releases and previews
As a nice bit of counter-programming to the youthful high spirits on display in this week’s other new releases, biopic Dance First stars Gabriel Byrne as Irish literary colossus Samuel Beckett, a man rarely if ever known to have been spotted off his face at an Ibiza foam party – catch it at City Screen daily from Fri 3rd.
The cult of Cage continues with Dream Scenario, in which the never knowingly understated Saint Nic stars as a man who becomes famous after appearing in people’s dreams – City Screen have a preview screening on Fri 3rd, while there’s also a sneak peek at acclaimed new French courtroom drama Anatomy of a Fall at both City Screen and Everyman on Weds 8th.
Showing at City Screen on Tues 7th, documentary Beyond Utopia shines a spotlight on the remarkable bravery of Pastor Sung-eun Kim, who risks his own freedom and safety arranging the escape of North Korean exiles.
Two friends run away from their difficult home lives in Malayalam-language drama Otta, showing at Cineworld on Sun 5th, Mon 6th and Tues 7th.
And if you’re a ballet aficionado who can’t make it down to the big smoke to see Don Quixote at the Royal Opera House, never fear – you can still dream the impossible dream with live screenings at City Screen, Everyman and Vue on Tues 7th.
With the hit new film Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem having finally broken the franchise’s decades-long curse of shonky movie adaptations, there’s still time to grab a pizza the action at Vue this weekend, with budget Mini Mornings screenings on Sat 4th and Sun 5th (tickets £2.49).
City Screen’s Kids’ Club has a subtitled screening of Pixar’s latest hit Elemental on Sat 4th (tickets £3.30) – and if you’re looking to keep the spooky spirit alive post-Halloween, Cineworld and City Screen have you covered with animated Oscar Wilde fable The Canterville Ghost, showing at Cineworld from Fri 3rd to Sun 5th (tickets £2.50) and at City Screen on Sun 5th only (£3.30), and boasting a reunion of sorts between Stephen Fry and Hugh Laurie in the voice cast. Soupy twist!
Dystopian sights and spooky tales for dark nights: old favourites back on the big screen
City Screen’s new Haunted season offers a quartet of spine-chillers perfect for these cold autumnal nights, beginning on Sun 5th with 1963’s The Haunting, the original big screen adaptation of Shirley Jackson’s novel The Haunting of Hill House (the TV series of which kick-started Netflix’s ever-popular Haunting anthology series back in 2018).
Over at Everyman, there are more scares to be had in Guillermo del Toro’s modern classic Pan’s Labyrinth, showing on Sun 5th and Tues 7th.
With the long-awaited Fury Road prequel Furiosa slated for release next year, Vue are rewinding back to the start of George Miller’s post-apocalyptic saga this week with screenings of the original Mad Max (Sat 4th, Sun 5th) and Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior (Sat 4th, Weds 8th).
And finally, if you prefer your dystopia more neon-drenched and synth-soundtracked, then Everyman are taking you back to the future (actually the recent past, given it’s set in 2019) with Blade Runner: The Final Cut in their Late Nights strand on Fri 3rd.