REVIEW: Honey Boy

Honey Boy stunned me. Quite honestly, after walking out of the theater, I was dazed and reflective and really grateful to have experienced this film. I had a lot of mixed thoughts on this movie, and so I suppose I’ll give sorting them a try.


Firstly, it has to be recognized that this movie is just upsetting. It’s a sad movie and the wisps of hope and joy found throughout the film seem to only amplify the grand sadness underscoring everything. When looking into just how autobiographical this screenplay is for LaBeouf, one finds this film to be (sorry that all the critics are saying this but it’s just true) a large act of therapy and coping. The meta references to this film being made within the work itself combined with the jarring real-life photos of Shia and his family at the end credits point towards an attempt by LaBeouf to lay everything out, place it together, and try to make sense of how he got to where he is. The fact that LaBeouf plays the character reflecting his father adds to the coping going on as you can see him working to access his father’s head space. This performance, along with truly all others in the film, was arresting and touching. (To be honest, I’ve always been really skeptical of Lucas Hedges’ work but I feel like he really inhabits a different life in this movie.)  LaBeouf’s time on screen specifically transcended the plot as one watches reality and art intertwine and speak to each other.



This leads me to the conflicting thoughts that grew out of this experience: when can we get gritty and touching movies of trauma that extend beyond white men? Of course, this is when I lose a big group of people as apparently pointing this out is now a cliché or punchline or something, but I can’t help but wonder how many more stories we have of women and people of color’s struggles and how they deserve an outlet and audience like Honey Boy. Obviously beautiful movies like that are being made, but I guess I just feel this movie got a much more understanding audience compared to films that are “Oscar bait” because they’re representing the struggles that a white American audience doesn’t want to engage with. It doesn’t help in this case as FKA Twigs’ character, one of the only central female characters, is an unnamed prostitute that simply serves as a newfound mother figure (verging on an uncomfortable sexual role) to protagonist Otis. Or that in general the only women in this film are either mother figures, therapists, or strippers. This choice may help in understanding the molding of Otis’ worldview but also… “Shy Girl” at least deserved a name. This take deserves a lot more nuance but I wanted to bring up something that crossed my mind while sitting in the theater.


Honey Boy deserves a (critical) watch as it is well made, touching, and speaks to the celebrity culture of the past few decades in terms of its plot as well as its conception and execution.



Waves is a film of a suburban African-American family coping with the various things life throws at them. Coming from director Trey Edward Shults, known for It Comes at Night. It will surely be interesting to see how a horror director takes on a drama like this one, especially one set in a sticky Floridian climate. Simply looking at the trailer, it’s evident that the cinematography was handled with care–we’ll see how that coincides with the plot and performances!


Student tickets are $8.50, stop by the State and catch up on all the great movies coming out this month.

PREVIEW: Honey Boy

Honey Boy is a film about a coming of age amidst fame. As much as the phrase “coming of age” may cause one to recoil from the assumed avalanche of clichés to come, this movie’s screenplay is by Shia LaBeouf and is slightly autobiographical. I think that alone is enough to engage people critical of the tired structure it confronts due to LaBeouf’s uneven and highly publicized trajectory post-Disney. The high acclaim I’ve been seeing from critics both in the newspaper and in social media doesn’t hurt your reasons to go, either.


Honey Boy is showing at the State Theater, so grab an $8.50 student ticket and try to forget about the insanity of finals season!!

REVIEW: The Room

“You’re tearing me apart, Lisa!”

“Why, Lisa, why, why?!”

“Everyone betrayed me! I’m fed up with this world.”

“They betrayed me, they didn’t keep their promise, they tricked me, and I don’t care anymore.”


Tommy Wiseau’s cries of anguish in cult classic The Room never get old, at least not for the loyal crowd that came out last Thursday. I found this to be one of the best The Room experiences I’ve had, as the crowd was clearly full of long-time fans and therefore not participating at the deafening pitch of the full house of virgins at Rocky at the Michigan Theater. The excited shouts of “Water!!” when a stock shot of bodies of water in San Francisco appeared, the encouraging “Go, go, go!” when the panning shots never seemed to end, and other beloved call outs (now including the offhand, “Ok, Boomer,” when Lisa’s mother is giving her advice) made for a really interactive and chaotic experience.


The film itself honestly can’t really be summed up via text. I can tell you that it’s poorly written, produced, and acted and thus one of the best cultural works in recent history, but that doesn’t really capture the specific disjointed and slightly baffling nature of this film.


Finally, the spoons. I have to talk about the spoons. To spoil one tradition of this movie experience, there is a specific framed photo of a spoon on the set that gets the most screen time in the film. Every time one spots said photo, it’s necessary to shout “SPOONS!” and (plastic) spoons are thrown in the air in celebration. This viewing had so many spoons and enthusiasm that between sightings people would reach down and into the aisles to gather spoons to throw at any triumphant moment for Tommy in the movie. At the end, people jumped on stage to throw the immeasurable amount of utensils back at the audience. The spoon obsession is simply the oddest and most enjoyable part of seeing The Room.


All this being said, this movie is also an amazing look into unfiltered male ego, misogyny, and conservatism. The tone deaf nature of this film broadcasts this uncomfortable mindset, but in such a poorly executed way that it feels made to be ironically consumed. There’s no guilt in booing Lisa, the classic “woman as temptress” archetype, because she’s so cartoonishly evil that there’s no way to not be in on the joke.


Next time you see The Room making the rounds, whether that’s in Ann Arbor, Royal Oak, or elsewhere, grab an unsuspecting friend and enjoy bemoaning the betrayal of the pseudo-Christ himself, Tommy Wiseau (er, “Johnny”).


The cult classic, The Room will be showing Thursday, December 5th at 10pm this week. It’s the same protocol as Rocky: don’t read a synopsis, don’t look up the show rituals, just come and be prepared to get pelted with spoons.


For the spoiler-prone folks, The Room is one of those, so-good-it’s-bad type deals where the ego of man is given a shoestring budget and a movie set. The film is rich with discontinuities, uncomfortable intimate scenes, and acting so bad it almost feels like an ironic, auteur-driven choice like that of The Lobster and other cerebral movies of the past decade. The Room is the ultimate oppositional viewing experience, so grab a student ticket for $8.50 and join the celebration of a masterpiece.

REVIEW: Stamps Undergraduate Juried Exhibition

The Stamps Gallery is a severely underrated gallery. Each time I visit the space, the work present engages me and shows innovation in the art world. This exhibition is no exception. Truly showing the range of the University of Michigan’s art and design students, this exhibition showcased work ranging from video to functional design to fashion and more. Leaving the exhibition, I felt excited for the direction of art and design in Michigan and globally.


It made me really happy to see works and artists my student group, Helicon, has included in its past exhibitions and publications. The dual visibility in both student-run and institutional contexts I find important to not only succeeding in the visual arts, but also being relevant and contributing to the student arts community. One example of such an individual is Brooks Eisenbise and their work Carrying All of This, a piece that was really intriguing to see in person after working with its image in our publication this past spring. The tactility of the work and the way it hovers between mediums and artistic forms is enough to draw viewers in. From there, though, one finds the work itself to be intimate and challenging, ultimately creating a highly contemplative personal and aesthetic experience.



Student work is important. Viewing student work is important. Putting student work in a gallery is important. It’s easy to look back at old masters and funky modernists and feel that art ends at Van Gogh and Kahlo, but art is a key part of the never ending process of culture-making. To disregard the current state of visual arts practice is to disregard what will come to play a part in defining our cultural moment. It is a great disservice to oneself, too, to miss out on placing oneself in the presented realities of others. Not to say an undergraduate exhibition at the University of Michigan offers the complete range of perspectives necessary to build the contemporary world of art, but going and looking and taking in the

student perspective and its subset of forms is a small step forward to contextualizing the world through the powerful and (in this and most cases) un-contrived form of visual arts. It’s also just plain exciting to examine the trajectories of these skilled artists and what their early work means for the direction of art and design. The exhibition is open until December 15th– go play the individual’s part in the arts and look.



(pictured at left: Obsession39 by Sophie Linden)