Big Time Adolescence
Since joining Saturday Night Live when he was only 20, Pete Davidson has become known as much for his tumultuous personal life as his laconic stoner persona. Writer-director Jason Orley's Big Time Adolescence, now streaming on Hulu, is the first feature to put Davidson at its center, and it suggests he could have a career playing slightly fictionalized iterations of himself before (hopefully) maturing into more complex roles. Here he plays Zeke, a pothead slacker in his early 20s whose best friend is high school sophomore Mo (Griffin Gluck of American Vandal), a wallflower whose older sister broke up with Zeke years ago. They're an odd couple, to be sure, and yet their rapport kind of makes sense, considering Zeke's own arrested development. He also considers himself an entrepreneur, which is how he dreams up a casual operation wherein Mo goes to parties and sells Zeke's shitty drugs to his friends. It's a slight story, but it's anchored by the warm chemistry of the two leads, and by a solid supporting turn from Jon Cryer as Mo's rightfully concerned dad. And Davidson is surprisingly good as a loveable loser who watches everyone else grow up and march on past him while he stays firmly planted in place.
Blow the Man Down
In the rural neo-noir Blow the Man Down now streaming on Amazon Prime, a sleepy Maine fishing village turns out to be a roiling cauldron of sex, secrets and corruption — aren't they always? It begins with sisters Priscilla and Mary Beth having just buried their sickly mother, and now they're worrying about keeping their house and running the family fish market. One night, Mary Beth is menaced by a drunk guy she kills in self-defense, and she enlists Priscilla into helping her dispose of the body. The man's disappearance barely seems to register with the town's police officers, but it soon uncovers a sprawling history of past misdeeds, some of which involve Margo Martindale as the proprietor of the town's bordello. Blow the Man Down is in the great tradition of regional, intergenerational mysteries like John Sayles' Lone Star and Clint Eastwood's Mystic River, and its look at a Maine village harboring secrets invites comparisons to the work of Stephen King. But directors Bridget Savage Cole and Danielle Krudy employ an off-kilter style that sets this story apart, balancing rigid visual formalism with weird flourishes, including cutaways to some mystical longshoremen singing acapella sea shanties. ♦