african-american directors series/film fatales #180: nanny (nikyatu jusu, 2022)
music friday: richard davis

geezer cinema/film fatales #181: bottoms (emma seligman, 2023)

Emma Seligman and Rachel Sennott are building a base for the kind of teamwork we associate with greats like Scorsese and DeNiro. OK, that's a stretch and I know it, but writer/director Seligman and writer/actor Sennott go back to their days at NYU (where they also met Ayo Edebiri, Sennott's co-star in Bottoms), and the two made a short, Shiva Baby, that became Seligman's first feature. One imagines the three women helping to create a work together that benefits from their very real camaraderie.

The setup for Bottoms makes perfect sense ... before it was made, there was nothing quite like it, but now it's only surprising that it took this long. There are antecedents  ... it's not like there have never been gross-out comedies about teens. But putting a queer focus at the center of the film gives a new feel, and makes those antecedents seem a bit passé. And Bottoms is unafraid to "go there" ... the IMDB Parents Guide notes the level of "surprisingly bloody violence throughout the movie, although all of it is played for laughs", and it would seem that Bottoms is one of the rare movies that earns its "R" rating more for violence than for sex. The key is that it is indeed "played for laughs". The best comparison for me is to Heathers, although that film tried harder to make its subtext into text. (Wynona Ryder in Heathers saying the memorable line "my teen-angst bullshit now has a body count" could be true for Bottoms as well if Seligman and co. weren't having too much fun making it happen). Both films offer a version of high school that is recognizable but exaggerated to great effect.

The fine work by the three women is expected at this point, but the performances of the rest of the cast bring some newer faces to the front. There's Ruby Cruz, daughter of former child star Brandon Cruz, in her feature debut, and model Kaia Gerber (daughter of Cindy Crawford), and Havana Rose Liu, and especially Marshawn Lynch, known as Beast Mode in his years in the NFL, who somehow fits right in (this list could be much longer).

Bottoms isn't perfect. It's all over the place, and not everything hits the target. But you're having too much fun as you are watching to worry about such things.


Verify your Comment

Previewing your Comment

This is only a preview. Your comment has not yet been posted.

Your comment could not be posted. Error type:
Your comment has been posted. Post another comment

The letters and numbers you entered did not match the image. Please try again.

As a final step before posting your comment, enter the letters and numbers you see in the image below. This prevents automated programs from posting comments.

Having trouble reading this image? View an alternate.


Post a comment

Your Information

(Name is required. Email address will not be displayed with the comment.)