Indie spotlight: ‘All the Boys Love Mandy Lane’ and ‘CBGB’

Amber Heard is on the run from a homicidal maniac in the belatedly released "All the Boys Love Mandy Lane." Credit: RADiUS-TWC
Amber Heard is on the run from a homicidal maniac in the belatedly released “All the Boys Love Mandy Lane.”
Credit: RADiUS-TWC

‘All the Boys Love Mandy Lane’
2 (out of 5) Globes
Director Jonathan Levine’s slight twist on a “Friday the 13th”-style slasher first hit the festival circuit in 2006. In that time Levine has directed three big features (including “50/50” and “Warm Bodies”) and its star, Amber Heard, has become a moderate name. (She’s among the overpacked ensemble distracting attention from Danny Trejo in “Machete Kills.”) Distribution woes (some of them predictably Harvey Weinstein-related) have turned this into a cause celebre, a state it’s too feeble to live up to. Heard plays a high school junior (current age: 27) who’s gone from wallflower to hottie. Suddenly she has the attention of the jocks and Heathers types, and a weekend retreat to a cabin for booze and drugs leads to the gang being dispatched one by one by a mysterious stranger. The look is prettier than most slashers, but the first hour and change are little more than boilerplate gorefest with a mild and superficial indie sheen. The third act twist is what’s made this one’s inflated reputation, but it’s what makes this more risible than a mere genre entry. [SPOILERS COMMENCE] Levine has shown problems with female characters in his other films, and this one’s no different. As in “The Wackness” and the Bryce Dallas Howard subplot of “50/50,” women are seen as duplicitous monsters who betray sensitive boys who thought they were doing the right thing. Even when it’s just killing popular kids off, “Mandy Lane” appears to have something under its sleeve. Turns out that something is not something good.

Rupert Grint goes punk in the docudrama "CBGB." Credit: Beau Giann
Rupert Grint goes punk in the docudrama “CBGB.”
Credit: Beau Giann

‘CBGB’
1 out of 5 Globes

The nightclub designed to play country, bluegrass and blues that instead helped birth the punk and New Wave movements gets the biopic it in no way deserves. But instead of a cornfest, “CBGB” is worse: a broad comedy that gravitates towards the filth and muck and aberrant behavior, but with no feel for the music and especially for casting. Alan Rickman is an inspired outside-the-box choice for owner Hilly Kristal, depicted as a sour malcontent terminally unimpressed with the future legends he’d nonetheless book. (“I bet they stink,” Kristal growls upon hearing about Television, before adding, “but maybe if they perform they’ll get better.”) There’s little attempt to rectify Kristal’s pissiness with his sudden, never-explained fits of warmth, even if Rickman tries his best to smooth over the jagged edges. But there’s not much of a story here, nor even much of a character arc, and all that leaves is miscast actors badly playing famous musicians while poorly lip-synching not to live recordings but the actual record tracks themselves. (The nobody playing David Byrne does it without personality, though Rupert Grint does his best butt tattooed punk as the Dead Boys’ Cheetah Chrome.) Director Randall Miller (“Bottle Shock,” “Nobel Son”) tries to pep things up with endless filth and animated comic panels for no reason. It’s “24 Hour Party People” without the wit and definitely without the love of the music it pretends to lionize.


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