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Writer-director Elisa Amoruso offers Bella Thorne the best of both worlds

Time is Up, Measure of Revenge, and In a New York Minute

Time is Up: Bella Thorne on a bicycle built for short skirts and handbrake-gnawing lunch hooks.
Time is Up: Bella Thorne on a bicycle built for short skirts and handbrake-gnawing lunch hooks.

This week brings a twofer from your friendly neighborhood Bella Thorne completist: Time is Up and Measure of Revenge. Plus a surprise bonus!

Time is Up (2021)

Swim team contender Roy (Benjamin Mascolo) secretly pines for quantum physics scholar Vivien (Bella Thorne), who’s in a relationship with star backstroker Steve (Sebastiano Pigazzi), who in turn spends an awful lot of time after practice showering with Coach Dylan (Nikolay Moss). Once paved with good girl romances (Midnight Sun, ​​I Still See You), Thorne’s career path soon hit a fork that led in the direction of action films that placed our attitudinally forbidding star in full revenge mode. Writer-director Elisa Amoruso offers Thorne the best of both worlds, but not for long. It takes 20 minutes for her to ditch the good-girl facade, as she begins alternating between hits of vodka and hits off a joint. Not only does Roy not tell Viv about Steve and the coach, Steve doesn’t inform Dylan of what Roy saw. If we learned anything from Where the Boys Are, it’s that nothing clears the air like a second act car crash and the temporary amnesia it affords. Scenes of inevitable parental interference are just what you’d expect, while the chemistry between Thorne and real-life paramour Mascolo (think Ryan Seacrest after winning a lifetime supply of tattoos in one payout) spice things up — up to a point. Covering all bases, the dialogue skews R, but the sex scenes are positively PG-13. ★★

Measure of Revenge (2022)

Fans of Norma Desmond, Myrtle Gordon, Baby Jane Hudson, Dunaway Dearest and their ilk may want to check out Lillian Cooper, Melissa Leo’s elucidation of theatrical delirium, in this unexpectedly entertaining psycho-thriller. She’s not the first actress hired to chalk out a fictionalized actress’s slow descent into madness. Nor is she the best (see the above mentioned characters). That doesn’t stop the veteran performer from using every muscle in her face to tamp down the rage as a mother looking for the parties responsible for supplying her son Curtis (Jake Weary) and his girlfriend Olivia (Jasmine Carmichael) ​​with their final doses. Standing graveside, Lillian guilts his friends into giving up the name of his supplier. She recruits the aid of Taz (Bella Thorne, in her most conventional role to date), the pusher/photographer and rival for Curtis’ affection, who hooks Lillian up with the names of three guys who move designer drugs through the city. Lillian then maps out a plan to rent a centrally-located theatre and stage a revival of Macbeth that promises to be her farewell performance. She kills, not only on stage but also during intermission, using the brief abeyance to slip out of the theatre and do away with a couple of nogoodniks. Not only does Leo’s Lillian emote to the rafters, the character provides the actress with a chance to incorporate Hester Prynne, Lady Macbeth, Hamlet’s Ghost, and Hedda Gabler into her performance. Even though all this leads to a killer curtain shot, by allowing Lillian’s dramatis personae to drive the bus, director Peyfa becomes a prisoner of his own hubris. I came to have a Thorne placed in my paw and wound up being suckered in by the madness of Queen Leo. Not for everyone, but given the choice between this and another comic book movie — or worse, a Downton Abbey sequel — I’m sticking with Thorne and Leo. ★★

In a New York Minute (2019)

You didn’t really think I was going to close out a column devoted to the films of Bela Thorne with a review of the Olsen Twins’ third and final theatrical release, did you? What a difference an “In” makes. Three women share the same city: Amy (Amy Chang), a culinary arts critic who can keep food down; Angel (Yi Liu), a happily cheating, unhappily married, and undeniably pregnant actress; and Nina (Celia Au), a young prostitute questioning whether or not to chuck the world’s oldest profession in exchange for romantic stability. What is it that unites them in a common cause? An early pregnancy test stick. The first 20 minutes or so pass as they would in any alarmingly routine romcom. Amy, a food editor whose job it is to eat, one day finds herself repulsed at the thought of food. Her shrink blames the sudden loss of appetite on the trauma surrounding a recent break up. It doesn’t help that the presence of Peter (Jae Shin), a stalker-creepy co-worker perpetually on the make, makes her vomit uncontrollably. (The motivation behind Peter’s eagerness to get hitched is genuinely cringeworthy.) Add to that a mother who literally makes herself sick at the thought of having an unattached 40-year-old daughter and... It’s during one of Peter’s numerous food deliveries — he insists on cooking for the nauseous epicurean — that his decision to poke his head out Amy’s window for a smoke results in a shower of cinders, thanks to a neighbor littering the street below with the contents of an ashtray. The manner in which it’s staged could either indicate a first-time filmmaker oblivious to the concept of coverage or a writer-director skilled in the art of purposefully subtle foreshadowing. Some directors use coincidence as a crutch; for her debut feature, Ximan Li treats happenstance as a force of nature, harnessing it as one would the hectic pace of a city. Rather than approach the material as one might an Agatha Christie whodunit, Li takes time to stop and savor the mysteries of cinema, never once talking down to her audience. And how can one not love a film that arrives at the epiphanic conclusion, “It’s men like you that make me thankful I’m a lesbian.” Available on digital from Gravitas Ventures.★★★★

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Potato Chip Rock, The Barn, Barona Drags, Oasis Camel Dairy, the Turkey Inn, goat yoga

Reader writer's mash note to Ramona
Time is Up: Bella Thorne on a bicycle built for short skirts and handbrake-gnawing lunch hooks.
Time is Up: Bella Thorne on a bicycle built for short skirts and handbrake-gnawing lunch hooks.

This week brings a twofer from your friendly neighborhood Bella Thorne completist: Time is Up and Measure of Revenge. Plus a surprise bonus!

Time is Up (2021)

Swim team contender Roy (Benjamin Mascolo) secretly pines for quantum physics scholar Vivien (Bella Thorne), who’s in a relationship with star backstroker Steve (Sebastiano Pigazzi), who in turn spends an awful lot of time after practice showering with Coach Dylan (Nikolay Moss). Once paved with good girl romances (Midnight Sun, ​​I Still See You), Thorne’s career path soon hit a fork that led in the direction of action films that placed our attitudinally forbidding star in full revenge mode. Writer-director Elisa Amoruso offers Thorne the best of both worlds, but not for long. It takes 20 minutes for her to ditch the good-girl facade, as she begins alternating between hits of vodka and hits off a joint. Not only does Roy not tell Viv about Steve and the coach, Steve doesn’t inform Dylan of what Roy saw. If we learned anything from Where the Boys Are, it’s that nothing clears the air like a second act car crash and the temporary amnesia it affords. Scenes of inevitable parental interference are just what you’d expect, while the chemistry between Thorne and real-life paramour Mascolo (think Ryan Seacrest after winning a lifetime supply of tattoos in one payout) spice things up — up to a point. Covering all bases, the dialogue skews R, but the sex scenes are positively PG-13. ★★

Measure of Revenge (2022)

Fans of Norma Desmond, Myrtle Gordon, Baby Jane Hudson, Dunaway Dearest and their ilk may want to check out Lillian Cooper, Melissa Leo’s elucidation of theatrical delirium, in this unexpectedly entertaining psycho-thriller. She’s not the first actress hired to chalk out a fictionalized actress’s slow descent into madness. Nor is she the best (see the above mentioned characters). That doesn’t stop the veteran performer from using every muscle in her face to tamp down the rage as a mother looking for the parties responsible for supplying her son Curtis (Jake Weary) and his girlfriend Olivia (Jasmine Carmichael) ​​with their final doses. Standing graveside, Lillian guilts his friends into giving up the name of his supplier. She recruits the aid of Taz (Bella Thorne, in her most conventional role to date), the pusher/photographer and rival for Curtis’ affection, who hooks Lillian up with the names of three guys who move designer drugs through the city. Lillian then maps out a plan to rent a centrally-located theatre and stage a revival of Macbeth that promises to be her farewell performance. She kills, not only on stage but also during intermission, using the brief abeyance to slip out of the theatre and do away with a couple of nogoodniks. Not only does Leo’s Lillian emote to the rafters, the character provides the actress with a chance to incorporate Hester Prynne, Lady Macbeth, Hamlet’s Ghost, and Hedda Gabler into her performance. Even though all this leads to a killer curtain shot, by allowing Lillian’s dramatis personae to drive the bus, director Peyfa becomes a prisoner of his own hubris. I came to have a Thorne placed in my paw and wound up being suckered in by the madness of Queen Leo. Not for everyone, but given the choice between this and another comic book movie — or worse, a Downton Abbey sequel — I’m sticking with Thorne and Leo. ★★

In a New York Minute (2019)

You didn’t really think I was going to close out a column devoted to the films of Bela Thorne with a review of the Olsen Twins’ third and final theatrical release, did you? What a difference an “In” makes. Three women share the same city: Amy (Amy Chang), a culinary arts critic who can keep food down; Angel (Yi Liu), a happily cheating, unhappily married, and undeniably pregnant actress; and Nina (Celia Au), a young prostitute questioning whether or not to chuck the world’s oldest profession in exchange for romantic stability. What is it that unites them in a common cause? An early pregnancy test stick. The first 20 minutes or so pass as they would in any alarmingly routine romcom. Amy, a food editor whose job it is to eat, one day finds herself repulsed at the thought of food. Her shrink blames the sudden loss of appetite on the trauma surrounding a recent break up. It doesn’t help that the presence of Peter (Jae Shin), a stalker-creepy co-worker perpetually on the make, makes her vomit uncontrollably. (The motivation behind Peter’s eagerness to get hitched is genuinely cringeworthy.) Add to that a mother who literally makes herself sick at the thought of having an unattached 40-year-old daughter and... It’s during one of Peter’s numerous food deliveries — he insists on cooking for the nauseous epicurean — that his decision to poke his head out Amy’s window for a smoke results in a shower of cinders, thanks to a neighbor littering the street below with the contents of an ashtray. The manner in which it’s staged could either indicate a first-time filmmaker oblivious to the concept of coverage or a writer-director skilled in the art of purposefully subtle foreshadowing. Some directors use coincidence as a crutch; for her debut feature, Ximan Li treats happenstance as a force of nature, harnessing it as one would the hectic pace of a city. Rather than approach the material as one might an Agatha Christie whodunit, Li takes time to stop and savor the mysteries of cinema, never once talking down to her audience. And how can one not love a film that arrives at the epiphanic conclusion, “It’s men like you that make me thankful I’m a lesbian.” Available on digital from Gravitas Ventures.★★★★

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