Tag Archives: Bella Thorne

Move Over Batman, There’s a New Vengeance in Town

Measure of Revenge

by Christie Robb

Life imitates art when famous Broadway tragedian, Lillian Cooper’s rock star son and his pregnant girlfriend die of an apparent drug overdose. Or is it murder?

Inspired by intrusive thoughts of revenge that manifest as visions of famous characters Lillian has portrayed on stage, the heartbroken mother stalks the streets of New York searching for those responsible and hatching a plot to make them pay for their misdeeds.

Along the way, Lillian (Melissa Leo) joins forces with young photographer/drug dealer, Taz (Bella Thorne) whose motivations may not be entirely transparent.

Like a stage performance, first-time director Peyfa’s Measure of Revenge can lean a bit toward the histrionic—sudden, jarring discordant tones of the score; dialogue that runs backward when Lillian is having a tough time emotionally; characters literally rending their clothes in grief.

But it’s a clever film, a mystery that isn’t entirely linear with an ending that doesn’t tie itself up in a neat little bow. You gotta work for the resolution and there’s room for debate (and some discussion about how forensic evidence could probably play a greater role in the fate of at least one character).

However, the film may spend too much time on its theatrical gimmick to the detriment of character development. This is especially true of the dead son and those who may have been motivated to do him wrong. 

Academy Award-winner Leo (The Fighter) is magnetic, showing an incredible range—from bubbly anticipatory delight at seeing her son return from a successful rehab stint through to wrathful avenging angel. And along the way, we are treated to snippets of some of the greatest tragic characters of all time—Hester Prynne, Hedda Gabler, Lady Macbeth, and Hamlet’s Ghost among them.

Sister Christian


by Hope Madden

Bella Thorne is the best thing about writer/director Janell Shirtcliff’s zany thriller Habit. When is that ever a good sign?

Thorne plays Mads, a Jesus-loving Texan transplanted to Hollywood’s underbelly to be with her two hometown besties Evie (co-writer Libby Mintz) and Addy (Andreja Pejic). Mads really loves Jesus. Like in an entirely unwholesome way.

But that’s the least of her problems after Evie’s one night stand makes off with all the drugs and money the girls are holding for Eric (Gavin Rossdale).

This movie tries so hard to be Tarantino by way of John Waters and it fails so absolutely that it gets credit for commitment. What it lacks is inspiration—Shirtcliff’s odyssey requires that we be shocked by Mads’s behavior, surprised by the stilted lunacy of her pursuers, and weirdly drawn into her unseemly world.

The fact that none of it feels especially wild, or that the pursuers lack originality and panache, takes a backseat to the film’s lacking cinematic quality. Individual scenes have no structure – they drag, most of them missing purpose, punchline or punch.

Nothing feels especially taboo, and that’s a problem because without any real “wild” in these antics, you find yourself paying attention to the writing or, worse still, the acting. Rossdale has a tough time developing a character, partly because there’s no telling whether to like or dislike Eric.

Shirtcliff and Mintz have no idea what to do with the real villains, Queenie (Josie Ho) and Tuff (Jamie Hince). The filmmakers dress them up like something out of Pee-wee’s Playhouse, but their villainy is sloppy and suspect.

Habit plays like a film made by people who really liked David Lynch’s Wild at Heart, Tony Scott’s True Romance, and everything John Waters ever made, but had no real idea what they liked about it. The result is a mishmash of borrowed ideas, none of them interesting enough to merit the label subversive.



by George Wolf

Arielle (Bella Thorne) is bumming. She’s got a crap waitressing job in a boring Florida town, and she’s way over living with her mom and her mom’s creepy boyfriend. And too many people pronounce her name like the Disney princess! But that’s not the nearly the worst of it.

Her Instagram numbers are pathetic.

Enter a hunky new bad boy in town named Dean (Jake Manley), a gun, and a string of brazen robberies along the route to a new life in Hollywood, and those followers start piling up.

The news reports begin branding the couple as a modern day Bonnie and Clyde, but it’s clear early on that what writer/director Joshua Caldwell has in mind is a Natural Born Killers for the social media set.

While the film’s timing – dropping right when we are seeing social media push overdue social change – isn’t great, its goal is an ambitious one. The internet age still seems ripe for the type of darkly comic and satirical fish eye that Oliver Stone used to frame mass media in 1994. And no matter how well you think that film has aged, you can’t deny the boldness of the vision.

There’s nothing remotely fresh about Infamous, let alone bold. The last straw catalyst for leaving town, the sex while driving, the media obsession and the misplaced adulation of the masses all line up and fall as easily as the next robbery.

About an hour in, Arielle and Dean take a hostage (Glee’s Amber Riley with a nice, understated turn) and it seems Caldwell is finally trying to make his own statement. But it stalls from exposition and generality, leading nowhere close to the intersection where Stone planted his flag, one where the film’s true commentary transcends the style and narrative.

And there is style here. Caldwell gives much of the action an urgent pace and a livestream feel, with texts and comments often darting the frame to remind you where Arielle’s heart is.

But she, and Dean, are more cliche than character, and what they tell us about social media isn’t much deeper. The interchangeable, angst-heavy soundtrack choices only confirm that Infamous isn’t reaching beyond these two outlaw lovers, and the youngest of adult audiences may actually identify with them for all the wrong reasons.