She Dies Tomorrow
*** Amy (Kate Lyn Sheil) knows for a fact that she's going to die tomorrow. She's seen things. Heard things. She knows. Obviously, her best friend Jane (Jane Adams) doesn't believe her at first. But then Jane begins having the same ominous visions. Now, Jane knows for a fact that she's going to die tomorrow. As does Jane's brother (Chris Messina), and his wife, and her friends, etc., etc. In most mainstream thrillers, we'd probably see the characters team up to fight death, but writer-director Amy Seimetz is detached from narrative convention, and her kaleidoscopic sophomore feature is, honestly, a lot less thrilling than it sounds. This is by no means a negative—it's contemplative and challenging, harnessing dread from the fatal contagion of existentialist-fueled anxiety. In Seimetz's neon-soaked world, death is a natural process, something to resign to instead of futilely resist. Though some viewers may find the aimless ambiguity baffling, this is a film to fully feel with all senses—to marinate in—rather than agonize over the intentional lack of logic and answers. Anxiety itself is often irrational, so this is Seimetz's impressionistic response to that all-too-ubiquitous frustration. Embrace it. R. MIA VICINO. Google Play.
*** Politics makes strange bedfellows, and as the new VOD release Boys State showcases, large-scale political simulations bring about some weird-ass dormmates. The documentary from Jesse Moss and Amanda McBaine, the married couple behind 2014's Sundance-winning The Overnighters, follows an engaging quartet—Reagan-obsessed double-amputee Ben, loquacious Chicago expat Rene, hunky silver-spooner Robert, and progressive Mexican American Steven—among the 1,100 teens invited to participate in Texas' 78th annual Boys State. Remarkably, apart from some sneering glimpses of a young Dick Cheney, Rush Limbaugh and other members of the literal old boys' club, the camera rarely stops to relish the scenes of future policy wonks at the peak of teenage awkwardness. Considering that the documentary opens with a George Washington quote warning us about the tyranny of political parties, and features spliced footage of a raccoon sifting through garbage, the filmmakers appear helplessly drawn to the nihilist joys of rooting on participants as they fashion fake platforms to sell fake campaigns for fake governorship in a manner that is troublingly real. And while Robert's exceedingly electable brand of swagger is surely intended as a cautionary tale, there's no reason why natural charisma should be any worse a qualification for leadership than instinctive talents for demagoguery or manipulation. Even if this game isn't rigged, the best players feel inherently suspect, nevertheless. PG-13. JAY HORTON. AppleTV+.