Cinema Review: Hellaware | Under the Radar - Music Magazine
Monday, March 30th, 2020  


Studio: Factory 25
Directed by Michael M. Bilandic

Sep 24, 2014 Web Exclusive
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After his girlfriend dumps him for a more successful (but hackier) artist, Nate (Keith Poulson) sets out to find his own success in the art world. When he stumbles upon a mind-bogglingly offensive music video for Young Torture Killaz’s not-quite-hit single, “I’ll Cut Yo Dick Off”, he knows he’s found his in. Nate and his pal Bernadette (Sophia Takal, in a lovely turn as probably the most levelheaded and relatable character in the film) set off for rural Delaware to penetrate and document an undiscovered subculture. Instead, they find a few restless Purple Drank-chugging teens done up to look like the Insane Clown Posse. Although they spend most of their time in their parents’ basement in the middle of nowhere, the band’s energy and dedication charm Nate and he finds exactly what he needs to take the Brooklyn art world by storm. However, it’s Nate’s nonexistent moral compass and utter willingness to sell out that get him in over his head and threaten to ruin the success that he kinda, sorta worked hard to achieve.

Hellaware is one of the most original entries into the popular genre of films and television that parody and critique the increasingly commodified and insufferable New York art scene. Familiar stereotypes abound: the circular-sunglass wearing French curator who is looking to exploit as many parties as possible while selling overpriced art; the tragically hip hangers-on; the overeducated artists who parrot clichés picked up in grad school. We’ve seen this before and after a while it gets tedious. Nate isn’t very likable and his disaffected indifference is too one-note to carry the film. But just as the pace starts to lag, the debauched and violent energy of the Young Torture Killaz saves the day and rescues the film from becoming just another aimless mumblecore movie with its final - predictable but nonetheless hilarious - punch line. Despite covering some well-worn territory, Hellaware feels fresh and manages to offer the same old criticism without the same old self-seriousness.

Author rating: 6.5/10

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