The rare coming-of-age tale to put nascent female sexuality on display without moralizing or equivocating, first time director Jannicke Jacobsen's Turn Me On, Dammit! subversively suggests that the fastest way to grow up isn't to give up, it's to masturbate wildly.
Trapped with few allies in the terminally dull small town in Norway where she lives with her mother, sexually switched-on teen Alma spends most of her time fantasizing about boys… and men …and girls. With her hormones raging, pretty much everyone is fodder for her fevered libido, and the phone sex bills are piling up.
The focus of most of Alma's fantasies is her schoolmate Artur, a quiet but nice-looking boy in her class. After a surprising encounter at a party with Artur which the latter roundly denies, Alma is ostracized by her fellow students, garnering the unfortunate nickname "Dick-Alma" in the process. Even her best friend Sara, whose personal approach to their shared desire to grow up and out is decidedly less Porky's and more Ghost World (she even looks a bit like Thora Birch's stoic Enid), contains her support to secret summits at the bus stop that doubles as their clubhouse.
There's room for a great deal of politicking about the way boys tend to go through this kind of experience in groups, while Alma, a girl, suffers it very much alone, but director Jacobsen is too smart to linger there, instead remaining inside Alma's head with her as she daydreams through her days while those about fret over what's "wrong" with her. Populated with a cast of believable supporting characters and straightforward cinematography that benefits the film's dry humor and frank fantasy sequences, the Tribeca award-winning film is an uncomplicated pleasure at its short running time of 78 minutes. The inclusion of a few choice tunes by Simon-and-Garfunkel-worshipping fellow countrymen The Kings of Convenience doesn't hurt either. Plays at Opera Plaza Cinemas, 601 Van Ness, (415) 267-4893.
Also playing this week:
Found Memories - This SFIFF standout is a slow burn to be sure, but one that rewards the patient viewer with meaningful look at a rustic culture on the edge of oblivion. Set in the bygone world of agrarian coffee capital Jotuomba, Brazil, Found Memories treads similar ground to 2007 award-magnet Silent Light, but subtracts some of that film's cagey preciousness and adds a point of entry--a young photographer named Rita who acts as a stand-in for viewers. Plays at Film Society Cinema, 1746 Post St @ Webster, 415-525-8000.
Invisible War - Kirby Dick's scathing documentation of the alarmingly high incidence of unreported rape in the US Military is the kind of compelling, combustable journalism that once found its home on programs like 60 Minutes but now is strangely absent from television's journalistic landscape. Not for the faint-hearted as it is, popular recognition of the film hinges on the outside bet that if the subjects can brave the unblinking eye of the camera to tell their stories, audiences can muster the bravery to watch. AMC Metreon 16, 101 4th Street, 415-369-6166.
Ultrasonic - Director/star/editor/cinematographer/musician Rohit Colin Rao's micro-budget black and white conspiracy yarn doesn't quite live up to its obvious aspirations to be the next Pi, but it's a treat to see a small budget work executed so well. In the past they might have said "What will he do next?" but with today's critical outlook we're led to wonder if we'll see him again at all. Definitely a wind-up worth watching for the paranoid type. Plays at Roxie Theater, 3117 16th St @ Valencia, 415-863-1087.