“Everything I Wanted to Know About Growing Up,

There’s a heap of conflicting viewpoints when it comes to Alan Ball’s latest film, Towelhead. An adaptation of the novel by Alicia Erian, the most recent portal into suburban decay forged by Ball (American Beauty, Six Feet Under) premiered at the 2007 Toronto Film Festival and won acclaim from some for its unapologetic frankness (read: a 13-year-old Lebanese girl shaving her pubic hair, being called horrid racial slurs, and getting molested by her charismatic-yet-creepy vet neighbor), while others called that frankness a turgid attempt at shock value that just comes off as exploitative (well, something like that). Wrote one such critic, TheReeler.com’s S.T. VanAirsdale, “Think of it like Todd Solondz remaking Crash in a cul-de-sac, but with twice the tampons and a quarter of the self-respect.”

So, do you want to see Towelhead yet? Well, here are some reasons why you might: Ball is continuing down the path he began with the Oscar-winning American Beauty, which was praised for the same kind of candid look at desperate people in middle America who do desperate things. Towelhead is also a coming-of-age film, so aside from the pedophilia and unflinching scenes of teenage masturbation, it’s supposed to be a funny and insightful look at girls becoming women. Ehhh. And, ah, what else… “It” guy of the moment Aaron Eckhart co-stars! Cool? OK! Masochists looking for a fix can get thyselves to Sunrise Cinemas Gateway (1820 E. Sunrise Blvd., Fort Lauderdale) Friday through Wednesday. Tickets cost $9. For showtimes call 954-763-7994, or visit www.sunrisecinemas.com.
Sept. 29-Oct. 2, 2008

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John Linn