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“I Saw the TV Glow” & “The Sales Girl”

“I Saw the TV Glow”

Sometimes, when I reflect on my adolescence, it's hard to capture the ephemeral joy I felt watching my favorite TV shows. Whether it was “Roundhouse”, “Are You Afraid of the Dark?”, “The Secret World of Alex Mack”, or “The Adventures of Pete & Pete”, I felt a deep connection to those stories and longed to live in those magical and sometimes ominous worlds. Growing up in the suburbs of Houston and later Denver, however, I often felt a palpable sense of disappointment and disconnection from my surroundings.

I've never seen a film capture that feeling authentically until Jane Schoenbrun's *I Saw the TV Glow*. Schoenbrun, who directed one of my favorite films of 2022, “We're All Going to the World's Fair.”

“I Saw the TV Glow” stars Justice Smith as Owen, a teenager who feels alienated from their parents, school, and the world around them. Everything changes when they meet Maddy, a classmate who introduces Owen to an obscure supernatural teen show called “The Pink Opaque”. This show is an amalgamation of many of the series I mentioned earlier, and honestly I would have been a huge fan of that show if it were real.

The film exists in a surreal world, it’s absolutely devastating and yet, it somehow captures the same feeling I had preparing my ordering a pizza, and preparing my snacks for an amazing night of watching. Whether with friends or alone, that experience is something I often try to recreate as an adult, but it’s never as satisfying as I remember. Or maybe it's just the haze of nostalgia coloring my memories of the perfect Saturday night watching SNICK.

“I Saw the TV Glow” might not appeal to everyone, but it resonated deeply with me. It's a film about watching, getting lost in stories, and the relentless passage of time, hurdling us forward while we drown in its indifference. It emphasizes the importance of being true to oneself and the connections we make that help us feel more like us.

Schoenbrun explores these themes through a specific queer lens, making the story feel both personal to their experience, while remaining universal to anyone who’s experienced alienation. I left the film feeling incredibly sad, but also feeling seen, with a newfound urgency to live authentically, create more art, and connect with those around me. After all, our time on this earth is limited. Eventually, the show ends, and what remains are the memories we create and the impressions we leave on others.

”I Saw the TV Glow” is now playing at The Alamo Drafthouse & Film Streams.

“The Sales Girl”

A woman walking down the street and listening to music throws a banana peel towards a trash can. She misses, but doesn’t notice and continues walking. This seemingly insignificant act sets off a chain of events that ultimately impacts a young student in Mongolia named Saruul, who is studying to become a nuclear engineer, a career chosen by her parents, but her true passion lies in painting.

When Saruul's best friend can no longer work at an adult store due to unforeseen circumstances, she asks her to cover for her. Suruul, who is shy and inexperienced in romantic relationships, reluctantly agrees. She finds herself thrust into a world she is not entirely comfortable with but is open to exploring.

At the store, she meets the owner, a retired Korean actress and dancer. They form a bond that blossoms into a beautiful friendship, providing her with a safe space to discover herself as a woman, adventurer, and artist.

I loved the film because, while it navigates the familiar territory of coming-of-age stories, it brings a fresh perspective. Each time I thought I knew where the plot was heading, it surprised me with something more natural and honest. The film is deeply grounded, yet it includes scenes of heightened, almost musical reality. These moments occur when Saruul, wearing her noise-canceling headphones, lets the music transport her to a place where she feels safe and can freely explore her creative side, but it can also contribute to her isolation.

The film is beautifully shot, with pacing that I found captivating. The music, a well-curated collection of post-punk and shoegaze, perfectly complements the narrative and adds to the emotional depth.

This film is a must watch, take the time to seek it out!

The Sales Girl is available on June 11th from Film Movement.

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Joshua LaBure is a documentary filmmaker, radio producer and podcaster based out of Omaha, Nebraska. His experience includes having directed and produced several short films, two narrative features and two documentary features, with his works featured at the Lone Star Film Festival, The Bureau of Creative Works and other filmmaker showcases. His most recent documentary had a sold-out premiere and received a standing ovation at the Benson Theatre. Furthermore, he founded the Denver Filmmakers Collective, which hosted local filmmaker showcases, has served on jury for major film festivals and has hosted countless film screenings.
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