Archive for the ‘Comedy’ Category

1001 Grams2014 has been a very good year for Norwegian cinema on the international festival circuit. In February, a pair of exports from this Scandinavian nation attracted favorable attention at the Berlinale, where Kraftidioten (In Order of Disappearance) appeared in the Competition division and Blind played in the Panorama program. This fall has seen 1001 Grams garner comparable praise after showings in Toronto and London. The three films share an engaging sense of quirkiness in the writing, ultra-professional and understated acting, clean, crisp cinematography, and terrifically paced and assured directing. (more…)

self-madeIf you are fortunate enough to have the opportunity to see Self Made – a pleasure limited to attendees at a number of film festivals, including the London Film Festival, since the movie’s premiere at Cannes earlier this year – do not be mislead by the one-sentence teaser description that often accompanies a showing. Self Made is not a mere comedy of mixed identities between an Israeli and a Palestinian. This is no Freaky Friday for the Middle East, where two women develop a mutual appreciation by walking a mile, or standing in line at a checkpoint for half a day, in the other’s shoes. Self Made is not a fairy tale, nor does it offer a magic wand solution for peace in this most troubled of regions. (more…)

R100Do you remember the old Bugs Bunny cartoons where it looked like Bugs was trapped, but he would pull out a can of paint and a brush, paint a door, and then escape through it? Hitoshi Matsumoto employs a similar device each time his movie, R100, is in danger of running into a dead end. Matsumoto simply changes the rules, not to mention the genre, and his madcap characters crash through the newly drawn door and veer off in another direction. For viewers willing to sit back and enjoy the ride without giving a whit about the destination, R100 is a blast of originality and a poke in the eye of the, at times, too staid Japanese film industry. (more…)

HollidaysburgThe Chair is a reality show airing on the Starz channel. Two aspiring filmmakers have been given funding and provided with the same script and shooting location (Pittsburgh). Their films – Not Cool and Hollidaysburg – were released on iTunes on September 23.

Hollywood (and we’ll use Hollywood as shorthand for American filmmakers) has an ongoing struggle with the portrayal of teens in movies. While audiences are accustomed to actors in their late (and later than that) twenties squeezing into teen roles like a pair of too-tight pants, they expect, at a minimum, for the behavior and situations to be representative of what they perceived to be commonplace for those on the cusp of adulthood. When that does not happen, it is difficult for the movie to succeed. Anna Martemucci’s new film, Hollidaysburg, fails to convey a convincing portrait of teenagers returning to their small western Pennsylvania town during Thanksgiving break of their freshman year at college, and this failure overshadows much of the good work contained in her effort. (more…)

not-coolThe Chair is a reality show airing on the Starz channel. Two aspiring filmmakers have been given funding and provided with the same script and shooting location (Pittsburgh). Their films – Not Cool and Hollidaysburg – were released on iTunes on September 23.

At some point, broad comedy is like baseball – it all comes down to the batting average. If your aim is to toss out a joke every two or three minutes, you better hit more than you miss if you want to keep your fans happy, particularly when your misses are complete whiffs, not only unfunny, but offensive. Good news for rookie Shane Dawson: he hits well over .500 in his debut project, Not Cool. Despite an affinity for the most literal elements of potty humor and his stubborn clinging to the mistaken notion that a young woman being vomited on is a source of amusement rather than disgust, Dawson delivers in the clutch in this National Lampoon-style look at college kids back home in Pittsburgh for Thanksgiving break. (more…)

The VoicesThe Voices is the type of movie you root for.

If you see a lot of films and are disappointed by far too many of them, you savor the hidden gem, the flick tucked away in the schedule of a film festival, the one without a trailer, with only a faint whispered positive word-of-mouth. Generally, you’re hooked from the first scene as the director invites you into a corner of the world you’ve often walked by, but never entered. Once inside this director’s world, you don’t want to leave. That’s a telling sign for this type of movie. Unlike so many films produced today, there overlooked treasures seem to end too quickly. You enter the theater as a jaundiced viewer; you leave as a cheerleader, hoping that the film will find its audience.


TheZeroTheoremA unique pleasure awaits in the not-too-distant future for a film archivist or critic or festival organizer charged with organizing the definitive Terry Gilliam retrospective. The body of work he has amassed to date has already established Gilliam as a historically significant figure in cinema. With each subsequent release that begins with the placard “A Terry Gilliam Film,” his legacy expands. We know his vision: the steampunk designs of modern society strangling itself on ducts and tubes, cathode ray technology, and soul-sucking workplaces populated with mid-level drones assigned to tasks of mindless repetition. Outside, the infrastructure is crumbling, the cacophony of post-modern life is numbing, and the individual is targeted for extinction. The only escape is fantasy and women and a fantasy woman that exists only as long as one can whisper the word, “Hope.” (more…)

Hector-And-The-Search-For-HappinessHector and the Search for Happiness  fancies itself a comedy, a drama, an action movie, and a travelogue, but the film fails in each of the genres, revealing itself to be nothing more than an awful little film about one uninteresting man’s mid-life crisis. Wrapped in pretension with a bow of psuedo-self help nonsense and delivered by a squandered all-star cast, Hector is a two-hour illustration of vapidness without even a hint of a redeeming satirical sense. It is a cyncical, clumsy, excruciating exercise in failed manipulation without a single genuine moment.

The critique of Hector as comedy is simple: it is not funny. As a drama, it lacks characters that we care about or a situation that we wish to see resolved. The action/adventure component is ludicrous, while the travelogue is very definitely offensive. (more…)

Mary-Louise_Parker-BB03A film like Behaving Badly makes the review process rather simple and straight forward. If you answer yes to either of these questions, you should see the movie.

Do you like teen sex comedies?

Are you a teenage male?

Granted, there is a fair amount of overlap in the two target audiences identified through those questions, but Behaving Badly has enough kink and wit to appeal to more moviegoers than just oversexed adolescent boys. (more…)

tumblr_lv10giehNp1qzofn3While watching Jason Nash Is Married, you can’t shake a sense of déjà vu. At first, you might attribute it to the source material for the film, a web series that streamed on bearing the exact same title, but the feeling of familiarity goes beyond having previously seen the characters in another format. Slowly, the realization comes that Jason Nash is Married shares DNA with innumerable situation comedies featuring a beleaguered father/husband character. You feel like you’ve seen it before because you have, in 23-minute bites called Make Room for Daddy, The Dick Van Dyke Show, Married With Children, or Home Improvement. Jason Nash Is Married could also be called Seinfeld 2.0 – same idea, newer media.