Posts Tagged ‘ comedy ’

Don’t Think Twice (2016)

…and we’re back.

Think

Good film, funny, and kind of terrifying/disturbing at times, though I doubt many would see it the same way. The film plays pretty conventionally, a bit too much so arguably, and the relationships, though solid and well acted, are a bit too clean and well put together to be entirely believable, especially considering the cutthroat, unforgiving nature of their career ambitions.

When one of the characters finally “makes it,” the film doesn’t seem to quite be able to make up its mind as to whether or not this is a good thing for him, or the other characters for that matter, resulting in their being stuck in this weird limbo of uncertainty that I guess is realistic but doesn’t make for much of an interesting story.

That’s the main issue with the film; though it speaks of passion and ambition, none of these characters ever truly reflect any of that passion or ambition in a believable manner. They all seem to want it, or seem to think they want it, and god knows they talk about wanting it, to death even, but there’s never a moment or an exchange that convincingly expresses any kind of true passion for what they’re trying to do. It’s all talk but very little gusto, if that’s the appropriate term to use there.

And it’s not because of the performances; the film is extremely well acted, especially from Keegan-Michael Key and Gillian Jacobs who do a hell of a job handling the drama. Two comedians who can also handle drama? Who’d have thunk it?

It’s just the characters here aren’t as developed as they could have been, especially Mike Birbiglia’s character who we’re made to think is this bitter, passionate, succeed at all costs comedy loser type who then gets his “bum” handed to him multiple times throughout and reacts to each blowback with the emotional equivalent of an “eh,” except near the end where he punches a guy. But beyond that, come on man, your dream, the thing you’ve wasted most of your life pursuing, is ***SPOILERS** coming to an end with next to nothing to show for it, ***END SPOILERS** and that’s how you react? You just get a little angry and walk away? And talk about an abrupt ending. Bah.

Anyway, I did enjoy this movie, really I did, though it seems like I tore it a new one. It’s funny and emotional and extremely effective, I just thought it could have been even better had they developed the characters more.

What surprised me was that the film is a rather accurate and disturbing depiction of the desperation involved in the pursuit of fame and wealth, and the horrific sacrifices such pursuit often demands of those poor, poor artist folk who think their thoughts, words, and actions are worth paying attention to. And that’s what’s most disturbing about this film: knowing there are people just like this in many major cities in the US, in their 30s and 40s and beyond, living in squalor or near poverty, with little to no marketable or useful skills, with no other solid plans for their lives, who day in day out kill themselves in the pursuit of this ridiculous dream that ultimately probably isn’t even all that worthwhile.

And what a great Lorne Michaels-like depiction here.The creepiest moments in the film are shared by the interactions one of our main characters has with him. Changes the tone entirely every time he appeared, like something out of a horror film. Wonder how accurate that is to real life. Hmm.

Anyway, pretty good film, worth watching, and very funny!

The Hunting Party (2007)

Hunting2

Mostly dumb film with a few decent moments/performances but a story that neglects to take itself as seriously as it should given its subject matter. It’s also rather conventional narratively and feels very “structured” as a result, though the beginning 10 minute montage of sorts was nice. But the inappropriately goofy tone throughout is what really kills it; this is a film about war, for crying out loud, not a cheap made for TV comedy. The direction and writing are the real problems here, I think.

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The thing is just hard to take seriously. There are stakes and they are serious, but it never feels like any of these characters see them as anything more than mild inconveniences, or fodder for a joke or goofy moment. The dialogue is occasionally clunky, or dumb, and the humor, again, feels forced and inappropriate. Even the more “emotional” moments of the film feel fake or otherwise unearned. The whole thing feels cheap and underdeveloped. The idea is good, sure, but the execution is mediocre at best, and an utter disaster at worst.

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Overall, didn’t much care for this film. The beginning is promising and enjoyable, and the performances are good for the most part, especially from Terrence Howard who isn’t given much to do but still manages to pull off being somewhat believable and charismatic. But as a whole, the film is a mess of shifting tones, inappropriate comedy, hum-drum cinematography, and unconvincing moments. A good story, yes, but a lousy execution. Don’t watch.

Ted (2012) – 4/5

Funny film that’s not quite as raunchy or “low-brow” as you’d probably expect from Seth MacFarlane given his history with Family Guy and all that. It’s surprisingly heartfelt at times, mostly thanks to the film’s emphasis on the strong bond between the Mark Wahlberg and Ted characters rather than the usual shallow garbage comedies these days choose to focus on. Good for you, MacFarlane. Way to buck the trend slightly.

And Wahlberg does a great job here despite being about 10 years too old for the role; he and MacFarlane as Ted have great, great chemistry, almost to the point where you forget the thing is just a talking teddy bear, or, more technically, well rendered CGI. Mila Kunis, though, is pretty bad. I’ve come to the conclusion that she’s a better dramatic actress than she is comedic despite her only ever having appeared in comedies for the most part. Not sure how one can have so much experience in comedy yet still suck as a comic actress, but there you go. Amazing how far being pretty gets you in life.

Story wise, the film doesn’t do anything too original, and is a bit wonky at times, but it’s good and consistently funny, and, again, not that raunchy. There’s actually a bit in the last third of the film that sort of **SPOILERS** flips the tone a little by turning it into this suspense horror chase type thing, **END SPOILERS** which shouldn’t work at all given how different it is from the rest of the film, yet does, and is arguably the best part of the movie. Just a well-directed, well shot, well-edited sequence you don’t normally see or expect in a comedy, let alone one about a talking stuffed bear.

Overall, I liked the film. It’s funny and heartfelt, and is just ridiculous and ambitious enough to be put in a category above most other comedies as a result. It has its flaws, don’t get me wrong, and doesn’t exactly tell the most original story in the world, but, again, it’s good for what it is, and well worth watching.

Moonrise Kingdom (2012) – 4/5

Weird freaking film that takes a bit too long to get into on account of its weirdness and general lack of cohesive plot but becomes quite sweet and enjoyable for the most part once some semblance of a story kicks in. But man, what a weird film, even for Wes Anderson.  Strange plot, strange characters, strange visuals. What world does Anderson live in exactly? One where everything is tinted in brownish green hues, women are perpetually wearing heavy green/blue mascara, narrators can predict the future, and Bill Murray is everywhere? Yeah! Take that, reality!

Anyway, decent film, but like I’ve said repeatedly: weird, very weird. And also a bit uncomfortable at times, considering it’s about young love and there’s a scene near the middle where **SPOILERS** both kids are parading around a beach in their underwear before proceeding to grope and french kiss one another uncomfortably for about a minute. **SPOILERS** Yikes. I’ll give the film credit for casting two unknowns as the leads, and, though not the greatest actors ever, they feel right in their roles somehow. They both look very distinct, especially the girl whose face is made to look both beautiful and child like, hence the occasional discomfort. It’s one of those faces that lingers in the back of your mind long after the film is over.

Overall, I liked the film, though, again, it takes a while to get into, and doesn’t do anything that you haven’t already seen in practically every other movie Anderson’s made in the past. He has a niche and likes to stick to it, I guess, which is unfortunate. But the story is unique and occasionally too quirky and odd for its own good, but it has heart, and it manages to capture young love in a way few films are ever able to.

Some scenes near the end actually reminded me of something out a of a horror film, though I’m not really sure why as nothing horrifying was happening really. I guess the imagery and the weird lighting and the crowds all blended together at certain points in a manner that felt more like something you’d see in a horror film than a quirky indie comedy. Maybe Anderson should try making a horror next. I think it’d really be something.

Anyway, good film; worth watching if you’re into this kind of stuff and don’t mind a lot of strangeness.

Breakfast at Tiffany’s (1961) – 4.5/5

Great, somewhat dark film about a pretty boy writer who falls for the charms of a shallow, self-centered twit. The film is one of those rare romantic comedies that isn’t a complete piece of crap due to its great, unpredictable writing and deep, well-developed, hopelessly troubled but nonetheless infinitely fascinating characters. All stuff that makes for interesting story telling, in other words, rather than the usual clichéd garbage I imagine most romantic comedies are made up of. I don’t watch very many, so I wouldn’t know.

Anyway, great film. The acting isn’t the best, even from Audrey Hepburn who looks great but is stiff and stagey and seems to be giving an invisible wink to the audience whenever she opens her mouth. Yes, this is a comedy and yes, your character is oh so adorably silly. We got as much from the story, thanks. Acting is hard, I know, but you’re supposed to be a professional, damn it. Do your job and act the part. Stop mugging to the camera! Argh!

Despite the lousy acting, the film succeeds, mostly because of the great writing. The characters are extremely complex and well-developed, the story has plenty of unpredictable twists and turns that keep things interesting, and even though the ending sort of really screws one of our leads over, it’s still extremely satisfying.

Though, really, **SPOILERS** poor guy. The woman is clearly a troubled, money hungry kook only looking for her next meal ticket. Sure she can be sweet and charming and adorable and fun when she wants to be, and sure, she gives him, and, in turn, us, the impression that she’s changed at the end, but her priorities will on some level always be financially driven. Love obviously isn’t enough for her; the woman craves financial prosperity. She wanted to fly to a foreign country on a whim and start dating random rich men until painstakingly convinced otherwise by our male lead, for god’s sake. How the hell does the girl still appeal to him after that? Sure she’s pretty and charming and all that, but so are millions of other, less crazy women. Probably. Just find someone else. **END SPOILERS** But whatever. It’s a romantic movie and it needed a feel good ending, and it delivers in that respect, so long as you don’t think about it too much.

So, yeah, great film. Definitely watch.

Footnote (2011) – 3.5/5

Weird dark drama advertised as this hilarious comedy full of wit and charm and wacky comic scenarios that promised to leave me on the floor in stitches. “Brilliantly funny,” they said. “Fun for the whole family,” they said. Nope. Not at all. Granted, it is funny at times, but only during those rare moments when it isn’t bombarding you with some of the most depressing family dynamics I’ve ever seen from a film trying to pass itself off as a comedy.

The tone is also all over the place, as is the music, which is good, but way too bombastic at times. The writing just doesn’t fit the directing, or maybe it’s the other way around, I don’t know. The film is too goofy at times to take seriously, yet too dark to be considered anything but a drama. Very weird.

The acting is where the film shines, though, especially from the lead who is often note perfect. No idea who he is or where he came from, but he’s brilliant. And the actor who plays his father is also quite great. Not one false moment. And some scenes here and there are pretty good, especially the “reveal” near the end involving the word “fortress.” Very clever.

Overall, the film is okay; an interesting idea to base a comedy around, and well acted, just way too stylistically inconsistent/over the top, especially at the end. And depressing as all hell for a comedy. A good example of false advertising if there ever was one. I should sue.

Annie Hall (1977) – 4/5

Decent comedy that was probably groundbreaking in its day but is now merely anxiety inducing between laughs. It reminded me a lot of “Curb Your Enthusiasm” and maybe a few other shows I couldn’t quite put my finger on. Now I see where it all began.

Lots of good scenes, though, including a hilarious one featuring a really young Christopher Walken. I never quite got what any of the women saw in Woody Allen’s character, though. The guy is neither physically attractive nor a particularly pleasant person to be around, so how all these good-looking women seem to fall head over heels for him is beyond me. Must be the fame. It’s always the fame.

Diane Keaton’s character is also annoying. She’s kind of cute, sure, but her initial meeting of Allen’s character is odd, and I really didn’t see what he saw in her, or what they saw in each other for that matter, or why they stayed together as long as they did. Just a bizarre mash-up overall.

The film is also a structural mess, though it’s not too terrible. The comedy is sharp and dry and nearly constant so such usually annoying things like a lack of plot and chemistry aren’t too noticeable. Overall, a pretty funny film, just nothing special, at least not anymore.