Entries tagged with “comedy”.


About half of the viewers in the hall of our local cinematheque who came to watch this film were hardcore fans who came to watch the first screening of this film prior to the opening of a science fiction event that also includes a film festival. I did not have a chance to discuss with them the film at the end, one of the reasons being that some of them left before the end of the screening. I cannot be sure about the reasons, they may have seen the movie already, or they reserved the pleasure of full viewing for the festival, or maybe they just had the same feeling as I did. It’s a crazy and fun idea, but not enough for a full and watchable movie.

 

source http://www.imdb.com/title/tt4231486/

source http://www.imdb.com/title/tt4231486/

 

Maybe part of the explanation is that , the author of ‘This Giant Papier-Mâché Boulder Is Actually Really Heavy‘ seems to be – according to the IMDB – a first-timer in everything: script writing, acting, film direction, producing movies. Nicholson may be aware of his lack of experience, so he tried to turn it into an advantage, even more than this, into a concept. Here is the story (no spoiler, it happens in the first five minutes). Three fans attend the screening of a movie at a sci-fi convention, and somehow find themselves trapped into the world of the low cost films of the genre. Not only their universe is blurred, but also their personalities, and they will need to fight to survive and get back. Luckily, this is the less credible alternate universe ever created in movies, as all effects and gadgets are more visible than in the first movies of Melies, and more ridiculous than in the worst King Kong film. Space ships are made of hair-drying fans, transporting devices of shower heads, etc.

 

(video source Movieclips Film Festivals & Indie Films)

 

A good idea does not make a film, as original and as crazy it may be, and ‘This Giant Papier-Mâché Boulder Is Actually Really Heavy‘ is a good illustration on this respect. What may have worked in the 1960s TV shows for kids that lasted 15 or 30 minutes at most cannot work for a 90 minutes film, if it is not complemented by well defined characters, fresh jokes, good acting. Unfortunately these are all but absent in this film, and after we understand the concept and have fun for a few minutes we start waiting in vain for something new and interesting to happen. None of these happen here, and the parody is reduced at its own parody with very little comic effect. By the end this comedy was closer to put me to sleep than make me laugh.

 

Comedies age. All things age actually, films included, comedies included. Seeing 50 years later a film that you remember having laughed at until falling under the chair (this is a Romanian expression, I hope it’s clear what it means) is risky. The experience was interesting and surely much different.

 

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0060474/

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0060474/

 

Filmed in 1966, a little more than 20 years after the end of WWII, ‘s La Grande Vadrouille represents a certain step in the evolution of the French (and not only French) films about the war that devastated Europe and the whole world. Taking distance and starting to allow ridicule replace at least in part hate and contempt for the German former enemies was not a completely new thing, I can remember ‘s Babette Goes to War which preceded it with seven years. Yet, in this story about three British airmen parachuted in occupied Paris and saved by a band of French civilians including a famous music conductor (), a humble paint-man () and a blue-eyed blonde puppeteer () the enemies are still all bad and stupid. It will take a time for the ‘good German’ to show up in war movies and even more time for the cinematographic acknowledgment of the collaboration with the occupiers. Meantime all French are good guys. Or good girls. Or good nuns.

 

(video source StudiocanalUK)

 

The film enjoyed huge success, it was actually from its release until 2008 the most successful French film of all times. I remember having seen it in the late 60s in Romania, and I read about film fans from China for example enjoying it as a huge success after the end of the Cultural Revolution. To a large extent the success is due to the presence on screen of the two greatest comedy actors of the French cinema at that time – and . Both were huge stars and had brought them together on screen in a previous film, and now wrote the scenario of La Grande Vadrouille especially for them. Most of the time they are together on screen and the comic qualities of the two enhance each other, the chemistry between them is obvious and so is the pleasure of acting. Years have passed and I did not fall under the chair any longer, laughs turned into smiles and nostalgia, and I can also see the naivety of the script and the schematic story line – but it’s certainly mostly me.  The two are again together in my mind, at least for the next 50 years.

If you are looking for 90 minutes of uninhibited politically incorrect fun, if you like retro movies about the late 60s or maybe you have lived those happy times and now you want to laugh about them, then ‘Moonwalkers’ directed by (at his first long feature movie) is the stuff that you are looking for.

 

source http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2718440

source http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2718440

 

The year is 1969 and Apollo 11 prepares to put Neil Armstrong on the moon on live TV. They cannot fail as the moon race is above all a competition between super-powers and political systems (this IS true history, BTW). So plan B is put in place – get the best science-fiction film director (who else but Space Odyssey’s Stanley Kubrik) direct a film moon landing which would be broadcast in the 66% (or was it 75%?) probability Apollo 11 fails. A Rambo-like CIA agent () with some psychotic trauma problems is send to do the job. Conspiracy theory meets retro films a la ‘Austin Powers’ in the crazy parody idea that triggers the film. Of course, many things will go wrong – the kind of ‘wrong’ that causes laughs.

 

(video source Movieclips Trailers)

 

The execution is far from flawless, but I guess it is not supposed to be either. The film has enough gags (an average of one a minute) to compensate the huge holes in the story, and the combination between the ‘macho’ military attitude, the psychedelic rock scene atmosphere, and the late 60s cinema nostalgia (including several Kubrik quotes) works quite well. There are enough gross characters to meet, clash, punch, kill each other and especially to make us laugh. Perlman delivers as expected in the typology of the brainless CIA gorilla agent, while of Hary Potter’s buddy glory is confused enough to become funny all along. Do not ask too many questions, after all this is (also) a conspiracy theories movie. It’s the kind of film one needs to get into the mood and just enjoy.

 

There is a magic about the number ‘seven’ in cinema among other places. Some say it started with Snow White, other will mention Kurosawa. Fact is that many successful films used this magic and succeeded, some of them succeeded great. So when we get this number in the title, when we see on the poster a cast that would make any blockbuster in Hollywood, and when we know that the script and directing belongs to the exquisite drama writer whose appearances as a film maker are scarce but special, and whose previous film In Bruges was smart and funny, the expectations for Seven Psychopaths run high.

 

source www.imdb.com/title/tt1931533/

source www.imdb.com/title/tt1931533/

 

What we get is a ‘film in film’ formula of a special kind. A scriptwriter in Hollywood seeks inspiration for his next film in stories about psychopaths. He starts collecting them, and the stories start happening around him. His best friend is building a revenue stream from kidnapping dogs and returning them to their owners for happy dog reunion awards. Murders and horrors multiply in the script and around, and the border between real and fiction is never clear. The formula is not completely new, Hollywood loves stories about Hollywood, and screen heroes have more than once crossed the line of separation between screens and viewing halls (Woody Allen, Charlie Kaufman, etc.). The tone here is crazy, with reverence to the older and newer horror movies, but also to Tarantino.

 

(video source Movieclips Trailers)

 

The execution is less fun that it could be. is a smart script writer, but as a director he seems to be too much in love with his own script. Something is missing, maybe the cynical look or the extremes that make Tarantino’s violence on screen entertainment. Out of the good cast I especially liked the performance of , while , , and deliver as expected. Overall ‘Seven Psychopats’ makes true only part of the promises of number 7.

 

Should I feel guilty? I really enjoyed this melodramatic, stereotype-rich, rose-water sprinkled feel-good movie which is ‘The Intern‘, directed by , and bringing to screen the improbable pair of actors composed of and . Now I need to find out why.

 

source http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2361509/

source http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2361509/

 

One of the reasons is probably the fact that the start-up and corporate environments are pretty familiar to me, and that their screen version as conceived by Meyers is not far from what I know. Yes, I have met the ambitious CEO working herself (or himself) to death at the expense of her (or his) family life, sleeping time and own health and reason. I worked and still work in ‘open space’ and ‘glass-walled’ environments. I lived through ‘the sale of the day’ and ‘the hero of the month’ and I understand what a good day and a bad day looks like in the shop that some believe it became their real home.

Then, I am a feminist. I sincerely believe that women can be as good managers and leaders as men, and that they deserve all the credit when they succeed in the machoistic society we live in, and even more when they do it while keeping a family and raising kids who still recognize their mothers. For feminists this film carries the ‘right’ message.

Third (or maybe first) I am close to retirement. Not 70 yet, as De Niro’s character is, not wearing suits and ties (actually I know a lot of 70-ers who never do), but yet, I can understand his panic when faced with aging, his loneliness and desire to socialize, his volunteering in order to continue to be useful and relevant.

 

(video source Warner Bros. Pictures)

 

The story of the ‘retired intern’ who becomes the best friend of the carrier-obsessed CEO by balancing the over-dynamic corporate environment with some old-fashioned common sense, the crisis of the millionaire teenagers with true sensitivity may have been told a few times. Yet it looks true on screen, or better said true enough to spontaneously generate the laughs and the tears rather than squeeze them. The actor who played all those tough gangsters in the first two thirds of his fabulous career has become the most generous and kind retired and his chemistry with flamboyant  is perfect.  is just the best known of a fun support cast. ‘The Intern’ will be criticized by many but if you are a fan of feel-good movies, or you just are in the mood of seeing one you would certainly like to watch it.

Before I will be hit by the sequel which I hear is much worse than the original, here are my short impressions about this comedy with promising premises but quite a flat and dull execution. Since ‘Back in the Future’ was made in the mid-80s script writers have found little need to invent credible premises for time-travel films, be they thrillers or comedies. So when in 2010 director Steve Pink looked for one more opportunity to cast his preferred actor John Cusack (or maybe the other way, Cusack looked for a pretext to work again with Pink) there was no need to find much smarter excuses than a broken hot tub with golden water in an otherwise out of fashion ski resort in order to put things in motion. Three mid-aged friends from the 2010 universe find themselves plunged back into the times when there was no Internet, and smart phones got no signal, but they were young and thin and all girls had no other dream then bedding them, and yes, incidentally, smarter movies like ‘Back in the future’ were made.

 

source http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1231587

source http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1231587

 

Besides holding one of the worst film names ever, Hot Tub Time Machine fell short of my expectations because it could not replace the lack of imagination in playing with the time paradoxes, or the platitudes and so expected jokes about 21st century adults meeting the habits of their youth and living again the experiences of their college years with enough craziness, sex appeal or just comic dumbness to keep me laughing and away from watching my watch despite the fact that the film is not long at all.

 

(video source Trailers)

 

Lacking fun and anarchy makes this retro film easy to forget. Even John Cusack cannot look much better than ‘nice’. Easy entertaining for an evening when you really have nothing else to do. Watch it only if you really have seen ‘Back to the Future’ or ‘Austin Powers’ too many times.  Or if your screen can be seen from the hot tub.

 

 

I was grown and educated on Robert Youngson’s compilation of Golden Age of Comedy which by the end of the 50s was bringing back to audiences world-wide the great masters of the first decades of comedy in the cinema. The endless collection of gags made me and all audiences roll under the theater chairs with laughs and at the same time taught a lesson I never forgot about the great comedians of the screen – from Keaton and Chaplin to Laurel and Hardy.

The six part series from PBS could have done the same thing, It covers a much longer period, practically the whole 20th century and each part is dedicated to one specific genre – stand-up, family shows, physical comedy, wise-guys parody. The main problem is that the show while quite informative and well written is simply not enough fun. The first episode is especially boring, and if I had to watch it weekly rather than get all six episodes recorded I doubt that I would have shown up the next week at the same hour on the same station. Rather than talking heads they should have shown more comedy. Making a too serious documentary about comedy is a capital sin.

(and come on – a the family comedy episode that does not mention Married with Children?)