Currently browsing the "Comedy" category.

Mini-Review: The Leisure Seeker

I was looking forward to this road trip flick with Donald Sutherland and Helen Mirren. But sadly, while they are both pretty great, the script for this movie, itself an adaptation of a well-reviewed book, feels hastily written without nuance or empathy for the characters. It’s the story is of a retired couple, John and Ella, he a former college professor with some sort of dementia and she his loving and patient wife with some unnamed, but advancing disease, taking off from their Boston home in their old Winnebago, heading for Key West to visit Hemingway’s house. Their kids are freaked out about it, but it could be John’s last chance to see the home of one of his favorite writers.

Review: Isle of Dogs

What a fun movie! I don’t think Wes Anderson has made a film I didn’t like, so that’s no surprise, but the creative choices he made in this one are even more entertaining that usual. The story takes place in a town in Japan and all the humans speak untranslated Japanese, except for some public occasions where there is a simultaneous translator. Only the dogs speak English, voiced by a veritable A-list cast. (Bryan Cranston, Harvey Keitel, Bill Murray, Ed Norton, Greta Gerwig, Scarlett Johansson, and many more) The only thing that’s clear is that Mayor Kobayashi hates dogs (cat lover!) and he’s determined to rid his town of every last one, exiling them to a garbage covered island. But human hero to the rescue! Kobayashi’s 12-year-old nephew/ward Atari goes in search of his beloved pooch and uncovers a conspiracy at the highest levels.

Review: Blockers

The premise certainly sounds horrifying and offensive: When three parents discover their daughters’ pact to lose their virginity at prom, they launch a covert one-night operation to stop the teens from sealing the deal. Sounds like a laugh riot, right? Well, as much as I hate to admit it, Blockers is quite funny. It’s also a hard ‘R’, so don’t be cueing this one up for Family Movie Night.

Review: The Death of Stalin

If you saw In the Loop, you know what you’re in for in Armando Iannucci’s latest political satire — dark, hilarious, and sometimes creepy. As the title announces, the film is about the death of the ruthless dictator in 1953, though that only takes up a few minutes at the beginning. What it’s really about is the political wrangling that begins before he’s even left this world. There are three men vying to be the new Soviet leader: Stalin’s second-in-command, the idiot Georgy Malenkov (Jeffrey Tambor), the ambitious Party chief Nikita Khrushchev (Steve Buscemi), and the truly sick secret police chief Lavrenti Beria (Simon Russell Beale). Malenkov didn’t have a chance, but Khrushchev and Beria would stop at nothing. The film is adapted from a comic book telling of the story, and everything that happens has a darkly absurd quality. And even though it’s based in reality, I’m sure the actual men were never as hilarious as they appear in this telling.

Review: Finding Your Feet

On the day of her husband’s retirement, Lady Sandra Abbott (Imelda Staunton, Harry Potter‘s Dolores Umbridge) discovers he’s having an affair with her best friend. So she runs away to London to stay with her estranged sister Bif (Celia Imrie, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel) who’s everything Sandra isn’t — liberal, outspoken, and happy. And little by little Sandra gets her groove back with the help of Bif’s dance class buddies. Finding Your Feet feels kind of familiar — older lady finds herself after a breakup — but thanks to a great ensemble cast and some fun dance scenes, it’s a sweet and uplifting little entertainment.

Review: Oh, Lucy!

Without doubt one of the quirkiest movies I’ve seen in a long time, Oh, Lucy! is by turns hilarious and sad and brutally honest. The central character is Setsuko, a 40-something Japanese woman, who’s bored beyond belief with her life when her niece Mika (Shioli Kutsuna) talks her into taking a “free trial” English lesson. And what a class that is! The first clue that this will not be a normal school is that it’s set in a massage parlor. Then there’s the cute teacher John (Josh Hartnett, Penny Dreadful) who employs some “innovative” pedagogical techniques including decking his students out in wigs and doling out copious hugs. He christens Setsuke “Lucy” for the class, and though she was only going to check it out, she has so much fun that she decides to do the classes for real. But when John suddenly heads home to the States, along with her niece Mika, Lucy decides to follow them, and her stuck-up sister Ayako (Kaho Minami) tags along. What follows is Lucy’s Southern Californian odyssey of self-discovery.

Review: Love, Simon

There’s plenty to love about Love, Simon. It’s a charming romantic dramedy about a cool high school senior who has an awesome family, a great circle of friends, and one big secret: he’s gay. This isn’t some small indie drama that weighs heavy on the soul. It’s a sweet, lighthearted, relatable coming-of-age and coming-out story that plays a lot like a typical John Hughes teen ensemble movie updated for the times, where snapchat, texting and online forums are a primary means of communication. It’s backed by a major studio (20th Century Fox) so it actually has a fighting chance to reach a wide, mainstream audience – as it should.

Quickie Reviews: Annihilation; Game Night; The Party

Annihilation is interesting and weird, slow and methodical, and dare I say, bordering on boring. Hyper-sensitive fans of the film may ream me for not fully grasping or appreciating the deeper meaning, the metaphors, the beauty in the bizarre, yadda yadda yadda. But that’s okay. I didn’t love Arrival either. Annihilation is a cerebral sci-fi horror flick from Alex Garland (Ex Machina) based on the “Southern Reach Trilogy” by Jeff VanderMeer. If you’ve read the books, you’re probably ahead of the game and more likely than most to love this movie. Here’s the gist: Natalie Portman plays Lena, an Army veteran and cellular biologist whose husband Kane (Oscar Isaac) was believed killed in action during a secret military mission. He reappears a year later, extremely ill, with no memory of what happened. Government agents nab the newly-reunited couple and take them to “Area X”, an unspecified locale that borders a mysterious “Shimmer” that’s been expanding along the U.S. coastline.

Mini-reviews: The Oscar Nominated Shorts 2018 (Animation & Live Action)

Another year, another batch of short films. This year, there were none I was absolutely in love with. Last year was full of punch you in the guts social issues and deep storytelling. This bunch felt kind of predictable to me. Nonetheless, there were a couple that I’ll remember and that I hope people get to see in a theater, since that’s how movies ought to be viewed. Here are my synopses and trailers. Mark your ballots accordingly.

Review: Downsizing

Downsizing starts with a fun premise: What if you could make humans really small so our impact on the earth is also really small? It’s a great jumping off point for a silly comedy, but what makes Alexander Payne’s (Nebraska, Sideways) new film Downsizing work is that it winds up being more than that. Matt Damon stars as everyman Paul Safranek who’s convinced that he and his wife (Kristen Wiig) can have a better life as tiny people. More money, a bigger house, more leisure, (and yeah, save the planet.) But after he’s already downsized, she backs out and he’s left all alone in tiny town. Fortunately for the audience, he soon meets two new friends: the irrepressible Dusan (Christop Waltz, Inglourious Basterds), his upstairs neighbor and man of multiple schemes, and Ngoc Lan Tran (Hong Chau Treme, Inherent Vice), a former Vietnamese dissident and now Dusan’s one-legged housekeeper who drags Paul into a more interesting life. Not that Matt Damon isn’t good, it’s just that these two steal the show.