Category Archives: Comedy

I am serious…and don’t call me Shirley.

The Lovebirds (2020) Movie Review

Michael Showalter’s previous film, The Big Sick, was the surprise indie darling of 2017. That film, co-written and starring Kumail Nanjiani, turned the romantic comedy formula on its head. The Lovebirds, also co-starring Nanjiani, attempts a similar formulaic subversion, but screenwriters Aaron Abrams and Brendan Gall prove less savvy in this pursuit.

Jibran (Nanjiani) and Leilani (Issa Rae) meet at a party and really hit it off. We watch as their relationship flourishes, and seemingly nothing could go wrong. These two were meant to be together forever. Cut to a few years later, and Continue reading The Lovebirds (2020) Movie Review

Downhill (2020) Movie Review

“Force majeure” refers to unforeseen acts that can prevent the fulfillment of a legal contract. In the case of Ruben Östlund’s 2014 film of that name, it refers to the unpredictable behavior of a man—a husband, a father—in the face of unexpected danger that could threaten to completely overturn his marriage and his own perception of himself. In Nat Faxon and Jim Rash’s 2020 film Downhill, the title is a pun on downhill skiing and a marriage on the decline.

Downhill is “inspired,” as the credits tell us, by Force Majeure, and it takes what is a Continue reading Downhill (2020) Movie Review

The Gentlemen (2020) Movie Review

In 2019, Guy Ritchie’s live action Disney adaptation of Aladdin was released. It is a film with no discernible trace of Ritchie’s authorial stamp. He follows Aladdin up with The Gentlemen, a film that is so readily a return to Ritchie’s crime film origins that it almost appears as a parody.

The film is framed by a somewhat fidgety, gift of gab private eye named Fletcher (Hugh Grant), who has Continue reading The Gentlemen (2020) Movie Review

Review: Die Kinder Der Toten – Fantastic Fest 2019

Die Kinder der Toten is a zombie movie, technically. But fewer scripts with the word “zombie” in it stray this far from what we consider standard operating procedure for a “zombie film.”

In Styria (not to be confused with Syria), a car wreck sets off a chain of events that disrupts the entire town (eventually). Call it experimental or avant garde or surrealism; it certainly is not Continue reading Review: Die Kinder Der Toten – Fantastic Fest 2019

Review: VHYes – Fantastic Fest 2019

Jack Henry Robbins’ VHYes begins straightforward enough. On Christmas morning, 1987, young Ralph (Mason McNulty)—he can’t be older than 13—is gifted a VHS camcorder by his parents (Christian Drerup and Jake Head). With this gift, the film buzzes to life, as Ralph finishes scrambling to find a tape on which to record—his father asks if the tape is blank, and the footage promptly cuts to the answer: Ralph is recording over his parents’ wedding footage.

Ralph learns that he can use his new toy to directly record programs off of the television set, prompting him and his friend Josh (Rahm Braslaw) to spend holiday season late nights banking these various programs. As we are housed explicitly within the world of this tape, this television footage becomes an increasingly Continue reading Review: VHYes – Fantastic Fest 2019

Review: First Love – Fantastic Fest 2019

Takashi Miike’s First Love is a love story, just in the loosest sense. It is also a film about addiction, allegiances, overcoming past trauma, and Yakuza violence. Yep, it’s a Yakuza crime film, but Miike layers this intensely-plotted crime story with humanity that perks up at the most unlikely times.

The plot involves a boxer with a brain tumor, a drug addict working as a prostitute to pay off her father’s debt, a cop who breaks bad in order to swindle two warring gangs over a bag of dope, and plenty of Continue reading Review: First Love – Fantastic Fest 2019

Review: Jojo Rabbit – Fantastic Fest 2019

Jojo Rabbit is a tonal minefield. Taking place during the waning months of World War II and featuring a 10-year-old boy’s imaginary friend version of Hitler (played by writer-director Taika Waititi), the film is an anti-hate dramedy with plenty of Third Reich hate being tossed around as jokes of absurdity.

The 10-year-old gives the film its perspective. Jojo Betzler (Roman Griffin Davis) stands in front of the mirror pumping himself up for Continue reading Review: Jojo Rabbit – Fantastic Fest 2019