Tag Archives: dark comedy

Vice (2018) Movie Review

Adam McKay likes to show. And show. And show.

As he moves further from straight comedy and more toward a dark comedy examination of political America, McKay’s showy style becomes more apparent. In a way, it is more permissible to have a broad comedy film be brash and in-your-face. While such a style is not destined to fail in a more dramatic setting, it is harder to grapple with tone in that setting.

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McKay’s The Big Short shows some signs of this tonal problem. Largely a depressing subject, the comedy flourishes in that retelling of the housing crisis don’t translate well. The non sequitur cutaways to celebrities are jarring and ineffective. What shines in that film are the performances, showing that the director understands the import of Continue reading Vice (2018) Movie Review

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The Favourite (2018) Movie Review

Lady Sarah: Love has limits

Queen Anne: It should not

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Those unfamiliar with the work of Yorgos Lanthimos may be surprised to hear that The Favourite is the man’s most accessible film to date. A court drama about the shifting power dynamics between three women—Queen Anne (Olivia Colman), her long-time confidant Lady Sarah (Rachel Weisz), and new arrival Abigail (Emma Stone)—this feverish portrayal of high society at its lowest states of depravity is Continue reading The Favourite (2018) Movie Review

The Spy Who Dumped Me (2018) Movie Review

Susanna Fogel’s The Spy Who Dumped Me reminds me of The Hitman’s Bodyguard, but it probably shouldn’t. Both are two-hander action comedies. Both feature comic characters journeying across European countries toward a singular goal. Both were released in August, the dying-end of the Summer movie season.

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Otherwise, comparison doesn’t seem warranted. The Hitman’s Bodyguard is incompetently shot and flat. The Spy Who Dumped Me exhibits a level of competency in its action filmmaking that exceeds what is required for an action comedy. In most respects, the action is Continue reading The Spy Who Dumped Me (2018) Movie Review

Thoroughbreds (2018) Movie Review

You wouldn’t know by looking at it, but Thoroughbreds is writer-director Cory Finley’s debut film.

In it, expelled prep school student Lily (Anya Taylor-Joy) rekindles an old friendship with Amanda (Olivia Cooke), who admits to Lily that she feels no emotion. Upon observing Lily’s step father Mark (Paul Sparks), who Lily openly despises for the emotional abuse he exerts on her mother, Amanda brings up the notion of murdering him.

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The film uses its morbidly comic lens to hone in on concepts of control and ownership in an upper-class, suburban setting. Waves of classism flow on the fringes of the narrative, from the Continue reading Thoroughbreds (2018) Movie Review

Suburbicon (2017) Movie Review

There is a moment in Suburbicon when you realize that the closest comparison to other Coen brother films is Blood Simple, in that it is bleak with few characters to latch onto and identify with. It is at this moment, when you realize that this is not so much a dark comedy as it is merely a dark movie, that it becomes very hard to continue investing yourself in the antics.

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The film focuses on a family man named Gardner Lodge (Matt Damon) and his son, who are victim to a home invasion in the faux-idyllic, nebulous ’50s neighborhood aptly-named Suburbicon. You don’t know Continue reading Suburbicon (2017) Movie Review

Lemon (2017) Movie Review

Isaac is a 40-year-old out of work actor who pays his bills teaching acting classes. His girlfriend of 10 years (Judy Greer) is cheating on him. His cynical siblings (Siri Appleby and Martin Starr) see past him. His high maintenance parents (Rhea Pearlman and Fred Melamad) don’t listen to him.

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One of our first exposures to Isaac is in his element as an acting teacher. On stage, Alex (Michael Cera) and Tracy (Gillian Jacobs) play out a scene until Isaac steps in. Isaac idolizes Alex, whose approach to acting is rife with farcical nonsense about colors and animals, and demeans Tracy.

This routine is a snapshot of Isaac: deep-seated anger and regret suppressed and projected onto younger talent. The manner by which he Continue reading Lemon (2017) Movie Review

Colossal (2017) Movie Review

Colossal masquerades itself as a certain type of movie. It opens on the ominous, lingering image of a Kaiju-like monster. Then, sweeping shots of the New York skyline play out over a driving, Dark Knight trilogy-esque score. Then, Gloria (Anne Hathaway) enters, hungover and rambling thinly-veiled excuses to her boyfriend (Dan Stevens) about where she has been.

It doesn’t quite match the previously set tone, does it?

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When her boyfriend leaves her due to her drinking problem, Gloria moves back to her hometown, where she falls in with an old friend named Oscar (Jason Sudeikis). An old friend who just so happens to own his father’s bar.

Remember that Kaiju that I mentioned earlier? Whelp…turns out it pantomimes the actions of Gloria when she sets foot on a playground she knew once as a child. It pantomimes everything, including Continue reading Colossal (2017) Movie Review