Category Archives: Comedy

“Quartet” and “War Witch”

Pauline Collins, Tom Courtenay, Billy Connolly and Maggie Smith in "Quartet"

Pauline Collins, Tom Courtenay, Billy Connolly and Maggie Smith in “Quartet”

Lately I have been having trouble writing about the films I have seen.  I am going to movies, but afterwards experiencing difficulty putting together the words for an article, or articles.  I always have an emotional experience (of some kind) at a movie.  The trick though is to translate that emotion into words. I do not know if my struggles to accomplish this count as “film burn out,” from having seen too many films (is there such a thing?), or general weariness from a busy schedule.  In addition to writing this column, I teach three college courses and work in the film industry as a post-production supervisor.   So, this past week, I saw two movies that I liked, “Quartet” and “War Witch.”  Granted, these films could not be more different from each another.  One is about a group of elderly singers putting on a show, while the other is about a child soldier in Africa. Read the rest of this entry

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Jesse and Celeste Forever

Rashida Jones and Andy Samberg in “Jesse and Celeste”

I once had a female co-worker who broke up with her boyfriend but continued to see him.  I found this behavior odd.  I tried, unsuccessfully, to explain to her the incongruity of the situation.  She told me that they were still friends, leaving me to ponder the difference between being with someone versus breaking up with someone but still seeing them.  All of this has resonance in the new movie “Jesse and Celeste Forever.”

“Jesse and Celeste Forever” is a modern day relationship movie set in a thirty-something, health food oriented, seaweed eating, hyper aerobicized, yogaized (is that even a word?) Los Angeles.  Similar to the case of my former co-worker, the titular couple are in the midst of a divorce but are still very good friends.  They seem to be together constantly and even live on the same property.  Celeste has a house and Jesse, an aspiring artist, lives in a studio on the property.  They are very happy being together while divorcing.  In fact, as Celeste explains to a friend, they are happier this way than simply being married.  It is obvious that these are two people not ready to let go of each other, but try telling that to them.  My major thought through most of the movie was, why not leave well enough alone?  This might have been possible if not for a curve that is thrown their way, not to be revealed here. Read the rest of this entry

Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1953)

From August 6 – 12 Film Forum will present a stunning, restored 35mm print of Howard Hawk’s 1953 comedy “Gentlemen Prefer Blondes” starring Marilyn Monroe and Jane Russell. The restoration is a real find for Monroe fans and will no doubt be cause for conversion from non-fans. Read the rest of this entry

Mid-August Lunch

Gianni and his charges in "Mid-August Lunch"

Mid-August Lunch” is an Italian comedy of manners.  Gianni is a likeable but un-ambitious man who lives with and cares for his elderly mother.  The film’s set up is that Gianni winds up having to house, feed and take care of three additional feisty, elderly women in order to satisfy payments owed on his condo and as a favor to a friend.  One would think that with this premise hilarity would surely ensue.  For the Film Forum audience with whom I saw “Mid-August Lunch,” of which I was the youngest member, this was certainly the case.  There was lots of laughing throughout with some of my fellow film-goers pronouncing the movie “perfect.”  If only I agreed with them. Read the rest of this entry

When In Rome

Josh Duhamel and Kristen Bell in "When in Rome"

It is too easy to slam a movie as ineptly conceived, written, shamelessly contrived and directed as “When in Rome.”  “When in Rome” is more than just a bad movie.  It is so insipid that it is a virtual symposium on how not to make a screwball comedy.  To begin with there is no convincing motivation for anything that happens.  Even in a light, nutty comedy there has to be a credible dramatic need that drives the story.  Otherwise you wind up with wackiness for the sake of wackiness which, as this film demonstrates, is simply tiresome.   When I reviewed the movie “Extraordinary Measures,” a few weeks back, I talked about the need to have consumer protection for moviegoers.    Consider “When in Rome” to be exhibit B. Read the rest of this entry

Whatever Works

whatever worksIf I were one of those critics who wrote for the marquee I would call Woody Allen’s latest movie, “Whatever Works,” “The pessimistic feel good movie of the year.”  Allen’s latest alter ego, Boris Yellnikoff (Larry David), would disagree with me.  Boris, a comically misanthropic former college professor who has left his seemingly ideal upper Manhattan life and marriage to move downtown for a Bohemian existence as a children’s chess teacher, even turns to the camera and tells the audience that “this is not a feel good movie.” Read the rest of this entry