Admin

Finding freshness in any longstanding entertainment genre can be a trying task. How does one bring a sense of newness or novelty to something utterly familiar without losing the essence of what makes that thing worthy of exploration in the first place?

Take romantic comedies, for example. We’re in the midst of a rom-com renaissance of sorts, with streaming services taking up the baton for the studios that have largely abandoned the genre. And while most of these new offerings are various shades of beige, content to stick to the tricks and tropes with which we’re all familiar, there are a few that succeed in breathing new life into the form.

“Happiest Season” is one of those few.

The film, directed and co-written by Clea DuVall and streaming on Hulu, is an outstanding movie, a smart and slyly subversive take on the genre. Featuring a dynamite cast and a thoughtful story, it’s the kind of high-end rom-com that just doesn’t come along that often. Maneuvering the relationship complexities that come with holidays and meeting parents and the whole deal while ALSO exploring some of the realities of queer romance? That’s one hell of a tightrope walk, but DuVall and her crew practically dance across it, embracing the joy and pain alike.

(In case you haven’t guessed yet, I REALLY liked this movie.)

Published in Style
Monday, 23 November 2020 16:42

The Bro-lympiad – ‘Buddy Games’

We all want different things from movies at different times. Sometimes, we want works of cinematic sophistication, beautifully shot and exquisitely performed. At these times, we want to see masterpieces and magnum opuses.

Other times, however, we want something different. We want lighthearted idiocy and dick jokes. We want dudes and bros being dudes and bros. We want coarse language and coarser behavior, movies that appeal to the teenage boy in us.

I’ll give you one guess as to which category applies to the new movie “Buddy Games.”

The film – the directorial debut of actor Josh Duhamel, who is also co-wrote the script and stars – is a goofy and implausible ode to arrested development, an unapologetically raunchy look at male friendship and the ties that bind men to one another, as well as the devotion of a certain masculine mindset to maintaining a connection to the glory days.

While the film does have some things going for it – especially a strong cast that is happily along for the increasingly outlandish ride – those things can’t overcome the myriad obstacles presented by what it lacks.

Published in Movies
Monday, 16 November 2020 15:31

‘Chick Fight’ can’t go the distance

There’s a long tradition of mining the struggles of women to self-actualize for comedic purposes. Functioning in a world whose rules are stacked against you in many ways is difficult, and there’s often humor to be found in difficulty. Sometimes, this humor is subtle, but most of the time, it’s pretty overt.

“Chick Fight” definitely falls into that latter category. The comedy – directed by Paul Leyden from a script by Joseph Downey – is ostensibly about a woman’s efforts to get her life on track couched in her inadvertent membership in a fight club for women looking for ways to functionally express their more robust emotions. But while there’s potential here for a deeper dive, the filmmakers seem content to pay lip service to the fundamental concerns while focusing on the broader comic aspects of the concept.

That’s not a condemnation of the movie, per se – “Chick Fight” actually has some pretty funny moments. It’s an entertaining enough watch in its way. Unfortunately, it’s tough to ignore the whiff of squandered potential; this is a movie that could have been funny AND had something of note to say. Alas, it seems far more concerned with the former than the latter.

Published in Movies
Monday, 02 November 2020 15:51

Date the halls – ‘Holidate’

Stop me if you’ve heard this one: Netflix reigns supreme over rom-coms.

People have been bemoaning the death of the romantic comedy for some time, and at the box office, the notion had the ring of truth to it – rom-coms weren’t the big business that they once were. And if people aren’t buying, the studios stop selling.

But while rom-coms might have waned in popularity, there are still lots of folks out there who love them. And, in typical fashion, Netflix detected a market inefficiency and started churning out romantic comedies. Now, these offerings vary in overall quality (though they all have that unmistakable Netflix sheen to them), but the sheer number that we’re seeing would seem to indicate that they are being watched and watched a lot.

The latest in the queue is “Holidate,” directed by John Whitesell from a script by Tiffany Paulsen. It’s a genial and low-stakes story, revolving around the sort of vaguely-absurd-on-its-face concept that marks a lot of the genre offerings from the streaming service. It’s about two people looking for someone to share the holidays with without, you know, any of the other stuff.

The movie is charming enough, even if it does feel a bit formulaic. Of course, this isn’t a movie you watch if you’re looking to be surprised in any manner whatsoever. And there’s a real comfort to familiarity – sometimes, it’s soothing to know what you’re getting.

Published in Movies

It’s always interesting when a years-later sequel pops up. The results have certainly been mixed, with the unqualified success rate for these sorts of projects being fairly low. We’ve seen some that had some moments, but for the most part, dusting off old films – particularly comedies – to try and revisit their stories hasn’t really worked.

This brings us to “Borat Subsequent Moviefilm: Deliver of Prodigious Bribe to American Regime for Make Benefit Once Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan” – henceforth to be called simply “Borat 2” – the new project from comedic auteur Sacha Baron Cohen, currently streaming via Amazon Prime Video. The sequel to 2006’s “Borat,” this new film came to be in a vastly different American environment than its predecessor, but Cohen’s incisive and bizarre wit still plays, albeit with a different energy than before.

While it’s more successful than many other years-late sequels, it also can’t quite reach the bar of satiric absurdity set by that first film. Not that there’s any shame in that – “Borat” is a top-tier piece of social satire and transgressive comedy. The fact that this new offering even gets close is plenty impressive. Cohen holds up a mirror to American culture, but the warped reflection we see is simply an accurate depiction of who and what we are in this moment. It’s not a funhouse mirror, folks. We’re the funhouse.

Published in Movies

The relationships between parents and children have long been fertile fodder for filmmaking. These are easily recognizable dynamics in the macro sense that can nevertheless run the gamut in terms of specifics. That combination of universality and flexibility allows a lot of room for interesting storytelling.

Perhaps its no surprise that writer-director Sofia Coppola would make a movie that explores that dynamic – specifically, that which exists between fathers and daughters. One imagines that her relationship with her own father – the legendary director Francis Ford Coppola – might be fraught, particularly when you consider that she made her way into the family business.

“On the Rocks” is her latest film, currently available on Apple TV+. It’s a story of one woman’s attempts to take a closer look at her life and her relationship, exploring her own feelings of stagnation while also trying to figure out where her husband stands. Her enthusiastic and somewhat misguided ally for these efforts is her wealthy, wayward father, a man who has his own very particular ideas about marriage and relationships.

This is a movie that takes great pleasure in deconstructing the upwardly-mobile marriage at its center, digging into the feelings that can spring up when parenthood and other factors are clamoring for your attention. It also does a great job in shifting and sharing different perspectives regarding what it means to have a successful relationship – or if such a thing is even really possible. And with a dynamite pairing of talents driving the action, the end result is a film packed with heart and humor.

Published in Style
Friday, 23 October 2020 15:09

Dinner with friends – ‘Friendsgiving’

Thanksgiving has always been a bit of a forgotten holiday when it comes to movies. Halloween’s got the horror genre on lockdown – not to mention its own named franchise – and Christmas, well … you don’t need to tell me that there are a lot of Christmas movies out there. But Thanksgiving has always been a bit adrift in terms of cinema – for whatever reason, it just doesn’t have the wider cultural relevance of its bookending holidays.

That doesn’t mean we don’t still see some Thanksgiving films, though. The latest entry into the genre is “Friendsgiving,” an indie comedy by first-time feature writer-director Nicol Paone. Featuring a star-studded cast, the film takes a look at two friends struggling to deal with the changes in their lives, dealing with their new realities in very different – and equally unhealthy – ways.

It’s also a very funny look at how the holidays have very different impacts on different people, as well as how our blood relations aren’t necessarily as close to us as the chosen families we assemble from our nearest and dearest friends. It’s goofy and light and occasionally poignant – all in service of the spirit of togetherness that is, at its core, the whole point of Thanksgiving.

Published in Movies

Every moviegoer is different. We all have our own personal tastes. We have likes and dislikes specific to ourselves. Also – and this is important to note – we can like things that are “bad” and dislike things that are “good.” Again – taste.

This brings us to Adam Sandler.

As someone who came of age in the early 1990s, I experienced the beginnings of Sandler’s cinematic output at PRECISELY the right age. “Billy Madison,” “Happy Gilmore,” “The Waterboy” – those movies were squarely in my juvenile-humored wheelhouse. So even as I grew up and my tastes became (somewhat) more sophisticated, I maintained a real affection for Sandler and his work.

Objectively, I can look at his output and recognize its many, MANY flaws. I can watch these films and acknowledge how “bad” they are. That doesn’t change the fact that part of me still enjoys watching them. Even the REALLY bad ones.

Happily, his new film “Hubie Halloween” – the latest installment under his megadeal with Netflix – isn’t one of the outright terrible ones. It isn’t, you know, good or anything, but it’s not as awful as some of what he’s churned out in recent years. Directed by longtime collaborator Steve Brill from a script co-written by Sandler and Tim Herlihy, it’s fairly typical, the standard goofy-voiced man-child boilerplate packed with dumb jokes and stupid gags, all delivered by the usual assemblage of Sandler buddies and relatives.

It’s shaggy and sloppy in the usual ways, but there’s also a low-key cheerfulness at the heart of the movie that elevates it somewhat. It’s far from the top of the Sandlerian canon, but it’s even farther from the bottom. These days, that’s a win.

Published in Movies

Robert De Niro is one of our greatest living actors. The history of American film simply cannot be told without including a number of his films. He has seven Academy Award nominations for acting – five in Best Actor, two in Best Supporting Actor, with one win in each. He is a titan of cinema.

However, he is ALSO a working actor who has long shown willingness to undertake projects that won’t get him anywhere near the Oscar stage, making loads of films that are far more populist than prestigious.

His latest film is “The War with Grandpa” … and you can probably guess into which category this one falls.

The family-friendly comedy – directed by Tim Hill from a screenplay by Tom Astle and Matt Ember (adapted from Robert Kimmel Smith’s book of the same name) – is pretty standard fare, tame kid stuff that aims to be inoffensively entertaining. It’s the kind of film that young viewers will likely find delightful and that older audiences will find more or less tolerable.

That said, the film sports a shockingly strong cast; De Niro leads the way, but we also have Uma Thurman and Christopher Walken, among others. While the quality of the performers can’t fully make up for the generally generic quality of the film, it certainly doesn’t hurt – in lesser hands, this movie could have been just plain bad. Instead, we get a perfectly pleasant, albeit forgettable 90ish minutes.

Published in Buzz
Sunday, 11 October 2020 14:21

A wing and a prayer – ‘Faith Based’

There’s something to be said for cinematic surprises.

It isn’t often that you get a film that not only exceeds your expectations with regard to overall quality, but also in terms of the spirit of the thing. These are the movies that manage to deliver something … more. Movies that somehow give you what you want while also giving you something you didn’t know you wanted until you got it.

That’s where I landed with the new film “Faith Based,” now available through assorted VOD services. Directed by Vincent Masciale from a script by Luke Barnett (who also stars), it’s a comedy about a pair of slacker buddies who come up with a get-rich-quick scheme revolving around making a Christian movie.

Now, you’d be forgiven for expecting a film with this kind of premise to be mean-spirited and/or cynical. But “Faith Based” couldn’t be further from that – the satire here is very much punching upward, taking shots at the greed and opportunism of the world rather than the well-meaning and good-hearted among us. It is also a first-rate and quite funny buddy comedy, as well as a smart look at the spit-and-baling-wire world of independent filmmaking – charming and offbeat and very good.

Published in Movies
<< Start < Prev 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 Next > End >>
Page 1 of 16

Advertisements

The Maine Edge. All rights reserved. Privacy policy. Terms & Conditions.

Website CMS and Development by Links Online Marketing, LLC, Bangor Maine