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Triple-slash projects have long been a subject of fascination for me. The amount of confidence, bravado and sheer will necessary to write, direct AND star in a film is considerable; add to that the fact that these sorts of movies tend to be passion projects and you’re almost guaranteed something that will be, if not necessarily good then at least interesting.

“Vengeance,” the new film from writer/director/star B.J. Novak, is both.

It’s a compelling tale of a writer and aspiring podcaster making his way to Texas to try and use tragedy as fodder for his own creative endeavors, marked by smartly executed mystery and plenty of dark comedy. It’s also a thoughtful exploration of the exploitative nature of a certain kind of storytelling and the impact that those stories can have not just on the audience, but the subjects.

Published in Movies
Wednesday, 18 September 2019 09:10

Fun run – ‘Brittany Runs a Marathon’

Movies don’t often surprise us anymore. That’s by design – we live in a world of massive marketing budgets and huge publicity pushes, when every major release receives multiple trailers and press junkets and the whole nine yards.

Then again, there are different kinds of surprises. There are the indie darlings that turn out to be dark horse awards contenders. There are the presumed anointed that wind up falling flat both critically and commercially. And then there are movies that surprise on a more individual level.

“Brittany Runs a Marathon” falls into that third category. Specifically, it features a lead performer – in this case, Jillian Bell – known primarily for comedic work taking the turn into something with a bit more substance. That’s not to say that comedy is somehow insubstantial, only that it’s interesting to see comedic performers taking dramatic risks.

This movie is that risk for Bell, a gifted comedian who displays a degree of emotional vulnerability and honesty that is a significant departure from the work we’re accustomed to seeing from her. The comedy isn’t gone – she’s as funny as ever – but it’s coming from a genuine place, informed by real feeling. It’s a smart, sharp story that manages to balance a comedic coarseness with an underlying message that is legitimately inspirational.

Published in Movies

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