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Tuesday, 13 August 2019 15:22

Mob wives – ‘The Kitchen’

While their position in the zeitgeist has ebbed and flowed over the decades, there’s no denying that mob stories are a fixture in our popular culture. The framework of organized crime allows for loads of violence and sex to go with interpersonal drama – it’s like the whole enterprise was invented for the stories (and plenty of it was).

Here’s the thing about popular stories – it’s tough to find new and successful ways in which to tell them.

That’s perhaps the biggest problem faced by “The Kitchen,” a 1970s-set mob movie that tries to venture down some different and interesting paths, but other than a few flashes, winds up largely bogged down in the clichés and tropes of the subgenre.

Based on the comic book series of the same name, “The Kitchen” tells the tale of three women forced by circumstance to team up and fill the void left by their absent husbands, who have been sent to prison. The leading trio is wildly talented, as is much of the supporting cast, but it isn’t enough; first-time director Andrea Berloff – directing from her own script – can’t seem to avoid the pitfalls of returning to such thoroughly excavated territory.

Published in Movies

Hollywood success can be a double-edged sword. Prominent performers often find themselves pigeonholed by their initial triumphs; the rationale seems to be that if you prove capable of a particular style or type of role, then there’s no reason to ask you to do anything different.

Melissa McCarthy built her career on a certain style of broad comedy, brilliantly combining physicality and coarseness in 2011’s “Bridesmaids,” only to repeat variations on that theme more or less constantly for the next half-dozen years (the odd “St. Vincent” notwithstanding).

So it’s refreshing to see her tackle something completely different in “Can You Ever Forgive Me?” It’s the true story of a struggling writer who harnessed her talent for biography into an ever-widening scheme involving the forgery of letters written by literary greats. It is a bleak, sad portrait of talent undone by self-doubt and false bravado, darkly funny with surprising moments of poignancy.

Published in Movies

I’ve always loved the Muppets. From their anarchic weirdo beginnings through every family-friendly iteration that followed, I was all in on Jim Henson’s fuzzy felted creations … though I always had a stronger connection to their darker side, whether it was overt or subtly lingering just beneath the surface.

“The Happytime Murders,” produced by Henson Alternative, the adult-oriented arm of the company, is very much connected to that darker side. Oh, and it’s definitely overt – this movie is a lot of things, but subtle is not one of them. Brian Henson, son of the legendary puppeteer, directs from a screenplay by Todd Berger.

It’s a comic noir vision of a world in which puppets and humans exist side by side, packed with foul language and incessant innuendo. It is a film that revels in its tastelessness, unafraid to get down and really wallow in the mire. It is coarse and crass and not for everyone.

As you might have guessed, I dug it.

Published in Movies

It seems as though we don’t get the same kinds of breakout comedies in the summer that we once did. The season has become overrun with blockbusters, and while I love superheroes and explosions as much as anyone and more than most, it’s nice to change it up once in a while. And occasionally, a comedy will achieve significant summertime success. A lot of factors have to line up for it to happen – timeliness, star power, subject matter, broad appeal and more – for a comedy to be that movie.

“Life of the Party” is not that movie.

Published in Movies
Wednesday, 20 July 2016 11:44

Who you gonna call? - 'Ghostbusters'

Talented cast brings reboot of beloved comedy classic to life

Few movies have suffered the sort of instant backlash/resentment that was inspired by the remake/reboot of 'Ghostbusters.' Armed with little more than an overly reverent nostalgia and an (admittedly not-great) first trailer not to mention plenty of good old fashioned misogyny hordes of nitwits and trolls took to the internet to bemoan the lack of quality in a film that none of them had even seen yet.

Published in Movies
Wednesday, 13 April 2016 12:04

The Boss' fails to take charge

McCarthy's performance can't elevate sub-par script

Published in Movies
Wednesday, 03 July 2013 10:45

The Heat' is on

Female buddy cop movie delivers laughs

There's no denying that Hollywood likes its formulas. After all, they're in the business of making money if a certain type of film does well at the box office, obviously they're going to try to find ways to continue making that film. All you need is a little bit of a tweak and you've got yourself another smash.

Of course, when it comes to comedy, the summer isn't necessarily a slam-dunk. Big shoot-em-up action spectaculars sell big in the dog days; comedy is something else entirely. But if you can take one of those preexisting formulas and build a comedy around itwell, then you might have something.

Published in Movies
Wednesday, 13 February 2013 14:29

Identity Thief' an identity crisis

McCarthy vehicle struggles to find fun

Since Melissa McCarthy broke out with her supporting role in 'Bridesmaids,' it seems like Hollywood has been trying to figure out what to do with her. Her television bona fides are set she's an Emmy winner for 'Mike and Molly' but movie stardom is a different animal. Pairing her with a talented foil to her brand of broad physicality someone like Jason Bateman and letting her loose probably seemed like a good idea. And maybe it was.

Unfortunately, the end result this time was 'Identity Thief,' a film struggling to understand its own identity.

Published in Movies

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