What a find! Citizens of the World

Wow, what a refreshingly slow paced film with a mood that transcended it’s 90 plus minutes; “Citizens of the World” written and directed by Gianni Di Gregorio.
The jist is three men in their 70’s (Gregorio being one of the actors as well) decide they are suffering from wanderlust and make a grande` plan to move to a different country. What ensues isn’t hilarity but a beautiful meditation on gratitude for the mundane and routine, something I think anyone in Covid times can fully appreciate.
The other two actors of the trio were Girogio Colangeli and Ennio Fantastichini, who were fantastic in their humanity. Salih Saadin Khalid helped the trio put things in perspective. Bellisimo!

Comedy’s Core: The anticipatory laugh and how Borat Subsequent Film nails it

If we ever needed to have belly laughs, it’s the week before the election and “Borat Subsequent Film” delivers in spades. Just Sacha Baron Cohen’s word play (and to be fair, his 11 other collaborators who worked on the screenplay) alone, is commendable. I double dog dare you to check out Rudy Guillani’s Twitter response to his role in the film and then Sacha’s twitter video follow-up and NOT laugh….classic puns and double entendre!

While there’s many minor characters who are hysterically funny as straight men and women (and for any millennials reading: I mean that in the non-comedic sense, not sexual preference sense), Sacha’s only other main co-star is a Bulgarian actress names Maria Bakalova.

While I thought Maria fit the bill as believable foreigner, I didn’t think she was perfect for this role. She hammed it up a little too much which almost sounds impossible given the absurdity of the plot. My rationale is when you have one character who is the jester, I think the secondary character calls for more subtlety.

A minor flaw though in a perfect film. Sacha is the Groucho Marx of our time and God Bless him we need the humor now more than ever!

I Use to Go Here, A Pleasure!

I Used to Go Here (written and directed by Kris Rey) was a delight, even overcoming my ‘I miss the theater’ nausea caused from at home video. But no kidding, right? Since I love Jemaine Clement and really like Gillian Jacobs (who I adored in the Netflix series “Love”).

With the aid of an outstandingly casted minor role group, the combo of hormonal crises, both college and biological clock, work. Normally, I’d be shaming the 35 year old woman, but here all’s fair in honest vulnerable people needing connection.

Those great minor actors in order of impact include: Brandon Daley, Hannah Marks (great as the lead in “Banana Split”), Josh Wiggins, and Zoe Chao.

If you’ve ever had a crush on a professor, been the fish out of water (the only unmarried in a swarm of marrieds) or simply heart broken over a breakup, “I Use to Go Here” is a movie for you.

Pure Joy: Palm Springs

Palm Springs is directed by the relative newbie Max Barbakow and written by the equally novice screenwriter Andy Siara. And they’ve got legs, in other words, they’re going places!

Starring Andy Samberg and Cristin Milioti, Palm Springs is the best romantic comedy I’ve seen since Long Shot (Rogen and Theron). I laughed out loud several times: for both genuinely funny moments and also quirky twists and turns the movie took. Part sci-fi, part slapstick, both actors gave equally charming performances making you believe in their chemistry and plight.

J.K. Simmons might just be the new John Goodman in simply taking over the screen even in minor roles. I was so excited to see him again, having loved an hated (due to his horrible cruel character) in Whiplash. The other minor character among an entire wedding guest set of actors was Conner O’Malley. With no more than five lines, he made an impression on my funny bone.

Palm Springs is definitely worth a Hulu visit.

Three (new films) for the Road (Couch): Arkansas, The Wrong Missy, & Deerskin

I’m slipping folks, between Covid 19 c blocking my movie theater experience and a new temp job, my review writing has gone out the window like a worn out mask.

But here’s three new films I watched this week from the old couch or recliner:

Arkansas: I’ve come to adore Vince Vaughn, in fact, gosh darn it, I’m going to go to his filmography and try to catch up. There’s something about his dark side and hapless demeanor that makes me sympathize more with him than his machismo contemporary Ben Affleck. In Arkansas, he plays a no nonsense drug runner. The cast is also supported by the genius John Malkovich, another guy, akin to Jeff Goldblum or John Goodman, whose performance, you know, can make even a bad movie, great. Rounding out the cast were lesser knowns (Liam Helmsworth, formerly Mr. Miley Cyrus and CLARK DUKE, in caps since he directed the movie and actually hails from Arkansas). Definitely worth a rental and much better than the lame 49% Rotten Tomatoes.

The Wrong Missy: I also confess to love David Spade’s humor. I could watch the guy eat toast and find it funny, so Adam Sandler’s produced The Wrong Missy, while hideously dumb in parts, had me in the over ten fingers worth of laugh out louds. Lauren Lapkus is a comedic genius and I predict she’ll be the next Melissa McCarthy as far as star power. Directed by Harvard grad/stand up comedian (how’s that for oxymoron?) Tyler Spindel, the movie’s tropical hotel cinematography is quite grand. I also have to mention a minor character who really made me laugh, Nick Swardson.

Deerskin: Last, but not least, those crazy French…written and directed by Quentin Dupieux, starring Jean Dujardin (Academy Award Winner for The Artist) is a comedy horror flick about a guy unhinged after a marital break up. And wow, knew she looked familiar but Adele Haenel (Portrait of a Lady on Fire) plays his side kick. A great movie for PETA folks seeking vengeance, this film is well written and acted.

Extra Ordinary, How ‘Bout Above Average Ordinary

Extra Ordinary is the feature length directorial debut of the creative duo Mike Ahern and Enda Loughman. And while it wasn’t ‘extra’ (I love that term spoken in Uncut Gems by Julia Fox to describe “Howard” Adam Sandler), it was pretty original and entertaining.

Here’s why:
The dead pan jokes mostly landed….there were a few clunkers and some of it a little cliche, BUT because the story was so original and the cast s innocently convincing, the humor gelled.

The actors were ordinarily real…Maeve Higgins (who co-wrote the film) stars and while a lesser version of Olivia Colman, does a good job as the lonely spinster driving instructor. Barry Ward who plays the widower love interest is almost too hot for the lost puppy role, but he fits the bill channeling different ghosts’ personalities. Claudia O’Doherty who played the clueless roommate in Netflix’s great comedy called Love, is perfect as ‘Satan’s Servant’s the angry wife. And last but certainly not least, was the creme de la creme, Will Forte as the aforementioned demon seed.

To elaborate, Will Forte has carved the perfect niche of playing lovable and lame. He did it in The Last Man on Earth, way back in his SNL days creating the character of Mac Gruber, and of course, as the fallible human in Nebraska.

One other bonus of this comedy/sci fi is the gross out factor was kept to a minimum. During the one fight scene at the end, I easily turned my head for a minute or two to avoid and any other violence was my speed, comic book level.

The movie was written well enough I’m willing to watch another Maeve Higgins screenplay and watch The Rainbow Bridge Hotel, especially since my senior thesis was on Love Canal, as this comedy set next to chemical plants near Niagara Falls.

A Good Old Fashioned Orgy

If I can recommend one fun adult movie during these quarantine times, ‘ it’s A Good Old Fashioned Orgy written and directed by Alex Gregory and Peter Hyuck, a dynamic comedy duo also known for their work on Veep and King of the Hill.

Rotten Tomatoes critics are pretty harsh at their 39% and this is from a girl who doesn’t care for American Pie type movies (or even-brace yourself-Something About Mary), BUT A Good Old Fashioned Orgy had that sweet spot (dirty pun intended) of a near perfect cast and really funny AND smart writing.

Let’s discuss the titillating cast: Jason Sudeikis is always a wise ass we can love, and if you didn’t like We’re the Millers, get the heck out of here. Lake Bell may be one of my favorite modern comedic actresses (I highly recommend her movie In A World). A ‘new’ guy to me and a great surprise was Tyler Labine who plays the chubby funny guy (I’m going to seek out Someone Marry Barry starring same). I have an interesting attraction-repulsion for Nick Kroll who is excellent as the blackberry obsessed financial analyst and last, I really like Will Forte and Lucy Punch who play a nerdy just married couple.

So give it a chance! It’s not as raunchy as the title might lead you to believe. Guess that makes it a bit of a tease, wink, wink.

Big Time Talent, Big Time Adolescence

Bravo Jason Orley! I liked the story you wrote called Big Time Adolescence and I liked your directing, too. Though I’m not surprised because I also enjoyed Pete Davidson’s comedy special which you also directed. You’re one sharp cookie!

The story of Big Time Adolescence, a younger guy’s bromance with his big sister’s ex-boyfriend was very realistic, as was the ex-boyfriend’s arrested development. We all know one of those guys who gets mired in his hometown, never evolving, basking in his glory days as party animal.

Pete Davidson is perfectly (type?) cast as ‘the dude’ and his little buddy, Griffin Gluck is definitely going places, spot on as the skeptically naive high schooler. I’ll definitely be on the look out for a new movie he stars in called Dinner in America. Rounding out the cast are Jon Cryer (keep acting!!) and pinch your cheeks cute Thomas Barbusca. While this is mostly a bro movie, two actresses who stood out were Emily Arlook and Oona Laurence. And I have to give one more shout out to the man who played the grouchily disinterested Dad on the couch.

Realistic and fun, yet with a tinge of anxious drama. My kind of movie. Thanks Jason Orley!

Elaine May Makes it All Better: A New Leaf

A funny thing happened on the way to the Covid19 rental…so I had the Zelig failure, and determined to save Woody’s creative reputation, I found a recent (2016) free limited series starring Woody and Elaine May called Crisis in Six Scenes and I realized how prolific and funny Elaine May is (and she is 88 in a week, HAPPY BIRTHDAY!). Of course she’s a two time Oscar nominated screenwriter for Primary Colors and Heaven Can Wait.

So down I went into the Elaine May filmography and for a mere 3.99 (see how bias changes when the movie is great?), I had at least 15 laughs watching A New Leaf from 1971 starring Elaine and Walter Matthau.

Elaine was nominated for a Golden Globe Best Actress in this gem and plays a nerd I efinitely resemble. She takes a bus, likes obscure sweet alcohol drinks, and is darn right clutzy. Oh, and she actually likes reading books and going to bed early.

I’ve literally lusted over Matthau’s sarcastic bravado and joining him with comedic glory is Jack Weston and oh my Lord, the tragic things you find out when you research….George Rose who does an outstanding job as Matthau’s butler was murdered by his adopted son in the D.R. in the latt 80’s. Goodness….

So watch it in tribute to him if anything else.
Critics rated it 100% on Rotten Tomatoes and I concur.

Banana Split, New and Tasty!

Banana Split (directed by Benjamin Kasulke whose work I’ve enjoyed in two other films: Laggies and Safety Not Guaranteed) is a tasty new film written by the lead actress Hannah Marks and creative partner Joey Powers.

While the plot’s been done before (even in my own life) in that two young women vie for the same man, Marks and Powers make it seem fresh with a combo of witty dialogue, a cutesie soundtracked grouping of montages in places where we’d normally roll our eyes, and super qualified and likeable actors.

Hannah Marks herself has a face you might see shopping at Publix, yet, her chocolate brown eyes and full lips are quite evocative. Likewise, the man-boy in question is Dylan Sprouse, a pre-Fabio sweet face, as is a Basinger in her twenties hottie Liana Liberato. For comic relief, jester red head Luke Spencer Roberts has the perfect rubbery mouth to make us laugh and care, and a tiny mighty mouse to be reckoned with is Addison Riecke, who I predict could be a future SNL comedian.

Very similar to Book Smart in themes, Banana Split isn’t quiet as intelligent. Party scenes downplay the negative effects of alcohol, a pet peeve of mine. But on a Covd19 Friday evening, the film was a fun watch.