GET SERIOUS, SILLY, GROSS & SCARY
If it weren’t for stars Tommy Lee Jones and Meryl Streep, this film would be almost unwatchable. Advertised as a romantic comedy, it’s anything but. This serious drama brings to life – if you can call it that – a very long counseling session with an extraordinarily bland psychologist (Steve Carrell). We squirm as he guides his unhappy clients through sex therapy 101. The audience I saw this with was skewed a tad older. There were clusters of mature women who giggled throughout. Maybe there should be a new category of film ratings that restricts anyone under 60 from seeing the film. NC-60! Co-stars Mimi Rogers and Elizabeth Shue are in it for a total of about 30 seconds.
Two North Carolina half-wits vie for the state’s congressional seat. Neither one knows what he’s talking about. So, in many ways, it’s an accurate reflection of what’s happening in our real life political scene. Will Farrell is long-term, unopposed, charismatic congressman Cam Brady. Ferrell said he based his character in part on John Edwards – hair and all!). Zak Galifianakis the pudgy, strangely effeminate, unlikely challenger Marty Huggins. The billionaire Motch brothers (Dan Aykroyd and John Lithgow)are the money behind the scenes. They want to “insource” Chinese workers. Instead of pie fights and slipping on banana peels, there’s mud slinging and backstabbing galore. Jay Roach directs from a script that was under constant revision that allowed for crazy, last minute improvisation. Galifianakis says he’s been doing this mincing, lisping heterosexual character since high school because it made his dad laugh. Made me laugh too.
Are you ready for a violent, over-the-top, dark comedy about desperate, stupid people doing dastardly dumb things in Dallas? When a drug dealer’s mom (whom everyone despises) steals his stash, he has to come up with $6K fast or he’s dead meat. So he hires a crooked cop – “Killer Joe” Cooper — who has a sideline as a hit man to off his hated mom for the insurance. One snag is that the broke kid doesn’t have the $25 grand up-front money to pay Killer Joe, so the cop takes Dottie, the kid’s sweet, innocent virginal sister as sexual collateral. Matthew McConaughey is Killer Joe and he’s always a gentleman. Well, almost always. Emil Hirsch is the kid, Thomas Haden Church is his dad, Gina Gershon is the slut of a step-mom and Juno Temple is Dottie, the down payment. Director William Friedkin’s at home here with this hicksploitation B-movie that wallows in human depravity and oozes gore. It’s lewd, lurid and low down. NC-17 is a generous rating. You may laugh, but you’ll want to take a hot shower when it’s over – or you can detox when you step out of the cool theater into the humid, triple digit heat. Better yet, enjoy these films with a cold beer at Cinemas Palme D’Or.
I really wanted this film from Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris, the husband and wife co-directors of LITTLE MISS SUNSHINE to work, but it left me strangely unsatisfied. Way too many unanswered questions. Paul Dano is a blocked writer with relationship issues. He dreams of a girlfriend (Zoe Kazan) who somehow materializes in real life, all the while controlled by what he writes on his old Olympia manual typewriter. It was hard not to think of the far superior STRANGER THAN FICTION that plays with some of these same conceits. Dano and Kazan are a real life couple. Kazan is memorable. She is also the screenwriter (and grand daughter of Elia Kazan). Anette Bening and Antonio Bandaras are Dano’s parents. Elliot Gould is a wise therapist. They are terrific. And so is Chris Messina who plays Dano’s skeptical brother.
FOR HOME VIDEO:
THE MOST DANGEROUS GAME
There’s a new hi-def transfer of the superb, pre-code, 1932 action-adventure starring Joel McCrea and Fay Wray that was shot on some of the same sets that were used by the original KING KONG production. Based on the famous 1924 short story by Richard Connell (it’s still read in high school and college classes), the film is about a shipwrecked big game hunter who becomes prey on an island of another hunter – Count Zaroff, a madman who hunts humans. Kong’s composer Max Steiner did the music. Cool extras include GOW, THE HEADHUNTER, a bonus film assembled from three documentaries shot during the 1920s in the South Pacific, and interesting commentaries for both films. More info: FlickerAlley.com Blu-ray.
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