by Patrick Bromley
Batkid Begins: The Wish Heard Around the World (2015, dir. Dana Nachman) I really enjoyed this sweet and moving documentary when I first saw it during last year's Chicago Critics Film Festival. It's a movie about community; about how people are able to come together in the service of something good and make magic happen. For those who felt like maybe Batman v Superman lacked optimism or heroism, this documentary should make you feel right again.
Extract (2009, dir. Mike Judge) Yes, this is the lesser of writer/director Mike Judge's three live action features. But that might be an unfair standard, seeing as how his first two (Office Space and Idiocracy) are both modern classics in their own ways. Extract is a more traditional comedy about the existential plight of the middle class white male, a demographic that is woefully underrepresented in Hollywood films. That complaint aside, the movie is funny and features another great put-upon performance by Jason Bateman, an actor who does this type of thing better than most. The real scene-stealer of the film, though, is Ben Affleck in the kind of smaller character role he got good at during his years spent trying to climb back on top (see also: Smokin' Aces, Hollywoodland). Though not typically known for comedy, Affleck is very funny as Bateman's dim-witted friend. It's one of his more unappreciated performances.
Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day (2008, dir. Bharat Nalluri) Though you might not know it from seeing Batman v Superman, Amy Adams is usually a goddamn delight on screen. That's particularly true of her turn in Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day, an almost completely forgotten little screwball comedy starring Frances McDormand as a quiet and uptight governess who ends up taking a job working for an actress (Adams) juggling three different suitors. While her performance is very stylized, Adams' explodes of the screen -- she's funny, she's sexy, she's silly and she perfectly captures the tone of this character as it would have appeared in '30s and '40s movies. Frances McDormand is great as always and even gets a gentle little romance of her own. This is the kind of movie that would normally repel me based on the title alone, but I was very pleasantly surprised and happy to have seen it upon release. Give it a chance.
The Double (2013, dir. Richard Ayoade) The IT Crowd's Richard Ayoade's second feature as a director (following 2010's Submarine is a very different, very dark, very interesting comedy. Not all of it works, but I admire the effort. Adapting Dostoyevsky's novella, the movie casts Jesse Eisenberg as an unhappy office drone who one day meets his exact double, a more dynamic and more confident version of himself. The pair conspire to seduce the girl that Eisenberg 1.0 has his eye one (Mia Wasikowska). Complications ensue. Eisenberg, an actor whose range is being called into question these days ("The red capes are coming!"), does well in a dual role, but it's Ayoade's approach to the material that makes this worth seeing. It's a rare comedy that deserves to be seen more than once.
I adore Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day!ReplyDelete
Me too. I don't remember the exact moments, but there were so many when Miss Pettigrew has like no self pity- that character amazed me.Delete
Cool list Patrick, I really want to check out the two Ayoade films. I gotta defend Amy Adams in Batman V Superman though. I thought she did really well! I don't like the movie, I think I was probably a bit more negative on it than you guys, but to me Lois was like, the one character with a clearly defined morale compass and that was kind of nice. And I thought Amy Adams was charming, as usual. Okay, said my piece, just wanted to put that out there. Thanks for the list!ReplyDelete
Have grown to love Extract after repeated viewings. It may not be the cultural touchstone that Office Space is (not even close) but the way Judge captures really specific job related banter and attitudes towards "the boss" who everyone else thinks has it so easy, has never been done better. Affleck truly is great.ReplyDelete
Weep for me my Yankee F-Brothers and F-Sisters - my access to American Netflix is no more and this column has lost about 90% of its value to me - 'Nuck Netflix sux. :(ReplyDelete
Can you spring for a subscription to American Amazon Prime? I don't, myself, have Prime, but my understanding is that you can stream lots of movies and things for free with a Prime membership. Mind you, I could be mistaken.Delete
Gi think that's even more complicated than getting US Netflix - think I'd need a US credit card/address plus I don't have an app for playing it through my TV. Ah well, its a legal/moral gray area anyway so maybe I shouldn't complain!Delete
Heh, good point. I didn't think about all that nonsense. Er, I have no idea. Sorry, man. :-/Delete
Ah, Canadian Netflix. That's the dream.Delete
All better than Australian Netflix...:(Delete
Great choices. I will watch them all simultaneously. Has anyone seen Baskin? I'm going to watch it, tonight. If I don't come back, tell my wife and kids I love them very much...ReplyDelete
I saw Baskin last weekend. Wasn't impressed; overrated.Delete