Romy Shiller

Archive for the ‘Comedy’ Category

Trainwreck

In Comedy, Film, Romance on November 23, 2015 at 8:30 am

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About: [from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia] Trainwreck is a 2015 American romantic comedy film directed by Judd Apatow and written by Amy Schumer. The film stars Schumer and Bill Hader along with an ensemble cast that includes Tilda Swinton, Brie Larson, Colin Quinn, Vanessa Bayer, John Cena and LeBron James.

Plot: Gordon Townsend [Colin Quinn] is telling his two young daughters Amy (Devin Fabry) and Kim (Carly Oudin) that he and their mother are divorcing because monogamy isn’t realistic. Twenty-three years later, Amy [Amy Schumer] is a party girl who drinks too much, smokes weed and sleeps around while dating a gym-addict named Steven [John Cena]

Instead of Titanic you get Trainwreck. The film uses the comparison metaphorically and then throws it away in the recycling bin. I adore that this film opens on a ferry and not a ship. I adore that Schumer recreates Winslet’s “I’m flying” pose. I adore that our lead female reinvents herself and the romantic comedy genre. In a voice-over she says that she hopes the romantic montage is over soon and that it ends like Jonestown [suicide]. Judd Apatow’s involvement means that the tone will be irreverent – and it is.

Judd Apatow tells Variety that he discovered Amy Schumer on the Howard Stern show: I come at everything as a fan. I’m just like a kid who sat in his room and watched Merv Griffin all day long. So every once in a while I’ll hear something and say, “That’s my favorite comedian.”

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I was in my car. I was not that familiar with Amy Schumer’s standup. She was talking to Howard Stern, and she was so engaging. She was talking about her dad having MS and what her relationship is like with him. It was very dark and sad, but also very sweet and hilarious and she clearly adores him. I thought, “This is a very unique personality and I’d like to see these stories in movies.”

So, Schumer plays a woman who has many one-night stands and is scared of intimacy. She meets a sports-doctor on a writing assignment and falls in love. She is very unconventional which does make this a unique rom-com.

I think that she resonates with many men and women. Love and intimacy are not perfect things. They’re far from a romantic montage and even if there is a desire for perfection there are, most often, issues to deal with.

Schumer has a difficult time just ‘trusting’ and most of her relationships follow her father’s older warning that ‘monogamy is unrealistic.’ Her initial love-interest played by John Cena leaves her cold and not emotionally attached. She is not monogamous and has many one-night stands. He learns of this and claims that he wanted to marry her. Her response to his distress is that she is too ‘high’ for this conversation. Her ‘reality’ is being high or absent from important moments. She does not live in the present in a way that involves her at all.

When she meets a man who calls after sex she assumes he is insane. He dashes her expectations of casual encounters. This might not be a ‘casual encounter’ after all.

TV World says: Three-time Emmy® nominee Amy Schumer (“Inside Amy Schumer”) stars as a commitment-phobic journalist in Trainwreck, the film Fandango calls “the funniest movie of the year.”


Schumer takes her undeniable talents to the big screen tossing aside rom-com conventions with a timely and outrageously funny portrait of an unapologetically independent career woman whose hard-partying personal life is turned upside down when she meets Mr. Might-Be-Right. Directed and produced by comedy guru Judd Apatow (Bridesmaids, The 40-Year-Old Virgin, “Girls”), Trainwreck UNRATED arrives on Blu-ray™ & DVD with even more hysterical moments, including deleted scenes, gag reel, line-o-rama & more!

I think that part of my fascination with this film is the tension between Schumer’s obvious dislike of the rom-com genre and her performance in a rom-com. She is contextualized but not constrained by the genre. Huh.

Also brilliant is a black and white film within this film. “The Dogwalker” starring Daniel Radcliffe and Marisa Tomei is playing at a movie theatre Schumer attends. It is hysterical, really.

The thing is, the film in theatres was more politically correct and less ‘offensive’ but well edited. The DVD may be closer to the script, but it is less good than the film was in theatres. It was too long and did feel like some stuff needed to be cut. I am truly sorry to say this.

Bill Hader tells Collider that it was hard to play the romantic lead:

You want to get the balance right. I couldn’t be funny, in the way that I am on SNL. You just can’t be that funny, in this movie. I have to see a side in her that she doesn’t even see in herself. I’m in love with her, and I’m accepting of her, in some ways, and not accepting in others. There’s this balance that you have to have. It’s very easy to try to put in a lot of jokes, but it would have ruined the relationship. I feel like, even on the set, Judd probably thought I was going to be funnier. He was like, “Don’t you want to try something?” and I was like, “No, I’m good with just that.”

Hader’s efforts of being realistic pay off. He is a good foil to his wacky love-interest. His earnestness lends credibility to her putting ‘trust’ in him. We do want them to end up together and we root for her to overcome her issues because he is worthy.

Hader is excellent and Schumer witty. My nit picking about certain flaws should not keep you away from the DVD.

St. Vincent

In Comedy, Drama, Film, review on November 8, 2014 at 10:38 am

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ABOUT: St. Vincent is an American comedy-drama film written and directed by Theodore Melfi, making his feature film debut. The film stars Bill Murray as the title character with Melissa McCarthy, Chris O’Dowd, and Naomi Watts.

Plot: Vincent, a drunken, gambling war veteran retiree, gets recruited by his new single-mom neighbor Maggie to watch over her small grown 12-year-old son Oliver. Vincent’s ideas of after-school activities involve racetracks and strip clubs, but eventually the mismatched pair begin to help each other grow up.

Bill Murray. Wow – as usual. He might win many awards for this film. This film might win several awards too. It did come in second place for “People’s Choice Award for Best Film” at the 2014 Toronto International Film Festival. The film was straightforward in that it did nothing to challenge narrative or the act of watching cinema – so, it was extremely good for the genre. Speaking of genre this film is a dramedy but because there usually is not a blend category, most award shows will probably categorize this film as a comedy.

The Web Magazine, Splitsider recounts a story from The Wall Street Journal: Ted Melfi got Bill Murray to star in his debut feature film St. Vincent, and it’s just as strange and amazing as you might expect a Murray casting story to be. After getting access to Murray’s famous 1-800 number and leaving messages for months, Melfi says he finally got a response from Murray’s lawyer with a request from Murray for a one-page letter regarding the project. A few weeks later, Melfi was driving and got a call from Murray himself:

“Listen,” Mr. Murray said. “I read your script, and I think it’s great—and who are you? I don’t Google people, so tell me about yourself.”

They went on a drive and ate grilled cheese and voila! The directing was excellent and I’m sure that good acting helped. Naomi Watts plays a pregnant, Slavic, stripper/’lady of the night’ – fantastic.

Naomi WattsSteven Zeitchik McClatchy Newspapers says, In fact, when Watts, 46, was first sent the “St. Vincent” script she thought she was being considered for the part that went to Melissa McCarthy. “I mean, that was the Naomi part, so I just assumed that’s what I’d be asked to do.” That role, incidentally, is of an embattled single mother.

She won the funnier part, though, and wound up even doing some improv, particularly in scenes where she looks to get under the skin of Murray’s curmudgeon. “I was going all out, and possibly too far at times,” she told The Los Angeles Times at the Toronto International Film Festival. “But it was new territory and I just wanted to bust out. I felt like I’d been in chains, like I was a wild animal getting out of this cage.”

When a new neighbour (McCarthy) moves in next door, [Murray] forms an unlikely bond with her young son (Jaeden Lieberher).

TV Showbiz notes that Melissa McCarthy has certainly come a long way since her Gilmore Girls days.

The breakout star of 2011 smash hit Bridesmaids is not only starring in sitcom Mike & Molly, which was recently picked up for a fourth season, but she has a plethora of movie roles keeping her busy.

She is very good but in this film her role is minor. The upside is her move into the dramatic instead of the comic. This was a very smart move for her, in my opinion.

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Murray was most recently seen in The Monuments Men.

The friendship between the man and boy felt familiar. Rolling Stone magazine says, Murray plays the title role in Déjà vu Vincent: a Vietnam vet with a weakness for booze and gambling. He becomes the cantankerous baby sitter for the kid next door, in a relationship that feels like a reprise of 1979’s Meatballs, if Murray’s counselor character, Tripper Harrison, had a few decades of hard living under his belt.

Yeah, it may have felt déjà vu but it was really different here. Anyhoo, we mainly have a story about a young boy, who needs a father figure and ends up befriending a cranky older man who bets at the race-track, drinks, hangs out with a prostitute etc. Not a role model by conventional standards but this man has a heart of gold. He pays for the prostitute’s ultra-sound and teaches the young boy to defend himself. Also, he’s Bill Murray so…

There is a lot of strength and compassion in this film. There is a necessary warning against judgement and preconception. What might appear offensive hides an alternate way of being.

Chef

In Comedy, Film, review on August 7, 2014 at 1:37 pm

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ABOUT: Chef is a 2014 American comedy film directed, co-produced, written by, and starring Jon Favreau. The film co-stars Robert Downey Jr., Scarlett Johansson, Sofia Vergara, Dustin Hoffman, Oliver Platt and John Leguizamo. It premiered at SXSW on March 7, 2014 and was released theatrically in the United States on May 9, 2014.

This film has been out for months and when I saw it [about a week ago] the theatre was packed. That is far from surprising to me in that there is nothing offensive, violent or challenging here. If you are hungry, on a diet, in the food industry or love reality television food programs you will enjoy this film. The images of food and cooking were gorgeous.

The director of photography won an American Society of Cinematographers Award earlier this year for the television series “Game of Thrones.” He wanted a change from shooting darkness to light – done.

Plot: Miami-born Chef Carl Casper (Jon Favreau) has a chance to prove himself in a restaurant in Los Angeles, when prestigious critic and blogger Ramsey Michel (Oliver Platt) comes to dine in his restaurant. Popular with hostess Molly (Scarlett Johansson) and his assistant chefs, Carl is working his creative side and dabbling in a new Tasting Menu, but the owner (Dustin Hoffman) intervenes and tells Carl to serve the menu’s old classics.

Yes, this is a very nice, feel-good movie and for many people that is fine but I personally do not think that that is healthy to reinforce the illusion that everything turns out perfectly. However, I am a person who has big problems with most fairy tales. In my mind, this is a foodie fairytale.

The Express says; A word of advice – don’t even think about watching Chef on an empty stomach. There is so much chopping, seasoning, frying, toasting, tossing and tasting sprinkled throughout the film that you are virtually guaranteed to have hunger pangs by the closing credits. That is not necessarily a bad thing, you just need to be forewarned.

Favereau gives the impression of having some nifty culinary skills especially with his high speed chopping of ingredients which is always impressive. He also coaxes a very good performance from Emjay Anthony as the wise, stoical son. Anthony is much more real and believable than many a precocious American child actor. There is also a bizarre cameo from Favereau’s Iron Man star Robert Downey Jr as Casper’s ex-wife’s ex-husband. You have the impression this may have been entirely improvised.

 In USA Today Favreau says about his role as the chef, “I love the romantic image of the chef and I love food and I wanted to do something about being a dad and balancing out career and family. It hit me at once. I wrote it in a few weeks,” he says. “The story was about a guy who has not grown in many, many years, and you can see why. This is a guy who was stuck not growing in his craft, his life, his relationships. But on the surface, he seems to be living the dream.”

Scarlett Johansson is in everything these days and here she plays a romantic interest. She says; “I felt very familiar with that kind of relationship, as I get older and experience different things, understanding the different value in a relationship that isn’t necessarily the person you will end up with and have your family with. Those relationships are rarely explored on film. They are so profound and real.” I would call her limited screen-time cameoish. She is capable of a lot more.

From what I understand, Iron Man is not an Iron Chef… “Downey’s not a cook,” Favreau told MTV News. “He’s a singer, he’s a writer, he’s an artist, so he’s definitely a jack of all trades.” His cameo role is a standard one, limited to one scene only. I’ll take what I can get though. In my opinion, he is the most under- rated actor out there.

A review in the Guardian says, Faveau casts Sofia Varaga and Scarlett Johansson as his love interests, and an adoring moppet as his son, when what he really needed was a script editor who’d trim down that second half travelogue and scrape out some of the cheese. This is all a little harsh, for there’s nourishment to be had, if you lower your expectations. But be warned: a lot of it is just watching Jon Favreau make toasties in a van. Nice toasties. Tastey toasties. Twittered toasties but, um …

The emphasis on social media is humungus here. I am feeling that Twitter does not have the power to make or break you. In this film, Twitter is god-like. Like fairytales, I think that Twitter is a kind-of fabrication of our own desire [huh?].

Amidst all the food and tweeting is a tale about how one man must repair his relationships with a son and ex-wife. Its context – the food – is unique but really this is a story that has been told many times. We are living in a world full of mortal danger. The escape factor here cannot be underestimated.

This is a film you could take your parents to see or if you were interested in a non-edgy first date – go for it.