Sunday 28 August 2016

The Current Cinema - That's Funny - Bursts of comedy mostly on multiplex screens

..... first of all however, an esteemed local jury has handed out $100k to Girl Asleep (Rosemary Myers, Australia, 2015) which you can read about by clicking here.....  Jury Chair Gillian Armstrong is quoted as follows: “The film was a dazzling treat, brave, clever, funny and heartfelt with a wonderful cast and performances especially by the two lead kids, Bethany Whitmore and Harrison Feldman. Beautifully, wickedly designed and shot, it was a visual treat with a brave and successful heightened style that never took us out of the humanity and poignancy of the story. Special mention must go to Elliot's party hair style and blue suit!” .... not a mention of Wes Anderson....

....The trailer for Todd Phillips War Dogs (USA, 2016) concentrates on a couple of moments from up to and around the first third of the movie - a daredevil drive through Fallujah to
deliver a truck full of arms to some US forces in Iraq and a sequence where the two leads realise their low-ball bid to supply arms has cost them millions. Then, at the end, of the movie plays the audience out of the cinema with a rendition of Leonard Cohen's "Everybody Knows" ("Everybody knows the war is over, everybody knows the good guys lost"), a lament also played over the end credits of Stephen Frears Lance Armstrong movie The Program (UK, 2015). So, notwithstanding that War Dogs is directed by the guy who made The Hangover series, all the funny stuff is early on and the film becomes increasingly dark as it burrows into the lives of two young guys out of their business, political, financial and emotional depth in the international arms trade. One wants to be Scarface and the other has a shred of moral responsibility. Yet, everything points us at comedy, most especially the casting of Jonah Hill, the best comedian/comic actor to emerge in half a decade. Whether audiences have been fooled is doubtful. I suspect that here at least they have just stayed away. 

.......Which, it's worth reminding, is where we got to with Down Under, the problematic box office flop all our very own. That too was a movie with an edge which clearly unsettled many and which may have caused the genteel general public to stay away. Both may well have chosen subjects that nobody wants to see a movie about.

Not so with Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie (Mandie Fletcher, UK, 2016), a revival that retrieves and repeats almost every old joke from the vintage TV series and, using the same trope to expand to feature film length as our very own Kath and Kimderella (Ted Emery, Australia, 2012)spends a large amount of time relocating precise suburban characters into glamorous foreign settings. The audience, (an amazing demographic of 90% female with probably 75% under thirty, at the Randwick Ritz on a Friday night), laughed mostly politely. They were in the presence of old friends, presumably  acquaintance having been made via free to air and cable TV re-runs. Of some note is that its vulgarity never descends to the constant foul language of War Dogs or Down Under. 

....Maybe more to come when I manage to get to another movie which requires its audience to know something of the back story in order to maximise enjoyment, 
David Brent: Life on the Road, in which Ricky Gervais hopefully returns to his element.

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