TL;DR This Week In Cinema: Bad Tropes, Bad Habits & Damn Good Satire
Welcome to Beat's weekly rundown of what's hot in the coming seven days of cinematic releases. Today is an auspicious day, as I've finally given up completely on DC after its total botch job on Suicide Squad.
Two big studio comedies hit screens this week, along with a local offering making waves on the festival circuit and a lesser known flick for the movie lover in us all. And, would you believe, not a whiff of Snyder syndrome on the breeze!
From the folks that brought you Bad Neighbours, Bad Boys, Horrible Bosses and Mean Girls comes another imaginatively titled comedy featuring drinking. The writers of The Hangover - those sharp-witted scribes of our time - are committed to total gender segregation. Where the Hangover trilogy was an exclusive boys' club about partying to an absurd degree, Bad Moms opens up an exclusive girls' club for Mila Kunis, Kristen Bell and Kathryn Hahn. On the agenda? Partying to an absurd degree.
The basic set-up is Mean Girls, with a pitched battle fought over the status quo of high society maternity. Comedy is proving to be at the forefront of putting women and their stories on the big screen, which is grand. Even if all of the writers are men. You may have picked up on that in the sequence where the ladies have a frat party and drunkenly make out with each other.
And hey, if this is your jam, guess what? THEY'VE ALREADY APPROVED A SEQUEL PROBABLY.
tl;dr I never thought I'd say this, but I'm tired of people breaking bad.
(Trailer is NSFW - it contains naughty words as form.)
After a run of (fiscal) successes with This Is The End and Bad Neighbours, Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg are stepping into the animated world with a distinctly adult flick that the marketing team are VERY ADAMANT is all kinds of naughty.
Putting aside the obvious gags about sausages and buns, the director of Monsters Vs Aliens and Madagascar 3 taps into the rich vein of physical comedy inherent in the concept, as supermarket foods become aware of what humans actually do to them: slice, dice, peel and grate them up before eating them.
It's juvenile and (if the trailer's to be believed) hugely over-reliant on 'the fuck word', but I was on board for it. At least until I found out they'd cast Salma Hayek as a fucking taco.
tl;dr Salma 'bout to play with her food.
Ah. Thank you. The locals hit back with the right kind of controversy - the satirical kind! In the wake of the Cronulla riots, two car loads of hooligans from either side of the racial divide (the 'Skips' and the 'Lebs') arm up for retaliatory attacks. Their inevitable meeting is not likely to end well.
The tone is straight up Four Lions. Focusing on the stupidity of both racism and masculine posturing, the film uses extreme language and violence in the classic black comic sense. Specifically, it stabs at the foolish notion that men of our generation are seeking the glory of 'war', regardless of the agenda. "It's like fuckin' Gallipoli," says one of the Skips. "Except this time, they're on our turf." Writer/director Abe Forsythe gives us ciphers on either front in the form of Evan (Chris Bunton) and Hassim (Lincoln Younes), who voice actual common sense despite everyone else's protestations.
This is the kind of comedy we really need on our screens. One that unflinchingly turns a mirror to our society; one that makes us laugh and squirm with uncomfortable recognition at the same time.
tl;dr The glory of war!
LOUDER THAN BOMBS
Norwegian director Joachim Trier makes his first foray into English language filmmaking with this intimate drama about a family recovering from the loss of the matriarch. Here's something the trailer doesn't really let you in on: Isabelle (Isabelle Huppert) was a famous wartime photographer, and much of the drama stems from her former difficulty in balancing that extreme lifestyle with her new domestic world.
But, sadly, she is the Lost Lenore to an entirely male family - Gene (Gabriel Byrne), Jonah (Jesse Eisenberg) and Conrad (Devin Druid). Trier focuses in on dealing with history, how we reconcile death and how we allow ourselves life in the wake of it; but these explorations are closed to women.
While it is a missed opportunity and the frustrating continuation of the most omnipresent trope in Western film, the film itself has been warmly received by critics, particularly for its bursts of magical realist imagery. Trier is also known for his subtlety, which means we don't have to stomach more of this.
tl;dr Living women serve no narrative purpose.
Alfred Hitchcock, who is to film what Shakespeare is to theatre, opened his mind to young filmmaker François Truffaut in 1962, the result of which was a dense and unpretentious insight into the craftsmanship of this cinematic rogue. Now, 50 years on, director Kent Jones adapts their exchanges to the screen, accompanied by interviews with influential modern filmmakers that took their cues from the master.
It will undoubtedly be a love song to perhaps the most celebrated filmmaker of all time, but it also operates as a companion piece to Truffaut's book, contextualising it within cinema history and providing visual cues to Hitchcock's discussion of technique.
If you love film as form, this is a must-see. If it's not piquing your interest, maybe just go watch Vertigo. Trust me.
tl;dr A perfectly ordinary, everyday conversation.
And now for THE VERDICT - maybe you only get to see one of these flicks on the big screen, and you don't wanna waste that night out. So, drum roll please...
Down Under, mate! No question. Dig deep into your own culture cringe and either laugh, or learn, or both.
Until next week!