The Friars Club Comedy Film Festival has long come and gone and work has pretty much gotten in the way of my reviews of the movies I watched. So I figured I'd cheat a bit and grab the descriptions from the film festival website and then just give my ratings. Most of these films won't get a major release so your chances of seeing some of them will probably be limited to Netflix. Not that big of a deal because of all of them, A Serious Man, is the only one I'd highly recommend.
A Serious Man
A Serious Man is the story of an ordinary mans search for clarity in a universe where Jefferson Airplane is on the radio and F-Troop is on TV. It is 1967, and Larry Gopnik (Tony Award nominee Michael Stuhlbarg), a physics professor at a quiet Midwestern university, has just been informed by his wife Judith (Sari Lennick) that she is leaving him. She has fallen in love with one of his more pompous acquaintances, Sy Ableman (Fred Melamed), who seems to her a more substantial person than the feckless Larry. Larrys unemployable brother Arthur (Richard Kind) is sleeping on the couch, his son Danny (Aaron Wolff) is a discipline problem and a shirker at Hebrew school, and his daughter Sarah (Jessica McManus) is filching money from his wallet in order to save up for a nose job.
While his wife and Sy Ableman blithely make new domestic arrangements, and his brother becomes more and more of a burden, an anonymous hostile letter-writer is trying to sabotage Larrys chances for tenure at the university. Also, a graduate student seems to be trying to bribe him for a passing grade while at the same time threatening to sue him for defamation. Plus, the beautiful woman next door torments him by sunbathing nude. Struggling for equilibrium, Larry seeks advice from three different rabbis. Can anyone help him cope with his afflictions and become a righteous person -- a mensch -- a serious man?
This movie asks a lot of questions and if you are familiar with the Coen Brothers, you know they're not the best at answering questions. Darkly funny and visually beautiful like most Coen Brother films - I give this one 4 out of 5 slices.
I've just picked up The Dude Abides The Gospel According to the Coen Brothers - I'll do a book review when I've finished with it.
Four bachelors in the Western Irish village of Killcoulin’s Leap, tired of women and life passing them by, decide to make their fortune the old-fashioned way - by stealing it. But when their simple plan goes awry, the sleepy town awakes to find itself the center of an international story, descended upon by reporters, police and a hard-charging American S.W.A.T. team led by a tireless boss (Linda Hamilton). The men scramble to cover their tracks in a town where no one’s business is private but find that once the town basks in the limelight, there might not be any turning back.
A fun Irish caper film (a la Waking Ned Devine). What can I say, I like Irish men so I enjoyed this film. I've given it 3 out of 5 slices. Also, it won the award for the best feature film at the festival.
Rosencrantz And Guildenstern Are Undead
Julian Marsh (Jake Hoffman) is an out of work ladies' man living in his dad's medical office. Forced to find a job, he begins directing a bizarre off-Broadway adaptation of Hamlet. When his best friend Vince and his ex-girlfriend Anna (Devon Aoki) are cast as Hamlet and Ophelia, Julian sees a chance to win her back from her new lover, a rich, sleazy tycoon with reputed links to the mob. Instead, Anna falls for the playwright, Theo Horace, a suave, but pale Romanian. When Vince mysteriously dies, Julian is approached by a secret society with an incredible story: Theo's play is actually his autobiography. He is a 2000-year-old master vampire, obsessed with destroying the Holy Grail, which the secret society is charged with protecting.
Fun indie flick - I give it 3 out of 5 slices. During this film I sat a couple of seats behind Sean Lennon, who wrote the music for the film. This is the closest I will ever get to The Beatles. Also, they had goodie bags for us which included a t-shirt, which I'm not going to wear. If you live in the US and would like to have this t-shirt (size M), email me at madloona at gmail.com. First person to do so gets the shirt.
After she arrives at her country home for a romantic weekend getaway, things don't go exactly as planned for high-powered Manhattan lawyer Louise (Meg Ryan). First, her husband of 13 years, Ian (Timothy Hutton), tells her that he's leaving her for a younger woman (Kristen Bell). Then, one thing leads to another, and pretty soon Ian finds himself held captive by an oddly cool Louise who explains that she won't release him until he professes his love for her and commits to working on their marriage. And that's when things REALLY start to go wrong. The unexpected arrival of an opportunistic young gardener (Justin Long) and Ian's impatient mistress only serve to complicate the crisis even further, while somehow forcing Louise and Ian to reckon with their past and realistically deal with their future.
Ugh ugh ugh. I'm being generous when I give this 2 slices. I wanted to like this movie - it was written by Adrienne Shelly (writer and director of Waitress and who was tragically killed in 2006) and directed by Cheryl Hines - but I guess I'm just not suited for romantic comedies. I can't believe imdb has a rating of 8.6. Ugh.
Artois the Goat
Lab technician Virgil Gurdies embarks on an epic quest to create the greatest goat cheese the world has ever known, and reclaim the heart of his beloved Angie. A felonious German baker, a grave-digging hermit, and a tiny white goat color this journey of love, destiny and dairy products.
The goats were cute. I don't like cheese (except for mild varieties that are melted) so I was glad this movie did not come with Polyesters' Smell-O-Vision cards.
Anyway, if you like cheese, goats and fake German accents, then add it to your Netflix queue. My rating - 2.5 out of 5 slices.
Veteran miracle investigator Father Dominic and his rookie partner, Father Justin, determine the authenticity of miracles and bust the spiritual criminals who dare disagree. But this time they're up against forces that even they haven't seen before, and Dominic and Justin will have to work together if they're going to solve their toughest case yet...
I loved this short. Nothing like seeing some priests kicking ass martial arts-style so this one rated 4 out of 5 slices. I tried to find it online but no luck - there is a trailer on their website.
If you are truly bored here's a link to my photos from the opening night of the film festival.