comedy

Everybody Wants Some!!

June 23, 2016
Blake Jenner in 'Everybody Wants Some!!' (2016)

A drama about five Turkish girls oppressed by their narrow-minded relatives is hardly the ideal preparation for a consideration of Richard Linklater’s Everybody Wants Some!! – a breezy time capsule set in 1980, featuring a group of jocks who have come to college to play baseball, seduce girls, and possibly attend a few lectures. Not … More


Hunt for the Wilderpeople

May 26, 2016
Julian Dennison in 'Hunt for the Wilderpeople' (2016)

I’ve never wished I was a New Zealander except in the middle of one of Taika Waititi’s movies. There’s so much local colour, so many gags that only a Kiwi would understand, that I always feel I’m missing something. In What We Do in the Shadows it was funny to see the vampires strolling down … More


The Nice Guys

May 26, 2016
Ryan Gosling & Russell Crowe in 'The Nice Guys' (2016)

Take Russell Crowe and Ryan Gosling, a sassy blonde teenager, and a salacious story that revolves around the Los Angeles porn industry circa 1977, and you have The Nice Guys. It’s not so much a formula film as half a dozen formulas that director, Shane Black, has mixed together to create a surprisingly fizzy cocktail. … More


Whiskey Tango Foxtrot

May 12, 2016
Tina Fey in 'Whiskey Tango Foxtrot' (2016)

If The Martian can be classified as a comedy in last year’s Golden Globes, I suppose the same applies to Whiskey Tango Foxtrot. Co-directors Glenn Ficarra and John Requa strive mightily to keep the tone light in a film in which there is a significant amount of carnage and bloodshed, but it’s never laugh-out-loud material. … More


Florence Foster Jenkins

May 6, 2016
Meryl Streep in 'Florence Foster Jenkins' (2016)

Florence Foster Jenkins (1868-1944) entered my consciousness in the early 1990s when I first heard her rendition of the Queen of the Night aria from The Magic Flute. This shrieking, tuneless performance of one of the most challenging pieces in the soprano’s repertoire is the stuff of high comedy. In 2003 Naxos issued an album … More


A Month of Sundays & Pawno

April 29, 2016
Anthony LaPaglia in 'A Month of Sundays' (2015)

‘Fun’ is not a term one associates with contemporary Australian cinema, which has mistaken humourlessness for high seriousness. I’m not pining for slapstick comedy, only for films that can hold an up-tempo mood for more than a minute at a time. The Dressmaker came close last year, while Last Cab to Darwin – a film … More


Eddie the Eagle

April 29, 2016
Taron Egerton and Hugh Jackman in 'Eddie the Eagle' (2016)

Eddie the Eagle may be the year’s most shameless piece of feel-good filmmaking. Many viewers, myself included, usually feel pretty bad at the prospect of another feel-good film, but it would take a special kind of wowser to deny the entertainment value of this tale of glorious failure. What do I mean by a “feel-good” … More


The Lady in the Van

March 10, 2016
Maggie Smith in 'The Lady in the Van' (2015)

Casting Maggie Smith in anything is a reliable way of collecting a few favourable reviews and a tidy sum at the the box office. Make it an Alan Bennett script and the percentages keep improving. And so we have The Lady in the Van, a likeable film with a few fanciful touches that should elicit … More


Alliance Francaise French Film Festival 2016

March 4, 2016
Catherine Frot in 'Marguerite' (2015)

Last year’s French Film Festival reprised three classics, including Jean Renoir’s La Grande Illusion (1937). This year the retro special is Jean-Luc Godard’s Contempt (Le Mépris) (1963). By coincidence this is a film I watched again only recently, after reading Alberto Moravia’s A Ghost at Noon (1954) – a book that is chiefly known today … More


Hail, Caesar!

February 24, 2016
George Clooney in 'Hail, Caesar!' (2016)

“Comedy deserves to be taken seriously,” wrote Aldous Huxley, in 1924, before going on to denounce those “lesser exponents” of the genre who specialise in “triviality, ugliness and vulgarity.” Three years later The Jazz Singer ushered in a new era of ‘talkies’ that would change the way Hollywood made comedies, as slapstick and sight gags … More


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