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Archive for the ‘Funny as Hell’ Category

Lars and the Real Girl accomplishes the seemingly contradictory goals of being not only cozy, homey and heartwarming, but deeply weird.

Ryan Gosling plays a very shy young man who lives in the garage of the old family homestead, now occupied by his brother and sister-in-law. He doesn’t want to live in the house, and doesn’t want to interact with people. He sends away for one of those super-deluxe imitation women, and introduces her as Bianca, his girlfriend who is in a wheelchair and doesn’t speak English.

The local doctor advises letting him live out the delusion. “Bianca’s in town for a reason,” she sagely advises. So the family, and then pretty much everybody, goes along with it.

Older brother Gus is a great character, who observes all the manly decorum, reserve, and dignitas, yet lets his heart have the final say. Karen is the lovely warm pregnant wife who does her best for Lars and Bianca. As the townsfolk adapt, Bianca gets a job, volunteers at the hospital, and becomes a real member of the community.

Meanwhile, the doctor helps Lars work through his problems, with a happy ending for all, and that is meant in the most innocent possible way. There are some lovely moments.

Lars and the Real Girl can be taken two ways: superficially, as a delightful entertainment; and meaningfully, as a commentary on many aspects of society as we know it. This would be an interesting date movie. The conversation it could inspire would certainly be indicative of the attitudes and beliefs of a new friend you’re getting to know.

It would even be a suitable movie for a family evening with the kids. Despite the fact that she’s an anatomically correct sex doll, not much is made of that, and any mild innuendo they might hear, would go over the heads of young kids anyway. Although her default posture seems to be knees-spread, Bianca is never salacious, and after her first appearance, she is customarily dressed in sensible country outfits borrowed from Karen.

I know it’s a comedy, but I can’t help taking this detail seriously – Despite living in a cold climate, and with the price of fuel what it is… these people spend an awful lot of time standing around yakking with the house door open.

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I would have to characterize this as one of the most truly bizarre spectacles ever to grace an entertainment venue. Especially one as grand as the Royal Albert Hall. It was inspired by Monty Python’s Life of Brian, the story of “the wrong man in the wrong place at the wrong time.”

I like the song about the Romans, and the singer with the gap between his teeth. And the bagpipe procession. And the part about the sheep. And the love scene is particularly enticing. And the soaring “Find Your Dreams.” And of course, “Always Look on the Bright Side of Life.” And the bonus lumberjack and Mounties.

There must be 400 musicians and vocalists, giving the silliness full-scale operatic treatment. Among the cast: Mrs. Betty Palin, who alludes briefly to her time in Alaska giving birth to a governor, and Biggus Dickus makes a cameo appearance.

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Good Hair (2009)

“Weave sex is a little awkward,” an actress named Nia Long says. “Keep your hands on the titties,” is the advice given by the barbershop men.

If I were a sociology teacher I’d show this movie in my class and we would have plenty enough to talk about for a whole semester. Definitely more to it than meets the eye.

Chris Rock has delightful spontaneous wit.
Al Sharpton is cool.
Ice-T is cool.
Maya Angelou is cool.

The dancers and models we see here are of course in excellent shape, but the ordinary citizens, the folks interviewed by in barbershops and beauty parlors, are so overweight. I’ve been studying up on obesity in America, and it really does seem like we’re being secretly poisoned by something inescapable.

It’s wrong to be judgmental or discriminatory against anybody because of their size, but I’m pretty sure that people who are 100 pounds overweight, don’t want to be, any more than I want to be however many pounds overweight I am. And medical care for the various conditions that occur alongside obesity, well, who can afford any kind of medical care any more? And how beautiful can a person feel, even with a $3,500 hair weave, when carrying around an extra 100 pounds?

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A Staggering Work of Smart Humor, Yet Serious as a Heart Attack

Rev. Billy is an activist preacher whose road show choir sings out in protest against the commercialization of Christmas. They do performance art, infiltrating Times Square or the Mall of America, where they prophesy the Shopocalypse. Finally the holy flash-mob winds up at Disneyland, home of the Antichrist, aka Mickey Mouse.

The average American spends 5 hours a week shopping, so some poor bastard is out there shopping 9 hours a week to make up for me. Some people are clinically addicted to shopping. (One such addict calls herself a shopping bulimic, always buying a mountain of stuff she can’t afford and then returning it.)

The action is interspersed with interviews with real people, and Python-esque animations, one with a sound effect that is somewhere between a Latin liturgical chant and an auctioneer’s spiel. Sometimes Rev. Billy gets arrested. And when the Stop Shopping Choir goes caroling, look out!

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Burn After Reading

It’s wicked funny. It’s smart funny. Frances McDormand is in it. John Malkovich’s part was written for him, so what does that tell you? This is a gem.

Malkovich plays Ozzie Cox, who gets fired from the CIA. His boss says he has a drinking problem, but that’s not true. We see him scrupulously waiting till 5:00 to pour. I love to see a weathered, bald guy trying to explain to his father why he “quit” his job to write his memoirs. Especially when the ancient dad is incapable of speech anyway.

McDormand is Linda, who wants to have 4 different plastic surgery procedures so badly, she’ll do anything. Everybody’s having affairs with everybody else. I love the way Harry’s wife snarls, “Honey!” I love Tilda Swinton as a sadistic pediatrician.

The big surprise is how goddam funny Brad Pitt is. When he’s talking with his blackmail target, his attempt to look hard and evil is wonderful. The filmmakers say that in this work, Pitt has “embraced his inner knucklehead.”

The score is great, just on the edge of parodying the suspense genre. Carter Burwell wrote it and, as Ethan Coen told an interviewer, “his soundtrack fits the movie the characters think they are in, rather than the actual film we are watching.”

Here’s what they mean when they say, if you’re writing a screenplay, show it, don’t tell it. Linda goes to a movie with a guy who doesn’t laugh at the part she thinks is hysterical. When another guy invites her to the same movie, she pretends not to have seen it. They both laugh at the part she thinks is hysterical. It’s love! And when he takes her home and shows her his new invention, she doesn’t freak out. The invention alone is worth the price of admission.

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