Little Shop of Horrors (1986)

The late 80’s campy musical is full of outrageous performances from Rick Moranis, Steve Martin, Bill Murray, John Candy, and more. Little Shop of Horrors (1986) is based off of the off-broadway muscial version, written by Alan Menken, and not the 1960’s version, featuring Jack Nicholson.

Vice (2018)

This comedic biopic follows Dick Cheney’s life from college drop-out to vice president of the United States. His transformation of the powers of the executive branch coupled with his ties to Halliburton created waves of destruction that can still be seen today. Adam McKay, of SNL, Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy, and The Big Short, has created a film that simultaneously impresses the magnitude of Cheney’s legacy, while making the devastation palatable through comic relief.

Funny Story (2018)

“A comedy about good people who do bad things” – Michael Glave

Walter, played by Matthew Glave, is a self-absorbed and promiscuous actor still riding the coat tails of an old fantasy television show.  After finding out his new young girlfriend is pregnant, Walter begins to look for a way to both get away and reconnect with his estranged daughter.  When he gets the chance to see her, he takes it and drops everything to head up to Big Sur.  The ensuing road trip and reunion brings plenty of surprises and laughs at every corner.

Lady Bird (2017)

Don’t you think maybe they are the same thing? Love and attention?

 

High school is one of those times in our lives that we never forget.  The awkward navigation of puberty, self-consciousness, and tumultuous interpersonal relationships are the baseline for what become our formative years.  Trying to figure out who we are and at the same time, keep up on school work and planning the trajectory of the next phase of our life.  This can be daunting, but Greta Gerwig was up to the task in her solo directorial debut, Lady Bird.

Lady Bird follows Christine “Lady Bird” McPherson, played by Saoirse Ronan, as she finishes up her senior year in high school.  Her combative relationship with her mother, Laurie Metcalf, causes the primary source of tension throughout the film.  The McPherson family’s low-income status reduces Lady Bird’s post high school options and is a major source of stress for her mother.  With out-of-state college out of reach, Lady Bird is forced to deal with her ambivalent feelings towards Sacramento and the lackluster prospect of city college. 

This authentic portrayal of high school life, has an honest realism that few coming of age movies ever achieve.  It has the quirks and awkwardness reminiscent of Napoleon Dynamite while still anchored in reality.

Toni Erdmann (2016)

Toni Erdmann is triumphant in its use of socially uncomfortable situations to pursue a relaxed and less serious take on life.  The film follows uptight and determined business woman, Ines Conradi, played by Sandra Hüller, and her jester father, Winifred, a.k.a Toni Erdmann, played by Peter Simonischek.  Their characters could not be more polar when it comes to self-confidence in terms of social acceptance. In other words, he doesn’t care what people think about him and she is obsessed with self-image and self-preservation. Ines is making a name for herself as a consultant in the oil industry in Bucharest, Romania.  Winifred is a teacher in Germany who spontaneously decides to visit his daughter after the death of his dog.  Her somber and humorless demeanor mixed with her fierce determination to move up in her company puts her in a highly stressful state throughout the movie.  This, coupled with her father’s outrageous and eccentric persona that is embellished by his live-in-the-moment attitude and absence of shame, makes him push his daughter to her limits.