Toni Erdmann (2016)

Directed by: Maren Ade

Cinematography: Patrick Orth

Starring: Sandra HüllerPeter SimonischekMichael Wittenborn, and Thomas Loibl

Runtime: 2h 42m

Genre: Comedy, Drama

Rating: ♣♣♣♣

 

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. Continue reading “Toni Erdmann (2016)”

I ♡ Huckabees (2004)

Directed by: David O. Russell

Cinematography: Peter Deming

Starring: Jason SchwartzmanIsabelle HuppertDustin HoffmanLily TomlinJude LawMark Wahlberg, and Naomi Watts

Runtime: 1h 47m

Genre: Comedy

Rating: ♣♣♣♣

 

I   Huckabees is a philosophical comedy that follows Albert Markovski, played by Schwartzman, as he is investigated by existential detectives, Hoffman and Tomlin.  His desire to find meaning in specific coincidences in his life inspires him to learn more about the meaning of life.  The story encompasses opposing and differing ideologies surrounding self-image and status,  the human impact on the world, and the interconnected relation-ship between everything within the universe.  The film also features a comedic performance from Wahlberg as well as Jonah Hill’s debut in the acting world. Continue reading “I ♡ Huckabees (2004)”

Zootopia (2016)

Directed by: Byron Howard , Rich Moore, Jared Bush

Cinematography: Matthias Lechner

Starring: Ginnifer Goodwin, Jason Bateman, Idris Elba, Jenny Slate

Runtime: 1h 48m

Genre: Animation, Adventure, Comedy

Rating: ♣♣♣♣

 

It is hard to imagine that a crime thriller about prejudice, corruption, and the viral spreading of misconceptions, is above all else a family-friendly animated adventure comedy.  Zootopia brings a beautifully exotic world to life in a way that we are accustomed to expect from Pixar, not Disney.  For the adults, the film is an overt allegory for intolerance and how fear can be used as a weapon, and for kids it is a story about perseverance and never letting others hold you back from achieving your dreams. Continue reading “Zootopia (2016)”

La La Land (2016)

Directed by: Damien Chazelle

Cinematography: Linus Sandgren

Starring: Ryan Gosling, Emma Stone

Runtime: 2h 8m

Genre: Comedy, Drama, Musical

Rating: ♣♣♣♣♣

 

In general, I am not especially attracted to the musical genre.  This could be due in part to a lack of film musicals being released in recent years.  However, it is more likely that I simply struggle to get into the atmosphere of musicals.  The spontaneous dive into a choreographed number seems to pull me away from the plot instead of reinforcing it.  Chazelle has created a musical drama that pays homage to traditional musicals, but does not stick to their format in his new film, La La Land. Continue reading “La La Land (2016)”

Deadpool (2016)

Directed by: Tim Miller

Cinematography: Ken Seng

Starring: Ryan Reynolds, Karan Soni, Ed Skrein, T.J. Miller

Runtime: 1h 48m

Genre: Action, Adventure, Comedy

Rating: ♣♣♣♣

Ryan Reynolds has yet again found a bombastic, confident character that relishes every moment of screen time.  To be honest, I found his style tiring right away when I first saw him in National Lampoon’s Van Wilder.  There is just something about his smug and arrogant demeanor that is hard to watch.  Luckily, his tiresome foibles epitomize the role of Deadpool. Continue reading “Deadpool (2016)”

Nice Guys, The (2016)

Directed by: Shane Black

Cinematography: Philippe Rousselot

Starring: Russell Crowe, Ryan Gosling, Angourie Rice

Runtime: 1h 56m

Genre: Action, Comedy, Crime

Rating: ♣♣♣♣♣

 

Shane Black’s, The Nice Guys, is one of the best, if not The best, comedy of 2016.  The death of a porn star in the late 70’s sparks an investigation in late 70’s Los Angeles. The story follows Jackson Healy, Crowe, the muscle for hire and Holland March, Gosling, a private eye as they solve the msytery.   Continue reading “Nice Guys, The (2016)”

Eagle vs Shark (2007)

Directed by: Taika Waititi

Cinematography: Adam Clark

Starring: Jemaine Clement, Loren Taylor

Genre: Comedy

Rating: ♣♣♣

 

Waititi’s Eagle vs Shark is a love story between two shy and quirky individuals.  It seems to be written in the same tone as Clement’s Flight of the Conchords and Jared Hess’s Napolean Dynamite.  There are funny moments in the movie, but also some underwhelming sequences.  I enjoyed the addition of some small stop-motion animation sequences to this live action film.  This is not done often enough and I hope that filmmakers keep this in their arsenal.  Overall, the soundtrack was fitting and the movie made me laugh.

 

 

Secretary (2002)

Directed by:  Steven Shainberg

Cinematography: Steven Fierberg

Starring: Maggie Gyllenhaal, James Spader

Runtime: 1h 51m

Genre: Erotic, Comedy, Romance

Rating: ♣♣♣♣

This movie touches on some, more than, risqué subject matter that just dives deeper and deeper as the movie progresses.  The cyclical format of the film persists from the start until just before the end.  This seems to play on the use of both classical and operant conditioning found in the film.  The ever present and in your face masochistic theme is not a new concept behind a film, but this one is also a comedy.  At the end of the day, if you like Maggie Gyllenhaal in kinky situations than this is your movie.