Vinyl, Season 1, Episode 9: “Rock and Roll Queen” Written …
From the opening credits sequence, Love the Coopers feels like classic studio holiday schmaltz. Santa Clauses ride around town, dogs dressed in Hanukkah and Christmas garb embrace, and families take pictures for greeting cards. The Fleet Foxes’ “White Winter Hymnal” scores the montage, completing an idyllic portrait of dull but harmless seasonal cheer.
It’s easy to be disillusioned by bland, scare-free horror films like The Lazarus Effect. Of course, not every horror film makes Ouija look like The Exorcist, but perhaps we can use this as a learning exercise. Rather than cursing the darkness, let’s light a little candle and look at “Three Things We Can Learn from The Lazarus Effect.”
Better Living Through Chemistry flirts with danger from its opening moments, in which a narrator first says that while each of us can’t help everyone, everyone can help someone, and follows it up by saying that our lead character would dismiss that sentiment as fortune-cookie foolishness. That character, portrayed by Sam Rockwell, who grows more Sam Rockwell-esque by the minute here, would be right to do so, but the film he occupies essentially embraces that sentiment, if to a slightly amoral extent. Better Living Through Chemistry is, seemingly, a bit desperate to both occupy the same satiric subgenre as American Beauty and to be so emphatically unique among other American Beauty-esque films that it’s unable to fully achieve either goal in the end.
Joe Swanberg’s Drinking Buddies is a prime example of how a cast can save a movie from drifting into obscurity once the end credits roll. Good chemistry between actors is essential to making a film enjoyable; luckily for Drinking Buddies, the cast is exactly what turns the film into a minor success. The four principal stars are supremely likable and are given the chance to show off their improvisation skills throughout.