Like cinematic malaria, ‘Zoolander 2’ drains your resistance with its fever-dream insanity.
How many foreign lives does it take to save a white American family? Thanks to the new chase-yarn, ‘No Escape,’ we now have an answer. The guiltiest of guilty pleasures, director John Erick Dowdle has expertly crafted a taut action-thriller crammed with enough white privilege to make The Donald blush.
It’s not just that Paul Thomas Anderson’s movies tend to defy any one genre description; it’s that, often, it seems as if the writer-director is trying to play with many genres simultaneously. The only reason that Boogie Nights isn’t the best drama of the 1990s is that it spends a lot of time trying to be the best comedy of the 1990s instead. So Anderson’s newest, Inherent Vice, is a departure in that it mostly sticks to one style (sun-drenched film noir) and one tone (absurdist comedy). It’s also a fine film, which suffers only when measured against the insanely high standard that Anderson’s past work has set.
Even if you were not around during the 1970s, Inherent Vice comes across as a faded, nostalgic memory. Being a faithful adaptation of Thomas Pynchon’s novel, the film recounts the dying days of the free love era, laced with the look, feel and paraphernalia of the subculture. Anderson’s comedic thriller peppers itself with restless, almost out of place laughter, while dedicating itself to the themes of the early Seventies. One is reminded of private-eye classics such as Roman Polanski’s Chinatown and Robert Altman’s The Long Goodbye, with traces of Zucker-Abrahams comedies like Airplane! and The Naked Gun. For many, the homage to 1970s filmmaking will be a very real and thrilling look down memory lane. For others, it’ll be a history lesson like no other found in modern day filmmaking.
More than perhaps any other director, the work of Ernst Lubitsch has been the most noticeable influence on Wes Anderson’s style. Though the great German-American writer-director, most prolific in the 1930s and 1940s, was never quite so aesthetically bold in the look of his sets, he too was preoccupied with meticulous staging for comedy within his chosen locales, be they the titular Shop Around the Corner or the Parisian hotel of Ninotchka; The Grand Budapest Hotel is set in a fictional European country, the Republic of Zubrowka, another Lubitsch trait from works like The Merry Widow and The Love Parade, though The Shop Around the Corner happens to be set in the city Anderson’s mountaintop lodging house takes its name from. He garnered the descriptor of ‘the Lubitsch touch’ thanks to the moving sincerity that always made itself evident within even his more broad comedic premises, and Anderson’s own best work is that in which a recognisable humanism always makes itself known and potent even within the stylised stiltedness through which most of his characters are written and performed.
The new animated film Free Birds lives in a strange purgatory of concurrently trying way too hard and not trying nearly hard enough. Though its high-concept hook—turkeys go back in time to right before the first Thanksgiving to devise a way for the settlers to not dine on their feathered brethren at the inaugural feast—is admittedly not something animation studios have tried before, the execution is tired, manic, exhausting, and nonsensical.
The Internship is a movie very much like its stars, Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson: it tries too hard to be your friend, it doesn’t know when to quit, and it believes that being slick and shiny is all that matters. But somehow, amazingly, it’s also got flashes of charm and wit, enough so that you almost—not quite—can forgive it its trespasses.
The Mother and the Whore Directed by Jean Eustache Written …