There's so little craziness today in American movies — even American independent movies. Filmmakers are so busy trying to look as if they're not trying too hard that their strained effortlessness is sometimes the only thing that comes through.
Late in The Green Wave, a soulful look back at the brief 2009 people's movement for democratic elections in Iran, a former United Nations prosecutor and human rights activist observes that the protest, despite being brutally quelled by the forces of President Ahmadinejad, was "a tidal wave" that would sweep through the Middle East.
Cam Brady (Will Ferrell) and Marty Huggins (Zack Galifianakis) are political rivals in The Campaign, a movie that improves the more it lets the two actors veer toward the outlandish.
Credit Warner Bros. Pictures
The Motch brothers (John Lithgow and Dan Aykroyd) support Huggins' campaign in hopes of securing their own business interests. The brothers' last name is a not-so-veiled reference to the real-life Koch brothers.
Originally published on Thu August 9, 2012 5:49 pm
There's a devil-may-care recklessness to Will Ferrell that sets him apart from other screen comics — a willingness to commit to the moment without fear of embarrassment, even if the comedy goes right off the rails.
"I don't believe I can offend you in a comedy club," Rock says. Star comedians use comedy clubs to try out new material. "I think that's the deal that's made when you see a famous guy in one of these clubs."
Credit Walter Thomson / Magnolia Pictures
Chris Rock stars as Julie Delpy's boyfriend in 2 Days in New York. Delpy directed the film, a follow-up to her 2007 romantic comedy 2 Days in Paris.
How much funny family dysfunction can you pack into two days? Plenty, if you're Mingus and Marion (Chris Rock and Julie Delpy) an interracial, multinational Manhattan couple — each with kids from previous relationships — hosting Marion's family visiting from France. The film, 2 Days in New York, is a sequel to Delpy's 2007 film, 2 Days in Paris.
Now we're going to talk about an important struggle in this country. We often talk about everyday heroes, people who, with no special credentials and no recognition, do remarkable things. Our next guest found someone like that and decided to make a film about him.
Originally published on Thu August 9, 2012 6:33 pm
When Michele Bachmann, through the most circumstantial of evidence, recently linked Hillary Clinton aide Huma Abedin to the Muslim Brotherhood, it wouldn't have been irrational to think immediately of Joseph McCarthy's witch hunts. Bachmann's claim was quickly dismissed, bringing a rare moment of sort-of agreement between the parties, but it serves as an important reminder. Paranoid character-smearing is a time-honored tool of totalitarian regimes.
Meet the Fokkens follows Louise and Martine Fokkens, identical twins who have worked as prostitutes in Amsterdam for more than 50 years. Martine still works today, while Louise stopped a few years ago because of her arthritis.
Credit Kino Lorber
The Fokkens are well-known in their neighborhood. The film mostly avoids downers but does tell of some darker moments in the twins' past, including an abusive husband and lost daughter.
Despite its dreadful English title (the Dutch title translates to the far better Old Whores), Meet the Fokkens strives mightily to be as quirky and bubbly as its portly protagonists. And it mostly succeeds, painting a warmhearted portrait of a pair of elderly twin prostitutes — they turned 70 earlier this year — one of whom, Martine, still occupies a storefront window in Amsterdam's red-light district while her sister, Louise, gave up the game two years earlier because of arthritis.
The last time my 14-year-old daughter saw me and my wife being affectionate, she said, "Ewwww, old people kissing." Now, I'm not so old — barely half a century. But let's be frank. My daughter's no different from many people whose objects of fantasy are young and freakishly fit. So even a mild, cutesy little comedy like Hope Springs about two sexagenarians trying to have sex can seem shocking, even transgressive.