In this early directorial effort from Paul Schrader, George C. Scott plays a religious father whose daughter disappears while on a church trip. After a private investigator turns up a porno clip featuring her, he decides to immerse himself in the sleazy world of porn to find her. It’s obviously quite dated now but interesting nonetheless.
Schrader’s more well-known follow-up surprised me by not being the ‘days in the life or a male prostitute’ film I expected, but instead concentrates mostly on the titular gigolo’s attempts to clear his name from a crime he’s been framed for.
Jay Roach should be an ideal candidate for a big American political satire, having previous success in both mass-appeal comedies (Austin Powers, Meet the Parents) and fact-based modern political dramas (Recount, Game Change). Unfortunately this aims for the broadest possible laughs, with a very low success rate, and has nothing to say about the politics of a US election campaign other than that the candidates tend to say bad things about each other. Will Ferrell does his usual thing, which was funny at first but has been rather played out, as he goes up against Zach Galifianakis’s last minute opponent to see who can humiliate the other the most.
Seeking a Friend for the End of the World
The apocalypse is coming (again), and there’s nothing that can be done about it. Upon hearing this announcement in the car, the wife of Steve Carrell’s character reacts by opening the door and running away from her husband. Later he hooks up with a vinyl loving neighbour (Kiera Knightly) to escape the city and head cross country. The early scenes depicting many people just not knowing how to deal with their doomed reality are highlights (including a business boom for surprise suicide by hit men) but don’t last long. Carrell anchors the film well but the main focus – the romantic road movie – is a familiar story that could be done without the doomsday backdrop.
Music video director Joseph Kahn throws seemingly every idea he can think of into a high school movie shaped blender to see what comes out. Slasher movie parody, fourth wall breaking, crude comedy, knowing pop culture references, time travel, teen romance, brutal murders, alien invasions, body horror, nothing is off-limits in ‘Detention’. It’s all delivered with a relentless energy, and respectably aims for originality, but ultimately could be a case of ‘throw enough mud at the wall and some of it will stick’.
Husbands and Wives
Another of Woody Allen’s most highly-regarded films, this finds him in dramatic mode skilfully charting the turbulent relationships of two central New York couples. He adopts some uncharacteristic techniques such as brief moments of narration, shaky hand-held camerawork and frequently interjects moments of the main characters discussing their lives directly to an unseen interviewer. Excellent.
Aliens invade an uneventful suburb and it’s up to nice guy Ben Stiller and his neighbourhood watch gang of oddballs (Vince Vaughn, Jonah Hill, and a miscast Richard Ayoade) to stop them in this dreadful sci-fi comedy. It’s frequently surprisingly, and unnecessarily crude and vulgar (which does not automatically equal laughs) and advertises Costco a ridiculous number of times. The cast should have known better.