46 posts categorized "Black Comedy"

December 18, 2020

COOKIE'S FORTUNE

Cookies_fortuneRobert Altman's small Southern town crime comedy from the pre-smart-phone-days of 1999 is layered with strokes of thematic depth and nuanced satire.

Altman deploys his signature method of interweaving multiple characters and plot-lines to craft a narrative quilt embellished with disarming humor and the regional mores of its authentic location, in this case Holly Springs, Mississippi.

Cookie's fortune

This is black comedy light, but you'll catch the undercurrent of ingrained racism in the hands of Glenn Close's villainess character Camille Dixon. Julianne Moore plays against type to winning results, and Charles S. Dutton steals the movie as the film's most grounded character. 

Rated PG-13. 118 mins. 

5 Stars

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February 14, 2017

BARTON FINK

Barton FInkJohn Turturro plays a Clifford Odets-styled playwright with a mean case of writer’s block after moving to LA to his first screenplay for a big Hollywood studio. Part “Eraserhead” and part “Naked Lunch,” “Barton Fink” is like whitefish on sand.

The neo-noir-styled story takes place around the 1941 Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. If that little factoid is lost on most audiences, it nonetheless provides the Coens with a sense of societal dread that comes through in every frame of the picture. 

It's telling that the Coens famously wrote the script for "Barton Fink" while working through a troubled process during the writing of "Miller's Crossing." Written in just three week's, "Barton Fink" is a minimalist black comedy that relies on John Turturo's nerdy portrayal of the title character to keep the audience on the side of an ostensibly unlikable writer. Turturro's keen sense of comic poker-faced physicality — think Harold Lloyd — runs counterpoint to the lurking evil of John Goodman's insurance salesman Charlie, who occupies the hotel room next to Barton Fink.

Made on a relatively small budget of $6 million in 1991, "Barton Fink" was a box office flop in spite of winning the Palme d'Or at Cannes that year. You couldn't call this movie a polished filmic work of art, but it is a diamond in the rough that kept the Coens creative juices flowing. "Barton Fink" falls into the category of misses that the Coen Brothers have vacillated between for the whole of their career. It's still better than "Intolerable Cruelty" and "Hail, Caesar!" combined.  

Barton-fink2

Rated R. 114 mins. (B) (Three Stars — out of five / no halves)

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February 13, 2017

EATING RAOUL — CLASSIC FILM PICK

Eating RaoulWriter/director Paul Bartell plays a (possibly closeted gay) L.A. wine collector with plans to open a restaurant with his hot-to-trot nurse wife (Mary Waronov). The platonic pair blunders into an unusual way of capitalizing on the early '80s swinging lifestyle of copious sex and drugs when they run BDSM ads in the local smut rag to attract wealthy perverts that they murder for their cash and cars. Cannibalism beckons.

“Eating Raoul” is an hilarious black comedy loaded with transgressive elements — Nazi-themed BDSM sessions, you bet. Paul Bartell is clearly cut from the same weird wood as John Waters. The vibe here is identical to "Serial Mom." What fun.

Who is "Raoul," and does he get consumed, you might ask. Well, you've got to watch the movie to find out the answer to that little buried lede. 

Made on a non-existent budget, here is a kick right in Hollywood’s bloated butt. There is noting politically correct about this comedy, and that’s exactly why you should watch it right this minute, that and because Mary Waronov is out of this world.

Raoul-1

Rated R. 90 mins. (A-) (Four stars — out of five / no halves)

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