12 posts categorized "Satire"

February 10, 2018

THE DEATH OF STALIN

Andrea RiseboroughWhile not as bawdy as it could or should have been, Armando Iannucci’s (director on "In The Loop," scriptwriter on television's "Veep") determinedly British send up of the Russian political structure at the time of Joseph Stalin’s death is a satisfying political spoof.

With no German accents anywhere in earshot, the satire kicks in with Adrian Mcloughlin’s death (as Stalin) while listening to a freshly minted radio recording by Maria Yudina (Olga Kurylenko), a symphony pianist who sends Stalin a hate note along with the vinyl record for the Russian leader to mull over. A puddle of pee surrounds Stalin's [is-he-really-dead] corpse. Not pretty. 

This goofy cinematic vantage on petty jealousies, backstabbing, and political maneuvering of Russia’s Central Committee gives the audience a not so unrealistic sense of how politicians operate regardless of their country of origin.

Jeffrey Tambor is delightfully insufferable as Deputy General Secretary Georgy Malenkov who wrangles to take command of Russia now that Stalin is out of the way. Malenkov has stiff competition in the likes of Lavrentiy Beria (exquisitely cast with Simon Russell Beale), the head of NKVD (Russia’s secret police called the People’s Commissariat for Internal Affairs. Steve Buscemi is predictably watchable as Nikita Khrushchev. Especially delicious is Michael Palin’s turn as Foreign Minister Vyachaslav Molotov. The former Monty Python actor and contributor hasn't lost his razor-sharp comic timing. 

Death of stalin

The Death of Stalin” plays lighter than its subject matter projects. While another trip through the editing process could have helped, this is a movie that audiences will happily discover as time goes by. It doesn’t hurt that the film was banned in Russia. I wish it had been more transgressive to warrant such an action, but it’s got plenty of laughs as it is. Motherland or Home Land, it's all the same. 

The-death-of-stalin

Rated R. 106 mins. (B) (Three stars — out of five / no halves)


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Groupthink doesn't live here.

February 26, 2017

GET OUT

Get OutJordan Peele’s directorial debut isn’t as much a horror movie as it is a scathing social satire. The film is more “Stepford Wives” than it is “Rosemary’s Baby.” The shocks and scares that come at the audience are more related to taking out the garbage on Obama-bot liberals who discovered their asses hung out to dry by Hillary Clinton’s Bernie-directed skullduggery that allowed Donald Trump’s team to win over swing-voters who have also been equally duped by a data-mining system that makes America’s bologna form of democracy obsolete.

Get Out” achieves something that no other film has so eloquently done before; it gives its audience the sense of what it is to be a black adult in a country where the liberals who pretend to stand up for blacks are just as guilty of exploiting them as their racist counterparts. There are stunning moments when Peele’s dialogue strikes unmistakable targets as when this film’s villainous white patriarch (played by Bradley Whitford made up to look strikingly like David Fincher) proudly announces that he would have “voted for Obama for a third term.” Peele is the first black person I’ve heard call out Obama as the Uncle Tom his presidency represented from the first second he took office.

Get-out

While the pacing lags where it should escalate, and Peele all but abandons his film’s most fascinating aspect (the relationship between his black protagonist Chris and his white girlfriend Rose), “Get Out” is a delightful satire that knows enough to not take itself too seriously. Brain transplants give the movie an appropriately B-movie edge.

Get Out

Actor Daniel Kaluuya’s pitch-perfect performance arrives alongside Jordan Peele’s breakout as a talented filmmaker. Social satires rarely strike as cold and deep as “Get Out.” Peele’s message is clear; America is not a hospitable place for the black people it exploits from both sides. With friends like Obama-liberals, none of us need any enemies, much less the likes of the Trump administration and its legion of racist thugs. We may all need to “get out.”

Rated R. 108 mins. (B) (Three Stars — Out of five / no halves)

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February 10, 2015

I STAND ALONE — CLASSIC FILM PICK

I Stand AloneDesolation of the human soul is the provocation for Gaspar Noé’s dead-end French antihero, a nameless, broke 50-something butcher (played by the commanding Philippe Nahon). Nahon’s insidiously repulsive narcissist carries all the marks of a card-carrying right-wing extremist. Self-loathing, racist, misogynistic, and shaking with pedophiliac desires, Noé’s existential everyman of moral depravity narrates his life story. It reads like a bad acid trip.    

Growing up as an abandoned child during World War II leads to the adult butcher owning his own meat shop. His mute 13-year-old daughter appears with blood on her panties. Believing his daughter was raped, he chases the suspect with a knife, but accidentally stabs an innocent man. Several years in prison leave the butcher briefly ready to “reset the counter” on his life. It doesn’t take long for that fantasy to fade. The setting is France circa 1980. Our hateful man (with the metaphoric and literal occupation title that describes him) questions his morality while wandering Paris on the run after pummeling his pregnant girlfriend, thereby killing their baby. Noé’s dual-antagonist-protagonist earns no empathy from his audience.

The Argentinian filmmaker uses simple but dynamic stylistic devices, such as a single gunshot sound effect, to emphasize sudden leaps in the butcher’s progressively offensive inner monologue of discontent and rage. Noé isn’t above using cheap gimmicks to toy with his audience, as when “ATTENTION” flashes across the screen before giving the audience “30 seconds to leave the screening of this film,” with only 20 minutes left. Rest assured any weak-kneed viewers would already have exited the cinema long before Noé’s tongue-in-cheek alert.

Seul-contre-tous

I Stand Alone” (Gaspar Noé’s feature debut) is as much a philosophical denunciation of humanity as it is a thought-provoking treatise on mental illness as a socially communicable disease. The suicidal butcher’s cynical philosophy has flashes of clarity amid bouts of violent actions and bloody fantasies. Love may be the only remedy for the butcher’s nagging death wish but even that comes as a sick travesty.

Not Rated. 81 mins. (B+) (Four Stars - out of five/no halves)


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