Film Review: Mr. Roosevelt

mrroosevelt_promostill_1-1-5_1-h_2017
Noël Wells’ feature debut is not expressly autobiographical, but there are certainly many parallels between the flailing comedian protagonist and the writer/director/star of the film. Wells was on one season of SNL, but really turned heads as Aziz Ansari’s season 1 paramour on Master of None. Her first film proves that though she’s a talented actress, she’s an even better writer and director. Those others were just holding her back…

Read the rest at Hammer to Nail!

Advertisements

Hammer to Nail: The Complete History of Seattle

The Complete History of Seattle doesn’t just eschew the band documentary formula. Nick Toti’s film, which is mainly about 90s Christian experimental punk group, Raft of Dead Monkeys, binges on the genre and then simultaneously craps and barfs it back up. Believe it or not, this is not a criticism. It’s quite refreshing and exciting to watch something from a typically formulaic genre and not have any clue where you’ll end up.

Part of the reason the film is structured this way is due to Raft of Dead Monkeys’ wholly unique stage show. The band rose from the ashes of 90-Pound Wuss and Roadside Monument – two popular Christian punk bands that were darlings of the faith-based Seattle indie label Tooth & Nail. Taking their name from a throwaway joke in an Adam Sandler SNL skit, they were not your garden variety Christians. Raft’s music was particularly profane and noisy, and their performances invoked many provocative images including bloody crucifixions, fascism, monkeys barfing bananas, male and female go-go dancers, and sexy junkie nurses (played by their wives and girlfriends). At the time of their formation, the band members were feeling disillusioned and alienated from both their fellow Christian musicians and the secular punk scene at large. According to their manifesto, they were attempting to create the music that would usher in the apocalypse. In response to feeling shunned, they basically became Christian anarchists…

seattlecover

Read the rest on Hammer to Nail!

SIFF Event: An Afternoon w/ Molly Shannon

Molly Shannon is a Superstar. Maybe not in the same way that Beyonce or Lady Gaga are Superstars – she’s not an ethereal, looming presence, so much as an awesome person who also happens to be a tremendously gifted comedic and dramatic actor. She first gained notoriety in 1995 when she joined the cast of Saturday Night Live, where she remained for 6 seasons. During that time, she introduced the world to such indelible characters as Mary Catherine Gallagher (“When I get nervous, I stick my hands in my armpits and smell ‘em like this”) and Sally O’Malley (“I’M 50!”). Her characters were hilariously offbeat, but also oddly inspirational because of their unwavering drive and confidence.

On Sunday, May 22nd, the Seattle International Film Festival presented “An Afternoon with Molly Shannon.” After a brief retrospective of her work, (including clips from film and television comedies like SuperstarWet Hot American Summer and Seinfeld, and comedic dramas like Me, Earl, and the Dying Girl and Addicted to Fresno), Variety deputy awards and features editor Jenelle Riley introduced the effervescent actress, who revealed that she was fulfilling a childhood dream by sitting in front of a large audience, answering questions whilst sipping a hot beverage from a mug. “Sorry, your drink is cold,” Riley apologized. Even Molly Shannon can’t have everything…

img_0686-1024x768

Read the rest on Hammer to Nail!

Film Review: Other People

other-people

There have been so many movies made about people dying of cancer; it’s practically become its own genre. Some films are melodramatic almost to the point of glamorizing the disease, as the beautiful stars remain beautiful to their last breaths, spouting tearful platitudes and seeming almost wistful about their imminent demises. Some films are, thankfully, more truthful portrayals of how this all-too common disease absolutely demolishes the lives of anyone it touches. Chris Kelly’s phenomenal debut feature, Other People, not only falls into the latter category, it epitomizes it. In this semi-autobiographical tragicomedy, Jesse Plemons (TVs Fargo, Breaking Bad) plays David, a thirty-year-old New York Based television writer who returns to his hometown of Sacramento to help care for his mother (Molly Shannon, Saturday Night Live, Wet Hot American Summer), who is dying of a rare and particularly aggressive form of skin cancer. David struggles not only to come to terms with his mother’s condition, but also to connect with his younger sisters (Maude Apatow and Madisen Beaty) and his father (Bradley Whitford, TVs Transparent and The West Wing) who refuses to acknowledge the fact that his son is gay. The title refers to the fact that cancer is the sort of thing that happens to “other people”, only now, they are the other people.

Other People is the sort of movie that I find it hard to recommend, because despite the fact it is an outstanding movie, it will also ruin your day, especially if you’ve seen a loved through terminal cancer. There are moments that are practically unbearable to watch, because of their haunting accuracy. But despite the fact that you will need an entire box of tissues to make it through this movie, there are well-timed moments of levity, preventing the characters from tumbling into the abyss of despair. These moments happen organically as they do in life. A tone-deaf acquaintance interrupts David as he’s telling his friends about his mother’s condition, ignoring the tears in everyone’s eyes and hijacking the conversation with her own “struggles”. David finds his parents in jovial hysterics after having eaten too much pot butter. An amusingly self-assured pre-teen (J.J. Totah) converses with David when he comes to visit his older brother, David’s childhood friend. Later, said pre-teen puts on a risqué, Lady Gaga-esque show stopping number at his dad’s birthday party. Jokey exchanges between characters lighten the mood. David’s grandparents (June Squibb and Paul Dooly) make endearingly off-color comments, as only grandparents can. Molly Shannon’s character, Jo, is herself a hilarious person until she becomes too sick to make jokes.

As he cares for his mother, David also struggles to find a writing job, deals with the aftermath of a long-term relationship, and has an epically disastrous OK Cupid date. Even as his mother’s life is nearing an end, David’s must go on. But he finds it understandably difficult to do anything other than try to process the fact that he is about to lose the only person in his life who loves him unconditionally. His biggest challenge is to figure out how to keep his mother’s memory with him after she is gone. Shannon and Plemons have phenomenal mother/son chemistry and their scenes together are the heart of the film.

The film does end on a slight up-note (as up a note as a movie like this can possibly strike). But you’re going to be ugly-crying until the credits roll. Just be prepared for that. Other People is a truly fantastic film. It’s raw, poignant, hysterical, and so dreadfully authentic. I do hope, for Chris Kelly’s sake, that his next film is inspired by a much nicer life experience.

  • Calendar

    • December 2017
      M T W T F S S
      « Nov    
       123
      45678910
      11121314151617
      18192021222324
      25262728293031
  • Search