Saturday, June 11, 2011
Reviewed at Tribeca 2010: One of the most interesting new forms of nonfiction film is the "comic-doc exploration," in which a stand-up comic and social commentator uses the tools of the documentary film and his own sense of humor to cook up a dish more funny and conventionally entertaining than your average essay film. Bill Maher took on organized religion in Religulous, Chris Rock investigated black hair issues in Good Hair, and now Egyptian stand-up comedian and actor Ahmed Ahmed (one of the stars of Vince Vaughn's Wild West Comedy Show and The Axis of Evil Comedy Tour) explores American and Middle Eastern relations (and the place of comedy within those relationships) in Just Like Us, a slender but enlightening travelogue of his trip through the Middle East with an international group of comedians.
Friday, June 10, 2011
Tristam Shandy: A Cock and Bull Story, with the two actors playing both themselves and characters in the film-within-the-film. In The Trip, an improvised mockumentary/travelogue, they're only playing themselves--or, at least, an extension of the (presumably) comedically exaggerated personas that they played in the earlier film. The result is a giggly, entertaining treat, albeit one that overstays its welcome a touch.
Thursday, June 9, 2011
All right guys, enough is enough. Rifftrax Live: House on Haunted Hill is the latest release from Rifftrax, the trio of former Mystery Science Theater 3000 performers who found success after the show creating downloadable mp3 MST3K-style commentary tracks for popular movies. But over the last couple of years, they have expanded their mini-empire to include standard DVDs of the crew “riffing” on public domain titles and doing live shows—both lucrative revenue streams for the other group of MST3K alums, “Cinematic Titanic,” though the CT crew takes their show on tour, while the Rifftrax guys have partnered with Fathom to do live performances that are beamed into movie theaters across the country as one-time events.
So far, so good; I’m a fan of MST in all of its iterations, and the Rifftrax films—both the downloads and the DVDs—have provided me hours of entertainment. But the trouble is, us hardcore MST3K fans will buy just about anything, and it seems that the Rifftrax guys are succumbing to the temptation to sell us just about anything.
Wednesday, June 8, 2011
Tuesday, June 7, 2011
Monday, June 6, 2011
Unfortunately, that wonderful movie is not The Company Men, although those are qualities that his character in it possesses. But, as has happened so very many times in this fascinating actor’s career, he’s tossing away a complicated, finely-tuned piece of work in an underdeveloped and underwhelming vehicle. Written and directed by veteran TV writer/producer John Wells, it is an insubstantial and, frankly, insincere recession-era drama that doesn’t do right by either Jones or the rest of the talented ensemble.