REVIEW | Friends With Kids
This is a strange movie. It’s two stars are so unknown over here that the studios instead decided to advertise their supporting cast (which makes sense seeing that it’s the Bridesmaids cast). It’s forever set in Autumn/Winter despite it’s summer release here and spring release stateside. It’s so realistic that it becomes incredibly depressing pretty early on and, like Bridesmaids but far more profoundly, tries to get comedy from the awfulness but it does become hard to laugh on occasion. Jennifer Westfeldt has one of the strangest, more confusing faces that isn’t normally something I would remark on but it actually distracted me frequently. The ending is so drawn out that I left the cinema laying out how I would have edited it to make it pacier and more emotionally impactful, and this is made even more incredible when there is fuck all time given to the period where she’s pregnant. The inevitable conclusion makes the challenges along the way daft and inconsequential, we are just left waiting for them to get over themselves and realise what their friends and the us as the audience realised ten minutes in.
But, beyond all of that, this is still a funny movie in places. Adam Scott is his normal Parks and Recreation/Party Down self, while Chris O’Dowd is excellent at every moment. Maya Rudolph really isn’t very funny, Jon Hamm is not as funny but in this best in the dramatic moments, while Kristen Wiig is far too talented a comedienne to be as ignored as much as she is here. This could have been a far funnier, yet less sweet movie had she been the lead, but this is Westfeldt’s movie and she, like the movie as a whole, is pretty funny, somewhat charming but never quite convinces.
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IN MEMORY OF ADAM YAUCH | Howl
This is the third film distributed by Oscilloscope Laboratories that I have watched this week in memory of Adam Yauch, founding member of the company and Beastie Boy who sadly passed away 4th May.
Howl is the title of a controversial poem from Allen Ginsberg and this film documents the first public reading of Howl interspersed with the trial underway attempting to have the book banned for as an obscenity, recordings of Ginsberg being interviewed in his home regarding both the trial and the creative process and also Ginsberg’s life itself. It is non-linear, flashbacks are shot in black and white while the present is in colour (the present here is 1957) and the readings often fade into artistic animation. This is a potentially very challenging and experimental film and yet it all seems to hold itself together using the words, and possibly beats, of the poem itself.
Howl is another low budget affair but, unlike the two films I have previously reviewed in this series (Bellflower and The Exploding Girl), it is one packed with familiar names and faces. James Franco stars as Allen Ginsberg, Jon Hamm the defense attorney with David Strathairn the prosecuting attorney, Bob Balaban is the judge, while Jeff Daniels, Alessandro Nivola and Mary-Louise Parker are all witnesses. All of these performers take their opportunities to convince and the experience and quality involved definitely helps to ensure that they embody their roles perfectly so as not to remove or distract the audience any further than the plot does. James Franco plays Ginsberg expertly, showing a careful consideration over his delivery both in colloquialisms and when performing. He doesn’t give us much but he gives us exactly what he needs.
This film is an experience that I would imagine few outside of those who already enjoy beat poetry would either know of our enjoy but I will openly recommend to anyone who ever even says the word poetry within conversation in a positive sense.