Netflix boasts its ability to release a number of comedy specials. If you have seen one special, you kind of get the gist of every other special. The material always differs but the presentation is the same. A comic stands alone, on stage, hoping their zingers land and their poignant messages get across. But when Jenny Slate’s “Stage Fright” landed on Netflix in October 2019, it redefined the comedy special. Slate’s comedy is a certain brand. Watch her in 2014’s “Obvious Child,” and you will understand what you are getting in for. In the film, Slate plays, Donna, an underemployed, struggling comedienne who learns that she is pregnant after a one night stand. The jokes, and delivery, are killer. Slate adds heart to her humor and humor to her heart. The moments read different but all of the same elements are in play.
As with some of Bambach other films, “MARRIAGE STORY” is long on talk and short on cinema. While most are at least a good watch, this one tricks you into thinking you’re getting a marriage story for the first five minutes, but it’s got a little trick up its sleeve and you soon find out that what you almost fell for, is nothing of the sort. With its sorta jokey NY/LA rivalry theme, and in certain LA frames giving us the “Annie Hall” feels, (along with other films in the same vein appear to be evoked here) but the mere mention of these kinds films only highlights the weakness of this one.
“THE IRISHMAN” is both a period piece and an almost historical type piece as you need to know a little history to understand the direction of the narrative and flow of this epic film. The movie, while following Frank “The Irishman” Sheeran (Robert De Niro) as our designated main character, revolves around Teamsters union boss James “Jimmy” Riddle Hoffa (Al Pacino). Fortunately Frank goes to great lengths to narrate the story for the audience and provides a healthy dose of context for those of us not from the Kennedy era.
Every year, we are introduced to a handful of young actresses between the ages of about twenty and twenty-five. Brie Larson. Jennifer Lawrence. Emma Stone. Kristen Stewart. The list goes on and on. Each of the women mentioned above have impressive resumes. Their work rightfully has solidified them for further career success.
The 31 days of horro continues with Netflix's Bird Box directed by Susanna Bier. Sandra Bullock leads as the film follows the events of an apocalyptic force making people commit suicide if they look at it.
Steven Soderbergh’s latest offering, “The Laundromat” (2019), is supposedly about the events and circumstances that surrounded the Panama Papers that were released in 2016, yet it manages to teach its audience very little. The movie, directed by Soderbergh, adapts a non-fiction book into a story that isn’t entirely narrative or even episodic. It’s a disjointed and wacky film that feels lacking in a central focus that attempts to illustrate the different types of corruption that the Panama Papers shed light upon. However, even a good performance by Meryl Streep can’t salvage this film.
“Wounds” is Babak Anvari’s latest film--he is a British-Iranian filmmaker best known for his directorial debut in 2017 with the brilliant “Under the Shadow”. Here, he takes the same cultural critique approach of that film and uses that framework to critique millennials. “Wounds” is based on Nathan Ballingrud’s novella, “The Visible Filth”--which I haven’t read, but if the conclusions this film draws are similar to those of the source material, then by god, I want it on my kindle NOW.
GLOW - The Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling - is a based-on-a-true-concept type sitcom (? drama ? sit-ma ?) about a women’s wrestling in the eighties. It’s a feminist by default excuse to recreate the most extreme looks of 80s women's fashion and some of the most cliched of 80s women's problems with some kitschy wrestling scenes and liberal politics thrown in for good measure. Like the "A-Team" meets "A League of Their Own" meets "Tiffany" but with heart.