Tag: Dramedy

2017, Movies

Tiff 2017: The Death of Stalin (2017, Armando Iannucci)

Iannucci’s new film is, as I understand it, a bit of a left turn for him: it’s an adaptation of a graphic novel based upon the real event of the title. Though I had no such fears, one could be understandably trepidacious about Iannucci turning his satirical eye to something historically accurate.

2014, Movies

The Monuments Men (2014, George Clooney)

This is a reasonably entertaining, but oddly paced and very traditional film that dramatizes the efforts the US went to in order to rescue the art that the Nazis stole in World War II. As far as I can tell, it is very, very, very loosely based on the true story.

2017, Theatre

Confederation Part I: Confederation and Riel (part of The History of the Village of Small Huts) Live at Soulpepper Tuesday July 11, 2017

This is the second staging of a 1988 set of two 1-act plays which are part of the 21 1-act play cycle, The History of the Village of Small Huts, performed by Video Cabaret, a troupe that uses tableau and total darkness to give essentially soundbite snippets of Canadian history. I can honestly say I have …

2008, Movies

Bronson (2008, Nicholas Winding Refn)

There are probably two types of people: people who think Winding Refn is a genius and people who think he is ponderous, boring and way too interested in style over substance. You can count me among the latter. Despite all the praise over Valhalla Rising and Drive, I found both movies to be flawed. I …

2006, Movies

Bonneville (2006, Christopher N. Rowley)

This film is absolutely not for me but I’m glad that such movies exist. This film takes the evil step mother of so many Hollywood films and imagines the loss of the father from her perspective instead, and it feels like that’s been a long time coming. Combine that with a road movie and you …

2014, Movies

Calvary (2014, John Michael McDonagh)

This is a strange film about the priesthood in Ireland, which starts with an extremely (basically ridiculous) high concept plot, spends most of its time in dark (very dark) comedy and then veers into deep pathos. It shouldn’t work, but it does, and does well.

2013, Movies

Bright Days Ahead (2013, Marion Vernoux)

This is the kind of film that I am glad exists but that I don’t get much enjoyment out of. Were I older – and were I female – I’d probably enjoy it much more. But I am super happy that people make movies like this and I wish there were more of them. (Also, …

2014, Movies

Bird People (2014, Pascale Ferran)

This film tells the stories of two people who accidentally meet. In that sense, it is much like numerous other films that tell individual stories and combine them with chance meetings. Only this one has a fantastical twist hinted at in the title. Why it has that twist I can guess at but I’m not …

2004, Movies

Being Julia (2004, István Szabó)

I haven’t read the novel (I gather it’s one of Maugham’s lesser regarded works) but I feel like the edge that I have always felt in his writing is present here, which is no small accomplishment. Benning gives a bravura performance in the title role (though everybody’s good) and the production design is excellent. But …

2011, Movies

Behold the Lamb (2011, John McIlduff)

This is one of those movies where quirky characters – who don’t like each other – spend a day with each other and learn some kind of profound lessons about life. If this was an American movie it would come complete with a particularly quirky score. I don’t like these people, but though I learn …

2003, Movies

Les invasions barbares (2003, Denys Arcand)

I stupidly watched this without having seen the first film, however I don’t think it matters. This is an affecting and amusing dramedy about mortality, friendship and, above all, family. However, there are some major issues with either the film itself or the characters. It could just be Quebec, but the men and women in …

2007, Movies

The Band’s Visit (2007, Eran Kolirin)

This is a moderately amusing and moderately affecting film. It’s a simple story of a band getting the wrong directions and ending up in the wrong place. The movie plays off familiar lines – Arabic vs. Israeli, etc. – with have been mined many times before. It’s certainly much less obnoxious than many of these …

1996, Movies

Beautiful Girls (1996, Ted Demme)

I think I understand why some people look back fondly on this film. For a ’90s film, it’s got a huge dose of (relative) feminism. The men are awful but at least the women realize (sometimes) that they are. So that’s something. But this is one of any number of these films where the protagonist …

2009, Movies

Bakjwi aka Thirst (2009, Chan-woo Park)

The idea of vampires being used as some kind of metaphor for sex has probably been around for as long as vampires have been in literature. It’s not a new thing. And so, initially, this film feels like yet another in the endless line of erotic vampire films. However, the film has enough twists and …

1932, Movies

Red-Headed Woman (1932, Jack Conway)

This feels like the direct inspiration for Baby Face – in fact Baby Face feels like a rip off. But Baby Face is the superior film: better plotting, motivations for the characters higher production values and, on a personal note, I prefer Stanwyck to Harlow. Baby Face is at least motivated by lust for money …

2009, Movies

Away We Go (2009 Sam Mendes)

This is one of those moderately funny, moderately affecting American indie romantic dramedies that were just everywhere in the aughts. The soundtrack – filled with the music of a man named Alexi Murdoch – is perhaps the most obvious clue that you are watching something made in the aughts, but the whole vibe is just …

1947, Books

The Portable Chekhov (1947), edited and translated by Avrahm Yarmolinksy

This is a pretty great collection of selected short stories from Chekhov, plus two plays (one major, one minor) and a few letters. I am not a man who cares about an author’s letters, so I won’t be discussing those. Chekhov helped set the standard for the short story – you might say he invented …

2013, Movies

August: Osage County (2013, John Wells)

This is an adaptation of a play that fits in a long tradition of American melodramas for the stage which focus on awful families and mental illness (though, earlier in the tradition – such as with Tennessee Williams – the mental illness is implied). Frankly, beyond the better acting and the use of modern medicine …

1999, Movies

All About My Mother (1999, Pedro Almodovar)

I struggle a lot with Almodovar’s films, as I cannot normally relate to where he’s coming from. But here he seems to have assembled something rather impervious to any criticisms I can come up with (aside from, perhaps, the overly episodic nature of the film). This is a melodrama, sure, but it the actors in …

2015, Movies

TIFF 2015: La calle de la amargura aka Bleak Street (2015, Arturo Ripstein) (13/15)

This is an utterly gorgeously shot film about life in particularly downtrodden corner of what I must assume is Mexico City or some other major Mexican city. It’s practically Dickensian in its depiction of life in the shittier parts of a city. Honestly, the film is so well shot that I was rapt by it …

2015, Movies

TIFF 2015: The Club (2015, Pablo Larrain) (6/15)

This is an extremely black comedy – as black as black comedies get – about a group of delinquent priests that have been forced to “retire” in a house in a small town in Chile. Unfortunately my experience of this film was affected by a couple things. First, I saw it with one of the …

2010, Movies

Another Year (2010, Mike Leigh)

This is an affecting and amusing dramedy about one year in the life of married couple (who are seemingly so happy it’s not even funny) and their dysfunctional family and friends. The couple are introduced in the most roundabout way, as if they are not even the protagonists, and the entire film unfolds as unconventionally. …

2001, Movies

The Anniversary Party (2001, Alan Cumming, Jennifer Jason Leigh)

This is one of those great ensemble dramedies where everyone is on and a balance is struck between (dark) laugh-out-loud humour and pathos. Though it gets a little over-the-top acting-wise by the end, it’s hard to dislike it, as watching these actors for two hours is hardly a chore. All the characters feel developed, even …

2012, Movies

The Angel’s Share (2012, Ken Loach)

This is a reasonably entertaining comedy about redemption and how we value things. It suffers a little in terms of not being sure about whether it’s a redemption dramedy or a crime caper, but it’s pleasant enough that you don’t mind. 6/10

2003, TV

Angels in America (2003, Mike Nichols)

There is a part of me that wants to say this is one of the great works of American literature of the late 20th century but I don’t know enough late 20th century literature to say that with any kind of authority and, specifically, I can’t tell you how few American plays I’ve seen written …

2010, Movies

Les amours imaginaires aka Heartbeats (2010, Xavier Dolan)

This is one of those love triangle films we have all seen a million times, where two people vie over another. But, wait, there’s a twist! It’s a woman and a man vying over a man! Never seen that one bef…oh wait. I feel like this is how women must feel when they watch something …

1961, 2015, Theatre

The Physicists (1961) by Friedrich Durrenmatt, adapted by Michael Healy, live at the Tom Patterson Theatre, Stratford, July 25, 2015

This is a play about the social responsibility of scientists posing as a murder mystery-cum comedy, set in an insane asylum. The play uses comedy and the teensiest bit of mystery to dilute it’s overwise very heavy-handed message. The play itself is so prescient (and so relevant to our time) that I am shocked I …

1979, Movies

All That Jazz (1979, Bob Fosse)

I am not a fan of Fellini. Well, that’s not exactly true, I like early Fellini. But I find “peak” Fellini highly overrated and I pretty much can’t stand late Fellini. Of all the “Great Directors” I a have attempted to appreciate, Fellini is among my least favourite. And, well, this is among the most …