Take one of the most famous musicals of all time, the 1931 Rodgers and Hammerstein Oklahoma!. It’s nearly a century old, and is dated in its takes on gender, sexual dynamics, and traditional American values from the time. It has some darkness lurking in its story, but it’s always buried under the surface, opting for unbridled optimism instead. It’s fun, it’s a crowd-pleaser, it’s a classic.
Say you want to deconstruct and satirize Oklahoma!. Why not make a new musical (Wyoming!), a commentary on some of the messed up norms that are accepted in the name of a fun, surface-level musical?
Now imagine that instead of making this new satire, you simply change the tone of the original Oklahoma! musical to bring all of its darkness right to the forefront. That’s exactly what the Oklahoma! 2019 revival does; the lyrics and script are all identical to the original, and yet the sharp edge is front and center rather than buried beneath glitz and glam.
“Wiener-Dog tells several stories featuring people who find their life inspired or changed by one particular dachshund, who seems to be spreading a certain kind of comfort and joy.” This is the description given to Wiener-Dog when it played Sundance, and while technically true, anyone familiar with Todd Solondz’s work will suspect something a bit more cynical is afoot. The film does not disappoint, presenting a pitch-black dark comedy comprised of four disparate tales about the human condition loosely connected by one displaced dachshund. This movie is not for everyone. It’s cynical and mean-spirited, and it features animal abuse, which can be particularly hard to stomach. However, I found the movie hilarious and want to talk about each of the four sections, including the ending. [Spoilers] ahead. (more…)
I was able to catch an early screening of Deadpool, and am pleased to say that it is definitely the Deadpool movie that fans have been clamoring for since X-Men Origins:Wolverine totally tanked the character. I’ve never been a huge fan of the character, but I found the movie darkly funny throughout, and on par with similar entries like Kick-Ass or Kingsman: The Secret Service. Here are some mostly spoiler-free (as if spoilers matter here) thoughts. (more…)
The most rewarding experience of Sundance is seeing what the next year of movies will look like. Of the 120 feature films that were selected to screen at Sundance, I was able to catch 18 in a five day frenzy. Almost all of them were really good, and several I would consider fantastic. Here are some of the most exciting future releases of 2016: (more…)
“Buzzard” follows Marty Jackitansky, a misanthrope and small-time scam artist, as he cheats any system he can while avoiding being caught in the act. The director, Joel Potrykus, makes no attempt to take a moral position on Marty’s scams, instead letting the movie serve as a study of Jackitansky’s character and the minor horrors he inflicts.
The film shares a number of similarities with “Kumiko: The Treasure Hunter,” a 2015 release about a Japanese woman who pursues the insurance money lost at the end of Fargo. Both feature outcasts who don’t fit in with their peers. Both are extremely bored and disinterested with their lives, and are willing to give everything up and sacrifice their comfort in exchange for freedom. And both feature strange, surreal endings that really punctuate their themes.
“Buzzard’s” ending in particular really reshapes how the audience remembers the entirety of the film, and leaves a lot to be interpreted and explained. Needless to say, [spoilers] ahead for “Buzzard.” (more…)