Weekend Recommendations 4/27-4/29

Girls Trip (2017, HBO)

Girls Trip does not introduce novel concepts to the comedy genre.  In fact, most of the film is as conventional as it gets.  Four friends—Ryan (Regina Hall), Sasha (Queen Latifah), Lisa (Jada Pinkett Smith), and Dina (Tiffany Haddish)—take a trip to New Orleans in an effort to rekindle their friendship after spending years apart.  When they get to the Big Easy, predictability kicks in, and the normal raunch-comedy shenanigans ensure: drunken misconduct, bar fights, and a plethora of lewd jokes. The movie’s plot also follows an unsurprising character arc.  However, there is one reason you need to see this film: Tiffany Haddish. Every line she delivers in Girls Trip is done with impressive timing and skill.  Without her talent and on-screen charm, the film would have been trip worth cancelling.

Mom and Dad (2017, Hulu)

Do you love Nic Cage being Nic Cage?  Do you hate children? Boy, do I have a film for you.  After a mysterious epidemic triggers a desire in parents to kill their young, Carly (Anne Winters) and Josh (Zackary Arthur) try to survive an evening of hysteria with their mom (Selma Blair) and dad (Nicolas Cage).  The subject matter is unadulterated, campy fun to the highest degree. Who doesn’t want to see Nic Cage trying to kill a nine year old while singing “The Hokey Pokey?”

Good Time (Amazon Prime, 2017)
This was my first introduction into the rich cinematic work of the Safdie Brothers.  Good Time takes place in the span of one evening and follows the journey of Constantine Nikas (Robert Pattinson) as he attempts to break his brother (Benny Safdie) out of jail.  The movie is beautifully shot, transporting the viewer through a feverish odyssey in the urban night of New York City. Robert Pattinson’s performance perfectly balances  vulnerability and arrogance, and shows his acting chops stretch far beyond any of his earlier, more well-known work.  The visuals and camera work are tight and often anxiety-inducing, leaving the audience just as breathless as Nikas.


Weekend Recommendations 4/20-4/22

Phoenix (2014, FilmStruck)

Christian Petzold’s 2014 drama Phoenix is a near masterpiece.  It follows the story of Nelly Lenz (Nina Hoss), a Jewish nightclub singer who survived the horrors of Auschwitz.  Left horribly disfigured from a bullet wound, she undergoes a series of facial reconstruction surgeries. Nelly returns to Berlin in search of her husband Johnny (Ronald Zehrfeld); however, the surgeries have left her unrecognizable.  The tale of deceit that follows is reminiscent of Hitchcock, and the ending leaves an unforgettable mark on the viewer.

The Square (2017, Hulu)

Written and directed by Ruben Ostlund, The Square is a biting satirical look at art, sex, and morality.  After having his phone stolen, Christian (Claes Bang), a well-respected museum curator, decides to seek justice by his own terms.  Using a tracking app, he and a coworker discover Christian’s phone is located in a nearby apartment building, so they go door by door, leaving a note with the demand that his property be returned.  While the premise is simple, the Ostlund’s dialogue sense for the absurd make this film one worth seeing.


Inside Llewyn Davis (2013, Amazon Prime)

The Coen brothers have defined the art of a black comedy, and Inside Llewyn Davis is another masterful entry in their long filmography.   The film follows the story of Llewyn Davis (Oscar Isaac), a struggling folk musician in 1961 Greenwich Village.  After the loss of his singing partner, Davis’ career and life falls apart. Moving, funny, and punctuated with a great soundtrack, Inside Llewyn Davis is one of the best Coen films to date.