Watching movies that were made long before the 90s and 80s isn’t something I do very often. Yet, recently I came across film footage of Hollywood icons Jane Russell and Marilyn Monroe. Two ladies who were looking incredibly stunning while walking together.
A few Google searches later, and there I was watching director Howard Hawks’s 1953 comedy/musical classic, Gentlemen Prefer Blondes. A fun movie in which Monroe and Russell play two showgirls named Lorelei Lee and Dorothy Shaw. The ladies are two best friends who happen to be stunning. So stunning in fact that I would have fit right in among the admires Lorelei and Dorothy attracted everywhere they went in Hawks’s film. Fans including a private detective hired by the suspicious father of Lorelei’s fiancé, and a rich, enamoured old man, among many others.
I see Gentlemen Prefer Blondes as a movie that fits into the ‘perfectly pleasant, easy viewing’ category. There’s some mild to moderately amusing humour, the story moves along at a good pace, and visually, there’s much to enjoy; whether you’re taking in the production design or the very beautifully created costumes by Travilla.
As someone who’s near enough always been aware of Monroe’s iconic status, it wasn’t until this movie that I finally understood. To put it in no uncertain terms, the lady is so incredibly magnetic, that I have to wonder whether a camera has ever loved a person more. Travilla’s costumes, Ben Nye’s makeup and the skills of those in charge of hair certainly helped, but of course, there’s a lot more to that special magnetism than the beautiful shell.
My favourite thing about Gentlemen Prefer Blondes? Two things. Firstly, the touching friendship between Lorelei and Dorothy. Secondly, all the stunning fashion! Watch it for the fashion. The story is pleasant enough – but THE FASHION!
One more thing. Here’s the link to the film footage that got me here – in case you’re curious. You see?
The most fitting phrase I can think of to best describe how I feel about the remake of Jane Austen’s classic comedy/drama Emma is ‘Well, it’s not terrible’. Because it really isn’t, but I also didn’t find it to be great either.
Starring Anya Taylor-Joy as the well-meaning ‘handsome, clever, and rich’ Emma Woodhouse, a young woman who likes to meddle in others’ love lives; I must confess that it wasn’t long before I grew tired of Emma’s manipulations.
In all fairness, Austen did predict that Emma wouldn’t be a character many people would like, except Austen herself. A shame for me since there isn’t really much else that goes on in the story to divert from the meddling.
Also starring Bill Nighy, Miranda Hart and Josh O’Connor, the highlights that had me sticking with director Autumn de Wilde’s film till the end include my favourite funny moment. The one that involves the pronunciation of the word ‘innocence’ as ‘InNOsense,’ and specifically Bill Nighy’s character’s reaction to the mispronunciation. Another highlight is Mia Goth’s turn as Harriett, the ‘smiling idiot.’ I’m not sure how Austen describes Harriett in her book, but ‘smiling idiot/simpleton’ is what I got from Goth’s delivery.
Then there are the costumes. The costumes are definitely my favourite thing about Emma overall. Particularly the clothes on Austen’s heroine. Said attire proved absolutely key in keeping me watching all the way through.
Last but not least, we have the confession of romantic feelings under the tree towards the end, I really enjoyed how the moment was captured.
Make time for Emma if you’re curious, and certainly for the costumes.
I liked Force Majeure; I meanDownhill, which is a remake ofForce Majeure (2014); a French film I’ve never seen. As such, there’ll be no comparisons here today. And there’s also a chance that if you’ve seen Force Majeure, you won’t quite agree with the one or two of the positive things I have to say about Downhill, which is of course fine.
Set in the Swiss Alps during a family skiing holiday, and in the aftermath of an unexpected avalanche, directors Nat Faxon and Jim Rash’s Downhill isn’t quite the comedy I expected.
I see Faxon and Rash’s movie as the story of a couple’s marriage falling apart, which kind of sounds like a lot, but Downhill is not as emotionally taxing as Marriage Story (2019), for example. Whereas what happens in Marriage Story made audiences sad, Downhill made me feel awkward and uncomfortable; like a concerned friend realising for the first time, just how unhealthy a couple’s relationship is.
I found Downhill amusing in parts. It’s kind of hard for it not to be with comedy greats like Louis-Dreyfus and Ferrell involved. I enjoyed both their performances. Yet, overall the movie is not as hilarious as I thought it might be. The dramatic/awkward moments stood out more than the comedy.
I see Downhill more as a cautionary tale that’s there to remind us to stay alert; just in case we’re ever in danger of getting involved with a complete coward.
Watch it if you’re curious. Or, you can always watch Force Majeure instead. I’ve heard that it’s better.
The Wrong Missy, a comedy about a man who invites the wrong girl to his company’s corporate retreat, all while trying to invite the woman of his dreams is a movie that fell short of my hopes and expectations.
Starring David Spade, Lauren Lapkus, and directed by Tyler Spindel; on account of the dialogue, performances and editing, within the first ten minutes, I realised that The Wrong Missy wasn’t going to be great. Some of the early writing and directing choices just didn’t result in scenes that filled me with confidence about the quality of what was yet to come.
What’s most disappointing is that I liked the film’s premise, and had been hoping for a better executed movie. Maybe a comedy as undeniably funny, pleasantly surprising, hard to forget and featuring well-drawn characters like in Forgetting Sarah Marshall (2008). What I got instead is a film with roughly two funny moments I enjoyed, while the rest of it seemed as though it needed at least a second draft.
Lapkus’s Missy was supposed to be the source of the bulk of the humour. Unfortunately, I personally found her performance and character’s choices to be too over-the-top and often too obnoxious to be amusing. As for Spade’s performance, he could have done with a little of Lapkus’s energy.
Where the aforementioned funny moments are concerned, there are two I won’t be forgetting any time soon, The first involves a series of unexpected slaps. The other was already shared in the trailer. Specifically, the perfectly delivered line: ‘She’s alive…’ Damn it!’
I say watch The Wrong Missy if you’re especially curious. Otherwise, maybe re-visit Forgetting Sarah Marshall instead.
In new comedy / drama Lucky Grandma, after going all in at a casino, an ornery, grandmother finds herself on the wrong side of luck in New York City’s Chinatown.
Directed by Sasie Sealy; key cast includes Tsai Chin, Hsiao-Yuan Ha and Michael Tow.
Looks like a promising comedy about a bunch of people who underestimated the wrong grandmother. Also, I was supposed to be in New York this spring. Right now I’m open to seeing any NYC-set movies that look good so I can picture myself there.
Lastly, I must say, you’ve got to be close to deaf not to hear the creaking locker door at the end. I’d have jumped immediately. Especially if I were in a towel and thought myself alone.
Woody Fu, Yan Xi, Wai Ching Ho, Clem Cheung, Eddie Yu, Mason Yam, Lyman Chen, Arden Wolfe, Zilong Zee, Kristen Hung, Emma Hong and Wayne Chang also star.
In new comedy / drama The King of Staten Island, standup comic Pete Davidson is Scott, a young man who’s been dealing with a case of arrested development ever since his father died.
Scott spends his days smoking marijuana and dreaming of being a tattoo artist until eventually he has face his grief and take charge of his life.
Directed and cowritten by Judd Apatow; additional key cast includes Bill Burr, Steve Buscemi and Marisa Tomei
I’m in to see how closely what happens in this movie is linked to Davidsons true life story. So far it looks like a lot is the same except they’ve swapped Davidson’s pursuit of a standup comedy career with a career as tattoo artist.
I also want to see this for the comedy greatness of Apatow and Burr; the latter being one of my absolute favourite comedians. He’s just so good! I know he’s not doing standup in this movie but simply seeing one of my favourite funny people, especially while he’s rocking that notable moustache is guaranteed to put a smile on my face.
Maude Apatow, Bel Powley, Pamela Adlon, Kevin Corrigan, Machine Gun Kelly, Jimmy Tatro, Moises Arias, Adriana DeMeo, Hank Strong and Domenick Lombardozzi also star.
There are three reasons I wanted to watch Apple TV+’s Trying, an eight-part comedy series about a young British couple’s journey to becoming adoptive parents. The first reason is I’ve always found the topic of adoption interesting. Secondly, even though I already love London, it’s always great to see the way others capture my favourite city on film. And last but not least, the trailer did definitely promise comedy, something I’m always ready for.
Episode one of Trying starts with the couple in question, Jason (Rafe Spall) and Nikki (Esther Smith) finding out that they’ll never be able to have their own biological children. Clearly an emotionally challenging time and the writers managed to squeeze some small moments of humour out of the scene and those that followed. The issue I encountered is that by the end of episode one, I wasn’t sure I was gong to make it to episode eight. The main reason being Smith’s character Nikki.
I’m sure that Nikki was supposed to be funny and adorable. However, for me, she registering as annoying. Especially in a scene that involves the throwing of two strangers’ phones into a large pond. It’s really the ‘acting before thinking’ aspect of Nikki’s character that proved irritating and unamusing. It may be that I just empathised more deeply than expected with the unsuspecting victims who have now been inconvenienced with having to get a new phone.
By the time the second episode ends, there’s no doubt in my mind that Nikki has a habit of not fully thinking things through before acting. Yet, oddly enough, I now find myself starting to like her. Something to do with seeing her relationship with her big sister made me warm to her. It’s likely that my change of heart has a little to do with having younger sisters myself; not that my sisters have Nikki’s problem, by the way. I digress.
Episode two is also when I realised that most of the amusing moments in Trying, at least for me anyway, are going to be courtesy of Jason and Nikki’s extended family and friend group, rather than the couple themselves.
‘Nikki and Jason are actually quite well matched.’ This is something I wasn’t sure about initially but then episode three, my favourite so far happened. It’s the one when Jason and Nikki meet other potential adopters and with amusing results. It’s also when the couple wake up to the idea that on paper, they’re very likely not the perfect candidates to become adoptive parents; plus a question mark starts to form around Jason’s commitment to it all. The kind of question mark that made me eager to find out if it would all work out in the end. Though, my eagerness didn’t have me thinking ‘This is so good I can’t wait to see how it ends. My reaction was more like ‘I’m in this now, I hope it stays as fun as this episode or gets better.’
During episode four, it became clear that Trying is a double and potentially triple, if not quadruple entendre when it comes to the series title. There’s of course ‘trying’ happening where Nikki and Jason are concerned but certainly also with pretty much every character. For me, the big highlight of episode four, and to be honest the whole series is Imelda Staunton’s character Penny, whose job it is to find out if Jason and Nikki tick enough boxes to get time with the adoption panel who decide whether they can adopt. Penny’s arrival really is a breath of fresh air because of the way Staunton expertly embodies the character. During episode four, it starts to seem as though Trying could easily be seen an undercover campaign to let potential adoptive parents in the UK know that they don’t have to be absolutely perfect to qualify.
Episodes five and six have Jason and Nikki learning more about parenting and themselves before the last two final, all-important episodes; of which seven is my favourite of the whole series. It’s when the couples family gather in their home for drinks and food, resulting in tense situations with entertaining comedic results. In this way confirming my previous hunch that the best scenes in Trying will be the one’s featuring Jason and Nikki’s extended family and / or friends. Then came the final episode when we learn whether or not Jason and Nikki get approval to become adoptive parents. It’s an adequately engaging episode that will make you smile, cringe (not in abad way) and perhaps also cry, especially when a particular speech happens.
I don’t personally know anyone who’s very familiar with the adoption process, so I don’t quite know if Jason and Nikki would be approved or not as adoptive parents in real life. Overall though, I think Trying is an OK show. I may have gone into it thinking and hoping that it would perhaps be ‘the Fleabag of adoption comedies’ but that was clearly far too high an expectation to set because Fleabag is comedy, pacing and writing excellence – if you ask me and many others. Whereas I can’t say that all the humour in Trying always hitas intended. Nor was each episode close to as great as the others.
Nevertheless though, the highlights do remain. Highlights such as episodes three and seven, the funniest of the eight. Staunton’s refreshing character Penny and the moving moments – particularly the one in episode eight during the speech in the panel interviews.
Give Trying a chance if you’re curious enough about the UK adoption process and the aforementioned comedy highlights. Otherwise, if you haven’t already, maybe watch Fleabag. It’s not about adoption but it’s British comedy greatness!
Steve Carell, Noah Emmerich, Lisa Kudrow and John Malkovich are the stars of new Netflix 10 part comedy series Space Force.
Created by Carell and Greg Daniels, at the centre of the story is four-star general Mark R. Naird (Carell). Naird begrudgingly teams up with an eccentric scientist to get the U.S. military’s newest agency Space Force ready for lift-off.
I’m definitely getting Veep vibes. Plus the list of professionally funny people involved is pretty promising.
Are you tempted to watch this one? I never did watch the American version of The Office but suspect that Carell’s role here may be a little similar.
Jane Lynch, Ben Schwartz, Jimmy O. Yang, Tawny Newsome, Owen Daniels, Diana Silvers, Alex Sparrow and Don Lake also star.