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Posts Tagged ‘Paul Thomas Anderson’

I’d wax eloquent about the joys of brevity, but it is as much an art form as a goat’s tonsil tethered to the business end of a woodwind instrument. I have merely realized that it takes a week or two for me to forget why I loved or loathed certain films. Hence, the frantic and discourteously blunt dialogue on various films, good, bad and those starring Abhishek Bachchan.

Thursday: Skip Woods is best known for writing brain-dead masala flicks (Swordfish, GI Joe). Before his inglorious pilgrimage towards questionable stardom, he wrote Thursday – a brutish white-knuckled urban thriller. Thomas Jane and Aaron Eckhart are glorious as main characters, Casey and Nick; one a drug dealer and general practitioner of chaos and the other well versed in both, but unwilling to participate. The cameos are so good that if it were up to me I would piss and moan in the parking lot until someone made full-length feature films with the Rasta assassin (Glenn Plummer), the skittish adoption agency executive (Michael Jeter) and the corrupt copper (Mickey Rourke) as lead protagonists.

Good Intentions: I enjoy small-town comedies about blackmailing, dysfunctional families and oddball sheriffs as much as the next blogger drunk on his/her own pathos of fashionable city life. Unfortunately, Jim Issa’s Good Intentions is so mediocre that if you squint one of your eyes you can actually see a silhouette of Tom Hanks in every second frame. The film has one good joke that it beats the crap out of until all the horses drop dead quicker than Luke Perry should actually retire from acting.

Hard Eight: Paul Thomas Anderson always gives us something different to play with every single time. How a single brain can conceive both Boogie Nights and Magnolia I’ll never understand. His debut Hard Eight a.k.a Sydney stars two of my favourite actors – John Reilly, Philip Baker Hall – has Samuel Jackson in his second best role ever and Philip Seymour Hoffman doing what he actually does best, play an ostensibly unlikable tub of lard. They share incredible chemistry too, feeding off each other’s intensity like real performers should. If only Hope Davis, Juliette Lewis or Chloe Sevigny were cast as Reilly’s love interest instead of Gwyneth Palthrow, I would have had a tough time explaining why salt-crusted tears sometimes leave a happy trail on my cheeks.

Raavan/ Raavanan: People treat Mani Ratnam’s films like chunks of yak cheese. They stick a piece in inside their cheeks and chew on it for hours, desperately looking for nuances to hate and love. I’d feel better comparing his films to the now defunct Cadbury’s Dollops chain of ice cream stores; never spent nights wondering how scrumptious their ice creams were; never really playfully tore the dead skin of my palm, thinking about all the wonderful new flavours that could be…sure, I enjoyed a scoop or a cone every now, but that’s because I generally liked ice cream. It didn’t really matter if it were Arun, Kwality or Dollops. The Tamizh version of Ravanan would have been worth a second watch if it weren’t for the lame cinematography/music that sounds/looks ripped off from some unfashionable first-person shooter Playstation game, and Aishwarya Rai. The Hindi version had Abhishek Bachchan…so uhmmm no thanks.

Next Stop Wonderland: Yes, this is a romantic comedy from Miramax Films, but no, it doesn’t suck at all. It’s probably one of most likable romantic films ever made. Director Brad Anderson is man of proven genius (Transsiberian, The Machinist, Session 9, Happy Accidents), but the spotlight from Next Stop Wonderland righteously gleams on the lead couple – Hope Davis and Alan Gelfant and ever so slightly on Seymour Hoffman, who is hilarious as a disgruntled hippie. The couple’s love story is in fact reminiscent of that film in which Amala and Mohan play star-crossed lovers who never get to see each other, with all the melodrama stifled and replaced instead with melancholy. The ending is just perfect even with nobody really dying or carrying the burden of such.



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Patton Oswalt is a stand up comedian extraordinaire and one of those actors who tries really hard to bring in as much originality, finesse and pure unadulterated awesomeness. As a stand-up, he’s dynamite on the microphone (and not just because he resembles a tub of nitroglycerin); explosively funny in delivery, brilliant in content and just under six feet of raging, scatterbrained intellect. Small town America’s repressed comedians turning into Dubya-hatin’, independent art-lovin’, under appreciated, over informed smartass social misanthropists is somewhat of a cliché but the ferocity of his commitment for original humour is something else. He’s great for the same reasons men like Lenny Bruce and Bill Hicks once were. They say it like they see it, without a filter, and secretly nurse a grudge with the world (or at least the 2% which appreciates good comedy) for laughing along with them.

After watching him in Robert Siegel’s Big Fan, I’m also convinced that soon we are going to watch this man receive a ‘best supporting actor’ Oscar statuette, nervously adjusting a ridiculous bowtie in a tasteless suit while sweating profusely and thanking his best friend, Toby the potted plant, for encouraging him through the journey. Then he’d spit at Meryl Streep and ask the Weinstein brothers if they’d like to kiss his ass for 3$ a cheek only to be escorted outside by security and never to be seen on television ever again.

It wouldn’t matter though since Patton Oswalt is one of the funniest fuckers around whether you’ve heard of him or not. Here’s a list of his cameos, movie roles, comedy tours and documentaries I’ve seen.

Down Periscope: Patton Oswalt made his feature film debut in David Ward’s comedy about a goofy submarine crew doing goofy stuff with their super serial Lt. Commander played by Kelsey Grammar. Patton barely gets any screen time as Stingray Radioman and the movie isn’t very good either except for this scene. Moving along.

Magnolia: In Paul Thomas Anderson’s 188 minutes of mindfuck of a movie, he plays Delmer Darion, a blackjack dealer stricken by fate in one of the opening montages. For what it’s worth, he makes a really mean and scurvy face after being accidentally scooped up by a firefighting airplane while scuba diving. Great performances by Julianne Moore, William H. Macy and John C. Reilly too.

Man On The Moon: He has a ridiculously short cameo in Milos Forman’s Andy Kaufman biopic as Blue Collar Guy, a sheepish-looking fellow. Nothing much to say here. Instead of moving along, maybe we could take this opportunity to discuss you, my dear minion. Tell me a bit about yourself. Did the cool kids treat you badly in high school? Do you miss listening to audio cassettes?

Zoolander: Not that it is anything to write home about, but he beats Ben Stiller (Zoolander) silly in the absurdity quotient as the Monkey Photographer. Once again he does his shtick for a few seconds and makes us giggle. I think Will Ferrell’s a barrel of hoots, but still I would have much rather had Patton Oswalt play Mugatu.

Run Ronnie Run: Troy Miller’s trailer park comedy stars a lot of people making idiots out of themselves. Considering David Cross and Brian Posehn co-wrote the script, this film’s excessive gross-out content was really disappointing…and I don’t seem to remember much of Patton did here. IMDB says he played Dozer – Editor #1. Sounds about right Oh Jeff Goldblum almost saves this film with his killer delivery of one-liners.

Calendar Girls: Nigel Cole’s 2003 comedy about none-too-desperate housewives posing nude to raise money for local hospital’s fundraiser is vaguely amusing, especially when Ciarán Hinds and Julie Walters are on-screen. The vendible valetudinarian from Virginia is barely noticeable as Larry in this, and for a wee moment, pops in and out.

Starsky & Hutch: Apparently Ben Stiller is a big fan of Patton. I bet Stiller walked up to director Todd Phillips and said, “Patton friggin Oswalt as a 80s disco jockey, man…call me when it sounds like a good idea to you?” Thank god he called. Patton and his swanky disco suit make a memorable appearance in this film and stage a douchebag dancing contest between a coked-out cop and a man child.

Blade Trinity: This was Patton Oswalt’s initiation into cinema. While his foreskin wasn’t grated and served back to him with a side order of chilli chips, he was expected to act in a truly horrendous film starring Wesley Snipes and stop it plummeting into the abyss. In David Goyer’s crapfest of a comic book adaptation, he plays Hedges – a socially challenged tech geek, which is spectacularly convenient considering Patton in real life is a socially challenged comic book geek. All sorts of Grecian justices were done here.

Reno 911 Miami: Read review here.

Ratatouille: It’d be easy to say that Patton Oswalt sold his soul by starring in a Pixar film, so you can go ahead and say it to your heart’s content. I actually liked the darn film. As irony would have it, he had the least interesting character (lead, but still) in this film but I’m at least glad to know he didn’t do anything stupid with the money like lose weight or star in another Pixar film. Just to remind you, Peter O Toole gives a glorious speech in Ratatouille as Anton Ego, the food critic.

Balls Of Fury: Robert Ben Garant’s kooky caper features one of his funniest cameos. He plays Hammer – a local table tennis prima donna looking to derail Randy Daytona’s (the film protagonist) path to greatness and awe-inspiring good ol’ American heroism. He’s barely on our screen for a couple of minutes but is hilarious enough for us to want more. Much more. The absurd cockiness with which he struts about the ping pong table makes me want to see him play a super villain. Are you listening, Nolan? You have the best man to play either The Penguin or The Ventriloquist right here.

All Roads Lead Home: So finally Patton moves up Hollywood’s ladder and ends up in the ‘main character’s best friend’ rung. Dennis Fallon’s 2008 family drama about broken hearts and sad puppies    (no, really) has the world’s smallest violin playing a stirring version of Iron Butterfly’s Inna Gadda Da Vidda (yes, kidding) halfway through the film. Patton Oswalt as Milo – a sensitive animal shelter worker and Peter Boyle (in his final film appearance), who plays a Clint Eastwood-like grandpa, give us reasons to go slow on the ‘skip’ button. Milo is sometimes sappy, but never annoying, and he’s constantly surrounded by cute puppies. Uh Oh.

Big Fan: Read review here.

Observe and Report: Read review here.

The Informant: Steven Soderbergh has a discernable talent. He hires A-list actors, gives them vaguely quirky characters and makes them behave like they took a crash course in existentialism. Credit to Matt Damon for not letting it bother him; he is surprisingly good in this film. As for the portly and paludicolous possum (don’t ask) from Portsmouth, he plays Ed Berst – one of the company lawyers out to prove Mark Whitacre (Damon) wrong. He sports a great facial expression when Whitacre unrelentingly bullshits in the conference room.

No Reason To Complain / Werewolves and Lollipops / My Weakness is Strong: He hates Republicans, hippies, bigotry, glam rock, Steven Spielberg, and politics, loves indie music, comic books, action figurines and the cleansing aura of nihilism. Plus, he’s tremendously funny. In the Werewolves and Lollipops TV special, he even gives a State Of The Urinal address, urging people not to pee on other people because it’s just not nice at all.  Yes, somebody actually peed on another person during one of his shows in Austin, Texas and yes, he’s that funny. Now I’m going to try and see of he’ll be my pen pal.

The Comedians of Comedy: This is, as Generation X and Y have so lovingly coined, the shit. In 2004, some funny people – Patton Oswalt, Zach Galifianakis, Brian Posehn and Maria Bamford – filmed one of their erstwhile stand-up tours and, with the help of Netflix, shot a documentary feature called The Comedians of Comedy. This is no Werner Herzog documentary where a collage of sounds, colours and ideas explodes in front our eyes, leaving them breathless and shivering. No need to fret about editing, the camerawork and sound-mixing either. They barely delve deep enough into their psyche to give Oprah a chance to even consider giving an itsy bitsy teenie weenie yellow polka dotted fuck. This is about four eccentric comedians trying to hustle some interest for their Gregg Turkington-influenced stand-up tour that features them performing at smaller indie rock venues instead of comedy clubs, and to bring the funnies, fast and furious.

Patton’s in usual form, transitioning from psychotic post-modern preacher mode to ‘funniest dude from college’ mode with ease. He makes Dane Cook’s jokes about society sound like Mickey Mouse’s farts against a cellophane sheet. Zach Galifianakis seems a bit like Jack Black, but not nearly as annoying. But he doesn’t get funnier after the first few minutes he’s in. I’m not a fan of pairing music with comedy either, so his song-style skits didn’t do much for me. As for Maria Bamford, she does great impersonations of people, both living and fictitious, and cute jokes about her dysfunctional family. I really liked the bits when wasn’t on stage and just chilling in front of the camera; also, she should start acting in indie movies since she has a fantastically dreary Hope Davis-like look.

Brian Posehn, for me, is the highlight of the documentary. You might know him as this guy from the sitcom Just Shoot Me, which incidentally makes you want to do just that. He is also a regular on the Sarah Silverman Program. As goes for most people who look like they skin city folks in a lonesome cabin by the hills and eat the rats that try feasting on the remains because mommy didn’t love them enough, Posehn has a great personality. While his jokes are mostly self-derogatory, the punchlines are so sharp and vicious that you never get tired of them. Plus, his uber geekdom towards comic books and arcade games are both creepy and adorable. There’s even a half of minute of proper cinematic goodness when he awkwardly hugs his wife before hitting the road with Patton.

I hope a special place is reserved for me in hell because I’m going to have to say, these guys are truly the comedians of comedy.

One more thing. Support independent musicians, film-makers and comedians. Given all the torrent-ing and thieving that happens, and will continue to do so, we should pledge our allegiance to them any way we can. So go on, order an album from Amazon, buy a DVD of eBay and more importantly, move your butts and watch them perform live.

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