Comedy

Ed Wood Jesus Do? – Lemon

Film: Lemon (2017)

Directed by Janizca Bravo. Written by Bravo and Brett Gelman.

Available for rent OnDemand, Amazon Video, & Google Play. 

this shit was written by eric

Lemon is a 2017 film directed by Janizca Bravo about a man struggling in every aspect of his life.  Isaac, played to great effect by Brett Gelman, is a theatre director whose long-term blind girlfriend is cheating on him, his prized student is getting better gigs, and his own acting career exists in short unheard monologues of mid-nineties New York.  His family exists as an array of unhinged neuroses ranging from their son’s inability to move furniture without scratching the walls to the shame of having his face featured as the poster boy for those suffering with Hep C. The film is a beautiful trip and does a great job of stripping away the indie man-child dramedy streamlined in the 2000s by Noah Baumbach and Wes Anderson.

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I was delighted to see Brett Gelman star in this film, as I have been a fan of his comedically creepy characters for years. He has had bit parts and side-character spots on random TV shows, and he certainly does not disappoint in this film. His performance is dry and despicable and he rides the very difficult line between pseudo-poignancy and complete contemptibility with great aplomb. Bravo in her own right, is an incredible artist and photographer. She directed a short film in 2013, starring Michael Cera entitled Gregory Go Boom, which felt like Gummo meets Napoleon Dynamite, but better, and she also published a photo series with Vice called TOUPEE between 2011 and 2012 with Gelman starring as her muse, which was equal parts quirky and charming. (He also wrote the accompanying story.)

The film itself boasts an amazing look and feel. Much of the comedy is derived from the incredibly awkward interactions between pompous Isaac and the rest of the world. He is a character trapped in the metaphysical ramblings of theatrical “processes,” and his only passion comes from berating the “lesser” actress Tracy (Gillian Jacobs). Funnily enough, he even pawns that job off to Alex, played stunningly well by Michael Cera. What we are left with is a film about an artist who is so wrapped up in his own “art” that he forgets how to interact with other humans. It is very reminiscent of Caden Cotard in 2009’s Synecdoche, New York, and also draws so well from many other sources. There are bits of surrealism that seem sponged from Quentin Dupieux’s milieu, the social awkwardness of an LA in competition with itself from Curb Your Enthusiasm, and the real messy bits about confronting your own human emotions, as is seen in the films of Yorgos Lanthimos. It also has the yellow coloring and gorgeous soundtrack you’ve grown accustomed to seeing in a Paolo Sorrentino flick.

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Though drawing from very different artistic realms, the film feels wholly of itself. It has an Anti-Hero who isn’t fully a hero, because there is perhaps no part of the film in which he takes full advantage of his agency, and in many ways, the film follows suit. There is so much action that takes place off-screen. It is as though we are watching the downfall of a human Plinko disc, just bouncing off interactions and scenarios and experiences with no true will of his own. Even in the scene where Isaac attempts to intimidate Alex with a knife, Alex appears more off-put and annoyed than frightened. You could not see a lazier, more reluctant fight than the one between these two. In fact, he is so lazy, he can’t even muster enough energy to sing “A Million Matzo Balls” with his family, which is the most entertaining, vividly gorgeous, and downright fun scene in the entire film. In fact, the only time he ever really acts at all is at the hallucinated behest of his new love-interest Cleo’s grandmother, in which he runs her wheelchair down the street in an attempt to help her escape after having a few strokes.

Lemon is an absolute delight that will affect your brain for days to come. I wholeheartedly look forward to seeing more films from Bravo in the future. The music and sound design is thrilling and evocative, and this is a film not to be missed.  

 

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Sloppy Saturdays: Volume 3 – ‘Arachnophobia’

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What is ‘Sloppy Saturdays’?

I realized that I own over 300 movies, many of which I have not watched a second time. Whether on Blu-Ray, DVD, or the legendary LaserDisc, I have a lot of films I need to watch again. So, I’ve decided I should probably go through these and justify why I own them, and perhaps, why you should too. I put them all into a database and will randomly mix them up once a week. Come back every Saturday for a new review. 

-Nick, Editor of CinemAbysmal

 

Sloppy Saturdays – Volume Three

Arachnophobia (1990) – Comedy |Thriller

Directed by: Frank Marshall

Starring: Jeff Daniels and John Goodman

Format I Own: LaserDisc

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Synopsis

Arachnophobia begins like a lot of other movies in the ’90’s: Big city doctor (Jeff Daniels) moves to a small town with the intention of taking over the town’s only medical practice. Little does he know, a spider-bitten corpse from Venezuela was just dropped off and the carcass brought a huge and aggressive, 8-legged freak with him. Somehow, this baseball mitt-sized tarantula mates with a spider in this tiny farm town, and soon all Gremlinsesque hell breaks loose.

What I Love

I think love might be too strong of a word to describe how I feel about this movie, but I did love it as a kid and it’s definitely got some nostalgic value to it. By no means, though, is it a great movie. The effects are dated, they tried really hard to make it funny, which comes off as unnatural, and it’s hard to have Jeff Daniels carry your movie. Every scene with John Goodman is pretty damn good, but really, there’s not quite enough. The musical score is goofy as all hell, as well. But really, if you saw this as a kid, you’ll probably enjoy it merely for nostalgic reasons like I did.

My Favorite Scene

For almost the entire movie, Marshall and crew dog hard on this couple that really likes food. This guy is the town mortician and is constantly eating Ruffles around the corpses, and at a dinner party, he and his wife take full paper plates of food home. Well, when it’s time for the outbreak of spiders upon the town, one climbs into a disgustingly buttery bowl of popcorn that the portly couple is eating out of while watching Wheel of Fortune. It’s standard ‘it’s funny ’cause he’s fat’ fodder, but I still enjoyed it, especially when the murdering spider crawls out of the mortician’s nose after killing him.

 

What You Might Not Like

I think based on the title, it’s pretty obvious why a lot of people would not be able to handle this film. From the beginning, the spiders are big, they’re aggressive, and their actions play on everyone’s basic fears of spiders that bite. While watching, I admittedly lifted my feet off the floor a few times in momentary fear of some scuttling beings. They hiss, they jump and fly through the air, they have dripping, black fangs and they really couldn’t be more frightening.

How You Can Watch

  • Rent for $2.99 on Apple TV, Google Play, and Vudu

 

Final Score: 2.5/4

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Similar Films: Gremlins, The Mist, Eight Legged Freaks

Sloppy Saturdays: Volume 2 – ‘Junior’

junior

What is ‘Sloppy Saturdays’?

I realized that I own over 300 movies, many of which I have not watched a second time. Whether on Blu-Ray, DVD, or the legendary LaserDisc, I have a lot of films I need to watch again. So, I’ve decided I should probably go through these and justify why I own them, and perhaps, why you should too. I put them all into a database and will randomly mix them up once a week. Come back every Saturday for a new review. 

-Nick, Editor of CinemAbysmal

 

Sloppy Saturdays – Volume Two

Junior (1994) – Comedy | Absolutely Insane

Directed by: Ivan Reitman

Starring: Arnold Schwarzenegger

Format I Own: LaserDisc

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Synopsis

OK. Bare with me. Junior is about Arnold Schwarzenegger, who plays some kind of scientist that deals in pregnancies, with his OBGYN partner Frank Reynol…Danny DeVito (if you’re not already gagging at the thought of this, you might need to reevaluate your life) in San Francisco. They create a drug that supposedly induces healthy pregnancies in women after they tested it on chimps or some shit, but the FDA turns them down and they lose their funding. It’s basically the setup for Ghostbusters, but about two dudes that want to get women pregnant instead of chasing spectral entities through New York. Anyway, DeVito convinces Schwarzenegger that he should carry the baby in some kind of abdominal cavity, sans anything that would biologically allow a baby to grow or thrive, but yeah. Guess what happens by the end of the movie?

What I Love

I have absolutely no reservations in calling this movie a huge fucking turd. Honestly, it’s an insult to film and really should never have been made. That being said, I love and respect a lot of what Ivan Reitman has done as a director, and most are allowed their misfires (I’m looking at you, Tom McCarthy’s The Cobbler). Reitman is responsible for GhostbustersMeatballsStripes, and more. However, he’s also at fault for a lot of shit, so whatever.

If you saw 1988’s Twins (also with Schwarzenegger and DeVito), well, you know what you’re getting. So in a way, this falls along the same lines as that film and his other Schwarzenegger-helmed flick, Kindergarten Cop. This movie has an absolutely fucking batshit plot in which a god damn baby grows inside of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s muscly abs. If you don’t love that a movie was made strictly around that nuthouse premise, you need to learn how to enjoy this weird thing called reality. Because, guess what? This movie actually, really exists.

My Favorite Scene

About 80 minutes into the film (yes, this shit factory is nearly two hours long), Arnold goes full drag at about eight months pregnant. He and DeVito show up at some kind of compound for expecting mothers to find shelter from the evil dicks at the college that want to steal her…er, his baby away from him as it was experimental, so belongs to them. At this point, the estrogen has completely taken hold of Arnold and he and DeVito hug as the James Newton Howard score intensifies. He even starts speaking like a woman, and it’s so insultingly bad, I couldn’t help but giggle like a little kid.

THEN, holy shit. A god damned montage in which Arnold does Lamas and races other pregnant women down stairs and cries to doctors and shovels food into his mouth. It is so spectacularly out of control and really saved this movie for me.

 

What You Might Not Like

What really bothered me about the film was my now current familiarity with perhaps Danny DeVito’s most iconic character in his career: Frank Reynolds from It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia. Now, I realize this film was made in 1994, but holy shit, all I can think about is Frank alone in a room with a woman doing gawd knows what down there, and it just does not work. Other than that, the film really is just shit. Arnold is practically yawning the whole film and the story is laughable, at best. I couldn’t imagine watching this with anyone that had a trace of a Medical education or even faintly studied Biology. It’s so ridiculous.

Honestly, the last time I watched this movie was over 20 years ago. I remembered liking it, so swooped up the LaserDisc copy and have just had it sitting there for years. Will I watch it again? Eh, maybe? If I want to show someone how not to make a movie, I’ll definitely show them this. But did I enjoy it again? Oh, hell no.

How You Can Watch

  • Streaming on HBO Now as of 04/07/2017
  • Rent for $2.99 on Apple TV, Google Play, and Vudu

 

Final Score: 1.5/4

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Similar Films: Twins, Kindergarten Cop, Any Movie that a Dude is Pregnant in…