Comedy

Aleksandr Medvedkin – Schastye aka Happiness [+Extras] (1932)

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Aleksandr Medvedkin’s Happiness, as rowdy as any Soviet silent movie, is a comic parable composed of equal parts of Tex Avery and Luis Buñuel. It satirizes the plight of a Soviet farmer who finds himself providing for the state, the church, and his peers at the expense of his personal satisfaction. A hapless young prole, Khmyr, is tasked by his wife with the goal of going out in the world and finding happiness, lest he end up dead and dissatisfied after a lifetime of toil, like his father. Through stylistic exaggeration and a systematic attack on pre- and post-Revolutionary Russia’s dearest institutions, the movie achieves a wide-ranging, and deeply wounding, attack on the limitations placed on personal freedom in Russian society Read More »

Lucio Fulci – I Maniaci aka The Maniacs (1964)

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Plot Synopsis by Robert Firsching
A minor comedy from Italian filmmaker Lucio Fulci (Zombi 2; L’Aldila), this anthology is of interest primarily to cult devotees for marking the notorious director’s only collaboration with legendary “scream queen” Barbara Steele (La Maschera del Demonio). Lushly photographed and filled with popular comedians of the era (including Franco Franchi and Ciccio Ingrassia, who made several of their “Franco and Ciccio” comedies with Fulci), the film’s sketches spotlight various manias. As might be expected, nymphomania gets an extended treatment, with all the requisite mugging, leering, and smarmy asides common to Italian comedies of the period, as well as a lengthy parade of songs, many scored by Ennio Morricone, and some international burlesque performers. Enrico Maria Salerno and Walter Chiari lead a cast which includes Lisa Gastoni, Gaia Germani, Umberto d’Orsi, and Raimondo Vianello. Read More »

Athina Rachel Tsangari – Chevalier (2015) (HD)

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Quote:
Manhood-measuring contests — in every imaginable sense of the phrase — are taken to brazenly literal extremes in “Chevalier,” the long-awaited third feature from Greek multi-tasker Athina Rachel Tsangari. Markedly different in focus and emotional temperature from her 2010 breakthrough, “Attenberg,” this committedly deadpan comedy of manners, morals and men behaving weirdly boasts a contained conceit seemingly ripe for unfettered absurdism: On a luxury yacht in the Aegean Sea, six male acquaintances embark on a rigorous series of personal and physical challenges, mercilessly grading each other to determine who is “the Best in General.” That Tsangari resists escalating the conflict, counting on subtle political insinuations to emerge as these perplexing social Olympics wear on, will leave as many viewers enervated as amused, but it’s an expertly executed tease. Read More »

Lawrence B. McGill – How Molly Malone Made Good (1915)

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This 1915 film stars Marguerite Gale as the title character, a journalist trying to make her name by interviewing celebrities for the New York Tribune. Picture quality is quite good, although the print is a little dark on the whole. A number of celebrities play themselves, including noted drag performe Julian Eltinge, and burlesque star Mabel Fenton. Read More »

Hal Ashby – Being There (1979)

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Roger Ebert / May 25, 1997

On the day that Kasparov was defeated by Deep Blue, I found myself thinking of the film “Being There” (1979). The chess champion said there was something about the computer he did not understand, and it frightened him. There were moments when the computer seemed to be . . . thinking. Of course, chess is not a game of thought but of mathematical strategy; Deep Blue has demonstrated it is possible to be very good at it without possessing consciousness. Read More »

Henry Koster – Harvey (1950)

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synopsis
This whimsical fantasy about a local drunk’s 6′ 3 1/2″ imaginary rabbit pal was a smash hit (and a Pulitzer Prize winner) on Broadway and was then adapted into this likeable farce that’s also an allegory about tolerance. James Stewart stars as Elwood P. Dowd, a wealthy tippler whose sunny philosophy and inebriated antics are tolerated by most of the citizenry. That is, until Elwood begins claiming that he sees a “pooka” (a mischievous Irish spirit), which has taken the form of a man-sized bunny named Harvey. Although everyone is certain that Elwood has finally lost his mind, Harvey’s presence begins to have magically positive effects on the townsfolk, with the exception of Elwood’s own sister Veta (Josephine Hull), who, ironically, can also occasionally see Harvey. A snooty socialite, Veta is determined to marry off her daughter, Myrtle (Victoria Horne), to somebody equally respectable, and Elwood’s lunacy is interfering. When Veta attempts to have Elwood committed to an insane asylum, however, the result is that she is accidentally admitted instead of her brother. Then the institution’s director, Dr. Chumley (Cecil Kellaway), begins seeing Harvey, too. Hull, who reprised her part from the stage production, won an Oscar and a Golden Globe.by Karl Williams Read More »

Robert F. McGowan – Mary, Queen of Tots (1925)

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A couple makes dolls modeled on neighborhood kids. A gardener at a mansion buys four of them for Mary, the girl of the house. He’s her only friend: her parents neglect her for work and card games and her governess is humorless. Mary loves the dolls and dreams of them during her nap. While Mary sleeps, the governess throws the dolls in the dust bin. Mary wakes and goes searching – outside she runs into the very same four kids who were the dolls’ models, and she thinks she’s still dreaming. She invites them back to the mansion where she’ll either make fast friends or the gang will need to make a fast getaway when the governess finds them. Read More »