Tuesday, June 16, 2009

"The Hangover" for Best Picture

Now this may sound like a joke to you, but I'm throwing my hat in the ring early by saying "The Hangover" deserves to win Best Picture at the Oscars next year.

Here's my argument: Why does it always have to be the multi-hour-long prestige films with serious drama, lofty takes on history or tearjerking dying/misunderstood saint-like character performances that always win these awards? Why can't the Best Picture be a movie that is purely entertaining through and through, and yes, a comedy, and funny?

"The Hangover" had all of this. Yes, it's rude, transgressive, dirty-minded but consistently and constantly surprising and funny all the way through. That's good screenwriting too. In fact, it's probably harder to pull off. [Spoiler alert]: And what other movie are you going to see this year that would have an effeminate naked Asian crime boss pop out of a car trunk and start viciously assaulting the main characters?

And where other comedies may have great dialogue and scenes for about three-quarters of the way, they tend to fall into the last act trap of neatly tying everything up so the nominal hero has everything work out for them. "The Hangover" does have everything working out in a way, but not in the pat way you would expect, maintaining the surprises and the fun right into its closing credits.

So, a memo to the Academy, come nomination time, put aside your Benjamin Buttons, your Sean Penns -- and the need to reward, as Kate Winslet once famously put it on "Extras," "playing a retard" -- and give "The Hangover" its due. I'll bet you won't find a more solid, re-watchable movie in all the high-minded stuff that hits this fall.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Forbidden Kiss

Caught the "Forbidden Kiss" erotica series at Stage Left Studios last night, especially because a few of the pieces in it are comedy. One especially notable piece was Brian Longwell's stand-up comedy-type piece, "How Not To Be An Online Dating Loser." Longwell had Cosby-like cadences in his voice -- whether those are affected or just how he naturally talks, it's hard to know. But nonetheless, Longwell had his own persona, presenting hand-drawn slides of flowcharts of how losers and winners navigate the online dating scene.

Another highlight on the bill of eight separate pieces was Katie Northlich's sex therapist character, a manic and brassy bundle of energy, who seemed to revel in being lewd and shocking. Northlich was once profiled on Jester in 2005 for her character showcase show (see http://www.jesterjournal.com/Northlich.htm).

But my favorite piece of the night was The Bitter Poet -- still have to find out his name -- whose electric guitar accompanied heartbreak songs were definitely laugh out loud funny. His closing song of three featured a long John Cale-like half-spoken, half-sung monologue about Marg, an Eastern European lover who meets him for a week in Amsterdam, and how they tour the Rijksmuseum together. Great stuff.