Satire

[8.0] There’s something incredibly poetic about Charlie Chaplin, who built a career over the 1920s and 1930s as a silent screen star, finally opening his mouth in his first sound film, 1940’s The Great Dictator. The decision wasn’t an arbitrary one. Chaplin was speaking out because he finally had something important to say. The Great Dictator splits its time between two characters, both played by …

[7.0] Ralph Bakshi’s first animated feature is an X-rated adaptation of Robert Crumb’s Fritz the Cat. Fritz is a college student who likes to have a good time by way of weed and women, but manages to cram a lot of philosophical and existential musings between vices. After an orgy is busted by the pigs (the police are all actual pigs in this world), Fritz …

[6.0] A young boy in Hitler’s youth army (Roman Griffin Davis) finds himself in a moral dilemma after discovering a Jewish girl (Thomasin McKenzie) hiding in a secret space behind his bedroom wall. This film written for the screen and directed by Taika Waititi (What We Do in the Shadows, Thor: Ragnarok) has an off-beat, surreal sense of humor that wears thin over time. It’s …

[2.5] The days become unnaturally long in the town of Centerville, where two cops played by Adam Driver and Bill Murray drive around protecting the community. But when zombies begin roaming the streets, they find themselves in over their heads with only a strange new Scottish mortician (Tilda Swinton) to help them… or not. In any case, as Adam Driver’s character says throughout the movie, …

[3.0] Stephen Dorff (The Gate, Cecil B. Demented) stars in this satiric story of a convenient store hostage survivor who can’t come to grips with his cult celebrity status after he learns the 36-day siege was televised. While Reese Witherspoon’s supporting character, also a survivor, talks about the experience in honest, dramatic ways on every imaginable TV show, Dorff’s character is amused and bewildered to …

[6.0] Julie Andrews, William Holden, Richard Mulligan, Robert Preston, and Robert Webber star in Blake Edwards’ (Breakfast at Tiffany’s, Thoroughly Modern Millie) ensemble comedy about a film producer who goes suicidal after his latest G-rated family film turns out to be a bomb. Desperate to turn things around, he decides to reshoot the film, making it more erotic and promising the public the lead star …

[8.0] Jamie Bell (Billy Elliott) leads an all-star ensemble in this surreal, satiric look at the breakdown of suburban existence. The Chumscrubber is an ambitious conceptual piece, not unlike American Beauty in tone and style. But where American Beauty centered on one character’s shaky morality and lost me, The Chumscrubber stems more confidently from one of my favorite thematic tropes — human beings’ desperate need …

[7.5] Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg co-wrote and co-produced this R-rated animated satire about a grocery store hot dog (voiced by Rogen)┬áthat discovers the truth about life outside the store’s sliding glass doors. But it’s an uphill battle to convince the rest of the grocery denizens that their idea of ‘heaven’ is actually the gnashing teeth of human beings!┬áSausage Party delivers all the naughty sexual …

[4.0] I enjoyed Trey Parker and Matt Stone’s South Park: Bigger, Longer, and Uncut because it lampooned many things. It was like a greatest hits collection of the South Park TV show, and the songs were all far more amusing than they had any right to be. So I went into Parker and Stone’s Team America: World Police with similar expectations and was very disappointed. …

[9.0] Birdman swoops into cineplexes offering the antidote to superhero hysteria, CGI migraines, and Hollywood’s usual hackneyed, formulaic bullshit. It’s goddamned original, a showcase for skill and craft, and a breath of fresh fucking air. Michael Keaton turns in a career-best performance as a one-time popular film actor who is risking it all to put on a Broadway play. In the span of hours leading …

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