A lot of shitty stuff is happening out there in the real world at the moment. Hopefully these films will be escapist and joyful enough to distract you, each in their own very different way.
I just rewatched Chicken Run a few weeks ago and let me tell you, it has aged brilliantly. This story is feminist, funny, terrifying at times, and generally made me question my love of chicken as an edible substance. The characters are so great and so British. British back before the whole Brexit business. Cooperative and carefree British, one might say. As with all good animated films, the periphery characters shine. The rats, who want to eat the chicken’s eggs, are also their friends and often the comic relief. The old rooster in charge actually really respects women and is only crotchety in the good way. The chickens themselves are a smorgasbord of fun and lady-power. And who doesn’t love old-fashioned claymation?!? It is true art and we should all respect the endless, dragging hours that it took to bring this film to life.
Ali Wong: Baby Cobra
Technically this is not a movie. I don’t think anyone minds. This is one of the best comedy specials I’ve seen and I can’t stop thinking about it for so many reasons. Ali Wong is a badass female comic who happens to be Asian and happens to be very pregnant at the time of filming. Her humor is biting, smart, and had the sides of my belly actually hurting. That’s the definition of side-splitting! I’m honestly baffled that I haven’t heard of her before now, but Netflix, I can always count on you to empower the lady comics who I love or will love! Ali also is a writer for Fresh Off The Boat, a cable show which follows an Asian immigrant family and has received a good share of critical acclaim. I’ll admit that I’ve only seen a few episodes, but the performances are truly amazing. Of course, that’s a family-friendly sitcom. Ali Wong is a standup comic. Like most of those, her material is more adult. And I love it so.
I watched this film because it was produced by the Duplass brothers, who I love, but to be honest I wasn’t sure just how much I’d like it. I was pleasantly surprised when it charmed my socks off. Adult Beginners is about the relationship between two siblings, a sister who has settled down with a family and a brother who has just experienced an Elizabethtown-esque business flop. Instead of taking more drastic measures like in the Orlando Bloom flick, he goes to stay with his sister and becomes the nanny of her child while she is working and pregnant. Adult Beginners is charming, warm, and pretty nuanced. The performances are great. Rose Byrne and Nick Kroll play the siblings and Bobby Cannavale plays the husband/brother-in-law. You might pause at the idea of that sibling pair coming off realistically, but I think it ended up doing so. The end is a bit grand in some sense, but besides that the writing is really enjoyable and down-to-earth.
Wow. I was 100% sure I’d already posted about this film but I hadn’t, so that’s on me. But now it’s time to strap in for the 2 hours and 35 minutes of this porn epic. That’s right, this huge ensemble cast film examines the porn industry shift from actual theatre films to digital tapes that you can take home with you. It may not sound all that appealing, but believe me, it’s great. The performances alone make that runtime fly by. Mark Wahlberg, Julianne Moore, John C. Reilly, Don Cheadle, William H. Macy, and Burt Reynolds are included in this powerhouse cast. Plus Julianne and Burt were nominated for Academy Awards for this film, which also got a Best Screenplay nod! Boogie Nights was written and directed by Paul Thomas Anderson. You may know him as that guy who does a lot of heavy films, ie There Will Be Blood and The Master, and/or as Maya Rudolph’s husband and the father of her many children. This film explores so many sides and effects of the porn industry from the late 70’s through the early 80’s, while also examining complex characters and their own wants, needs, and dreams. A truly great work, worth the watch for any cinephile.
Miss Pettigrew Lives For A Day
Again, AGH! How have I not covered this one before? I’ve believed this film is incredibly underrated since I was in middle school! Well, if you haven’t seen it yet, now is the time. Miss Pettigrew Lives For A Day is musical, fun, period yet contemporary, full of recognizable characters, and beautiful in its composition. The costumes alone are amazing. Amy Adams and Frances McDormand star and their chemistry is exquisite. McDormand as Pettigrew is one of the most relatable, likeable characters I’ve ever seen onscreen. If that isn’t enough to snare your interest, you’ll also get to see Moaning Myrtle as Not Moaning Myrtle! Don’t worry though, her voice still sounds the same, which is awesome. This is a story about overlooked wisdom, about standing out whether you want to or not, about love and loss and an underscoring fear of the great threats facing your nation. It never ceases to make me laugh and cry. I hope it does the same for you.