Director: Peter Bogdanovich
Starring: Imogen Poots, Owen Wilson, Kathryn Hahn, Rhys Ifans, Will Forte, Jennifer Aniston, Austin Pendleton
She’s Funny That Way is the first feature film in 13 years from celebrated 1970s auteur Peter Bogdanovich. Bogdanovich is known for his love of classical Hollywood cinema, and as he did with his beloved 1972 comedy What’s Up Doc?, here he channels the screwball comedies of the 1930s and 1940s – anarchic and irreverent social satires like The Lady Eve, It Happened One Night, Bringing Up Baby, His Girl Friday and The Philadelphia Story. He draws on filmmakers like Ernst Lubitsch, Preston Sturges and Frank Capra with more than a little bit of Bogdanovich contemporary Woody Allen in creating this outrageous farce.
Call girl Izzy Finkelstein (Imogen Poots) has her life changed forever when one a client offers her $30,000 to give up her current line of work and pursue her dream. Izzy’s dream is to be an actress, and the very next day her agent sends her along to a Broadway audition for celebrated director Arnold Albertson (Owen Wilson). What Izzy doesn’t know until she gets on stage is that Arnold Albertson is the philanthropic john from the night before. She is so good that Arnold, despite his discomfort, has no choice but to give her the part. Continue reading
Director: Paul Thomas Anderson
Starring: Joaquin Phoenix, Josh Brolin, Katherine Waterston, Joanna Newsom, Benecio Del Toro, Owen Wilson, Reese Witherspoon, Hong Chau, Eric Roberts, Martin Short, Jenna Malone, Michael Kenneth Williams, Maya Rudolph
When it comes to the films of Paul Thomas Anderson (Boogie Nights, There Will Be Blood, The Master) I have tended to appreciate them without really enjoying them. In the case of his latest, Inherent Vice, I can confidently say that I enjoyed it without really understanding it.
Inherent Vice is an aggressively, unapologetically confusing mystery set in 1970 in the fictional California seaside town of Gordita Beach. Beach bum, stoner PI Larry “Doc” Sportello (Joaquin Phoenix) is approached by a former girlfriend, Shasta Fay Hepworth (Katherine Waterston), for help. She is currently having an affair with real estate tycoon Mickey Wolfmann (Eric Roberts) and Wolfmann’s wife and her lover have come to her offering money for her help in getting rid of him. Doc agrees to look into it only to find it is the beginning of a web that could include a missing musician, a maritime lawyer, a society of dentists, an Indo-Chinese heroin cartel and the deputy District Attorney. Or it could include none of those things. Or it could include some of those things but not others. With nothing quite as it seems it’s a bit hard to tell. Continue reading
Director: Shawn Levy
Starring: Vince Vaughn, Owen Wilson, Rose Byrne, Aasif Mandvi, Josh Brener, Max Minghella, Dylan O’Brien, Tiya Sircar, Tobit Raphael
When watch salesmen Billy and Nick lose their jobs because their industry becomes obsolete (no one wears watches anymore, they just look at their phones), Billy decides to go for a long shot and arranges for an interview for the two of them to enter an internship program with Google. Despite their complete lack of computer knowledge they somehow manage to secure a position in an program, where they are thrown together with a team of misfits to compete against the other interns in a week-long series of challenges in which the “Nooglers” (that’s new Googlers) must demonstrate their “Googliness.” At the end of the week only the best team earn jobs at Google.
There is the temptation to see The Internship as one, massive piece of product placement. Throughout the picture we are told about all the wonderful products and services Google has to offer its consumers, with one character even going so far to say that she believes Google makes the world a better place. But Product placement tends to imply something more sneaky and subliminal – James Bond flashing his Omega watch while ordering a Heineken, the Men in Black wearing Ray Ban shades. That’s not what we are getting in The Internship, because Google is as central and essential to the film as any of its stars. Would the film have worked if it was any other tech company that Billy and Nick would have been equally out of place at? Not really. The film uses the established idea we already have of Google as “the best place in the world to work,” the computer nerd’s paradise on earth.
What saves this movie from feeling too much like an ad is that it has a heart. Billy and Nick are not only 20 years older than all of the other interns, but 20 years older than a lot of the Google staff running the program. This generation gap is the source of much of the film’s comedy (Billy’s continuous efforts to inspire his team through references to Flashdance), and also what gives the film that heart, with both generations have something to teach and something to learn from each other.
Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson are not quite the box office draw they were eight years ago when the teamed up for Wedding Crashers, but they are still a really likeable duo with have an easy rapport, who working well off each other. So between them and a feel-good if generic storyline, The Internship musters just enough goodwill to win you over by the end, allowing you to look put aside the cynic inside you which feels like you’ve just watched a two hour Google ad disguised as entertainment.
Rating – ★★★
Review by Duncan McLean