2 items from 2015
If the problem with too many literary adaptations is a failure to capture the author’s voice, then that shortcoming turns out to be the single greatest virtue of “Fifty Shades of Grey,” the hotly anticipated first film inspired by E.L. James’ bestselling assault on sexual mores, good taste and the English language. In telling the story of a shy young virgin and the broodingly handsome billionaire who invites her into his wonderful world of hanky-spanky, director Sam Taylor-Johnson and screenwriter Kelly Marcel have brought out a welcome element of cheeky, knowing humor that gradually recedes as the action plunges into darker, kinkier territory. Glossy, well cast, and a consistent hoot until it becomes a serious drag, this neo-“9½ Weeks” is above all a slick exercise in carefully brand-managed titillation — edgier than most grown-up studio fare, but otherwise a fairly mild provocation in this porn-saturated day and age.
Still, any »
- Justin Chang
Duck Soup, 1933.
Directed by Leo McCarey.
Freedonia and Sylvania are forced into war due to the insults of Rufus T. Firefly (Groucho Marx) and the spies of Sylvania (Chico and Harpo Marx).
When told about the Marx brothers, I often think of Groucho. Until I watched Duck Soup, I didn’t know what his shtick even was. Were they silent comics, akin to Chaplin and Keaton? Did they transcend the talkie-divide like Laurel and Hardy? Were they lightning-fast talkers, in the same vein as Woody Allen or Henry Youngman? It turns out that the family of the Marx Brothers – Groucho, Harpo, Chico and Zeppo – are a bit of everything. Each sibling either prefiguring or directly influenced-by a specific comic of the past. Chico, the smart-talking but not-so-clever one. Harpo, the physical silent one. »
- Simon Columb
2 items from 2015
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