Obvious Child

Glory Movie

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Obvious Child

Editor’s note: Our review of Obvious Child originally ran during this year’s Sundance Film Festival, but we’re re-running it now as the film opens in limited release. Donna Stern (Jenny Slate) has a problem with sharing – specifically, she shares too much when she’s on stage doing stand-up comedy; her act is peppered with scatological humor, jokes about other bodily fluids, and personal information about her romantic life. It’s not something her boyfriend Ryan (Paul Briganti) likes so much, which is probably why he thinks it’s appropriate to break up with her after one of her sets, at the bar where does her comedy, in the joint’s grubby communal bathroom. While staring at his phone. And confessing that he’s been banging her friend Kate. Perhaps Donna’s actual problem is that she’s been saddled with a heartless douchebag boyfriend for quite some time, but all that sharing can’t be helping so much (or can it?). Slate shines as Donna in Gillian Robespierre’s feature debut (Robespierre is also responsible for the film’s screenplay, which she penned with input from Karen Maine, Elisabeth Holm, and Anna Bean), taking what could be a very expected character (a shiftless Brooklyn hipster) and a very standard plotline (after losing her boyfriend, she also loses her job, has a one night stand with a stranger and gets knocked up) into something witty, funny and real. Robespierre’s Obvious Child smacks with relatability, believability and an honesty that’s rare these days, while also tackling a big social issue (that […]

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Edge of Tomorrow

May was a rough time for major releases. With The Amazing Spider-Man 2 and A Million Ways to Die in the West, the first month of summer blockbusting got off to a messy start and ended with an equally toxic finish. Although I’m not a fan of Godzilla and X-Men: Days of Future Past, they have their supporters, so maybe May wasn’t as bad of a month as I’m pegging it as. Maybe it’s just that when a studio comedy as tedious and frustrating as A Million Ways to Die in the West comes around, it’s always going to poison the whole calendar page. Thankfully this summer is about to receive a large improvement, because there’s a terrific blockbuster coming out this Friday. While the Tom Cruise-starring action movie isn’t tracking so hot, let’s hope the tides change and people flock to Edge of Tomorrow. Plus, there’s a solid amount of releases this month you should plan to see. Here are the must see movies of June 2014:

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Rooftop Films

The summer blockbuster season might traditionally mean “let’s eat a big bucket of popcorn in an air-conditioned theater and then maybe never leave,” but if you live in place that can boast some breezy (but not too breezy, good God, watch the screen!) summer nights, you might want to actually leave the theater and hit the outside world. With movies, of course. New York City’s Rooftop Films has, once again, put together a stellar lineup of emerging indie hits to play at various venues around the city. You can get fresh air and see a film. It’s a can’t-miss event. Rooftop Films also offers an oppurtunity for indie film lovers to check out films early and without hauling across the country to Sundance or SXSW or similar (this year’s list includes no less than five of my favorite Sundance films from this year, snow be damned). This year’s Rooftop Films series will kick off this weekend, with a double-doozy of a lineup. First up, on Friday night, the program will unveil their “This What We Mean By Short Films” presentation, which includes: Bunda Pandeiro, Rhino Full Throttle, Symphony No. 42, An Extraordinary Person, Don’t Hug Me I’m Scared II: Time, Afronauts, Master Muscles and Person To Person. On Saturday night, Rooftop Films will present the first film of its feature section: Gillian Robespierre‘s Obvious Child, an FSR favorite from this year’s Sundance Film Festival. And that’s just a taste of what else awaits you in the comfort of your own city. Take a look!

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Obvious Child trailer

One of the breakout hits from this year’s Sundance Film Festival was a film that has romance, yes, and is definitely a comedy, but perhaps not exactly a typical rom-com. At least, nothing you’ve probably seen starring Kate Hudson and a nondescript white bachelor suitor probably involves a plotline centered upon abortion. As it turns out, Obvious Child maybe just isn’t that obvious of a choice. The film, directed by Gillian Robespierre, focuses on a down on her luck comedian named Donna, played by real life comedian and former Saturday Night Live member Jenny Slate. After a particularly heinous breakup, Donna downspirals, losing her job and sending her already shaking existence as an unambitious twenty-something into overdrive. Even something good, like a silly one night stand with a new guy who seems to share her proclivities for farts and fun, leads to an unexpected and unwanted pregnancy.

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laggies

There’s no science when it comes to picking the big winners at a film festival before the first film strip unfurls (or someone hits play on a digital file, as is most often the case these days), no proven method to the madness, no guaranteed formula to finding the best of the best. It’s a gamble every single time, and that’s precisely where much of the joy in attending a film festival comes from. That discovery, maddening as it may seem. This year’s Sundance Film Festival is predictably stuffed with all manner of films and talents – from the star-studded to the utterly up-and-coming – and while it’s certainly easy to pick out pictures that “sound” like they might be good or at least feature “bankable” talent, there are always a few sleepers that sneak in and captivate an unsuspecting audience. That all said, we here at Film School Rejects have attempted to apply our expertise and our personal interests to this year’s festival in order to pick out a handful of films that just might be the best of the fest, but that are at least guaranteed to send us running into a theater to see them once the festival kicks up. It’s time for Sundance! And it’s time for films! It’s even time for anticipation! And now it’s time for some anticipated Sundance films!

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jenny slate obvious child

First of all, let’s not get confused. There are two films at Sundance next month with almost the same name. There’s The Obvious Child, a 12-minute animated short by Stephen Irwin (trailer here). And there’s the feature rom-com Obvious Child by Gillian Robespierre, which is the focus of this week’s column. To clear up more confusion, yes, there was already a film called Obvious Child by Gillian Robespierre. That 23-minute short from 2009 (which was once accessible on Vimeo but is now password protected — boooo!), is the precursor to this feature, which expands upon its story of a young woman who has an abortion and it’s not that big a deal. Like the original version, the new one stars Jenny Slate, the comedienne who infamously said the F-word on SNL on her debut episode. Now she’s maybe better known for her hilariously bonkers role as Mona-Lisa on Parks and Recreation. That’s where I know her from best, anyway (not counting the Marcel the Shell shorts that I always forget are voiced by her). I guess she also stars in the Alvin and the Chipmunks movies. Good for her. So does David Cross, who also co-stars in Obvious Child. Others in the cast include former child star turned Indie Spirit Award nominee Gaby Hoffman, late regular on The Office Jake Lacy (Pete aka “Plop”), Slate’s Bestie x Bestie partner Gabe Liedman and the always lovable character actor Richard Kind.

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