Tragedy

Why Watch? A clown stands over the body of his dead father and sticks out his giant foam hand to accept a tissue from a doctor. With that, the laughter and the tears of this truly outstanding short film begin. Ralph Winston (Keir O’Donnell, the manically gay younger brother from Wedding Crashers) has never cried. Not once in his entire life. Now, with his father gone, he becomes resolute that he’ll produce his first tears somehow before the funeral. A surprisingly bright, dark comedy, it’s almost impossible to differentiate between the humor and the tragedy here. It’s a mark of the layered writing skill and presentation of a humane story featuring a man who can’t do something everyone else can (but who’s very good at something most aren’t). Writer/director Bradley Jackson has proven himself to be a nuanced, insightful young filmmaker who should be given lots of money and a feature film project immediately. This movie is a genuine triumph that’s hilarious and heartfelt. What does it cost? Just 23 minutes of your time. Check out The Man Who Never Cried for yourself:

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Back in 1990 a Rob Reiner-directed horror thriller called Misery took an underappreciated actor named Kathy Bates and rocketed her to the top of the world. Her portrayal of the homely but psychotic Annie Wilkes got tons of critical praise, had the mainstream talking, and eventually won her a Best Actress Oscar. In 1994 an oddball comedy named Ace Ventura: Pet Detective took a relatively obscure comedian named Jim Carrey and made him one of the biggest movie stars on the planet. That’s not the movie I’m going to be talking about though. The movie I’m going to talk about came two years later, it’s called The Cable Guy, and it was seen as the first disappointment of Carrey’s gigantic post Ace Ventura career. His portrayal of the troubled “Chip Douglas” didn’t register with critics or audiences who previously had no trouble accepting him as a pet detective that talked out of his butt, a walking cartoon character with a booger for a head, and a sociopath named Lloyd Christmas who sold a dead bird to a blind kid. Was Misery really that much better a movie than The Cable Guy? Was Bates’s performance as Annie really that much better than Carrey’s as the unnamed cable installer? Or is this just the case of a movie that was a little bit ahead of it’s time getting a bad rap?

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Your weekly fix of great movies made before you were born that you should check out before you die. An aging actress of another era wastes away in her mansion on Sunset Blvd. It’s by chance alone that a young writer stumbles upon her dreary existence and is pulled deep down into her madness alongside her. That young writer is now floating face down in a beautiful pool. A classic, a must-see, a brilliant film, Sunset Blvd. succeeds on every level no matter how desensitized by the past 60 years of filmmaking we’ve been.

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On the surface, the story of Bethany Hamilton is toweringly inspirational. The young surfer on the verge of going pro faced a personal loss so great that it should have destroyed her future career and water-soaked passion in one blow. The fact that she fought back against it, got back on the board, and eventually triumphed is a testament to the human spirit (as well as, according to the film, a testament to faith and the power of a higher being). It’s a compelling story, but as Soul Surfer proves, it’s not the best basis for a full-length feature film. It’s perfectly passable, but director Shawn McNamara has created a version of the story that focuses on filler and ties up all the drama far too easily.

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Every Sunday, Film School Rejects presents a movie that was made before you were born and tells you why you should like it. This week, Old Ass Movies presents the story of two star cross’d lovers who find themselves miles and years away from their origin. A retelling of the tragic Orpheus and Eurydice tale, Black Orpheus ditches the classical Greek setting and opts instead for the rich sights and sounds of Brazil during Carnaval. It’s a beautiful story set to unending drum-beats and a madness to which everyone succumbs.

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An unassuming older man with salt and pepper hair and small-framed eyeglasses stands in front of a full crowd and proclaims with a smile pouring through his beard that there can be no laughter without suffering. He says, “To enjoy life, you must be a bad person.” He then reveals the good news that we’re all bad people before pointing out that the money he used to make his film could have been used to save lives, and since we’re enjoying what he’s made, we’re all complicit in their deaths. Normally, that might sound like dire claptrap from an over-sensitive prude, but the older gentleman on stage is Alex de la Iglesia, and he says every word with such child-like wonder and humor that it’s impossible not to recognize that 1) he’s right 2) he’s not judging and 3) he’s made a brilliant film about it. The Last Circus (also known as Balada Triste and A Sad Trumpet Ballad) is a whirlwind that examines two clowns, and their equally violent love of a beautiful acrobat. Javier (Carlos Areces) never had a childhood because the Spanish Civil War took it and his father from him. He decides to go into the family business as a clown, but he becomes a sad clown because he can’t make children laugh. He’s professionally the butt of the joke. He falls in love with Natalia (Carolina Bang), but she belongs to the abusive silly clown Sergio (Antonio de la Torre). What results is what always […]

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published: 12.23.2014
B+
published: 12.22.2014
C-
published: 12.19.2014
A-


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