Bored? Stuck? Middle-aged? Why not try the greatest elixir guaranteed to open up the mind, free up the tongue, and see the world in a cheerier light? Well you sir, and you madam are in luck, for this anti-inhibitor miracle which comes in a dazzling array of colours and tastes, is readily available and could well be right under your very noses. That's right, booze!
Four cranky high school teachers, grinding the second gear of life with no foreseeable excitement ahead, decide to liven up their days with the magic of alcohol under a seemingly scientific experiment excuse.
the human body's alcohol level is a tad low, and requires some topping up to run at optimum efficiency.
the subjects drink steadily throughout the working day in an anti-sobriety test, and carefully monitor the results in a very clinical manner, using a computer!
well, that would be telling, but chances are most astute viewers will connect the plot dots without much effort.
what sounds like a half-baked script for a slapdash comedy aimed at the immature set, turns out to be quite the serious and thought-provoking film. Also: Mads Mikkelsen stars, which is always welcome.
Alcohol over indulgence is a major issue in dark Denmark, and as such this film will pierce many a Scandinavian home with a personal arrow. For those abroad "Another Round" will be less of a cautionary tale, and more of a buddy-buddy-buddy-buddy story of supposedly grown men wrestling with their maturity and various mid-life crises. It is not all about the drink, but why they drink. Using harried, jaded, aging teachers in charge of jubilant youth about to kickstart their glorious lives, is an intoxicating stroke of genius.
Did I mention that Mads Mikkelson stars?
Cancer movies, generally, are not great. Whether melodramatic sappy heart string pullers, or misguided heroic tales raining crocodile tears, terminal disease films tend to lean on the empathy crutch in lieu of plot. Not "Our Friend".
This is Jason Segel's movie, from start to finish, and he's the healthy one. Well, physically healthy, mentally he has some issues. Issues which he eagerly puts on the backburner when his couple friends are stricken with malady. Dropping everything, which he deemed to be nothing, to move in and provide much needed care and support is a move as much about his selflessness as it is about his selfishness. Suddenly he has purpose, a family and self worth. A seemingly no brainer of a good deal, which of course, becomes riddled with very trying times.
Segel was born for this role, as he's been perfecting his honest, giving, funny, chummy persona throughout - let's be honest - a middling acting career. All that may change.
Casey Affleck and Dakota Johnson co-star, forming a tight knit triangle with Segel that is pulled and stretched and tested past most folks' breaking point. And as powerful as that dynamic is, it is Segel as the complicated yet simple Dane, that steals the show. We know what happens in this blunt and forthright medical tale, but the mystery of whether Dane can save himself proves to be the clever curveball thrown.
A good one.
Yes there's a bear, or is there? Be prepared to be unprepared for what's actually going on here. In a good way of course.
Aubrey Plaza is involved, so chances are sailing won't be smooth. In her gloriously snarky best, Plaza is Allison, a blocked writer finds her retreat in a picturesque cottage on a lake run by struggling dancer-musician couple but hopeful B'n'Bers Gabe and Blair. Blair is pregnant. Gabe's eyes wander. Trouble brews. Fun, banter, flirtation and arguments develop quickly in razor sharp dialogue jabs. Alcohol is poured, and it is drunk. Lips loosen and away we go. Our trio of frustrated artists releasing tensions over high brow arguments in beautiful tension. Day one doesn't just end, it just explodes in a heart racing climax.
Part two. The twist. Yes there's a twist, but a clever one, in that it kinda twists back on to itself. The barking, manipulative, seductive triangle remains, but writer-director Lawrence Michael Levine turns the table to revisit the first act from a different lens. That reveal is left to the viewer. You.
What is reality, or whose reality it is, might not be the point of "Black Bear". Going along for the ride, and the actual film experience may be. And it is pretty impressive, especially Plaza, who stretches her chops to become something of a screen force. "Black Bear" is a witty, banter-filled psychological drama peppered with snide humour and, uh, a black bear. Maybe.
The nightmare of any musician, particularly a drummer, keeper of beat, keeper of time, is hearing loss. That is Ruben's dilemma. After a boisterous, mid-tour set, one half of a power duo starts to experience aural malfunction. Uh-oh.
In typical human nature denial, Ruben carries on, but is soon forced to make tough decisions. Scrambling desperately to get back on course, and continue his career, Ruben is eager to gamble on an expensive operation, while his vocalist girlfriend steers him to a recovery community, focusing on adaptation over cure.
Reuben's journey, careening between hope, desperation, struggle and revelation, is a fascinating one, amplified by the extraordinary presentation from director Darius Marder. Putting the audience in Reuben's ears the loss experience, through muffled passages, jarring distortions, and worst of all, total silence, is devastating. The eclectic sound design may be the star here. Closed captioned throughout so nothing is missed, the sub-titles, usually a distraction, become a fluid part of the viewing experience.
As a simple, uncomplicated young man jolted by a life altering shock, Riz Ahmed is terrific in a subtle yet demanding role. He absolutely rocks as a kickass drummer, a reluctant deaf student, and an empathetic partner willing to go any distance to make things right. The buzz about this film is not just in Ruben's ears.