Billy Madison, David Brent, The Beast and More: My Films of the Week #10

As a lifelong cinephile, I have always consumed a copious amount of films. In this new feature, I keep track of the films I watch during the week. (Also, Click here to buy my book of thoughts on film, Eye of the Beholder, on Amazon!)

 

David Brent: Life on the Road
(Ricky Gervais, 2016, United Kingdom)

Ricky Gervais’ postscript to his famed and acclaimed The Office, exists in its parallel universe and follows its lead character years the show stopped airing as he chases his hopeless dream of becoming a rock and roll star. Full of good intentions, the film will charm fans but in reality, it feels like little more than a watered-down episode of the original series.

 

The Waiting List
(Juan Carlos Tabío, 2000, Cuba/Spain/Mexico/France/Germany)

A group of people at a Cuban bus station counter their frustrating and interminable wait by bonding. A charming comedy, balancing optimism and cynicism surprisingly well.

 

The Beast
(Kevin Reynolds, 1988, USA)

A Soviet tank lost in an Afghan valley is chased by a group of vengeance-seeking mujahideen fighters. An underrated gem. Unlike other movies of the genre, the approach here is rather minimalistic, yet quite effective, evoking post-modernist horror ala John Carpenter and spaghetti westerns, among other influences.

 

We Are From There
(Wissam Tanios, 2020, Lebanon/France)

A filmmaker documents his Syrian cousins’ migration to Europe. A personal meditation on the theme of home and genuine humanization on the theme of migration at large. Both personal and universal.

 

Top Five
(Chris Rock, 2014, USA)

Another underrated gem. Sure, it may be a little rough around the edges. But there is plenty of creative genius, laughs and genuine tenderness to be found in Chris Rock’s romantic comedy, which sees him playing a version of himself in a Woody Allen-esque setting, not too different from Stardust Memories – perhaps even a little better and more real.

 

Sandy Wexler
(Steven Brill, 2017, USA)

Speaking of Woody Allen, it’s hard to overlook the Broadway Danny Rose vibes of Sandy Wexler. However, the film falls short in terms of going anywhere interesting. Adam Sandler’s lead character, a manager to a bunch of screwball stars, is practically a revisitation of his Billy Madison persona.

 

Billy Madison
(Tamra Davis, 1995, USA)

And of course, speaking of Billy Madison… Undoubtedly one of the best Adam Sandler comedies. The most solid storyline, perfectly suited to his dim-witted comedic persona. Many intellectuals like to scorn his features. However, to me, they are direct descendants of the slapstick greats.

 

The Wild Goose Lake
(Diao Yinan, 2019, China/France)

Diao Yinan has somewhat of a reputation as a master of Chinese noir and his movies are well-greeted at international film festivals. However, its thwarted tale about a prostitute helping a motorcycle thief on the run from the law is a little too subtle to make a dent and a little too unoriginal to be on par with other, more notable efforts of his.

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