Ghost World (2001)
This is a film that would fall into the “I fell asleep watching it ten years ago”. Not that I thought it was boring in previous viewing, but I used to rent from locally owned video stores in bulk. When you get a rental for a buck each, I found plenty of weekend viewing. In this library funded viewing, I found the charm of this film which garnered a well deserved Adapted Screenplay nomination for its smart script based on Daniel Clowes’s graphic novel. The film follows Thora Birch as Enid and Scarlett Johansson as Rebecca, two cynical teens coming-of-age in their small town they hate. Hypercritical of society, the childhood friend’s begin to realize life outside high school does not middle school plans.
Thora Birch plays the misanthropic teen with more quirk than American Beauty. No one understands Enid, and she tends to hate most people. Scarlett plays her pretty but morose friend who gets all the attention. They drift as Enid invades the life Seymour, a never better Steve Buschemi playing the ever hopeless in love vinyl enthusiast Enid and Rebecca prank from a personal ad. Buschemi’s loner reveals an inner pain in his most honest performance, surpassing his spectacular work in Fargo and Boardwalk Empire. He highlights a cast of charming if sometimes offsetting characters who find their humanity and their faults.
Coming-of-age stories are oftentimes formulaic, but this film allows the characters to show their flaws and even not get what they want. They are able to learn their lessons and become aware of their strengths and weaknesses in their own time. These eccentric teens were able to avoid the weird or annoying behavior easy to plague high school graduation films. Ghost World maintains its appeal 14 years after release.
3.25 of 4 stars
The Interview (2014)
The comedy that spurred the Song hacks by North Korea is far from the laugh riot it should have been. Not that it was a great premise, but Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg delivered comedy gold in This is the End. James Franco and Seth Rogen lack their comedic points in this film. They deliver their lines with the traditional stoner comedy vibes from films past, but the few genuine laughs from this movie came from their female costars Lizzy Caplan, as a deadpan agent that trains them for the assassination, and Diana Bang, King Jong Un’s propanganda queen delivering sharp lines in her drab greys.
Where the tired jokes usually fall flat, the snippets of cameos from a puppy snuggling Joseph Gordon-Levitt to Bill Maher languishing the actual interview, the tiniest bits of silliness are my pleasing than the overall film. Hopefully Rogen/Goldberg will regain their apocalyptic vigor for their next film Console Wars, based on the Sega/Nintendo rivalry. Video games are hopefully more their wheelhouse than international politics.
1.75 of 4 stars