An aspiring filmmaker makes her first film about the career of an unnamed mid-century actress.
Directed by Cheryl Dunye
Starring Cheryl Dunye, Guinevere Turner, and Valarie Walker
Review by Jon Kissel
I volunteer as a screener for the Atlanta Film Festival, and while I’m happy to do it, it does mean watching a lot of bad movies. Bad has a wide spectrum, ranging from incompetently made to unoriginal or indulgent. That last one is the most irritating, as it speaks to a fundamental mismatch between the filmmaker’s perception of themselves and the fact that they’re paying an organization to let them show their movie to other people. Some part of me admires the chutzpah on an indulgent festival applicant, even if their film is not up to snuff. This leads us to The Watermelon Woman, a film that instantly evoked the mental effort required to watch a bad screener and try to come up with something positive to say about it. Cheryl Dunye’s debut indie is politically ahead of its time, as representation has been all the rage in film circles for at least the last decade, but that’s not worth much when it’s simultaneously struggling to piece a coherent scene together.
Movies that achieve cult status are supposed to be flattering to their adherents. The masses might have overlooked this film, but I’ve got the secret message that it’s an underrated gem that was too smart or too idiosyncratic, just like me. Clue supposedly has its own cult, but smart, it is not. Directed by Jonathan Lynn, who’ll follow this up with Nuns on the Run, Clue is indeed as shallow as its premise. Board-game adaptations are always being threatened by creatively bankrupt studios, sometimes to fruition with Battleship, and Clue shows why that’s an empty and pathetic idea. Clue might find redemption as being a spoof of a specific genre that’s also a worthy member of said genre, but the genre of chamber mysteries is another that fails to entertain me, thus doubly relegating it to the trash bin.
He's a responsible candy executive with a troubled love life. She's adorable and clumsy and runs her own free-spirited candy store. These two don't belong together at all, but the power of love and their shared preference for fiction books can cross any bridge. In David Wain's latest comedy spoof, They Came Together, the tropes of romantic comedies are broken down and served up like so much peanut brittle, the proceeds from which will go to a charity, because I'm too cute to know how to run a business.
In the recent autobiographical documentary Val, Val Kilmer is shown struggling to stay engaged at a convention where fan after fan thrusts a Top Gun poster in front of him and asks him to sign it with his Iceman catchphrase. Kilmer had earlier remarked on how little he thought of Top Gun, dismissing it as a jingoistic puffball, but now, people are singling it out to talk with him as opposed to anything else he’s ever done. Alexander Dane (Alan Rickman) knows this feeling as Galaxy Quest begins. We’ve just seen footage of his major credit played for an eager convention, and with its lot of corny effects and stilted acting, it’s not something anyone should be proud of. Dane certainly isn’t, but he has to economically rely on fans who like the show for reasons he cannot understand. Galaxy Quest engages with both sides of fan culture and lovingly satirizes it by imagining the most dedicated fans possible, which here are guileless aliens who’ve patterned their space-faring culture off a D-grade sci-fi series that likely aired at 11 on Saturday mornings between Looney Tunes reruns and Julia Child. Dean Parisot’s crowd-pleasing comedy acknowledges how silly and disposable parts of the culture can be, and still manages to make the same ephemera affecting in the exact scenario.
There’s something about a long name that is a sign of quality in comedies. The Will Ferrell/Adam McKay subtitles, Borat’s broken English, Dr. Strangelove, and Popstar: Never Stop Never Stoppin’ have a new member of their club in Barb and Star Go To Vista Del Mar, the best comedy since Popstar. This is a film laden with nonstop jokes, a parade of absurdity with zero dead spots. Written by and starring Kristen Wiig and Annie Mumolo, and directed by Josh Greenbaum in his feature debut, Barb and Star might not work for everyone, but it certainly worked for me.
JUST SOME IDIOTS GIVING SURPRISINGLY AVERAGE MOVIE REVIEWS.
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