comedy

Dancer in the Dark: The Loneliness of Joshua Harmon’s “Significant Other”

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“It’s the light of day that shows me how

And when the night falls, loneliness calls”

– “I Wanna Dance with Somebody”, Whitney Houston

There is much dancing throughout Joshua Harmon’s new play Significant Other, which opened on Broadway at the Booth Theater on March 2. The dancing takes its form literally, as four friends – Jordan (Gideon Glick), Gay Jewish dweeb; Kiki (Sas Goldberg), loud and mess; Vanessa (Rebecca Naomi Jones), professional and cynical), and Laura (Lindsay Mendez), Jordan’s best friend and former college roommate – as they dance at each other’s bridal showers, bachelorette parties, and weddings, in clubs, bars, and Kentucky, with the number shrinking as each successively pairs off, and somewhat more figuratively. Figurative in, again, two senses: the cast literally bounces around the almost MC Escher inspired set, room stacked upon room, and with its language. Finding a nice comfort spot between the quasi-naturalistic dialogue of ‘90s sitcoms and romantic comedies, the cast bobs in and out, talking to one character in one scene and then easily bleeding into another conversation, a relentless swing time that inevitably leaves Jordan alone. And that’s what Significant Other is very plainly, very boldly in some ways about: being alone and trying to figure out what to do when you have to dance by yourself. Read the rest of this entry »

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It’s a Small World, After All: “Difficult People” and Intimacy

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difficultpeoplepicJulie (Julie Klausner) and Billy (Billy Eichner) want to be seen as mean, bitter, small people that live a small world. As Inkoo Kang posited, “Difficult People is a sitcom about smallness.” To embrace the title as a fundamental part of their identity is a form of myopia that they are proud of, at least externally and publicly. Its first season, which premiered on Hulu in August 2015, established that bitterness and restrictive world view and arguably sense of self was not merely a character detail but the character itself; the pilot opens with Julie and Billy furiously walking down streets of New York yelling at people, ordering strangers out of the way, and making cutting remarks passing by, only to convene and… continue to do the same thing, but together. But though it wasn’t the focus of the first eight episodes, that there was a textural layer to this “haterade”, and emotional one no less, was there from the beginning. Difficult People is not only about small people and smallness, but small people continually struggling with to what degree they want to reach out and, like unlike the audience numbers of NBC’s Hannibal, grow. Read the rest of this entry »

“I Looked for You”: The Queerness of Mistress America

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“I got rejected by the Lit Society. I’m so suggestible, like, I think that because I got rejected, I think I can’t write.” Tracy tells this to Brooke, whom she has known for maybe three hours, give or take. And yet, the closeness and trust that Tracy feels in Brooke, and perhaps vice versa, transcends the limitations of time. One can immediately tell that the moment Brooke appears on screen, they are as in awe of each other as we are of them. Read the rest of this entry »

Suffer the Little Children: Sebastian Silva’s “Nasty Baby”

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nasty-baby_convertedWritten on the surface of Sebastian Silva’s Nasty Baby is a bunch of tenuously cohesive themes and ideas – the fear of fatherhood, the adolescence of adulthood, the struggles of being an artist, gentrification – that are smudged around with red ink thrown on them for good measure to a point where those things are barely discernible at all. To some degree, there’s an admiration to be had for its audacity inasmuch as a drastic tonal shift, but its main selling point and shock value feels rather unearned at the end of the day. Read the rest of this entry »

Slut Be a Lady Tonight: Trainwreck

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trainwreck-judd-apatow-amy-schumerI think what makes Trainwreck interesting is that it’s perhaps socio-politically confused, which is fine. But it feels confused about its gender politics in a way that seems like it would come out of the 2000s, or the ‘90s, even. It lacks a surefootedness about what it may or may not want to say about women, or what it may or may not want to say about this woman. I watched Sidney Pollack’s Tootsie last night, and I rewatched the entire series run of 30 Rock, and what both have in common is that they’re less inclined to make these kinds of concrete decisions about what femininity has to be in their respective cultural climates and instead acknowledge the mixed messages that are presented to the general populous. Both certainly play with the ambivalence of what their end games could be – domesticity or work – and, furthermore, with the idea of “having it all” (“Murphy Brown lied to us!”).   Read the rest of this entry »

What’s “Lava” Got to Do with It: Weighing In on the Great Film Twitter Debate

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pixar-lava-postIt’s hard to think of the last time one thing, one cultural event that wasn’t something really terrible or sad, simultaneously brought Film Twitter together and tore it apart. (Just kidding, Brandon Nowalk named at least five things that had a similar effect.) I’ve gotten pretty good at either being completely apathetic/indifferent to some, if not most of these debates, or at least keeping my opinion to myself. But this one, concerning the latest Pixar short film, seemed too amusing to not joke about having an opinion in the first place. It managed to engender some very, very vehement feelings, mostly vitriolic. There are certainly a bunch of people who, and I saw this with love and respect for these people, were incredibly smarmy and self-righteous in their defense of this short, but having not yet seen it, I couldn’t properly weigh in on the great Film Twitter debate that was on Lava. Read the rest of this entry »

Sex Work and Play: Bruce LaBruce and Rick Castro’s “Hustler White”

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zoom_1425596335_hustlerwhiteOne can’t accuse of queer filmmaking icon Bruce LaBruce of not being daring, with films like No Skin Off My Ass, Otto, Super 8 ½, and, most recently Geontophilia (which is considerably tamer than this film), each unapologetically tackling not only issues of queerness, but of different facets of sexuality, identity, and their intersections. And Hustler White, a ‘90s films that has ‘80s sex appeal written all over it, is LaBruce perfectly balancing those discourses, but with an injection of cleverness, and a dose of emotionality. Read the rest of this entry »