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Posts Tagged ‘Jemaine Clement’

Gillian Jacobs

“I USED TO GO HERE”  My rating: C+ (On Demand Aug. 7)

80 minutes | No MPAA rating

We’re told that you can’t go home again.

You probably shouldn’t go back to school, either.

In “I Used to Go Here” writer/director Kris Rey gives us a heroine who is finding adult life problematical and plops her down in the college environment she left 15 years earlier.

Actually, lots of us nurture a secret back-to-school fantasy; “I Used to Go Here” suggests we should be careful what we wish for.

Kate (Gillian Jacobs) is a mess, thrown into turmoil and depression by the double whammy of being ditched by her fiancé and realizing that her first published novel is headed for the remainder bin. While her gal pals are married and procreating, Kate lives alone in Chicago, stewing  in her own self-pity.

So when an old college professor invites her back to campus to give a reading from the novel, Kate jumps at the chance.

Initially it seems as if her old college town has hardly changed at all.  But when she starts hanging with a scraggly bunch of kids  now living in the off-campus dive where she spent her senior year, Kate is hit full force with knowledge that she is now a middle-aged woman.

What to do?  Well, if reality sucks, make your own reality. Kates starts acting like the mostly carefree college student she once was. This leads her to a nighttime  raid on the home of her old creative writing teacher (Jemaine Clement in full pompous-professor mode) and striking up a quickie romance with a baby-faced undergrad (Josh Wiggins).

Nothing of real import happens in “I Used to Go Here,” but nevertheless the trip is largely pleasant one.  For this we can credit the screen presence of Jacobs (she was a regular on TV’s “Community”), who hits just the right mix of comic neurosis and romantic yearning.

| Robert W. Butler

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***...misbehaving

Taika Waititi…misbehaving

“WHAT WE DO IN THE SHADOWS”  My rating: B-

86 minutes | No MPAA rating 

After several lifetime’s worth of experiences, you’d think vampires would get it right.

But, no, the bloodsuckers starring in the faux documentary “What We Do in the Shadows” are a singularly inept bunch whose existence argues against the notion that with age comes wisdom.

Written and directed by Jemaine Clement (half of the comedy/musical duo Flight of the Conchords) and Taika Waititi, “What We Do…” purports to be footage shot by a New Zealand  documentary crew that’s been granted permission to film the nightly activities of a group of vampires living together in a creaky old house.

Usually front and center is Viago (Waititi), an affable and childlike fellow in the Andy Kauffman mold who still wears the Byronic fashions of his human life and looks upon the film crew as an opportunity to dispel many of the misconceptions about  his vampire brethren.  (“We get a really bad rap.”)

Vladislav (Clement) has a taste for torture that reflects his flesh-and-blood life in the late Middle Ages. Think Vlad the Impaler.

Deacon (Jonathan Brugh) is basically a frat boy.  A former Nazi, he now is a dedicated slacker and is often criticized by his housemates for not pulling his weight: “You have not done the dishes for five years.”

Finally there’s Petyr (Ben Fransham), who lives in the cellar and is a dead ringer for the bald, rat-clawed vampire in the classic silent film “Nosferatu.”  Petyr is the “father” of the others, but at age 8,000 he doesn’t exert any more energy than is absolutely necessary.

(more…)

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