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Posts Tagged ‘Jenny Slate’

Jake Johnson, Rosemarie DeWitt

Jake Johnson, Rosemarie DeWitt

“DIGGING FOR FIRE” My rating: B (Opening Aug. 28 at the Screenland Armour)

85 minutes  | MPAA rating: R

If indie auteur Joe Swanberg isn’t careful, he’s going to start making movies that people actually see.

Up to now Swanberg’s heavily-improvised, generational-specific films have earned him cred on the cinematic fringes (and the irritating label “mublecore”).  But last year he made a modest though hugely likable splash with the family dramady “Happy Christmas” — a sign that he may be approaching his cinematic maturity.

With “Digging for Fire” he delivers his most mainstream-friendly effort to date…which is not to say that it’s conventional, only that he’s finding ways to finesse his austere signature style.

Married couple Tim and Lee (Swanberg regular Jake Johnson, who also co-wrote, and Rosemarie DeWitt) are a struggling L.A. couple with an adorable 3-year-old son (Swanberg’s son Jude, a born actor if there ever was one).  He’s a public school teacher.  She’s a yoga instructor.

A wealthy movie industry friend on a foreign shoot has invited them to spend a couple of months living in her ultra cool house on a heavily wooded slope high in the Hollywood hills. We’re talking swimming pool, hammock, plenty of room for the kid’s tricycle.

On their first day in the new digs Tim makes a discovery while walking around the property.  From an overgrown hillside he recovers what looks like a human rib and a heavily-rusted cheap revolver.

The cops aren’t interested in his find — they’ll only show up for an entire corpse. But Tim is intrigued.

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Jenny Slate

Jenny Slate

“OBVIOUS CHILD” My rating: B (Now showing at the Tivoli and Leawood theaters)

84 minutes | MPAA rating: R

It’s about a young woman struggling to make it in the world of stand-up comedy.  The lead character is played by Jenny Slate, who is in fact an stand-up comic, as well as a past cast member of “Saturday Night Live.”

At this point you might jump to the conclusion that Gillian Robespierre’s “Obvious Child” is a comedy.

Well, it is, but not like any comedy we’ve seen lately. It has more in common with dramadies like the cable hits “Girls” and “Nurse Jackie” than your usual rom-com fare. The humor on display elicits as many gasps as guffaws. It’s not so much funny ha-ha as funny weird.

And in its final passages, “Obvious Child” (the title comes from the Paul Simon hit of the same name) achieves a bittersweet blend of hope and loss that is more moving than any plain comedy has a right to be.

Slate’s Donna Stern lives in Brooklyn, works in a fusty old bookstore that specializes in anti-imperialist and non-exploitative works (it actually says so in the store’s name), and spends her after hours at the local open mic night.

As the film begins she learns that her boyfriend has been sleeping with her best friend. The ballsy comic with the potty mouth melts into a weeping mess who spends much time burrowing into the familial warmth of her divorced parents (Richard Kind in absent-minded professor mode, Polly Draper as a college business professor — both excellent).

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