Posts Tagged ‘Gillian Robespierre’


Richard joins CP24 to have a look at the weekend’s new movies including the devil doll flick “Annabelle: Creation,” the Jeremy Renner thriller “Wind River” and Jenny Slate’s dramedy “Landline.”

Watch the whole thing HERE!

LANDLINE: 3 ½ STARS. “a wistful tone that gets under your skin.”

Theses days the word landline conjures up a specific retro feel. It harkens back to a time before everyone played Candy Crush on their mobile devices and when pay phones dotted the landscape. That’s the world where the new Jenny Slate dramedy “Landline” takes place.

It’s New York City, 1995. Dana Jacobs (Slate) is a layout artist at Paper Magazine when she isn’t at Blockbuster with her fiancée Ben (Jay Duplass) agonizing over what movie to rent. Younger sister Ali (Abby Quinn) is as free-spirited as her sibling is buttoned down.

“You’re like a piece of toilet paper stuck to my shoe,” Dana says to Ali. “You are the embodiment of constipation,” Ali snaps back.

Despite their differences the sisters bond when Ali discovers erotic poetry her father Alan (John Turturro) wrote for a woman who is not his wife Pat (Edie Falco). Their disgust for his actions brings them together, despite the fact that Dana has thrown off the shackles of engagement and embarked on a secret journey of self-discovery with Nate (Finn Wittrock). “I am flailing,” she says. “Trying to figure out if the life I have picked for myself is the one that I want.” “We are a family of cheaters!” Ali exclaims.

“Landline” uses infidelity as a backdrop for a study of partnership and family. Everyone’s relationship is teetering on the edge and yet this is a hopeful movie, a film that suggests monogamy is viable when given room to breathe.

“Obvious Child” director Gillian Robespierre brings a strong ensemble together, elevating the material with strong performances. Duplass is suitably milquetoast as Ben, the dull but lovable fiancée. Turturro and Falco breathe life into characters that in lesser hands might have been caricatures or worse, simply a plot device to support the sisters’ story.

The stars here, however, are Slate and Quinn. They look like sisters but their chemistry extends beyond the skin deep. Slate’s giggles and affectionate asides—“You’re a weird little bird.”—feel authentic, as though these two have a long shared history that predates anything we see on the screen. They bring humanity and sympathy to the film despite their foibles.

“Landline” is an engaging portrait of broken relationships in an analogue time. It’s a gently heart tugging story about the consequences of breaking relationship rules. There are jokes and there are tears but mainly “Landline” has a wistful tone that gets under your skin.

OBVIOUS CHILD: 4 STARS. “the secret weapon is star Jenny Slate.”

maxresdefaultThe Sundance hit “Obvious Child” arrives in theatres with a reputation. In its film festival run it got labeled “the abortion rom com.” While that shorthand description is technically accurate, it’s also reductive, ignoring the film’s well-crafted and hilarious coming-of-age story about accepting responsibility, to concentrate on the more sensational aspect of the story.

Jenny Slate plays Donna, a twentysomething comic with an infectious laugh who works at New York’s Unoppressive Non-Imperialist Bookstore to pay the bills. She’s funny, charming and a bit of a loose canon who uses her life as the basis of her comedy. One night after a show her boyfriend (Paul Briganti), who’s been having an affair and is tired of providing material for her act, brutally dumps her, leaving her devastated and vulnerable.

She drinks wine, engages in “a little light stalking,” and tries to work out her pain on stage. A couple of weeks later, still smarting from the split, and after one—or three—drinks too many she has rebound sex with Max (Jake Lacy), a straight laced business school student she meets at the comedy club.

Their tryst leads to pregnancy—”I remember seeing a condom but don’t know,” she recalls through a hangover haze, “like, exactly what it did.”—and Donna’s decision to terminate the baby. She has no doubts she’s doing the right thing but she is unsure whether she should tell Max.

The debut feature of writer-director Gillian Robespierre rides the line between feminist comedy—without taking an overt pro-choice or pro-life position—and full-blown rom com. The female characters are well defined without an ounce of cliché but at the same time the movie embraces the clichés of the romantic comedy genre while simultaneously subverting them. Harry and Sally, for instance, may have celebrated Valentine’s Day, but not at a Planned Parenthood office.

None of this would work unless the film was genuinely funny, which it is. The cast is uniformly excellent. They all feel genuine but the secret weapon is star Jenny Slate.

Slate does the heavy lifting in “Obvious Child,” appearing in every scene and carrying the emotional weight of the story, while still providing the lion’s share of laughs. She could have been the indie manic pixie dream girl—she does cute things like scream when surprised and then scream again because she surprised herself with the first yell—but her portrayal of Donna is much more raw than that. She’s complicated, like real people are, working through confidence and life issues. Best of all, in a summer packed with two-hour plus movies, she does it in a tightly packed 83 minutes!

Richard’s Q&A with “Obvious Child” star Jenny Slate in Toronto!

photo 1On Monday June 16, 2014 Richard hosted a Q&A with “Obvious Child” star Jenny Slate. The movie currently sits at 89% on Rotten Tomatoes and has earned great reviews from critics. The Boston Herald calls it reminiscent of “Woody Allen’s early, New York City set comedies,” and Common Sense Media called it a “smart, irreverent, edgy romcom about complex choices.”

Here’s some info on the film: “For aspiring comedian Donna Stern, everyday life as a female twenty-something provides ample material for her incredibly relatable brand of humor. On stage, Donna is unapologetically herself, joking about topics as intimate as her sex life and as crude as her day-old underwear. But when Donna gets dumped, loses her job, and finds herself pregnant just in time for Valentine’s Day, she has to navigate the murky waters of independent adulthood for the first time. As she grapples with an uncertain financial future, an unwanted pregnancy, and a surprising new suitor, Donna begins to discover that the most terrifying thing about adulthood isn’t facing it all on her own. It’s allowing herself to accept the support and love of others. And be truly vulnerable. Never failing to find the comedy and humanity in each awkward situation she encounters, Donna finds out along the way what it means to be as brave in life as she is on stage. Anchored by a breakout performance from Jenny Slate, OBVIOUS CHILD is a winning discovery, packed tight with raw, energetic comedy and moments of poignant human honesty. Writer/Director Gillian Robespierre handles the topic of Donna’s unwanted pregnancy with a refreshing matter-of-factness rarely seen onscreen. And with Donna, Slate and Robespierre have crafted a character for the ages – a female audiences will recognize, cheer for, and love.”

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