Film Friday: Comedy, Real and/or Unintentional
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Film Friday: Comedy, Real and/or Unintentional

Let’s open with an image. By far our favourite image of film in the past…Ooh, ages, Date Movie’s unique take on Napoleon Dynamite. I can almost hear the two (count ‘em) writers from Scary Movie in the pitching office.
“Okay, get this, right. We’ve got a version of Napoleon Dynamite. Now, you know how all the kids are wearing those ‘Vote for Pedro’ t-shirts, right?”
(The movie exec nods with recognition, a feign he’s built up over years of a life spent wallowing in a disinterest of anything but money and sadomachistic acts performed on unhappy prostitutes)
“Well, get this. Our guy wears a shirt that says ‘Don’t Vote for Pedro’! Isn’t that wild?”
And that vignette tells you more about our opinion of this film than a review probably could, yes.
This weekend there are better releases in comedy, not least Tristiam Shandy: A Cock and Bull Story, which Torontoist were lucky enough to have seen at TIFF, so let’s recall (and hastily edit) what we said of it. “Melding footage of an imagined making of the film of Tristiam Shandy with footage from the imagined film of Tristiam Shandy, the life of [star] Steve Coogan is quite surprisingly laid bare in the name of realism, ending with a portrayal of a sympathetic, if weak, character. The interaction between the sections is fast and fluid, both are hilarious (with particular mention to be given to Rob Brydon’s break out role) and while never quite as clever as Charlie Kaufman’s work, it’s far funnier.”
Sadly, Samuel L. Jackson isn’t in what will undoubtedly be the comedy of the season (Snakes on a Plane! Try and say it without yelling it, it’s impossible) he’s in tiresome sounding thriller Freedomland. “[Director, Joe Roth’s] dire unimagination leaves Freedomland hobbled” quips Eye’s Adam Nayman.
Other releases include Disney pic Eight Below, in which Paul Walker leaves behind his dogs at an Antarctic research station, and they stun everyone involved by not revealing celebrity voices and getting up to wacky hijinks, and A Good Woman, based on Oscar Wilde’s play, Lady Windermere’s Fan, with Scarlett Johansson as the at one point titular character (“What should be a fleet-footed farce ends up feeling far too lugubrious”, Eye’s Jason Anderson).
This week there is also a veritable smorgasbord of documentaries. Why We Fight, Eugene Jareki’s lauded examination of the US Military and the continuing climate of imperialism, in a review of which Now’s Deirdre Swan absurdly states ‘President Bush is a true believer in spreading democracy, by force if necessary’, which ignoring the inherent fallacy in the statement, fails to note that the democracy Bush believes in is the kind of one that elected him twice. What the Bleep!? Down the Rabbit Hole is an upgrade to 2004’s What the Bleep Do We Know, alternately applauded and booed for the changes made. NOW’s Andrew Dowler complains “The expansion cuts back the framing story featuring Marlee Maltin”, but “[Down the Rabbit Hole] reduces Maltin’s screen time (a good thing)”, counters Jason Anderson. Through the Fire follows promising high school basketballer Sebastian Telfair through 2004’s NBA draft pick. “The rare intimacy of this asphalt-to-hardwood story rivets.” concludes NOW’s Jason Rivers.
In Indie/Rep, the U of T Film Festival continues until Saturday, Innes Town Hall, 2 Sussex, and the Mpenzi Film Festival ( the Black Women’s International Film and Video Festival) starts tonight at 6:30pm, including a showing of Breaking In: The Making of a Hip Hop Dancer. (U of T, Medical Sciences Building, 1 Kings College Circle.)
And Cinematheque Ontario’s spotlight this week is on South Korean director Hong Sang-Soo, including the Toronto premieres of Hong’s latest, Tale of Cinema and Woman is the Future of Man ( one after another, starting at Feb 22, 6:30pm). All showings are at Art Gallery of Ontario’s Jackman Hall, 317 Dundas W.