Movie Reviews: Funny Pages | Lunar Reverie | Hallelujah | Clerk III

funny pages

Moonage Reverie (15) ****

Hallelujah: Leonard Cohen, A travel, A song (12A) ****

Focusing on the murky world of underground comics and the extreme personalities that sometimes revolve around them, funny pages is a dark and fun coming-of-age story about a privileged high school student so determined to do genuinely dirty work that he embarks on his own deranged attempt to accumulate the life experience needed for inspiration.

Written and directed by Owen Kline – best known for playing Jesse Eisenberg’s younger brother in Noah Baumbach’s The Squid and the Whale – the film establishes its uncomfortably funny tone from the start with high schooler Robert (Daniel Zolghadri) receiving an inappropriate lesson and telling in the drawing of his teacher’s life before witnessing a tragedy that may or may not negatively impact his psyche in the future.

Deprived of a disadvantaged childhood by his desperate upper-middle-class parents (Maria Dizzia and Josh Pais), Robert chooses to drop out of school, take a low-paying job at a legal aid firm, and move in in a fetid basement apartment with a couple of middle-aged weirdos having fun in the same kind of fringe culture as him. Here, Kline displays a wonderful feel for the grotesques of life on the fringes, with Sean Price Williams’ sweaty, claustrophobic production design and gritty cinematography capturing the yucky reality that Robert wants to exploit for his art. Whether or not he should is a question the film explores through its growing obsession with a former cartoonist (Matthew Maher) whose legal setbacks bring him into the orbit of his day job. The difficult relationship that develops between them exposes in a disconcerting and amusing way the discrepancy that exists between suffering for his art and simple suffering.

Lunar Reverie

David Bowie’s new documentary Lunar Reverie doesn’t embark on an easy chronological analysis of the iconic star’s life and career. Like director Brett Morgan’s previous film, Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck, it’s an immersive and somewhat abstract attempt to do justice to the creative complexities of a musician who has mostly resisted commodification by the mainstream rock establishment. It’s a smart decision. Bowie thrived on reinvention and obfuscation and the film embraces these traits by exploring how his reinventions have driven, reflected or redefined culture as a whole, with the man himself fully aware of the appeal of the role of rock star as a false prophet in a time of religious decline. importance.

Bowie’s slipperiness continues to be part of his appeal, of course, and it’s fascinating how alien rockstar Ziggy Stardust was a world away from the Thin White Duke of his Los Angeles days, just like the traveling life that he carved out for himself in Berlin in the late 1970s contrasted sharply with the corporate megastar he became in the 1980s, or even the Internet pioneer of the late 1970s. 1990s/early 2000s. Morgan’s film travels back and forth between these periods and personalities, making judicious use of a wealth of incredible archival footage to paint a portrait of an artist who, like the says a surprisingly shrewd talk show host, has used himself as his own canvas.

On the surface Hallelujah: Leonard Cohen, a journey, a song seems like a much more conventional rock doc. Yet it’s innovative in its own quiet way thanks to directors Danye Goldfine and Daniel Geller’s decision to examine their subject’s life and career through the lens of its most famous song.

The film brilliantly teases how Hallelujah’s ubiquity and reach far exceeds that of its composer, who spent years deliberating over each of its lines, only for the album it ultimately appeared on – Various Positions from 1984 – which was rejected by Cohen’s label in the United States. As such, the song’s subsequent release from obscurity makes for a compelling story, involving Bob Dylan, John Cale, tragic indie-folk troubadour Jeff Buckley and, oddly enough, the children’s film Shrek. The end result is a film that subtly reclaims the song for Cohen and his fans while acknowledging its importance to those who don’t know who wrote it or why.

Hallelujah: Leonard Cohen, a song, a journey

“No one has ever made a film set in a convenience store”, observe several characters in Clerk III. Sadly, the flashy nature of this joke is about as good as Kevin Smith’s real-time sequel to his furiously funny debut Clerks in 1994 and its less-than-stellar follow-up in 2006.

Picking up the action 16 years after the last film, it finds protagonists Dante and Randal (played again by Brian O’Halloran and Jeff Anderson) still performing the Quick Stop they bought and reopened at the end. of Clerks II. This time around, however, their middle-aged boredom is interrupted by the eternally wise Randal suffering a near-fatal heart attack, a wake-up call that convinces the slacker in his fifties to quit. to be a passive consumer of one’s own life. and make a movie about it instead.

Inevitably, Randal’s film begins to look a lot like Smith’s black-and-white indie milestone — a meta-touch that Smith doesn’t quite have the cinematic qualities to pull off. It’s a shame because it tackles some interesting themes, but the mixture of juvenile and extreme sentimentality goes against it, as does the waning acting skills of its original cast, who assault in front of the camera like suddenly self-aware children forced to pose for a school photo.

Funny Pages is in theaters and on Curzon Home Cinema from September 16; Moonage Daydream is in IMAX theaters from September 16 and on general release from September 23; Hallelujah: Leonard Cohen, A Journey, A Song and Clerks III hit theaters September 16.

Calvin W. Soper