DVD - 2016
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An aging comedian tours the California desert, lost in a cycle of third-rate venues, novelty tourist attractions, and vain attempts to reach his estranged daughter. By day, he slogs through the barren landscape, inadvertently alienating every acquaintance. At night, he seeks solace in the animation of his onstage persona. Fueled by the promise of a lucrative Hollywood engagement and the possibility of rekindling a relationship with his daughter, he trudges through a series of increasingly surreal and volatile encounters.


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Aug 10, 2017

In 2012 director Rick Alverson teamed up with Tim Heidecker (of "Tim & Eric" fame) to make "The Comedy", one of the most brutal critiques of millennial mindsets ever set to celluloid. With "Entertainment" they inflict yet another angst-ridden wail of despair on an audience perhaps lured by the ironic title and promises of stand-up schtick from the film’s star, outré comedian Gregg Turkington. Turkington does don his onstage persona of Neil Hamburger—a dried up comedic has-been sporting a ridiculous tuxedo, perpetual cocktail and pathetic combover who looks as if he just crawled out of a months-long coma—only this time he stays in character throughout to show us the pain and boiling rage behind all those unfunny scatological one-liners. Ostensibly a road movie about a comic making his way across the Mojave desert towards a big gig in Los Angeles and a possible reunion with his estranged daughter who never picks up the phone, Alverson turns the convention on its ear and instead delivers an unsettling study of one man’s gradual disintegration. Alverson makes use of his desert locales with empty highways and desiccated cacti emphasizing both his protagonist’s banality and growing disconnect. He then imparts a further sense of gravitas through the clever placement of primary colours and a unique soundtrack which includes everything from lounge to sacred chorales. Subtle as scorched earth and as pleasant as a razor blade across the wrist, his film is certainly not for those easily offended or put off by long slow takes which show nothing yet scream volumes, and Turkington’s deadpan delivery doesn’t garner much sympathy when the fall eventually comes. But the point of the film is that it doesn’t HAVE a point to make and the audience is invited to simply ride along at their own peril. John C. Reilly and Michael Cera co-star as a tediously dull cousin full of empty praise and a truck stop hustler looking for warmth.

Nov 30, 2016

Despite those who are perhaps more intelligent than I and have a keener eye for poignant subtlety, I'm just going to go ahead and say that I essentially found this movie to be a waste of time. However, it had the ability to tease you into thinking there would be some remarkable moment if only you stuck it out, so I did. I found no such moment. All in all, it was still mildly charming in its utter uniqueness and ability of the filmmakers to actually make a really 'quiet' flick like this. Sort of reminds me of the crisis captured so well in a film like "Lost In Translation", but that same sentiment somehow goes awry in "Entertainment". Maybe, like the former, I'll need to watch the latter again somewhere down the line now that the shock of this first viewing is over.

Jul 05, 2016

So don't buy the title. It's more anti-entertainment and it's not for everyone. Or anyone, really. Still, I have to recommend a movie this strange and uncompromising: an indie movie that actually is an indie movie, unlike most of its contemporaries. It stars Australian Gregg Turkington, who is basically playing his alter ego, stand up comedian Neil Hamburger, a vicious parody of every cheap suit wearing, drink guzzling hack comedian ever. The comedian is touring the California desert and playing the saddest venues imaginable, often with a younger comedian, who does an absurd clown routine. John C. Reilly, Tye Sheridan, and Michael Cera (who has one scene) co-star. Those seeking the unusual will, if not enjoy, at least appreciate the blandly surreal trip. Directed by Rick Alverson, who did "The Comedy," and co-written with Tim Heideckler of Tim & Eric.


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