If it's crap ... We'll tell you
Why do they market films as comedies when they're not even a bit funny? Or, even as far as I can tell, are even TRYING to be? Such is the unfortunate case with 2010's "Peep World", an indie film packed with talent on screen, and apparently not so much off of it. The Lewis Black narrated story follows the siblings of the Meyerwitz family, a clan divided by lots of distressing personality disorders, but a tell-all 'fictional' book written by the youngest brother (Ben Schwartz) causes chaos, especially when it turns out to be a gigantic hit, even being adapted into a Hollywood film. As you'd expect, pretty much everybody is livid except for the patriarch (Ron Rifkin), the only one treated kindly in the thinly-veiled biography. Daddy Meyerwitz is a hugely successful businessman whose estrangement from his children and ex-wife (Leslie Ann-Warren) becomes all too apparent at a 70th birthday party for him which anchors the beginning and end of the film. Michael C Hall, the 'responsible' kid with an architect job and a seemingly loyal wife (Judy Greer) hides a gigantic porn addiction and a failing business; Sarah Silverman is a drama queen par excellence, but can't seem to get an actual acting job; Rainn Wilson is the disaster case, a complete loser with only a sensible girlfriend (Taraji P Henson) and poorly thought out plans to give his life any worth. A better script could have given this unlikable family enough good points to care one way or the other what happens to them, or at least enough recognizable human attributes for the audience to identify with, and maybe even (gasp!) laugh once or twice. As it is, all that "Peep World" really delivers is a certain amount of schadenfreude in watching the apocalyptic birthday dinner turn into a worst case scenario. Even as someone who sat through some truly horrific family gatherings, this is one for the record books.
--CLICK HERE TO BUY Peep World [Blu-ray]
Cover appearances may seem to be to the contrary, but the enchanting 2000 Lasse Hallström film, "Chocolat", isn't really a romantic comedy. In fact, the prominently displayed Johnny Depp only plays a small (but essential) role in the film. Lighting up the screen is Juliette Binoche as Vianne, a nomadic chocolatier that has the cocoa treat's distinctive properties worked out to an exact science (as far as science goes in magical realism films, anyway). Along with her daughter (Victoire Thivisol) she rents out a storefront from a depressed and bitter old lady (Judi Dench) and hangs out her placard advertising her new sweet business. Unfortunately, certain prominent members of the quaint little French town, like the town's devout mayor (Alfred Molina) and his secretary (Carrie-Anne Moss), are horrified that anyone would launch such an enterprise during the 40 days of lent, so they take it upon themselves to sabotage Vianne's reputation amongst the easily swayed townspeople. Regardless, the power of chocolate when wielded by a savvy practitioner is intimidating, and Vianne transforms the village one doubtful resident at a time, starting with her landlord, continuing by rescuing and apprenticing an abused housewife (Lena Olin) and gradually gaining the affection of the entire epicurious hamlet. And yeah, eventually Johnny Depp shows up as the leader of a riverboat group of gypsies and almost screws up the whole thing, but hey...it's not like she's not gonna have sex with Johnny Depp, right? I mean, um, if I was a lady, there wouldn't be any other choice in the matter. But I'm not so, erm, how about those Bears? Did you see that game? Helluva game. I guess the only downside here is that now I desperately...DESPERATELY want to try many of the OMG delicious looking chocolatey morsels displayed, especially that mayan hot cocoa with chili pepper...damn. Most of the 'sexy' here is of the foodie fetish kind, but the charm is universal.
--CLICK HERE TO BUY Chocolat [Blu-ray]