REVIEW: The Intervention

5 12 2016

the-interventionI watched most of Clea DuVall’s “The Intervention” while working out recently – it met my qualifications for entertainment that was breezy enough without any nudity – and found myself committing a major gym foul. I had figured out exactly how the movie was working to the point where I could predict the next line of dialogue. And then, it happened. I caught myself involuntarily reciting the next line out loud. (I was right, for the record.)

This wannabe Gen X version of “The Big Chill” features indie stalwarts like Melanie Lynskey, Jason Ritter and Cobie Smulders on a weekend retreat in Savannah (likely for the tax credits) to stage an intervention in a failing marriage. But, of course, in a grouping of four couples, that one relationship is not the only one in need of some axle grease. Be it a fissure between siblings, lovers or friends, no one can escape the squabbling – including us.

Not every relationship drama needs to be an Edward Albee play, but a little bit of subtlety could have gone a long way in “The Intervention.” No fraying connection can be discovered naturally; instead, it must be laid out a scene of two characters discussing it first in whispered, vague terms. The conversation topics around the dinner table or porch seats could not be more provocative if they tried. If everyone in the film were truly as miserable as DuVall would have us believe, no one would brooch these subjects.

Naturally, the band-aid gets ripped off, opening the floodgates for the closeted resentments to spill out into open conflict. Yet once the truth comes to light, the result is neither cathartic nor enlightening. With every chance, DuVall would rather end a scene with an explosion instead of concluding it honestly or dwelling in the messy irresolution that often defines the sparring between friends and lovers. In “The Intervention,” the easy way is apparently the only way. C2stars





REVIEW: Hits

18 02 2015

HitsHits” begins with a title card that recalls the one preceding 2013’s “American Hustle.”  This one says, “Based on a true story … that hasn’t happened yet.”  In other words, it marks writer/director David Cross’ way of saying that he wants to kvetch endlessly about the present day under the guise of satirization.

Maybe I’m still a little bit defensive about that horrendous TIME Magazine cover calling millennials “The Me Me Me Generation,” as if the generations before us have a spotless record and never posed any worry for their parents.  Nonetheless, I cannot help but get annoyed by vast generalizations about the youth these days as disgusting, device-addicted narcissists.  It is certainly true of many people, and I will not deny it; the world just needs some positive images of us.

That virality is one of the chief virtues of our society is certainly no secret, nor is the triumph of fame over hard-earned success.  Cross, though, seems to act as if he is delivering a message sent from heaven to enlighten us idiots.  “Hits” aims to pick only the lowest hanging fruit and juice it for cheap laughs.  (At least he picks up on an equally ludicrous breed, the self-righteous Gen X social media activist.)

Beyond the handicap of simply recapitulating the obvious, Cross’ first foray into feature filmmaking just cannot sustain its 90 minute runtime.  The characters that populate his ridiculous universe scarcely possess the depth for a comedy sketch; expecting them to remain entertaining and engaging for an entire movie is preposterous.  They might work well for a web series, however, if Cross could add some depth of thought to an only slightly revamped stereotype of the vapid fame-seeker.   C2stars