On Sunday, I went to the final IFF event, an advanced screening of Judd Apatow’s new film Trainwreck. I won’t lie, I was somewhat dubious about the film before the screening. Was it a RomCom? A regulation Apatow comedy without Seth Rogen? Where did it fall on the spectrum between Bridesmaids and The 40-Year Old Virgin? After two hours in Granoff, I still don’t think I can define it, but I will say: it was AMAZING. And seriously got me thinking.
Amy Schumer, the hottest lady in comedy right now, stars as Amy (so creative, right?), a writer at a ridiculously hetero-normative men’s magazine in New York City (one article pitch is, “Are you gay, or is she just boring?”). She may be doing alright professionally, but in her personal life, she is a hot mess. Believing that “monogamy is unrealistic,” a lesson her dad taught her at a young age, Amy gets drunk/high, hooks up with randos, and stumbles home with reckless abandon on the regular. I obviously have no problem with random hook ups and one night stands, but Amy really takes it to a new level. Thanks to a random assignment on a successful sports doctor, she meets Aaron, played by Bill Hader at his most adorable, and the rest of the movie is the story of Amy’s first real relationship.
I left the movie with my friends, gushing about how cute it was, in addition to retelling our favorite jokes (I literally had tears streaming down my face at one scene with Amy on a therapeutic treadmill). We all cooed about how much we want a relationship just like Amy and Aaron’s, which was so natural and fun and believable. I started thinking about relationships in college in general, something I often think of as rare and harder to find than Josiah Carberry. Because while I’ve definitely hooked up with a lot of people in college, I have not ended up in a relationship with any of them. Was no one willing to settle down?
I walked into the Avon expecting to see indie-er version of True Grit. Instead, I was taken along an absurd 84-minute adventure through director John Maclean’s surreal vision of the American West.
Slow West follows the hapless journey of Jay Cavendish (Kodi Smit-McPhee), a young Scotsman making his way across the frontier in pursuit of unrequited love. In the opening scene, Silas (Michael Fassbender), a rugged and mysterious outlaw, saves Jay from bandits and offers to chaperone him for the rest of his journey in exchange for money. As they ride on, they are pursued by a hodgepodge group of bounty-hunters, and Silas’s true motive for accompanying Jay is revealed.
The film is a parody of a western movie with an interesting twist, since the main character is European. Some scenes are cliché to the point of hilarity, while others are punctuated by dark humor that leaves the audience chuckling in the wake of extreme misfortune.
However, it would be wrong to label Slow West as a comedy. Death and violence in the movie come out of desperation. In one scene, Silas shoots an immigrant mother who attempts to rob a general store with her husband. As Silas leaves, two young freshly-orphaned children are seen waiting outside, utterly helpless.
The prospect of Jason Segel playing David Foster Wallace was, to put it nicely, daunting. Male college students and literary buffs—the two most vocal cohorts of Wallace fans—did not hesitate to express their chagrin that the stoner comedy fan favorite would be playing the enigmatic and genius Infinite Jest writer. Wallace’s family objected to the movie being made.
Fast forward two years: The End of the Tour premiered at Sundance on January 23 and is yet to be screened elsewhere, making the film an impressive grab on IFF’s part. The first of this week’s IFF screenings showed in the Martinos Auditorium in Granoff last night. The film is slated for a limited release in July. Boasting direction by James Ponsoldt, coming off of his critically acclaimed The Spectacular Now, and with its fair share of controversy, The End of the Tour was, if nothing else, tantalizing.
The good news is that Segel soars above expectations, delivering a surprisingly nuanced performance that brings Wallace’s words to life. And what words they are. The End of the Tour is an adaptation of David Lipsky’s 2010 book Although of Course You End Up Becoming Yourself, the true account of Lipsky’s time shadowing Wallace during the last four days of the Infinite Jest book tour.
Playwright Donald Margulies’ screenplay maintains much of the book’s insight. Part hyper-intellectual buddy comedy chock-full of snappy dialogue and witty retorts with its fair share of laughs, part genuinely moving rumination on how writers grasp for meaning through their work, the screenplay is truly driven forward by Wallace’s words.