Obvious Child is a romantic comedy about abortion. Miraculously it delivers on all fronts. It’s hilarious. It’s romantic without delving into pretentiousness or sentimentality. And it deals with the subject of abortion realistically. At no point did I feel like I was being preached to based on a political ideology but rather watching an honest depiction of a woman going through that decision making process.
Jenny Slate stars as Donna Stern, an aimless twenty something New Yorker who dabbles in stand up comedy. After a rough break up, Donna is a mess and leans on her parents and friends for emotional support. One drunken night after a particularly brutal stand up set she meets Max, a midwestern guy who’s naive to the calloused ways of the big city (sounds more trite than it’s executed) played by Jake Lacy. They sleep together in a very delightful montage of fun drunken sex. Later, when it becomes clear that the condom wasn’t used in a manner that maximizes it’s effectiveness, Donna has to make a decision. It’s clear from the opening credits that Donna isn’t ready for the level of responsibility that is required to parent a child but abortion understandably comes with a lot of emotional baggage. Obvious Child walks the audience through that. Through a series of funny and heartfelt conversations with loved ones Donna finds her resolve to make this decision.
Writer/director Gillian Robespierre manages to not only craft a story that is both entertaining and informative without seeming dismissive or preachy but she also made a great movie on an artistic level. Polly Draper and Richard Kind play Donna’s parents. The dynamic between these three characters is written and played honestly and naturally. Gaby Hoffman and Gabe Liedman play Donna’s friends who manage to provide emotional support while still maintaining the detached self awareness that metropolitan twenty something culture marinades itself in. David Cross even shows up for a scene as a lecherous elder statesman comic who provides a social counterbalance to Lacy’s wholesome and earnest portrayal of Max.
Obvious Child plays as a modern Annie Hall with 70% more charming pee and poop humor. It’s shot well, acted well, and somehow while it’s juggling the heaviness of it’s subject matter with the lightheartedness of what an audience expects from a romantic comedy it pulls off the magic trick of being the most accurate portrayal of stand up comedy that I’ve ever seen in a fictional narrative (sorry Punchline and Funny People). I’ve seen this film a couple of times and each time as the credits roll I’m left with a longing to still be in that world spending time with those characters. I highly recommend this film.
Brooklyn alt-country, post-americana act, O’Death has accomplished quite a feat with their fifth record. They’ve created an album that I genuinely enjoy (not a feat) while employing my least favorite instrument: the banjo. This is such a feat that there have only been 2 other occurrences in 2014 (Saintseneca’s Dark Arc and Lowercase Noises “This Is For Our Sins”). It’s nothing personal, but if I see a band loading in and they have a banjo, I just write them off as being more cannon fodder for the overhead speakers at every just-shy-of-corporate PNW coffee shop, inadvertently soundtracking the smug click-clacking of macbook toting slacktivists clad in patagonia gear… but I digress.
Don’t let that hate-mongering opening statement fool you. I dig the fuck outta this record.
I’ve admittedly missed a sizable chunk of O’Death’s career, 2 records and 8 years have passed, since I fell briefly, madly in love with Head Home. 2006 saw a darker, more Waits influenced sound. Not to imply that 2014′s version of O’Death is exactly a ray of goddamned sunshine.
Out Of Hands We Go is a beautiful, melancholic drifting record that finds Greg Jamie exercising far more vocal restraint, though still at times a might unsettling/eerie, the vocals are smoother than their earliest work (while not sinking to the Jose Gonzalez-esque whisper/croon of 2011 single, “Bugs”).
The album also does an excellent job of dragging the listener into various settings and locations via tastefully manipulative production. Ranging from lush, and clean to hollow echo, and cassette tape hiss, Out Of Hands allows the listener to feel like they’ve experienced several aspects of the band, or maybe journeyed through the story with them. Personal favorites include “Wait For Fire” “We Had A Vision” & “Isavelle”. – Joshua Isaac Finch
O’Death plays with Coyote and Stone Jack Jones at Sam Bond’s at 9:30 tonight.
When I first heard about this film a sad groan oozed forth from my heart. The trailer gave the impression of a mash up between Speed and Phone Booth (or Liberty Stands Still, whichever execution of that gimmicky premise you’re comfortable with). The pitch is that the whole film is just a guy in his car in real time. In the trailer there is a hint of tension leading my puny brain to believe that there is a sinister plot threatening the lead character. These were assumptions based on a lifetime of consuming mostly formulaic media.
Ivan Locke is a construction contractor working on the biggest project of his career. His reputation amongst those in the industry is impeccable. His home life is idilic, loving wife, two adoring sons, and a home that is never seen in the film but given Locke’s high end BMW is imagined to be quite picturesque. We find out early on that he’s recently made a life changing mistake and this night, this drive that he’s compelled to take, is his reckoning. He must risk his career and family to do what he believes is right.
Tom Hardy’s portrayal of the titular character is one of the things that cinephiles will site to win the “Hardy is the new Brando” argument. He absolutely sells Locke as a flawed yet upstanding man who wants nothing more than to do right by the people in his life under the circumstances he’s created around them. Though he’s the only actor visible onscreen, Hardy doesn’t carry the film alone. Ruth Wilson gives a moving voice performance as Locke’s wife. Andrew Scott also stands out as one of Locke’s employees who’s character provides a pressure release valve for the tension created in writer/director Steven Knight’s script. I’m sure that Locke is not for everyone but I can assure you that this film is in no way executed as the novelty that it appears to be. It’s a well played character study of a person in the most difficult 80 minutes of his life. – Seth Milstein
Halloween is approaching and the most terrifyingly grim thing you could possibly jam into little Jimmy’s candy bucket is a week in this dismal existence without the relief afforded him by seeing live music. Go to a show. Take little Jimmy to a show. Do it for the children. Here are this week’s Eugene Area Live Music Listings…