Splitsider

Posts tagged as comedy film school

Does FX's 'Fargo' Keep the Original's Darkness While Losing the Comedy?

Many words have been written this week about Tuesday’s premiere of the FX eponymous miniseries adaptation of Fargo, particularly in regards to its faithfulness to the classic and nearly universally adored Coen Brothers original. Critics seem to agree that the show, with the Coen Brothers blessing represented in the form of an Executive Producer credit, is faithful in setting and in certain character similarities to the film, but it is mostly not attempting to be an adaptation at all. Rather, it is its own set of stories that take place in the same snow-covered, “you betcha” oeuvre and the various criminals — hapless to exacting — that inhabit and pass [...]

How 'The Lego Movie' Manages to Keep a Bunch of Plates Spinning All at Once

While you certainly don't need me to tell you that the number one movie in the country three weeks running is a success, The Lego Movie seems to have struck a Pixar-esque chord in even the most skeptical corners of the internet. A certain amount of goodwill was always going to be garnered by the sheer novelty of seeing many people's favorite childhood toys (and I would suspect a disproportionate amount of people writing about pop culture on the internet) animated to life, but that same goodwill seemed potentially doomed to be destroyed by those shouting that we were just being suckered into paying for a 90-minute [...]

How Lena Dunham's Directing Style Makes 'Girls' More Emotionally Resonant – and More Polarizing

At some point in the last two years it became a legal requirement in the United States to have an opinion about Lena Dunham. So, here is mine: Lena Dunham, the ultimate multi-hyphenate, is a tremendously skilled filmmaker. She also fits perfectly in the original mission of this column, in that while she is often more lauded, or at least more recognized, for her writing and acting work, her skills and choices as a director actually allow her to perfectly convey what she tries to do in Girls and her earlier work. Just as in her writing, her filmmaking choices are pitch-perfect in portraying perfectly timed humor, sadness, vulnerability, and [...]

How Director Peter Atencio Acts as the Unsung, Essential Third Member of 'Key and Peele'

How Peter Atencio (@Atencio) acts as the unsung, essential third member of 'Key and Peele' #url#

The Duplass Brothers and Bringing the Lo-Fi Mumblecore Aesthetic to Mainstream Hollywood

With the recent mainstream indie success of Mumblecore pioneers Joe Swanberg’s Drinking Buddies and Andrew Bujalski’s Computer Chess, it seems the poorly named but important movement has officially come of age. In the mid-2000s, the films and filmmakers broadly lumped into the sometimes pejorative term “Mumblecore”, were often low-budget, low-production value films with non-professional actors navigating the conflicts and relationships of middle-class white male Americans in their late 20s.

Mark and Jay Duplass’ first film, The Puffy Chair, is a quintessential Mumblecore entry. Low-concept, relationship drama-driven, and heavy on the zoom button, the film mixes the unpredictability and reality of a documentary with the character malleability of a narrative in [...]

How 'Family Guy' Gets the Comedic Cutaway So Wrong

By now, the cutaway has become a television comedy staple, allowing programs to reveal information, flashback, build on a joke, or direct-address the camera among other options. The cutaway, an abrupt break in continuity editing, (which as mentioned previously here is editing that allows multiple shots to appear as if they are happening continuously on the same spatial and temporal plane) is useful and oft-used in the visual comedy toolkit because it can suddenly subvert the pacing of a scene or add information for a joke or punchline without losing dramatic focus. Seth MacFarlane’s Family Guy has positioned itself as the immediate point of reference when discussing the [...]

Mel Brooks and His Wonderful Rejection of Subtlety

Back in a time when our primary source of film-watching outside the movie theatre involved a trip to a video store, it was much harder to be a young boy curious about what might exist beyond the G-rated family comedies we would watch on Sunday nights (my family would do this “picnic style” which meant putting down a dirty blanket in our suburban finished basement, ordering chinese food, and eating on the floor while we watched). One day my parents allowed me to attend a friend’s birthday party where we would be watching Mel Brooks’ R-rated film, Blazing Saddles, perhaps just pleased that we weren’t going to watch one [...]

The Auteur Theory of Judd Apatow

More than any modern day comedy director, Judd Apatow can be considered an auteur.

Auteur Theory, first written about by Francois Truffaut in the 1950s as a way to show the value of the lesser-respected American Hollywood filmmakers in comparison to the more artistically respected French filmmakers (later popularized by American critic Andrew Sarris), states that the director is the primary artistic visionary behind a film and that a consistency in his vision over a series of projects proves greatness.

In the most basic sense, Apatow falls under this definition not only because he's created a visual style that is distinctly his own and consistent throughout his directorial efforts, but [...]

Applying the Auteur Theory to Kevin Smith

In the early '90s American Indie boom, auteurs like Quentin Tarantino and Steven Soderbergh emerged into the zeitgeist with personal, low-budget projects that ultimately  came to inform a larger body of work that made them the important film personalities they are today. In this same Sundance-fueled era, a 24-year-old Kevin Smith premiered his first film, Clerks. With the industry support of Harvey Weinstein and the critical support of the New York Times and Janet Maslin, Kevin Smith bullied his way into the rising star director conversation. His follow up films, Mallrats, Chasing Amy, and Dogma led to the creation of a connected Kevin Smith universe, or, the "View-Askewniverse" as [...]

The Evolution of 'SNL's Pretaped Sketches and Digital Shorts

Andy Samberg and the Lonely Island were not the first to produce pre-recorded material for Saturday Night Live. The show has a long tradition of commercial parodies, short films by directors like Albert Brooks and Tom Schiller, and animated work like Robert Smigel’s TV Funhouse sketches. They weren’t even the first to use the “SNL Digital Short” tag. What they did do, was usher SNL into the age of digital online content in a time when it needed to tap into that relevance more than ever. And because they were able to tap into the early rising of the online video tide, as well as produce work prodigiously [...]

Paul Feig, 'Bridesmaids', and Comedy with a "Feminine Sensibility"

Starting with the creation of his breakout sitcom, Freaks and Geeks, and the lead character of Lindsay Weir, Paul Feig has said publicly and shown in his work that he prefers a “feminine sensibility” in his comedy. His role as the auteur for the female comedic actress has been cemented in recent years with his back-to-back critical and box office successes, Bridesmaids and The Heat, and has helped to launch the careers of his stars and supporting players, particularly Melissa McCarthy. So then what is it about Feig’s storytelling and directing style that is so suitable for women performers? Primarily, the answer is that Feig is actively rebelling against [...]

How Louis CK's Directing Style Helps Him Translate His Standup to the Screen in 'Louie'

Louis C.K. is a filmmaker.

That is not to undermine his world-class abilities as a writer and performer, but rather to emphasize the role his direction and visual style plays in his comedy.

Historically, audiences have operated under a false perception that in comedy films and television, actors and writers are doing the heavy-lifting and directors set up a wide shot and let the magic happen. In dramas, nobody questions the role of the director in bringing out performances or employing the perfect close-up. They are, deservedly so, regarded as integral pieces of the storytelling.

When considering C.K. in this canon, it is important to look at his career arc. [...]