Special Correspondents: This Really Is Fake News.

SPECIAL CORRESPONDENTS

DIRECTED BY: Ricky Gervais

STARRING: Ricky Gervais, Eric Bana, Vera Farmiga, Kevin Pollak, Kelly Macdonald, Benjamin Bratt, America Ferrera, Raúl Castillo

GENRE: Satirical Comedy

YEAR: 2016

COUNTRY: United States, United Kingdom, Canada

News radio journalist Frank Bonneville (Eric Bana) enters a murder scene posing as a cop. After getting the details of the crime, he is removed from the premises and, immediately after, reports the story live on the radio. When he returns to the station, Frank is applauded by colleagues on getting the story before any other press, but his boss Geoffrey Mallard (Kevin Pollak) warns that if he breaks the law one more time, he’ll be fired.

That night, Frank’s sound technician Ian Finch (Ricky Gervais) takes his wife Eleanor (Vera Farmiga) to the station’s annual ball but has to leave for a stake-out with co-worker Claire Maddox (Kelly Macdonald). Eleanor then meets Frank, who sleeps with her, unaware she is married to Finch. The following day, Mallard puts Frank on a story about an uprising in Ecuador and assigns Finch to accompany him. However, Finch tells Frank he can’t go as Eleanor has left him. He also says he’s written a letter, begging her not to end their marriage.

Totally in Ecuador…we swear.

Since fake news or the struggle to find credible news is all the rage these days I decided to this was the perfect time for our Special Correspondents. Written and directed by Ricky Gervais, this “Netflix Original” has hilarious bullshit all the way down to the core. The main cast of Eric Bana, Ricky Gervais, and Vera Farmiga completely embody their characters providing plenty of expert chemistry (or lack thereof). Vera Farmiga’s character is by far the best one, as she steals most of her scenes just as she stole America’s hearts. Also, as the film’s premise is rather clunky to begin with, Gervais is able to turn it into comedy bronze.

Beyond the characters though, Special Correspondents is nothing more than a modest B-rated comedy. While there are some geniunely funny moments, the film is as trope-filled as any English comedy can be. However, this seems obviously done on purpose, a they cast plays to their strengths. Unfortunately, if you don’t like English humor, you might as well chuck this one deep into your queue for another day.

PROS:

  • Main cast performance.
  • Supporting cast performance.
  • Character design.

CONS:

  • Over the top British humor.
  • Trope-filled to the brim.
  • Clunky premise.

SCORE: 6.0 / 10

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In The Loop: UK vs USA in a Vulgarity Match-Up

IN THE LOOP

 

DIRECTED BY: Armando Iannucci

STARRING: Peter Capaldi, Tom Hollander, Gina McKee, James Gandolfini, Chris Addison, David Rasche

GENRE: Satirical black comedy

YEAR: 2009

COUNTRY: United Kingdom

The US President and UK Prime Minister fancy a war. But not everyone agrees that war is a good thing. The US General Miller doesn’t think so and neither does the British Secretary of State for International Development, Simon Foster. But, after Simon accidentally backs military action on TV, he suddenly has a lot of friends in Washington, DC. If Simon can get in with the right DC people, if his entourage of one can sleep with the right intern, and if they can both stop the Prime Minister’s chief spin-doctor Malcolm Tucker rigging the vote at the UN, they can halt the war. If they don’t… well, they can always sack their Director of Communications Judy, who they never liked anyway and who’s back home dealing with voters with blocked drains and a man who’s angry about a collapsing wall.

Alright, so for those who aren’t familiar with In the Loop, be prepared for plenty of British foul and vulgar.  The acting throughout the film is superb, with major shout outs to Peter Capaldi and Tom Hollander. What made In the Loop as popular it was is that it came out at the right time. I mean, it couldn’t have come out at a better time. One final shout out to the writer, as the dialogue in this film is hilarity on another entire level.

Honestly, the only problem I have with the film is not something that I don’t necessarily have a problem with, but as a problem that many will see when they watch the film. In In the Loop, there isn’t a sympathetic character in sight. Absolutely all of the characters were written to not give a single shit, and it works. There will be a few people that will have a problem with this, especially those who pride their film formula. However, breaking the norms is exactly what film-making is about.

PROS:

  • Entire cast performance.
  • Perfect timing.
  • Fantastically written vulgar spool fest.

CONS:

  • No one really gives a shit.
  • Doesn’t follow film formula (if that is important to you).

SCORE: 8.5 / 10

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What Happened, Miss Simone? Behind the Music with Nina Simone

WHAT HAPPENED, MISS SIMONE?

DIRECTED BY: Liz Garbus

STARRING: Contained Simone’s family and friends (mostly in archived footage)

GENRE: Documentary

YEAR: 2015

COUNTRY: United States

On stage Nina Simone was known for her utterly free, uninhibited musical expression, which enthralled audiences and attracted life-long fans. But amid the violent, haunting, and senseless day-to-day of the civil rights era in 1960s America, Simone struggled to reconcile her artistic identity and ambition with her devotion to a movement. Culled from hours of autobiographical tapes, this new film unveils the unmitigated ego of a brilliant artist and the absurdities of her time. At the height of her fame Simone walked away from her family, country, career and fans, to move to Liberia and give up performing. The story of her life leading up to that event poses the question, ‘how does royalty stomp around in the mud and still walk with grace?’

What Happened, Miss Simone has been sitting in my Netflix queue since release and I finally decided to make my way around to watching it. I actually don’t know much about Nina Simone, just that she is incredibly iconic in the world of music. For example, prior to this documentary and article, the only song I knew of hers was “Sinnerman” and that was only from that piss-poor of a film Cellular. While Miss Simone took the more traditional documentary route with family and friends portraying themselves, the film felt more personal than most documentaries on Netflix. What I enjoyed is that they covered Nina Simone’s major role in African-American activism, even if it made me uncomfortable.

So, the biggest issue I had with the documentary is that I just wasn’t overly into it. It’s a shame, I know. I’m just not extremely interested in the life of Nina Simone. This unfortunately put me into the wrong mind set going into the film, and it made me more uncomfortable than anything. Simone was rather critical and radical against the “white devil” and this made me want to shut it off. I didn’t, but damn do white people have such a negative stigma.

PROS:

  • Traditional documentary style.
  • Felt personal.
  • Fantastic score.

CONS:

  • Be ready to be uncomfortable.
  • Racial vibes are high.

SCORE: 6.5 / 10

If you have any suggestions for films/TV/Games/Music/Anime for me to review, drop me a comment!

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