Three filmmakers, two films, two comic views on how we humans strive, through all adversity, to find new ways to frak ourselves up. I know I promised Stephen Frears for last week. Life -- as it has been doing recently -- intervened, so I teamed his interview up with the interview scheduled for this week, and they seem to complement each other quite nicely.
First up in the show is my chat with directors Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck, the team that brought you Half Nelson and Sugar. While those films adroitly weaved humor into their drama, the directors' new film It's Kind of a Funny Story steers toward a lighter tone overall, with a side trip into John Hughes territory. A curious outcome for a story about a near-suicidal teen (United States of Tara's Keir Gilchrist) who checks himself into a psychiatric hospital and finds himself plunked down in the adult ward, where he's taken under the wing by an idiosyncratic inmate (Zach Galifianakis) and courts another teen suicide (Emma Roberts). But, you know, not every trip to the mental clinic has to be One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest.
And, apparently, not every adaptation of Far from the Madding Crowd has to be a romantic period drama. Comics artist Posy Simmonds found that out when she modernized the story for her graphic novel, Tamara Drewe, and director Stephen Frears followed through in bringing the tale to the screen. Like Boden & Fleck, this is Frears in a lighter tone, telling the story of the titular Ms. Drewe (Gemma Aterton) returning to the small village she fled years ago, bringing with her her newfound celebrity as a journalist who gained fame chronicling the details of her highly-successful nose job, and promptly proceeding to knock the town -- and a local writer's retreat -- out of its cozy routine. That's prime material for Frear's acerbic eye, and he gets good mileage out of tale that eventually brings Tamara into contact with staid intellectuals, impulsive rock stars, and a couple of bored but anarchic local teens.
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