Posts Tagged ‘David Brent life on the road’

These films were released in the United States and/or Australia in the calendar year 2016. They do not include certain highly praised films which I have not seen yet, such as Moonlight and Manchester By The Sea, and Jackie, which I have seen and which is a truly brilliant film, but which I have not published a review for yet and which doesn’t open in Australia until January 12.

Your comments – and your own lists – are welcome and appreciated!

THE TOP TEN IN ORDER:

Krisha

Set in a roomy Texas house on Thanksgiving and taking place entirely within that day, Krisha is a serious, creepy, ambitious, moving, uncompromising and wholly successful cinematic work. Krisha, played by Krisha Fairchild, director Trey Edward Shults’ aunt, returns to the bosom of her family – played almost entirely by members of Shults’ own family – for the holiday. The trouble is, under the welcoming surfaces, everything is cracked, and as the day progresses, the glass starts to splinter. It’s seemingly simple yet, in just 83 minutes, enormously, profoundly compelling and quite terrifying.

Tickled

One of those documentaries where the less you know, the better, because every single twist in the tale is surprising, and the best of them are head-spinning, jaw-dropping, and hysterical. Suffice to say that it’s a Pandora’s Box with results both funny and deeply disturbing.

Captain Fantastic

Thematically massive, tonally bold, determinedly non-formulaic and featuring a preternaturally perfectly cast leading man at the top of his game.

Sing Street

A total delight from start to finish, and the best film about the pure joy of making music since We Are The Best! (2013), with which it shares similarities.

Goldstone

Simultaneously a small story set against a massive landscape and a huge story told within the world’s smallest community, Goldstone is a stunning, original piece of cinema.

Weiner

This sensational – in all senses of the word – feature documentary is thus a scintillating glimpse into a unique political marriage. But more than anything, it is a film whose camera is there at those moments you never see: the ones immediately proceeding what we do see, when what we do see is decided for us.

Hell or High Water

The sad, dusty towns against which this classically-oriented story play out are breathtakingly evocative, as are the bodies and faces of all the Texans we meet along the way. It’s its own universe. Details are tremendously revealed through an almost perfect union of character and dialogue.

David Brent: Life On The Road

It is exquisite to watch a performer / writer re-visit his greatest creation again with such precision. The original songs are brilliantly awful; they’re not only full of hilarious and spot-on lyrics but the music itself is perfect, exactly what would come from the pen of David Brent. Indeed, the whole film, despite its air of improvisation, is terrifyingly precise.

Elle

A mesmerising, frenzied abomination, a thrilling, propulsive, lurid provocation that is simultaneously classy and grotesque, refined and coarse, arthouse and grindhouse.

Down Under

An extremely angry film, spewing vitriolic rage at the kind of people who spew vitriolic rage. Basically, it’s a war on idiots, of every ethnic stripe.

TOP FIVE TELEVISION:

The Girlfriend Experience

High Maintenance

The Night Of

Fleabag

The People Vs O.J. Simpson / O.J.: Made In America

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****

Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant’s series The Office, which ran for two seasons of six episodes plus two Christmas specials starting in 2001, is, minute for minute, the greatest half-hour comedy program ever made. Its influence on popular culture is massive beyond measure; besides pioneering a mockumentary vibe for the sitcom format and revolutionising the office comedy, it pretty much re-stacked the comedy deck, fomenting a “cringe humour” that has become omnipresent since.

At the show’s heart lay David Brent, played by Gervais, one of the greatest comedic characters ever created. Gervais and Merchant took the basic human quality of wanting to be liked and made it the whole character; Brent is one big vibrating human need, and without love he is nothing. His fatal flaw, of course, is exactly the same condition, because the more we seek love the more we repel it, and Brent took this concept to the extreme. He was our worst nightmare version of ourselves, each and every one of us, because there is some part of David Brent in us all.

Incredibly, Gervais and Merchant managed to bring this character into some sort of monumentally humanising catharsis by the end of the show (in the final Christmas special); it was some of the great television writing of all time. A similar arc structures Gervais’ solo revisitation of the character fifteen years on, and is no less satisfying. David Brent: Life On The Road is an hysterically funny movie that is also a desperately acute examination of one of mankind’s greatest, and most universal, weaknesses.

It is exquisite to watch a performer / writer re-visit his greatest creation again with such precision. A lot of TV-to-film late bloomers are harmless fluff (Ab Fab) or shameless cash grabs (most of them), but Life On The Road has an acute pathos. Brent is now in his mid-fifties and no longer a boss but a worker ant, a rep in a company similar to his old one but hardened by rougher people dealing with a tougher world. He’s even more vulnerable, and his dreams – to tour with a band – even sadder. But tour with a band he does, taking a running leap and achieving a life’s dream, under the pitiless gaze of a camera crew probably all too aware they’re shooting fish in a barrel.

The original songs are brilliantly awful; they’re not only full of hilarious and spot-on lyrics but the music itself is perfect, exactly what would come from the pen of David Brent. Indeed, the whole film, despite its air of improvisation, is terrifyingly precise. Gervais is masterful at portraying the exactitude of life in the smaller towns of England; what the extras are wearing to Brent’s band’s gigs are exactly what the tribes of Slough, Reading and so on might wear to pubs and clubs as banal as these.

Stephen Merchant wasn’t involved in this project but there’s no qualitative loss; Gervais fulfils the tone and mission of The Office completely, on his own. It’s his finest hour and a half as a director, and Brent remains his Little Tramp, his Inspector Clouseau, his Basil Fawlty. I laughed out loud constantly, and was moved to pieces as well. Fantastic.