SIFF ’19: Confident ‘BRITTANY RUNS A MARATHON’ Is a Big Fat Crowdpleaser 

Jillian Bell is off to the races as an overweight and under-motivated millennial living in the Big Apple who decides to turn her life around through the transformative power of running. The seriocomic account of seizing power from dark instincts is laced with the ripe reality of self-destruction and lifted by the hopefulness of finding self-love. Writer-director Paul Downs Colaizzo structures the film as Brittany’s rom-com with herself and Bell, who packed on (and lost) quite a bit of weight for the role, is simply fantastic delivering a marathon of darkly-tinged comedy and uplifting pathos. (B) Read More


SIFF ’19: ‘SWORD OF TRUST’ is Exactly the Undemanding Indie Tailor-Made for Festivals

Lynn Shelton’s most recent foray into feature film stands upon the mumblecore tenement of character reigning supreme above plot. The circular narrative about a couple (Jillian Bell, Michaela Watkins) who enlist a pawn shop owner (Marc Maron) to help sell a Civil War-era sword is a closed loop of somewhat vacuous plotting. Shelton’s breezy, unchallenging story highlights the underlying tension of legacy and the damage of past selves that we’re forced to carry around with us. Maron is stealthily funny even if Sword of Trust is rarely – if ever – laugh out loud comical but Shelton’s barbed dialogue and empathetic scene setting made for a fine pairing of snide and pathos that, when employed in harmony, make this absurdist satire of the American south stand tall and punch back. Softly though it may be. (C+) 

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Out in Theaters: ‘BRIGSBY BEAR’

An acquired taste for sure, Kyle Mooney made a name for himself being an ass. From checking into kickers inside So-Cal to playing a definitely-on-the-spectrum sports reporter who’s totally out of his league, Mooney has capitalized on mocking mainstream culture, championing a keen ability to satirize entire populations by being the very dumbest version of such. Mostly by making an ass of himself. So imagine my surprise when Mooney’s brainchild Brigsby Bear (written by and starring Mooney and directed by comedy collective Good Neighbor compatriot Dave McCary) is such an earnest and heartfelt affair, if a bit simple-minded, saccharine sweet and stubbornly sunny.  Read More