This week, Cineast offers previews of the new film Trainwreck, Irrational Man and Ant-Man.
Amy Schumer debuts at the top, writing and starring in the wide-release Trainwreck, which is directed by Judd Apatow. Over the run of the increasingly polished sketch-comedy show Inside Amy Schumer on Comedy Central, Schumer has developed her comic persona—the oversexed, liquored-up, self-centered, emotionally needy blonde with self-esteem issues—and has shown a refreshing willingness to follow her sometimes dark comic visions to their logical, if at times horrifying, conclusions. Apatow, by contrast, is known for going “warm and fuzzy,” forcing his unruly characters to knuckle under to conventional Hollywood behavior. Which side wins in Trainwreck? Sadly for fans of Schumer, it would appear that, while the film doesn’t stint on the snide one-liners that make Schumer so endearing, the film sends Schumer’s dysfunctional character down a very conventional love-story path—it doesn’t actually let the promised train wreck happen. We know that Hollywood films, unlike TV shows, require happy endings, and this is one reason that TV has become so much more innovative than cinema in recent years. For the real train wrecks, stick to Inside Amy Schumer.
Perhaps it’s because he’s just about caught up to Alfred Hitchcock’s career output in terms of number of films directed, but the 79-year-old Woody Allen’s latest, Irrational Man (his 50th film), seems to have a bit of the whiff of Hitchcock about it. Starring the wonderful Emma Stone (who must be Allen’s latest muse) and the eccentric Joaquin Phoenix, with a slightly gaunt-looking Parker Posey taking on a significant supporting part, Irrational Man has definite shades of Hitchcock’s Strangers on a Train. Like that 1951 classic, Allen’s film explores the chilling idea that murder could actually bring relief to a troubled soul, and like Hitchcock’s film, it goes for laughs in the process. Meanwhile, a lot of familiar Woody Allen territory is covered, and, of course, there’s the requisite cross-generational sex that Allen sticks to through thick and thin. Why quit now?
It might seem like a small quibble—given the fact that we’re talking about a film about a guy, played by the perennially youthful Paul Rudd, who dons a special suit that allows him to shrink down to the size of an ant (although a very large ant, it should be noted) and that gives him superhuman strength—but I’m still curious: why the hyphen in Ant-Man? We’re told it’s the Marvel Comics house style—for example, you see it in Spider-Man as well—but that doesn’t really answer the question. Perhaps it’s similar to the strange hyphen in the title Moby-Dick, which may have been placed there just to aggravate copyeditors. One of life’s mysteries.