The Comedy Screen 13 articles

The Comedy

2012

The Comedy Poster
  • Unlike a truly daring movie like Lars von Trier’s The Idiots—about a gang of clever jerks who pretend to be mentally retarded—The Comedy never musters an articulate indictment, nor does it have much to say on the subject of free-floating fatigue.

  • Alverson expects us to engage with these Big Ideas while gazing upon the impossibly cool party face of James Murphy, who has no lines and serves a purely decorative function. Perhaps there’s a level of doubled-back irony I’m missing here.

  • The rub of Alverson’s film is that the repetitiveness of these episodes and Heidecker’s opaque performance push the character into a strange realm of toxic disaffection. While this could have been the perfect portrait of a certain kind of idiot, the baroque cruelties and tonal monotony go too far.

  • The movie's analysis of Swanson and friends' behavior is essentially the cinematic equivalent of a Listicle Without Commentary on the Awl. But I wonder if decades from now, The Comedy might function as a sincere snapshot—its intended satire might be too dry, too implied, to survive the passage of time.

  • As the music repeats and degrades into patches of muffled sound, the images are lent a certain bruised grandeur, but as soon as one thinks on the choice for a second, its utter obviousness overwhelms: a piece of music about decay taken from the immediate post 9/11 period and layered over shots of dudes we might assume are irrevocably damaged by 9/11, now unthinkingly living a precarious, slowly disintegrating lifestyle.

  • There's a great film here - the free-floating style and sudden ending reminded me of something like Le Garcu - but then you also get scenes of hero and his friends cutting up (in a cab, in a church) which don't seem intended as ironic, and tender scenes showing the world-weariness beneath his asshole behaviour which blunt the edge and seem too-obvious anyway...

  • More likely to induce occasional snorts of incredulity than laughs, “The Comedy” is not without a certain integrity. Heidecker (who can be amusingly disgusting) never breaks character to wink at the audience, although the filmmaker does drop his mask with a clatter in the final scene.

  • The Comedy intends to provoke feelings of spite in hopes that they lead to more constructive thought, though it never suggests how the constructive thought might proceed. [A. O.] Scott called it "a case study in hipster obnoxiousness that takes no critical distance from its subject." I think he intended that as a put-down, but it's a pretty good assessment of what makes the movie so unsettling.

  • What I found here was a rather impressive conceptual piece, a total-commitment character study that used its myopic purview for a paradoxically broader purpose.

  • The title character of Petulia is a post-hippie who never quite experiences the swinging '60s without the fear of male domination; Swanson is a post-hipster who never experiences irony without desire. And so the pampered, porcine prankster has awkwardly made irony an expression of his desire. Every scatological gag is an intimate strategy; every racist remark is a repressed need escaping him like a sour gas. And our emotional response to his behavior is, likewise, necessarily alloyed.

  • I have never connected with Tim and Eric's deconstructionist brand of fart-on-your-pillow anti-comedy, but I thought Heidecker's performance was a fearless, incredible exhibition of tightly controlled, passive-aggressive rage turned in on itself.

  • One of the dominant tropes of American media narratives over the past couple decades or so has been the refusal of the white American male to face the responsibilities of adulthood in a changing world. The Comedy is the ne plus ultra of the trend; it shows that the logical conclusion of this regression is a retreat into pure solipsism. It is, in other words, an ideal film for these times.

  • The Comedy is directed by Rick Alverson, who has a gift for undermining his characters’ efforts to be funny. He hangs onto their moments of comic cool just a little bit longer than most directors, extracting discomfort like a dentist pulling teeth. He’s clearly a skeptic of the disposable good times of our age. His use of camera and music can make harmless pastimes like wiffle ball and bike riding seem vapid and desperate.

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