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Posts Tagged ‘satire’

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The story of the fall and rise of Dick Cheney, vice President to George W Bush. This film charts the transformation of a young, drunken ne’er-do-well Cheney, into one of the most powerful men in America, and a man who basically played George W. Bush like a violin. It stars Christian Bale (both brilliant and unrecognisable) as Cheney, Steve Carell as Donald Rumsfeld and Sam Rockwell as George W. Bush. Amy Adams stars as Lynne Cheney, Dick’s wife who is just as detestable and ambitious as her husband. The film aims to tell the truth as far as possible, but there are moments of high comedy and satire which are genuinely laugh-out-loud in places (unexpected in a biography of such a hate-filled and unpleasant character), and certain scenes necessarily take a certain dramatic licence.

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Year of release: 2018

Director: Adam McKay

Writer: Adam McKay

Main cast: Christian Bale, Steve Carell, Amy Adams, Sam Rockwell, Alison Pill, Jesse Plemons, Lily Rabe, Tyler Perry

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Genre: Drama, biography, satire

Highlights: The whole cast are superb

Lowlights: The only lowlight is that Dick Cheney is actually a real person

Overall: Excellent – well acted, well scripted, compelling and even funny in parts. Recommended.

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The Blurb

The landscape is flawless, the trees majestic, the flora and the fauna are right and proper. All is picturesquely typical of rural England at its best. Sir Giles, an MP of few principles and curious tastes, plots to destroy all this by building a motorway smack through it, to line his own pocket and at the same time to dispose of his wife, the capacious Lady Maude. But Lady Maude enlists a surprising ally in her enigmatic gardener Blott, a naturalised Englishman in whom adopted patriotism burns bright. Lady Maude’s dynamism and Blott’s concealed talents enable them to meet pressure with mimicry, loaded tribunals with publicity and chilli powder, and requisition orders with wickedly spiked beer. This explosively comic novel will gladden the heart of everyone who has ever confronted a bureaucrat, and spells out in riotous detail how the forces of virtue play an exceedingly dirty game when the issue is close to home.

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My thoughts

If I had read a physical copy of this book, I would probably think it was pretty good. However, I listened to the audiobook narrated by David Suchet, and his narration thrust this into the realms of hilarity. The story is nothing if not convoluted, and the levels of ridiculousness grow with each chapter – but it’s all written so well and with such wit that you can’t help but laugh out loud.

The synopsis above only scratches the surface of double dealings and dirty deeds committed by most of the characters, it does sometimes require concentration to keep up with who is doing what to who. However, it never sags or bores, and I really enjoyed this. I remember my Mom really enjoying the tv adaptation of this in the 1980s – David Suchet starred as the titular Blott in that series – and I can certainly see the attraction.

I would definitely recommend this book – but do yourself a favour and listen to the audio version.

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Year of first publication: 1975

Genre: Comedy, satire

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Aaron Eckhart is Nick Naylor, spokesman and spin doctor for a big tobacco company, who has to balance his career with trying to be a good example for his young son. Naturally his job causes a lot of bad feeling towards him, with some surprising repercussions.

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Year of release: 2006 (UK)

Director: Jason Reitman

Writers: Christopher Buckley (novel), Jason Reitman

Main cast: Aaron Eckhart, J K Simmons, Cameron Bright, Maria Bello, David Koechner

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Genre: Comedy, satire

Highlights: The comedy parts are REALLY funny. Aaron Eckhart is perfect in the role

Lowlights: Um…none?

Overall: Great satirical movie, which doesn’t take sides on the non-smoking argument. Really enjoyed it and definitely recommend it

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The Campaign is a satirical (although satire is fast becoming reality with Trump as President) political comedy. Will Ferrell is Cam Brady, a Democratic Congressmen who is running unopposed for his fifth term. His campaign is damaged by a mistaken phone call, and the corrupt businessmen, the Kotch brothers (John Lithgow and Dan Ackroyd) seize the opportunity to persuade Marty Huggins (Zach Galifianakis) – an honest but somewhat naive local tourism director – to run against Cam as a Republican candidate.

What follows is a campaign that gets progressively nastier and more violent as both men are determined to win. It’s very funny and not as ridiculous as it would have been ten years ago, given that we now have a man in the White House, who knows no limits whatsoever regarding what is acceptable and what isn’t.

Both leads are excellent even if Galifianakis reminded me of Nick Offerman throughout, and the supporting cast also do an excellent job. Highly recommended if you fancy a good belly laugh, or something to take your mind off how screwed up the American presidency is right at the moment. Great fun.

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Nobody can claim that the title of this play didn’t let them know what to expect!  From the fabulously talented people at the Mischief Theatre Company, and following the success of their genuinely hilarious The Play That Goes Wrong (which is still currently showing at the Duchess Theatre in London, and which won a Ticketmaster Award for Best New Comedy), comes Peter Pan Goes Wrong.

The good people at Cornley Polytechnic Amateur Dramatic Society are staging a “traditional Christmas vignette” (it’s NOT a pantomime, as Chris Bean (played in real life by Laurence Pears) who takes on the roles of Mr Darling and Captain Hook) irritably informs the audience – who naturally respond with “Oh yes it is!”

However, nothing goes right – from scenery that breaks or malfunctions, to one character forgetting his lines and needing an earpiece which picks up local radio, to characters getting their lines mixed up, the play is doomed to failure from the beginning.  But never has getting something wrong felt so right, or been so funny (well, except for in The Play That Goes Wrong obviously).

There were laughs from start to finish, and the whole thing was so cleverly written and put together that it’s easy to forget just how talented the writers and performers in this production have to be to put this together, and to make it look spontaneous.  (It must be incredibly hard to deliberately get so much so wrong).  Leonie Hill played main actress Sandra, who in turn played Wendy Darling, complete with with dramatic and hammy over-acting, while Naomi Sheldon played Annie Twilloil, who had the taxing job of playing four different characters throughout the play.  Alex Bartram played the egotistical Jonathan Harris, who took the part of Peter Pan himself, while sweet Max Bennett (playing the crocodile and Nana the dog) was ably played by Matt Cavendish, and certainly got the audience rooting for him!  The cast was rounded out by Cornelius Booth playing Cornley’s oldest member Robert Grove, who by some misfortune or other has ended up in the part of one of the Darling brothers – complete with bald head and bushy beard; James Marlowe as Dennis Tyde, who needed the aforementioned earpiece; Chris Leask as hapless sound engineer and impromptu Peter Pan Trevor Watson; Harry Kershaw as Francis Beaumont, who took on the dual roles of Smee the Pirate, and the narrator of the whole sorry affair; and Rosie Graham as young Lucy Grove, who was a stuttering – and eventually wheelchair bound – Tootles.  Each and every cast member was terrific – there really was not a weak link among them.

The stage was a revolving set, which naturally would not stop revolving when it was supposed to, and which provided for an uproariously funny, chaotic ending, which must have taken some real working out.  The audience were in stitches throughout, and any fears that I had had that I might be disappointed in Peter Pan Goes Wrong after the sheer hilarity of The Play That Goes Wrong, were soon dispelled.

Suffice to say that Mischief Theatre Company have got a fan for life, and I will definitely be going to see anything that they put on in future.  If you need a good belly laugh, get yourself along to one of their shows – you won’t be disappointed!

(For more information about Mischief Theatre Company, or Peter Pan Goes Wrong, please click here.)

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William Ashenden is an author of reasonable success, who is contacted by an old friend – fellow author and literary darling Alroy Kear, who in turn has been asked to write a biography of a recently deceased writer named Edward Driffield, by Driffield’s widow.  Kear – and Driffield’s widow Amy – want William’s help, as he knew Driffield many years earlier.  This request sparks William’s memory, and the majority of Cakes and Ale is written in flashback, as William – who also narrates the story recalls his friendship with Edward Driffield and his first wife Rosie.

Here, he faces a dilemma, because Rosie is remembered with disdain and even disgust by most people, due to her promiscuity, and her unfaithfulness to her husband.  However, William remembers her with affection, and is concerned over how much to tell Kear, and what exactly should appear in Kear’s biography.

I have never read anything by W. Somerset Maugham before, and was not sure what to expect.  I was thoroughly charmed by this novel.  It is narrated in a meandering fashion – laced with cynicism, but also very wry and humorous in parts.  William, who was clearly something of a wannabe snob in his earlier years, has clearly mellowed with age, and is able to think of Rosie without disapproval; seemingly the only person who is willing or able to do so.  The story is written in a conversational manner, and William’s observations about small town life, and the people who inhabited his childhood village were sharp and very ‘on the ball’ (I definitely felt like I knew some of these people!)

It sounds contradictory, but while quite a lot happens, it feels also like not much happens – perhaps because the main bulk of the story is written as a reminiscence, rather than events which are taking place in the present time.  It’s a light and easy read, and one that is perfect to curl up on the sofa with on a rainy day.

I would definitely recommend this book, and will be seeking out more work by Maugham as a result of reading it.

 

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In this political dramedy, Peter Boyle plays Marvin Lucas, a political election specialist.  He needs a democratic candidate to run for Senator in California against the incumbent Republican Crocker Jarmon, and selects Bill McKay (Robert Redford), the son of a former Governor.  McKay sees the opportunities to voice his ethics and values, and as Jarmon is fully expected to win, McKay feels able to be honest what he would like to do in the position of Senator, because he knows that realistically nothing he says is going to affect the result of the vote.

However, when predictions show that McKay is not only likely to lose, but to be completely humiliated, Lucas decides to tweak McKay’s message, and to manipulate his words and actions, so that the candidate is more palatable to voters.  As the campaign continues, McKay finds his loyalties and morals compromised, and realises that his message is getting lost in a sea of buzzwords and platitudes.

This film is now 42 years old, but the message is as relevant as ever.  I hesitate to call it satire, as I suspect that a lot of it is actually very close to the truth, and at the root of the film is the question, how much are you prepared to sacrifice what you believe in order to get what you want?

Robert Redford is perfect as Bill McKay – he has the enthusiasm and energy that his campaign plays on, in comparison to the older and stuffier Jarmon (Don Porter).  However, you see the character becoming weary of the machinations of such a campaign, losing his keen-ness and perhaps forgetting what he wanted to run for in the first place.  All of this is perfectly portrayed by Redford.  Also excellent is Peter Boyle as campaign manager Lucas – he doesn’t over play his role, but portrays the tightrope that someone in his position has to walk – between wanting to stay true to the candidate’s values, and wanting to do whatever is necessary to win.

Great support is provided by Melvyn Douglas, as the candidate’s father, and Don Porter as Jarmon.

If you are a fan of political films, or have an interest in politics, then I would highly recommend this film.

Year of release: 1972

Director: Michael Ritchie

Producers: Robert Redford, Nelson Rising, Walter Coblenz

Writer: Jeremy Larner

Main cast: Robert Redford, Peter Boyle, Melvyn Douglas, Don Porter, Karen Carlson

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