Cyrus directed by Jay & Mark Duplass:
Jealousy is a topic often explored in film. This film and directors the Duplass brothers present this age-old story with a little twist. It is not your typical girl or guy jealous of another girl or guy it is a story about a 21-year-old young man who is jealous of the man dating his mother and will go to any length to keep them apart. It is an awkward story that will make you squirm at the same time it is making you laugh. It is a different kind of comedy.
This look at jealousy brings it out in all its uncomfortable and painful glory. The two directors (and brothers) Jay and Mark Duplass shot this film in a completely improv style. The actors work from a skeleton of an idea, pour themselves into the roles, and just react off of each other in every scene. Due to the skill of the actors involved what could have been an unmitigated disaster works out wonderfully. They all remain true to their characters. All this allows the film to have an organic feel to it. It allows for an intimacy rarely achieved in films.
As the three main characters wade through their potential relationships we get a full range of emotions: hate, jealousy, love, desire, anger…you get the picture. While you are watching you alternate between feeling awkward and laughing.
John (John C. Riley – Chicago, Stepbrothers), a divorced freelance editor who retreated into a shell after his wife (Catherine Keener – The 40-Year-Old Virgin, Percy Jackson & the Olympians) left him seven years ago, meets Molly (Marisa Tomei – The Wrestler, My Cousin Vinny) at a party and they hit it off. After sleeping together, Molly leaves suddenly in the middle of the night without a real explanation.
Wanting to know what is going on, John follows Molly home and falls asleep in his car while watching her house. In the morning he wakes to see a young man (Jonah Hill – Superbad, Get Him to the Greek) out on Molly’s porch. After being discovered the two have a discussion and John finds out that Cyrus is Molly’s son. Relieved John spends the day with Cyrus and after Molly comes home he spends the evening over.
At first Cyrus and John get along really well. And, despite the fact that John finds the relationship between mother and son a little odd, he likes Cyrus. After a pair of his running shoes disappear one morning and he finds them in Cyrus’s closet, John begins to see the young man for what he is – devious and willing to do anything to keep John away from his mother. The only problem is that John is the only one who sees Cyrus for who he is. He knows that if he goes to Molly with this he knows she won’t choose him over her own son. John is in between a rock and a hard place.
Yes, the characters are completely eccentric, but the bottom line is that they are “real”. The small details of life are what the film is about. It is always bordering on odd but relieves the tension with humour. Bravely they forge on ahead never blinking in the face of anything awkward. The Duplass brothers want to provoke debate. This film portrays relationships as complex and life as messy. No tying things up with a pretty bow 90 minutes in with “Cyrus”. Nothing about the film is easy except for the humour. It is not easy (you will be squirming in your seat in parts) yet it is completely engaging
My Cousin Vinny directed by Jonathan Lynn:
Fish-out-of-water comedies have been done many times, but usually, if done well, that doesn’t matter. This one is done well because of two things – Joe Pesci and Marisa Tomei. Tomei burst onto the Hollywood scene with this film even winning a Best Supporting Actress Oscar as a result.
Two American-Italians, Bill (Ralph Macchio – from television’s Ugly Betty) and Stan (Mitchell Whitfield – TMNT, Reversal of Fortune), are falsely accused of murder while in small town Alabama. The only lawyer they know is Bill’s cousin Vinny (Joe Pesci – The Good Shepherd, Lethal Weapon 4), a New York lawyer who it took six times to finally pass the bar exam. Vinny is a lawyer, but he has never gone to trial. To say he is green is an understatement. And he is going to have a tough time as the case is being heard by the tough Judge Haller (Fred Gwynne – Shadows and Fog, Pet Sematary).
Using a lot of differing cultures (New York vs. the South) humour the laughs are the focal point and not the plot. There are stereotypes used, but not meanly. This is a lighthearted comedy that will win fans of all ages. The laughs are aided big time by the buffoonishness of Joe Pesci – his character is a schtick, but it works in this instance. The clashes between Vinny and the judge are often hilarious. Bottom line is that Pesci makes Vinny likeable, so we cheer for him to win the case. He is entertaining if nothing else.
Marisa Tomei’s performance was eye opening. She demonstrates her above average flair for comedy in one fell swoop playing Vinny’s big-haired leather wearing fiancée. It is a career-making performance.
The critics loved the film and it did well at the box office – a double barrelled winner. Rent it or buy it as it looks great on blu-ray.
-Original Theatrical Trailers