Tag: Lake Bell

MOVIE REVIEW | In a World (2013)

Lake Bell is an ever growing Hollywood surprise.  Her career started with generic hot girl roles, like Alec Baldwin’s young trophy wife in It’s Complicated.  She proved to be an hilarious comedy actor in the amazingly funny TV show Children’s Hospital.  She did a great job in the horror, thriller, crazily intense Black Rock.  And now, she’s really knocked it up a notch, writing, directing and starring in a little, indie comedy, that keeps getting talked about by all sorts of critics who’s opinions rarely steer me wrong, In A World.

As Carol, Bell is a vocal coach, helping people like Eva Longoria say things like “fink” instead of “think” when she’s playing a cor blimey cockney.  Her father Sam (Fred Melamed) is a legend in the voiceover industry, and he’s recently taken on voiceover hotshot Gustav (Ken Marino) as his protégé.  When it’s announced that a big Hollywood studio is going to launch their new quadrilogy blockbuster with a trailer using the phrase “In a world…”, the entire voiceover community of Los Angeles  scrambles to get the gig and take their career to the next level.  Including Carol, Sam and Gustav.

Also tied up in Carol’s world are her sister and husband (Michaela Watkins and Rob Corddry).  They have a whole side story about Dani’s flirtatious relationship with a work colleague, but I really don’t know why it was there, except for the fact that Watkins and Corddry are pretty entertaining and likeable whenever they’re on screen.

Bell, Marino and Corrdry have all proven how funny they can be on Children’s Hospital, so the great work they do here was no surprise.  What was a surprise though, was Fred Melamed as Carol’s Father, Sam.  The way he milks ego and pompousness for laughs makes him the best part of In a World, in a cast of some of the best comedy performers working today.  But the more I think about it, the more I shouldn’t be surprised, because he showed the exact same scene stealing chops in the Coen Brothers way too under seen A Serious Man.

In a World may seem like the flimsiest premise you’ve ever heard for a movie.  A meme-tastic phrase, taken from one of the most niche careers you’ll find in a movie this side of Katherine Keener as a poet in Enough Said.  But star, writer and director Lake Bell, makes it about more than that.  And I don’t even just mean the gender inequality stuff either.  In a World is about a woman making it in a man’s world and all that, but it’s also about caring about your work, and making a difference in the world through that work, even if it seems as inconsequential as doing the voiceover over on a terrible looking movie’s trailer.  And to a degree, it also seems to be about Bell’s apparent real life hatred for grown woman who talk like “sexy babies”.

In a World
Directed By – Lake Bell
Written By – Lake Bell


MOVIE REVIEW | Black Rock (2012)

Black Rock
You probably haven’t heard of Black Rock, and that’s shame.  Because this is the kind of small, interesting movie that proves how entertaining small movies can be if they’re interesting enough.  No big stars, no flashy effects, no expensive sets, locations or big set pieces.  Just a really tight, well told story about a small group of ordinary people in a far from ordinary situation.

Three old friends, Abby (director Katey Aselton). Lou (Lake Bell) and Sarah (Kate Bosworth) all meet up for a reunion, camping at their old child hood escape, a small island with not much to offer.  Only it’s not a happy reunion.  Abby and Lou have obviously fallen out years ago, and Sarah invites them both (without telling them about the other) in an attempt at a forced reconciliation.  Soon after arriving on the island, they meet three Iraq veterans hunting on the island, one of whom they recognise as the little bother of an old school friend.  A night of drinking leads to drunken flirting, which leads to an altercation, which leads to all hell breaking loose.

Knowing more certainly wouldn’t ruin the movie, but I think knowing as little as possible will definitely make it even better.  Even after I recovered from the neck breaking direction shift in the second act and thought I had Black Rock figured out, it still managed to sucker punch me more than once with some real shocks and surprises.

At under 80 minutes, Black Rock is the kind of economical story telling you just don’t see enough of anymore.  From CGI blockbusters, to Pixar animation, to mostly improvised slacker comedies, almost every movie cracks the two hour barrier these days, and only a small fraction of them need to.  Black Rock tells a complete story, populated with believable characters whose motivations and actions never seem rushed or artificial, all in under 80 minutes.

Written by Aselton’s husband Mark Duplass, Black Rock clearly benefits from his micro budget experience.  As a pivotal member of the unfortunately titled (some might even say, media fabricated) “Mumblecore” movement, Duplass has written and directed some of the most successful micro and small budget movies of the last decade.  Here, his knack for entertainment through character rather than spectacle makes his first steps into real genre cinema pay off.

Sometimes, ultra small movies float by on goodwill, generated by the “little guy against the studio system” underdog story of its making.  But Black Rock shows that the right story simply doesn’t need a big budget, big stars, flashy effects, expensive sets, locations or big set pieces.  This is a great movie because it’s a tightly scripted, well told, well acted story.

Black Rock
Directed By – Katie Aselton
Written By – Mark Duplass