Lake jets back from SXSW leaving you with a couple of funnies...
Swan Song (
written and directed by Todd Stephens
starring Udo Kier, Jennifer Coolidge, Linda Evans
Pat Pitsenbarger (Kier) is an aging hairdresser living out the end of his life lost and lonely in an Ohio care home. Previously a celebrated society hairdresser Pat’s past life is revived when he is visited by an attorney for a recently deceased former client whose will instructs that he alone must prepare her hair for her funeral. As Pitsenbarger embarks on a slow walk across town to the funeral home we watch him shake the cobwebs from his life and replace them with the glitz and glitter of more flamboyant times. Kier is a revelation as the rueful, sardonic hairdresser in this slowest of road movies. The street scenes are wonderfully captured: Snatched encounters, dusty vignettes and candy coloured clowning. Though very occasionally a touch sluggish, the languid pace of Stephens’ movie fits the theme of coming to terms with the past and facing down the inevitability of the future. It is the sweetest of bittersweet comedies.
Paul Dood’s Deadly Lunch Break (
directed by Nick Gillespie
starring Tom Meeten, Katherine Parkinson, Craig Parkinson
Paul Dood is an amateur singer/dancer who lives with his mum and dreams of reaching the finals of a talent show run on Trendladder, a social media app fronted by the loathsome influencer Jack Tapp (Kevin Bishop). Dood is a lovable loser with the look of Jarvis Cocker wearing Noel Fielding’s wardrobe. Things conspire to make him miss his audition leading the disgruntled wannabe to embark on a campaign of revenge. The film is filled with cameo performances by some of Britain’s best tragi-comic comedians including Alice Lowe and Steve Oram, whose Sightseers this loosely resembles. Meeten, excellent as the lead in the rather overlooked The Ghoul a few years back, plays Dood with plenty of charm but the part is somewhat underwritten. Our understanding of his relationship with his mother is almost wholly dependent on previous familiarity with a type rather than any particular empathy conjured here. Dood comes across as a kind of indie Les McQueen from the League of Gentlemen armed with barely more depth of character than Les’s one note. Still, it’s a shit business especially at the bottom of the Trendladder. Elsewhere Katherine Parkinson is good as Dood’s wistful girlfriend as is Mandeep Dhillon as a sympathetic community support officer. Overall, it’s a bit hit and miss and takes an age to really get going. We’re into the final act before the film kicks into gear with some gory set pieces and builds to a hostage drama climax, reminiscent of the Alan Partridge feature and the superior Mindhorn. The director’s previous film was the genre curio Tank 432, also featuring Meeten, which deserved a wider audience. Paul Dood’s Deadly Lunch Break shows once again that Gillespie has talent and will make a great film one day, but this one isn’t quite it.
Kirk Lake is a writer, musician and filmmaker. His published books include Mickey The Mimic (2015) and The Last Night of the Leamington Licker (2018). His films include the feature films Piercing Brightness (2014) and The World We Knew (2020) and a number of award winning shorts.
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