Arts

Are You Entertained? — A weekly entertainment column

Julie Bowen and Adam Sandler team up for new Happy Madison Productions spooky comedy. 

Julie Bowen and Adam Sandler team up for new Happy Madison Productions spooky comedy. 

Image By: Courtesy of Netflix

Dominic LeRose and Johnny Bildings are seniors at UW-Madison who are fanatics about all things entertainment. Their goal is to recommend their favorite, movies, tv shows, books, music, documentaries and specials to make the dismal times of the current pandemic a little less sufferable. 

Dom’s Picks

"David Attenborough: A Life on Our Planet"

Maybe I’m biased because famed naturalist and BBC broadcaster David Attenborough has been my personal hero for years, yet anyone foreign or familiar with Attenborough needs to view his wonderful witness statement of a documentary. Traveling the world for decades and creating spectacular documentaries such as “Planet Earth,” “Blue Planet,” “Natural Curiosities” and “Our Planet,” Attenborough has brought the natural world to our screens and made us not only more appreciative of the rich biodiversity in the natural world, but more aware of the grave challenges it faces. His personal documentary recently released on Netflix is a call to action, a reflection after witnessing some of nature’s greatest phenomena on all seven continents and how he has seen drastic changes over the course of his 94-year lifespan. Coming to the final chapter in his life, Attenborough warns us about the grave dangers our planet faces from climate change, overfishing, deforestation, wildlife populations being decimated, and a number of other tragedies. Despite these tragic phenomenons, we’re given insight into how to solve these issues and are left inspired by someone with such reverence and knowledge of the natural world. 

"Drive" (2011)

Nicolas Winding-Refn’s stylish, gritty, brutal, beautiful, electric and graceful action thriller stars Ryan Gosling as Hollywood stunt-driver who moonlights as a getaway driver for criminals and falls for his next-door neighbor whose ex-convict husband gets caught up with a network of ruthless gangsters. Relying more on its visual depth as opposed to character development and dialogue, “Drive” is a full-throttle thrilled exploding with style and hooks you in from start to finish. Featuring some heavy violence that is sure to shock most viewers, Refn somehow finds a way to make every scene in this film beautiful and captivating regardless of what’s occurring on screen. Gosling, as an isolated and mysterious loner whose name we never even learn, embodies every aspect of a knight-in-shining armor in this modern Grimm fairytale that puts its place in history as one of the best noir films ever made.

"South Park"

Every time I watch an episode of the brilliant and tasteless cartoon comedy series “South Park” from masterminds Trey Parker and Matt Stone I wonder to myself how these two men have been able to get away unscathed. Unfiltered like no other writers, Parker and Stone have managed to tackle nearly every controversial subject and offend every single demographic imaginable, often times opening our eyes to the issues in our society with fresh, unbiased attitudes and a desire to cross the line and embrace true freedom of speech. Without question the single greatest body of satire ever created, “South Park” is a true testament to honest, raw comedy and after 23 seasons still manages to expose the lunacy in society with satirical brilliance. 

Johnny’s Picks

"Hubie Halloween" 

Sometimes all you need is Sandman, some — slightly — offensive mannerisms, and even worse ideas for movies as a sweet October treat in this messed up world we call our own. Released on Netflix Friday morning and immediately finding its way onto my screen later that evening, “Halloween” stars Adam Sandler as socially-awkward deli worker Hubie Dubois, the world’s biggest Halloween fan and Salem, Massachusetts’ biggest laughing stock. Hubie discovers a series of increasingly strange — and even less funny — slew of Halloween’s night events and soon realizes it's up to him to solve the big mystery and save the day. You know what you’re getting out of Happy Madison — familiar friends Julie Bowen, Maya Rudolph and Kevin James all make appearances in the film, and we even get treated to supporting performances ranging from “Goodfellas” legend Ray Liotta to up and coming “Stranger Things” star Noah Schnapp. This movie is not good, but will make you giggle at least a few times throughout its fairly short runtime — which I’d chalk up as a win. If anything “Hubie” will reaffirm we should all aspire to pocket Adam Sandler’s corner in life — making an awful lot of money for a lot of awful movies.

"Barry"

Featuring some world-class acting from former Saturday Night Live funny man Bill Hader, “Barry” swings back and forth from comedy to drama unlike anything I’ve ever seen on television — perfectly highlighting the depths to which comedic actors can stretch themselves for dramatic performances and truly showcasing the lengths to which one man can go to make himself the most believable hitman turned stage performer whose ever graced the screen. With two seasons currently streaming on HBO services and a third coming in 2021, viewers will be left hanging in anticipation as Hader’s combination of flawless writing, impeccable direction and phenomenal lead performance carefully navigate through Los Angeles underworlds of theatre and crime simultaneously — met right down the middle with a self-aware performance from Henry Winkler (“Happy Days”) as acting coach Gene Cousineau that really drives home the human condition in more ways than one. Head into “Barry” with anticipation for one thing and come out with a truly jaw-dropping emotional experience unlike few others, and be ready to see more of Hader beyond fan-favorite comedies as he continues to ascend the TV-auteur ladder.

"Robin Williams: Come Inside My Mind"

Paying tribute to a legendary performer and painting another portrait of a human being far more complex than anyone could truly comprehend, Marina Zenovich’s 2018 documentary “Come Inside My Mind” is a fascinating look at the story of Robin Williams and the personal battles he faced before tragically taking his own life in 2014. People looking to learn more about the man, his immense collection of work or the power of mental illness should consider this appointment viewing, surely finding themselves blown away by the depth of such an unbelievable person.

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