JOHN LEGUIZAMO-GHETTO KLOWN (2014)

JL-GK-5x7-300dpi

The one-man show is not usually translated onto screen so well; one usually misses the nuance that you get in the live theatre. This is not one of those.

John Leguizamo is an actor who manages, without fail, to put a smile to my face. He always brings something interesting to the table and consequently if his name is on the list, I’m coming in.

Here he strips himself and his family bare and cathartically entertains us with his story.
You find out that he did several one-man shows in New York years ago and it is clearly where he has the most fun. He dubs himself a clown, an artist who loves to play and this is where his greatest strength lies and he runs gleefully with it.

The show is tempered with moments of truth and pathos and is thoroughly entertaining.
It asks the question-What is happiness and how does one find it? It is an individual struggle, each subject having different criteria for attaining such an ephemeral emotion.

Directed by actor/director Fisher Stevens,last seen in the wonderful The Grand Budapest Hotel, here he translates the stage play onto screen with deftness and imagination.

3.5/5

BUY ON DVD HERE

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CHEF (2014)

Chef

 

After the massive successes of his Iron Man films where Jon Favreau proved to the studio system that he could helm the big budgeters with confidence and make a LOT of money, this is a welcome return for Jon Favreau making simpler more intimate films.
‘Chef’ or How Carl Casper got his groove back is a feelgood comedy of sorts, there are no serious dramatic stakes here, more a man simply doing what he can to reclaim his mojo.

Carl Casper (Favreau) is a very successful chef at a popular restaurant in L.A. but finds himself in somewhat of a creative rut, some plot contrivances happen and he goes on his journey. It is a light-hearted film that doesn’t break the dramatic bank

The cast are all clearly having a blast especially John Leguizamo and Bobby Cannavale both of whom lift most of the films they appear in. The best scenes are in the kitchens where the actors engage in a playful dance that is filled with charm and fun.

The rest of the supporting cast do really well, the legendary Dustin Hoffman, a histrionically toned down Sofia Vergara, the ever sexy and stalwart Scarlett Johannson, the brilliant Oliver Platt and Sir Robert of Downey Jr are all a delight to watch. Amy Sedaris has fun with her scene as a publicist and she manages to hit all the right tickles. Emjay Anthony dials down any emotional blackmailing playing Favreau’s son and thus the scenes between father and son work nicely.

The things that stood out were the music, the food and the power of twitter.
There is a plethora of really fun music, especially very cool renditions of A Message to Rudi, Oye Como Va, Sexual Healing and of course, El Michels Affair’s quality version of Wu’s C.R.E.A.M.
Music and food go together here beautifully and the clear love and attention when it comes to the food preparation is in full effect. And twitter. Yes, there are simplifications but the gentle comment on the world of social media is here played out fairly intelligently, most effectively the generational understanding (or lack of) and the sheer possibilities of it.

Unlike most other feelgood films, there are few emotional manipulations, Favreau keeps it as real as he can within the parameters of the undertaking, which he also managed to do with Elf.
All the actors plum for real over caricature with their performances and the film benefits greatly from it, creating some lovely moments reminiscent of the repartee he had back in 1996 with Swingers.

It is a fun, entertaining film that will put a smile on your face and have you racing to the nearest quality restaurant. Eat before you watch.

3.5/5

BUY THE BLU-RAY DVD HERE

DOWNLOAD THE FILM ON iTUNES HERE