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A foul mouthed teddy bear, Swedish humour, a Kiwi western and an Indian 'Godfather'

Reviews of 'Ted 2', 'A Pigeon Sat on a Branch Reflecting on Existence', 'Slow West' and 'Gangs of Wasseypur'

Crude humour is back with Ted 2’s potty-mouthed teddy bear. He produced a huge hit last time. It that's not for you, try some absurdist humor from Sweden, or New Zealand playing Colorado in a western or a sprawling gangster epic from India.

Here’s the list:

Ted 2:  2 stars

A Pigeon Sat on a Branch … : 4

Slow West: 3 ½

Gangs of Wasseypur:  3

Haida Paul Tribute:  ---

Max:  ---

 

TED 2: I’m not a fan of Seth MacFarlane’s humour. I hated his Oscar-hosting gig and his movies, A Million Ways to Die in the West and the first Ted, that huge hit of three years ago. I did like this second one a little more. It’s also crass and crude and sometimes offensive but has a few positives going for it. More of the jokes will make you laugh, often against your better judgement, and there’s a civil rights thread woven in that's surprisingly not mocked at all. Most anything else is.

 

Seth himself is the voice of the teddy bear who came alive in the first movie, is still best friends with Mark Wahlberg and now has to, with the help of Amanda Seyfried (and later Morgan Freeman), ask a court to declare he’s a person. Too complicated to explain why right here but note two things: Constitutional law, including the Dred Scott case, are cited in the dialog. Also, this court case echoes Miracle on 34th Street, doesn’t it? It’s one of several ways that MacFarlane shows his love for the old Hollywood films. There’s a Busby Berkeley-ish dance number and a lush full-orchestra score but also a lot of foul language and action. Don’t be taken in by the sweet TV ads; Ted’s very first word is an F-bomb, and a raid to steal Tom Brady’s sperm, a mess in a fertility clinic and a joke about F. Scott Fitzgerald’s name typify the low-class humour. (Scotiabank and many suburban theatres) 2 out of 5 

A PIGEON SAT ON A BRANCH REFLECTING ON EXISTENCE: The film’s summary talks about two salesmen hawking novelties. They’re in there alright but the film isn’t about them. They keep re-appearing at various times, but so do many other characters. A dance teacher luring and groping a male student. An old man drinking in a tavern and recalling a bar maid leading a sing-along 50 years earlier. A king riding off to war and returning in defeat. On it goes in a fascinating and funny montage of people doing ordinary things and occasionally reflecting on life.

The pigeon does not, though. It appears only twice: first in a museum display and later in a grade school girl’s poem read out to an assembly of other pupils. Why? I can’t tell and don’t feel I need to. “We just want to help people have fun,” one of the salesmen says several times. That seems to be the motive precisely of this film by Sweden’s Roy Andersson who won the top price at last year’s Vennice Film Festival with it. The humour is droll and bone-dry, very entertaining and at times very dark. I enjoyed it just as much as his previous film, You, The Living which was also a surreal pastiche of absurd vignettes. (VanCity Theatre) 4 out of 5 

Playing in tandem with …

SLOW WEST: The Americans hardly ever make westerns anymore, so a Scotsman working in New Zealand fills in with this one. John Maclean is also known for forming The Beta Band and this is his first full-length feature. He captures the feel of classic westerns, certainly the gritty revisionist style we saw in the 1970s. He’s stripped the glamour and mythology out but the images, characters and their drives are properly familiar.

 

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