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Crazy Rich Asians Reintroduces a Revolutionary Leading Lady

It’s been a long way back for Michelle Yeoh. The Malaysian Chinese action star who gained renown for her stunt work on a string of popular Hong Kong action films in the 1980s entered a new pantheon when she played the main love interest in Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon in 1997. It was a movie where people glided through the landscapes of China and spun proverbs. It was as if David Lean directed The Matrix, but instead of a frumpy, aged man and heavy CGI, it was the work of an unknown director named Ang Lee and the female leads that carried the film. But it was Michelle Yeoh’s performance, filled with manic restlessness and fierce action work, that redefined what an Asian actress could accomplish on the silver screen.

Nikita Khrushchev (Steve Buscemi), Goergy Malenkov (Jeffrey Tambor), Lazar Kaganovich (Dermot Crowley) and Lavrenti Beria (Simon Russell Beale) in The Death of Stalin.

Should We Laugh at The Death of Stalin?

I’d say we all enjoy political comedy now and then. Whether it’s making fun of Hillary Clinton dabbing or making fun of anything Donald Trump tweets, nothing feels as good as teasing those in power. So, when I first saw ads for The Death of Stalin, I was thrilled. It’s a British film based on the French comic La mort de Staline, and only recently opened here in the United States. The film has some weak points here and there, but manages to deliver plenty of laughs and has a good heart.

Courtesy of Netflix

Mike Birbiglia at the State Theatre: Comedy Over Kids

In Mike Birbiglia’s 2013 special My Girlfriend’s Boyfriend, Birbiglia basically tells only one joke: the story of how he got married to his current wife. Sure, there are many small sub-jokes, and every so often he decides to go a bit off-topic to provide backstory, but everything is focused on how he and his girlfriend eventually decided to tie the knot. This is Birbiglia’s comedy style, whether it be on his Netflix specials or while appearing on This American Life. Instead of jumping from subject to subject, with segways to link each bit together, Birbiglia decides to follow a cross between Joseph Campbell’s hero’s journey theory and Dave Chappelle’s insight. He does not use any extreme ideas or absurdist routines.

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Blockers is the New Sex Comedy for this Generation

It was hard to hear a character’s response after a joke had been cracked during Blockers. The close to two-hour runtime was filled with laugh after laugh  which was unexpected, given the film’s old-fashioned premise of sex and its relation to women. However, after its screening at South by Southwest Film Festival and the positive response it received, it is no surprise that Kay Cannon’s (who wrote Pitch Perfect and several episodes of NBC’s 30 Rock) film solidified itself as an effortless comedy, bringing laughs as easily as Superbad or 21 Jump Street. The only thing different about this film is its attribution of raunchy comedy to women, a recent turn that has been explored in comedies such as Bridesmaids, Trainwreck, and Girls Trip. Blockers follows three parents’ (played by Leslie Mann, John Cena, and Ike Barinholtz) desperate attempts to prevent their teenage daughters (played by Kathryn Newton, Geraldine Viswanathan, and Gideon Adlon) from losing their virginity on prom night.

Courtesy of the Midnight Comedy Troupe

Midnight Comedy Troupe Blends Dark Humor and Social Commentary

Weston Barker ’21 and the Midnight Comedy Troupe are deathly funny. The seven member outfit is Cornell’s newest and only dark humor sketch group that does its best to shock, awe and entertain. They hit the mark, brilliantly. Judged on just their comedic chops, this group stands alone. But what really sets them apart is their secondary goal: to inspire (or incite) meaningful dialogue and bring people together with conversation and laughter.

COURTESY OF FEELGOOD ENTERTAINMENT

Chevalier: Naming the Most Modern Prometheus

Athina Rachel Tsangari’s film Chevalier, showing at Cornell Cinema this Friday, understates its oddities and creates a hauntingly realistic picture of humanity. The film draws from various and strange inspirations which result in a Frankenstein-esque human species. But, it remains non-committal. Just like Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein directly condemns neither the monster nor his creation, Tsangari only subtly questions specific behaviors, habits and desires. Chevalier disguises itself as the story of six friends on a luxury fishing trip.