I have a preference for happy or funny movies, which I find much more entertaining, albeit perhaps not as thought-provoking as dark or depressing dramas about serious issues. When making my movie selections for the film festival, I tend to gravitate towards the ones that sound cheerful, at least based on the synopsis. Unfortunately experience has thought me that the 1-3 paragraph writeup for a movie might not always reflect the actual movie, especially for foreign films where sometimes the humour just does not translate. (Note to self .. must remember that I don’t find Korean “comedies” to be funny). The movies of this genre that I picked this year elicited a wide range of responses, from a light chuckle to roaring laughter to uneasy laughter at some dark comedies.
The rest of the movie involves the preparation for and execution of an elaborate all-inclusive wedding, held on the estate of a gorgeous 18th Century castle. Max needs to deal with an obnoxiously pompous groom, a head waiter who corrects everyone’s grammar and is infatuated with the bride, a troublesome wedding photographer who is rude to the guests, eats all the appetizers and sleeps with the groom’s mother, a temperamental wedding singer who is feuding with Max’s second-in-command, as well as other blunders and issues caused by his huge staff. To top it off, Max’s mistress Joisette is tired of waiting for him to get a divorce and makes him jealous by flirting with a young waiter.
Everything that could possibly go wrong does, including meat being spoiled, food poisoning, power outages, awkward auto-corrected text messages and mishaps with the entertainment that includes a run-away helium balloon and over-exploding fireworks. The movie is even more funny because the jokes arise from situational humour as opposed to slapstick comedy. Despite the large cast, there is enough character development that you get to know and care about the goofy and beleaguered wedding crew. After watching so many serious, depressing movies, it was such a joy to watch and enjoy a movie whose only goal is to make you laugh.
Death of Stalin, Under the Tree is another dark comedy that had moments where you pause and wonder why you are laughing at such shocking events. But where Death of Stalin was played for laughs throughout the movie, much of Under the Tree feels like a slow psychological thriller with the occasional comedic scenes. This is an Icelandic film about neighbours feuding over a shade tree. The tree resides on the property of an older cat-owing couple, Inga and Baldvin, who are grieving the disappearance and apparent suicide of their oldest son. The tree casts shade on the property of their neighbours Konrad and Eyborg, who let their large German Shepherd run wild, often onto the elder couple’s yard. The feud escalates from a war of words to increasingly serious acts of retribution and retaliation. The last 10 minutes of the movie have you laughing and gasping in horror at the same time.