The Cinefamily Los Angeles 11/19-25
The Comedian (Gregg Turkingrton), the main character of ENTERTAINMENT, is a truly “nasty piece of work” as the British would say.The movie follows him on tour semi-documentary style. The gigs are the type one gets on the way up or the way down. Given his middle age and look of defeat, I’d guess the latter. I knew nothing about Turkington (or his alter ego Neil Hamburger) before watching the film. For more on him, read the profile in Rolling Stone who gives the movie the backhanded praise “cringe comedy of the year.”
Directed by Rick Alverson and photographed by Lorenzo Hagerman, Entertainment is surprisingly lovely to watch when our hero goes “on the road again.” As Scott Foundas points out in Variety, there are echoes of 1970’s road movie classics like Two-Lane Blacktop (1971) and Five Easy Pieces (1970). But Lawrence Olivier’s Archie Rice in the similarly titled The Entertainer (1960) is the Comedian’s most direct antecedent. In that movie, Olivier plays against type as a broken down music hall song and dance man.
There’s pathos in The Comedian’s phone calls to his estranged daughter. Although occasionally funny, his desperate encounters with his wealthy cousin John (John C. Reilly) are also disquieting. Come to think of it, there’s nothing easy about the film. Still, I can promise a one-of-a-kind experience.
Those who remember Bobcat Goldthwaite may find a superficial similarity in the screechy voice and odd mannerisms of the Comedian’s personae. His level of rage, however, is something else again. When he lays into an audience member for some perceived slight, it’s an attack so vile and personal it would make insult master Don Rickels shout “enough!”
Entertainment is apparently a sequel of sorts to The Comedy (2012), Alverson’s earlier cringe inducer. Let me recover from this one first.
Screening November 19-25 at
The Cinefamily in Los Angeles with guest appearances on 11/20.
Also available on i-Tunes.