Three new “Page 2 Screen” podcasts from Jeff York for the International Screenwriters’ Association

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“TABLE 19”

Table 19 is an uneasy mix of indie comedy and maudlin narrative.

The new comedy Table 19 comes with a sterling cast of comedic actors (Anna Kendrick, Craig Robinson and Lisa Kudrow among them), an indie pedigree (the story is from the Duplass brothers), and an institution like weddings ripe for the takedown. So why isn’t writer/director Jeff Blitz’s film funnier? For starters, it wants to eat its wedding cake and have it too. The movie tries hard to make the audience laugh, but it also wants us to shed a lot of maudlin tears for their characters’ backstories. In fact, the story barely seems interested in the wedding they’ve all RSVP’d for, and spends way too much time, literally and figuratively, wandering in the nearby woods. The potential was there with all this talent, but this party stops being fun well before its final dance.

“LOGAN”

Logan cuts to the bone as Hugh Jackman ends his iconic role.

Hugh Jackman has appeared as Wolverine onscreen nine times, but never to such a dramatic effect as in this one, his swan song. Logan is a much darker, sadder and meaner X-Men movie than any done before. In fact, the story here is more reminiscent of moody westerns like Shane and Unforgiven.

It’s hard to watch Logan in decline, and watching Professor Charles Xavier (a very moving Patrick Stewart) battle dementia is no picnic either. But watching the denouement of these two iconic characters pushes superhero movies into bold, new ground, even if the corresponding story is filled with too many narrative retreads such as mutant children in peril and nefarious corporations for Wolverine to battle. Still, all in all Logan is a fitting finale that cuts deep with its affecting emotion and vivid characterizations.

“GET OUT”

Get Out is a horror movie that couldn’t be more timely or terrific.

Sometimes movies are so of the moment, they seem prescient. Such is the case with Get Out, a new horror film from writer/director Jordan Peele of Key & Peele fame. It’s a story about racism, rights, and caste systems in theaters at a time when such issues are at the top of our politic discourse. But as timely as Peele’s themes are, it’s his film’s clever choices that counter the worst clichés of the genre that make this so right, right now.

Peele turns one egregious horror cliché after another on its ear. He doesn’t rush his scares, his characters are three-dimensional, and the sense of slow-building dread is more palpable than any big set pieces you’d find in most modern frighteners. It’s shrewd entertainment, imbued with empathy, intelligence and plenty of dark comedy. It’s only March, but 2017 already has one of the year’s best films in Get Out.

CLICK ON THE TITLES TO DOWNLOAD OR LISTEN TO THE FULL PODCASTS!

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