Carnage 2011 ****


Yasmina Reza adapted her own play for Roman Polanski’s overlooked domestic comedy drama from 2011. Bookended by understated scenes depicting their children at play, Carnage never attempt to defuse the theatrical originals of the material, and is all the better for it. Two affluent NYC couples Michael and Penelope (John C Reilly and Jodie Foster) and Alan and Nancy (Christoph Waltz and Kate Winslet) are drawn together to smooth over a mild playground assault, but their politeness gives way to an afternoon of explosive argument. All four actors are on top form, and Polanski seems to revel in exploding the myths of polite society as a full on screaming match that provides top-class entertainment.


Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story 2007 ****


Parody films are notoriously hard to pull off; Judd Apatow managed on of the best with this delicious bio-pic of the fictitious singer Dewey Cox, played by John C Reilly, who can carry a tune well in his own right. Working closely from a template established by Ray and Walk The Line, Jake Kasdan’s hilarious film is bolstered by a swathe of pitch perfect parodies, ranging from Bob Dylan to The Beach Boys. Reilly’s turn as Cox is brilliant, smashing sinks every time he’s annoyed, getting turned onto every drug imaginable, but still retaining his home-spun affection for his sweetheart Darlene (Jenna Fischer). With more laughs in each five minute segment that many comics manage in their career, it’s surprising that Walk Hard wasn’t a hit; perhaps the digital age will see this treasure trove of comedy re-discovered.