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Penguins of Madagascar

The pacing is so zany, the jokes are so rapid-fire and the sight gags are so inspired that it’s impossible not to get caught up…

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Horrible Bosses 2

The law of diminishing returns, which has afflicted so many comedy sequels over the years, strikes again in “Horrible Bosses 2,” further proving that just…

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Ballad of Narayama

"The Ballad of Narayama" is a Japanese film of great beauty and elegant artifice, telling a story of startling cruelty. What a space it opens…

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Monsieur Hire

Patrice Leconte's "Monsieur Hire" is a tragedy about loneliness and erotomania, told about two solitary people who have nothing else in common. It involves a…

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* This filmography is not intended to be a comprehensive list of this artist’s work. Instead it reflects the films this person has been involved with that have been reviewed on this site.

#85 October 19, 2011

Lesson for the day: How to have fun while wasting time... Marie writes: welcome to DRAW A STICK MAN, a delightful Flash-based site prompting viewers to draw a simple stick figure which then comes to life!  Ie: the program animates it. You're given instructions about what to draw and when, which your dude uses to interact with objects onscreen. Thanks go to club member Sandy Kahn who heard about it from her pal Lauren, in Portland Oregon.Note: here's a screen-cap of what I drew; I've named him Pumpkin Head.

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Peter Cook and Dudley Moore in Richard Lester's "The Bed-Sitting Room"

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View "The Bed-Sitting Room," complete and legally.

Watch The Bed Sitting Room (1969, Richard Lester) in Comedy  |  View More Free Videos Online at Veoh.com

"The Bed-Sitting Room" A film written and directed by Richard Lester. Featuring Rita Tushingham, Peter Cook, Dudley Moore, Spike Mulligan, Arthur Lowe, Marty Feldman, Ralph Richardson and Harry Secombe. Classified PG.

By Roger Ebert / December 10, 1976

If "Monty Python's Flying Circus" had never existed, Richard Lester would still have invented it. In 1970 he directed "The Bed-Sitting Room," a film which so uncannily predicts the style and manner of Python that we think for a moment we're watching television. The movie's dotty and savage; acerbic and slapstick and quintessentially British.

It was also a total disaster at the box office. So great was its failure, indeed, that Lester didn't get another directing assignment until 1974 and "The Three Musketeers." He'd been one of the most popular filmmakers of the 1960s ("A Hard Day's Night," "How I Won the War,") but "The Bed-Sitting Room" hardly opened.

It's an after-the-Bomb movie, but like no other. It takes place at some time in the fairly immediate future, after England and (we gather) the rest of the world have been almost wiped out by a nuclear war. A few people still survive. Some of them ride on an endlessly circling underground train (powered by an earnest young man peddling a bicycle). Others roam through the debris above. They try to appear as proper as possible by wearing the right clothes. From his midriff up, for example, the BBC announcer wears a tuxedo. Everything below is rags, but you can't see that when he's broadcasting (which he does by holding a TV set in front of his face and talking.)

People seem to be genial enough. There's a pregnant young girl (Rita Tushingham) who lives with Mum and Dad on the underground train. There's a genial gentleman (Ralph Richardson) who goes about looking into other people's business. There are two policemen (Peter Cook and Dudley Moore) who operate out of a wrecked Volkswagen suspended from a hot-air balloon. And there's poor Arthur Lowe, who's obsessed by the fear that he'll turn into a bed-sitting room. Well, we all are. All of the characters are mad, of course, but that's not the point; this isn't a heavy-handed anti-war parable, but a series of sketches that gradually grow more and more grim.

Things start out fairly cheerfully, actually. At one point a messenger arrives with a pie, asks if he has the correct person, and when he finds he does, throws the pie into the man's face. So now we know where that fad came from. Later, though, the smiles grow more forced. The characters try to maintain an adequate British reserve, but it's a little hard when you find you are likely to turn into a bed-sitting room. Escalators from the underground are likely to dump you in mid-air, a square meal is hard to come by, Rita Tushingham's baby dies and so on. Since the movie accompanies all of this material with mindlessly mechanical music hall tunes, the effect is macabre.

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The London Perambulator

I started walking around London in my mind. It started when I wrote the entry about Jermyn Street. In mentioning Wilton's I should have mentioned that on my first visit there I ordered roast turkey with fresh peaches. I know, it sound like the Peter Cook and Dudley Moore routine about the Frog & Peach, but nevertheless that's what I had, with a raspberry syllabub for dessert.

In my mind my walk didn't stop when Jermyn Street ended at St. James. I imagined walking down St. James and into the park, and around the ponds. And admiring the view of Westminster Abbey from the bridge. And then perhaps out one end of the park toward Victoria or into Pimlico.

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The Big Kahuna Gets Lai'd

View image Jonah Hill, Mila Kunis, Jason Segel, Kristen Bell, Russell Brand -- happy to see them all!

My review of "Forgetting Sarah Marshall" is in the Chicago Sun-Times and on RogerEbert.com. (Also: "My Blueberry Nights" and "Where in the World is Osama Bin Laden?.") Here's an excerpt: Jason Segel's penis probably would not sell a lot of tickets all by itself. Not that there's anything wrong with it, but most of us don't think of the co-star of "Freaks and Geeks," "Knocked Up" and "How I Met Your Mother" in that way. As wise men (and women) always point out, it's not the thing itself that matters, it's what you do with it. And what Segel does with it as star and writer of "Forgetting Sarah Marshall" is magnificent. Between his brief nude scene at the very beginning (a humiliating, emotionally naked break-up and breakdown), and his even briefer final one (a welcome reunion of sorts), he discovers quite a lot about himself through his genitalia. [...]

... Segel's script [is] a mash-up of "10," "Modern Romance" and "Better Off Dead...," no doubt enlivened by spontaneous invention on the set. Remember Brian Dennehy as the nurturing bear of a bartender who looks after Dudley Moore in his hours of alcoholic sexual desperation? Here that role is split into two massive resort workers and one laidback beach dude, and they're all funny in their own ways. But there's also a real-world twist: One of the guys with whom Segel feels a vacation-connection turns out to be flying on autopilot, just doing his job the best he can. Not with malicious intent -- it's just his personality, which is probably what got him hired in the first place....

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Interview with Mary Steenburgen

Do Mary Steenburgen and Dudley Moore have romantic chemistry in the new movie "Romantic Comedy"? I think they do. Other people think they don't. On the very same day that I was writing about their wonderful chemistry, other critics were writing about how chemistry was lacking between the two of them.

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Interview with Alec Guinness

New York -- Sir Alec Guinness was down at the end of the hotel hallway, holding the door open and saying "this way." He is not known to be enthusiastic about granting press interviews, and the smile on his face made me think of the motto for Powdermilk Biscuits: "They give you the strength to do what has to be done."

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