Movie Review ~ You Hurt My Feelings

The Facts:

Synopsis: A novelist’s long-standing marriage is suddenly upended when she overhears her husband giving his honest reaction to her latest book.
Stars: Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Tobias Menzies, Michaela Watkins, Arian Moayed, Owen Teague, Jeannie Berlin, Amber Tamblyn, David Cross, Josh Pais, Deniz Akdeniz, Zach Cherry
Director: Nicole Holofcener
Rated: R
Running Length: 93 minutes
TMMM Score: (10/10)
Review: I don’t want to be this kind of critic (or person?), but I think I have to say it. To fully appreciate You Hurt My Feelings, to really understand why it bites down so hard on nitpicks and nagging, to get why audience members around you may laugh at lines that don’t have a punchline, I think you need to have been in a serious relationship for a significant amount of time. It’s from that human experience to know someone so well and intimately that it will only take one glance from them, or lack thereof, to give you satisfaction or send you on a shrill spiral to your perception of super doom where you truly, wholly, feel the perfection of writer/director Nicole Holofcener’s film.

That’s not to say you singles or mingles out there aren’t going to love this sharp comedy, too, a cool breeze of a film arriving at the beginning of summer to air out the stink of the last few months. Holofcener’s script has plenty of valuable takeaways, her first since working on 2021’s The Last Duel with Ben Affleck and Matt Damon (She was also nominated for an Oscar for writing 2019’s Can You Ever Forgive Me?). Flying under the radar for years, when she does surface, Holofcener almost always has something interesting to say, even if it may not be aiming to please all comers. Reteaming with Julia Louis-Dreyfus, the star of her 2013 feature Enough Said, Holofcener crafts a story for this modern era of big, easily bruised egos.

Riding the marginal success of her memoir to a teaching position at an NYC college, Beth (Louis-Dreyfus, Onward) is putting the finishing touches on her new work of fiction. Years in writing and revising, her agent thinks it needs more work but encouraged by her husband’s positive feedback, she is going out on a limb and bringing it to a new agent to see if he can get it sold for the right price. At the same time, her husband, Don (Tobias Menzies, Casino Royale), is experiencing a staleness in his job as a therapist and couples’ counselor. His regular patients (real-life couple David Cross and Amber Tamblyn) bicker viciously during their sessions, and a new referral (Zach Cherry, Isn’t It Romantic) is passive-aggressively hostile toward him. Then there’s his tendency to mix up the maladies of one patient with another – he’s adrift.

After visiting their mother (a caustically hysterical Jeannie Berlin, The Fabelmans), Beth and sister Sarah (Michaela Watkins, Paint) spot Don shopping with Sarah’s husband Mark (Arian Moayed, Spider-Man No Way Home) and decide to surprise them. That’s when it happens. Sneaking up on her husband, Beth overhears him telling Mark his honest thoughts about her completed work…and it’s not the same positive critique he’d been passing on to her for years. This revelation creates a fissure between the two, opening a deep well of trust issues having more to do with a lack of general communication in their marriage than with one opinion not being shared. Amid all this, their adult son, Eliot (Owen Teague, Montana Story), returns home with relationship difficulties crushing his world too. 

While the plot summary and general idea of You Hurt My Feelings revolves around this supposed betrayal by Don, it’s not the true epicenter of the story Holofcener is conveying. That would be far too simple of a message for a writer/director who has always made what could be a trivial situation into a meaningful look at reactive relationships. Most of our stable relationships are just waiting for a glass of milk to be spilled to drum up a conflict that has nothing to do with the puddle in the center of the table, right? Here, Holofcener takes Don hiding behind an oft-used excuse, “I was trying to be supportive,” to allow a more significant discussion about relationships.

Did I mention the film is wildly funny too? If I’m making it all sound like a gloomy Bergman exploration of betrayal in NYC, it’s not that. I found every scene perfectly constructed and well-tailored to each actor, down to the minor supporting role. As interesting as Beth and Don were, I would watch an entire film about Sarah and Mark’s relationship or revisit Beth and Sarah’s acerbic mother if she took a trip somewhere. Holofcener gives these characters function and purpose in a short time and casts extraordinary actors to bring them to life.

Already triumphing on television, it’s time for Louis-Dreyfus to start practicing her red-carpet walk for even more prestigious award shows. I thought she delivered so well in Enough Said that she could have been on the shortlist there. However, in You Hurt My Feelings, she goes further, portraying a complicated (i.e., not always likable) person but never letting the audience want to root against her. Her work here is unlike anything I’ve seen her in, and intense scenes with Menzies and Teague could be career high points. Watkins could also be in on some excellent recognition for a fascinating performance. A frustrated interior decorator married to a struggling actor (Moayed is excellent, resisting the urge to lean into that sallow thespian trope), she has a spiky edge. Still, she recognizes and then appreciates how different her relationship with her husband is compared to her sister. 

Holofcener has written and directed many strong films over her career, but You Hurt My Feelings is the first one I’d call perfect. The script is tight, and each scene is a little masterclass in comedy or high-stakes drama. Cross and Tamblyn’s crossfire fighting is bulletproof comic gold, just as a quiet, dialogue-free exchange between Louis-Dreyfus and Berlin is lovely to watch unfold. That’s the beauty in what Holofcener does for film and those who love it – she brings some of the real world, warts and all, into the open.

Movie Review ~ Time Warp: The Greatest Cult Films of All-Time – Vol. 3 Comedy and Camp

The Facts

Synopsis: The final volume of Time Warp digs deep into what makes us laugh over and over again as we reveal the greatest cult comedies and campy classics of all-time.

Stars: John Cleese, David Cross, Joe Dante, Illeana Douglas, Peter Farrelly, John Waters

Director: Danny Wolf

Rated: NR

Running Length: 128 minutes

TMMM Score: (9/10)

Review: All good things must come to an end and such is the case with the arrival of the third volume of the Time Warp documentary series.  The opportunity to review this epic look into the greatest cult films of all time came right at the beginning of the pandemic that kept us all on lockdown.  The timing was perfect.  I devoured the series in short order, craving the kind of cinematic comfort food it generously served up on a shiny silver-screen platter.

To recap, Vol. 1 Midnight Madness was all about the movies that you normally would think of when you hear the phrase cult film.  So The Rocky Horror Picture Show, The Big Lebowski, and This is Spinal Tap were a few of the flicks discussed along with 70s exploitation cinema, 80s underground punk films, and early titles from as far back as the 40s that are still important today.  With a panel of moderators consisting of Joe Dante (Matinee), John Waters (Pink Flamingos), Illeana Douglas (Cape Fear), and Kevin Pollak (Indian Summer) that didn’t add nearly as much as interviews with film critics and the actual people involved with the making of the films, this first volume was standard but solid.

The shorter second volume narrowed things down a bit and looked just at the cult films within the Horror and Sci-Fi genre. While it covered some obvious titles like Night of the Living Dead, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, and The Evil Dead, it exposed me to other films I wasn’t as familiar with such as The Brother From Another Planet and Liquid Sky.  I’m a fan of these types of movies so I found this volume of particular interest, even if the information and opinions offered weren’t anything revelatory.

So here we are at the gates of Vol. 3 Comedy and Camp and not only is this the longest chapter of the trilogy it’s the most fun.  Director Danny Wolf ends things with a bang and creatively gets to have his cake and eat it too by including Camp titles here.  Basically, any film that has achieved even marginal cult status over the years that hasn’t fit into any previous volume can be stuck in this category and no one would really blink an eye.  That’s why there are segments devoted to The Room and Hedwig and the Angry Inch, both popular for different reasons but neither fitting into any genre offered thus far other than camp.

Back are the moderators who once again offer little to the mix – I still can’t quite understand what Wolf intended to use them for.  There’s nothing they are offering up or introducing that couldn’t be done by any of the talking head interviews that pop up when switching between films.  If anything, I would have just taken Illeana Douglas as the narrator to tie things together.  The movies pretty much speak for themselves, with Showgirls and Fast Times at Ridgemont High needing no introduction.  For once, I think the trivia tidbits offered by the interviewees actually told me something I hadn’t already known going in.  That’s why you’ll definitely need to tune in to hear director Martha Coolidge explain why Deborah Foreman isn’t on the poster for Valley Girl.

What a fun documentary series and a welcome reprieve from the doldrums of the early pandemic days in colder weather.  Writing this from a sunnier day in still uncertain times, I’m grateful for efforts like this which may not give a ton of new information for the hardcore movie buff but still provides easy to swallow entertainment with no hidden bias or agenda.  Worth a binge or a watch in small bites.

The Silver Bullet ~ The Post


Synopsis: A cover-up that spanned four U.S. Presidents pushed the country’s first female newspaper publisher and a hard-driving editor to join an unprecedented battle between journalist and government. Inspired by true events.

Release Date: December 22, 2017 (limited) January 12, 2018 (wide)

Thoughts: At the Oscars last year, buzz began to build around a rumored collaboration between Hollywood’s most favorite people. Director Steven Spielberg (Lincoln), Meryl Streep (Florence Foster Jenkins), & Tom Hanks (Saving Mr. Banks) would team up to tell the story of the Pentagon Papers.  Over the next weeks and months, we would get a tidbit here and there but The Post has flown quietly under the radar.  Until now.  I’m sure a number of Oscar hopefuls woke up this morning to see the new trailer for The Post and felt their hearts sink a little bit because it looks like this obvious Oscar bait is going to snag quite a lot of attention.  With an honest-to-goodness all-star cast of A-Listers and well-respected character actors in supporting roles, this looks like a slam-dunk.  If Spielberg can keep this one trucking along (please let it come in under 2.25 hours!) there’s a chance The Post will be headline news during Award Season.