Seven years after You, the Living, which itself came seven years after Songs from the Second Floor, the revered Swedish director Roy Andersson delivers the final film in his “Living Trilogy”, A Pigeon Sat on a Branch Reflecting on Existence. For those familiar with either of its forebears, Pigeon is more of the same. It is 100 minutes of deftly composed black comic vignettes, each detailing an indignity upon a loosely connected group of people. Critics like to relish in the depictions of capitalistic foibles and other vaguely political themes. Andersson himself claims the film was inspired by a 16th century painting. One’s enjoyment of A Pigeon Sat on a Branch Reflecting on Existence may depend on how much you are willing to believe that.
The latest release from the Judd Apatow empire opens tomorrow here in Seattle, written by and starring comedian Amy Schumer and directed by Apatow himself. Schumer plays a magazine writer with commitment issues and a fondness for wine and weed. Much to her surprise, she falls for a dweeby sports surgeon (Bill Hader) and must choose between growing up and reforming her ways or losing a swell guy. The film thus deftly flips the gender roles of a typical Hollywood romantic comedy, as it’s been practiced in film and television of the past 30 years or so. That reversal is the motor of the funniest parts of the film: Schumer’s assertiveness with her boyfriends (an agonizing attempt at dirty talk from John Cena) and Hader’s heartfelt exchanges with his athlete friends (LeBron James and Amar’e Stoudemire). Filled with the surreal-improv style comedy from the supporting players that defines the Apatow brand (it’s no surprise that the clear winner this time is Tilda Swinton), the film is dragged down by the shambolic, disjunctive approach to narrative that has also come to define Apatow’s work.