Tag Archives: Michelle krusiec

Danny Devito’s Duplex

I will never not love Duplex, Danny Devito’s jet-black ode to neighbours from hell, a ninety minute domestic squabble of epic proportions and one of the funniest films of the last few decades. Devito knows how to do comedy at it’s meanest, lowest and most shamelessly un-PC, whenever he’s in the director’s chair you know you’ll get something that will either land squarely with those who have a deranged sense of humour (moi) or drive of the prudes in droves. Ben Stiller and Drew Barrymore play a hapless NYC yupple (yuppie couple, just made that shit up) looking for their perfect little love nest to settle down in. They think they’ve found it in a gorgeous, spacious Brooklyn split-suite, but there’s just one problem: sweet, ninety year old Mrs. Connolly (Eileen Essell), who is the tenant equivalent of the plague. At first she’s a benign darling, but after a few weeks pass, she’s a harridan hellbent on making their lives into an extended nightmare of never ending chores, sleepless nights and maddening disruption. The solution? Well there’s many in the real world, but in Demented Devito realm it’s to kill her, of course, an eventual resolution they come to quicker than your average ruffled landlord. It’s all in good fun if you’ve got the wicked internal lens to angle at it, and I find it to be a consistent laugh riot with each repeated viewing. Essell is comic dynamite, pretty spry for an old gal and always game to make the dialogue sizzle, as the film sort of relies on her character to work. Stiller and Barrymore stir up a collective brew of exasperation and screeching hysterics, while the wicked good supporting cast includes Wallace Shawn, Robert Wisdom, Justin Theroux, Swoozie Kurtz, Maya Rudolph, Amber Valletta, Tracey Walter, Michelle Krusiec, James Remar as a shady hitman and Broadway’s beloved Harvey Fierstein as New York’s sleaziest real estate tycoon. Devito’s scripts almost always veer into a dark, bizarro cartoon style once the antics get feverishly out of hand, and bearing witness to the many varied and idiotic ways Stiller and Barrymore try to kill the old broad are a showcase of him at his nuttiest. Gross, unpleasant, cheerfully in bad taste, relentlessly raunchy and delightfully mean spirited, pretty much all the things a great comedy should be.

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Indie Gems with Nate: Far North 

Far North is like a half whispered tale told round a campfire way out in the tundra, a tale that keeps the fire going while freezing your blood. I’m not sure if it’s based on some Inuit parable or fable, but it certainly has the aura of such. There’s a  whole lot of land up there, and most likely centuries of stories just like this one, witnessed only by the wolves and the winter cold, as well as the few hard bitten inhabitants who call it home. Michelle Yeoh is Saiva, an outcast from her tribe after being deemed cursed by her shaman at birth, left to wander the expanse alone. Her only companion is a young girl (Michelle Krusiec) who she rescued from marauding soldiers as a baby, and has raised somewhat as a daughter. The two live an isolated existence, until Saiva finds half dead soldier Loki (Sean Bean) wandering the tundra, and reluctantly takes him in. That’s where trouble begins, as he takes a liking to the young girl, a bond is formed, and another is soured and broken. There’s a third act shocker that will have your skin crawling, a jarring act of violence, deception and betrayal that leaves us feeling as cold and cast out as Saiva, an existence which probably foretold such horrors years ago when the shaman gazed upon her face. It doesn’t quite fit with the lyrical beauty and ambient pace that came before, but it’s definitely an unforgettable way to end the story, and a reminder of humans and their capacity for darkness. Roaming caribou, miles of ice, wandering wolves, and the few humans who survive out there, perhaps affected by something deeper, something elemental that lives in the very air. Not a perfect film, but fascinating and quite unlike any other. Oh, and a warning: ther are some graphic and suspiciously realistic scenes of animal violence.