+ "For Your Consideration": Critics are undecided as to how sharp a satire of Hollywood Christopher Guest has managed in his latest (and firmly non-mockumentary) effort. Nathan Lee at the Village Voice salutes the film for the way in which it "pulls off the neat trick of skewering the movie industry while remaking it in its own image." Lisa Schwarzbaum at Entertainment Weekly writes that "the level of tender, ruthless, inspired, lethally accurate study that has gone into the follicular expression of each and every character in Christopher Guest’s latest hilarious cultural corrective is something inspiring to behold." (She does acknowledge that this film is "more inside baseball" than Guest’s biggest hits.)
On the other side, Scott Foundas at LA Weekly
bemoans that the film "doesnâ€™t risk ruffling any feathers, and thatâ€™s
exactly whatâ€™s wrong with it: Itâ€™s less a satirical bite at the hand
that feeds Guest than it is a toothless nibble, and it isnâ€™t
particularly funny." He goes on to writes that many of the points will seem "five-minutes-ago to anyone whoâ€™s ever seen an episode of Extras or Entourage," and that "[t]his is the first of Guestâ€™s movies that has felt calculated to me." Jonathan Rosenbaum at the Chicago Reader expresses a similar complaint, calling the film "far too mild to threaten any of [the actors’] industry standing," and warning that it "has its moments, but don’t expect many fresh insights." At the New York Times, Stephen Holden allows that "For Your Consideration" is "by far the broadest comedy Mr. Guest and company have made. Despite its merriment, it is also the flimsiest." At the New York Press, Armond White snipes that the film "never grasps contemporary Hollywoodâ€™s cultural decline: It smirks at how Hollywood divas connect their egos to money, their insecurities to fame, their work to prizes. Instead of shaming Hollywood vanity, For Your Consideration becomes part of the problem. Nothingâ€™s sadder than useless satire."
That said, everyone adores Catherine O’Hara (even White, who sighs while proclaiming that she’ll never get an Oscar). Schwarzbaum insists that "laurels and swag ought to be handed over to O’Hara for her brilliant portrayal of aging-actresshood." At New York, David Edelstein writes that she "has never been so physically daring and emotionally open. Youâ€™ll laugh and cry as the talk of a nomination wakes her character up from a hoarse, withered stupor and turns her into something too foolishly hopeful to bear."
And then there are those who see something deeper in Guest’s films, like Michael Koresky at indieWIRE, who writes that
Catherine O’Hara…owns it from the first frame, in which she brushes her bundle of tawny hair while watching and trying to emulate Bette Davis in "Jezebel," to the last–a close-up as terrifying as it is laugh-out-loud. The narrative is hers; her pathos sting, her slapstick sticks, and her facial contortions tickle even as they break your heart.
And Stephanie Zacharek at Salon likes the film, but finds it lacking after "A Mighty Wind," which she thinks "may well turn out to be one of the most perfect (and the most moving) comedies of the decade."
Our own Matt Singer was mighty unimpressed by the film.
+ "Fast Food Nation": A.O. Scott at the New York Times notes that Richard Linklater and Eric Schlosser have "undertaken a much deeper and more comprehensive critique of contemporary American life" in a glowing review of the film. Given its lukewarm reception at Cannes, Linklater’s fictionalized take on Schlosser’s nonfiction bestseller has pulled some pretty good reviews stateside. The LA Weekly‘s Scott Foundas writes that "if Linklaterâ€™s film is somewhat shapeless and rough around the edges, it is also, moment by moment, oddly elating, thanks to the intelligence of its script." He praises the film’s "humanism and understanding." Jonathan Rosenbaum at the Chicago Reader calls the film "angry and persuasive piece of agitprop." Lisa Schwarzbaum at Entertainment Weekly likes that "the interwoven ensemble approach to storytelling works even though handled by someone other than Robert Altman," while at indieWIRE, Michael Koresky calls the film "terrific" and finds that its "sly, sad vision is about so much more than hamburgers: logos, prefabricated homes, frozen dinners, Nike, Chili’s, the Sunglass Hut, all with the stamp of anonymity."
David Edelstein at New York both thinks the film works and wishes it was better:
It gets the job done and then some, but itâ€™s ugly and clumsily shaped, and every scene is there to rack up sociological points: When an illegal immigrant leans over a giant meat-grinder and you think, â€œThere go his legs!â€ it would be surprising if there, indeed, did not go his legs.
And J. Hoberman at the Village Voice thinks that "[t]he movie is valiant, if curiously anemic. Its most galvanizing scene effectively undermines the argument: Bruce Willis has a lip-smacking cameo as the voice of cynical realismâ€”a Mickey’s operative who mocks American ‘fraidy cats and shocks [Greg] Kinnear with the smirking assertion that ‘we all have to eat a little shit from time to time.’"
Our review is here; we’d have to agree with those who pointed out the Willis cameo â€” it’s without a doubt the best part of the film.