Watching the trailer for Yoga Hosers, the latest from Kevin Smith, is akin to hearing a long joke with every third sentence left out. You get the idea what’s being said is funny, you know you’re being told a joke so you’re waiting for the punchline (hopefully it’s not in one of those third sentences being left out), and the person telling you the joke is very funny to begin with, so the joke should also be funny – right? And yet, as the joke’s being told you start to get the idea that, actually, it’s not going to be very funny, and that maybe any humour in the joke is in the way it’s being told. Or maybe it’s just not a very good joke in the first place. That’s the idea with Yoga Hosers, whose trailer makes it look like there’s tons of humour in the movie, but at the same makes the movie look like it’s trying too hard to be wacky (oh look – there’s Johnny Depp “in disguise” again!). Smith doesn’t lack for confidence but his scripts aren’t always as water-tight as he might think (“So much nein it’s almost ten”?), and on this evidence he might be in for a mauling from both critics and audiences. Let’s hope not, though, because Smith is always one of cinema’s most idiosyncratic movie makers, and he’s not afraid to take chances; and that’s a good thing.
Staying with humour, the documentary Can We Take a Joke? looks at where comedians draw the line (if some of them ever do), and how they can justify stepping over it. In these days of instant outrage fuelled by social media platforms such as Twitter and Facebook, it’s harder than ever to fly under the radar with a joke, particularly if it’s in response to a recent tragedy, but should comedians be constrained in such a way that an audience is effectively censoring them before they even step out on stage (or through whatever medium they’re broadcasting)? There are arguments for and against, and however you feel about jokes that may cause offence, this exploration of what “offensive” means looks certain to provoke a wider debate, even if it’s only for a short while until somebody else says or does something that the Take Offence brigade objects to.
In recent years, Felicity Jones and Nicholas Hoult have both built on their emerging careers to the point where their presence in a movie is something of a guarantee of quality. They’re also both very likeable, have very good screen presence, and franchise experiences aside, have made some very interesting choices in the past. And now we have them appearing in Collide, an action thriller that looks like any number of other action thrillers made in recent years, and also looks like it features the same clichéd character motivations we’ve seen over and over before. The presence of Anthony Hopkins in principal villain mode is not a good sign – hands up anyone who can remember the last decent performance Hopkins gave us – and the sight of Ben Kingsley hamming it up to eleven isn’t encouraging either, but the stunt work appears to be the key element, and in that respect the trailer does make the movie worth seeing just for the vehicular mayhem alone. One to see with low expectations then, and the hope that Jones and Hoult can rescue some of the movie with their performances.