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Monday, March 30, 2015

ENTERTAINMENT Review: ND/NF Closing Night

Gregg Turkington in ENTERTAINMENT
Photo by Lorenzo Haggerman
2015, 102 minutes
Not Rated

Review by Joshua Handler

Rick Alverson's Entertainment is a horror to try to sit through, yet I can't get it out of my head. It's as hopelessly depressing as losing your job, getting divorced, and getting deported from the country in the same day, it's as funny as listening to someone tell the most outrageously odd, yet oddly funny jokes you've ever heard, and it's as bizarre as watching someone sit on the toilet for two hours belching the alphabet. What does this mean? Is the film "good?" The latter question is near-impossible to answer.

Entertainment features Gregg Turkington as The Comedian (basically his now-famous character Neil Hamburger), a comedian who goes through remote desert towns performing his remarkably offensive, confrontational routine as he slowly becomes more disengaged and disenchanted with life.

Gregg Turkington's lead performance is committed and ruthless. The Comedian is such a wonderful creation. He never demands sympathy and never gets it because it's only possible to look at him with disgust and pity. His jokes are delivered with acid dripping from them and it's truly a joy to watch Turkington spew them with extreme disgust (the most acidic scene - and the film's best - is one in which he repeatedly insults a woman at a bar during a show). When off the stage, The Comedian is depressed and Turkington's ability to capture this tortured soul is astonishing.

It's always interesting to see a film like Entertainment because it's so hard to formulate a definitive opinion of it. There are quite a few parts of it that are an extreme endurance test. There's a good chunk of the movie that could conceivaly have been shaved off, but at the same time, it's these stretches that make the comedy scenes land that much harder and make the film that much more defiant.

Entertainment will almost certainly be a film that benefits from a re-viewing. I have no burning desire to see this movie again (save for a few choice scenes), but there's still some part of me that wants to do so. Whatever my future with this film is, I am very happy to have seen it, if only because it introduced me to an entirely new kind of cinema. I cannot stop thinking about Entertainment, particularly its haunting final scene, and that's more than I can say about most films I've had the (dis)pleasure of sitting through recently.


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