June 12, 2009

MOVIE: The Ten

Holy crap I love the Netflix streaming video thingy- on which I caught The Ten. It's from the Stella guys who did Wet Hot American Summer, and it's ten short films based on each of the Ten Commandments. Paul Rudd introduces each segment and is also featured in a hillariously obtuse Woody Allen tribute for the "Thou Shalt Not Commit Adultery" segment.

My expectation for this was a hapharzdly put together, underwritten sketches, with a couple of funny moments. But I was pleasantly surprised to find the whole thing to be very well written, with an anarchic arbitrariness that really lent itself well to the pace and the anything goes spirit. The dialogue and the situations were so cleverly deconstructive without being self conscious, and it was consistently funny throughout.

Kieslowski (of the Red, White, and Blue films) famously worked with the same premise in Dekalog, ten stories each based on a commandments set in a Polish apartment complex. It's supposed to be a total masterpiece, but I woudlnt' know, because I couldn't even get through the first episode which was depressing and dreary. I'm sure it was insightful and brilliant and blah blah blah, but do I really regret not being able to get through it? Not really. I'll take well crafted & entertaining over too slow & depressing any day. That's just how I roll.

Having said that we are living at a time where comedy is being valued and revered, and I am loving this trend, even if that means being innundated with endless Judd Apatow productions, of which I end up enjoying at least every other movie. It's really amazing that a movie like this can be made with really decent production value and a ton of fun cameos by household name actors. (i.e. Wynona Ryder in, whatelse, "Thou Shalt Not Steal") I've been really uninspired by the indie film scene for a long time, I'd love to see smaller comedy productions like this share the cache given to all the faux cinema verite crap and mediocre foreign imports.