Rotten Tomatoes

Mildly Enthusiastic Review: Landline

I will often watch a smaller dramedy with a bit of an indie whiff, enticed by a trailer and a premise. I will most often also end up disappointed.


Category: Movies

Find it on: IMDb

What it is:
A 2017 dramedy about a family in some crisis (a cheating crisis). It takes place in 1995 and Jenny Slate stars, which was all I needed to know to watch it.

How I found it:
The classic way: an IMDb trailer.

Summary judgment:
It’s painless (which I’m not sure it was supposed to be).

Best things about it:
As expected, Jenny Slate. I fell in love with her as Mona Lisa on Parks and Recreation and I watched her in Obvious Child (which I’m still not sure what I think of). She’s irresistibly likable, no matter what a silly or even repulsive role she plays, with impeccable comedic timing. But I liked most of the other actors, with a particular shout-out to Edie Falco as the mother, who does very little but keeps it human and likable.

Worst things about it:
It feels like a very lightweight story. Sometimes I felt unsure why I was watching it (which, admittedly, is my frequent reaction to indie comedies).

Other pluses:
✤ I liked the music, particularly the Angel Olsen song. It would be my instinct to choose around-1995 songs but – side fact – not long ago I had to create a 1997-themed playlist and most of that music really sucked. So I get it.
✤ As always, I’m a sucker for depictions of family love.

Other minuses:
✤ I’m not sure why the movie is taking place in 1995 at all. That might be some local color I don’t get but nothing (except for the landline phones) marks it as a particularly 1990s movie and it would work among a more hipsterish family.
✤ I didn’t connect with Ali. Her rambling rebellion irritated me.

How it enriched my life:
I enjoyed it well enough. That’s about it.

Fun fact:
I completely didn’t recognize Jay Duplass as Ben. Weird, after all the Mindy Project episodes I saw him in. I didn’t even have that I’m-sure-I-know-this-actor-from-somewhere feeling.

I’ll be there for Jenny Slate.

Recommended for:
People who like low-key, slice-of-life family stories, especially involving a strong sisterly bond and some wacky moments.

★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆

Next time: Three Princes

Sounds of Music

Songbook: No Need to Argue

In wake of the sad news of the death of Dolores O’Riordan, I remembered the Cranberries, a band which is different from my today’s taste but to which I listened a lot in school. And so it re-woke the momeries of the 1990s.

“No Need to Argue” by the Cranberries

Album: No Need to Argue

Year: 1994

Category: Old favorites

Why it rocks:
I know the wave of nostalgia for the 1990s is coming soon but let me tell you the 90s wasn’t that great to be around for, at least as a kid and young teenager in a school you hated. The Cranberries’ songs remind me of many things from that time (not all of them bad, mind you, but most of them melancholy) and this song is a beautiful, little outro for the album. It captures the melancholy of the end of a relationship. It uses O’Riordan’s voice perfectly, with its mix of sweetness and trembling sorrow. It allows her vocals to shine with only a minimum of instruments to back her up. And it keeps it all under three minutes.

Favorite bit of lyrics:
It’s too simple to focus on any particular fragment.

Favorite moment:
The beginning and the way her voice sounds then, as if the time has slowed.

Best for: Feeling sad in an almost-good way.

Sidenote: I think my favorite thing about the Cranberries is that both me and my brother liked them. It wasn’t as bonding as listening to Nirvana together, but still.

Listen here.