Welcome to the Weekly Movie Thread, your place on the Avocado to discuss film! What have you seen lately? Anything new and exciting in the theaters or on streaming? Any new discoveries you’d like to share with your fellow commenters? And stinkers you need to vent about? This is the place for all you film lovers.
Bonus prompt: what is your favorite dark comedy?
Dark comedy is a form of humor that makes light of terrible subject matter. As a result, it can be more uncomfortable than other forms of humor. It’s the sort of comedy that can come with a “content warning” label, as such subject may include suicide, discrimination, divorce, or death. Perhaps the irreverence is seen as not giving the subject the proper gravity it deserves. On the other hand, it could be a coping mechanism. Some dark comedy stems from having to deal, day by day, with the horrors of the subject matter.
This year, we celebrate the 50th anniversary of Elaine May’s directorial debut, A New Leaf — which she wrote and which she also stars in alongside Walter Matthau. It’s a comedy film about a rich guy who’s terrible with his money, loses all of it, and hatches a scheme to marry into money … and maybe kill off his new wife? Despite its sarcasm, the film is surprisingly sweet at times.
This film was Rated G, by the way, which is really bizarre given the subject matter.
The film was nominated at the Golden Globes for Best Musical or Comedy, and May would be nominated for Best Actress in a musical or comedy.
May ended up suing the studio and demanded that her name be taken off the film when the studio cut down the original 180 minute runtime. The story was meant to be even darker than the one we got. She had wanted something closer to a murder mystery rather than a romantic comedy. There was a dropped plotline that turns the Matthau character into a serial murderer would make him unsympathetic.
This also the 50th anniversary of Harold and Maude, a movie about a 19-year-old boy who routinely stages his own suicide and falls in love with a 79-year-old concentration camp survivor. The film also features a Porsche modified to be a hearse, because Harold is an emo boy.
I remember for some reason seeing this film in high school. What was the teacher’s reason for airing this? To impart on us the lesson of life? To appreciate dark comedy? Lodged in my brain forever is that one potential date thinking that Harold’s fake suicides were a fun game and accidentally killing herself.
Next week: The Fast and The Furious