January 23 - PEOPLE PLACES THINGS (2015)
"Are you okay?" "Yeah, I'm fine. I'm just having a bad life. I'll be over it eventually."
PEOPLE PLACES THINGS is hella indie-movie. The protagonist is a graphic novelist, there's a scene where his twin daughters practice cello in the woods while camping, and another scene where he has a conversation with his ex wife in her dining room while she wears a wedding dress. It has all the trappings of being a horribly depressing and pessimistic characterization of dealing with a family after a divorce, but PEOPLE PLACES THINGS refrains from indulging in excess pain and distress.
The film certainly deals with sadness and despair, but in actionable, narratively-useful ways. It's quite a funny movie as well, and I found myself laughing loudly throughout. Jemaine Clement is endlessly watchable and hilarious, even when he's dealing with real problems - PEOPLE PLACES THINGS manages to be simultaneously entertaining and insightful. The only knock against the film would be some third-act rom-com tropes, but I guess this kind of movie has to pay its dues in some way. Jessica Williams's Kat is remarkably well-written and acted, which isn't a surprise (Jessica Williams is obviously quite funny and talented) but her character could have easily been a huge weak point in another version of this movie. PEOPLE PLACES THINGS is definitely worth seeing; Clement is on quite the hot streak, with this film and WHAT WE DO IN THE SHADOWS (one of my favorites of 2015) both being excellent. He's becoming an indie-comedy powerhouse, and I'm looking forward to seeing his next projects.