Between Two Ferns: The Movie
*** From the opening bit in Between Two Ferns: The Movie, the floodgates open and the jokes pour out. Zach Galifianakis is interviewing Matthew McConaughey on public-access TV when the literal floodgates open. Water bursts through the ceiling after a pipe breaks, nearly killing the actor, and forcing the show to go on the road. That's the kickoff of this feature-length version of Galifianakis's celebrity interview web series, which gives him more time to ask questions with stoic seriousness ("If your parents didn't name you Chance the Rapper, do you think you would have pursued a different career?"). These moments work because they flow from the audacity of the show's premise: Galifianakis and a famous person sit between two potted plants while the comedian roasts them with deadpan delivery. Segments like these are fun and all, but is there a plot? Yes and no. Galifianakis must make 10 episodes at various locations across the country within a span of two weeks or else he'll be fired by his boss (Will Farrell). It's a scenario as silly as any '90s road trip movie, but director Scott Aukerman knows what we're all here for, and it shows in the script's jumps from one interview to the next with stars like David Letterman, John Legend and Keanu Reeves. Sometimes a film doesn't need to have an ambitious storyline as long as the result is fun. NR. ASHER LUBERTO. Netflix.
*** Comparing the guerrilla Mojave Desert concerts of this punk-rock doc to Coachella is a bit like claiming your friend's locally renowned lake parties were a forerunner to Miami spring break. That dissonance might explain why Desolation Center seems uneasy with its own coda and marketing hook. Even though mega-festival founders like Gary Tovar and Perry Farrell head-banged in the dark desert to Meat Puppets and Sonic Youth 35 years ago, we're missing an hourlong rhetorical and cultural bridge between DIY ingenuity and international corporate jamboree. That aside, Desolation Center is richly sourced scene journalism for L.A. punk and industrial art circa 1984. Director Stuart Swezey, who also organized the Desolation Center shows, shines when embracing insularity—framing the influential concerts as a reaction to LAPD Chief Daryl Gates' persecution of punks, or parsing that Minutemen were a San Pedro, not L.A., band. Because the shows sometimes resemble collective hallucinations lost to the sands of history, such minutiae lends a critical reality, bastioned by bottomless live footage. Even if time has softened interviewees once so set on blowing up boulders or destroying power tools to create art, Desolation Center carves its documentary niche with no apologies. NR. CHANCE SOLEM-PFEIFER. Hollywood.