There is high public interest in stand-up comedy, evidenced by the popularity of Louie, The Aristocrats . . . the ability of comics like Hannibal Buress and Amy Schumer to make headlines and the preponderance of specials on streaming services like Netflix. But the subject has been a hard nut for narrative features to crack.
The distance between what Affleck imagines his screen presence to be and what it in fact is constitutes a yawning gorge in Live by Night, and free-falling through this vast, cavernous space you can find a few fleeting moments of giddy pleasure before the final thud.
I, Daniel Blake is a film not about injustice (which we can all read about), but about hardship (which we do not) and how its victims cope with it. We are never allowed to forget the inhumane backdrop, via the mind-numbing repetition of ghastly, subliterate welfare terminology.
The padre and the psychopath are figures situated at either end of his career, but as they gaze at their reflections, they also mirror one another: one can find within these two very different films the parallel plights of men in the midst of desperate introspection.