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“I Used to Be Funny” & “Thelma”

I Used to Be Funny

The new film “I Used to Be Funny,” directed by Ally Pankiw and starring comedian and “Shiva Baby” breakout Rachel Sennott, is an achingly honest exploration of trauma and its pervasive impact on one's life.

We follow Sam, portrayed by Sennott, as she takes a break from comedy during a depressive phase. Her roommates encourage her to perform basic daily tasks, which have become a struggle for her. Sam’s world is further shaken when she learns that Brooke, a girl she used to nanny, played with touching humanity by Olga Petra, has gone missing. This news propels Sam on a journey to confront her past traumas and seek a path forward.

Reminiscent of mid-2000s and early 2010s indie films that dominated art house cinemas, "I Used to Be Funny" blends humor and awkwardness with darker themes. However, it stands out by approaching these elements with a unique, heartfelt touch rather than feeling derivative.

The soundtrack, particularly the music of Phoebe Bridgers, complements the film beautifully, enhancing its homage to classic indie films while introducing a fresh and delicate perspective. The film balances its tenderness with a justifiable undercurrent of rage, making it a compelling and nuanced watch.

“I Used to Be Funny” is challenging at times, but it is handled with humanity and care. I highly recommend it.

"I Used to Be Funny" is now playing in available on VOD.

Thelma

When a 93-year-old grandmother loses $10,000 to a con artist over the phone, her overprotective daughter insists on placing her in a nursing home. However, inspired by an ad for the latest Mission Impossible film, she embarks on her own mission to recover her money.

“Thelma,” directed by Josh Margolin, is one of the funniest, most original, and crowd-pleasing movies I’ve seen in a long time. The film stars June Squibb as Thelma Post, delivering one of the most hilarious performances of her career.

Standouts include Fred Hechinger, from Fear Street, as Thelma’s floundering but loving grandson, who joins the search with his parents, played by Parker Posey and Clark Gregg. Richard Roundtree also shines with a nuanced and charming performance as Thelma’s right-hand man on their mission, zipping around the city on a motorized scooter. Additionally, Malcolm McDowell delivers a wonderful performance.

I love this film because it celebrates aging while acknowledging its challenges. At its heart, it’s about cherishing our relationships and not taking them for granted. It’s a beautiful example of indie filmmaking, demonstrating that an engaging and entertaining movie can be made without a $100 million budget. This is an indie film that you can enjoy with the whole family.

“Thelma” is now playing at Film StreamsandThe Alamo Drafthouse in Omaha andThe Ross in Lincoln.

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Joshua LaBure is a documentary filmmaker, radio producer and podcaster based out of Omaha, Nebraska. His experience includes having directed and produced several short films, two narrative features and two documentary features, with his works featured at the Lone Star Film Festival, The Bureau of Creative Works and other filmmaker showcases. His most recent documentary had a sold-out premiere and received a standing ovation at the Benson Theatre. Furthermore, he founded the Denver Filmmakers Collective, which hosted local filmmaker showcases, has served on jury for major film festivals and has hosted countless film screenings.
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