2 Movies Like Scandalous Sex (2004)

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Comedy special John Early: Now More Than Ever is shot like a monumental concert documentary: it’s all nostalgic ‘70s cinematography, with intercutting backstage scenes that detail pretentious pre-show prayers and spikes of tension melodramatically flaring up between the performers. All this self-aggrandizement is the special’s overarching joke, though — it literalizes what Early does with his ultra-narcissist onscreen persona, last explored in sketch special Would It Kill You To Laugh? with Kate Berlant.

Early’s decision to blend comedy and musical performance here means you can count the actual stand-up bits on one hand. It’s also true that his observations on subjects like the Access Hollywood tape and app permissions would struggle to carry a conventional special (sharp and heightened by physical comedy though they may be). But the interplay between music, outright jokes, and the tongue-in-cheek framing of the special is what makes Now More Than Ever such a rich and layered show. Early is a master at character-building, and the way he manages to unearth sincerity even amidst all this self-satirization speaks to both his comedic and dramatic genius, making this hourlong show a testament to just how deserving he is of the spotlight.

Genre: Comedy, Music

Actor: Dominique Toney, John Early

Director: Emily Allan, Leah Hennessey

Rating: R

, 2023

Despite its ambition to be a more serious piece of drama, Nganù is unfortunately held back either by a general lack of technical polish (sometimes leading to unintentional comedy within its dead-serious subject matter), or the misjudged attempt to feel grander than it should. When the film sticks to painful, ugly, intimate human drama, it actually starts to command attention. There's a striking lack of romantic sentiment to this story of a horrible person trying to redeem himself, as the film's many handheld camera shots capture its best performers at their nastiest (or most defiant)—showing us that the road to healing isn't actually as easy as it seems in Hollywood movies. Nganù sticks to its strict sense of morality, which is the best thing it could have done.

Genre: Drama

Actor: Alenne Menget, Azah Melvine, Hakeem Kae-Kazim, Kang Quintus, Muriel Blanche

Director: Kang Quintus