Inspired by Boccaccio’s fourteenth-century story collection “The Decameron,” the latest boisterous yet deadpan comedy from writer-director Jeff Baena (“I Heart Huckabees,” “Life After Beth”) thrusts modern attitudes into the heart of a Tuscany nunnery. Evolving means of making movies are leading to more and more “lark movies,” features that are drawn from slimmest threads and pulled taut, with impious or deadpan comedy, or as in the case of another movie opening this week, David Lowery’s “A Ghost Story,” time and duration emulate the tempo of thought or dream. Slim means lead to larger ends. Baena’s profane lark stars his partner Aubrey Plaza as an Italian nun, building, reportedly, on masses of anachronistic improvisation. The result isn’t like the fake documentaries of Christopher Guest (“Mascots”) but one’s appreciation of the largely pleasingly filthy humor will depend on an equal tolerance for non-sequitur and anachronism as well as the flow of quirky personalities, including Alison Brie, Paul Reiser, Kate Micucci, Molly Shannon, Fred Armisen, Dave Franco, Nick Offerman, John C. Reilly and Lauren Weedman. (Pier Paolo Pasolini adapted nine stories into his memorably earthy 1971 “Il Decameron.”) 90m. (Ray Pride)
“The Little Hours” opens Friday, July 14 at the Music Box. Plaza and Baena will appear at selected opening weekend evening shows.
Ray Pride is Newcity’s film critic and a contributing editor to Filmmaker magazine.
His multimedia history of Chicago “Ghost Signs” will be published later this year.