#74: Singin’ in the Rain

Who's hand is that up there?

Who’s hand is that up there?

Director: Gene Kelly & Stanley Donen
Year: 1952
Genre: Comedy

I avoided watching Singin’ in the Rain for the longest time due to being over-saturated with the titular musical number, since the day I was born, and believing the film to be a plotless musical literally about singing in the rain.

Luckily, I was fortunate enough to catch this masterpiece on the big screen back in 2009 and I was shocked! Shocked by how blown away I was; shocked by how ahead of its time the script was; and shocked that for the first 23 years of my life I was living a lie!

Singin’ in the Rain is an extraordinary comedy set in Hollywood during the dawn of “talking pictures” in the late 1920’s. The plot revolves around Hollywood’s 2 hottest stars, who pose as a couple to increase their popularity, and the trials and tribulations they must face during the transition from silent films to talking pictures. You may have seen The Artist (2011), which explores this very same subject matter with the added gimmick of being a black-and-white silent film itself. The Artist is a great film in its own right, but it pales in comparison to Singin’ in the Rain’s hilarious Hollywood commentary and deliciously extravagant musical/dance sequences.

The fabulous, and epic musical set pieces of Singin’ in the Rain highlight the superficial indulgence of Hollywood by taking every aspect of film production to decadent heights all at once to create a spectacular extravaganza not matched till, perhaps, Moulin Rouge! (2001). Whilst the sequences are entertaining enough on the surface, there’s a level of commentary suggesting that in order to stay in the limelight and hold the public’s attention one must constantly up the anti by taking entertainment to ridiculous levels. Such commentary couldn’t be any more relevant today with our short attention spans and the wide variety of accessible platforms we now have in entertainment and technology.

The success of the film doesn’t solely rest on its musical sequences, however. The cast, lead by Gene Kelly, sell the screenplay’s witty dialogue and endearing banter with their infectious charisma, leaving no room for “filler” in between musical numbers.

Of course, if you detest musicals all together, there’s no way I can recommend this sophisticated-Hollywood-extravaganza to you. But, if you were like me five years ago and you were expecting nothing more than old-fashioned, frothy nonsense, then forget everything you thought you knew and put your raincoat on!

CK’s Top 10 Films of 2013 – pt. 2

#5: The Place Beyond the Pines

This movie almost looks as gorgeous as I do...

This movie almost looks as gorgeous as I do…

Director: Derek Cianfrance
Genre: Drama

The Place Beyond the Pines is a sweeping crime drama told from both sides of the law across two generations. Pretty boy Gosling plays a stunt motorcyclist who turns to bank robbery so that he can provide for his son. Bradley Cooper plays the “heroic” cop who rises through the ranks whilst struggling with his own demons and proves that he too is an actor we can take seriously. So far the story probably sounds pretty familiar but to elaborate any further would “spoil” your experience.
The Place Beyond the Pines takes you on a thrilling emotional journey and is arguably the sexiest looking film of the year. If you enjoy crime dramas like The Town (2010), The Departed (2006), and/or Heat (1995) then you should most defs check this shit – even if you don’t find Ryan Gosling attractive.

#4: You’re Next

I killed your family, like a fox!

I killed your family, like a fox!

Director: Adam Wingard
Genre: Horror

The horror of the year is a comic one, much like last year’s Cabin in the Woods but not as experimental or ambitious. You’re Next sees a wealthy family reuniting at some vacation house. The festivities are spoiled when a bunch of strangers disguised in animal masks crash the party with crossbows and the intent to kill! This is one of those movies you clap and cheer in. You know those films that keep surprising you WHILST giving you exactly what you’re expecting? You’re Next is a ballsy, gruesome horror with a sharp sense of humour and a massive adrenaline shot.
And to chuck a massive cherry on top of an already decadent cake, our very own Sharni Vinson kicks absolute fuckin’ arse in this movie! Seeing a female Aussie steal the limelight in an awesome American film really gets me going… 

#3: Star Trek – Into Darkness

"Live long and suffer!"

“Live long and suffer!”

Director: J.J. Abrams
Genre:
Sci-Fi

Man that J.J. Abrams knows how to make a blockbuster! Star Trek: Into Darkness may have a shitty title and isn’t quite as amazing as its predecessor, Star Trek (2009)but when sequels are this good my faith in the Hollywood system is momentarily restored.
If you didn’t like the previous film don’t bother with this one. PS. What’s wrong with you?
Otherwise, how can anyone resist such a loveable ensemble cast, exciting story, mouth watering special effects, and emotionally manipulative music? I’ll tell you how. If you’re a massive cynic with a heart of stone. Shame on you!

#2: Upstream Color

I'm no scientist but that shit looks cray!

I’m no scientist but that shit looks cray!


Director: Shane Carruth
Genre:
Sci-FI

Some folks are enchanted by this film, others are confused by it, but many are both! Upstream Color may be the most challenging and unique film of the year and it really is a thing of beauty.
So, what is this…thing? Upstream Color can be described as a sci-fi drama about two people who start to mirror each other’s behaviour after being infected by a strange parasite. To be honest, any attempt to describe the plot does it a disservice.
This film doesn’t have a complex plot like director Shane Carruth’s previous effort, Primer, which was an extremely technical and mind-bending story about time travel. What makes Upstream Color so disorientating, and fascinating, is the peculiar way in which the film is directed and the story is told. There aren’t any characters who conveniently deliver us all the exposition we need to fully grasp the story, the camera often focuses on strange or unrelated subjects during dialogue driven scenes, and there’s lots of extreme close ups of shit growing. I’ve probably put a lot of people to sleep already! Upstream Color obviously isn’t for everyone but if you open your mind and stop worrying about plot you just might discover a new experience in cinema.

#1: The World’s End

Drink your beer and don't look so suspicious!

Alright, we can have our beers but let’s try not to look like fuckin’ weirdos while we’re at it!

Director: Edgar Wright
Genre:
Comedy

The team that brought us Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz finish off their Cornetto Trilogy with a bang. 20 years ago a group of teenagers attempted an epic 12 pub crawl but didn’t manage to make it to the end. In the present day these friends reunite to try again but this time their attempt coincides with an alien invasion!
The World’s End may not be the best of the trilogy but it’s certainly the most ambitious. A lot of fans may be put off by how different The World’s End is from its predecessors but I reckon Edgar Wright and Simon Pegg made some bold decisions with this one. Their ability to mix hilarity with familiar yet moving storytelling has always been spot on and they explore darker and richer territory in The World’s End.
I’m such a fan of this team’s work that I deemed The World’s End the film of the year after my initial viewing of it. Upon second viewing, however, I was amazed, but not surprised, by the meticulousness of each shot and line of dialogue. Every scene is so thematically and comically rich it gives me nerdgasms just thinking about it.
Genre comedies, funny films with stories you can take seriously, are my most beloved type of film and Wright and Pegg have been the true masters of the genre for the last ten years. Thank God for The World’s End!

Fitting that the end of this Top 10 should be The World’s End but as much as this year hasn’t been a great film year, there are still lots of other films I liked a lot. Here are 3 such films…

Django Unchained, This is the End, and Joss Whedon’s Much Ado About Nothing

CK’s Top 10 Films of 2013 – pt. 1

2013 was a pretty shitty time for cinema but every year has its gems and, of course, I didn’t get round to seeing every film I should have.
For that reason I can’t rate films such as Captain Phillips, Mud, Blue Jasmine, or Francis Ha.
Also, I’m Australian which means some of my most anticipated films of 2013 have not yet been released here. Due to such international intrigue, the following films will have to compete in my 2014 lineup…
Her, The Wolf of Wall Street, Blue is the Warmest Colour, 12 Years a Slave and Inside Llewyn Davis.

Taking into consideration all of the above bullshit, here are my Top 10 Films of 2013 (well, at least films #10-#6 for now)…

#10: John Dies at the End

Damn, I really wanted to "meat" her...

Damn, I really wanted to “meat” her…


Director:
Don Coscarelli
Genre: Comedy/Horror

There’s no easy way to describe this riot of a film. Writer/Director, Coscarelli, of Phantasm and Bubba Ho-Tep fame, adapts the surreal, dark comic novel of the same name and presents us with the stoner film of the year.
The story can be vaguely described as a twisted tale about a young man who recounts a series of bizarre and unbelievable events to a reporter, played by Paul Giamatti, and there’s a monster made of pieces of frozen meat!
Bear in mind that John Dies at the End is a small film and with that you won’t be getting Guillermo Del Toro quality CGI, but this is a perfect example of ambitious story-telling and inventive filmmaking triumphing over big budgets.
Watch this film if you wanna see some crazy shit and have a good time!

 #9: Magic Magic

I speak Chilean now, bitch!

I speak Chilean now, bitch!

Director: Sebastián Silva
Genre: Drama/Thriller

Another limited release of 2013, Magic Magic is a beautifully shot Chilean-American indie psychological thriller. We follow Alicia, a young, timid woman played mesmerisingly by Juno Temple, into the South of Chile for what is meant to be a holiday but what begins as an awkward fish-out-of-water drama slowly but magically evolves into a demented psychological trip. A remarkably unique and challenging indie-drama filled with seamlessly naturalistic dialogue and plenty of “WTF” moments; Magic Magic is essential viewing for those who desire a break from the mainstream. Hell, it’s even worth the watch just to see Michael Cera speak Chilean! The film also showcases how well Cera can perform in a drama, and now I shall watch what the future holds for him with great interest.

#8: Only God Forgives

"I don't need no mirror to tell me how good I look."

“I don’t need no mirror to tell me how good I look.”

Director: Nicolas Winding Refn
Genre:
Thriller

Most people hated this film, but I hate most people. Nah, Only God Forgives is a trying film and I can certainly see how it turned people off. If you’re looking for a dense story with twists and turns then this film isn’t for you, in fact, what are you doing watching a Refn film at all? Remember Drive? That was one of my favourite films of 2011 but it wasn’t on account of its plot. Refn’s films, at least his later works, tend to be all about atmosphere and Only God Forgives is dripping with it. Refn’s directorial flare and Gosling’s stoic performance and boyish good looks were a dynamite combination in Drive and this time round Refn jacks the atmosphere up to 11 and builds Gosling’s character up only to be broken, therefore shitting on our expectations. There’s not a whole lot of dialogue in Only God Forgives and for that reason people shrug it off as having no story, but if you allow yourself to be consumed by the film’s deliciously nightmarish atmosphere you just might find yourself on the dark, surreal journey that I didn’t want to return from once the film was over. If you think you could be seduced by sexy cinematography, hyper-stylised lighting and sublime soundscapes then dive into the macabre wonderland of Refn’s latest effort, otherwise watch Captain Phillips or something else that’ll probably get an Oscar or two.

#7: Prisoners

Can I come too?

Can I come too?

Director: Denis Villeneuve
Genre: Thriller

Phwoar! There’s nothing quite like a well executed mainstream procedural thriller. Hugh Jackman’s kids get kidnapped and Jake Gyllenhaal is the detective assigned to crack the case. A clear suspect, creepy Paul Dano, is identified but there’s no substantial evidence to keep him in custody. Enraged by all this bureaucracy, Hugh Jackman goes rogue and starts doing questionable shit to find his daughters. If I haven’t sold you on the premise already it’s probably ‘cos you’re sick of mainstream thrillers being shit. Well, this one isn’t, it’s actually great. The script is tight, the film is beautifully directed and the cast are electric, particularly Hugh Jackman in his most serious role to date. Like I said, there’s nothing like a good thriller, and Prisoners is the undisputed mainstream thriller of the year, probably even the last 3 years!

#6: Pain & Gain

Let's get a protein shake.

Let’s get a protein shake.

Director: Michael Bay
Genre:
Black Comedy

If Robin Thicke’s Blurred Lines is the morally questionable yet musically irresistible song of the year, then Pain & Gain is the same for the films of 2013.
Pain & Gain hilariously depicts the outrageous, real life, exploits of 3 body builders who kidnap a corrupt franchise owner to benefit from his wealth.
You really have to be in on the joke, or at least open to appreciating the film’s superficial irony, to enjoy this movie. Despite being based on a true story, the film’s bubble-gum-pop visuals and dark sense of humour would make one think otherwise. I guess that’s where the controversy comes into play. Is it morally insensitive to indulge in the hilarity of these strange and brutal circumstances if they are, in fact, real life events? That’s for you to ponder and not for me to answer.
To exacerbate matters, Pain & Gain is directed by none other than Michael Bay! If you’re a Bay hater, never fear, this film stands out from the rest of his work as being “the arty one”. If, on the other hand, you’re a fan then it’s time to get excited about what is definitely the best Michael Bay film since The Rock (1996)!

#77: Back to the Future Part III

“Go ahead, make my day.”

Director: Robert Zemeckis
Year: 1990
Genre: Comedy/Western/Sci-Fi

Back to the Future III is everything a family blockbuster should be. This comedy/sci-fi/western adventure is as funny as it is exciting. Not only is it the conclusion to one of the best film film trilogies of all time, it’s also a great blockbuster adventure in its own right rivalling the likes of Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989).

People tend to neglect Back to the Future III because it’s so different to its previous instalments, but that’s part of its charm. The first two pictures contain Clint Eastwood references and nods to the Western film genre. Finally, in the third picture, we’re dropped off in the old west for an old-school epic adventure in the past. What a feat to be able to take the trilogy in such a different direction yet tie all the stories up together so neatly! I will admit that the film isn’t quite as good as the other two but that’s through no fault of its own. It’s like comparing  anything to The Beatles, we still enjoy music from the many artists who followed them, but will there ever be a band quite like that ever again?

Chances are you’re looking for more films like The Avengers (2012), or Star Trek: Into Darkness (2013) to satisfy your blockbuster sweet-tooth and you haven’t seen Back to the Future III in a dog’s age. Resurrect that sucker for the ultimate blockbuster experience. Hell, why don’t you go ahead and blow your own mind by watching the entire trilogy in one go? If once you weren’t fond of the third film maybe after watching all three at once you’ll have restored faith in the story.

I can’t rightly recommend Back to the Future III to anyone who hasn’t seen the first two films. Sure the film works as a stand alone adventure, but the plot and jokes have a far greater impact if you’ve seen the other instalments.

If you’re one of those cynics who believe themselves to be above commercial blockbusters then I double dare you to sit through Back to the Future III without grinning. If there’s any trace of humanity within you I swear that 10 minutes into the film you’ll surrender yourself to its glee.

#78: Shaun of the Dead

"Don't look but there's a large man and a little girl in our backyard..."

“Don’t look now but did we bring anyone home last night?”

Director: Edgar Wright
Year: 2004
Genre: Comedy

Genre comedies with story lines you can take seriously and characters you could legitimately care about seem to be relics of the 80’s, but Simon Pegg and Edgar Wright’s Shaun of the Dead has all the ingredients for those who want more than just a laugh from their comedies.

I love screwball comedies, like Steve Martin’s The Jerk and Will Ferrell’s Anchorman, but genre comedies like Back to the Future and Ghostbusters, which are as much about the storytelling as they are about the laughs, are more than just “fun movies”, they’re “great films”. Shaun of the Dead is one such film. Whilst it doesn’t treat its horror elements seriously at all, unlike An American Werewolf in London which manages to be as scary as it is funny, Shaun of the Dead offers an iconic lead character in Shaun and A-grade geek humour to appease any self-respecting genre buff.

For those of you who haven’t seen it Shaun of the Dead is a British comedy concerned with Shaun, a man in his 30’s in a dead end job with no direction. He needs to break free of his best mate’s lazy influences, patch up his relationship with his mother and win back his girlfriend all in one day. His plan to overcome these hurdles is to gather all his loved ones and take charge of the zombie apocalypse!

Shaun of the Dead has somewhat of a niche audience made up of film buffs who love comic books and horror films, but you don’t have to be a creep to enjoy this movie. Shaun of the Dead is a great film for so many reasons. 1) It’s hilarious. 2) Edgar Wright’s inventive directorial flare is undeniably attractive. 3) It has unforgettable characters. 4) Despite being a comedy it’s better than most zombie films out there, in fact I’d rank it as one of the top 5 best zombie films of all time. 5) There’s more than 3 reasons!

If you haven’t seen this film then tonight’s plan is as follows…

1. Head to the local pub with whoever’s keen.

2. Knock back a few pints.

3. Walk home.

4. Settle in for a spot of Shaun of the Dead.

 

#79: Big

big3

How’s about a kiss?

Director: Penny Marshall
Year: 1988
Genre: Comedy

Remember Tom Hanks in the 80’s? The reason Hollywood fell in love with him and made him a 2 time Academy Award winning schmuck is because of his endearing nature and his wild approach to comedy. Big sees the perfect mix of Hanks’ loveable sensibilities and zany antics  placing him in the role of a 12 year old boy stuck in a grown man’s body. Along with The Burbs, Big has the privilege of showcasing Mr. Hanks at his best.

Big is not just an excuse to get a kick out of Hanks’ wonderful and iconic performance, the film is a phenomenal comedy/fairy tale in its own right. Don’t expect some silly high-concept comedy like Rob Schneider’s The Animal or The Hot Chick. Big is a substantial story about an inadequate 12 year old boy, Josh Baskin, who wishes he was “bigger” so that the boys wouldn’t pick on him and the girls would dig him. He gets a shock when he wakes up the next morning to find that he has the fully grown man’s body of Tom Hanks! Well, the adult version of himself as played by Tom Hanks, there’s no meta Being John Malkovich shit where the kid suddenly becomes a movie star. Though, that could be a pretty cool film in itself!

Big is a coming of age comedy to the extreme. Imagine learning to be an adult when you’re 12 years old just ‘cos you woke up with an adult body. Imagine the pressure! You’d have to pretend to know everything just so people didn’t think you were mental. In fact, it’s a pretty neat way of teaching you all the basics such as driving, paying bills, getting a job, investing, sexing, and more stuff I can’t even name because I’M still not man enough yet to fathom. Every high school should put all of its students through the Big test before sending them out into the world. If we kept churning out armies of “Bigs” the world would really be a better place.

In Big you will laugh HEAPS and, if you’re a pussy like me, you’ll cry just as much. If Grown Ups 2 is your next movie outing, then I strongly suggest you give the cinemas a miss this week and go and rent Big on DVD or Blu-ray.

May Tom Hanks teach us all to be the best adults we can be!

#81: Heathers

"Got a light?"

“Got a light?”

Director: Michael Lehmann
Year: 1988
Genre: (Black) Comedy

The Heathers are the most popular and feared group of girls at Westerburg High School, Ohio. Three out of four of these girls share the same first name, Heather. The fourth girl is Veronica Sawyers (Winona Ryder) and as she tires of her clique’s snobbish ways, in walks lone bad boy, Jason Dean/J.D. (Christian Slater). J.D.’s rebellious attitude is the perfect escape for Veronica and through him she finds inspiration to humiliate the head Heather, Heather Chandler. When J.D.’s pranks turn out to be far more menacing than expected, Veronica must decide how far she’s willing to go to change the culture of her high school.

Heathers takes a spiked dildo to the John Hughs teen films that dominated the 80’s and is the precursor to films like Mean Girls (2004) and Jawbreaker (1999). Don’t get me wrong, I love me some John Hughs, The Breakfast Club (1985) is one of my favourite teen comedies, but Heathers is better. Whilst this film is a comedy, it ain’t no Rom Com. If you’re looking for a fun teen flick about unrequited love and nerds becoming cool go see Pretty in Pink (1986). Heathers is a teen film about high school reputations and suicide and it explores its dark content the best way possible, with a sense of humour. Suicide is a dicey and heavy subject for any film to deal with but screenwriter, Daniel Waters’ light approach keeps this film from being preachy or heavy handed.

Heathers is like a rotten apple, a prime example of things that were once juicy and are now shit. In a lot of ways the story is about the deterioration of society and in that sense you are watching people decay. The decay also presents itself in our reality in terms of how we view the film’s stars and themes today. If you didn’t know, Christian Slater was once one of the coolest motherfuckers around and this film sees him in perhaps his most iconic role. Winona may not be the sad case that Slater became but her career isn’t what it used to be either and Heathers shows the dark princess of the 80’s in her prime. Believe it or not “teen angst” was also cool once. It spawned in the 80’s as a form of teenage rebellion against the return to conservatism after the death of the hippie movement. Heathers is the quintessential angst film and it’s fuckin’ bad ass! It is unfortunate that angst gave birth to “emo” but the 80’s did mean well. Watch Heathers to remember what was good about the 80’s and to discover a unique and daring high school film which has yet to be matched.

CK’s Top 10 Films of 2012 – pt. 2

#5: Moonrise Kingdom

Film lives!

Film lives!

Director: Wes Anderson
Genre: Comedy

Wes Anderson’s back with arguably his best film since The Royal Tenenbaums (2001). Moonrise Kingdom takes place in 1965 on an island in New England where our protagonist, 12 year-old orphan Sam, attends a scout camp. Sam reunites with his year-long pen pal, Suzy, who also lives on the island, and together they decide to run away and build a life of their own. Hilarity, drama and excitement ensue when Suzy’s parents, the scoutmaster and the police join forces in search of the two young lovers.
Shot primarily on Super 16mm film and featuring Anderson’s trademark hand-made style sets, props and costumes, Moonrise Kingdom looks and plays out like a 60’s cartoon adventure, or a children’s book by Roald Dahl, a logical evolution from his last effort The Fantastic Mr. Fox (2009). Anderson’s hyper-real vision is turned up to 11 here, which may be off putting to some viewers but I go nuts for overly-stylised stuff, and the result is a revelation, a live-action cartoon – something Anderson may have been trying to achieve in previous films and here it is finally, fully realised.
If you want to feel like a kid again, if you want to view the world like a picture-story book, and if you want to see inventive film-making with “light” content for a change, set camp for Moonrise Kingdom.

 

#4: Beasts of the Southern Wild

beasts-of-the-southern-wild

‘scuse me, can you show me the way to ‘Toys “R” Us’?

Director: Benh Zeitlin
Genre: Drama

This striking effort from first-time American director, Benh Zeitlin, is a ‘ballad’ about the under-privileged fighting for survival in a post-apocalyptic world. Beasts of the Southern Wild is in many ways the best film of the year, it certainly is the most emotionally gripping, because it doesn’t rely on any post-modern, genre-conscious stylistic flourishes or multimillion dollar special effects to tell its story. Zeitlin made a bold decision in casting non-actors for his debut feature but it was this decision that ultimately made the film standout.
8 year-old Quvenzhané Wallis plays the lead character, Hushpuppy (6 years old), and she gives perhaps the most convincing, naturalistic child performance I’ve seen on the big screen in a long time. It’s fascinating watching a post-apocalyptic story through the eyes of a 6 year-old girl, it makes the plot all the more easy to follow which is another one of the film’s saving graces. Zeitlin utilised the bare essentials to weave this moving story; heart-breaking performances, a simple and solid script, a beautiful and effective film score, sexy cinematography, breathtaking scenery, and NO CGI.
Grab a box of tissues (for your eyes), lock yourself away from the world and get carried away by Beasts of the Southern Wild.

 

#3: The Dark Knight Rises

Guess who's back?

Guess who’s back?

Director: Christopher Nolan
Genre: Action

The blockbuster movie event of the year may have disappointed many but it rocked my bloody socks off! The Dark Knight Rises should probably be further down the list, behind Beasts of the Southern Wild and Moonrise Kingdom, but I’m such a fan-boy I couldn’t help myself! It’s my preferred film of Nolan’s trilogy, I do love both predecessors, each one better than the last, but I think this one has the most moving and exhilarating story. Whilst The Dark Knight is the less flawed film, it’s lack of story surrounding the caped crusader himself was a problem for me. The Dark Knight Rises ties all three films together, enhancing the resonance of the previous two stories, and ends the series with the bitter-sweet finality it deserves. I couldn’t imagine how difficult it would’ve been to end a Batman franchise but Nolan did it so masterfully my arms keep extending to offer him a cuddle despite the man’s absence from my life.
There are some unfortunate plot holes/details which stop the film from being the masterpiece it should have been but that wasn’t a big enough problem to ruin the experience for me.
I saw the film twice at IMAX, the way it was meant to be seen, and that probably helped somewhat elevate my experience. It’s a BIG fuckin’ movie! There’s nothing like expecting a spectacle and getting it.
If you’re not really into Batman, or aren’t a fan of Nolan’s trilogy in particular, there is at least one very important reason to see The Dark Knight Rises

Joseph Gordon-Levitt!

 

#2: Sightseers

Anyone seen my eBay?

Anyone seen my eBay?

Director: Ben Wheatley
Genre: Comedy (Thriller)

Directed by British underdog, Ben Wheatley (Kill List 2011), and written by the cast, Alice Lowe and Steve Oram, Sightseers is a fresh comedy/thriller to behold. When I first heard about this genre-comedy produced by Edgar Wright, I was expecting something akin to Attack the Block (2011), or Shaun of the Dead (2004), a typical horror or sci-fi yarn with a comic spin, which I would have been more than happy with. Instead I’m served up a surprising concoction of Wright’s fusion of genre and comedy, Lowe and Oram’s unique sense of humour, and Wheatley’s eerie, Wicker Man-esque atmosphere. Sightseers is a prime example of the kind of layered brilliance you can end up with from a team of creatives as opposed to a more one-note effort you may get from a single auteur.
I won’t bother touching on any plot details. Sightseers is a film to be surprised by. Anyone looking for a challenging British comedy with some juicy murders will walk away with more than a smile.

 

#1: Cabin in the Woods

My, what big...teeth you have!

My, what big…teeth you have!

Director: Drew Goddard
Genre: Horror/Comedy

THE

UNDISPUTED

FILM

OF

THE

YEAR

Why? Drew Goddard (writer/director) and Joss Whedon (writer/producer) bring us a horror/comedy that explores the avenues most standard horrors fear to tread. The result is a wild deconstruction of horror, surpassing even the achievements of Wes Craven’s Scream (1996). Calm down, it’s not the better film, it simply breaks down the formulas of the genre to greater avail. The screenplay is a tour de force. The writers are merciless with their characters and limitless with their plot developments.
Cabin in the Woods is like an episode of Buffy gone mad. It certainly is not for everyone, it’s even a divider amongst Whedon fans, as its relentless plot can drive people crazy.

The bottom line is…

Cabin in the Woods has everything you lust for in a horror – it’s exciting, brutal and bloody as hell.
It has everything you expect from a comedy – it’s wild and hilarious.
It has everything you hope to get out of a new film – it’s different.

I can’t guarantee that you’ll like it, but I strongly suggest you take a punt and decide for yourself.

#102: Super ***Kicked off CK’s Top 100***

Nobody fucks with Rainn Wilson!

Director: James Gunn
Year: 2011
Genre: (Black) Comedy

The most underrated, and often hated, film of 2011 is Super, a black comedy about a troubled man who decides to take the law into his own hands and become a superhero.

If you’ve seen Kick Ass (2010) you’re probably thinking that you’ve seen this story before, but you haven’t. Not like this.

Kick Ass takes the story of an ordinary guy’s journey to become a ‘real’ superhero and turns it into the colourful spectacle we expect to see in most traditional superhero films. Super is Kick Ass‘ dirty uncle, presenting a more dull and gritty environment which exposes the shocking consequences of a vigilante’s actions. Violence is not slick and sexy in real life; it’s unpredictable and horrific. Not that I have a problem with glorified violence on screen; it’s one of my favourite things about cinema. My point is that Super is different, whether you like it or not. It puts you inside the head of a sick individual who feels justified in his violent actions against wrong-doers. We empathise with the poor sod, yet director James Gunn presents his scenes with enough objectivity for us to distance ourselves and see things as they really are.

The spectacle of this film is hidden within the mind of our protagonist Frank D’Arbo, played boldly by the beloved Rainn Wilson. Through him we get to experience the comic book elements you expect to see in most superhero movies and more. The excitement of becoming a super hero (in his case, The Crimson Bolt!), an emotional character journey (if you choose to accept it), and surreal dream sequences. Outside of Frank’s mind and into the arena of the film’s mise-en-scene we are presented with an odd and edgy character study. James Gunn gives us a healthy balance of comedy and drama. Whilst the story is bleak and shocking, Frank’s general demeanour provides enough laughs and enjoyment to satisfy a fanboy’s sweet-tooth.

I won’t bother going into the plot of this bad boy; the less you know the better. What I will tell you is that, lo and behold, Super is NOT based on a book, comic or graphic novel. It’s an original piece of cinema from the sick mind of James Gunn, writer of the impressive Dawn of the Dead (2004) remake and writer/director of the hilarious (and also underrated) cult sci-fi/horror Slither (2006).

Super is a unique comedy/drama with balls. It’s a true deconstruction of the superhero story with a strong character at its centre. This film is not for the squeamish, but if you’re looking for a challenging alternative to the sea of superhero films we’re being flooded with, and you don’t mind having a few laughs on the way, get Super!

#89: The King of Comedy

“Join us.”

Director: Martin Scorsese
Year: 1983
Genre: Black Comedy

It’s 1983 and we are joined with one of the best living actors, Robert De Niro, and one of the best living directors, Martin Scorsese, in one of his best films. Ladies and gentlemen, The King of Comedy.

De Niro plays Rupert Pupkin, an obsessive comedian wannabe, who kidnaps his idol comedian, Jerry Langford (Jerry Lewis), in an attempt to get a spot on Langford’s variety/talk show doing standup. I consider The King of Comedy the sister film to Taxi Driver. Both films chronicle the efforts of a disturbed individual, played by De Niro, to get shit done in his own way, and whilst we can see both characters choosing the wrong path, we still root for them all the way. It is also part of what I like to call the “Media Thriller Trilogy”, which consists of Targets (1968), Network (1976) and of course The King of Comedy. These films have nothing to do with each other except that they are all thrillers concerned with the media, whether it be film or TV, they each come from different and consecutive decades, and they’re all bloody brilliant!

The King of Comedy is a particularly unique experience in that it is a colourful, old-fashioned ransom tale with no sex, violence or coarse language, much like a prime time TV show! Yet the dark humour and the disturbing nature of the protagonist do not make for a very family friendly experience, which may be why the film is so underrated and little talked about. For those of you who aren’t kids anymore, you’ve probably seen Taxi Driver (1976), Raging Bull (1980), Goodfellas (1990), Casino (1995) and Cape Fear (1991), and you’re dying to get another helping of Scorsese/De Niro action. Well, The King of Comedy sees the duo at the top of their game, so tune in!