Category Archives: Comedy

Practical Magic (1998)

Practical Magic

Genre: Romance, Comedy

Cast: Sandra Bullock, Nicole Kidman

Synopsis: Bullock and Kidman play two sister witches who are plagued by a curse: the men they fall in love with are doomed die early.

This must be one of the chickiest chick flicks to ever grace cinema. It’s got everything women love: sisterhood, sappy emotional drivel, and Wicca. Also, Sandra Bullock. She is like cat-nip for white women. Ordinarily these things combined would scare me off but, after having an American Horror Story: Coven marathon over the holiday season, I decided to give this a shot to see if it was just as good. Turns out it wasn’t. Surprise, surprise. However, as I always say, some of the worst films out there can become the best films with the aid of a little weed. While I wouldn’t say weed made this one of the best films, it certainly made it more enjoyable…most likely because it helped me to realise what this film is actually about.

Cocaine

Yes, that’s right. This film is all about Nicole Kidman’s character overcoming her addiction to blow. How do I know it’s about cocaine? Well, for starters Kidman runs away and becomes this groupie chick in the desert and then starts hanging around with a sordid crowd. She then goes into this house, kind of like the one in Boogie Nights, and then starts talking a lot about “Angel love” i.e. angel dust. Boom. She’s an addict. It’s hardly surprising really. Most films about witchcraft seem to have addiction as a central theme. Just look at The Craft, which was all about heroin addiction. I wonder why that is. It’s probably because performing magic would give you a power trip in the same way that doing drugs sends you on a trip. If you could alter the laws of the universe for personal gain, it would be hard to use that power responsibly. Willow from Buffy found out the hard way….and she was clearly on some strong shit.

Dark WillowMy guess is that it’s meth

So, drug abuse aside, what is good about this movie. Well, it’s quite stylish for one thing. These women live in a gorgeous house. It’s a grand old wooden Victorian house next to the ocean. It also has a sick greenhouse. I would push my mother down the stairs if it meant I could live in a house like that. Also, the soundtrack is surprisingly good in places. It’s got that one Faith Hill song in it that everyone likes but no one can remember the words to. However, the film also has a song in it in which the artist rhymes the word ‘glove’ with ‘love.’ That’s pretty amateur.

Something else that’s pretty amateur in places is the writing. Whoever wrote this film clearly had no idea about police procedure. I can’t believe these women let the cop in without a warrant and he handles evidence without the proper equipment. Any hack could get his entire case thrown out. Seriously writers, if you are going to have a cop as a character in your work, whatever it may be, please learn about proper police protocol. It’s very easy and it is mistakes like these that threaten to derail an otherwise coherent movie.

High-lights:

  • Stylish.
  • No matter how you look at it, Sandra Bullock is still kind of a BAMF.
  • It has the cat-faced lady who played Mona in the first Tales of the City series!
  • The scene where Sandra Bullock hears the beetle is actually quite good.

Downers:

  • It kind of skims over the Salem witch trials, which is one of the most interesting points in history. I would have preferred more detail on how idiotic people were back then….”My milk hath gone sour! It must be the doing of a witch!” No, it’s because your dumb-ass left the milk outside in 40 degree weather.
  • It was sad how the kids stoned young Nicole. Kids are shits.

Summary:

This is one of those light, feel-good movies that will completely disappear from your mind a few days after watching it. That’s not a bad thing. Sometimes it’s good to watch these sorts of movies just to kill some time or to impress your girlfriend. From an objective point of view, Practical Magic is kind of mediocre. Let’s be honest, it was never going to light the world on fire. However, under the right circumstances (i.e. you must be blitzed) it can be a pretty enjoyable film if you let it be. It wins points from me because of that.

6.5/10

Advertisements

2 Comments

Filed under Comedy, Good, Romance

The Girl Who Became Three Boys (2012)

Genre: Documentary, Comedy, Drama

Cast: Real people from the deepest and darkest corners of the British Isles.

Genre: A documentary about a psychopathic girl who used social media trickery to become three different boys and seduce two clueless friends.

I’m not the biggest documentary watcher. When I watch movies I like to enjoy a sense of escapism, which is something that is mostly absent from documentary films. However, I do like to break this rule every now and then. Considering it’s my first proper post of the new year, I thought I would break tradition by writing about my favourite documentary, which aired on the UK’s channel 4 in 2012. For those of you who do not live in the UK, channel 4 documentaries are legendary because more often than not they take the piss out the subjects of the film. Channel 4’s editors are true visionaries who seem to have adopted a motto that humour can be found in every story, even the most tragic. Plus, the documentaries often have ridiculous topics like dogging or children past the age of five who still breast-feed.

The Girl Who Became Three Boys is the tragic and (surprisingly) true story of Gemma Barker, a girl who managed to seduce two of her straight friends. In this day and age, a gay person seducing a straight person is hardly news-worthy. Hell, I did it once or twice in my college days. What is so shocking about the Gemma Barker case is the way she seduced her friends. There were no drugs involved thankfully. What she did instead was create three different boys using Facebook and social media and then used those boys to get close to the two girls in question. Basically, she was a catfish. But it gets even more twisted when you find out that the two girls actually met the ‘boys’ and started serious relationships with them. How did they not know they were dating their female friend? Lord knows because she adopted a disguise every bit as complicated and rigorous as the disguises used by Sailor Moon and the Sailor Scouts.

sailor-moon-wallpaper-hd-13-770047“These colourful and suggestive outfits will totally keep our identities hidden!”

Looking at it objectively, it is a really fucked up situation. This girl manipulated her friends, toyed with their emotions, and allegedly assaulted them. Then again the series of events is so bizarre and unusual, you would be forgiven for thinking it was the plot to a Shakespearian farce. The documentary capitalises on the inherent WTF-ness of the story and heightens it by using CGI re-enactments, the kind favoured by that Taiwanese news show, and also animated collage poster boards. You may think it was a dirty move on the part of the filmmakers to do this and to make light of a tragic situation but, after seeing interviews with the victims, you kind of feel as though it was actually the sensible thing to do.

The filmmakers manage to interview the two victims and one of them, very sensibly, decides to remain anonymous and her face is never shown. The other one…..well….let’s just say she wasn’t as smart. She comes on to the show and, bold as brass, details everything about the incident…and I mean EVERYTHING. The stuff she says is just unbelievable. Through gentle questioning from the filmmakers, you find out that she never actually saw the guy/girl’s full face because he/she always obscured it with a hat or a hoodie, and he/she never spoke to the victim. Instead, he/she used to type messages on his/her phone and then show the victim….while they were stood next to each other.

wut

As the documentary progresses, you begin to question whether it is actually a piss-take but I assure you it is not. This is all true and there’s even a Wikipedia page dedicated to the case. I urge you to watch this documentary online (if you can find it) for two reasons. First, it’s a great example of how to make a documentary that entertains as much as it educates. Secondly, it’ll make you feel much better about yourself because you’ll come to realise that you will never be as clueless as the people in this documentary.

High-lights:

  • So much WTF.
  • “She was so clever!” No. She really wasn’t.
  • Surprisingly quotable…”He gave me pleasure.”
  • British humour at its finest…and most sardonic.

Downers:

  • It must have been a very traumatic experience for the victims.

Summary:

If you watch one documentary this year, please let it be this one. It is so ridiculous and so memorable you will be talking about it for days. It is available in some corner of the internet so there is no excuse not to watch it.

10/10

2 Comments

Filed under Comedy, Drama, Mind Blowingly Awesome

Django Unchained (2012)

Django Unchained

Genre: Comedy, Drama

Cast: Jamie Foxx, Christoph Waltz, Leonardo DiCaprio

Synopsis: A German bounty hunter and a former slave band together to free the slave’s wife from the hands of a ruthless plantation owner.

Hello all. Firstly, I apologise for the gap between posts. The last two weeks have been very hectic with work. I’ve been to Hungary and back and now I’m in Washington, DC for a few weeks. On top of that, I was sick and jet-lagged last week so writing posts simply became too much. Fortunately for you, I recover quickly! To celebrate my return to the USA, I decided my next post will be for a film that looks at the peculiar American institution of slavery. Slavery is always a difficult topic to discuss, and even more difficult to portray in film. A director will want to show the horrors of slavery but balance it with entertaining content…unfortunately, this has led to some questionable moves in the past.

MandingoThis bitch loves the taste of chocolate

To be honest, I was scared to approach Django Unchained after having watched 12 Years a Slave. That film was harrowing. I remember leaving the theatre, which was full, in complete silence. I almost cried on my way home and I’m not ashamed to admit that. No film had portrayed the brutality of slavery in such a real and striking way. When I got home, I just sat in a quiet room and thought about slavery for a while. I did not expect Django Unchained to have a similar effect. In fact, I was worried that, as a Tarantino movie, Django Unchained would make-light of the issue with the director’s trademark dark humour. To my great surprise, Tarantino managed to put together a film that tackles the issue sensitively.

That’s not to say that humour doesn’t play a part in this film. In fact, one of the best scenes in the film is a funny one involving KKK members discussing eye-holes in their pillow-masks. However, it’s the scenes of brutality that stuck with me the most. Just like the scene with Patsy and the soap in 12 Years a Slave, the mandingo fight in this movie is shocking. It made me feel uncomfortable but that’s what a film about slavery should do. You don’t want to be sat there, munching on your popcorn and thinking that slavery was all smiles and sunshine because it fucking wasn’t! You want to be reminded of its brutality and you want a film that’s going to make you think and feel in equal measure. Surprisingly, the humour in this film doesn’t detract from the film’s emotional punch.

As a final point, I will say that the actors garnered a lot of praise for their performances. I can attest to their awesome acting skills. However, two performances stand out. The first goes to long-time Tarantino staple Sam Jackson. I feel that Sam Jackson is an actor whose skills are often underrated, largely because he doesn’t take on challenging roles in the way that Meryl Streep might. However, his abilities are on full display in this movie and he manages to craft a truly despicable and complex villain for the audience to sink their teeth into.

The other performance that stands out was DiCaprio’s. By all means, DiCaprio is an excellent actor so the fact he does well in this movie is not entirely surprising. However, there’s something deliciously brilliant and flamboyant in his portrayal of Calvin Candie, the ruthless plantation owner. I’ve never seen a villain quite like him and DiCario’s performance alone is enough of a reason to watch this movie…plus, his performance gave birth to one of the greatest gifs in recent years.

Candie gif

High-lights:

  • The scenery in this movie is wonderful. It gives the film a very authentic feel, just like in True Grit.
  • Brilliant performances from all the actors, but special mention needs to go to DiCaprio and Jackson.
  • Appropriately injects humour into a film with harrowing subject matter.
  • Cracking sound track.
  • It cements Tarantino’s position as one of the most talented and versatile directors around. He’s been in the game for two decades and he can still surprise me.

Downers:

  • Very long. I fell it could have been shortened quite a bit.
  • Sad to think that neither DiCaprio nor Jackson won key award nominations for their work.

Summary:

Django Unchained is probably not the sort of film you should watch if you’re looking to kill a couple of hours. If you decide to watch this movie, you need to be prepare yourself for an experience that will bot only entertain you but one that will also upset you. Although not as powerful as 12 Years a Slave, Django Unchained will still give you plenty to think about. You should only watch this movie if you can handle the pressure. If you can, then you will not be disappointed.

8.5/10

Leave a comment

Filed under Comedy, Drama, Great

Bridget Jones’s Diary (2001)

Bridget Jones Diary

Genre: Romance, Comedy

Cast: Renée Zellweger, Hugh Grant, Colin Firth

Synopsis: A year in the life of tragic singleton Bridget Jones

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you will have no doubt noticed something odd with Renée Zellweger. In short, she has a brand new face…one that is very different to her old face. My friend has a theory that someone killed Zellweger and assumed her identity and has everyone fooled. Most other rational people think she’s gone under the knife. Then again, maybe not…as this gif points out, it can all be a matter of perspective.

Face-angles

Anyway, the point of this post is not to debate whether Zellweger had the Wacko-Jacko treatment. This post is instead going to celebrate Zellweger’s best work. Bridget Jones is a role she truly made her own and one which brought her into the hearts of many a British spinster/singleton.

In all my years as a movie-watcher, I have never seen any American manage to portray a British person quite so convincingly. Sure, Zellweger doesn’t get the accent right 100 per cent of the time but being British has nothing to do with the accent. It’s all about the mannerisms, the mind-set, the awkwardness, and the charm; all things Zellweger manages to nail. Who can deny the Britishness of chugging a bottle of wine alone, finishing off the last bit of cheese in the house while watching Fatal Attraction and singing 80s power ballads? Seriously, I have done that. Most British people have done that. That’s why everyone loves us so much. As a group of people, we’re weird and eccentric and people don’t always get our sense of humour, but there’s just something so devilishly intriguing and amusing about us isn’t there?

BorisPictured: the epitome of Britishness

Not only does this film show Zellweger’s talents, but it also displays one of Great Britain’s greatest assets: fit posh-boys. Is there a man as vagina-moisteningly gorgeous as Colin Firth? Short answer is ‘no.’ Long answer is ‘possibly’ but that one won’t come with as sexy an accent. I want Colin Firth to impregnate me. Mark Darcy? Phwoooar. Even Hugh Grant in this film is kind of hot in an ‘evil hairless bastard’ kind of way. To put it succinctly, there is so much eye-toffee in this you will be mopping up your seat with a sheet of Bounty once you’re done watching this film.

As I’ve mentioned in other posts, I’m not really a fan of romantic comedies but Bridget Jones’s Diary is an exception. I can kind of see a lot of myself in the main character, as I am sure a lot of Brits can. Maybe that’s partly why I like this film so much: it gives me hope that one day my own Colin Firth will come into my life while wearing a hideous Christmas jumper…one can dream…

High-lights:

  • A great window into the awesomeness of the British, one that bypasses all our negative qualities like passive-aggressive tutting, constantly apologising and colonialism.
  • Fuck me now Colin Firth.
  • The fight scene is probably the best (and most depressingly accurate) fight scene I have ever seen in a movie. They even apologise while fighting.
  • Run Bridget!!! Run into the snow naked to get your man!
  • “….mainly poofs.”

Downers:

  • Typical of Richard Curtis films, every hot young singleton in London knows every other hot young singleton and they all live in lovely flats in Zone 1. It’s all make believe!
  • Geri Halliwell…I will never forgive you for what you did to the Spice Girls.
  • She’s been a journalist for all of 15 sodding minutes and she’s already more successful than me.

Summary:

If you’re coming over to the UK for a holiday, this is the film that you should watch before you leave. It will properly introduce you to the ways of the British and help you assimilate. Of course, you should watch this film even when you’re not coming to the UK because it’s still a bloody good laugh.

8/10

Leave a comment

Filed under Comedy, Great, Romance

Drop Dead Gorgeous (1999)

Drop Dead Gorgeous

Genre: Comedy

Cast: Kirsten Dunst, Denise Richards, Brittany Murphy, Amy Adams, Kirstie Alley

Synopsis: A documentary crew follow the contestants participating in a beauty pageant in small-town Minnesota, but things get deadly when someone starts killing the competition.

If I were to sum up my sense of humour it would be with the phrase “gallows humour.” I can find even the most traumatic experiences funny. Some may say it’s because I’m a twisted individual. I, however, prefer to think that it’s because I always like to turn negative situations into positive ones. True character is shown if you can look in the face of death and laugh. There are not many films that manage to cater to gallows humour very well, and it’s easy to see why. It’s difficult to strike the appropriate balance between being morbid and funny but, in my honest opinion, this film hits the nail on the head.

Drop Dead Gorgeous wasn’t received very well when it was first released. That, too, is easy to see why. The film is set in a small town in Minnesota, a town in which the biggest event of the year is a teen beauty pageant. The citizens of this town are God fearing folk with funny accents. When I lived in the US I lived in California so I didn’t really come into contact with these kind of people but, rest assured, they exist. The purpose of this film is to take the piss out of these people and this version of America.

T and T gif…Murica

I personally believe that a lot of Americans are ashamed by this kind of America and Drop Dead Gorgeous can hit close to home. However, I think that in itself is pretty funny. After all, I’ve never met a British person who didn’t like this movie. However, Americans shouldn’t be so sensitive because this movie also displays a lot of the positive things about living in America too; namely that with hard work and a little bit of talent you can achieve your wildest dreams.

SlothThis sloth gets it

It helps that the film gives us a character we can all rally behind. Kirsten Dunst plays Amber Atkins, a beautiful and intelligent trailer-trash girl with big dreams. She’s the sort of girl who can name all 50 states in alphabetical order while working two part-time jobs. She’s nice to everyone she meets and she can dance. She’s the everyman who is fighting against power and corruption. What’s not to love?

It’s not all about Dunst though. Every performer in this film gives it their all. The mockumentary style really works because it allows all the performers to get lost in their characters. These are characters that you love to love and love to hate. Brittany Murphy’s character in particular is so hysterically adorable and it makes me sad to think that she’s no longer around. If anything, this film displays the talents of a lot of actresses and their ability to deliver well-scripted comedy as though it were them speaking naturally. Even Denise Richards pulls it off and we all know she’s not the greatest actress around.

High-lights:

  • Brilliant performances and wonderfully weird characters.
  • “You know what dad? Peter’s gay….GGGAAAAAYYYY!!!” This film is so quotable.
  • “They’re the richest family in a small town. It’s front page news when one of them takes a shit.” See what I mean.
  • Great soundtrack.
  • I always used to think the Soylent Green scene was funny but I actually realise now that it has a purpose.

Downers:

  • Realising that you will be going to hell for laughing at an anorexic girl lip synching to ‘Don’t Cry Out loud’ by Melissa Manchester.

Summary:

In my eyes, Drop Dead Gorgeous is comedy gold. It’s got great performances and moments that have me wiping away tears that came from laughing too hard. Moreover, it provides you with quotes for life. If you’re the sort of person who can find the humour in life’s darkest moments then this is just the film for you.

9/10

2 Comments

Filed under Comedy, Great

A Letter to Momo (2011)

A Letter to Momo

Genre: Animation, Drama, Comedy

Cast: Voice actors you will not have heard of

Synopsis: After her father dies, a young girl and her mother move to a remote island in southern Japan. While there she meets and eventually befriends three spirits.

The London film festival is a couple of weeks away and I decided to venture into bankruptcy by buying tickets for a few films. One film I will be seeing is a Japanese anime called Giovanni’s Island, which is a war drama and produced by the same company that did A Letter to Momo. I thought I should watch that film first to get a taste of what the company makes, and A Letter to Momo came highly recommended from my brother.

I was happy to find that the film, for the most part, is a slow-burning and thoughtful drama about a young girl coping with the death of her father. Before he died, she said some nasty words to him and he left her part of a letter. The only words in the letter were: “Dear Momo.” Momo and her mother then relocate to a rural Japanese island to start their life over but Momo has a hard time fitting in and she can’t stop thinking about what her father tried to write. Things get more complicated when she meets three troublesome spirits.

I think the thing I liked most about this movie was that it looked and felt very Japanese. In some anime films, including some Studio Ghibli films, the directors and animators take inspiration from the works of European writers, animation, and architecture. As a result, the films sometimes lose their Japanese-ness. A Letter to Momo is different. For starters, the film is set in a rural Japanese community in an area of the country that isn’t often shown in films. The whole thing screams Japan: the environment, the houses, even the sound. I’m told that the only thing you can hear in Japan in the summer is the sound of cicadas. Even the spirits are based on traditional Japanese folklore and artwork…you know the kind, right? The really beautiful ornate pictures on the scrolls.

Japan fart artSuch beauty!

My point is, if you want to see a movie that captures a slice of Japanese life that you have not seen before then A Letter to Momo is a good option. Plus, it skilfully avoids the other aspects of Japanese life that are perhaps not so attractive, like tentacle porn or teenagers with weird fetishes.

OctopusI could have gone a lot weirder than this so be thankful

If I were to level one criticism at this film it would be that it does not have a strong finish. I won’t spoil the ending but will simply reveal that it’s too saccharine. It’s a bit of a disappointment considering that the film does a great job of building a coherent, sophisticated, and emotional drama. It’s hard to make a drama that engages a parson’s sense of empathy but to make a cartoon that does that is a damn sight harder. That’s why it’s such a shame about this film’s ending. It was so well until it got about 90 per cent of the way through. I’ve seen worse endings for sure but it still could have been handled better.

High-lights:

  • A very sophisticated drama with the right amount of comedy injected at all the right places.
  • Beautifully animated.
  • Shows a part of Japan that western audiences may not be familiar with. I’d love for my commute to be on a boat!
  • I want the house that’s in this movie.

Downers:

  • Disappointing ending.
  • They’re going to kill the baby boars!!??

Summary

Despite my criticism of the ending, I still think that A Letter to Momo is worth your time. It manages to marry drama with wit, which is not an easy thing for any film to do. If you’re looking for an unusual and unique animated film then this could definitely be up your street.

7.5/10

7 Comments

Filed under Animation, Comedy, Drama, Good

Romancing the Stone (1984)

Romancing the Stone

Genre: Romance, Comedy, Action/Adventure

Cast: Kathleen Turner, Michael Douglas, Danny DeVito

Synopsis: A wussy romance writer goes off to Colombia to rescue her sister who has been kidnapped. There, she gets lost in the jungle and meets a rugged yet brutish Michael Douglas.

Ordinarily, I’m not the sort of guy who likes chick-flicks. In fact, it’s a rule of mine to avoid most chick-flicks. However, I’m willing to break that rule if the movie was made in the 1980s. It was a golden age for the genre, before all the Julia Roberts, Meg Ryans, and Katherine Heigls came along to incite my hatred. I decided to switch my viewing routine up a little by watching a classic rom-com from the 80s. My mother recommended Romancing the Stone so, last Friday, I chilled out, got into my comfy PJs and then got in touch with my feminine side.

Cat LadyWhat my feminine side looks like

I can see why this film is so popular with some women. For starters, the main character is, in fact, a crazy cat lady. She is the most stereotypical female shut-in you can imagine: she writes erotic literature, has conversations with her cat, and throws plates around for no reason. Her erotic fiction isn’t even that good. As a (struggling/failing) writer, I found myself screaming at the laptop and trying to reason with her that she should not under any circumstances hand in the draft to her publisher. Still, part of me was envious. She has my dream life: beautiful apartment in the city and a fuck-off easy job. Plus, Kathleen Turner has the voice I want. It’s like butter mixed with sex.

Butter Sex…Or not

Turner’s voice makes me want to start smoking a pack of 20 a day. Anyway, this film successfully overcame the first of my hurdles that rom-coms regularly stumble at: it has a main character who is flawed but still likeable.

What about the male lead? Well, as far as panty droppers go, Michael Douglas is not the most desirable of men. It’s something that really confused me in Basic Instinct and Fatal Attraction. The man is, quite simply, swimming in vagina. It’s a mystery to me, but I actually quite like that the male lead in this film is not a super-stud. It gives me hope that one day I too can find someone who doesn’t look like a smacked arse. Plus, when he threw a kilo of weed onto a camp fire and inhaled I wanted to cheer. I wonder if that works.

I think the thing that really stood out for me in this movie is that I hadn’t seen anything quite like it before. The plot is ridiculous. I mean, a lady gets mugged and kidnapped by a ten year old and then Kathleen Turner’s character befriends a drug cartel leader after she finds out he’s a fan of her work. Plus, this film has crocodiles and Danny DeVito. Romancing the Stone’s quirkiness is definitely its biggest strength and I think it will be hard to find another romantic-comedy that is as bizarre and unique.

High-lights:

  • Kathleen Turner’s voice.
  • Turner and Douglas have really good chemistry.
  • Danny DeVito can do no wrong.

Downers:

  • This film makes it look like being a writer is really easy.
  • It’s depressing to think I will never have a crazy romance like the one in this film.
  • I don’t think drug cartelists in real life are as friendly as the one in the movie.

Summary:

Romancing the Stone isn’t perfect by any means, but it knows how silly it is and plays into that. It’s a film sweeps you up in the adventure and it avoids a lot of the problems I find in romantic comedies. Romancing the Stone is the sort of film I think most people can enjoy. There is something for everyone: action, comedy, good character development, even a cheeky nipple slip right at the start. Even if you’re not a fan of romantic comedies, this one should still manage to keep you entertained.

7/10

6 Comments

Filed under Action/Adventure, Comedy, Good, Romance