Tag Archives: Black Comedy

The Favourite

The Favourite (2018)

Is this the perfect movie? Maybe. It’s so gorgeous crafted with the brilliant performances that only certain actors can command. I haven’t stopped thinking about it and I can’t wait for my second viewing.

Yorgos Lanthimos (of The Lobster and The Killing of a Sacred Deer) gives us a gloriously bitchy examination of power and corruption, of sexuality as currency and of war between three complex women during the reign of Queen Anne.

Olivia Colman is our queen in every sense of the word. Her Queen Anne is a sickly woman, prone to crippling attacks of gout. She relies heavily on the counsel of her best friend Lady Sarah (Rachel Weisz) who has a sharp mind for politics and pretty much runs the country on her behalf.

When Sarah’s cousin, former lady but now down-on-her-luck Abigail (Emma Stone) arrives asking for a job, Sarah takes a shine to her charm and sense of humour. Thus begins a war of feminine wiles as Abigail worms her way into the affections of Sarah and then the queen – and initiates her social climb from housemaid back to lady. While Sarah and Abigail’s relationship dynamic shifts dramatically, the perimeters of what they’re fighting for becomes less clear. Who will be the real winner here and what is the prize?

Honestly, this is just a very delicious character study and I loved it. It’s always good when the male characters (including Nicholas Hoult‘s dandy Harley) are side-lined in favour of flawed females and while it shouldn’t be such an event when this happens, it still is.

Every one of our trio is on her A-game, particularly Colman, who delivers a vulnerable, heartbreaking and often grotesque portrayal of a queen plagued by tragedy. Honestly, she’s receiving so much praise for her performance and it’s well deserved. The movie’s ending is honestly perfect and the woman is able to convey so much through a series of facial expressions.

I guess there’s the possibility that this could be considered over-stylised. It is a period piece after all with some stunning framing but I think of it as a dark comedy, a power struggle that just happens to be set in the early 1800s. The Favourite is probably the most accessible of Lanthimos’ films to date but it still has that quirky sense of humour of his other movies, all of which I’ve enjoyed.

I love this movie even though it is long and my bum went to sleep. A very good start to Oscar season and to 2019 in general.

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ out of ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Have you seen The Favourite? What do you think?

A Simple Favour

A Simple Favour (2018)

*Minor spoilers*

This film is by far my favourite lately, if not all year – and there have been a pile of really good films so far. It just appeals to my bitchy nature with its zingy dialogue, incredible appearance and genuinely tense thriller vibe. It will be hard to talk about this without dropping #spoilers so I’m going to remain as enigmatic as possible – just like Blake Lively‘s mysterious Emily Nelson.

Stephanie Smothers (Anna Kendrick) is a slightly irritating mommy blogger who one day meets and befriends the chic and charismatic Emily Nelson at her son’s school. The two quickly bond over martinis and secrets. One day, however, Emily calls Stephanie for a simple favour – to pick up her kid while she deals with an emergency.

The most glamourous staring contest of all time had just begun

Days later and no sign of Emily, Stephanie is forced to contact her husband Sean (Henry Golding again), who is in the UK tending to his ailing mother. The two of them become closer as they try to work out what happened to Emily – and let me tell you I’ll probably have to stop myself here just to be safe. Let’s just say that Stephanie’s secrets aren’t the only ones out there – what could Emily’s be?

The story unravels via a series of vlogs put together by Stephanie whose views increase tenfold the more she updates her audience on the Emily case. This is a play on the ‘screen life’ format most recently used in Searching and I think it’s really fresh, although it doesn’t all play out on screen, we also visit present time and flashbacks to build up the story.

I must say that I went into this knowing I’d be impressed but not really knowing what to expect – Paul Feig‘s filmography contains a lot of broad comedy which I love but didn’t expect in this movie. Which I was right about, the humour is pitch black and sharp AF but it’s more sophisticated than usual.

Same, Anna. I’d be the same

Blake and Anna have never been better than here. They look great but they bounce of each other so well and the dialogue they’re given to play with made me cackle throughout. There’s a scene in which Stephanie confronts Emily’s fashion designer boss that was priceless and an excellent showcase for Kendrick’s comic timing.

Helen and I left the cinema just saying “Wow” to each other dozens of times. It’s just done very well and hopefully, along with the aforementioned Searching, will pave the way for more smart arse thrillers, I feel like they might be having a moment.

As for the costuming, don’t think I’m going to sign this off without swooning over both women’s wardrobes. More so Blake who rocks sharp tailoring like nobody’s business. Is there anything sexier that a woman in a well cut suit? I think you’ll find not. Anyway, I’m quite prepared to spend more time in the theater re-watching this movie because it’s bloody great and exactly what I wanted.

There’s a crafter in my kitchen what amma gonna do?

Whatever you do, go see this.

My Rating

5/5.

The Lobster (Film) Review

 

Lobster-Quad

I wasn’t planning on reviewing this film but then Lightle said she’d like to see me do it and I thought I might as well. (If she asked me to jump off a cliff, would I…? Perhaps.)

Forgive me for this probably rather fragmented post as I try to remember the subtle nuances of the storyline, performances and the head scratching final scene. I usually try to review right after I’ve seen a film while it’s fresh in my mind but it’s now been several weeks.

*If you haven’t seen this film and don’t want spoilers, I would skip this tbh. Don’t say you haven’t been warned.*

Also, there were bits I don’t think I understood so if you have any comments such as “Are you straight tripping’, Gurl? It obviously meant this…” then I am open to your thoughts and interpretations. We’re all about sharing and caring round these parts.

Still would

The Lobster (2015)

Director: Yorgos Lanthimos
Stars: 
Colin FarrellRachel WeiszOlivia ColmanAshley JensenJohn C. ReillyBen WhishawLéa Seydoux

IMDB Synopsis: In a dystopian near future, single people, according to the laws of The City, are taken to The Hotel, where they are obliged to find a romantic partner in forty-five days or are transformed into beasts and sent off into The Woods.

My Review:

The City has pretty tough rules about being single. If you are, even if you’re divorced or widowed, you’re required to go and stay at The Hotel, where you have 45 days to find a partner or you’ll be turned into an animal. (Harsh).

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Talk to each other dammit!

It’s not all bad though, I mean you get to choose your animal. I’d be a big cat or a wolf but when choosing it is advised that you’re careful not to aim for something that makes easy prey. Colin Farrell’s David wisely chooses the lobster, hence the title of this film.

David has just arrived at The Hotel after his wife leaves him. He is accompanied by his brother Bob, who is now a dog. Bob and David don’t talk much which actually bothered me a lot. (Timothy, if you were turn into an animal and I was your sole carer, I would talk to you all the time).

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“Nice tie.”

The Hotel has a string of rules including no masturbation (sexual stimulation without climax is mandatory and performed by a disinterested maid (Ariane Labed)).

All visitors must wear the uniforms provided (all men in identical suits/women in identical floral dresses) and they must also hunt ‘The Loners’ (who are escapees from The Hotel) if they want to extend their stays. For each captured escapee, a visitor earns an extra day.

David adapts quickly and makes two new friends, Man with Lisp (Reilly) and Limping Man (Whishaw). Man with Lisp gets caught wanking in his room and is publically punished by having his hand burnt in a toaster. (We’ve all been there, amirite?!)

During the days at The Hotel, the Hotel Manager (Colman) and her staff hold workshops about how much better everything is as a couple (no chance of rape, less chance of choking to death on your supper).

School trips just weren’t the same anymore

Limping Man fakes nosebleeds (by smashing his face on hard surfaces) when he meets Nosebleed Girl (Jessica Barden) and they get together. There’s a big thing running throughout the story about like attracting like, and this comes back tenfold in the ending so take note!

New couples btw are sent off to spend a trial month together so Limping Man goes off with his new beau. The Hotel tell them they can arrange a child for the couple if there is any sign of strain between them during this trial period. Limping Man and his partner are given a daughter.

Meanwhile, Biscuit Woman (Jensen) flirts with David quite blatantly but he’s not game. She gives him some butter biscuits to give to Bob the Dog and then she tells David that rather than be changed into an animal if she fails to find a partner, she will kill herself by jumping off the hotel.

David gets tired and decides to choose a partner strategically, so set his sights on Heartless Woman (Angeliki Papoulia). She is exactly as she is described and who can fucking blame her, I’d be numb to all this bullshit too.

While Heartless is sitting outside in the grounds, Biscuit Woman throws herself from one of the balconies but doesn’t die right away. She lies there screaming like a wounded animal and Heartless doesn’t react at all.

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Not exactly ‘bubbly’

David tries to talk to her but their conversation is drowned out by Biscuit’s wailing. Later in the Jacuzzi, Heartless and David are talking and she begins to choke on an olive. David fails to react and as she recovers herself, Heartless tells him that they are well suited. They begin their trial life together.

I won’t spoil this particularly dark and horrible segment of the film but let’s just say building a life on a lie never works out.

David escapes The Hotel and joins The Loners. They too live by stringent rules, one of which is that romance is forbidden and punishable by varying degrees of mutilation. Pity then that David falls in love with Short Sighted Woman (Wiesz) (he is also short sighted) and they begin a secret relationship. All their communication is done via a super secret sign language code.

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Real subtle, kids

Despite the secrecy, the lovers are able to pretend to be together during short covert missions into The City which they enjoy immensely. Unfortunately, they take it one step too far (awks) and attract the suspicion of the Loner Leader (Seydoux). (She’s well mean).

The Loners bust into The Hotel and fuck shit up psychologically for some of the couples, including Nosebleed Girl and Limping Man, by telling her he’s been faking his nosebleeds all this time. They also mess with the Hotel Manager and her husband.

I think they just want to bring the whole house of cards down by planting doubt in the couples’ minds and I’m here for it because they’re all unpleasantly smug.

The Loner Leader then finds a journal written by Short Sighted Woman outlining a plan to escape with David. Again, I don’t want to spoil the ending because it is very much open to interpretation but let’s just say the Loner Leader alters Short Sighted Woman’s life forever and in turn places David at the foot of the biggest dilemma of his life.

Field of dreams?

Questions:

What the fuck, man?

Will David make the ultimate sacrifice for the woman he loves? What will become of the couple? Why is it so important that everybody pairs off with their exact personality twin? Has nobody heard of opposites attract?

Why is everything so bleak? What animal would you be?

And more importantly, why don’t people just move to a different city? (Lol)

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“I can’t bear for anyone to see me in this outfit…”

My Thoughts:

I actually like this film a whole lot more now I’ve thought about it again. It also makes way more sense the further away from it I am.

Whilst viewing it feels quite depressing and can be a little slow. Stylistically it sets a unique tone. The performances are wonderfully dead pan and I love the dynamic between the new friends.

The little scenes where the Hotel guests talk about themselves to the group is sweet and sad (we learn how Limping Man got his limp and it’s heart-wrenching). I also enjoy very much the mystery surrounding the room in which the ‘animal surgery’ takes place. It’s shrouded in intrigue and rumours abound about what exactly goes on in there but we never find out.

Incidentally, I don’t think I mentioned but most of the animals are sent off into the woods so during the scenes with The Loners, you’ll occasionally spy an exotic creature in the background. It’s subtle elements like this that give the film a dreamy fairy-tale quality and also make it very funny. Dark humour is the best and this makes very sharp observations about people and relationships.

The premise is totally bonkers but also cuts very close to the bone. Society on the whole does seem to reward couples while singletons are ripe for the picking, though the film’s take on the complexities of attraction and compatibility mean that even those who’ve paired off don’t get off scot-free.

It feels very much like two separate films which is great as through David we get a glimpse of both sides of the coin; single and paired up. Neither are plain-sailing and are peppered with hardship. (Tell me about it).

The final scene, which I will not share, will drive you mad but please you immensely if you prefer an ambiguous ending.

My Rating: 4/5. We need more films like this. For realz.

Have you seen this movie? Do you have anything to add? Have I missed anything? Let me know what you thought!

Ravenous (Film) Review

ravenous_santa_poster_exchange_by_radioactive107-d36aqaeI actually managed to get Mr Bass to watch this week’s pick with me, which is virtually unheard of. Usually I wake up early on a Sunday morning and watch by myself.

But we’d both heard good things about this movie and never got round to sitting down to watch it, so Saturday night was a go. All I knew about it was that two actors I like were in it and that it was a black comedy about cannibalism. Where do I sign up, right?

The Film:

Ravenous (1999)

Where to Watch:

US Netflix

The Premise:

Captain John Boyd’s promotion stations him at a fort where a rescued man tells a disturbing tale of cannibalism. (via IMDB)

The Trailer:

Viewable here.

The Uncondensed Version: 

Handsome Captain Boyd (Guy Pearce) comes back from the Mexican-American War something of a hero, though he’s obviously been through the mill and is sickened by what he has seen on his travels. Sadly for him, his Commanding Officer soon finds out that he’s not as hench as first thought, and had actually chickened out in battle. That he finally came through to save the day isn’t enough and, as a punishment dressed up as promotion, Boyd is sent away to a remote fort in the Sierra Nevada mountains.

Personally it looks and sounds like bliss to me, but Boyd doesn’t have time to kick back and think about writing his first novel, as – just as he’s getting to know his seven new roomies – an injured and distressed stranger appears out of nowhere. The stranger (Robert Carlyle), is unconscious when they get to him but it’s nothing a vigorous rub down in front of the fire can’t cure. It’s all quite erotic.

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“Once upon a time…”

When he awakes, naked and wrapped in fur (yey!), the gents (and one lady, Martha) question him. He reveals a bloody thirsty tale of how he came to be on their doorstep.

In short, he and a wagon train of others come undone in the Sierra Nevada (a few days walk from the Fort). They take refuge against the elements in a cave where things turn very bad indeed as they run out of food. Once they’ve chowed down on all the cattle, horses and even Robert Carlyle’s dog, they start on the first member of the party to pop his clogs, beginning with his legs.

Eventually, one party member, a Colonel Ives, takes it too far and starts killing them off one by one, until there are just three left: himself, Robert Carlyle and a woman, the wife of one of the deceased. Robert Carlyle admits to being a pussy right about here and buggers off, leaving the woman. Basically, he’s in such a state because he’s walked day and night until he reached the Fort, where we are now.

The soldiers, including scaredy bum Boyd, see it as their responsibility to find the cave and check for survivors. Even I can see this is a shaky plan but no, they’re good men and so off they trundle. Before they do, however, their Indian guide, George tells them about the Wendigo legend; a myth about how a man consuming the flesh of his enemies takes on their strength but becomes a demon cursed by a hunger for human flesh. Oo-er.

Robert Carlyle insists on travelling with them to show them the cave. Everyone goes except David Arquette (here playing a scholar – jokes, he’s basically Dewey again in cattle hide), another soldier and Martha, George the guide’s elder sister. In fact, David Arquette and Martha have already gone to gather supplies before the men leave.

Off they trot. On the way one the soldiers falls and gets badly injured. In the night he wakes up to Robert Carlyle licking him (worse ways to wake up?). The others decide it would probably be best to restrain Robert Carlyle, who’s acting cray. As they near the cave, he gets more and more spooked.

“Did anyone else see The Descent?”

Boyd and another soldier go into the cave, while the others keep guard outside. They find a well-like hole and the soldier climbs into it. There he finds the usual cannibalistic paraphernalia; crunchy skulls, fibulas, the usual. He then stumbles across a row of rib cages hanging artistically in the background. Of course, he has the good sense to count them (there are supposed to be five as per Robert Carlyle’s story) but there are way more than five and – gasp! – some torn uniform, very much like the blue one the soldiers are wearing…

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Wrong movie, Admiral Ackbar

They run out of the cave where, meanwhile, Robert Carlyle has gone mental and dug out a knife. He kills Colonel Hart (who’s in charge)and George, then chases down the young, injured soldier. Boyd and his mate go after him, where the mate is killed. Boyd exhibits some predictably cowardly behaviour but manages to shoot Robert Carlyle and jump off a cliff, where he lands right next to his friend. Boyd’s broken his leg in a major way and lies there for two nights, deciding what to do. No hurry, Boyd, Robert Carlyle only knows where you live.

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“Do you like my hat, Guy Pearce?”

On his second night at the bottom of the cliff, Boyd gives in and eats his friends leg. The next morning he can actually walk okay and hotfoots it straight back to the ranch. When he arrives, he tells his story to the three remaining housemates and nobody really believes him. The Commanding Officer from before arrives and strongly suggests that Boyd change his story, and admits that he got confused. Boyd refuses.

His superiors decide to bring in a stand-in to replace Colonel Hart (who’s been chomped earlier, remember?) while they figure out what the fudge to do. His name? Colonel Ives… *JAZZ HANDS* – it’s Robert Carlyle again!

“Fancy seeing you here, old chum!”

Boyd is in the doghouse now, and Robert Carlyle’s Ives is the model solider, bearing none of the injuries Boyd claims to have inflicted upon him. Robert Carlyle goes to speak to Boyd and explains why he did what he did. He too had been told of the Wendigo myth and since he was on the verge of death with TB, he thought he’d try cannibalism on for size, what the hell, right? It’s obviously worked a charm as Robert Carlyle’s skin is absolutely flawless.

I don’t want to spoil the ending too much but there is a little twist as the rest of the gang end up as dinner. Some horses are killed. Boyd gets blamed for all of it and Martha is sent to get help. Robert Carlyle proposes that they join forces and live together in the fort, picking off travellers selectively as they pass and generally having a high old time. Guy Pearce ain’t 100% on board.

“All this could be ours”

“I DON’T WANNA!”

There’s a final showdown between Boyd and Robert Carlyle, handily set a tool shed. Will Boyd finally be a brave bunny or will he continue with wet wipe tendencies? Who will win the fight? And will Boyd do as Robert Carlyle advises, which is to, simply, “Eat or die”?

Why don’t you settle down with a nice steak dinner and see for yourselves?

The Critique:

This film was fantastic. It is very dark and gory, pleasingly.

Described as a black comedy, it is subtly funny in places with some decent one liners. Robert Carlyle absolutely relishes his part, or at least it feels that way, which really helps you to like his character. His proposal doesn’t even seem like too much of an ask really, he makes is seem like a logical  move. Guy Pearce isn’t that horrible to look at either, let’s face it.

Some of their scenes together took on a homoerotic tone (in my eyes), which I enjoyed thoroughly. Again, I won’t give away the ending but when the film does climax, our two leading lads share some true intimacy. I guess dining out on your colleagues will really bring a couple closer together.

The music is also really good; a perfect example of using the soundtrack to illustrate true understanding of the film’s tone. It’s not something I usually mention, or notice really, but in contrast to last weeks review, in which I thought the musical choices spoilt the movie, I thought it was worth including. The score is co-written by Damon Albarn, for which he received significant attention.

The Rating:

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4 Happy-go-lucky Doctor Lecters out of 5

Pop over to Jillian’s shortly to see what she thought.

All images via Google.