Category Archives: Comedy

Hail, Caesar! (2016)

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Hail, Caesar!

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TIFF Review: The Lobster (2015)

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The Lobster

The Trip to Italy (2014)

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Since I started blogging a little over a year ago, I’ve been fortunate enough to make a ton of new friends, simply through a reciprocated love of film and television. Additionally, I’ve been given more opportunities to expand my craft and following through new outlets. The Cinematic Katzenjammer and its wonderful staff welcomed me and my contributions with open arms and I am eternally grateful. So please, head on over and check out my latest review, and while you’re there, be sure to have a look around! It’s run on WordPress, so please login and drop a like and/or comment. You can find my review and be redirected to the site by clicking below. Thank you!

The Trip to Italy (2014)

Neighbours (2014)

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As I’m sure most of you have already been briefed in regards to my, let’s call it…halfhearted hatred and disinterested disconnect towards the comedy genre, I’ll spare you the agony of sitting through another directionless, yet passionate speech. Now, comedy in film isn’t good for much, but it does occasionally allow me to rant harshly and aimlessly, that is if I can make it through one of these dreadful, contrived, structureless abominations that miraculously find funding and a wide-release…but I digress. As I was saying, I don’t get many opportunities to publish posts that display my opinion raw and unedited. That being said, when I do get the chance to speak unrefined, it’s usually a comedy film that’ll feel the brunt of my coarse, critical onslaught. And for some reason, I feel that readers appreciate brutal honesty, so without further delay, let’s get into “Neighbours!”

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Drugs, nudity, vulgarity, and a preposterous plot? There must be a new Seth Rogen film out! Seriously though, all kidding aside I do love Rogen. He’s a talented, intelligent, honest Canadian boy and back in 2007, when I was at the height of my teenage years, “Superbad” and “Knocked Up” defined popular culture. Since then however, to say he’s been struggling would be putting it lightly in my opinion, of course that’s with the exception of the brilliant film “50/50.” I don’t know what happened, either I grew up or his shtick became all too familiar. Whatever it was, I haven’t been excited to see a Rogen film in a good, long while. Nevertheless, with early reviews holding strong and a cast that with respectable merit, I decided to give “Neighbours” a chance. Do I regret it, you ask? Well I’m not exactly thrilled whenever I make a mistake, but the film has some respectable qualities and memorable moments? I put a question mark as I’m not exactly confident that this statement will hold up with the passage of time…or for the duration of this review…

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With “Neighbours'” incessant awareness campaign set to overkill, I’m not sure there are many who don’t know the film’s plot and selling points. Nonetheless, for those of you who have been fortunate enough to escape the film’s black hole of mediocrity, you’ve managed to save a significant amount of hilarity for the actually viewing of the film, granted you view it at all. Yes, a sizeable chunk of the film’s most memorable, hilarious scenes are plastered all over the internet and television for free, so enjoy. Now, essentially “Neighbours” is a tale of two childish, unfulfilled men at different stages in their lives trying to prevail and dominate over the other. Yes, that’s the premise and yes, it is as immature in its delivery as it is script-wise. In layman’s terms, a frat somehow manages to move into a quiet neighbourhood and soon is at war with their new neighbours.

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Directed by Nicholas Stoller (Forgetting Sarah Marshall, Get Him to the Greek), and starring, apart from Seth Rogen, the lovely and immensely talented Rose Byrne, Zac Efron, and Dave Franco, “Neighbours,” on paper, should have been a laugh riot, not a measly chuckle and whimper. Apart from a few laughs, the film offers nothing of value cinematically. I’m sure the ladies will get a kick out of Efron shirtless, hell, even the male section of the film’s audience will see more of Rose Byrne than preferred, but these aren’t exactly facets to be proud of.

The film would have been infinitely better if they actually focused on the maturing aspect of birthing a child. After the all, the entire film is symbolic of couples rushing into parenthood. Stoller and Rogen are usually geniuses when it comes to displaying the emotional, consequential side of their comedies, but completely ignore that element in “Neighbours.”

I do assume it’s a positive that Rogen hasn’t been this effective in a while and that Efron has never been so charismatic, but in all fairness, their track records aren’t exactly top-notch of late. In Efron’s case, we really don’t have a resume to begin with. Byrne is as beautiful and entrancing as ever, but the vulgar humour doesn’t fit her well. Not surprisingly, the underrated Dave Franco truly steals the show here with his comedic prowess and impeccable impression of Robert De Niro.

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Look, It’s not that I’m pretentious or hate laughter, far from it. I simply prefer subtle, intelligent, timely, sympathetic, relatable humour rather than an alternative that consists of the raunchy, idiotic, unfathomable approach of modern comedy, you know what I’m talking about, films like “Neighbours” or Adam Sandler abortions. I know that sounds conceded, even ostentatious, but honest to god that’s my preference. However, that doesn’t mean I don’t appreciate the dirty, unflinching, harsh, truthful approach of today’s comedians. It’s just, I find that humour occurs so naturally and fluidly that it is nearly impossible to capture true hilarity on demand for the sake of cinema. Additionally, where films of other genres rely on dialogue, performances, story, direction, cinematography, music, etc…comedy films, for the majority, solely depend on the appeal and material of its leading cast members, and “Neighbours” doesn’t meet any of the aforementioned criteria wholeheartedly.

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It’s extremely hard for me to write-up a post regarding comedy as I’m sure you can tell by the incoherence and simplicity of this article, not to mention the uncomfortable feeling that washed over you as it continued, so I’ll just end it. “Neighbours” is about as good as purely comedic films get nowadays, sadly. Without much stimulation and an abundance of unintelligent humour, I can guarantee this film will be a distant memory in the not too distant future. I might be a little to bias and it seems as if I’m having a little too much fun ripping comedy apart. If it’s any consolation, the film is watchable and consistently has your attention, which is a huge bonus when considering the state of current comedy films. It might not be as bad as I’m making it seem, but not by much.

Neighbours: 6 out of 10.

The Wolf of Wall Street (2013)

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There’s been a few controversies surrounding this film in the media since its release, a little over a week ago. Controversies that range in significance and utter bewilderment, regarding the film’s source material, its author, anti-hero, and inspiration Jordan Belfort, to the film itself “The Wolf of Wall Street” being attacked by critics, labeled as shallow drivel glamorizing a life of criminality and abuse. Now, I can’t comment on behalf of the novel, as I’ve never read it (although I plan to), or defend Mr. Belfort as I have never met him, picked his brain, or researched his life (I must say however, it is very intriguing). That being said, there is one thing clouding my brain that I can shed some light on, debate and hopefully resolve. Something that’s distorting my thoughts with its incoherent, simple, overwhelming stupidity. And that is the irrational, baseless notion that “The Wolf of Wall Street” idealizes and absolves an existence free of morality, accountability, and stable relationships.

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I’m perfectly content to dismiss this critical negativity and deem it as idiotic complaints that pander to the obviousness and cosmetic, depthless aspects of a film that uses these highly-superficial, vivid visuals intentionally to mask, bury the truth of these distractions from the emotionally and intelligently inept. I’m fine in doing that and moving on. I form my own opinions, not base them on the unfulfilled experiences and half-witted conclusions of others. Nonetheless, I don’t think it’s fair that those who have yet to see the film or those that are looking for more from “The Wolf of Wall Street” should be bombarded by the opinions of those who only have a disdain towards it. I created this site to voice my thoughts, to interact with others, and to educate and be educated, so that’s exactly what I intend to do…

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This adaption of Jordan Belfort’s miraculous, unbelievable tale is directed by the illustrious Martin Scorsese and stars Leonardo DiCaprio as the lead character, the aforementioned Jordan Belfort. Containing an excessive amount of nudity, sex, drugs, alcohol, vulgar language, deplorable behaviour, violence, and illegal activity. “The Wolf of Wall Street” is quite the unique cinematic experience, a difficult one to stomach and endure at that. Clocking in at a trying two-hours and fifty-nine minutes, one might argue that it’s near impossible to match the celebratory nature and complete disregard for compassion and equality with vulnerability, depression, and regret for the film’s entirety. To that I say this… After roughly the thirty-minute mark, there wasn’t a moment that went by in which I didn’t ponder the stability, endurance, and humanity of our protagonist that was on display. “What about the first half-hour, you ask?” Well, it’s very simple, our lead was a decent human being for that duration.

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One might look at what he does, listen to what he says and brand his actions and reactions as gutless, inhumane, selfish, and heartless…While this is undeniably true, the way in which it’s portrayed, you know, how the light shines upon it has beencompletely misconstrued. Through every abhorrent movement and despicable word of DiCaprio’s Belfort, there is this nagging, disheartening hint of encompassing sadness and loneliness that radiates through the brash chaos. This is not a happy man, and anyone who arrives at any conclusion that contradicts this, his overall demeanour, has misunderstood.

Listen, it’s totally reasonable to connect Belfort’s outward appearance and emotional surface with happiness, a man who is pleased with himself and the choices he’s made. Hell, even the film’s ending seemingly coincides with this ideal. Conversely however, I implore you to see that there is nothing content about this man. He has lost his family, his privacy, his decency, and himself. DiCaprio’s Belfort has been misconstructed from the get go and every drunken stupor, drug-induced numbness, and orgy coma is an attempt to distract…draw his glazed eyes away from his creeping fears that became a reality all too soon. In the end, like us, he is alone, no matter how high he lived each moment. There will be a time after the present, everything becomes the past. DiCaprio’s Belfort has mistaken living for life and love. I don’t believe for one second that, apart from the time he spent with his lover and children, he was happy.

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Well, that’s enough dissection of this taut character study, on to the technical aspects! Directed by the aforementioned Martin Scorsese, “The Wolf of Wall Street” is a welcomed return to criminal-empire filmmaking for the talented vet. Depicting the life of Jordan Belfort, a kind-hearted family man who gets caught up in the world of Wall Street. Earning a job at a successful firm and passing the Series 7, Belfort is informed by his then boss to adopt a lifestyle of drugs, alcohol, and sexual release to remain atop of the game. Then, having lost his stable job due to Black Monday, Belfort soon starts his own firm, hiring his friends and selling flimsy stocks. Soon, the company is a multi-billion dollar success, with a long list of criminal offences, laundering, fraud, and tampering being a few. Funding lavish parties for his staff, consisting of drugs, alcohol, prostitutes, and obscure events, things begin to spiral out of control. Having divorced his wife, remarried, and becoming a father, Belfort soon begins to crumble under everything.

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It may be misogynistic, abusive, excessive, vulgar, and dirty, but there’s no denying that “The Wolf of Wall Street” is the most entertaining film to come around in a good, long while. Scorsese captures the world of Belfort’s Wall Street in his usual, immaculate form. Feeling like a throwback to Marty’s “Goodfellas,” his use of entrancing visuals, unfathomable character depth, and intoxicating music allows him to achieve feats that no other film has this year. Martin embraces the violent language, sexuality, and craziness of his film’s premise superlatively. It’s not long until you’ve completely forgotten the fictitious feel of everything and simply become another stockbroker at Stratton Oakmont. Very rarely does one notice the handiwork of a director, but with “The Wolf of Wall Street,” it’s impossible not to marvel at Scorsese’s impeccable form. In all fairness, Martin hasn’t been this good since “The Departed” in 2006.

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I’ve mentioned in great depth the brilliance of Leonardo DiCaprio’s performance in “The Wolf of Wall Street” earlier, clamouring over his deliciously heartbreaking and charismatic Jordan Belfort. However, there is more character perfection here besides Leo’s larger-than-life portrayal. Matthew McConaughey, Jonah hill, Margot Robbie, Joe Bernthal, Kyle Chandler, and Jean Dujardin also star in “The Wolf of Wall Street” and their contributions cannot be overlooked. But before we move onto them, I have one final thing to say about Leonardo. This is the year he finally earns that Oscar, or at least, he damn well better. I mean, this guy has been passed over too many times. Is this the performance of his career? Well, that’s up for debate. That being said, is his take on Jordan Belfort the best performance of the year? Hands down! Open the “best actor” envelope blindfolded, because this award is all but official.

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Okay, let’s get this out of the way. Matthew McConaughey won’t be winning any awards or nominations for his performance in “The Wolf of Wall Street.” Besides, with “Mud” and “Dallas Buyers Club,” he’s got more than enough material to earn a ton of accolades this award season. That being said, McConaughey continues his ascent to the top with another memorable, hilarious, potent performance here. Who can forget him beating his chest in the middle of a restaurant, making weird noises, and talking about sex, drugs, alcohol, and money? If Jonah Hill should be nominated for “best supporting actor” because of his character in “The Wolf of Wall Street,” you won’t here me complaining. He’s awkward, both personality and appearance wise, down-right hilarious, and dramatically effective as always. Might not be as worthy as his “Moneyball” performance, but it’s certainly one of the best this year.

Kyle Chandler never seems to get the recognition he deserves and it’s starting to really tick me off. Countless films this man has appeared in and has given tremendous performances in each of them. At least Scorsese took notice of this man’s talent and gave him a fairly significant role. Jean Dujardin, who you’ll know as the Oscar-winning actor for his performance in “The Artist,” is used sparsely, but uses each moment to excruciating effectiveness. Whether it’s his invincible mindset or untouchable attitude, Dujardin will make you laugh while you simultaneously beg those around to let you punch him in the face. Jon Bernthal, or Shane from “The Walking Dead,” continues to make a career for himself post zombie apocalypse. His appearance, personality, demeanour, and narcissism will leave you gasping for breaths between laughs.

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Lastly, my favourite female performer of 2013, up-and-comer Margot Robbie. She’s got the “supporting actress” award all wrapped up in my books. I would like to inform her to start clearing off shelf space or at least get someone, perhaps myself, to build her a case for it. She’s sexy, poignant, ruthless, funny, and seductive as Leo’s ambitious, take-no-shit trophy wife. There has not been a better performance by a female this year. I know that in reality she’ll be lucky to receive a nomination at the very least, but in all honesty, there’s no denying her charm, talent, and beauty here.

Well, here we are, 2013 is now officially over. So I thought it fitting to present you with my favourite film of the year, so here it is. “The Wolf of Wall Street” takes the cake for me and I’m sure it’ll win a few of you over as well.

The Wolf of Wall Street: 10 out of 10.

American Hustle (2013)

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It’s been quite a while since a film’s come along and moseyed its way on in to the lore of cinema. You know, the type of film you can watch over and over again…that plays on TV every other weekend. A film you’ve seen so many times over you can catch it midway, watch till the end, and still enjoy each and every part. A movie that plays in the background of gatherings, parties, or while you’re performing other tasks without taking away from these other primary distractions. These are the flicks we quote day in, day out to no end. Now, these pictures may not always the best of what cinema has to offer, they might not have even garnered many awards or much critical acclaim, but still we love them more than most things we’d care to admit.

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On the other hand however, these timeless movies do pertain to our greatest cinematic achievements and have been acknowledged as such by critics and cinephiles. And of course the odd award or two has been bestowed upon them. Nonetheless, what’s so special, enduring about these films is that they’re so appealing and appeasing. They’re fun, entertaining, and most importantly, they never seem to get old. “American Hustle” fits somewhere in this criteria, I’m just not quite sure where exactly. It’ll win its fair share of accolades come award season 2014, it’s endlessly entertaining, and full of quote-able dialogue. Wherever it finds itself, expect this flick to be on television in the near future and in your hearts after the initial viewing.

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Directed by the aforementioned David O. Russell, “American Hustle,” is the much anticipated follow-up to his Best Picture nominee “Silver Linings Playbook.” Glamorizing the lives of a couple of con-artists and corrupt politicians until they are dealt a harsh reality check by a power-hungry detective. I think it’s safe to say O. Russell went in a completely new direction with this one. Using a magnificent soundtrack, the trademark styles and imagery of the late 70s and early 80s, and extremely potent, masterful performances from his entire ensemble to conjure up a mafioso-like thriller with moments of overwhelming drama and an array of diverse comedy. O. Russell has truly created a unique cinematic experience with “American Hustle.” Although, it is one that feels vaguely familiar, even Scorsese-esque. Yet, it remains so original and genuine that Marty himself would be proud.

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There is so much that makes O. Russell’s “American Hustle” this instant classic, a modern masterpiece. The first thing to hit you is this obscure, dated, penetrative humour executed flawlessly by the film’s cast. Speaking of which, has an undeniable, limitless chemistry that bursts forth from the screen and roots in their bones. It’s this bizarre, surprising nature that spawns so many instances in which you’ll find yourself asking, was that just said? Did that just happen? It’s content and characters are fresh and honest, the “what you see is what you get” type that refrains from being bland and predictable. O. Russell’s camerawork is the most stellar I’ve seen in recent memory, reminiscent of the aforementioned Scorsese, albeit younger. It’s a concoction of all these facets mixed with impeccable timing, immense, boundless talent, and extraordinary vision by all involved that makes “American Hustle” shine so bright.

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Fine, you got me, it’s not all sunshine and roses. The story definitely takes a bit of a backseat to the characters, which isn’t necessarily a big deal. That being said, with “American Hustle,” the stakes don’t ever appear or feel as high as they actually are, or at least should be. I mean, I never really feared that the lifestyle or the lives of those who’ve been chosen to lead us through this picture were ever compromised. They just never seemed to be in as much danger or trouble as they should have been, if that makes any sense? It’s plot is as captivating, enthralling as can be and the characters are some of the most well-written and developed of the year. The end however, the last thirty minutes give or take, is a tad anticlimactic. That being said, the fact that the film’s ensemble and spectacular, utter enchantment can overcome this slight blemish should speak to its almost fully realized immaculacy.

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The cast, the ensemble, that’s all I keep blabbering on about. I supposed it’d make sense to inform you of who comprises this plethora of talent and achievements. Returning are O. Russell vets Christian Bale, Bradley Cooper, and Jennifer Lawrence, with new faces Amy Adams and Jeremy Renner rounding out the unit. Now, I could go on and on about the superlativeness of each and every member and how it wouldn’t surprise me at all if each individual got a nomination come award season, but I’m a realist. If I had to stake my life, I’d say Christian Bale is the front-runner to take home some hardware. The rest, I feel are too up in the air. There’s been a surplus of solid flicks with tremendous portrayal this year, so it’ll be tough to break through. Cooper, Adams, and Lawrence bring their predictable flair and still manage to stun. Renner is the only one who comes close to rivalling Bale’s brilliance and already his outstanding performance is being overlooked. Oddly enough however, is that funny man Louis C. K somehow steals every scene he’s in. Figure that one out and let me know.

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Hilarious, intoxicating, and bloody brilliant, “American Hustle” is, without question, one of the best films of the year.

American Hustle: 9.5 out of 10.

Filth (2013)

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For those familiar with my work (good god that sounds pretentious), you might recall last week when I posted a review of “Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa.” I clamoured on and on in this article about how I loathe and detest the genre that is comedy… Yet, I conversely raved about how “Brits seem to have a direct line to my funny bone,” which eventually led to me building up the aforementioned Steve Coogan flick as the funniest of the year. Soon after this, I sat down and watched another of my most anticipated flicks of the year, Jon S. Baird’s “Filth,” which just so happens to be another hilarious film from the UK, originating from Scotland. Now, I know that there’s no love lost between the segregates of British people, but in all fairness, the English, Scots, Irish, and so on, are all part of one great nation and can all be deemed “British.” Therefore, my theory regarding comedy, the British, and my own, bizarre, dark comedic taste remains as truthful as ever.

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Based on Irvine Welsh’s novel of the same title, which is one of my most cherished reads. “Filth” is every bit as vile as the dirty images and abhorrent actions the word conjures up in your brain. It’s repulsive, violent, vulgar, abusive, indulgent, sociopathic, misogynistic, sexually deplorable, and darkly hilarious. That being said, it doesn’t quite knock “Alpha Papa” from the throne of hilarity I’ve bestowed upon it, but “Filth” does exceed its brethren in nearly every other emotional and cinematic aspect. However, as you’ve probably assumed by now (I hope), this flick is really for those with a taste for the gritty and grotesque. So (I feel idiotic for even having to point this out), do not watch “Filth” if you are…delicate, you know, easily offended. Because if you happen to be the “morally stable” type, I can confidently guarantee that it won’t sit well with you and that you’ll be scrubbing “Filth” endlessly from your underbelly to no avail…

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Now, if you’re like me and have a rather…unique taste in film, there’s hardly anything shocking in the goings on of this flick that you haven’t been previously exposed to. Don’t get me wrong though, “Filth” is plenty filthy. I’m simply stating that one, like myself, shouldn’t go into the film expecting to be knocked off their feet from disgust, depravity, and peril. I’ve seen the very worst, disturbing, unhinged things that cinema has to offer and the dirt here doesn’t exactly rival those that rely on inhumanity as a crutch. What I’m saying is that the filth is hardly the driving point of “Filth,” merely a contrast, a theme, a device to assist in nailing our humanity home. To phrase it better, I’ve never seen such selfish, stoic, savage behaviour used so effectively and tastefully. The honest moments of vulnerability, fear, and love in this film is what makes “Filth” so utterly disconcerting, not the extent of ones indifference to the well being of others or themselves.

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Directed by the aforementioned Jon S. Baird, who also wrote the screenplay, “Filth” explores the depths and extremes of the human psyche. Constructed as a series of repugnant acts playing out through a man suffering from the destruction of his family while he fights for a promotion. Baird’s adaptation might not stay completely true to the source material, yet is able to conjure up a rather empathetic, aching, scummy story while keeping the darkness above all else. “Filth” really is an exploration of contrasts, take for example, it’s soundtrack. There’s a scene in which a group of people spontaneously jump into a merry, disheartening chorus staring into the camera dead on, sufficiently demolishing the fourth wall, just mere minutes before and after such foulness has graced the screen. I don’t know who’s responsible for such artistic structure, but they should be applauded. Baird really triumphs thoroughly with his latest outing.

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Now, before I get into praising James McAvoy, I’d like to give a shout-out to “Filth’s” outstanding supporting cast comprised of Jim Broadbent, Imogen Poots, and Jamie Bell, amongst others. Broadbent definitely takes his bizarre, hallucinogenic role to the next level with a charismatic, descriptively insane performance. Whether he’s ripping out the innards of our unstable lead, causing uproarious laughs with his sporadic mannerisms, or forcing disheartening realizations, Broadbent really pushes the film to the next level. Poots continues to display why she’s one of the most talented up-and-comers. She’s striking, unrelenting, sexy, and immensely astounding. As for Bell, who should really get more chances to strut his stuff, what can I say, he once again proves he’s got the chops to hang with the best. McAvoy, oh James McAvoy…simply put, McAvoy is bloody brilliant, his mannerisms, laugh, voice, beard, everything. The way he looks at the camera and breaks the fourth wall is enough to give you chills and his emotional output is heart-wrenching. His performance alone makes “Filth” worth the watch.

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Featuring one of the performances of the year from James McAvoy, evoking countless reactions and tugging at the viewers heart strings. “Filth” is a rare cinematic achievement in which humanities lowest points cause the film to soar to dizzying heights.

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Filth: 9 out of 10.

Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa (2013)

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For those who know me, it’s painfully aware that comedy isn’t exactly my genre of choice when it comes to watching a flick. Well, unless it’s a classic like “Airplane!” or if the laughs are mixed in with other, better genres such as thriller and romance. That being said, Brits seem to have a direct line to my funny bone with films like “Snatch” “The Cornetto Trilogy,” and “Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels,” amongst other countless successes. So, when I heard that long time television character Alan Partridge, one of my all-time favourite television personalities played by the incomparable Steve Coogan was getting a big-screen flick, you can imagine my excitement. “Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa” met my expectations right where I put them…somewhere in the clouds. It’s a perfect mix of intelligent, witty humour, lowbrow laughs and the occasional emotional strain. However, keep in mind that this kind of hilarity isn’t for everyone…

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Originating as a radio personality created by Coogan himself, Alan Partridge first appeared on the BBC radio 4 programme “On the Hour.” Then, before making the jump to his most successful undertaking, the television show “I’m Alan Partridge,” this satirical, self-made, small-time celebrity really came into form when he lent his expertise to several TV and radio specials. As time passed, Coogan’s wacky, self-obsessed invention grew quite the cult following and became a more elaborate, rooted individual. Delving into a complex family situation, an almost non-existent love/social-life, and bizarre friends and co-workers, the life of Alan Partridge became something much greater and more complex than ever anticipated. He was now as much apart of the real world as he was fiction. Now, here he is, over twenty years down the road and Alan Partridge is still relevant, hilarious, and growing.

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Beginning in 2004, the idea of a Partridge film was very much alive. However, upon suffering numerous setbacks in the writing phase and struggling with delicate content, in addition to Coogan who was unsure if he wanted to continue on with his creation, the film was severely delayed. Nonetheless, it is now 2013 and after a lengthy period of uncertainty, “Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa” hit theatres earlier this year to the acclaim of critics and cult-followers alike. Co-written by Coogan himself and directed by Declan Lowney, this unorthodox hostage flick holds the distinction of being my favourite comedy of the year. Oozing with laughs stemming from humour that ranges from smart to lowbrow, all the way down to pitch-black chuckles, “Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa” delivers the goods. Add in some charismatic performances and satirical undertones directed at our social and political stances, and you’ve got the most successful underdog of the year, in my honest opinion.

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PLOT:

Alan Partridge is content with his DJ position at North Norfolk Digital in Norwich. However, when the station is bought by a multinational conglomerate and the name is changed to “Shape,” Alan’s good friend Pat Farrell begins to fear the worst. After Pat and a few other co-workers convince Alan to discuss business with the station’s new owners and assure their job statuses, Alan’s irrelevance to the situation soon shifts to panic when he figures out that his job might be in question. Upon convincing his superiors to keep him on, Alan accidental on purpose throws someone under the bus. The next day, the fired employee returns and begins to shoot up the workplace and takes hostages. When the police fail to reach a settlement with the perp, Alan is called in to negotiate the standoff.

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As you’ve probably concluded by now, “Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa” stars the magnificent Steve Coogan, whom I adore dearly. The cast also features Colm Meaney as Pat Farrell, with Felicity Montagu reprising her role as Lynn and Simon Greenall returning as Michael for those familiar with the television show. Make no mistake though, this is the Steve Coogan show. This goes without saying, but to me Coogan is a comedic genius and anytime he gets to flex his acting chops is just an added delight, as those who’ve seen “The Trip” will agree. Coogan struts his stuff in this flick masterfully and I can confidently say that it’s one of his best comedic outings. Colm Meaney plays opposite Coogan here, which is no easy feat. That being said, he does a sublime job matching Coogan joke for joke, laugh for laugh. Honestly, Meaney hasn’t been this effective in years and it’s joyously see him return to form.

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As much as I despise the genre, especially in its current state, everyone needs a good laugh now and again. “Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa” is, without question, the funniest film I’ve seen so far this year, and it looks as if it’ll stay that way. It won’t win any Oscars, it won’t even be nominated, but it’s definitely worth the watch and I’ll be sure to pick it up on Bluray when it’s released.

Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa: 9 out of 10.

The World’s End (2013)

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The “Cornetto” trilogy has always been about humour, heart, and homage. And even though it’s been six long years since we last visited a quirky, enthralling, and action-packed world created by Simon Pegg and Edgar Wright…”The World’s End” was well worth the wait. That being said, the fact that Pegg, Wright, and company were able to pull it off is no surprise at all. It’s simply a rarity for a trilogy to be so evenly brilliant, so skepticism is understandable. Nevertheless, “The World’s End” is a fitting conclusion to such a fantastical series. Undoubtedly, it’s sad to see one of the most critically and all-around successful trilogies come to a close…but much like our way of life, nothing lasts forever. “The World’s End” is a superlative finale to a near-perfect trilogy and while not as strong as “Shaun of the Dead” and “Hot Fuzz,” it isn’t far off…

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Gary King (Pegg) is somewhat of a low-life and a borderline alcoholic. One day, having been reminded of his youth and happier times. Gary sets out to track down his old friends in order to convince them to complete a pub crawl they all failed to accomplish when they were younger. Upon successfully persuading Peter (Marsen), O-Man (Freeman), Steven (Considine), and Andy (Frost) to accompany him on this idiotic journey, the crew head back to their hometown of Newton Haven. After the group finishes up the first few pints, they begin to realize that something is amiss. However, deciding to carry on, Gary and his pals soon come to terms that this night will not go as originally planned.

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For all of it’s playful hilarity and jaw-dropping action, I don’t think the public expected “The World’s End” to be so decidedly earnest, disheartening, and tragic. Without question, it’s the most serious and honest chapter of the trilogy. After removing layer upon layer of relatable fears and experiences, such as dissipating youth and failed relationships, not to mention the triviality and flaws of the human race. It’s quite upsetting to realize how deep and truthful this satirical, bittersweet rabbit hole is. No matter how disingenuous and unfazed this group of pub-crawlers appears to be facing down their impending doom, they reek of mortality, mistakes, vulnerability, and imperfection. That being said, the final confrontation, themes, and the film as a whole is funny and unforgettable. Yet resonates a harsh, inevitable wake-up call.

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Perhaps the most important thing about “The World’s End” is that it didn’t let the previous entries down. Granted, it is somewhat a blend of the first two entries, brandishing similar plot points and themes. In addition, the premises and specific style of the “Cornetto” trilogy is becoming a bit stale and a tad bit predictable. That being said, “The World’s End’s” candidness, fresh comedy, and fast-paced violence is enough to differentiate it from the others. Each entry carries its own merit and traits that make them like no other. It feels like the right time for Wright and company to move on and bring to fruition their bright, limitless futures. With the “Cornetto” trilogy, Nick Frost, Simon Pegg, and Edgar Wright have created something that is truly invaluable, priceless… They should take unmeasurable pride in what they have accomplished.

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Without question, Edgar Wright is the most responsible for the triumph of not only “The World’s End,” but the “Cornetto” trilogy as a whole. His refusal to make pictures inside the norm is easily the most promising aspect of his career thus far and is what makes this trilogy so utterly brilliant. Wright continues to employ a Guy Ritchie-esque style melded with his unwavering, youthful wonder and cinephile heart. Essentially, this is what makes Wright’s films so intoxicating and enjoyable. But more importantly, what sets him apart as a filmmaker is the passion and humbleness in which he derives vision and creativity. He conjures up films that he, as a cinephile would cherish, which is the reason he is so respected and relevant to movie lovers every where. Sure, things might get a little hectic here and there, especially when your filming a battle to save all mankind, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.

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One thing that no one will ever accuse the “Cornetto” trilogy of having is shallow ensembles. And with “The World’s End,” we are treated to much of the same. Starring the exuberant, trustworthy duo of Simon Pegg and Nick Frost, a wonderful supporting cast that features Martin Freeman, Paddy Considine, and Eddie Marsen, in addition to a plethora of brief cameos. “The World’s End” arguably contains the strongest cast in the trilogy. Freeman is sort of the unsung star of the group, having landed the role of Bilbo Baggins in Peter Jackson’s “Hobbit” trilogy. He continues to provide evidence as to why he earned the job in the first place and apart from his reprising role on “Sherlock,” Freeman has never been better. Marsen and Considine, both severely underused in the business today, have an undeniable comedic charisma that is on full display in “The World’s End” and will hopefully garner them the attention they deserve.

As predicted, it’s Pegg and Frost who take the reigns of this fantastic adventure, with one significant change. Nick Frost is the responsible, sensible wet blanket, well, for as long as he can muster it anyhow and Simon Pegg is the  idiotic, chaotic friend, who isn’t really much of a pal at all. Now, aside from the closing of the trilogy, the biggest tragedy here is the disconcerting underuse and lack of acknowledgement from filmmakers everywhere towards Frost. Who, continues to be an under-appreciated talent and arguably gives the performance of his career in “The World’s End.” As for Pegg, who’s chagrin, heedless, and selfish performance is unfathomably effective. Pegg, who has gone on to star in several big-budget blockbusters, makes a fortuitous return to his humble beginnings and certainly adds another invaluable notch to his already stellar repertoire.

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Just a brief shout-out to Alice Lowe, Reece Shearsmith, Michael Smiley, Bill Nighly, and Steve Oram for their brief, but memorable roles in “The World’s End.” It’s nice to see Wright give a little extra screen time to the great, up-and-coming filmmakers for, his homeland.

Funny, heartfelt, and all-around awesome. “The World’s End” is the closing chapter die-hard “Cornetto” fans and cinephiles were hoping for and so much more.

The World’s End: 9 out of 10.

The Way Way Back (2013)

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This coming-of-ager isn’t in search of uncharted territory, purposely I might add, but it doesn’t stand on the shoulders of its predecessors either…rather, “The Way Way Back” is in search of genre perfection. Although it journeys a road that many have travelled before, it is able to rise above the clichés and worn-out tendencies of the genre to deliver a thoroughly enjoyable romp, that’s more importantly, memorable. “The Way Way Back” is an honest dramedy driven by sentimentality and visceral characters. Benefiting in large part from its creators Jim Rash and Nat Faxon’s ability to infuse wit and charm into the films progressive structure that frequently exhibits intelligence and ingenuity. And complimented by a cast with no shortage of exuberance, quirkiness, and comedic timing. “The Way Way Back” is as funny and sweet as it is saddening.

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Duncan (James) is a 14-year-old who is forced to vacation with his mother Pam (Collette) and her new boyfriend Trent (Carrell) at his summer home. Struggling to find where he fits in with this new family and place, Duncan travels to the local water park daily where he makes an unexpected friend in Owen (Rockwell). Eventually garnering a job, Duncan slowly gains more confidence and becomes smitten with his next-door neighbour Susanna (Robb), Betty’s (Janney) daughter. Upon meeting fresh and exuberant characters such as Kip (Corddry), Caitlyn (Rudolph), Lewis (Rash), and Roddy (Faxon), Duncan finally begins to find his place.

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In the near future, when “The Way Way Back” is brought up in conversation, one will say “they don’t make ’em like that anymore.” Granted, prior to its release the same was said about past masterpieces of the genre…well…not anymore. “The Way Way Back” is an immaculate concoction of humour, poignancy, and charismatic characters that is decidedly satisfying. While there is a certain level of familiarity in its themes, “The Way Way Back” distinguishes itself from other genre triumphs. It’d be easy to categorize it as a movie about summer love, but upon dissection, it doesn’t orbit around this premise, far from it. Obviously, there is a connection between two young outcasts who happen to fall hard for one another. But, this isn’t the only relationship the audience is subjected to.

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“The Way Way Back” puts enough separation between and adds its own unique twist on the importance of guided growth and finding one’s own way. These days, rarely is a film about a mid-teen’s summer adventure into self-exploration and identity discovery as authentic and rewarding as “The Way Way Back.” In addition, scribe’s Faxon and Rash are able to delve into several side-stories that tell tales of characters that are equally as complex and compelling. Despite the fact that there are few films about the importance of father-figures, and even fewer done well. “The Way Way Back” has a heartwarming take on finding a kindred mentor that resonates infinitely. It is becoming increasingly difficult to pull-off films of this nature because it is near-impossible to falsify such universal elements. Thankfully, “The Way Way Back” isn’t trying to fool anyone.

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“The Way Way Back” is similar to 2009s rom-com “Adventureland.” And like that film, it is understood that no one jumps straight into the deep-end, it is a gradual process, baby steps. Rash and Faxon understand this well, which is why “The Way Way Back” is so utterly convincing and effective. This is Rash and Faxon’s directorial debuts respectively and second collaboration as writers, their inception coming in 2011 with “The Descendants.”  The duo do an excellent job both behind the camera and on paper. They are able to stay away from others footprints and instead, make their own. While both have enjoyed mildly successful acting careers, it appears that the two have a much brighter future as filmmakers. It is a common misconception that switching from acting or writing to directing is simple. Once you’re able to comprehend the talent and effort it takes to be the one in control behind the camera, the easier it will be to appreciate Rash and Faxon’s work here.

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Whether they’re working at the local water-park or looking to escape from themselves. The characters of this classic summer flick are all looking to outrun their problems. Which I’m sure they’ll all attest to being a lot harder than it appears. “The Way Way Back” has a superb cast that perform nothing short of superlatively. Starring Sam Rockwell, Steve Carrell, Alison Janney, Rob Corddry, Toni Collette, AnnaSophia Robb, Maya Rudolph, and Liam James. There is no weak spot amongst this group.

With a cast that features comedy heavyweights such as Steve Carrell and Rob Corddry, you’d figure it’d be one of them getting all the laughs, but you’d be wrong. It is Alison Janney who’s bursting with effervescence and drunken candour. She does a spectacular job easing the tension and occasionally prying melancholic eyes away from disheartening realizations. Corddry is his usual eccentric self but adds a surprising dramatic facet to his sparsely used character. Toni Collette portrays a single parent executing her best intentions faultlessly. One feels equal amounts of empathy for her just as much as her directionless child, about as truthful of a performance that you’ll find. Maya Rudolph continues to be underused and underrated and her performance here is more irrefutable proof. AnnaSophia Robb, although given minimal dialogue uses her screen time wisely and her innocence sticks with you long after the film finishes.

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Without question, the star of “The Way Way Back” is Sam Rockwell. Blending his endless flare, strong emotional control, and hilarious mannerisms. Rockwell delivers a truly heartfelt, gut-wrenchingly honest, and vulnerable performance that ranks as one of his best to date. Perhaps the most intriguing portrayal in the film however is brought to life by Steve Carrell. Who parts ways with his typical roles based upon being the underdog and good intentions to create an antagonist the audience can full-heartedly despise. And finally, Liam James, who undoubtedly breaks through and is ready for bigger and better things. He perfectly encapsulates the witty, endearing, confused state circumstance has bound him to and exudes it effortlessly.

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“The Way Way Back” is an honest yarn. There is no happy ending or depressing ending…just indifference, maturity, and growth. True of life, we do not know what’s going to happen and everything that has already happened serves as nothing but a mould. Nonetheless, “The Way Way Back” is as honest, enthralling, and disheartening as they come, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.

The Way Way Back: 9 out of 10.