End of Watch

It’s buddy cop day.  More specifically, it’s ‘buddy cop flipped on its side’ day.  Loyal followers have already seen the post below which is a buddy cop movie flipped onto it’s 60s Irish side making for a darker over the top comedy.  End of Watch flips the script to make a darker and more dramatic version of the genre.

Michael Peña is BACK (well this one is older, buy ya get me) doing what he does best, being a hilarious movie cop type, in this single camera found footage style cop drama from David Ayer.  Yes, Ayer made this, so expect explosions, oversized weapons dipped in gold, and all of that noise. But in this application, those vehicles actually work to create this beautifully gut wrenching take on the genre.  It’s hard to call a movie with a gold AK47 and a villain named ‘Big Evil,’ subtle, but this film really is.  It flips from found camera footage of two cute cop buddies into a fully directed drama without you even noticing.  You’ll go from laughing to cheering to crying without even noticing.  You’ll go from thinking Ayer is a helicopter loving Joker ruining director to a beautiful genius without even noticing.

Instead of being a cop tale about corruption and drugs and cash, this film is about friendship.  Ayer’s choice to give Michael Peña and Jake Gyllenhaal cameras and the license to improvise add to the realism of the friendship.  The two are more than charming and make this flip on the buddy cop genre more than welcome.

Great if you liked: The Fast and the Furious, Nightcrawler, Dog Day Afternoon, Cerpico, Donnie Brasco, Training Day, Street Kings

War on Everyone

In a love letter to the buddy cop films of the 60’s, War on Everyone takes the genre to the dark places Rush Hour doesn’t. (New to Netflix which is exciting yo).

Writer/ director John Michael McDonagh (brother of Martin McDonagh of In Bruges and Seven Psychopaths) is an Irish movie thoroughbred making this his American film debut.  And boy, can you ever sense it.  This film spills over with Irish style humour you’ll recognize from your McDonagh brother favourites, which can be jarring in an American accent if I’m being really honest.

Honestly, Michael Peña to everyone else; do you even buddy cop?  In another film that turns buddy cop on its nose, End of Watch, this guy shines bright like a diamond.  This perfect pair up brings the comedy in this somewhat twisted flick.

Much like it’s buddy cop counter parts, War on Everyone isn’t winning any awards for ‘political correctness,’ but it approaches that style of humour through the right lens (in my humble opinion) and lets you laugh (this is a discussion for another time but I am happy to have it.  In a word, my thoughts are that there’s a difference between being in on the joke and the joke relying on an offensive premise).  There’s not much more to say than that if you wanted an Irish/ British approach to the buddy cop genre, by which I mean it’s grittier and more taboo, with a shockingly perfect cast, this is it, buddy.  It also includes easily my top 5 favourite one liner of all time and it’s killing me not to spoil it.

Great if you liked: End of Watch, In Bruges, Seven Psychopaths, Snatch, Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, Layer Cake, Rush Hour, Shanghai Noon

 

Keanu

As much as I wish I could just post about Keanu Reeves being awesome, this post isn’t about that. (Well, not directly, anyway).

We have all certainly heard the buzz of Jordan Peele‘s Get Out.  A lot of you are probably like “wait? Peele? Like that funny dude from Key and Peele?”  (Bonus points if you were like “wait, the guy who was on MAD TV with Key?). Yep! That guy.  Well briefly before his horror masterpiece was helping generate 200 buzzfeed articles, Key and Peele pumped out this comedy about a cat named Keanu.

This bizarre comedy follows two cousins pretty out of touch with LA street life.  After a cat stumbles into their lives, things seem to be on the up for the down trodden duo, but the cat belongs to a drug lord.  Hitmen and drug dealers claim the cat back sending the cousins on a berserk frenzy to reclaim their pet.

This movie is pure laughs in the style you’ve come to know and love from this pair.  As they take off in disguise as badass drug dealing hitmen in their pastel coloured shorts, you’ll immediately feel comfortable in the humour you expect from these two.  Put simply, it is a laugh, and a perfect gem when you’re looking for a comedy you might have missed.

Great if you liked: Let’s Be Cops, Bad Boys, Mr. Right, Central Intelligence, Let’s Go To Prison, Get Hard, Masterminds, Neighbor. (Note* I am not a big fan of most of these movies, and I love Keanu.  This movie is a lot better and a lot funnier, but certainly falls into the same category as those mentioned).

Snowpiercer

From it’s wikipedia page:  Snowpiercer is a 2013 English-language South Korean-Czech science fiction thriller film based on the French graphic novel Le Transperceneige by Jacques Lob, Benjamin Legrand and Jean-Marc Rochette.

Following along so far?

So last week was Free Comic Book Day in Toronto, and boy, did I make out well.  I stopped at three excellent comic book shops, and got my Captain Canuck Year One signed by Jay Baruchel and Kalman Andrasofszky. Big day. Huge. Anyway, while on my trip to all of the comic book hot spots, I saw all kinds of Snowpiercer merch and couldn’t believe I hadn’t already told you guys about one of my favourite comic book adaptations! (One of.  Guys, there are so many).

When climate change becomes the final problem (so, now, basically), humanity comes together with a plan to solve it, and fails, big time.  Our movie takes place in the aftermath, when the remainder of humanity is the few who have boarded a train firing in a loop around the earth with a perpetual energy engine.  On the train, people have separated into classes, the poorer at the back of the train, near starving, and the rich at the front of the train, living lavishly.  Lead by Curtis (Chris Evans), the “scum” at the back of the train revolt and plot move across the train to the engine, to force negotiations for a  better life for those in the lower class.

This is an indie sci-fi, with wisps of horror, based on a graphic novel, starring Chris Evans.  CAN’T BE MAD ABOUT THAT N’AM SAYIN’?  The film is absolutely crazy, but also incredibly thoughtful.  Evans gives an incredible subtle performance that shows off his acting chops.  The brilliant and diverse cast so beautifully portray the struggle of the less fortunate while blending seamlessly with the horror sci-fi craziness this film brings.  Director Bong Joon Ho brings a Korean horror sensibility to scary elements that I won’t spoil here.  His approach to the source material and the terrifying secrets all along the train are incredible and keep this both uplifting and bone chilling.

After excellent critical acclaim, this film certainly made it more mainstream, but many a fan missed it, so if you’re one of those fans, I hope you’ll check this one out.

Great if you liked: Train to Busan, Children of Men, Sunshine, Minority Report, Looper, Running Scared, The Fifth Element

Fun Fact: In the “after the credits scene” of The Avengers Age of Ultron, you’ll notice cap covering up his chin while enjoying his shawarma.  That’s because Evans was already filming Snowpiercer and had grown a beard which was covered up by a prosthetic jaw.

Funny Games

Image result for funny games movie posterListen, you get it. This is a horror game, so as soon as I post something not horror (below), I need to sandwich it so it looks like my tastes are diverse.
So today, we are taking it back to scary with Funny Games.

Before Michael Pitt shook his creep persona from Murder by Numbers and started stealing hearts and liquor as Jimmy Dormody, and before The Strangers was serving us creepy home invasion realness, there was Funny Games. (In fact, even 10 years before that, there was the original).

If you ask me, horror is mostly fun because it is gratuitous and unbeleivable.  But the home invasion sub-gendre scares me top to bottom for it’s ability to seem absolutely plausible.  Funny Games takes it even further by pulling this sh** in the daylight. *Full body shudder.*

Sadistic Peter and Paul come across the vacation home of a family of three, and take them hostage, forcing them to participate in twisted games.  The simplicity of this take on the invasion, paired with the sadistic games, daylight, and helplessness of a family not expecting such an attack makes this film so scary.  There is a sense of dread associated with not being prepared for the very simple attack of two unarmed intruders.

Intentionally or not, this serves up the psychotic scare reminiscent of A Clockwork Orange, made more familiar in the psychos’ all white outfits and use of objects for beatings.

While not the penultimate home invasion movie, this certainly stirred up my own fear, and features great performances, including that of Naomi Watts and Tim Roth, masters of the creep, in protagonist positions.

Watch this whatever time of day you want, because it is not going to make daylight feel safe for you anyway.

Great if you liked: The Strangers, A Clockwork Orange, Copycat, Last House on the Left, Vacancy, The Collector, Panic Room, You’re Next, Cape Fear, Fatal Attraction

The Grand Seduction

It’s Thursday.  I treated myself to some banana cake because I deserve it.  You know what you deserve?  Something feel good.

I’ve said this over and over, so many hidden gems tend to be horror and sci fi, and while those are my favourite, so no complaints, it leaves little room for your nice warm and fuzzies.  Well this early Spring Thursday, I bring you a warm and fuzzy by way of The Grand Seduction.

I know what you’re thinking, “I see Taylor Kitsch as a doctor.  I am sold.  Say no more!”  BUT WAIT, THERE’S MORE.

In Eastern Canada (Newfoundland, specifically), there is a strange abundance of Irish accents and fishing towns.  This fishing village is in desperate need of jobs, jobs that would come with the building of a new factory.  In order to get the factory in their village, they’ll have to get the numbers, get the workers, get the space, and get a permanent doctor.  After getting into some trouble with the law, Dr. Paul Lewis is sent to the town to temporarily fill in as their full time medic.  The people of the village, desperate to get him to stay, plot to sell their charming village to the good doc by any means necessary.

Yep, it’s pretty creepy, and the villagers are nothing short of that.  But this incredibly cute story shows the will and determination of a village coming together to save what they have by any means necessary.  The cast is as charming as the town their trying to protect.  You might even be convinced to visit…. unless you like ethnic food and 40 hipster coffee joints on every corner (which I do, so… not for me).  Even Kitsch totally sells it as a caring and charming doc, made to blush when flattered by the ladies.

This departure from your average romantic comedy or slapstick laugh fest is a super cute and super unique feel good laugh.  I almost struggle to compare it to a mainstream you’re likely to have seen.  This is what “charm” looks like on screen, and you deserve that on a Thursday. (Fun fact, this appears to be a remake).  Learn more about the wonderful province of NL here.

Great if you liked: The Way Way Back, honestly, I have no idea, this is such a departure from anything I have seen…

Free Fire

Here’s good news.  Rare is it that I can boast about an indie getting a theater release because usually I am either recommending an oldie or a flick that doesn’t get a theater release.  WELL GOOD NEWS, FAM, this one is coming to select theaters near you.

I had the unique pleasure of seeing Free Fire at the Toronto International Film Festival at (the only program that matters), Midnight Madness.  I had no idea what to expect, but when Shartlo Copley (if it’s not obvious how amazing Sharlto is, go back and check out my post on Hardcore Henry #FeelTheVern) and Brie Larson were on the guest list, I had no sense I’d be disappointed.  Aside from those two giants, this movie is filled to the brim with “oh that’s that guy!”s which just adds to the fun.  I mean, Armie Hammer is a brute named Ord, yw.

Now I don’t use this lightly, but this movie is 1 part Guy Ritchie film and 10 parts Reservoir Dogs.  You heard me. Res-Er-Voir-Dawgs.   There’s an important enough thread of a plot holding everything together, but it is ultimately a 90 minute shoot em up panic in a warehouse.  While it sounds similar to Dogs, it is completely its own unique film, with a similar ratio of action an gore.  Free Fire takes all the shoot em up tropes and combines them with a visually fun period for the sake of costume, vibe, and simplicity and spits out a fun romp you’ll never get bored of.

This is no slasher, but you’ll find yourself cheering for the “kills” as if it was your fourth time through the Jason franchise.  I honestly dare you to not have fun.

Great if you liked: Reservoir Dogs, Shoot Em Up, Inglorious Basterds, Rock N Rolla, Snatch, Lock Stock and 2 Smoking Barrels, Hardcore Henry, District 9, Chappie

Better Off Ted

If you haven’t yet submitted to the mania of Santa Clarita Diet, I suggest you get on it.  The Netflix comedy has me in stitches and I’ve watched it through more than once by now.  Which is why it came as no surprise to me that the show’s creator,  Victor Fresco, is also responsible for one of my favourite lesser known sitcoms, Better Off Ted.

I was introduced to this parody of office culture while nuts deep in a ridiculous office job selling “smart solutions to optimize efficiency.”  Buzz business words that business people don’t think are funny were my jam, so this show hit the sweet spot.

This quick witted comedy focuses on Ted, a VP at a parody of a multinational conglomerate in charge of research and development.  The single father narrates us through his attempts at managing his career, child and love life.  It’s as quick witted as you’ve come to expect from SC Diet, to the brim with quoteable one liners and back and forth.  The cast absolutely excels in their delivery of the ridiculous dialogue while all managing to be charming.  On top of that, it is absolutely silly and over the top and calls out all those weird office tropes that your colleagues seem to think are normal.  (We are all Linda).

This 2 season show is somehow still not on Netflix, so let’s start the campaign to get it there, considering SC Diet seems to be doing pretttty well.  Also, the fake company commercials are so good as a standalone mini series.

Great if you liked: Santa Clarita Diet, Arrested Development, It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, The Office, Community, 30 Rock, Parks and Recreation, Archer

The Girl With All the Gifts

You’re kind of a film fan, right? So you’ve probably seen 28 Days Later?  And you remember that feeling you felt when you had stumbled across a lesser known foreign zombie flick and were like “hot dam.”  And on rainy days, scanning for something to do, you long for that feeling again, right?

I found that when I saw The Girl With All the Gifts.

This unsuspecting movie hit me totally by surprise.  It starts in some sort of military bunker where a a teacher is teaching to a group of young students who are strapped to their desks, glared at by seemingly disgusted soldiers.  It doesn’t rush to answer your questions, but it ultimately takes you on a ride through a post human universe where the children are the next mutation of a zombie virus which appears to have wiped out much of humanity.

Mike Carey, writer of both the inspiring novel and screenplay, brings his comic book sensibility to the big screen.  What is at its core a zombie film, reads more like the human panic of V for Vendetta, the confusion of mutation and technology of WE3 and the tests of humanity of The Walking Dead. (Comic book versions of all, to be clear).  It’s a story far deeper than your average “… of the Dead” flick, but doesn’t skimp on the snapping zombies.

I can’t say enough about this roller coaster through the not so distant future.  It’s acted so beautifully and is such a great take on the genre. You’ll also be pretty surprised by a lot of the cast.

A little birdie told me it is screening at The Royal in Toronto and I recommend you all check it out.

Great if you liked: The Walking Dead, V for Vendetta, Dawn of the Dead, Shaun of the Dead, Night of the Living Dead, 28 Days Later, 28 Weeks Later, Morgan, Cloverfield, The Mist, Monsters

Primer

I’ve been sitting on this one a while as it is a part of one of my favourite memories. The first time I watched the amazing hidden gem, Primer,  was with my younger brother. Baffled after first viewing, we spent a couple hours online and with pens and paper trying to map out the whole thing. After that, we headed back into the living room and watched it again on the same night (while standing on an ottoman for the second half since we saw a silverfish and were too scared/ enthralled in our re-watch to deal with it).  I wish I still had the chicken scratch timeline map we’d created during watch #2.

Somewhat like Predestination, this is not a movie to watch while cruising twitter. Seriously, this is a lesson, bring a pen.

This absolutely sparking hidden gem centers around four friends attempting to build an error checking device.  In doing so, they stumble across a finite time travel with specific rules.  In doing so, everything they are is tested in front of the backdrop of “what would you do with that kind of power?”

This movie is as confusing as it is groundbreaking.  On a minimal budget with suggestions of science magic, these 4 friends embark on a journey of time travel that tests every fiber of them and their very humanity.  As these guys fit in the category of your average middle class ‘guy,’ it becomes more relatable than, say, Biff Tannen’s experience in time travel.

While this movie is an actual mindF*** (I’m looking at you, Inception), it is ultimately completely sensical and follows a specific set of rules making it reconcilable with some attention.  That’s because Shane Carruth, writer, director and star (he also composed the score), is a software engineer and mathematics major turned filmmaker.  He planned every second of this movie so well, that you’ll know it makes sense, but probably have to draw it out at least once.

While this trailer isn’t TOO spoilery, I definitely prefer that I went into this movie fresh (I didn’t even know it was about time travel for a bit).  That said, give it a glance to see the tone and vibe of it all.  It’s not the sparkling epic of your average time travel movie, it’s a much more subtle approach to the genre.  Also, if you’ve studied software engineering at all (I have in a very removed way in a philosophy course on the functions of the human mind, so I mean it when I say “at all”), you will really pick up on how those functions were important in the mapping of this flick.

Watch this one when you’re still awake enough to spend time and attention on it.  For me, that meant a 4 am re-watch standing on an ottoman.  Aka, absolute perfection in movie viewing.

Great if you liked: Predestination, Pi, Back to the Future, Inception, Moon, Interstellar, Timecrimes, Timelapse, Arq, Donnie Darko, Looper, 12 Monkeys