Action

Layer Cake

As a Guy Ritchie fangirl, this used to be my go to film for those who’ve exhausted his roster of jacked up crime flicks.  Although, produced by the same company behind Snatch and co, Layer Cake is directed by another British Gem, Matthew Vaughan.  You heard me, the very same genius behind, say it with me, Kingsman.

In this audition for James Bond, Daniel Craig stars in this adaptation of JJ Connelly’s novel as a drug dealer planning for his retirement.  When asked by his boss to help locate a missing woman, and getting into a bad deal with stolen pills, his perfect plan gets derailed. Hi-jinx ensue.

This is not a simple rehash of your typical British crime flicks, but it does have that same list of quirky characters, interwoven subplots, and British slang you wish you could pull off without sounding like a twat.  It is a lot more colourful and upbeat in appearance (does that make sense?) than what you’ve seen from Ritchie, but still reminds you of the writing style.  If you’re in it for a complex story, or just for a British drug romp, this is the one, baby.

This also has both one of my favourite soundtracks and favourite scores, since you asked.

Great if you liked: Snatch, Lock Stock and 2 Smoking Barrels, Gangster No. 1, Rock N’ Rolla, The Man From U.N.C.L.E., Revolver, Fight Club, Reservoir Dogs

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Big Game

I would love to write a thesis on what it’s like making action movies about the President of the US in 2017.  What would Air Force One look like? All The President’s Men? Executive Decision? Is it a coincidence that White Olympus House Down Fallen or whatever is the last US Pres focused action movie to come out?

Well back in 2014, Finland’s Jalmari Helander pumped out the President focused action of your dreams with Big Game.

Coming off of the success of the straight up weird (and excellent) Rare Exports (prep for that entry near the holidays), Jalmari applied his wacky style to the “save the pres” genre.

Samuel L. Jackson stars alongside young Onni Tommila as the US President who is marooned in Finland after a failed attempt at his kidnapping causing an Air Force One Crash. Onni, as Oskari, the skilled young camper, stumbles across the pres and the pair go on an exciting adventure through the woods.  Oskari is out hunting and camping to prove himself as a man to his village, and the pres stumbles right in to give him the opportunity.

This absolutely ridiculous spin on the genre adds an entire level of fun to an otherwise Clancy written Ford starring version of the same.  Take a trip back to a time when these movies were a fun spin on reality.  This is EASILY one of my favourite camp action movies, and of those, there are many.

Great if you liked: Rare Exports, Kingsman: The Secret Service, Air Force One, Con Air, All the President’s Men, Independence Day

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

 

Predestination

It’s Tuesday.  Perfect time for some thinking Sci-Fi in Predestination.

Ethan Hawke stars as a Temporal agent on the hunt for a criminal, the Fizzle Bomber, who has eluded him through time.  A Temporal agent’s duties involve intricate travels through time to ensure their law enforcement exists “through eternity.” On his final mission, he is to take out his elusive white whale.

Dripping with unseen hints, a story is told to the agent by a bar patron (who oddly looks a lot like Leonardo DiCaprio) of  Jane, of a shattered career, lost love, and the amazing feats of human kind.

You could see two different trailers for this film and think they’re completely unrelated.  But they’re not.  Watch closely.

Predestination is great for, among other reasons, the fact that it plays with our linear sense of time.  Typically, we see time as a straight line from past, present to future.  For our Temporal Agent, his past, present and future transcends our timeline and exists in a line linear to his age, but not through that of our universe. (Whoooaaaa).

This is one of the highest quality, in both production value and story, sci fi films that I have seen come out of the festival circuit.  Based on a short story by the legendary Robert A. Heinlein, and adapted for film by the makers of Daybreakers, this is not one to go missed.

Amazing if you liked: Daybreakers, Looper, Source Code, In Time, Snowpiercer, Minority Report

The Guest

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I have been on quite a classic horror binge as of late, which is a great way to remind myself of all of the amazing tropes parodied by my favourite genre: modern camp horror.

Few have done camp horror quite as well as Adam Wingard and Simon Barrett, the writer director duo behind The Guest.

Coming off the success of their sleeper hit, You’re Next, the duo took their new found big budget and turned it into the camp horror dreams were made of (and then sprinkled in a bunch of action).

Dan Stevens (of Downton Abbey fame) stars as “David,” a soldier returning from active duty and visiting the family of his fallen platoon member.  The Peterson family invites David to stay with them for a few days, where slowly his strange behaviour begins to show its face, mostly to the daughter, a teenage waitress forced to have David tag-a-long in her day to day life as a social high schooler.

This flick dives so far into awesome camp that it is mashing of two of my all time favourite films, Terminator 2 and Halloween, which is somehow also funny, and goes next level into some Jason Bourne, and German Sci Fi places.

Every detail makes this film fun, from the classic 80’s style euro synth music, to the long shots of solo characters.  You won’t know whether to love or hate David, but you’ll definitely want to recycle some of his lines to sound cool (re: ‘cash is easy to get’ and ‘awesome’).  It’s also a great spot for Maika Monroe who is quickly making her name as the Scream Queen of the Y generation.

Great if you liked: You’re Next, Halloween, A Nightmare on Elm Street, Friday the 13th, It Follows, The Final Girls, V/H/S, Rec, The Strangers, Terminator, Terminator 2

Son of Batman

If you have your ear anywhere near the comic book grindstone, you will have heard that they are FINALLY making a Batman animated film for “The Killing Joke” which has just gotten itself an R rating. (This is so insanely exciting because it’s my fave comic book ever and is absolutely twisted).

If you’re not familiar with the Batman animated films, well…. you’re welcome for telling you about them.  Batman animated films are not quite what you would expect.  They tend to borrow heavily from the comic book ethos and are often a page by page retelling of the dark comic books up on the small screen.  There are a lot of amazing ones (and a chunk of them are on Netflix) so if you’re a comic book fan looking for a lazier way to digest some reading, or a casual fan looking to scope the comic book vibe, these are for you.

Son of Batman makes the list because, while it follows the comic book retelling onto the small screen, it’s actually kind of a distant cousin to its comic book counter part, Batman and Son. (Guys, the Batman and Son comic story line is a whole other article for a whole other website…).

Ra’s Al Ghul, his daughter, Talia, and his grandson, Damian, are training the League of Assassins when attacked by a rival terrorist group, lead by Slade Wilson (yes the very same character Deadpool is parodying). Ra’s is killed, and Talia brings her son to Gotham to be protected by his father, Batman.  Damian possesses the raw skill of his father and mother and the training of the League, but the defiance associated with being raised by the Al Ghul clan.

Story takes off from there and unreal characters pop by like Killer Croc (you’ll know him from the Suicide Squad trailers) and (*heart melts*) Nightwing. Also, those voice actors, tho.

This is a great one to cut your teeth on, or if you’re a hard comic book fan and have read all the print stories and want something different.  It’ll be perfect to make you a fan just in time for The Killing Joke.

Fun Fact, watching this is how I learned I have been pronouncing “Ra’s” wrong for 25 years. (Raysh? Yeah right).

Great if you liked: Batman, Batman Begins, The Dark Knight, The Dark Knight Rises, Attack on Arkham, The Dark Knight Returns, Batman and Robin, Jessica Jones, Daredevil, Batman v Superman, Man of Steel, Batman Beyond, The Avengers, The Winter Soldier

In Bruges

 

As I sat watching the first two awards announced at the Oscars, fighting with my cable box for its inability to play “Room,” I realized all I needed for real Sunday entertainment was my DVD collection, and In Bruges.

A go-to for a lot of film fans trying to help out a bored friend, this British flick is at the top of British (…Irish) Drama game.

Colin Farrell stars as Ray, a hitman, who along with his “co-worker,” Ken (Brendan Gleeson) has been sent to Bruges, Belgium to await orders from their boss, Harry.

The plot unfolds in such an artful way that I don’t want to delve into it any more here.

Martin McDonagh, (the brilliant genius behind Seven Psychopaths), does what he does best here.  He creates a simple story about a lost hit man and coats it with a thick layer of allegory, meta-plot, blatant hints you don’t see, and a perfect peppering of humour.

Farrell, (who is, IMO, one of the top 3 most underrated actors of our time) really shines here as Ray.  He even won the Golden Globe for Best Actor for it…. (Sorry, Oscars and DDL, this was Colin’s year).

By treating “crime” the way it does, it really takes you into the life of these hitmen and out of your every day.  It’s dark, it’s sad, it’s funny, and it’s exciting, a difficult combo on which McDonagh doesn’t disappoint.

Great if you liked: Seven Psychopaths, Snatch, Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, Layer Cake, Lucky Number Slevin, Rock N Rolla

Hardcore Henry

It’s a fact that this is an over zealous post.  This was supposed to be buried in the vault for a little while but I am JUST SO EXCITED THAT THIS MOVIE HAS AN OFFICIAL RELEASE DATE.

Back when this was still called “Hardcore,” I was fortunate enough to catch this masterpiece at the Toronto International Film Festival, and it was pretty tough to survive the 90 minute run time without blinking ONCE.

In this movie version of an RPG, you wake up, Henry, with no memory of who you are, being put back together by your beautiful wife.  As she is finishing up installing your voice module, some ‘hell breaks loose’ and, well, you’re off for the best action packed thrill ride you’ll ever see through your own eyes.

The POV of this film is more amazing than you’re imagining.  It has the “one long shot” vibe of Birdman, with the frantic sci fi of the best RPG and some Looper vibes.  What’s even more amazing is that a lot of this flick was shot with go-pros and cameras literally strapped to a guy running.  I’ll reference you to the “bridge free run” scene which was literally filmed without safety harnesses, and just some stunt men running, one of them strapped with cameras.  My heart was in my throat enough without knowing that.

This death defying romp is more fun than you could ever imagine and is completely insane, courtesy of the eccentric Jimmy(s) brought to life by Sharlto Popley.  There’s a dance scene.  That’s all you need to know. (And, no, it’s nothing like Spider-man 3).

I can’t recommend this one enough, and if you can, try your best to catch this one in theaters after it’s exciting April 9, 2016 release.  Ugh, congrats, Ilya Naishuller, you killed it.

Amazing if you liked: any RPG game, Looper, Rare Exports, Big Game, The Sixth Day, 28 Weeks Later, Dredd, Judge Dredd