movie to watch

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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Coherence

A friend was explaining to me that one of her favourite movies was one about messy timelines and I called said movie (to be posted later on the list) a “poor man’s Primer.” She was instantly insulted, despite not having seen Primer.  So I gave her a list of three superior films in the genre, the aforementioned, Predestination, and Coherence.  Immediately after watching Coherence, she called me to sulk it was over, and to plan our rewatch. It’s that good.

I stumbled across this movie in an imdb rabbit hole, and when it popped up on Netflix, I was instantly psyched.  It does not disappoint.

A group of friends are on their way to a dinner party, the night a comet is passing overhead. *don’t read this if you prefer to go in fresh* The comet causes some sort of quantum decoherence and allows the characters to pass through to alternate timelines.

What’s really exciting about this movie, is that it doesn’t bother to hold your hand.  You are learning what is happening as the characters (and the actors!) are.  You can’t help but be focused in, trying to figure it all out.  That also lends to being a bit scary.  Even better, it leads to rewatches paying off in so many ways.

Much like Saw, this was born out of the desire to make a movie that takes place in one room, and this sci-fi delivers in a completely different way.

Great if you liked: Predesination, Timecrimes, Primer, Pi, Timelapse, Cube, Circle

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

The Crazies (1973)

Yesterday was a rough day.  The world lost George A. Romero AND Martin Landau.

For those unfamiliar, Romero is the godfather of the modern day zombie.  Before his iterations, there was no head shot, no double tab, no infectious bites.  Romero’s career is riddled with “of the Dead” features that have inspired an entire genre and generation of film makers.  Further, his films were diverse in such a way that they were so before their time.

But almost any casual fan has watched a Romero zombie flick.  Here is my oft missed selection.

The Crazies tells the story of a small town wherein an infection has caused certain people to both laugh at and commit heinous violence.  The infection is born of a failed military operation, and the town is sealed off by personnel attempting to contain the situation and study the results of this accidental test.  A small group of survivors attempt to evade quarantine and save themselves from the military wrath.

This film is so different from your average fright, and is a new take on a ‘zombie’ genre film as the ‘zombies’ are not the rotting bitey corpses you imagine, but psychopathic versions of living people. The opening scene is pure terror and the third act is absolutely devastating.  This oft missed film totally breaks the mould and is absolutely wroth the watch.

Great if you liked: Dawn of the Dead, Day of the Dead, Night of the Living Dead

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

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