The King of Comedy (1982)

Directed By: Martin Scorsese

Screenplay By: Paul D. Zimmerman

Cinematography By: Fred Schuler

Starring: Robert De Niro & Jerry Lewis

Runtime: 109 minutes

In my opinion this is Scorsese’s most underrated film. It’s fantastic on so many levels. De Niro is hilarious, awkward, absurd, creepy, manic; he’s the best Rupert Pupkin anyone could ever ask for.

Scorsese is in tip-top shape, framing us both inside and outside Rupert’s head seamlessly and humorously. The rest of the cast is extremely funny. There’s so much subtle and dark humor in this movie but also deals with a subject matter that thirty-five years later is still as relevant as ever: celebrity culture.

The King of Comedy is dark, real dark. And if you can get past that, you’ll find the humor in it all. This is a movie that’s shear existence amazes me. A still moderately young De Niro playing an absolutely delusional comic, it’s incredible. Scorsese showing that he’s as good at humor as he is at violence, this is the whole deal.

If you haven’t seen this movie you should.

God Bless America

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Hunt for the Wilderpeople (2016)

Directed By: Taika Waititi

Screenplay By: Taika Waititi

Cinematography By: Lachlan Milne

Starring: Sam Neill & Julian Dennison

Runtime: 101 minutes

Man this is a fun movie. There is a ton of Wes Anderson and Edgar Wright influence all over the screen and it’s exciting. This movie is fun, funny, heartfelt and takes place in the beautiful “Bush” of New Zealand.

I will say the first half is much stronger than the second but that doesn’t diminish the story or how enjoyable this movie is. However here comes the main problem with this film, the antagonist.

The movie is about a foster kid moving in with new foster parents. The antagonist is the social services woman who drops him off. Besides this being a rather standard antagonist for a foster care movie her constant presence is completely unnecessary. She becomes much more of a caricature than a character and it really sucks. It sucks because besides her this movie would almost be flawless (not as in being a perfect movie, but with almost nothing you could truly complain about).

See, Ricky and Hec have to hide in the “Bush” otherwise Ricky will be taken away from Hec and Hec will probably go to jail, but they are essentially running from the national guard of New Zealand. In no way shape or from would a social services lady be running this nationwide “manhunt”. It makes no sense, her character is over the top and isn’t needed. The stakes of Ricky being taken from Hec are high enough, we don’t need this stupid character doing a job she would never ever do.

That being said I still really enjoyed this movie and it’s definitely worth a watch. Some great style mixed with humor and heart with beautiful shots to boot.

God Bless America

I’m the Angel of Death: Pusher III (2005)

Directed By: Nicolas Winding Refn

Screenplay By: Nicolas Winding Refn

Cinematography By: Morten Søborg

Starring: Zlatko Buric

Runtime: 90 minutes

If you follow my blog, which you don’t because no one does, you’d know I’ve been cruising through Refn’s Pusher trilogy. After an unusual experience with Pusher II, Pusher III makes a lot more sense. Even though it’s a trilogy, II and III feel much more tonally related than I. Now having watched all three though, while still feeling I is the best of the trilogy I have an extreme appreciation for II and III and what they succeed in doing.

This trilogy is about control, specifically an individual’s ability to control their environment. Each protagonist is either trying to have control, find control, or maintain control over their situations. A noble theme and a fascinating one for Refn to have explored. As a trilogy it is fun and gratifying to see minor characters weave in and out of these movies even though the protagonists change throughout the three.

Pusher III makes you want Milo to maintain control as much as he wants to. A man once with unquestionable power in the Pusher world is now aging and fighting addiction (another aspect of how he is looking to control something). But Milo’s time as someone to not fuck with isn’t over yet. This is another great movie by Refn and the trilogy has a lot to say about humanity and it’s dark underbelly of crime.

Watch these movies, they’re all on Amazon Prime right now and you won’t be disappointed.

God Bless America

With Blood on My Hands: Pusher II (2004)

Directed By: Nicolas Winding Refn

Screenplay By: Nicolas Winding Refn

Cinematography By: Morten Søborg

Starring: Mads Mikkelsen

Runtime: 100 minutes

See I told you Mads Mikkelsen was exceptional as Tonny. So exceptional in fact that they gave him his own movie. Of course I’m not going to complain any time Refn is/was allowed to make a movie, but Pusher II has a much calmer tone than any of Refn’s other films I’ve seen. It’s not a bad film by any stretch of the imagination, it’s actually still a great film, just not what I was expecting from Refn or from the sequel to what was an intensity juggernaut in Pusher I.

Another thing that through me was how much grittier Pusher I looks and feels than it’s sequel. Even though Pusher II is still handheld throughout it felt much cleaner than Pusher I. Maybe this is from Refn evolving as a filmmaker and nine years removed from the original he just wasn’t able to or interested in replicating that Pusher grit. The Pusher world is still grimy by itself but this does feel like a more produced version of the original and not fully it’s visual sibling.

However, Pusher II is still emotionally gripping and has a lot to say about the character Tonny and the world he comes from. And again Mads Mikkelsen is excellent as Tonny.

You should watch this movie.

God Bless America

Pusher (1996)

Directed By: Nicolas Winding Refn

Screenplay By: Jens Dahl & Nicolas Winding Refn

Cinematography By: Morten Søborg

Starring: Kim Bodnia & Mads Mikkelsen

Runtime: 110 minutes

Refn’s first feature film is no disappointment. This movie is intense, really really intense. You know shit has to go sour and then it does and boy is it rough. It’s like being in a nightmare you can’t wake up from.

Refn keeps amazing me. This isn’t like his later films, he’s clearly got more money to play with now but in Pusher he understands his limitations and uses them to his advantage. It’s an extremely impressive film. It also proves Refn has always been obsessed with the mob and mob mentality. And Refn’s mob isn’t Scorsese’s New York mafia, but low level grimy mobs, hidden mobs. The LA mob in Drive, The Bangkok mob in Only God Forgives, but it all started in Pusher with the grungy Copenhagen mob of Denmark.

Watch this movie cause it’s really fucking good. Also it’s cool to see a young Mads Mikkelsen who is exceptional as Tonny.

God Bless America

Irma Vep (1996)

Directed By: Olivier Assayas

Screenplay By: Olivier Assayas

Cinematography By: Eric Gautier

Starring: Maggie Cheung & Nathalie Richard

Runtime: 99 minutes

This is an interesting French film that deals with the state of world cinema generally and French cinema specifically. It’s about a French production of a remake of an old silent film, and for the remake the director casts a Chinese actress as the star.

Irma Vep is engaging throughout but the last few minutes is where this movie busts a whole through your brain. Of course it wouldn’t have any power if it weren’t for everything that comes before it, but dang the ending is mesmerizing and shows what movies are truly capable of.

Maggie Cheung is super seducing wearing a skin tight latex suit for a good portion of the film. And it doesn’t hurt how everyone in the movie talks about how beautiful she is. The influential power of other people.

This is worth a watch for anyone interested in a movie about filmmaking and movies.

God Bless America

The Neon Demon (2016)

Directed By: Nicolas Winding Refn

Screenplay By: Nicolas Winding Refn and Mary Laws & Polly Stenham

Cinematography By: Natasha Braier

Starring: Elle Fanning

Jesus titty-fucking Christ! This movie is fucking bonkers. How are people not talking about this film. Refn once again makes the case for being the most ambitious and provocative director around. This movie is fucking great!

There is an undeniable and unavoidable tension from the first shot to the last. This movie never gives you a break, and when you think it has is when you’ll be the most in trouble. Wow! Just wow.

I wish all movies could be conceived with this amount of creativity and delicacy. From the story, to the costumes, the music, the shots, everything is working on such a high level it is really a stunning thing to behold.

Something that I really enjoyed about this movie besides all of it, was the resolution. Usually movies have a climax and end within a few minutes after that. This movie allows you to stew and simmer. And boy oh boy! Wow wow wow.

If you’re into dark and twisted and beautiful things go see this movie.

God Bless America