The Green Inferno (2013)

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Eli Roth directs Lorenza Izzo, Ariel Levy and Aaron Burns in this horror thriller about a group of students who travel to the jungle to protect a lost tribe’s right only to end up in their cooking pot.

Middling horror bad boy Roth spends a good hour lampooning the hypocrisy of his millennial social justice warriors with nary a severed limb in sight. So well that I’ve read a fair few reviews from people of that generation who see the protagonists as likeable and well motivated. Ha! You young deluded fools. Roth wants to hate the kids before he ates the kids. And he destroys, and chops, and chews em up good and raw. Grisly stuff… though without a sympathetic protagonist it is essentially a joyless gorno. Joyless gorno… Roth’s signature dish. Let the (kinda) master cook. The set pieces are never dull and always ruthless in their brutality.

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Eddie Murphy Delirious (1983)

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Bruce Gowers directs Eddie Murphy, a red leather jumpsuit and a microphone in this feature length stand up stage show.

Am I going to touch the controversial first 10 minutes of this stand up special with a barge pole? Can you justify a major Hollywood star opening to a sell out adoring crowd with the line “I got rules. Faggots aren’t allowed to look at my ass while I’m onstage?” And then go on to talk, at length, insensitively about homosexuals, AIDS, hitting your girlfriend and the like without any ironic detachment or satirical intent? Eddie Murphy… a young comic, at the height of his stardom, playing to an unenlightened crowd in an unenlightened decade as a raunchy, say anything, turn up in cock enhancing red leather jump suit megastar… let’s just say it was an exaggerated reflection of working class hetero-normative attitudes of the time and get past it. Would I use the same justification for Bernard Manning’s racism? No. Why? That seemed to come from a genuinely hateful place and as time moved on Manning stuck to his guns. Even five years after its release Delirious became difficult to rent and impossible to buy. I remember videoshops in the 90s made you leave a deposit on top of the overnight fee the VHS became such a rarity. Clearly Murphy evolved in his attitudes towards gays and women, suppressed the film and restricted us from experiencing the remaining hour (a brilliant hour of mimicry, act outs and blistering over confidence). His next stand up feature Raw… though equally sexually aggressive, eased up on the immature playground hate speech and became more playful. This is a hot young superstar (just 22… raised on the club circuit, already a millionaire and surrounded by an entourage of yes men) trying to out shock and out dazzle his hero, Richard Pryor. But Murphy is better than Pryor in his two specials… he’s more outrageous, more flamboyant, more honed. The Ice Cream Man is coming. Gunni Gu Gu. James Brown. These are the pinnacle routines of stand up comedy. The brash attack mode, the pure thrusting attitude. Delirious, after the historically tragic misstep of its opening salvo, is one of the finest man and mic shows ever filmed. And even in those now tough early routines, Eddie talks so excitedly about ass fucking you get the feeling he’d be well up for it if he could be top and the “faggot” was willing. Maybe he was working through some personal demons up there after all.

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One Fine Day (1996)

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Michael Hoffman directs Michelle Pfeiffer, George Clooney and Mae Whitman in this New York romantic comedy about single parents continually crossing paths on a chaotic workday when their kids miss the field trip.

There’s no denying we have two very sexy movie stars here. But the machinations overstay their welcome by a good half hour, the “cute” kids are brattishly troublesome and the only thing in common these star crossed lovers have is the fact they are achingly beautiful. Stretched out fluff.

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The Five Year Engagement (2012)

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Nicholas Stoller directs Emily Blunt, Jason Segel and Alison Brie in this romantic comedy about a near perfect couple who struggle to stay together during the run up to their oft-delayed wedding.

A superficially floral romcom that exploits a very winning cast to go to some very dark places. When the stretched and strained relationship we invest in hits a funk, the funk is brutal. The Five Year Engagement languishes in this darkness; taking in depression, infidelity and the pressure of compromise. Like the similarly underrated The Break Up, this strange swerve from sparky chemistry to unbearable antagonism between the couple slightly hobbles the chocolate box laughs. But the risk pays off richly and the feels of the finale are stronger for making it through the unlit tunnel they emerge out of. There’s a bright, efficient genre exercise bookending a less satisfying but brave middle act. If your palette can take the shift in flavours then you’ll find Segel and Blunt delivering peak game comedic power-plays. Toes are lost, happiness risked, careers ruined but the couple feel like they’ve earned their happy ending like no other cutesy star pairing. The hustling support cast are all stars in their own right now too, with the ever effective Alison Brie adding value as the prissy sister. She actually gels with Segel and Blunt’s interplay rather than showboats crudely.

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My Top 10 Emily Blunt Movies 

1. The Devil Wears Prada (2006)

2. Looper (2012)

3. Edge of Tomorrow (2014)

4. The Five Year Engagement (2012)

5. Mary Poppins Returns (2018)

6. Sicario (2015)

7. A Quiet Place (2018)

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8. The Adjustment Bureau (2011)

9. The Young Victoria (2009)

10. The Wolf Man  (2010)

Even Dwarfs Started Small (1970)

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Werner Herzog directs Helmut Döring, Paul Glauer and Gisela Hertwig in this comedy drama about a group of little people who takeover their care home and go on a destructive bender.

Cackling, cackling and more cackling. This is Herzog’s most blatant portrayal of a mini-society descending into anarchy. The stark monochrome visuals swing from grotesque to balletic. You never feel he is exploiting his cast. But once you get “it” there’s still a whole lot of unbridled, maniacal little person laughter to go. An unbearable 90 minutes of audible hysteria. And there’s a fair swedge of animal cruelty for a “PG”.

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The Pit and the Pendulum (1961)

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Roger Corman directs Vincent Price, John Kerr and Luana Anders in this Edgar Allen Poe mystery about an infamous torturer’s son and his missing bride. 

A gothic whodunnit powered by a hammy but hypnotic turn by Price. He modulates from sinister to guilty to confused to pathetic… but always loveable. Corman experiments vividly with colour and while the cheapo stagey sets limit the spectacle, they seem oddly appropriate for the blunt force acting.

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Lone Survivor (2013)

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Peter Berg directs Mark Wahlberg, Taylor Kitsch and Ben Foster in this true war story of doomed Navy Seals trapped behind enemy lines in Afghanistan.

Gory and dusty, the true parts stretch incredulity while the film only really pops when focusing on character not carnage. Still a watchable patriotic thrill machine.

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Movie of the Week: Dr No (1962)

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Terence Young directs Sean Connery, Ursula Andress and Joseph Wiseman in this first 007 adventure where Ian Fleming’s superspy investigates murders in Jamaica.

For me this is the birth of modern cinema. A sexy star vehicle with an emphasis on action, humour and seduction. The start of a franchise which set out a template for future sequels… one still being adhered to over 50 years later. A relatively straight adaptation of Fleming’s novel, this retains all the risk and refinement. It is so damn beautiful too with its exotic locale and pop art outfits. Connery is superior as the indestructible detective. Every lead he pursues is right, his instincts are unwaveringly spot on. You don’t watch a Bond to see a mystery solved, you watch it to see the winner win. While it might lack the excess of future Bonds it instantly captures the arrogant hero, the man who doesn’t quit as he knows he has to, and will always, come out on top. We meet Bond, the sexy enigma, beating a lady at cards and then taking her like a trophy too. Every subsequent tale has been an extension of that one introductory minute in the casino. He hasn’t stopped being the assured victor since (O.H.M.S.S. aside).

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Super Troopers 2 (2018)

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Jay Chandrasekhar directs himself, Kevin Heffernan and Brian Cox in this belated comedy sequel about highway patrolmen given a new jurisdiction in Canada.

For the first hour this is more of the committed yet dumb same, if you aren’t childishly giggling then you are howling with laughter. It does run out of steam in the final stretch but in the main this is a mindlessly silly return to form for a group with great, unabashed chemistry.

7

1941 (1979)

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Steven Spielberg directs John Belushi, Dan Aykroyd and Nancy Allen in this ensemble war farce, where California thinks it might be about to come under attack and become “the next Pearl Harbour.”

Excessive, racist, overlong… this was considered the rare misfire of Spielberg’s blockbuster career. Comedy isn’t his forte and he seems happier with destroying miniatures or setting props and humans up as domino rallies than hitting punchlines. Stanley Kubrick’s assessment of his friend’s foray into spoof was it should have been marketed as a drama rather than a comedy. Spielberg considered turning it into a musical at one point, mid production. Yet there is a seductive mania to it all and the sheer unrepeated size of the production that actually makes it quite watchable. When John Belushi is allowed to let rip (he’s one of the few actors who gets space to himself- not surrounded by a hundred extras, choreographed FX work or complex camera set ups) he is very funny. The bullying hubris and clumsy slapstick of his Wild Bill Kelso generates plenty of free form laughs. Sadly, his character also spouts a lot of clunky racism. Given the period and wartime attitudes it isn’t exactly out of character but it sits awkwardly in a family comedy for modern viewers. It is one small aspect of a very busy film but it kept occurring, and not just in Belushi’s crazed, possibly improvised, rants.  Maybe if 1941 lost one subplot or gave Aykroyd similar leeway to cut loose it would be considered a comedy classic. It looks as good as any Spielberg fantasy and there is enough chaotic, sexy, daft and satirical fun within for a great film. But fuck me do you have to sift for it at times.

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