Saturday, 30 October 2010

Don't Worry, Death Is Funny.

Yesterday I went to see Scott Pilgrim (for the third time) and also Simon Pegg and Andy Serkis' new film, Burke and Hare. Burke and Hare, for those of you who don't know, were a real pair of murderers from the 1800s. In fact, Hare has been referred to as 'one of the worst villains to ever draw breath.' But have no fear, this is a comedy. One of the darkest comedies for a while... You feel bad for laughing at it.

The movie follows the story of the two Irish immigrants in their attempt to get work and money in 19th century Scotland. Trying to make ends meet as con artists and through Hare's (Serkis) lodging house which he runs with his wife, Lucky (Jessica Hynes,) the pair discover stumble across a way to get rich quick. The two top medical science practices in the world need dead bodies (or cadavers, if you will) but Dr. Knox (Tom Wilkinson) can't get his hands on any due to a new by law saying that Dr. Monroe (Tim Curry) gets all of the recently executed. He becomes willing to pay a fair amount of money for any cadavers delivered to him. Cue Burke and Hare's new job. After one of Hare's lodgers passes away, the duo stumble across Knox's payments and after a very brief (and unsuccessful) attempt as grave robbers, they go into business as murderers. Hare: for enough money to live and set up a real business. Burke: for enough money to fund an all female production of Macbeth and impress Ginny (Isla Fisher.)

The duo looked sad. Turned out their business was dead.

The history isn't perfect but it's well covered by a brief message at the beginning, informing us that it is a true story... apart from the bits that aren't. It's been twisted a little to suit the comedy genre easier. What disappoints me is people's clear misinterpretation of the film's purpose. It is a comedy. It's not meant to be gory, despite focusing on two horrible criminals. It taking a light view on what is usually a grim subject. Don't expect blood and guts everywhere (though there are some, mostly in autopsy scenes.)

A fast pace and fun filled riot. Really. If you haven't laughed at death before, you will during this movie. Whether it's jamming men into barrels or unfortunate carriages, this movie makes death funny. How? A killer cast; that's how. With Pegg and Serkis as the foolish entrepreneurs, every death scene or attempted murder becomes ridiculously amusing, mainly down to the reactions of the pair. Also, prepare for lots of famous faces popping up for a small amount of time. Christopher Lee, Paul Whitehouse, Bill Bailey and more. Ronnie Corbett is also in for a 'small role.' (Gettit?) It's brilliantly funny. It's not just the front men or the cameos either. Tim Curry truly steals scenes as Dr. Monroe who finds feet fascinating and Jessica Hynes is absolutely brilliant and also contributes to the oddest, but also funniest, sex scenes I've ever seen.

Children Of Men 2: Andy Serkis is Simon Pegg's gynecologist

And it is brilliantly directed too. From chasing runaway barrels to shit-out-the-window gags, the comedy is perfectly timed. It's not just the comedy either. We can see that director John Landis can push the boundaries of genres. Despite all the comedy, Landis recognises the dark nature of the period and throws in a couple of moments to make you jump. In other technical areas there's nothing particularly special. The camera work is average and the score is generic. They don't add anything, which is a pity. But it's okay because it's bloody funny. (Another pun there. I'm on a roll!)

Certainly worth a watch. Not the best film I've seen recently but I would say (along with Scott Pilgrim) one of the funniest. Watch it.

Best bit? So many moments. But I'll say when a certain cameo reaches his demise in a carriage. I still laugh at the memory.

Wednesday, 6 October 2010

Claustrophobic? You Have No Idea....

Have you ever spent 95 minutes trapped in a coffin, underground with only a lighter and a cell phone at your aid? "A cell phone? That's handy... Could just call for help can't ya?" That's what I thought. But what happens when help is useless? When your kidnapper keeps interfering? When air is running out? You end up with suspense. Brilliant suspense that will keep you hanging on every word. It's Buried ladies and gents.

It's not the most original of premises nor is it the most complicated plot but boy does it work. Paul Conroy (Ryan Reynolds) is an American contractor working in Iraq. When his truck convoy gets ambushed by kids with stones and a group of Iraqis he gets kidnapped and wakes up in a coffin. The coffin is buried somewhere in a desert in Iraq and isn't much bigger than 7 foot by 4 foot. But it's not all bad. The kidnappers were nice and provided a lighter, a telephone, some glow sticks, a knife and a bit of alcohol. Nice chaps. All they ask in return is £5 million ransom money. Cue lots of phone calls and flicking light.

Hunger was a major issue in the coffin.

Ryan Reynolds, being really the only physical actor in the entire film, throws in a groundbreaking turn. His performance is gripping and believable. Imagine how you'd react when trapped in a box; Reynolds does it. Everything from wild lashing out to erm... Wild lashing out. Seriously though, he creates a believable character and you won't want to look away, and when the whole film is set in a small box, that's an impressive feat.

There is no soundtrack in true suspense style and it's difficult to throw in fancy cinematography when the camera has to stay within the limits of the box. (Though the last shot is top class.) The direction is pure awesome thanks to Rodrigo Cortés. You may think there isn't much to do with a man in a box but there is. The main thing? Timing. When the phone goes off, when the lighter goes out. These sort of things make movies brilliant. Alfred Hitchcock was king of it and I'm sure he would have been proud of Buried.

Ryan's contortionist act was progressing brilliantly

This movie is well worth a watch. Reynolds is great, the suspense is super and the dialogue will keep you on the edge of your seat from beginning to end. Perhaps avoid if claustrophobic.

Best bit? The bit in the coffin. That was wicked. I jest. Hmmm tricky one. I'll say the introduction. We're introduced into this situation and Reynolds reacts just as you or I would.