Category Archives: Comedy

The Toxic Avenger (1984) – 24 Carat Crud…


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Woody Allen famously keeps a drawer full of ideas scribbled on bits of paper, which he dips into when he needs inspiration for a new movie. It’s not always successful – it seems like he forgot to add anything else before shooting Magic in the Moonlight.

I’d like to think Troma movies get made in a similar fashion. I can picture Lloyd Kaufman, Troma’s cartoonish co-founder, sitting in a hottub with a couple of poodle-permed babes, scribbling crazy titles on cocktail napkins and handing them to his butler for safekeeping.

Titles include A Nymphoid Barbarian in Dinosaur Hell, Dumpster Baby, Fat Guy Goes Nutzoid, and Maniac Nurses Find Ecstasy. They’re friday night four-pack-and-a-pizza movies, and any VHS junkie from the ’80s and ’90s will be familiar with the lurid cover art of Troma’s oeuvre. They’ve been going for over forty years now, barfing a steady steam of lowbrow, z-grade schlock into existence – if it’s got aliens, monsters, psychos, guns and tits, all on the front of the video box, chances are it’s Troma.

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American Ultra (2015) – Half baked…


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“If ever there’s a movie that sinks its own ship while still tied to the dock, it’s American Ultra. For the promotion of Psycho, Alfred Hitchcock stipulated that no-one should be admitted to the theatre after the movie had started, to prevent ruining the surprise.

If Hitchcock was alive today, and he’d seen American Ultra, he would no doubt recommend exactly the opposite – to preserve any sense of suspense, one should aim to join the movie about five minutes in.

One of the most baffling decisions director Nima Nourizadeh makes in his sophomore effort is to start at the end, then employ a flashback moment which literally flashes every key plot point on the screen before the story starts proper.

In doing so, every drop of suspense is eradicated before the movie even starts, and we’re left with an action comedy thriller without any thrills. To make matters worse, screenwriter Max Landis, following up from the interesting found footage superhero movie Chronicle, also forgets to write any jokes…” Read the rest of the review here (opens in new tab.)

Daisies (Sedmikrásky) – 1966 – Still fresh and angry…


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“Surrealist and Avant Garde films aren’t always the most popular choice for the average movie goer. Until Leos Carax’s demented Holy Motors generated some outside-bet Oscar buzz a few years ago, I’d rather watch a compilation tape of hairy builders getting a back, sack and crack before dabbling with the avant garde.

My perspective has changed slightly since then, largely on the basis of Denis Lavant’s incredible (literally) balls-out multiple performances in that movie, and casting my mind back over the past year of obsessive film consumption, two of my favourite discoveries were of the avant garde variety, Dziga Vertov’s hypnotic portrait of a city in Man with a Movie Camera, and Věra Chytilová’s playful yet provocative Daisies…” Click here to read the full review (opens in a new tab)

Fight Club (1999) – Pop Anarchy & Designer Nihilism…


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“Mildred: Hey Johnny, what are you rebelling against?

Johnny: Whaddya got?

– The Wild One (1953)

Urinating on its own birthday candles this year, David Fincher’s argumentative, narcissistic, hypocritical Fight Club will be sixteen years old. It already feels like a period piece, a slice of premillennial angst full of smug slogans and speeches that can’t decide what it is fighting against.

It is the last “poor me” grumble of the 20th century from Generation X, almost exactly two years before Osama bin Laden weaponised some passenger jets and gave the Western world something to really worry about…” Click here to read the rest of this article (opens in a new tab.)

The Breakfast Club (1985) – OBEY! CONFORM!


Like many people of my age, I loved a good John Hughes movie growing up, but never considered that there might be any subtext to his films. After all, he was a director who made a career writing, producing and directing frothy, fun, mainstream flicks aimed primarily at younger audiences.

However, I only saw The Breakfast Club for the first time recently, and the touchy-feely story of teen angst was instantly my equivalent of Nada’s special shades in John Carpenter’s They Live! – suddenly I saw the innate conservatism behind Hughes’ work, which is fine, and the hidden message behind his superficially rebellious pictures – OBEY and CONFORM!

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Andělé všedního dne (Angels of Everyday)- Sucks Dick…


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Death comes to us all, and when that last moment stretches out to eternity, all men face the same questions. Have I lived my life to the fullest? Have I done the best for my loved ones? Was I man enough when circumstances demanded it? Did I dare disturb the universe? Did I get enough blowjobs?

Andělé všedního dne, the latest film from Alice Nellis (Some Secrets), focusses on this last question. It’s a meaty topic, and she really gets her teeth into it.

Not really, I’m lying. I just wanted to use a few cheap gags as crass and tasteless as the movie itself. Andělé všedního dne is an ugly, depressing film. It tries to say things about mortality and kindness, but is basically about a man who thinks his life is rubbish because he’s never been sucked off before.

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Birdman (2014) – The thing’s the thing…


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“There is a man in his underpants walking through Times Square. He’s fighting his way through the crowd, and embarrassingly, everyone seems to know him. That is because the man is Riggan Thomson (Michael Keaton), once a global superstar because of his role as Birdman in a string of blockbuster action movies. His career has been a little slow for the past few decades, and his star not just on the wane, but almost extinguished. But people have long memories and still want an autograph or their picture taken with Thomson, or shout out to him as if they’re old buddies, even though he’s just a middle-aged guy in his underpants struggling through a big embarrassing crowd to get to the theatre on time for his scene…” Click here for the full review (opens in a separate tab)

Closely Watched Trains (Ostře sledované vlaky) – 1966 – Man up & Fight the Nazis!


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“Jiří Menzel’s Closely Watched Trains (Ostře sledované vlaky) is arguably one of the best known Czech films beyond the country’s borders, having won the Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film in 1968.

Adapted from Bohumil Hrabal’s slender novel, it was the first Czech movie I saw, long before I emigrated to Brno, and on first viewing I couldn’t help but notice a basic similarity to an old British sitcom, On the Buses…” Click here for the full review (opens in a seperate tab.)

An 80s Childhood in Ten Beards…


Studies show that people are more likely to start smoking if surrounded by smokers when they are children, and public health watchdogs are always wringing their hands about TV & movies making cigarettes look glamorous. The same goes for beards – I didn’t have my first beard until the age of thirty-three. Trying to work out why, I looked back at my childhood and realised that not only did my Dad and Santa Claus have beards, but beards proliferated TV too, surely having something to do with my late-developing urge to have facial hair.

1. Timothy Claypole (Michael Staniforth) in Rentaghost

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One of my earliest TV memories was of Timothy the medieval jester cavorting around a suburban house in Rentaghost. The show was about a bunch of ghosts who worked for a supernatural agency, but grew increasingly surreal with the more characters added. Timothy eventually became almost the straight man when surrounded by a Scottish witch, a pantomime horse, and Miss Popov, who teleported every time she sneezed. Which was about twenty times an episode. I had absolutely no idea what was going on as a kid, and re-watching an episode before writing this, I still have no idea.

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The Lavender Hill Mob (1951) – “By Jove…it’s a good job we’re both honest men.”


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I could’ve robbed my company blind in my last job.  With intimate knowledge of their processes and systems, I could’ve created so much confusion that I would be safely esconsced in a bar somewhere in Buenos Aires, spunking my way through half the loot before they even realised something was wrong.  The reason I didn’t?  Because I’m an honest person.  I believe in the basic goodness of humanity, and believe that most people on this planet are generally honest and decent, which is why I think the Heist Movie performs such a valuable function to society.

The great thing about a good heist film is that you get to feel part of a caper for a couple of hours.  The best examples have a clearly defined prize, and make it clear who or what is being robbed.  You get to be involved in the planning, make your own judgements on the cleverness of the plan, and enjoy the thrill of the robbery without any personal risk.  Many heist films simultaneously withold vital information from the viewer – The Sting and Soderbergh’s Ocean’s Eleven are good examples – so that while the viewer feels part of the scheme, they are also deceived by a final rug-pull at the film’s conclusion.

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