Tag Archives: Kill List

Sightseers

7 Sep

Sightseers

 

Director: Ben Wheatley

Writers: Amy Jump (additional material), Alice Lowe (screenplay)

Stars: Alice Lowe, Eileen Davies, Steve Oram

Motion picture rating: R

Runtime: 88 minutes

 

What if Mickey and Mallory from Natural Born Killers went on their crime spree in a cheap and cheerful caravan? That has to have been Alice Lowe’s launch point for dreaming up this dark comedy; two amorous psychopaths, the open road and a shabby mobile home. It is a unique set up and Lowe found talented collaborators in husband and wife team Ben (Kill List) Wheatley and Amy Jump. Together they have fashioned a twisted comedy that the sicker members of the English tourist board can have only dreamt about in feverish dreams.

The writer Lowe plays Tina to Steve Oram’s Chris. They are a quirky couple in their early 30’s and in the early stages of a romance. They head out in Chris’s car / caravan combo on a road trip of English tourist attractions leaving Tina’s invalid and disapproving mother behind. She is wary of geeky Chris and with good reason because it’s not long before he’s meeting out tough justice on litterers, opinionated ramblers and Daily Mail readers. Chris is sociopathic and possibly psychopathic. He is the Travis Bickle of the caravan society and carries a full rack of emotional baggage. He desperately wants to be respected, but is dismissed at every turn. Frustration and rage boil inside.

Simple minded Tina learns to understand her deadly companion and then wants to join him. We have seen a wicked side to her earlier in the film, but the relish with which she ups the murderous ante is shocking. Soon Chris is worried about Tina, but by then they are too far gone down the road of train museums, rough sex, caravan sites, and bloodshed.

Wheatley shoots this with panache and the script from Lowe and Jump has some very funny lines. The leads are convincing with Oram particularly effective as the edgy Chris. The film owes something to early Shane Meadows’ films (such as A Room for Romeo Brass) and as such mixes black humour with social comment. It is not easy to watch at times, but it is often surprising and certainly a lot more fun than the overblown Oliver Stone road trip rampage from 1994. I liked Sightseers a lot and, whilst sick and twisted, there is something undeniably English about it.

The Five-Year Engagement

30 Nov

five year engagement

 

 

Director: Nicholas Stoller

Writers: Jason Segel, Nicholas Stoller

Stars: Jason Segel, Emily Blunt and Chris Pratt

Motion Picture Rating: 15

Runtime: 124 minutes

 

In film-making they say that luckily there is always room for horror films and rom-com’s. That’s lucky because both genres are low cost to make and easy to market. It’s no coincidence that we are bombarded by both whilst deprived of more intellectually challenging fare. It’s not to say that horror films and rom-com’s can’t be good – see my reviews of Kill List and Salmon Fishing in the Yemen for nice examples – it’s just that in the main they are poor. And any rom-com featuring Jennifer Lopez, Kate Hudson and / or Matthew McConaughey are actually far worse.

With The Five-Year Engagement we have a high concept rom-com. Talk about easy to market – it’s all there in the title…Anyhow, this one features Jason Segel (also a co-writer and producer) as Tom and Emily Blunt as Violet. They meet cute, date for a year, get engaged and then struggle to get down the aisle. Her PHD studies in psychology force them to move from San Francisco to Michigan where she thrives, but he struggles having given up a top chef’s job back on the bay for work in a sandwich bar in the mid-west. Violet blooms via her studies whilst Tom regresses and becomes a bit of a hick (long side burns, drinking in the morning, deer hunting etc.)

This film starts with a track by Dexys Midnight Runners so it’s off to a flyer in my book. The couple’s meet cute is nicely done and also matched by the funny engagement scene. Thereafter you root for what is a believable and amusing couple – Segel is very good in a lot of comedies and Blunt is great in everything (again see Salmon Fishing). Around the pair are some excellent cameos, especially Mad Men’s Alison Brie as Violet’s sister, and there are a number of good recurring jokes. It is genuinely funny and perceptive stuff. It runs slightly too long and it pushes the core “pick a cookie and take a bite” message a bit too hard at times, but overall it’s rather charming.

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