Dark Comedy

Dark Horse Movie 2012

The parallel is too easy, but Todd Solondz‘s Dark Horse really is a Dark Horse. Not only does the main character, Abe (Jordan Gelber), take some time to get any empathy, the movie itself isn’t exactly an instant winner. The reason is clear: so much of it is tied directly to a curly hair-chested baby of a man who drives a yellow hummer and doesn’t understand anything except his own victimhood. With only ten minutes under its belt, it’s difficult to see falling in love with it. That’s where the saying about books and covers comes in. Almost any other director might struggle to avoid making a movie focused on Abe into a chore, but Todd Solondz is most comfortable when he’s most uncomfortable, and the result is a drama that is singed with comic moments that belong in a therapist’s waiting room.

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Scientists still haven’t proven who the boss was, but Tony Danza is close to playing father to Joseph Gordon-Levitt‘s “porn-addicted, modern day Don Juan from New Jersey who sets out to become a less selfish person.” Don Jon’s Addiction was written by Gordon-Levitt and will act as his directorial debut. It’s also the project that kept him (schedule-wise) from joining Django Unchained. As for Danza, why the hell not? He’s an underestimated acting force that has a broader range than his Who’s the Boss? and Taxi roots suggest. Plus, he’d be joining Julianne Moore and Scarlett Johansson, which means the redhead quotient needs to be equaled out considerably. And, honestly, it’s about time Danza got a John Travolta moment. Danza should be playing out his elder statesmen years playing badass roles and getting more movie projects. [Variety]

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The Coroner

In scouring Netflix Instant for some horror to watch, I flicked past Lucky, a film starring Colin Hanks and Jeffrey Tambor. Normally, a Colin Hanks film is enough reason for me to keep looking, especially when the cover looks like Photoshop vomit with fake bodies, fake props, and money flying everywhere. What is this? After reading the description though, I figured I’d give it a shot. Hanks stars as Ben Keller, an ‘aspiring serial killer’ who runs into a bit of lucky when he unknowingly murders a woman who just purchased a winning lottery ticket. Well, he knowingly murders her. He just didn’t know about the winning lottery ticket she had. With his new found fortune, Keller wrestles with his desire to kill while courting his long-time crush, a money hungry hottie he grew up with.

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Why Watch? The tribulations of youth are hard enough without being constantly surrounded by death. Rajeev Reddi has always been different, but his parents have kept a dark (comic) secret from him that they’ll share with him now on his 18th Birthday. In this morbidly funny short film, featuring Rajiv Surendra (who you’ll probably recognize as math whiz Kevin G from Mean Girls), the idea of karma is explored with a clever twist that ends up mirroring our own fears of dying – especially death at a young age or from a terminal illness. But, you know, with jokes. What does it cost? Just 14 minutes of your time. Check out Six Feet in Seven Minutes for yourself:

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This morning, you probably woke up to your normal routine (maybe slightly augmented by falling back an hour in time). You hopped in the shower, brushed your teeth, drank some orange juice with breakfast, and cursed yourself for the thousandth time for drinking orange juice after brushing your teeth. Most of all though, you felt safe. And you had no idea there was a man sleeping under your bed. Director Jaume Balagueró (REC, REC 2) uses that uneasy non-knowledge for both horror and humor in Sleep Tight (Mientras Duermes), a film that balances precariously over the Dark Comedy and Funny Home Invasion genre bins. The overall result is chilling proof that Balagueró can take us back into an apartment building while delivering a completely different scare.

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Why Watch? A clown stands over the body of his dead father and sticks out his giant foam hand to accept a tissue from a doctor. With that, the laughter and the tears of this truly outstanding short film begin. Ralph Winston (Keir O’Donnell, the manically gay younger brother from Wedding Crashers) has never cried. Not once in his entire life. Now, with his father gone, he becomes resolute that he’ll produce his first tears somehow before the funeral. A surprisingly bright, dark comedy, it’s almost impossible to differentiate between the humor and the tragedy here. It’s a mark of the layered writing skill and presentation of a humane story featuring a man who can’t do something everyone else can (but who’s very good at something most aren’t). Writer/director Bradley Jackson has proven himself to be a nuanced, insightful young filmmaker who should be given lots of money and a feature film project immediately. This movie is a genuine triumph that’s hilarious and heartfelt. What does it cost? Just 23 minutes of your time. Check out The Man Who Never Cried for yourself:

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Happen to remember the SXSW Midnight film that Rob called “a blood-drenched trip down the rabbit hole“? Hopefully you added it to that list you keep of smaller films to look out because there’s good news on the horizon. IFC Midnight is looking to give Kill List a release sometime in the near future, and its director Ben Wheatley already has his next project lined up. According to The Playlist, Wheatley will be joined by executive producer Edgar Wright to create Sightseers – a dark comedy that focuses on two road-tripping psychos. Those psychos will be played by the screenwriters Alice Lowe and Steve Oram who are no strangers to the British comedy world or the mind of Steve Coogan/Alan Partridge. In fact, Lowe appeared in Hot Fuzz as Tina, one of the residents of the sleepy little hamlet of Sanford, and Oram was on the best-named television show of all time: Tittybangbang. The best part about this not-yet-publicly-defined project is all the comedic talent involved. It sounds like a violent meeting between the happy clown and the one angry clown who wields a blunt instrument and carries a lot of childhood trauma with him. Wheatley has proven himself unyielding in his ability to make audiences delightfully uncomfortable, and the rest of the pedigree here is strictly for laughs. As such, it’s exciting to see what twisted baby might come from this partnership.

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Focus Features International is backing a new dark comedy from director Dante Ariola. This will be Ariola’s first feature, but the project is already interesting to me for three reasons. The first is that Ariola has credits for being a crew member on a bunch of old The Ren and Stimpy Show episodes. That doesn’t really mean anything for this film; I just think that it’s fun. The second and third reasons I’m interested will have direct effects on this new film’s quality, however, because those reasons are Colin Firth and Emily Blunt. Firth is, of course, coming off of his Best Actor win for his starring role in The King’s Speech and Blunt was most recently seen running around with Matt Damon in The Adjustment Bureau. This new film, which is still untitled, is about a man who fakes his own death and tries to create a new identity for himself. Somewhere in the process he meets a girl, who is in a similar situation, and they go about having some bonding time while breaking into houses and pretending that they are the people who live there. I can only assume that Firth is set to be the man and Blunt the girl. But whichever way the casting goes, I’ll be keeping my eye on how this project develops, because those are a couple of great names to come out of the gate with for your first film, and an interesting premise or these great actors to play around […]

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With Boondock Saints, it was heavy gang members. That made sense. We were all afraid of organized crime back then, just like in the 70s when it was Charles Bronson taking some vigilante justice in a way the police refused to. So who do we fear now? Who are the police too afraid of to confront? Bobcat Goldthwait has figured it out: those tiara-wearing non-princesses on My Super Sweet 16 who get Kanye West to sing at their birthday pre-party. According to the World’s Greatest Dad director, God Bless America will focus on a man who’s watching an episode of the MTV program, goes a little Falling Down in the head, and drives 400 miles to kill the girl from the show. This eventually snowballs into more killings, and he gets a sidekick to help carry the bodies. It all sounds like more subversive quality from a dark comedic mind. If this announcement made you feel bad for feeling violent toward teenage girls, Goldthwait has already done half his job. [Cinema Blend]

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