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Comedy and Contract Killing

by Moe - 0 Comment(s)

Another fun post from our frequent guest blogger, Trevor. I had seen all of these except for Wild target, which I immediately placed on hold and enjoyed immensely. I had more than one laugh out loud moment at the absurdity of it all. Thanks for the recommendations Trevor!

Much as our society abhors killing and murder, there is still something inherently fascinating about assassins. Hiding patiently in the shadows, pulling the trigger at the perfect moment, and then nonchalantly escaping the scene…in terms of pure coolness, a well planned assassination is second only to walking slowly towards the camera while an explosion goes off in the background. These are not your typical hitman films however. Quirky, untraditional, and neurotic, they put the humor back into contract killing.

In Bruges is a film that balances between whimsy and melancholy. After a bungled hit leads to the death of a child, Colin Farrell and Brendan Gleeson have to lay low in the quaint, fairytale-esque town of Bruges. What follows is a hilarious romp that involves midgets, soul searching, shootouts, romance, and a great deal of profanity.

Grosse Pointe Blank

Not many high school yearbooks have a category for those “most likely to become paid killers” but if they did, few people would have voted for Martin Blank (John Cusack). Yet here he is, returning to his home town for his 10 year high school reunion, with a hit contract on the side to take care of as well. Equal parts comedy, action, and nostalgia, Grosse Pointe Blank hits its mark. Cusack actually has a black belt in kick boxing, so the fight scenes look great.

The Whole Nine Yards

What do you do when your new neighbor is a mob hitman turned mob snitch? Do you play it cool and relaxed? Or do you head to his old hunting ground on behest of your greedy and spiteful wife, search out his former employer, and try to collect a finder’s fee? As you might expect, this course leads our mild mannered protagonist Oz on a laugh-filled downward spiral of murder, mayhem, and mobsters. With Bruce Willis and Matthew Perry.

Wild Target features the always excellent Bill Nighy as an aging perfectionist assassin. His orderly, lonely existence changes however, when he not only fails to kill his beautiful and intriguing mark (Emily Blunt), but kills the killer sent to replace him. Quirky and absurd in a way that only British comedy can manage, Wild Target shows us that one need not have a cold heart to be a cold hearted killer.

And last but not least, what happens when killing for money starts to lose its lustre? When hits don’t bring the same happiness that they used to? When the thrill of the hunt isn’t quite so thrilling? These are the questions that Julian, an aging and jaded hitman, is forced to ask in this funny and engaging tale starring Greg Kinnear and Pierce Brosnan (who’s much more interesting as an aging hitman than he is as a prim and pressed British spy). The Matador.

The 6th Degree

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Sometimes I go crazy playing mini games of “Kevin Bacon is the Center of the Universe” inside my head. Only I never start with Kevin Bacon, because honestly, he creeps me out a little.

(too creepy!!!)--->

Instead, I start with someone I’m totally obsessing over at that moment. For example: Emma Stone.

And here we go!

Emma Stone is starring in the new re-hash of Spider-Man with Andrew Garfield, who was in The Social Network with Jesse Eisenberg who was in Zombieland with Woody Harrelson who was in Defendor with Kat Dennings who’s Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist Co-Star, Michael Cera, was in Juno with Ellen Page who has been in two movies with Rainn Wilson (Juno and Super), who was in The Rocker with Emma Stone.

I know I could have killed that twice since Emma Stone was ALSO in Zombieland with Jesse Eisenberg, AND in Superbad with Michael Cera… but I try to keep it going until I think of an obscure movie to end with. I also like to see the patterns, like the fact that three of the movies I mentioned are about superheroes (or people who THINK they're superheroes), that people FREQUENTLY confuse Michael Cera and Jesse Eisenberg due to their similar dead-pan and awkward delivery styles, and that Zombieland and Adventureland, both starring Eisenberg, came out in the same year.

Now Adventureland also stars Kristen Stewart, whose rumoured relationship with Twilight co-star Robert Pattinson has been fodder for rags for over three years… Pattinson was in Harry Potter with… Okay, okay. I’ll stop. But it’s totally a riot. We’d LOVE to see the 6 Degrees of Separation you guys come up with!

by guest blogger Alex-

Odds and Ends Part 2

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No particular theme here, just a random listing of movies I really like and recommend as a good way to spend a few hours.

About a boy---an engaging movie about a man in serious need of some growing up.

With one of Movie Maniacs favourite go-to guys Michael Caine, we have Zulu from 1964. This is a very well told story of outnumbered and beseiged British soldiers doing battle with Zulu warriors in the 1800's..

From 1995 the highly fictionalized story of Scotish anti-hero Rob Roy. With Liam Neeson and Jessica Lange. Blu-Ray also.

Fried Green Tomatoes- based on Fannie Flagg's delightful story (told in flashbacks) about the enduring friendship between two depression era women.

Shanghai Noon---lots of fun with Jackie Chan and Owen Wilson in a wild west setting. If you aren't familiar with Chan's antics, this is a great introduction- you will not believe how fast this guy can move. We also have the sequel Shanghai Knights which isn't as good as the first (few sequels are), but still okay. I very seldom watch the out-takes from movies, but take the few extra minutes to watch these.

Black Narcissus--- from 1947 and part of the Criterion Collection. Featuring Deborah Kerr playing a missionary nun sent to establish a school in the Himalayas. This won an Oscar for best cinematography and it is stunning.

by Moe

Odds and Ends

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When developing a post I typically pick a theme, be it an actor, genre, director, embarrassment free, etc- and then recommend movies that fit into said theme. But I have lots of movies that are just individual favourites and I thought it was time to start mentioning them. So, for no other reason than I just like these movies- here we go with odds and ends part 1.

Tea With Mussolini---Semi-autobiographical tale from director Franco Zeffirelli. An illegitimate child is raised by an Englishwoman in pre-WWII Fascist Italy. All star cast including Cher, Maggie Smith, Judi Dench and Joan Plowright---lot of Oscar winners here.

Notes on a Scandal- I almost passed on watching this one because the subject matter didn't appeal to me---an older female teacher seduces/is seduced by a young male student. But the seduction is not the main story, but rather what unfolds as a result. With Cate Blanchett and Judi Dench, both were up for Best Actress for their performance and I firmly believe Dench should have received it. However it went to Helen Mirren that year for "The Queen". If you are used to seeing Dench as a calm, controlled voice of reason in her various roles, hang on to your hats!

Deliverance-da da da da da da da da daaaaa. If this somehow escaped your movie radar, this Burt Reynolds, John Voight offering from 1972 is very good. The performances are believable, the story grabs you almost immediately and the ending is strong. Be advised- this is adult material with some disturbing scenes.

Catch Me if you can--- from 2003 "the true story of a real fake". With Tom Hanks and Leo DeCaprio, this one is just plain fun.

The Red Violin--- from 1998. The history of a beautifully crafted violin is followed through three centuries and many countries, eventually ending up at an auction house. This movie is quite compelling.

In the bedroom---2001 with Sissy Spacek, Tom Wilkinson and Marisa Tomei. This movie isn't so much about plot as about what happens when you have well-developed characters and you drop them into a situation. This is a gut-wrencher.

A River Runs through It---an early performance by Brad Pitt, playing one of two brothers growing up in rural Montana in the 30's. A beautifully filmed story about what we do with the choices that life hands us. Often confused with another Pitt movie done two years later, again set in Montana---Legends of the Fall, with Sir Anthony Hopkins and Aidan Quinn--unapologetically passionate and highly entertaining.