Death at a Funeral (2007)

This is as near perfect as you can get for a quirky British comedy.  It is all the right ingredients, a very believable setup, ordinary characters in an extraordinary situation, wit, and sarcasm.

Dean Craig who wrote this wonderful little hit, proves if he sets his mind to it he can produce comedic gold.  However when he lets slip, what we end up, is something completely at the other end of the scale, with A Few Best Men.  /shudders/

So the setup here is wonderfully simple. We have a funeral, of a beloved father, at the family home.  It gets kicked off on the wrong foot when the under takers bring the wrong body.   Once that gets resolved, we follow the stories of a number of interwoven characters and their problems.

Alan Tudyk plays the husband-to-be to the daughter, who accidentally takes a cocktail of acid thinking it was Valium to calm his nerves as he prepares to meet his father-in-law to be.   His acting for this role alone should have won him a series of awards.  It is absolutely brilliant.

Then we have

Peter Dinklage popping up, as the secret gay lover of the deceased.  He is attempting to extort a little money or some photos get shown to the widow.   So the males of the family attempt to quell this up rising, with much comedic results. 

This movie never fails to raise a smile and always puts me in a good mood.  This one falls under the watch-at-least-once-a-year bucket.   

Though .. why Martin Lawrence felt he had to remake a year later it with an all-black cast for the American audience I have no idea.  A lot got lost in translation with the remake. 

#98 in the series

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Viewing Date
Tuesday, 24th November 2015 (Richmond)

Rating
9/10

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About Time (2013)

Richard Curtis strikes gold once again with his time traveling romantic comedy.  In the same vein as Love Actually / Noting Hill / Four Weddings, About Time stands shoulder to shoulder with Curtis’s other outings.  This one however does not star Hugh Grant, though, the lead,

Domhnall Gleeson (son of Brendan) does his best Hugh Grant impression throughout, so his spirit is still there.

The time traveling aspect isn’t ironically the central theme, but instead a mechanism to let us explore some of life’s major decisions, wondering what would have happened if you made a different choice.

Tim (Gleeson) when he is 21, is told of a special gift the men of his family have from his father played by the excellent

Bill Nighy.  This gift is the ability to travel back to any point of time for a short period within their own time line.  Anything they change there will have an impact on the current timeline.

Let us be clear, the time travel rules here are not really thought out and frequently if you were to look closely they are broken.  But the point is, this is not a BackToTheFuture or DoctorWho.  The time travel device is there to help with the story.

This humor in this story is just perfect.  The supporting cast is top notch, and as always have equally as good of lines to add to the overall narrative.  However this Curtis movie differs from the other ones in the heart jerking story line.   I challenge anyone to watch this movie without shedding at least one tear.   Sure Four Weddings and a Funeral had a death (hence the funeral part) but it was sad, not tearful.

I have watched it many times and every time it gets me.   It is a movie that reminds you to be thankful for those around while you still have them, and done in a non patronizing manner.  This is a pure father and son story weaved around a typical family, with their every day problems presented in a very believable manner.

About Time is in my usual rotation and comes out every so often when the time calls for it.  A true classic that I missed in the cinema, but have made up for it since.

#87 in the series

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Viewing Date
Friday, 13th November 2015 (Richmond)

Rating
10/10

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Man Up (2015)

This was a movie I never knew existed until I stumbled upon it in a list of Simon Pegg movies for 2015.  Having no idea what it was about, I had a quick look at the trailer and was intrigued.  A British romantic comedy that isn’t written by Richard Curtis?  What an interesting concept.  I wonder if that would work

So what is our setup here?

Well, familiar territory to begin with, 30 something woman, who has but given up on the world of dating, even though her big sister nags her.  She is heading home to see her parents and on the train is sitting opposite a rather peppy 24 year old who is meeting her blind date at the train station.

They get a talking and it turns out she will know her blind date by taking the same book to the meet.   However, Nancy (played by Lake Bell) gets hold of the book and in a split second pretends to be the blind date when Jack (Simon Pegg) shows up.

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So here we go, mistaken identity, one of the staple ingredients of any good comedy.  The inter play between Nancy and Jack as they spend a day out in London doing various activities is extremely well done, knowing fine well, the deeper they get in, the big reveal is coming to hit hard.

The background characters do a great job of propping this comedy up.  The comedy and dialogue is a lot more adult than you average Curtis storyline, but it works very well.

Though speaking of Curtis, we do have our classic, boy chasing girl with a whole community of people running behind him rooting for him to get the girl.  Cliche yes, but you can forgive it.Simon Pegg does very well in this, showing he really can pull romantic comedy off very well.  Lake Bell, an American (a fact that most of the crew didn’t know until after the movie was shot, as she kept in her English character throughout), isn’t your classic beauty which is what makes this story believable.

After completion, I went to see who was behind this little sleeper of a comedy.  Tess Morris, took the main writing helm here, also wrote the excellent Emma Thompson/Pierce Brosnan outing, The Love Punch.  Obviously young in her career, but if these two are any sign then, we may have our next generation of Mr Curtis.  While no FourWeddings/Notting Hill, it had the same type of wit and subtle situation setups to make it feel natural.

For whatever reason, this movie was not marketed at all, so it will come as no surprise that no one has heard of it, but you can’t use that as an excuse now.  Take it for a run and see what you think..

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Viewing Date
Tuesday, 29th September 2015

Rating
7/10

IMDB YouTubeTrailer

Harry Brown (2009)

Who remembers the character, Paul Kersey, wonderfully played by Charles Bronson in the Deathwish movies from the 1970s?  Quiet man, turned

vigilante   after his limits have been pushed.  You know the story, we have to witness all the atrocities, wrong doings and darn right evil acts, so when the hero of the story finally flips you gain that wonderful sense of redemption, evening up the score.

Michael Caine is our hero in this story.  A retired army officer, who is living out his days, in a packed London concrete vertical village (council estate flats!), who goes about his daily routine without too much fuss.   The local criminal element however are slowly taking over, intimidating the residents, hassling them, mugging and generally threatening .

Mr Caine tolerates, nay, turns his eye away from this, feeling too old to actually do anything about it.   After his wife dies in hospital his best friend confides him that the local gang is harassing him so he has taken to carrying an old bayonet from his army days for self protection.  However it goes wrong on a confrontation and his friend is murdered.

The police come (Emily Mortimer) to investigate but are powerless, to actually do anything since little evidence has been found and it could be argued self-defense.   Of course this was going to be the case, because if it wasn’t then this revenge movie was going to fall short very quickly.

Caine decides enough is enough and decides to be jury, judge and executioner.

He plays this role very real.  An old man, knowing he’s past his prime, getting to grips with his violent past he had left behind when he killed for Queen and country.   His body isn’t as fast or as agile as once was.

There is a wonderful scene where he goes to buy an underground gun from a drug dealer, who himself is off his head and toying with a young girl, played excellently by Sean Harris.   Caine is disgusted he has to see this injustice and wad through this cesspool to get the tools he needs to right his world.  Naturally he can’t let this go after obtaining his desires.  Plays out great.

There are enough twists and turns to make it interesting and give the main character room to move without bumping into too many morality fences.   

How the police are portrayed in this movie is what lets this otherwise great thriller down.  There is no way they would be that powerless and stupid.   Reminds of that scene in So I Married an Axe Murderer when Alan Arkin asks he should yell as the police chief as that is the way it is done in the movies “yeah, but easy on the ethic slurs next time”.    The police in Harry Brown, is a cliched modern day Key Stone cop view.  Shame.

On the whole, a good effort Deathwish clone of a movie and well worth the 1hr 40minutes investment. 

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Viewing Date
Tuesday, 8th September 2015

Rating
6/10

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