Saturday, August 5, 2017

Three Films Make A Post: Mary's Evil is Beyond Legend

The Dead Next Door (1989): For people with sympathy and tolerance for microbudget horror, and even though this one’s budget actually wasn’t quite as micro as you’d assume, J.R. Bookwalter’s film is one of the pioneering efforts of this particular type of indie horror. Not just because this is one of the early films of its kind, but because Bookwalter operates on a comparatively epic scale, with ambitious scenes and a plot that actually takes place in more than just a living room and someone’s garden. The script about the misadventures of the curiously accident-prone “Zombie Squad” in early post-zombie-apocalyptic Ohio (and a bit of Washington, D.C.) is certainly goofy and a bit silly, but the writing comes over as so good-natured and likeable these things become some of the film’s true virtues, as is pacing that doesn’t waste the audience’s time. The actors were overdubbed in post-processing, giving the affair a certain Italian genre movie vibe, while action and special effects are some of the best semi-professional work I’ve ever set eyes on.

It’s also certainly the best-looking film ever shot on Super-8.

The Nice Guys (2016): Rather on the other side of the budget divide dwells this Shane Black action comedy taking place in a fever dream version of the 70s. It’s a bit too nasty to its characters for my general taste in comedy (cruelty is only very seldom funny unless you’re a bully or a serial killer) but I do admire the way Black from time to time manages to move his – really rather well acted – lead caricatures Russell Crowe and Ryan Gosling into some actually human emotional beats and scenes without breaking a sweat. And even soft-hearted old me can’t deny how well the film manages to create its world. Now if it were only populated by people I – or the film – cared about.

Mr. Right (2015): Paco Cabezas’s film does work better for me than Black’s does. It’s still full of the old comical ultra-violence but I find the black humour warmer, the characters definitely more likeable in their amorality. The way the film mixes the general absurdities of action movies with killers as heroes and your run of the mill romantic comedy is rather effective – and very funny – too, Sam Rockwell and Anna Kendrick making for a pleasantly odd couple. And who wouldn’t root for one of those, right? Particularly when they have to kill their way through a bunch of lovingly caricatured gangsters and Tim Roth looking to have a lot of fun doing his particular villain with a dash of tragedy. Why, even RZA brings his best acting game.

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