Tag Archives: dark comedy

What we do in the shadows

Directors: Jemaine Clement, Taika Waititi; Main Cast: Jemaine Clement, Taika WaititiJonny BrughCori Gonzalez-Macuer;


Hilarious and very original mockumentary about vampires living as flatmates in modern day Wellington (New Zealand). The audience is introduced to each character with a mix of direct interviews and everyday life scenes and getting to know Viago (Waititi), Deacon (Brugh) and Vladislav (Clement) is funny and highly entertaining. They have problems that are typical when sharing a house: paying rent, keeping up with the chore wheel, overcome conflicts and getting invited into nightclubs; they also have others issues due to being centuries-old vampires: avoiding sunlight, getting fresh human blood, hitting a main artery and not being able to get a sense of their wardrobe without a reflection. In the interviews you get pearls like these:

what-we-do-in-the-shadows-virgins2 what-we-do-in-the-shadows-virgins1

There’s also Petyr (Ben Fransham) as forth flatmate, he’s the oldest and most ghoulish vampire of the lot and has a tendency to turn his victims instead of killing them. This is the reason why Nick (Gonzales-Macuer) becomes a vampire and, being new-made, gets to be a guide to his brethren, helping them to overcome modern society’s obstacles. Along with his best friend Stu (Stu Rutherford), who is still human but very understanding, Nick manages to teach Decon, Vlad and Viago to use a computer and internet with pretty interesting results such as dark bidding on Ebay or a Skype conversation with a former minion. They finally have no problem enjoying the nightlife and entering bars and clubs, with their great surprise and delight. In return, they mentor Nick in all-things vampiry: eating in a proper way, fly and turning into a bat, hypnotizing people, dealing with werewolves and so on.

The story flows nicely, it’s engaging and amusing and it’s served well by the documentary style of shooting and editing. The cast is brilliant, especially Waititi and Clement who are also the dark minds behind this film. This movie is a breath of fresh air in this stale genre, it’s unusual and up to the mark with another unconventional take, although very different, on vampire tales: Jarmusch’s Only Lovers Left Alive. Diverting —8/10


Filed under Seen at home

Birdman: Or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)


Director: Alejandro González Iñárritu; Main Cast: Michael Keaton, Zach Galifianakis, Edward NortonEmma StoneNaomi WattsAndrea RiseboroughAmy Ryan;

Art imitates life, or so it seems, in this film but it left me wondering if Inarritu’s last effort is  campy navel-gazing or a honest, tongue-in-cheek look at the entertainment business? I must say I’m not completely sold on the latter. Using a rather ingenious editing move (shooting the whole film in one, continuos take!) and an inspired soundtrack, Inarritu introduces the audience to a collection of different types (or archetypes) of actors and somewhat hefty themes: art and fame, vanity and self-worth. Riggan (Keaton), a once famous actor, has reached stardom interpreting a popular superhero (starts with b…finishes with …man, little on the nose maybe?) but he has fallen into obscurity in more recent years. Eager to revamp his career and be accepted by the high-brow critics, he is directing, producing and acting in a Broadway play he has adapted from Raymond Carver’s story What we talk about when we talk about love. The film follows Riggan in the few days before the premiere, while he struggles with mundane issues as director/producer and with his inner demons embodied by Birdman himself, who follows him around and talks like he has been gargling marbles. His internal conflict is sometimes fueled, sometimes abated by the people surrounding him: his manager and friend Jake (Galifianakis, casted against type and a pleasant surprise!), his recovering addict daughter Sam (Stone), his girlfriend and actress Laura (Riseborough), his leading lady Lesley (Watts), his ex-wife Sylvia (Ryan) and, last but not least, Mike (Norton), renown stage actor who lives only for the craft. There is an interesting mix of comic and dramatic moments in the story, with the right touch of surreal that reminds me a little of Michel Gondry‘s style. Riggan wants desperately to prove that he is a real artist, well versed in the craft, and not a washed up movie star, he wants to leave something behind that’s worthy and, most of all, he wants to matter. In the end this film is about very human feelings we can all relate to and understand. Keaton gives a great performance, one that can propel him back to stardom, so life mimics art after art has imitated life…ok, I have a headache now…Anyway the supporting cast, in particular Norton, is pretty amazing as well and improve the already good quality of the film. Innovative and thought-provoking —7/10


Filed under Seen at the cinema

Relatos Salvajes


Director: Damián Szifrón; Main Cast: Darío Grandinetti, María Marull,  Ricardo DarínLeonardo SbaragliaOscar MartínezErica Rivas,  Diego GentileJulieta ZylberbergRita Cortese;

Damian Szifron wrote and directed this multi-segmented film that explores the dark and wild side of human nature. Each of the six episodes starts from a very simple premise: a plane trip, a new customer at a truck-stop restaurant, an overtaking on the motorway,  a car towed away, a hit-and-run accident and a wedding celebration; each story however evolves into something far more extreme than usual with a morbid humour and, in a few cases, very grim endings. The common denominator is always the loss of control, the refusal to be logical or sensible while facing the facts and just giving in to a more visceral and primal reaction. The first two stories are strictly about vengeance: long and carefully planned like the count of Montecristo or more in the spur of the moment like Beatrice Kiddo in Kill Bill (and equally bloody); both episodes are told with a slow pace and a mounting sense of foreboding. The fourth and fifth tales are more about “the insolence of office, and the spurns
that patient merit of th’ unworthy takes“, the former taking a very extreme turn reminding me of Michael Douglas’s character in Falling Down. The third and the sixth episodes are centered on what can happen if you cross the wrong person and how things might escalate (very quickly!) into violence. It is not a surprise that Pedro Almodovar is the producer since the mood and the flair of this film strongly remind of his early dark comedies (e.g.¡Átame!), he probably recognised the genius and the potential of these grim but very entertaining  parables. The whole cast is quite brilliant but a special mention should go to Erica Rivas for her role as deranged bride. I must say that when the film ended I was surprised, I would have watched at least another hour of these tales of ordinary folly. Impressive and riveting. —8.5/10


Filed under Seen at the cinema