NTWON: Tucker and Dale Vs. Evil

It's the showdown everyone has been waiting for: two Appalachian hillbillies are the only ones who can save the world from a force of violence and evil known only as Chad. 

Normally, I don't go for blood and guts slasher flicks because I have the constitution of a twelve year old girl and have no desire to be reminded of the pointlessness of life by watching college kids get dismembered in increasingly creative ways. However, I was pleased to find that Tucker and Dale Vs. Evil is actually a sharp-witted black comedy dressed up as slasher.

Tucker and Dale Vs. Evil is unique in its self-awareness as the characters ask the same questions audiences often ask themselves: "Why is everyone dying?", "Why can't we call the police?", "Why don't they just leave?". All of these are addressed in believable and hilarious ways.

The thing that's particularly amusing about Tucker and Dale's characters is that they are almost completely oblivious of the fear and havoc happening all around them. They're just two guys trying to spruce up their new cabin while college kids suffer from what has to be the worst case of bad luck ever encountered by another human.

Tucker and Dale Vs. Evil can aptly described as a genre-busting film as it takes the horror format and adds a comedic twist on things. Remarkably, elements from rom-coms make their way into the movie as well, as Dale struggles with his inability to get a date among all the bloodshed.

Overall, Tucker and Dale made very effective use of its tight 88 minute runtime. Definitely a great movie to throw on if you could use a laugh but also want to see people die. 

NTWON: Welcome to Me

This month, my dear friend Amy recommended that I watch the movie Welcome to Me for this segment. So I did.

Welcome to Me stars Kristen Wiig as a woman with borderline personality disorder named Alice Klieg. Alice lives a mostly sedentary life going to her therapist (played by Tim Robbins) and watching Oprah re-runs. Then she wins 87 million dollars in the lottery and decides to host her own talk show where she discusses whatever she feels like at the time.

There's a lot of potential for wacky hijinks with this plot. It wouldn't be the first movie where a mentally unstable person got a TV show. However, Welcome to Me remains firmly rooted in reality. It can best be described as a black comedy, as there are some scenes that get a little...real.

Kristen Wiig nails this performance. Alice is unstable, but seems to have things under control. However, as things progress with her show, she grows more and more unhinged and alienates all of her friends and family. There are no wacky hallucination sequences or weird Twin Peaks dreams. We see Alice as she is: a woman who is unwell, who feels marginalized and wants to be noticed.

The whole cast gives an exemplary performance, which comes as no surprise since it's pretty stacked. Linda Cardellini (from Freaks and Geeks, Mad Men, a whole bunch of other shit) plays Alice's put-upon best friend. James Marsden (Cyclops from X-Men, one of Liz Lemon's boyfriends) plays the studio executive who has to control the chaos of Alice's show. Wes Bently (the creepy video-camera kid from American Beauty) plays Alice's main love interest/ James Marsden's brother. Joan Cusack (too many roles to list)  rounds out the cast as the show's cynical producer. 

Welcome to Me is absolutely a funny movie. However, it's not exactly lighthearted. Like I said, there are moments that get pretty uncomfortable so get ready for that. Check out this movie if you're feeling like watching something that's gonna make you laugh, but also make you think.

NTWON: Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels

This month I watched Guy Richie's Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels, a British crime thriller with a massive cast and an incredibly complicated plot. To explain it in brief, Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels is about a group of four friends who blow all their money on a high stakes poker game and then scramble to pay off their debt to a vicious psychopath. Note that this description hardly does this movie justice.

I am not overstating when I say that this movie was incredible. There was a huge cast of characters, but everyone played their necessary part- fitting into the plot like a puzzle piece. At its heart Lock is a heist movie. But unlike other heist films, where the first half is the team being assembled and the second half is the actual heist, this movie is a series of heists: it's basically two hours of watching one group of criminals rip off another and then a third group rips them off and so on and so forth.

Like the rest of Guy Richie's work, this movie doesn't take itself too seriously. This silly streak takes things to the point where Lock can arguably be called a black comedy. There are many scenes that are funny due to the absurdity of the situation, while others feature hilarious wordplay.

Cinematically, this Lock is no slouch either. The viewer is treated to all kinds of funky angles and perspective shots as the action unfolds, sometimes even serving as a joke in its own subtle way. 

I could go on and on gushing about this movie, but I don't want to give away any key details or spoil anything. If you enjoyed Snatch or In Bruges you will absolutely enjoy Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking BarrelsCheck it out!

Inherent Vice

It's that special time of year between the insanity and overblown commercialization of December and that insane and overblown award ceremony where they give out little gold statue-men. It's during that choice gap where the theaters are packed with really good movies all vying for one of those little gold guys.

Inherent Vice is one of those movies, as it meets several of the necessary criteria:

  • Period Piece
  • Stars Joaquin Phoenix
  • Directed and Written by Paul Thomas Anderson

However, I'm sure that this movie will be snubbed by the committee (if it even gets nominated for anything) because it is one of the most ridiculous Oscar-bait movies I have ever seen. I don't mean that it was a bad movie. Rather, it was a wonderful cinema experience. It was just so complicated and convoluted that I can't imagine that it would garner awards because the jury would need to watch the movie three more times just to make sense of what they had seen. 

A friend of mine described the plot of Inherent Vice as "a darker Big Lebowski with more drugs". I don't think there's a better way to succinctly explain this film. The plot is equally (if not more) tangled, with a parade of characters that have their own distinct quirks and personalities.

Phoenix plays a PI/Hippie named Doc who is trying to unravel a bizarre conspiracy involving a missing saxophone player, a bunch of white supremacists, a real estate mogul, and a dentist with a coke problem. I can't really go into much detail here without giving anything away, but I can assure you it's quite a ride.

One thing that really struck me about this movie was how subtly hilarious it was. One moment that stands out in my mind is Doc having a serious conversation with several FBI agents, but everyone is picking their noses without any comment from anyone involved. There are plenty of overt jokes as well and tons of clever dialogue, so even if you can't follow the plot you'll still be amused as you watch Doc chain smoke joints and watch the madness unfold around him. 

I had a great time watching this movie, even though I definitely didn't catch all of the subtle nuances. I know I'm gonna watch this one two or three more times just to soak everything up. 

Check this one out for sure!