Spiral: From The Book Of Saw (2021)

Well this is interesting. It’s a horror movie, specifically a Saw movie, starring Chris Rock. I wouldn’t necessarily say I was excited by this film, but I was curious. I thought at worst it would just be a train wreck, like it would go too Chris Rock and be way too comedic. Thankfully it keeps the comedy away from the horror, you don’t often get characters making jokes in the presence of a dead body, for example. There are still a few too many comedic lines though, and they do detract away from the movies tone. They’re the typical Chris Rock jokes too, him calling other cops motherfuckers and insinuating they’re idiots. Those moments don’t suit the style of the film, they’re more like a buddy cop film, which would have worked if more of the film was like that. It’s like it’s trying to be both a buddy cop film and a horror and that mix of genres doesn’t really work.

It’s not helped by the run-time. Usually I complain about films being too long, but this is the opposite. This is supposed to be an atmospheric horror, and those require long scenes of build up, then a payoff. I mentioned earlier it has shades of a buddy cop movie, and those require the following scenes:

  • Renegade cop saves someone.
  • “you’re too dangerous, renegade cop” “fuck you” “you need a partner” “fuck you, I work alone”
  • Car ride of tension between the two where the partner makes jokes, they discuss their families.
  • First case.
  • They start to warm to each other.
  • They become friends investigating something else.
  • (sometimes) one dies and the fallout from that.

Those scenes can’t be done in less than a minute, they all require set ups and pay-offs. And they’re very dialogue heavy so again, take a while. Having both genres and trying to do them in a 93 minute movie is a recipe for disaster. Well, maybe disaster is a bit harsh, it’s not an entirely unpleasant viewing experience, it’s just a bit pedestrian. Not the traps though, the traps are wonderful. By which I mean they’re horrific in the best possible way. So when the movie is actually a Saw movie, it works. When it’s not? It’s kind of dull. Saw movies are can be heavily criticised (and for good reason) but they’re never usually dull. Also, they’re never normally as predictable as this one is. If you’ve seen a film before, you can probably guess the ending. You know it has to be a character the film has already introduced, and there’s really only one (at a stretch, two) characters it could be, REALLY weak plotting. Also, his fake voice is fucking weak. It doesn’t feel like a voice that’s going to inspire fear, it feels more like a voice that’s going to tell it’s mother to go get more hot pockets and mountain dew, and no mom I can’t pause the game I hate you I wish I’d never been born *flounces out room*.

Other examples of weak script: there are a lot of moments where unless something happened EXACTLY as it happens in the movie, nothing would have happened. Okay, admittedly that’s something which has been the case for a lot of the films, a lot of the time, if someone moved ever so slightly to the left, everything would have been avoided. It makes you realise you’re not in reality, but watching a movie, something which is definitely the case with this movie. I’m going to spoil the ending of this movie in the next paragraph btw.

So at the end, Chris Rocks dad (Samuel L Jackson) gets kidnapped by the killer, the police move into the building, his arm gets raised in a mechanical contraption, so the police shoot him. Meanwhile, the killer walks away using the service lift. The film ends there. Now, all it would have taken is for the police to realise that the person they’re shooting was clearly not in control of his limbs, or for Chris Rock to tell them that and just get them to take a step to the left and avoid getting shot (it was all automatic so the path was fixed, the arm wouldn’t have been able to be moved from left to right). Plus, unless EVERY police officer went into the building, there are going to be some outside, ready to catch the guy as soon as he steps out of the lift. Shit, they could probably see him from outside the window as he made his escape.

On the plus side, as I side, the traps are great, the story itself is probably one of the best in the series (just weakly told), and the performances are what they need to be (the “jigsaw” voice being the obvious weakest part). It also looks pretty damn good, it has a summer feeling to it that the others lack. The others felt almost entirely about the killings, but this one at the very least seems as though the city is a real breathing entity full of untold stories. It feels more fleshed out than the actual characters.

There’s definitely potential here, it’s just let down by the pacing and the tonal shifts. Oh, I bingewatched Taskmaster before this, which created a very strange mash-up in my head. I’m not saying this film would have been improved by having a seven-foot tall British comedian routinely insulting everybody, but, well actually it would.

Films Worth Seeing from 2015: The funny ones

Instead of a normal top ten list of the best films of 2015, here’s a list of film worth a watch from 2015, separated by genre and in now real order.

The Comedies (or the next best thing)

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A little seen but a very affectionate film that follows a witty but depressed cartoonist trying to be a single father and bounce back from his divorce. Now it doesn’t sound that different from your atypical rom-com shlock, but with a sensitive script that knows how to pluck your heartstrings to make you laugh and feel, and a surprisingly nuanced turn from Jemaine Clement (of Flight of the concords’ fame) and his chemistry with everyone he shares the screen with, People, Places, Things, becomes the movie equivalent of an awkward bear hug and a nice cup of coffee.

 

Mistress America

mistress_america_poster_midnight_marauder_2The second film this year from Indie director superstar Noah Baumbach, after his critically acclaimed While We’re Young, which was…okay. But he makes up for it here in this sharply funny and very earnest film about adult life, facing your limitations, and the fact that the people who act the happiest rarely really are. All as seen from the POV of an introverted university student as she gets to know her new manic pixy hipster step-sister. Again a bit of a plot-less film, but the shear energy Greta Gerwig brings to her role, and the zany dynamic she and every other character has, takes this film and its characters to a whole other level, and then turns the comedy around to look at the tragedy of it all. It’s possibly his best work since The Squid and the Wale.

The Big Short

the-big-short-movie-posters-001.jpg~original.jpgFrom the director of Anchorman of all people comes the other awesome investigative film of the year, and don’t believe the trailers, that is what this film is. Selling itself as some form of Ocean’s 11 but about the 2008 Credit Crunch, what this film actually turned out to be is a very in-depth and detailed look into all the fraud and corruption the Bank’s did to cause the financial crash. And it’s told from three different parties separately looking into it, each group led by an outstanding Christian Bale, Steve Carell, and Brad Pitt. But the trailer didn’t completely lie; this is a comedy (if a thrilling emotional one), with most of the big laughs coming from an enjoyably

Picture1.pngsleazy Ryan Gosling who narrates the film while also having his own place in it, trying to explain to us the inner workings of stock broking, and introduces some ridiculous celebrity cameos. Surprisingly well directed, and masterfully written and acted, it has a few bums and clunks in its tone, but is much more than the fast and funny caper the trailer tried to sell it as.

The Voices

This being Troubled Production’s other producer’s favorite film of 2015, I’d8345_poster_iphone of felt bad if I didn’t mention it somewhere, but that’s far from the biggest reason it’s here. The Voices is a delightfully quirky black comedy from the director of Persepolis (because of course), led by a possibly career best Ryan Reynolds as a mentally ill serial killer who talks to his dog and cat. If that doesn’t sell it to you, nothing will. This film revels, revels, in its warped quirky darkness, and manages to be simultaneously, outlandishly funny, disturbingly dramatic, and just plain charmingly odd because of it. It’s a film with a bonafide destiny to be a cult classic, for the people who like their comedy, dark, violent, and silly. And with this, thevoices0002

Mississippi Grind, and a hopefully awesome Deadpool, let’s hope the underrated Mr Reynolds is back on the rise.

 

 

The Diary of a Teenage Girl

8c9eb37b259f536f6381af56983f06baThe oddest but most accurate description I’ve heard for this 70s set coming of age dramedy, is that it’s the spiritual sequel to Inside Out…now they don’t mean that the titular teenage girl has a bunch of voices in her head, but is instead referring to that it follows the growing development of a young soon to be woman. As Inside Out ends with Riley on the cusp of teenhood, The diary of a teenage Girl picks up a few years later with a fifteen year old girl’s sexual awakening (forgive me for using the word sexual in the same sentence as Inside Out), and that’s what the film is about in a nutshell; sex. It’s about the first time and the times after that, it’s about becoming comfortable with yours and other’s bodies; Picture2it’s about experimenting and working out what gets you off, and then finding the limits. And I have SUCH respect for this film, because it’s about a fifteen year old’s sexual awakening and it shows it. There are no cutaways or clever angles, you see all of her, and that adds such authenticity to her and her story; because the fact that the film doesn’t shy away from you, means you don’t shy away from it; through every sweet, funny, and emotional moment, on this journey to the end of innocence and the start of everything else.

Man Up

This is that special romantic comedy large_large_y7C1EQ9zxJ3mlaQeRztw3NVw41Pthat’s the perfect mix of cynicism and cheese ball romance, of those little moments and grand gestures. And is the best non-blockbuster/ Edgar Wright film Simon Pegg has ever done. Following a 30 something woman in a romantic rut, she ends up stealing someone else’s blind date, and going on an amazing date with them instead. Now with that set-up this could have easily turned into a basic liar revealed plot, but I’m happy to say it doesn’t (if it did would it be here), and instead goes off in much sweeter and funnier directions. It’s definitely one of the funniest films of the year, and the perfect date movie for people who hate date movies.

Sleeping with Other people

236272This is just funny. Yeah it’s sweet, raunchy, and romantically mature too at times, but mostly it’s just funny. Jason Sudeikis and Alison Brie make a strong double act, playing two sex addicts who start a platonic friendship to try and help each-other deal with their relationship issues, and of course fall in love along the way. So it does get a bit too cliché at the end, but the journey there is so fun and so tastefully raunchy it’s still definitely worth a watch.

 

 

 

Me, and Earl, and the Dying girl

Along with The Big Short, and The me-and-earl-and-the-dying-girl-poster-olivia-cookeDiary of A Teenage Girl, this is the other film pushing the boundary for ‘comedy’ this year. Not because it isn’t funny, it’s filled to the brim with funny teen angst and witticisms, but it’s also about a girl dying of cancer, and this isn’t no Fault in Our Stars shit (I say actually liking that film), and stays far away from schmaltz, opting for a much bleaker and deadpan look at teen life and death, and has no quorum ramping up the seriousness and heart wrench when the time comes. Now it maybe too self-indulgent and referential for some people and it definitely reeks of 90’s teen dramedy at times, but past that I found a very earnest and true look at teen life on the outside and at dealing with death, that really captures the teenage voice.

Top 5

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Oh and Top 5 was pretty funny. Forgot about that one till I just came to post this.