I, Tonya (2017)

For a lot of biopics, my main problem is that because it’s restrained by sticking to reality, it occasionally hampers its creativity. This definitely isn’t the case here. This takes the same approach to reality as “The Big Short” did (Wait a minute, that film also featured Margot Robbie speaking directly to the camera, hmmm, interesting) and is all the better for it. By that I mean it admits that human recollection is flawed, so some scenes/revelations are completely contradictory. Sometimes this happens mid-scene. At one point Margot’s character just turns towards the camera and says “I never did this”. I liked this approach to The Big Short, and I loved it here. Before this film, the only thing I knew about Tonya Harding was The Incident. I actually assumed she was a lot more involved in the incident than she actually was, so I was kind of annoyed when the film was announced as it seemed like they were glorifying someone who didn’t deserve it. Yeah, I was wrong. I mean, she was not exactly the nicest person in the world, but she was not the villain that popular culture has made her out to be. I also knew that after that she was a boxer, and there’s a sex tape of her available. This film touches upon two of those things, which I like. It shows us the effect the incident had on her life as well, it’s good to know that the film-makers had the bravery to do that as most wouldn’t. The fight itself is actually pretty well done as well, not on “Creed” level, but then again few fights are.

The skating itself was really well done as well, to the point where you completely forgot you were watching actors doing it, and instead focused on the scenes themselves. A lot of that is obviously due to Margot Robbie’s performance, she’s just phenomenal in this (would explain the Academy Award nomination), as is the rest of the cast. Whilst we’re on the subject can I just point out how strange it is that Sebastian Stan, who is best known to a lot of people for his role as the Winter Soldier in the Marvel films, is in a film written by someone called Steve Rogers? Am I the only one who finds that funny? Yeah, probably, but meh.

I mentioned earlier how I liked how it played with truth and reality, there’s one exception, one where it made me feel kind of uneasy. Most of the characters are portrayed as somewhat sympathetic, with one exception. Most of the characters are portrayed as somewhat intelligent, with one exception. Most of the characters are portrayed as being slightly blameless, with one exception. And it’s all the same exception: Shawn Eckhardt, who is played BRILLIANTLY by Paul Walter Hauser by the way. I mean, truly brilliant, he adds a lot of character tics that make him really stand out. Anyway, so back on track. Why did I feel slightly uneasy about this character being the main idiot, the main villain really? Because he’s the only one of the main characters who is dead. That feels a bit weird to me. Now, this might be a case of reality being unrealistic. Maybe it was all his fault and he was the dumbest person alive, and a massive prick. But considering how the film itself admits the lies that a lot of the main people involved tell, it feels a bit weird that they seem focused on attacking the one guy who can’t defend himself. It’s very easy to make Jeff Gillooly out to be the idiot villain, I mean he’s been arrested for driving under the influence, and sold his honeymoon sex tape. Although he did save the life of an 81-year woman, so he’s not all bad. That’s the main message of this film; people are complex and truth is subjective. Also, telling a group of judges “suck my dick” is never not funny. Go see this whilst you have the chance.

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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.