Watch This Space: September 11th – 17th

Every Monday we will be recommending films that are on TV that week, films playing at the cinema, and also remind you of those brilliant films hiding on streaming services, such as Netflix and Amazon Prime, and possibly in your own collection.

In Cinemas

IT: The highly anticipated ‘IT’, the second Stephen King adaptation to grace our cinemas this year, released last week and is already breaking records worldwide! We’ll have our review up later today!

Wind River: Last week we posted up Rhys’ review of Wind River, in which he says “Sheridan has set himself an improbably high standard to exceed with his next film”. We highly recommend checking it out at the cinema this week if creepy killer clowns aren’t your thing!

On TV

Monday

Prometheus (2012): Up for a mind-bending Sci-Fi flick this evening? If so, make sure you catch ‘Prometheu’s, Ridley Scott’s enigmatic and divisive return to the ‘Alien’ franchise. Delving deep into the mythology and lore of the ‘Alien’ universe, Scott’s ‘Prometheus’ is a story of creation and the origins of mankind. Whilst it lacks the scare-factor evident in the original ‘Alien’, this prequel will immerse you by its many, many mysteries. Whether you’ll love it or hate it, you will need to watch it at 9pm on Film4 to find out.

Home Alone (1990): With plenty of silly moments and wonderfully funny set pieces, courtesy of the famous booby-trapped finale, this delivers lots of heart in a story full of witty and charming moments. It made an international star out of Macaulay Culkin, and it’s easy to see why at just 8 years old by carrying the film pretty much on his one. With a toe-ta[pping festive soundtrack, wonderful performances from all including our “Wet Bandits” Joe Pesci and Daniel Stern – who has THE best scream in cinema – this is real innocent family fun. But shame on you for watching it in September. Hethen! Save it for mid-November to December at least, ya filthy animal.

Tuesday

The Secret of My Success (1987): Tune in for a slice of 80s fun in the male version of ‘Working Girl’, as Michael J Fox attempts to sleep his way to the top in ‘The Secret of My Success’. As usual with 80s fare, there’s some crazily fantastic fashion, decor and music on display. This film is really funny and relies on the charm of Fox as he wrestles with his conscience, leading to a heart-warming, feel-good conclusion. Like all 80s classics, this is comfort food for the soul. To learn the secret be sure to tune in to ITV2 at 9pm!

Wednesday

Hot Fuzz (2007): At this point, every film fan has had a conversation about which Edgar Wright film is their favourite. Some will say ‘Shaun of the Dead’, some will say ‘Scott Pilgrim’, and I’m sure some will now say ‘Baby Driver’. Me? It will always be ‘Hot Fuzz’. ‘Hot Fuzz’ is everything that makes Edgar Wright great. It’s hilarious, it has a brilliant cast of characters, it’s fabulously written, and it has many moments that I can remember beat for beat. Also, as great as he is in most things, Nick Frost is never better than he is as Danny Butterman, yeah motherfuckerrrrrr. Catch ‘Hot Fuzz’ on ITV2 at 10pm

The Ladykillers (1955):   Five oddball criminals rent out a room in a house owned by  a an old lady by the name of Mrs Wilberforce, where they pretend to be musicians. Here, they attempt to plan a bank robbery, but they find Mrs Wilberforce is a force to be reckoned with and things do not go to plan! This is a classic that everyone needs to see at least once. It has a brilliant cast, with the likes of Alec Guinness and Peter Sellers starring. Watch the robbery plans unfold on Film4 at 12pm.

Thursday

Mr and Mrs Smith (2005): Imagine keeping your secret life of an assassin a secret from your spouse, only to learn they are doing the exact same thing… Well, that’s exactly what happens when John (Brad Pitt) and Jane Smith (Angelina Jolie) are contracted to kill one another and learn they’re both hiding the same secret. Of course, the professionals that they are, the pair plan on fulfilling their contracts and killing the other, but that may not be as easy as they’d planned on it being. Watch the bullet-fest marriage counselling session at 10pm on 5*.

Meet the Fockers (2010): Robert De Niro and Ben Stiller come face to face again in the sequel to 2000’s ‘Meet the Parents’. This time, it’s the the Byrnes’ turn to meet the other side of the family, the Fockers. Dustin Hoffman and Barbra Streisand are Bernie and Rozalin Focker, and hilarity ensues as the two families, who are complete opposites, are forced to spend time with one another for the sake of their children. You can meet the Fockers on Comedy Central at 9pm.

Friday

Pitch Perfect (2012): Every few years or so there comes a “chick flick” which easily manages to transcend that annoyingly gender specific term. We had ‘Clueless’, ‘Mean Girls’, ‘Easy A’, and now ‘Pitch Perfect’ is able to join that elite pantheon. Making the world of competitive collegiate acapella somehow the coolest thing ever, ‘Pitch Perfect’ has great songs, great comedic performances, and a surprising amount of heart. It ticks some of the gross-out humour boxes without ever going too far and is consistently rewatchable. Give it a try, you might just find yourselves surprised. Tune in 9pm on Film4!

Legend (2015): Love a bit of Tom Hardy? If so, make yourself a cup of tea, get your jammies on and jump on the sofa, because tonight you’re going to see two of him in ‘Legend’, A biopic exploring the Kray twins’ criminal hold over London. Starring Hardy as both Reggie and Ronald Kray, ‘Legend’ is driven by its exciting performances and the overwhelming amount of fun to be had, from its explosive fight sequences and hilarious dialogue (“it’s a fucking rolling pin”). You’ll have a ball with this one, I guarantee it, so flick over to Film4 at 9pm

Hiding Online / In Our Collection / Out This Week

Mindhorn (2017): His time has finally come! ‘Mindhorn’ is available to take him this week, and you’d be a sucker not to pick it up. Julian Barrett has been a long time favourite of mine, from his time as Howard Moon in ‘The Mighty Boosh’, and more recently as Maurice in Channel 4’s ‘Flowers’. Barrett’s character, Richard Thorncroft, is an actor who played an 80’s detective in a hit TV show that time forgot, and is called to play the character once again after a murder suspect the police are chasing will only talk to Mindhorn, who he thinks is a real detective. Thorncroft see’s this as the perfect opportunity to get his career back on track, and get his name in the news. ‘Mindhorn’ is simply British comedy at it’s finest and definitely one I’ll be picking up.

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (2017): The second outing for the Guardians is out on home release this week, and it’s a mixed bag. Some of the characters are a little flat and just there for the sake of it, and some of the humour feels shoe-horned in and rather naff, but there is much to be enjoyed to counter the negatives. It’s a popcorn movie at heart that doesn’t fail in setting up more for us to follow in the Marvel Cinematic Universe while expanding on the ‘GOTG’ series as a whole with new characters and new worlds. Plus, with the likes of Kurt Russell, Sylvester Stallone and….David Hasselhoff?….in tow, you can’t go far wrong. It’s daft, bright, visually spinning stuff so don’t expect anything groundbreaking and you’ll be ok.

A huge thank you to contributors this week: Chris Gelderd,  Corey Hughes, Sarah Buddery, Fiona Underhill, and Rhys Bowen Jones
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Stand Up Specials And The Unintentional Death Of Blockbuster Comedy

Written by Patrick Alexander

The year was 2008. Millions of teenagers flocked to the cinema in the prime of adolescent sophistication with $10 bills and red vines in hand. In a 3 year span, they had witnessed the greatest comedy blockbuster run of their time. Call it youthful exuberance; call it an anomaly; call it what you want; just don’t call it Shirley. From 2006-2008, Hollywood had solved the comedy algorithm dishing out hits and home-runs like Alex Rodriguez in his prime. Personal opinions aside, take a look:

2006: Talladega Nights, Night at the Museum (underrated), Beer Fest, Little Miss Sunshine, The Break-Up [1], Grandma’s Boy, Accepted, Nacho Libre, Clerks II and Borat!  

2007: Knocked Up, Superbad, Hot Fuzz, Juno, Hot Rod, Rush Hour 3, and Blades of Glory (shut up critic).

2008: Forgetting Sarah Marshall, Tropic Thunder, Step Brothers, Pineapple Express, Semi-Pro, Burn After Reading, and Kung-Fu Panda [2].

However, little did anyone know, that run concluded an era when the comedy blockbuster mattered. After 2008, the pulse of the comedy blockbuster went dark. The wrong stars got together, in the wrong roles or at the wrong time. Decade long runs of chemistry and collaborative brilliance were traded in for experimentation and solo projects. Comedy sequels and remakes became the norm as studios shifted focus from creating laughs to cashing cheques. Sadly, the real issue might’ve been that the best comedic actors got old. The comedy blockbuster lost its mojo and burned its fans like citizens of ancient Rome. And from its ashes rose the conquistador we call, “Stand-Up Comedy Specials.”

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Now, the stand-up comedy special was nothing new. From Eddie Murphy’s ‘RAW to Chris Rock’s ‘Bring the Painto Dave Chappelle’s Killin’ Them Softly‘, stand up specials were always a readily available plan-B to the critically acclaimed recommendations dished out by your local Blockbuster clerk. Only stand-up specials had never screened in theaters nationwide or sold copies like ‘Titanic’, and therefore, couldn’t carve out an appropriate slice of the pie. The closest to relevance stand-up comedy ever made it was the HBO Comedy Half Hour series of the mid-90s. In August 2012, that all changed. After 5 years spent figuring out their streaming service, Netflix cracked open Pandora’s Box with it’s debut stand-up special, ‘Bill Burr: You People Are All the Same’. The comedy landscape would never be the same.

Following 2008, a half-decade of delivering only a couple solid comedy hits per year had fans losing trust. After dozens of whiffs with underwhelming numbers, the studios began to cede ground to its online and on-demand competitors. Watching Adam Sandler half-ass a smug grin, on a weekend trip to the theater for the comely price of $25+tax, just wasn’t enough for the American people anymore. The opportunity cost of going to the local cinema became too high; the options available became more expansive; the viewing public grew to be more efficient about their time. Overall, a myriad of outside factors contributed to the downfall of blockbuster comedy, but the greatest death knell of all came from the studios themselves – sequels.

In hindsight, it seems simple to speculate that we didn’t need two (possibly 3?) ‘Grown Ups films or four movies about fuckbuddies in the same year, but at the time who would’ve known? Oh yeah, anyone with a pulse. As comedians and comedy writers shifted away from handing over their top-tier material to screenplays for pennies on the dollar, Hollywood turned to its tried and true formula: running it back. One ‘Dirty Grandpa‘, two ‘Teds‘, three ‘Hangovers‘, four Will Ferrell comebacks nobody asked for, and 5 years later…well this is our hell.

To be fair, this hell was not created completely by studios. It was aided by Father Time and Uncle Greed. Guys like Owen Wilson & Ben Stiller started pursuing indie passion projects. Guys like Vince Vaughn & Simon Pegg started cashing cheques as leads in films they couldn’t carry. Guys like Will Ferrell & Adam Sandler became tired versions of their past selves real quick, going through the big-budget production motions. All in all, the stars of yesteryear got old and nobody truly rose to the forefront in their place. The new wave of blockbuster comedians never materialized. God bless Andy Samberg & Ed Helms for trying, but two guys does not a next generation make.

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Meanwhile, as the comedy blockbuster sphere started acting more erratic than your average day on the NASDAQ, the millennials of the world slowly shifted their collective attentions to the screens right in front of them. Capitalizing on the streaming boom from 2013-present day, Netflix took over, launching Burr, Mike Birbiglia, Jim Jeffries, Chelseas Peretti, Iliza Schleshinger, Tom Segura and dozens of other comedians into the mainstream. Coupled with Comedy Central’s introduction of Aziz Ansari, Anthony Jeselnik, and Amy Schumer, it was enough for stand up comedy specials to become a regular part of our comedy diet. In under a decade, the stand up special transformed from plate-filling sides to the main course.[3] In essence, our tastes for how we ingest comedy changed.

The average American became filthier given more access to all the grimy, deranged[4] shit on the internet. We love to get dirty, but nobody to know about it which makes stand up comedy such a natural fit for the current climate. As a younger man’s genre, the millennial generation embraced the well-developed, levity-ridden, open dialogue stand-up brings on controversial topics such as race, abortion, sexual assault, and even the raunchier part of our daily lives. You know, the stuff you shouldn’t talk about in public.

Stand-up comedians write jokes that no Hollywood studio in their wildest dreams could green light. Try to imagine a comedy coming out this summer, starring David Spade and Melissa McCarthy, about rape. You can’t. It would be the most merciless beheading of actors, directors, writers, producers, studio, and everybody involved on down to the key grip 4, in film history. Stand-up might have been raised in that dirty niche under the noses of high society, but nowadays it’s your rich Uncle’s favorite house guest.

And just when Hollywood thought they’d earned our trust back with a balanced, more original 2016[5] filled with a few budding comedic actors, Netflix delivered “The Block“…aka Dave Chappelle. Game, set, match. With comedy legends Louis C.K., Tracy Morgan, Chris Rock, Jerry Seinfeld, and Sarah Silverman all slated for potential 2017 releases, stand up comedy specials have become appointment viewing. Combined with the paltry options of comedy blockbusters due out this year [6], stand-up specials ain’t giving the trophy back.

In an age of constant newness, the consistent discovery and evolution of new comedians with fresh material runs through the arc of open mic-er to stand-up regular to instant streaming special. A system set up to unleash a steady stream of hungry newcomers and thankful lifelong comics finally getting a fair shot. It’s automated for infinite future success and a winning formula developed over decades of stand-ups fighting for their right to air time. Comedians getting the pay off they deserve. Finally, something we can all agree on.

 

[1] and Jennifer Aniston’s backside! 
[2] Put some respect on it.
[3] Thanks, vegans. 
[4] read: funny.
[5] The Nice Guys, Deadpool, Popstar, Ghostbusters (women edition), Everybody Wants Some!!, Keanu.
[6] Baywatch, Fist Fight, Chips?…oh dear God, that’s…that’s Pitch Perfect 3’s music.