Wednesday, 21 December 2016

Bad People - Film Review

Bad People

Writer/ Director Alex Petrovitch – 2016 – 81 Minutes


Bad People is a dark comedy made up of segments that act like sketches taking aim at modern society and containing some twisted and yes, very bad people.

It starts with the independent film favourite; the hitmen, the casual chat and suits, the clear Pulp Fiction inspiration. But it is a deception, what we end up with is a sketch about political correctness that builds to a punchline and gives a taste of what the whole film is about; pure comedy.

We are guided through the film by a pair of newsreaders and their headline updates. One of them is jaded and delves deeper into drug addled on-air depravity as the film continues. The other is more aspirational and professional and tries to keep the news programme on track. The only continuity and repeat use of characters throughout the film are these news anchors and the ongoing sex and drugs scandal involving the mayor and a young wannabe celebrity. These scenes are genuinely funny and greatly improved by the strength of the four main actors involved. The complimentary news anchor comedy duo, the ditsy, self-promoting, fame hungry girl and the doomed mayor who thinks he stands a chance of re-election.

The rest of the segments deliver a selection of headline parodies with strong social commentary on everything from dating apps and relationships to celebrity culture and self-help gurus. The variety of characters and settings keep the film fresh and surprising. No joke goes on for too long, they carry on as long as they need to and then we move on. There is an edginess as we are never sure how far they are willing to go in terms of language, violence, depravity, obscenity, sheer lunacy and parody, until it has already happened. You can never be sure when and how the darkest humour will creep back into the forefront.

This is the kind of independent cinema I really enjoy. A simple concept executed well. A comedy that is funny. The film succeeds because of the characters, the acting, the dialogue and the timing. Not because of big budget effects or familiar bankable actors or an overly complicated, unintelligible plot. Here is a funny and intriguing premise delivered with professional style and quality comedy acting.

Bad People is a twisted, hilarious and very rewatchable attack on modern social issues. And it makes the real TV news look boring.


Sunday, 2 October 2016

People - Film Review

People

Writer/Director - Shane McGoey - 2016 -  84minutes

People is an independent film from New Orleans which is self-described as a series of ‘wicked vignettes’ inspired by the works of Jean-Paul Sartre and Ambrose Bierce. Expect cynical characters and existential themes. Unconventional is the right word.

The film presents confrontations between extreme characters with varying morality. Interesting collisions between well realised but extreme and intense characters. These battles include a psychiatrist and his manipulative patient, an awkward date after a one-night stand, a strained gathering of friends, an arguing couple rushing to the hospital and a screenwriter fighting for creative control of his film. They are all attempting to understand and evaluate themselves and compare with each other. As the film goes on we find these characters linked in more surprising ways.

Each vignette has its own breath of fresh energy and unique setting. The over the desk appointment between doctor and patient has a confined and claustrophobic setting as this meeting is confidential, while the awkward date in a restaurant introduces a public, open space with witnesses. Even more claustrophobic is the frantic car journey where a couple argue. Then there is the passionate one-sided phone conversation where a screenwriter pleads his case to his less creatively minded studio executives. Here it becomes a one man show as we follow the screenwriter pacing back and forth and preaching his art over the phone while the execs repeatedly shoot him down.

With such an eclectic ensemble, success seems to rest on the casting and performances of the actors. People has such a fantastic cast for this type of project. The variance in emotions and subtlety from this cast helps bring the world to life. With such twisted and opposing characters, the film’s stance is as a dark-comedy drama. The over the top conversations and situations are embraced as the heart of the films humour.

Something else bubbles underneath, preventing it from just being a collection of shorts. They are linked yes, but something expands quietly in the background. An unravelling of reality that gives the whole film a delicious twist and new direction. A microphone creeps into view but it is no mistake. The screenwriter lamenting cinema and the demise of his latest film sounds strikingly like the very one we are watching. Ultimately the final scene embellishes this symbolism and loose reality.

It may all sound ridiculous or pretentious or overly ambitious but it is very well achieved. The shoot was completed in only six days but the result does not feel rushed, instead it is interesting and energetic; simple but effective. The dialogue is impressive and entertaining. It reminded me of the infinitely re-watchable Clerks. Snappy, tongue in cheek, cynical and provocative. Heavy subjects but not to be taken so seriously. It makes the most of the energy and creativity of underground independent cinema.

Something unusual and certainly likely to spark more discussion and analysis than any Hollywood film has recently. Unexpected, engaging and darkly comic.