Tag Archives: down on his luck

Life’s Too Short

Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant have done it again, this time exploiting the little people. Or as they like to be called, dwarfs. The dwarven kind in this mockumentary are represented by Warwick Davis, dwarf star extraordinaire. In a fake and awkward version of his true life, Warwick Davis explores what it’s like to have no work, a divorce, and unending amount so debt. And I laughed through every second of it.

Thanks to HBO, this show and Ricky Gervais’ Animated Podcast were brought to my

Let the awkwardness ensue.

attention at the same time. I love both of them and this show was just quicker to finish (other review coming shortly). Life’s Too Short follows Warwick Davis, the person and the character, around for 7 episodes seeing just what kind of mischief he gets into in his typical life. But this isn’t your average Warwick Davis, the lovable Wicket Ewok we see when he was 11 in Star Wars: Return of the Jedi. This is something more horrendous.

Now that’s a great pic.

Warwick in this show is a selfish, deceitful, and overall poor sport actor down on his luck. He feels his fame should be giving him more than it is right now and he won’t let anyone get in his way. He has small man syndrome (and appropriately so) and is always offended by midget. I have a fear of midgets usually (saw Chucky too early and connected the two) but when it’s Warwick Davis, you have to love him.

I mean, look at his career. There’s Star Wars, The BBC specials of C.S. Lewis’s Narnia series, and the amazing Leprechaun series (I love it and always will. Too funny and classic.) The 10th Kingdom, my favorite, and the Harry Potter series as Flitwick, the Charms Professor. He has a better and more lucrative career than a lot of little people, and people love him for that. I haven’t seen Willow yet (a running joke in the

The creators shunning the little guy. Classic.

show) but I damn well plan on watching it now.

This show highlights everything that Gervais and Merchant wanted to do in The Office. After meeting Warwick in Gervais’ Extras, they started talking about this project. With my hopes up for more than a Christmas Special (come on Season 2…) I really enjoyed this awkward social situational comedy from the masters.

Rosamund Hanson. She’s got nothin goin on… upstairs.

Every episode hits you harder than the last, with some great star appearances thrown in. I must say, I don’t like Johnny Depp, but in this show he really knows how to make fun of himself. Liam Neeson was hilarious (although unintentionally), and Sting was just a dick. I loved Warwick’s dimwitted assistant, Cheryl (Rosamund Hanson) and everything she said and how she said it was pure comic gold. I know it’s wrong to think that when Warwick falls over during the show is the funniest part, but it’s one of those old gags you never get tired of seeing. Warwick himself was funny, but he knows how funny it is for a little person to struggle in normal everyday things.

Critics said this show was too awkward and similar to The Office that Gervais and Merchant were just getting lazy. Sure they were lazy. But they were lazy with a formula that was going to work from the

The toilet troll emerges!

beginning no matter what. I sincerely relish awkward moments in TV and movies (especially real life) and seeing a show that focuses on it to the point of painful, that’s spot on comedy. The drier and darker the better. Although I did at some points want Warwick to win some of the moments in life, it just wasn’t in the cards. Oh well, you win some, you lose most.

So with an awkward show like this and a dwarf who can poke fun at themselves, it’s fun to watch a car wreck comedy. Don’t wanna look, but can’t stop. Oh, and here’s the real Warwick for ya, just so you know where he’s coming from. Enjoy just like I enjoyed Series 1. 8.6 out of 10.

 

 

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Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance

I feel that deep down, if anyone has ever been wronged or hurt in some way by another, they seek revenge in some form on that person. So, you could say, that revenge is a very human thing to pursue and wish to deal out. I would say that’s why these films have been so successful (although box offices mighy say pshaw). After having seen Oldboy in a film class a few years ago, I knew I had to see more of Park Chan-wook’s films. He has a great sense of story and emotion coupled with a visual style you don’t often see in action films.

So I started off Park Chan-wook’s Revenge series at its logical point, Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance. This story follows a deaf mute man named Ryu (Shin Ha-kyun) who is down on his luck. His sister (Lim Ji-eun) has kidney failure and is in dire need of a new one. Ryu is fired from his job at the factory and now seeks a new way in which to raise the

This was an interesting scene involving a mirror.

money. In finding a black market organ gang, Ryu is swindled and left without a kidney himself. With no other way to raise the money after not being a suitable donor himself, Ryu must turn to desperate measures with his anarchist girlfriend, Cha Yeong-mi (Bae Doona).

Stunning visuals.

What’s most interesting about this movie is the way that revenge and its plot in the film shifts from character to character. You think it’s all about Ryu and seeking revenge against the organ dealers (and to a point, it is). But it turns into something bigger when Ryu’s ex-boss gets involved. What is intriguing about this movie is that everyone has a motive, and usually for good reason. Ryu wants to save his sister and others want to correct past wrongs (don’t wanna spoil the movie). So there’s no definitive bad and good character, and this is even apparent in Oldboy. (Haven’t watched Lady Vengeance yet, we’ll cross that bridge soon.)

Another thing that leaps out at you in this film is an insanely new way of dictating tempo and focus with camera angles and amount of time spent on one shot. Kim Byung-il and the director, Park Chan-wook must have collaborated together to get such a unique style of story telling through showing. In dealing with a deaf mute character, sound was at times taken for granted. At others, sound played an important part, more

Song Kang-ho is one legitimate actor.

importantly what couldn’t be heard. The story fluctuates in such a way that plot mixes with circumstances, and chance happenings lead to development.

More about the visual style. Amazing work with angles you wouldn’t think of. This movie can take a simple handshake shot to a new extreme. It leaves on things you wouldn’t think of as the events unfold from a single angle (one take shots are hard to do…) and tilts the cameras to gain new perspectives. Light and dark shows its place when the characters walk up an abandoned parking structure in an almost comical way. I think the creators of this film really took a brand of their own outlandishly dark comedy and injected it into their film with just visual aspects.

Also touching.

And another important part of this movie. Song Kang-ho who plays Park Dong-jin, Ryu’s ex-boss. When he gets roped into this story, things start happening. It’s not such a quirky action film anymore. The emotions come out and you see the true face of vengeance. Song Kang-ho is an incredible actor, especially by American Cinema actors. You don’t feel like he’s fooling you with his emotions and actions on camera. You feel like you’re actually feeling for another human being. He didn’t have any classical acting training before he started getting involved with acting, but he has done such a wide range of characters that it shows he has depth. A comedic, bumbling, good hearted Dad in The Host. A bloodthirsty vampire priest that I’d like to see in Park Chan-wook’s other film, Thirst. A comedic and tormented thief in The Good, The Bad, and the Weird. And he’s won awards for his work. Get a load of that.

You bring together excellent acting (and I’m talking to the whole cast about this), stunning visuals, and a bit of violence

Who is seeking vengeance on who?

and revenge, and you have an American A+ caliber action film. What’s different though? This one has heart and emotions that put it at drama level. And so far, with having watched this and Oldboy, Park Chan-wook has hit all the good points on the head. He even puts a bit of violence and gore in there for me too. Violence and a great foreign action film? I think this was made for me. 9.3 out of 10.


A Film With Me In It

Leave it to the Irish to create such a dark and twistedly funny take on Final Destination meets the saddest of all losers who has to deal with it. A Film With Me In It is the story of Mark (Mark Doherty, writer and brother of co-star David O’Doherty) and how his career as an actor is really never going to take off. This gives an ironic sense to the title of the movie, based around an actor I’ve never heard of and a lot of my readers may have never heard of. From the very beginning, Mark Doherty’s acting comes off as quiet and reclusive, mixed with a hell of a lot of timidity. Mix this with the violent actions of the film and you have one of the funniest U.K. films I’ve ever seen.

A little more about Mark, the character. He lives in a small flat with his old arsed dog, and his completely catatonic brother in a wheelchair,

Mark, the fall guy.

David (David O’Doherty, his actual brother, as I’ve already said. The O’ makes all the difference). Being an actual comedian, it’s funny to see him not be able to say a damn thing throughout the whole film. Residing with him in his small and rundown flat is his girlfriend, Sally (Amy Huberman). She’s sick of everything that needs to be repaired and basically wants to leave Mark. Living in the same building is Mark’s alcoholic and gambling addict friend, Pierce (Dylan Moran). Fulfilling his role as the stereotypical Irishman, he’ll go out and drink, try and become a playwright, and end up at the races.

This may look familiar to another film…

Mark’s apartment is a deathtrap. The lights barely work. The window to the garden is a pair of slapped knuckles waiting to happen. Everything wobbles and creaks no matter what they try and do. And their landlord, Jack (Keith Allen) refuses to help repair anything until the rent is paid. With Mark being an out of work actor, there’s not a witch’s teat in Hell that he can ever scrape up enough dough to even fix the light bulb eerily flashing in the kitchen.

And that’s where things start to become a problem. A rising body count and a lot of individuals sticking their noses in where they don’t belong causes Mark and his “accomplice” Pierce to have to create a scenario in which all of  these “sequential accidents” cannot be blamed on the two of them. With a quick wit and a lot of dark comedy that comes from body removal, these two dig themselves a grave. Can they even get out?

That silly O’Doherty doesn’t get to say a thing.

I sincerely loved this movie. I was laughing constantly at Dylan Moran’s lines of sarcastic pessimism and Mark’s inability to respond in any way. There are a lot of tragic things that happen in this movie, and its almost hard to laugh at some of them. The measures these two have to go to is well beyond absurd. It comes up to the point of downright cruel. But what the two get out of it is a great script and some ideas that could potentially make them criminals for life.

And there was such an eclectic cast in this film! There are the Doherty/O’Doherty brothers, one of whom is a comedian. The other, more of a sick joke comedian. Even Dylan Moran is a comedian. Keith Allen has done everything from music to movies, stand up, and writing. Aisling O’Sullivan is a renowned Irish actress that takes the part of the sweet small town policewoman (AKA Garda). Round that out with a sneak appearance by Jonathan Rhys Meyers and you have yourself a wonderful little cast of simple comedy.

There’s some serious criminal activity going down.

This movie is dark. And I’m talking pitch black. There’s death, dismemberment, and not a heavy tear shed for anyone but the dog. A man down on his luck and it gets so much worse is hard to watch onscreen, especially when he just takes it. You need some sort of silver lining for a character like that. Well don’t you fret, there is one. And it may be the best little shiny cloud you’ll see all year. I was thoroughly wrapped up in this movie and its characters to the point where I would give anything for them to get away with it. If you wanna know what happens, you should definitely watch this film. You might find yourself loving it as much as I did. Although, this movie wasn’t one with me in it. 9.7 out of 10.

 

 

 

And here’s a little taste of what you’re getting into.