(Photo by Focus Features/Courtesy Everett Collection. Thumbnail image: New World/courtesy Everett Collection; Neon / courtesy Everett Collection.)
The 60 Best Black Comedies, Ranked By Tomatometer
Let’s say you’re the type to laugh while handling the darkest subject matters: Murder, doomsday, blackmail, and maybe even a lil’ tasty cannibalism. If so, twisted friend, you sure have arrived at the right spot to get your gallows guffaws: The 60 Best Dark Comedies, Ranked by Tomatometer!
All this dark material ranges in variation of glib macabre glee, different styles that we’ll touch upon in our selection of the best-reviewed funny black comedies. Most common are movies about murder and the subsequent covering-up, especially when the corpses have a habit of popping up at the most inconvenient times. Think Best Picture-winning Parasite, Fargo, Burn After Reading, and Hitchcock’s The Trouble With Harry.
Another style of the black comedy movie: Mining jokes out of political fallout when millions of lives are at stake, as seen in Dr. Strangelove, In the Loop, and The Producers. Or how about movies that get you on the serial killer’s side, like being on the ride for The Voices or Monsieur Verdoux. They twist you around enough to make you feel amusingly guilty hoping they’ll get away with it all.
The emergence of the black comedy movie seemed to come around in the 1940s, when filmmaking had evolved enough to artistically interpret real-world horrors (e.g. World War II) with mordant humor, as seen in To Be or Not to Be and Arsenic and Old Lace. Of course, how would they have known their groundbreaking path through the dark side would eventually come to the taboo of cannibalism, as seen in appetizing films like Delicatessen and Eating Raoul? And lest you assume we’re not in touch with our more subtle side when it comes to comedy of the damned, we’ve included philosophical destroyers Who’s Afraid of Virgina Woolf?, Carnage, and the brilliant Withnail and I.
Major players in the realm of dark comedies include status quo-defecating John Waters (Multiple Maniacs, Pink Flamingos), Martin McDonagh (In Bruges, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri), Todd Solondz (Happiness, Welcome to the Dollhouse), and the devilish Danny DeVito (The War of the Roses, Ruthless People). Our final stipulation for their movies and everything else on the list is that each had to be rated Fresh, and have at least 20 reviews, to ensure enough critics have shared in the gleeful discomfort.
It’s a mad, mad, mad, mad (feel free to keep adding more) world out there these days: Grab life by the ruffled lapel and throw it into the wood chipper with The 60 Best Black Comedies, Ranked!
Critics Consensus:Happiness is far from a cheerful viewing experience, but its grimly humorous script and fearless performances produce a perversely moving search for humanity within everyday depravity.
Synopsis: This dark ensemble-comedy is centered on the three Jordan sisters. Joy (Jane Adams) moves through lackluster jobs with no sense... [More]
Critics Consensus: As strange as it is thrillingly ambitious, The Lobster is definitely an acquired taste -- but for viewers with the fortitude to crack through Yorgos Lanthimos' offbeat sensibilities, it should prove a savory cinematic treat.
Synopsis: In a dystopian society, single people must find a mate within 45 days or be transformed into an animal of... [More]
Critics Consensus: A hilarious satire of the business side of Hollywood, The Producers is one of Mel Brooks' finest, as well as funniest films, featuring standout performances by Gene Wilder and Zero Mostel.
Synopsis: Down and out producer Max Bialystock (Zero Mostel), who was once the toast of Broadway, trades sexual favors with old... [More]
Critics Consensus: A brutal, often times funny, other times terrifying portrayal of drug addiction in Edinburgh. Not for the faint of heart, but well worth viewing as a realistic and entertaining reminder of the horrors of drug use.
Synopsis: Heroin addict Mark Renton (Ewan McGregor) stumbles through bad ideas and sobriety attempts with his unreliable friends -- Sick Boy... [More]
Critics Consensus: A thrilling leap forward for director Alejandro González Iñárritu, Birdman is an ambitious technical showcase powered by a layered story and outstanding performances from Michael Keaton and Edward Norton.
Synopsis: Former cinema superhero Riggan Thomson (Michael Keaton) is mounting an ambitious Broadway production that he hopes will breathe new life... [More]
Critics Consensus: Richard E. Grant and Paul McGann prove irresistibly hilarious as two misanthropic slackers in Withnail and I, a biting examination of artists living on the fringes of prosperity and good taste.
Synopsis: Two out-of-work actors -- the anxious, luckless Marwood (Paul McGann) and his acerbic, alcoholic friend, Withnail (Richard E. Grant) --... [More]
Critics Consensus: Led by a volcanic performance from Elizabeth Taylor, Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? is a scathing adaptation of the Edward Albee play that serves as a brilliant calling card for debuting director Mike Nichols.
Synopsis: History professor George (Richard Burton) and his boozy wife, Martha (Elizabeth Taylor), return late one Saturday night from a cocktail... [More]
(Photo by Universal / courtesy Everett Collection)
20 Movies To Watch If You Loved The Breakfast Club
If you’re looking for more movies like The Breakfast Club, you’ve come to the right place, princess. Or criminal. Or basket case. Or whoever you identify with from John Hughes’ timeless high school classic of disaffected youth. If you’re new to school, Hughes was the outsider king of ’80s cinema. The other movies of the era he was involved with — Sixteen Candles, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, Pretty in Pink, and Some Kind of Wonderful — are nearly equal in stature to Breakfast Club.
A lot of high school movies are about partying, and there’s certainly some of those necessary classics in this guide (Fast Times at Ridgemont High, Dazed and Confused), but Breakfast Club is beloved for synthesizing the emotional and mental states of those further down the social ladder. A lot of these stories are told from male perspectives, like in broad comedies Weird Science or Better Off Dead, the fight-ready My Bodyguard or Lucas, the sincerely devastating Dead Poets Society, and the bring-on-the-’90s Pump Up the Volume.
Of course, much of the appeal of John Hughes movies is that they aren’t just boys clubs. Thanks to his groundbreaking works, high school cinema opened up for female-centric stories, including the black comedy satire Heathers and the frothy Clueless, which would lead the way into the new century for Mean Girls and The Edge of Seventeen.
The 21st century got its high school outsider poster boy with Napoleon Dynamite in 2004. As the internet became ubiquitous and we became more connected and young people more empathetic (we hope), high school movies evolved into ground zero for a new class of protagonists we wouldn’t have seen even in prior years. For proof, see Me and Earl and the Dying Girl, or the LGBTQ-focused Booksmart and Love, Simon. The movies of John Hughes, who sought to save the hearts and souls of the young before they were sacrificed to society and class hierarchy, helped make these movies possible.
What would you recommend to someone who loved The Breakfast Club?
Everyone wants to feel like they belong, like they’re accepted, and sometimes, the best way to achieve that is to join a club. For example, if you were, say, an older woman interested in Twilight-inspired erotic fan fiction, you might seek out the cast of this week’s Book Club, in which four lifelong friends bond over tea, cucumber sandwiches, and the novel Fifty Shades of Grey. Or, you know, maybe that’s not your thing, and if it isn’t, then we’ve got 24 other clubs from the movies that might interest you. From bad boys to mean girls, musical ensembles to secret societies, check out the full gallery below.
70 Best High School Movies of All Time
For some, high school is the peak of their life: You’ve got prom and pep rallies, and homecoming and hormones. For others, it’s the pits because you’ve got…well, prom and pep rallies, and homecoming and hormones. And there to capture every awesome/awful moment are these high school movies which earned high grades from film critics.
Some of these beloved movies (like The Last Picture Show or American Graffiti) take a look back on high school with the clarity of time gone by. Others (like Superbad or Booksmart) make you feel like the high school experience is unfolding in real-time right before your eyes.
The best high school movies reflect discovering one’s self (Ferris Bueller’s Day Off), questioning authority (Dead Poets Society), taking wild risks (Better Luck Tomorrow), and working for a better future (Hoop Dreams). And some ask the big questions. Like, what if I was in high school and I was also, you know, a superhero? What if one day I’m driving to school and then I time-travel back to 1955? And what if I had a better idea of what to do with that pie than just eating it?
As the jump-gate into adulthood and beyond, high school can be wild and wondrous and heart-breaking and hilarious. (And usually all at once.) The same can be said for these Fresh and Certified Fresh films (each with at least 20 critics reviews), representing the best high school movies ever, all ranked by Tomatometer!
Critics Consensus: Despite the formulaic, fluffy storyline, this movie is surprisingly fun to watch, mostly due to its high energy and how it humorously spoofs cheerleading instead of taking itself too seriously.
Synopsis: The Toro cheerleading squad from Rancho Carne High School in San Diego has got spirit, spunk, sass and a killer... [More]
Critics Consensus: Though Rocket Science appears to be a typically quirky indie, the well-rounded performances and director Jeffrey Blitz's clear affection for his characters gives the film its proper human spark.
Synopsis: High-school student Hal Hefner's (Reece Daniel Thompson) life is falling down around him. His parents have split, his brother picks... [More]
Critics Consensus:My Entire High School Sinking Into the Sea's attention-getting visual style matches debuting writer-director Dash Shaw's distinctive narrative approach -- and signals a bright future for a promising talent.
Synopsis: High school sophomores Dash and Assaf are best friends and the only writers for the school newspaper. When the editor... [More]
Critics Consensus: Richard Kelly's debut feature Donnie Darko is a daring, original vision, packed with jarring ideas and intelligence and featuring a remarkable performance from Jake Gyllenhaal as the troubled title character.
Synopsis: In a funny, moving and distinctly mind-bending journey through suburban America, one extraordinary but disenchanted teenager is about to take... [More]
Critics Consensus: A harrowing tale of aimless youth, River's Edge generates considerable tension and urgency thanks to strong performances from a stellar cast that includes Crispin Glover, Keanu Reeves, and Ione Skye.
Synopsis: Teenage burnout Samson (Daniel Roebuck) has murdered his girlfriend and left her naked body lying on the bank of a... [More]
Critics Consensus: Deftly balancing vulgarity and sincerity while placing its protagonists in excessive situations, Superbad is an authentic take on friendship and the overarching awkwardness of the high school experience.
Synopsis: High-school seniors Seth (Jonah Hill) and Evan (Michael Cera) have high hopes for a graduation party: The co-dependent teens plan... [More]
Critics Consensus:Spider-Man: Homecoming does whatever a second reboot can, delivering a colorful, fun adventure that fits snugly in the sprawling MCU without getting bogged down in franchise-building.
Synopsis: Thrilled by his experience with the Avengers, young Peter Parker returns home to live with his Aunt May. Under the... [More]
Critics Consensus: One of the most critically acclaimed documentaries of all time, Hoop Dreams is a rich, complex, heartbreaking, and ultimately deeply rewarding film that uses high school hoops as a jumping-off point to explore issues of race, class, and education in modern America.
Synopsis: Every school day, African-American teenagers William Gates and Arthur Agee travel 90 minutes each way from inner-city Chicago to St.... [More]
It’s our first streaming column of the month, which means subscription services Netflix and Amazon Prime have released a lot of new choices. As usual, we’ve narrowed them down to the most critically acclaimed, ranging from a few well-received smaller films and one big blockbuster this year to some trusty classics. Read on for the full list.
Eddie Murphy stars in this action comedy as Detroit transplant Axel Foley, a fast-talking detective sent on involuntary vacation who helps the Beverly Hills police take down the crime lord who killed his friend.
Kevin Spacey and Annette Bening star in Sam Mendes’ multiple Oscar-winning drama, a dark, cynical portrait of suburban life as seen through the eyes of a forty-something father experiencing a midlife crisis.
Mark Duplass and Elisabeth Moss star in this dramedy about a struggling married couple who retreat to a remote cabin to rekindle their love, only to discover the guest house holds a bizarre, mysterious secret.
For more than three decades, Bronx-born Abel Ferrara has been making movies defiantly on his own terms — tough, often lurid genre pieces that frequently explore the seamier underside of New York, all shot with a singular voice that remains uncompromising. Films like The Driller Killer, King of New York and Bad Lieutenant endure as cult classics, while his later work such as Mary and last year’s 4:44 Last Day on Earth continue to fascinate. He might also be the only person bold enough to publicly pick a fight with Werner Herzog. (They’ve since reconciled, so all is well.)
Fans of Ferrara’s particular brand of cinema are in for a treat this week, with Drafthouse films rereleasing his vigilante gem Ms. 45 to select theatres. The director’s 1981 feature is an unforgettable descent into darkest revenge, when a young woman — played by then 17-year-old Zoë Tamerlis, who would go on to pen Bad Lieutenant — takes up arms against mankind after being subjected to two brutal rapes.
Ferrara called in from Rome, where he’s currently in pre-production on a Pasolini biopic with Willem Dafoe, to reminisce about Ms. 45, the late, tragic Tamerlis, feminism, and that time his movie terrified a hardened grindhouse crowd into silence.
You don’t always talk about your old stuff, so what’s it like for you, looking back now on a film that’s 30-odd years old?
Abel Ferrara:Ms. 45 was one of those films where we were still kids, you know. We were still trying to make it in the world, and just going at it with a lot of wide-eyed wonder. We were very pre-jaded. I mean, we had to convince ourselves that we were making a film that was even gonna be seen in theaters. But we kinda knew it. I think Ms. 45 was the first film where we went, “Jesus Christ, people are actually gonna make money from this — we’d better f-cking concentrate here. People are actually gonna buy tickets, so it might be a good idea to kinda focus,” you know what I mean. It’s a tough thing, with Zoë, you know. [Tamerlis Lund passed away in 1997] The movie is her, and embodies her. The beautiful thing about a film is that it captures one moment in time; and that film captures her as a 17-year-old Columbia student, you know– not on hard drugs, not drinking, with a different kind of take on life. She was a beautiful kid, you know, with the whole world in front of her.
Does it ever surprise you that your early films, like this and Driller Killer, continue to live on like they do?
If you do what we do, man, you’re not doing it for f-cking what? It’s not a combustible deal, you know what I mean? You put your sh-t out there. You’re doing it to last. You’re doing it for people to see today, tomorrow, 400 years from tomorrow, you know. Countless eons. Putting the movies back into theaters, that’s pretty cool. I was living in Brooklyn and I started to see those theaters popping up, Nitehawk and all those things. Put it this way: the tradition of the cinema is a communal effort, in a communal viewing situation, and seeing deep into the eyes of the players, you know? You watch a stage performance, okay, you’re getting it because you’re in the same physical space as the actor; but if you see it in a movie, you’re getting it because his eyes are the size of a three-story building. The eyes are the windows to the soul, man, and you’re seeing into that. It’s a little tough to see when you’re standing in a subway watching it on your iPhone. Although, I’m as guilty of watching movies that way as anybody else — and passing judgement on films. Like, “Oh, I saw that film, yeah.” I saw it between stops, freeze-framing the naked chicks and going back and forth, blah blah blah, seeing it over four days, that kind of shit. “Yeah, I saw your film, man.” I mean, is that really seeing a film? But then, a film’s gotta hold up, you know; that’s just the way it is.
I can’t wait to see this on a big screen. Looking at Ms. 45 now, it feels raw to watch, especially when — for lack of a better term — “cult movie” sensibilities have gone mainstream through people like Quentin Tarantino.
Quentin did that by himself? [Laughs]
Not at all, no. He popularized it, I mean. If you look at stuff like Kill Bill and Death Proof, they’re kinda like comic-book female vengeance fantasies. Do you think genre films have lost some context in being assimilated by the mainstream?
That’s a tough question. Ms. 45 has an element of the time and the period, but it’s all a passion, you know. It’s a passion for the real deal. I mean, you grow up on films like The Battle of Algiers and Salò and Sam Fuller, you know — I could go down the list — there’s a passion for a certain kind of film. That had better not be gone. I mean, I don’t know — the grittiness of it meaning what?
I mean, I’m not singling out Quentin for anything in particular.
[Laughs] Aha! I mean, you like Quentin, right?
Yeah, I do. I’m not trying to pick a fight between you and him or anything.
[Laughs] No, Quentin’s my homeboy! I ain’t gonna fight with Quentin.
No, no I like his stuff. I guess what I’m saying is that in a lot of his films — and there are raw elements, to be sure — the vengeance or whatever is in part quotation, whereas you see something like Ms. 45 and, as you say, you’re thinking, “Holy sh-t, this is the real deal.” It’s a window into that time.
Yeah, I know. But it’s still a movie, you know? It’s a movie-movie, man. Nobody’s raping a chick, she went to Columbia University. It’s a movie. As filmmakers, it’s a style we had at the time, you know. I mean, Quentin is what Quentin is, you know, and that’s cool. That’s his thing and you gotta see it on that side. I mean, you’re not gonna knock Buster Keaton for slapstick comedies, you know, because he’s a brilliant filmmaker. Is that the realism of Breathless? No.
Yeah, no I get you. Let’s move on shall we?
There’s a tendency sometimes to see movies in which women exact revenge as empowering or “feminist,” but you’ve said in the past that you don’t see Ms. 45 as a feminist movie. Do you still see it that way?
I think so. I saw the movie once in Times Square. It was playing with this film about the dictator of Uganda, Idi Amin. I mean, the audience, it might as well have been Riker’s Island watching the film. This is like the real deal, the Manhattan that’s gone — getting high, drug deals, shots going off in the theater, place packed, Friday night. They show the movies for two weeks, everybody knows the lines in the theater. So I’m watching it, and we brought an investor, a white guy, and we couldn’t find him — he’s sitting in the middle of this non-white audience with a suit and tie. [Laughs] You can imagine that. We looked like Puerto Ricans at that time; we’re sitting in the corner, watching the f-cking movie. They showed Idi Amin first [1981’s exploitation movie, Rise and Fall of Idi Amin], it started off — and this was a real cool movie, man, before Forest Whitaker. It was way back. Some English guys made this movie. It was what you’re talking about. Real deal. You didn’t know if this was a documentary or what. And so then he started killing people. First he killed a priest. Then he killed another guy. Then he killed some white guys. And the audience is off the hook freakin’, man. They’re diggin’ it. And then they started killin’ black guys, and more black guys, and that audience was fever pitched out, okay.
Movie ends, up comes Ms. 45. They rape her, the first time — it’s like a comedy, okay. This is like, “Oh sh-t, it’s a rape, they’re raping a young… ” No — it’s like, “Yeah, man!” They were so into raping this chick that I was embarrassed to be there. I was mortified. I not only directed it, I acted in it. I’m raping her. [Ferrara himself plays “First rapist.”] You can just imagine. Then the second [rape], they do it even more. The audience is now exhilarated. Then she starts shooting guys, and this audience — as loud as they got for Idi Amin, they were quiet. When she blasts that dude between the legs with that gun, I’m telling you bro — it was like, I mean, I was stunned. Anyway, I forget what the question was.
Whatever it was, that was a better answer.
I was saying you didn’t see it as a feminist movie. I think you kind of answered it.
Yeah, I mean, how do I see it? I grew up through the feminist movement, you know what I mean, I was there for the whole thing. And “feminist” has different kind of connotations for me. The whole women’s liberation movement was something very real to me and the girls I was with, and being in university at the time, and all that. Zoë was like 10, 12 years younger than me or whatever, so it had a whole different meaning to her. Zoë was the ultimate feminist, you know, and she just sort of saw it in a different way. She’d talk all day and night about the feminism in this movie. I mean, listen, it was written by a guy, it was directed by a guy, but it was acted by her. The woman’s side of this movie is right there in the person who’s playing it.
Did Zoë shape the way the film was made?
How could she not? I mean, she’s in every shot of the film, you know.
How did you know that Zoë was the one for this? I know she’d missed out one of the leads in [Allan Moyle’s] Times Square, and that’s how she first came to your attention.
Yeah, she came in third. [Laughs] You know, it’s a thing that I have. It’s just something, I suppose it’s the gift of being a filmmaker. But I don’t think it takes much of a gift to look at that girl and say, “Wow, this is somebody,” you know what I mean? I mean, in the beginning maybe we were knocked out ’cause she was 17 and had the big lips and the beautiful body and all that, but then you go beyond that. There was something else about this girl. You didn’t have to spend much time with her to get it, you know? I mean, come on, the kid was like 16 or 17 at the time; she was an awesome chick. This was the chick who wrote Bad Lieutenant, you know, and she acted those scenes in that. You’re talking about a real talent. What can I say? You don’t have to be Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer to figure it out.
I could never see her playing the role she was up for in Times Square, looking back.
Well, she’s in Times Square, you know. She’s running around with one of those trash bags on her.
Oh she is? She’s an extra?
Yeah, look for her. She’s got that garbage bag on her. She said to me, “You know, I made more money working two nights on that film than I’m making on your film.” [Laughs]
I’ll have to go back and have a look now. So, you’re shooting the Pasolini movie at the moment?
Yeah, I start in January. It’s 35 years later and no one knows what happened to the guy, you know. So it’s like the death of a poet. I adore Pasolini. The guy was a painter, a songwriter, a novelist, a journalist, a f-cking political activist, you know; a great actor, on top of being a great filmmaker. So you try and bring him to a human level, you know. Willem’s [Dafoe] gotta play him, so you gotta bring him down to a f-king human place. I told him, “You better bring your crown of thorns from the Scorsese film.” [Laughs]
There are a bunch of theories about Pasolini’s death; are you going to explore any of that?
Well you know, I gotta take it on — what am I gonna do? All of a sudden we’ve gotten into being detectives here, about what happened in that hotel room, you know? Pasolini said himself, when he would investigate the bombings in the train station [Pasolini collaborated on a documentary about the 1969 Piazza Fontana bombings in Milan, originally attributed to anarchists], he said, “I’m gonna tell the truth, but I’m not a detective, I’m doing it as an artist.” The death of Pasolini? Yeah. Some gay guy gets killed in an alley somewhere, hey, that’s one thing; but it’s also the death of a poet. It’s the end of an era. A guy died, and somebody killed him.
Alright Abel, I’m gonna let you go. Good luck with Pasolini.
Thanks man. Keep torturing the world.
[Laughs] We will if you will.
Ms. 45 opens in New York and Austin this week, and in Los Angeles the following week. For more info on the Alama Drafthouse screenings, visit their site here.
Juno Temple’s star is definitely on the rise. The daughter of punk filmmaker Julien Temple, the 22-year-old English-born actress began her career with supporting roles in movies like Notes on a Scandal, Atonement, and St. Trinian’s — and later delivered a lead performance in Jordan Scott’s excellent, unfairly maligned boarding school drama, Cracks. She’ll soon headline several films including William Friedkin’s Killer Joe, Jonas Akerlund’s Small Apartments and the long-percolating lesbian werewolf project Jack and Diane, in addition to starring as a “street smart Gotham girl” in Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight Rises — a role that has fans speculating could be anything from Selina Kyle’s sidekick Holly Robinson to Harley Quinn to a female Robin.
In the meantime, Temple appears in this week’s Dirty Girl, an autobiographical comedy-drama from debut director Abe Sylvia. Set in the strange world of Oklahoma in 1987, the film follows the unlikely adventure of two misfit high schoolers — Temple’s trashy, promiscuous Danielle and Jeremy Dozier’s overweight, closeted Clarke — as they bust out of town and head for the Californian coast, a posse of angry and/or confused parents desperately on their trail. Which means Temple gets to wear anachronistic hot pants, flip the bird to religious zealots and strip to Sheena Easton’s “Strut” — things we’re pretty sure won’t be called upon for her employment in Gotham City. We caught up with Temple recently to chat about Dirty Girl, but first, she took a few moments to run through her all-time five favorite films.
Badlands, I think is one of the best love stories of all time. I think it’s beautifully shot and I think Sissy Spacek’s flawless in it. I watched that movie and — you know when your hair stands up on your body and you can’t control it? — that movie really affected me quite deeply, and I cried at the end. I based a character that I did last year in this movie called Killer Joe on Sissy Spacek in that movie. It’s a big inspiration for me. I think it’s a flawless movie.
Heathers — again, a kind of weird romance story and a dark tale. I love the dialogue in that movie. I probably shouldn’t quote it.
“F–k me gently with a chainsaw.” [Laughs] But my favorite is, “You’re such a pillow case.” It’s so good — it’s like the worst insult ever but so funny. It’s just so funny and so gritty and I love the performances in it, and I think it has one of the best endings of all time.
Because I think it’s one of my dad’s masterpieces, and Joe Strummer was someone who was a big part of my upbringing and was one of my dad’s best friends. I have such great memories of hanging out with the two of them. It’s something that means a lot to me. I really think my dad put his heart and soul into that film and that’s the kind of film-making I wanna do. No, I don’t wanna direct. I wanna act.
Did you learn from your dad, growing up around sets?
Yeah. I did. I mean, I learned a lot. He helped me with a lot of tough decisions at times and, you know, he’s helped me with a lot of auditions, too. I really hope I get to do a movie with him one day, and he gets to direct me in a film. I would love that beyond words.
I’d love to see him do another narrative feature. Absolute Beginners is kind of great.
I agree. Earth Girls Are Easy is probably my number six on this list. [Laughs]
La belle et la bête by Jean Cocteau. It’s the movie that made me want to be an actress. I was four-years-old and my dad had it on laser disc. I was being annoying and bratty or whatever, I was a child, and my dad said, “Hey, watch this movie.” This is when we lived in LA and we had this great giant striped couch and I was wearing — I remember this so well — this corduroy dress with red trim, and I lay there and started watching it. I had a really vivid imagination as a child but I had never seen anything like this in my life. Do you remember the scene where she faints and the Beast carries her and he has that incredible cloak that looks like it is actually the night sky? It’s insane. And he carries her and all the arms — we had these arms in our house, these giant arms that hold the candles — all the arms move and he’s carrying her and walks into her bedroom, and as he goes through the door with her, her clothes go from rags to riches. I remember that being the specific scene where I was like, “I wanna do that. How does that happen? I wanna be a part of that.” That was the day I knew I wanted to be an actress. Also, the way that the Beast smokes, when he looks at her and his skin smokes; and when he takes off the glove and his hand’s just smoking. The whole ending… it’s this weird, twisted ending.
Next, Temple chats about her role in this week’s Dirty Girl, and how an English private school girl gets into character as a mid-West American teen.
RT: It’s a curious character, this one. How did you end up being cast for the movie?
Juno Temple: I got sent the script by my agent and I read it and of course I wanted to audition for it — I wanted the part immediately. I arrived at my audition and I was wearing cut-off denim hot pants, biker boots, ripped band t-shirt, a biker jacket that I’d sliced the sleeves off of, had a nose piercing and my dreadlocked hair that I hadn’t brushed in three weeks and I had a sh-tload of jewelry.
This was all for character?
No, it’s kind of the way I dress. I’m a big fan of ’90s grunge — the grungier the better. So I went in and did my thing, then got a phone call from my agent saying “They loved your audition, but they want you to come back in and take out the nose ring and brush your hair.” So I went back in looking slightly tidier.
[Laughs] I remember I was furious ’cause I had a 45-minute audition and I came out and my nose had closed. My ex boyfriend had to re-pierce my nose on the way home, and my nose was bleeding. [Laughs] It got re-pierced and it was back in for a while. Then I got a call back to come in and chemistry read with Jeremy [Dozier] and it was like an instant click. We just got on immediately in a way that was quite overwhelming.
The film immediately establishes that your character’s in control — at least in the sexual sense. Was that something that appealed to you?
Yeah, what attracted me was the journey she goes on, what she goes through — because she has this crazy arc. I liked the fiery, outrageous personality that she has in the beginning. She has attitude and she doesn’t care what people think. She’s gonna speak her mind and sometimes it pisses people off. But she’s very misunderstood, too — she’s misunderstood by her family, by her school; boys use her for sex and that’s all they care about. She doesn’t have any friends. Then Clarke comes into her life and I think fate brings them together. I’m a strong believer in that fate is real, but it only gets you so far — then you have to make the choice to do something. And so they do: they continue this incredible friendship and they really bring each other out of their shells. They really open each others’ eyes. I think that’s a great example of a true friendship, when you see the world through somebody else’s eyes and you like looking at the world that way. They do that for one another. I think the moral of the story is don’t judge a book by its cover, which I think is great when you look at all the sh-t that’s going on in schools — with the bullying and stuff. You know, what better than to say, “Some people aren’t gonna like you or take you for what you are, but some people will — and they’re gonna change your life.” They’re the people you should be hanging out with.
I’m guessing high school in Oklahoma is not the way you grew up–
[Laughs] Oh, I went to an English boarding school!
So how do you become this teenager in the mid West in 1987?
I talked to the director a lot about the kids in his school — ’cause it’s his story and nobody knows it better than him. We talked a lot about it and figured out how she’s gonna be. She’s an ’80s character but she also looks very ’70s, so she doesn’t quite fit into the world — she’s got hand-me-downs from her mom, because they can’t afford new clothes. So that makes her even more of a misfit. I love that she’s this kind of Cherie Currie character in this uptight Oklahoma high school — she really looks like she sticks out like a sore thumb. I loved that, the make-up and everything and the Farrah Fawcett bangs. I thought that was cool having her different to everyone else, because everyone notices her and are like, “Who the f–k is that?” So that was another thing, the costumes. And getting into the music — because like I said, I’m a ’90s grunge fan, so that really wasn’t my music scene, but once you listen to it and get into the idea of playing that character, it was brilliant.
So now you’re a fan of Melissa Manchester?
How was it singing her song while she played behind you on piano?
I’ve never been so nervous in my entire life. Singing A cappella with her playing piano behind me. I was so nervous. I’m shaking [Laughs] You can totally see it. She was so kind afterwards. She was so lovely to me and Jeremy. It was pretty cool to be singing Melissa Manchester’s power ballad that just blew a bunch of peoples’ minds in the ’80s and she’s there playing piano while you do it… it was a trip.
Last question. I’m sure nobody’s asked you about this–
The Dark Knight? Oh no, you’re not gonna ask about it. Okay. Because everyone’s been asking and I’m not allowed to talk about it.
I just have one question: Is it true that you’re playing The Penguin?
Obviously! I mean — look at me. [Laughs]
Dirty Girl is in select theaters this week.
As the Chicago Bears and the Indianapolis Colts get ready to rumble at the Super Bowl on Sunday, Hollywood goes into counterprogramming mode and targets female moviegoers with a pair of new releases.
Those looking for big names will get to laugh with the new comedy "Because I Said So" while those in the mood for a scare get the haunted house flick "The Messengers." Overall, it should be a low scoring game at North American multiplexes this weekend.
Diane Keaton leaves behind the men and anchors her own comedy in "Because I Said So" playing an overbearing mother trying to find the right man for her youngest daughter. Directed by Michael Lehmann ("Heathers," "40 Days and 40 Nights"), the PG-13 film boasts some added girlpower in the cast with Mandy Moore, Piper Perabo, and Lauren Graham playing the daughters. The Universal release will undoubtedly skew heavily female and heavily Caucasian, but the acting ensemble could lead to a broad age range with mature women drawn in by Keaton’s motherly problems and young women connecting with the sisters. Aside from Mother’s Day weekend, the Super Bowl frame could indeed be the best time to launch a film like this as male interest will be low.
In a world where Meryl Streep can open "The Devil Wears Prada" to $27.5M, Jane Fonda can drive "Monster-in-Law" to a $23.1M debut, and Helen Mirren keeps bringing in audiences month after month with "The Queen," there certainly is box office gold with Hollywood’s elder stateswomen. Whether Keaton can join the ranks with this particular vehicle might be a different story. The studio has been pushing "Because" with great energy, but poor reviews could prompt many to just wait for the DVD. Starpower should help drive women of different ages to the box office and away from football and in a weak marketplace, that may be enough to reach the top spot. Opening in 2,526 theaters, "Because I Said So" might debut with around $14M.
Diane Keaton in "Because I Said So."
Also opening on Friday is "The Messengers," the fourth horror film in as many weeks to hit multiplexes. The PG-13 film directed by the Hong Kong-born Pang brothers tells the story of a family that moves into a run-down old house only to find creepy forces at play. Audiences have rejected every fright flick Hollywood has offered since October and "The Messengers" does not seem to bring anything new and exciting to the table to change things. Teens and young adults seem to be the core audience and with the big game in Miami commanding a lot of attention from the boys, Sony is hoping that teenage girls will be up for a scare. Marketing has been textbook and identical to every other horror pic. The starpower battle will be lost against "Because" so this flick will have to cater to those young ladies who do not want to be reminded of how meddlesome mothers can be. "The Messengers" opens in 2,528 theaters and could scare up around $12M for the weekend.
Kristen Stewart gets a message in "The Messengers."
Among holdovers, the spoof comedy "Epic Movie" may have won last weekend’s box office derby beating fellow freshman "Smokin’ Aces," but the R-rated action pic has taken over at number one each day during the mid-week period as "Epic" fans have gone back to class. The Fox comedy should see the larger drop as word-of-mouth will be nonexistent given its pathetic 3% score on RottenTomatoes.com which makes it the odds-on favorite so far for next year’s Razzie Awards. A 50% fall would leave "Epic Movie" with about $9M and a ten-day cume of $30M.
"Smokin’ Aces" has held up better during the week and newcomers won’t threaten its audience of young men that much. A 45% drop would give the Universal release around $8M for the weekend and a total of $27M after ten days.
The blockbuster "Night at the Museum" will enjoy yet another weekend when no kid movies enter the marketplace. That should lead to a small drop, possibly 25%, giving the Ben Stiller pic roughly $7M for the frame pushing the cume to an amazing $225M.
LAST YEAR: Thrills ruled the box office as the scary pic "When a Stranger Calls" opened at number one with a strong $21.6M to easily lead the frame. Sony found its way to $47.9M. Fox’s "Big Momma’s House 2" dropped a notch to second with $13.6M in its second weekend while the kidpic "Nanny McPhee" finished in third with $9.8M. "Brokeback Mountain" climbed to the highest position of its entire run coming in fourth place with $6M. Rounding out the top five was the animated hit "Hoodwinked" with $5.3M. Focus opened its new cross-cultural romantic comedy "Something New" in seventh place with a mild $4.9M on its way to only $11.5M.
Internet rumors of a sequel to the cult hit "Heathers" have thrived, thanks in no small part to Winona Ryder‘s public interest in reviving the franchise. But the film’s director, Michael Lehmann, thinks we should let it go.
"I never really saw it as a realistic possibility," Lehmann said. "It’s something that Winona talked about for years. She always wanted to do it and Dan [Waters] and I kind of chuckle and say, ‘Well, what would that movie be? How do you make a sequel to a movie like that?’"
That said, they entered a casual form of development some time ago. "There was a point at which we all talked about setting it in Washington, D.C. This was a while ago, because we felt that that’s a territory where people like that thrive. But I don’t know. I always feel like where do you go? I don’t think just because a movie is good or people like it means you need to make a sequel to it."
Lehmann expects to continue fielding those questions though, as Ryder is currently starring in the Waters- directed feature "Sex and Death 101." "Winona’s in Dan’s movie and I’ve seen footage of it. I haven’t seen the cut yet, I’ve read the script and it’s a really interesting piece. It should be really good so that may revive interest in it."
In this week’s Ketchup, we have more guessing games regarding who will be Batman’s other foe in "The Dark Knight," music and pics from the "Transformers" movie, and "Evan Almighty"’s rapidly ascending budget, which even the power of God may not be enough to save.
This Week’s Most Popular News:
Who’s Playing Two-Face in "Batman" Sequel?
Christopher Nolan has confirmed Two-Face will be one of the villains in "The Dark Knight," his follow-up to "Batman Begins," and IGN FilmForce is trying to determine who will play the role.
"Transformers" Music, Optimus Prime Headshot, and More Set Photos Emerge
Cinematical has a nice roundup of various "Transformers"-related happenings from around the web, including news on the theme song, a first look at Optimus Prime’s head, and a photo from the set!
Steve Carell’s "Evan Almighty" — At $225M, An Unholy Mess?
Few doubt that Steve Carell is an outsized comic talent. But the Los Angeles Times is suggesting that his current project, "Evan Almighty," is getting a reputation for its outsized budget, one that could ultimately run as high as $225 million, which would make it the costliest comedy of all time.
"Harry Potter" Sleight-Of-Hand: Dobby’s Disappearing Act
Looks like someone’s cast a nasty disappearing spell (written outum scripto!) on "Harry Potter" creature Dobby, since the CGI-powered timid house elf won’t be seen in "Order of the Phoenix."
Bloom Out For "Pirates 4?
Is Will Turner, Orlando Bloom’s character in the "Pirates of the Caribbean" series, marked for death? According to WENN (via Cinescape), the script for the fourth "Pirates" movie is in the works, and it may sanction the demise of Jack Sparrow’s young sidekick.
James Cameron will co-write a produce "James Cameron’s Sanctum," a live-action drama about a father and son deep-sea diving team that will be filmed in high-definition 3-D. Gary Johnstone will direct the movie for Rogue Pictures.
Genius Products, the home video subsidiary of the Weinstein Co., has acquired North American rights to "Dirty Sanchez: The Movie," AKA the Welsh version of "Jackass."
Finally, New Line Cinema acquired film rights to "Snitch," a script inspired by true events detailed in a PBS "Frontline" documentary.
Still on board for "Dallas."
One of the 1980s’ true cult classics is Daniel Waters‘ "Heathers," and now comes word that the screenwriter and his leading lady, Winona Ryder, might be interested in suiting up for another dish of brazen black comedy.
From EW and JoBlo’s: "According to the "Deal Report" in the latest issue of Entertainment Weekly, Winona Ryder and writer/director Daniel Waters are cooking up a sequel to HEATHERS, that dark gem released during the otherwise neon year of 1989. Says Winona, "There’s Heathers in the real world! We have to keep going!"
That’s all the news we have so far. Waters and Ryder recently reunited to create "Sex and Death 101," which will hit theaters early next year.
So yeah, a "Heathers" sequel. Thoughts from the Comment Brigade?