I’m a big fan of dark comedies. The darker, the more comedic (for me). In Bruges is a great example: our main character, Ray (Colin Farrell), is a hitman, and on his first hit, he accidentally shoots a child. Hilarious. He also does drugs with a cocaine addicted “racist dwarf” (the movie’s words) played by Peter Dinklage, and at some point he even punches a woman in the face. Yet, despite all this, Farrell is intensely loveable as Ray, who simply wants to come to terms with watch he’s done while he’s stuck in a “shithole” like Bruges. That’s what makes In Bruges so well written and memorable—I love horrible people in the movie for the horrible things they do, but I also get to see how every character is human and unique. Even the “bad-guy,” (a foul-mouthed Ralph Fiennes), is admirable and has a code of honor, even when he calls his wife an “inanimate fucking object.” The audience doesn’t even get a clear ending of what happens—how many comedies do that?—but it couldn’t have ended any other way. Written by Irish playwright Martin McDonagh (author of The Pillowman and the movie Seven Psychopaths), the inseparable drama and meta-comedy of In Bruges is unique as it is ridiculous, such as when a dying Brendan Gleeson says “I’m going to die now,” and then, of course, dies. This movie was so memorable to me that it even inspired me and my brother to visit Bruges, which was, as the movie joking suggests, like a fairy tale.
In the Loop
In the Loop is my go-to comedy that I never get tired of. Most movies I can’t watch more than once every six months or so. This movie, however, is endlessly rewatchable, even when you know the jokes are coming. Part of it stems from the partial improvised nature of the script, and part of it is it’s cutting political savvy—it’s a smart movie about dumb people. This is a movie that’s entirely dialogue dependent: most of the lines are a verbal tennis match between the characters, and everyone sinks their teeth in. One of my favorite insults is when Jamie (Paul Higgins) complains about opera music, saying “it’s just vowels.” But the real star of the film is Malcolm Tucker (Peter Capaldi), who is a wordsmith of expletives: he tells the expletive-sensitive US representative to not be a “F-star-star-cunt.” Same with most things that writer-director Armando Ivanucci does (like his work on Veep or his British television equivalent to In the Loop called The Thick of It). The movie also has a great sense of its own comedy, making jokes out things that wouldn’t make sense out of context. Some of the funniest and most memorable lines (such as “Difficult, difficult, lemon difficult”) are nonsensical outside of the context, which is the exact opposite of a lot of generic comedies that just go for one-liners. I love how In the Loop creates this insular world of comedy that also manages to skewer the political process in the United States while never taking itself too seriously.