Friday, 8 June 2007

Craig Milne reviews his ten favourite films, Part 5

Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb
UK 1964
Director: Stanley Kubrick
Screenwriters: Stanley Kubrick, Terry Southern, and Peter George
Runtime: 96 min
Certificate: PG
DVD Distributor: Columbia TriStar Home Video

In what is fast becoming a list of comedies, I could not possibly omit what is arguably the greatest comedy of all time. The word ‘timeless’ is an abhorrent cliché, but in the case of Stanley Kubrick’s blacker than black comedy, it genuinely applies. Although the sense of impending nuclear doom is possibly not as palpable now as it was back in 1964, it is still bitingly hilarious forty years on.

Making such a fiendishly funny film out of such a depressing idea is no small achievement. Kubrick’s initial attempts to write a serious screenplay based on the same story (taken from the novel Red Alert by Peter George) were abandoned due to the sheer absurdity of the idea of ‘Mutually Assured Destruction’. With his project now a farcical comedy, Kubrick’s greatest masterstroke was casting the genius Peter Sellers in three roles: Captain Mandrake, President Muffley and Dr. Strangelove (even the names of the characters are all sexual references). Kubrick mixes his vicious satirising of the military with sexual innuendo, from Major ‘King’ Kong of the B52 reading playboy while flying his aircraft, to General Buck Turgidson taking calls from his mistress in the ‘war room’. The subtlety of the script, full of sharp one liners, piercing satire and innuendo, juxtaposed with Sellers’ finely tuned tomfoolery results in a film of unprecedented comic brilliance.

USA 1994
Director: Kevin Smith
Screenwriter: Kevin Smith
Runtime: 92 min
Certificate: 15
DVD Distributor: 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment

Oh look, another idiotic comedy. Although I am not a massive fan of his subsequent works, Kevin Smith’s debut, Clerks, is an exceptional film. Made for next to nothing, it made a name for itself on the festival circuit, winning nominations and awards at Cannes and Sundance among many others. The cast, mostly Smith’s friends, cannot act, but the filthy, quick-fire dialogue moves proceedings along at a laid back pace as we follow two convenience store clerks through a day of abusive customers, girlfriend troubles and deviant pornography.

Lovingly crafted, quaint, low budget, and badly acted, it is a film that will always remind me of the occasional good times I had working shitty jobs, with other bitter and apathetic slackers, united by the hatred of customers and management alike. Anyone who has worked in a similar job at a similar age will relate to the idle banter, crude humour and insubordinate antics of Dante (Brian O’Halloran) and Randal (Jeff Anderson), and that is the power of the film. It depicts the modern twilight zone between adolescence and adulthood perfectly, encapsulating the indecision and apathy which affect so many people after leaving high school. Proof that great movies can be made with a good script and one camera, Clerks sneaks into the final place on my list.

This concludes Craig milne's Top Ten!
Thank you for reading!

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