Mad Max Fury Road
This fucking movie. I can't believe how many times I've watched it and I still find stuff I didn't notice before. Hardly a word is spoken that isn't significant in some way, each detail in wardrobe or setting is significant, and it's action packed! Dudes swing from poles attached to cars barreling through a desert, cars slam into one another and break into thousands of fiery pieces, and the women are badass in every possible way. There's so much to love!
Upon seeing this movie a second time the other night, I have no problem saying this is going to be a favorite of mine for sometime. Every element of this film is on point; the dialogue is great, the chemistry between the actors is sparkling, the gore is unflinching, the classic western elements are exactly what I want in a modern western, the original elements feel organic rather than forced. Clearly this is a movie where every person working on it put in their all, and it shows.
The Big Sleep
It's been a couple years since I've watched this undeniable classic but I would watch it anytime, anyplace. Each character embodies duality, down to the book store owner who goes from nerdy to seductress moments after meeting Philip Marlowe. If there's anything I love more than Humphrey Bogart as Marlowe, it's characters illustrating the ambiguous nature of self.
Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang
This one is full of as many cheeky jabs at the noir detective genre as it is full of unique contributions. Hard boiled detective Gay Perry (Kilmer) pairs up with fast talking Clouseau-esque fuckup Harry Lockhart (Downey Jr) breaking the hard-boiled-but-fallible detective trope into two distinct characters. Perry is the realist that actually solves the crime where Harry falls ass-backwards deeper into case and receives the brunt of the physical violence. And the bombshell client comes in oblivious to holding the major keys to solving the case instead of hiding those details from the start, so they solve the case because of her rather than despite her. Really it's the only modern noir I've seen that feels updated in a natural way rather than trying to shoehorn an old-timey feel into a modern setting. I love it!
Clearly I like movies that have fleshed out characters and Seven Psychopaths is no exception. Sadly, the couple of characters that are one dimensional are female. To contrast that (though maybe unintentionally) Martin McDonagh writes in dialogue directly addressing the issue of having one dimensional female characters, giving the viewer a chance to see those problems in a very exposed way. It's also worth noting here that of the five prominent female characters, three are black women. To give you an idea of why that's worth noting: none of the other movies on my list feature black women in any significant roles. In fact, very few movies we talk about on this blog feature black women even when they feature black men or other people of color. It's completely fucked. And although black women are killing it in TV dramas right now, I'm not super interested in watching those kinds of shows. I should be able to see awesome black women in all kinds of rolls, in all kinds of genres. (See what I did there.) But, Seven Psychopaths features Gabourey Sidibe, Linda Bright Clay, and Amanda Warren each as a unique character as though it was NBD. Add to all that the fantastic writing, the spectacular cast, and the fact that Tom Waits carries around a friggin' bunny the whole film and you've apparently got a pretty solid formula for a movie I'll enjoy in perpetuity!
Bonus “TV” show!
Also in that duality-of-character and film-noir category, this show is the best parts of all the films I listed above. Strong female characters, great dialogue, diversity in the cast, plus loads of eye candy! This is my favorite thing on “TV” right now.