Tag Archives: Rhys Darby

Guns Akimbo

I suspect Daniel Radcliffe may have perfected his American accent by watching Breaking Bad. He sounds so much like Jesse Pinkman (Aaron Paul), or indeed his Bojack Horseman character Todd, it’s eerie. In Guns Akimbo, Radcliffe’s character Miles doesn’t just sound like these guys, he’s also the lovable loser type, the sitting on his couch type, the unmotivated type. But sometimes despite your best efforts, life finds you, and it makes some demands.

Miles is sitting on his couch “trolling the trolls” as he calls it, stirring up shit with his keyboard with big bad words from an anonymous account. But when there’s a sudden pounding on his door, it seems that Miles has finally trolled the wrong troll, as the criminals behind world-wide sensation Skizm drag him into their deadly game. Skizm pits two people against each other as millions stream live to watch them fight to the death. It’s a viral murder game that Miles wants no part of, but when he wakes up with gun stigmata (guns literally bolted to his right and left hands), he doesn’t have much choice.

So we spend 90 minutes watching him get stalked by opponent Nyx (Samara Weaving), search ex-girlfriend Nova (Natasha Liu Bordizzo), try really hard not to die, and adapt to having guns for hands – which includes recruiting help from homeless crackhead Glenjamin (Rhys Darby) for every day needs such as unzipping to pee, and liking stuff on Instagram. You know, the basics.

As you might guess, Guns Akimbo is 100% about the glorification of violence and surprisingly, I’m not that mad about it, mostly because it’s pretty forthright and honest about it. You’re not going to stumble into this one thinking it might be about a close-knit family dealing with sudden onset Alzheimer’s, or a couple who find each other late in life only to have one of them die tragically and slightly heroically in their lover’s arms. No. Guns Akimbo sounds exactly like it is: bang, bang, bang2. It spends its first 5 minutes dropping hints of animation to prepare us for what’s to come. It briefly pretends to be a social commentary to justify the approaching onslaught, but honestly, who needs it? Finally, it gives up the pretense and indulges in the stylized and blood soaked violence it promised, with a fanfare of 80s pop. You’ll feel as if you’ve jumped into a video game that’s definitely rated M, though that can’t possibly stand for Mature. Maniac? Madman? Murderous rampage? You’re not here for satire or plot, you’re here to bear witness to the sheer volume of spurting GSWs, severed arteries, spent casings, and blatant disregard for human life. It is not a credit to anyone’s moral fiber and it does not improve the human spirit but it is a fun if gratuitous ride through our seediest impulses.

Other movies have gone here before – Nerve with Dave Franco and Emma Roberts was not bad if you don’t mind superficial thrills with a side dish of already outdated youth culture. These movies apparently find no irony in critiquing our voyeuristic tendencies while also capitalizing on them.

Radcliffe is fun, Weaving is a poster child for why you never bleach your eyebrows, and Darby is a welcome laugh in an otherwise very black comedy. The soundtrack, featuring “Citrus Hill” amidst covers of bright 80s tunes, provides a hyper backdrop for frenetic death and destruction. Nyx shoots from the hip, Miles tries not to shoot off his own dick, and the whole thing’s just a riot of violence and tribute to the games and shows and songs that promote it.

Tribeca: Hunt for the Wilderpeople

Taika Waititi.

1449603737890If you don’t know that name yet, stay right here while I get a nice wooden baseball bat to beat you over the head with. Don’t move, I’ll be right back.

Seriously, I talk obsessively about Waititi and his movies because I just adore them. He’s remained mostly under the radar with offbeat, cult hits like Boy and Eagle Vs Shark, which have made him famous in his native New Zealand but all but undiscovered over here in North America. WHICH IS A FRICKIN CRIME.ai_28310_aimedium

Last year his vampire mockumentary What We Do In The Shadows was a modest breakthrough that earned him some well-deserved and super duper overdue attention. It will also help that he’s had a hand in writing Disney’s upcoming animated film Moana and will direct Thor: Ragnarok, which will be his first budget exceeding $12.

But back to Hunt for the Wilderpeople, perhaps the best thing I saw at the Tribeca Film¬†Festival and maybe the best thing Waititi’s done to date. He adapted it for the screen himself and as the film opens up, you immediately get the sense that it is a labour of love. The beautiful, lush New Zealaai_28434_aimediumnd bush is on proud display in soaring shots that will give you serious travel envy. Ricky Baker (Julian Dennison) is a boy who’s had a run of bad luck with foster homes, and his child welfare worker is quick to give a laundry list of his transgressions. This doesn’t deter his determined newest foster mum Aunt Bella (Rima Te Wiata) but Uncle Hec (Sam Neill) is a lot more reticent and gruff. Their primitive way of life is a bit of a shock to gangster-wannabe Ricky, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg because soon events will have him and Uncle Hec running from the law and hiding out in the bush as an intensive manhunt for them is underway.

The movie becomes an odd-couple adventure with Waititi’s niche sensibility and loads of mass appeal. Seriously – who on this green earth could fail to be charmed by this movie? 506332228For such an endearingly quirky comedy, it has no right being even half as beautifully shot as it is. There’s a gloss to the film thanks to some real cinematography that’s been missing from his previous work. A lot of care has gone into this film and the casting is just one easy example of how¬†diligently the thing is put together. Sam Neill is an interesting choice and brings the right mix of gravelly loner bluntness and a secret longing for connection. But it’s Julian Dennison who will leave the largest impression. A kid actor can make or break your movie when he’s in a central role, but Dennison is a professional, easy and natural in front 1453595660563of the camera. There’s pain behind his farcical behaviour, and in allowing us to see both, there’s real depth and emotional investment in the characters. Waititi, Rachel House, and Rhys Darby provide excellent supporting roles that’ll leave you cramped from laughter. Positively bruised from chuckling. It’s a new personal best for Waititi and a new sentimental favourite for me, but one that deserves its place among the very best movies of the year, period.