For five years now Curzon Home Cinema has been making available new and classic films that have delighted, challenged and surprised us, and helped inspire LOCO’s mission to discover the world’s most original comedy cinema. To celebrate that LOCO is in it’s fifth year too – hurray – we’ve selected some of our favourite films on the service, all of which use comedy in new and unexpected ways.
It wasn’t easy to narrow them down to eighteen (there were some tantrums on the way) but we hope you enjoy them, and that they encourage you to discover more. Please visit curzonhomecinema.com and over the course of the festival you’ll find LOCO in the Collections area.
The Firemen’s Ball (Miloš Forman, 1967)
The Firemen’s Ball is the last film that Miloš Forman made in Czechoslovakia before going into exile in the United States. It’s the story of the annual ball of a small town’s fire department, and of the escalating comic disasters that occur throughout the evening. When the Soviet Union invaded Czechoslovakia in 1968 they recognised it as a satire of Communist bureaucracy and banned it: proof that even the most powerful regimes are afraid of being laughed at.
Les Combattants (Thomas Cailley, 2014)
Les Combattants is the deliciously unconventional romance between Madeleine, a middle-class college drop-out who longs to join the army, and Arnaud, a young carpenter who’s working for her parents. Awkward, dreamy, unpredictable, it’s a film whose tone perfectly matches its characters, with terrific lead performances by Adèle Haenel and Kévin Azaïs.
Lost in Karastan (Ben Hopkins, 2014)
Lost In Karastan stars Matthew Macfadyen as Emil Forester, an acclaimed but uncommercial film-maker who’s hired by the President of Karastan to direct a propagandist epic. But with a crazed Hollywood star (Noah Taylor), a suspiciously seductive guide (MyAnna Buring) and increasingly perilous politics to navigate, can he save his creative integrity — or his life? This spectacular satire from cowriters Ben Hopkins and Pawel Pawlikowski was the opening film of the 2015 LOCO London Comedy Film Festival.
Gone Too Far! (Destiny Ekaragha, 2013)
Told over a single day, Gone Too Far! — which won the 2014 LOCO Discovery Award — is the funny, freewheeling story of Peckham teenager Yemi, whose life is turned upside down when his long-lost Nigerian brother Iku arrives with a thick Yoruba accent, a very dodgy dress sense and a worrying conviction that he’ll be a hit with the girls. Adapted by Bola Agbaje from her Olivier Award-winning play, Gone Too Far! is a comedy for anyone who’s ever felt embarrassed by their family. Which, let’s face it, is all of us.
Holy Motors (Leos Carax, 2013)
What is acting? What is life? And how can we tell the difference? Leos Carax’s dazzling film stars Denis Lavant as a man of many parts and many worlds, alongside an extraordinary cast including Eva Mendes, Edith Scob and Kylie Minogue, who has a musical number — scored by Neil Hannon — worthy of Jacques Demy. Funny, melancholic and achingly beautiful, this one of the great films about film-making.
P’Tit Quinquin (Bruno Dumont, 2014)
A murder mystery. A social comedy. A philosophical investigation of evil: Bruno Dumont’s film, originally made for television, has obvious parallels with Twin Peaks, including a strong sense of place, in this case the Boulonnais region of northern France. But his detective, beautifully played by the lugubrious Bernard Pruvost, is more Clouseau than Cooper, and faced with even more appalling crimes: a serial killer who leaves body parts inside barnyard animals. Hilarious and horrifying in equal measure, P’Tit Quinquin is a true original.
Modern Times (Charlie Chaplin, 1936)
Chaplin, like Dickens, is often mocked for his sentimentality. But, also like Dickens, what’s striking when you go back to his work is the rage. Modern Times is a comic love story packed with breathtaking set pieces, but it’s also a furious satire of the greed and inhumanity of business, and the cruelty of the Depression years. Eighty years on, it’s as fresh and funny as ever, and Chaplin and Paulette Goddard are one of the great screen couples.
Le Havre (Aki Kaurismäki, 2011)
The story of Idrissa, a Congolese teenager (Blondin Miguel) seeking shelter from the police in a northern French port, Aki Kaurismäki’s Le Havre could hardly feel more current, or more poignant. But as well as a potent plea for social justice it’s also a love story to French cinema, a balance made explicit in the names of its main characters: Marcel Marx and Arletty, played by Kaurismäki regulars André Wilms and Kati Outinen. As a group of idealistic locals bands together to keep Idrissa safe, love is tested and secrets revealed in one of Kaurismäki’s warmest and most heartfelt films.
Slow West (John Maclean, 2015)
An idealistic young man (Kodi Smit-McPhee) searches for his lost love (Caren Pistorius) in the brutal American West in John Maclean’s debut feature, which also stars Michael Fassbender as a hardened outlaw of dubious loyalties. Beautifully shot by the great Robbie Ryan, it’s a lyrical dream of a movie punctuated by dry wit and spectacular violence, all set to Jed Kurzel’s spellbinding score.
Appropriate Behaviour (Desiree Akhavan, 2014)
Desiree Akhavan’s brilliantly low-fi debut secured her wide spread status as ‘one-to-watch’, its disarmingly authentic characters engaging and frustrating in equal measure. Exploring the post-break up life of secretly bisexual Shirin (Akhavan) with a drily funny script and captivating performances, the film sheds light on an under-represented portion of the LGBT community with honesty and natural charm.
Best of Enemies (Morgan Neville, Robert Gordon, 2015)
Proving that documentaries and humour can co-exist quite happily, Best of Enemies became an immediate audience favourite and festival staple following its 2015 Sundance debut. Capturing two of America’s most towering intellectuals at the height of their powers, this riveting film chronicles the escalating enmity of their opposing ideals and personal dislike as it plays out in the public sphere. Packed with biting one liners and heady nostalgia for the late 60s, this is an unmissable film for fans of documentary, politics and comedy alike.
A Cock and Bull Story (Michael Winterbottom, 2005)
Meta comedy before it was cool from the brilliant Michael Winterbottom, who sidesteps his source material’s label of ‘unfilmable’ with this sharply scripted and brilliantly acted behind-the-scenes portrait of a film set. A career best performance from Steve Coogan sees him take on three separate roles in this film within a film, tackling both classic literature and the reality of trying to make a movie with energy, wit and lashings of originality.
A Pigeon Sat on a Branch Reflecting on Existence (Roy Andersson, 2015)
The alternately melancholic and absurd conclusion to Roy Andersson’s iconoclastic Living trilogy, A Pigeon Sat on a Branch… brings unrelenting deadpan humour to its insightful and original take on humanity. Balancing beauty and joy with tragedy and banality, Andersson toys with our ideas of comedy and offers an array of characters and scenes to delight and depress in equal measure. A rare treat.
Rams (Grímur Hákonarson, 2016)
Winner of Un Certain Regard at Cannes, Rams documents the rural existence of two taciturn brothers locked in a silent, unexplained feud stretching into decades. Kiddi (Theodór Júlíusson) and Gummi’s (Sigurður Sigurjónsson) lives a quiet lives are thrown into crisis when their livelihoods are threatened by an outbreak of disease, resulting in two very different reactions to loss, upheaval and turmoil. With restrained but incisive humour, a hefty dose of pathos and breathtaking visuals, this is a wry and profound Nordic gem.
Tangerine (Sean Baker, 2015)
A twisted, high energy tale centered on rumour, infidelity, prostitution and bar fights, Tangerine is so much more than just a film shot on an iPhone. Casting a discerning eye on LA’s sex industry and trans community, the story follows Sin-Dee (Kitana Kiki Rodriguez) and Alexandra (Mya Taylor) as they storm through their neighbourhood and an array of colourful characters. A dazzling and eye opening breath of fresh air, with big laughs and unexpected poignancy.
We Are The Best! (Lukas Moodysson, 2013)
In 1980s Stockholm, three thirteen year old girls united by their outsider status decide to form a band. Never mind that they have no instruments, no knowledge of how to play, and never mind that punk has had its heyday. An infectious and impassioned ode to teenage rebellion and friendship, We Are The Best! is every bit as joyous as its title, with plenty of laughs along the way.
We Have A Pope (Nanni Moretti, 2011)
The story of a reluctant pope and his neuroses, this charming examination of a man struggling with his own inadequacies sees Palme d’Or winner Nanni Moretti at his most endearing and entertaining. Guest starring Moretti himself as the suffering psychoanalyst dragged in to solve the crisis, We Have A Pope balances empathy and absurdity to create a heartfelt (and very funny) character study.
Wild Tales (Damián Szifron, 2014)
Constructed from six standalone shorts with a common thread of violence, vengeance and humanity’s baser instincts. Filled with outrageous moments and pitch black humour, this Academy Award nominee opens with a bang and hurtles through a series of surprising and eye popping turns with madcap energy and enthusiasm. Surreal excess and melodrama meets sharply written jokes and a healthy dose of irony; a match made in heaven.