Following

Following is a 1998 British neo-noir crime thriller film written and directed by Christopher Nolan in his directorial debut. The film stars Jeremy Theobald, Alex Haw, Lucy Russell, and John Nolan, Christopher’s uncle. Following tells the story of a struggling, unemployed, and unnamed (like all of the characters in this film) writer who takes to following strangers around the streets of London. This strange new hobby draws him into the city’s criminal underworld after he takes his odd, yet ultimately innocuous hobby too far.

Being Nolan’s directorial debut and being straight out of film school, Following was shot on an official budget of $0.00. The most expensive part of filming was the actual 16mm film stock, which Nolan paid for with his own salary. The film was intended to be as inexpensive as possible to produce. In order to economize the expensive film stock, scenes were painstakingly rehearsed ahead of time in order to get a perfect scene in as few takes as possible. The cast and crew, if you can call them that, all worked full-time during the week, limiting film production to Saturdays. Fifteen minutes of footage every Saturday was shot over the course of four or five months. The decision to shoot the film in black and white came from the fact that Nolan did not have access to lighting equipment, forcing him to only use natural, real-world lighting. Even on a no-budget shoot, Nolan described the production as “extreme.”

Following is a very impressive film. Often, low-budget productions are just plain bad, but this film is proof that you don’t need money to make a movie, though I will admit a budget of some level will usually help a lot. Low-budget films are often bad because the filmmakers try to be flashy and reach for levels way outside their budget. Christopher Nolan, even as a young man fresh out of film school, is smart enough not to do that. Following is extremely barebones, and it is, in fact a better film because of it. The core elements of a good noir film are there and, due to the fact nobody had the time nor the money to focus on anything else, those core elements are perfectly constructed and brilliantly executed. There’s nothing extraneous here, only the stuff that needs to be in the film is in the film. Following, from a plot perspective, is very tight and focused, an aspect of filmmaking I think Nolan, admittedly still one of my favorite directors, has forgotten in his more recent work.

Following is also surprisingly very well-acted. The cast, made up entirely of unknowns, even 19 years later, is very talented. The unnamed main character comes off as an everyman, even with his odd, some might even say creepy, pastime. He seems like a slightly odd but relatable guy. Cobb (which Nolan reused as the surname for the main character in 2010’s Inception) is as charming and witty as he is scummy.

Following uses a non-linear narrative to keep things interesting, something that has become a staple in Nolan’s films. The dialogue, like the overarching plot itself, is sharp, witty, focused, and on-point.

Following is not the greatest neo-noir film ever, not is it Nolan’s best work. It is, however, an interesting early work of one of today’s most well-known filmmakers, and is a great showcase of his talents as a director. Clocking in at only an hour and ten minutes, Following is a scrappy, smart, and interesting noir film and the testament of what a filmmaker can do given will, determination, ingenuity, and intelligence.

Hysteria

Hysteria is a 2011 period romantic comedy film directed by Tanya Wexler. The screenplay was written by Jonah Marsh and her husband, Stephen Dyer. The film stars Hugh Dancy, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Jonathon Pryce, Felicity Jones, and Rupert Everett. Dancy stars as a fictionalized version of Dr. Mortimer Granville, a physician who invented the vibrator as a treatment for female hysteria. I have done background information on this and have confirmed everything I am about to say to you. In 1880, female hysteria was a very popular diagnosis for crabby, apparently crazed women. In extreme cases, patients with “hysteria” would be confined to asylums and undergo hysterectomies. It took the world until 1952 to figure out that women were just sexually frustrated and needed release, but medical practitioners somehow figured out that it had something to do with the “sensitive area,” so treatment would usually involve a hand massage of the genitals, known to induce what was termed a “hysterical paroxysm,” later discovered to be what some would call a mythical or illusive event known as the female orgasm. If you don’t believe me, Google it! The strain and inconvenience of doing this by hand causes the young Mortimer, working under Dr. Robert Dalrymple, with the help of his friend Edmund, to create vibrator for use on hysterical patients. Meanwhile, Mortimer draws the attention of both Dalrymple’s daughters, Emily and Charlotte.

Due to the… interesting subject matter, the film has tons of comedic ammunition at its disposal, which it uses very well. I found myself chuckling a lot during this film. I normally hate rom-coms with a passion, and although Hysteria is ultimately a flawed film which hits a lot of the generic rom-com beats, it does enough with its premise to be worthwhile and enjoyable. Hysteria uses its unique premise to its advantage; instead of focusing only on the romantic aspect of the film, which is honestly extremely underdeveloped and leaves much to be desired, the film also cleverly and entertainingly explores exactly how women were treated back in the day (not very well) and the start of the Women’s Suffrage Movement.

Hysteria does have a lot of problems, the main of which is the fact that, aside from Mortimer and, to a lesser extent, Charlotte, nobody undergoes a real character arc. Everyone besides those two are exactly the same at the end of the movie as they were at the beginning, and characters without arcs are difficult to get invested in. Emily Mortimer, in particular, played by Rouge One‘s Felicity Jones, is just there for Mortimer to fall in love with and then realize Charlotte’s the one. The romantic part of this romantic comedy, is, frankly, somewhat confusing, underdeveloped, and not very good.

That being said, it still has its positives. Hugh Dancy, who I only know from his role as Will Graham on Hannibal, could charm his way out of anything. Seeing as Graham, the mentally unstable FBI agent, is not very charming, I was very surprised to learn that Dancy was known to everyone else as the exceedingly charming English pretty boy. He is great here, and Maggie Gyllenhaal is good, as well. For what it’s worth, I saw this film at Ebertfest yesterday, and both Dancy and Tanya Wexler gave an excellent Q&A. I did not stay for the whole thing, but Dancy seems like a natural comedian, and Wexler revealed that some of the comedic bits in the film were of Dancy’s own design. (Sneaky Hannibal reference)

He jokingly mentioned he made some changes to the script. He presented himself well, and seemed much more intelligent than anyone would think to give him credit for, and Hysteria works much better, I think, because of him.

Hysteria is a flawed, yet ultimately entertaining romp, and I feel that its lead actor, who deserves much better than what he gets, is the reason for that. It’s a funny film which would be better served jettisoning it’s paper thin romantic plotline for something else entirely. The characters are thin, but the actors do a good job, especially its lead. Hysteria is not great, but it is good, and I ultimately enjoyed it, because it was able to subvert enough of the vomit-inducing rom-com tropes to actually be funny, though it falls into enough of those holes to, sadly, miss out on a lot of the film’s potential. If anyone is in need of a lighthearted, lowkey viewing with some good laughs, than I would recommend this film.

 

Shaun of the Dead

Shaun of the Dead is a 2004 comedy horror film co-written and directed by Edgar Wright and starring Simon Pegg (who also co-wrote the film) and Nick Frost. Shaun of the Dead is the first in Wright’s “Three Flavours of Cornetto” trilogy, followed by 2007’s Hot Fuzz and 2013’s The World’s End, all of which were written and directed by Wright and star Pegg and Frost. Shaun of the Dead lead to Wright’s mainstream success, cult status, and popularity as a director.

Shaun of the Dead follows Shaun, an underachieving electronics salesman with no direction or sense of purpose in life. He lives with his old friend from college, Pete, and his childhood friend Ed. Ed is a slacker and moocher who does nothing with his life and constantly holds Shaun back from his potential. After Shaun’s girlfriend Liz breaks up with him, the two go out for a night of wild, raucous drinking, which annoys the increasingly ill Pete. They awake in the morning, initially oblivious to the zombie apocalypse that had been slowly taking form over the past few days.

(Note that Ed asks Shaun for a Cornetto. In the proceeding films, similar references are made to the popular ice cream brand, hence the informal title for the trilogy.)

After comically realizing the gravity of the situation, Shaun and Ed make plans to A. Kill Shaun’s (conveniently infected) mean step-dad, B. Save his Mom, C. Save Liz, and D. Hide out at the pub the two young underachievers frequent.

As one can expect, none of this goes entirely according to plan, leading to both mishaps of the comical variety, and some of the less-comical variety as well.

Shaun of the Dead is both hilarious while also managing to be very heartfelt and meaningful when given the chance. It is also very stylized and very fast. Director and writer Edgar Wright does a wonderful job here, assisted in the writing of the script by star and future frequent collaborator Simon Pegg. Pegg’s acting, as it always is, is excellent. Pegg is a masterful comedian, especially in movies like Star Trek Beyond or any of the recent Mission: Impossible films, because he is never a buffoon. In fact, in every movie I’ve seen Simon Pegg in, his character is a competent person who also just happens to be funny, which is something a lot of comedy actors don’t seem to think is a thing. Yet, it is this that makes Pegg so good at comedy, both in his writing and in performance. Shaun is neither a bumbling moron nor is he a supremely effective hero protagonist, he is simply a guy, an aspect that works to the film’s tremendous advantage. Nick Frost plays a great obnoxious but lovable douchebag, for what that’s worth.

Of course, good acting and performances is not what makes a comedy movie good, it’s the comedy that does that. Thankfully, as I mentioned before, Shaun of the Dead is a very, very funny film. Unlike most parody films of this generation (although the film does not lampoon a specific zombie film, so I wouldn’t necessarily call it that), Shaun of the Dead never really goes for the lowbrow, sophomoric humor, except for an actually funny (Yeah, I’m dead serious!) fart joke that comes back in the end, opting instead for some really intelligent humor and gags.

Readers should be made aware of the upcoming minor tangent. Before I decided to review The Cornetto Trilogy this weekend, I decided to watch the historical romance film Allied that came out last year. I have a friend who saw it in theaters and it made her cry. I, on the other hand, also cried… tears of boredom. I was more emotionally invested in the entirety of Shaun of the Dead than I was within the first hour of Allied. I know that sounds like I’m not saying much (which I’m not), but there are some truthfully emotional moments in this film, which is more than I can say for Allied.

Shaun of the Dead, like most of Wright’s films, as well as the man himself, has gained a very large cult following in the years following its release, and for good reason. Shaun of the Dead is a hilariously impressive comedy film by itself, and a more than admirable start to a comedic trilogy that I have been told for years is rather excellent, but never bothered to check out until now. Boasting great acting, a great script, and some great filmmaking on the part of a great director, Shaun of the Dead is a brilliant comedy film that I feel I was late to the party on; it’s one that everyone should check out if they haven’t already.

Eastern Promises

Eastern Promises is a 2007 British-Canadian-American crime thriller film written by Peaky Blinders creator Steven Knight and directed by David Cronenberg. The film stars Naomi Watts, Viggo Mortensen, Vincent Cassel, and Armin-Mueller-Stahl. This film marks the second time Cronenberg and Mortensen have collaborated following 2005’s excellent A History of Violence. Eastern Promises follows Anna, a nurse and midwife of Russian-British heritage living with her mother and uncle in London. Anna delivers the baby of a 14-year-old Russian girl, who dies in childbirth. Anna finds the diary of the young woman in her personal effects, and learns that she was tricked and forced into prostitution by the Russian Mafia. Anna also finds a card for a restaurant owned by Semyon, an old Russian mobster. Anna sets out to discover the identity of the baby’s father, in order to find the child a home. She is drawn into a vast conspiracy involving Seymon’s unstable son, Kirill, and the mysterious driver Nikolai, soon realizing she may be in way over her head.

Eastern Promises is a rather bold film that chooses to explore rather dark themes that not a lot of films do. For some reason, filmmakers are fine exploring the world of drugs and murder, but I have not seen a lot of films explore the crime of sex trafficking; it is a rather uncomfortable subject nobody likes to discuss, especially in the realm of fiction. I understand why, as I personally find it to be one of the most heinous and disgusting crimes ever to exist. Nobody likes to think about it, which is why it takes guts to put it front and center in a crime thriller ostensibly meant to entertain. The effect that sex trafficking has on the many people involved is front and center here, and Knight’s script sugarcoats nothing. I applaud Steven Knight for bringing this up; even though it is, on the surface, a mere work of fiction, it should get the audience thinking, or make them aware of, the horrific crime occurring worldwide today right under our very noses.

Like any good crime film, Eastern Promises focuses as much on the criminals as it does on the ordinary people. The inner workings and mentality of the Russian Mafia, specifically the idea of vory v zakone is discussed in-depth in this film. Through some excellent writing, mobsters Kirill and Nikolai are as empathetic characters as Anna. You know what they want, you feel for the both of them. Kirill wants respect from his brutal and sadistic father, and wants to bring his (much more capable and competent) friend Nikolai along for the ride. Kirill is a raging dick, but watch him suffer torrents of abuse by his ungrateful father, and you begin to understand him. Empathy for the villains is what turns a good movie into a great movie, and Eastern Promises is, in my opinion, a pretty great movie.

Director David Cronenberg is famous for the brilliant body horror films Scanners, The Dead Zone, and The Fly. With both A History of Violence and Eastern Promises, it may seem as though Cronenberg has gone completely out of his comfort zone. However, make no mistake; Eastern Promises may lack monsters or exploding heads, but this film is unflinching and brutal in its depiction of violence and murder, and although never what I personally would describe as “horrific,” Cronenberg is easily able to succeed in making the viewer feel uncomfortable, using techniques he no doubt picked up in his career as an auter of horror.

Cronenberg also avoided using guns in the movie at all, opting instead for knives. Cronenberg has stated that this was for the purposes of realism, as knives would be easier to conceal, but considering the somewhat exaggerated effects of these knives when they are used in the film, I would say Cronenberg’s horror traits were simply showing again, not that it is at all a bad thing.

The brilliance of Eastern Promises also owes itself to top-notch acting by almost everyone involved, especially Naomi Watts and Viggo Mortensen, who shows off supreme talent and acting ability here. The underrated Danish-American actor will, it seems, be forever known by the masses for his role as Aragorn in The Lord of the Rings Trilogy and not for other roles like this one. The character of Nikolai is the most interesting and mysterious character of this film, and that lends just as much to Mortensen’s flawless acting as it does to the great script.

Eastern Promises is a great film filled with violence, intrigue, and empathy that has the guts to explore something that occurs in the world that many people fear to acknowledge. With word on the street being a sequel will begin production soon, I would advise picking up this movie ASAP if you are interested. To conclude, with the help of a brilliant and accomplished director, a brilliant writer, and extremely talented actors, Eastern Promises is an impactful, entertaining, and thought-provoking crime film that I enjoyed, and I think a lot of my readers will, too.

Ghost In the Shell (1995)

Ghost in the Shell is a 1995 Japanese animated science-fiction techno-thriller film based upon the manga of the same name by Masamune Shirow. The film was written by Kazunori Itō and directed by Mamoru Oshii; it is a Japanese-British co-production, and is one of the works, if not the single most prominent work, that led to the modern popularization of Japanese animation, known as anime, in Western culture. Anime experienced a surge of popularity back in the 1960’s with Speed Racer and Astro Boy, but it didn’t stick. Since the advent of the internet, however, anime has become progressively more and more popular outside Japan, with many appreciating the various art styles and dramatic flair that can be found in many animes. Ghost in the Shell, however, is considered to be the one that started the surge, and has remained immensely popular, even in the two decades since its release.

Ghost in the Shell takes place in 2029. The world is interconnected and many people have become cyborgs with prosthetic and cybernetic enhancements, with many possessing fully cybernetic brains, with their “ghost” being an individual’s personality and memories, hence “Ghost in the Shell.” The film follows Major Motoko Kusanagi of Public Security Section 9. She is one of few people with a fully cybernetic body, with no real human parts to speak of aside from her “ghost.” Section 9 is an elite cybercrime and intelligence organization on the hunt for a mysterious hacker known only as “The Puppet Master.” The Puppet Master apparently possesses the ability to ghost hack: hack into individuals and take over their body without their knowledge. Considered a very dangerous individual for obvious reasons, the film follows the hunt for The Puppet Master while The Major and Section 9 are drawn into a vast and far-reaching political conspiracy.

Ghost in the Shell features top-notch animation, which was created using a unique process called Digitally Generated Animation, a combination of traditional cel animation, computer graphics, and audio that is entered as digital data. It was the goal of animation director Toshihiko Nishikubo to depict film movements realistically. In fact, the animation team performed extensive research into firearms and bullet physics, noting, for example, that a bullet will create a spark upon striking metal, but will not do the same against stone or rock. The team also made character movement seem more realistic; The Major’s movements seem much more mechanical than her more human counterparts.

The most interesting part of Ghost in the Shell is the world itself. Set in an unnamed, post-World War III Japanese city, it almost feels like a real place. The characters in the story interact so fluidly and naturally with everything around them that you sort of almost forget you’re watching a science-fiction film, somewhat akin to the world of Blade Runner, which this film seems to draw from in terms of its “futuristic but natural-feeling” setting. Due to the setting feeling so organic and real, that makes the extremely deep themes explored by the film’s plot easier to digest.

Ghost in the Shell’s most striking aspect is its exploration of extremely deep ideas wrapped up in what would seem on the surface to be a straightforward techno-thriller. This film, however, is so much more than that. Through it’s main character, the film presents an intelligent discussion on what exactly it means to be human. The Major’s body is entirely machine, so what makes her human? Is it her brain, her personality? Is she human at all? What defines humanity? Is it something physical like organs, or is it simply sentience? These questions are the driving force of the entire film, and the whole film drives these ideas home in a flawless manner.

*Please keep in mind that I watched this film in the original Japanese with English subtitles, the voice acting in the dubbed version leaves much to be desired, and I would recommend the original audio*

Another question the film sees fit to ask is a question about the nature of reality. There is a point wherein The Puppet Master uses a normal truck driver as a puppet and a patsy to get him to ghost hack government officials. The Puppet Master does this by implanting false memories about a wife and kids that he doesn’t have.

Ghost in the Shell is an excellent and well-made anime film with enough entertainment to go around even if the philosophical questions do not interest you, but it is hard to deny that the philosophical questions are what permeates through the most. Ghost in the Shell has explicitly influenced many filmmakers and their techniques. Most notably, this film is a favorite of the Wachowski Siblings, being a very large influence in their 1999 magnum opus The Matrix, which borrows a lot thematically and stylistically from this 1995 film. The opening credits to The Matrix were directly inspired by Ghost in the Shell.

For several reasons, most notably the film’s philosophical intellect, as well as just being a generally very well-made film, Ghost in the Shell is considered one of the greatest, if not the greatest, works of anime ever made. Its influence can be seen even outside of Japan in several Western productions. Its influence is the reason for the entire medium of anime being repopularized in Western countries. With gorgeous animation, a fully-realized world, interesting characters, and an interesting plot to boot, Ghost in the Shell is an excellent film that I would recommend to anyone, not just anime fans.

Assassin’s Creed

Assassin’s Creed is a 2016 American-French action-adventure film based upon the video game series of the same name. The film was directed by Justin Kurzel and written by Michael Lesslie, Adam Cooper and Bill Collage. Assassin’s Creed stars Michael Fassbender (one of my favorite actors), Marion Cotillard, Jeremy Irons, and The Wire’s Michael K. Williams.

Assassin’s Creed was first released in 2007. It is an open-world stealth-action game set primarily during the Third Crusade. A young man named Desmond is abducted by Abstergo, a multinational technology giant that is a front for the mysterious shadow organization known as The Templars, on the hunt for mysterious and powerful artifacts which they will use to control the world. The Templars have been engaged in a centuries long shadow war with the Assassins, who are sworn to protect the world from the Templars by any means necessary. Desmond, though raised as an Assassin, left the clan and had been working under assumed names in New York City to protect himself. Under threat of death, Desmond begrudgingly agrees to assist them. He uses a machine called The Animus to access and relive the memories of his ancestors, first Altaïr ibn-La’Ahad. The majority of the game is spent as Altaïr, and you traverse the vast city of Jerusalem uncovering a story of betrayal and intrigue while… you know, doing Assassin things. Desmond later escapes with help from Assassin’s working undercover in Abstergo, and once again must enter the Animus and search for the mysterious Apple of Eden, which was hidden by Assassin Ezio Auditore da Firenze during the Italian Renaissance. Desmond and his allies end up in a desperate hunt for the Apple, which brought about the end of an entire ancient civilization. He is aided by holograms of the leaders of this ancient civilization: Jupiter, Minerva, and Juno.

The film version forgoes any of the more interesting aspects of the game’s storyline for something much more streamlined (and boring). Callum Lynch is the son of an Assassin who, for reasons unexplained, ends up on death row. His death is faked by Abstergo and he is then forced to relive the memories of Assassin Aguilar de Nerha during the Spanish Inquisition. Callum is put under the watchful eye of well-meaning doctor Sofia Rikkin, daughter of the head of Abstergo. The Templars want the Apple because it contains the genetic code for free will, which they will use to subjugate the human race and create “a world of peace.”

Assassin’s Creed was often borderline nonsensical and often just plain boring. The action featured in the movie is very pedestrian, bland, and nothing special, and several of the characters’ motivations are either poorly set up or not set up at all. Sofia eventually betrays her father and assists Callum in rescuing the Apple, but she has no reason to do so. Callum and her never develop a romantic relationship, unless you call a strange, sorta, kinda friendship in a scientist-subject dynamic a romance. Not much in the present-day narrative made much sense to me. In the games, “synchronized”was just a way of saying you had finished a portion of the game. (i.e. If you had completed a task, quest, section, or objective, then that portion of the memory in the Animus was 100% synchronized.) In the film, there is a part where Callum is in the Animus, reliving the memories of Aguilar, and Sofia overdramatically states “He’s synchronized!” They never explain exactly what this means.

So the plot of the movie is bad. Badly plotted movies can still have interesting characters, action, or good acting. Assassin’s Creed has nothing. It isn’t even noteworthy in its badness, just boring. The fatal flaw in Assassin’s Creed is the way in which it is set up on a basic level. Unlike the game, in which the memories of the past are in order with logical progression, with only minimal interruption, the film constantly switches between the perspectives of Aguilar and Callum, which is very jarring. Not only that, but when Callum goes back, Aguilar is suddenly captured and must escape, and is later giving the Apple to Christopher Columbus. You have no idea how he got captured or why he gave it to Columbus. Aguilar also has a girlfriend you never care about. In fact, you do not give two craps about anyone because A. The script has nothing to make you care and B. Nobody ever emotes. Nobody has any real emotion, except Michael Fassbender’s acting switch is apparently stuck in “brooding and vaguely angry” the entire movie. This confuses me, because nobody in this movie is a bad actor, some are actually quite good. Also, considering Fassbender also produced this film and had actual stake in its success, I would assume he would at least try. But no, not even Evil Alfred, Jeremy Irons, tries at all.

Assassin’s Creed was a nonsensical and boring critical and commercial flop, and for good reason. Even though (contrary to popular belief) there are video game plotlines that would make great films, there has yet to be a good adaptation which would legitimize the medium. This is because, for whatever reason, screenwriters choose to needlessly alter the plot when the original plot worked just fine. In fact, both the film and the games would’ve been better if they had eliminated the present-day storyline until you wanted to focus entirely in the present, and instead gotten us invested entirely on the Assassins of the past. Instead, the film is all over the place from a narrative perspective, and you either don’t care or don’t understand what is going on as a consequence. Assassin’s Creed is a big-budget borefest, a failed franchise launch that proves that people have yet to take video games seriously as a medium, and is disappointing as a stamdalone film and a horrible adaptation.

 

Kiss, Kiss, Bang, Bang

Kiss, Kiss, Bang, Bang is a 2005 American neo-noir crime comedy film written and directed by Shane Black in the Lethal Weapon screenwriter’s directorial debut. The film stars Robert Downey, Jr, Val Kilmer, and Michelle Monaghan. The story takes place in Los Angeles, California. Harry is a petty thief who accidentally wanders in into a screen test while running from the police. Harry, who had his witnessed his partner-in-crime be shot and killed moments earlier, has a mental breakdown, which is mistaken for character acting by the producers. He is sent out to L.A. and is to be given private detective lessons by experienced P.I. Perry Van Shrike, A.K.A Gay Perry. Harry also reconnects with an old friend and the girl of his dreams, Harmony, an aspiring actress. Harry and Perry accidentally stumble upon a murder mystery while on a routine surveillance job, while Harmony and Harry attempt to solve the mysterious death of her twin sister.

Kiss, Kiss, Bang, Bang is a great film in every way. I don’t think I really have anything bad to say about it. It is hilarious while also providing a tight and interesting mystery plot. It accomplishes everything it sets out to do, it definitely gets the neo-noir feel right, it’s an interesting mystery, and it is laugh out loud hilarious. Harry regularly provides sarcastic, fourth-wall-breaking commentary throughout the film, delivered in only the way RDJ and Ryan Reynolds can do. Shane Black is a witty comedic genius, with a sense of humor unlike even the most experienced screenwriters. The “Definition of an Idiot” scene had both me and my friend dying of laughter, and it may be the most simplistic joke in the history of comedy, and it is awesome.

The movie is able to keep the laughs going throughout, but it also makes you genuinely feel about the characters. This is, I think, Robert Downey, Jr’s specialty. Even pre-rehab and pre-Iron Man, Downey as an actor had been graced with likeable “everyman”-type qualities that are in full effect here. You root for him, you root for Harmony, you root for Perry. Kiss, Kiss, Bang, Bang, in addition to being hilarious and even engaging from a mystery aspect, also has a very honest and sweet quality about it, and that is what takes the film from “great” to “excellent.”

Kiss, Kiss, Bang, Bang is so good, in my opinion, that I honestly can’t think of a whole lot more to say. The film, full of hilarious, endearing, and downright interesting moments, owes a lot to its actors and their abilities, but owes a whole lot more to its brilliant and underrated writer/director Shane Black, who, a decade and change later, still does not get the credit he deserves. Kiss, Kiss, Bang, Bang is a cult classic film and a high watermark for both the comedy and neo-noir mystery genres that should be enjoyable for everyone, and you should definitely check it out. Although I just discovered this film recently, it is now one of my favorites.