… Which you owe it to yourself to sample, especially during the holidays.
The first one should appeal to the nerd in all of us:
“Gentlemen Broncos” – (2009, USA, 90 minutes – PG-13)
Benjamin Purvis (Michael Angarano) is a home schooled teenager living in a small town with his mother Judith (Jennifer Coolidge, also known as Stifler’s mom in the “American pie” comedies).
Judith sends Benjamin to a writers’ camp where published author of sci-fi/fantasy paperbacks Dr. Ronald Chevalier (Jemaine Clement, of “flight of the conchords”) dispenses advice and reviews manuscripts.
Here is the trailer:
Chevalier is having trouble of his own, squeezed by his publicist to turn something new and original, he is about to get dropped from the writing stable where he’s been toiling for years because his latest ‘effort’ is just plain bad. And in the peripatetic world of ‘airport racks authors’, that’s gotta be bad indeed.
There is a very funny scene in which Chevalier describes to his audience of young-wannabe writers how to name their characters, by ending the names with “classic” sounding suffixes such as “anous”, turning Bronco into Broncanous.
Clement channels Stephen King with a twist or two, sounding as though his jaws were wired shut, and copious amounts of self importance, all completely deadpan and always with a Bluetooth earpiece. It’s all so very… sci-fi and pure comedy.
Dr. Ronald Chevalier on the art of relaxating:
Benjamin, meanwhile, is introduced to the town’s sole film auteur Lonnie Donaho (Hector Jimenez, in a very funny turn as a nerdy teenage John Waters), who wants to adapt Benjamin’s story “Yeast Lords: the Bronco years” for the screen.
Chevalier reviews a copy of Benjamin’s manuscript and decides to plagiarize it to save his career.
“Gentlemen Broncos” is the third film by Jess and Jarusha Hess (“Napoleon Dynamite”, “Nacho Libre”), and has elements of both comedies: “Gentlemen Broncos” is an ensemble film with many interesting characters but has some of the kinetic energy of “Nacho Libre”.
Some fantasy scenes throughout depict “Yeast Lords” with Sam Rockwell playing Bronco (renamed Brutus by Chevalier), later turned into a kind of lisping fool by Lonnie Donaho. Between the way Benjamin and Lonnie “imagine” Bronco/Brutus, I did not recognize Rockwell, he is that good.
Those scenes have flying deer shooting lasers and missiles, with the feel of cheesy 1970s Italian sci-fi.
Here’s Sam Rockwell practicing with his ray-gun:
Now, on to a black comedy from one of our favorite directors, Alex de la Iglesia, skewering materialism and machismo among other choice targets.
“Crimen ferpecto” – (2004, Spain, 105 minutes – UR)
You’ve heard the jokes before, either about a young bull and an older one in the same pen, or a young rooster sharing the yard with an old one. Here, it takes the shape of two salesmen at Yeyo, a huge department store in Madrid where competition is fierce to close the books higher than your rival.
Rafael Gonzalez (Guillermo Toledo) is the younger man, a monster, a beast on the sales floor of the women’s clothing department, charming and flattering his way to sales volume and boffing the female staff after hours in the changing rooms. Rafael is obsessed with quality and perfection, working with people without taste when he was meant to rise to the top!
Here’s the trailer:
Rafael’s archenemy Don Antonio Fraguas (Luis Varela) rules the kingdom of men’s wear across the aisle and looks over to Rafael with the purest disdain. . “Crimen ferpecto” also known as “perfect crime” moves fast from beginning to end, helped along by Roque Banos’ score and a great cast. Rafael, who was born in a department store and never left, dreams of becoming floor sales director and rule over all. Unfortunately, a customer defaults on a payment, returns the fur coat and thereby dashes Rafael’s chances: Don Antonio gets the spot, and decides to ‘ride’ Rafael until he quits. Soon, things get physical and Rafael kills Don Antonio in the changing rooms. When he returns to dispose of the body after the store closes, the body has disappeared. Rafael then begins receiving notes from a female admirer, long ignored by him, who claims wanting to help him. But whom?!? And soon enough, she reveals herself: Lourdes (Monica Cervera), the most ungainly of all female staff.
As much as she seems willing to help him, Rafael senses he may have to put out in order to secure her continuing cooperation, as with chopping off Don Antonio’s body in the basement before tossing the parts in the furnace. She does so with gusto as Rafael throws up his lunch in the background. Lourdes keeps pulling Rafael deeper and closer, and he begins to lose his grasp on reality.
Meeting the parents:
It does not help that Don Antonio’s ghost keeps visiting him, either as a disembodied head or as a full bodied, although green skinned, revenant. Smoldering, and with a cleaver in his head, urging Rafael to kill, kill her… And in fact Rafael and Lourdes could not be any more different: he has expensive tastes, whereas she devises a marketing campaign around a new fashion of clowns’ clothes and accessories. Eventually things do come to a climax one night, in a cataclysmic scene at Yeyo’s…
As a madcap, black comedy, “Crimen ferpecto” gets five jellybeans.