This year, the films that stood out among these numerous, smaller options have been mostly dark comedies, which push the boundaries in all sorts of unique directions for the audience repulsion and delight. Although the films below have already opened, it’s never too late to let you know about them in case they slipped through the cracks. Believe me, any of them will leave you thinking, “What did I just watch?” in the best possible way.
Opened March 6th
Directed by Joel Potrykus
Brace yourself for one of the strangest, most infuriating, hilarious, and boldest cinematic experiences of the year. Absolute slacker Marty Jackitansky (He will remind you the last name is not Polish!) survives by playing the system in any way possible. Cashing other people’s checks, returning stolen goods from his job for cash, or complaining to the big corporations in order to get coupons. His petty scheme soon catches up with him, but with every successful deceit he exposes the dangerous complacency we all accept. Marty’s other hobbies include manufacturing a glove that resembles Freddy Krueger’s claws and hanging out with his friend Derek (played by Potrykus himself) in the “party zone,” which is what the latter has baptize his basement. It’s as deranged as it sounds, and it’s great.
*Playing in select theaters now and also available on VOD
Read More: Interview with Filmmaker Joel Potrykus on "Buzzard"
"Maps to the Stars"
Opened February 27th
Directed by David Cronenberg
Hollywood is a fickle place and Cronenberg has a brilliantly maniacal way of portraying this world in his latest work. Recent Oscar-winner Julianne Moore stars as Havana Segrand, a washed up actress whose only wish is to play the same role her mother did in a remake of a movie from decades ago. Moore won the Best Actress Award at last year's Cannes Film Festival and was nominated for a Golden Globe for her work here. In the Canadian director’s collection of fame-hungry misfits there is also Benjie Weiss (Evan Bird) a prepubescent, spoiled actor who hasn’t even finished junior high but has already been to rehab more than once; Jerome (Robert Pattinson), a limousine driver who, of course, is also an aspiring actor and screenwriter; Dr. Stafford Weiss (John Cusack), a wellness guru and author with more internal issues than he can help heal; and Agatha Weiss (Mia Wasikowska), Havana’s disfigured new assistant who has come to Los Angeles with ulterior motives. The acid humor, unapologetic observations, and its absurdly self-absorbed characters make of “Maps to the Stars” a spot-on parody of the worst qualities of the film industry.
*Playing in theaters now across the U.S
Opened February 6th
Directed by Marjane Satrapi
Playing Jerry, the most charming serial killer you’ll ever meet, Ryan Reynolds gives the best performance of his career in Marjane Satrapi’s wonderfully insane horror comedy. The timid factory worker has a history of mental health issues that are hidden under a façade of kindness. At home, Jerry talks to his pets: Mr. Whiskers, a devilishly cheeky cat, and Bosco, his good-natured dog. What’s particular about the ordeal is that they talk back and discuss with him his murderous intentions. Adding to his already outstanding work as the lovable, if unstable young man, Reynolds also voices both of animals as well. Anna Kendrick, Jacki Weaver, and Gemma Arterton are among the targets of Jerry’s madness in a disturbingly comedic fashion. Stay tuned after the film for one of the most ridiculous credit sequences ever.
*Available on VOD and still playing in a few theaters across the country
Read More: Interview: Marjane Satrapi on her murderous comedy "The Voices"
"What We Do in the Shadows"
Opened February 13th
Directed by Jemaine Clement & Taika Waititi
Get ready to die of laughter with this masterful mockumentary that capitalizes on the general public’s obsession with reality shows and the allure of vampirism and its promise of eternal life. Four ancient bloodsuckers share a house in Wellington, New Zealand and decide to let a crew film their day-to-day routines as vampires living in the modern world. What ensues are a series of intelligently written occurrences that transform every known convention about these creatures of the night into hysterical gags. Everything from their hunting tactics, to their feuds with the local pack of werewolves, and even their endearing relationship with a human they do not wish to devour. “Flight of the Conchords” creator Jemaine Clement and Taika Waititi co-wrote, co-directed, and star in the film as Vladislav and Viago respectively. This has to be the funniest film of the year hands down.
*Playing in theaters now across the U.S
"Wild Tales" (Relatos Salvajes)
Opened February 20th
Directed by Damián Szifrón
In this Argentine deranged and inventive ode to madness we are confronted with the animal instincts that we so desperately try to hide - until we can’t. Betrayal, injustice, and even the need to avenge a loved one, drive Szifron’s characters into losing control. With pitch black comedy that is as universal as the situations it explores, his film is a hilarious and smart vehicle for sharp social commentary. Besides being a complete riot that packs in uproarious humor, the film demonstrates the director’s ability to create a cohesive film out of diverse vignettes united by the dark side of human nature. From start to finish “Wild Tales” is truly a savagely fun trip. The film premiered at the 2014 Cannes Film Festival and was nominated for an Academy Award as Best Foreign Language Film this yea.
*Playing in select theaters now across the U.S and expanding in upcoming weeks
Read More: Sydney Levine on "Wild Tales," Business and Pleasure
Read More: Interview: Damian Szifron on the Oscar-nominated "Wild Tales"