Jump to content
 
Search In
  • More options...
Find results that contain...
Find results in...

Your Favorite Black Comedy Films...


Metropolisforever
 Share

Recommended Posts

Black comedy is a sub-genre of comedy and satire where topics and events that are usually treated seriously are treated in a humorous or satirical manner.

 

A comedy with a wicked sense of humor -- often dark, cynical and edgy -- that makes fun of such supposedly serious subjects as death, illness, murder, or war. Nothing is sacred from attack in black comedy, and all taboos are welcome. Black comedy films first found popularity in the 1940s and 1950s, in a world that was struggling to understand the global evil of Nazism and its second World War in less than three decades. In America, Arsenic and Old Lace was among the first examples, while the British perfected the form with films like The Ladykillers and Kind Hearts and Coronets. Since the '40s, the British have taken the form to new, darker levels, with films like The Wrong Box, If..., The Cook, The Thief, His Wife and Her Lover, A Zed and Two Noughts, Brazil and the work of Monty Python. In America, black comedies have increased in number with the rise of independent filmmaking (though M*A*S*H, Harold and Maude, and the films of Tim Burton are fine studio examples). Directors like John Waters, the Coen Brothers, Paul Bartel, and early Brian De Palma blended black comedy with social issues and/or absurdism. Abroad, directors like Luis Bu?uel, Roman Polanski, Juzo Itami, Pedro Almodovar and Paul Verhoeven are just a handful of filmmakers who have kept the style alive and vital.

 

Whenever there is a darker joke, there generally is some widespread kind of social and cultural anxiety, lingering below the surface, that the joke helps people deal with. For example: Czech filmmaker Juraj Herz is an actual Holocaust survivor. He claims that his two blackly comic films about the Holocaust are "real horror." He said "Terezka was completely horrified because we were telling stories from the concentration camp from morning till evening, and we laughed all the time. One of the worst times of my life was twenty-two months in the [Czechoslovak] army. It was horrible. It was in the fifties, and it was really awful, but when I talk about it the listeners will laugh." He is drowning the bad times. You can read about it here: http://www.kinoeye.org/02/01/kosulicova01.php. Some dark comedy is similar to the horror movie genre.

 

A satire is a film in which the point is to send up or skewer an aspect of society, a type of person, or established, often sacred beliefs. Satires rely on precision timing, from both actors and directors, while utilizing irony, cynicism and sarcasm as a primary tool. In the best examples of the form, deadpan humor, in which the characters take themselves and their situations very seriously, is favored while the director or screenwriter winks knowingly at the audience. An all-encompassing movie type, satire essentially divides up into several categories, depending on what topic is being tackled. Political and social satire has long been a favorite weapon of foreign filmmakers, with seminal films like La Dolce Vita, The Cook, The Thief, His Wife and Her Lover, If..., WR: Mysteries of the Organism, and The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie being prime examples. Under governments with strict artistic restrictions concerning political commentary, satire became the only tool with which to covertly criticize society, leading to films like France's L'Age d'Or, Spain's Viridiana, Yugoslavia's Underground and Cuba's Memories of Underdevelopment. In America, political and social satire can be traced back to the silent era, with the films of Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton. The style was utilized most often during times of duress. For example, Dr. Strangelove, M.A.S.H, and Catch-22 savagely trounced the jingoism of the ?60s, while post-Watergate turmoil spawned The Candidate and Nashville. Political candidates have been the largest target of Hollywood in the latter quarter of the century with films such as Bob Roberts, Tanner ?88, Wag the Dog and Bulworth showing America's disillusionment with the government. Other sub-types of satire include entertainment satire (This is Spinal Tap and The Player, for example) and religious satire (Monty Python's Life of Brian, Leap of Faith).

Link to comment
Share on other sites

That's a well written lead off. I like DR. STRANGELOVE, NETWORK, even THE MANCHURIAN CANDIDATE has elements. The British films you mention are good, as is THE RULING CLASS. Some examples leave me cold, though. COOK, THIEF, etc does nothing for me. Neither does Jules Feiffer. LITTLE MURDERS? What is that even about? Maybe this is why I'm not a big Altman fan. NASHVILLE? SHORT CUTS? Not my style.

 

Like you, I admire the concept. I guess it has to be just the right formula for me. Too much dark, not enough humor? No thanks!

 

Message was edited by: redriver

Link to comment
Share on other sites

First one that comes to my mind is Prizzi's Honor. Loved that.

Explain to me, someone, about Manchurian Candidate, the original. I love it but can't see that as being a black comedy but it has been forever since I've seen it. Enlightenment sought.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

MANCHURIAN CANDIDATE

 

I didn't see the humor when I was younger either. Now I'm, shall we say, seasoned! They play with people's brains. Get them to say silly things. It's like something a bad 60's spy film would do. I suspect that's the point. Villains parading around dressed as giant playing cards! Is this Batman? I think there's something in the assasination scene that seems over the top. But I've forgotten what it is.

 

There's an off beat, far fetched quality that I can't take too seriously. It's as if the author, who, incidentally, wrote PRIZZI'S HONOR, is winking wryly at us. Frankly, the movie plays better as satire than as political thriller. You find yourself thinking it's ridiculous. And you're right!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

 Share

© 2023 Turner Classic Movies Inc. A Time Warner Company. All Rights Reserved Terms of Use | Privacy Policy | Cookie Settings
×
×
  • Create New...