Movie/TV Reviews

Directed by Errol Morris.

Directed by Errol Morris.

In the interview with director Errol Morris that’s featured on the Criterion blu-ray of Vernon, Florida (a double feature alongside Gates of Heaven), Morris reveals the unlikely origins of this documentary. Originally intended as an expose on insurance fraud in this small town, known as “Stump City” due to its inhabitants having a predilection for cutting their own limbs off to get some cash, when asking around Vernon, several people persuaded Morris that he might want to look elsewhere. If you get the meaning. He instead decided to just film a selection of people in the town, letting them ramble on about whatever the hell they want. The result is far stranger, and likely far more captivating, than the original story would have been.

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Season 9 is now available on Netflix.

Netflix’s first original season of Trailer Park Boys, season 8, was pretty successful in my opinion. It hewed closer to the series’ roots in quasi-comedy than the later, more outlandish pre-cancellation seasons, and continued the development of characters in a meaningful way, despite the show’s natural endpoint from Say Goodnight to the Bad Guys being more or less ignored.

Season 9, while teetering back towards the Conky/Steve French end of the cartoonish spectrum, luckily maintains the heart and profane wit that’s at the core of the show.

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Written & directed by  Rémy Belvaux. Starring Benoît Poelvoorde.

Written & directed by Rémy Belvaux. Starring Benoît Poelvoorde.

In 1992, the mockumentary was still in its relative infancy. Despite This Is Spinal Tap having released 8 years earlier (not that it was the progenitor — Richard Lester’s A Hard Day’s Night, Albert Brooks’ Real Life, and Woody Allen’s Take the Money and Run had all seen critical success already), the format had not really taken off.

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Written & directed by Jeremy Saulnier, starring Macon Blair

Written & directed by Jeremy Saulnier, starring Macon Blair

The revenge thriller is not a new genre by any means, but over time it seems filmmakers have gotten bored with simple plots, and the result is often bloated, convoluted messes full of extraneous characters and divergences into subplots that amount to nothing.

Blue Ruin succeeds specifically because it avoids that.

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Written & directed by Mike Clattenburg.

The first Trailer Park Boys movie (aka The Big Dirty) was such a disaster that I went into this with extremely low expectations. Whether due to that, or simply the creators realizing they tried to fix what wasn’t broke, the second feature film is much more cohesive.

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Written and directed by Mike Clattenburg, starring Robb Wells, John Paul Tremblay, and Mike Smith.

Written and directed by Mike Clattenburg, starring Robb Wells, John Paul Tremblay, and Mike Smith.

As the TV series never aired in the US, this was the first exposure to the Trailer Park Boys most people had. It’s not surprising that they never quite took off here.

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Ricky, Bubbles, and Julian — the three most wanted men in the Sunnyvale trailer park.

Trailer Park Boys has been a cult hit since it first hit Canadian airwaves in April of 2001. A continuation of director/creator Mike Clattenburg’s 1999 mockumentary film, it actually debuted before The Office (July 2001), which would later prove to be a more influential, though far inferior, series. However, due to the massive amount of swearing and drug use, the series was never broadcast in any wide capacity in the US, so anyone who was interested in it had to make a blind jump into buying the DVDs released here, and this is not a show that’s particularly welcoming when you start watching it.

Now, after an announcement that new seasons will be produced exclusively for Netflix, their streaming service has the entire series, two movies, and a couple of specials available for all good ol’ red-blooded Americans who want to watch a sitcom where people are regularly shot.

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