Some of the most enthralling movies of our time have come down to the spectacle of raging macho blowhards hurling profanities and hell-raising wisecracks at each other… Like Huston and Kubrick, who used their intricate (but botched) heist plots to demonstrate the existential absurdity of a perfect crime, Tarantino has made a nihilist comedy… In the end, these wily thieves may want to trust one another, but trust is the one thing they can’t have. It’s what their delirious macho showmanship — all bluster, all noise — shuts out.
While you revisit some of Tarantino’s funniest moments in Reservoir Dogs at Film Forum, we look at other scenes in black comedies where the nihilism is turned to high, but the laughs abound.
The business card scene in Mary Harron’s American Psycho, based on Bret Easton Ellis’ novel, shows wealthy New York investment banker/serial killer Patrick Bateman at, perhaps, his most human. Still, there’s nothing more soul-crushing than watching a bunch of suits posture around one another like Donald Trump shoving a prime minister aside.
Welcome to Mike Leigh’s Naked, “a character study of a sociopath who wounds people emotionally rather than killing them, yet implicitly reserves his harshest attacks for himself.”
The misery of haggling over the cost of TruCoat.
In Bruges sees two killers exiled to Belgium after a botched hit. In Martin McDonagh’s script, Ralph Fiennes’ gangster Harry seethes and explodes with absurd fury.
There Will Be Blood
Daniel Day-Lewis’ greedy prospector holds a grudge like no one else in Paul Thomas Anderson’s 2007 film, where the now wealthy oil man tortures the preacher who once humiliated him.
After a ruthless high-school student (Reese Witherspoon) alienates the teacher (Matthew Broderick) overseeing the class election, the man’s life starts to fall apart in a darkly comedic karmic twist of fate. In the movie’s final scene, the humiliated former teacher sees his old student once more – but his lingering compulsion for revenge makes him look even more pathetic.
Did you get the memo?
A live 1998 reenactment of a 2017 text break-up with someone you met off Tinder.