Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Small Bites: Friends with Benefits, Ichi the Killer

Friends with Benefits

It is a shame when a film with such a talented cast (Justin Timberlake, Mila Kunis, Woody Harrelson, Patricia Clarkson, Richard Jenkins, Emma Stone, etc.) fails to reach the level it strives for. What starts off rather promising quickly becomes conventional and rather silly. Really, why must every romantic comedy have a break up scene in the third act? This brings me to my main issue with the film, it only has thirty minutes worth of actual story. The whole subplot with Dylan (Timberlake) and his father (Jenkins) feels tacked on last minute instead of authentic. It completely disrupts the fun flirty rhythm of the first two acts. The elaborate use of the Flash Mob completely destroys any last ounce of reality that the film was attempting. I also would have loved to see Woody Harrelson’s Tommy utilized a lot more. He was one of the more entertaining supporting characters. As far as romantic comedies go, Friends with Benefits is not as edgy as the commercials lead you to believe. It is a rather conventional film that has a few amusing moments but, is ultimately forgettable.

Ichi the Killer

Ichi the Killer is one of those films that you really cannot recommend to the casual film viewer. Takashi Miike fills his film with dark humour and brutally sadistic violence that will have viewers wincing during several scenes. The plot involves the death of a mob boss, Anjo, at the hands of an assassin named Ichi (Nao Omori). While the rest of the gang seems content with moving on with their lives, Anjo’s sadomasochistic enforcer Kakihara (Tadanobu Asano) is determined to avenge his fallen mentor. Although the premise offers Miike plenty of room to play, the excessive violence against women is rather tough to watch. Miike often juxtaposes scenes of almost cartoon level violence with dark comedic humour, sadly the jokes wear thin the third time you see a female character get brutally beaten. Those who enjoy absurd levels of blood and violence may find Ichi the Killer enjoyable. Unfortunately, the film does not compare to Miike’s other more memorable works, and it is not one that I will be revisiting in the near future.

Ichi the Killer is part of our "The Must See List" series.


  1. Friends with Benefits is fun because it knows the conventions that come with a rom-com but when it actually comes down to doing those conventions themselves, it's a lot more forgivable because the whole film itself is actually pretty funny. Good stuff here my dude. Still need to see Ichi the Killer though.

  2. Yeah Friends with Benefits is another typical very modern rom-com... it's a bit filthy but ends up just another piece of oh-so conventional fluffy rubbish. Jenkins is good though! Always wanted to see Ichi but nore sure if I do anymore...

  3. Well, that is certainly an odd pairing. Ichi the Killer was the first Miike film I saw, the violence was shocking but didn't really disturb me because it was so over the top. It is interesting though to see how much he has changed since then. Still violent just more refined.

  4. @Dan O – Similar to my issues with Kick-Ass, I wish the film had used the first have to make fun of all the conventions and then use the last two acts for take the genre in a new direction.

    @Pete – Ichi is one of those films that everyone will have different reactions to. If you have not seen any Miike films before than I would not necessarily start with this. However, if you are familiar with Miike’s work than you might wan

    @Bonjour Tristesse – Gozu was my first Miike film and arguably far more disturbing that Ichi the Killer. I agree that the violence in Ichi the Killer is ridiculously over the top but the film on the whole is so disjointed. I think that is why the female violence in the film bothered me so much. It feels so out of place with the rest of the film. Oddly enough, the violence in his more recent films have not bothered me much as much.

  5. I don't know what makes people get all hot and bothered about with Ichi the Killer. I seriously hated everything about it from it's over stylized nonsense, it's convoluted plot that doesn't make sense and the way it always seems to be patting itself on the back for how much it can push the boundaries.

  6. @Mike – I agree that Ichi the Killer seems content with pushing the boundaries as far it can. I think all the adoration for the film comes from the hardcore Miike fans who love everything he touches. Personally, I will be going into Audition, part of our must see series, with far lower expectations after seeing this film.


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