Under the Radar?: “The Guard”

“The Guard” is a dark comedy revolving around an unorthodox Irish police officer, played by Brendan Gleeson. He’s a hard partying man with little respect for the formality of the job, but he still has a strong sense of honor, and great instincts.

When murderous drug traffickers attempt to move $500 million in cocaine through the country, he finds himself paired with an uptight FBI agent from the United States (Don Cheadle). Together they have to track down and stop the gang of criminals before anyone else gets killed.

Including themselves.

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Under the Radar?: “The Illusionist”

“The Illusionist” is an animated film from 2010, directed by French animator Sylvain Chomet, based on a previously unfilmed script by famed French actor/director and mime, Jacques Tati.

It’s the story of an aging magician and sleight of hand expert who faces an increasingly tired act and dwindling audiences. Set in the late 50s, the world around him is in flux. Rock and Roll, television, movies, jukeboxes, fast cars… Times have begun to change, even if he has not, and the public has begun to turn its interests elsewhere.

He is soon out of work.

What he doesn’t know is that he’s about to encounter a fan who believes in him.

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Under the Radar?: “Win Win”

It’s been awhile since I’ve posted an “Under the Radar”, so just to refresh anyone new to the site, this series is my look at smaller films – not necessarily indie films – but, just movies that I feel a lot of people probably haven’t seen.

As recommended by my podcasting partner in crime, Chris “Tank” Tanski, this entry is on “Win Win”, a 2011 “family” drama from Fox Searchlight Pictures.

I put the “family” in quotes as many of the core players in this film have familial relationships without actually being related, while others, though related, treat each other very poorly…

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Under the Radar?: “Tucker & Dale vs. Evil”

“Tucker & Dale vs. Evil” is a horror comedy written and directed by newcomer Eli Craig in his directorial debut. The film made its premiere at Sundance in 2010, was given a limited release, and has now found its way to Netflix, DVD and Blu.

It stars Alan Tudyk (Tucker) and Tyler Labine (Dale) as a couple of Hillbillies with a cabin in the woods. When a group of college students cross paths with them, they begin to die off one by one…

Except this time, it’s not what you’d expect.

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Under the Radar?: “Four Lions”


“Four Lions” is a British comedy revolving around a group of inept jihadists.

Here’s an example.

When wanna be terrorist Waj travels to Pakistan in order “train” at a terrorist training camp, he gets engaged in a heated argument over which direction to pray towards, vehemently insisting he knows the direction to face. The truth is, hailing from Britain, he’s accustomed to facing east in order to pray towards Mecca. He misses the fact that, now that he’s in Pakistan, Mecca is to the West.

As dimwitted as that is, it may actually be his least moronic moment in the movie.

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Under the Radar?: “Attack the Block”


“Attack the Block” is a British sic-fi/action adventure film from earlier this year. It’s the story of a gang of young street punks who, after robbing a woman of her purse, are nearly struck by a meteorite. When they investigate the car it landed on, they discover an alien life form. There’s a brief struggle with the creature where the leader of the gang, Moses, gets badly scratched. Vowing revenge, the boys all chase the creature down and beat it to death.

What they don’t know is that the creature is just the first of many – the invasion has begun.

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Under the Radar?: “In the Loop”


“In the Loop” is a British comedy, revolving around bureaucracy, communication, idiocy and war, not necessarily in that order.

After a dim witted, mid level cabinet minister misspeaks on a tv show, saying, “War is unforeseeable”, the British and American governments both begin to prep themselves for war. War hawks and Peaceniks both mobilize, hold committee meetings, push position papers, and square off face to face.

It’s very much like a political version of “The Office”, except with a War looming.

And lots and lots of swearing.

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Under the Radar?: “Trick ‘r Treat”


“Trick ‘r Treat” is 2007 anthology style Horror movie, written and directed by Michael Dougherty.

Despite an extensive tour on the film festival circuit, it was never given a theatrical release. Exhibit W in the case that Hollywood doesn’t know what the hell they’re doing. Fortunately, the movie has been released on DVD and Blu Ray, so the general public wasn’t deprived of their opportunity to see this great movie.

It’s pretty much a perfect movie for the holiday.

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Under the Radar?: “Black Dynamite”


Dy-no-mite! Dy-no-mite!

“Black Dynamite” came out a couple of years ago (’09), and has earned a great reputation for itself. But this is one of the great comedies of the last decade, and anything less than being recognized as such qualifies it as “Under the Radar” to me.

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Under the Radar?: “Troll Hunter”


Troll Hunter is a 2010 faux documentary from Norway, revolving around a group of film students who follow a suspected poacher, hoping to catch him violating their countries wildlife preservation laws. They follow him doggedly until they finally discover the reason he’s so secretive.

He’s a Troll Hunter.

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