Darkest Hour stands apart from more routine historical dramas.
A joke should have the perfection of a haiku. Not one extra word. No wrong words. It should seem to have been discovered in its absolute form rather than created. The weight of the meaning should be at the end. The earlier words should prepare for the shift of the meaning. The ending must have absolute finality. It should present a world view only revealed at the last moment. Like knife-throwing, joke-telling should never be practiced except by experts.
For many laymen, a joke is a heavenly gift allowing them to monopolize your attention although they lack all ability as an entertainer. You can tell this because they start off grinning and grin the whole way through. They're so pleased with themselves. Their grins are telling you they're funny and their joke is funny. The expert knows not to betray the slightest emotion. The expert is reciting a fact. There is nothing to be done about it. The fact insists on a world that is different than you thought. The fact is surprising and ironic. It is also surprising--you mustn't see it coming. That's why the teller should not grin. His face shouldn't tell you it's coming. If the joke is also vulgar, so much the better, but it must never exist for the sake of vulgarity. That's why "The Aristocrats" is not only the most offensive joke in the world, but also, in the wrong hands, the most boring.
Attack of lamb.
The DNA of "Black Sheep," the New Zealand silly, tepid horror-comedy (accent on the second; it's not the least bit scary), traces back to "The Howling," "The Birds," "Night of the Living Dead" (and "Dawn of the Dead") and "An American Werewolf in London" -- with a spot of Lou Jacobi in "Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Sex...." I don't know that anybody in America would want to re-make a movie about genetically altered killer sheep (suggested titles: "Mutton Mutants" or "Baaaad Blood"), but I kept imagining what Joe Dante could have done with this premise. Rather, what Joe Dante ("Piranha," "Gremlins," "Homecoming," the aforementioned "The Howling") already has done with it.
An evil factory-farm sheep rancher named Angus (see, if it was an American movie it would have to be about beef) irresponsibly experiments with genetic engineering on the sheep farm he inherited from his father -- mostly so that he can name a new breed of Frankensheep after his family bloodline: The Oldfield. His lamb-o-phobic brother returns to the farm to sell off his half of the business and quickly get as far away from those docile white fluff-pots as he can. Meanwhile, Angus's horrid -- and, as it turns out, rabidly carnivorous -- mutant sheep are spread into the general population by a pair of idiotic eco-activists who have no clue about what genetic engineering is. (One: "This isn't going to be like the salmon farm is it?" Other: "Those fish died free!")
TORONTO--"You wanna know what the difference is between a comic and a comedian?" Milton Berle was asking.
It is 2 a.m. in the disco on board the Holland-America cruise ship Ryndam, and Richard Corliss, the film critic of Time magazine, is onstage during the traditional karoke night of the 4th Almost Annual Floating Film Festival. To the tune of "Don't Be Cruel," he's singing his own lyrics, which involve recent developments in the Chinese cinema.
TORONTO - "You wanna know what the difference is between a comic and a comedian?" Milton Berle asked. Yeah, I wanna know.