The King of Comedy [Martin Scorsese] (124 points/19 votes)
"Released less than three years after John Hinckley's assassination attempt on Ronald Reagan, Martin Scorsese's The King of Comedy is a darkly comedic fable about obsession and the shortcuts to fame. A thematic sequel to Taxi Driver, the film that Hinckley would later cite as an inspiration, The King of Comedy gives us Rupert Pupkin (a disarmingly oblivious Robert DeNiro), a grown man living out of his mother's basement, possessing no discernible talent and the desire, above all else, to be as celebrated as his hero, talk show host Jerry Langford (Jerry Lewis at his most prickly). After several predictably disastrous attempts to insert himself into Jerry's life, Rupert takes the drastic step of taking his hero hostage and bartering his way into the national spotlight.
"Scorsese views celebrity with equal parts annoyance and bemusement, depicting Jerry as an isolated figure, imprisoned by his notoriety and the unending demands of his public. Rupert meanwhile demonstrates no real desire to entertain or develop his supposed craft as a performer, but rather fantasizes of using his success as a means to validate his own existence and prove his critics wrong. Living simultaneously in a self-congratulatory world of make believe and in a reality where he only hears what he wants, Pupkin is one of DeNiro's most glorious creations; a resolutely unsympathetic character every bit as creepy as Travis Bickle only swathed in a cloak of flop sweat and mediocrity as an added bonus.
"Yet what's so remarkable about the film, in addition to how prescient it would become (there are elements of Pupkin in everyone from Paris Hilton to people who rush onto the field during sporting events) is how unnervingly funny the film is, building humor out of skin crawling faux pas, needy desperation and cataclysmic social interactions. Furthermore, the film has gone on to inspire such artists as Ricky Gervais, Larry David, Ben Stiller, and Jon Favreau as well as give life to the entire Cringe Humor movement in stand up. Misunderstood at the time of its release and still underrated to this day, The King of Comedy is perhaps Scorsese's most uncompromising and angriest film." ~ Andrew Dignan
2. Videodrome [David Cronenberg] (111/18)
3. The Right Stuff [Philip Kaufman] (68/10)
4. Local Hero [Bill Forsyth] (60/9)
5. Scarface [Brian DePalma] (57/10)
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Saturday, February 07, 2009
25th Anniversary Award for Best Film, 1983