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Comedy Genius

Celebrating a world of side-splitting cinema, from slapstick legends to today's anarchic voices.

Fooling about became a fine art through the early decades of cinema, but comedy genius is too often under-recognised.

It’s the gift of perfect timing, an expertly executed sight-gag, a zinging wise-crack, a giddy rush of manic energy. Whether perfectly choreographed, brutally raw, or conjured out of improvisation and collaboration, the best comedy is ultimately disruptive.

It punctures pomposity, and blows a raspberry at social convention: the proto-feminist whiplash of screwball wit, the rambunctious working-class revolt of Carry On, the purposeful anarchy of alternative comedy.

 

Our Subscription collection highlights funny films from around the world, including great comedies from esteemed directors (Ingmar Bergman, Roberto Rossellini, Tsia Ming-liang), and some of the cynical and subversive works produced amid challenging political climates (Daisies, The Cremator, Dogtooth). Altogether we hope it upends perceptions about the English-language dominance of film comedy.

With a collection that ranges from silent slapstick heroes to contemporary satire, BFI Player celebrates the changing face of what – and who – we find funny.

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UnrelatedUnrelated

Drama200796 minsDirector: Joanna Hogg

On a Tuscan break a fortysomething woman finds herself drawn to the company of a group of partying teens, including a young Tom Hiddleston (in one of his earliest roles).

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The Woodsman and the RainThe Woodsman and the Rain

Comedy2011128 minsDirector: Shûichi Okita

A redneck lumberjack is recruited to work on a rookie producer's inane zombie movie, in this hilarious movie-making satire.

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That Sinking FeelingThat Sinking Feeling

Comedy197990 minsDirector: Bill Forsyth

Before Gregory's Girl, Bill Forsyth mate this equally hilarious caper about a group of unemployed teenagers who hatch a plan to steal a job lot of stainless steel sinks.

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The GeneralThe General

Comedy192679 minsSilentDirector: Buster Keaton

Buster Keaton's masterpiece is widely and rightly regarded as one of the greatest comedies ever made.

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Steamboat Bill, Jr.Steamboat Bill, Jr.

Comedy192871 minsDirector: Charles F. Riesner

Waterway hi jinks abound in this Buster Keaton classic, in which he plays the reluctant heir to his father's paddle steamer business.

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Sherlock Jr.Sherlock Jr.

Comedy192445 minsDirector: Buster Keaton

Buster Keaton's superb, sophisticated silent comedy in which he dreams himself into the movie he's watching, in order to win back his girl.

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Mitsuko DeliversMitsuko Delivers

Comedy2011109 minsDirector: Yuya Ishii

An eccentric, pregnant young lady returns to her hometown to help her downtrodden old neighbours, in Yûya Ishii 's strange, whimsical comedy.

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DelicatessenDelicatessen

Comedy1990100 minsDirector: Jean-Pierre Jeunet

Jeunet and Caro's endlessly inventive and wildly enjoyable post-apocalyptic black comedy, about a sinister butcher and the circus clown who becomes his nemesis.

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DogtoothDogtooth

Drama200993 minsDirector: Yorgos Lanthimos

Yorgos Lanthimos' scary, witty tale of a dysfunctional Greek family is original, ingenious and sadly relevant as a study of parent-child relationships

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Sawako DecidesSawako Decides

Comedy2010112 minsDirector: Yuya Ishii

Sawako tries to save her father's ailing clam-packing business, but it's an uphill struggle, in Yuya Ishii's joyous, nuanced, comic drama.

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For Love's SakeFor Love's Sake

Musical2012134 minsDirector: Takashi Miike

Takashi Miike's awesome riff on Romeo and Juliet, done as a pop musical stuffed with golden oldies from the 60s.

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The Wayward CloudThe Wayward Cloud

Comedy2004114 minsDirector: Tsai Ming-liang

Ming-Liang Tsai's outrageous blend of sex, comedy, musical and drama is a daring, controversial and hilarious smorgasbord from one of Taiwan's most acclaimed directors.

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Marriage Italian StyleMarriage Italian Style

Comedy196497 minsDirector: Vittorio De Sica

Sophia Loren and Marcelo Mastroianni are irrepressible as a long-married couple in this exquisite and timeless comedy of our all-too-human foibles.

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Yesterday, Today and TomorrowYesterday, Today and Tomorrow

Comedy1963118 minsDirector: Vittorio De Sica

Irrepressible Vittorio De Sica (Bicycle Thieves) directs this Oscar-winning film of three comic tales of love and sex in three cities.

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Boccaccio '70Boccaccio '70

Anthology1962204 minsDirector: Mario Monicelli

Four of the greatest Italian directors – Fellini, Visconti, De Sica and Monicelli – join forces with show-stoppers Sophia Loren, Anita Ekberg and Romy Schneider in a carousel of sex and satire mocking the mores of Italian '60s society.

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Listen Up PhilipListen Up Philip

Drama2014109 minsDirector: Alex Ross Perry

Jason Schwartzman is a hotshot writer with pathological intimacy problems in this caustic comedy of over-achievement.

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Who Loves the SunWho Loves the Sun

Comedy200694 minsDirector: Matt Bissonnette

Lukas Haas and Adam Scott play two old friends with a tempestuous history in this delightfully witty character comedy.

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Dark HorseDark Horse

Drama201186 minsDirector: Todd Solondz

Todd Solondz directs Selma Blair and Jordan Gelber in this delightfully dark satire as romance blooms between a toy collector and a depressed woman.

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DaisiesDaisies

Comedy196673 minsDirector: Vera Chytilová

Two self-confessed hedonists wreak wanton havoc in Věra Chytilová's visually spectacular neo-dadaist farce.

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The CrematorThe Cremator

Comedy196896 minsDirector: Juraj Herz

This story of a professional cremator whose increasingly deranged impulses are given free reign during Prague's Nazi occupation, is a brilliantly chilling mix of Dr Strangelove and Repulsion.

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Intimate LightingIntimate Lighting

Drama196571 minsDirector: Ivan Passer

This wonderfully subtle comedy of provincial life is the debut film of the great director Ivan Passer (Cutter's Way) and one of the signature works of the Czech New Wave.

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Spanking the MonkeySpanking the Monkey

Comedy199495 minsDirector: David O. Russell

David O. Russell (Silver Linings Playbook) made his feature debut in 1994 with this biting black comedy, which caused a stir with its incestuous subplot and portrayal of adolescent restlessness.

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Amour FouAmour Fou

Period drama201492 minsDirector: Jessica Hausner

Jessica Hausner’s long-awaited follow-up to Lourdes is a devilish anti-Rom-Com in which German poet seeks mates for a suicide pact.

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The Saragossa ManuscriptThe Saragossa Manuscript

Fantasy1965183 minsDirector: Wojciech Jerzy Has

During the Napoleonic wars, a soldier discovers a strange manuscript that reveals endless stories-within-stories. Wojciech Has' opus is a major cult film of the 60s, revered by Luis Buñuel, David Lynch and Jerry Garcia.

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Good MorningGood Morning

Comedy195994 minsDirector: Yasujiro Ozu

Yasujiro Ozu's cheerful comedy about the silliness of everyday chatter

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I Was Born, But...I Was Born, But...

Comedy193287 minsSilentDirector: Yasujiro Ozu

Ozu's silent masterpiece follows two brothers as they try to outwit the local bully.

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Equinox FlowerEquinox Flower

Comedy1958118 minsDirector: Yasujiro Ozu

Ozu's deft comedy takes an ironic look at the decline of paternal authority.

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Smiles of a Summer NightSmiles of a Summer Night

Comedy1955109 minsDirector: Ingmar Bergman

Ingmar Bergman’s Cannes prize-winning comedy assembles various couples in a country house in 1900.

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La Règle du jeuLa Règle du jeu

Drama1939102 minsDirector: Jean Renoir

Renoir's depiction of an intransigent society teetering towards disaster was derided upon release and only later acclaimed as one of cinema’s most vital films.

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The Master of the HouseThe Master of the House

Drama1925107 minsSilentDirector: Carl Th. Dreyer

Carl Theodor Dreyer’s richly detailed tragicomedy of domestic manners is by turns funny, intensely emotional and deeply affecting.

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The Machine that Kills Bad PeopleThe Machine that Kills Bad People

Comedy195284 minsDirector: Roberto Rossellini

Roberto Rossellini's film about a photographer who is given the power to rid the Earth of 'evil-doers'.

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What We Do in the ShadowsWhat We Do in the Shadows

Comedy201486 minsDirector: Taika Waititi

An achingly funny mockumentary about New Zealand’s hitherto unknown vampire (and werewolf) communities, from the creators of Flight of the Conchords.

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