Archive for April, 2010

Pour La Gallery

April 30, 2010

Old Rope has not seen the film Pour La Gallery. The reason for this oversight is not due to some ineptitude or inability to work the DVD player (though I cannot), but rather because it is not a real film. Por La Gallery is a piece of musical theatre and an Argentine one to boot. Since most film versions of musicals are broadly the same as their stage counterparts – and since Old Rope has in fact seen this musical – here is a review of the non-existent film of Pour La Gallery.

Four Queens

The film (stageshow) opens with a rather crude duet that seems to serve little import other than to set up the evening’s entertainment. It becomes clear to the sleepy viewer that there is already little sense in what is taking place on the screen (stage). This production is more a series of musical vignettes rather than a coherent narrative whole. Oliver! this is not. In fact the whole play could be summed up with the subtitle: One Man’s Quest To Be In A Madonna Video. From the word go we are treated to an endless parade of fishnet tights, bowler hats, corsets and codpieces. There are legs akimbo and limbs a flingo! It’s all thrusting and a hustling, bustling and a cussing. If I didn’t know better I’d swear that whilst not rehearsing the cast were off borrowing brown babies from Far Away.

Though obviously I have not seen any  Broadway or West End shows, I would imagine the standard offered up in this home-grown production to be slightly inferior. It is, however, entertaining enough cabaret. The crowd of predominantly geriatric punters seemed in raptures over it, if that is at all possible (it’s not, this is a film remember). 

The general tone attempts to tread a middle ground between the dramatic and the light-hearted and for the most part it does not find its duel identity too problematic. It is safe to say however that, though he clearly prefers the camp and the overly dramatic, writer (and star) Anibal Pachano  is on firmer ground with his interludes of comic relief. The rambunctious number sung by three pretty and talented gals – portraying three different aspects of womanly love like a sort of Nancy if her psyche were hacked into three distinct and disparate parts – with its blend of wry observation and audience participation (if sitting on men’s knees can be described thus) has the viewer (audience) howling with laughter.  As do the vaudevillian mime artists, who put in a sterling effort and win Old Rope’s Best Bit Badge.


When turning his sights on more serious matters, however, Pachano loses his way somewhat. The Lover & The Whore is crude, pompous, overblown and almost certainly a rather sexist portrayal of love and prostitution, whilst the business with the burkas beggars belief. A parade of women, their faces covered in shawls wiggle around in some sort of cartoonish belly-dance, before a backdrop of tear-jerking images from the Iraq and Afghan wars. Meanwhile the Prince of Persia, replete with scimitar and turban, conjures up a version of John Lennon’s Imagine that is beyond embarrassing. The whole segment was so poor in conceit and ridiculous in execution that Old Rope could not help but laugh uncontrollably throughout, much to the consternation of the present Ms Rope, who (unlike these clowns) hates to be shown up in public.

The singing and dancing stumbles to some sort of a juddering halt and our host and sometime star is wheeled out for a lengthy monologue on the nature of the show, his life on the stage and lord knows what else. Though a trifle unusual, this prolonged ego-trip is handled relatively well, delivered with wit and aplomb by a man who has no dearth of experience in front of a crowd. Despite this, one cannot help but wonder if the producers simply ran out of material to take the show to a decent running time.

Anibal Pachano is a very small man, standing approximately two feet tall and dressed in a luxuriously theatrical and camp suit, he is every bit the queen he wishes to be. Old Rope is not playing fast and loose with the homophobia here, Pachano is openly bragging about it in his turquoise finery, dismissing the attempts of his junior actors to outshine him. “They are not the queen. I am the queen” he drawls, each word curling off his lips with a sensuality only possible for a stunted gay thespian in a crown. And in terms of non-existent musical films that Old Rope has not seen, he certainly is the queen to my austere and regal king.

I give Pour La Gallery one Tate and a National.


Backstage video
Website of the show

Footnote: And no I do not know why it is “Pour” after the French word, rather than “Por” the Spanish word

The Wrestler

April 28, 2010

Mmm. Sassy bob Mr Rourke

Nearly a year ago, I reviewed Aronofsky’s film Pi in the form of a poem. I still haven’t seen it, you will be relieved to hear. Nor have I seen his more recent film, The Wrestler, which I review here:

In this film, Mickey Rourke is an old porcine ex-wrestler with insane biceps and a slimy snout, who has failed to reassimilate to ordinary life. After considering a career as a low-rent gigolo, he decides to try his hand at grapplin’ and a-gruntin’ in the amphitheatres of the WWF. Herein lies the premise of ‘The Wrestler’.

In his first comeback bout, Mickey Rourke must do battle with ‘The Ladybird’. ‘Hey you, little Aphids’, The Ladybird shouts, more like a terrifying pig than a flying insect, ‘youse better get off m’stalk before I interfere with ya’. His signature move is the ‘Crazy Gringo’. Many brave men have been bested by the Crazy Gringo, but not Rourke. He triumphs, and The Ladybird shuffles off, red-faced.

Equally wrestley is Rourke’s next opponent, B.B. Jefferson Humongous, whose theme is difficult to work out. But you’d better not tell him that (his promotional material instructs us). The last wrestling fan who pointed out the incoherence of B.B.’s persona ended up Jimmy-licked in a wrecking parlour, and you know he never got it straight again. B.B.’s signature move is the ‘Big Biff’. He does it right in Rourke’s face, but Rourke comes back at him like a malfunctioning latrine. Good night B.B. Jefferson Humongous.

You would struggle to find a more accomplished wrestling technician than ‘Willy the Meff’. Willy whoops the crowd up then turns a tiger loose on them. He crushes his opponents into little flies then feeds them to his wife. He can come at you like a bear, a pudding, a mango, a dead crab, a punishing vicar, a dark wizard, a grouse or a slobbering ratbag. The result is always the same: total, massive death (not literally). His signature move is ‘The Full Grope’.

In ‘Willy the Meff’ Rourke meets his match. And though it is sad that Rourke gets pummelled in savagely, there is a sparse balletic beauty in Aronofsky’s cinematography. Rourke spins off the ropes and buries his face in the ring, falling from the heavens as if he were the minced-up carcass of a rebel archangel whom God had ripped into pieces during one of his bezerker rages and then drop-kicked out of heaven. Rourke’s family and his best gal witness the gigantic failure that Rourke has now come to represent, and leave the auditorium in shame. Rourke is now a pariah, and must shave his head and live on the outskirts of town, salvaging old plastic bags from the dumping ground and selling them for pennies. He is no longer a wrestler. He is an untouchable.

In conclusion, this film is better than all of those silly maths films that Aronofsky was always peddling, like some kind of blow-hard Open University lecturer. I give it a reasonable integer out of a slightly higher integer.

Shakespeare in Love

April 25, 2010

I’ve not seen Shakespeare in Love. Here is a review of Shakespeare in Love.

Shakespeare, with curlsome beard and firm, fruity quill. William ‘the Bard’ Shakespeare, with his bottomless codpiece of words and his wise vetinary surgeon’s understanding of human nature. Sir Shakespeare, with his enormous, wobbling genius, spilling all over Elizabethan England like a flaccid mountain of quince. King William the Shakespeare, who, like Doc Emmet Brown in Back to the Future III, travelled to the Wild West and shot a one-eyed bastard. Sweet Fucking Coast of Bohemia Mother. William ‘Jehovah’ Shakespeare is in the Motherfucking House.

Did you know Shakespeare fell in love? No, I didn’t either, but it makes sense that he did, really, doesn’t it, considering how definitively he nailed the concept on the head in Romeo and Juliet? Does it? When you think about it, there are many things that we don’t know about William Shakespeare, such as: what was he thinking? How did he think he could get away with it? Did Shakespeare even write Shakespeare’s plays? Of course not, no. But that was his genius, see. He knew only mugs write their own plays. So he paid Francis Bacon, the famous butcher, to write them for him.

Tom Stoppard has written a film about how Shakespeare fell in love with the tiny-headed, moustached Gwyneth Paltrow. The lighting in this film is very realistic, and reflects the strict laws that were in place at the time regarding the use of spotlights and floodlights (they were banned). The food in this film is also very well-observed. No-one, for instance, can be seen on camera eating such modern comestibles as hamburgers or poppadoms. Stoppard scrupulously avoids all such inauthentic period details and sticks to the historical facts. You can’t buy that kind of verisimilitude.

Joseph Fiennes plays Shakespeare tolerably I suppose, though he holds the quill much too limply. Do you think that the man who wrote such memorable lines as ‘To be or not’ and ‘I want a horse’ held his quill as if it were a mere chicken drumstick? No. Shakespeare held on to that quill as if it were one of God’s own whiskers, frazzling with a thousand megavolts of hot lightning and channelling the furies of creation. He tugged that fucking quill like a champion and banged out a thousand masterpieces. He did not, Joseph Fiennes, hold it like an atrophied spanner.

The script is pretty good. There are a few choice Stoppardisms in there, such as when Affleck says ‘I’m in a play’, and then another character says ‘I’m reading from a script’. Before Stoppard was born, all characters laboured under the delusion that they were real people, and no one had the heart to tell them that they were not. Stoppard changed all that, though perhaps those were more innocent times.

All told, this isn’t bad movie. It seems to do Shakespeare justice. Yeah, I like it. Check it out.

Baron Samedi – The Movie

April 25, 2010

I’ve never liked James Bond films. I have no idea why anyone would want to watch a deranged maitre d’-type slinking about the world as if it were some kind of silver-service restaurant and shooting anyone who can’t pronounce escargot properly. Baron Samedi, on the other hand, is my kind of character. No-one leaps out of a buried coffin sporting a wonky Stovepipe hat like old Samedi. He should get his own spin-off film franchise. Hey! That’s the best idea I’ve had all afternoon. I wonder what such a franchise would consist of….

Baron Samedi in ‘Fascists Folk Off’. In this, Samedi’s debut film, our hero reads a National Geographic article about how fat British Nazis have been trying to infiltrate the English folk scene. Samedi is enraged: ‘Was it for this that Bert Jansch picked up his guitar and made it sing like a Whomping Willow? Nay sir!’. He leaps into a coracle and, summoning Ariel, his familiar, compels the airy sprite to spirit him to Blighty. After arriving and despatching a gaggle of twitchy immigration officials with a withering Wilde-esque put-down, Samedi heads to the nearest folk club. There he discovers the slimy, human marshmallow, Nick Griffin, hiding in a lute and waving a tiny soiled flag surreptitiously.

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After we have had a delicious tub of dairy extract and strawberry-flavoured preservative, we find Samedi using your standard Hogwarts ‘Revealatum’ on Griffin and exposing the blubberous boob in a hot minute. Griffin growls and roars like a castrated puffin and runs towards Samedi flailing his bingo wings. Samedi is unfazed. He picks up a nearby tin whistle and blows into it, causing Griffin’s thunder thighs to go apeshit, like charmed snakes or enchanted simian excrement or something.

Everyone is astounded: ‘why is the fuhrer of the BNP spanking around the floorboards and swinging his legs about like a rabid nun?’ they ask. Griffin screams ‘It were that voodoo witch what done it’. Samedi is not impressed by Griffin’s discourteous allusion to his widely respected Wizardly status and comes at him with a wild piledriver before decommissioning him with a textbook clothesline. His work is done. ‘Bye everyone’ he says, before calling a puffing dragon down from the steep heavens and flying off to wait for the sequel.

Inside Deep Throat

April 23, 2010

I’ve seen neither ‘Deep Throat’ nor ‘Inside Deep Throat’. Here’s my review of the latter:

No longer humphappy, in Calcutta, with a basket of bhajis, and your mother’s admonitions thumping in your ear canals like barges laden with bad breath (how your mother would barrellise the Guinness from breakfast-time till church till she roared black liquid like an Irish storm-drain, and you were breached by the cannonballs of halitosis from the pickled onion jar), you tip the urchins a winking rupee and the holymen in nappies too. You came here seeking some straightening, a quick clean-up job in the godbasket of the world. But all you’ve got for your trouble is Delhi Welly (fill your boots with yesterday’s birijani) and the ventriloquisms of your old lush of a mother that somehow snuck through customs, despite her bear-like dimensions. Old Ma Lovelace – for all of her massive malodorous moralising, the old dame was right when she told you that video-cameras are evil.

‘Inside Deep Throat’ is the sequel to your first film ‘Deep Throat’ in which multitudes of mackintoshes queued up down the block – lank shanks of pervmeat skewered together on the sidewalk by the shish of their common pathology – yea, queued up and down the block for a glimpse of your lymphoid tissue. In which a fat, hairy rotter danced like a camel before dropping his heavy trip on you (a Hindenberg of horrors). ‘Inside Deep Throat’ tells the story of your first film ‘Deep Throat’ and lays bare the nastiness like an x-ray of Satan’s y-fronts.

As I watched this film it dawned on me that I have been working as a celibate under-paid porn star for the last two years. The catalogue of required postures and facial expressions, the daily submission, the over-familiarity of colleagues, the blank eyeballs working up a wood of sorts as they suck down the sad spectacle of my degradation – I too have been banged between bad folk like a bent stick of swingball, and for minimal remuneration. I’m going to go to the subcontinent to shrive my soul. I’m going to walk the path of Linda Lovelace. Old Ma Lovelace is breathing badly in my ears: ‘Make a documentary’ she says, ‘make a documentary and rip Pharoah a new one.’

New Agoraphobic Reviewer Header

April 22, 2010

Behold the new header, forged by the AR’s own Old Rope in his virtual smithy. Thanks Old Rope! I should add that I didn’t request that he put my fat avatar in the header, but I’m sure you can all agree that it is nevertheless pleasing to look upon it and see my own blubberous mug smugging back out at you.

If you would like to see more pictures of me, John Le Baptiste, check out

Flickan (The Girl)

April 21, 2010

Last week in Buenos Aires saw the BAFICI film festival. Thinking this a wonderful opportunity to get some solid reviews under my belt, I refrained from going to see any of the films. But oh, what a selection. Films from all around the world, some several hundred in number, showing in numerous cinemas and special locations. Why, someone even spotted Eddie Izzard strutting about like he owns the place (doesn’t he know there’s an election on…?)

‘The Girl’ is a Swedish film and, though Old Rope speaks all human languages, I cannot speak any vegetable dialects. As such, even if I had seen the film I would not have understood a word of it. Luckily, some thoughtful person had the good sense to translate the alien sounds and write their English equivalent on the screen in a white font. They needn’t have bothered. The characters in this piece spoke so seldom and to so little end, that it was almost certainly a waste of precious minutes attempting it. That time could have been better employed trying to find a sustainable renewable energy source, or eating cheese (some say the two pursuits overlap considerably).

Being little more than turnips that have gotten too big for their boots, it would perhaps be asking a little much of Swedes to truly understand human emotions. They give it a reasonable go in this movie, however, which focuses on the plights of the titular and unnamed girl.

A girl, innit

Original thought, something that has long eluded the human race, seems absent in our veggie counterparts. The plot is exactly that of Home Alone, with a little girl (affably played by a time-travelling eight year old version of that ginger Bianca from Eastenders) sort-of-kind-of-accidentally jibbed-off by her family who are away on their jollies. In a misguided attempt to distract from this blatant plagiarism, the producers took the baffling decision to cast Macaulay Culkin in the role of the little girl’s little friend. Unlike Bianca, no time-travelling or CGI work was necessary to make Culkin look like an eight year old boy, though he was required to spend seven hours in make-up each day to painstakingly hide the tattoo of Michael Jackson’s face that has graced his own visage for some ten years now. I am reliably informed there is a hilarious DVD ‘blooper’ outtake where he breaks down and cries for his dead friend on set. Priceless stuff!

Bugger all really happens in terms of a narrative arc and thus the film is a shoe-in to win every award it is eligible for. What little story there is could be described as “one girl’s quest to jump off a diving board” (PLOT SPOILER!!!! She does). She also breaks Culkin’s leg, get’s pissed and ends up facedown in a puddle, though whether this was actually in the script or just from the pressures of working with her co-star remains a mystery.

Apparently shot on antiquated film or a Holga camera, the story is set in the seventies. With endless vistas of fields of corn, all golden and faded, one cannot help being repeatedly reminded of a Shredded Wheat advert or Wurther’s Originals. The whole thing looks and sounds exactly like an extended Sigur Ros video. But even more tedious. Oh and the little girl grew up to be Tori Amos. And the little boy never grew up, as was his dream.

All in all The Girl was palatable. I give it one boy.

Snakes on a Plane

April 21, 2010

Snakes in a Cave

Snakes on a Plane is so bad it’s good, according to the common consensus. I prefer things that are so good they’re good. I’m a simple man, see, and kitschy paradoxes get short shrift from me. Here is a scene from the film in question.


‘I thaw the bathilithk Mithter L. Jackthon,

The anthient one, with hith Pharoah’th eyeth

And thupine majethty.

And I mutht join him.

He callth to me.

“William”, he thayth, “Little William,

Be my human prietht on thith earth,

Take thith apple Willy,

Thith delithiouth green apple

And know what it ith to be eternal

Like the thnake people

Like the Therpent Mathter-rathe.”’

Samuel L. Jackson:

‘This story has the ring of untruth about it.’


‘He’th real I tell you Mithter L. Jackthon!

I wath wathing my handth in the cubicle

And thinking of the thtewardeth’th thick thighth

Thinking how I’d like to thqueethe them

Like a green-grother.

When I heard an enchanting voithe,

That thung with thenthual thibilantth.’

Samuel L. Jackson:

‘I’m still not convinced’


‘You will be the firtht to feel hith

Punithing fangth, unbeliever’

Samuel L. Jackson:

‘I doubt it’



Samuel L. Jackson:

‘Motherfucking shit. It’s a motherfucking basilisk or some shit’

Jailhouse Rock

April 18, 2010

I’ve not seen any of the innumerable Elvis Presley films. I prefer Howlin’ Wolf. Anyway, here’s a poem about what (presumably) happens in Presley’s penal film, ‘Jailhouse Rock’.

Elvis Presley in 'Jailhouse Rock'


Elvis hit Alcatraz like a juggernaut of buggery

Rumping his way through the fields of felony:

Jump-suited, slobbering and masterful;

Savage, blubberous and terrible.


Before twilight fell across the exercise yard

Where you see the sea-beams glint between stir and civilisation

Like the insubstantial but dazzling hopes of

A thousand leathery old lags on life without parole,

A million sequins lay bent and winking on the asphalt,

Blinking out a semaphore of sodomy

Where they fell from Presley’s rutting trunk

As he harrowed and hogroasted a hapless punk.


Had his stable of bitches

Been a stable of horses

He might have kept

The French in steak for a decade.

His butterfingers caused

The warden of Alcatraz

To blow a year’s budget on soap.

His whiskers were oily with chicken fat

His mouth was greasy with hubris.


And at the splintered woodwork

The screws they speechlessly stare,

For when Elvis couldn’t find a partner

He used a wooden chair.

Batman Begins

April 15, 2010

Batman takes down a terrorist millipede

I might have seen Batman Begins, but let’s just pretend for the sake of consistency that I haven’t. Here is my summary of its contents:

Every story has a beginning. Except the ones they don’t make prequels for. We know for instance that Spiderman originated in Tanzania in the third millenium BC, and that the Punisher got into punishing via a youth training scheme. But what about Batman? Where did that piece of work come from? Gather round Batchums, and harken unto my prequel:

Bruce Wayne was just a regular bat until, one fatal Whitsun eve, he was bitten by a radioactive man. He woke up the next night feeling queer. For a start he was lying horizontally in a soft bed of eiderdown instead of clinging upside down to a flinty crag, as was formerly his wont. He glanced at a nearby sudoku and, feeling new powers of deductive reasoning swelling within his little velveteen brow, put the measly puzzle to bed in a hot minute. And, more than ever before, he felt the sharp affront of injustice. Where once his delight was in the tart tang of raspberries, the delicious shame of rabies and the glory of his leathern snout, now his only joy was in protecting the defenceless and punching knaves. ‘Watch out villains’ he squeaked and flapped off into the night

The next morning the Woodland Times was full of his daring deeds:

A deviant barn-owl has abducted some kids

The Batman fanged his beak and banged him back to Arkham.

A rogue water-vole stole a precious diamond

The Batman ripped off his whiskers and slagged him a new one in the pebbledash

Some sort of badger had been leaving menacing conundrums in the public bridleway

The Batman solved the puzzles (1: Henry VIII; 2: (d); 3: The Nile),

And castrated the hideous half-breed badger:

No sweat.

But oh no! Our hero has been tied up by an androgynous ferret in a mask, and is currently dangling above a really sharp acorn! Will Bruce escape? Who is this felonious ferret? Can he be stopped? What is a ferret? Are they protected by the National Trust? What’s for dinner? Find out next year in ‘The Dark Knight’.