Archive for August, 2010

The Human Centipede

August 22, 2010

Recently I saw the trailer for ‘The Human Centipede’, a Dutch horror film that makes a very convincing case for submerging the entire nation of the Netherlands and all of its population beneath a sea of holy water. My soul almost prolapsed in a tiny tsunami of moral horror. I started to imagine what this film might look like if it were made in a parallel universe, where people weren’t prurient and cruel and where entertainment was entertaining, rather than dreadful and traumatic. So here is the redeemed version of ‘The Human Centipede’, baptised in the waters of niceness and born again:

The film opens upon a wide-angle view of the outside of a prison. Inside, a six-foot creepy-crawly dressed in prison suit is led into an office, where he is presented with a box of his pre-incarceration belongings. Prison regulations require that he stands behind a line, a foot from the desk, when signing for the box. He leans over comically and marks his ‘x’. The prison official lists the contents of the box contemptuously. Ten dollars. A breath mint. And a harmonica. Sweet. The tall centipede picks up the harmonica and blows out a tremulous solo. The prison official frowns. The tall centipede puts on a trilby hat and sunglasses and exits the building.

Outside the prison, the tall centipede’s brother, played by Dan Ackroyd, is waiting outside a beat-up police car. They embrace rigidly, nay, robotically, then get into the car. Sam and Dave’s ‘Soothe Me’ floats from the radio, and off they drive, with a cigarette casually pincered in each of the centipede’s many legs. The adventure has just begun!

The plot of this film centres around the attempts of the tall centipede and his brother to re-unite their old band and, in so doing, rescue their old orphanage from closure. In spite of the attempts of piggy-eyed Nazis, Winnebago-driving hicks, and spurned ex-squeezes, the brothers triumph and rock the gussets off a baying crowd of music enthusiasts. First they throw down “Shake” by Sam Cooke, although their version owes more to the Otis Redding interpretation than the original. When the tall centipede sings “A ring-a-ling-a-ling, honey shaking is the greatest thing” you know he is singing from experience, as each of his many legs (each shod in its own exquisitely polished loafer) wobble to the idiosyncratic Stax-inspired rhythms.

Eventually, our heroes wind up in stir again, but not before they have saved the orphanage and struck a blow for Blues Power. There may be prisons and Nazis out there, but it is comforting to know that the spirits of the heroes – Gaye, Cooke, Redding, Wolf and Waters – are looking out for us from a heaven that is equal parts Detroit, Chicago, Clarksdale and Mount Olympus.


The Breakfast Club

August 20, 2010

The cast of the original Breakfast Club movie (L-R): Emilio Estevez, Molly Ringwald, Anthony Michael Hall, Ally Sheedy, Judd Nelson, Humbert Humbert, Joseph Goebels, Baron Harkonnen, Silvio Berlusconi

All around us, the 1980s revival is gaining momentum like a landslide of discarded school dinners. Soon we shall all be buried under a slurry of Turkey Twizzlers and A-Team lunchboxes. Hooray. In the spirit of this horrific and unstoppable cultural phenomenon I hereby propose a remake of ‘The Breakfast Club’. Roll up your sleeves, my honorary script consultants, and let’s work up a treatment for this badboy:

In the main, the changes will concern the teenage archetypes represented by the central characters. The original Breakfast Club featured a Jock (a Scottish person), a Geek (a performer of grotesque or depraved acts at a carnival), a Prom Queen (a man who dresses up as a woman), and some other chumps. But these categories do not apply to today’s youth. Today’s youth runs in a different set of packs, which the new Breakfast Club will have to reflect. Here are the characters of the new Breakfast Club, for your consideration:

Higher brain functions are for lame-os, right? Right! That’s certainly what Benny thinks. Benny is a Lobotomoid. The members of this youth clique shun intellectual exchange and scientific endeavour as if they were last year’s faeces. They listen to the Ramones and dribble. They hang around the swimming pool and groan. The really hardcore ones wear soiled surgical gowns. But Benny isn’t one of the really hardcore ones. In the course of the film Benny realises that he is just insecure about being annoying, but that it’s ok to be insecure and annoying.

Our next pubescent hero, Tilly, belongs to a subcultural group known as The Chucklers. These cheery chappies listen exclusively to novelty records and dress like children’s TV presenters. They each have their own hand puppets (Tilly’s puppet is a skunk called Teddy Tuppence). But watch out! Like orthodox Sikhs, The Chucklers conceal sharp curved blades beneath their brightly coloured garments, lest anyone try to interfere with their puppets or their limited edition Timmy Mallett ‘Itsy Bitsy Teeny Weeny Yellow Polka Dot Bikini’ 7-inches. In the course of the film Tilly loses her virginity to a meaty man-giant and burns Teddy Tuppence in a bid to distance herself from her former fellow gangmembers. Poor Teddy Tuppence: thou wert a martyr to the passing of adolescence.

The joker of this flimsy piece is Roland, who is a Tiny-Mouth. Tiny-Mouths register their disapproval of mainstream culture by refusing to open their facial orifices more than half a centimetre. It is through this narrow aperture that they issue withering put-downs, such as “Check out those Gapers” (in Tiny-Mouth-speak, a Gaper is a non-Tiny-Mouth). Tiny-Mouths subsist entirely on small seeds and tic-tac mints. At first Roland is hostile to his fellow members of the Breakfast Club (whom he refers to as “Gaping Fritzls”), but by the end of the film he has got over himself and eats whole Weetabix biscuits in one bite, like some kind of pornographic snake. Good for him.

The Average Student is represented in this film by the character of Bob. Bob likes sheds, pork chops, checked shirts, his uncle Colin, volleyball and masturbation. He dislikes death, being bored, indigestion, people with crazy eyes, his uncle Ernie and Saturday afternoon television. Although he is initially sceptical of the other students, with their high-concept lifestyles and eccentric mannerisms, he comes to accept them for their individuality.

By the end of the film all of the characters dance together in a liberating and affirming way, and collectively express their individuality in such a way as to challenge our preconceptions.  The film comes to be viewed as a seminal expression of the hopes and dreams of a whole new generation, until it is remade again in 2032.


August 11, 2010

Sherlock Holmes and Doctor Watson

Sherlock Holmes, literary heavyweight; a character who stalks the corridors of English fiction like a goliath. His name, exploits and intellect are renowned, the tales of his adventures famed from Alaska to Adelaide. His name is synonymous with deduction and reason. Not for nothing is there a popular sarcastic colloquial expression that evokes his name, “No labial mucus Sherlock, what you just said was cunting obvious”.

With over 6 bazillion existing adaptations of the classic stories at the last count, some may baulk at the idea of wheeling the Victorian sleuth and his suck-up dweeb of a mate out for another airing. Such deluded critics can go hang, for you will find that Holmes has been described by all and sundry as ‘begging’ for a modern retelling. Which can surely be interpreted as “no one has thought of rehashing this old story in lieu of new ideas yet”.

With such admirable motives the BBC coughed up a three part primetime mini-series this summer, destined to win awards before it was even scripted, as these things so often are.

The show is set in modern day London, though the viewer would be forgiven for forgetting, since they are only subjected to tourist board shots of the ‘quintessential’ British sights and interior scenes of black cabs every five fucking seconds.

As usual our heroes, Sherlock Holmes the famous baker of Detective Street and his eternally perplexed room-mate, Nurse Watson, have a curious relationship charged with homoeroticism.

“Homosexuality is perfectly acceptable in this day and age!” exclaims Holmes, apropos of nothing. The odd couple quibble and dribble over each other as they attempt to solve various riddles (and bake lots of cakes). One such crime was the ‘Extraordinary Case of The Murdering Murderer (Best Served With Scones)’, documented meticulously by Watson in his blog:
“I asked Holmes how ever did he know the culprit would be in the ladyboy brothel at that exact time. ‘A ringtone, my dear Watson!’ he exclaimed, throwing in a modern reference that has become so characteristic of him of late”.

After a wasting an hour on Facebook together, they returned to the case.

“He has a penis”, cried Sherlock, grabbing the cadaver’s crotch. “Ergo we can deduce he is a man”. Holmes is doubtless being sarcastic, Watson tweeted immediately, using his brand new modern Blackberry, I’m sure he has ascertained far more information than us mere mortals could fathom with that rather prolonged cock-rub. Lol!

“iphone my dear Watson!” scoffed Holmes, spotting his thick colleague’s confused expression, a look perfected during the actor’s time in the company of Ricky Gervais. “People like Doctor Who,” he explained impatiently, “Ergo they want more of the same thing: long-coated smart-arses with shit hair pontificating to a moronic companion. No offence, John”. “None taken,” said Watson between mouthfuls of Sherlock’s arse.

“But how will we solve this murder in a plausible yet modern way?”  Sherlock flicked back a lock of his carefully sculpted ‘idiosyncratic genius’ hair. “Spotify my Dear Watson!” he exclaimed, whilst watching an HD television and doing his banking online, as though the producers had not considered that such nonsense would date his exploits in less than ten years.

“The victims jumper is blue,” explained Holmes, smugly, “Therefore we can deduce that he liked the colour blue… ergo ipso facto obvio, the killer does not like blue. Watson what is your favourite colour?”

Watson’s face, formerly the very picture of fawning sycophancy, once more looked perplexed. “Why Holmes, I must confess it has always been red…” he stammered. “Really…” mused Holmes, manically, “You CONFESS it to be red… Sergeant, I think we have our man!”

As the rozzers dragged the hapless Watson to Belmarsh to rot with all the other paedos, he just had time to log-on to Twitter one final time and note: I am beginning to suspect Holmes is not all he’s cracked up to be…

Bugsy Malone

August 11, 2010

For a bunch of lawless infants they sure is well dressed

I haven’t seen Bugsy Malone and by God I never shall. Or have I/will I? Here’s what I imagine the film is all about: 

Today Dandy Dan, Fat Sam and Bugsy came to tea and Dandy Dan put a bogey on Fat Sam and Fat Sam cried. Bugsy said he was the tallest boy in his class but he isn’t. Fat Sam drew a picture of his dog Bonker it had five legs it looked stupid. It’s not a leg it’s a tail he said but we said leg leg leg and he said tail tail tail until he started crying again. What a baby. Fat Sam sat in the den and wouldn’t come out so Dandy Dan said let’s make a new den that Fat Sam can’t come in and Fat Sam heard him say this and ran out of the den like a fat rabbit and he said it’s my den too but Dandy Dan said no it’s not. Fat Sam gripped Dandy Dan’s cheeks and Dandy Dan screamed. Mum came out and said play nice boys or you’ll have to go home. They stopped fighting then Bugsy said I know a new game and we all stopped and listened and Bugsy said it’s called the moonshining liquor game and he sang a little song about it like this:

The prohibitionists have got us in a squeeze boys

But I gots an idea so listen to me please boys

Let’s brew us up some devil water and open a speakeasy

With an entrance so labyrinthine it coulda been drawn by Piranesi

He’s an old Italian artist, don’t fret your dumb-bum noodles

Just thinka the money boys, we’ll be making oodles

All we gotta do is learn about the fermentation process

It can’t be too difficult, what do you boys supposes.

Then Bugsy did a little dance. It was strange. Mum wouldn’t let Bugsy come round to our house anymore after that and Fat Sam trembled and whimpered whenever Bugsy tried to talk to him.

Yellow Submarine

August 6, 2010

The iconic Yellow Submarine

Every fool knows that the Dave Clark Five were the most successful band to ever roam the face of this our planet Earth. Their name is synonymous not only with the swinging sixties, but with pop music itself. It is them we have to thank for literally millions of billions of trillions of songs; songs that we sing in the bath, the shower and on the bog, pooing in time with the catchy idiosyncratic melodies.

The DC5 were not only Britain’s foremost popstars, they also made a bunch of films, including this animated psychedelic classic, Yellow Submarine. Drawing from the group’s extensive catalogue of hit records, the film was based on a their finest work, their masterpiece, their greatest gift to the artistic cannon of the human race: a shitty cod nursery rhyme sung by the drummer.

This 1968 arthouse magnum opus happened to be showing at a cultural centre not 20 blocks from my house and I availed myself of the opportunity to swing by. Since Old Rope believes moving drawings to be an affront to god, and furthermore one that can make your brain overheat and explode, I elected not to watch the film itself. Rather I confined myself to reading the Spanish subtitles. From this I could hazard a guess as to the film’s content.

Epitome of cool

Largely spoken in Aramaic, the plot focuses on the travails of a fictional group, not altogether dissimilar to the Dave Clark Five (DCF), and their attempts to sanitise the world. In a universe populated with lunatics and bedlam, our heroes must insert rods up backsides and make sure everyone gets a proper job and returns to their natural place in society.

Since DCF were unavailable or unwilling to disentangle themselves from London’s more exclusive opium dens, a number of former US presidents were exhumed to voice the protagonists.

As Benjamin Franklin croaks “Hey, fellas, look at this fab moteycar!” and Roosevelt chirps “Gear!” through a dusty, wormy voice, it is almost impossible to distinguish them from the real deal. It is exactly as though the DCF are in the cinema with you, synchronising their own voices with the moving pictures.

I shant spoil the ending, but suffice to say that there is a parade of rheumatic lepers, a horse with three willies and a banana that talks (possibly the illusive and never-explained allegorical “Yellow Submarine” of the title?). Goodness, it was enough to remind me of college and my own ill-spent youth, time divided between a gang of lepers, talking to a banana and looking at horses willies. Happy days indeed.

From what I could discern from the faces of those around me, the drawings were well rendered, and perfectly captured the straight-laced, uptight style of the time. Indeed the slight drooling of one viewer positively cried out “I am watching a perfect period piece”.

With cast-iron casting, high-art visuals and lashings of DCF’s finest concertos, it is a unfathomable that Yellow Submarine failed to win more awards (a mere 14 Oscars seems an insult in its paucity). I enjoyed not watching it immensely.