Archive for the ‘Films’ Category

Vertigo…

September 13, 2012

Problem solved

The flawed and deeply unjust British legal system needs no introduction. Suffice to say that I am required by the courts to complete no fewer than 16 “gay dates” (or “gates” as I call them) with that goblin When Hearts Turn Blue, for fouling on his lawn and deflowering his formerly virginal Yorkshire terrier Margaret.

I need not explain to the moral and goodhearted readers of the Agoraphobic Reviewer the craven injustice in this ruling, from which the only crumb of comfort to be gleaned is that I shall be holding my “no win, no fee” solicitors to their worthless word.

A clause of Lord Justice Bumbody’s sentencing states that WHTB may call in these “gates” at a moment’s notice. Thus it came to pass that on Tuesday gone, he called me via his usual intermediary (his great aunt) summoning me to the St Shrubbery Moving Picture House and Hall of Ill-repute with the intention of watching the latest summer blockbuster, Vertigo.

I am blessed with the gift of excellent foresight (I once had the sense to grow limbs and a penis a mere eight months before I was called upon to be born) and – though I had not foreseen this particular call – within a flash it was clear that I would be requested to pen a review of the new flick for the AR. Thanks to this almost superhuman prescience  I was able to imagine the entire content of the film in as few as 7 seconds. It is this vision that I hereby lay before you, as told to WHTB’s great aunt, who thoughtfully transcribed it on her portable typewriter, seeing fit to remove the majority of the swears.

Vertigo is a very singular film about a very singular man. So singular, in fact, is he, that he is in want of a wife. A girlfriend we cannot say, for he seems to have one of those – and a fine one at that – though her role seems to be that of the compound noun in its purest sense, to whit a friend who is a girl. She may very well be his social worker or carer, it is hard to understand her clipped and clean American accent, so different is it from the theatrical Noo Yoik drawl and Vegas bawl that the Shakespearean greats of television have accustomed us to.

Vertigo is a misleading title, referring obliquely as it does to the principal character’s fear of the words “verb to go”. The fact that the aforementioned girlfriend has vertiginous pink passion blancmanges is purely a diverting coincidence – or perhaps one of the many tricks deployed by director Alfred Hitchcock to throw the viewer off the scent that the picture makes no sense.  Still, who cares when with a pair of baby’s dinners like that in supporting roles the film is a shoe-in for an award.

Having established that the name is inappropriate, it is worth noting that a more fitting title would be I Tried To Wash Your Hair a Little – A Rapey Tale.  The story follows the exploits of Rowdy Roddy Peeper James Stewart as he scurries about generally disregarding society’s norms. This too is all by-the-by since, as WHTB remarked mid-film, one is incapable of listening to Stewart act his acting without hearing him say “It’s in Bill’s house and Fred’s house”. This is of a course a reference to a line in Stewart’s most famous work, the blue movie Jimmy Stewie Puts His Penis In People’s Houses and the only other film WHTB has ever seen. Indeed he insisted we re-watch this movie the other night in place of Vertigo which, of course, I have still not seen but which I hereby give two vertiginous funbags.

Vertigo has already been reviewed on the Agoraphobic Reviewer by editor in chief, John Le Baptiste. But to distract you from this, here is trad-jazz classic Tubthumping (on the theme of vertigo), as performed by its original writer, to play us out…

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The Lost Boys

March 3, 2012

Being the sort of elitist snob who cares not a jot for mainstream mass media, I’ve never seen Joel Schumacher’s classic ’80s comedy horror The Lost Boys. Thus, I set out about reviewing it, in order that we can all move on and get over ourselves. Forthwith and anon.

Starring the glamorous media darlings of the decade, Paul and Barry Chuckle, Schumacher’s update of the sexy vampire myth was an instant hit with The Kids, who consumed unprecedented quantities of popped corn at the box office. The resulting food crisis in Central America led to mass starvation and three civil wars – and, ultimately, the dissolution of the state of Cuecas Novas.

Still, The Kids were happy. For now.

Or were they? (Yes, they were)

'The Kids'. But are they all right?

Controversially, the Brothers Chuckle didn’t play on-screen brothers – in a move deemed an act of sheer vandalism, Schumacher cast Barry Chuckle in the role of ‘Angsty Teen Guy #1’, and Paul Chuckle as ‘Edgy Vampire Rebel Awesome Dude #1’. Setting the sizzling siblings against each other, Schumacher had orchestrated a chemistry so nauseatingly smarmy that, for the next six years, only he could abide to be in the same room as himself.

Most notably, the scene in which Paul proffers Barry yesterday’s takeaway for a snack is oft heralded as a masterpiece of mise-en-scene, juxtaposing Paul’s chicken tikka masala with Barry’s lamb dopiaza and half-rice-half-chips.

“You’re eating maggots, Barry. Those are maggots,” Paul chides, gloatingly scoffing his tikka masala wrapped in a stale slice of paratha. Barry looks down to find his half-rice is in fact all-maggots.

Barry casts his spoiled sustenance aside in disgust.

“Gah! By ‘eck, Paul! You’re right – they’re chuffin’ maggots!”

Paul squirms and smarms in his seat, relishing the moment as he chomps gleefully.

“Heh heh, you ha’porth,” he quips, “It’s just rice.”

Barry looks at his ruined dinner on the floor.

“Crikey,” he replies, “You’re not wrong, Paul. It is just rice after all!”

The scene culminates in a perilous moped race along the coast of Skegness, at the end of which Paul is horrifically injured after he crashes his moped while trying to avoid some sheep.

One of the evil pair's victims. Note how every ounce of flesh has been stripped from the bones of this poor soul.

It’s impossible to talk about The Lost Boys without mentioning the parade of A-list cameo performances. Frank Carson is unconquerable as ‘Grampaw’, peppering his performance with obscene gestures and an extended dance routine. Rick Moranis and Chachi Arcola are indomitable as ‘The Frog Boys’, a duo so unstoppable that if you were passing them in a corridor you would step aside to let them past without a second thought. Or even a first thought.

Onto the soundtrack then. Opening with ‘Locofoco Motherfucker’ by Fleshies, it goes downhill from there, like a big sweaty meatball, fashioned from chopped innards for some insignificant country fayre, ceremoniously rolled down a hill and followed inanely by a horde of bumbling, tumbling oafs, bent on getting their hairy chops in the local rag.

Utter piffle.

Rise of the Planet of the Apes

September 2, 2011

I’ve not seen the new Planet of the Apes film, but I heard a brief synopsis the other day and it sounds quite sad. It reminded me of Albert Camus’ The Outsider and inspired me to write a short story.

My name's not Jim and who you calling a pansy?

Cocker of snooks

He cocked a snook and yucked a yuck. He bounced in and flounced off. He was full of piss and vinegar. They took him with a pinch of salt and said he had a chip on his shoulder.

They smirked when he got irked and called him a berk. He dug deep and came off shallow. His field of dreams was fallow.

They played ideas tennis and he was the ball-boy. They jammed freeform while he played chopsticks. He fell from grace and lost face. They put him in his place.

And now he’s one of them.

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.

Lord of The Rings – The Return of The King

June 28, 2010

Tevez..................................Orc

Old Rope has not seen this, the third instalment of Jackson Pollock’s adaptation of the Ted Hughes fantasy classic. But I am wearing a pair of Spanish Señor De Los Anillos pyjamas, which imbue me with a magical power to accurately predict the storyline.

The film picks up where the last one left off and the viewer, muttering a terse “oh, fuck…”, is reminded that this nonsense still has a long way to go before trudging over the finishing line. How many more hours must we sit through, crying of boredom till our sodden eyes rot in their sockets?

Back on screen, we are treated to a cautionary tale of how one little shit, way back in some sun-kissed fantasia past, really wanted some bling so bad he done kill his bezzie on a fishing trip. His crime of continually referring to himself in the third person like Rio Ferdinand, was so heinous that he was cursed to wither and corrode, till he looked like a strange mixture between the dirty old man with a comb-over and soiled trousers who used to hang around and offer you sweets at the school gate, a teenager, and an aging member of Status Quo. Serves the grotbag right. Does he want to grow up to be a professional footballer or something?

Fast forward to the present, but without mobiles, MTV or the internet and a fuckload more chainmail, i.e. some unspecified Ancient Times. Half the leprechaun’s have been busy getting tanked on ale and honking on their crack pipes, while the other half are up a mountain somewhere being followed by a walking bogey who talks to himself. The viewer should take heart for small mercies, since this introduction provides brief respite from what is to come.

The third and final part of this cinematic triptych takes the form of one prolonged interminable battle, presumably a stylistic homage by Pollock to the Fast Show’s famous epic fight scene, but with more swords and less purpose. It’s one endless déjà vu as a handful of orcs, played by football’s Carlos Tevez (for which he won an Oscar) are slain and slewed over and over again until everyone watching has forgotten why, where and what for.

A little known fact is that Tevez was only filmed in five different poses, then cutting-edge BBC Micro computers used by cutting-edge computer geeks in non-cutting-edge glasses were used to digitally photocopy and gaffer tape him onto the celluloid seven million billion times. As a result, the orcs all look like they are doing some sort of synchronised dance. But forever. And ever.

Whilst researching this review, Old Rope must have made some sort of egregious error and stumbled upon a director’s cut or deluxe edition. For it was only after aging by several years and growing a beard longer than that of Santa (now apparently some sort of bad-ass swordsman?) did the horrific realisation that this flick was over four hours long sink-in to a mind numbed by tedium.

There are human men everywhere. It’s as if audiences at the previous two films had been so turned off by the over-abundance of poetry spewing pixies, that the producers felt their plot should refocus on some Humanoids, to give Johnny Popcorn something to empathise with. Remembering that the prole scum stumping up to see this drivel like nothing more than some forelock-tugging  monarchist propaganda they crammed in more kings and regents-turned-bad than you can shake a spear at.

Whilst the gnome, the pixie, Santa and the Humanoids are slashing and hacking in their endless dance of death, the other two leprechauns finally make it to the Argos Extra in Mordor and attempt to return the defective jewellery. After waiting in line with a load of goblins for two hours (shown in real time), our homoerotic heroes get to the front of the queue only to discover that they left the receipt at home. “You fucking thick bastard Sam!” spits Friedrick Bargains at his rotund chum, “What did I tell you? Argos has a strict returns policy!” There was nothing for it but to walk all the way home and do the whole cunting thing again.

I give this film a cumulative 8 wasted hours.

See also
:: Lord of The Rings – The Fellowship of The Ring
:: Lord of The Rings – The Two Towers

The Little Mermaid

June 24, 2010

Salty sex

Old Rope is allergic to fish and therefore unable to watch this motion picture. I have a doctor’s note. On the back in barely intelligible scrawl is written the following.

The Little Mermaid is a film about grooming. It focuses on Captain Birdseye, an all American antihero and fisherman on a large dirty trawler, christened the Furtive Tug. Onboard are a crew of foul-mouthed degenerates, each an amorphous fleshy collection of tatty beards, beardy tats and toothless grins. Daily these brigands cast their nets into the murky dark seas, the salty brine lashing their faces and the cold chilling their bones. It is on one such stormy day, with the wind howling about the prow and the deck awash with water and fish flapping about in the final throes of death, that Captain Birdseye (self-styled, he is not the ship’s real captain) makes the catch of a lifetime.

Entangled in his net is a creature of rare aquarian beauty: part haddock, part beatific feminine perfection. Her soft skin and damp hair, her cheeks reddening with embarrassment and fear, her pert breasts barely concealed by two woefully small clam shells – it is enough to make Birdseye’s beard bristle with a coruscating masculine electricity. “Fresh fish is on the menu tonight boys” he murmurs breathlessly to no one in particular.

I said this was a film about grooming and indeed afore long the barnacled Birdseye is grooming this mermaid’s fishy scales and curling her red hair twixt his calloused fisherman’s fingers. The girl is scared but cannot take her eyes from his. Oily, rainbow-streaked scales flake off as old Birdseye strokes her tail harder. Naturally, she cannot speak English but rather attempts to communicate with a series of dolphin-like clicks and hisses. Such aquatic nonsense is beyond the comprehension of Cap’n B, who vows in his head to make this salty strumpet his wife.

After a time the mermaid stops trembling and begins to stroke the molluscs on her captor’s pockmarked face. He smiles revealing a mouth of yellow teeth littered with bits of half-chewed bread-crumbed cod. Apropos of nothing and totally at odds with the film’s tone, the mermaid breaks into song: “I used to be a carp, but I’m all woman now!” she opines like a diva in her dolphine dialect.

About the edges of the boat, riding the crests of each frothy wave and looking on forlornly are a sorry-looking racially stereotyped crab and an exotic looking fish. They are sad, for no more will they spy on the mermaid as she urinates behind rocks and washes her frilly gills when she thinks no one is looking. No more will this maritime Lolita see her family, nevermore shall she swim with the seals or jamboree with the jellyfish at dances on the ocean bed. And it is upon these two jealous friends that the sorry task of relating this sickening Stockholm syndrome style love story between man and fish shall fall. It is they who shall face her father’s wroth, heartbreak and tears.

Back on the boat, Birdseye is deciding whether to sear, sauté or poach.

I give this film 3 fish fingers.

Lord of The Rings: The Two Towers

June 24, 2010

Argos, Mordor branch

Though I have not seen Samuel L. Jackson’s second film to be adapted from Enid Blyton’s bestseller, I did once hear a radio play of the same name, starring Richard Briars as the Ring. From this I can accurately surmise the contents of the 2003 motion picture.

We open on a sorry note, with the protagonist leprechauns split up and scattered like semen after a particularly careless wank. Furthermore Santa is dead, his magic charms unable to save him from falling down a really big hole. Oh, and one of the humanoids gone done all dead an’ all, all arrowed to bits he was. Still, at least he had an honourable death – or as honourable as death can be when you are shuffled off this mortal coil by a man dressed as an ork.

It is with heavy heart, therefore, that Freddy Ballbags must carry on with his quest to return some substandard jewellery to the Argos Extra store several towns over.

Saddled by totally unfounded accusations of having produced a lumpen work of protracted tedium with the predecessor to this film, Jackson has taken the necessary steps to jazz up The Two Towers. In order to up the pace and jolly along the action the director has inserted a cast of slow-talking, slow-moving trees. It is a move that would baffle even the smallest, thickest child. Meanwhile, as the trees are lumbering about achieving fuck all – as is a tree’s wont – the pixie, the gnome and the non-dead humanoid make a detour into a lacklustre faux Shakespearean play. It’s all betrayals, poisoned minds and birds wanting to fight alongside the menfolk.

Needless to say, before long they are all bored to tears of the incoherent dawdling melodrama transpiring in this medieval castle and so some of the faces about the place fix up a good old fashioned ruck with a firm from the next town over.

It’s a day out for the lads and everyone gets to feel the rush once more, just like the glory days. What’s more, Santa shows up alive and well. It seems he’s not dead after all and he makes out like he always meant to fall down that big hole. He is eyed with all the suspicion due to a man telling fibs and wearing a white a dress. “Fuck off granddad, or I’ll tell the king you touched me” cusses the gnome, unreasonably.

“It’s not my fault!” wails Father Chrimbo, aka Merlin, “It’s the other bad santa. I think he’s on a register or something…”

The people of Middle Earth are a principled folk and though they will allow crude fiery metaphors for Satan to pervade the place and trees to be granted lengthy soliloquies, they wont stand idle whilst an old man in the neighbourhood faces tenuous accusations of paedophilia. A lynch mob is gathered, a minibus hired and we’re all off to Isengard for a good old fashioned tar and feathering.

But when our intrepid band of heroes arrive they discover a burst water pipe has flooded the gaff putting the kibosh on their plans. Over in the larder, two of the tousle-haired leprechauns are getting stuck into the ale and honking on their ‘special’ pipe-leaves. It is a scene so familiar it makes this critic homesick for his native Liverpool and thus unable to complete the review.

To wit, I give this film two towers.


See also
:: Lord of The Rings – The Fellowship of The Ring
:: Lord of The Rings – The Return of The King

Henry Fool poem competition – The Grate American Poem

June 10, 2010

Unlike the former entrants to this competition, I have not seen the film Henry Fool. Thus I am ideally placed to surmise the contents of the unspoken poem that is not seen nor heard within. It is regretfully long, for which I make no apology. This is it:

The Grate American Poem

Prologue

Henry fool

Standing proud

So hip and cool

I wanna be him but I can’t

***

Henry Fool

Henry Fool my friend the tool

Did raise and rear my intellect

But beat it cruel

Abused my school

And left my anus bloodspecked

Kitchen

During the sluicing hour

I shiver to the kitchen

Linoleum floor cold on my bare feet

The draft planting icy kisses on my bare balls

Something wet runs down my leg

Drawer

I rummage in a drawer

For something I might use

Job

Listen to the rustle of the cutlery

This job needs not pen nor pencil

Poem time is over for this smug bastard

I need a cold and sharp kitchen utensil

Floor

I have it in my hand

And crawl upon the floor

My testes dragging on the shag

As I head t’ward his door

Juice

In his room I quiver with fear

Or maybe it’s the thrill;

I set to work

‘Pon the bumfuck’s face

Awake

I don’t know how long I worked

But Fool began to stir

“What are you doing there,

Kneeling on the floor?”

I brandished my tool,

My Excalibur

My pen

It is a cheese-grater.

Face

“My face”, cried Fool through grated lips,

“All in strips and bits ‘pon my floor

With you, Simon, grating more

Grating and gyrating

Rubbing and grubby

Kneeling amidst

The shreds of my face

What for?”

Love

I hate you, I spat

Though I rate your work

And I am going to grate you all to bits

Like a carrot or some cheese.

“Your poems suck balls”

He drooled through bloodied face

As slivers of flesh and fat

Flicked about the place

Rewarding

I grated on and on and on

My hands soaked crimson red

His former face was quite a mess

A mush of fleshy threads

They spelt out words, to my tired eyes

‘Write a poem’ is what it said

I wrote these lines upon the wall

My clothes now long since shed,

Dedicated to Henry Fool

I’m glad the bastard’s dead.

Henry Fool poem competition – Bessie

June 10, 2010

Here’s my entry to the Agoraphobic Reviewer poem-off with a Henry Fool theme. Of course, having insider information as I don’t, I can’t confirm that the following poem isn’t in fact the actual poem that Simon wrote and that Henry championed.

Bessie

The winds were bitter,
The air unstill,
And the PE teacher’s face,
Held the darkest chill.
But on that lonely woodland path,
I held you aloft,
As we trudged,
From vale to croft.

Splashing through puddles,
I gasped and whined,
To keep your pace,
And stare.
At your grand, jubbling, ocean-like behind.

The other boys may mock,
Or ignore you,
Bessie.
But you stiffen my cock.
And in my dreams I implore you,
To make my shorts messy.

Streetdance 3D

May 18, 2010

Ultimately, all living things must die. Time is infinite, possibilities are limitless and man is but an atom, attached to a louse on God’s fanny. Here’s a review of Streetdance 3D.

The musical genre has oft baffled cultural critics; seemingly meaningless and superficial, musical cinema explores (on the surface) themes of the adolescent journey and the eternal struggle of man to assert his identity through the media of song and dance.

Dance troupe Diversity perform the film's centrepiece: the Swiss Cottage Swagger

Streetdance 3D (or ‘Stree-Dee Dee-Dee-Dee’ as it has become known among Britain’s disaffected youth) explores these themes only as a nod to its trailblazing forbears: Wizardy Foz, Sound of Mu-Ha, Chic-a-gogo, Cabarum and Greasies are subtly referenced throughout the film. Most notably, in the scene where N-Dubz set off to score some crack, skipping as they go. Tilting his top hat to a jaunty angle, the group’s lead soprano Dappy proclaims: “Why, dis be just like dat film wid dat wizard ‘n’ shit.”

As with Bertolucci’s Last Tango in Paris, sexuality and identity are inextricably linked by physicality in Streetdance 3D. The simple popping of a collar, a carefully executed Hackney Hunker, or an extravagant Grange Park Power Grab can be read as an attempt by the protagonists to stamp their mark, not only on the screen, but on life itself. STEP-STEP-GRAB! I AM ME! WATCH ME SHUFFLE GAILY! IN 3D!

Streetdance 3D‘s true strength lies in its highly original plot. Using dance as their springboard, the proletariat rise up against their square oppressors, fusing street styles with ballet, Fortis Green Foxtrots with Gunnersbury Goose-steps. Of course, the state doesn’t like this desecration of traditional styles and massacres the entire dance school in a finale reminiscent of Tiananman Square and stuff.

To some, Streetdance 3D will be ‘just another dance movie’. To them I say this: “STEP! TWO-THREE-FOUR AND KICK! TWO-THREE-FOUR NOW SLIDE! TWO-THREE-FOUR AND JAZZ-HANDS!!”

In 3D.