29 April 2013

A Close Shave



I had one issue with the film Trance and there's a possibility that it may just be my own unique problem. There's a scene in it where right before having sex, a character temporarily stops the risky business to go and shave off her pubes. I don't know about you but to me this just seemed a little bit weird. I can understand wanting to impress someone before shooting body juice at them but how about a bit of forethought? There's nothing wrong with shaving, but to do it in the next room and four seconds before shagging is a little bit weird. Having said that, maybe this is just an issue for me- firstly I was in the Scouts and so know to always be prepared. Secondly, shaving my pubes when I was seventeen is probably one of the most traumatic things that I have ever done.

This, with a dick...
I don't know what made me do it but I'm thinking that I probably got bored after shaving my face. The procedure was not as simple as I'd assumed though and as I grated away at my raw, bloodied skin, I started to realise that the blunt disposable razor may have been a mistake. To make things even more annoying, the final results didn't even look that good. I was hoping for porn star smoothness but instead it just made my crotch look like the arse end of a pink, uncooked chicken with the dick just sort of.. stuck on, for comedic effect. Also, seconds after completion, I began to notice the arrival of itching. I scratched so much that it looked as though I'd had a blowjob from some snaggle toothed freak like the Predator or Madonna, and it fucking hurt.

In a panic, I frantically rooted through the bathroom cabinet until I found a white lotion that looked as though it might help to calm things down. As a test I splashed it all over my cheeks and was elated to discover that it did indeed seem to stop the urge to scratch. Therefore without hesitation I emptied the bottle all over my crotch leaving nothing to chance. Thankfully it worked and everything felt instantly better. Breathing a sigh of relief I sat down and for a moment assumed the ordeal was over. Then my face began to sting. The panic set in. I don't know what the hell that lotion was but I knew I now had seconds to wipe it off everywhere else, as well… Too. Slow. Quickly I found myself writhing around on the floor like a dying maggot as my balls felt like they'd been dipped in battery acid. With all this in mind, it is, like I say, probably only me that is going to care about the pube scene in Trance. However on the bright side, other than it inconsiderately bringing up my past horrors, the rest of the film is thankfully absolutely brilliant.

Perhaps I should say up front that my reasons for loving Trance can probably be attributed to my love of both Danny Boyle and also the mischievous, magical imp that is Derren Brown. Boyle obviously directed this mind-fuck of a movie whereas Brown, as far as I know, had absolutely nothing to do with it. I guess I'll explain his relevance in a bit, however the basic plot of Trance is that James McAvoy loses his memory causing him to forget where he has hidden a valuable, stolen painting. Unfortunately for him the gangster Vincent Cassel wants to find it and so sets about torturing him. After realising that pulling off someone’s fingernails isn't a medically proven way to cure amnesia, Cassel instead has McAvoy undergo Rosario Dawson’s hypnotherapy in an attempt to make him remember. Imagine a kind of cross between The Usual Suspects and Eternal Sunshine of A Spotless Mind and that's kind of what this film is.

Will forever be known for wanking to death
From reading other reviews, it seems that the response to Trance has been mostly positive. However the one criticism that appears to be the most repeated is that none of the characters are completely sympathetic. Although I agree with that statement to a degree, I don't think that's necessarily a bad thing. For example- and I'll try and keep this vague, but I have a friend whose family member is an absolute twat. However I love hearing stories about their miserable relative just because I don't understand how someone can be so fucking annoying. Hearing about the person in question is a bit like having one of those bruises that hurts to touch but for some reason you just can't help but poke it every now and again. However with Trance I would argue that although the characters are all morally corrupt, I can, by the end, empathise with at least two of them. I don't agree with what they're doing but that's not to say I can't see why they're doing it and pity them for suffering the consequences. It's a bit like how I feel bad for David Carradine because of his stupid death even though I personally would never string myself up and knock one out onto the back of a grubby wardrobe door.

The second main criticism the film has received is that a few people have commented that the third act gets a little muddled. However again, I disagree with this and actually attribute their observations as again being a result of the unsympathetic characters. It's not the case that what you’re watching doesn't make any sense, but rather you have no fucking clue as to who you should be rooting for. A testament to this might be that one of my friends who I was watching this with became so overwhelmed with what was going on that her brain became mashed and she just broke down in tears. It's not that the end is particularly sad but rather it's so powerful that all she could do to cope was to have a cry. Although personally I didn't react quite so emotionally, I can see how it happened. Again when I was about seventeen my Mum tried to make me change the trousers I'd put on and I just couldn't be bothered. Whenever I wake up in the morning I'm seriously a full on menstrual wreck and this happened to happen a few seconds after I'd opened my eyes. I didn't want to change my pants but my Mum just nagged and nagged and nagged until all I could do was sit there and sob. I guess the film had the same effect on her where things just become too much and the only way the body can reasonably respond is by having a minor breakdown.

So happy that I've seen his balls.
Like I say though, I'm a huge Danny Boyle fan with my all-time-favourite-film being Trainspotting. If we look at his filmography, I guess it seems that he actually often tells stories about unsympathetic people and so it shouldn't come as a shock that this is also the case with Trance. Examples of Boyle's antihero's might be Renton in Trainspotting who is a junkie, Richard in The Beach who is very self-centred and Franck in Trance who is French. Also looking at his back catalogue, it's interesting to note that this new film probably bears the most similarities with his debut feature Shallow Grave. Both films could be considered neo-noirs, center around three mysterious characters and involve the hunt for stolen goods. They both also feature a likeable Scottish actor in the lead and have a few surprising moments of full frontal nudity. For the record though, if we have to have nudity in films I do much prefer it being Rosario Dawson to Keith fucking Allan.

I guess it's about now that I should explain the casual reference to Derren Brown that I made earlier. I'm not sure how famous he is around the world but for those who are yet to discover him, he's been described as an illusionist, mentalist, hypnotist and after seeing some of his shows I'm pretty sure he could take over the world if he wanted to. The reason I mention him as a reason for enjoying Trance is because it's the kind of film that explores some of the ideas that I probably wouldn’t believe if it wasn't for Brown and all of his evil shenanigans. The driving force of Trance is the subject of hypnosis which previously I'd dismissed as bullshit. I guess I'd only seen cheap holiday camp hypnotists that claim to have magical powers and just assumed that they picked the biggest, drunkest wankers from the audience and then paid them a few quid backstage to play along.

Don't look into his eyes!
However from being drawn into Brown’s work, I've really had my eyes opened. For a start, hypnosis isn't about 'magic' but rather suggestibility and from my limited understanding, will only affect those who are receptive enough for it to work. I'm sure there will be people out there who will have seen a little of Brown’s talents and dismissed him, and therefore hypnosis, as bollocks but they're wrong. Brown definitely doesn’t use stooges during his live events and in fact picks people at random by launching frisbees at the audience. I was actually at his latest show Infamous recently when one of his frisbees flew straight towards me. Thankfully though and despite the closeness I came to shitting my pants, it was expertly caught by someone in the row in front. It's not that I don't want to get involved but I was actually also at his previous show Svengali in which he worked out that a young lad in the audience's biggest secret was that he'd wanked off in school. To make matters worse, the guy in question was at the show that night with all of his classmates and teachers whilst on a school trip. It's not that I don't mind sharing my secrets to a room of thousands of strangers but just that I fear the darkness in me might grim people out or kill the mood.

So he doesn't use actors but could hypnosis be a result of bribing an extroverted fucktard? At one point in the evening, Brown made everybody stand up so that he could hypnotise those who were open to it. Although I remained unaffected, there was a man sitting right behind me that despite not looking like a wanker was very much in a trance. The guy looked like a normal middle aged bloke and even though he was stood up was so fast asleep that he began to loudly snore. In fact he was genuinely under so deeply that at one point I was waiting to feel his slobber dribble down my neck. I won't say any more about the show because Brown asked us not to and I fear that if I do my head will explode Scanners style, or something will trigger and I'll be forced to live the rest of my life believing myself to be a middle-aged Dutch whore. I guess though, my point is simply that thanks to Derren Brown providing me with a new found fascination with this subject, I could more easily buy into Trance's central hook. To be honest, I'd learn how to hypnotise people myself if I thought I could be trusted enough to not just use it as a sort of thinking man’s method of date rape.

With all this in mind, a lot of Trance therefore takes place in the fucked up memories of McAvoy's damaged brain. The fun of the film therefore isn't in knowing the story but experiencing the skill in which it's told. A classic trait of a noir is obviously the unreliable narrator with this being no exception, and with Memento perhaps being of a similar ilk. However, as well as borrowing elements of a noir, Trance also kind of feels like a bit of a call back to those seedy erotic thrillers from back in the 90's. I guess that, like Basic Instinct or Bound, the film has the intelligence to keep us guessing, but at the same time has no qualms with the occasional flash of minge.

..fuck, it opened..
After taking time off to direct the Olympics, my opinion is that this is a hugely triumphant return to cinema for Danny Boyle. It's not that I didn't enjoy his ceremony because I did. Anything that involves both James Bond and having the Queen thrown out of an aeroplane is easily going to grab my interest. Although, I couldn't help but think it would have been an even more memorable evening had her majesty’s parachute failed to open resulting in the most patriotic suicide of all time. My only issue is that we all only have a certain amount of life in us and I selfishly want Boyle to spend all of his making movies. Boyle makes optimistic films about flawed human beings which in this fucked up society is the kind of hope my warped mind likes to cling to. Now, seems as hypnotherapy is seemingly so effective, I'm going to book myself in and finally remove the traumatic memory of my grated pubes.




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