5 February 2018

Lifting Your Spirits

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Pixar's Coco tells the story of a Mexican family that have been dramatically let down by a musician, which is something that I'm sure we can all relate to. Especially if you're also a Morrissey fan and are finding it increasingly difficult to defend the mad-bastard comments that he keeps making. Here however they're simply hurt by a family member that picked up his guitar and fucked off to pursue his musical ambitions instead of staying to be with them. As a result the family has banned all forms of music from being enjoyed within their vicinity, which includes stifling Miguel, the youngest member of their family, and his dreams of playing guitar. All of this seems a bit harsh to me. Everybody gets fucked by something at some point but at no point did my great-grandmother ever ban me from being impregnated by a sailor with the clap. Despite this, Miguel still sneaks into the loft when everybody is asleep in order to practice guitar against his families wishes. Again.. what young boy hasn't hidden himself away during the night so that he can strum his instrument? Eventually his family discover his secret and in a moment of pure rage his grandmother grabs his guitar and smashes it against the floor. I actually got really angry at this bit. Miserable old knobhead. Miguel should have smashed something that she loves to teach her a lesson. Her fucking fragile bitch hips for example..

From here the young boy steals a guitar from a graveyard during the Mexican Day of the Dead celebrations and promptly finds himself lost in the afterlife. You know how it is.. one minute you're doing a spot of grave robbing and the next you're trapped in limbo and being forced to gain the permission of your seemingly undead relatives in order for you to leave. To be honest, metaphorically, that sounds a lot like some of my Christmases. Although whilst we're on it, it is worth pointing out how fucking amazing the environments actually are in this movie. The afterlife is depicted as a neon metropolis that's full of life despite the fact that it's populated by the dead. On top of the humans, there's also a menagerie of colourful spirit-guides that all look like a Nazi has experimented on your favourite animal and then stuck it in the wash with his tie dye t-shirts. Considering that this film is set in Mexico though, it seems odd that almost all of the walking skeletons were still seemingly in ownership of their own heads? I guess the victims of the cartel just don't make it to the other side. Underworld aside though, even Mexico itself is imbued with such a sense of the place that as I found myself lost in the movie I felt like I knew what it'd be like to actually visit the country. As Miguel ran around his village and you get a sense of the people and place, I wanted to build that fucking wall myself just to prevent Trump from getting his tiny little hands in and screwing everything up.

When lost in the afterlife the young Miguel befriends a skeletal loser named Héctor that's willing to help him find the particular dead relative that he's searching for. Miguel's plan is to win a music competition that will gain him access to his dead relative's exclusive party in a scene that's almost one of the most gorgeous that Pixar has ever created. In order to disguise the fact that he's still a human, Miguel has had to paint his face white and his eyes black, and as he performs to a crowd of skeletons, it was like watching The Cure play a gig at an eating disorder clinic. As the film goes on though we discover that Héctor has a particularly tragic story and through him the true meaning of the film begins to leak out. Coco is all about memory and legacy. It's about what happens to us when we die and how we live on through those that remember us. If you have a kid and their Nan is about to kick the bucket then you should take them to see this movie as quickly as possible to give them a way of processing the upcoming grief. In fact, in the way that Héctor himself deals with his own loss, it might also be worth sending your kids Nan to watch this movie with them. Maybe she won't enjoy it because its idea of being forgotten will be particularly upsetting to her. But fuck her she'll be dead soon and whilst they're both busy you can have some time to yourself. Maybe even plan how to get out of an upcoming funeral that might be on the cards.

Coco wants to teach people that they should cherish the ones that matter the most and I think it was getting through to the audience. At one point one of the children watching the film in the screening I was at literally shouted at the top of his voice, “Awe.. Poor Coco”. Although considering the character he was watching was actually called Miguel I suppose it's possible that he was just critiquing a below average drink he'd been given instead. In which case.. shut the fuck up kid, I'm trying to learn about how I should appreciate people whilst they're still alive. Noisy little bastard! Coco is actually Miguel's great-grandmother who sits quietly in her room looking like Grandpa from The Texas Chainsaw Massacre if he'd been played by a tree so gnarly that even the most loved up of hippies wouldn't want to stick his dick into it. It was actually her father that fucked off with his guitar and that the young Miguel is looking for throughout the afterlife. Kids films have always been at their best when teaching kids about dealing with everyday problems. I can't remember if we ever saw who put that bullet into Bambi's Mum's head but considering the state of things I imagine it was probably a disgruntled colleague as he marched around the office with a fucking kalashnikov. With Coco, the message is perhaps even more poignant than 'those you love will definitely get murdered'. This time it's that once they have been murdered then they'll always live on through you. Or even more promising if you share my family.. if you forget them, they're definitely gone for fucking good.

In terms of the quality of the movie, I have to say that I walked out of Coco convinced that it was their best ever movie. Other than Toy Story of course. And admittedly I had forgotten about The Incredibles, Wall-E, and Inside Out. It's definitely up there though. Coco is in the good half of Pixar's stuff meaning that it confidently stands alongside something like Monsters Inc. as the two films flip the V's and flash their arses at Cars 2 from some considerable distance. Overall Coco might be a little less complex than the ideas behind Inside Out and it might not be as instantly iconic as Toy Story, but for sheer emotion, the only thing that Pixar could do to equal it would be a Ratatouille sequel in which Remy finds out why we put cheese in traps and his young chef mate is forced to eat his corpse out of honour. Coco has strong characters, an engaging story, mind-blowing visuals, and even some pretty catchy tunes. In its use of songs, it not only helps to evoke the spirit and culture of Mexico but also draws attention to the connection between music and memory. In the film, the living associate songs with their loved ones that have died which is something that I know we can all relate to too. One of my old bosses really loved Phil Collins and so whenever I hear Genesis I have to stop and think to myself, “Awe.. what a prick my old boss was. I can't wait for him to die”. Thanks for reading, motherfuckers, and see you next time.