16 September 2019

Slumdogs And Millionaires

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Things didn't bode well for this new film version of Downton Abbey when I found myself sat next to a little old lady that had wandered to the cinema to watch the thing alone. “Don't mind me”, she said before cracking open a massive fucking bottle, “but I can hardly watch Downton without a Prosecco”. I've never seen a single fucking second of the show but it seems that even its fans need to get themselves fucking ratted to sit through it. I didn't even think it looked that good to begin with, so I figured that I'd need something stronger than a Prosecco to get me through it. I've never done cocaine in my life and I have no clue if it makes films more watchable but as the granny to my left proceeded to get herself twatted it seemed like now might be a good time to find out. Alas, the trailers had already finished at this point and I live such a sheltered life that unless Al Pacino had walked in with his Scarface costume then I wouldn't know what the fuck a drug dealer looked like. As the film went on and I found myself bored to fucking tedium I concluded that I was now faced with two options. I could remain sober and risk the film being so dull that my mental health might never quite recover or I could make a fucking move on the old lady and attempt to get pissed off the alcoholic fumes of her Prosecco-laced breath. 

The film itself begins with a shot of the abbey which is kind of like Wayne Manor if Batman had gone on holiday for the weekend and the place had become infested with a plague of fucking toffee-nosed pricks. From what I can gather, the rich people live their opulent lives in the main part of the building with the poorer people working for them hidden below. In fact, the cellar that they all live and work in is so fucking horrible and drab that for a good chunk of the film I became convinced that it was the same set as Hannibal Lector's dungeon prison in The Silence Of The fucking Lambs. I guess that representing the class divide in this kind of upstairs-downstairs sort of way was most famously seen in 1997's Titanic except in this movie we're sadly deprived the merciful crunch of the toff killing ice-berg. I'd tell you what the plot of the movie is too but it really doesn't have one. The rich family upstairs receive a letter telling them that the King and Queen will be staying the night with them and then everybody spends two hours spaffing their knickers in excitement. That's it. The film is like a propaganda piece designed to remind us of why we should be so happy that we're lesser creatures than the super-rich. It's a film that sticks its tongue so far up the arse of the Monarchy that you'd think it was trying to taste the gold in their teeth and it made me want to vomit up the fucking walls.

Of course, there'd be a way to tell this story in which the filmmakers cast a cynical eye on the distribution of wealth and the vast unfair chasm between the rich and the poor. But it's way more interested in attempting to convince us of ripping off our dirty rags and to just dance in the golden shower of our 'glorious betters'. How did this family even get it's money by the way, because the film never explains it and you never see any of the richer people working? I can only assume it's something sinister and that there's a wing in the house in which children are bought and sold to sweatshops, millionaire paedophiles, and pie makers that have run out of fucking meat. When the servants of Downton Abbey find out that they'll be preparing food for the King and Queen, they're over the moon with excitement. But as the movie went on I began to suspect that their joy wasn't because they'd all planned to take a communal piss in the soup before it was served. Instead, the servants simply seemed happy to be doing their jobs for the Royal Family as though it was an honour to prepare something that a rich person is only going shit back out a few hours later. Unfortunately for the abbey workers, the Monarchy arrive with their own staff who we're told can do everything themselves. What follows is a rivalry between the two teams of servants in what I can only assume is how our society's elite imagine a turf war to be in the fucking projects.

With so little going on, the film has had to pad out its running time with slow-motion shots of people clearing tables and food being served. Essentially the Downtown Abbey movie was like an advert for the Marks & Spencers Summer range but if they'd forgotten to include the on-screen prices. When Hugh Bonneville's Earl of Grantham sat down to eat, I half expecting a voice-over explaining how for £24.99 I too could “own this lavish cutlery set and live like a prick”. Not that this will put off fans of the show of course. The movie spends so little time explaining the characters to those unfamiliar with the series that it's aspirations of being nothing more than a big-screen episode are fully apparent. Which isn't hugely a problem I suppose as you could generally work out a persons place in the house based on how horned up they got when encountering another human in clean clothes. If there were two characters that I could never quite get a fix on though it was the two old ladies played by Maggie Smith and Penelope Wilton. I have no clue what their relationship was but they spent so much of the movie spitting shitty remarks at each other that I can only assume that they're ex-lovers and this was the result of their sexual tension. The very fact that the story didn't conclude with a Busby Berkeley-Esque orgy of them performing an act that I'll call Granny-lingus on each other is perhaps the films biggest failing. 

Not that I give one solitary shit about Maggie Smith's character at all. Throughout the movie, the focus of her attention seems to be on that of a rich member of the family that she's discovered intends to leave their wealth to a servant. Smith is appalled that the money should find its way to somebody of a lower class and at no point does the film point out how much of a fucking bitch that makes her. Later on, it's also discovered that another servant has stolen the odd item that won't be missed by its wealthy owners and which she justifies as it's worth a year of her wages. When being chastised she's asked, “so you think that because not everybody can afford this that nobody deserves it?” which is pretty much how I think that the average rich prick thinks. Of course, the woman is wrong to steal, but I can hear the logic of that statement being screamed out of the brains of every MP that's ever been asked why the taxpayer should fund the moat on their duck pond when others are starving and in need of fucking food banks. You can imagine my surprise therefore when the credits began to roll and I saw that the screenplay had actually been written by Ken Loach whose films had previously included Kes, Bread And Roses and I, Daniel Blake. 

That's a joke, obviously. When talking about Downton Abbey Loach himself is on record as saying, “Don't bother your heads with what's going on now, just wallow in fake nostalgia. It's bad history, bad drama. It puts your brain to sleep”. Of course, he's right too but as the second hour of the film began to drag even harder than the first, I began to wish it was more than just my brain was asleep and I began to regret my decision to not get off with the pissed up old lady sat next to me. The film was actually written by Julian Fellowes or to give him his full name, Julian Alexander Kitchener-Fellowes, Baron Fellowes of West Stafford DL. Now, I don't mean to judge a book by its title(s) but that's not a name that I'd usually associate with a 'man of the people'. With good reason too, as whenever I've seen that bald little prick interviewed he's always seemed like a snobby posh twat to me. I don't want you to think that I don't like people because of their class or their wealth either by the way. It's not how much money they have that makes these people so hateful but rather the air of entitlement that the film has in regards to them. We're expected to love the rich people because of the family they were born into and we're meant to relate to the poor people that fucking adore them. The whole thing smacks of Fellowes attempting to justify his place above us lowly worms and, as such, I would rather stick my head in a fucking blender than ever watch it again. Thanks for reading, motherfuckers, and see you next time. 

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