28 October 2013

Home Is The Darkness

I don't know why but for some reason I'm drawn to the darker side of life. The nicer and more pleasant a thing is, the more I seem to subconsciously rebel against it. I recently bought Animal Crossing: New Leaf on the 3DS in which friendly, furry little creatures skip about making pleasant conversations and doing each other favours. Within a week of making me their new mayor however I'd fucked it all up for them. I swapped their town flag for a swastika, put them all under house arrest and succeeded in turning an initially chipper squirrel into one depressingly suicidal motherfucker. I know the drippy hippies strive for peace and love but I have to say that I much more comfortably subscribe to director Werner Herzog's view that, “the common denominator of the Universe is not harmony, but chaos, hostility and murder”. I dunno... maybe I have trust issues and think that anybody who’s overly friendly is actually secretly hiding their more sinister intentions. At least when a person’s twattery is up front you can more accurately gauge where you stand with them.

When I was about fifteen years old I saw Danny Boyle's 1996 masterpiece Trainspotting for the first time which resulted in the Scanners style explosion of my mind. His film depicted the shit stained lows that society can sink to but didn't skimp on the humour, energy, love or empathy for it's naïve main characters. There's no denying that drug addiction is a cunts game but that's not to say it's without at least some initial appeal and the hinted-towards-optimism that's flirted with by the film’s conclusion therefore felt more real because the rest of the story felt so honest as well. Yes it depicted drugs as being a destructive needle-roulette of misery but it also showed the seductive short term peace that they can offer from the stresses of an otherwise fucked up world. I love Trainspotting for so many reasons but I think the ultimate one is probably its ability to find acceptance and humour as a defence against the misery and pain of being alive. As well as Herzog I suppose in that respect I also agree with Watchmen's The Comedian whose existential depression leads him to the conclusion that, “It's a joke. It's all a fucking joke”.

Rather than just being my favourite film however, Irvine Welsh's Trainspotting is also my favourite novel. Admittedly it is also one of the few books that I've read that doesn't feature the magical exploits of an orphaned dullard whose fame is a result of the shoddy Zorro scar on his forehead but still... I'm sure you can therefore imagine my excitement when I heard about the new film, Filth. Like Trainspotting, this is based on another unrelentingly bleak book by Irvine Welsh and was enjoying the best reviews that an adaptation of his has garnered since my favourite film was shat into cinemas. As you'd expect and hope from its source material, Filth examines the hushed-up guttural nature of our society and as such was made for a very small budget. As a result it has so far had a comparatively limited marketing campaign due to the bastard cash men being too pussy to push a film that dares to embrace its own shitty attitude. Filth does not want to attract the broadest possible audience but would instead prefer to earn itself a cult following after pissing all over the sensitivities of the uptight mainstream dullards. Within the first twelve seconds its trailer describes it as “Sick, Twisted, Sexy, Depraved, Bizarre, Warped, Dirty, Wild, Dark, Shocking, Weird, Obscene, Controversial, Psychotic, Kinky, Outrageous, Offensive, Disgusting and Insane”. For once this was a trailer that didn't lie. Filth was fucking amazing.

McAvey ready for his fucking close-up.
The film begins in what looks like a post-apocalyptic, dystopia that really just happens to be a modern day Edinburgh as a lone Japanese student is brutally killed by a demented gang of bleach-blonde twats. Subsequently tasked with solving this murder is Detective Sergeant Bruce Robertson who is played by a fatter, rotten looking James McAvoy. Not only does he have the morals of a sewer cunt but his pink bloated face also hints towards the loving embrace of a dedicated substance addiction. As the story progresses though, the initial crime that sparks this story really slips into the background with the film naturally being more interested in Robertson’s free-fall into the dark arsehole of evil and madness. This may well be the performance of McAvoy's career as he vomits (an ability he can control at will) and fucks his way about town only stopping occasionally to spit out his racist, sexist and homophobic bile. Imagine the original Bad Lieutenant but with more humour and less of Harvey Keitel's manky dick and that's kind of what Filth is. With The Last King of Scotland, Welcome To The Punch and Trance, McAvoy has been hinting towards his more sinister side for years and so really makes the effort here to impress, by playing the pig in shit.

It's interesting I think that as a country, Britain is kind of renowned for spewing out films that show how grim life is. However, usually they tend to be kitchen sink dramas like Vera Drake that depict the difficulties of starting up a back alley abortion clinic with nothing more than a kind heart and a rusted coat-hanger. Don't get me wrong, I think that people like Mike Leigh and Ken Loach are great directors but when it comes to how fucked up everything is, I prefer this alternate approach. If either of those two had made Filth it would instead probably focus on Robertson's best friend played by Eddie Marsan who is constantly being bullied by him. The difference between the usual grimness that we release and this is that they tend to show good people suffering at the hands of evil… this however more enjoyably shows the fun evil can have by punching the good in the face and then fucking its wife.

The other difference between this and the kitchen sink stuff is that this in no way indulges in gritty socio-realism. Through Robertson's descent into madness, we're treated to a talking tapeworm, screaming Nazis and a hallucinated psychiatrist with a massive fuck-off head. If I was to nitpick, I'd say it's kind of a shame that the film is quite so apparently inspired by Kubrick but that's only because so many others have been too. When dealing with anarchic main characters it seems kind of clichéd now to borrow from A Clockwork Orange when Filth clearly owes films such as Bronson and even Trainspotting a huge debt. Beyond the cheeky combination of humour and sociopathic violence, the film also starts with a glaring red title screen and makes constant use of classical music. There's also several fantasy sequences that take place in a room that could only be more Kubrickian if it had a splintered door and caused Shelley Duvall to have a breakdown. This influence is admittedly still acknowledged by the regular appearance of a 2001 poster and I am really being pedantic by pointing this out as an issue. This is still a complete original as can be seen by the bat-shit mental cameo from David Soul when the film temporarily and brilliantly becomes a fucking musical.

Speaking of music, the score here is absolutely phenomenal with composer Clint Mansell continuing to prove his genius. It seems odd at first that someone like him would do a small budget film like Filth but thinking about it, the fucked up material really fits his style. As can be seen from Requiem For A Dream and Black Swan, his scores not only strengthen when reflecting the madness on screen but also manages to kick the shit out of your emotions too. This is also very much the case here with the music even going someway to helping a 'what-the-fuck' concluding twist fluently achieve its cinematic goal. I won't give it away except to say that there's a revelation near the end that I completely bought which was partly thanks to how wrapped up I was in the intensity of Mansell's work. I should say that I know bugger all about music but because I'm a geek, the only shit that I listen to that isn't Morrissey tends to be film scores- with Mansell being a firm favourite. If I'm dicking about on the computer or need something to block out the irritating sound of somebody talking to me, then the score for Moon and The Fountain have been very useful in the past. I think that the next time that I want to relax to the twisted sound of a particular reality being fucked up beyond recognition, then the music of Filth will definitely be my first calling.

Scotland wishes you a very merry Shitmas.
So yeah- the film was amazing and you should definitely see it if you haven't already. Like I said, it's getting great reviews with the biggest criticism being that it is too unrelentingly dark. Although as I think I've explained, the darkness is where I feel most at home and so that really wasn't a problem for me. In fact I kind of felt like at the very end (mood-spoiler) it dropped the ball slightly by suggesting a chance of redemption for a character that I really didn't feel deserved it. McAvoy might not have made his sluggy bastard particularly sympathetic but with his blood shot eyes and constant hissing of abuse, he was always watchable. In fact, with all the spitting of his booze drenched slobber and the projectile nature of his pungent green vomit, I'm surprised they didn't try and fuck a little more cash out of me and make this film 3D. Actually speaking of which, the film actually takes place at Christmas which is a time of year that I particularly fucking hate. However, and I'm not just saying this, but there's a scene in which Shakin’ Steven's Merry Christmas Everyone plays on the soundtrack as a hungover Robertson pukes his guts up that actually made me feel quite festive. As anybody who knows me and my “hum-bugger off” ways will be able to attest to this may be this fucked up film’s greatest achievement.

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