28 April 2014

Finish With All Your Gobbledygook

Religion has brought so much good to this world that it's no surprise that people are open enough to believe in it. Just look at the great works of art, the literature and the millions of lives that have been given some sort of comfort. Of course, where the Catholic Church is concerned, there's the small matter of its fondness for child rape to put a small downer on things, but I guess that's just swings and roundabouts isn't it? Err- no, obviously it isn't. The whole church-pedo-thing is fucked up beyond belief, with more effort seeming to be placed on hushing it up than stamping it out. I swear that only the other year, in the church down the road from me, the priest was caught mid blow-job with a boy in his care. Not only that but a friend who has relatives that attended that church told me that his family were apparently more concerned by when the abuse started in case it meant that they had an impure Priest perform the ceremony at their wedding. I mean, what the actual fuck? I'm sure religion has brought some good to the world but at the end of the day I'm also sure that we all have to agree that it's really more trouble than it's worth. To quote the great Billy Connolly who was himself a victim of child abuse and for which he also holds the Catholic Church accountable, “that's it for me- religion is fucking finished. That's it, it's fucking over lads. It's fucking over! You've had a couple of thousand years, you've fucked it, it's over. It's fucking over! So take your reformation, your Vatican, your fucking Mecca and fuck off”.

So... Calvary is the latest film to star the always amazing Brendan Gleeson and originated from the psychotically dark mind of writer/director John Michael McDonagh. It tells the story of the one good Priest in an area full of selfish arseholes who are all intent on abusing him in some way for the various atrocities being committed by the Catholic Church. Whereas most people are simply content to verbally punish or belittle him, the film begins during confession when one angry fucknugget goes one further and informs the priest that he's going to kill him in seven days time. His murder however won't be a revenge attack for one of his own past crimes but rather because the would-be-killer had also previously been abused and feels it'd send a stronger message if he killed a good priest rather than a bad one. Within the first thirty seconds, the entire film has now been laid out as Father James then potters about his local area whilst trying to help the various scummy people wherever he can and yet also coming to terms with the possibility of his own upcoming death. I can honestly say that if this film was an emotional roller-coaster then it couldn't have been more of a ride had they replaced the chairs with the raging hard-on of a weeping sex-pest. I'm currently writing this blog at midnight on April the twentieth and as of now Calvary is by far my favourite film of the year. Perhaps even of the last couple of years. I'm in awe. Oh, and yes, for those who looked it up, that does means I'm writing a film blog at the peak social hours of a Saturday night but you know... Fuck you!

I retract that bit about your cunt fucking kids...
Anyway, I saw In Bruges when it first came out a few years ago and it has also since become one of my top ten favourite films of all time. That was of course directed by Martin and not John Michael McDonagh however having now seen all of their movies it seems that the two brothers have a lot in common. Both make the darkest and most bleak- but hilarious- comedies that deal with themes such as guilt, duty and forgiveness and generally revolve around an Irish actor at the centre of it. And by Irish actor I guess I mean Colin Farrell, Brendan Gleeson or both of them. The two directors can also be quite self referential at times too, with Martin Mcdonagh's Seven Psychopaths basically being a film about a writer called Martin who is writing the film that he's unknowingly in. Even here with Calvary, characters comment on everything from the opening line of the movie, they discuss which of them is an interesting character and which is clichéd and they also try to second guess what they actually refer to as the upcoming 'third act revelations'. I don't want to spoil too much but for what are presumably sold as comedies, each one of their four films has a fucking grim-as-fuck ending to it too. Particularly in the case of In Bruges and Calvary too, half of the jokes aren't even jokes with both films really being more like downbeat, melancholic dramas but with an obvious sense of the absurdity of life. I guess my point to all of this is to suggest that the McDonaghs must have had some seriously fucked up parents... and thank god they did because their work is amazing.

I've read a fair few reviews of Calvary since seeing it and pretty much all of them have gushed over it as much as I am now. However, the one slight criticism I've read is that perhaps it has some minor tonal inconsistencies to it but I disagree. I mean- yes, this is a film with a laugh out loud scene in which a weird young man argues that he should be allowed join the army because his desire kill women is basically a qualification, and yet, at the same time, there are scenes of such sadness and emotion that I was honestly holding back tears at times. I mean, I suppose I could have just had a little cry but you know... I was with friends, I'm young, male and British so fuck that! However for me, the balance seemed just right with the first half being more about the jokes and the second half simply being the observations of the shitness of life. I think if there's one scene that sums this film up then it's one in which a coffin is being wheeled to a plane for transportation. At first, the sheer lack of dignity as the corpse is trollied over seems quite funny, however when Father James looks again, the two baggage handlers in charge are now leaning over the coffin and chatting before it can be loaded on board. What was originally fairly amusing becomes heartbreaking as, along with James, we see the emptiness of life in all its pointlessness. I mean, maybe I'm wrong but the journey from jokes to melancholy seemed perfectly natural to me. Compare this to Tarantino's Inglorious Bastards for example which would go from a tense scene of Jewish abuse at the hands of the Nazis to one in which Mike Myers did his Austin Powers schtick and Calvary will look like a tonal fucking masterpiece... but then again, by comparison so would most films, I suppose.

As I said, this film is an emotional roller-coaster which, as well as the director, is also thanks to the mesmerising performance of Brendan Gleeson whose huge talent is only matched in size by his huge ears. Seriously- check them out. The man he plays isn't a saint but rather a human trying to do his best below that shroud of misery that smothers our lives. He's the one man attempting to show that the Church isn't the child-fucking-nonce-fest that it's presumed to be and as a result every member of that town is trying to break him to validate their own positions on the matter. However, as he absorbs all of their abuse and even their problems, and tries to counter it, you get the sense that actually they don't want to beat him. As much as they're trying to justify their own cynical positions, he represents hope to them and at the end of the day they need him to give them a chance of redemption. Gleeson's priest is basically a piñata at a party of the angriest, brattiest children who might be hitting him as hard as they can to vent their frustrations by hurting him but secretly they really just want to eat his sweets and enjoy the party. Okay.. not sure if that analogy works and it's also kind of weird but fuck it, you get the point.

Speaking of the locals, it's also worth stating how amazing some of the performances surrounding Gleeson are with randomly small but memorable performances from Dylan Moran, Aidan Gillen, Chris O'Dowd and some creepy looking old coffin dodger that I later realised was M. Emmet Walsh. I haven't seen Walsh in anything since Blade Runner and he looked old then and yet it seems in the subsequent few decades he's managed to age even more into what looks like creepy, porn addicted hobbit. Still good though, and I suppose he's in his late fucking seventies so it'd probably be weirder if he didn't look old. In fact, you've got to just presume that all of these people have turned up solely as a result of the writing which is up there with The Coen's at their best and easily matches the genius that people wrongly credit Tarantino for being.

It's easy to moan about how easy it is to make fun of their religion... That should be a clue...
Anyway, I don't want to say much more because I'd hate to give away the ending and I'd hate to just spoil everything that made me laugh. Although, I do think that it's ironic that Aronofsky's Noah is the film that's causing the most controversy at the moment seems as all that movie did was try and make the religious fairy-story seem a little more believable. Considering that this is an angry film with genuine issues that the Church needs to address you've got to wonder where the outrage and attempted censorship is here? Is it that religious people only get mad when the film that they believe is offensive to them has a bigger budget or perhaps more likely is it that in the case of Calvary they've actually got something to be ashamed of? With its mass marketing, there's no way that Noah is going to go away but perhaps if it's just ignored then Calvary's accusations of the Church’s evil just might... for now. There's nothing left for either of us to do now except just go and see this film again because it's the most hilarious, profound thing I've seen probably since In Bruges. Apparently the next 'comedy' that Gleeson and McDonagh will make will centre around an angry paraplegic, investigating the murder of his best friend. Count me the fuck in.  


21 April 2014

Go Forth And Multiply

Of all the big questions that humanity has pondered, the most important must of course be what species Piers Morgan is and how do we kill it? After that I suppose the next issue down the list might be ‘is there a God?’ and ‘if so, why is he such a twat?’ I should point out that I'm an agnostic and don't completely deny the possibility of the existence of the magical sky man. It would be arrogant of me to say there's no such thing as there's currently no chance that I can prove or disprove the concept either way. Having said that though, nor can I prove that in his spare time, God isn't a blacked up drag Queen called Sweet Latisha with diamond encrusted nipple tassels and a skull-shaped ivory cock ring. I can guess that, that is probably not the case in, as much as I can guess, he probably doesn't exist either but for now I suppose I just can't know for sure. Sadly however, a lot of the world is ironically a lot more closed minded than this, electing to instead believe a gut feeling or childhood indoctrination over something as silly as the freely available facts. Not only that but if you even attempt to point out the obvious ridiculousness of blind faith then they tend to get a little pissy for some reason. I don't know why this is the case but I'm going to guess it's possibly the result of an underlying insecurity that suggests they're worried we non-believers are probably right. Call a sensible skinny person fat and they'll just look at you as though you're stupid. Call a sensible fat person fat and they'll go crying to the ice-cream trough because secretly they know you might be right. 

In 1979, the geniuses that are Monty Python dared to make a comedy which had the nerve to take place around the same area and time as when Jesus was allegedly performing his magic tricks. Despite The Life of Brian making fun of the fictional title character and actually treating the real words of the Bible with surprising respect, the religious folk unfortunately failed to see the funny side. In fact, many of them failed to see the movie at all instead deciding once again to just believe what they'd heard and wrongly protest the film on the assumption that it ridiculed their faith. Had they  actually bothered to see it then they would have realised that in reality it depicts a world that validates their beliefs and instead makes fun of people who act irrationally in the name of religion. By protesting the The Life of Brian without having watched it, the Bible-bashers inadvertently became the exact thing the movie was taking the piss out off. Imagine the 'don't worry about the vase' scene from The Matrix but played out between a bunch of hilarious but mischievous comedians and a gang of humourless God Botherers and that's basically what happened here... and now it's happening again.

Today is not a washing day...
Darren Aronofsky's Noah is the latest film to get a religious kicking from that vocal minority of brainwashed fuckwits with some countries even going as far as simply banning the film outright. The movie tells the story of Noah who lived in that first half of the Bible where God is portrayed as being a great angry cunt who, like an evil dictator, punishes those who defy him. He's basically a bit like Hitler but without even the redeeming feature of a funny moustache. Anyway, God doesn't actually appear in this film with Noah instead suffering from a series of hallucinations that suggest to him that he needs to build a big old boat before the world floods and kills everybody. Rather than putting this down to too much cheese before bed and not enough schizophrenia medicine in the morning though, Noah does as he thinks he's told and decides to make a floaty wooden box for every single animal that he can find... as you do. Anyway, this is all going quite well thanks to a fair bit of help from some giant rock monsters until, of course, King Ray 'I'm the Daddy now' Winstone finds out he's going to be drowned and doesn't quite fancy the idea. On top of that, Noah's three sons have started to worry that they might not have anything to fuck whilst on the ark whilst somehow forgetting that they'll be surrounded by a boat load of mostly sleepy animals. 

I should say at this point that, although I'm still yet to see his debut film Pi, I am a huge fan of Aronofsky's films and so was really excited to see this movie. However I'd also say that I was probably left feeling a tiny bit disappointed by it in the end which isn't to say that it's a bad film at all but simply that it just doesn't quite hit the extraordinary heights of Black Swan or The Wrestler. As the film went on, and I tried to work out why I wasn't quite connecting to it, I think I came to one ironic point. Despite all of the controversy from Gods angry cult, the reason that this film doesn't work quite as well as a masterpiece such as Requiem For A Dream does is simply because of the batshit stupidity of the original source material. Aronofsky can do his absolute best with this story but at the end of the day it's a morality tale in which every single animal on the planet hides in a boat as God punishes the naughtiness of man with a merciless global genocide. The irony of this being that for me, the biggest criticism is the ridiculousness of the Bible story that the film is based on, but for everybody else, the controversy centres around the looseness of the adaptation. 

Due to the fact that the original Bible story is a relatively short one, Aronofsky has padded it out with strange mutant animals, Helms Deep style battles and an environmental message that surely nobody could take issue with…? Well, issue with it they did take as some braindead church goers seem unable to understand the definition of the word 'adaptation'. Apparently in his mission to roll a turd in glitter, Aronofsky decided to combine several Noah-esque tales from various different cultures in an attempt to create a more cinematic and believable story. As a result of this, the religious obsessives have been throwing their shit out of the pram in anger because he dared to make some logical changes to their original holy text. However for me, this is the same argument that people make whenever any book is adapted into a film and the fans get all pissy about it. 

People assume that because both books and films have the primary purpose of telling a story that the two mediums should be easily interchangeable.. but they're not. What might work in a novel might not in a film (for one of a million reasons) and as such will need to be adapted. Incidentally, that rule applies both ways but you rarely seem to hear people bitching about how shit the novelisation of their favourite film is! Anyway, my point is that a film has the right to tell the story that it wants to regardless of the content of whatever it's based on, and as such should be taken on its own merits. Note the use of the word 'adaption' as opposed to 'replication'. Blade Runner and The Shining are two prime examples of great films that took significant liberties with the books that they were adapted from and last time I checked they hadn't been banned in any countries, so why should Noah? Considering the believers are so fucking obsessed with sticking to the text, it's also worth noting that the ark in this film is built to the exact specifications as is laid out in their book. However despite this being the case, filming on Noah ran into some delays when Hurricane Sandy struck New York producing both storms and floods that the set was unable to cope with. So much for sticking to the 'facts’, hey?

I should re-emphasise too for the sake of fairness that it's not every religious person who is this narrow minded, with most, I'm sure, living perfectly social lives and having a good sense of perspective. In fact, according to the actual source of all information... I read on Wikipedia that the Arch-bishop of Canterbury referred to Noah as being, “interesting and thought-provoking”. It's just that the crazy ones tend to scream louder then the sane ones and it's easy to get pissed off by their manic and irrational hatreds. Not liking the film is one thing but banning it is something completely different. Just because they believe their bullshit doesn't mean anybody else should be dictated to by it as well. But like I say.. for the most part I'm sure religious people can see this film for what it is. It's just a shame for the odd nutcase, the American Bible belt, the worlds supply of creationists and the Governing censors of Pakistan, Bahrain, Qatar, UAE, Malaysia and Indonesia. It's also worth pointing out that in a few of the countries that it's been banned in, it wasn't banned because of a love of the Christian Bible but rather because they have their own different religion that this film seemingly contradicts. Like I mentioned above with my 'fatty and the trough of ice-cream' analogy, I guess you have to question the certainty of a religion that feels it has to deprive its members of an alternate perspective.

But ignoring all that, is the film actually any good? Well as I said, the story is a bit silly but by giving it a sense of timelessness, Aronofsky does a good job of making it fun. Set in a world that's kind of Star Wars-y and a bit Planet of the Apse-y this feels more like a sci-fi movie than it does any of those 1950's biblical epics that made a shit tonne of money and had a running time of about nine days. If there has to be a film about this story then I honestly think this is the best it's going to be although I kind of wish it had been more intense. Aronofksy is at his best when making a film that's just fucking brutal to watch and despite the apocalyptic theme of this, it didn't quite reach the horror of his previous efforts. However when things did come to a head, the film itself came into its own with Ray Winstone's character adding some much needed anger and Noah himself enduring a full on descent into guilt and madness. In fact when the flood does arrive, the film almost becomes a biblical remake of the previously mentioned film The Shining as the ark’s captain stomps about after his confined family with murderous intent. Before this however, the movie occasionally gets too close to taking itself a little too seriously considering the absurdity of the story. There's some scenes early on in which Anthony Hopkins obsesses over a quest for berries which was fucking hilarious and I still can't quite work out whether that was intentional or not. 

Speaking of taking-itself-too-seriously, people often slag of Russell Crowe for coming across as a bit up himself but fuck them because I think he's great. Although his Noah isn't exactly a sympathetic man, he's always watchable thanks to that mad ‘Travis Bickle’ glint in his eye that suggests he's kind of glad that a real rain has finally come down to wash away all the whores, skunk pussies, buggers, queens, fairies, dopers and junkies. Perhaps more credit though should go to Jennifer Connelly who has the more thankless task of reminding the audience of Noah's hidden goodness by cowering from him and crying for an hour or so. Oh, and when she's not doing that, she's out preparing for the flood by trying to find a workable womb for her sons to impregnate whilst completely ignoring the option of simply taking one for the team. In fact, incest does seem to be another theme running through this film as in order to repopulate the world they only have one girl, Emma Watson, with them who’s not only been raised as a sister to the boys but also turns out to be barren anyway. Having not seen her in much else, it is nice to see Watson having a post-Potter career by competently portraying the anguish of a girl who has a Fault in her Chamber of Secrets. Still, the incest thing is again more of a problem with the Bible than it is this film with it here simply adding to the whole Star Wars-y vibe that I mentioned before.

Master and Commander: The Early Years
I suppose the real star of the film is, as is often the case with Aronofky's films, the composer Clint Mansell whose soundtrack is predictably phenomenal here. I guess I have nothing else to add to that point except that I recommend you check it out on YouTube... and then listen to everything else he's done whilst you're at it because his work is fucking amazing. Aronofsky himself too reminds us he's in charge here with the odd creative flourish such as a weird montage of birds flying and a cool scene in which cells divide and begin to evolve through time. It's kind of like that Fatboy Slim music video for Right here, Right now but here sadly ends just short of the creature turning into a short fat man in a T-Shirt saying, “I'm Number one so why try harder?” Anywho, as ever, I’ve waffled on for far too long so I'll end it here by saying that a lesser Aronofsky film is still a more satisfying prospect than a good effort from most other filmmakers. If you've not already seen Noah then my advice would be to ignore the religious criticisms and if anything, just make an effort to see the film if only to piss them off. But then what do I know? As I said in the opening paragraph, I'm not an atheist- I'm an agnostic, so maybe the fruitcakes are right all along. After all, God’s flood was designed to wipe out the evils of man and seems as the world is now run by such angels as the cuddly Putin, the maternal Mugabe and the self-deprecating Kim Jong Un, I suppose there must have been some divine help in creating our Utopian World of Peace. Ha then again... What a load of old shit. 


14 April 2014

The Path of the Righteous Man

And now I shall begin this blog in the style of an old bitter man who’s had one too many to drink before closing time. I'll let you decide at which point I start to break character and allow reality to bleed in! So... what is it with you people? Bastards, the lot of you! I look around and all I see are bullshitters and fuckwits. I used to have hope. I had dreams. But you've killed them all with your lies like the great selfish arseholes that you are! I hate you. I hate your fake smiles and your fucking punchable shithead faces. I'm sick of being choked to death by the truth shaped bollocks that you ram down my throat. You're all a herd of wild bell-ends and I have been trampled by your hooves of crap for far too long. Sure I might have a few trust issues but I'd say the biggest issue is simply that everyone's a twat and you can all burn in hell. I think there are about four people in this life who I can actually properly trust and thank fuck for them. They're the last line of defence between me, the world and a full blown breakdown. You lot should be fucking grateful for them too because I swear to God that I'm only one spoonful of horseshit away from heading to the clock tower and taking fucking aim! Aaaaand scene... So anyway, Captain America: The Winter Soldier was pretty good.

This film continues the story of Steve Rogers from both his first film and The Avengers as the worlds least scrawny nice-guy continues to have the world shit all over him. Whilst adjusting to life in our time, he now works for SHIELD who supposedly protect our world from all the freaky stuff that's been going down of late. I was actually thinking whilst watching this that if you lived in the Marvel Universe, the daily news channels would be the greatest TV show of all time! How the hell would something like Breaking Bad compete with the News at Ten when that news features genuine footage of aliens, superheroes, and massive fuck-off robots? You'd think that their fictional dramas would be the most boring things possible just as a bit of escapism from all the adrenalin. Breaking Bad wouldn't be about a dying teacher slowly becoming a stone-cold Meth dealer it would be about a dying teacher slowly becoming a stone-cold corpse. It'd be self-fulfilment television at its most relaxing! Anyway... So SHIELD gets compromised, Nick Fury disappears and the Captain has to figure out who he can trust whilst also trying to discover who the hell The Winter Soldier is. There's fights, laughs, tears, and credits.

What do you mean I look like someone left a waxwork of Brad Pitt to close to a fire?
So, if there's one theme that runs so consistently through this film it's the idea of trust which, other than my questionable mental state and an overly indulgent writing style, is the main reason for the opening paragraph. SHIELD has been infiltrated by the enemy and after being informed by Fury, The Captain slowly learns that he can no longer trust anybody. Although Marvel essentially make nothing but superhero action films, it's admirable that they try to remain at least somewhat original by setting each new addition in a different sub-genre. This time they've decided on homaging the old paranoia/conspiracy thrillers of the 70's with this film featuring sinister organisations, bugged rooms, double agents and the appearance of an old decomposing Robert Redford. It's not that Redford doesn't look good for his age, it's just that now he kind of looks like somebody’s tried to make a sculpture of his younger self out of cheese and it's starting to go off. He's still cool though so unless he's offering a million dollars, I suppose it doesn't matter to me what he looks like. I also appreciated how this film is basically the next episode in what is essentially now just a massive-budget TV show and yet still remains accessible to any new audience members. Did you see the first Captain America film? No? Well then don't worry because The Cap himself will fill you in when he goes for an egotistical stroll through, 'The Museum of Clunky Exposition'.

So yeah- I really enjoyed this film which, let’s face it, is so reminiscent of Thunderbirds that it's like a live-action wet dream from the founder of the Jerry Anderson fan club. For me, the highlight was near the start where Fury is involved in a car chase that results in even more proof that Samuel 'Not in the Matrix' Jackson really is the coolest motherfucker on the planet. I also really like Steve Rogers despite that fact that he seems so considerate and kind that he's at constant risk of being about as much fun as fingering a deflated sex doll that's not even pretending to be into it. I don't know why I like Rogers so much but I think it's because he's a nice guy and I'm single which, from my experience, must mean that I am too. I also admire how little controversy Marvel have attracted for Captain America considering that the way in which he acquired his powers essentially makes the franchise a promotional tool for the use of steroids. Are you a pathetic scrawny fuck who wishes he was tough enough to punch foreigners in the face? Then when not try making yourself bigger by stabbing yourself in the muscles with a variety of untested drug-filled needles?! You've got to admire their balls for that one!

Anyway, also I think it's pretty cool to see how relevant this film kind of is with its exploration of Government Agencies spying on people who haven't yet done anything wrong. Admittedly that exploration only goes as far as seeing how long it'll take for something to explode but it's still nice to know that John Snowdon has a blockbuster he can relate to, too. In fact, I really enjoyed all of the fun espionage action so much that for at least the first hour I thought this could be my favourite non-Avengers film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Well, I thought that for the first hour at least but then it just went on and on and on. In many ways the structure of this film is very reminiscent of Ron Jeremy in that it's kind of long and a bit too flabby. Having said that, I don't really know what I'd take out to get this film down to a more reasonable duration. The only thing I can think is that the third act could have done with something different simply because every Marvel film ever has so far ended with a climactic battle. In fact, other than World War Z, I'm pretty sure that no action film has either. Sure none of them had previously also involved the cool swooping of The Falcon, or as I prefer, ‘Robo-Kes’... but still. In fact, one of the things I also loved was in how his metal wings were barely explained considering how fucking mental and impractical they are. I think there's a throwaway line about how he ended up with them after somebody asked, “what the fuck?” But despite whatever his answer really was, it was so uninformative that he may as well have just retorted with, “Because only cunts ask questions”.

Speaking of things with almost no explanation, I'd say that possibly the biggest fault of the film is that The Winter Soldier, whose name is in the fucking title, ends up getting a little neglected. As villains go, he's like a young boy sat outside a pub for six hours with a glass of lemonade and a packet of crisps as the adults have fun inside. His backstory is also explained in a sequence that's over so quickly it makes most vines look like Lawrence of A-fucking-rabia. The Winter Soldier turns up, shoots things and looks angry... that's about it. I mean how in God's name can he be unhappy considering his single superpower is a pneumatic wanking arm? In fact, what's he even doing out of the house? Although, whatever... I guess the presence of an underused villain is always going to be a problem with characters as charismatic and famous as these lead superheroes seem to be. It's also true of a few other Marvel films too, with Thor 2's Malekith being about as personality-free as a dishcloth and Iron Man's Obadiah Stane's name sounding like a wet patch found around an old, pissed Irishman's crotch. I guess there's also only so many times that they can wheel Loki out too before either Tom Hiddleston dies of exhaustion or the character becomes about as overused as a fat person’s shitting bucket. I suppose this villain thing is just going to have to be something the series concentrates on improving as things move on. Speaking of which, another problem is possibly that with these films are planned out so far ahead that there's almost no level of suspense in regards to the fate of key characters. Near the start here, somebody gets off-ed which is slightly undermined by the fact that we've all seen the cast list for The Avengers 2 and we all saw Gordon pull the exact same trick in The Dark Knight.

Captain America 3: The Unventilated Fart
But, yeah... I promise you that this film is still really good with Marvel's first real fuck up still yet to happen. It's admirable that a mainstream action movie should aim for some degree of political relevance- it's nice to see a studio have the balls to make huge changes within the world of their films and it's fun to see Robert Redford both visibly involved with pop-culture and alive. It does kind of bang on about the issue of trust quite a lot which is fine... Although if you've had the same experiences that I have with the opposite sex then not trusting people really isn't a lesson you need to be taught. Once you've had to forcibly prevent a girl from ramming her finger up your arse, a stern word about being ‘on your guard’ from Samuel L. Jackson seems a little redundant. But that's just me... Sometimes I think I can be too honest in these blogs…? Maybe that's why I can relate to Captain America so much. He can't trust people because everyone around him keeps getting murdered and I can't because somebody once tried to penetrate me. We're like two peas in a pod! And on that note, I'll end it there and see you next week. Bye-bye!!!


7 April 2014

They've Ordered A Sequel

In some respects The Muppets are a greater force in this world than God is. Neither seem particularly realistic and in both cases appear to have zero intention of convincing us otherwise. Do I believe that there is a magical sky-man that loves us unconditionally just so long as we don't do something as evil as doubt his existence? Or swap body juice with a person of matching genitals? Not really. Do I believe in the consciousness of an old felt frog with ping-pong ball eyes and a fetish for pigs? Not really... I mean there are moments where I can lose myself to it but for the most part I can never forget that below the frame Kermit is being manipulated by a hidden puppeteer who’s elbow deep in frog anus. Both God and The Muppets were invented by humanity to help provide both comfort and tell good stories, but at least in the case of The Muppets we're never actually meant to believe it. In fact, the very appeal of The Muppets seems to be in their acknowledgement of their own shittiness. If you watch the old show, they break the fourth wall to insult themselves almost as often as the Bible contradicts itself or incites some sort of hate. If you know of two blokes that happen to love each other then God wants you to take them outside and ensure that they're stoned. For a fucking amazing half hour I recommend that you watch an episode of The Muppets under a similar influence.

The previous Muppet film was basically a reboot for a gang of characters that were no longer relevant in our more cynical world. However, by the end of it, I was feeling nostalgic for a property that I'd previously had almost nothing to do with. When Kermit started to go through his bad times, my heart felt like it was under the same amount of pressure as a fat person must be in the 'Museum Of Cheese And Jogging'. As a response to that film, I went back to the old series and watched some of the classic episodes which I was really enjoying until I eventually reached the one featuring Roger Moore. As anybody who exists within talking distance of me will know, I'm a huge James Bond fan with Moore being a particular hero. In fact, as I type this now, I can see his autobiography on the table just staring at me and screaming for me to pick it up... Actually, give me one second and I'll see if he mentions his guest appearance on The Muppet Show...
Hah- having checked, I can confirm that he actually does. On page 233 he describes the experience as being, “One of the highlights of my career”. Wow, well for a man who did The Spy Who Loved Me, that is high praise indeed! Having said that though, he does then ruin the sentiment by admitting to having had sex with Miss Piggy and then telling the joke, “What's green and smells of pork? Kermit's finger”. Oh Roger...

The Russians are not known for their suspicious behaviour..
Anyway... so I loved the previous film, the old show and Roger Moore... who loves the show too. I was therefore very excited to see what they had in store for the sequel which I finally managed to get around to seeing the other day. Muppets: Most Wanted begins about one second after the last one ended as Kermit and his friends have to decide what to do next. Because we're all ultimately a wild, slathering pack of capitalist pig-dogs, the gang get a whiff of the yankee dollar and so decide to boost their income and fame by organising a world tour. Sadly for them though, the man organising this tour has other ideas, instead deciding to use it as an opportunity to travel the world and steal from a shit load of buildings and frame them in the process. That man in question is played by Ricky Gervais who seems born to play the role of a short, fat man from Reading whose partner in crime here is a short green frog named Constantine. Constantine has a dodgy Russian accent and a mole on his face but other than that is the spitting image of Kermit... As a result, the two obviously swap places, with Kermit in prison for Constantine's crimes and Constantine in charge of The Muppets who are, of course, all oblivious to the mix up. With friends like that, who needs cunts! Also, it's probably unfair of me to slag off Constantine's accent as realistically, it is better than some actual Russian actors... Gerard Depardieu, for example.

So what is there to like about Muppets: Most Wanted? Well, I'd say almost everything as I fucking loved it! I think I laughed more during this one film than I've laughed throughout the entirety of somebody like Eddie Murphy's career... Although to be fair I did chuckle at the unintentional honesty of Norbit's tagline, “have you ever made a really big mistake?” The point is that this film is really funny! I hate it when people say that and then tell you all the best jokes... But for me the highlights were the reveal of who Danny Trejo is actually playing and also the image of a smug little Muppet that's full on degrading Gervais by dancing on his fucking head. After seeing the film, me and my chums all differed on what we thought the best scene was as we chuckled our way to the car park during a post-film chitty-chat. It's also worth noting that, despite I guess being a kids film, we all still loved it despite each of us making steady progress on the grim race away from our childhood and towards our graves. I'm the youngest of the group and even for me it's been a good fifteen years since my first pube arrived to warn me about the imminent arrival of my aging and consequentially cynical, adult mind. 

I still loved this film though and had I actually been its target audience I'm sure I'd have liked it even more... or would I? I don't know any children because I think they're over-rated as a concept and so I can't ask any younglings what they actually thought. I mean, I guess they'd like it because kids are basically stupid and so enjoy anything with bright colours and cute monsters that look like the children of nuclear warfare. However, I don't think this film does specifically have them in mind as its target audience. Just look at the cameos for example! Find me one kid who is going to be excited about the appearance of Danny Trejo, Ray Liotta, Frank Langella or Toby Jones? Admittedly, that would be a fucking cool kid that felt joy when it sees the star of Goodfellas or Berberian Sound Studio but until I find a womb capable of growing my own little bastard I just doubt one exists.  Still, I loved the film with the cameos here being a huge improvement over those of the first. In fact, one of my biggest let downs about the last movie was that I'd heard Gervais was going to show up which he sadly never did, having had his scene cut out. I'm sure some people won't have been as sad about that as me because Gervais seems to be one of those comedians that splits people down the middle. Some people love him because he's hilarious, others hate him because they're idiots. My favourite show of all time is The Office in which his performance as David Brent is one of the most hilarious and touching things that I've ever seen. With his villainous role here, I feel that the mistakes of the previous have well and truly been corrected. This film aims to entertain children but I think it's more concerned about appealing to the one living dormant inside most adults than it is any that are actually alive.

Obviously Muppets Most Wanted isn't perfect but it was something that I really enjoyed. After the triumphant return of the last movie, this simply just feels like the natural progression of where things could go and in many ways is just another Muppet caper film... but is that really so bad? It's nothing too special but still great fun if you like the idea of seeing the kind of bonkers craziness that's only usually reserved for a confused schizophrenic before going on a killing spree. The film opens with a song about how sequels are never as good as the first which isn't strictly true but probably is here. Of all the things that I preferred about this one it really lacked the sadness, melancholy and nostalgia of the first which was what I loved most about it. This film is all about joyful silliness whereas there was at least a few moments in the previous film where it looked like Kermit might be about to book himself on a one way trip to France... which is a euphemism I've just invented for froggy suicide. I don't know why but I do enjoy my children's films to have an undercurrent of depression about them.

Should I take the pills or just kill everyone...?
So yeah... that's that really. I don't know what else to say about the film so I'll round this off by saying that I stand by my opening paragraph about preferring The Muppets to God. They're less preachy and thanks to the genius of Bret Mackenzie, have a much better soundtrack than the Bible ever could. I loved Flight of the Conchords but have only seen them once when I watched them all both blitzed and during a full blown outbreak of the munchies. Colours, comedy and music are pretty much what I look for when under the influence with Conchords and Muppets fulfilling both criterias perfectly. Sadly though as a result, I barely actually remember anything about Conchords except that I loved it and the music was amazing. I think Mackenzie's style must be squatting somewhere in my subconscious though because for me, perhaps it's his tunes that really elevate these films to the heights that they are. If you can bring yourself to stay alive for just a few more hours then I really recommend you go and check Muppets: Most Wanted out because, let's face it, in this Godless and meaningless universe... what the fuck else is there to do?