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Andy Bluff the Film Buff

Has had it up to here

by Andrew Smith

People sometimes accuse me of being negative. This is untrue, unfair, unfathomable and everything else beginning with un. I'm not negative, but the world around me is. The mindless wars. The interminable famines. Disease, pestilence, poverty, crime, hatred, intolerance, social inequity, late buses. By God, they get me down. Especially late buses. As the graffiti on our local hospital says: 'It's A Mean Old Scene'. I'll second that. But then I would - I wrote it. Nothing, though, depresses me more than watching bad films, not even waiting for buses. And let's be honest, there are more bad films about than you can shake a shitty stick at.

The worst culprits are TV movies. Why make a film for television? It ceases to be a film and becomes a poor-quality television programme masquerading as a poor-quality film. It's just tawdry money-spinning, nothing more. There are thousands of woeful TVMs clogging up the schedules, most of them based on the true story of a wife and mother-of-two's brave, doomed fight against some horrible disease.(Ah, chemotherapy, just the thing to brighten up my evening.) I have to have a box of tissues to hand when movies like this are on, not because they make me cry but because I feel impelled to turn them off and watch some pornography instead. I jest of course; I don't need pornography. A dying woman is quite sufficient visual stimulation.

If only every film was so easy to categorise. At least with TV movies you know in advance they're going to be pants. Proper films aren't so easy to anticipate. 90% of Westerns are total pap, but there's the odd shiny pebble of merit glinting among a beach of turds. The same goes for black and white films, all of them as entertaining as being pissed on, except for the good ones, which are usually in colour. Generally, I'd rather lick razor blades than watch costume dramas, but occasionally one captures my attention, and it will invariably be French and feature lots of naked, sweaty, copulating bodies. As for science-fiction, I concede a fondness for the original Star Wars films, Planet of The Apes and a few other oddities that have caught my imagination. But it's safe to say the majority of sci-fi flicks are puddles of piss, and I've included two such examples in my selection of reviews below (if you can call Batman science-fiction, which I bloody well can). The only genre without its saving graces (the exception to the rule that rules have exceptions) is the musical, but I don't want to go over old ground here. Just don't talk to me about musicals.

Please note that in a startling testament to my professionalism, I have listed the names of the director and principal actors for each film reviewed.

Blade Runner

Ridley 'Fiddly' Scott

Harrison Ford; Rutting Howerrrrrrr; Daryl 'Stretch' Hanna; some pouting bird with dark hair

Arsey fanny-parp tit-toss, is what I say. Though not in polite company. But profane twitterings still make more sense than this scrambled gobshite. Blade Runner is one of those films that inspires fierce loyalty in its devotees - the sort of people who diligently stick Star-Trek posters on their wall and keep a diary of memorable wanks. I was privy to the 'Director's Cut' (as opposed to the evilly studio-butchered one, presumably) which, I was informed breathlessly by my excited, near masturbatory guide, is devoid of the 'annoying' voice-over and 'cop-out' ending. Personally I could have done with a narrator to tell me what the fuck was going on and/or to keep me awake. Though on reflection, sleeping through Blade Runner was by far the best option. It stars Harrison Ford (pure wood), a Dutch bloke who used to advertise Guinness, and Daryl Hannah, a women so tall and rangy I suspect she is a giraffe in a wig.

True Romance

Tony Scott

Christian Slater; Patricia Arquette; Dennis Hopper; Christopher Walken; Brad Shit.

True Romance is hollow to its shameless core. Quentin 'all style, no substance' Tarantino wrote the script; director Tony Scott, purveyor of high-gloss pulp (blame him for Top Gun), chiselled away any remnants of soul. The story, such as it is, concerns two young lovers (Arquette and Slater) getting into all manner of scrapes involving pimps, gangsters, drug dealers and the like. Tarantino is at his most intolerable here: all presumptuous, clever-arsed, self-referential, pop-cultural, look-at-me-aren't-I-hip posturing. It gets right on my tits and I hope it dates terribly. The plot riffs are lifted straight out of an Elmore Leonard novel (how long can Tarantino plagiarise this man?) and the characters, in Scott's hands, are paper-thin stereotypes. It is sad watching the (type) cast parody themselves. We have Gary Oldman doing his villainous Gary Oldman thing, Christopher Walken doing his villainous Christopher Walken thing and Dennis Hopper being Dennis Hopper. But wait - who's this? - why, it's Brad Pitt 'subverting' his pinup image by playing a (stereotypical) near-comatose pot-head. I think he is supposed to be funny. He's not. Of the leads, Slater, a shallow actor of negligible merit, acts as an unwitting metaphor for the film itself. Only Arquette escapes critical censure on account of her fine, heaving bosom and my chauvinism.

Batman Forever

Joel Shoemaker

Val Killjoy; Jim Carrey; Tommy Lee Jones; Drew Barrymore

A truly dreadful film with absolutely no redeeming features, except that at some point it ends. I saw it a few years ago in the flashy Warner Bros cinema in London's Leicester square (flashy, that is, if you're used to the pissy stench and worn seats of the Turnpike Lane Coronet, as I was). I was with a friend who thought the film so bad he rushed outside after only 15 minutes and puked on the steps in protest. And because he had a bellyful of beer resting uneasily against his delicate constitution. I should have joined him there and then - had I known what was in store I'd have licked up the vomit in preference - but alas I stayed, expecting at least a few mindless thrills. It was mindless all right, but about as thrilling as constipation. All fast cuts and jarring colour, yet astonishingly, crashingly dull, it stars Val Kilmer in a Batman suit looking for all the world like Val Kilmer in a Batman suit and Jim Carrey being unfunny as only he knows how. Tommy Lee Jones potters around mumbling a bit. There's no plot to speak of, so I won't speak of it. After leaving the cinema I confronted the task of removing the popcorn I had stuffed up my bottom - yes, I was that bored I was forced to experiment with anal stimulation. Batman and Robin is supposed to be even worse. Thank God I didn't see that. I'd have ended up impaling myself on a breadstick.

Career Girls

Mike Leigh

Two talkative women; that's all I can remember.

Mike Leigh, the darling of British cinema (in Britain, if nowhere else) failed to produce the salacious, though incisive, dissection of female prostitution that I sort of hoped the title implied, delivering instead an unconvincing, typically verbose and really rather boring film about two friends reuniting, or something. Very forgettable. At least Brenda Blethering Blethyn isn't in it. But I have a personal axe to grind. Mike Leigh, when scouting locations, chose my house as the film's principal set. We - my housemates and I - were poor, unemployed, dissolute losers back then, with little to look forward to except a cheap bottle of cider apiece in the evening with which we obliterated our grim existence (we now have jobs). When Mikey - as we started to call him - promised us the world, i.e. some money in exchange for pissing off for six weeks while he filmed, we were so excited that we jumped around for hours, shagging each other randomly like a family of chimps on heat. The bastard - THE BASTARD - never came back. No phone call, no letter, no apology, nothing. Nothing. Our dismay was such that two of my housemates took their lives. The rest of us took their tellies. For what? This. This WORTHLESS PIECE OF SHIT, the cinematic equivalent of putting your head in a dustbin for two hours. It makes me so mad I want to growl. Grrrrrrrrrrrr.






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