Andy Bluff the Film Buff: Gets Ironic
by Andrew Smith
Sarcasm is the lowest form of wit, they say. To which I sardonically reply,
"Yeah, sure." Irony, on the other hand, is an altogether more sophisticated
device. To which I arch an eyebrow and say, "Yes. But of course."
Oh yes indeed. For it is a truth universally acknowledged that we Brits are
masters of irony, though personally I'm not convinced this is the case. My
mother's a dab hand but I can't get it right. Especially the shirt sleeves
and collars. No, seriously, there's little difference between our (Britons')
celebrated understanding of irony and yours (Americans'). Though it must be
noted that this little difference alludes to a complete ignorance of the
concept on your part.
Only joking. Or am I? Maybe I'm employing ironic exaggeration to highlight
my point. I don't know myself, caught as I am in a mesh of post-modern,
ironic, post-ironic, half-deconstructed double-thoughts that befuddle my
mind and end up on the page, unresolved, as THIS SHIT. That is what media
studies does to a fellow. That and a fondness for funny little toadstools.
In Britain we get irony shoved down our throats like a big fat greasy
sausage. It all starts at school; in my case it began with a damnable
creature called Mr. Blubber. He insisted there was a big difference between
the blunt sarcasm of playground retorts ("yeah, like I'm shaking in my
boots" etc) and the subtle irony of Jane Austen. Nobody could properly grasp
the distinction, save that playground jibes were often quite funny while
Pride and Prejudice most definitely wasn't. Then one day some wag called
out, "Mr. Blubber... you are a fine teacher. And I mean that most
ironically," and suddenly we all got it. Irony is just another way of taking
But what has any of this got to do with films? I hear you whine. Well,
admittedly not a lot. Most American blockbusters are about as subtly ironic
as a slap on the arse. Which may be no bad thing: if the alternative is some
farty little Hugh Grant/Emma Thomson/Jane Austen costumed misrepresentation
of Englishness, give me Hollywood bombast any day.
Anyway, on to some reviews.
Hugh 'The new Billy Wilder only better' Wilson
Steve Guttenberg; lots of other funny folk
This superbly crafted action-comedy might well be the funniest picture ever
made. Steve Guttenberg, a man for whom the word 'genius' seems barely to
state the case, stars as a young prankster who joins the police force. His
fellow cadets, all reporting to an amusingly testy Lieutenant, are equally
hilarious. They include a joke 'tall man', a rib-tickling 'timid woman' and
a side-splitting fellow who can seemingly imitate any sound known to man,
woman or beast - perhaps the best comedy character of all time. The plot
combines belly-laughs with genuine dramatic tension as the cadets exceed
expectations in a thrilling dénouement. When I watched this for the first
time I laughed so hard I literally pissed in my pants and stunk out the
cinema. A second viewing had exactly the same effect. Whenever this film is
shown on TV now, I reach for my catheter - it is that good. A must-see film
which spawned a number of brilliant sequels.
The Silence of The Lambs
Jonathan Demm Bones Demm Bones
Anthony Hopkins; Jodie Foster parent; a man with no penis
A delightful bittersweet comedy of manners, with a natty turn by Anthony
Hopkins as Hannibal Lector, the charming psychoanalyst who woos FBI agent
Starling (Foster) but tragically never gets to fuck her. I mean sleep with
her. It's a story of unconsummated love in which the two protagonists are
separated by the iron bars of injustice. Lector is serving time for some
trifling offence (something to do with eating people) and the poor bugger is
forced to live next door to an inmate who does nothing but wank. Meanwhile
Starling is preoccupied with finding a man named Buffalo Bill who makes
coats out of people's skin. I don't know why she bothers, the jacket she was
wearing to begin with seemed okay to me.
Bram Stoker's Dracula
Francis Ford Coppola
Gary Oldman; Winona Ryder; Anthony Hopkins; Keanu Reeves; Sadie Frost.
Despite Oldman's attempt to grab centre-stage by sporting a ridiculous array
of hairstyles, this is Keanu Reeves' film. Alongside Sylvester Stallone,
Reeves is perhaps the finest actor of all time, a performer of near
unparalleled range. He has that rare ability to inhabit roles with total
conviction, imbuing characters with subtlety and depth. A master of dialogue
and inflection, his English accent in Dracula is so good, so convincing,
that when I first watched it my eardrums imploded in disbelief, rendering me
quite deaf . His co-stars must shine in the shadow of genius, but they cope
respectably, Oldman's showboating notwithstanding. Ryder, in particular, is
radiant, though sadly she refrains from lowering her bodice to reveal the
ripe fruits of her bosom beneath. Not so co-star Sadie Frost, who despite
being bed-ridden winds up having sex with a wolf. It's not fair. I spend
half my life grooming and practising chat-up lines yet she manages to pull
one just by lying down.
Leaving Las Vegas
Mike Figgy Figtree Figgis
Nicolas Cage; Elizabeth Shoo, now, Shoo
This screwball comedy had me rolling in the isles. The film kicks off when
Cage jacks in his job and goes to Las Vegas on a whim. Here he meets Shoo, a
randy lass if ever there was one, bit of a tart really, and together they
set up home and have a right old laugh. Cage, who likes the odd drink, gets
into some amusing scrapes, such as throwing a tantrum in a casino while
falling over, and copping off with another women right in front of Shoo.
Things take a darker turn when Shoo is gang-raped, but the jaunty tone is
soon resumed when Cage, this time having one too many, dies in his sleep!
What a lightweight! Rollicking entertainment for all the family.
The Remains Of The Dead
Anthony Hopkins; Emma Thomson; Christopher Reeve
This blood-spattered, gut-churning horror shocked audiences around the
world. After making a splash (as it were) with hard-core sex flicks Heat and
Thrust and Howard's End, director James Ivory and producer Ismail Merchant
changed tack to create seminal shocker A Room With Spew. Then came this,
their biggest, most controversial hit to date. Anthony Hopkins stars as a
butler with a dark secret: he is really on a mission from Hell to corrupt
and ultimately impregnate housekeeper Emma Thomson with the seed of Satan.
Christopher Reeve plays a demon in disguise who feasts on the maggots that
breed on the festering corpses of abducted babies in the cellar. The film
has many memorable set-pieces, including Hopkins' flagellation of Geoff the
gardener in which the hapless horticulturist is whipped until his intestines
spill out like big black bulbous worms, and Thomson's energetic sex scene
with Bob the possessed sheepdog.