Monday, 12 December 2011

Dear Tories

Cunts, the lot of you... CUNTS, I say. In short:


Dear Saps

It may surprise most of you to learn that the remnants of a soul do appear to lurk somewhere within the blackened recesses of my hateful frame (it certainly did me the other day when I found myself actually feeling a vague twinge of sympathy for Nick Clegg). Contrary to popular belief – and this is possibly my own fault for once emitting a loud cheer in a packed cinema when Bambi’s mother got shot – I’ve been known to shed a few reluctant tears from time to time. Yeah, you heard. I bawl (on the inside) at movies.

Now, don’t get me wrong here, we’re not talking about E.T. boarding the mothership, that grouchy old biffer’s tawdry life-story in Up or Kate Winslet telling Leo she’ll “Never let go, Jack!” before sending him plummeting to the bottom of the ocean (fibbing bitch…) – frankly, that's the kind of manipulative fodder reserved for the wailing masses in multiplexes. No, indeed, we snobbish dilettantes are looking for something altogether more distressing from our reticent weep-fests, and so it’s with a fresh box of Kleenex and a hearty dose of ‘New Man’ that I hereby present…


10) The entire fucking movieLETTER FROM AN UNKNOWN WOMAN (1948)

Joan Fontaine puts quill to paper and pens what is possibly the most unwelcome missive a gentleman could ever hope to receive, short of a notice which simply reads: “You have syphilis”. She’s silently been in love with him her whole adult life, for Christ’s sake! Resolutely less moving if you take the view of film historian Tag Gallagher that the entire enterprise represents the delusional ramblings of a madwoman, but still – Max Ophuls’ exquisite tear-jerker is the undisputed Daddy of movies so utterly wrenching that they’re almost impossible to watch (see also: Big Wednesday, The Life of Oharu, Ikiru, White Chicks).

9) Kelvin and Rheya – SOLARIS (2002)

George Clooney’s finest hour – and that includes the look on his face when he happens upon the centrefold of Living Without Intestines magazine in Intolerable Cruelty. Faced with the confusion and emotional tumult of having his long-dead wife materialise amidst mass hallucinations onboard his space cruiser, haunted shrink Chris Kelvin does the only thing he can – shuts her in an escape pod and blasts her out of the airlock. While devastatingly underplayed by both Clooney and director Steven Soderbergh, the whole episode is rendered doubly upsetting by the fact that big-eyed Natascha McElhone (I wonder what she’s doing with herself nowadays?) has both a really sad face and is absolutely fit as fuck.

8) Christie’s Achilles heel – AMERICAN PSYCHO (2000)

One of the more admirable (and often-overlooked) elements of Mary Harron and Guinevere Turner’s magnificent Bret Easton Ellis adaptation is the insertion of a sly feminist subtext illuminating the rampant misogyny of 80s corporate culture, and nowhere is this more apparent than in the figure of tragic street-hooker Christie (Cara Seymour). Having already been told to “Get down on your knees so Sabrina can see your asshole” and subjected to a narcissistic, Phil Collins-scored three-way which ends in a bout of impromptu mutilation, she once again finds herself accosted on the kerbside by preening lunatic Patrick Bateman. “I’m not so sure about this”, she tells him, walking away in grim resolution; “I actually might need a little surgery after last time”. Bateman’s limo crawls ominously alongside her. He whistles at her as one might an impressionable animal, tantalisingly waving a wad of money to entice her into the vehicle. The look on her face says it all: there are simply no other options open to her. Perhaps rather inevitably, she ends up getting chainsawed in a stairwell.

7) Singin’ In the RainPUNCHLINE (1988)

It’s a crying shame in and of itself that Tom Hanks’ best-ever performance should reside in such a little-known and thoroughly average movie, but here it is. As self-destructive comedian Steven Gold, Hanks seems to spend the entire film attempting to sabotage what looks certain to be a glittering career in stand-up by engaging in periodic onstage meltdowns and falling in love with Sally Field’s bumbling housewife (itself inherently bothersome given that she ended up playing his onscreen mother just a few years later). Eventually plucking up the courage to confess his feelings in a low-rent diner one night, his inevitable rejection is marked by an act of shattering self-immolation as he vainly attempts to make light of the snub. “It’s okay”, he tells her; “I’m funny Steven, singing and dancing for your entertainment, with his own rendition of... Singin’ In the Rain!” - before taking to the piss-drenched streets and enacting the famous Gene Kelly routine with such barely-contained self-loathing that Momma Gump can only look on in horror. Wounder.

) “Thank you…” – BABEL (2006)

One could probably write an entire tear-soaked treatise on Rinku Kikuchi’s turn as the deaf schoolgirl in this film, but it’s in an altogether smaller moment that director Alexander González Iñárritu reveals his true colours. Struck by a stray bullet in the wastelands of Morocco, tourist Cate Blanchett will surely die unless she receives treatment from the nearby village; selfishly abandoned by their fellow passengers, she and husband Brad Pitt are left at the mercy of a peasant woman and her benevolent son. Nowhere does the film’s central thesis of communication across seemingly insurmountable barriers prove more moving than the instance where Pitt attempts to express his gratitude to the couple’s saviour by handing him the contents of his wallet. The noble peasant refuses, but Pitt insists; when it becomes clear that the affluent American’s money is wholly superfluous to the act of helping a fellow human being, he responds with a desperate, silent mouthing of the words “Thank you...” – his visible emotion obscured by the roar of a helicopter, itself whited out on the soundtrack. Poor old Brad is clearly far too rich and good-looking to ever win any kind of award for his acting - which is a bit of a shitter for him, since he’s really very good indeed.

5) Elisabeth Shue – LEAVING LAS VEGAS (1995)

Have you ever seen a more agonisingly selfless character shat onto the screen? Elevating the ‘hooker-with-a-heart-of-gold’ cliché to gracious new heights, Shue’s Sera endures innumerable public shamings, an unwelcoming buggering from retarded frat-boys and the ignominy of having to act alongside Nicolas Cage with the kind of poise and dignity which are usually the sole preserve of one Jennifer Connelly. An apparent glutton for punishment, she bravely sublimates her own feelings by taking on the case of a hopeless alcy, even going so far as to grant him a grim mercy-shag when he’s knocking on death’s door. However, what’s perhaps most demoralising is the fact that the best billing offered to an actress of such skill ever since has been her dubious ‘star turn’ in Hollow Man, in which she’s forced to wander round in her undercrackers while attempting to make lines like “Do you mind? I’m trying to make love to you…” sound convincing. Shue was last seen battling CGI fish in Piranha 3D. Not what was wanted.

4) “Why did you do it?” – EDWARD SCISSORHANDS (1990)

In a film of hankering incidents destined to leave even the most stone-hearted bastard reaching for the corneas claiming to have “something in their eye”, this one really is the absolute kicker. Having spent a night in the cells for his part in an organised break-in, ol’ razor-fingers finally ’fesses up to his beloved that he knew all along the house they were robbing belonged to her boyfriend. “Then why did you do it?”, she asks in total incomprehension. “Because you asked me to”, he replies, doe-eyes yearning like an obedient puppy. Fucking hell. I mean, just… FUCKING hell. He loves the girl so much, but he can’t even touch her because his hands are made of knives. Oh, GOD…!

3) The entire female supporting cast – BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN (2005)

While virtually every scene in Ang Lee’s queers’n’steers epic would probably qualify as "quietly heartbreaking", it’s really coming to something when the most memorable female characters to have emerged in recent years have been bit-players in a film about masculine crisis. Aside from Michelle Williams and Anne Hathaway’s impeccably dignified cuckqueans, we also get an aching unsung turn from Linda Cardellini as the simple gal who falls for Heath Ledger’s closeted loner (you didn’t get that shit in Freaks & Geeks!) However, it’s two even more peripheral figures who linger in the memory long after Ennis has rued his last: his eldest daughter, who instinctively senses her father’s inner turmoil and quietly tries to reach out to him, and Jack Twist’s mother, desperate to preserve her son’s memory by attempting to connect with Ennis in the face of overwheming prejudice. My Saturday night a few weeks ago was so rock & roll that I poured myself a nice, tall glass of Southern Comfort & Lemonade and settled down with a tasty salad in front of Brokeback. Yeah, that’s right. Got a problem with that or something?

2) Dean’s note – BLUE VALENTINE (2010)

Christ, Derek Cianfrance’s cheerless laff-riot doesn’t half put you through the wringer. Given that we know right from the start that it’s all going to go tits-up for Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams, you’d think there’d be some semblance of catharsis offered by the series of stumbling-blocks which lead to their eventual collapse, but alas, no dice. In a moment which says so much with so little, uke-strumming loser Dean sketches out their future with almost unbearable poignancy. Painfully aware of her overwhelming indifference during their first meeting, he scribbles down his number, accompanied by a simple five-word message: “Give me a chance – Dean”. Empathically played by the brilliant Gosling, it’s impossible not to feel for the poor dolt as he goes to bat for a girl he just knows is way out of his league and will probably end up being the ruin of him. Let’s face it, we’ve all been there…

1) The handbag –

The shocker to end them all. Beaten to within an inch of her life by weaselly sociopath Casey Affleck, impossibly doting spouse Kate Hudson reaches weakly for her handbag as it lies on the floor beside her. What’s she going for? Is it a gun? A mobile phone to call for help? It’s only after the gut-raking reveal a few minutes later that the full weight of it hits you. The very definition of a one-two punch, the revelation will haunt you for weeks. Kate Hudson should’ve had a fucking Oscar for this, and there’s a phrase you don’t hear very often (or, in fact, ever - especially since she made that shit surfing film with Matthew McConaughey).

- Ah! I feel positively cleansed. Now if you could all fuck off, I have Tories to insult.


PS - Alright, I will admit to marding like a big girl when Mrs Jumbo cradles her baby through the cell bars, but only because it was a traumatic part of my childhood.