Tag Archives: radio and films

Bartender, get me a Sex On The Beach with a Greasy Gigolo chaser

I watched Cocktail last night. I’m not sure why I did this. I think it was a sort of morbid curiosity, since somehow I’d never seen it before. The poster sticks out in my memory – Tom Cruise and his eyebrow situation smouldering in front of a tacky pink neon sign – sort of one of those background images of puberty, but he never did anything for me, even in the eye of the hormone storm. I was busy with other stuff – probably memorising the entire screenplay of The Lost Boys, or re-reading the sleeve notes to Appetite For Destruction and sighing a lot.

It’s entirely likely that early exposure to the mysteries of whatever was writhing around in Axl Rose’s leather pants ruined me for pre-packaged pretties like Tom Cruise. Bad boys are exciting when you’re thirteen years old and let’s face it, Guns N’ Roses were quite bad. Tom Cruise in a bomber jacket was always going to look a bit vanilla when placed next to four musically talented drug problems and a borderline carcrash who was ironically the only band member who should have been on drugs but wasn’t.

As for films, I remember watching a lot of things I shouldn’t – lots of those cheap, schlocky Eighties horrors that fed off Freddy and Jason and the Evil Dead. Basically the grosser the better. We looked for 18 certificates and lots and lots of gore and sex, so I suppose I shouldn’t have been surprised that a bland pretty-people romance about booze and money passed me by.

There are things about the Eighties that I look back at and I still just don’t fucking know. I don’t. I never will. Things like sunglasses with palm tree holograms on the lenses, side ponytails that make you look like you did your hair in the dark, ghastly acid washed jeans so tight that your labia only make cold, brief contact on birthdays and at Christmas, and even then that’s by e-mail and only a round-robin newsletter at that. Why? Why are they back? We just don’t know.

Cocktail is one of those Eighties movies probably in talks for a remake. It’s even more Eighties than Gordon Gekko himself – a banal, backwards Cinderella story about the pointless lives of degenerate shitheads, created for no other reason than to be consumed, en masse and without thought. It’s a McMovie. It’s monstrous. It’s a near perfect masterpiece of horrible.

Here’s how it goes. After unspecified military service which we will hear no more about, Brian (Tom Cruise) goes back to his working class neighbourhood in New York and announces his intention to be a millionaire. He plans to achieve this by putting on a sharp suit and prancing around Wall Street and Madison Avenue with a briefcase in the hope that someone will hire him.

Surprisingly this doesn’t work, because while Brian is certainly enough of a turd to work in advertising or investment banking, he hasn’t undergone the pre-requisite poo polishing process of college. This being the Eighties, he is rejected by way of a montage of people with expensive suits and enormous hair, all mouthing various permutations of ‘fuck off’.

Dejected, Brian slopes into a bar where Bryan Brown is wondering what the pink dancing fuck he’s doing in this movie.

Drinking, as it happens. Bryan Brown is pissed, even by Australian standards. Naturally, the effects of alcohol are never really covered in Cocktail, even though everyone spends much of the movie shitfaced. Nobody wakes up with the DTs or handcuffed to an orang-u-tan on a Boeing bound for Jakarta. There is no mention of beershits, pissing in the gutter, passing out in phone boxes or being thrown out of taxis because the driver doesn’t trust you to keep the nasty inside your body. Bryan Brown even does a nosedive down a set of subway stairs that would just about finish off an Exorcist and comes out unscathed and giggling. One drunk girl delicately mentions that she might be about to ‘throw up’ but there are none of those almighty drunken spews where your entire head feels like some kind of gross ornamental fountain, because you swear there is liquid exploding out of every single hole. Even out of your ears.

Anyway, Brian and Bryan hit it off wonderfully, because they are both twats. Bryan is a twat because he’s a foolish drunk who spouts home-made pseudophilosophical bullshit between cigarettes. Brian is an even bigger twat because he doesn’t realise that Bryan is a foolish drunk who spouts home-made pseudophilosophical bullshit between cigarettes. Brian is also addicted to motivational books about positive thinking, raising him up to magnificent and transcendant levels of stupidity far above poor mediocre Bryan and his tired pub-bore brain-sewage.

The Brians do a lot of hurling bottles of alcohol about and Tom Cruise gets rightly kicked out of business school for barfing really hackneyed dialogue in his instructor’s face. (“You’re only here because you can’t hack it in the real world.”) Then he demonstrates his feminist credentials by calling a waitress a bitch and when he apologises she winks at him and says it’s fine and dandy, she is a bitch. So that’s okay then.

Next thing, after doing the Hippy Hippy Shake and generally making an absolute mess behind the bar, the Brians go on to work in a yuppie bar designed to look like a panopticon prison. A pigfaced cockbite in a pin-stripe suit announces himself as the world’s first yuppie poet and gurps out some doggerel about how money is great. You can tell it’s the Eighties because nobody attempts to beat him to death.

Brian then stands up on the bar and starts doing his own poem about cocktails, demonstrating what cocktails were actually for in the Eighties – which was having silly/suggestive names so that you could say “I’m having an Orgasm!” and everyone would laugh. Oh, how they would laugh, until they retched and pounded the floor with their fists. Every time. Honestly. That’s how it was. It. Never. Got. Old. And nobody ever wanted to kill themselves, even if it was the thousandth time they’d heard the joke that evening.

God, the Eighties sucked.

Brian starts dating Cristal from Showgirls, who is beautiful and probably smells of doggie chow and lists her interests as ‘Having nice tits’, but Bryan makes a move on her to prove some kind of point because she fucked on a first date. The Brians hit each other for a bit and then Brian resigns and goes on down to Kokomo, flies down fast and then apparently takes it slow, which is surprising because three years go by in a blink at this point. Probably something to do with the Bermuda triangle. Who fucking knows.

Then Brian meets a girl named Jordan when she comes up to the bar and says her friend is passed out on the beach. The friend has been drinking champagne in the sun. Brian hurries to the rescue, which basically involves smiling and flirting with Jordan over the dessicated body of her unconscious friend. The dickhead didn’t think to bring any water with him, did he?

But again, this is a movie that exists in direct defiance of reality and the friend, now partially mummified, is packed into the back of an ambulance so that Jordan and Brian can eyefuck one another over daquiris.

Then Bryan turns up. Brian has completely forgiven Bryan for macking on Cristal Connors all those three years ago. Don’t know why. I’m guessing Bryan probably proved the point that Cristal was a whore or something, because she did it on a first date. Bryan, of course, is not a whore, even though he is now married to a filthy rich socialite looking for a novel new way to piss off Daddy.

Brian and Jordan then fall in love, by way of a montage, where they ride horses on the beach, travel on buses and wander through Jamaican towns that seem to contain very few actual Jamaicans, save one urgently skanking guy with waist length dreadlocks.

Jordan is an artist, it seems. She’s not very good. Her picture of Brian looks like the kind of lidless, slow-blinking blepharoplasty casualty that can send David Icke bouncing off the walls for weeks. When Brian complains it looks nothing like him she says it reveals his inner self. Maybe she has a point.

It doesn’t seem to bother her that his inner self looks like an even wider-eyed version of Bruce Jenner because she takes off her swimsuit and they have boring, soft-focus sex first in a waterfall and then by a campfire. Afterwards, on the beach, she says “I could stay here forever,” which was a hoary old fuck-scene cliché twenty five years ago. Actually I think it was a smidge tired back when they invented talkies, but then all of the dialogue in this film smells.

They have a little back and forth about living on the beach and she says their kids would look cute in dreadlocks. Being white, their children would not look good in dreadlocks. They’d just look like crusties and look completely unfinished without the essential juggler’s clubs and a dog on a string. Brian is obviously really worried about this possibility or realises he’s been rawdogging it this whole time and flips his wig, because it’s about this time that Brian decides to ditch Jordan and become a gigolo on a bet.

No, really. He does that.

Bryan (Who is not a whore.) says that Brian is an idiot because Jordan is obviously poor and Brian should be trying to fuck rich women so they can give him money, which is not whorish at all. Well, maybe a bit whorish. The point is, Bryan just wants to spread the whore around, or something, so he thinks Brian should get in on the whore game.

So, on a fifty dollar bet, Brian hurls himself at a rich woman named Bonnie and gets off with her. Jordan sees him leave with her and promptly leaves the resort, leaving her now rehydrated friend behind to tell Brian that she’s gone.

Instead of chasing after the woman he loves, Brian stays behind with Bonnie and fucks her in the hope that she’ll give him money to open his own bar. You see, he’s not a gross, shallow little gigolo – he’s just a shrewd investor. It’s not dirty or skeezy if you’re a man and you’re doing it in the glorious service of Capitalism.

Bonnie takes Brian back to New York and turns him into a full-fledged pet boy, buying him suits, taking him to galleries and forcing him to drink carrot juice. Brian sulks because she’s not interested in his business ideas, because obviously he’s in business, and not just a dick for hire. He eventually throws a tantrum, puts on a rather nice houndstooth suit and goes to hunt down Jordan.

Jordan dumps two plates of food over his whorish head and tells him to go fuck himself. I like Jordan, even if her drawings are rubbish.

Really rubbish. Her paintings are even worse – like if Thomas Kincade had had a Deviantart. Her ‘studio’ is full of banal Technicolor daubings against which photogenic Brian has a backdrop to confess all. Obviously this is a magical moment for Jordan.

“So…what – you went off with that Bonnie woman because she was rich?”

“No, it wasn’t like that. Bryan bet me fifty bucks that I couldn’t hustle her. And it’s like…I dunno. It was a bet.”

It’s actually like that. At this point I’m hoping Jordan says something along the lines of “Yeah. You’re a fucking child. Bye,” but instead she says “I’m pregnant!” She’s pregnant – from unprotected sex with a near stranger. In 1988.

There was no reason to carry condoms in 1988. None at all. Nuh huh. No big worldwide epidemic of a terrible incurable sexually transmitted disease or anything like that.

Turns out that Jordan is loaded, which is just as well because she’s not exactly blessed with brains to make up for her lack of talent. She’s filthy, dirty, stinking rich and only slumming it as an artist because she had a thirst for knowledge and studied sculpture at St. Martin’s College. I’m rapidly going off her.

Meanwhile, Bryan is miserable as sin because it turns out he knows absolutely fuck all about business and his bar is haemorrhaging money. I don’t know if we’re supposed to be surprised that this dopey drunk bullshitter is a self-styled authority on everything but is actually useless, but I’m guessing yes, since this film has proved mindbuggeringly stupid at every other turn.

Brian drives Bryan’s rich, exhibitionist wife home and slips her the tongue for a good few minutes before saying “No, I just can’t make it with my best friend’s old lady.” He actually had to think about this. Brian is a terrible person.

Meanwhile, Bryan has stopped haemorrhaging money and gone the more traditional route where haemorrhages are concerned. He’s slit his throat with a bottle and is face down in a huge puddle of his own blood, prompting Tom Cruise to do some Proper Acting.

Bryan’s dead and leaves a heartrending but pointless suicide note that contains nothing that advances the plot, such as it is. Brian runs back to Park Lane to tell Jordan that he loves her and is offered ten grand to piss off by her cheap, fat plutocrat father. Jordan turns up just as they’re trying to throw Brian out of the building and pulls the whole O Mio Babino Caro schtick and is cut off without a penny. Aw.

Brian and Jordan get married and Brian opens a bar. Jordan is hugely pregnant and apparently thrilled about bearing the children of a functioning alcoholic. Then Brian puts the dingleberry cherry on the whole shitcake by doing a ‘poem’ about how his son will inherit his business,  but won’t if his son turns out to be a daughter, because girls can’t run bars or something.

Oh, and Jordan’s having twins. That’s the punchline to this whole sorry joke of a film. Ahahah.

Fuck. The. Eighties.

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The Power of ‘Meh’ Compels You

I have recently discovered Lovefilm, and I do. Oh God, I do. So last night I settled down to watch The Exorcist.

This old horror classic is pushing forty and looks spectacular for her age, although I had some serious problems with the cut I watched. From what I remembered of The Exorcist, Linda Blair plays the only character who doesn’t smoke like her head is constantly on fire. Everyone else is hitting the ashtrays hard, particularly Chris (Ellen Burstyn) as she becomes increasingly anxious about her daughter’s behaviour. Maybe I’m misremembering, but there’s a particular inadvertant comedy moment when Father Karras runs several laps around a track and stops to spark one up. All that cardio, undone in an instant. May as well do forty five minutes on the treadmill and then inject butter directly into a vein.

Except in this version he doesn’t. Instead he develops a peculiar hand to mouth tic as if he was smoking an invisible cigarette. Even more curiously, Chris appears to have developed an anachronistic e-cig habit.

I’m not even completely sure if they have been snipping away at the smoking scenes, but if they have then that pisses me off more than is strictly reasonable – not because it’s political correctness gone maaaaaaaaaaaaad but because it’s such a fucking insult to the actors’ performance.

One of the many reasons The Exorcist holds up so well is because there just isn’t a bad performance in the whole damn film. It’s a big premise, a big theme, the ultimate Good Vs. Evil showdown. In theory, it’s the kind of theme which more or less invites overacting, yet everyone involved is superbly restrained. Ellen Burstyn manages to convey a world of pain in the way her jaw clenches or her fingers flutter to her lips. The mother-daughter dialogues between her and Linda Blair are tender and astonishingly naturalistic, expertly avoiding the syrupy tone that afflicts so many Hollywood movies whenever a human being under the age of thirteen is on screen. Jason Miller as Father Karras, not even a professional actor, displays naked raw talent and turns in the kind of deep, measured performance that could have turned Pacino green.

And then in the middle of it, you have Linda Blair. Her performance is the thing on which the whole film hangs. And it’s superb. For all she’s vomiting pea soup, masturbating with a crucifix and casting aspersions on people’s mums, she’s still a child – a desperately ill child being devoured from the inside by a demon. There’s a moment before Father Merrin’s death when he’s preparing the holy water and crucifix for another go at the demon and Regan is lying on the bed, green, rotting, demonic to the max, but the sound of her breathing is not the rasp of a demon but the familiar, menthol-scented wheeze of a child with a nasty cold. Absolutely horrifying. This is a girl who can break your heart in two with a snore. She’s just that good.

So if they have been snippy-snippy with the smoking scenes then I’m afraid I’m annoyed. It’s the usual discomfort I feel whenever people attempt revisionism within living memory, combined with irritation that even a frown, a glance, a grimace might be consigned to the cutting room floor because an actor had a cigarette in their mouth. It’s a weird word to use about a movie of which one of the most famous lines is “YOU’RE GOING TO LET JESUS FUCK YOU, FUCK YOU!”, but The Exorcist is too subtle to suffer these cuts. Leave it alone. People smoked back then. We’re not hopeless monkey-see monkey-do creatures who imitate everything we see on film, and besides, it’s an 18 Certificate. Certainly impressionable young kids are going to watch it anyway, because that’s really what 18 Certificate horror films are for, but I really wouldn’t worry about my thirteen year old nephew watching it because it would make him start smoking. I’d be more concerned about the nightmares it would probably induce – that and the improvements to his vocabulary. Although better he watches The Exorcist than Jeremy Clarkson – I will say that.

And while we’re on the subject of Jeremy Clarkson, I had a wonderful idea about Jeremy Clarkson which I’d like to share with you all. It’s something we can all do together and the particular beauty of it is that you don’t have to do much at all. It’s the perfect kind of slacktivism – let’s make 2012 The Official Year of Ignoring Jeremy Clarkson.

Ignoring professional trolls works wonders. If you don’t believe me, remember Ann Coulter? Like many right-wing pundits, Ann was loud, thick, pig-ignorant and lazier than a former governor ofAlaska. She regularly appeared on television in the US and occasionally in the UK whenever Jeremy Paxman needed to practise his sneer, his eyebrow raise and that drawling ‘Yeee-eees’ which unblocks bowels all over Westminster.

Of course, it’s entirely possible than Ann’s slalom ride into irrelevance was largely due to the increasing levels of crazy within the American right, but I have this theory that it was helped along by the tide of political correctness. Ann was (And probably still is) long faced, blonde and skinny in that peculiar dessicated way of female Fox News pundits. There were always the jokes about the size of her Adam’s apple or her hands and it got to a point that even balls-out bad-taste politics blogs like Wonkette were reluctant to talk about her. People were there to laugh at awful politicians, not argue with people who got loud and defensive when you told them that hateful tranny jokes were going the way of the n-word. It just wasn’t worth it. Every Ann Coulter post would inevitably degenerate into such a foul puddle of transphobic slurs that it wasn’t worth making Ann Coulter posts. And so Ann slid sweetly into irrelevance, which is where she rightfully belongs.

But it’s the Olympics this year, and Clarkson is probably already working out what he’s going to say – nice things about how the Mexican running team are lazy, or how all the German athletes have square heads. You know he’s already giggling about how many pearls will be clutched when he blarps out these low-effort racist utterances. The Guardian will predictably shit their pants, the BBC will prod Clarkson into yet another insincere apology and he’ll sit back secure in yet another series and another book deal as everyone’s favourite bucketmouthed right-wing uncle in law.

Well, I’m sorry, but it’s not right. It’s just not right. He was on the telly saying how public sector strikers should be shot and honest day’s work and blah blah blah, so let’s fucking hold him to it. He believes in an honest day’s work? Well, let’s make him do one. Let’s ignore every utterance, every mutter, every pig-ignorant throwaway opinion. Let’s stop reacting with outrage every time Jeremy Clarkson says something terrible and just roll our eyes and go ‘chuh’ instead. See? Very low effort on your part – that’s the beauty of the thing.

Jeremy, on the other hand, has to step up his troll game and start saying more and more appalling things for attention. The worse he gets, the harder we ignore him. Eventually he will be driven to digging out David Blaine’s old perspex box and setting up shop on the Embankment, where he’ll hang out smearing himself in his own excrement and screaming obscenities at passers by. While dressed in full Nazi regalia.

We will ignore him until he either expires from sheer desperation or goes the fuck away. I think it’s only fair. If you want to be professionally repulsive, then by all means carry on, but do it properly. Make an effort. Set up a post-modern one-man perspex Bedlam on Westminster Embankment or fuck off back to the Cotswolds. Take that shit to its illogical conclusion or piss off. Nobody likes an overpaid slacker, Jeremy.

So, tweet it, blog it, Facebook it (if you absolutely must) but make a commitment. Today will be the last day in 2012 that you talk about Jeremy Clarkson.

This is the sound of my soul

There is something frighteningly comforting about hearing the pips.

Bip. Bip. Bip. This is BBC Radio 4. Here is the news at 12.00.

It hasn’t changed. In a world where news is no longer news unless accompanied by loud incidental music and graphics so increasingly mad that Chris Morris could no longer send them up, dear old BBC Radio 4 gives it to you straight. And that’s just so soothing.

They could tell you that every nuke in the world was trained on Great Britain and we were all going to be vapourised by teatime. But they’d do it so calmly and with such old world charm that you’d smile and say “Oh well – had a good innings,” and put the fucking kettle on.

It’s great. I love Radio 4. I just don’t listen to it that often because the experience is all too Proustian. I just stood stock still in the stairwell listening to the pips and all of a sudden I was six years old again and everything smelled of developing fluid and curry – those all pervasive smells that drifted from the direction of Dad’s makeshift dark room (Enter when red light is on and die.) and the kitchen respectively. I was six and it was 1982. My Little Pony was the most exciting new development in my world. There was a large amount of plasticine stuck to the carpet in my bedroom. I was probably making something out of a cardboard box – did a lot of that when I was six. And always to the background of Radio 4, to the pompous constant rumble of the Commons chamber, to radio plays and the old Goon Shows and the serialisation of Lord of The Rings.

It may seem a little archaic to some people, but trust me – this was the only way some working class parents could handle small children in the 1980s. Plug the little shits into the radio and pray they don’t want to watch any more TV than is strictly necessary. Advertising creatures more or less perfected what they call (And I translate from a language that would have given even H.P. Lovecraft a raving case of the heebie jeebies) ‘pester power’ in the 1980s. Children, they surmised, are basically small mobile Ids with no idea of the value of money and very, very loud voices. In other words, they are the perfect consumer. Bad news for those parents who, like so many in Thatcher’s awful Britain, had no fucking money.

Consequently, here’s a cardboard box. Now listen to the radio, shut the fuck up and stay out of the darkroom.

Luckily for my parents I was very interested in cardboard boxes.

Oh, and apropos of nothing, the month of madness approaches. It really is nearly November and time for a balls-to-the-wall mentalathon in which we all have nervous breakdowns and write uneven novels about…um…well, whatever is this year’s zombies. Last year it was vampires, believe it or not. Lot of vampire novels. Lot of people bravely trying to rescue the undead from their current sparkly, brushable My Little Vampire image.

I think the damage is done, actually. It’s probably going to be a good fifteen or twenty years before pop culture has another vampire fad. I don’t think True Blood is doing very well, is it? (I didn’t even finish watching series one – I couldn’t stand the jacked up accents and constant ugly, sweaty fucking. Jesus, don’t these people ever cuddle afterwards?) And the Twilight bandwagon is really creaking to an embarrassing halt. You can tell that the studio is desperate to milk this franchise until its tits turn black and eventually drop off – how can you make two movies out of Breaking Dawn when there’s barely enough plot in the book for one? And the trailer is already laugh-out-loud funny – this roaring epic movie score over what is essentially appears to be a movie about getting knocked up on your honeymoon. Whoo. The score for their married life together is going to be amaaaaaaazing, including such tracks as the up-tempo Bella Goes To Tesco, the combatitive, timpani heavy You Left A Log In The Toilet And Didn’t Flush and the poignant, tender Go To Fucking Sleep, Darling, Mummy Is Tired.