Tag Archives: films

Witty but woebegone

Woody Allen rant

If 2016 was the year of celebrity deaths, 2017 was surely the annum of celebrity downfalls.

Sparked by the toppling of one of Hollywood’s most prolific alleged sex pests Harvey Weinstein, an entire balustrade of power-wielding, pussy-grabbing men has come tumbling down in recent months; Kevin Spacey, Louis CK and Brett Ratner head up a very lengthy list. Of course, the most powerful man on the planet has had many a finger pointed in his orange direction, but so far, to no avail…as has another wormy, smarmy, self-obsessed star.

For some bizarre reason, Woody Allen is still being allowed to make movies. Every fucking year. Despite having been openly accused of kiddy fiddling by his own adopted kiddy, and then going on to marry another adopted kiddy, the man still is given free rein to populate our cinemas with inane, pseudo-intellectual babble about himself, his ego and his unquenchable libido. Hell, Allen has even come out in support of the unanimously maligned Weinstein, causing chip-off-the-old-block Donny Trump Jnr to wade into these murkiest of waters and slam the weedy, wordy, whiny comic. When The Donald’s spawn is providing the voice of reason, you know you’re headed up thon creek without thon paddle.

Now, these allegations against Allen are of course highly disturbing, and shouldn’t be trivialised or swept under the carpet. But there is a case to be made for the idea that the personal life of an artist shouldn’t interfere in the appreciation of their artistry. Throughout history, genius scumbags have gotten off scot-free with their scumbaggery precisely because they were capable of rising above it in their professional life. Caravaggio was a do-badder of the highest order, Picasso reputedly bullied and battered the fairer sex and Michael Jackson’s status as the King of Pop was briefly compromised by his inability to stay away from the royal play pen. Despite this, all three are hailed as prodigies and virtuosos – and they’re by no means the only ones. Hindsight in particular has a habit of encouraging us to look past a man’s faults and assess his creative output apart.

Applying that dictum to Allen, we can shelve the (unproven) allegations about inappropriately touching his seven-year-old foster daughter Dylan and the (very much proven) allegations about inappropriately cheating on his partner with her latest adoptee Soon-Yi and inappropriately marrying said adoptee at a later date. Put the philandering and paedophiliac accusations aside, and assess the man’s art with the cold, analytical eye of a movie lover…and the point still stands. How the fuck is this man still being allowed to make movies?

For one thing, he has a serious hard-on for the Big Apple. Sure, no problem; New York is a vibrant city, who wouldn’t love to live there? The thing is, Woody does live there – and he won’t fucking shut up about it. He has 77 writing credits and almost as many directorial credits on IMDb, and the vast majority of those are set in or around the iconic US city. Sure, he had a brief spell over the last decade where he tried to branch out with stories set in major European metropoles like Barcelona, Paris and Rome – but he’s returned to his old stomping ground of late. There’s a new movie in the pipeline for 2018, too. Of course there fucking is. Guess what it’s called. A Rainy Day in New York. Shock horror.

Indeed, that title could even be a microcosm for the career of this cringe-inducing cynical upstart with a preoccupation for all things sexual, especially if it involves far prettier and far younger things than himself. Allen never tires of casting himself in the lead role as a witty but woebegone writer/actor/comic/megalomaniac who is irresistible to the most beautiful ladies Hollywood has to offer. Without doubt, he’ll include more than one wrangling, hand-wringing monologue on the foibles and frustrations of modern life, pretending to address hard-hitting philosophical questions but really just showing off his ability to construct a wordy shell of a joke without a substantial punchline of an interior. What’s more, nasal kvetching about the injustice of life rings more than a little hollow when it’s delivered inside the grandest of New York apartments, which more often than not feature a grand piano or a chaise longue. If things were really that bad, Woody, you’d have put an end to them long ago. A bullet to the head would be infinitely more effective in curbing your woes than squeezing pithy, cynical one-liners out of them.

Yet for all his repetition and irritation, the man is still revered as one of America’s finest directors. He regularly reels in all manner of A-list glitz and glamour to tart up his dreary cinematic turds. How can this happen? How can the flesh-and-blood incarnation of Arty Ziff continue to thrive in the 21st century? Weinsteingate is an opportunity to still Allen’s “busy hands” once and for all, yet his unabating ability to crank out filmic faecal matter by the wheelbarrowload just demonstrates that even the current epoch of scandal and censure isn’t enough to topple this wiry-haired weasel off his perch.

With new stories emerging every day, there’s still time for him to come unstuck – and let’s hope he duly does. If not for his victims, at least for future generations of cinemagoers. For God’s sake, won’t somebody please think of the children?


It must be nice having a following. Lots of people interested in what you have to say, or at least interested enough to click a button on a website, once, ever. Friends vicariously enjoying your morning flat white, while Liking the articles about global warming, feminism and the KKK you link. I think you’re one of the few people in the world who really gets it. I wish I had half as much influence.

To be fair I’m not really putting the effort in. Take YouTube. I don’t post many videos, but I’m proud of the three subscribers to my ‘channel’ who enjoy my valiant efforts to improve the internet. This involves a video of a band called Snuff doing the theme to Test Match Special, and a collection of clips you could bracket under the title ‘The Best of Jason’s Murders from the Friday the 13th Franchise’.

Continue reading Tiddies

No ghost

I finally know what it feels like to be a man. Specifically, I know what it feels like to be a man watching superhero movies, or Bond, or Star Trek, or pretty much any fucking movie ever. I’ve seen the new Ghostbusters, and I swaggered out of that cinema feeling like I could punch a lion in the throat.

Is this it? Is this how it feels to watch representations of yourself kick several shades of ass on the big screen? And if so: how has it taken this long? Do you know how cheated I feel that I had to wait until I was thirty-bastard-eight years old before this happened? And how many levels of angry I am with all the whiny manbabies who hate the concept of a female Ghostbusters? I mean, I was angry with them before. But now I’ve seen it, and now I know how great it made me feel, I’m beyond furious.

Continue reading No ghost

Magical redheads

I watched Harry Potter yesterday. I’ve had quite a lot of time on my hands over the past few weeks, for one reason or another, and it’s something I’ve known was going to happen eventually; things that are so easily achieved are rarely put off forever, I find, and I thought that ‘well over half my life’ was long enough to leave this particular activity before completion.

I got called ‘Hermione’ quite a bit at school as well, so it seemed best to find out the precise implications of that before I forgot the entirety of what being at school was like. Admittedly this name-calling was mostly contemporaneous with the early films, back when she was mainly just a smart-arsed pre-teen with massive hair (I see what they meant, the more film-savvy kids), and tailed off drastically when it emerged that she’s quite fit and physically heroic as well as the book-learned kind. I’m not going to pretend that didn’t smart a bit.

Oh, also, when I say “I watched Harry Potter recently”, I should also add the caveat that what I actually did was watch the last two, or one, depending on how you look at it. I’m fairly sure I’ve seen the first one, having been alive for a decade’s worth of Christmases since its TV debut, so that didn’t seem worth it, and having skipped that I thought I may as well cut to the ‘good stuff’, as it were.

It wasn’t an unenjoyable experience, I’ll admit that now. They’re not demanding films, even when lacking knowledge of the bulk of their backstory, and having grown up utterly irritated by the leads they didn’t grate excessively on my nerves. What really pissed me off, more than the shitty CGI acting or the word ‘Muggle’ or the sheer scale of the stupid moral showboating on display, was that bit at the end when Harry chucks that really powerful wand in the moat thing.

It’s presented as a moment of great importance. Harry’s the ultimate Goody Two-Shoes, a pacifistic non-ruffler of…bloody unicorn feathers, or whatever, and he’s just so fucking great that when presented with ‘the most powerful wand in the world’, he thinks, ‘Nah’. He’s not up for that. That’d be bad probably. So he snaps it in half, this wand that’ll only answer to him anyway, and he lobs it off a big bridge.

‘Most powerful wand in the world’. That’s a relative thing, that. That suggests a scale of power with this stick at its zenith. Harry’s just destroyed the biggest evil in the world and he’s got sole control over the thing that’s most powerful out of what’s left, and instead of looking after it with some sodding willpower he thinks, again for clarity, ‘Nah.’

Whilst I think understand that particular sentiment more than most (thinking ‘Nah’ and fucking something off because it seems like a bad plan, that is), this strikes me as somewhat problematic. Take the aforementioned Power Wand Index. Surely there’s a second most powerful wand in the world that’s just been promoted? How great a margin can there truly be between the two? And what’s going to defeat that? Harry? Not anymore, no. He’s thrown away the thing he’d need to sort that out. His stupid friends didn’t even stop him, they just stood there looking precious and a bit grubby, and then it cuts to them all rubber-faced with lots of ginger children.

I know you wear unfortunate glasses, you scabby git, but for God’s sake have a bit of foresight. That snake-nosed bloke might be gone, but are you so naive as to think that he’s the only one? Weren’t there other baddies you didn’t murder? One of them’s got the most powerful wand in the world now, and he’s going to fuck you up with it. This is how this sort of thing works, and no number of magical redheads will be able to save you this time.

Harry Potter and the Gigantic Fuck-Up. I knew there was a reason I’d avoided this shit.

Guy Pearce-era Neighbours

The more films or TV shows you watch, the more you realise that everything follows a pattern. The couple that seem to hate each other will get together. The plain Jane will suddenly scrub up to be beautiful. Remember Guy Pearce-era Neighbours and you get my gist. Soon you start to notice lazy plot items, and the end is sure to be nigh.

Impressionism appears to have passed the popular film media behind. Never will you see a mundane act tackled without it leading to the same fucking conclusion. If a character is washing up, you can guarantee they will cut themselves on glass or a sharp knife. Should a cut occur, the house will have a full first aid kid with bandages and rafts of gamgee. A burst water pipe in the garden? Clearly a dead body is down there. Milk is either off or empty. Rubbish bags always burst. Mobile phones have no signal or no battery. Mundane always leads to a plot twist.

Has anyone ever just used a bathroom in a film without needing to talk to themselves in a mirror? If someone announces they are washing clothes, secret love message will be scooped out of a pocket. No one just reads a book, it has to be a metaphor. Bills are always overdue. Getting drunk means clutching a toilet and refusing to move for a few days – strange, as I know people who get drunk, don’t vomit and manage to go to work with a hangover. Even eating isn’t safe – ketchup is pulled by gravity out of a bun onto a shirt or tie. The majority of film stars just hilariously burn food, and don’t get me started on crisps put in bowls. In bowls? Why?

The exceptions appear to be European art films and depressing soaps. In Walford you can witness people cleaning with even more misery than you would usually associate with such a meaningless task. Watch a European Art film and everything is reversed. For hours a woman will stare endlessly at the washing up, each bowl symbolic of her wasted youth, a spoon a reflection of her aged face. I once heard of a two-hour film all about a married couple watching a potato boil. I’m not stupid, I know it’s a metaphor, but a) you do not boil a potato for two hours, and b) who the fuck watches food boil? Maybe that’s why I cant cook rice.

If art imitates life, where are the boring Sundays where all you do is eat crisps and watch Antiques Roadshow? Without wanting to sound like a Mike Leigh film, just let people talk while they do normal things. Or maybe just surprise us occasionally with a ring not falling down a plug hole.

Leaving enough people alive for the sequel

I walked into my local Sainsbury’s yesterday to be met with a display of cartoon ghosts, fake cobwebs and posters saying things like “enter…if you dare”. Although not particularly noteworthy in itself, this had been put up where the baskets normally are, which meant I had to walk a bit further to get one. As well as creating a minor diversion, it was also a mallet-over-the-head way of telling me that Halloween is on its way.

It’s been on its way for a while. Since the start of the month there have been violent, gruesome nods to its imminent arrival. Even if your supermarket hasn’t replaced its entrance and basket storage area with the ubiquitous pumpkin face or witches’ hats, you’ll know it’s coming because of the rise in trailers and posters for horror films. The one I’ve seen most of is Annabelle. I gather from the trailers it’s about a doll, which is probably possessed, which is highly likely to infiltrate an otherwise happy family, which will kill some arbitrary characters before maybe killing someone in the family but leaving enough people alive for the sequel. Except apparently it’s a prequel so there’s already a sequel. I guess they’ll just keep spinning it off, sequel and prequelling it until it’s as dead as the spirit that possessed Annabelle.

Perhaps it’s not like that at all. Perhaps it’s a really well thought out plot with a new and clever approach to the tired haunted-killer doll routine. Maybe someone’s taken the horror genre and tried something different. A bit like Saw, which as a standalone film was pretty good, and because it had the audacity to be pretty good and do well at the box office it got franchised to death. I don’t know how many sequels got made in the end. I think I watched up until four and that was as much as I could bear. They’re probably still making them as we speak. It’s a simple enough format once you’ve gone past the point of giving a shit whether it makes any sense; elaborate death scenes, wheel out that creepy puppet at some point and reference that dead or dying bloke from the first one. Bosh; Saw film in a nutshell.

I’m sure there are legions of Saw fans who would see me strung up in some messy death-machine game against a ticking clock before correcting my brutal generalisation of their very favourite torture porn series, so I’ll have a pop at Hostel while they’re making their way over here. Although I like to watch a film that challenges me and gives me something to think about, I draw the line at watching something that makes me feel like being sick in my hands, which is what Hostel did. I felt revisiting such emotions would be unnecessary so I didn’t bother watching Hostel Part II. I found my limit after watching a straight to DVD movie called Rest Stop. At that point I felt I’d seen enough hacked up torsos and limbs. The sound of my own retching was starting to drown out the dialogue, superfluous though it was, and that was the end of torture porn for me.

That’s not to say I don’t like or won’t watch a good horror film. I like a scare as much as the next person. And sometimes that scare will come from something you really don’t expect to be that bad. For me it was Jeepers Creepers. Yeah, that’s right. A shit monster film. Even if you felt the shit monster ruined the film, you can’t deny the first hour was a pretty impressive build-up of suspense and scares. It did what a good horror film should do; you couldn’t take your eyes off the screen because you were in such a nervous state of anticipation of what the fuck was going on. Not like Saw II-XXXVI, and Hostel I & II and Rest Stop where you had to turn your eyes away from the screen lest you bring up your popcorn. Cinema snacks are bloody expensive, they’re not something you want to waste.


Halloween is actually a legitimate thing. Well, in so much that it’s based on an ancient pagan tradition of celebrating the dead, so it really depends how much stock you put in paganism and/or tradition. It’s celebrated around the world and in some countries for more than one day. In countries like ours and the States it’s become a festival of getting dressed up and trying to mug sugary treats off your neighbours, and if that’s how you choose to celebrate it then you’re free to do so. Because we’re fortunate enough to live in countries where we are ultimately free to do as we please.

Whether you spend it covered in fake blood in a bar you’ve had to buy a ticket for to listen to Thriller on a loop, or you spend it in a cinema watching nubile young things get their clothes ripped off and their throats ripped out, spare a thought for those of us less adapted to such celebrations. Spare a thought for those of us not organised enough to buy a ticket, and not arsed enough to buy a costume, and those of us who lack the cast-iron stomach required for the current rash of film releases.

We’ll just be sat at home quietly counting down the days to Guy Fawkes’ Night. At least it’s at the start of the month so we don’t have to wait very long. So, penny for the Guy, anyone?