Friday, 6 March 2015

Latest Spielberg/Hanks collaboration is final film to be inspired by T'Pau album

The next Steven Spielberg film to hit cinema screens will be the Tom Hanks-starring Cold War spy thriller Bridge Of Spies, according to reports. Due for release in October, the film marks the fourth collaboration between the two Hollywood titans, but more importantly it's also the fifth and final film to be inspired by the discography of '80s power balladeers T'Pau, who famously had that song that time.

The movies' obsession with Flame-Haired Carol Decker and her band of generic bemulleted nobodies has been a defining feature of 21st century cinema, so in the absence of anyone else wasting their time writing about it, I decided to put my - heh - heart and soul into investigating further.

Bridge Of Spies
 
T'Pau's first and best album (i.e. it's the only one anyone remembers) is, ironically, the last to give its title to a movie. Released in 1987 and immediately launching Flame-Haired Carol Decker into everyone's faces, it contained such era-defining classic tracks as Heart And Soul and China In Your Hand. "I am walking / over the bridge of spies today / freedom is only one more step away / you only have to hold me," warbled Decker on the title track: words which composer John Williams looks forward to setting against his lush strings as Tom Hanks clambers over the bodies of deceased secret agents in order to cross a river while clutching a teacup. Made of china. In his hand.

Rage 
 
Released just a year after Bridge Of Spies, T'Pau's second album Rage somehow reached number four in the UK album charts despite nobody actually buying it. The LP is now the scourge of charity shops everywhere, which, with a pleasing symmetry, is almost certainly the destiny of the movie adaptation starring Nicolas Cage. Cage plays a furious Flame-Haired Carol Decker, whose anger at being beaten by Shakin' Stevens (Channing Tatum) in the final of ITV's pop dinosaur party Hit Me Baby One More Time results in the live, on-air disembowelling of host Vernon Kay (Eric Roberts).

The Promise
Following a three-year silence which nobody noticed, T'Pau stormed back in 1991 with their third album, The Promise. The record's performance ensured that Decker and her pals would go their separate ways once it dropped out of the Top 40's arse, and the tragedy of the band's situation was so moving that respected Chinese director Chen Kaige took it upon himself to tell their story in a 2005 film. Cecilia Chung plays Qingcheng (Chinese for "Flame-Haired Carol Decker") and Jang Dong-gun essays the role of rhythm guitarist Ronnie Rogers, with whom Decker enjoyed an alarmingly hirsute relationship.

Red
Seven years passed before, contrary to popular demand, Flame-Haired Carol Decker reformed T'Pau and released Red, the cover of which featured Decker pointing at her vagina and looking unimpressed. When it came time for the movie version, the obvious choice to play Decker was Bruce Willis, who reformed his own band of past-it has-beens in order to take on an apparently corrupt US administration (a thinly-veiled metaphor for the British music industry). Nobody expected that either the album or the film would get a follow-up, but fate had other plans.

Pleasure And/Or Pain
In a futile attempt to drag this feature out beyond its blatantly limited capacity, T'Pau re-returned early this year with their eagerly unawaited comeback album Pleasure & Pain, which is so brilliant it doesn't even have its own Wikipedia page. The cunning twist in the tale is that the album is a musical version of erotica-peddling director Zalman King's 2013 smutsplosion Pleasure Or Pain, in which - according to IMDb - a young woman (portrayed in song by Flame-Haired Carol Decker) is shown "a world of decadence and debauchery that pushes her sexual limits to the brink". As literally no human ears have heard the album, its faithfulness to the film cannot be verified. When asked about the discrepancy between the two titles, which somewhat defeats the object of this feature, the author feigned a heart attack before running away cackling like a loon.

Tuesday, 3 March 2015

Hyena

Corruption, betrayal, racism, gang violence, drug smuggling, dismemberment, murder, gargantuan amounts of cocaine and occasional film reviewing: it's a tough life at The Incredible Suit, which is why I took myself off to see Hyena to get away from it all. Having enjoyed writer/director Gerard Johnson's debut Tony, in which his cousin Peter Ferdinando plays an unassuming serial killer, I looked forward to seeing what the pair would do with a bit more cash and a meatier story. Hyena is a satisfying second step for Johnson, but its deliberately lo-fi, weirdly unambitious nature prevents it from lingering in the memory for long.

Peter Ferdinando is great as Michael Logan, a cop with his dirty fingers in a number of dirty pies. Logan's not all bad though, and it's to Ferdinando's and Johnson's credit that you find yourself sympathising with him even as he's hoovering gak off a coffee table with a pair of Albanian sex traffickers. But this is a film with a wilfully muddy sense of right and wrong: there are no good guys, only bad guys and worse guys. Hyena presents this concept as a matter of fact, and its relentlessly pessimistic view of the police is dramatically admirable, but while we boggle at these lawmen's somewhat unique application of the law we never really get under the skin of any of them.
These guys, on the other hand, are really getting under someone's skin.

As Logan sinks further into the deeply unpleasant world of people trafficking that he's supposed to be investigating and preventing, his loyalties are in constant flux, and as a result it becomes increasingly difficult to know who he can trust. His colleagues? Maybe. His new, suspiciously friendly operation leader? Probably not. The guy from Internal Affairs? Seriously doubtful. His tenuous grip on his own situation is constantly loosening, and watching Ferdinando unravel is half the fun: a late scene on a bus, in which he receives some potentially terrifying news, is a hilariously uncomfortable set-piece in an otherwise unremittingly bleak and ugly story.

But for all its intent on showing a scuzzy underbelly of the police that we rarely see in cinema, Hyena still ends up feeling like a late-night extended episode of The Bill, God rest its soul. It's a small-scale story about much wider, devastating themes, but neither they nor their emotional toll on the characters are examined in the depth they deserve during the film's running time. If Hyena were the pilot of a new TV series I'd be hooked immediately; as a self-contained story it lacks the meat to fully justify a trip to the cinema.

Friday, 27 February 2015

Leonard Nimoy
1931-2015

"Are you sure it isn't time for a colourful metaphor?"
- Spock, Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home

Four films I'll be giving a shit about in


CHAPPIE
I'm having real trouble reconciling the Neill Blomkamp / Hugh Jackmanliness of this with the indelible image of Short Circuit's Johnny Five. That said, Blomkamp is still in credit with the Bank Of Suit despite Elysium, so shits will be given in these parts about Chappie. (6th)

 HYENA

Gerard Johnson's feature debut Tony was a low-budget, blackly comic gem starring his cousin Peter Ferdinando as an unassuming serial killer. Their follow-up (in which Ferdinando is unrecognisable as the same guy who played Tony) is a grim, unrelentingly pessimistic look at West London cops, reminiscent of Eastern Promises but without the budget. Give a shit about it if you would like confirmation that the world is a really awful place full of really awful people. (6th)

MOMMY

Precocious Canadian writer-director-and-everything-elser Xavier Dolan is on his fifth film despite being just 25 years old, the talented BASTARD. I've only seen one of his films - the unbearably pretentious Heartbeats - but suspect I will end up looking silly if I don't crack on with the rest of his filmography sharpish. Mommy looks worth giving a shit about if only for its ballsy 1:1 aspect ratio. (20th)

THE VOICES
There is literally no way any poster or trailer can convey what The Voices is like. It's a completely unmarketable film, and anyone going in expecting a slasher flick or a romcom is going to walk out within half an hour. It is both of those things and neither of those things, but what it definitely is is quite brilliant. You should definitely give a shit about it. (20th)

Monday, 23 February 2015

The greatest series of the greatest TV
show ever made is out on Blu-ray today

As you may be aware, we don't watch much TV here at The Incredible Suit. That's because, as everyone knows, telly peaked in 1965 and apart from that episode of The Evening News on London Live last November where I nervously babbled about SPECTRE, there hasn't been a single thing worth watching since.

The zenith of televisual entertainment took the form of the fourth series of The Avengers, the camp spy-comedy-action-nonsense that ran from October 1965 to March 1966 and introduced Diana Rigg as Emma Peel, the new partner for dashing, immaculately turned-out gentleman agent John Steed (Patrick Macnee). That very series is out today on Blu-ray courtesy of Studiocanal, and it behoves me to urge you to buy it and watch it with all the force your eyes can muster.

It doesn't matter if you haven't seen any of the first three series: all you're missing is Honor Blackman in leather, and you already own Goldfinger so that's that base covered. You can watch this 30-second taster if you like, which flawlessly sets the scene:

The rest of the series contains, among other wonders:
  • Diana Rigg being unspeakably beautiful and delightfully mischievous
  • Patrick Macnee wearing Pierre Cardin like it's his skin
  • Some of the most inventive camerawork and direction TV has ever seen, including the live episode of EastEnders
  • Episodes which include man-eating plants, murderous grannies, weather machines, killer robots, missing hours, devilish traps, tattooed sausages and diabolical masterminds
  • The greatest TV theme ever written and recorded
  • Diana Rigg in full bondage gear with a python draped round her neck in one episode if you like that kind of thing and frankly who wouldn't
And all of that, shot on film and presented in 1080 lines of gorgeousness so sharp it could cut your head off, backed up with a ton of extras including a commentary with recently deceased writer and producer Brian Clemens.

I realise all this sounds like a tedious advert, and yes, I was very kindly given screener discs to confirm the brilliance of this release, but trust me when I say this is the best presentation of the best series of the best TV show of all time. I mean, I haven't seen most of Breaking Bad, but I definitely know what I'm talking about. Now go away and do as you're told.

Sunday, 15 February 2015

Louis Jourdan
1921-2015

"Excuse me, I have some travel arrangements to make. Enjoy the show."
- Kamal Khan, Octopussy

Thursday, 12 February 2015

Invisible Aston Martin returns in SPECTRE

The first official still from the 24th James Bond film SPECTRE (or Spectre, Jesus I wish someone would clear that up) was released this morning, and it sent shivers down the spines of Bond fans (and not just because it looks cold, ahahaha). For although the image shows Daniel Craig as 007 in a distinctly more action-packed pose than the first Skyfall image (which concentrated heavily on his bum crack), and although Bond has been issued with a pair of sunglasses from Q-Branch which rival A View To A Kill's for Stupid-Looking Shades value, the most upsetting element of the photograph is the inclusion of the invisible car from Die Another Day.

In the SPECTRE image, Bond can be seen inconspicuously hiding in the snowscape in uncanny camouflage, but it's his motor that truly understands the meaning of concealment. Look closely between Craig and the first snowsled, and you'll spot an innocent-looking gap through which can be seen the Austrian alps. But that's no ordinary innocent-looking gap! Why would there even BE a gap there? That wouldn't make any sense at all! No, that gap is in fact the Aston Martin Vanquish ("We call it the Vanish", said John Cleese as Q, remember that? That was a thing that happened), parked neatly in what is evidently some kind of alpine NCP.
Whether Bond will drive the see-through car in SPECTRE, or indeed even remember where he left it, remains to be seen, but we now know that it will play some crucial part in the plot. Fans will be having a mass debate about whether or not such frivolous ideas have any place in modern Bond films, and that's exactly what I intend to do right now. While I'm having a mass debate, why not watch this behind-the-scenes video, in which Dave Bautista makes the unlikely claim that he's never been on a mountain?