I haven't posted for a while, so here's something to think about. Does this clip represent Jarvis Cocker a) proving beyond a shadow of a doubt that he's the coolest man in pop, or b) demonstrating such desperation to be part of the Harry Potter franchise that he's happy to shed all self-respect and sing lines like:
If your Christmas is already so boring that you've resorted to scouring the internet for alternative entertainment to whatever unmitigated drivel is on the box right now, then welcome! You've come to the right place. Because here, for your festive earpipes, is a very special playlist featuring the best movie music from 2010!
What's great about film scores is that even utter fart pellets of movies can be endowed with cracking soundtracks. Which is why I find myself in the peculiar position of recommending The Wolfman, Iron Man 2, Knight & Day and Tron Legacy, amongst other barrels of indefensible monkey spunk. I know it sounds crazy but trust me. Have I ever let you down? Apart from when I said Clash Of The Titans was quite good? No.
So close your eyes, open your lugholes and bask in the festive glory of this, my little present to you. Now where's mine?
Suggested alternate title: 1000 Movies You Must See Before You Die And One You Could Quite Happily Die Before You See Although As It's The Highest Grossing Film Of All Time It's Unlikely That It's Passed You By
In a destined-to-fail attempt to say nice things about all my movie heroes before they die rather than in a half-hearted obituary when their best work is long behind them, I thought it might be time to show some love for Daniel Kleinman, director of music videos, commercials and, most importantly, James Bond title sequences.
While there will always be a place in my Suit for Maurice Binder, who designed all but two Bond titles from Dr No in 1962 to Licence To Kill in 1989 (as well as the legendary gunbarrel opening), his sequences do tend to be a bit samey. I suppose when you've seen one silhouette of a naked chick stroking a gunbarrel in a way that suggests she's thinking about something else entirely, you've seen 'em all.
Anyway, after Binder passed away in 1991, the Broccolis hired Kleinman to design the opening for the next Bond, GoldenEye, after seeing his video for Gladys Knight's Licence To Kill theme song.
And by crikey he did a bang up job. The sequence is clever, innovative and relevant to the story (check out the statues of former Communist legends which crop up later in the film) but remains faithful to the traditions of Binder's work. It's also been blocked on YouTube by MGM on copyright grounds. So thanks for that.
Kleinman went on to do the title sequences for the next four Bond films, all of which tied the themes of each movie to his striking imagery in an eye-popping explosion of style. The World Is Not Enough and Die Another Day have also been yanked off of the YouTubes by an overzealous, bankrupt studio, but here (for now at least) is Kleinman's title sequence for Tomorrow Never Dies, complete with Sheryl Crow ruining everyone's day:
Kleinman saved his masterpiece, though, for 2006's big Bond reboot, Casino Royale. The titles are everything his others were but adds a retro touch to reflect the fact that it's an origin story for 007 (despite taking place in the present. And, er, with the same person playing his boss. Don't get me started).
For reasons I haven't been able to fathom, Kleinman didn't do the titles for the last Bond film, Quantum Of Solace - director Marc Forster used his favourite titles designers MK12, who farted out a lacklustre effort with some nice sand but not much else. The Incredible Suit crosses its fingers that if we ever get another Bond film, Daniel Kleinman will be back fondling our eyeballs with his cheeky fingers.
Wikipedia helpfully describes burlesque as "a humorous theatrical entertainment involving parody and sometimes grotesque exaggeration". They're talking about the art form but it's also a conveniently accurate description of the film; Christina Aguilera's vocal stylings are the very embodiment of the words "grotesque exaggeration", while Cher slipped into self-parody so long ago that she's come out the other side and now occupies a tangential plane where it's OK to look like a life-size action figure of Pete Burns. Hang on, I think I can feel the world's worst pun coming on...
That said, Burlesque is a harmlessly inoffensive (almost disappointingly so) way to pass a couple of hours if you don't mind your story being regularly interrupted for another outing by Xtina's mutant slut lungs. There are only really a couple of great songs so it won't be troubling many Greatest Ever Musical polls, but it certainly leaves last Christmas's legs 'n' lungs catastrophe Nine standing in its glittery dust.
Stanley Tucci plays Stanley Tucci so well it's as if he was born to play the part, Alan Cumming pops in for a cheeky cameo which is virtually pointless but fannyloads of fun, and various other actresses get short shrift as cardboard characters whose only purpose is to fill out the running time.
Still, if you're not getting your ass up and showing us how you burlesque by the end credits, then there's something up with your ass. Get it seen to, pronto.
Among the inevitable crimes against cinema we are expected to withstand in 2011 is The Smurfs, a film which has already upset me with its savage mauling of the English language, as detailed at tedious length in this post.
Well, now we've got a poster:
Granted, it's not the worst poster in the world, but take a look at this still from the trailer, advertising the website:
So what The Smurfs is essentially doing with its marketing is replacing various swear words in popular phrases with the word "smurf", presumably in an attempt to appeal to an adult audience who are no doubt already nodding their heads in sly recognition at the linguistic genius of it all, while the target market - kids under eight and idiots - are left with incomprehensible, nonsensical phrases to chew over.
Whichever smurfing smurf came up with this pile of smurf must be pretty smurfing pleased with himself, the smug smurf. Personally I'd like to fire a smurfing harpoon up his smurfing smurf until he smurfs smurfs from his smurfing smurf. SEE WHAT I SMURFING DID THERE?!!
Viewers with exceptional memories may recall a competition I ran several years ago to win two copies of the BFI's quite spanktacular Chaplin At Keystone DVD box set. I asked you to place the following silent comedians in order of greatness according to the only scale that matters, i.e. mine:
The correct answer, as anybody who checked the properties of the picture would have discovered, is:
Of the countless (five) entries received, three got it right. This was quite annoying because if only two had got it right I could have just sent the DVDs off and everyone would have been happy, but instead I had to spend an entire day inventing another Arena Of Destiny. Still, original video content and all.
So here it is, and don't forget - three contestants enter, only two leave with a prize. Take it away, not Charlie Chaplin!
Congratumalations to the winners, uncontrollable commiserations to the loser. At least you got your name on the world's greatest movie blog to be called The Incredible Suit.
Thanks to Dave, Paul, Cath, Lisa and the one and only Martin for helping to bring The Arena Of Destiny to life. Consider this paragraph as your payment.
I say "loosely" because really only the top four or five have earned the right to be in my Top 10. The rest wouldn't be allowed within shitting distance of such a list in any other self-respecting year.
So here are The Incredible Suit's ten least worst films of 2010, presented in reverse order of least-worstness in a pathetic attempt to drum up some excitement as you make your way towards the bottom rubbishest movie of the year. Go enthusiasm!
A dull story about a bunch of wankers told with unmatchable style, wit and skill by one of the world's greatest living directors. David Fincher could direct a film of this blog and make it bearable. He's that good. Lazy but easily marketable description for idiots: It's Revenge Of The Nerds meets The Net!
Not just "funny", but also "touching". I know because the internets said so. Julianne Moore and Mark Ruffalo for Best Everything at next year's Oscars. Lazy but easily marketable description for idiots: It's Desert Hearts (or some other famous lesbian film) meets BBC1's My Family! But funny! And touching!
Satisfyingly engrossing murder mystery populated by well-written characters and directed with style and elegance. The exact opposite of its sequels. Lazy but easily marketable description for idiots: It's Murder Most Foul meets The Seventh Seal (or some other famous Swedish film)!
You might need the novel as a guidebook, but this is an undeniably massive pair of quality funbags (thanks largely to Mrs Weasley) from start to finish. Not that it actually, you know, finishes as such. Lazy but easily marketable description for idiots: It's Harry Potter meets Lord Of The Rings! In a tent!
Uneven but solid entertainment which should spawn a cracking sequel. Hit Girl is this generation's Ripley, only swearier. Lazy but easily marketable description for idiots: It's Spider-Man meets Batman starring that potty-mouthed kid off of The Exorcist!
Occasionally uncomfortable, often hilarious, always brilliant: it's THE FILM THAT TOOK THE WORLD BY SURPRISE! Or at least both of us who saw it. Good job, "marketing department". Lazy but easily marketable description for idiots: It's Mrs Doubtfire meets Kevin The Teenager!
Insanely high expectations may have led to initial disappointment, but this panoply of pixellated punch-ups comes out fighting with every repeated viewing. Quality Edgartainment. Lazy but easily marketable description for idiots: It's Fight Club meets Grease!
Nothing new from Pixar, just the effortlessly perfect blend of action, comedy and drama that rival animation studios can only Dream of. Lazy but easily marketable description for idiots: It's Toy Story meets Toy Story 2!
Minds were blown, brains were melted, eyes were popped. All of which made a terrible mess, but when it's this entertaining you really can't complain. Unless you're the one cleaning the cinema. Lazy but easily marketable description for idiots: It's Dreamscape meets that episode of Scrooge McDuck they're all on about!
Before we sweep the worst year for movies, like, ever under the lounge rug like so much veruca trimmings and crispy dried snot (that's what's under everyone's lounge rug, right?), I thought it was worth reflecting on some of the crustiest bogies that befell the movie world in 2010. You may want a cute kitten video on standby for when it's all over; I recommend this one.
Development on the next James Bond
film was "suspended indefinitely"
Thanks to a small accounting oversight, MGM found themselves one hundred million billion trillion dollars in debt, meaning nobody could fork out for a new pair of titchy trunks for Daniel Craig's next outing as James Bond. Things seem to be getting back on track now, with Spyglass Entertainment running MGM and production moving forward on The Hobbit, but a new Bond is at least two years away and Craig may well "do a Dalton" in the meantime, leaving the field open for Shia LaBeouf. Speaking of which...
Shia LaBeouf continued to get work
The guy must be in the possession of some seriously incriminating photographs. That's the only way I can explain it.
Gentlemen Broncos went missing
A new film by the director of Napoleon Dynamite, starring Jemaine Clement and Sam Rockwell, spent about four minutes in UK cinemas and has so far failed to turn up on DVD. What up with that?
This... thing happened
Possibly the most unpleasant thing to happen anywhere ever, this documentary of the world's screechingest harpy's 2008-09 tour promised "the unique opportunity to follow Celine everywhere... this movie will show it all". Celine herself even said: "I let the cameras follow me everywhere. It's definitely the most intimate journey that I've ever shared with my fans." So basically if we don't see her pissing in the bath, inserting tampons and accidentally getting shit on her fingers when wiping her arse, we're being massively lied to here.
The next Batman film got a really shit name
There are two main problems with The Dark Knight Rises as a title: 1. It's boring. It sounds like Batman's just been woken by Alfred with a nice cup of tea and a hot buttered crumpet and he's just having a little stretch. 2. It sets off my OCD alarm. Why is he Batman for one film but The Dark Knight for two? Some of us demand continuity, dammit!
For what it's worth (less than nothing), here's what Nolan's Batrilogy should have been called:
I give myself bonus points for use of another Chris Nolan title, original use of punctuation and nice rhymez.
James Cameron announced two Avatar sequels
Announcing one sequel to one of the most indefensible wastes of time and money in the history of motion pictures would have been bad enough, but to announce two - one of which is set underwater for added tedium - is like being poked in both eyes with an angry wasp's backside. In 3D. Ooh that reminds me, did I mention how I feel about 3D?
Perfectly good old films are being
unnecessarily raped into another dimension
As if a CG Sy Snootles and Greedo shooting first weren't enough for George Lucas, the bearded bellend is now insisting that the original Star Wars - and Indiana Jones - films are to be retro-three-dimensionated in order to hoover up any cash James Cameron might have left on the table bring the magic to a whole new generation of walking wallets moviegoers.
Well fuck you done George.
Movie marketing discovered a whole new level of misleading
Some personal heroes died
Indiana Jones and James Bond stuntman
Actor, writer and director
Bond and Superman screenwriter
Actor and public sphincter-relaxer
Director of The Empire Strikes Back
I spent a lot of time watching films like these
That's an extra 1,279 minutes I could have spent on my fruitless campaign to get an interview with Edgar Wright. Or watching
the latest version of Avatar.
So that was 2010. 2011 brings us Transformers 3, Smurfs and Justin Bieber: Never Say Never 3D, as well as the continued absence of a James Bond film, so come back this time next year to see if I've thrown myself under a train.
It appears to be an act of treason, punishable by very messy death, to reveal anything about Catfish, the documentary that's taken every festival by storm in the last few months. In fact I'm not even sure I'm allowed to say that it's called Catfish, so I'm already risking life and limb with this post.
I will just say, then, that it's very good, although its capacity to convince you that it's deffo for realz one minute and clearly a load of old Joaquin the next does get distracting. It's also been hideously mismarketed as some kind of The Blair Witch Project for the tenties (that's what we're calling this decade, right?), whereas the truth is that it's a much more ordinary story about... well... people. And stuff.
Still, it is gripping, touching, bizarre, full of likeable characters / real people (delete according to opinion), and features some award-winning chest hair.
Something That Might Be Of Interest
If you're in London this Thursday evening, why not pop down to the ICA to see a preview of Catfish at the Ultra Culture Cinema Christmas Party, an event destined to become almost as thrilling and legendary as the time the odometer in my car ticked over from 99999 to 00000. You will see a good film, you will probably have fun, you might get a free gift and you won't catch any socially unacceptable diseases, provided you use adequate protection. Deets here.
See you there! Or, see you somewhere else. Or, more likely, never.
Imagine this all lovely and sharp and clear with a much better score, multiply it by 34 and you've got some idea of the brilliance of the BFI's Chaplin At Keystone box set which is out tomorrow, and which you could still win by entering this competition. Go on, it's Sunday, what else are you going to do? Christmas shopping? Do me a lemon.
I quite like the old Star Trek films. I don't love them by any stretch, but the ones with the original crew are fun and harmless, except for Star Trek V: The Final Frontier, which is so bad it makes the Next Generation films look good. And let me tell you, they're not. Watching them is like being at a party with all the boring people from somebody else's office. You don't like them, you don't know what they're talking about and one of them keeps saying "Make it so". Ugh. Thank Christ for JJ Abrams and his balls-out brilliant reboot.
Of the eleven Star Trek films, six composers contributed scores - Jerry Goldsmith, James Horner, Leonard Rosenman, Cliff Eidelman, Dennis McCarthy and of course the spankulous Michael Giacchino.
"All of that is very interesting", I hear you yawn, "but what about that version of Pulp's 'Common People' that William Shatner did? That was freakin' awesome!"
Following his brief appearance as Bob Genghis Kahn in this post, I thought it was time to give ass-kicking deliverer and generic Asian henchman Al Leong his very own post to hang on his wall and show to his grandchildren.
Al was born a while ago somewhere or other, and immediately became the go-to-guy for lazy casting directors looking for shifty oriental types. However, his ability to forget more about dispensing pain than you and I will ever know soon earned him roles in all manner of '80s and '90s actiongasms at both ends of the quality spectrum. A glance at some of his character names gives you some idea of the kind of range he could play:
I'm not sure what happened with that last one. It was in a 1983 film called Off The Wall, which was headlined by the box office gold double-whammy of Paul Sorvino and Patrick Cassidy. I haven't seen it but I'm reasonably sure that Al Leong as a cheerleader is the best thing in it.
While Al henched his way through timeless classics like Lethal Weapon, Big Trouble In Little China and Action Jackson, the zenith of his career came in 1988 when he played Die Hard's shifty Asian henchman Uli, described with admiration on the IMDb as a "quiet but efficient terrorist". Like so many of Al's characters, Uli was brutally slain by a wisecracking cop, but not before he brought a touching new dimension of humanity to the oft-misunderstood role of the mindless killer-for-hire by filching a Nestlé Crunch Bar while waiting to kill more cops.
At 58 years old, Al is now a little wizened old shifty Asian henchman, but is still rocking the hair / moustache / beard combo that gave him his magical powers back in the day. He lives solely on a diet of Nestlé Crunch Bars, of which he received a lifetime's supply for his work in Die Hard, and is rumoured to be returning to our screens in 2012 in the no-doubt-Oscar-winning thriller Take Back, which will apparently see him team up with '80s ass-kicking, throat-ripping legends Dolph Lundgren, Mr T and Julie Andrews. And that is a film that cannot come soon enough.
This has been a completely random, poorly researched, occasionally incorrect biographical post from The Incredible Suit. Thank you for listening.
Once upon a time I was walking through London's West End when I passed a jeweller's. Inside was a woman who looked exactly like Judi Dench, buying expensive boutique jewellery. I didn't want to stop dead outside the shop and gawp through the window so I kept walking a few paces, turned round and passed the jeweller's again. Yes, it was definitely her. I was so excited and distracted that I walked straight into a substantial bollard that was exactly at testicle height.
I'd like to end the story by telling how Dame Judi came out to see if I was all right and tended delicately to my bruised marbles, but the truth is that she didn't notice and I just looked a bit silly so I went home.
If you have an equally anti-climactic and pointless Judi Dench story, why not learn from my mistake and keep it to yourself?
Back in 1910, Austrian home entertainment pioneer Professor Frank Lovefilm invented the DVD Rental Experience, and since then we've all been able to catch up on the flicks we missed at the cinema in the comfort of our own homes.
Here, then, to celebrate the centenary of Professor Lovefilm's invention, is a small selection of reviews of films from this year which I caught up on well after they were released, using an ingenious gimmick whereby each review is just ten words long. Because it's 2010. Yeah? Brutal.
Youth In Revolt
Enjoyable indie comedy with wickles supporting cast and exploding caravan.
Insufferably tedious arty twaddle with nice shots of the sky.
Surreal, disturbing and incestuous Greek artguff. In a good way.
The Disappearance Of Alice Creed
Effective, twisty, tense three-hander. Eddie Marsan's face is astonishing.
Exit Through The Gift Shop
Intriguing, enigmatic, multi-layered and
probably fake non-Banksy documentary.
How To Train Your Dragon
Dreamworks edges closer to Pixar. Solid fun but frustratingly slight.
Promising idea buggered by appalling script and Britain's worst actors.
Unexceptional but admirable; 2010's second-best Son From Hell movie.
Over the last 28 years, many people have thought: "Tron had some good special effects didn't it? If that was made today, it'd be amazing!" Then, sensibly, they left the conversation there and carried on with their lives. Disney, however, decided it was a good idea, so spunked out over $200 million making Tron Legacy, with the help of two TV writers and a TV commercials director, none of whom had any feature film experience at all.
Surprisingly, it turned out to be an unmitigated, unqualified, undiluted, unadulterated, unreserved, unequivocal shitsplosion of the highest and most menacing order.
It might just be me, but when the central conceit of a film is something like having to take for granted the unexplained anthropomorphism of computer programs, then I've already stopped caring. Inexplicably, these 'programs' feel fear, anger, love, ambition and greed. They eat, drink, give motivational speeches, cheer at motivational speeches, go to parties and listen to Daft Punk. Really.
The computer world itself is also infuriatingly baffling. Why is there gravity? Why are there clouds? Why is there a sea? Why is it raining? Just what in the name of Sir Clive Sinclair is going on?
And then there's "the plot". Why has Old Jeff Bridges' son been beamed into PC world? Why is Old Jeff Bridges stuck in there? Why is Young Jeff Bridges trying to get out? What does he hope to achieve when he plops out into the real world only to find he's made of ones and zeroes? Hello, here's a lengthy exposition scene to answer all our questions: What's that, Old Jeff Bridges? Something about isomorphic algorithms? Right. A fat lot of help you are.
Eventually it all boils down to a race against time, which sounds far more exciting than it is, and an ending brought about by a hitherto unknown plot device that could have been effected not just much earlier in the story, but in fact before the story even began, which would have saved us all a lot of time, money and misery.
It doesn't help that Garrett Hedlund, playing the notional hero, is possibly the dullest actor on Earth. He's not bad, he's just boring. His dialogue consists either of clunking one-liners or crap descriptions of the sun: "Warm... radiant... beautiful." Yes, very good. You forgot "big", "round" and "yellow".
And then, in an attempt to liven up proceedings, Michael Sheen turns up and blows the film apart. Not in a good way, but in a cane-waving, bastard son of Aladdin Sane and Ruby Rhod, stupidly pointless way.
All of which wouldn't be so bad if the film was actually fun, but it's not. It's a confused, tedious cackspasm with no redeeming features whatsoever; an eye-wateringly expensive excuse to update Tron's light cycle scene padded out with two hours of monotonous cabbage that doesn't even look good in 3D.
So congratulations Disney! Your $200,000,000 has bought you probably the worst film of the year. And I've seen Devil.