Born in Edinburgh at the tender age of zero, Robbie eventually grew tall enough to study English and Philosophy at the University of St Andrews, making him far more intelligent than many give him credit for, especially those who read his Hot Tub Time Machine review. He joined News Of The World in 2003 and four long years of tea-making later became the paper's film critic. He's now a member of BAFTA and the London Critics' Film Circle, and positive reviews from him that include grotesquely brilliant puns adorn bus stops up and down the land.
However, it's his bite-sized damning verdicts that have earned him the status "That guy that said that thing". To wit:
"Indepen-dunce Day" (Skyline)
"Dung Fu" (The Last Airbender)
"Brighton crock" (Brighton Rock)
"Brighton crock" (Brighton Rock)
The Incredible Suit was determined to find out what a man such as this might choose as his favourite colour, and so asked him a series of inane questions in order to butter him up before bringing out the big guns. Here's more or less how the conversation went:
|Seeing as the laws of probability suggest that nobody reading this will ever become News Of The World Film Critic, what’s a typical week like in the life of a News Of The World Film Critic?|
I rise at 2pm on a Monday, do a quick circuit of the movie studios’ head offices to collect my weekly bungs, then like all newspaper journalists who don’t work for The Guardian, I’ll sit down, set fire to a piece of human rights legislation, and work out how to further the pro-capitalism, anti-democracy agenda.
Ho ho, just joking of course! It’s exactly like you’d imagine. Every week I watch around eight films in the various screening rooms in central London and afterwards write up one of my trademark “inimitable sideways looks at the movie”. I also write film-based features and news items for the paper and appear as a pundit on Sky and the BBC.
People may assume you know bog all about film because you write for a paper that is primarily interested in football, Jordan and The X Factor, whereas I suspect you actually know quite a lot about proper films. What’s the most properest film you’ve seen?
I’m not going to self-importantly dredge up my double first MA (Hons) in English and Philosophy with a focus on aesthetics and the philosophy of film, but I know a bit, and if I didn’t know what I was talking about, the News Of The World wouldn’t employ me. Let’s be honest, I’m hardly bringing good looks, celebrity or anything else useful to the table.
I saw an Ozu film once - it was quite good! And when my brother made a ROFL-rageous reference to Koyaanisqatsi over Christmas dinner last year, I was able to smile wryly in recognition. My most favouritest ‘difficult film’ is probably either Michael Haneke’s Hidden or David Lynch’s Eraserhead - fairly obvious choices. I almost went to see some of the Cremaster cycle once, but chickened out.
Now you're just making stuff up. As the News Of The World’s Film Critic, I imagine you’ve seen well over a hundred films. Can you rustle up a Top 5?
Last time I worked it out, it was (in no particular order) My Neighbour Totoro, The Good, The Bad And The Ugly, Cinema Paradiso, There Will Be Blood and Mulholland Drive.
ECLECTIC. How does it feel to be (according to The Guardian) the 87th most influential individual in UK film, just 49 places below Keira Knightley?
You always turn up at screenings in a suit and tie. Do you do it to make yourself stand out? Because you don't need to, you're eight feet tall.
At the News of the World we roll old school - it’s a bit like Mad Men in here! Except without the endemic casual sexism, of course. That’s Sky Sports.
Every News of the World journalist wears a suit for the job, including me. It’s a constant source of noisy amusement for other people at screenings, and I’m glad about that, except one day I will snap.
What have you seen that isn't out for ages that's going to blow us all away?
Nine point nine bajillion times out of ten bajillion times that I see a film early, I have to sign an embargo that stops me saying anything about it until the Sunday before it comes out, even if I love the very bumcheeks off it. The most distant unembargoed releases I’ve seen are Submarine (brilliant), Wake Wood (also brilliant), Norwegian Wood (gorgeous and difficult) and Chalet Girl (much better than you’d think).
Well I look forward to being blown by all of those. Now when are you going to come clean and admit that your love of The Ghost has been a Joaquin Phoenix-esque practical joke all along? Because it really is ponderous, preposterous claptrap, isn't it?
Idiots such as yourself didn’t enjoy The Ghost because you didn’t bother looking beyond the contemporary political surface and the fact they’d cast a Mamma Mia! person as the Prime Minister. But the fundamental structure of that film stands it in a long tradition of paranoid Hollywood noir that stretches back through Polanski’s own Chinatown, right back to Hitchcock and probably earlier.
It’s a brilliant example of its genre, the craft is nigh-on flawless and the casting – including the Brosnatron – is note-perfect. If anyone disagrees with that, I will physically fight them. And I will win.
I'm not sure about that, your centre of gravity is much higher than everyone else's, meaning your propensity for toppling over is much greater. In other news, you’re the prince of poster quotes. Which of the following are you most proud of?
"5 Stars? It deserves 127!"
"I love it when a film comes together"
(Hot Tub Time Machine)
History will prove me right on the third. The second is inexcusably lazy and I probably should have been sacked over it.
I love the first one most because 127 Hours and The King’s Speech came out in the same week, and – while I’m in no way hatin’ on the C-Firth – Danny Boyle’s film is clearly the better of the two, so I chose to make that my lead review and relegated The King’s Speech to the second lead slot. And if that means only one more person went to see 127 Hours instead of, or as well as, The King’s Speech as a result, then my job is done.
How far in advance of actually seeing a film have you worked out your puns? My guess is that as soon as a film is announced you whip up a positive and a negative pun, then apply the appropriate one after viewing the film. Am I right? Tell me I’m right.
You’re wrong, because that would require me to make twice as much effort for exactly the same comedic yield. People now freely suggest puns to me on Twitter, which is awful because it means even if I’ve already thought of them myself, I can’t then use them in a review. Someone suggested that if The Rite turns out to be rubbish, I should rename it 'The Rong'. That’s brilliant.
You're a big fan of Japanese culture. Is that because you blend in so well over there, what with you being nine feet tall?
I went on holiday to Japan last year and it was absolutely wonderful - if you’re my height you’re treated like a visiting alien dignitary. Strangers asked if I was a model. Locals made offerings of sweetmeats. An old woman actually applauded when I used the Japanese word for ‘plum’. It’s kind of how you wish you were treated all the time in your most private, demented fantasies. I might move there.
What do you think you're doing in your Twitter avatar?
And in this picture?
That's a relief. Now, many budding film reviewers look up to you, and not just because you're ten feet tall. What advice would you give to anyone who wants your job?
Do the News of the World’s graduate training scheme, casually make it known around the office that you know a lot about movies, then poison my drinking water. That’s how I got it.
That sounds an awful lot like a murder confession. Before I report you to the proper authorities, I must know: what's your favourite colour?
After weeks of consulting colour charts under natural and artificial light sources, I’m about to paint the kitchen Pavilion Grey, so I’d probably say KILL ME NOW.
If The Incredible Suit was a really really good film, what would your poster quote be? Warning: I will be using your answer in promotional material.
“Incredible? It deserves 127!”
– Robbie Collin, News of the World
How tall are you exactly?
I can’t tell you. I can’t tell you why I can’t tell you either, but it involves Satan.
Robbie Collin, thank you very much I suppose.
*He's completely wrong about Paul.