Monday 28 November 2011

Ten Reasons To Come And Watch Footloose With Me Next Week

It's just eleven short days until Thursday December 8th, when The Incredible Suit's Cumbersomely Titled Very Good Film And Quiz Night presents the original Footloose at the Stratford Picturehouse in East London, and oddly there are still tickets available here.

Research indicates that many of you haven't yet seen Footloose and can see no obvious reason to do so, so I'm here to give you ten very good reasons. Eleven, if you count "I'll cut myself if nobody turns up".

It's totally, utterly, 100% eighties
Officially cinema's most 1980s feet

If, like me, you yearn for a time before iPhones, The X Factor, movie spoilers, everything being too loud, "celebrities", health and safety, more than four TV channels, call centres in India, Nick Knowles and movie blogs written by unqualified nobodies, then a) you should GET OVER IT GRANDAD, and b) Footloose is for you. It's packed with mullets, leg warmers and synthesised pop and has a ludicrous premise, unlikely dance sequences and Kevin Bacon in a vest.

I can't believe you'd need nine more reasons, but I'm going to carry on regardless.

Chris Tookey's synopsis
As if being forbidden to dsance isn't bad enough, dancing has also been banned. Not sure why Tookey didn't mention that.

Peepers peeled: it's '80s Movie Mom!
She's no Mary Ellen Trainor, but Frances Lee McCain - who plays Kevin Bacon's mum - has one of Hollywood's most celebrated wombs of the 1980s. The characters she played also spawned Gremlins' Billy Peltzer, Stand By Me's Gordie Lachance, and Back To The Future's Lorraine Baines. Rumour has it she wore deelyboppers on her ovaries.

The Angry Dance
You've seen it in Billy Elliot, Hot Rod and Flight Of The Conchords, but Kevin Bacon's Angry Dance is the original and still the best.  Massive incidental kudos to for this ad placement on the YouTube clip of Angry Dance '84:

The homoerotic dance montage
Gotta have a montage, and Footloose's - in which Kevin Bacon teaches new BFF Chris Penn to dance, albeit like Pinocchio on elastic - is a corker. If you're planning a thesis on gay subtext in mainstream Hollywood cinema then you could do a lot worse than make this scene your first port of call. Your second should probably be the men's shower room scene.


The motivational speech
You can keep your "They'll never take our freedom", your "We few, we happy few, we band of brothers" and your "What we do in life echoes in eternity": the sight of Kevin Bacon declaring "There is a time to dance... this is our time" would be enough to convince a horde of angry, hairy Scotsmen to start bodypopping there and then.

John Lithgow in "character over cliché" shocker
Pitching your young protagonists against a stuffy old Christian is a recipe for pantomime villainy, especially when the antagonistic God-botherer in question is John Lithgow, an actor prone to fits of raging scene-chewing and over-the-toppery. But Lithgow, assisted by writer Dean Pitchford and director Herbert Ross, is led not into temptation and delivers a sympathetic performance as a flawed man trying to understand a changing world.

Sadly that means there's not much of this kind of thing:

The soundtrack
Kenny Loggins - "Footloose"

Bonnie Tyler - "Holding Out For A Hero"

Moving Pictures - "Never"

"If you don't give your heart wings you'll never, never, never ever never, never, never ever fly". The very words I live by.

Turn up nice and early (let's say 6.30) and I'll be hosting a free quiz for anyone who knows stuff about films and that. There'll be actual prizes "up for grabs", and I'm reasonably confident that some of them won't be shit.

The quiz starts promptly at 7pm in the Stratford Picturehouse bar and is free to anyone who's come to watch Footloose. There's a maximum team size of six people, and it'll be worth attending just to see if there's another mighty face-off between Team Shiznit and Cheval, scourges of film quiz teams across London.


So there you have it. If you still don't want to come then you're either mad or dead, and either way I want nothing further to do with you. And if any of that's convinced you, there are more infodeets here. Jump back!

Wednesday 23 November 2011

My Week With Marilyn

My Week With Marilyn tries very hard indeed to make you hate it as quickly as possible. It begins with a plummy voiceover from an upper-class twit, who parks his glaringly obvious period car - it may as well have a hooter that shouts "LOOK AT ME! I'M AN AUTHENTIC 1950s PROP!" - right in the foreground of every shot, while Michelle Williams hovers about looking almost-but-not-quite like Marilyn Monroe, as if trying to prove that the Uncanny Valley theory doesn't just apply to performance capture animation.

But then something weird happens, and suddenly you're completely sucked into director Simon Curtis' world, in which Johnny Posh Features (Eddie Redmayne, playing Colin Clark, upon whose diaries the film is based) is actually quite charming and Michelle Williams is actually and unquestionably Marilyn Monroe. It's a cunning trick by writer Adrian Hodges, whereby he avoids many of the traps that true stories so often fall into by crafting a delightful story that has a beginning, a middle and an end without appearing contrived for the sake of drama.

The film's biggest joy, without which it would quite probably be nothing, is Kenneth Branagh's unexpectedly funny turn as Laurence Olivier, a role he demanded to play the moment he emerged from his mother's vagina. In fact the Monromance bubbling up between Marilyn and Colin soon feels like a subplot we're forced to sit through while we wait for another hilarious scene of Larry losing his shit over Mazza's incompetence as an actress. Seriously, if Ken wanted to make a two-hour spin-off of this film starring only himself as Olivier, I'd watch it in a heartbeat. I've even got a title ready.
Sadly it appears that the awkward-nobody-almost-has-affair-with-massive-movie-star storyline is the one we're supposed to be interested in, and while it's pleasantly diverting it never really grabs you by the genitals (which all love stories should), despite excellent performances all round. You're left wondering why you had to go to the cinema to see a Sunday night ITV drama, what the real-film-within-the-film The Prince And The Showgirl is like (good news! It's on BBC2 on Saturday) and whether or not Marilyn really was as useless as this film makes her out to be.
All in all then, nice enough, but no Me And Orson Welles. I imagine. I haven't actually seen it.

Monday 14 November 2011


With its based-on-truth premise of a teenage boy from a broken family somewhere in the Australian underclass becoming involved with an enigmatic but vicious criminal, Snowtown immediately invites comparisons to Animal Kingdom, especially among people who've only seen two Australian movies this year (i.e. me). That would be reductive though: Snowtown is entirely its own film, and within minutes of it starting you'll have forgotten all about Guy Pearce's amazing moustache.
The enigmatic criminal this time is none other than Australia's most prolific serial killer, John "inappropriately jolly surname" Bunting, played here with terrifying serenity by Daniel Henshall, and Snowtown portrays him through the eyes of Jamie Vlassakis (newcomer Lucas Pittaway). Bunting's relationship with Vlassakis' mother initially seems like the answer to all the troubled teen's problems, but before long things take a turn for the eye-wateringly, stomach-churningly, toenail-removingly disturbing.
Brutal, bleak and raw, and shocking in the mundanity of its horrific events, Snowtown demands your attention and rewards you with an uncompromising look at the tragedy of a doomed, neglected community: there isn't a single shot of a police officer; neighbourhood watch consists of gathering round a kitchen table and being encouraged to dream up violent retribution towards gays and paedophiles, and a mother remains ambivalent to the effect that a clearly unstable man might be having on her children.

Meanwhile, the film's clouded sense of time and refusal to give an explanation for Bunting's crimes beyond his apparent hatred of child molestors and homosexuals (he was also after their welfare payments, but the film doesn't touch on that) make for an unpleasantly woozy viewing experience; a blurry, waking nightmare that stays with you long after the credits.

It's not a film to like or enjoy, but it is a film worth enduring. LOLs are non-existent and dog lovers will have almost as hard a time as they did with Tyrannosaur, but Snowtown does raise a lot of questions, and they're even harder to answer than the film is to watch.

It's not as good as Animal Kingdom though.

In other news: The production notes make for the world's worst flip book:

Thursday 10 November 2011

The Incredible Suit's Cumbersomely Titled Very Good Film And Quiz Night Presents: FOOTLOOSE!

Hold on to your tits, people:


And when I say "invited", I mean "invited to buy a ticket". But they are cheap as chips, so it's practically like being invited.
Yeppers, I'll be screening a 35mm print of underrated eighties cheesegasm Footloose, starring THE MIGHTY BACON, on:

at London's glorious
Stratford Picturehouse

I asked a selection of people to give me their thoughts on Footloose in the hope of them saying something that might convince you to come along, and here's a selection of some of the most enthusiastic:

"I'm not sure I've ever seen the whole movie" - Edgar Wright
"Not having seen it, I have little to say about it" - Ali Gray, The Shiznit
"I haven't ever seen it" - David Sztypuljak, HeyUGuys
"Has not seen" - Charlie Lyne, Ultra Culture

What this clearly proves is that if there's one thing the world needs right now, it's a screening of Footloose, if only to broaden your horizons, as well as those of several film bloggers and a certain celebrated director.

And if there are two things the world needs right now, the other one is:


That's right, get your asses to the Stratford Picturehouse early because before the film I'll be hosting a special movie quiz in the bar, with prizes and everything! But mainly prizes.

Here's that all-important information in its own Important Information Box:


The Incredible Suit's Cumbersomely Titled
Very Good Film And Quiz Night
presents the original
at Stratford Picturehouse,
London E15 1BX
on Thursday December 8th 2011

Quiz starts 7pm
Film starts 8pm
Quiz answers and winners announced 10pm

Tickets are a piffling £6.50 (even cheaper if you're a Picturehouse Member; why not join now?) from the Stratford Picturehouse website and are on sale NOW. Go buy!
Literally and metaphorically, the music is on his side.

Wednesday 9 November 2011

BlogalongaBond / The M To R
Of Awful Things In Moonraker

Of all the terrible things in the world for which Star Wars was responsible - George Lucas' constant tinkering, Jar Jar Binks, grown men dressing up as Jedi Knights - by far the most heinous was the blasting of James Bond into outer space. It wasn't entirely Star Wars' fault, obviously: it's mostly Cubby Broccoli's for listening to the cacophonous mooing that passes for public opinion. Space-based escapism was all the rage in the late 1970s, so what better way to cash in on the craze move the Bond franchise forwards than to wrap 007 in tin foil and fire him at the stars?

The trouble is, the general public have absolutely no idea what makes a good Bond film. They didn't even like On Her Majesty's Secret Service, the drooling cretins. And so Broccoli commissioned a script that was little more than Bond On Demand: a virtual remake of The Spy Who Loved Me (itself a virtual remake of You Only Live Twice) only in space instead of underwater, with incongruous references to other films for no apparent reason (The Magnificent Seven? Really?) and the transformation of a cold-blooded killer into a soft-hearted love machine because under-eights demanded it.
Promoting Moonraker, Broccoli wittered: "This isn't science fiction, this is science fact." Well, sorry Cubby, but this isn't science fact, this is science fucked. A man who falls out of a plane and lands on a circus is unlikely to survive without a scratch. The time between a space station being discovered by NASA and a platoon of fully trained Space Rangers arriving there to blow it up is unlikely to be six minutes. And a spy attempting to follow someone without being spotted is unlikely to succeed by hiding behind a glass vase. He's just going to appear slightly further away.
While Moonraker still isn't the worst Bond film so far (Lewis Gilbert's breezy direction keeps it from being as tediously leaden as Thunderball), it does have the dubious honour of having many of the worst things ever to appear in the franchise. To prove it, I was going to do the A to Z of awful things in Moonraker, but that would take so long it would be quicker to just watch the film again, so here instead is the, uh, M to R. That works, right?

M is for My God, what's Bond wearing?
While Roger Moore looks fairly sharp throughout most of Moonraker, he bookends the film with two of Bond's most alarming outfits: a blue blazer over a roll-neck sweater, the neck of which resembles a large, rolled-back foreskin - thereby making his head look like a massive, bewigged bell-end - and a yellow jumpsuit, the less said about which the better. What next, a clown outfit?

O is for Oh for God's sake

Presumably this is so Bond can identify his miniature spy camera amongst all the others cluttering up Drax's chateau.

O is for Onanism scene that explains plot hole
At the beginning of the film Bond is issued with a wrist-mounted dart-gun thingy, which saves his life early on and is probably one of Q's most useful inventions. Why he doesn't bother using it in any other life-threatening situation except to kill Drax right at the end, then, is a mystery. Perhaps he took it off so he could have a wank without firing an armour-piercing dart into his scrotum and forgot to put it back on again. There's a tragically missed opportunity for a "one off the wrist" gag somewhere there.

N is for Nicola Roberts from Girls Aloud
Not awful as such, just worth pointing out.

R is for Rubbish secret agent
In keeping with his professional desire to remain incognito at all times, Bond blends in with Venice tourists by driving through St Mark's Square on a massive hovering gondola with red and white stripes on it. This scene made my DVD player cry.

A is for Apparently this belongs in a James Bond film
In actual fact it doesn't.

K is for Kill me now

The romance evoked by the slow motion run and the pile of fresh corpses littering the surrounding area is almost palpable.

E is for Er, why is that guy hiding in a coffin?
Why shoot 007 from a safe distance with a sniper's rifle when you can customise a coffin with an arsenal of knives, float down a canal, take out a gondolier first then wait a moment before having a go at Bond, thus giving him the chance to do you in first? Henchman fail #372.

R is for Really? REALLY?
animated gif how to

The thing is, Moonraker isn't a bad film, it's just a bad Bond film. Take 007 out of it and you've got a perfectly serviceable, fun seventies romp. Maybe I'm being too po-faced - God knows the franchise shouldn't take itself too seriously - but double-taking pigeons don't belong in a film series that includes Sean Connery shooting a dead man in the back just to be sure.

Fortunately, and as is usually the case, it's not a complete disaster...

The death of Corinne Dufour
Having agreed to a little Dufour-play with 007, Corinne's only future career path as a Bond girl lies in certain death on the orders of her boss, Sir Hugo Drax. In the middle of a film full of crass double entendres and risible sight gags, the scene in which she's chased through the forest by Drax's dogs is weirdly stylish and poignant. Jean Tournier's long-lens photography is stunning, with dappled sunlight and dreamy slow motion offsetting the violence with unexpected class, while John Barry's urgent, menacing cue is one of his career best.

The stuntmen
Despite being jarringly intercut with blatant rear-projection shots of Roger Moore pretending to be in trouble, two of Moonraker's stunt scenes remain breathtaking. The pre-title skyfall was not only done for real by aerial mentalists BJ Worth and Jake Lombard, but done 88 times over five weeks to get all the required footage, while Richard Graydon actually dangled over the edge of that cable car in Rio without any kind of safety attachment, which is both heart-stoppingly terrifying and certifiably insane.

The bit where Roger Moore acts
Coincidentally, I pulled the exact same face throughout most of Moonraker

Having worn himself out developing a bit of character for Bond in The Spy Who Loved Me, Rodge reverted to his usual, eyebrow-waggling self in Moonraker. In a careless lapse, however, Moore accidentally acted a little bit during the scene where he goes for a spin in Drax's centrifuge trainer. The faces he pulls while being subjected to thirteen Gs are amazing enough, but when he emerges from the machine, sweaty and barely alive, it's the most physically unsettled we've seen Bond for a long time. His refusal to let Holly help him gives us another all-too-brief glimpse through a hairline crack in his steely veneer.

And finally: No cock joke this month, sorry, unless you count this poster:
In zero gravity, everyone can see your erection.

BlogalongaBond will return with For Your Eyes Only

Monday 7 November 2011

Friday 4 November 2011

James Bond 23, Skyfall And Other Google Search-Friendly Keywords

Despite some of the most shamefully unseemly begging emails I've ever written, I failed to get myself invited to yesterday's press conference to launch the new James Bond film. Why the inventor of the world's greatest Bond-related blogging project should be passed over like this is not just a mystery but technically a felony, and I look forward to Sony's personal apology, hand-delivered by Daniel Craig, any day now.

But enough about me and the cruel, hurtful snub I was forced to endure. What about Bond? Well, first things first: the brand was finally granted access to the 21st century this week when the official James Bond Twitter and Facebook accounts were opened. The MySpace page is surely just a few short years away.

The official James Bond Twitter page was particularly useful for reading news from the press conference shortly after everyone else who was there had already tweeted it, and the Facebook page has already become a repository for some of the most incisive commentary the internet has to offer:
Foreigners, eh? Cuh!

Back at the press conference, where Dame Judi Dench was heard to enquire forlornly of my whereabouts, the title of the 23rd Bond film was officially announced - in a move that surprised everyone who's my mum - as:
Or, as the press kit would have it:
I probably prefer black on white, but in all honesty the first one looks better on this dirty beige background.

What do we know about the title? Well, not much. In fact what we really don't know is how to type it in mixed case. Notice the slightly larger S and F? And the way the S is vertically centrally justified whereas the F is top justified so that its tail hangs below the rest of the title? No, of course you didn't, because you're not a massive loser. Here's some detail with added red lines to illustrate my pointless point:
All I'm saying is that I'd like to know whether to type Skyfall as in Thunderball, or SkyFall as in GoldenEye, because we've got twelve months of me banging on about this film ahead of us and my public demands continuity.

Whatever, Skyfall (we'll go with that for now) isn't as good a title as my frequently repeated and ignored suggestion Blood And Thunder (anyone would think Barbara Broccoli doesn't read The Incredible Suit), but nor is it total cock. It's nice and short, because everyone likes a short Bond title, and it's as far removed as possible from Quantum Of Solace, which was so mind-thumpingly obscure to non-Fleming fans that it threatened to drown web forums in a tsunami of WTFery when that title was announced in 2008.

It does bother me that it sounds a bit like a Coldplay album, but I suppose it's the kind of thing Ian Fleming would probably have resorted to if he'd written two dozen books. [Vaguely relevant self-promotional link to an article I wrote for a well-known website] Several commentators have also pointed out that Sony won't be able to insert the 007 logo into it diagonally on the posters, as they did by using the 'O's of Casino Royale and Quantum Of Solace. This is clearly a good thing, because the day a Bond film is only allowed a title with two or more 'O's in it is the day we end up with a Bond film called Boobies Boogaloo. Although... *mind wanders for several hours*
Back in the room, director Sam Mendes introduced his cast, and once again anyone who's been following the internet rumour mill remained unamazed. Javier Bardem was finally confirmed, as were Ralph Fiennes, Ben Whishaw (is he Q? Is he? EH?) and Albert Finney, who I sincerely hope becomes the new M by the end of the film, thereby terminating the reboot-crossover nonsense that DJD's presence has perpetuated for two films.
Naomie Harris won't be Moneypenny, which is a bit disappointing - instead she'll play Eve, a field agent who's definitely not Gemma Arterton, and the foreign-totty-with-minimal-command-of-the-English-language quota is filled by Bérénice Marlohe, whose character will almost certainly be dead before the halfway mark. Incidentally, when asked how she felt about working on a Bond film, Naomie Harris claimed she was "rearing to go". I can only assume this means we might finally see some Reverse Cowgirl action in a Bond film. That's almost certainly what Daniel Craig was thinking at this exact moment:
Skyfall? Eyeful, more like

In other news, it's hardly original to suggest that one Bond film's plot might be slightly similar to another's, but the brief synopsis afforded by today's events does little to quell the naysayers:
"In SKYFALL, Bond's loyalty to M is tested [a bit like Licence To Kill] as her past comes back to haunt her [a bit like The World Is Not Enough]. As MI6 comes under attack [also a bit like The World Is Not Enough], 007 must track down and destroy the threat [a bit like every other Bond film], no matter how personal the cost [a bit like Casino Royale]."
Still, at least they're all at the better-quality end of 007 reference points: if you're going to make a Bond cocktail, you may as well use the best ingredients.

Little more was divulged about the plot, although Mendes did say that "[Skyfall is] its own story. It doesn't connect with the last two films." And that pisses me off a bit. They teased us with Mr White in Casino Royale, gave us a little more by revealing the SPECTRE-esque Quantum organisation in Quantum Of Solace - surely it would make sense to bring that to some kind of conclusion? Apparently not. And that's what it's like being a Bond fan: frequently brought to near-climax and simultaneously frustrated by every little announcement.

I'll be honest, though: it's worth it.

Skyfall is released in 357 days and has already begun filming. Let's hope a certain international sex symbol gets a good night's sleep before he's required on set.