Thursday, 25 December 2014

The Incredible Suit's more-or-less-annual Playlist Of The Year

Another year, another collection of corpses the binmen refuse to collect, thereby unwittingly adding themselves to the very same pile. Still, at least there have been some films out in 2014, and some of them had music, and some of that music was good. I realise that doesn't entirely justify the human carnage clogging up my wheelie bin but it's a distraction if nothing else.

Anyway here's a selection of that music, turn it up and play it loud while the Queen's speech is on and pretend it's her singing the Batman song from The LEGO Movie.

Merry Christmas I suppose!

Monday, 15 December 2014

A couple of statements

Here is a statement from EON Productions, published at on Saturday 13th December:
EON PRODUCTIONS, the producers of the James Bond films, learned this morning that an early version of the screenplay for the new Bond film SPECTRE is amongst the material stolen and illegally made public by hackers who infiltrated the Sony Pictures Entertainment computer system. 
Eon Productions is concerned that third parties who have received the stolen screenplay may seek to publish it or its contents. The screenplay for SPECTRE is the confidential information of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios and Danjaq, LLC, and is protected by the laws of copyright in the United Kingdom and around the world. It may not (in whole or in part) be published, reproduced, disseminated or otherwise utilised by anyone who obtains a copy of it. 
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios and Danjaq LLC will take all necessary steps to protect their rights against the persons who stole the screenplay, and against anyone who makes infringing uses of it or attempts to take commercial advantage of confidential property it knows to be stolen.

And here is a statement from me, published at on Monday 15th December:
Just don't be a dick. If you think you've got a copy of the SPECTRE script, keep it to yourself or, preferably, delete it. It's in nobody's interests to spoil the surprises contained in any new film; all that does is confirm you're a twat. And if you spoil SPECTRE for me then so help me I will come round your house and hide large numbers of rotting fish in hard-to-find places.
Remember, if you're tempted to be a dick, simply follow the golden rule: 

Carry on.

Friday, 12 December 2014

The Incredible Suit's Top Ten Films Of 2014

So 2014's been all right, hasn't it? I mean, it's no 2011, but then what could be? At least it wasn't 2010; Jesus, imagine having to go through that again. Anyway here, as is mandatory for anyone given control of a film blog regardless of talent or knowledge, is a list of ten films released this year that weren't as bad as all the others. This particular list very nearly included the following, but didn't, so get over it: The LEGO Movie, Starred Up, The Guest, Locke, Boyhood and The Raid 2. If you haven't seen any of those, or indeed the next ten, get out and don't come back until you have. You disgust me.

HER Under the guise of spinning a yarn about a man who wants to fuck a laptop, Spike Jonze might just have delivered cinema's most incisive commentary on love. The relationship between Joaquin Phoenix's Theodore and Scarlett Johansson's "Samantha" isn't just believable, it's recognisable, and Jonze's Oscar-winning script for Her paints a picture of a species so baffled by the concept of love that it's no wonder we might turn to technology for an easy life. Essential viewing for people who want to try and understand people a little better. Review

X-MEN: DAYS OF FUTURE PAST In a year overstuffed with underenjoyable blockbusters (none of Captain America, Spider-Man, Godzilla or Guardians Of The Galaxy did much for me at all), just one effects-packed tentpole flick tickled my pickle. With X-Men: Days Of Future Past, Bryan Singer returns the X-franchise to its glory days, delivering a well-paced, intelligent crowd-pleaser decked out in shit-hot shirts and shades. The triple-pronged assault of Hugh Jackman, Michael Fassbender and James McAvoy leading a megabudget superhero film feels like Singer's way of making up for the lesser X-films caused by his absence from the series, and his promise to return for X-Men: Apocalypse means I'm already in the queue. Not literally, you understand. That would be ridiculous. Review

THE ROVER An intriguing second step in the path of a truly visionary director, David Michôd's second film takes only another cracking Guy Pearce performance from his debut Animal Kingdom, spinning a morality tale of avarice and self-destruction for a potentially doomed generation. Brooding and leisurely, The Rover is in no hurry to get where it's going, and with good reason: it begins in a hellish near-future and can't see that anywhere else will be any better. It's pessimistic and unpleasant and leaves you drained of all hope, except that Michôd will keep walking the same path for a long time to come. Review

TWO DAYS, ONE NIGHT Like a Gallic update of 12 Angry Men, Two Days, One Night sees one angry woman swallowing an entire vat of pride as she attempts to convince colleagues, one by one, to forego their bonus in order to save her job. The Dardennes brothers' remarkable script digs so deep into the strata of human interaction that they strike gold, aided in no small part by Marion Cotillard, who teeters on the brink of emotional collapse for the entire running time. One of the most incisive commentaries on the effects of the financial crisis, this brings everything down to the most identifiable level and leaves you uncomfortably wondering how you'd act in the same situation. I can tell you right now that given 1000 Euros I'd fire Derek from accounts in a heartbeat, the useless tit.

THE WOLF OF WALL STREET If there was ever any doubt that he's his generation's Jack Nicholson, Leonardo DiCaprio takes that doubt and blows it up a hooker's arsehole within the first ten minutes of Martin Scorsese's breathless The Wolf Of Wall Street. The infuriatingly awful Jordan Belfort is a hideous creation (more so because he actually exists), and DiCaprio expertly stomps the fine line between appalling and appealing - thanks, in no small part, to Terence Winter's rollicking script, almost every scene of which begins with unbridled debauchery and cranks up the crackers from there. Easily Scorsese's best in decades, with star turns from Matthew McConaughey, Joanna Lumley, Rob Reiner and Jean Dujardin making the film an 18-rated Royal Variety Performance, and the instantly-classic quaaludes sequence its roof-raising highlight. Review

UNDER THE SKIN The story of a life from birth to death, Under The Skin covers pretty much every basic human emotion in under two hours; remarkable stuff from a film whose protagonist isn't even human. Spend 108 minutes marvelling at every gorgeous frame or a lifetime contemplating its potentially infinite themes, from the existential (what does it mean to be human?) to the deeply sinister (what does it mean to be a sexual predator?), it's entirely up to you. Challenging, unsettling and original in equal measure, it's a perfect storm of filmmaking excellence in every department, not least Mica Levi's nightmarish score. Review

MR. TURNER Timothy Spall grunts, flobs and porks his way through Mike Leigh's exquisite telling of JMW Turner's later years with all the characteristic skill that allows him to completely disappear into each of his roles despite his unique countenance. Leigh, meanwhile, is the true old master here: in total control of every stage of his filmmaking, he presents a beautiful, thoughtful biopic that's as much about his own love of cinema as it is about Turner's love of painting. Expect the National Gallery to have Mr.Turner playing on a giant telly hanging in Room 34 soon; it'll fit right in. Review

INSIDE LLEWYN DAVIS Another odyssey and another Ulysses, but Inside Llewyn Davis is a more mature, introspective affair than the Coens' O Brother Where Art Thou, even if its anti-hero is a man of equally constant sorrow. The brothers' films have never been lacking in memorable characters, but Oscar Isaac's Davis, while wallowing in moral and literal poverty, is surely one of the richest. Both protagonist and antagonist, he's a classic folk song legend, subconsciously determined to bring as much shit upon himself as possible in order to fuel his own story. An ode to struggling, misunderstood (and occasionally misguided) artists everywhere, the film uses a pivotal moment in the history of pop culture to tell a timeless story; if it was never new and it never gets old, then it's either a folk song or a Coen Brothers film. Review

'71 Remarkable for being the year's best action film despite being a) British and b) rooted firmly in a sensitive, true-life milieu, '71 remains the most criminally underseen movie of 2014. Boasting set-pieces so tense that you'll spend the credits trying to prise your fingers out of the arms of your chair, '71 delivers some of the year's greatest scenes, the single shot that weaves in and around a West Belfast pub being a strong contender for one of cinema's most finely-constructed sequences. Amazing work from Jack O'Connell and first-time feature director Yann Demange, who deservedly won a BIFA for his efforts; let's hope it's the first of many such accolades (the second being his film's place in this list, obviously). Review

12 YEARS A SLAVE Installing itself at the top of this list when I first saw it at the 2013 London Film Festival and refusing to budge ever since, Steve McQueen's immeasurably important, desperately moving depiction of the story of Solomon Northup is the most crushingly effective film I've seen since, like, ever. Leaving me in puddles of tears and snot both times I've seen it, 12 Years A Slave's reputation as a miseryfest conceals its underlying messages of hope, tenacity and the value of common human decency. If ever a film needed to be on the National Curriculum of every education system in the world, it's this one. Review

Tuesday, 9 December 2014

The Hobbit: The Battle Of The Four Armies And A Handful Of BASTARDING EAGLES

Image not necessarily representative of film

Even a Star Wars Prequel Trilogy apologist like me is well aware of George Lucas' shortcomings in his handling of Episodes I, II and III, but you know what he didn't do over the course of six films? He didn't have characters facing certain doom, only for them to be rescued at the last moment by a bunch of giant birds who didn't feature anywhere else in the story. And what's more, he didn't do that THREE FUCKING TIMES. For this reason, and many more, Lucas can breathe a massive sigh of relief: he is no longer the director of the most disappointing prequel trilogy of all time.

Nope, that honour now belongs to Peter Jackson, who claimed he knew exactly what he was doing when he inflated JRR Tolkien's slim children's book, The Hobbit, into what currently stands at over eight and a half hours of mediocre, mope-ridden melodrama spread over three movies, with more to come when the final instalment's extended edition arrives on DVD and Blu-ray next year. In comparison, the eleven and a half hour running time of the extended versions of Jackson's majestic The Lord Of The Rings trilogy feel like they pass by in the flap of a dragon's wing.
You're not the only one checking your watch, pal

The Hobbit's first two parts, An Unexpected Journey and The Desolation Of Smaug, were just about acceptable for returning us to Jackson's gorgeous vision of Middle-earth and for featuring a handful of bravura sequences, but they both felt like what they essentially were: pale imitations of The Lord Of The Rings films. Now that The Battle Of The Five Armies is upon us, it's hard not to take Jackson's Middle-earth for granted and hope that we might at last get some rollicking action and characters to care about.

But no. Of his two lead characters, Jackson is never quite sure in whom his film is less interested; both Bilbo Baggins and Thorin Oakenshield are one-dimensional pieces on a game board. Other characters fare just as badly: the heroic Bard The Bowman is sub-Aragorn blandness personified; Legolas exists only to pull off some obviously CG-enhanced elfrobatics; Gandalf has none of the self-doubt that made him a flawed superhero in The Lord Of The Rings, and after three films of watching thirteen short, hairy dudes grunting at each other, I STILL found myself looking at a couple of the dwarfs with the distinct certainty that I'd never clapped eyes on them before.

As for the tedious, tacked-on threesome between Kili the dwarf, Tauriel the Jackson-invented elf and Legolas, was there ever a more obvious, less successful attempt to widen a film's appeal? It's all very well shoving in a kick-ass action heroine to balance the testosterone, but to then a) make her the fulcrum of one of cinema's most insipid love triangles ("You make me feel alive," Kili actually whimpers out loud at one point) and b) require her to be rescued by BOTH of her potential suitors within five minutes is a colossal foot-shot.
It does, however, make for some exquisite fan art.

The Battle Of The Five Armies isn't a total disaster. It boasts a couple of sequences almost worth the price of a ticket: the opening assault on Laketown by a vengeful Smaug is fiery fun, and a scrap in which Galadriel, Saruman and Elrond smack down against the spectral Nazgûl is reminiscent of the excited spirit of Jackson's The Frighteners. But both scenes fail to really set the screen on fire, even the one in which everything else goes up in smoke.

And there's so much rubbish here that it's easy to forget anything that threatens to tip the scales beyond average. Billy Connolly voices a dwarf - atrociously realised with CG for no obvious reason - who has a Scottish accent, ginger hair and who dispatches foes with a crunching headbutt, firmly placing him in the Jar Jar Binks school of unfortunate stereotypes. Meanwhile, in a less successful retread of the ill effects on Frodo's personality caused by the One Ring, Thorin turns greedy, selfish and miserable because he can't find the lost Sankara Stone, but becomes all happy and cuddly again after going for a stroll and having a little think about it. And then there are the Giant Worm Things. Mentioned ominously by the orcs as terrifying, earth-eating beasts, we await their arrival with the hope of something thrilling, and when they do appear - in one spectacular, seat-shaking, presumably phenomenally expensive shot, they are terrific. No doubt the orcs will use them to tunnel under and into the mountain fortress guarded by our plucky heroes? Well, no actually. That's the last we'll see of them, and their existence is never referred to again.

As for the titular battle, well, you can't help but think you've seen it all done better before. Hordes of indistinct pixels, scrappily and bloodlessly going for each other with no clear sense of who's fighting who - except perhaps Beorn the skin-changer, whose lengthy and pointless scene in The Desolation Of Smaug suggested a fuller role in this film, rather than the six or so seconds he's afforded in the 45-minute climax. And when the fifth army show up out of nowhere, unapologetically and inexplicably late in the day, you just know that nobody was willing to turn to Peter Jackson and say "Hey Pete, you think maybe we should NOT have the fucking eagles save the day for once?"
Look at these smug, winged cunts.

Crucially, of all the extraneous crap Jackson has stuffed into this trilogy, the one thing he's left out - which Tolkien's book had in abundance - is fun. The Battle Of The Five Armies is so painfully, po-facedly glum and gloomy that for all the joy you'll experience you may as well buy your ticket then stand out by the cinema bins in the rain for 144 minutes. Even then you'll care just as much as anyone who sits through the movie about why Azog the Orc-bastard wants Thorin dead or why Bilbo ever went on this baffling mission in the first place. In fact, why not use the time to watch something else instead, like Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace? At least that's got Jar Jar Binks in it.

Friday, 5 December 2014

A little bit of SPECTRElation

There's a cheeky titbit of SPECTRE news that didn't hit the front pages this morning, but it's very interesting (if you're me): Jesper Christensen, who played Mr White in Casino Royale and Quantum Of Solace, told Danish website Euroman yesterday that he'll be appearing in the 24th Bond film.
Now it always kind of bothered me that Quantum had been carefully built up over Daniel Craig's first two Bond films as a SPECTRE-esque villainous organisation (Quasi-Autonomous Non-Tolerant Underground Megalomaniacs, perhaps), only to be left out of Skyfall altogether, and the announcement of SPECTRE as a title suggested Quantum would become all but a memory. BUT! Christensen's casting, if true, surely means that Quantum will become SPECTRE, or will at least be bought out by them in some kind of elaborate hostile takeover, hopefully involving massive numbers of fluffy white cats.

I've banged on about this before elsewhere, but the parallels between Sean Connery's and Daniel Craig's tenures as Bond are growing: of Connery's first five Bonds, all but the middle entry (Goldfinger) featured SPECTRE. Craig, meanwhile, has done two films with Quantum pulling the strings, one without, and is reportedly signed on for two more, which look pretty Quantumy-slash-SPECTREy from where I'm standing. All we need now is for some Aussie lunk to do Bond 26 so terribly that Craig comes back for one final, flabby bow, and the circle is complete. At that point I think we can stop making Bond films because I live in perpetual terror at the thought of more being made after I die.

Thursday, 4 December 2014

New James Bond film SPECTRE makes
Daniel Craig happy, chubby

I fully expected a nice quiet day today. Aware that the new James Bond film's title was due to be announced at 11am, I had planned to rise at a leisurely hour, consume a pot of Earl Grey and whip my houseboy for an hour before settling down in front of a YouTube to watch the reveal.

Instead, I was up at 6.30 and two hours later found myself sitting opposite Nicky Campbell at BBC HQ, wittering about what to expect from Bond 24 into the earholes of two and a half million Radio 5 Live listeners. It was the first of nine similar interviews, by the end of which I still hadn't learned to pronounce Dave Bautista's name properly. I had been interviewed by former Big Breakfast newsreader Phil Gayle though, and that was quite exciting.

You can listen to my 5 Live cabbage here if you really must (skip forward to 2:48:16 unless you want to hear nearly three hours of old news first); cringe with me as I bang on about Risico being mooted as a title (as it is every time there's a new Bond film), then get cut off before I had chance to put forward my other guess: SPECTRE. Why didn't I say that first? Because I am a tool. I think I might have mentioned SPECTRE to Phil Gayle but he didn't even know why Judi Dench wasn't going to be in the new film so that was a wasted opportunity.

I legged it home from New Broadcasting House with the wind at my back and a substantial amount of waste material in my personal basement, having not had chance to do any of that business since 7am, and made it just in time to evacuate myself before the 11.00 announcement. Please let me know when any of this becomes too much information.

Sadly Alex Zane was at Pinewood announcing the announcement, so we all had to watch the worst James Bond pre-title sequence ever before the meaty stuff happened. But when it happened, it happened RIGHT IN OUR RUDDY FACEHOLES:

OOF. That title treatment puts the 'boss' into 'embossed', right? What remains unclear is if it's SPECTRE or Spectre, and I suspect(re) this is going to haunt and annoy me for the rest of my days. Does it still stand for Special Executive for Counterintelligence, Terrorism, Revenge and Extortion, as it did in the books and the '60s Bond films? Or is it maybe the villain's name, like, Phil Spectre or Hector Spectre? Maybe it stands for Society of Pretty Evil Cads, Tinkers, Rotters and.. uh... Evildoers. I don't know. I do know that I very much appreciate how that bullet hole forms the old SPECTRE logo from days of yore, and conveniently bumps up the value of a pair of cufflinks I was recently gifted with exactly that design on them (thanks Chris).
What is absolutely certain is that Christoph Waltz definitely isn't playing nefarious terrorist and massive slaphead Ernst Stavro Blofeld, in much the same way that Naomie Harris definitely wasn't playing Miss Moneypenny in Skyfall. Waltz's character is known only as Oberhauser, who is mentioned as Bond's friend and skiing instructor in Fleming's Octopussy, so go and read that if you want to bore people with irrelevant trivia like some people do, ugh I can't bear those bores. Meanwhile, Sherlock's Andrew Scott plays Whitehall gonk Denbigh (definitely not a mole or double agent), Monica Bellucci plays dead-by-Act-III-totty Lucia Sciarra, Léa Seydoux is Bondcock-warmer Madeleine Swann and Dave Bautista plays Mr Hinx, a man who tries to look menacing by stroking his own fist while wearing a lovely cuddly cardy.
At least we're finally getting a henchman who's a physical match for Daniel Craig; Bond resembled a rhino sitting on a toad when he beat up Mathieu Amalric in Quantum Of Solace.

I don't know about you but I am, obviously, excited as all chuff about this. I firmly predict a return to some serious (i.e. not very serious) old school Bondage, that Bloferhauser or whatever his name is will shack up in a hollowed out moon orbiting Jupiter and that there will be some absolutely fucking awful one-liners.

I'm off to stick my appalling mug on the telly now and ramble some more Bondballs, but I'm not saying where because you'll tune in, grab a still of me looking like I've got a double chin and stick it on the internet and that would just be mean.

Friday, 28 November 2014

Six films I'll be giving a shit about
in December

Cranky old drunk Bill Murray befriends a small boy in this live remake of Up, only with more swears and titty bars. I vaguely recall this film had Pierce Brosnan in the lead at one point, but from watching the trailer it looks like Murray already owns this. Maybe Broz could have played the young boy, miniaturised by CG like a Hobbit, is that possible? If so can we do that quite soon please? (5th)

Let's see if Peter Jackson can complete a hat-trick of three-star blockbusters with this, the "defining" (note: not "final") chapter in his Hobbity hexalogy. Despite all his efforts to make me not give a shit about this, I still do but cannot adequately explain why. I realise this makes me part of the problem. PS Please do not laugh out loud when Orlando Bloom says "These bats are bred for one purpose... FOR WAR" with a completely straight face. (12th)

Much like Interstellar last month, I gave more shits about this before I actually saw it. Pretend it's still 1995 and you'll have a great time. (19th)

Apparently Tim Burton has a new movie out. I remember the days when I would have heard about this at least a year in advance; now I find out with mere weeks to go. I sense a conspiracy. What's he hiding? WE MUST KNOW THE TRUTH! Alternatively I just haven't been paying attention. (26th)

"These frogs are bred for one purpose... FOR WAR!" I am all over this like the eyebrows all over Joel Edgerton's face. (26th)

"This Olympic athlete was bred for one purpose... FOR WAR!" I don't know about you but after Starred Up and '71 I would watch Jack O'Connell doing a poo while wearing a dress and singing Never Gonna Give You Up. This looks like it might be even better than that. (26th)

Tuesday, 25 November 2014

Inherent Vice and my failings
as a human being

It seems futile to describe my feelings about Inherent Vice. Although I'm fairly certain I watched it, I feel like I didn't see it. At least, I didn't see the film that most other people who've watched it have seen. You only need to do a brief Twitter search of the film's title to see that it's already enormously popular, and a convincing enough majority of critics are hailing it as yet another masterpiece in the already masterpiece-heavy canon of its director, Paul Thomas Anderson. Well that's great; good on him. If you're a PTA person, go and watch Inherent Vice when it comes out at the end of January, as if you needed an idiot like me to tell you that. Personally, I found it to be one of the most difficult, dull and miserable experiences I've ever had watching a film, and I've seen Roger Moore's Fire, Ice & Dynamite.

Let me be clear: I'm not saying it's a terrible film, and - although I seem to be in a tiny minority - I'm fully aware I'm not alone with my foul opinion. I don't want to be that insufferable twerp who tries to make a name for himself by giving a one-star review to something he alone didn't like or understand, just so people will take notice and commend him for his bravery in refusing to bow to popular opinion. The sheer tidal wave of positivity for Inherent Vice is proof that it has worth, so who am I to ignore that? I'm far more interested in trying to get to the bottom of my intensely negative psychological reaction to the film, simply because I don't understand why I would feel this way.
Inherent Vice is a crime comedy drama based on the novel by Thomas Pynchon, which I obviously haven't read otherwise I might have made more sense of the film. It stars Joaquin Phoenix as sleazy stoner PI Doc Sportello, and a huge ensemble cast who, as far as I can tell, are all very good in their respective roles. But I'd struggle to summarise the plot, because I found it utterly baffling. Sportello is hired by an ex-girlfriend to help stop a plan by her new lover's wife to have him committed to an insane asylum, and that's as far as I got. Approximately seventy thousand more characters get involved and I had literally no idea how they were related to each other, what they were up to or why I should care.

Now I'm not entirely dense; I realise this is kind of the point. The Big Lebowski and The Big Sleep, two films for which I have a lot of affection and which crop up in innumerable Inherent Vice reviews, are similarly labyrinthine. The trippy nature of Anderson's film is so deeply ingrained that it's obviously intended that you're never quite sure what you're seeing isn't a figment of Doc's weed-addled imagination. Fine. But somewhere along the line, character empathy turned to alienation: long takes filled with people mumbling dialogue that washed right over me recreated the experience of being stoned only insofar as it was like being in a room full of enormously boring assholes talking inconsequential shit for hours on end. Forgive me, but that's not my idea of entertainment.

The obvious explanation for my antipathy is that Paul Thomas Anderson just doesn't do it for me: I liked Punch Drunk Love a lot, but Boogie Nights and Magnolia left little impact on me, while I have nothing positive to say about There Will Be Blood or The Master, two films which almost everyone else I know believe to be among mankind's greatest artistic achievements. I haven't seen Anderson's debut, Hard Eight, and nor am I in any rush to. But my reaction to PTA's last three films isn't just a dislike of a particular style, it's a total inability to fathom what the majority of like-minded people find so appealing, and that's just not my usual state of mind. Am I not clever enough? Am I too old? Too mainstream? I don't think so, but maybe I'm not the best judge.

What I am is suspicious: I get a distinct whiff of emperor's new clothes about Paul Thomas Anderson in some circles. That's not to belittle or denigrate those who are genuinely passionate about his work: I respect your opinion and am, in some small way, quite jealous. But I'm sure there are more like me out there who won't admit it. I saw Inherent Vice at one of two sold-out preview screenings at London's Prince Charles Cinema which were introduced by Anderson himself, and the gales of laughter which greeted early scenes suggested to me that there were several audience members desperately trying to tell PTA that they got it, they were down with it, as if he was going to take them back to his hotel and hold a thank you party in their honour. I can't understand why anybody would act that way, but then I can't understand why people eat mussels either, yet it definitely happens. I've seen it. It's disgusting.
I'd never refer to myself as A Film Critic - at best I'd describe myself as Someone Who Writes About Films - and that's clearly for the best. But as Someone Who Writes About Films and who wants to be good at it, it seems important to me to understand exactly what it is that makes a film good or bad beyond the vague boundaries of personal opinion. And, at the risk of disappearing right up my own arsehole, I think this is at the heart of my PTA problem. I can't understand why I don't get on with him and I feel like Someone Who Writes About Films really should have a firm grasp on that. So maybe it's this dent in my self-confidence that's caused me to have this reaction to Inherent Vice and to ramble on about it for over a thousand words; if that's the case and you've read this far, I can only apologise that the conclusion involves my bruised ego.

I'll continue to watch Paul Thomas Anderson's films because a) he's clearly an important director and b) I really, really want to like them, but I now dread the day I see the next one, because I'm sure I'll go through all this again. Inherent Vice, for me, was an hour of confusion followed by an hour and a half of mental torture, and I must be some kind of masochist for willingly putting myself through that again. But I'd rather see something and hate it than not see it at all if it's met with widespread approval, because if there's one thing I can't bear it's an uninformed opinion. And if there's another thing I can't bear it's missing out on something everyone else is on about. You might think that's pathetic, but in the words of a wise old sage, that's just, like, your opinion, man.

Thursday, 20 November 2014

Who's your favourite James Bond?

You know how it is: you're at a dinner party, having a perfectly good time, and conversation suddenly turns to the eternal, dreaded question, usually posed by the most insufferable twit in the room: "Go on then - who's YOUR favourite James Bond?" You panic. You don't know. You've never given it that much thought, because really, does it matter? But it does matter. The rest of the evening could hinge on this one answer.

Fortunately The Incredible Suit, in conjunction with market research firm YouGov*, is here to help. YouGov recently launched "segmentation and media planning tool" YouGov Profiles, an app designed to reveal the "quintessential" (as opposed to "typical") fan or customer of almost any brand, person or thing. Naturally my first reaction was to investigate fans of The Incredible Suit, but for some reason there aren't any. My second reaction, therefore, was to have a look at the quintessential profiles of fans of all the actors to play James Bond. Yeah, it was kind of a slow day.

So in order to find out who YOUR favourite James Bond is, simply identify yourself from the following six profiles, and then you'll be armed with all the knowledge you need to survive the next excruciatingly awful dinner party. And remember: all of the following data - including the remarkable illustrations - are the work of YouGov. I am completely blameless.

Note: George Lazenby, who played Bond just once, is apparently so unpopular that he doesn't feature in YouGov's database. I was therefore forced to replace him with the closest search result, who was BBC News presenter George Alagiah. I don't think it makes much difference to the outcome.

Age: 40-59
Favourite dishes: Bread pudding, deep fried mushrooms, Bombay potatoes
Customer of: Macleans toothpaste, Olay, Black & Decker
Favourite musical artists: Rod Stewart, U2, Phil Collins
Top Twitter follow: @denise_vanouten
Favourite magazine: PC Pro

Age: 60+
Favourite dish: Apricot strudel
Enjoys: Going to museums and galleries
Customer of: BBC News, BBC Two, BBC Four
Favourite celebrities: Huw Edwards, Fiona Bruce, Dermot Murnaghan
Top website visited:

Age: 60+
Most likely to say: "UKIP are just saying what ordinary British people are thinking"
Customer of: Wall's sausages, Ginsters, Matteson's
Favourite musical artists: Bing Crosby, Liza Minelli, Bette Midler
Top Facebook page: Jeremy Clarkson Is Not A Racist
Favourite newspaper: Daily Mail

Age: 25-39
Favourite dishes: Blueberry pie, lemon pie, Welsh potato cakes
Describes themselves as: Knowledgeable, but occasionally miserable
Customer of: I Can't Believe It's Not Butter, Flora ProActiv
Favourite TV shows: Wonder Woman, Seaside Rescue, Greatest Cities Of The World With Griff Rhys Jones
Top websites visited include:

Age: 40-59
Politics: Slightly left of centre
Customer of: Wall's ice cream, Ben & Jerry's, Fabulous Bakin' Boys
Favourite movies: Where Eagles Dare, Cleopatra, Shark Tale
Top Twitter follows include: @rupertmurdoch, @dropbox
Favourite magazine: Take A Break

Age: 40-59
Hobbies and activities: Painting, travelling, going on day trips
Most likely to say: "Fresh food is better than frozen"
Favourite movies: Casino Royale, Quantum Of Solace, Skyfall, Cowboys & Aliens
Favourite TV shows: Trumpton, Rainbow
Top Facebook pages: Daniel Craig, James Bond 007, James Bond

Didn't find yourself among those six profiles? Then you're clearly not a James Bond fan at all, get the fuck out of my dinner party this instant.

Other observations: 
  • Sean Connery fans watch TV for over fifty hours a week.
  • George Alagiah fans are the most current affairs-minded of all Bond fans: their top five TV shows watched recently are all BBC News programmes.
  • Roger Moore fans are all, essentially, Alan Partridge.
  • Timothy Dalton fans are the most right-wing of all Bond fans.
  • Pierce Brosnan fans need to lay off the snacks.
  • Daniel Craig fans are the wealthiest, with between £125 and £499 disposable income per month compared to all other Bond fans' measly £125 or less.

* YouGov have absolutely no idea that I'm abusing their precious data like this and would staunchly refute the phrase "in conjuction with" in this context.

Tuesday, 18 November 2014

Salak ile Avanak Geri Dönüyor,
aka Dumb And Dumber To

Apologies if, by some miracle, anyone has noticed the lack of updates at The Incredible Suit recently. I have a reasonably good excuse for this, which is that last week I was on holiday in Istanbul (not Constantinople), the magical meeting place of East and West, land of spectacular mosques with dreaming minarets, delicious cuisine at every turn and boaster of three millennia of turbulent history. With all this cultural Turkish delight within a stone's throw of my hotel, I took myself off to Cinemaximum on İstiklal Caddesi to watch a comedy sequel about two quinquagenarians who trick people into smelling their fingers, having recently inserted those very fingers into their own anuses. I mean, I know the Hagia Sophia is 1,500 years old and is widely considered the epitome of Byzantine architecture, but does it have Jim Carrey up to his elbow in elderly quim? No, it does not.

Dumb And Dumber To was released across parts of Europe five weeks ahead of the UK, presumably to avoid the very real possibility of the entire continent simultaneously erupting with laughter and dislodging itself from the continental shelf. If so, such fears were ungrounded, for the film's most far-reaching environmental consequence will most likely be a gentle ripple of air caused by one or two of those mild nasal snorts that almost, but not quite, constitute a chuckle. It's not the worst comedy sequel of recent times (that would be Anchorman 2), but its near-admirable refusal to recognise any evolution in its own genre over the last two decades renders it of interest only to people for whom the first film didn't feature enough of a rubber-faced actor squirting mouth freshener away from his face instead of into it.
It is funny because there is a bird on his head and also he is making a silly face

Part To (*sigh*) of what is looking dangerously close to being called the Dumb And Dumber franchise sees our unfathomably moronic heroes, Harry and Lloyd, on the hunt for one of their hitherto-unknown offspring, an odyssey which will eventually result in them becoming mixed up in an assassination plot. Obviously all that is largely irrelevant, because the USP here is that Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels are recreating enormously popular roles from twenty years ago, regardless of whether or not anyone wanted them to. In that sense, Dumb And Dumber To is a huge success: give or take a few
wrinkles, Harry and Lloyd haven't altered at all in that time, and neither have the gags, which required no fewer than six credited writers to craft despite representing the level of humour normally reserved for office jokers and political speechwriters. Structurally and comedically, the sequel is the equal of its prequel, to the point where it's as if no time has passed whatsoever.

And that's the problem. Dumb And Dumber was kind of funny in 1995 because it was unashamedly, well, dumb, and traded heavily on Carrey's rocketing stardom. One-fifth of a century later, it's hard to justify the lameness of what's on offer here. You will laugh, but not much; the hit rate of gags is criminally low for such a high-profile comedy. And who, you have to ask, is this film's target audience? It's unlikely to be twenty-somethings who creased up at Channing Tatum and Jonah Hill in 22 Jump Street earlier this year - after all, what's funny about two men in their fifties with silly haircuts being idiots? - but rather an older crowd who loved the original but, let's be honest, probably haven't watched it in years, never expected nor requested a sequel and who should really demand a little more brains behind the gurning and annoying noises.
This scene is not quite as funny as Jeff Daniels is making out.

In its defence, and at the risk of sounding painfully ancient, Dumb And Dumber To at least doesn't resort to modern film comedy's tendency to substitute jokes with incessant swearing, shouting and painfully knowing cameos (although a huge name does appear, completely anonymously and unnoticed until revealed in the end credits). But it makes no effort to up its own game, and loses further goodwill in managing to be alarmingly offensive in its treatment of Kathleen Turner, who plays a small, self-deprecating role and gets little more than sexist, ageist and weightist abuse from her writers, directors and co-stars for her trouble. And as if that wasn't upsetting enough, it also features the worst unnecessary English accent since Kevin Costner in Robin Hood: Prince Of Thieves.

If it's a brief wave of nostalgia for the mid-'90s you're after, then Dumb And Dumber To will deliver that in spades. But like much of that period's cultural output - Dubstar, Game On, Worms on PC - by the time you remember it's 2014, you'll have forgotten it ever existed.