This one has been doing the rounds for a while and I was finally caught, bagged and tagged by my good friend Custard over at Front Room Cinema. So, ever the dutiful taggee and Mememeister, here are my astounding and mildly amusing answers to 15 seemingly random movie questions.

Enjoy.

 

1. Movie you love with a passion

Raiders of the Lost Ark

For me, Spielberg’s first outing for Harrison Ford’s archaeologist and mercenary is one of the finest pieces of celluloid ever made. This is the reason why cinemas were invented. Some movies make us think, some movies teach us stuff and some movies just give us a ride. This one has a little bit of everything. Pure cinema, no pretensions. Perfect.

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2. Movie you vow to never watch

Anything with ‘Movie’ in the title

Scary Movie, Epic Movie, Date Movie, Disaster Movie, etc. Dreadful, lame, unfunny spoofs churned out to make a quick buck without actually making anyone with a brain larger than a popcorn kernel laugh. Mel Brooks could spoof, Jerry Zucker could spoof but Jason Friedberg and his gang can kiss my pink ass. Kiss it!

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3. Movie that literally left you speechless

Antichrist

Hang on, was that Willem Dafoe’s….? Did Charlotte Gainsbourg just grab a pair of scissors and cut off her…? Did Willem Dafoe just…? Why’s that fox talking? I’ve seen horror movies and I’ve seen porn movies, but nothing quite prepares you for Lars von Trier’s bizarre mix of both, with added talking mammals. Don’t watch this with your mum.

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4. Movie you always recommend

Fight Club

I recommend some movies simply because they are great movies, but I recommend Fight Club because it’s a movie that has something very important to say and says it with David Fincher’s singularly brazen style. For anyone who lives and endures the myriad banalities of Western culture, watch Fight Club.

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5. Actor/actress you always watch, no matter how crappy the movie

George Clooney

Not only do I respect him as an actor who has managed to rise above the limitations of his good looks, and as a director and producer of great movies in his own right, but also because Clooney very rarely picks a bad project. He just seems to have the knack for picking interesting, challenging roles for himself.

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6. Actor/actress you don’t get the appeal for

Jason Statham

Give me a break. How did this wooden, boring, zero-charisma, no-talent pudding with a phoney accent that is neither English nor American manage to get to where he is? I just don’t get it. He’s like a throwback to the action heroes of the 80s, before filmmakers realised that they were better when they could actually act.

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7. Actor/actress, living or dead, you’d love to meet

Christopher Walken

How could that ever be a boring meeting? It would be impossible. Walken is incapable of being boring. The guy is like a force of nature. We could talk about his amazing career, about all the movies I watched just because he was in it for five minutes (Gigli, for one) and when the conversation ran out, he could teach me some wicked dance steps.

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8. Sexiest actor/actress you’ve seen. (Picture required!)

Tina Fey

Sure, there are plenty of good-looking actresses out there but sexy is a lot more than just that. Sexy is brains, beauty, talent and a great sense of humour and Tina Fey ticks all the right boxes. It also doesn’t hurt that she seems to be completely oblivious to her sexiness. And that’s also very sexy. It’s a sexy win/win!

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9) Dream cast

Star Wars Episode VII

Okay, so it’s a bit cheesy, it’s exceptionally geeky and it’s wholly unrealistic given that they all have a collective age of about 900 (the ones that are still alive, anyway), but how cool would it be to have the original Star Wars cast together again for a new episode? Huh? Can I get an Amen? No? You got a problem with old people or something?

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10) Favourite actor pairing

Ian McKellen and Patrick Stewart

Okay, there are actors and then there are British RSC actors. It’s not really my style to blow the trumpet for Blighty but the truth is we really do produce some of the greatest thespians know to stage and screen and when X-Men director Bryan Singer decided to cast two of my favourites in a superhero movie (of all things), he was having a very inspired day. Hurrah and huzzah!

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11) Favourite movie setting

New York

It’s magical but commonplace, grubby but pristine, antique but brand new. It can be an equally comfortable home to the most whimsical fairytales and the bleakest horrors. Six million movie sets rolled into one. Few places on Earth are as versatile as The Big Apple. And I’ve still never been there.

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12) Favourite decade for movies

The 80s

It’s probably got very little to do with the level of quality, although this decade delivered some of the best movies ever made. But this was the decade I grew up in, and the decade where my love of cinema truly blossomed. Raiders of the Lost Ark, Ghostbusters, Gremlins, Back to the Future, Terminator and the peerless The Breakfast Club. This was the decade when cinema got its imagination back.

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13) Chick flick or action movie?

You’re a troublemaker

I’m not falling into your nefarious trap, my friend. You can try to sow the seeds of despair and drive a wedge between the sexes with your loaded questions but you will not succeed! Evenings can be comfortably arranged to accommodate one of each, right? Yes, I am the bringer of harmony. Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called big, fat couch potatoes.

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14) Hero, villain or anti-hero?

Villain (and enjoying it)

It’s a tough one, this one, but ultimately there’s something irresistible to me about the irredeemable bad guy who takes genuine pleasure in his work. Hannibal Lecter, The Joker, Richard III, or any villain played by Gene Hackman. They make being evil seem far more appealing than the sober, brooding heroes make being good.

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15) Black and white or colour?

Dumbass Question

Do me a favour. I am neither pompous enough to say I prefer black & white movies nor pedestrian enough to say I prefer colour movies. What kind of person dismisses a movie because of the colour it is? That’s like celluloid racism. Are you encouraging celluloid racism? Shame on you with your silly question.

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I just sat and watched an art house horror movie called Antichrist by the Danish filmmaker Lars von Trier. You may or may not have heard of it, but it gained some notoriety at the Cannes Film Festival this year where it was adored and reviled in equal measure due to its very graphic nature.

It’s the story of a couple (Willem Defoe and Charlotte Gainsbourg) whose young son falls from a window and dies, unnoticed by them while they are having sex. They retreat to a cabin in the woods to recover but fear, guilt and resentment lead them to begin systematically torturing each other, first mentally and then physically. All the while the woods around them begin to come alive.

Lars von Trier is not one of my favourite filmmakers by a long shot. I find his movies are usually pretentious, self-important and plodding and Antichrist isn’t much different. It’s not your average Cineplex popcorn seller, with scenes of close-up penetrative sex and genital mutilation among other things, but it is deeply unsettling, haunting and one of the most beautifully shot movies I’ve seen in a long time. Not one for the shelf, but a good movie nonetheless.

So, after watching a movie like this I like to go and read some reviews; see what the rest of the world thought. I prefer to read the bulk of movie reviews after the event. One stop I always find enjoyable is my old friend The Daily Mail. For those of you who don’t know, The Daily Mail is a British newspaper. It is a bastion of Victorian values and insane Conservatism and either gives me a good chuckle or sends me into a foaming rage, depending on the topic. I simply had to know what The Daily Mail film reviewer thought about Antichrist.

This is what I found. It’s long, and much like the films of Lars von Trier, it’s pretentious, self-important and plodding. But it is well worth the read!


What DOES it take for a film to get banned these days?

By Christopher Hart

As censors approve a movie that plumbs grotesque new depths of sexual explicitness and violence, one critic (who prides himself on being broad-minded) despairs…

A film which plumbs new depths of sexual explicitness, excruciating violence and degradation has just been passed as fit for general consumption by the British Board of Film Classification. They have given the film an 18 certificate. As we all know, this is meaningless nowadays in the age of the DVD because sooner or later, thanks to the gross irresponsibility of some parents, any film that is given general release will be seen by children.

You do not need to see Lars von Trier’s Antichrist (which is released later this week) to know how revolting it is. I haven’t seen it myself, nor shall I – and I speak as a broad-minded arts critic, strongly libertarian in tendency. But merely reading about Antichrist is stomach-turning, and enough to form a judgment. As Ernest Hemingway said of obscenity in a justifiably disgusting image, you don’t need to eat a whole bowl of scabs to know they’re scabs.

Here is the ‘plot’ of Antichrist, with apologies in advance. But since this is coming to a cinema near you soon – and then a DVD, a website and a late-night TV channel – you might want know about it. A couple are having sex. Graphically close-up. While they are doing so, their toddler falls to his death from a balcony. The husband and wife go to stay in a log cabin to recover from their grief. There, horrors the likes of which I have never witnessed unfold in graphic detail. Eventually, the husband strangles her and escapes through the woods, where he is surrounded by hundreds of children with blurred faces. The end.

Now the anonymous moral guardians of the British Board of Film Classification (BBFC), in their infinite wisdom, have passed this foul film for general consumption. Another bizarre but typical judgment from this panel of experts whose names we don’t even know (and so we don’t even know if they are parents). We do know that its president, Sir Quentin Thomas, gets £28,000 for 25 days’ work a year. Nice job if you can get it. In a jaded and degraded culture, Antichrist is presumably intended to shock. In fact, it doesn’t shock, it merely nauseates.

It doesn’t shock or surprise me in the slightest that Europe now produces such pieces of sick, pretentious trash, fully confirming our jihadist enemies’ view of us as a society in the last stages of corruption and decay. It doesn’t surprise me that Antichrist was heavily subsidised by the Danish Film Institute to the tune of 1.5 million euros.

I tried to find out more from the Institute, but to my small surprise they disdained to reply. But you can be sure that they in turn are funded by the EU and so by my taxes – and yours. How do you feel about that? If not shocked, then weary, furious, disgusted? Well you can complain all you like, but no one is listening. Our arts mandarins, along with the rest of our lofty liberal elite, don’t work like that. Their job is to take our money and spend it on such fashionable torture porn – sorry, art – not ask us our opinion.

Since sex and violence are both intrinsic parts of human experience, art and literature will necessarily contain both. There are few more horrific moments on the English stage than in King Lear, when the Duke of Cornwall gouges out the aged Gloucester’s eyes. I must have seen the scene 20 times and it never fails to appal. But although superficially similar to the atrocities of Lars von Trier’s Antichrist, it differs in every significant respect. Shakespeare is dramatising the tragic universe we inhabit, human evil at its worst, and the hidden moral process by which Cornwall will eventually be punished for his cruelty.

The world of Antichrist, by contrast, is blatantly amoral, without any sense of justice or retribution whatever. Its mingling of sex and violence, the cheapest and nastiest trick in the book, is usually one which the BBFC pounces on in a straight horror film. But here they are blinded by their own cultural snobbery, swallowing the lie that Antichrist is Art. Von Trier, the film’s writer and director, naturally scorns as a philistine rabble those who don’t appreciate his rare genius. ‘I don’t think about the audience when I make a film. I don’t care. I make films for myself.’

A pity he doesn’t fund those films for himself too, then. But he cannot be blamed for his atrocities, he explains. ‘It’s the hand of God, I’m afraid. And I am the best film director in the world. I’m not sure God is the best god in the world.’ Willem Dafoe, meanwhile, who plays the father, is evidently proud of his work in Antichrist too. He believes that all that child death and sexual violence is ‘poetry’, that the film is ‘true and fresh and living’, and dismisses any objections as ‘very conservative.’ In quintessential luvviepseak, he explains: ‘Your responsibility is to the integrity of what you do to yourself.’

Now bearing the stamp of BBFC approval, Antichrist is to be released uncut into our cultural bloodstream. In artistic terms, it is the equivalent of food poisoning. How odd that while government-appointed health czars are so obsessed with anything that might harm the nation’s physical wellbeing – hanging flower baskets, conkers, too much sunshine, not enough sunshine – any concern with the nation’s moral or spiritual well-being has completely vanished. Its approval by the BBFC raises the question: what on earth does it take for a film to be banned nowadays? If the visceral sadism of Von Trier’s film passes muster, surely anything will?

Censorship today seems to have been reduced to the feeble principle that if it doesn’t harm children, then it should be allowed. As soon as it’s released on DVD, Antichrist will harm children anyway, deeply and irrevocably. But when did this principle of protecting only children arise anyway? What about harming adults? If I were to see Antichrist, I don’t believe for a moment that it would incite me into copycat violent behaviour or make me a danger to others. But it would poison my mind and imagination, with explicit, ferocious scenes of sexual violence that would stay with me for ever.

Isn’t that good enough reason to ban it, or at least demand extensive cuts? But have we – that is to say, the hesitant, fumbling, comfortably cushioned, value-free Leftish elite who now govern us – got the guts? I doubt it.

Just remember, he hasn’t actually seen the film but…