April 3, 2012
“I will try and speak for my reader. That is my promise. And it will be a voice made of ink and rage”
A new film about Hunter S. Thompson (Or his literary alter egos) is one thing to celebrate but a new film by Bruce Robinson is even better. After the double whammy of dark 1980s British Indie classics ‘Withnail & I’ and ‘How To Get Ahead In Advertising’, Bruce helmed a tightly controlled Hollywood studio film called ‘Jennifer 8’, an experience that was so painful that he turned to the bottle and would not direct another film in the intervening 19 years.
The star and producer of ‘The Rum Diary’, Johnny Depp has been trying to bring the film to the screen for over a decade. A great Doc is included on the disc featuring Thompson and Depp’s trail through an endless line of potential movie backers. Following Thompson’s death Depp asked a now sober Robinson to come out of retirement to write and direct. But Robinson found that he could only operate on Thompson’s wavelength by drinking again! The Puerto Rican locations look gorgeous and certain scenes where actually shot in real places Thompson frequented in the 50s. Depp is surrounded by a superb supporting cast of misfit character actors lead by Giovanni Ribisi’s drunken-Hitler-speech-listening crazy man Moberg.
If you are expecting another Withnail or something along the lines of Terry Gilliam’s Psychedelic masterpiece ‘Fear And Loathing In Las Vegas’ then you may be disappointed. However on its own merits ‘The Rum Diary’ is a passionate drink fuelled odyssey of self discovery.
March 11, 2012
“Surrounded by these eunuchs I realise that we the oppressed must take things into our own hands”
‘Little Malcolm & His Struggle Against The Eunuchs’ is my first foray into the BFI’s ‘Flipside’ series of little known (And often previously unreleased on video) British films (Factoid alert! Malcolm X’s real name was Malcolm Little). I was drawn by the striking cover image of personal lifelong fave John Hurt. It was telling of the quality of what I was about to see that the movie opens with the words George Harrison presents (‘Life Of Brian’, ‘Withnail & I’ etc anyone?). This satirical comedy follows art school misfit Malcolm Scrawdyke and his three followers Wick, Irwin and Nipple (Played by another of my acting heroes, David Warner) as they decide to smash the system by setting up a political party called ‘Dynamic Erection’. It soon becomes clear that all they are going to do is talk because they are all far too inhibited and ineffectual to actually do anything.
Director Stuart Cooper made the inspired choice to shoot the film as if they were really carrying out the plans. So we get a heist scene, a car chase and a ‘Triumph Of The Will’ style speech, all using the filmic conventions that those entail, while the guys are only play acting. For example, the “Chase” scene where they are just sitting in a scrapped car on a demolition site making “Vroom, vroom, screech” sounds is hilarious. The boys revolutionary posturing soon descend into Fascistic bullying rhetoric and mock trials culminating in a shocking final scene (Shocking for the protagonists and for we the audience). Of course Hitler himself was an Art-College reject and it was unfortunate that the population of Germany didn’t see him as being as ridiculous as little Malcolm Scrawdyke. ‘Little Malcolm’ has all the crazed charm of ‘Withnail & I’ if it had been fueled on drinking turpentine and oil paint instead of “Booze!”. If all ‘Flipside’ releases are of this quality I’ll definitely be trying another one.
Checkout this scene featuring an argument about corduroy and just see if your sides don’t split by the end!: