Saturday, 14 January 2012

Exit Music (For A Film)

There are only three things in the world that I hate, and one of them is this piece of news.

Ooh I should start with a follow up to my last blog about Skins... Channel 4 emailed me back and said: "Unfortunately, the information you have provided does not enable us to accurately assist you." I'm not sure how much clearer I could have been, but anyway...

You know that annoying thing David Cameron does? Every Prime Minister has a sort of embarrassing tick that they do. Gordon Brown had that jaw thing, Tony Blair had the flappy hand gestures and David Cameron has that annoying habit of fucking TALKING. Talking about stuff that it is not his job to talk about, like music videos. Giving his opinion without even being asked, and yes I appreciate the irony, fuck off.

This is the latest example of him gruntingly spewing his salty judgement all over something about which he has no fucking clue; the film industry, he says with all the wisdom of a Lego brick, should support commercially successful mainstream films like The King's Speech.

As everyone has pointed out, we don't know which films are going to be "commercially successful"; that BBC article uses the example of The Artist, a black and white, silent film, which is enjoying enormous unexpected popularity.

That said, we can sometimes tell when a film is going to be "commercially successful". For instance The Iron Lady, a film so flimsy and so blatantly targeted at a mainstream trans-Atlantic audience that it can be folded up into a paper plane and thrown at America.

I won't go on about that excuse for a film, which I reviewed here, but I will say this: What does The Iron Lady have in common with The King's Speech? They both celebrate members of the ruling class. Oh and they both include montages in which the protagonist is taught to speak differently, but only one of them made me wish that the cinema in which I was sitting would go all Inglourious Basterds.

But that's what David Cameron means isn't it? When he says that we should be making more "commercially successful pictures", what he's saying is that we should be making more films that glorify archaic British institutions. This is for two reasons: Firstly, as a conservative he wants to see these traditional values celebrated, and secondly, those films make money.

Look at the recent successful British films. The Iron Lady is a big hug for a Tory Prime Minister. The King's Speech and The Queen are big kisses to the monarchy. Even Harry Potter is a celebration of elitist private education. And remember that nightmare you had in which Shakespeare In Love won the Best Picture Oscar? Well that actually happened, because it's a film that wallows in export-friendly olden-days bull-shit.

The comedian Greg Proops recently said that the reason the British are good at making these period pieces is because we kept all the costumes. And that's just it. The Academy and the export market lap up this outdated view of Britain and what David Cameron is suggesting is that we pander to them. "You know," Britain says timidly to Oscar (I assume that's a guy), "we're not actually all about the posh people and the frilly clothes and the stiff-upper lip and the big houses so much these days..." To which Oscar simply laughs and unzips Britain's fly, as we churn out "Meryl Streep IN... The King's Speech for cunts." It's embarrassing.

It's embarrassing because the monarchy is embarrassing and our political institutions are embarrassing and our class system is embarrassing and Shakespeare In Love is fucking embarrassing. That's not what I want to be cinematically representing Britain. It's like Blue representing us in Eurovision.

2011 gave us some of the best British films I've ever seen; Kill List, Submarine, Wuthering Heights, Wreckers, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, Attack The Block, WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT KEVIN! And of course Senna, which has been eliminated from the Best Documentary Oscar category, despite it being the best documentary. Weird. If only Ayrton Senna had worn a crown...

Incidentally, Senna was commercially successful, but like The Artist, that was a surprise. Senna is not the type of film Cameron is talking about putting money behind. He's talking about Phyllida Lloyd's upcoming musical entitled Lady Di!

British films that are challenging and interesting, films from Paddy Considine and Shane Meadows and Andrea Arnold and Ben Wheatley, films that aren't formulaic or condescending or stuffy, won't have a chance if David Cameron gets his way and keeps fucking talking. He should really get some therapy for that. *Cue montage!*

Thanks for reading, I would leave you with the Radiohead song that this blog is named after, but that would leave things on a bit of a downer. So here's a great reggae cover by Easy Star All-Stars, enjoy!


  1. Oh crap, I actually liked Shakespeare in Love. Don't worry, I know- "punch yourself".
    In my defence: whatshisname who played Shakespeare is hot.