Tuesday, 7 March 2006

Foxtrot, Oscars

I continue spewing my thoughts onto the interweb with a vague attempt at being topical, because it sure beats dullard blogs that tell you "I had a cheese sandwich for lunch at work today".

UN estimates show how catastrophic the proportion of seriously uninteresting blogs are. 31ill be on the subject of having a bad day at work. 12ill inform you of the colour the author is painting their room. 9ill be a report of meeting a famous celebrity, but it'll turn out to be an apocryphal account from a friend of a friend who read it on Popbitch anyway.

Right, we've just had the Oscars, have we not, and a bunch of media luvvies are in a tis over some gay cowboy movie that triumphed at Sundance, failing to do well at the Oscars. This despite the fact that many years ago, South Park well and truly ripped the piss out of Sundance because every movie in it was about gay cowboys. Hey, Hollywood, get some original ideas.

And with that, here is another buckletload of my opinion, that relates to the film industry. The ten most important films of all time. Not necessarily the best, or technically outstanding. Just ones that are significant to me. And what matters to me, will matter to you. Because I say so.

Was this really on at the cinemas? A wacky Jim Dale 'romp' which sees the family pet, well, the title gives it away, doesn't it? Could be filling the gaps in any bank holiday schedule back in the days when ITV was a patchwork of wildly varying companies. Anglia would stick this on one week, and you would find it on the next, if you could pick up Central (or "ATV" as we say in the old money).

Children's cartoons are there to entertain us with falling anvils and acme bird seed, are they not? Well, this is a strange tale of some rabbits on a farm. For a children's feature, it took the genuinely eerie step of highlighting death. Depicted by mangy rabbit corpses. And a dark disembodied scarlet-eyed rabbit head 'ghost'. If that wasn't frightening enough, you had to contend with Simon and Garfunkel providing the sound track.

An introduction to holidaying stereotypes via this almost satirical look at the 70s boom in Spanish package holidays. Rather out of form for Carry On to have Charles Hawtry NOT playing the ambiguously gay character, and so it languishes at this lowly spot in the chart. Would have been further down still, if it were not for Peter Butterworth's comedy-foreigner character calling Stuart Farquar (Kenneth Williams) "Mr Farty-Arse".

I despise musicals. They're all crap. Except for three of them. This one decided to go with an all-child cast, set in the context of America's prohibition era of the 1920s. The really surreal twist is that all the gangsters use gunge and cream pies, which are fatal to anyone on the receiving end. A good job that universe didn't have Tiswas then, that'd be a live weekly massacre broadcast to the nation. Still, you have to admire the reasoning - you can't have real blood and gore mixed with children. Bonnie Langford was in this. Now that she's old enough, I'll get my gun.

"But you can't see that, it'll scare you", said my ill-informed mum in 1984, not realising that 1) this is a comedy and 2) any idea of ghosts 'succeeding' is obviously quashed by the film's title. About eight years later, I did get to see, as afternoon filler on the telly. I liked it. I bought the DVD. I even bought the DVD to the sequel. Oh dear.

The only other musical in this list. "But Pete", I hear my audience of one reader cry, "you said you liked three musicals". Well, yes. The remaining one is the Rocky Horror Picture Show, and that appears to be set-up to parody 50s horror b-movies. Thing is, that's a subject that has been parodied many many times since. By the time I actually got round to watching Rocky Horror, I couldn't see what the fuss was about. Hence it doesn't appear in this top tne. Richard O'Brien's good though, and Meatloaf gets killed, so those are two positive factors about the film. The crossdressing/lingerie idea is a bit fun, but I suspect it's the major thing that this film has a cult following - lots of repressed folk wanting to put on fishnets. That's wrong, because 1) fishnets are damned itchy and 2) I have been associating fishnets, and indeed, suspender belts, with speeded-up chase sequences from Benny Hill. Hence not even the hottest FHM model will do anything for me when they're in such items. Oh yes, back to Grease - damned catchy tunes and a plotline that eight-year-old me could follow. Just. American Graffiti is better though.

Best Carry On film ever. It's Charles Hawtry announcing his name as "Muggins, Charles Muggins". The unrivalled double-act of Sid James and Bernard Bresslaw as the sleaze-merchant and accident-prone hanger-on. Their prudish girlfriends. Peter Butterworth saying "paahnd". I won't mention THAT bit with Barbara Windsor, it's overrated.

"How do you know he's a king then?"
"He's not covered in shit"

Stick yer Exorcist, yer Omen, yer Amityville, yer Friday the 13th, yer Evil Dead... this is genuinely the most scariest film ever, because of the possibility of it being real. It's a BBC-funded project, that followed the realistic aftermath had a nuclear bomb got dropped on Sheffield in the mid-80s. Those were the days, with a crazy extreme-right-wing American president who believed in military might no matter how many innocent people could be in the firing line. Thank goodness things aren't like that any more...

"Python is Satan" said one placard waved by a handful of Christian fundamentalists who wanted this film banned, not realising that it actually says nothing against Jesus Christ or Christianity, but in fact pokes fun at followers of religion who get it wrong. As well as pissing off people who worry about coveting their neighbour's oxon (never bothered me, my neighbour's got a bloody terrific ox, and I'm not ashamed to admit that), this is the only comedy film where every gag generates a belly-laugh. Not even Airplane gets me laughing as much as this film. The timing is flawless, the satire is heavy while being incredibily subtle, and it's thankfully low on catchphrase-based humour, so because it doesn't generate "Ni! Ni! Ni!" from pub bores when you mention it, this is why it marginally beats '....Holy Grail'.

And none of these films won an Oscar. Titanic and Gladiator did.

Foxtrot Oscars.

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