Welcome to my movie blog, containing reviews and articles. I've been writing since 2004 - with a short break during 2009.

Cult Movie Rants 3 - the Inevitable Return

We're currently watching From Russia with Love in Film Studies. It's the first Bond I've ever really really enjoyed. I've seen it before, but this time just seemed better. Interesting fact you probably didn't want to know: Colonel Klebb's a lesbian, presumably because that's somehow wrong, she's ugly and she wants to kill him instead of sleep with him. It's just like how all baddies in Bond have foreign accents. This is why old Bond films are better than the new ones - they can get away with being outrageously non-PC, chauvanist, Brits-are-bestist and steriotypical in a way the modern ones can't. This makes the early ones fun while the later ones are far more sedate, giving the baddies human sides et al...

So today, my views on violence in movies and under that, yet another addition to the cult movie debate.

Yesterday I tried York Film Notes from the film studies library - for Pulp Fiction, if it matters, but it doesn't really as it really was awful. It just didn't think of anything interesting to say at all. In fact, it was guilty of just retelling the story which they always tell us to avoid.

So today I borrowed "Shocking Entertainment:Viewer Response to Violent Movies", an overly expensive look (£12.95 for a slim volume) at why people enjoy 'em. It was a pretty good read, though it was totally textbook all the way through - basically it was the analysis at the end of a piece of research. And there was a very nice picture of Mr Blonde, halfway through what was
basically his own chapter. They had arranged a few groups made up of over-18 adults of both genders who had seen three or more from a list of 9 vicious flicks, asked questions and studied the response. They also watched the "eye-slicing" from Henry:Portrait of a Serial Killer, and the "ear-slicing" from Reservoir Dogs and had a little chat about them.
(very slightly spoileryness if you haven't seen the latter for the next five paragraphs)

You know, reading some of the transcribed responses about it upset me far more than actually seeing the film did. I really did not see what all the fuss was about - perhaps I just have a very very strong stomach (highly unlikely, I'm one hell of a wuss), or perhaps I was expecting it to be so much worse it seemed tame, I don't know. I'd always assumed the outcry was not because it was particularly yucky, but because of the music: it's catchy, you're tapping your foot and all of a sudden you think "jeez I'm meant to be on Marv's side here...", and that was what made people feel uncomfortable about it - you want to dance like Mr Blonde, and you really probably shouldn't. Even the notoriety contributes to the wrong-ness of the scene -it's like when you see a comedy you've seen a thousand times before, and you start to grin before the jokes because you know what's coming next. Am I the only person who always smiles when he says "Have you ever listened to K-Billy's Super Sounds of the 70s?", even the first time? Apparently so - I just read a whole book of people saying how intense and disturbing it was.

The chapter really did make me feel pretty bad, so bad that I chickened out of buying the soundtrack when I finally got a chance to this afternoon after wanting it for weeks. And this is mainly because I told Friend 4 (who isn't much braver than me) that it wasn't too violent, she's since said she'd quite like to see it and I've a niggling feeling that possibly my evaluation was...a tad on the optimistic side...Yeh, I felt pretty sorry for Marv but I wasn't covering my eyes and squeaming, though after reading all that I felt like perhaps I should have. I did feel pretty alarmed when he got the petrol out - I felt it had gone too far at that point, and as much as I like Mr B, I love Mr O for rescuing Marv- but before that it was more like a little harmless fun.

The first time I saw this film, I compared it to Waiting for Godot, and I stand by that. It is a sort of absurdist stage comedy - in a place of no importance, talking a lot but doing nothing, very funny in places despite being pretty sad. It was raw, but not real. I think because it was so unreal I had no problem with it - it's a totally artificial situation a million miles away from me. Selfish but true. I'm not a gangster or a cop, I'm not even American. I'm safe from all that. I found, for example, the first death in Scream a lot harder to watch, because it's a defenceless teenage girl in her own home. The same logical cowardice goes for scary movies - I don't mind Alien because it's set on a spaceship, but Sixth Sense (set in public and often during daylight) really had me freaked.

A lot of people in the book said similar things about not minding it if it was removed from their own personal situation. Though the most interesting chapter was when they disussed violence in the news vs film - there was an interesting spread of people saying it was more real in one over the other. All in all, it was an interesting book, if a bit scientific. The one downside that eight chapters of very interesting discoveries and responses from the participants boils down to ten pretty obvious conclusions such as "fictional violence is entertaining" (duh, why else do people watch them?) and "real violence is raw and brutal and not entertaining" (total geniuswork!)

Personally, I do like a bit of violence, but only because I like tense situations and prefer my heroes dead. And only when it's neat and beautiful - you'd have to pay a decent sum (or, alternitively, confiscate my boxed set and threaten to eat it) to make me watch Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer. And before you mention Mr O, yes I know it's not nice and it's certainly not dignified, but the situation between himself and Mr W, and his freefall into total moral quagmire, do have a certain strange poetry to it.

Today also, more thoughts on cult movies. Because I found three more ideas for measuring cultyness, and I need to comment where Friend 4 can see it (if you've only just come in, Friend 4 thinks Star Wars counts as cult, and as a fan of the RHPS and many an other, I have yet to prove that she is very very wrong. Parts one and two of this rant are located under the cult movie's tag)

Number one, can't remember where I found it but it's nice:

"A mainstream film 10,000 people see 1o times
A cult film, 10 people see 10,000 times."

Which I liked! Especially as yesterday I technically held my 10th viewing of R+GaD (technically, because I've seen it 9 times all the way through, and then the first half twice.) I don't have anything more intellectual to say than that...

Even better has to be the Mutant Reviewers site. They rank cult films out of five under five catagories which describe them perfectly. They are...


A few months ago me and my sparring partner made a venn diagram to approximate cultyness.
We placed Blade Runner, the Rocky Horror Picture Show, R+GaD, Withail+I and Donnie Darko in the middle as having all three qualities we found important. Under this new measure (according to me, not the site by the by), RHPS would still be fine scoring, like, five in everything, R+G, Withnail and Donnie would still be pretty ok, but Blade Runner is at a serious disadvantage. It's one of the original cult movies, and yet not really any of those catagories- the flaw in the system is not accounting for the revived-on-video brand of movie.

Aside from that, I agree with most of their choices, but it's a bit of a strain to describe LA Confidential as cult...they also list the LOTR films as cult; me and Friend 4 decided against this as the culty cultiest fans are either book-purists or screaming girlfans. They also list Star Wars as cult. Hmmm. I let them off on account of the rest of it being so good. And their reviews of R+G are awesome - especially Rich's. I lift huge chunks from that review whenever I try pursuading others to see it.

But third and finally, most of all, I liked the idea that a cult film is..."a film loved by some people for precicely the reason other people found it offputting." It means Pulp Fiction counts, as I've always sneakily supposed it does, because some people loved the mesh of bad taste humour and blood, and the rest thought it was just bad taste. It encapsulates Dirty Dancing and Lost Boys, which while not particularly odd certainly have that culty whiff. It certainly has space for all the old faves (though as per usual, I'm having difficulty with Blade Runner. I just can't see anything obvious about it one could hate...)

And most importantly, if that's the case, Star Wars can't possibly count because I can't really think of anything in them to dislike. That's the thing Friend 4 is missing. A film's got to have a small dedicated fanbase, but it's also got to be routinely despised by almost everyone else.

Cult movies are like in-jokes. Either you "get it", you latch onto whatever madcap genius everyone else is missing, or you don't. And I'm willing to defend Lost Boys to the death against anyone who thinks it's awful...

In other news...two nights ago, my sister refused to let me have a snack when I came home from school starving as we were going out to eat. Four hours and twenty minutes later, we arrived at the restaurant and were presented with menus. In revenge, I spent the evening quoting portions of famous scenes from diners, coffee shops and Italian spaghetteers at my dad, all purposfully taken from films she hadn't seen. The highlight settling on the tip, although my dad attempting to call the waitress "garcon" was pretty good in a thank-goodness-she-was-out-of-earshot sortofa way...and kudos to that same waitress for bringing my meal while I was in the loo so I could conveniently quote Mia as soon as I came back. Although my sister did lash back with some well placed Wayne's World here and there.

After seeing the start of Murder with Mirrors, I'm desperate to know whodunnit (we hadn't even got to the murder yet, though I had my suspicions...full dull story here) . After briefly scouring the internet, searching for the dvd and asking two Marple-obsessessed friends, neither of which could remember, I have finally resorted to getting the book out of the library. It's tedious, but oh well...

And finally, this evening I had something of a resort of my pictures collection; specifically my screenshots. Perhaps the memory would be less clogged if I parted with one or two of my collection of R+G screenshots. After all, I do have 412 of them (I got a new program and clipped half the movie; I'm gonna do the second half sometime), and when taken along with my collection of 408 probably takes up a fair bit of space overall.


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