Posted by Andrea Hubert
The End of The End is imminent, and unlike a red faced banker at massage parlour lunchtime special, this particular ending isn’t as happy. For many of London's current and former party people, early clubbing experiences and wiping sweat off your brow at The End are inextricable, and the closure of a venue that's played host to the most innovative musicians and DJs of the past decade is (hopefully) the closest a lot of its patrons will ever come to personal tragedy.
But endings don't have to suck. Some of the most lasting movie moments arise from the last five minutes, within which the writer has the power to blindside you, reduce you to tears, or scare the crap out of you – sometimes all three. The ankle grabbing hand in Carrie was quite the seat jumper in its day, and who can forget the creepy ending to the Blair Witch Project? I swear that gave more people sleepless nights than ten years of Trash.
There are some classic twists which deserve a nod – no, not the Sixth Sense (if you didn't guess he was a ghost, you're basically retarded) or anything by M Night "I'll devise the ending and write the plot around it" Shyamalan. I'm thinking The Usual Suspects, and the brilliant Memento, both of which have you rooting for the very man who did it for 99% of the film, giving you a betrayal of an ending which makes you feel like the film, your current lover, has been cheating on you ever since the start.
Blood and murder and all the gooshy stuff isn't supposed to be heart warming, but tell me you didn't feel that Thelma and Louise's female bonding drive over the Grand Canyon wasn't the most exhilarating suicide ending you've ever seen? Or that you didn't smile at Robert Redford and Paul Newman in Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid as they unwittingly reloaded their guns for the final shootout, unaware the entire Mexican police force was waiting for them to emerge. "For a minute there" Butch says "I though we were in trouble..."
From Hannibal Lecter's famous last words in Silence of the Lambs as the Chianti loving cannibal disappears into the crowd ("I'm having an old friend for lunch"), to Dirk Diggler revealing that 12 inch monster member at the end of Boogie Nights (sadly for Walberg fans, a convincing prosthetic), to Michael Caine's enduring line ("Hang on lads, I've got an idea") at the classic cliff-hanger ending of the Italian Job, to "Oh my goodness…it's all been a bad dream", used with varying success in films like The Wizard of Oz, Jacobs Ladder and… um… Boxing Helena, endings are as crucial to the film's enduring popularity as a memorable beginning, and all the bits in between.
I'd like to end with a little advice from Oscar Wilde, early flag flier for the hedonistic fabulousness and naughty but nice behaviour so enjoyed by End clubbers, who once said, "When a love comes to an end, weaklings cry, efficient ones instantly find another love, and the wise already have one in reserve." Or, in other words, in whatever order works best for you, do the following three things: get ruined at the closing parties, have a little cry, then stop being a baby and go and find another place to dance.
Unless, you know, this whole "The End is closing" thing has all been a bad dream. Oh, it has? Phew. For a minute there, I thought we were in trouble…
Posted by Andrea Hubert
Last week, a German friend of mine was forced to engage in conversation with a woman who brought Hitler into the dialogue an impressively rapid 30 seconds after meeting him. My outrage at what I considered a completely inappropriate small talk topic was matched only by his utter lack of shock. Apparently, Germans in Britain suffer regularly from what they rather generously refer to as our "Don't mention the war" syndrome.
However, as new film The Wave shows, mention of the war back in the motherland is a lot less frequent, the dramatic result of which is shown in this absolutely shocking story of a classroom experiment gone badly wrong. When taking a project class called "Autocracy", one student complains "Yeah yeah, we get it. The Nazis sucked. Can we move on?"
The class begins a project, led by their unconventional teacher, which becomes known as The Wave. And what begins with the election of a leader, and the agreement to put up their hands before speaking, soon descends into a Nazi style classroom, with those who refuse to wear the white shirt uniform, or do the special salute, find themselves not only ostracized, but also persecuted for not acquiescing to the power of the wave.
The modern political allegory combines brilliantly with very realistic scenes of school life – jealousy, bullying, teenage love. And though some might find the ending a little over the top, (though the same was also said in disbelief by some during the war when told tales of camps and mass murders), the real question remains – is the idea of modern totalitarianism terrifying because it's so easy to achieve? Whatever the answer, there's no doubt that it takes a filmmaker as brave as director Dennis Gansel to transpose what was originally an American short story, back onto his own culture, where the question mark has hung over their heads for over fifty years.
Rarely have I watched a film able to provoke such fear and disbelief, whilst also musing on what a fantastic South Park episode it would make. Which would certainly go some way to answering the question: "Can we move on?"
The Wave is out now.
Sarah Silverman – Jesus Is Magic
Posted by Andrea Hubert
From anyone but Sarah Silverman, AIDS and the Holocaust might not seem ripe for comedy action. But for anyone who caught the YouTube phenomenon that was Sarah Silverman's "I'm Fucking Matt Damon" (12 million hits and counting) will surely get her provocative genius, and be ready for more. And now it's here, in the form of the world's current foul mouthed comedian of the moment and her feature film, Jesus Is Magic. In a series of stand up, comedy songs and sketches, Silverman plays fast and loose with inverse political correctness, and it's a testament to her cute looks and vicious wit (and the fact that, as a Jewish woman, she herself is in a potentially unstable category) that she's able to get away with using some of the most derogatory name calling imaginable, and come away with people still loving her. Of course, anyone who imagines Silverman to be racist is missing the point of her backbiting humour, which seeks to identify what she deems ridiculous; overblown situations currently tripping up her fellow man. And, as one imagines she'd agree, who wants a bunch of PC happy idiots laughing at the same stuff as you do? As with all the best films, Jesus Is Magic is on extremely limited release, so in case you miss it, here's a few of my favourite Silverman specials.
On kids and adults
I was licking jelly off my boyfriend's penis and I suddenly had this thought. "Oh my god… I'm turning into my mother.”
The best time to have a baby is when you're a black teenager.
With kids, you've got to speak their language. I tell my niece every time she loses at softball a beautiful angel gets full blown AIDS. And you know what? She wins. So think about that.
On being Jewish
I was raped by a doctor. Which is so bittersweet for a Jewish girl.
I hope the Jews did kill Christ. I'd fucking do it again.
Jewish people driving German cars… hmm, maybe it's like when a faggot calls himself a faggot?
On September 11
If American airlines were smart, their tagline would be "American Airlines – first through the towers".
I remember the devastation of 9/11 because it was the same day I discovered that soy chai lattes were, like, 900 calories. I'd been drinking them every day.
Random Silverman gems
You know who has a tiny vagina? Barbie. Not Klaus Barbie, the infamous Nazi. No, Nazis are assholes and I'll be the first to say so - because I'm edgy. They're cute when they're little though.
I used to go out with this guy who was half black. And he broke up with me because I'm a loser. God, I just heard myself, that sounded so negative. He was half white.
Jesus Is Magic is out now at selected cinemas in London and Edinburgh.
The Great British Teen
Posted by Andrea Hubert
If you believe The Sun and The Daily Mirror, Britain's teenagers have permanently swapped their Playstations for knives, and are happily stabbing each other to death every time the school bell rings.
Now nobody's saying that the movies are an accurate representation of real life – if they were, all the ugly people would have been removed from the streets by the government by now – but the recent spate of Brit-teen movies can be somewhat misleading if you're, say, a concerned parent, or even a slightly clueless prosecutor.
Take Angus, Thongs, and Perfect Snogging, the latest film from Gurinder Chadha - the woman who inadvertently inflicted Keira Knightley onto the silver screen. This is how she says sorry? If she's suggesting that teens from a country with one of the highest teen pregnancy rates in Europe still use Just Seventeen speak and refer to anything as "snogging", let alone keep a “snogging diary”, she's upsettingly out of touch. If you want to hark back to a simpler time, try setting your film when that simpler time actually existed – Meera Syal's Anita and Me is a far better example. Either that, or replace "snogging" with "shagging" and stop patronising the audience.
On the other end of the scale, you've got Warp X film Donkey Punch, a film about a teenager's boat party gone horribly wrong, whose title says everything you need to know about innocence versus experience. If you aren't already queasy at the title, look it up. Probably best not to do it in the office though. Warp are consciously pushing the ‘edgy’ envelope, and sure, a film that's best described as Dead Calm meets Ibiza Uncovered isn't ever looking to embrace Mike Leigh style realism…but still. Within ten minutes (and bear in mind, that's only about half an hour in movie time), there's a full blown teen orgy going on (culminating in the eponymous donkey punch), with partner swapping and random exhibitionism that would have any normal parent watching through tightly laced fingers and vowing to lock their children up until they're twenty. And that's without imagining the terrifying reaction of lead actress Jaime Winstone's father when he saw his precious daughter's on screen nudity (something along the lines of "I'm YOUR Daddy and don't you forget it!" maybe?)
And then there's Wild Child, a film written by Roald Dahl's daughter Lucy (so no pressure then), that follows the story of Poppy (Emma ‘niece of Julia’ Roberts), a spoiled American princess who finds herself shipped off to British boarding school, where the lacrosse stick toting English girls won't tolerate her bratty ways. Enid Blyton goes Hollywood? Sounds like the perfect compromise to me.
Donkey Punch and Angus are out now. Wild Child is out Friday August 15.
Posted by Andrea Hubert
It's around that time of year again, when everyone's searching for the next little indie movie, that rare gem that's up to the task of stepping into Juno's stack heeled stripper shoes and surprising us all come Oscar night.
This year, my money's on The Visitor, a beautifully understated, sensitive and brutal film (from the director of indie hit The Station Agent) about an unlikely friendship formed between a middle aged man struggling to find meaning in his life, and a couple of illegal immigrants who give it back to him.
If it sounds like the kind of worthy film you'd only see so you can impress people at dinner with your appreciation of real film, think again. The Visitor is one of those rare stories that's gripping from start to finish, while actually shedding some light on a subject worth worrying about – and it does it all with humour, brilliant acting and all to the beat of an African drum.
Walter (Richard Jenkins) is the ageing widower whose life has lost all meaning. Travelling from Connecticut to New York for a conference, he is surprised to find two illegal immigrants, Tarek and Zainab, living in his apartment. Offering them a place to stay till they get on their feet, Walter forges a friendship with Tarek, who teaches him to play the African drums, to the disapproval of Zainab. But when Tarek is arrested and detained, Walter becomes the lifeline through which Zainab and Tarek's mother Mouna (the always wonderful Hiam Abbass) can reach out to him.
While Syrian Tarek presents the human face of the immigrant, Senegalese Zainab is the flip side of the coin – mistrusting and guarded, she is necessary to give credibility to Tarek's insuppressible lust for life. Richard Jenkins deserves an Oscar for his awesomely believable portrayal of Walter, whose everyman status lends the film its ultimate weapon – there are no Hollywood stars here, no instantly recognisable faces, just some remarkable performances which don't detract from the tragedy of the storyline.
Thomas McCarthy, writer and director, has no easy answers surrounding the difficult subject of immigration, asylum and the horribly arbitrary decisions made by the US government. He does not try to instruct or preach for one side or the other. But through the touching relationship formed between Walter and the characters of Tarek, Zainab and Mouna, he is able, sometimes humorously but always powerfully, to engage an often unfeeling audience in the very real truth that the tiniest of gestures can produce the greatest consequences.
The Visitor is out this week.
A Complete History of My Sexual Failures
Posted by Andrea Hubert
A friend of mine used to get a secret kick out of watching her music video director ex-boyfriend's work pop up on MTV. Sure, they'd spent far more time sat on his sofa discussing his videos than doing pretty much anything else, but still, there's nothing quite like feeling it is feasible for you to occasionally wear the mantle of ‘muse’.
I wonder then, what documentary filmmaker Chris Waitt's ex-girlfriends/muses think of the film that is about to make him a household name, for which they might dubiously call themselves the inspiration? A Complete History of My Sexual Failures – the very title of which may suggest to an ex the folly of having dated him in the first place – is a bizarre documentary in which Cobain look-alike Waitt mooches around the UK desperately trying to find out why he's been dumped by every woman that's ever dated him.
Well, I can probably take a guess. Waitt is weird, no doubt about that. Aside from his depressing opening line, "I've decided to make a film about my personal problems" (which, to give him credit, is at least more honest than, say, Wes Anderson or Noah Baumbach), his wide eyed stare, monotonous drone and glib conclusions (in response to the information "You're a fucking liar and you never have any money", he says mournfully into the camera "I think I'm attracted to psychopathic women") render him the opposite of most women’s dream boyfriend. Let's hope there's a strong sense of docudrama in his narrative, or else there really are 30 year old men out there who believe that the ideal first date includes telling women you're impotent and your mum cleaned your flat in preparation for "you coming back to mine".
One ex consented to be interviewed only via a voice-disguising machine and behind a curtain (hardly a testament to his boyfriend status), while a girl he'd dated at the age of 9 struggled to remember him at all. In between painfully embarrassing encounters with the exes' mums ("You didn't know a good thing when you had it!"), and Waitt's torturous line of questioning ("Why did we break up? Was my penis not big enough?"), we're subjected to Waitt getting whipped in a torture chamber and munching seven Viagra, then marching into the street and propositioning anything in a skirt. Quite how this is supposed to give him greater awareness of his shortcomings is never made clear, but at least you get to see him in as much pain as his audience. Or as his next potential girlfriend. Or as his mother who, frankly, needs to shoulder at least some of the blame; she's the one who's telling him he doesn't need to throw out his toys in order to get a girl.
Artistic types can often rely on the product of their talent to get them further with the ladies than their looks or personality ever could. But what woman in her right mind is ever going to date a man who has had so many sexual failures, he was actually able to make a movie out of it? Form an orderly queue girls.
A Complete History of My Sexual Failures is out next week.