James Demspey: Fee, fi, foh, fum ... I smell the blood of a right turkey
WHILE some of us like comedy, others like nothing more than the lingering scare of a bone-tingling horror. While Peter is partial to political thrillers, Paul has a ball with documentary fillers.
We may readily scoff at those who heart romantic weepies, but we’ll probably blub with them too, hapless saps getting caught-up in the emotional heart-wrenchings of a costumed melodrama. In short, there are all kinds of people in this world, and for every one of them, there’s a genre of cinema.
And my genre of choice, well I suppose it would have to be cult.
Okay, okay, I know that’s cheating. Cult classics aren’t really a distinct classification of themselves, rather a blanket term for the rejects of mainstream cinema that have found favour with niche audiences through DVD and through on-going midnight showings in art house theatres.
But when you see as many films as I do in a year, you can’t help but to become somewhat of a genre gourmand, ready to feast your eyes on everything and anything that comes projected onto a sliver screen.
To wit, over on my personal movie blog, 2011 has been a year of wildly varying genre-flicks from is-it-all-what-it-seems-to-be documentary Catfish to twiharder-to-cash-in-on-this-teen-craze I am Number 4.
I am nothing if not an equal opportunities cinemagoer, and I make a conscious point of not bad-mouthing anything, even if it happens to be The Divine Sisterhood of the Travelling Steel Magnolias, until I’ve seen it and thereby earned the right to rip it to shreds with panning puns and over-abundance of alliterative appraisal (sugar, there I go again).
Cult films come in two varieties. On the one hand we get the so-bad-it’s-good movie, poorly made and ill conceived, cheesier and about as topical as fondue parties, and based on narratives that barely exceed 80-minutes, yet drag with the mind-numbing momentum of a parish priest’s Sunday homily.
Their directors’ contempt for framing the plot leads to shameful laughs of guilty pleasure, while the cheap sets and indiscriminate locations mean you can’t often seen the wooden acting for the trees.
As for the editing, well who needs to be able to follow the plot’s action when a haphazard boom operator’s playing accidental peekaboo can be the star instead? They’re just as famous for their laughable effects and quotable dialogue that over the years has taught us that all us of Earth are idiots and no wire hangers. Ever.
The other kind of cult are those films that failed to make a splash on the big screen, but which were reborn from the ashes of commercial failure to rise to critical success and fan adoration. The best example of this cult variety is the Coen brother’s The Big Lebowski, which flopped at the box office, but which gained significant web chatter in the nascent days of internet forums to become arguable the Coens’ most baffling and beloved masterpiece.
All in all, whether as a cheese platter or esoteric curio, cult cinema appeals to the pompous film buff in me.
And frankly, I stomp the pomp, clogging the Sky + memory with black & white oldies and subtitled classics for months on end, while I stroll into the IFI to catch up with their Resnais retrospective and lament the dimming of the Lighthouse lights. All I can say, in my defence, is that at least my painfully hipster glasses are prescription.
So it was, last Wednesday, that I took my mildly astigmatic eyes to my local cinema to catch a showing of the Norwegian cult hit, Troll Hunter. A mockumentary telling the story of a man tasked with ridding Norway’s fjords of its fee, fie, foh fumming wildlife, the film is a cult hit in the making – largely ignored by international audiences and beloved by critics everywhere, its larger than life characters and bleak fairy-tale origins the stuff of B-Movie doctrine.
And I hated it. Boring, over-long, derivative of every found footage film of the last 20 years, a cultish emperor’s new clothes that thrusts my tastes back into the mainstream.
Well, I do blog for the Indo now, I suppose.