Monday, 29 December 2008

Here in town there's only she, who is beautiful as me, so I'm making plans to woo and marry Belle.

No 436 - Beauty and the Beast
Director - Gary Trousdale and Kirk Wise

Over the past months, Elliot and I have frequently found ourselves singing songs from Beauty and the Beast. Usually singing Gaston's parts as we thought he was awesome. So, finally, I snaffled the DVD from my Disney obsessed sister and sat down with old Mr Biddle to watch the quality film.
Now, don't get me wrong, I LOVE this film. But there are some huge differences between watching it as a 7 year old in the cinema (which I once did) and watching it now as a world weary cynical bastard.... some of the film just doesn't quite add up.

I think we should look at this first - so that I can end this entry with me talking about the sheer magnitude of stuff I love about it!

The problem is that essentially.... the plot is flawed.

The story begins....
An old woman visits a prince in his castle asking to stay at the castle for the night in return for a rose. The prince refuses. The old woman turns out to be a beautiful enchantress who curses the Prince. Turning him into a horrific beast, he is told that if he doesn't find love by his 21st birthday he will be doomed to stay a beast forever.

Now, this is all well and good. Some would in fact say that it is a pretty standard fantasy plot and that is true, normally I would have no qualms with such a set up. If it wasn't for a small line in the song Be Our Guest.

Life is so unnerving
For a servant who's not serving
He's not whole without a soul to wait upon
Ah, those good old days when we were useful...Suddenly those good old days are gone
Ten years we've been rusting
Needing so much more than dusting
Needing exercise, a chance to use our skills!
Most days we just lay around the castle
Flabby, fat and lazy
You walked in and oops-a-daisy!
Ten years! TEN! That means.... the prince must have been 10 when that enchantress came to visit. Oh, how different the story suddenly looks. It isn't a wise woman punishing a blustering selfish fool for his arrogance. NO! It is a pious sanctimonious little bitch who has decided she has the authority to judge everyone. Even children. We can assume he is orphaned as there is no mention of his parents (even as a 20 year old he would have probably had his parents about the place) and lives under the guardianship of his servants (I'd assume Lumiere and Cogsworth). It makes sense that he would be uneasy to let a random old woman into his home. However, that's not enough, the enchantress views herself as judge, jury and executioner and curses the poor child and all the castle's INNOCENT occupants to a lifetime of monsterous deformity with one weak reprieve - fall in love in the next decade. As a 10 year old, the prince probably has no thoughts for women. He probably dislikes them, and he lives in an isolated castle where he can't really meet anyone. It is quite fair to say that this enchantress is just a bit of a horrible bitch.
The cursed decade also opens up another interesting quandary.... Chip. How old is Chip? 8? Have the servants been in suspended animation, never growing older as they sit in their cupboards? We know the beast has been aging, or the deadline to the curse is a bit of a moot point. So it is safe to assume that the whole castle is under the same curse and at some time.... Mrs Potts (who is definitely at an age where she would be post menopausal) got funky. As a Tea Pot. And gave birth to a cup. Further curiosity as to why Chip wasn't more bewildered or confused by his new human form. All he asks is if he should still sleep in the cupboards.
And finally.... just how many servants does the Beast have? Are we supposed to believe that each cup, knife and plate is a single servant. Do 5 mops maybe represent 1 cleaner? Because if each object is a servant, there must be easily 500 people in that castle. Don't believe me? Ask the dishes. Be Our Guest only deals with Kitchenware.... there is evidence of hundreds of animated objects in every corner of the cracked and dusty castle.
WHICH REMINDS ME (I know I said 'and finally' with the criticisms, but I lied - sue me). The servants have been sitting around in that castle for a decade. What have they been doing, because they've let the place fall to shit. They haven't had to sleep, or eat, or go to town.... they have no distractions. Yet, they clearly just sit about at home pretending to be furniture. Far to busy standing utterly still to do any of their servant duties. I'd be an angry beast too if I had such idle staff. I certainly wouldn't be paying them!
It is in the 'Human Again' deleted scene that those lazy bums finally get to work and tidy the house making it look all still cursed but much prettier.
So, what do I like about the film. Because there is a lot about this film that I like.
1) The songs. I am of the firm belief that Beauty and the Beast has the best songs of any Disney film. The earlier films are too high and warbly. Even films like the Lion King which I consider to be far superior to Beauty and the Beast doesn't have the same excellent songs as Be Our Guest or anything Gaston has.
2) Gaston is just plain excellent. Brilliant. We love him (we being Elliot and I, rather than the royal we). We love his arrogance. We love his taste in interior decorating, we love his rippling hairy abs. We are not as gay as we sound.....
The Gaston song is the best song in the film... and pretty much everyone of his lines is classic gold
I'd like to thank you all for coming to my wedding. But first I'd better go in there and propose to the girl.
It's not right for a woman to read. Soon she starts getting *ideas*, and *thinking*...
The man is comedy brilliance. An egocentric, chauvinistic buffoon. Whats not to love. He reminds me of Bruce Campbell, which (as I've frequently made clear) can never be a bad thing.
3) Finally.... I love Belle. I think she is totally my favourite Disney Princess, definitely the prettiest. Toby says Jasmine but that is too obviously lust fueled by midriffs (and he said he liked her because she was Indian.... when she would be Middle Eastern... twit). I think it all stems from when I had a lovely time in a shop in Disney land flirting a bit with one of the shop staff, only to find out at a later date, that she was Belle in the Disney parade. She gave me a kiss and Belle cemented her position as my all time forever favourite Disney Princess.
-True Story folks

Friday, 26 December 2008

Too much garbage in your face? There's plenty of space out in space! BnL StarLiners leaving each day. We'll clean up the mess while you're away.

No 373 - Wall:E
Director - Andrew Stanton

Merry Christmas Peoples! So, little sis got this for Christmas yesterday and we watched it in the morning... however I spent most of the day feeling fat and full... watching Dr Who, Wallace and Gromit and thrashing my family at Buzz. I hope you therefore understand why I have taken a day to get round to blogging.

The big thing about Wall:E (I can't make the big dot appear so I'm going for colons) is that it really is a difficult film for Pixar. The ambition behind it is huge, epic and very very brave... and it is not something that Pixar have taken lightly. This was one of the first ideas they ever had (along with Toy Story and A Bug's Life), however it took years to happen as they didn't believe they had the technical ability to deliver such a daunting challenge.
But why... why do I keep saying that this film would be a hard sell? Let us examine the facts and discuss them individually, there are 2 facts - one is relatively minor but the other is HUGE and should be discussed in a huge manner....

1) The film seems to try hard to create imagery which will alienate the target audience.

This is a Disney Pixar cartoon, and whilst I do very much enjoy the work of Pixar, I - a film savvy bearded 23 year old - am not the film's target audience. This is a 'Family Film' which translates itself roughly as a film for kids. Yet this is a film that loves the obsolete and the old fashioned. Wall:E watches Hello Dolly, a musical from 1969 and I think it is fair to say that most children are not hugely educated on either the golden age of Musical cinema (the 50s and 60s) nor the back catalogue of Barbara Streisand. So for most children, the songs and the Hello Dolly footage which is played throughout the film will be new and won't have the amusing nostalgic familiarity that I get from it.

However, it is not just the film itself which casts unfamiliarity - as Wall:E watches it on a VHS (recorded off the Telly it seems) - it is a world which runs the risk of being completely alien to the modern child, raised in the DVD generation.

Finally.... Pong! There is a scene where Wall:E is trying to entertain the dormant Eve and does so by playing Pong with her. That is not going to be a familiar image to the vast majority of youth watching the film. Hell, I'm not sure if it'd be a familiar image to me if it wasn't for the fact that I was such a geek.

All these unfamiliar elements are all minor in comparison with the huge alienating factor I wish to discuss...

2) The first half of the film is essentially a silent movie.

Wall:E is a solitary figure, who only has one companion - a cockroach. As the cockroach can't speak, Wall:E doesn't speak so the first part of the film is a series of robotic noises (made by Ben Burtt who also design the noises of R2-D2 fact fans) and a solitary figure who just trundles through his messy litter strewn world. Even when a second protagonist and 'love interest' arrives the communication and dialogue is stunted at best. Eve (a sleek curvy iPod of a robot which can swoosh and fly through the world) can say about 3 or 4 words (Eve, Wall:E, Directive and Plant are the only 4 that come to mind) and Wall:E can just about say the first 3 of those 4 words. However, Pixar can pull it off. Animation is a tough medium to show subtle facial changes and glimmers of emotion, which is why animation is usually a rather wordy affair. However Pixar manages to make their characters subtly nuanced and beautiful emotive. This is even more of a feat when you consider one of the characters is a highly polished floating egg and the other is a rusting clunking hulk which looks like Johnny 5's stunted little brother. Neither character has a mouth, neither character has eyebrows.... it is almost as if Pixar deliberately removed anything which might make showing emotion an easy task in order to make the toughest challenge ever. Luckily, they're geniuses. Pixar's genius makes this one of their boldest films and certainly makes Wall:E they're most adorable character.

After all those challenges, they have also made their bleakest ever film. Set in a world which has been ruined by rubbish and consumerism, our hero trundles through a completely ruined empty planet surrounded by the run down corpses of other Wall:E models the introduction shows a truly horrible future for our planet and shows us to be mindless consumerist whores who let our surroundings to fall to waste before moving on and leaving it deserted. I believe that Agent Smith once had something to say about it in the Matrix:

I'd like to share a revelation that I've had during my time here. It came to me when I tried to classify your species and I realized that you're not actually mammals. Every mammal on this planet instinctively develops a natural equilibrium with the surrounding environment but you humans do not. You move to an area and you multiply and multiply until every natural resource is consumed and the only way you can survive is to spread to another area. There is another organism on this planet that follows the same pattern. Do you know what it is? A virus. Human beings are a disease, a cancer of this planet. You're a plague and we are the cure.

So... that is my run down of the first half of this film, a silent film in a bleak grey surroundings dealing with loneliness. Hardly standard Disney fare... but also (in my opinion) one of Pixar's greatest triumphs. Let us move on to part deux....

EVE and WALL:E end up in space on a ship called the Axiom (I won't tell you the reasons behind it as I don't want to be Captain Spoiler) - the last bastion for the humans who have evacuated Earth. It is here that we meet the human race - who have spent 700 years in space being waited on hand and food by an enormous robot servant army. They have subsequently become huge blubbery blobs with very weak bones and who spend all their time sat on gliding chairs so they don't have to worry with walking. The 'evolution' (if that is what it is) of man is shown through another very brave move by Pixar. This is the inclusion of actual real life people within the film. Most of these are merely in Buy N Large's promotional material, but there is a proper role played by an actual human. This is the superb Fred Willard playing the CEO of Buy N Large, My Selby Forthright. His company has become so all encompassing that it is implied he is now the president and that the White House has become the BnL HQ. The progression from 'true human' to 'CGI' is best seen in the captain's quarters where you can see the original Axiom (a normal sized 'real person') all the way through to the modern fat lazy naive captain.

The introduction of the humans also brings us the excellent John Ratzenberger in his now obligatory Pixar role. I won't tell you anything else about it, for SPOILER reasons, but he is there.

In fact, the second half of the film is where most of the plot is and is back in Pixar's comfort zone. Although it is still marvellous, it is not quite as brave and astounding as the first half and I suppose suffers for that. I certainly have far less to say on this bit of the film compared to the first bit... apart from my one qualm with the film:

Why do all the robots have personalities? I mean I understand Wall:E... he is a mistake and has been left on his own for 700 years where he has developed curiosity and human traits. Likewise I understand the collection of defective robots... It can be explained that they have developed their personalities as part of them being broken. But what about EVE? What about Mo? Why do these correctly functioning robots have human personalities?
I suppose the reason this question comes to light is because this is Pixar's first film without direct anthropomorphism, so when it starts to creep into the film it is somewhat confusing.

However that is a really minor concern in a truly excellent film. Pixar continue to excite and amaze me with their brilliant output.

Wednesday, 24 December 2008

Go and boil your bottoms, you sons of a silly person. I blow my nose at you, so-called "Arthur King," you and all your silly English K-nig-hts.

No 381 - Monty Python and the Holy Grail
Director - Terry Jones and Terry Gilliam

So, a few days ago I braved the lights and gridlocked traffic and wandered into London's glittering west end (oooh!) Where I went to see Spamalot. It is ending in January so I thought I should probably catch it before it ran off cackling into the night time. As I sat there, joyously singing "Always Look on the Bright Side of Life" and whistling along (yes... Wrong film for the song but as its Monty Python's only musical I forgive them. They also have the Spam and Finland songs there) I thought to myself that I would really quite like to see the Holy Grail.

Flashback to probably a decade ago.A youthful me sat at my dad's house watching the Holy Grail for the first time. It had been recorded off the telly and I had won the Sunday afternoon TV battle so was sat there (cup of tea in hand) having a good old chuckle. There is a scene near the end where the knights and Arthur collapse on a stony beach, just outside of Castle Aaaargh! As this scene is being shown, my sister comes into the room.
"Oh" she nonchalantly points to the TV "They found it then"
"No they haven't" I was quick to reply
And with all the considered timing of a true comedian she delivers her immortal line "but isn't that the Holy Gravel?"

Now, please allow me to explain that my sister is not the puntastic comedy genius that that brief anecdote might suppose. She is, however, a fooooooooool.
And she had also never seen Monty Python and the Holy Grail. So, as I packed for my family Christmas, I slipped the DVD into my bag and made my merry way.

As the film began, I realised what a massive part Monty Python plays in our English heritage and how over 30 years later the Python sense of humour can still baffle foreigners (my French mother getting increasingly confused by (and blaming me for) the film starting with the wrong film and the Swedish subtitles in the title credits).

I also realised how clever and subtle the comedy of the Python's can be. As well as the crude brash bonkersness that we know.
Because... This film IS bonkers. And nonsense. From little moments like King Arthur's inability to count to 3 and The King of Swamp Castle and Herbert constantly calling the other by the wrong gender. Because these moments are so small and flippant and passing, they just add to the inexplicable weirdness.Then there are the big moments. The moments that are so insane that they reach the point of surreal genius. Camelot and the French Knights are just so... Well, odd that there is a strong chance the joke could just fall flat on its face. But thankfully the Pythons know how to pull off weirdness and they do so with great aplomb.

The film is very much a collection of sketches with a central theme. Not to the same degree as Meaning of Life but certainly more than Life of Brian which is more of a unified whole. This is by no mean a bad thing and allows the film to mix and leap from themes without any fear of tone or connectivity. The sketch format also allows Terry Gilliam to include some of his wonderful animation as segues and linking passages. Oh, and to create amazing monsters (the animation also probably helped on the more ambitious ideas as the film was only made on a budget of 78p. And whilst that was a lot in the 70s it still wouldn't finance a film.)

And finally.... I just wanted to mention the post modern aspects. From actors talking to the audience directly, scenes being criticised by actors from other scenes and a police subplot which allows the film to end in the most surprisingly offbeat and abrupt manner. I will not spoil it for those that haven't seen it yet, but it is a doozy.

So let me end with this little lego moment and wish you a merry Christmas.
I should talk about a Christmas film, where's Its a Wonderful Life?

Friday, 19 December 2008

There's something out there. That... that witch in the cellar is only part of it. It lives... out in those woods

No 49 - Evil Dead 2: Dead by Dawn
Director - Sam Raimi

It was my little sister who said "I feel glad to live in a world where Evil Dead 2 was voted into the top 50 films of all time" and you know what? She is totally correct to feel glad. This is not a film I would have imagined to appear in such a list. But I'm oh so happy it has.

When I was a lad of 12 or 13 I used to go to my friend James's house and watch films where I would then go home and my mum would look at me suspiciously - convinced that I was watching horrifically violent 18 rated films and that James was a bad influence on me. Well, as a decade or so has past (and my Mum does read this blog) I feel I should confess. Despite all my protests and the shock when you brought up the subject.... we WERE watching horrifically violent 18 rated films and James has always been a terrible influence on me. Ha Ha! This feels like therapy. Whilst Evil Dead 2 wasn't one of those films (we were going through a John Carpenter phase for quite a lot of our youth), it was a film which James and my best friend Richard had seen when they were younger still and it was spoke in hallowed tones. Mainly referred to as "The film with the horrible creepy lady in the fruit cellar".

So when I finally got round to watching it (I can't remember when I first saw it), it was wit great trepidation as I was expecting something that was going to fuck me up. I was not however expecting the frankly amazing streak of pitch black comedy that runs throughout.
This film is deeply comic, but isn't a parody as it doesn't send up the rules of the genre - instead it creates a situation so ridiculous that the comedy comes from the character interaction. Character interaction and the talents of one sublime legend. I don't think you can really talk about the Evil Dead films without making sure that your first topic is the man, the legend, the chin.... Mr Bruce Campbell. Bruce Campbell is the greatest actor of his generation.... well, probably not but he is amazing and he dominates this film like a dominatrix. With a chainsaw and a wild eyed stare.
The character of Ash is excellent, and his descent into insanity that you see within this film really allows Campbell to gurn and overact and raise his magnificent eyebrows with great aplomb. Also, let us not forget the sheer manliness of Ash. Ash is officially hard as nails. By the end of the film his blue shirt is just blood stained tatters hanging off his rippling abs, his left hand clenches onto a sawn of shot gun and his right hand is a chainsaw. The only way he could be any manlier is if he was smoking a big fat Havana cigar at the same time.... But, before we get sidelined and distracted, let me return to a point you may have just overlooked. Ash's chainsaw hand. This is a feature that is so cool... so... groovy.... that it is hard to explain the joy when he straps it on for the first time (yes I'm aware of the terribly gay undertones in that last sentence). 20 years later and another film would attempt something almost identical. As (the admittedly far more attractive (even than Bruce)) Rose McGowen's character Cherry has her leg replaced with a military grade machine gun in the film Planet Terror. It is the next step up from a mere chainsaw but you can see the influence.

When the word influences appears, I am instantly led to one person, Edgar Wright. My sad geeky Spaced knowledge means that I am aware that Evil Dead 2 is one of his favourite films. However, that fact should be made instantly clear just by comparing directing styles. Sam Raimi's camera crashes through windows, destroys doors, swoops and swerves and dives around like a rabid twitching beast. That, combined with the film's quick and frantic editing has to have been a strong influence in the almost identical directing style used within Spaced.

The final thing of note within this film could be viewed as either a good or bad point depending on opinion. Hooray for films being subjective! I love the fact that this film has almost no progression. The characters have hardly any emotional arc to go through (Ash especially, seeing the amount of shit he has to go through flits between wisecracking bad ass and sobbing nervous wreck without any thought of actual emotion or stress), the plot is basically the plot of the first Evil Dead but slightly expanded. The film is solely about the here and now. If and how these people will escape the situation they are in. It is a brave mood and not one you see that frequently. Films these days seem almost too keen on back story providing reasons and motivations. The only film I can think of in recent times which follows the situation path is Cloverfield, a film that was both lauded and hated for that exact reason.

All in all I love this film. I love the prat falling, I love the manic giggling deer's head, I love the evil hand and I all out adore Bruce Campbell. I just wish the special effects hadn't aged so badly. It is hard to be scared when the monsters look like they're from Beetlejuice!

Tuesday, 9 December 2008

Write it all down. Just the truth. No rhymes, no embellishments, no adjectives. And then leave us be.

No 442 - Atonement
Director - Joe Wright

Ho ho ho - I am a cheeky scamp. So, yesterday evening Toby and Fil asked if I wanted to put one of my top 500 films on and I put this cheery number on. However despite the chick flick romantic theme and the sad sad sadness of the film, I really like it. I think it is a beautiful piece of cinema.
When the film ended, Toby said something very interesting, saying that if he had known the film's conclusion (I was going to use the word 'twist' but that isn't really the right word) at the beginning of the film he would have enjoyed it more because it completely changes the tone and the theme of the entire film. I find it particularly interesting because I have never come to the film from that viewpoint as I had read the book about a year before the film came out. This may have helped my love for it, but I think that mostly it is just a wonderfully made film and the elements of nostalgia in it are superb for someone like me.


Everyone in this film smokes. Everyone. I heard a rumour that people were outraged by the level of cigarette consumption in the film and had asked for it to be toned down, in fear that it would lead others to try this terrible habit. Wright simply replied with "I'm not changing anything, people smoked a lot in the 30s". I hope this rumour is true because it makes me smile, and I like things that make me smile... However, at times Atonement seems to be a love letter to tobacco with delicate lingering shots of the characters reclining in near ecstatic bliss as they inhale their cigarettes.

But back then, they were good for you....


The language. Or to be more accurate, the delivery of the language. It is fast and it is clipped and it is wonderfully wonderfully British. It reminds me a lot of one of my favourite scenes (when it comes to delivery) - When David Niven's character Peter is crashing at the start of A Matter of Life and Death (a film I'm looking forward to reviewing at a later date) - his conversation is fairly trivial, but the delivery is like machine gun fire "June? That's a lovely name". It is a wonder to behold. The same happens in this film. Again I heard a rumour (my, what a lot of rumours were flying around this film) that they began by acting rather materialistically until Joe Wright stopped them. His exact words were allegedly "Have you seen Brief Encounter? Do it like that." If these rumours about Mr Wright are true then I can't seem to fault his stylistic eye, and I look forward to seeing what else he does.

The fast talking aspect also stems from the delightfully upper class nature of the film. Fil said that he despises books by Ian McEwan as they are so smugly upper middle class. However, in this film, and the world it is set, I think the poshness works. Some of it could seem ridiculous (I particularly like the names of the cousins in the house - Pierrot and Jackson are such sublimely ridiculous names.
The posh culture does open up the character of Robbie, and his relationship to Cecelia. They suddenly become far more complex. This is not just a story about falling for someone outside of your class. It is also about the identity complex that comes from the fact that Robbie has had an exceptional education which as paid for by Cecelia's father. He may be the help but he is also unofficially part of the Tallis family... and that is an awkward place to be in:
Five years ago you didn't care about telling the truth. You and all your family, you just assumed that for all my education, I was still little better than a servant, still not to be trusted. Thanks to you, they were able to close ranks and throw me to the fucking wolves!

It is this distrust which opens up part 2 of the film (for this is a tale of 3 (or possibly at a stretch 4) parts... 1. Pre War dinner parties and intrigue 2. War - Soldier's story 3. War - Nurse's story and possibly 4. Modern day conclusion)....

Whilst the framing and cinematography is stunning throughout this entire film, the scene of Dunkirk is the stand out moment for me. A needlessly lavish steadicam shot which wanders throughout the beach letting you see the depravity and futility of war and the fragile states of the soldiers. It is one of the most beautiful shots I have ever seen in a film and it gives me goosebumps. The score is wonderful in this scene too but you can tell it is there to cover up the choreographers and director screaming for horses to stampede or cars to explode or drunk people to fall off merry go rounds.

And as we draw near to the end of this blog (a relatively short entry but I don't have much to say besides I think it is beautiful and all people should watch it and have a little cry) I leave you with two thoughts.

1) Isn't the C word a ponderous thing... I personally love it.
2) Doesn't James McAvoy look like a young David Niven? The final scene specifically (bad photo I know) could almost be from A Matter of Life and Death.... AND THAT IS A GOOD THING!

Monday, 8 December 2008

Are you ready for that? Checking into a Vegas hotel under a phony name with intent to commit capital fraud and a head full of acid? I sure hope so.

#469 – Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas
Director – Terry Gilliam

Once again we delve into the mad world of Terry Gilliam, accompanied by two utterly fantastic character actors to help bring the twisted reality to life. This is a film which gradually descends into less and less sense and further into insanity. But, to be fair, I don’t think that a drugged up narrative should be clear or should make sense. So let us delve further into this film and begin by looking at the two main characters….

Johnny DeppDepp is a bit of a cinematic legend these days, but this is before he exploded into the mainstream and he was still rather indie and art house, an excellent character actor. I have never seen any footage of Hunter S Thompson so I cannot comment on the realism or how lifelike the portrayal is, but what I can say is this: Depp’s Character of Thompson is amazing. A twitching paranoid madman who jumps and starts, staring with wild abandon at the world around him and moving in a jerky spaced out manner. It is not too dissimilar to a certain pirate who made Depp a phenomenal star. And of course, in his Hunter S make up he shares a certain likeness to David Cross… which made me chuckle through out the film.

It is hard to think of an actor with enough Kudos and actorly chops to go against Depp and even to outshine him. However, one of those people is definitely Benicio Del Toro, he is utterly superb and another excellent actor. However, Del Toro seems to usually play far more serious and sombre roles so it is quite refreshing to see him play someone as comically insane as the Pot bellied psycho Dr Gonzo. However, despite first impressions, Dr Gonzo is not the bumbling drugged up buffoon that he appears to be. He is a definite sexual predator, praying on women and using his vast supply of drugs to weaken their resistance to his advances. He is also prone to fits of psychotic rage and is frequently seen waving big old knives or his trusty revolver in the faces of innocent confused bystanders. There are a lot of innocent bystanders in this film as they have to deal with the insane and frequently violent actions of the two drugged up protagonists.
However, scariest of all, as Dr Gonzo falls deeper and deeper into his drugged up stupor, he sounds more and more like a drunk Rebecca Mary Yates… truly a terrifying concept.

It is interesting to see how the film chronicles these two characters and their descent into drug fuelled madness. There are subtle touches, the camera angles, the lighting and the editing becomes more unusual and more disconcerting as does the background action. Little touches like the dialog shared between the extras becomes more and more surreal (Step right up and shoot the pasties off the nipples of a ten foot bull dyke! Win a cotton candy goat! ), the charred remains of bats on the road, monkeys dressed as members of the KKK or angels stood on pavements with flaming swords.
It is not just the relatively subtler moments – when the characters are tripping out on hallucinogenics, the film becomes pure mental. Hotel staff turn into conga eels, bars become filled with wildly fornicating lizards rolling around in blood and Del Toro becomes the Very Devil. With boobs on his back. It all culminates in the utterly unintelligible stop start editing of flashbacks from a Adrenacol bender. A violent mess of an experience where they very nearly kill far too many people. And where there is (in my humble opinion) far too much vomit! The descent of the film into near insanity is brilliant. By the time you reach the end of the film you don't need to have your hand held to follow the plot and these flashbacks and violent snippets and moments make as much sense to you as they do to the Slowly sobering Hunter... It is the excellent cast that helps to carry the audience through the insanity and to see the brilliance of the film itself.

This leads me to the final point that I want to make about this film, which is to comment on the marvellous supporting cast - and the sheer number of little fresh faced famous people that appear in it...
  • Tobey Maguire - All long blonde haired and freaking out as he foolishly hitches a lift from those insane druggies. Although... why is he so sweaty? No one knows....
  • Verne Troyer - Just doing that thing he does, of being all small and that.
  • Penn (out of Penn and Teller) - He isn't really doing much, but he is there doncha know.
  • Flea - Who is the cause of one of my favourite lines from the film as he licks LSD of Depp's arm.... sadly the line was too long to put into my title bar (oooh er - thats what SHE said... etc):
    With a bit of luck, his life was ruined forever. Always thinking that just behind some narrow door in all of his favorite bars, men in red woolen shirts are getting incredible kicks from things he'll never know.
  • Christina Ricci - Who plays a quite possibly underage very naive woman who has been fed Acid by Dr Gonzo.... throughout her few scenes she shows off a mix of innocence with a subtle layer of sexual resonance. I don't know if it is deliberate or not. I just think Christina Ricci gives off a certain sexual resonance in everything she does. Even Wednesday Addams was a bit of a minx by the time you get to the sequel.
  • Cameron Diaz - Who had nothing to but get threatened in a lift. But it is pleasant to see her.

So all in all.... I really like this film, it falls into the 'constantly quotable' category of film with some truly marvellous dialogue and I think it is perfectly suited for Terry Gilliam's distinctive surrealist visual style. Good film indeed!