Thursday, 11 November 2010

A case study: "Just for the Record"

By way of a case study, let's consider "Just for the Record", which according to the Film Distributors' Association opened on May 7, 2010 - although repeated checks of listings magazines around the time suggested it opened on a grand total of precisely zero screens. A micro-budget spoof of micro-budget British filmmaking - starring many of the individuals who've made micro-budget British films such depressing chores to sit through over the past few years - it proved unexceptionally terrible, despite the high expectations established by Geoff Bell's opening line ("You couldn't direct a turd out of an arsehole"); Craig Fairbrass, playing a miffed financier, sums the whole enterprise up nicely with his reaction to the fictional film-within-the-film ("Faaaaaaack me, what a load of old shit").

Well, fair enough - and the absence of any press screening presumably meant the distributors had high hopes of Just for the Record becoming a cult audience favourite. (Yes, I said cult.) But let's consider some of the reviews of the film posted by users of the lovefilm website, to wit:
We usually love Danny Dyer's movies but this one is BAD!!! Don't bother wasting your time its really not worth it!!!

For a film premise that had huge potential (modern day, 'Spinal Tap' on the film industry), this film was very much a let down from the start. The premise of the film looked good from the synopsis but after watching just 5 minutes of the film I was left confused and disgusted with the direction and purpose of the film. Horribly written, awful characters, poor casting and a director with no imagination. It's a let down from the start - I had to stop watching after 45 minutes. This 'Film' (if you can call it that) shows that regardless of poor dialogue, awful characters, poor casting (I could go on...) 'ANY' script has the potential to be produced, as long as you have some big names involved in the project. Complete DUD - Stay away from watching this. All copies of this film should be burnt and everyone should pretend that this film never happened (I'm sure actors involved try to).

as this film had Danny Dyer in i thought it would be good.How wrong could i be, this fill if awful. Dont bother.

O M G What was the point of making this film i've written better stuff on toilet paper while waiting for the plop.

Sunday, 7 November 2010

The Irina Palm 2010: for your consideration

The following films, released theatrically between January and December 2010, are eligible for consideration across all categories in this year's Irina Palm d'Or. A category-by-category breakdown of potential nominees will appear on this site in due course.

Exam (Hazeldine Films/Miracle)
Burlesque Undressed (More2Screen)
Malice in Wonderland (Kaleidoscope)
Holy Water (Kaleidoscope/Centurion)
Beyond the Pole (Shooting Pictures)
A Closed Book (Eyeline Entertainment/Atlantic Film)
Freestyle (Revolver)
The Shouting Men (Kaleidoscope)
My Last Five Girlfriends (Paramount)
Happy Ever Afters (Verve)
Salvage (Revolver)
Shank (Revolver)
Kick-Ass (Universal)
I Know You Know (Network)
The Infidel (Revolver)
Boogie Woogie (Vertigo)
It's a Wonderful Afterlife (Icon)
Cherry Bomb (Blue Dolphin)
The Calling (Guerilla)
Dance with Me (Orev)
A Boy Called Dad (Kaleidoscope)
Just for the Record (Metrodome)
Sus (Independent)
StreetDance 3D (Vertigo)
Pimp (Revolver) (The Works)
Wild Target (Entertainment)
Crimefighters (Picturehouse Entertainment)
The Seventh Dimension (Kaleidoscope)
The Last Seven (Metrodome)
Basement (Revolver)
Bonded by Blood (Revolver)
Splintered (Kaleidoscope)
The Kid (Revolver)
Mr. Nice (E1)
Jackboots on Whitehall (Vertigo)
Freight (IndyUK Films/Icon)
Spiderhole (Soda)
Fathers of Girls (Soda) opens Nov 19
The Scar Crow (Metrodome) opens Nov 26
Bathory (Metrodome) opens Dec 3
Chatroom (Revolver) opens Dec 24

Feel free to add thoughts, comments, updates etc.

Thursday, 4 November 2010

The awards thus far

Irina Palm was a shoo-in for 2008's inaugural Irina Palm d'Or, but 2009's crop of theatrically distributed bad British movies sparked fevered critical discussion. A strong field of contenders included The Broken (painfully slow and pretentious doppleganger thriller), Reverb (exceptionally rubbish horror set in a recording studio), the now-notorious Lesbian Vampire Killers, the double-whammy of unconvincing lesbian romance I Can't Think Straight and plodding period drama The World Unseen (from the same director, no less!), Red Mist (Irish medical chiller in which all the actors pretend to be American), Charles Dickens's England (Derek Jacobi pops up around various stately homes in unintentionally hilarious highbrow documentary), Reckoning Day (previously unreleaseable action hijinks from the director of Rise of the Footsoldier), Nativity! (a festive rehash of Mamma Mia! set in Coventry, and every bit as ghastly as that sounds), Mr. Right (a James Lance non-romcom), not to mention the self-explanatory Dogging: a Love Story, which actually came to look and sound pretty good set against some of this competition.

And, lest we forget, there were no less than four - count 'em, four - new releases from the patron-fackin'-saint of poverty-row British cinema, the performer who may be to the Irina Palm d'Or what Meryl Streep is to each year's Oscars, Sir Daniel of Dyer: City Rats (Danny as suicidal burger-flipper; his regular sidekick Tamar Hassan drops watermelons off a roof), Doghouse (Danny as leader of unusually misogynist stag party; Tamar nowhere to be seen), Jack Said (the non-awaited sequel to a film that didn't even go straight-to-DVD first time round; Danny limited to a cameo, Tamar replaced by the late Mike Reid) and, most prominently, Dead Man Running (Tamar and Danny sharing top-billing in a film produced by Rio Ferdinand and Ashley Cole, using all their considerable industry nous to bring together actors of the calibre of 50 Cent and Brenda Blethyn).

Amazingly, the Dyer-Hassan collaborations garnered little support for that year's Irina Palm, the joint winners announced in late 2009 being Owen Carey Jones' The Spell (interminable - but sometimes just plain hilarious - squabbling among Goths in Leeds; "barely even a film", as more than one judge described it) and Tristan Loraine's 31 North 62 East (Sussex-trotting conspiracy thriller in which everyone in key seats in British government appears to get their news from the Crawley Observer, and Craig Fairbrass gives the most convincing performance; choicest line: "the walls have ears - even at Brize Norton!"), with a Special Jury Prize for Richard Curtis's Titanic-of-mirth The Boat That Rocked. Yes, all of the above are actual films, released in actual cinemas by actual distributors (in 31 North's case, by DFT Enterprises - the name you can trust), in the vain hope of landing actual audiences. As for 2010's crop...

Wednesday, 3 November 2010

How it all began...

In the summer of 2008, at some point between the release of The Dark Knight and The Incredible Hulk, assembled critics in a London screening room caught their first glimpse of Irina Palm, a British-German-French-Belgian-Luxembourgian co-production (mm, smell that Europuddingy goodness!) co-written and directed by the sometime actor Sam Garbarski. The film features Marianne Faithfull as a respectable Yardley Hastings matron - a veteran of raffles and bridge nights, friend to Jenny Agutter - obliged to become a professional masturbator at a Soho knocking shop's glory hole in order to pay for her poorly grandchild's operation. (Presumably Tesco wasn't hiring that month.) Among this singular film's many extraordinary developments: under the pseudonym Irina Palm, Faithfull's Maggie becomes so popular among her clientele she develops "penis elbow"; Kevin Bishop, late of Channel 4's The Kevin Bishop Show, has a wild, unintendedly comic flip-out in a front room once he discovers what his mum's been doing with her afternoons off; and Faithfull herself gets to deliver the now-immortal lines "It's my grandson, he's dying. He's dying, I'm wanking."

Suffice to say, the reviews weren't great: "a gobsmackingly awful British film - awful in the way that somehow only British films can be," according to our own Peter Bradshaw in The Guardian. The box office was hardly stunning either, the opening weekend take precisely 582 of your English pounds. And yet something about Irina Palm stuck, serving to encapsulate in the minds of those few of us who saw it every last failing of the British film industry's lower-budget sector over the past decade. How on earth did this - essentially, a film about wanking, made by wankers for wankers - get made? How did anybody read this script without falling about with laughter, let alone agree to hand over actual money to see it produced? The film was, in its own way, a revelation; a parting of the waters. As we clutched our sides, helpless with accidental mirth, the scales fell from our eyes. You might even call the experience inspirational - like seeing the Sex Pistols at the Manchester Free Trade Hall in June 1976. It didn't quite encourage the upstart punk critics among us to take up arms and make our own films, but it did force us to band together in another way: from now on, we would have a new benchmark for inept, ill-conceived or just plain rubbish British filmmaking. The Irina Palm d'Or - a new, annual award for non-achievement in British cinema, as named by Independent on Sunday critic Nicholas Barber - had been forged.