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...

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