Starved of real-world chicanery to share with the world at the moment, it’s time for another look at what is twisting my melons in the multifarious world of popular culture. Embrace my awesome amphigory thus!
Kiss Kiss Bang Bang
“This isn't good cop, bad cop. This is fag and New Yorker.”
I could describe this as a literate deconstruction of genre tropes, but that would almost certainly ensure you wouldn’t want to see it. And that would be a mistake. Because this is the most fun you can have in a dark room with all your clothes on this side of Christmas. Ridiculously talented and underrated writer Shane Black breaks an almost-decade long absence from cinemas, returning to play with the idea of a tough crime movie with whipsmart dialogue and two mismatched buddies in the genre that he reinvented with the likes of Lethal Weapon, The Last Boy Scout and The Long Kiss Goodnight, and he’s joined by a couple of ridiculously talented and underrated actors in the shape of Robert Downey Jr. and Val Kilmer. Fast, mean, funny and hugely entertaining.
From the hipster jailbirds of Down by Law and the Memphis-bound Elvis junkies of Mystery Train to urban samurai Ghost Dog and displaced accountant William Blake stranded on the edge of the western frontier in Dead Man, Jim Jarmusch is a master at chronicling the Lives of Loners. To his Valhalla of Loners he can now add Don Johnston (Bill Murray), an impassive Lothario reluctantly sifting through his past loves, without even being quite sure what he is looking for, or even if he wants to find it. As always with Jarmusch, the soundtrack is phenomenal, shifting from Marvin Gaye to the Brian Jonestown Massacre, with Johnston accompanied on his odyssey by the Ethiopian jazz-funk of Mulatu Astatke. Comparisons with Lost in Translation are inevitable, but this is a far richer, more resonant work full of spot-on performances and no easy answers. Brilliant.
The Complete Bod
And now for something completely different. For those who don’t know, Bod was a series of children’s cartoons first aired 30 years ago on British television. Anyone who ever saw it will have the image of the androgynous bald little Bod in his yellow suit seared indelibly into the memories of their inner child. The animation was simplicity itself (a harsher man would call it primitive), and the dulcet tones of John Le Mesurier masterfully narrated the tales of Bod and his friends. Then there was Derek Griffith’s now-legendary infectious music, the game of “Snap!” at the end, and a supporting cartoon in the shape of Alberto Frog and his Amazing Animal Band…
Now, I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking: “Dude, why the fuck are you talking about some 30-year old cartoon?” Well, I’ll tell you. Despondent over the depressingly shallow and toe-curlingly inept selection of children’s entertainments available for my fourteen-month old daughter, I thought it was time to start weaning her on the classics, and bought the DVD of all 13 episodes. And she loves it! As soon as the mellifluous flute from Bod’s theme tune starts up, she is busting moves like a young James Brown. Buttercup usually only dances that hard when I’m playing her some heavy funk, or when she catches a snatch of some Bhangra at the in-laws. So, I spit in the face of the hollow computer-generated pixelshit squirted in the eyes of pre-schoolers. Flat 2-D animations hitting all the right notes still works every, single time. Want to get a Bod fix? Check out this website, where there is a full episode to tickle your nostalgia buds or to awaken you to the delights of a simpler time.