Tag Archives: Justin Bieber

Tom Selleck’s moustache…

is just one of the things we like to celebrate at Permanent Plastic Helmet on a regular basis, reflecting neatly as it does our love of profound facial hair, the 1980s, and ruggedly handsome leading men of yesteryear (I know he’s in Blue Bloods, but the guy’s hardly at his peak). So imagine our delight when this video surfaced on the internet. Full credit to YouTuber Buchan39 for a masterpiece of cheaply rendered imposition. Just sit back and enjoy:

Permanent Plastic Helmet’s inaugural poster quote

Permanent Plastic Helmet is pretty chuffed to be quoted on the poster for Menelik Shabazz’ brilliant documentary The Story of Lovers Rock, which opens in selected cinemas on Friday 30 September. Visit the film’s official website for full details of where the film is showing. 

Summer Blockbusters: Spielberg Vs. Spielberg Vs. Optimus Prime

In a summer that was particularly lacklustre blockbuster-wise, marked by weak reboots of near-unknown superhero franchises and the final chapter of that gazillion-dollar budgeted, magic-themed posh school play known as the Harry Potter saga, two popcorn movies produced by a pioneer of the genre – yes, you guessed it, Steven Spielberg – particularly stood out. I’m talking about Michael Bay’s Transformers III and JJ Abrams’ Super 8, the former still baffling by its seemingly unfailing success growing with each further regressive sequel (bigger, louder and more dimensional) and the latter unexpectedly ending up as the critics’ darling (alongside, perhaps, The Rise of the Planet of the Apes) for the title of this summer’s most enjoyable teenage entertainment. It’s not that surprising given that Spielberg basically created the blockbuster concept in the late seventies along with his evil twin George Lucas (now a successful toy manufacturer I’m told), brushing aside the artistic ashes of the New Hollywood in favour of global mainstream dominance.

Autobots are no laughing matter.

Spielberg directed neither Shitformers nor Vintage Camera, however his credit as executive producer is printed just as big on each poster, proof that his name still carries relevance, enhancing Bay and Abrams’ blockbuster cred. It could also be because the influence of the spectacled bearded man is so blatantly obvious on both flicks that we may just as well attribute him their paternity – especially in the case of Super 8, a biographical pastiche of Steve’s childhood, re-contextualised in the suburban world of his early 80s classics (E.T, Close Encounters of the Third Kind) and the copycats they engendered (The Goonies, Stand By Me, etc.). Put simply, this summer the choice was between technoid Spielberg and vintage Steven.

Amongst film critics, appreciation of SS has been informed by an easy, convenient opposition: the dead-serious Spielberg on one side, with his edifying Holocaust dramas and WWII epics, schooling us like a well-intentioned history teacher on how fucking bad the XXth century was (with a side interest in filming slightly embarrassing slave narratives; The Colour Purple and Amistad, I didn’t forget about you), and on the other hand, the fun, kid-friendly Spielberg, the master of family entertainment with a penchant for benevolent aliens, whip-lashing archaeologists and sharp-toothed prehistoric creatures. Obviously, serious Spielberg must be frowned upon when kiddy Spielberg can be celebrated as an accepted form of nostalgia, but only in correlation with the release date of the film – the older the better – and the number of BMXes ridden by mopey kids in said feature (E.T definitely wins that one every time).

But see, this bipolar take doesn’t really work – where do you fit War of The Worlds in this? Minority Report? A.I? From the late-90s onward, Spielberg went all-heavy metal on us with a dystopian sci-fi streak, whose refrigerated, steely aesthetic has influenced many blockbusters since, including Transformers III (which stands in some ways as the apotheosis of that influence), while Super 8 is marketed as a reminder of sweeter, different times. How to make “sense” of this?

Fig. 1, in all seriousness. Click to expand.

If you have a quick look at my rubbish Word-powered diagram (Fig. 1 – the reason why I’ll never get a job at Wired), you can see that schematically, there’s roughly four dimensions, or two axes of Spielberg. The serious stuff can be divided into two genres, the historical and the sci-fi (usually thrown in with the kiddy-blockbustery category by most critics) and the fun stuff between retro serial fare (Indy) and the late 70s/early 80s golden run of aliens in suburbia tales (let’s include Close Encounters here). The dark futuristic theme came loaded with “maturity” and informed all his latest directed Sci-Fi features (how bleak was War of the Worlds?), which he compensated for with an alternating series of regressive, conservative period adventures (Catch Me If You Can, Indiana Jones IV and now The Adventures of Tintin, the inspiration behind “Indy” in the first place).

SS is still VERY fond of aliens – he even managed to shoehorn some into the latest instalment of the Indiana Jones franchise (where they definitely didn’t belong, as the kids in South Park said, and is credited as executive producer on the shambolic Cowboys & Aliens). The aliens are not exactly what they used to be though; they went from friends to foes. Aesthetically, this change also translated in their shape and “texture”, from organic, cuddly extraterrestrials to steely, post-Matrix war-machines and depressed androids; from a child-sized turd with a big red heart to a massive robot with door handles as nipples.

This is where Super 8 comes in handy as a kind of well-manufactured time capsule, holding up a mirror to what the blockbuster mastermind’s production has become, epitomized by the cynically perfect formula of Transformers III which combines the steely aesthetics of his darkish futuristic films and the dumbed-down action feature plots of today [1], while removing most of the heart and soul of his teen-friendly stuff in favour of a video-game desensitised detachment to form a remarkable weapon of mass distraction [2]. It’s not so much about good vs. evil, huggable Martians vs. Autobots, or even Elle Fanning vs. Megan Fox/whoever-that-blonde-model-with-the-huge-lips-is, but rather past vs. present Hollywood, old school Steven vs. modern Spielberg.

Let’s look at some key blockbuster ingredients present in both films, see how they differ and find out what they tell us about the state of the modern multiplex fare in line with the mutating audience the studios are now targeting.

"E.T.! What the hell do you think you're doing?"

1. The Main Human Protagonist:  One of Spielberg’s greatest ideas when he drew up the basic shopping list for a successful popcorn movie was to include a main character that would resemble and reflect in many ways the target audience. In E.T, it was a geeky teenager because, as Hollywood found out in the late seventies, robbing the kids of their pocket money is a much more lucrative business than putting the effort into making demanding “adult” entertainment (no, I don’t mean porn). Consequently in Super 8, we get an Elliot-lite to recreate that vibe. In Transformers however, it’s up to Shia Labeouf to provide the identikit of today’s fan of giant robots and cartoon adaptations: the shouty, materialistic man-boy. Whereas Joe in Super 8 makes amateur films, paints Warhammers and builds miniature trains, Shia is all about fast and flashy cars, “big boy pants” and envying everyone else’s money. Joe lives in symbiosis with his friends while Shia is a stubborn individualist. Creative dreamers vs. consumerist pricks, 12-years-old nerds vs. computer game brainwashed adolescents [3]

2. The Alien(s): I’ve mentioned this already, the organic vs. the metal, etc, but what about the benevolence? In Transformers, the Autobots are as much allies as enemies depending on which side they picked, but either way, they look absolutely belligerent, with oversized guns and blades the size of jet planes (need to compensate for a tiny muffler, Optimus?). Labeouf’s friend Bumblebee, which conveniently doubles as showy sports car/girl-trap, is meant to be just a clumsy robot-kid, but still looks badass and cold-blooded in combat. And let’s not start on Optimus Prime, who tears off the heads of his foes with his bare robotic hands before finishing them with a giant cosmic shotgun. In Super 8, the alien is bigger and meaner than E.T ever was – more like a smaller cousin of the Godzilla-like monster in JJ Abrams’ Cloverfield. It still ends up as a potential friend to the diminutive main character and foremost a victim of the earthlings’ cruelty – just as much as the autobots are “victims” of the lies of NASA and CIA (yes, Spielberg always loved his conspiracies). Conclusion: Hollywood aliens are still our friends from outer space, but display as much emotion and human empathy as Megan Fox on a good day, doubled with a very mainstream appetite for destruction.

Transformers III: Megan Fox (on a good day)

3. The Love Interest: This one will be quick: Elle Fanning, the rebellious girl-next-door providing twinges of nostalgia for the days of asexual puppy dolls VS. the blow-up dolls (brunette in TI & II, blonde in TIII), “[tokens] of reassurance for viewers revelling in a spectacle of cosmic, brutal, heavy-metal homoeroticism” (again, the brilliant A. O. Scott in the NY Times). Or further evidence of the oversexualization of our contemporary pop culture.

4. The Setting: a small factory town in Ohio, the honest houses of suburbia in Super 8. The skyscrapers of the megalopolis (Chicago in this instance) in Transformers III. With the clear impression that real people may actually live in the Super 8 neighbourhood, given the heavy accent on community (some hints to Jaws in the sheriff’s address to his distressed fellow citizen) when landmark buildings in TIII are only empty glass entities to be sacrificed on the altar of spectacle during the final fireworks, satisfying Bay’s thirst for building-violence and global catastrophe-porn. A post 9/11 affectation or just a sign of the times (see also Chris Nolan batophobia)? Moreover, the systematic destruction of historical monuments and constant revisionism of TIII display a certain contempt for the past, the packaged nostalgia that Super 8 tries so hard to sell us.

5. Abrams & Spielberg VS. Bay & Spielberg: one is looking back, the other ahead – no present tense here but entertaiment extremism on both side. The heart in Super 8 is an illusion: like Tarantino’s Kill Bill or Death Proof, it’s a slick, virtuosic pastiche, the filmic equivalent of a sparkling clean Motown sample on a hip-hop track – nice, comforting, but in the end, devoid of real soul. J.J Abrams is box-ticking with as much perfectionism deployed by Michael Bay to destroy every single lamppost in Chicago’s town centre. Sadly, Transformers III is the cinema of the future, of the 21st century – offering a slight upgrade on video games in terms of High Definition but also a braindead idea of cinema.

In both cases Steven, you became kind of heartless but remained ruthlessly, mechanically efficient. Just like the big Hollywoodian machinery, just like Optimus, bulldozing your way through pop culture.

An abrupt conclusion, perhaps, but this – like Michael Bay’s career – could potentially go on forever. “We’re gonna need a bigger boat post” some might say…


[1] …which consists of two acts of an hour each: Act I being the exposition of the main “characters” preparing for the forthcoming battle/Armageddon/space invasion, and Act II being a solid hour of mass destruction and explosions occurring during aforementioned battle/Armageddon/space invasion. Plain and simple. No twist, no development, nothing. Now enjoy the noise.

[2] Everything has been said about it in this sarcastically masterful NY Times review, where the key sentence is “I’m not judging, just describing.”

[3]  Another interesting sociological insight: Shia Labeouf, despite having saved the world twice, struggles to find A BLOODY INTERNSHIP. That’s how bad this recession thing is, man.

Val Kilmer busting some serious moves

WATCH: Bizarre scenes as an unusually energetic Val Kilmer engages in a dance battle with indie popsters DD/MM/YYYY at a Dan Deacon DJ set.  All credit must go to the excellent culture website AUX for the spot and the vid. I’m just linking!

Julia’s Eyes

Belen Rueda - hangin' on the telephone

Julia’s Eyes is out now on DVD and Blu-ray (courtesy of Optimum Home Entertainment)

Pitched somewhere between Roman Polanski’s harrowing psychodrama Repulsion and more generic scare-fare in the vein of What Lies Beneath, Spanish horror Julia’s Eyes is an intriguing, occasionally effective yet unconvincing effort from director Guillem Morales which ultimately eschews a carefully crafted atmosphere in favour of a surfeit of cheap shocks and implausible plot activity.

Julia’s Eyes starts strongly, and boasts a compelling premise. On a dark and stormy (what else?) night, Julia (Belen Rueda – giving an excellent, ballsy performance), who suffers from a degenerative eye condition, discovers her twin sister hanging in her basement. Despite the clear case of apparent suicide, and advice to the contrary, she believes that her sister – who had succumbed to blindness as a result of the same condition – has been murdered, and resolves to investigate matters herself.

What follows is an initially atmospheric chiller that proceeds at a rapid clip, combining a number of old-school horror film tactics (red herrings galore, creepy strangers, gothic production design) with skilfully impressionistic lighting to reflect our heroine’s declining vision, and unsettling sound design (a squealing kettle here, pounding rain there). There’s even the requisite use of an out-of-context pop classic [1]; in this case the creepily ironic deployment of Dusty Springfield’s ‘The Look of Love’.

A couple of sequences are particularly effective. In one, Julia, playing detective, finds herself eavesdropping on a revelatory conversation in the female changing rooms at the institute for the blind frequented by her sister prior to her death. Gradually, the blind women become aware of Julia’s presence, and slowly surround her. Although the blind community might object to their representation as creepy, giggling lunatics, there is more than a hint of the festering dread of Nic Roeg’s classic Don’t Look Now inherent in this sequence. Further down the line, there is a superbly edited and exquisitely tense denoument which makes jolting use of flash bulb photography, and plays cleverly on the themes of film’s themes of vision.

Both in terms of plot development and visuals, director Morales is hell-bent on keeping the audience as firmly in the dark as Julia; this is a blessing and a curse, for while the blurred frame and lack of subjective clarity help us identify with our heroine, there seems to be no real narrative to follow, just a succession of shocks and all-too-brief set pieces, which comes as a disappointment after the promising first half. There is a lengthy, stylistically brave sequence in which the faces of all characters save Julia are obscured or kept just out of frame; it effectively makes us empathize with Julia’s worsening condition, but is also irritatingly reminiscent of Tom & Jerry’s permanently out-of-shot racist caricature Mammy Two Shoes. Furthermore, the distressed Julia is understandably in survival mode, but as a knock-on effect, there is little room for character development. She seems so hell-bent on getting herself into peril that it’s impossible not roll your eyes at her naivety.

Perhaps there’s more to Julia’s Eyes than meets the, erm, major optical organ. As our heroine, ignorant of protective advice, continues to throw herself into dangerous situations, it could all be read as an extended metaphor for terrible relationships in which self-destructive women blind to such dangers end up with controlling boors or needy, pathetic losers. There’s also an unusual citation of Ralph Ellison’s classic 1952 novel of blighted African-American life ‘Invisible Man’, when a wheezing geriatric caretaker complains of his ‘invisibility’ within society, and warns that the mysterious killer too, is lost, unseen by the world. It’s a bit of a stretch, but still a quiet moment of thoughtful reflection in a film which, ultimately, has far too much going on.

_________________________

1. My particular favourite examples of this trope are Roy Orbison’s ‘In Dreams’ in David Lynch’s Blue Velvet and Peggy Lee’s ‘Is That All There Is’ in Martin Scorsese’s After Hours.

DVD Extras: The DVD features brief, but interesting interviews with director Guillem Morales, producer Guillermo Del Toro, and actors Belen Rueda and Lluis Homar, plus a B-Roll and the standard theatrical trailer. 

Programme announced for 55th BFI London Film Festival

Hundreds of eager journalists and bloggers crammed into Leicester Square’s Odeon cinema this morning to enjoy pastries, chocolate and each others’ company, as the full programme was released for this year’s BFI London Film Festival – the esteemed event’s 55th instalment. This year is notable for being the last that long-serving artistic director Sandra Hebron will be in charge of. Following a speech by BFI director Amanda Nevill, Hebron introduced a tantalising clip reel comprising some upcoming festival highlights.

The festival, which runs from 12-27 October, and will be hosted in selected cinemas across London, opens with Fernando Meirelles’ multi-character opus 360 and concludes with a veritable Terence-fest: Davies’ much-anticipated adaptation of Rattigan’s play The Deep Blue Sea. (Watch out for cameos from Stamp, Howard and Venables).

A more considered LFF preview will appear on PPH in the coming weeks, but for now, here’s a hastily cobbled together list of some films I’m particularly looking forward to.

  • Shame – Steve McQueen’s long-awaited follow up to his debut Hunger, starring the not unpleasantly ubiquitous Michael Fassbender as a New York-based sex addict. The clip we saw featured Fassbender giving his best shark eyes across a crowded dancefloor to the strains of Blondie’s ‘Rapture’.
  • The Artist –  Michel Hazanavicius black-and-white homage to silent cinema, which went down a storm at Cannes, and has a rapidly growing reputation as a serious crowdpleaser.
  • A Dangerous Method David Cronenberg’s latest – a tortured tale of the relationship between famed psychologists Freud and Jung, starring Viggo Mortensen and that man Fassbender again. I’ve been a bit worried about Cronenberg recently – I think he’s been on the slide since roughly an hour into A History of Violence – but this looks as though it could be a rum, camp treat.
  • The Black Power Mixtape 1967-1975 – a fascinating looking Swedish documentary featuring a mountain of eclectic testimony and archive footage relating to the American Black Power movement. Director Göran Olsson has form with the excellent, underseen Billy Paul documentary Am I Black Enough For You
  • Surprise Film – Each year, the Festival has a secret film in the programme, and it’s always an exciting occasion. I live in hope that this year’s fare is better than the one-two punch boondoggle of the last two years (the woeful Brighton Rock and the uninspiring Capitalism: A Love Story)
  • W.E. Madonna’s latest directorial effort; an account of Wallis Simpson starring Andrea Riseborough. Intriguing, if only to see if it’s quite as dreadful as indicated by the likes of estimable critics Guy Lodge and Xan Brooks.

Visit the BFI’s dedicated festival website for the full programme and booking details.

Bobby Fischer Against The World

The young Bobby Fischer

From the urban jungle (think Boaz Yakin’s hugely underrated Fresh and latterly HBO’s The Wire) to nothing less portentous than existence itself (The Seventh Seal), chess has a rich history of being used by visual storytellers to expound on the complexity of human experience. Continuing the trend with the illuminating documentary Bobby Fischer Against The World, director Liz Garbus paints a compelling, thematically rich yet sometimes frustrating portrait of the titular genius whose obsession with the sport gave way to deep psychological problems, and ultimately consigned him to a spiritual and spatial wilderness.

The film’s opening sequence sets the scene for the ambiguity which follows, as a sound collage of competing voices variously praise Fischer’s singular talent or dismiss him as aloof and arrogant. Leading up to his epic, and ultimately successful World Championship battle with the Russian master Boris Spassky, Garbus skilfully weaves the story of his troubled upbringing and family life (replete with an impressive collection of archive footage and photographs) with a range of contextual interviews with contemporaries and chess experts.

Fischer’s thrilling 1972 battle with Spassky in incongruous Iceland is the documentary’s dramatic peak, full of tension, high skill and the type of mind games that would make Kevin Keegan spontaneously combust. Like a regular king of the swingers, however, it became clear that following his vanquishing of Spassky (who retired midway through the mentally exhausting series), Fischer had reached the top and had to stop and that – amongst other things which later became apparent – was bothering him. When a new challenger emerged, Fischer, at just 29, gave up the crown and disappeared into a life of eccentricity.

Bobby Fischer Against the World is at its most fascinating when exploring the political context which framed his rise to prominence. Whilst the Soviets manufactured a plethora of chess genii and freely funded their talent, Fischer stood as a lone American, a one-man intellectual militia in the fight against Communism, who was simultaneously single-handedly responsible for the explosion in popularity of the sport in the United States and a powerful political tool (incredibly, Henry Kissinger personally telephoned the reluctant star to persuade him to play). Furthermore, the earthy quality and colour of the archive film stock and period fashion evokes gritty, political 70s thrillers The Parallax View and Three Days of the Condor, whilst the socially awkward, obsessively private Fischer is hauntingly analagous to Gene Hackman’s tortured surveillance expert Harry Caul from Francis Ford Coppola’s masterpiece The Conversation (released two years after Fischer achieved the pinnacle of his success) – the fully-fleshed paradigm of Watergate-era paranoia.

Following the abdication of his crown, Fischer’s story becomes simultaneously sad and distancing, as the subject slips from compellingly enigmatic to entirely unfathomable and intensely dislikable. The effective, if predictable, period soundtrack of the film’s first half (‘Theme from Shaft‘, ‘Get It On’ by T-Rex) gives way to maudlin, stressful strings, and the thrilling chess matches are replaced by a bemusing account of how the Jewish Fischer turned to virulent anti-semitism and bearded, irascible crankiness. Interview footage of an exiled Fischer crowing over the 9/11 tragedy (“America got what was coming to it”) makes it extremely hard to empathize with the man, yet the detailed patchwork Garbus has woven always reminds us of the mental fragility of this once-great individual. One interviewee intriguingly suggests an almost natural progression from the near-infinite possibilities of the game of chess into the vagaries of conspiracy theory, where anything is possible and nothing can be concretely disproved.

Bobby Fischer Against The World is appropriately titled; a tough portrait of a cussed, difficult man forever butting heads with anyone who crossed his path. If it never quite gets to grips with its subject, Garbus can’t really be blamed, for it is surely an impossible task to pin down a man so evidently lost to himself. This documentary is a rewarding watch which underlines the oft-symbiotic relationship between genius and madness, and raises the spectre of depression in the context of competitive sport.

Released by Dogwoof PicturesBobby Fischer Against The World is showing in selected cinemas and will be released on DVD on September 12.


Trippin’: Drug freak-outs on film

For some Friday fun on Permanent Plastic Helmet, here is a brilliant compilation of 50 of the trippiest drug-related freak-outs in movie history, courtesy of YouTuber Mewlists. Warning: includes harrowing footage of Harvey Keitel going postal in Bad Lieutenant, which is not really suitable for anyone, let alone children.

To augment the above madness, here is a slightly more in-depth take on some particularly bizarre drug-addled film scenes from the redoubtable A.V.Club (for the uninitiated, it’s one of my favourite websites; a treasure trove of pop culture information and discussion), including Miami Vice star Philip Michael Thomas succumbing to an epically cheaply rendered PCP meltodwn in the little-seen cult curio Death Drug.

Enjoy. And don’t try at home, etc…

Troll Hunter

Don't feed the troll

The troll is a much maligned mythical beast, evicted from its under-bridge home and goat-eating ways, and nominally condemned to fluorescent nostalgia as the mid-90s’ (or 60s, 70s, & 80s) fad for little plastic dolls with bright, frizzy hair. Now, however, these generational ephemera are making a fearsome comeback on the big screen courtesy of production behemoth Dreamworks. Thankfully, Norwegian director André Øvredal’s fun début monster movie rescues the troll myth, returning it to its beastly origins. As Troll Hunter’s eponymous protagonist reassures us, these aren’t the cute trolls from the fairytales of our childhood.

Set in present-day Norway, Troll Hunter follows three college students who set out to document a mysterious, nocturnal poacher named Hans for the purposes of a school film. After pursuing Hans against his wishes, he eventually acquiesces to their persistence and decides it’s about time he reveals all about his clandestine career as – you guessed it – a troll hunter.

The opening title cards set the premise of anonymously received footage reassembled in the vein of other horror smash-hits like The Blair Witch Project or CloverfieldThankfully, Troll Hunter does not take itself as seriously as these other titles and the pretence is immediately dropped. Though director of photography Hallvard Bræin uses handheld camerawork to augment a documentary-realist style, the cinematography and general finish of the image, in contrast to what one might expect from a bunch of college students, is crisp and glossy and the night scenes are well lit, with the Norwegian wilderness appearing lush and green. The choice to reject the realism associated with grainy footage is a wise one as it would have jarred with the respectfully tongue-in-cheek updating of a traditional Norwegian myth and the deadpan performances of the cast that further contribute to Troll Hunter‘s immense charm.

The film was improvised with a script merely to guide the action, and the older cast of Otto Jesperson (Hans) and Hans Morten Hansen (Hans’s amusingly bureaucratic boss), drawn from Norwegian TV comedy, anchor the droll tone of the film. Of the younger cast, Johanna Morck is particularly strong as laid back student sound-recordist, Johanna.

Troll Hunter: "Crisp, glossy and well lit"

Much of the comedy springs from the ludicrous idiosyncrasies of conspiracy. Besides protecting the public from trolls that stray from their territory, Hans is also keeping the Norwegian populace ignorant of their very existence. A national grid engineer hasn’t given a thought to why there is an immense ring of electricity pylons that leads nowhere other than in a loop (an ingenious oversized electric fence for the gigantic trolls) and there is an hilarious sketch involving a group of Polish painters, a bureaucrat and an immigrant bear.

Faithful to the classic tenets of the troll legends, Øvredal uses these particularly anachronistic peculiarities to great, teasingly comic effect; when, for example, Hans relents to the student’s prying camera lens, the first thing the troll hunter asks as a condition of them joining his hunt, is if any of them are Christians? Christians smell (to Trolls that is). Hans, however, is not too sure about Muslims.

In terms of visual appearance, the trolls are convincingly repellent, and despite the low budget (the film came in at $3.5 million) the CGI stands up well, with a little help from the mockumentary-style shaky camera and the trolls’ nocturnal lifestyle. The switching between ‘natural’ and ‘night-vision’ in the night scenes adds an extra dimension to the hunter/hunted scenario, playing intelligently on notions of seeing and believing. The scares are relatively low-key but fun, and the trolls are akin to Jurassic Park’s Raptors and T-Rex, only uglier and possessed of considerably worse hygiene.

There is only one rather clumsily worked scene, where Hans recalls a career low. He explains that he was once called upon to clear an area of its trolls for a road development, slaughtering all of the creatures in doing so. The scene breaks the rhythm of the narrative and is unnecessary as Jesperson’s well-judged performance excellently conveys the sadness that stems from the paradox of his job without the need for further exposition: in order to protect all trolls, he has to kill some. One can’t help but think of the current plight of Britain’s own badgers and modern governments’ oxymoronic policy of ‘wildlife management.’

Troll Hunter is released in UK cinemas on Friday 9 September via Momentum pictures, and is highly recommended.

Contributor John McKnight can be followed on Twitter @johntydon.

Accentuate: The Negative

In the light of the (slighly unfair) savaging that Anne Hathaway has received for her wobbly rendition of a Yorkshire accent in Lone Scherfig’s recently released adaptation of David Nicholls’ bestseller One Day, I have decided to bring together a small collection of some of my personal favourite dodgy screen accents for your perusal. Enjoy:

Charlie Hunnam – Green Street (2004)

The absolute pits. In a film which has already put its neck on the line by casting the elfin Elijah Wood as a would-be football hooligan, you need, at the very least, a convincing supporting cast to bolster authenticity levels. Instead, you get Geordie-born Hunnam delivering a Cockney accent that’s more Dick van Dyke than Ray Winstone. Shameful.

Jon Voight – Anaconda (1997)

In which Jon Voight impersonates Christopher Walken impersonating Tony Montana. I’m not entirely sure which accent this is actually supposed to be, but it’s fantastically entertaining nonetheless. Oh, and terrible.

Don Cheadle – Oceans Eleven, Twelve and Thirteen (2001, 2004, 2007)

What is it about the Cockney accent? It’s nothing new to pick on Don Cheadle for his laughable attempts, but it’s still fun to watch. Cheadle is a fine actor, but he painted himself into a rather painful corner with this set of dodgy performances. Still, not as bad as Hunnam.

Keanu Reeves – Dracula (1992)

The BYUUDAPEST monologue is the high/low point of the Reeves’ ill-fated attempted English accent. It’s impossible to listen to his mangled vowels without expecting him to break into a Bill-and-Ted-style “EXCELLENT!” at some point.

Sean Connery – The Hunt For Red October (1990)

As bad as Reeves’ accent was in Dracula (very), at least he was trying. The same can’t be said for Sean Connery in The Hunt For Red October, in which the insouciant Scot dispatches the most Celtic-sounding Russian accent you’ll ever have the pleasure of hearing. The below clip may represent Connery’s accent nadir, but it’s not as though he doesn’t have form. See here and here for further evidence.

*UPDATE! UPDATE! – I’ve just remembered Josh Hartnett in Blow Dry (2001) – Sheffield? India? California? Who knows. Amazing.

What’s the worst on-screen accent you can think of? Fire away in the comments section below.