Li’l Fatass’s Top 5 of 2011: John Michael McDonagh’s The Guard

#3: The problem with Western cinema is it’s difficult to say retard or homo anymore without the audience using that slur to characterize the speaker. Yes, the SPEAKER not the SUBJECT. The audience member thinks, “Oh that Chinese woman just called her Jewish neighbor a money-grubbing kike. I guess they are trying to tell me she is a racist bigot.” While it COULD be the case it is NOT NECESSARILY so. That Chinese woman could totally be a very nice lady. She probably recycles and gives her leftovers to homeless people. Her neighbor might be Bernie Madoff.

Let’s say we have a character with a shaved head and wearing an army uniform. If he calls one of his bunkmates a “faggot” does it necessarily mean that character is a redneck? No. That character could be a Black or a Mexican for all we know. The use of pejorative slurs rarely gives a good indication of background or education or grooming. I myself went to a private university (cum laude) and I call my friends “queers” and “fairies” all the time. This is not because I am a bigot or even that my friends are homosexuals. It is because they like it. We laugh about it! They sometimes call me a “cocksucker” even though I’ve never even touched an erect penis when it wasn’t a dare in High School (and even then it was just with a tree branch and not my actual mouth). Sometimes slurs are just good for producing confusion. Like the time someone on the street asked me for spare change and I said, “No I hate stupid Chinks.” The homeless guy was Black!

My point is INSENSITIVITY does not just have a single function. But it is rarely used for purposes other than characterization. The Guard is changing all that. The Guard is changing a lot of things. The very idea of A HERO for one. Brendan Gleeson, too busy fucking around, too busy getting fucked-up at the moment. Or villains. When was the last time you saw the antagonists of a film given equally sharp, snappy lines as the protagonists? It is an unfair world where the most morally righteous (usually played by the most famous actors) are also in possession of the sharpest wits, the keenest intuitions, the cleverest comebacks. Did no one ever question why Humphrey Bogart coveted all the best lines? You think this is actually how it works in real life? Take a look at Mother Teresa; does she look like a woman that could make you laugh? Give me a fucking break.

The only brothers who rival the Coens for their strange, brutal and aggressively humorous renditions of film noirs are Martin and John McDonagh . . . $13

If you heart The Guard:

Recommendations by Li’l Fatass
Beat Takeshi’s Sonatine
Wong Kar-wai’s Fallen Angels
Park Chan-wook’s Oldboy

In Bruges

is my kind movie, which is to say it might not be everyone’s kind of movie (“if you grew up on a farm and you were fucking retarded”). The film makes no apologies for celebrating a blunt, uncouth, un-PC humor. And it doesn’t have to, since art of the highest caliber usually gets away revealing flashes of bigotry.

And did I mention the film’s almost fetishistic attraction to violence, sex and drugs? I know, it’s totally awesome.

I don’t want to leave you with the impression In Bruges is simply an amalgamation of cheap tricks and spectacles however. For cheap (of mind) spectacles watch a Michael Bay or Brett Ratner movie. The film’s writer, Martin McDonagh carefully crafted the morality tale portion of his film to pay comedic and philosophical dividends. Thinly veiled as a hit man, “get the fuck outta Dodge” movie, the characters scamper through a maze of Belgian landscape, ominous fog, ambient piano, pushy tourists, power-tripping merchants, and terrible luck (like, Shakespearean-level-coincidental-shitty-ass luck).

It crossed my mind that In Bruges is also a movie about tourism, though half our pleasure derives from one of our tour guides perpetually insulting the cultural hot spots (and any hankering to visit them). For him, the most exciting big of Bruges is a film set where they’re “filming midgets.” In Bruges is self-deprecating about its genius to the core. Its one meta-moment (the movie’s movie within the movie) stars the most disgruntled, insensitive, midgeted character of them all. The midgeted character is also a midget. Literally. Literally like really, really short. I know, he’s totally awesome.

I feel I’d not be doing my job if I didn’t mention the insanely-good cast attached to In Bruges. But I’m sure IMDB has a page and a trailer to help you with that . . . $10

I wanted all of my recommendations to be movies with at least one midget (does Danny DeVito count as a midget?).

If you heart In Bruges:

Recommendations from DJ Cheata
Death at a Funeral
Bad Santa
Death to Smoochy

And though it’s not a movie . . . It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia (TV Series)

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