moustache!

Ron Burgundy: Anchorman

I grew up in a very special age, an era that is surely never to be repeated. I grew up at the tail-end of the golden age of the Great Moustache Revolution, way back in the 1980s…when wild yet low-key rumours were running rampant all around…rumours saying that moustaches were actually terrible, that a great time of reckoning was coming, and nobody not nobody wanted to believe that this could possibly be true (I’ve even been told by granddad that there were unofficial moustache breaks at work, where men could band together and tend to their moustaches in the harmony and comfort of the work bathroom, consoling one another about these awful threats and pretending that the moustache would really live forever and that it was untouchable. Woops, turns out it really wasn’t…). A pretty sad time for millions of united British men, you could say; men who had spent the best part of a lifetime tending to their faces for many hours on end. Thought being a man was easy? Ask any man who survived the great moustache revolution of the 1980s: you have no idea.

Back then, my dad had a moustache and every male between the age of 16 and 85 did too — it was just the law, and you didn’t mess with the law if you knew what was good for you; the strange thing is, when I run those memories through my mind now, knowing how most post-millennium people feel about this kind of facial hair — some of them Nazi-like in their hatred — the concept of the moustache doesn’t seem ridiculous or funny in any way at all. Actually, looking at it from a child’s point of view, the moustache seems like a really solid idea. The kind of thing you might take on Dragon’s Den and leave with a hundred million pounds.

So many memories from that golden age…I vividly remember feeling extremely sorry for everyone who didn’t own a moustache; there were so many of the poor bastards…it was terrible! Walking down the street, I’d see a man without a moustache, his head low, his mood obviously heavy from the mental torture of it all, and I’d almost want to tell him that it’d be all OK, he was gonna make it. It didn’t have to mean the end of the world if you didn’t have a moustache — I didn’t have one too and I was getting along OK without it (although I did have a great excuse: I couldn’t grow one yet as I was merely ten). I didn’t even have side-burns and life was really not too bad, so that proved it: there was a kind of hope.

Sounds like a Michael Jackson song, doesn’t it? Man without a mustache…

Moustache man takes no prisoners! He has nowhere to put them, what with all his moustache grooming equipment

Fast forward twenty years or so and seldom is the day that I find myself looking at someone with a moustache and thinking Wow that looks good, I must grow me one of them. (In order for this to happen, a pretty serious psychological process has gotta take place. Firstly, the moustache in question has to be so big, bushy or impressive that I forget all about the millions of lesser ones out there, and secondly, that person has to be a serious moustache grower well and truly in charge of their own destiny — if they’re not then I can tell, we all can tell, and the illusion is ruined forever.) In fact, when it comes to ridicule, few things know the tedium that is being mocked day in day out like the moustache has, is and probably always will be — even those men with a face designed for it. Worse, moustache mocking seems to be universal and able to cross any culture, spanning generations. The horror of this is that you could probably trek into the wilderness of Australia, come across some Aboriginals who have never even imagined the possibility of the moustache, and still be laughed at in a way in which any moustache-hater would be proud of. Yes, one thing is for sure: when it comes to wearing moustaches, only an elite few are able to pull this look off and retain any kind of credibility– a short and legendary list which includes people like Burt Reynolds, Hercule Poirot and Ron Burgundy. Yes, Anchorman. You know a concept is in real trouble when only a fictional comedy character and an obscure French detective are able to pull it off…

So, let’s start with the obvious things: one clue for winning moustache formula has got to be your name. If your name’s Burt Reynolds, suddenly anything seems possible, doesn’t it? But when you’re names Gary Smith and you work in human resources and you love Savage Garden, it’s just not quite the same…come to think of it, I don’t think I know anyone in 2012 who has a moustache and wears it with genuine, serious pride. And we’re talking isolated moustaches here, of course. Everyone knows that if you have a beard or a moustache that is more than just a moustache then it doesn’t really count.

Lesson one: if you want to possess a moustache and have a very ordinary name, chances are you need to seriously consider changing your name by deed poll first. And your job, preferably. You may want to become a bounty hunter or a notorious bare-knuckle fighter (either way, the skills will definitely come in handy).

The more I think about all this, the more one thing seems clear: if you’re going to have a moustache, you also need to do much more than just grow it. See, just owning a moustache isn’t enough anymore: it ain’t the 1980s. This ain’t no place to play games, my friend. If you really want to make a statement then you need to make a serious thing out of it. You need to cultivate that mother and wear it like a kind of hero! Enter, the behemoth…

See, when it comes to facial hair, there is one clear winner that stands out above all else: the handlebar moustache, of course — that thing of great beauty that commands attention. If ever there was a thing to be proud of, I think we can all agree that it is this. I have no idea who started it, or who will finish it, but I do know this much: if you can master the art of the handlebar, nobody’s gonna laugh at you, not really. And if they do it doesn’t even matter, now, does it? No matter where you are, you should be able to gather more than a few people who’ll come to your rescue. Just don’t blame me if they’re all staring at you…and wearing skin-tight leather trousers with holes for the buttocks to poke through…

And it isn’t just people who have attacked moustaches over the years, that’s the madness of it. Before the media came on the scene, and movie-makers ruined the moustache’s reputation forever with that scene in Police Academy at the Blue Oyster Bar — a place where moustaches were most definitely favoured — the moustache had a big struggle just being pronounced. In the UK it’s either merstosh, mastosh or mustash, or a load of others, and in the US it’s musdash (plus a slew of 0ther variations, depending on which state you live). Whichever way you spin it, it seems to me that the English language just isn’t expansive enough to handle this one enigmatic thing.

Far as the future of the moustache is concerned, your guess is as good as mine. Does it even have a future? Who knows. One thing we need to do is keep talking about the moustache, as right now, as I type this, it’s a sad fact that there are kids out there — teenagers, even — who doubt the moustache ever existed! Time to get that copy of Deliverance out, me thinks.

And if you arrive at the end of this blog post with the question Why would anyone grow a moustache? still firmly in your mind, then just consider this: the moustache is like a mountain. We grow it because we can and because it is just there.

NOTE: this blog post contains a deliberate and obvious mistake that anyone who calls themselves a film lover should know instantly!

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Chris’s day at the cinema and movie review of Chronicle (12A): I really couldn’t give a monkey’s if it gets 85% on Rotten Tomatoes. Personally I hated almost every second of it, so there

The Narnia lion — proud to be in a film which uses the word ‘Chronicle’ in a good way

If you’re a regular reader of this blog then you will know that I rarely do movie or music reviews. There is a good reason for this – it’s because of my brother Matthew and his flat-mates. Some time ago, I made the mistake – the very severe mistake, it soon transpired – of telling them all about how I’d walked into HMV a few days before and found myself holding in my hands and subsequently buying a DVD box-set. Not just any DVD box-set but The Descent and The Descent 2 in one affordable package that was just crying out to be bought (the conversation then continued, where I revealed, foolishly, that I had also once bought the Jaws DVD box-set, which contained Jaws 2, 3 and 4 but no original Jaws. A very bad move on my part which frequently returns to haunt me, even though Jaws is on IT4 practically every single week right now). It was then that they all pounced upon me at once, mocking me for being such a stupid fool, and not listening to my very valid reasons for buying the box-set (I loved The Descent, so the sequel was worth taking a chance on). Everyone knows The Descent 2 is bloody awful and a total waste of money, was the general consensus of the day. And from that day on I vowed never to do a movie or music review again (which wasn’t difficult to be honest, as by then I’d been on a four-year or so long roll of doing exactly that), just in case they might read it and make it their mission to harass me about it.

Now I am being a big brave boy and breaking that silence. Join me as I attack the latest Hollywood moc-documentary “masterpiece,” entitled Chronicle. Come on people, if you hate overly enthusiastic CGI and irritating, stereotypical American college life as depicted on the big screen, let us together rip it limb from limb!

I’ve always been one to go against the grain, so I’m not going to pretend I’m not enjoying this. I’m not just saying it either, now I shall prove it. A fine example of this proof can be found in my childhood. Firstly, when I was 9 I would only spread St. Ivel Gold margarine on my bread (which meant Mum had to buy this every week as well as the “normal” margarine), and secondly, when I was at secondary school I went against the grain by never buying chips in the canteen, even though not buying them broadcasted to the masses that you had no intention of becoming one of the crowd. That’s right, everyone bought chips, and there I was not buying them. Sometimes, though, I liked to mix it up. So this would often mean that on Tuesday’s I wouldn’t buy chips and on Thursdays I wouldn’t buy, say, spicy potato wedges (I would vary the days of course, but that wasn’t important, it was more the moral that counted). All this low-key anarchy went under the radar of those outside my immediate posse, of course – we all agreed we were in a posse, not a gang – but we didn’t care; that’s what it’s like when you blaze a trail against all the odds. The point was that we were standing up for what was right and un-cool. Also, most days I had a packed lunch, so buying additional potato-based snacks wasn’t really necessary. As you can see I was very much the lady magnet back then.

Going into this showing of Chronicle, I had that unsettling and slightly doomed feeling going on – that classic timeless one that says “what I am about to experience is both not going to satisfy me, and make me wish I hadn’t spent £8.95”. However, this feeling was quickly quashed. Before handing over my ticket I’d been to Burger King and purchased £6.95s worth of XL Bacon Double Cheeseburger meal, which was actually really good. Good or not, the burger was obviously abysmal quality. I’d already wasted that much, so why not continue with the risk of spending more?

I’m not silly, of course. After the quagmire of controversy that was the DVD box-sets debacle I had learnt one important lesson: always get the opinion of someone with worthy film knowledge before going to buy a DVD box-set or pay for a cinema ticket. In this case, my brother Maff – official name Matthew – had given me the go-ahead to see Chronicle. It wasn’t much, just a sentence – “I’ve heard it’s good” – but it was enough to inspire me with confidence. Maff never says a film is good unless he is certain, and anyone who knows my brother will tell you that he has a generally impeccable taste when it comes to film and cinema. I did say generally.

Sitting down and getting comfortable, I obviously wasn’t comfortable – I am 6 feet of man and this always means sitting sideways with my legs spread out, which probably gives me the appearance of a man who is either a) settling down to pleasure himself or b) come into the cinema to have a good sleep rather than watch the film – but I was most definitely ready. I was mildly interested about what was about to happen. You might say I was off my guard.

And this was just the problem, because it was now that a trailer for new, bloody awful romantic comedy This Means War infected the big screen. The main problem being that as I watched the trailer, I found myself about to have a panic attack, as it very much seemed like this was not a trailer but actually the entire film. For five minutes or so – but what felt like half an hour – the ten or so people around me who were either freelance or had jobs that allowed them the privilege of sitting in the cinema at 5pm in the afternoon, were subjected to cinema at its most unappealing, and likely left panicking, like me, if they had wandered into the wrong screen. Reese Witherspoon made the trailer just about sit-through-able, prancing about with little on to R ‘n’ B, but the premise of the movie – two secret agents go to war against each other in pursuit of their mutual love affection – shone out like a neon turd in a very dark, grim swimming-pool. If you haven’t seen the trailers for this hideous excuse of a film yet, please see one, if only for protection. That way, if you ever accidentally turn the channel over in five years time and find yourself watching this tripe, you will know it immediately and be able to take evasive action. Thanks to my sage advice, you will save yourself lots of time. Time which I will not get back. Let’s move on.

Chronicle should be amazing, and the fact that it isn’t makes me want to smash things up (second to smashing the ticket machine up so I can retrieve that wasted £8.95). It should be fantastic. With a fairly original concept – college teens discover a source of otherworldly power deep within the ground – and a budget that most countries badly afflicted with AIDS are absolutely crying out for, it’s got all the ingredients for a quality film. There are many reasons it is not fantastic or amazing, but I will begin with the first one: it’s just too much.

Just too much isn’t always bad. For example, there’s a pub in our village – can’t tell you which as I don’t want to ruin this best-kept secret – that sells fish and chips to takeaway for just 5 pounds! Providing you don’t get the stingy chef – I still haven’t worked out how to completely avoid the days he is working – you are basically guaranteed an impressive meal of too-much-food. Either there are two pieces of fish and loads of chips, or just a massive piece of fish that will dwarf most standard dinner plates. Watching Chronicle, then, is a bit like ordering a massive piece of fish and then discovering that on the way to putting it in the box, the chef must have dropped it in loads of crushed-up Ecstasy or other well-known hallucinogen (Class A drugs obviously have no business being in a kitchen, but if you’ve ever worked in a really stressful one then you could almost forgive a chef for this mistake, I think).

Explosions. Buses flying through the air. Angry teenagers. A feeble American teenager who goes on a journey where he becomes precisely what you knew he would all along (I won’t tell you what, at the slim risk that after reading this ‘review’ you miraculously decide to go and see the film). Chronicle has all this and more, including no good explanation about how any of this came to be, and a slew of comic moments which attempt to distract the viewer from the slew of enormous plot-holes. Worst of all, though, it leaves the possibility of a sequel ringing in your ears within the first 30 minutes.

What I find impressive, reading this post through, is that I have got this far without even remotely telling you the basic plot. If an editor-type had me by the leash, I’d have received a smack on the bum for being so vague, but seeing as this is my blog I can get away with that kind of thing. Trust me, when you spend all your time dealing with people who constantly want you to change your work to suit their taste, you’d take every chance you get as well.

For the sake of it though, here’s the basic premise: 3 college guys who can’t help mentioning Schopenhauer and Jung in daily conversation – dialogue which has nothing to do with the film’s so-called clever message, of course… – enter a hole in the ground and find a strange glowing…thing. You don’t see much of it, other than getting the distinct impression that whatever it is is organic and alive and potentially dangerous. Events rapidly progress after this, and via the progressively more tedious moc-documentary style film-making technique which is quickly running out of original options, we get to witness the 3 guys — who I can’t be bothered to describe here — growing ever-stronger in their powers. These powers take the form of picking stuff up and chucking it about, basically, and all that kind of stuff. All of this means that watching Chronicle is a bit like watching two old filthy-rich men talk about the olden days: being them, following a life-time of experiences and outrageous fun, would no doubt be a brilliant time. But watching them – did I mention one of them is wearing shorts and keeps…falling out? – gets quickly tiresome.

If there’s one thing Chronicle does get right it’s the special effects and mind-blowing visuals. If you’re pissed-off with life and wondering what it would be like to pick up your boss’s car and throw it through several skyscrapers, then surround your living-room with plasma TVs and leave Chronicle on repeat. Otherwise, do yourself a favour and go and see The Grey with Liam Neeson. Maff says it is good. But then…

New short story in: This Bank Holiday I plan to not get in any fights!

I’m off for a few days…no computer access and I am looking forward to it. Here’s a story to pass the time…I thought I’d put it up on the home-page as some people don’t make it to the page linked below.

For more STORIES THAT ARE SHORT, you know where to go.

———————————————————————————————————————————————————————–

After reading that title, I suppose you might think Did you get into a fight on the last Bank Holiday, then?

The answer is no, no I didn’t. I didn’t get into a fight on any other weekend either. But I did almost get into a fight on a week-day — or a School Night, as I can’t help but still think of week-days (I blame my mother for the creation of this particular mental deficiency) — recently. It was all because I had decided to be more assertive when out and about.

My mistake was being assertive with someone who is always out and about: I won’t call him a vagrant, as one of the definition’s for vagrant is as follows and you can see how this does not apply:

        1. One who wanders from place to place without a permanent home or a means of livelihood.
        2. A wanderer; a rover.
        3. One who lives on the streets and constitutes a public nuisance.
        The man in question doesn’t qualify, however, seeing as:
        1. He doesn’t wander, he stomps angrily or else just sits and shouts.
        2. See above.
        3. I have never seen him be a nuisance to any other member of the public. He seems to only be a nuisance to me as I walk past (this one I’m not 100% on, seeing as this only represents about 0.000001% of my average week. But it definitely feels like it, so I reckon that counts).
        No, instead of a vagrant he was more of a Roamer — someone who leads a wandering unsettled life.
        Also, every time I see him he’s holding an iphone of some description, which definitely rules Tramp out (this is not Las Vegas, after all). Which makes my own phone look positively out-of-date, I should say. When Roamers start wielding powerful machines like these, it is time to start worrying.
        Let’s hope his iphone isn’t internet enabled and his favourite past-time — when not harrassing passerby, of course — isn’t reading blogs from people residing in the Cambridge area!
        Anyway, less of all that, the point is I was being assertive and I was at a gig. My brother’s gig, to be exact. He plays in a band called 50 Metre Moving Target (he is in one of those bands which change their name constantly but when you see them your face, in surprise, does a funny thing and you go Wow, actually they’re really quite good! I’m not even that biased, check them out and you’ll see what I mean).
        My problem with being assertive at this gig was that there was really nowhere I could be actively assertive. Short of asking those men next to me at the urinals to move over 4 inches so I could be allowed to inhabit my own personal space — a taboo I didn’t feel comfortable with, what with the inches reference — there really wasn’t much of an opportunity for any of that (and I don’t drink either, so how assertive can you be while holding a pint of Diet Coke in your hand? It just doesn’t work to stand at the bar banging a fist on the counter and saying, just shy of aggressively, “Oy, mate, I’m waiting for a pint of Diet Coke here, hurry the hell up!”)
        So I decided to venture outside. This was allowed — my brother and his band-mates didn’t mind it, seeing as there were a few other acts on before them which were all total crap. Ha. Not really. They were all quite good actually (and included a group of guys and girls from the Chech Republic — much easier than spelling out the country — who were expertly performing what I dubbed “Peasant Rock” as I left the place).
        I should also say that I wasn’t specifically leaving the pub to be assertive. It was more a combination of assertiveness being the theme of the time and me wanting, very badly, to get my hands on a Wispa.
        Fortunately for me there is a mini-supermarket opposite the pub which has both a plethora of chocolate (all melting, but you don’t know this until you’ve actually got it out of the shop, where it suddenly dies on you and dares you to take it back, but you never dare to because you feel somewhat foolish) and loads of room outside which once had trolleys when people used trolleys, and now doesn’t and is spacially ideal for those with no fixed address. Nothing generally against those with no fixed address, though, I’d do the same and who knows, in another life I might well find out (Sainsbury‘s would be my supermarket of choice, seeing as they always have dapper outside areas).
        This time, however, I had a feeling that the tramp — he was a tramp at this point, as I had not seen his iphone — was going to be less one who just sits and stares at you, and more a man after my own heart: an assertive one. I quite liked this actually, so as he got up and started speaking to me I put my hand in my pocket.
        Almost immediately I knew I had made a grave mistake. On closer inspection — I was now a couple of metres from the automatic doors — I saw he had a furious look in his eyes. Extra furious, on top of that already disconcerting God-I-bloody-hate-the-world look. Also worrying was his tone as he demanded my change. It reminded me a lot of the wonky-eyed, slightly-too-enthusiastic butcher we had in our village when we were growing up. He wouldn’t allow my mum to leave the shop without taking his finest cut of meat and he always took too long to cut what looked like a tender piece of meat. Please, no jokes.
        By the time the tramp had spouted the second or third demand, I was all demanded-out. So I told him No. “Don’t demand money from me,” I said, with an echo of Jeremy Kyle somewhere in there which was too late to take back. “Because that is not going to work.”
        This only seemed to spur him on more. I could see my mistake and remembered the effect JK so often had on his so-called ‘guests’.
I darted in quick through the swoooshing doors before he could say another word. I quickly found myself lured by other chocolate bars not of the Wispa persuasion. Then commenced a difficult 5 minutes as my inner-Wispa-desire fought hard with the part of my mind which held memories of all the other chocolates.
        But the Wispa won, fortunately. I’d never have forgiven myself otherwise.
        Upon leaving, the exact scenario I had envisioned happened; the vagrant — in the shop I had developed sympathy for his plight and felt bad for calling him a tramp — gave me hell for not giving him change. I made a noise at him which wasn’t even close to any kind of word, but he seemed to get the point, because he looked even more furious than he had.Very,
        It was then, when he kept badgering me, aggressively demanding I give him money — that I had to give him money — that I told him to “piss off and leave me alone.” Which I thought was fair under the circumstances. He clearly didn’t, though. He paused and then looked at me like someone had just whispered into his ear what swear-words were all about.
        Two minutes later I was back inside the safety of the crowded pub, wondering things which cross your mind when you are standing alone and forced into making observations to bide your time (wondering why some peoples necks were taller than others and what that might actually mean, if you were interested).
        Something hit me from behind. Just the door. I assumed it was someone trying to come in and subtly notify me that I was standing in their way. It wasn’t, it was someone — the angry Roamer — kicking the door in and shouting at me…something. It sounded like a challenge and he had all the gestures of a good hip-hop video going on, but without the scantily clad girls shaking their electric-gold hot-pants.
        Obviously I didn’t take him up on his challenge. For one thing, I was with about 10 mates and a pub-full of people, and for another, the guy’s fury scared me a bit to be honest.
        Not that it was really my decision not to challenge him. He stomped angrily away quickly, with his iphone, looking over his shoulder, and by then I had my Wispa out and was onto other matters, like wondering why I still had a Pay as You Go.

Tonight I’m going to see what all the fuss is about

INSERT TWILIGHT PIC HERE!

The drama…the excitement…the forbidden passion and the endless teenage sexual tension — not to mention the vampires, did the vampires cross your mind yet by any chance? — no, I’m not talking about jumping in a time machine and going back to my first day at my local Youth Club (and I’m very glad about that. I’d never, ever want to be 15 and tormented by tits — both the hideous bullying variety who have fully-grown-man side-burns well before their time, and the splendid female kind — ever again). This is serious. Tonight will be the night that my life changes forever. And that’s exactly what I’m scared about.

For tonight will be the night I put aside every part of my brain saying a million variations of Chris, seriously, don’t do this, you will regret it and actually watch Twilight.

No, this is not a joke. Yes, this is a serious statement. I’ve heard all the bad words — “Stephanie Meyer can’t write! How on vampires-on-Earth did her book ever get made into a film?” — and all the good words — I don’t need to say much more than the words I love Robert Pattinson, do I? (And for the record, that wasn’t me just declaring my love for the man, that was supposed to be the exasperated voice of every teenage girl on the planet.)

See, I’ve decided that in order to move on with my life I need to get this out of the way. Once I have then I can get back to panning Twilight

…Unless I find I actually quite like it…

Watch this space. Or don’t.

Frankly I’m giving myself the creeps now.

Why do we watch horror films?

Either a cannibal caught slightly unawares or...a great stand in for Richard O' Brien of The Crystal Maze fame

To say that films like The Hills Have Eyes or The Exorcist are, as I have sometimes heard horror films described, “Like something out of our worst nightmares” is missing the point in a big way, I think. I don’t believe that’s giving horror films the psychological credit they truly deserve. Because in nightmares, even our worst ones, the horror is temporary and the effect is transient; assuming we’re talking about the every-day usual kind which we’re all familiar with, and not nightmares associated with sleeping disorders such as Night Terrors, there’s very little permanent about them. As terrible as they can be, and as lingering as the effect of them occassionally is, after a while they lose their power. In time they morph into shadows of their former selves, and the more you think about them, the less you can actually remember being there, being afraid, or even what, specifically, the nightmare was actually about. Soon, you can’t even remember what gave them their power in the first place. Years later, they’ve faded completely.

I mean, think about it: how many nightmares can you actually recall with any degree of clarity?

Horror films, though…they’re different. In a horror film, everything is permanent. Unlike in a nightmare, you can watch and re-watch this terror as much as you like and every single aspect of it will manifest just as perfectly as the first time; there are no exceptions to this rule. It’s a nightmare you can immerse yourself in at will, and one which presents itself in the same way for everyone. There’s no need to explain to someone how this particular nightmare unfolded or what will happen next. And the best thing — if you want to call it the best thing — ? The nightmares just keep getting more real and even worse. Now technology and special effects have caught up with our imagination, there isn’t any power they can’t possess. The result: their capacity to scare the crap out of us is infinite.

And now, or within the last 20 years, something utterly astonishing has happened: for the first time in history, films have actually exceeded what our nightmares are capable of producing.

If I was a nightmare I’d be pretty pissed off, I think.

I’m sure that even if you don’t watch or like horror films, you’ll have heard of The Hills Have Eyes. The brainchild of a younger, trail-blazing Wes Craven (Scream, A Nightmare on Elm Street), the film marked a turning point in horror cinema when it was released in 1977. After that, nothing was ever the same again.

I won’t go into detail about the plot, but in it — both the original and the 2006 remake — an American family make the mistake of taking a short-cut through the desert while en route to San Diego, California. After their vehicles are mysteriously thrown from the road, it soon becomes clear that the unforgiving foreboding landscape around them is not as lifeless as it first appeared…

Spoiler alert:

A man is burned alive in front of his family: you see everything. A young woman is sexually assaulted by the kind of man who you wouldn’t want to meet in any kind of alleyway — no matter how wide or bright — but would get an enormous round-of-applause on Britain’s Got Talent, thanks to his being so hideously ugly. People are shot, heads explode, and the violence…it’s relentless, brutal, and presented with the kind of production value which makes every moment feel genuine. The politicial context is also not for the faint-hearted; chances are that if I was American, I’d be feeling guilty about my government.

Basically, you can tell yourself it’s all acting, all effects, but this bloodbath, as you watch it, is all too real.

Now, just watching this film, I feel wrong. It isn’t even that I enjoy watching it.

But the point is I do watch it. Through all the atrocities and the gore I don’t turn it off. For whatever reason — and this isn’t one of those BBC News features, so don’t expect a cold, rational, reliable psychological evaluation — I feel victory during parts of it: my base animal self wants to scream and run; when the lead character triumphs over the evil cannibals, or when it looks like something might go right for a change. (Which is short-lived, but you knew that, right?)

My guess is that we all get something different out of horror films: some of us find them intense in a good way — a way of exploring darkness, maybe, without having to actually live it ourselves. Some people like the humour or being able to live out the “what would I do if that was me?” scenario.Some people just love the giddy excitement of it all, and that’s fair enough too. You can’t beat a bit of giddy excitement.

One thing is certain: horror films are not going anywhere. Now we’re seeing what our nightmares might be like, if we’d ever be able to harness their power and expand that split-second into something more permanent, there’s no way we can’r ever be addicted.

Blue Valentine (the movie): what’s your opinion?

You don’t have to go very far to see how different people’s opinions on domestic abuse are. They range just as wildly as anything. After I’d watched Blue Valentine — the Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams (from Dawson’s Creek) film which caused such a stir when it came out in 2010 — I found myself on IMDB wanting to see what other people made of the film. Considering what I’d just taken in, parts of which horrified me no small amount, I was mildly surprised by what I found: a few people wondering what all the fuss was / is about, as if domestic abuse is something which always comes delivered in a fist and nothing else.

I don’t want to spoil the film for those people who haven’t seen it yet, but I think I can get away with saying this: Blue Valentine has a certain impact which, irrelevant of your opinion, is unmistakable. While there is no blood and very little actual violence, what does resonate powerfully is the contrast between the two time-lines which run parallel to one another throughout the entire film. As you follow the couple’s relationship in its earliest days, pre-marriage, and at the same time see the effect of certain events years later, you can’t help but experience a wave of emotions. Or at least I couldn’t. Because of this, Blue Valentine is both beautiful and nightmarish and in places wonderfully tender. In short, you really do feel as though the relatively small number of moments we the viewers get to witness provide a formula which will stay with you. After I’d turned the film off, I found that the seed began to grow, the formula expanding, allowing me to see everything in-between that the movie had alluded to.

Also impressive is Gosling and Williams’s on-screen relationship. Even in its dullest moments they are scintillatingly believable together, and the performances all-round match-up just as well.

Inhabiting a genre which is unlikely to be crowded for a long time to come — in fact, thinking in terms of genre, I struggle to think of more than 5 other films which fit neatly in — Blue Valentine could have easily been forgettable and all-too-easily brutal. Instead, and thanks to probably one of the best dramatic performances in recent years — you’ll know the scene when you see it — I can see people talking about this film in 10 or 20 years to come, and, when they do, the style the film was shot in — as if an invisible documentary maker was following the couple round at all times — will remain weirdly memorable.