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“I Simply Am Not There”: The Existential Horror of Eighties Excess in “American Psycho”…

My name is Patrick Bateman. I’m 27 years old. I believe in taking care of myself, and a balanced diet and a rigorous exercise routine. In the morning, if my face is a little puffy, I’ll put on an ice pack while doing my stomach crunches. I can do a thousand now. After I remove the ice pack I use a deep pore cleanser lotion. In the shower I use a water activated gel cleanser, then a honey almond body scrub, and on the face an exfoliating gel scrub. Then I apply an herb-mint facial masque which I leave on for 10 minutes while I prepare the rest of my routine. I always use an after shave lotion with little or no alcohol, because alcohol dries your face out and makes you look older. Then moisturizer, then an anti-aging eye balm followed by a final moisturizing protective lotion. There is an idea of a Patrick Bateman. Some kind of abstraction. But there is no real me. Only an entity. Something illusory. And though I can hide my cold gaze, and you can shake my hand and feel flesh gripping yours, and maybe you can even sense our lifestyles are probably comparable, I simply am not there.

American Psycho is twenty years old, and somehow more relevant than ever.

To be fair, the film signposts this strange relevance. Towards the end of Bret Easton Ellis’ novel, Bateman takes a moment to muse on Trump Tower, admiring it as it stands “tall, proudly gleaming in the late afternoon sunlight.” Throughout the film, Bateman and colleagues are obsessed with Trump. “Is that Donald Trump’s car?” asks Bateman while riding with his fiancée in a taxi. Later on, out at dinner in a low-rent restaurant, he tries to catch a colleague’s interest (and maybe his own) by asking, “Is that Ivana Trump?”

Without ever being directly present in the film or the novel, Donald Trump haunts American Psycho. Ironically, that weird relationship has only deepened in the years since the novel was published and the film was released. During his presidential campaign, Trump famously boasted, “I could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody and I wouldn’t lose any voters.” It’s an argument that has become worryingly central to Trump’s campaign, with even his lawyers advancing the argument that he couldn’t be prosecuted for it as part of an argument over his tax returns.

American Psycho makes a similar argument about its protagonist. Bateman spends the entirety of the book and movie openly boasting and threatening characters with death and dismemberment, only for everybody involved to remain either willfully or accidentally ignorant of what Bateman claims to be. Bateman confesses his crimes repeatedly and openly, only for colleagues to laugh it off as a joke or shift the conversation or reveal that they weren’t really listening. American Psycho unfolds in a world where nothing is real and nothing matters. It is closer to our world than it seems.

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165. Gisaengchung (Parasite) – This Just In (#34)

Hosted by Andrew Quinn and Darren Mooney, and this week with guests Graham Day and Bríd Martin, The 250 is a fortnightly trip through some of the best (and worst) movies ever made, as voted for by Internet Movie Database Users.

This time, Boon Joon Ho’s Gisaengchung.

Drafted in to tutor the daughter of a rich South Korean family, the lower-class Kim Ki-woo enacts a cunning plan that will allow his entire family to infiltrate the lavish Park household. However, things quickly spiral out of control, leading to unpredictable chaos and disaster.

At time of recording, it was ranked the 34th best movie of all time on the Internet Movie Database.

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Doctor Who: Meglos (Review)

To celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of the longest-running science-fiction show in the world, I’ll be taking weekly looks at some of my own personal favourite stories and arcs, from the old and new series, with a view to encapsulating the sublime, the clever and the fiendishly odd of the BBC’s Doctor Who.

Meglos originally aired in 1980.

To control the output, it will be necessary to increase the violence of the emissions.

Then you’ll be in danger yourself.

Well, hardly. I’m a Time Lord. Having lived in the future I can hardly die in the present.

That can’t be true. That’s a philosophical paradox.

No, it’s merely beyond your comprehension.

– Meglos and Deedrix get their “parody” on

Meglos is one of those stories that has undergone something of an alternative interpretation among Doctor Who fans. Much like The Web Planet went from “a brave attempt to realise a truly alien world” to a “complete and utter embarrassment”, Meglos has gone from “that episode where a talking cactus tries to take over the universe” to “that parody where a talking cactus tries to take over the universe.” In fairness, looking at the serial, it is very hard not to see Meglos as an intentional and subversive parody of a bad Doctor Who story, but I have to concede that it doesn’t stop the adventure from being a bad Doctor Who story itself.

Okay, not every review this week is going to open with a close-up of Tom Baker in distress...

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Non-Review Review: High Anxiety

I quite enjoyed High Anxiety, even if it didn’t rank quite as high as some of Brooks’ other efforts. While it still possesses the same wonderful wry moments, High Anxiety is a Mel Brooks film that arguably works better as a farce than as a parody. I suspect that this has something to do with the director’s intended target. While Westerns were ripe for mockery in Blazing Saddles and old horror films were perfectly suited to the sense of humour in Young Frankenstein, it always seemed like Alfred Hitchcock was aware of his own filmmaking style, and seemed to occasionally be gently mocking it himself, rather than playing his heightened suspense with a po-faced sincerity. I think that parody and satire work best when they represent an attack on a target that suffers from a little bit too much self-importance, while Hitchcock’s films are generally a little more self-aware than that.

Gone to the birds?

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Non-Review Review: Return of the Living Dead

Return of the Living Dead is a fairly strange beast. Something of a black comedy spin-off from George A. Romero’s Night of the Living Dead, the film is a ridiculously campy exploration of trashy low-rent horror… and yet somehow has been picked up and embraced by popular culture. After all, this is the movie that introduced the idea that zombies weren’t just satiated by consuming large quantities of meat (most often from humans) – this was the film which introduced the idea of zombies stumbling forward, repeatedly droning “braaaaains!” It’s a concept which has been so throughly incorporated into pop culture’s definition of zombie (although it’s rarely the case, we still expect it and recognise it), so it seems strange that it came from a spoof.

No bones about it...

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What if the Best Picture Posters Told the Truth?

Truth be told, I’m a little behind this week. I took a trip down to Sligo at the weekend and I’m preparing for a film noir blogothon next week (stay tuned). So posting this week may be a little… scattershot. Anyway, in a nice way to tie into those wonderful BAFTA poster redesigns from last year, this year we have – courtesy of theshiznit.co.uk – a simple question: what if this year’s Best Picture nominees told the truth, up front? Instead of vague names like Winter’s Bone or Inception or The Fighter… well, that last one’s pretty spot on… but what if the movies just told you everything you needed to know, on the poster? They might look like this…

(click to enlarge)

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Non-Review Review: Airplane!

Surely you can’t be serious?

I am serious. And don’t call me Shirley.

The lads over at Anomalous Material are running a ‘greatest comedy of all time’ tournament at the moment, which is well worth a gander if you’re into that sort of thing. I’m embarrassed to admit that I haven’t yet seen all 128 movies. What I have seen, however, is Airplane!, and I can assure you that it deserves serious consideration for the crown.

A take off of all your favourite films...

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Non-Review Review: Kick-Ass

Kick-Ass may be the action movie of the year. It will more than likely be the comedy of year. And it is currently among the best movies I’ve seen so far (and it’s been a very good March, might I add). Kick-Ass does what Watchmen should have, and takes superhero movies to the next level: working on the assumption that the genre is so well recognised that audiences will appreciate all the tiny little tropes, Kick-Ass picks apart the big budget superhero flick, but manages to avoid being mean.

Kick-Ass kicks... well, you see where this is going...

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Family Guy: Something Something Something Darkside

Say what you will about the quality of recent seasons of Family Guy (it does go up and down like a yoyo), the Star Wars specials are an ingenious production. Blue Harvest was a fascinating experiment, and attempt to mount a comic retelling of the classic sci-fi mythos in an animated hour-long cartoon. It was a work of genius which worked far better than one might have expected, given the excesses of the show (some where present in the mini-movie, but they were all certainly toned down). So, when a sequel was announced (albeit two years later), anticipation was high. I am pleased to announce that Something Something Something Darkside is just as good as its predecessor.

Brothers at arms...

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Christian Bale & Johnny Depp’s Set Diaries from Public Enemies!

I’m not a big fan of posting stuff I find on-line at the blog (I’ll generally link to the article and offer my own reaction to it), but this was too fun to pass up:

Television Without Pity has this lovely photo journal contrasting Christian Bale and Johnny Depp’s approach to making Public Enemies. Click the link or the picture. It is one of the funniest film-related articles I’ve read in quite some time.

Check out our own review of the film here.

Then we stopped by a Steak n Shake for a Steakburger (I love those fucking things), but the waitress forgot my fucking chili. I knew it was going to be a problem when she didn't fucking write anything down. "It's all up here!" she said. FUCKING LIAR. How does someone get to become a waitress without the ability to remember a fucking order?

"Then we stopped by a Steak n Shake for a Steakburger (I love those f@!?ing things), but the waitress forgot my f@!?ing chili. I knew it was going to be a problem when she didn't f@!?ing write anything down. "It's all up here!" she said. F@!?ING LIAR. How does someone get to become a waitress without the ability to remember a f@!?ing order?"