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The Duke On “Dead Man’s Shoes” – A Flick You NEED To See NOW

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What with The Duke’s esteemed position amongst scholars of the finer points of motion cinema, it won’t surprise you one tiny bit, I’d wager, to learn that over the years, months, hours etc I have conducted a highly scientific anthropological study with regards one of the most under-researched areas in film.

To wit;

Great usages of the word “Cunt”.

Now, great usages don’t necessarily have to be especially funny usages, or especially inventive usages, or even especially coherent usages. Just ones that a fella finds it hard to forget.

To get some idea of the kinda depth we’re dealing with here, maybe you might wanna think back to the couple cunts Woody Allen utters in the magnificent Deconstructing Harry, i.e, The One Where Woody Gets All Dirty Mouthed And Says “Cunt”, “Fuck”, “Blow-Job”, This Sort Of Thing.

Who can forget that shit right there? Who in their right mentals will ever have to say “No, when was that?” when someone else says “Remember when he called the woman from the school an interfering busy-body cunt?”

Nobody. Nobody will ever forget Woody saying about how demented a cunt the woman on the roof with the pistol might be.

Uttered correctly, a good “cunt” can be devastating. A perfect cunt can easily swoop right in there and rescue an otherwise abysmal motion flick. Just think how many stars The Phantom Menace jumped in your wee ratings system notebook you carry about, when Liam Neeson grabbed hold Jar-Jar and warned him something along the lines of; “You don’t shut your fucking yap you Gungan cunt I’m gonna kick the balls right out your face.”

Used to be, though, a man had to look far and wide to find a half-decent “cunt” in cinema, or at least any cinema that doesn’t involve cockney wideboys in a Borstal or a “youth gang” of some kind. For sure, every time Ray Winstone opens his mouth there’s gonna be a half-dozen “cunts” tripping from his flabby jowls, but recently the “cunt” has become almost acceptable regardless of the yap doing the flinging, a kinda cosy affair, almost. Like maybe when you go round to your Gran’s and she makes you some of that custard shite she used to force down your throat when you were a malcontent fresh outta juvie. It warms the cockles to hear a friendly “cunt” from out Geoffery Rush or Haley Joel Osmont. “Oi, Willis, you cunt”, he said. “Get the white vest on or get the cunt out my cunting apartment, ghost boy.”

Inevitably, though, the more acceptable it becomes, the less impressive, also.

For the purposes of instigating some sort of socio-cultural debate of some kind amongst the kindsa folks who debate these sorts of things, I present to you some fine examples of cuntage in cinema, the kind of cuntage that manages to overcome the barrier of over-familiarity, that even in a cunt-saturated environment, can still grab a fella by the teeth and shake the ears off his head.

Fine Examples Of Cuntage

Al Pacino in Glengarry Glen Ross; “You stupid fucking cunt. Hey, Williamson, I’m talking to you, shithead. You just cost me $6,000. Six thousand dollars, and one Cadillac. That’s right. What are you going to do about it? What are you going to do about it, asshole? You’re fucking shit. Where did you learn your trade, you stupid fucking cunt, you idiot? Who ever told you that you could work with men?”

Nick Frost in Shaun Of The Dead; “Can I get… any of you cunts… a drink?”

Richard E. Grant in Withnail And I; “Monty, you terrible cunt!”

Robert Carlyle in Trainspotting; “It was fuckin’ obvious that cunt was gonnae fuck some cunt.”

Ray Winstone in Nil By Mouth; “Cunt! Cunt! Cunt! Cunt!” etc etc

Now, prior to a while back, it would’ve been perfectly reasonable for a fella like myself to stand up in a bar someplace and say “Incidentally, the best ‘cunt’ ever uttered in motion film is…” and then quote one of those listed above. Chances are Pacino would’ve been roaring his way out my brain via my face.

No more.

Dead Man’s Shoes, the absolutely incredible, brilliant, magnificent 2004 offering from British genius Shane Meadows, contains the finest “cunt” in motion picture history.

Paddy Considine, for it is he who utters said “cunt”, will forever, from this point on, be known in my affections as Paddy Cuntsidine. He has taken the chalice of celluloid cunt-utterage, shoved it up his hard-as-all-satanic-hell arsehole, and has stated, in no uncertain terms, “I own the cunt. The cunt is mine. For now, for all time. I am the cunt master.”

Prior to the utterage, which comes about six or seven minutes into the picture, you’re fairly sure something special is afoot. The film looks amazing, for one thing, mixing the rural ambience with the urban hustle and bustle in a manner similar to that other great British “cunt” fest, the aforementioned Withnail And I. It has Paddy Considine (for he has yet to morph seamlessly into Cuntsidine) looking all too much like Dave Gorman, he of The Googlewhack Adventure and so on. The soundtrack is brilliant, all Calexico and Bonnie “Prince” Billy and all manner of lo-fi alt. country glory. Or alt. cuntry, perhaps.

Just when you expect Considine to whip out a pie-chart for to explain how many miles he traveled in search of a complete chain of Googlewhacks, however, he wanders into a tavern, and starts staring at a drug-dealing type.

The tension is enough to have a fella clenching his fist so tight he’s caressing the back of his knuckles. We’ve all been there, man. That shifty glance across the table, and you’re thinking about for fucks sakes, stop looking at him like that. Stop it. You’re gonna start shit. The hell kinda shit are you planning on starting? Some kinda doolally shit that I ain’t prepared for to ingest.

Considine stares over at the drug-dealing scallywag, and the drug-dealer looks back. Couple awkward glances later, scallywag approaches Considine’s table.

“You lookin’ at something mate?”

Considine just sort of shrugs. Does that kind of “Sorry?” thing that you do when you’ve been acting tough for the ladies but then holy fuck, the bastard’s only gone and caught you making faces.

“Thought you were looking at something.”

In one beautiful, jaw-dropping melding of jutting-oneself-forward and barking and head-butting every word and yet making the sentence sound like one gravel-laced snarl, Considine becomes Cuntsidine.

It’s a glorious birth.

“I’m lookin’ at you ya cunt!” he barks.

I can’t do it justice man. It ain’t the words so much. Look at them. Fairly generic sortsa things, really. Cuntsidine owns those words, though. You will never in your life hear a more stunning “cunt” spat from ‘tween the teeth of a madman.

For this alone, Dead Man’s Shoes would be a must-see. If you think Shane and Paddy Cuntsidine are just gonna sit back and shoot the shit following this kick to the ear-holes, though, you better think again.

I wanna take hold your hand right now, if that’s ok, and lead you back a bit, take you on a dander through the mists of time and so on, arriving at a date some might say looks a bit like January 18th 2005. It’s scary, I know. Look how ridiculous my hair looks back then. Look at those clothes. What kinda crazy fucked up voodoo retro nightmare is this, anyhow, you’re asking?

The point is that back on this day, an article appeared, etched in my own hand, purporting to be The Duke’s Favorite Flicks Of 2004. Right up top, first thing I said, pretty much, was something along the lines of;

Of course the things I still have to see (Birth and 2046 at one end of the spectrum, being the Can’t-Wait’s, and shit like Polar Express at the other, being a Couldn’t Care Less If I Tried) might not affect the balance one way or the other. But they might, and if they do, you’ll be the collective first motherfucker ever to know.

Look down at your feet right now, or your hands if maybe you lost your feet in some sort of threshing incident, or your belly-button if maybe you’re like the fella in Freaks with no arms and no legs but who can still light a cigarette with a match at least 63% quicker than me.

Those are the feet / hands / belly-button of the collective first motherfucker to know that a cheeky scamp has snuck into The Duke’s affections and kicked Starsky And Hutch the fuck off that list. It doesn’t threaten Eternal Sunshine for Best Flick Of 2004, since come the hell on, no amount of Paddy Cuntsidine can pose any challenge to Kirsten outside that apartment in the harsh morning dew.

“Did you know? Did you know??”

“Kirsten, I swear to God, I knew not one bit. I would tell you. How couldn’t I? Even though it would break my soul into scattered fragmented shards, I would’ve said yeah, there’s some history between you and that sonna bitch out Shakespeare In Love. How could I stand to see you fret for even a second, Kirsten? How? I know, no how whatsoever, is how.”

But Dead Man’s Shoes at least kicks the stinking hole off of a whole bunch of shit with (2004) next to the title.

This is just an incredible picture. It’s a kinda lo-fi revenge western, except without the west bit, nor indeed any funky ten gallon hats. What you wanna be thinking is Straw Dogs without the misogyny, and a million times better. It’s raw and gritty and often disturbing, but at the same time it’s warm, funny, exhilarating.

What it wants to discuss is all about Paddy Cuntsidine comes back to town to wreak some diabolical shit on the gangster motherfuckers who slighted his family some time ago. If you thought this was gonna get all Lock, Stock And Two Smoking Barrels, though, you can think again. These gangsters aren’t a buncha suit-wearing, classy business thugs. They’re cretins. Low-down, small-time drug-pushing gnats, and yet we like them, or at least like some of them. They’re funny sons a bitches. I don’t think I’ve ever heard a funnier discussion about an elephant in my life.

When Paddy starts picking them off, one by one, Jason style, it hurts. It hurts like all hell.

Not that he creeps around in the shadows for long. He’s right there, right up front. He doesn’t give a shit. Yeah, various gangsters, I’m here to kick your stinkin’ hides. What you gonna do about it? Nothing, is what, cause I’m gonna have you blown shitless in a basement before you know what the sweet bejeesus is goin’ on.

Check out Paddy stood by a garden fence, and the gangster boss fella approaching him.

“Were you snooping around my house last night?”

“Yeah”, Paddy sorta laughs.

“Why?”

“That’s my concern.”

Before long Paddy’s got his palm open, pointing into the middle. That’s you right there, he suggests, then closes his fist. “If I were you, I’d get in that fucking car.”

The gangster gets in the car. He’s not scared of no fucker, but he’s scared of Paddy. Who wouldn’t be? For sure, he’ll tell you all about the time he ran around half the world trying to find 50 people with the same name, but next thing you know he’s spiking your tea with acid and watching you disintegrate before his very eyes. Then he’ll shoot you upside the skull.

“Are you Jesus?” a drugged-up fella asks.

“Fucking wish I was, mate.”

I can’t begin to tell you how incredible this is, and more to the point, I don’t wanna. I don’t wanna have you going in expecting Boogie Nights or some shit.

It’s lo-fi, it’s hardcore to the heart. There’s no snappy editing, no flashy malarkey whatsoever. The style is no style. Shane Meadows is keeping it real. He’s keeping it almost too real. Put down those Ice-T records, you wanna say. Too real, Meadows.

But dig this shit; There ain’t a single scene in this thing that isn’t memorable, that isn’t packed to the chops with quotable dialogue, with stunning performances, with Paddy Motherfucking Cuntsidine, the hardest sonna bitch you ever in your life saw sat in a pub barking at drug-dealers.

There’s no measure for how hard this sonna bitch is. Bronson? DeNiro? Rourke? Van Damme? Jeff Fahey? Fuck the lot of you, Cuntsidine subtly sneers. He’s shit them. He’s stick thin, he looks like Dave Gorman, but you can bet the last nut in the pouch that he’s gonna stick a fishing knife through your eye and feast on the gooey cack spraying fourth from the wound.

He doesn’t do that, but you know he could. That’d be too conventional for him, most likely.

When you watch as many flicks a week as The Duke, you don’t get many chances for re-watching. How the hell can I watch Ichi The Killer again, when look here, Kirsten in Deeply, about eerie shenanigans on an island? Don’t talk shit, Miike.

Dead Man’s Shoes is the kinda flick I immediately wanted to watch again. And again. God almighty, I can’t praise it enough. It’s a wonderful, wonderful piece of work.

Go see it. You owe it to yourself. You owe it to Paddy Cuntsidine. You owe it to Kirsten.

Thank you Kirsten. Honestly, pet, I didn’t know.

Warning. This article may have contained some strong language.

NOTE – American Folks, I dunno when this is coming to your neck of the woods. Pray that it’s shortly.

Thanks folks.

The Duke resides at Mondo Irlando

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