The Duke’s Thirteen Best Of 2003
The Duke has been debating what the hell was the best film of 2003 since mid-November. It has, alas, taken until now to decide that I can’t decide, and so instead present The 13 Best Films What Have (2003) Next To The Title.
As per usual, each film in the list has been graced with a Mondo Irlando Award for its particular expertise.
Congratulations, Thirteen Best Films Of The Year, keep up the good work.
Best Performance Of The Year By A Fire Extinguisher
Gasper Noe is one of the most fucked-up motherfuckers to ever have been fucked up. First, he gave the world I Stand Alone, about a man wants to screw his daughter and stuff. Then he follows it up with this here, about a man wants to kill a man with a fire-extinguisher on account of he raped Monica Bellucci for 9 minutes. It might have been made a little more approachable had it featured a laugh-track, but this is mere speculation on my behalf.
What we do get, instead of the laugh-track, is a bass rumble utilised by the authorities to break up riots by way of making the upstarts in question puke themselves silly. Noe obviously felt that the whole fire-extinguisher to the skull and nine-minute anal rape tomfoolery just wasn’t disturbing enough.
Irreversible, though, probably against Noe’s wishes, turns out to be the best rape-revenge film ever made. Granted, there aren’t many in the genre that reach anything approaching even mediocrity, never mind greatness, but well done to The French anyway.
By beginning with the revenge, Noe denies us the troubling sense of vindication usually granted by these scenes of “justified” slaughter. The film runs backwards, and so we get the rape half-way in, and then a load of talking and lying about naked in bedrooms, with the two young lovers heartbreakingly unaware of the whole rape / fire-extinguisher malarkey just around the corner.
Irreversible talks about the inanity of revenge, and denies the viewer the ability to experience the retaliation in relation to the initial outrage. We just see a bloke gets his arm broken, and then a fire-extinguisher crushes a skull. What the hell’s up with these crazy Frenches, we’re thinking? It’s singularly uncomfortable, and is also by some way the most effective horror film released in the last 12 months.
Merci Beaucoup, Gasper Noe, you demented motherfucker.
Outstanding Achievement With Regards The Spelling Of Big Words
Not since Van Damme’s Dictionary Showdown has there been such tension with regards the old spelling in a feature film. But there’s more than the tension in this here Documentary, on account of there’s also an abundance of heart and humanity and wit and all that stuff.
The eight children whose adventures we follow up to and including the Spelling Bee itself, are all delightful. The Duke’s favourite is young Harry, a child obviously consuming ten too many cups of coffee of an evening.
The film never makes fun of these kids, though, never says “Hey, how weird are these guys? Very weird, I’m guessing.” Indeed, on the commentary what is on the DVD, the filmmakers reveal that if a scene had more to do with laughing AT the subjects than laughing WITH them, then it was cut.
And that spelling. It really is remarkable. If you thought there were four C’s in ecclesiastical than prepare to be shocked and possibly stunned. The twist is that there’s only three. (SPOILER)
THE MAGDALENE SISTERS
Nuns Of The Year
At The Duke’s school, one was kicked through the window if one so much as chuckled during RE, and sadly it turns out there were others who suffered similar brutality.
Peter Mullan, you may recall, was Mother Superior in Trainspotting, and here he continues with the religious angle by throwing us straight into the horrors of The Magdalene Laundries, where teenage girls were sent on account of diabolical crimes such as being too pretty and therefore a whore.
Understandably, The Pope and various other religious types were unimpressed by Mullan’s film. The rest of us, however, can see that it is heartbreakingly touching and yet also quite funny, and an important exploration of the crimes taking place under the banner of “Morality”.
Really, The Pope, you should give this Mullan character a little more credit. Didn’t you see My Name Is Joe? He was brilliant! Lighten up, The Pope, anyone would think you were Catholic.
A MIGHTY WIND
Documentary Of The Year What Wasn’t Real But You Kinda Wish It Was
Prepare to chuckle, and to smile, and also to hear a catchy tune or two, because this here film by the name of A Mighty Wind will force you to do all three, like as if it were standing over you with a samurai sword going “Do it! Do it motherfucker! Whistle that tune!”
Thankfully it doesn’t even have to throw stones at you, because it turns out that you wanna do those things anyway. Put the sword down, man, I already was whistling.
This here is one of those Mockumentary things like Zelig or Bad Boys II, that use the conventions of the normal documentary to tell their delightful tale, in this case the delightful tale being all about the folk singing and the mandolins.
Some folks have been harping on that it’s Spinal Tap with Folk Music, and sure enough, those three Spinal Taps are joined in holy matrimony once more in this here affair, as a folk band by the name of The Folksmen. It’s more than Spinal Tap with acoustic guitars though, at least 57% more as far as The Duke is concerned.
Interesting fact – The Folksmen supported Spinal Tap on several occasions, mostly being booed off by an audience who didn’t know it was the same fella’s they’d sold a lung to see.
Guest is a fine director also, and if you haven’t done so, The Duke recommends picking up Waiting For Guffman and Best In Show for yet more Mockumentary mirth.
CAPTURING THE FRIEDMANS
Documentary Of The Year What Was Real But You Kinda Wish It Wasn’t
This right here is some unpleasant viewing. In case you didn’t know, it’s about a man is arrested on account of abusing children, but maybe all he did was look at child pornography, without ever physically carrying out his fantasies.
We don’t know what’s real, we don’t know what’s been made up, we don’t know a damn thing, other than that this here is a brilliant film.
Thanks. I guess.
THE HOBBITS PART 3 – THE KING RETURNS
Arachnid Of The Year
No, it wasn’t the best film of 2003. It wasn’t even Peter Jacksons best film. It wasn’t even the best Hobbits film. But it was still rather good. Especially the giant spider.
What this third instalment in the moderately-successful The Hobbits Trilogy is all about, is the king returns. Where he returns to is anyone’s guess. Maybe he goes to those two towers what were the title of The Hobbits Part 2.
Thankfully, there are plenty of giant elephants and spiders about the screen so this plot-hole is covered over nicely. Well done Hobbits.
It’s also got a lovely homoerotic subplot with Frodo and Sam, and you just wish they would throw their inhibitions into the volcano along with that damn ring, and get naked on a tiny mattress. They don’t though, which is one of the few bad points about this here film.
Winner Of The “Raise The Age Of Birth Because Children Are Evil” Award
Gus Van Sant is a man of many crazy notions. One minute he wants to fill a film with Ben Damon and Matt Affleck, the next he’s deciding Hitchcock didn’t know shit, and then he’s making a film about the kids what shoot up the school.
This is a brilliant and powerful piece of the old cinema right here, and tense as fuckery into the bargain. Everyone bangs on about it’s like Larry Clarke, what did the Kids Who Fuck One Another Because They’re Evil Little Bastards, but this here has more humanity in ten minutes than Larry Clarke’s nihilistic sleaze-fests have in their entirety.
Well done, Gus Van Sant. Stay the fuck away from Vertigo.
Best Film About The Picture-Books What Doesn’t Have CGI
Sometimes films are all about “the reality”, and they feature stuff like interviews with “real” people. These are called “Documentaries”. Then there are other films what are “not real”. They have actors and stuff. These are called “Proper Films What Are Sensible”.
Whoever the hell gave these fellow’s the right to fuck with the law needs a good talking to. Is it a documentary? Well, it’s got interviews with the folks involved and stuff.
Is it a “proper film what is sensible”? Well, it’s also got actors playing those folks what were being interviewed ten minutes ago.
A bit like 999, except these reconstructions have better production values, and are funnier, and have nothing to do with ambulances falling off cliffs.
Best Film About The Picture-Books What Has CGI
A lot of folks complained when this came out in the picture-houses. “Fuck y’all”, they said, “If Ang Lee thinks I wanted two-hours of nonsense bullshit about Freud and then ten minutes of cartoon nonsense, he can fuck right off and take his Hidden Tiger with him.”
These fools are to be avoided.
The Duke, and others of his ilk, realised that Hulk was the best picture-book film of the year. Eric Banna was fantastic, even though he didn’t cut his ears off or get a fake willy out like he did in Chopper, and the cinematography was gorgeous. It was a big old lashing of fuck me’s, as far as The Duke was concerned, and I love it like I might love a lover, or a goat.
This was so good I half expected Bobby Ewing to step out of the shower and say it was all a dream.
He didn’t though. That motherfucker just walked on by like he didn’t even know me.
Outstanding Achievement In Eyebrow Shaving
I didn’t want to like this flick one little bit, being a fan of Nick Broomfield’s documentaries on Aileen Wuornos and not wanting to see a mentally ill woman be portrayed as some maniacal murderous motherfucker on the old silver screen, even if it did have the woman from Devils Advocate shaving her eyebrows off.
But it turns out this is beautiful, one of the most affecting love stories I’ve saw in years, and truly heartbreaking. And Theron is very good. And so is Christina Ricci, and her magic forehead.
KILL BILL PART 1 – THE FIRST HALF
Plagiarism Of The Year
The Duke thoroughly enjoyed this bout of idea-nabbing from old square-jaw himself, Quentin Rodriguez.
It was vacant as all hell, and it was offensively violent, and it was silly, and it was made up of bits from Ichi The Killer, and still some people didn’t like it. Just can’t please some folks. Fuck the duke with a bicycle, however, if it wasn’t a hell of a lot of fun.
Well done Uma Thurman. I liked your tracksuit.
LOST IN TRANSLATION
Outstanding Performance By Japan
Things got off to a bad start. First, I misread the title so I thought it said Lost In Alsatians and assumed it to be a sequel to Inner Space what has a man inside the body of a canine.
Fuck me, if that idea didn’t get shat right out of there.
Then, I hear it’s a load of racist old cock, with folks getting offendified left and right about how all the Japanese characters are made to look stupid.
And I agree with them.
Thing is, about ten minutes in this here little film by Sofia Coppolla, daughter of the man who made Jack and The Godfather Part 3, starts getting all gorgeous. I mean heartbreaking. I mean the Duke might have cried if he wasn’t a stone-cold son of a bitch with a thirst for vengeance.
It was like Manhattan, only it was set in Tokyo, and there was no Woody Allen, but still some very funny jokes. And it made me yearn to be in that city.
Some folks also say it’s a cry against modernisation, and that “good” Japan is the bit with all the monasteries and temples and other remnants of feudal brutality, and that “bad” Japan is all the modern stuff, like health-care and karaoke.
All I know is that I was profoundly moved, and whilst some folks have been perplexed as to what was whispered in the final scene, if you put the subtitles on when watching it on DVD, you’ll see that Bill Murray says “Isn’t The Duke the funniest motherfucker what you ever did see? Check out Mondo Irlando. Honest to God, I shit myself laughing.”
Elvis Of The Year
This film here not only has mummies and geriatrics and JFK and jokes about willies, but also has the most believable Elvis ever seen on film, more so than Elvis The Movie with Kurt Russell or It Happened At The World’s Fair with Elvis Presley.
Bruce Campbell is the best physical comedian since Moses started throwing oceans about the place, and I hope he accepts this here award, on account of he is the best Elvis of this year.
I hail to you, King Bruce, you are the coolest motherfucker what I ever did see.
The Duke resides at Mondo Irlando