Sunday, May 25, 2008

crucifixes, custard and sweet, sweet lady pie.

Jesus vs. The Messiah (2007)
Dir: Alan Ronald.
Cast: Simon Phillips, Gemma Deerfield, Alistair Rodger, Alan's dad, John Lavelle, Debbie Attwell and Danny Idollor Junior.

Beards, blondes and big black men in
hats: the future of British cinema?
Quite possibly.

In a nameless and nasty nicotine and piss stained pub in deepest, darkest Paisley (former murder capital of Europe and birthplace of David Tennant) an obese, potato headed mad bastard (Rodger- playing the role with relish and a bizarre line in American style dialogue) is getting his jollies by forcing scrawny Scotsmen to join him in rowdy drinking contests (the Karaoke machine is out of order no doubt).

After drinking what seems like the entire cast of River City under the table he decides to try his smooth (well, wobbly and sweaty moves really) on the short skirted and terrifyingly toothsome bit of 'lady pie' (Deerfield) waiting patiently on her drink at the bar.

His offer of a slap up meal, a great time and some fun afterwards is (quite sensibly) rebuffed by the young lady, making the man's comedy pumpkin sized head go red with anger (and frighteningly get even more sweaty), the situation isn't helped any when the frowning bearded fella (Phillips) sitting at the other end of the bar decides it'd be a grand idea to lecture the loopy lard arse on the etiquette and how-do's of talking to ladies.

A nice piece of ladypie
yesterday (sans custard).

Taking the advice badly (you're surprised?) the helpful stranger is rewarded by being forcibly sat down in the corner of the pub whilst Mr. creosote's ratty henchmen force tumblers of what looks like evil syrupy fat man sweat down his throat.

Frowning slightly more (and tutting loudly in a kinda annoyed supply teacher kinda way) beardy boy nevertheless manages to out drink Tubbs who unceremoniously deposits his lunch everywhere before collapsing like a punctured bouncy castle at a kids party with an ear deafening crash. It's only a matter of time tho' before Mr. Beard himself is also munching the rug (so to speak).

After later finding himself sprawled out in the back of the womans car, our furry chinned chum introduces himself as one Mr. Jesus but prefers to be addressed as Jay (as one would I suppose).

The girl (whom we now know to be called Sally) replies with the helpful line “You must have had some fucked-up parents”.

Riker and Troi: The Pikey years.

Realising that it's not everyday you have the son of God in the back of your motor (and the fact that she's bored with living in her car) Sally agrees to spend the night on Jays sofa (well, it is a very nice sofa) which is lucky because the next morning Jay finds his wallet has been stolen and our mini-skirted pal knows exactly who nicked it (her deduction skills are amazing, almost as if she's really an undercover journalist who's been posing as a prostitute, or is it the other way round?)

Yup bad Mr. bouncy belly in the pub has taken it and Sally is determined to retrieve it (maybe Jay's wallet holds the whereabouts of the Ark of The Covenant or at the very least a huge amount of Sainsburys Active Kids vouchers).

Returning to the by now deserted (yet still piss stained) pub our equestrian heroine literally bumps into a big scary black guy (he's so big he's probably mistaken for a wall or something), built like Ben Grimm and decked in a cowboy hat, leather overcoat plus a casual shirt and tie combo and comfortably worn trainers (the frankly fantastic - and fantastically monikered - Idollor Junior), this brutish behemoth of a bloke (who, by a matter of simple elimination must be 'The Messiah') has some unfinished business with Jay (and his beard) and will stop at nothing to find him.

"Where's mah washboard mutha fucka?"

Luckily for the big guy, Jay has decided he fancies a wee bit of this action hero lark too and turns up at the bar to help Sally (well it is his wallet) but on arrival is mildly surprised (well he stops frowning for a second or two) to see her being held hostage by Mr. Messiah.

Rushing in where Angels (but not sons of God obviously) fear to tread, Jay makes a complete arse of the rescue attempt and in turn has to be saved from certain something by Sally who, distracting The Messiah with her pearly whites beats him around the head and drags Jay out of the pub and to a local cafe (well it's hungry work this Saviour lark).

Big gun or faraway lady?

Chatting away over a mug of sugary tea and a full Scottish (£2.95 - available all day) Jay and Sally decide that, due to him being the son of God and her having a shady past) it's probably for the best if they leave Paisley (but to be honest you'd be as well leaving if you weren't being chased by a big nutter with a western fetish on account of it being utter shite) and run for the hills....

"I love you....could it be magic?"

But the mighty Messiah is hot on their tails and the big planks of 4 by 2 hardboard that he's carrying around with him aren't to build Jay a new shed.....

In a world where every low budget genre flick is hailed as the next big thing, released in a blaze of internet fury only to ultimately disappoint, Alan Ronald's JVM is like a reassuringly fresh Glade Breeze cutting thru' the stagnant stench of failure left behind by such British movies as Razor Blade Smile (Eileen Daly in a squeaky rubber cat suit shagging did that go so hideously wrong?), Cradle of Fear (Eileen Daly having sex with a one legged man and an evil Brummie dwarf running a snuff website....why was it so shite?) to the more recent Outpost (Nazi zombies and Ray Stevenson's bandy legs and hovering accent anyone?) and, whilst no cinematic classic (tho' I'm pretty sure it's not meant to be) Ronald's film is a ball-busting, in yer face slice of no budget movie-making.

Behind it's controversy courting title and popcorn trappings is a simple tale of an incestuous love between two long separated brothers each craving the love of their father. The character of Sally is superfluous to this, ultimately unable to make a difference to events started 2ooo years ago. The relationship between the leads is best encapsulated early on in the film when Jay and Sally are chatting in the cafe. Both are seen to look longingly at the waitress (Attwell), Jay for a love he can never experience and Sally as a memory of some long forgotten tryst.

Their lives are meandering and meaningless, full of secrets and lies. The only character with true motivation and beliefs is the Messiah, less a supernatural force of nature but more a simple, honest and secret-less man.

Or maybe it's just about a couple of care in the community types wanting to kick the crap out of each other.

"I'd buy that for Idollor!"

With less to spend than a tiny school on its annual nativity play and a crew of just five people (two of which I've heard were eight year old boys kidnapped and sold into slavery by the director), it's surprising how good JVM looks. Ronald has a real eye (just the one tho...the other he plucked out to gain his unnatural power over women) for composition, giving the harsh, windswept scenery of Argyll a haunting beauty. His use of the widescreen image in general is second to none, each image perfectly framed, almost as if the characters are trapped within, unable to escape their fates.

The cast and crew celebrate
the fact that Alan

remembered to make the sandwiches.

On the acting side most of the (non) professional cast are competent, believable and entertaining to watch, with only a couple of the (professional) leads letting the side down somewhat. As Jay, Phillips appears to have decided that the best way to show the pressures and pain of being the son of God running from an inescapable destiny as frowning a lot (albeit sometimes open mouthed and sometimes with his lips shut tight), you can almost hear the muscles whirring and the cogs clicking as his brow gets more and more furrowed as the film progresses and Deerfield lacks the maturity to portray such a world wisely and damaged figure as Sally, coming across as more likely to have her dad buy her a holiday home in Antigua rather than someone forced to live in a car.

"Lipstick in (and around) mah mooth!"

But luckily the casting of Idollor more than makes up for his co-performers weaknesses, taking what could have been a cliched bogey man and imbuing the Messiah with a sense of humour, irony and most importantly a believability sadly lacking from his on screen nemesis.

Lighting up every scene he's in it's almost as if Ronald has found his equivalent to the Tim Burton/Johnny Depp double act and long may they work together.

A director this technically adept so early in his career is obviously one to watch and, if he can find a co-writer able to match his frankly bonkers idea pitches with a choice line in witty dialogue and character development (this one is available by the way) then I predict (in a slightly less campy Criswell way) that the oft-mooted Zombie and B. will be one to watch.

Let's just hope there's a part in it for the sweaty fat man.

No comments: