Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Wash your mouth out

Fuck is a marvellous word. It's like bleach for the English language. Used correctly, it cuts through any amount of bullshit and unclogs the lines of communication. Used badly, it leaves a nasty taste in the mouth (being fucked in the mouth is another matter, and one that is not currently up for discussion, thank you).

Since Goodfellas broke the Hollywood swearometer, the f-word has become commonplace in cinema, but screenwriters constantly mistake vulgarity for maturity.

The swearing in Goodfellas ("Fuck 'em in the ear. Fuck 'em in the other ear") was used to convey character. Joe Pesci's torrent of uncontrollably violent language prepared the audience for his character's pivotal, catastrophic loss of control halfway through the movie.

In contrast, when they reshot Snakes On A Plane to insert the line "I have had it with these motherfucking snakes on this motherfucking plane!", the filmmakers fundamentally misunderstood what made Samuel L Jackson cool in Pulp Fiction (it was his curiously philosophical view on the world of the contract killer, not his potty mouth).

Anyway, to get to the point... There's a film coming out next week called In The Loop, which contains some of the most inventive invective ever committed to celluloid. It mostly comes from actor Peter Capaldi (pictured), who plays Malcolm Tucker - a frighteningly aggressive spin doctor whose job it is to keep hapless government ministers on message in the build-up to a war.

As with Goodfellas, the filthy language serves a purpose - displaying the ruthless venom with which Tucker dispatches his victims, and providing context for his eventual hubristic downfall.

I urge you to see it when it comes out on 17 April. It is perhaps the most quotable film since Spinal Tap (or Wayne's World if you're that way inclined). In fact, I double dare you to use any of the lines in your next boardroom meeting...

Here's a trailer:

And here's a quick example of a perfectly pitched swearathon:

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