Woot woot - feedback on my review of The Combination

From time to time us film writers garner some amusing responses to our reviews. My personal favourites are a) Germaine Greer calling me courageous in relation to my review of Australia and b) the first assistant camera operator of Superman Returns calling me "a brain juice lacking monkey typewriter." Both were wonderfully weird to receive and came right out of the blue. This next one made me laugh and I had to share it with you. It's not a commentary on myself or my review, but simply one reader's response to reading my critique of The Combination, which was published on In Film Australia. This was submitted as a comment to be published below my review; I didn't approve it but you can read it right here, word for (misspelt) word. I stress that I have not edited this in any way. Here it is:

wadda madd mOviie bro i swear i cant wait to go see it mann;; it aint good its phucken hectik i swear it will do ghood here and then go to america man;; wooot woo bro;; i swear good job man for a good movie this good hehehe;; madd movie i swear i aplord who ever made this moviee = ] mwah xoxox

I sincerely hope this person wasn't for real. Or should that be: phucken woo yeAh, I h0pE yooos R noot 4 reeel, phook tha sheet ma niz! xoxo


Oscars: quick thoughts on the winners

Below are some of my thoughts on this year's Oscar winners. For a full list head over to the official Oscars website.

Best Director, Danny Boyle (pictured, right) – No surprises here. Boyle directed the film (Slumdog Millionaire) very precisely. Chris Nolan should have been nominated for The Dark knight.

Best Supporting Actor, Heath Ledger – Everybody knew it was going to happen and it would have been a travesty if it hadn’t. Ledger posthumously picked up a best supporting actor gong for his diabolically-charged and devilishly charismatic performance as The Joker in The Dark Knight, a performance destined to set tongues wagging for decades. If Ledger had chimed in a lesser turn, you could have argued the Academy’s selection was driven by sentiment – but his performance was better than that, and it’s easily superior to Ledger’s only comparable performance as Ennis Del Mar in Brokebank Mountain, for which he was also nominated.

Best Supporting Actress, Penelope Cruz – Criminally, perhaps, I still haven’t watched Vicky Cristina Barcelona. But I will. Oh yes I will.

Best Picture, Slumdog Millionaire – Yeah, I like it: the story is convincing and the performances are pinch-your-skin real, but the central Who Wants to be a Millionaire framing device left me cold. Of the nominated films (Slumdog, The Curious Case of Bejamin Button, Frost/Nixon, Milk and The Reader) I would give it to Frost/Nixon, though I suspect many critics wouldn’t.

Best Actor, Sean Penn – Sean Penn’s impersonation of gay rights activist/politician Harvey Milk was the best thing about Gus Van Sant’s well paced but unchallenging biopic, which moved briskly between pivots in Milk’s political life but lacked the fire and heart that must have fumed inside the real man. Penn is a terrific actor but this isn’t his best film or his best performance and shame, shame, shame on the Academy for not choosing Mickey Rourke. Rourke’s blisteringly gutsy, all-in performance in The Wrestler felt truly like a once in an a lifetime affair; you could sense Rourke was putting everything he had into it. I’m legitimately shocked that he didn’t win and suspect the vote was very close. Sean Penn, however, is not the worst actor in the world to have two gold medals.

Best Adapted Screenplay, Slumdog Millionaire – I would have preferred the award to have gone to one of the two stage plays that were nominated (Doubt or Frost/Nixon). Both would have been deserving.

Best Costume Design, The Duchess – All I have to say is thank god Baz Luhrman’s Australia didn’t win it. Tt’s bad enough that the film has ‘Oscar nominated’ to its name, let alone ‘Oscar winning...’


Don't Tell Me About It, I don't Want to Hear It (paranoia and the Academy Awards)

To celebrate/commemorate/exacerbate Oscar’s Day (it should be an official international day of holiday for film lovers) here is a piece I wrote in 2007 about the paranoia that comes with the event, at least for me. Short commentaries on the winners soon....

Once a year while Hollywood basks in the immediate aftermath of the Academy Awards I spend an afternoon in paranoia, avoiding media broadcasts like the plague. Radio, TV, internet spells danger, danger, danger. If I hear the radio I block my ears. If I see a TV switched on I run for the hills. I don't visit web sites; I don't open Outlook. I approach people warily, ready to leap away like a frog from a dynamite pond if conversation happens to steer in the wrong direction.

It's not really paranoia if the whole world is trying to tell you who won the Oscars.

Essentially a protracted mishmash of mooshy acceptance speeches, expensively dressed celebrities and well rehearsed autocue puns, the Academy Awards never really passes for great entertainment. It is however a good conversation starter, a fine wager-maker and - like a splash of MSG in your noodles - an enticing additive for film fans worldwide. Ultimately the ceremony survives off one essential thrill, which is (duh) discovering who won.

If you live in America, a live feed reveals the results to everyone simultaneously. But if you're watching from a country like Australia, where the telecast usually begins well after the ceremony has concluded, keeping the results unknown for the day can feel like a hopelessly redundant battle - like going to the pub on grand final night and deciding you don't want to know who won the game.

The Oscars ceremony usually begins at 7pm LA time (approx. 10am EST) which means media outlets in Australia have all day to break the story. Unsurprisingly Channel 9 like to wait until prime time hours and this year they began televising red carpet arrivals at 7:30pm EST. Only at quarter to eight I felt comfortable enough to turn on the tube and plonk myself down for the long haul. After a nervy day playing duck and weave with the media, I could finally relax under the blanket of 9's telecast. Or so I thought.

It's understandable that rival networks have no qualms about declaring Oscar results before the telecast; that's an old philosophy called "we didn't get the rights so screw 'em." This year however I was mortified to discover that Channel 9 themselves were the perpetrators of an unforgivable cat-out-of-the-bag blunder. During an Oscars ad break a Channel 9 news update featuring newsreader Peter Kitchener gave Oscar viewers an all too timely report, showing footage of a chuffed Martin Scorsese brandishing a shiny golden statuette. Gee, I wonder who scored best director?

Luckily I didn't see the footage msyelf. As soon as I saw Hitchener and heard the word "Oscars" I bolted like a bat out of hell towards the door, my arms flailing madly, my mouth sputtering hysterical gibberish to block out the audio. In the future - when I'm jaded, Howard Hughes anal and on the cusp of senility - that's the kind of shock that could give my ticker a very bad jolt. How would you like cardiac arrest on your conscience, Mr. Hitchener? Mental note: poporn and beer might not be enough for the future. Stock up on popcorn, beer, defibrillator.

Soon after the telecast returned I received the following SMS from a disgruntled friend: "How's Peter Kitchener's form, giving stuff away on the newsbreak? Clowns!" Poor old Peter might just be a talking head, but surely he could have done something. Block the transmission. Pull the plug. Disregard the autocue and move onto another story. Something. Anything. Hitchener may have been doing his job, but now he's got at least two people in the country more than happy to fork out for a voodoo doll with his face on it. Mental note: if John Safron can arrange a fatwa for Rove McManus, surely I can tee one up for Hitchener and his producers...

Because revealing award night results during the actual telecast in any way, shape or form is a sick thing to do - it would be like interrupting a broadcast of The Sixth Sense with a special news bulletin proclaiming that Bruce Willis's character was dead all along, or cutting from The Crying Game to a Hitchener announcement that the leading lady is actually the leading man. It would be like going to the cinema to see The Empire Strikes Back during its original theatrical run only to have to listen to a newspaper vendor - hired by management - cry out in the middle of it "Extra! Extra! Darth Vader is Luke Skywalker's father!"

A little sensitivity, please, for those who appreciate the element of surprise. So next Oscars day, if you happen to learn the results before the television broadcast, spare a thought for the terrorized movie geek who may not want to know. If you're listening to the radio, wind your window up at the traffic lights. If you're watching TV, keep it down to a dull roar. If you're on the internet, don't announce the results to the rest of world. And if your name is Peter Hitchener, don't, whatever you do, follow the autocue.


A confronting combination

I’ve briefly blogged before about David Field’s The Combination, an upcoming Australian film centered around racial relations and underworld dealings in lower/middle class Sydney. Its poster reads ‘Come and see the real Australia.’ Unsurprisingly, Field’s film wasn’t supported by the Australian Tourism Industry (they must have misplaced the funding application) and, with its confronting tale of misspent youth and wrong-side-of-the-tracks hooliganism, it sure provides a healthy contrast to Bazz Luhrman’s recent work...

The Combination will be released nationally on February 26; to read my review head over to In Film Australia.



Joaquin gets mean – are you f*ckin serious?

A fascinatingly awkward interview took place last week between David Letterman and Joaquin Phoenix, who arrived at The Late Show with black shades and metre-think facial hair, looking eerily like Dr. John’s long lost brother. It was a totally bizarre appearance, during which Phoenix looks nervous and hostile, doesn’t want a bar of any of Letterman’s tomfoolery and refuses to follow any of his comedic cues. It’s a classic interview that will be fondly loaded on Youtube for years to come. To watch it check out the video below.

Phoenix’s response to Letterman’s opening question “how’s the beard” sets the tone for the rest of the interview, which moves quickly from awkward to downright embarrassing to mystifyingly weird. Instead of jokingly observing that he looks a little different these days - cue self-deprecating quip, perhaps - Phoenix responses defensively (“Is there something wrong? You’re making me feel weird about it”) and things get worse therein.

On many occasions Phoenix, who I assume was absolutely wasted at the time (if not he has a lot of explaining to do) tries to get through it by delivering one word responses, and reticence on a program like The Late Show never works. Letterman’s conversations are comprised largely of zingers, comments that lead to zingers and comments that may or may not lead to zingers, so you have to be prepared to shoot the breeze and, as the British say, ‘ave a laf.’ Everybody knows that but Phoenix isn’t at all interested in playing the game. He places the onus for conversation almost entirely on Letterman, who senses the dog is bleeding and hones in for the kill. Things get particularly awkward when Paul Schaffer chimes in by chuckling into the mic, which Phoenix quickly describes as “maniacal laughter” after swivelling around to say “are you f*ckin serious?” Watching the reruns later, I’m sure, after banging his head against the wall for a bit, that he’ll be asking himself the same question...


Macabre mayhem in the third dimension (film review: My Bloody Valentine 3D)

The effects in 3D movies have always been designed to induce simple visceral reactions - the jolts, swerves, gawks and gapes one expects from a trip to Timezone, an amusement park, a Teppanyaki restaurant or somewhere every-dimensionally horrific, like Parliament House. This tradition is faithfully and fetishistically maintained in director Patrick Lussier’s My Bloody Valentine 3D, because human responses don’t get a great deal more visceral than swerving to avoid a rusty pickaxe that’s being flung repeatedly towards your face.

Lussier’s film is a stodgy but grimly satisfying genre outing that follows a miner-gear-clad serial killer who hunts for victims in a town comprised of hot young bods and a couple of stiff Seen It All Before geezers, who swear, promise, cross their hearts, that the real killer was buried years ago and couldn’t possibly return, irrespective of the dead bodies and dismembered limbs piling up around them. My Bloody Valentine isn’t so much about finding your true love as it is finding the best way to introduce him or her to the pickaxe’s penetrative powers.

The story kicks off in a bout of intense grotesquery as Harry Warden, the sole survivor of a terrible mining accident, awakens from a coma on Valentine’s Day and starts carving up the residents of a town ironically named Harmony. A bunch of fresh looking youngsters and, basically, anything that moves are his targets but the mine collapses, the rubble burying Warden. In the great tradition of silly stalker films, his body is never recovered. Fast forward ten years and Alex (Kerr Smith), who is married to Sarah (Jaime King) is the sheriff of this ‘ere town, though his morality is questioned early on via his adultery with a young supermarket check-out chick. This is pittance, however, in comparison to the macabre mayhem unfolding around him as one by one new victims get stalked and slashed…

The revised digital-friendly 3D glasses are new to many audiences and new to the slasher genre (this is the first horror film to utilize them). They are, as one would expect, streets ahead of their red and blue ancestors, notwithstanding their fare share of kinks. Sadly these black plastic glasses are nowhere near as kitsch as the old ones, and, more importantly, they lack clarity: people are fuzzy, the backgrounds are blurry and images lack definition.

But there is no denying the extra kick the 3D elements give, even they look, and are closer technically, to 2D pictures layered on top of each other. Lussier undoubtedly achieves what he set out to do, assuming he set out more or less to make audiences squirm. On these terms My Bloody Valentine is a modest success, perfect for cheap thrills on a weekend night, for hooting crowds to relish the film’s occasionally striking effects - like a rifle that scans the audience and a bullet fired right at us (cheap thrills, for sure, but thrills nonetheless). 3D’s pop-out effect ensures that Harry’s pickaxe will jump ominously close to our popcorn and cokes, even if most people will argue that the real horror lies in how much they forked out for them at the candy bar.

Marrying horror movies with 3D glasses is a good fit. Both are geared at least partly towards gut reactions, and combining them is nothing new: I saw House of Wax and Dial M for Murder in red-and-blue 3D years ago. Neither film, however, had the visual properties to capitalise on the 3D effects: Hitchcock’s film in particular had way too much yakking, with too many concurrent dialogue-based scenes and too many layers of carefully manoeuvred suspense - in other words the film was much too good.

This is not the case with My Bloody Valentine. The plot is marred by the dramatic impotence and logic circuit breakers that are par for the course in the bumpy slasher genre, with scary movie clich├ęs abound, and slightly tweaked, mildly rehashed conventions packaged with a gnarly knowledge of what the target audience craves. The obligatory twist and ‘it was me all along’ speech at the end is a cheeky, really cheeky, story sleight, bound to upset the few people who actually thought this movie had the decency to follow its own logic, but what the hey. Mozart it aint.

Lussier has the good sense to throw in a sex scene in 3D but bizarrely, sadly, seemed to go out of his way to ensure no body parts were amplified by the technology, which feels a little like dangling candy in front of baby. This scene, easily the funniest in the film, may leave portions of the audience hungry for a little more from the adult section of their video libraries, but buyer beware: I can’t help but think that a Johnny Holmes movie, in 3D, could cause unprecedented, irreparable damage to the mental health of heterosexual male audiences. Some porn director is out there right now, mind dancing, mouth salivating, at the thought of all the wonderful possibilities...


Sheer devastation

The heart of every compassionate Australian surely goes out to the people who have lost their lives, health, belongings, properties and communities as a result of the devastating fires that have wreaked carnage across country Victoria. Our hearts and thoughts also go out to the friends and families of the deceased who now must undergo the painful process of grief and bereavement.

Tragedies like this test and strengthen our collective morality. When I talk with people about the fires I see the unselfish concern on their faces; I hear the compassion in their voices. Perhaps at times like this the best we can do is to try and become more empathetic people, thus salvaging some kind of light from the darkness of death and despair.

I will be shopping tomorrow (Friday) at Coles, along with a lot of other people (so expect to wait in line for a while). Coles are contributing all their profits for the day to the bushfire appeal. This is a simple way of helping out by really doing nothing at all – just purchasing your groceries.



Woozy, blurry, sickening cinema – ah, memories (film review: The Blair Witch Project)

This week’s old-but-new-to-the-blog film review is of The Blair Witch Project. How long can I keep this recycled review thing up for? A long, long time (trust me). I haven’t watched this film since I saw it in ’99 but I assume it’s still scary – and it’s scarier still that I wrote this review almost ten years ago now (it's unchanged, too, so forgive me if it's a little rough around the edges). My, my, my, how time flies. The years, they surely run like rabbits. And on that note...

Running. Screaming. It’s dark. Blurred. Cold. Movement, there’s always movement, will the screen ever stop moving? A sense of fear, of urgency, if somebody slips out of frame for too long it’s danger zone, time to panic, oh my god we’re all going to die! Escape the forest! Run down the aisle! Don’t complain about the cheap fear or how you pissed your pants because of it, and if you didn’t, sit down and whine about it, complain about how you’ve been manipulated by the hype and proceed down corridor one to buy the Blair Witch T-shirt for a mere five bucks. What began as a cheap independent mock-documentary soon became an international success story, automatically losing part of its effectiveness as a spooky tale that aspires to feel totally genuine. No wide screen format, no special effects, not even any damn tripods to prevent the screen from jerking - a new kind of untidy but disciplined filmmaking sporting a jagged kinetic energy.

Pity it was never meant to be like this. Blair Witch directors Eduardo Sanchez and Daniel Myrick would no doubt be pleased with the odd $200 + million the film made by the time it hit Australian shores, but I got the sense that it was never supposed to have T-shirt sales before and after the film, that perhaps it would have felt more alive at a tiny dirty little cinema on the outskirts of nowhere, where a few stray cinema goers would watch this no-name film and feel fear, or be surprised, or dream up thoughts that perhaps this is real, it certainly looks real, because remember, it is "real," and whether or not you like to call it an industry parody or a film that tries to be really really scary, it remains a film that captures its environment with uncomfortable realism - it’s a fidgety, uncomfortable movie, perhaps more of an experience than a story, an awkward way to spend a couple of hours and a few dollars, with or without the shirt.

The other day on television I was watching Judge Judy, and if you’re familiar with the show you’ll know that after every ruling by the 'judge,' the people in which the case involved share their comments about the ruling to the camera. I was surprised when a middle aged Greek woman, a little chubby, hard to miss, spoke the closing comment of the show: "If you don’t listen to me, listen to Judge Judy!" she said and laughed. Whilst not of great comedic talent, the woman had a good sense of where she was, I thought; she knew that the surroundings around her were fraud, but she was alert, she was in on the joke, she separated herself from the countless bickering American wankers who don’t realize that all they are doing is spitting on their integrity, recently diminished.

The Blair Witch Project is a film that is ‘in on the joke,’ regardless of whether it takes every minute of its running time seriously or not. Every stage in its development has been executed with a solid knowledge of timing, industry, as well as hype and originality, unless the entire thing was a big-profit fluke, in which case it’s still good enough to warrant such sensational luck. It’s a film that has pulled all the right strings to get where it’s at, and serves as a gigantic reminder that the internet can be one heck of a marketing tool for those who know how to manipulate it. Manipulation, in the case of The Blair Witch Project, is like honey to a bee, a tame metaphor but it’ll do - we’ve been manipulated by the internet, the hype, the desire to be a little scared and intrigued, the desire to see something that is "real" and "authentic" even though the story might be fictional. They’re clever, those bastards, to make the film feel so genuine. It takes discipline to rob audiences of the "money shots" commonly associated with the horror genre: those quick "RRAAA" moments, when we might jump in surprise, but is this all the fear that cinema can generate?

The Blair Witch Project reminds us that no, it is not, but note that I didn’t find the film very scary, mainly because I’m never really scared in the cinema, as "masculine" as that sounds. I found it more unsettling than anything else, quietly eerie rather than blatantly scary. It’s about how people react to fear rather than what is scaring them. It’s more of a character study than a horror movie, meanwhile working with a supernatural theme in the background, constantly looming over the proceedings, waiting to strike or waiting for a moment of immediate danger. That moment never arrives, at least not in the typically extravagant American manner. Gosh darn it, one of the most successful films of the year has subtlety.


Everybody knows that it goes like this, the fourth, the fifth...

I went to see Leonard Cohen at Rod Laver Arena last Thursday and I’ve been delaying writing about it since, fearing, perhaps, that my choice of words would paint me as the giddy fan boy I almost certainly am. In the past couple of months my appreciation of Cohen has steadily increased as I delved into more and more of his work, and I still have much delving to do.

Last year Cohen, now 74, came out of a 15 year retirement after his manager allegedly pilfered his retirement funds. The impression Cohen leaves in his interviews and his art is often of a man who places little emphasis on wealth or possessions. His music was never commercial; his words were written with laborious perfectionism (it's legend that Cohen would spend weeks or months working on a single line); his poetry often spiritual. In 1996 he was ordained as a Zen Buddhist monk, and I remember one interview where he said happiness arrived in his life when he “stopped expecting to win.”

Bummer about his manager, but I’m chuffed that Cohen came out of retirement because the show was just extraordinary – I’m tempting to spray this sentence with superlatives, but it’s probably enough just to say, on the record, that this is the best concert I’ve ever attended. Cohen played all his well known songs, though only one of them, Hallelujah, ever reached widespread international fame, even if there are many other greats – including The Future, Everybody Knows (currently featuring on anti smoking ads), Tower of Song, Democracy, First We Take Manhattan, I’m Your Man and Dance Me to the End of Love. They’re all terrific songs and I recommend curious parties check ‘em out on Youtube or better yet get your hands on a copy of The Essential Leonard Cohen, a superb double CD compilation of much of his work.

Cohen’s hoarse, velvety voice was sublime. He's 74 but it’s hard to believe it’s ever been better. His banter with the audience was great too: at one stage Cohen reflected on when he was 60 years old (“back then I was just a kid with a crazy dream”) and noted that he’s always been interested in religion “but cheerfulness kept creeping in.” He was sweet, endearing, carefully spoken and a consummate performer. I’ve never seen a show quite like it. For an idea of what his voice sounds like nowadays, check out this Youtube video of a rendition of Tower of Song with U2 (for those who don’t like U2, just focus on Cohen). It was filmed last year and is from the documentary I’m Your Man.

For those who’ve never read a Leonard Cohen poem, hows about popping your cherry by reading the piece below - it’s a typically self-deprecating Cohen poem that reflects on his title as a poet, a singer and a ladies’ man. Enjoy.

I had the title Poet
and maybe I was one
for a while
Also the title Singer
was kindly accorded me
even though
I could barely carry a tune
For many years
I was known as a Monk
I shaved my head and wore robes
and got up very early
I hated everyone
and no one found me out
My reputation
as a Ladies’ Man was a joke
It caused me to laugh bitterly
through the ten thousand nights
I spent alone
From a third-storey window
above the Parc du Portugal
I’ve watched the snow
come down all day
As usual
there’s no one here
There never is
the inner conversation
is cancelled
by the white noise of winter…


Bale the baleful

I’m a little late on this one but today I got around to listening to Christian Bale’s deplorable hissy fit - actually it’s more like pure, unbridled bastardry – hurled at DOP Shane Hurlbut on the set of Terminator 4 – Terminator Salvation. Evidently, Hurlbut wandered into Bale’s field of vision during a take and some clever pumpkin surreptitiously recorded Bale’s subsequent, cantankerous diatribe. It made the rounds last week, with hundreds of thousands of curious listeners tuning into this 'ere internet to hear it. If you haven’t had the privilege yet, check out the Youtube clip inserted below.

It goes without saying that this real life horror performance is wholly inexcusable, and it’s especially disappointing that Bale's inevitable apology arrived when the clip became popular, which was many months after the actual incident. “I ask everybody to sit down and ask themselves, have they ever had a bad day and have they ever lost their temper and really regretted it,” he said.

If the question is “have I ever had a really bad day and then taken it out on somebody who didn’t deserve it in the form of unrelenting verbal abuse” then the answer is actually no, I haven’t. Most of us have seen something similar to this kind of unjustified anger – for example when you’re waiting in line at, say, the bakery, and a customer in a tetchy mood decides to let it out by berating a staff member over something trivial like the number of blueberries in their muffins. Every time I resist the temptation to point out that perhaps, just perhaps, the muffin or muffin equiverlant probably isn’t the root of their problems...

During my university years I worked at a video store that offered very cheap rentals (all new releases were $2.50) and had a system in place whereby customers couldn’t rent anything until they paid their fines. I remember during one shift a man, probably in his early 30s, got very shirty when I politely explained that he would have to pay a $2.50 penalty before he could take any more movies, and the conversation culminated with him threatening to punch me in the face before walking off in a huff and banging the security sensor with his fist on the way out. Two days later he returned and apologised, sheepishly explaining that he’d had a very bad day; apology accepted, of course, but I naturally viewed him in a different light from that day forth, and maybe some people will do the same with Christian Bale.

These kinds of nasty incidents can't define somebody as a 'bad' person, but they can provide some kind of window into their personality. Hollywood actors, when you get down to it, have a pretty sweet gig, with people like Bale and other friends of fury (like Dennis Hopper) getting paid huge sums of cash to do something they supposedly love. They aint exactly spending day after day at the coal mine, so what's there to complain about?

In Bale's apology he also said “I'm not comfortable with this notion of being a movie star. I'm an actor.” When I envision passionate actors I often picture people in grungy theatres doing pro bono performances for the love of the craft – in other words, not the kind of people who abuse somebody for walking into their field of vision. No - hissy fits and movie stars make much more comfortable bedfellows.

But the top prize in these scabrous stakes doesn't go to a movie star. The nastiest celebrity hissy fit/torrent of abuse in recent years has to go to Michael Richards's racist response to hecklers during a stand up comedy performance in late 2006. Boy, that was intense.

Listen to Christian Bale the baleful below.


Letting it all hang out


I wrote a story for today's Age about letting it all hang out. More specifically, the story is about nude beaches in Melbourne. Head over to The Age to have a read.



Laughs and dismembered limbs in the classroom - gotta go back, back, back to school again...

Just for a bit of fun, have compiled their top ten ‘worst schools from movie and TV land.’ It isn’t clear precisely what their criteria is, but the words ‘depravity’ and ‘chaos’ appear in the intro, so the selected shows and movies can be pretty much divvied into horror (i.e. Woodsboro High in Scream and Erinsborough High in Neighbours - oh, the horror! the horror!) and comedy (i.e. South park Elementary and Springfield Elementary).

If the list had taken a less flippant approach, you could bet your buck on a guernsey for the schools from Dangerous Minds (making Mr. Tambourine Man educational!), Lean On Me (Morgan Freeman as principal!), Half Nelson (drug addicted teachers!) or Dead Poets Society (boarding school twats!). The latter features Robin Williams as a teacher, thus fulfilling the criteria for comedy and horror - standing on top of your desk might be fun, sure, but imagine rocking up to class with a hangover and having to deal with all that unrelentingly high octane cheerfulness...