This blog is based on a true story

Yesterday evening we watched Kinky Boots, a film that tries too hard to be in the vein of recentish British comedies such as The Full Monty, Waking Ned or Saving Grace. It wasn’t exactly a bad film, it was simply deeply mediocre, which may be even worse… Even Chiwetel Ejiofor, playing the transvestite Lola, couldn’t save this film which clearly believed itself more charming that it actually was.

However, much worse were the trailers before the main attraction, all of them for films that proclaimed themselves to be “Based on a true story” in a deep, authoritative trailer voice. What worries me even more is that there’s obviously an audience for movies that make that claim for themselves. Are there really so many people who think that the seal of Factuality(tm) makes a movie better?

I’ve always thought that a story is elevated simply by itself, by the strength of the storytelling. A badly told, hackneyed story isn’t miraculously made less so by suggesting that it’s based on something that really happened – and let’s face it, realistically speaking there’s precious little left of the original facts by the time the film makes it to movie (or, in this case, television) screens. A great, well written and acted story, on the other hand, isn’t somehow worth less (or indeed worthless) because it is made up.

Perhaps this is just me being an arrogant ex-literary scholar, but I actively resent this attitude that there’s a clear cut division between fact and fiction. There’s truth in completely made up stories, especially emotional truth, if the storyteller knows what he’s doing; and there’s probably no genre that is as fictionalised as autobiography, which also tends to live off the claim that “This really happened, man!”

As it is, unless a film is written, directed and acted by talented people, the dreaded label “Based on a true story” is often reason enough for me to give it wide berth. If some pretend factuality is all a movie has has going for it, count me out.

But I would be a git if I just left you with this crabby, cranky monologue – so, as promised, here’s some more Tex Avery, supplemented by a Bill Plympton short. I love the malleability of the human, or lupine, body in the cartoons done by those two – and I love the absurdism and silliness. How needs stories based on real life if you can have cats in the shape of milk bottles and eyeballs literally popping out of a horny wolf’s head at some red hot riding hood?

And now I’m back/From outer space

Okay, actually it’s Davos I’m back from – although it does feel rather spacey during the WEF Annual Meeting. I mean, how often do you go to the men’s room and then wash your hands next to Henry Kissinger? (I didn’t, but I helped look after someone who did.)

Anyway, this entry isn’t about taking a leak with the high and mighty. It’s basically my way of saying, “Hello. I’m back. Miss me much? Hello? Anyone listening?” And then, tumbleweeds and the sound of crickets.

So, to ease myself back into this blogging business, I’m going to make it semi-easy on myself. And to give the title of this entry some minimal relevance, here’s a cartoon by Tex Avery. More will follow later – unless there’s a flood of comments telling me, “We hate Tex! Want more Miami Vice!” In which case I may just retire to some snowy peak in the Himalayas where I will dispense wisdom and computer game cheat codes from the ’80s to unwary yaks and passers-by.