Dickon Edwards (dickon_edwards) wrote,
Dickon Edwards

The League Of Gentlemen's Apocalypse

To the Prince Charles Cinema, for a live DVD-style commentary-screening of The League Of Gentlemen's Apocalypse. It's just like watching a DVD with the audio commentary on, except the actors are in the front row of the cinema with radio mics. It's a strange event, but then the Prince Charles is a cinema famed for its umpteen 'singalong or shout-along' screenings of The Rocky Horror Picture Show and more lately Singalong The Sound Of Music, where the audience are provided with their own puppet nuns.

One might imagine a 'shout-a-long' event for other films. For Revenge Of The Sith, the entire audience could scream throughout "please hurry up and turn into Darth Vader so we can all go home and get on with our lives."

Here, there's no puppet nuns given out. But I do get two free drinks. A 'glass' of wine turns out to be a generous beaker filled almost to the brim, so I am more than happy. Cheers to the League Of Gentlemen.

What most intrigues me about the LOG is how they're unashamedly self-mythologising when chatting about their own work. Like the makers of Spaced and Shaun Of The Dead, they are obsessive fans who create obsessive fans. It's narcissistic (an adjective I only ever use as a compliment) and deliberately self-aware cult entertainment. It knowingly feeds and encourages a following of disciples, because the makers themselves are the same sponge-like fan of culture, popular and highbrow. During the live commentary, they allude to anything from The Shining to Sartre's No Exit to Ms Fern Britton's weight.

Hearing them ramble on for 90 minutes over their own movie is perfectly engaging and enjoyable, as I generally enjoy DVD commentaries anyway. In my more perverse moods, I find comedy commentaries can be funnier or more interesting than whatever's being commented upon. As for the actual LOG movie, it's not entirely my cup of tea all the way through, and I would never place it in a time capsule as representative of the LOG at their best (for me, that would be a selection of episodes from the TV series). But I do find many of the jokes genuinely amusing, many of its ideas genuinely inspired. He said ungraciously, sipping on their free wine.

I suppose a live commentary has the added frisson not just of playing to an audience, but also being free of any editing for libel. Not that I can recall any salacious gossip from the evening.

An audience also provides a quick way of testing the best jokes - or rather the jokes that work best even when talked over. Going by this crowd, the movie's clear highlight is the ejaculating-giraffe scene towards the beginning. Further references to it solicit an equally fulsome response. "Calm down. We don't want to milk the giraffe... Oh, I didn't mean that, either..."

There's another big laugh when they mention an idea for a spin-off sitcom featuring Herr Lipp as a plumber: 'Lipp Sinks'. They're joking, which is a shame given the paucity of real spin-offs which do get made, like Joey or The Green Green Grass. Sitcoms where you have to spot the joke in Episode Four.

As audience members take their seats before the screening, I hear something which instantly reminds me I'm in fanbase territory. People are loudly swapping the addresses of websites.

The movie DVD's poster campaign relies upon two favourites from the TV series: Papa Lazarou and the 'Local Shop'. This gives rather a false impression, as both are barely in the movie at all. Seems a bit mercenary, given the film is about the LOG trying to move away from their past TV success. But perhaps that's the point of the ad.
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