Story Pile: The Gentlemen

Look, I don’t know Guy Ritchie. I don’t know the man, I don’t know his life. I can look up details in his backstory or read interviews or find out whether he’s a hash-tag-cancelled style dude, or whatever. I understand he was married to Madonna at some point, he’s made a bunch of movies, and people like some of them and make fun of others. If you want you can point to films you like that he’s made like Sherlock Holmes and The Man From UNCLE, or maybe if you want you can point to films that he’s made that you don’t like Aladdin or Swept Away.

I am never ever dealing with the whole of a man, and movies aren’t made, they escape. With that in mind, there is a prudent recognition that when I say ‘Guy Ritchie has done,’ with a movie, that what I really mean is that Guy Ritchie’s name is being filled in as the default answer to a host of questions about decisions for the crafting of a movie that has been released by a company that is itself composed of a small army of worker ants that then subsequently dismantle the company itself upon the completion of their task. It is always an inadequate term personalising an enormous communal task as if one guy did it, because hypothetically we can treat a movie as if a singular vision guided the millions of decisions that brought it into being.

Anyway, Guy Ritchie sure turned fifty, didn’t he?

Content Warning: This movie includes implied bestiality and sexual battery pending an assault. Basically, someone gets pinned to something and then it’s interrupted.You don’t see it, and it is brief, but it’s still feels pretty unnecessary to me.

The Gentleman is a crime story about a couple of criminal masterminds and lords in their fifties, confronting the way the world has changed around them. Things get complicated, but they show those plucky youths with a bit of luck, and quite a bit of unnecessary use of the word ‘cunt.’ Like, that is a simplification but that’s the funny thing with this kind of story. While there are a lot of moving pieces, a lot of complication, the core of the story is pretty simple: A crim in his fifties wants to retire on a giant pile of money, and that gets made complicated, in crime ways. Specifics would ‘ruin’ the ‘surprise’ of the movie, breaking down all sorts of interesting anticipated maybes and oh nos that they have on offer.

The cast is ‘star studded’ in that it’s got a bunch of blokes who would have been amazing to see in the same movie about fifteen years ago and now it’s like, oh look, they’re old, and man, I can’t get over this. I’m sorry, I’m not trying to obsess about it, but this is a movie about a bunch of older criminals dealing with a changing world and being interrupted by youths that don’t appreciate or recognise how important they are, and culminates with – spoilers I guess – those same older criminals winding up pretty much as the only proper power around, because you know, it’s good to be king.

It’s a fun movie! I’m not against it! It’s just gosh it’s hard to see the text as the text.

As a white guy of a certain age, it should not surprise you that I own DVDs of both Lock Stock & Two Smoking Barrels and Snatch, other Guy Ritchie movies. These are frantic, jam-packed, fast-paced movies with what I can refer to as ‘a directorial style’ and actually know what I mean. The dialogue is sloppy and conversational but the actual scenes as explained are told with visual cutaways, fast zooms, and extremely tight, clipped cuts that give the whole move a sort of breathless downhill pace. Characters loll around in moments of awkward waiting before abrupt, sometimes chaotic violence erupts. This, despite it being a style only really used in these two movies, is a style I thought of as ‘Guy Ritchie’ style, and I thought of myself as a big fan of it.

Thing is, Guy Ritchie does a lot of other things and most of his movies aren’t, in fact, those two movies. Those are two movies that defined a lot about a style and I like them a lot and they have prrrroblems, but they’re cool. Like, that’s almost it. They are cool. They are slick and stylish and extremely good at making individual moments of character interaction seem great, even though you’re also left realising oh wow these people are dreadful. This movie has a protracted sequence of a millionaire’s left hand murderer show up and bully a bunch of drug addicts then beat up some kids, and he’s not even particularly clever but it’s still the moment when I realised that this character was both my favourite character in the movie and also just an amazingly tedious dickhead.

This is a movie about how great it is to be the boss’ favourite dude, as told through a sequence of interesting cock-ups.

And now one kinda weird content-warning spoiler thing: I’m gunna talk about the bestiality.

What the fuck is with English media makers thinking that being outed as a pig fucker would be a serious problem in the United Kingdom? Like, David Cameron fucked a dead pig and it hardly affected him and he was the Prime Minister.

Like, it’s a plot point in this movie that a couple of youtube-savvy MMA fighters successfully blackmail a media mogul with a video of him, high as fuck, having sex with a pig. And he’s meant to be a high power media executive, someone who retaliates hard to being humiliated. And part of it is this movie’s weird view on drugs, and weird views on pigfucking, which is especially weird because why would there be a commonly accepted view on one of those things.

Look, drugs and brains are complicated. Drugs can make people do weird things. But generally speaking, drugs make you worse at doing things. They make you less coordinated and less capable. There are drugs that don’t, but those drugs tend to not make you behave differently – they’re categorically, typically more likely to make you do more of what you’d do already. As a result, it is very, very hard to drug someone up to make them do things they would not do. You can diminish their inhibitions, you can confuse their attention, but if you have an elaborate video where the character is clearly engaging with the pig, and…

That kind of implies that this person is probably already fantasising about sex with a pig, and therefore, the drugs lowered their inhibitions enough to do it.

But these characters planned to bring this character to a farm, to fuck a pig.

Which means to them, it seemed likely that they could, with drugs, convince this guy to fuck a pig.

… Which you’d only do if you could see it as a reasonable thing to think you could do…

…. which kind of implies that in this universe, it’s very common to imagine people out there think about and want to fuck pigs. Maybe not everyone. But enough people that ‘let’s try making a pig porno and see where we wind up’ doesn’t require you to have some deep, specific viewpoint on it.

So in the Guy Ritchie Crime Verse… yeah, it’s totally normal to assume anyone would fuck a pig if they had a chance.

… Which kinda makes me wonder about why these movies think that’s normal.

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