Monday, 22 August 2016

Iain & Kath's Film Ring: Bill Murray pub, Islington

You may think you know who Iain Lee is from his TV appearances such as RISE or The 11 O’clock show but for my money he is producing interesting, funny and innovative radio in an area which is stagnant and lazy – speech. Rather than hitting the immigration, 70s kids TV show, legalise drugs or The Muslims subjects of 99% of his rivals he makes entertainment seemingly on the run. It can be serious, funny but never boring even if its just talking about something he watched on Netflix. Which is where tonight’s event began and who could imagine it would end up with 100 people packed into a former scuzzy pub in London laughing uproariously.

The seed of tonight is the documentary film ‘Kung Fu Elliot’ that follows Elliot ‘White Lightning’ Scott, Canada’s foremost action hero star as he, his friends and long suffering girlfriend Linda make his latest film – Blood Fight. The key to why this film caught Iain and his audiences imagination is that you flip-flop constantly from believing it’s real or a spoof. Elliot does not come over well but you have to admire his enthusiasm as he tries to do the thing he loves. Iain encouraged his Talk Radio listeners to watch and then discuss their theories about its authenticity etc plus interviewed the directors who assured us it was 100% genuine.

So, in a pub where I was once the music quiz Daddy, we gathered to watch Elliot Scott’s ‘The Hero / The Stalker’ – not the advertised ‘They Killed My Cat’ as Iain judged it to be unwatchable with surprisingly little fighting. Being a devotee of the series MST3K where a man and his robot chums watch the worst films ever made and riff jokes over them I have seen some terrible films. However this was boldly and defiantly bad on an epic scale – it’s editing, sound, acting and stolen off telly SFX in addition to glacially slow chases and driving scenes convinced me that Elliot and the documentary are genuine. You would have to be a genius to assemble something like this on purpose so it had to be the result of no budget, no plan and nothing but childish glee. The film had the room rocking with gaffaws, explosive laughter and bemusement as to whether this was for real.

However that was just the taster to the more unplanned section after a cough and a drag with Iain and his producer Katherine sparking off each other onstage leading to an interview with Blake who features in the documentary via Skype. That little thrill was then trumped by the news that Elliot himself had returned from exile in Outer Mongolia and Iain had made contact. The genuine nervous tension in the room was broken as he answered the phone and we cheered like he was an Olympic hero. Fairly nonplussed he discussed his work and the documentary, his version of events including the bombshell that it was “90% made up” and a satire of the Canadian movie industry. It’s that rare time when you actually hear a room gasp as if their world is wobbling on its axis. Iain and Kath skilfully got the best out a pair of reluctant interviewees and thrilled a room of nerds in the process.

One of the directors, Jaret Belliveau, was much amused by Elliot’s revelations (we could probably have heard his laughter from the US without the need for Skype) and had some of his own that I probably can’t repeat on a public forum. This all added up to a unique night on a hot summer night in the capital. If it had just been a night sneering and poking fun at Elliot and his dreams then it would have felt empty but deep down inside we admire his belief in what he does even if he is a overgrown manipulative and delusional man or a solid gold genius parodist. Let your freak flag fly and salute those who do the same – that was the spirit of what happened here.
This might all mean nothing to anyone who hasn’t seen the documentary but perhaps has made you curious to do so – but not The Hero The Stalker – we watched that so you don’t have to.

Like Kung Fu Elliot himself that we should take risks, do the things we love and believe that it will find an audience. I hope tonight is the first of many funny entertaining film evenings from Iain and Kath.