Read an exclusive extract from Richard Ayoade’s new book, ‘The Grip of Film’

Meditations on film by that master of the medium, Gordy LaSure.

Cover

Timba Smits

For his latest foray into the world of publishing, celebrated British actor and filmmaker Richard Ayoade presents a guide to the movies as viewed through the unique lens of Gordy LaSure, a man who knows the industry inside and out and isn’t afraid to speak his mind. The book is an A-W exploration of the cinematic medium which seeks an answer to such searching questions as: why are some films bad, and some films terrible? And how come just a handful of film (Titanic, Porky’s, Dirty Harry) are any good at all? Here’s a little taste of what Gordy has to say…

Actors, Having More Than One Asian One

Will there ever be a Hollywood film starring more than one Asian person?
Maybe if every non-Asian actor dies. And if the cost of revivifying those dead non-Asian actors is prohibitive.
Some people are gonna cry ‘racism’. Well, cry me a river and meet me down the delta of DontGiveAFuck.
Not hiring people because of their race is a constitutional right.
That’s one of the reasons I came to this country.
Should I go to jail because I don’t trust Caucasians to do valet parking? Apparently, yes. And I have.
The fact that Hollywood won’t hire Asian people except as background players clustered round a computer has precisely jack shit to do with typing, let alone stereos.
Fact is, the only stereo type I’ll even think about buying is a Yamaha.
And I’m the racist?
Please.

Aesthetic

In the opening shot of Rowdy Herrington’s 1989 magnum opus about the secret world of security guards, the camera frames a pair of high heels pivoting out of a recently opened car door, before panning up to a HOT GIRL walking toward a club in a CLINGY DRESS. The title comes up, salmon pink: Road House.
Straight off the bat we know this film has style.
The title of this chapter is a fancy word for it.
Movies need an AESTHETIC. Why do you think James Bond is so popular? I distrust Foreign Nationals and women as much as the next intimacy-shy sociopath, but these films have much more to offer than the admittedly soothing balm of xenophobia and casual misogyny.
The reason Bond movies give everyone a BONER THAT WON’T SQUASH BACK is simple: they shit style.
Dinner jackets, cufflinks, crisp white shirts, slinky dresses, orchestral swells, après-ski, thin guns, chalets, cars that only seat one passenger – Jesus, it’s so sophisticated I’m getting a semi.
Is your movie giving the audience a semi?

Alchemy

Danny DeVito on his own is goddam magnificent. Schwarzenegger solo ain’t too shabby. But put them together and what you got?
The filmmakers called it Twins.
I call it ALCHEMY.
Because although base materials can’t turn into gold, high concepts
can.

Ass

High-end philosopher Plato (dead, Greek) thought that everything on earth was an imperfect copy of its ‘ideal form’.
‘What is a bicycle pump?’ Plato would have said. ‘Not the imperfect one I’m pointlessly pummeling – this is but a shadow.
Nay, in some other dimension there exists an absolute bicycle pump, where its pumpiness is at its most bicycley. And when we picture a bicycle pump, it’s this perfect pump of memory that we do behold.’
But a philosophy of pumps won’t get us any further down the freeway than a piece-of-shit bicycle.
So what about Man? What is our Platonic form? What is our essential nature? Where might we find our soul?
The Movies, more than 200 years later, have an answer:
In our ASS.
During the climactic showdown of Rowdy Herrington’s transcendent 1989 doorman dramedy Road House, local business magnate Brad Wesley (Ben Gazzara) taunts Dalton (Patrick Swayze): ‘I see you’ve found my trophy room, Dalton. The only thing missing is your ass.’ Why does Wesley want Dalton’s ass so bad?
We instinctively understand Dalton’s ass to be something important, and yet we know that this particular ass – like all ass – does not exist in its own right. Dalton’s ass is not something separate from the rest of Dalton; it is not a severable component.
Dalton cannot hand over his ass. Dalton handing his ass to Wesley would be the same as giving Wesley his essence.
Dalton’s ass is Dalton at his most distilled. To take Dalton’s ass is to take Dalton himself.
Because Dalton is ass.
And this kind of ass is something far bigger than the ‘arses’ I grew up with in Glasgow (and that’s saying something). Cos an ‘arse’ is just a coupla cheeks and a syphon system.
So while it’s possible to act like an ‘arse’, to be an ‘arse’ or even to select a gear for your ‘arse’ to be in, there’s something shrunken about the term, which corresponds to the provincial nature of UK cinema in general.
British Arse lacks the life-affirming expansiveness of American Ass.
That kind of ass – American Movie Ass – is made of groin, guts and anus. It’s so much bigger than an ‘arse’. It’s the site of our true selves.

‘Richard Ayoade presents The Grip of Film by Gordy LaSure’ is published by Faber & Faber on 5 October.

Published 27 Sep 2017

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