Screengrab: Spinal Tap- The Music of Fun


Richard Lutz has his finger on the remote for  this week’s movies on tv


Do you need a better film than This is Spinal Tap (Mon, ITV4, 23.00)? If ever a genre needed the mickey taken out of it, it has to be the rockumentary parody where addled coke heads are elevated to icon status, mediocre guitarists are lifted to the level of Mozart and lead singers become gods simply because they have long hair and  hermaphroditic bodies.

Directed by Rob Reiner nearly 30 years ago, it sends up the rock stars, the non questioning jaded  ‘fly on the wall’ doco movies and the idiots who actually like the sterile music they spew out.

Michael McKean, Christopher Guest and Harry Shearer (yes, the guy who does  voices on The Simpsons) among others are Spinal Tap- a mid eighties rock band touring America with less and less money,less and less creative juices and more and more self delusionary illusions.

There’s parodies of Led Zep, Whitesnake and Black Sabbath  and almost every other heavy duty rock group that tries to make a buck from grim endless songs as they travel across the States. The script- which is mostly ad libbed- is so true to form that director Reiner was congratulated  many times for the movie but criticised for not following a better known group.

Leave the final word to Ozzie Osbourne. When he first saw it, word has it he couldn’t figure out why everyone was laughing. He thought Spinal Tap was a good band and shouldn’t be mocked.

Let’s rock on now 24 hours and My Cousin Vinnie emerges full of Brooklyn chutzpah and venom  (Tues; TCM, 21.00). Joe Pesci, who usually plays masochistic thugs who enjoy pushing pencils into people’s throats, plays it funny as a sleazo lawyer from New York who has to go to the deepest South to rescue a fellow city boy  from injustice. The North takes on the South- it’s a re play of the American Civil War that never ended. Fred Gwynne plays the judge- remember him from The Munsters?

On to heavier ammo with Full Metal Jacket (Wed; ITV1, 22.35). Kubrick didn’t make bad films. Some were just more opaque that the junk that Hollywood vomited out. This is his take on the Vietnam War and it is harrowing stuff- not as grim as Mallick’s Thin Red Line (passim). But credibly violent to put you off volunteering for the next of war of  freedom.

Cool Runnings (Thurs; ITV2, 20.00) should  have been played every night on an endless loop during the Olympics bash. A Jamaican team of bob sleigh athletes  show what the West Indies can do for the Winter Olympics. Funny stuff indeed- mixing up Bob Marley with off piste slopes

And on to the end of the week with Anonymous (Fri;  10.00 Sky Movies Premier) where addled director Roland Emmerlich   decides that the Earl of Oxford wrote Shakespeare’s works. No,  he didn’t. William Shakespeare wrote Shakespeare. So, you get a juvenile piece of junk about   Elizabethan England which no one should take seriously.  No doubt, second year literature students will take it as gospel in five years’  time and lift second rate dialogue as true quotes from the land of The Bard.


+ SCREENGRAB is taking a break and will appear haphazardly until Christmas.