any good movies lately?
and recommend it.
Bagley is a hotshot young advertising executive at one of the top
agencies in London. He’s the best there is, and he knows it. He can
sell anything to anyone … which is why he can’t for the life of him
figure out why he’s having such a hard time with his current product,
your basic old zit cream (or “boil” cream, as he calls it).
His boss is breathing down his neck, the impatient client’s
threatening to pull the account, and poor Bagley’s so stressed-out
about his lack of anything resembling a good idea that he’s starting
to see boils everywhere, to the point where it seems quite obvious to
everyone around him that he desperately needs to take a break, if he
wants to avoid going completely mad. Unfortunately, Bagley just can’t
get his mind off boils, despite the urgings of both his wife, Julia, and
his boss. One evening, Julia points out that he’s so worked up about
it that he’s developed a nasty boil of his own, right where his neck
meets his shoulder. Soon,
the boil reveals itself as a nasty, conniving, smooth-voiced,
ad-spouting boil – though he talks to Bagley alone, of course.
As Bagley has a crisis of conscience and tries to pull away from
his old, consumerist life, the evil boil grows ever larger and more
manipulative, thwarting his attempts at redemption and wreaking complete
havoc on his sanity.
does crazy as hilariously as Richard E. Grant. As in his delightfully
over-the-top, nutty performance in writer-director Bruce Robinson’s
first film, the cult classic Withnail
and I, Grant again does a fine job of hamming it up in
deliriously manic style. Whether he’s playing the frazzled,
nerves-shot-to-hell victim of an improbable talking malignant boil or
delivering yet another soliloquy to 80s consumerism as an unctuous,
materialistic slimeball, Grant is always wickedly, wickedly funny.
Subtle acting, it’s not, but Grant’s spot-on performance is exactly
what’s needed to make this kind of scathingly-pointed satire work.
Sadly, the pacing of the film feels a little off –- the ending arrives
so abruptly that it leaves you feeling vaguely off-kilter when the
credits suddenly start rolling – but for the most part, Bruce
Robinson’s movie does a very entertaining job of skewering both the
advertising industry, and a society that allows itself to be so easily
duped into coveting things it doesn’t need it all.
While its criticism of rampant commercialism may not be anything
new, the way in which it chooses to do so is completely, utterly
original. A totally weird, at times brilliant, blackest-of-the-black
comedy, How to Get Ahead in Advertising is both very British and
deeply, deeply 80s, but somehow, manages to transcend its times.—reviewed
by Yee-Fan Sun
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