Friday, January 25, 2008
The Spice is Right
GIRL POWER! Spice World: The Movie, BBC Four, 8.30pm
There are those, such as F Dunkin Wedd, recipient of this week's Letter of the Week in the Radio Times, who think that BBC Four is descending into some kind of populist hell of late, and will probably view its decision to screen Spice World: The Movieas part of its pop music season as a sign of the apocalypse, but we'd like to stand up and applaud such a decision, because in our humble opinion, there is always a need for a channel that's as willing to screen a silly but brilliant pop movie as it is to screen Victoria Coren's History of Corners (even if the latter was just a BBC Four spoof included in Charlie Brooker's Screenwipe, but let's be honest, it was completely on the nose as spoofs go). It shows a very healthy open mind and lack of pretension, to our way of thinking. Also, the fact that they're choosing to screen such a movie on lowculture's fifth birthday cannot be a coincidence - it's obviously some kind of loving tribute to us, which we wholeheartedly appreciate.
It's easy to poke fun at this film, of course, but there's also much in it that's worthy of approval: Victoria Beckham emerging as a surprise comic talent, the girls' willingness to send up absolutely everything about themselves, Torchwood's Naoko Mori in a random bit-part as their heavily-pregnant friend, and of course some brilliant pop music piped in at regular intervals. It's hardly Citizen Kane, of course, but then it was never meant to be, and we do have to ask who the bigger fool is here: the person who goes to see Spice World expecting to some harmless fun, or the person who goes to see Spice World to point out the many reasons why it will never win an Academy Award for Best Picture. (We once spoke to someone who grouched that the scene where the girls are attempting to jump over Tower Bridge in the Spice bus, only for the shot to be changed to a deliberately crude and childish model shot made out of loo rolls with the toy bus being pulled on a piece of string, was "obviously cheap and fake", thereby missing the entire point. And seriously: if you're too dumb to understand this film, what's to become of you?)
Besides, it's easy enough to paint this as a cinematic masterpiece if you want to. It was a brave directorial decision to cast such obviously unskilled actors in the main roles. The wanton jettisoning of all known conventions of plot, storylining and continuity are extremely bold and daring. And the final concert scene at the Royal Albert Hall is a masterful flight of fancy. But we don't need to be ironic about it, because we know this movie is great, and the fact that it's being screened on a "clever channel" like BBC Four, on our birthday, no less, is obviously a complete validation of our viewpoint. Hooray!