Sunday, January 23, 2011

Auteur Watch - Dick Clement & Ian La Frenais

Okay, technically they're not brothers, but they probably work together better than most brother teams you know! But there are some scary similarities: both are British, both were born 1937, and BOTH were awarded the OBE for... screenwriting? Really? Well, it was 2007 and the Queen Mum must've seen that delightful Flushed Away. Really, that deserves SOME kind of award... no Oscar for Best Animated Feature? That's unusual.
Well, they've essentially been working straight through five decades now, so it's hard to say which is their favourite. Is it the go-go 60s? Psychedelia, Beatles, rioting, icons and iconoclasts galore... they were pretty much sidelined the whole time with piddly TV work. Then again, they did have Hannibal Brooks, directed by Michael Winner. Is this not an icon worthy of note?
Or how about the 70s? All in the Family, Black Panthers, Sly & The Family Stone? Like the Stones, Clement & Frenchy were sucking in the 70s, with nose to the Underwood, plugging away at TV show after TV show. How mercilessly they come. You could learn a thing or two from these two, Richard Curtis!! But the decade wasn't without highlight: in 1979, this dynamic duo DIRECTED a semi-concert thing: To Russia... With Elton. Icons poking fun at icons. Needles to say, directing must've left a bad taste in their mouths, because it was back to the Underwoods and out from behind the camera. They never directed again. Sigh. What could of been.
How about the Me Decade? The go-go 80s? Reagan and punk, Repo Man and Sally Cruikshank? The time when the art community retreated to their studio apartments in the big cities and never looked back? Well, with working on scripts like Never Say Never Again and Vice Versa, Clement and La Frenais must've never looked back in their own right, and Hollywood began to take notice of these veteran British screenwriters and say "Look! They're British!" Vice Versa's one of those films heralded as pretty good compared to Big. Too bad it'll never be seen again.
Maybe it was the 90s that they're best known and loved for. Between The Commitments and Still Crazy, they nailed the declining rock world, and the rise of the new rockers, not necessarily in that order. Yes indeed, they were the go-to guys for novel adaptations. But Roddy Doyle wasn't to last, but merely pave the way for T. Coraghessen Boyle, who further paved the way for Nick Hornby. But as we all know, they're all mere pretenders to the throne currently held by Nicholas Sparks and that Twilight tart.
And so, the new 60s gave way to the new 30s, or the 2000s, the Dubya Decade, as it shall be dubbed. Work for these lads like in the 90s was slow, not very remarkable, but steady. And, with the occasional $100+ million budget animated feature like Flushed Away, time to sit back and gather the awards and accolades in your overdue arms. Nothing to do now but become honorary professors and talk to the young people about how to break into the biz. All wanting to be the next Joe Ezsterhas, but frankly you'd be lucky indeed to settle for being the next Dick Clement and Ian La Frenais. Cheerio, you lucky bastids.

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