‘You Were Never Really Here’ Is Not All There

(as seen through ‘The Fishy-Eye Lens’ of Ripley Trout)                             

(contains traces of nuts and spoilers)

Half a loaf is better than no analogy at all, right? And yet “You Were Never Really Here” leaves me wishing that Lynne Ramsay had gone all-out for either fur-coat or knickers, rather than attempting to have both her sartorial cake/loaf and eat it too. Especially since that last sentence has made me think of edible-knickers. And so I feel it only fair that Lynne Ramsay should feel responsible for this situation and learn whatever lesson is necessary so that it isn’t repeated.

Joaquin Phoenix considers edible knickers

The aptly-named Whack’Em Phoenix turns in an acting masterclass as Mel Gibson’s beard in a film that’s a mash-up of ‘Taxi Driver’ and ‘Whac-a-Mole’. But ‘You Were Never Really Here’ is, ironically, ‘not all there’. Just like Whack’em’s character, it’s losing the plot. Or, rather, the film doesn’t know whether to have more plot or less plot – and so falls between two stools of plot (which are like bar-stools at a counter in that they both look the same from a distance but one of them will have a slight wobble and smell faintly of piss). 

Mel Gibson surprised to discover Joaquin Phoenix in his beard

Fortunately Ramsay’s film does not offer us the sense of scent as you rather fear there might indeed be a hint of urine wafting around Whack’Em’s character. But in terms of the other senses, like all Ramsay’s films, it is wonderfully crafted – provocatively framed, with unsettling sound-design, and driven by a powerful performance from Phoenix. But the whole is less than the sum of its parts. It is somehow less satisfying than it initially seems, like a small pizza, or Obama’s presidency. 

The fur-coat-but-no-knickers approach would have seen the film minimise the intricacies of the crime plot and instead go full-Travis in concentrating on portraying the psychological breakdown of the main character – ditching the plot in order to concentrate on Whack’Em losing the plot. The most affecting and effective periods of the film are where it does this. But then it goes back in search of the plot again, a party-girl who has felt a cold draught of shame and gone in search of the knickers that she knows she’s supposed to be wearing if she’s to be a ‘respectable’ girl like all the other ‘good’ girls. 

Robert De Niro enjoys wearing no knickers in ‘Taxi Driver’

But surely this is an outdated notion. So what if she’s not wearing any knickers? ‘Going commando’ is a style-option these days rather than a symbol of moral degeneracy. Would a thong make it okay? And what’s a thong anyway? Is it half-a-pair of knickers or a full pair of one-sided knickers? Is a thong the half-a-loaf of sartorial analogies? 

What if the knickers are made out of the fur-coat itself, to create a sort of metaphorical merkin? Granted, fur’s status has gone from de rigeur to verboten in the intervening PC years since the analogy was at its peak, but if it’s simply an issue of practicalities and being sensible – and if you can only pick one or the other – then surely the fur-coat can keep you warm and covered-up better than just the pair of knickers. Length is perhaps an issue, but the style is so wonderful that I don’t think anyone would have a problem with seeing more of it if it was also going to enable the party-girl to be all that she can be and thus bring more enjoyment to those at the same party. (Believe it or not, this analogy is still holding relatively firm, though for practical reasons I am ignoring the moral objections to the fur – imagine it as faux-fur if it makes you feel more comfortable).

The alternative approach – all-knickers-but-no-fur-coat – could also have worked. Minimising the indulgence of Whack’Em’s performance (a half-Bob, say, in the terminology of ‘Taxi Driver’ and hairdressing) could have allowed for the filling out of the crime-plot while still being stylish, closer in spirit perhaps to  ‘Angel Heart’ (its step-sibling in the post-noir family)- wherein Mickey Rourke’s slipped-a-Mickey character is similarly in-over-his-(traumatised)-head and is being unwittingly used by powerful figures. But instead of bringing the audience on a walking-tour-at-night through the actual dark and dirty streets of a psychological breakdown, Alan Parker made it so that the viewer could instead enjoy it from the safe distance of an online virtual-tour without having to leave the comfort-zones of their metaphorical home. Being able to aesthetically appreciate Mickey’s groomed stubble from a distance is a lot less disturbing than feeling like you’re in physical danger of bits of actual gristle falling out of Whack’Em’s beard right onto you.

Mickey Rourke offers to shave Whack’Em’s beard for him

A place somewhere between ‘Taxi Driver’ and ‘Angel Heart’ might not be a nice area to live in but, cinematically, it is hardly a bad place to be. But those films achieved their impact by going all-out in one direction or another. Ramsay has taken on a difficult challenge in trying to achieve both – and very nearly succeeded. There’s not many films where you really actually want another half-hour, but I’d be fascinated to see what a longer version could have managed. Was there perhaps enough material left over from which could be fashioned a satisfactory coat-and-knickers combo? It could even be edible! It could be made from the allegorical/analogical half-loaves left behind by all the films that were only half-(Angel)-hearted rather than full-Bobbed. ‘You Were Never Really Here’ is very good, but Lynne Ramsay could have made the film even better … if she had just made a merkin for it out Joaquin Phoenix’s facial hair.

Pitching ‘Annihilation’


(as seen through ‘The Fishy-Eye Lens’ of Ripley Trout)\

– I’ve got this idea for a film in which soldiers and scientists have to fight mutant shark-alligators inside of a giant soap-bubble, and it builds to a final battle with aliens who take on human form and get blown up by phosphorous grenades in a lighthouse. Cool, huh?

– Hmm? Oh, that’s nice, Alex, but listen, apparently I have a teenage daughter and I’ve been told that that makes me feel … things, so seemingly I have to stop groping actresses and put them in movies instead.

– …O-kay. Well, the soldier-scientists can be women.

– Brilliant. And it’s got monsters and aliens you say?

– Yup. It’ll be a great sci-fi film. Remember my film ‘Sunshine’?

– No.

– … Oh.

– It’s nothing personal, Alex, nobody remembers it. Now, listen, normally monsters and aliens and shootouts and battles would be great, but women want different things, don’t they?

– Do they? I think they just want to be treated with respect as equals.

– Well, you wouldn’t be an expert on women, would you?

– What?

– I mean, your last film asked the question ‘Are women even human?’

– That wasn’t what ‘Ex-Machina’ was about.

– No? Maybe I can’t remember that one either then. Anyway, what women want … is flowers.

– Flowers?

– Yeah. Flowers. Can there be flowers in the film?

– Well, sure, ‘cos the soldier-scientists have to move through the countryside and the aliens are mutating nature so, yeah, there can be strange beautiful flowers.

– … Lots of flowers?

– Yeah, they can be everywhere. It’ll still work.

– Brilliant, okay so, I think we’ve got a deal.

– Excellent.

– Just one thing, Alex.

– Yeah?

– You know the way you say it builds to a huge battle with aliens?

– Yeah.

– That’s not gonna work.

– It’s not?

– No. Women prefer something personal.

– O-kay. It can be just a personal battle between one woman and one alien.

– That’s better. But … do they have to fight?

– What? Yes, of course. It’s a battle to save humanity from an invading alien species.

– Hmm. Could there at least be a more personal reason than that for the fight?

– There is. Our heroine is also battling to get back to her husband.

– Yeah, a bit of sex, that’s good.

– It’s more about love and guilt because –

– But there’ll be a sex-scene?

– … There can be a sex-scene in flashback, I suppose.

– Good. But it’s still not enough though, is it?

– Not enough? It’s a battle to save all of humanity while trying to get back to the love of her life? I think that’s –

– It needs something that all women can identify with as a reason to kill.

– Like I said, it’s about saving all of humanity and her own relationship.

– … What if the alien was wearing the same clothes?

– Excuse me?

– That really pisses women off, doesn’t it? Imagine, the first ever intergalactic meeting between an alien and a human woman and it turns out they’re wearing the same outfit. That would make her want to kill the alien.

– … Well, I suppose if the alien is taking on human form, it could just go a step further and actually take on the outward appearance of our heroine as well before they have their final battle and then –

– It’s just not very feminine, is it – the fighting?

– Well, it’s a natural human reaction if you and those you love are under threat.

– My mother never fought with aliens.

– … I’m sure she didn’t but that’s not really the point. If she had to – …

– Well, there was that Puerto Rican nanny we had who she thought was sleeping with my father, but I don’t think she actually hit her.

– But, unlike your mother, our heroine is a soldier. And, unlike your nanny, the other fighter is an alien creature from an entirely different galaxy. So I think it’s fair enou-

– I’ve got it!

– Oh God. What?

– They should have a dance-off!

– A … dance-off?

– Yeah, chicks love dancing. They should have a dance-off.

– … Won’t that seem a bit … odd?

– Obviously you’ll have to make it modern-dance so it’s edgy and suits sci-fi.

– Oh yeah, ‘obviously’. That’ll take the curse off it alright.

– Maybe they have to copy each other’s moves and the one who can’t keep up is the loser.

– Like the mirror-scene in the Marx Brothers’ ‘Duck Soup’?

– I don’t know what that is but, yeah, an interpretive-modern-dance dance-off between a female mutant soldier-scientist –

– She’s not a muta-

– … and an alien woman that’s wearing the same outfit.

– … With flowers?

– Yeah, lots of flowers. Any questions?

– … Can I direct it?

– Yeah, sure, why not? We’ll need a man in charge of all those women actors anyway.

– Okay, I’ll do it.

– Great, just sign your soul here.

– My what?

– Your name. Sign your name here.




Surefire Hit TV-Series

I’ve come up with an idea for a surefire-hit tv-series.

Viewers want to watch famous celebrities doing things that normal people do: Paris Hilton working on a farm, Katie Hopkins eating and then going on a diet, Lindsay Lohan … um, well, you get the idea. And one of the biggest movie-stars of our time has already built a career on doing something normal.

So, get ready for the reality-tv series, … “Sandra Bullock Learns To Drive”.

The Bullock’s career was launched by the hit film ‘Speed’, in which we essentially watched her learn to drive a bus. And this new series builds on the popularity of the movie ‘Gravity’ in which people were apparently enthralled by Sandra reading a manual and pushing some buttons while learning to fly a space-ship/station/thingy.

She may also have learnt to drive a boat in ‘Speed 2’ but I’m ignoring that (since that’s what most people did with that movie).

pic sandra not spacesuit            pic sandra spacesuit

The Bullock learning to drive a spacethingy in ‘Gravity’, but in two totally different outfits to make it seem like it’s not just the same thing happening over and over again until all your popcorn is gone.

Building on this proven platform for success, the series, ‘SBLTD’, will follow Sandra as she learns to drive a new type of vehicle each week, from tractors in Episode 1 to golf-buggies in Episode 75, with possibly the highlight of the season being Episode 54 in which she learns to drive the Popemobile (things get unexpectedly exciting when ex-Pope Benedict breaks into the Vatican and takes the Popemobile for a joyride without realising that The Bullock is onboard!!! – this may or may not be the plot for ‘Speed 4’).

pic sandra side mirrorsThe Bullock realises she hasn’t been checking her side-mirrors and suddenly makes a big show of doing so in the hope that the Driving Tester hasn’t noticed yet.

You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll fall asleep and wake up again and be confused until you remember what it was you were watching before you dozed off.


World Cup Oath for Players

World Cup Oath

FIFA has drawn up an oath that the players must take at the next World Cup. The oath was trialled today with a typical international footballer.

world cup trout montage pic

“Do you promise to sing your national anthem with all the intensity of a toddler having a tantrum while off-his-tits on cocaine?”

“I do”.

“Do you promise to be scared of the magical powers of shaving-foam?”

“I do”.

“Do you promise to have a haircut that either (a) makes you look like an escaped lunatic or (b) requires the use of those different-shaped rulers that you had in your pencil-case for Maths class which you never thought you’d use in later life?”

“I do”.

“Do you promise to play on despite being concussed even though we strongly and fervently pretend to insist that we don’t want you to?”

“I do”.

“Do you promise to run yourself into the ground despite games being scheduled for mid-day near the equator or, possibly, on the lava-lake of an active volcano?”

“I do”.

“Do you promise to do whatever it takes to win: assaulting opponents, diving to win frees, laying your body on the line and suffering injury and exhaustion?”

“I do”.

“And, finally, – just a formality really I suppose, – do you promise (in addition to being willing to do whatever it takes at whatever personal cost for your team to achieve everlasting glory) that, at corners, you will pay attention to who you’re marking and, if it’s necessary, take a step or two to your right?”

“… I don’t understand. Can you repeat the question?”

“Well, basically, it’s just asking that you won’t – during the most important matches of your entire career – switch off and fall asleep when defending a corner.”

“Sorry, but I think that’s asking a bit too much of any footballer.”


FIFA say they are continuing to work on the oath and are hopeful of adding a clause which asks players not to feel squeamish about playing on pitches that have been laid over the bodies of dead construction-workers.



[Footballer-montage by Ripley Trout of images from morguefile.com: Trophy by vicky53, Ball by jeltovski, Pitch graphic by mzacha]



See-No-Evil Cigarettes

Following on from previous policies to reduce the visibility and attractiveness of smoking – first moving cigarettes out of sight in shops, and then making all packaging plain and homogenous – the Government is now going one step further and has announced that, from now on, –


invisicig hand lighter

This will have the advantage of making all smokers look like mime-artists which should discourage teenagers from thinking it’s cool and taking up the habit.

invisicig miley big

Also, the increased difficulty in lighting a cigarette in the first place may cause some people to just not bother any more.

invisicig bogart bacall“Sure, I know how to whistle … but how do we light this?”

No Smoke Without … Burning Flesh

The Government admitted that there will be an initial cost to be paid, both physically and financially, due to smokers burning themselves in their attempts to light cigarettes which they can’t see. However, it is hoped that the pain and frustration will cause many smokers to give up – especially when they discover they’ve lit the wrong end of a cigarette for the thousandth time.

invisicig vamp

A Government spokesman said, “We have always been in favour of transparency in our policies – and you can’t get more transparent than invisible. We are very keen to see smoking not-being-seen … because that’ll make it much easier for us to ignore the problem instead of having to really do something about it.”

invisicig bogey and wife

Original images (edited by Ripley trout): smoking fingers via ibtimes.co.uk; hand-lighter by My Huy Streetphotography via scopeblog.stanford.edu;  Miley Cyrus by Reuters/Remko De Waal via businessinsider.com; Bogart & Bacall from ‘To Have and Have Not’; glove-blonde from corkstopsmokingclinic.com; Bogart and Mayo Methot by Siver Screen Oasis via fanpop.com 

Why Women Live Longer Than Men … and A Remedy

Why Women Live Longer Than Men … & A Remedy

(or “Equality is a Bucket of Piss”)

Women live longer than men. But men, be not downhearted, for the remedy to this inequality is in your own hands … literally, … several times a day actually. And the solution requires nothing more of you than to be even lazier than you already are!

A popular theory as to why women outlive men is that childbirth is what separates the sexes, as though that experience inures women to a level of pain that can kill a man.

But this fails to take into account the fact that most of us men will at some stage have suffered through similar levels of pain via (a) man-flu, (b) our favourite team losing a cup-final, or (c) having to stand in a shop and provide subtly varying opinions on many different pairs of shoes.

equality manflu on couch equality 2 boyfans morguefile equality flipflop stall morguefile

Males empathising with the pain of childbirth

And besides, modern advances in the use of epidural drugs and c-sections suggest that the lifespan-differential should have narrowed anyway, since fewer women now suffer the most extreme forms of this pain.

Although perhaps that change has in turn been balanced out by a decrease in birth-related deaths which, obviously, were overwhelmingly female (barring the occasional incident of an expectant – though evidently unprepared – father passing-out at the sight of blood and banging his head on the floor of the delivery-room, resulting in instant death and an unusual camera-angle for the rest of the video of the birth).

Dead-father-pov birth-video
Dead-father-pov birth-video

And then there’s the fact that nuns seem to live almost forever despite not (usually) having given birth. Although perhaps that’s just down to Jesus’s opinion of nuns, rather than a measurable sociological factor, since it doesn’t say much for the ‘brides of Christ’ that their ‘husband’ keeps them alive on earth for so long before letting them come to join him in person (so-to-speak).

'Brides of Christ' whom Jesus has been avoiding for quite a while now
‘Brides of Christ’ whom Jesus has been avoiding for quite a while now

Anyway, basically no-one’s really come up with a satisfactory theory for why women live longer than men. But I have a theory, and it’s even got a little test that you can try out to prove to yourself its reasonableness. Admittedly it’s not the most enjoyable of experiences but then no-one said science was fun (at least not at my school).

equality scientist female muslim morguefile  equality scientist male titrate morguefile

Scientists being serious and not having fun



  • Get a bucket or basin.
  • Stand it on a low stool or something so it’s at about knee-height.
  • Stand in front of the bucket so as your face is directly over the bucket looking down into it.
  • Pour some urine in the bucket.
  • Stand with your face over the bucket and with nothing impeding your inhalation of the fumes as you breathe.
  • After 15 seconds, throw out that urine and then put some fresh urine in the bucket.
  • Repeat every 15 seconds.
  • … For 15 days.
  • Yes, I said 15 days.
  • (You are not allowed to move or sleep).



No one said science was easy either. (Though I do remember a schoolmate once saying science was a bucket of piss and, surprisingly, it turns out he was right).

So, stand over a bucket of continually refreshed piss for fifteen days and keep breathing in the fumes.

At the end of this period, ask yourself the question: do you think directly inhaling urine-fumes this much is (a) good for your health?, or (b) likely to have a detrimental effect on your lifespan?

The experiment has just replicated (quite conservatively) the effects of fifty years of male peeing-behaviour. If your answer was (b), then you may just have accounted for why the male lifespan has been shorter than the female’s in almost every part of the planet where childbirth has become less deadly, regardless of cultural differences.

One more reason to feel anxious at the urinal
One more reason to feel anxious at the urinal

If you’re male, the solution would seem to be obvious:

– sit down when you pee.

How brilliant is that? How often have you wished your doctor would just say, “Be even lazier than you already are and you’ll live longer”? But that’s actually the case here. “Sit down and prosper”.

Life-and-death choice
Life-and-death choice

However, I’m well aware that many men won’t do anything that might increase the amount of time or effort involved in peeing, even if it’s beneficial to their health. Washing hands is too much for some (and, if it wasn’t for the novelty-factor of using those Dyson hand-dryers for the last couple of years, even fewer would). So, if that seems like too much effort, then feel free to pee standing up and just hold your breath … and hope it won’t be your last!

‘Cos it transpires that equality between the sexes – much like science – is a bucket of piss.

equality funky toilet door morguefile

All images from morguefile except for the operating-theatre which is from silikalamerica.com, the makers of top-class floors for operating-theatres

Moths Are People Too

Moths Are People Too

You awake thinking,

“Today will be the day that I won’t end up repeating a pattern of self-destructive behaviour”.

And you successfully go about your business all day long without deliberately whacking yourself against any bright glass objects.

Another humdrum day being a common moth isn’t so bad.

An ordinary day at the office
An ordinary day at the office

It’s not as great as being a lion and not as bad as being a bluebottle but it’s okay…

… until your sibling turns up.

You know, the beautiful one that everyone admires and thinks is so wonderful. Your sibling’s not actually doing anything that you’re not doing but suddenly you seem dull and unimpressive beside their spectacular and charming beauty that draws admiring glances from everyone who sees them.

Blanding into the background beside the glamorous sibling
Blanding into the background beside the glamorous sibling

And now you’re not even just ordinary any more, you’re positively ugly in comparison. People physically recoil from you, even though they try to entice your glorious sibling to land in their hands. They don’t seem to realise that there is virtually no difference between you apart from some colouring. In essence, this is racism on a primal sense-level.

People begin to accuse you of vile and evil (though not necessarily anagrammatical) acts. You try to tell them that you don’t actually eat their clothes but they won’t believe you. They want to believe bad things about you to justify their bigoted aversion to your looks.

And so you don’t go straight home like you know you should. You stop off for a drink to numb the pain*. And then another few drinks to make you feel better. And another few to avoid letting go of feeling better. And then another few ‘cos of some other reason that seemed like a good one at the time.

Nighthawk-moth.  Should have gone home hours ago
Should have gone home hours ago

And then you’re hammered and you have to try and make it home.

And just like hammered people, hammered moths have difficulty telling the difference between an open door and a pane of glass.

And just like hammered people, your thinking can be a bit askew when you’re drunk. And you just want to get home to your cosy warm bed. And you see something that looks cosy and warm and you think that must be the place. And you rush towards it but you bang your head on something and can’t get in, but you can’t figure out what’s happened so you try again.

And again.

And again.

And again.

And, yes, it hurts – it even burns a bit – but the alcohol numbs the pain somewhat and, besides, you’re so close now to being in that wonderful-looking warm and bright and cosy place that it seems like madness to you to stop trying … even though it seems like madness to humans that you are continually banging yourself against a lightbulb.

D'oh! D'oh! D'oh!
D’oh! D’oh! D’oh!

And, just like people, you’ll wake up the next day with a sore head and the desperate hope that “Today will be the day that I won’t end up repeating a pattern of self-destructive behaviour”.

‘Cos a moth is just a plain-looking butterfly with a drink-problem.


* Technically the moth sups on fermented fruit, rather than knocking back bottles of beer and whiskey-chasers or alcopops, but you get the idea.

Montages by Ripley Trout from images by Ripley Trout except: Moth by dancesincreek from morguefile.com, Nighthawks by Edward Hopper (Art Institute of Chicago), Office by koushik from morguefile.com, Screenshot by mantasmagorical from morguefile.com, Beer by Alvimann from morguefile.com, Butterfly by Uwe H. Friese via Wikimedia file: Schmetterling_1a_neucc.jpg