Cobwebbed crime capers / Battling book bans

A barren tree in flames, from top to bottom, against a night sky; part of a promo video for WildKitchens

Today: Flaming Hydra welcomes new member Rax King, the author of essay collections Tacky: Love Letters to the Worst Culture We Have to Offer and the forthcoming Sloppy; and Jennie Rose Halperin, digital strategist and librarian at NYU's Engelberg Center on Innovation Law and Policy.

Issue No. 82

Guy Ritchie, BBQ King
Rax King

Librarians Fight Back
Jennie Rose Halperin

Guy Ritchie, BBQ King

by Rax King

My friend Tommy and I have to see all of Guy Ritchie’s films together in theaters—it’s tradition. That means once or twice a year Tommy texts me, in tones of unmistakable resignation, that a new Guy Ritchie movie is out. More than one of these texts has begun with “I have terrible news.” It’s as if Guy Ritchie is our son and we have no choice but to attend all his recitals, no matter how dreadful. In this spirit, we have attended our son’s revenge-thriller recital (Wrath of Man), his war-propaganda recital (Guy Ritchie’s The Covenant), and his killin’-Nazis recital (The Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare). 

Back in the late ’90s, when Ritchie was just another promising young Quentin Tarantino impersonator, you could count on having fun at his movies. You wouldn’t walk away feeling harrowed or electrified by the exquisite agony of the human condition, but you would hear some great music and expand your repertoire of British cuss words, and that was enough. But then came his saccharine, miscast remake of Swept Away (2002), starring his then-wife Madonna (Rotten Tomatoes score: 5%.) The 2005 crime thriller Revolver was no better. That one didn’t feature Madonna, but some, like critic Chris Cabin, suspected that the film was some kind of propaganda for her belief in Kabbalah, so Ritchie’s fans blamed her for that misfire, too. After the couple divorced in 2008, those same fans assumed his movies would get fun again, in the hopeful belief that being married to Madonna and making medium-good British gangster films were mutually exclusive activities.

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