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by dr andrew cousins

Film! Magazine's 10 Year Empire

Film! Magazine is the highest circulation monthly film magazine in Britain and this month celebrates an incredible 10 years of publication. I went to talk to the editor, Brent Morgan.

Firstly, congratulations on the 10th anniversary.
Thanks. We’re all really thrilled here. We’ve been receiving telegrams all morning from well-wishers. Tony Blair sent us one, you know. He’s got surprisingly messy handwriting. Robbie Williams sent us one too. I suppose in a way that really sums us up a publication, we have a very broad appeal.

But you have had your critics too...
Oh this’ll be that bloody thing they said in Sight and Sound won’t it?

You mean, "Film! Magazine contains about as much insight into the world of film and film making as the telephone directory does about the inner workings of a fax machine"?
That’s the one! How dare they? Firstly, it’s factually incorrect because the telephone directory is going to contain the phone number of at least one telephone engineer isn’t it? Any one of whom is going to be able to talk you through the inner workings of a fax machine. So bugger off Sight and Sound. Secondly our magazines are aimed at completely separate markets aren’t they? If people want to read in-depth articles about early Lithuanian cinema they read Sight and Sound. If not, they come to us.

Where they will be confronted by articles like, "The 100 Greatest Cinema Fist Fights Ever!" It’s not very challenging is it?
Of course it is. That particular article is a searching critique of the portrayal of cinematic violence across the decades. In many ways it’s very similar to the sort of thing you’d get in Sight and Sound.

But the article begins, "Aren’t fights great? Of course they are! There’s nothing quite like watching two big blokes knocking seven sorts of hot chocolate out of each other…"
Well perhaps it’s not exactly like the sort of thing you’d get in Sight and Sound…

You attracted more controversy with the addition of the ‘Nude-o-meter’ to all your film and video reviews. Can you just explain for the benefit of our readers exactly what that is and why you introduced it?
Like all the best ideas it’s brilliantly simple. Basically it’s a little box at the bottom of the review listing all of the nudity contained in the film with a time index next to it so that people can fast forward to it quickly and easily. We introduced it because nobody else has it. It filled a gap in the market.

It is a bit tacky though isn’t it?
Why? Just because Sight and Sound don’t do it? I don’t know why they don’t. They tell you every other bloody thing about the films - what lens format they were shot with, what sound formats the print has on it, how long the print is in metric and imperial measurements. Ridiculous stuff that nobody is really interested in. Maybe they haven’t got the space to do it. They should print fewer articles by Mark Kermode banging on about how The Exorcist is the greatest film ever made. A claim that was difficult enough to sustain when the video ban was still in place. Now that most people have had a chance to see it again he’s fighting a losing battle frankly.

How do you counter the argument that your magazine patronises its readers by not containing anything really intellectually challenging?
It doesn’t because that’s not what most people want. Put it this way, if I offered you a choice between an interview with Guy Ritchie about how he’s the greatest filmmaker in the world today or an interview with Darius Khondji in which he describes in nauseating detail exactly how he lit Se7en, taking you through the various lenses, lights and film stock that he used — which would you rather read?

Er, the Darius Khondji one.
Well you’re just weird. I certainly wouldn’t.

You don’t really believe that Guy Ritchie is the greatest film director in the world do you?
I certainly do. Lock, Stock.. was brilliantly original wasn’t it? Snatch was even better. I’ve never seen films like them. Have you?

I’ve seen the Martin Scorsese films that he rips huge chunks out of. So, yes.
I really think that you’re nit picking now.

So what can we expect to see in the new issue then?
Well we’ve got the usual film news and reviews. There’s an interview with Catherine Zeta Jones about how she so brilliantly manages to sound Welsh no matter what accent she’s attempting. There’s an article entitled ’25 Top Bikini Scenes’ which is an insightful look at the portrayal of female sexuality in the movies. There’s an interview with Barry Norman about how he feels about becoming a gay icon…

Who, the Barry Norman?
Oh yes. Apparently it’s quite a common thing for gay clubs to project old episodes of Film 87 on giant video screens. They used to do the same thing with Richard Whitley but they think he’s a bit ‘last year’ now. See? You wouldn’t find out about this sort of thing in Sight and Sound would you?

Probably not no. Anything else?
We talk to a physiotherapist and ask her to explain why George Clooney’s head wobbles so much when he talks. Have you seen it? It looks like it’s going to fall off sometimes. Sean Connery tells us why he’s so completely in favour of an independent Scotland despite living in Marbella, so it wouldn’t actually affect him. To be honest we just wanted him to talk about the Bond films but once he got going there was no stopping him. We also do a big run-down of the 50 Most Anticipated Films of 2001. That’s not be confused with last months article about the 25 Biggest Films of 2001. That was completely different. Did I mention ’25 Top Bikini Scenes’?

Yes you did. Brent Morgan, thank you.

Film! Magazine is available from all good newsagents and petrol stations. It can usually be found between ‘Bikes and Babes’ and ‘Fondle Weekly’ .


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