I let this sit on the shelf for far too long thinking it would be a bit of a slog after a skim through the first couple pages, but I was pleasantly surprised when I finally got to it. I’m a huge fan of pretty much everything Ayoade has had any part in, so I really shouldn’t have doubted. From his early acting in Garth Marenghi’s Darkplace and Nathan Barley, his breakout role in The IT Crowd, his film directing career, his panel show appearances, his travel and gadget shows, his interviews, particularly the one in which he steamrolled Krishnan Guru-Murthy – I’m just a fan. Although, having listed it out like that, I do now feel like a bit of a stalker.
It’s just a healthy interest.
This book was a trip, and it’s a bit difficult to explain. It’s essentially a comic spoof on pretentious novel-length director exposé interviews, with Richard Ayoade acting as both the interviewer and the megalomaniacal interviewee. It’s split into a series of interview sessions, all written like they’ve been ripped from an experimental indie film, with an appendix that reads like a Woody Allen book, a random assortment of hilariously esoteric skits – filmmaking diary entries, made up FAQs, a list of ripe puns on the title of his latest film The Double to help would-be reviewers with their inevitable quips, a parody of what director Terrence Malick’s twitter feed could look like if he tweeted and heavy into the hashtags, and many other odd essays.
An entry from his year-by-year timeline that kicks off the book:
Ayoade releases Submarine in its final ninety-seven-minute version (heavily padded out with voice-over). The Top Ten Grossing Films of the Year are Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2; Transformers: Dark of the Moon; Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides; The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 1; Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol; Kung Fu Panda 2; Fast Five; The Hangover Part II; The Smurfs; and Cars 2. It is a golden year for the moving image, with many films so good that their titles require a colon and a dash to convey their many levels. Submarine, containing no punctuation in its title whatsoever, is a financial calamity. In desperate need of a box-office winner, Ayoade turns to Dostoevsky’s smash-hit hit novella, The Double.
Ayoade manages to take self-deprecating humour to an entirely new level, even for him, and it’s hilarious throughout. This certainly isn’t a book for everyone, but it’s a lot of fun if you you enjoy his sense of humour. He’s a sort of cruelty-free Woody Allen for the modern-day.
At the end of last year, he came out with a second book, The Grip of Film, which I’m also eager to pick up.