Time may have arguably proved M Night-To-Remember Shalamar's The Happening to be one of the worst films ever made, but the discussions the Mark Wahlberg and Zooey Deschanel eco-horror generated really were Wittertainment at its most Wittertaining.
It all began with an email from James Murray in Surrey (a name and location combination whose euphonious qualities Simon Mayo immediately liked, and enjoyed repeating throughout the show) pondering as to whether it was the least descriptive title of any film ever. "I can only imagine the BBFC warning: "Contains mild occurrences and one strong fantasy event". Coming soon: People Who Do Stuff and Movie: The Movie."
There were then other listener suggestions for least descriptive titles:
- The Thing
- Film (the final film of Buster Keaton, written by Samuel Beckett, who also wrote a play called Play)
- Michael Clayton
- Vera Drake
Comedian Daniel Kitson, who once got a Hello to... after beginning a routine describing Mark as "pompous but brilliant", was also included as he had once had a show at the Edinburgh Festival entitled Something, on the grounds that visitors at a loose end might go to the box office and ask to see "something."
Meanwhile, Mark Kermode himself had two problems with the film's title. One was that it made him think of a Situationist event - prompting a long discussion about what Situationism is (short version: it's what Factory records did). The other was it made him think of the far better song by The Supremes. Simon chipped in with mentions of Cilla Black's Something Tells Me Something's Going To Happen Tonight and The Beat album Wha'ppen?
By now, the discussion had morphed into musing about the most descriptive titles ever:
- The Englishman Who Went Up A Hill And Came Down A Mountain
- The Tall Dark Man With One Black Shoe
- The Assassination Of Jesse James By The Coward Robert Ford
- Driller Killer - although as Mark pointed out, that film could have been called The Loneliness Of The Long Distance Painter
- On The Passage Of A Few Persons Through A Rather Brief Unity Of Time - by Guy Debord, the father of Situationism! (This was the email of the week).
Regarding the actual content of the film, it was generally felt that it was problematically sanctimonious and supercilious, but nonetheless - as with Indiana Jones And The Kingdom Of The Unmemorable Name Made Of Gold - Mark considered it nothing like as bad as most listener feedback suggested.
Mark did ask listeners to explain the main plot hole: "what's making the wind blow?" Various amusingly fatuous suggestions followed.
One listener sarcastically emailed in to say they agreed with the film's premise of planet-wide plant catastrophe, and so had destroyed their pot plants, tarmacked over their garden and been arrested for an incident in a forest involving a chainsaw and some nudity.
The film also has a superb Chubby Hmm moment, when Mark Wahlberg says, "Central Park? That's kinda odd..."
A couple of weeks later, listener Hywel Evans in Cardiff submitted what he considered to be the first review of the film, in John Heywood's proverbs of 1682 - "An yll wynde that blowth no man to good." Hywel pointed out that the author probably didn't realise the prescience of putting "no" and "good" so close together.