Reviewed by Declan Tan
Until recently, the promise of Steve Aylett’s £750 foray into feature-length film productions had seemingly been wandering desultorily around the Internet for quite some time, indulging in some shallow vanishing since 2009, popping up here and there on blogs, before triumphantly reappearing for its premiere in Brighton earlier this year. Followed closely by a London screening, it has since been saddled up for a couple more dates, in Northampton (October) and Portland at Bizarro Con 2011 (November).
If you’re not already familiar with Jeff Lint or Steve Aylett, then this paragraph is my opportunity to appear smug. Which is off-putting, isn’t it? If you are already a Lint obsessive then a review for this film is pointless, as the mere realisation that there is a Lint film in existence would mean you have now closed this window and opened a new one, searching for the next screening. Which puts this article in an odd place. Anyway…
In a quoted excerpt for Lint, Aylett’s 2005 book, the reviewer calls the creation a “laugh-out-loud funny mock biography of a pulp fiction writer who only exists in the author’s imagination”. But now, it seems, the character occupies also the minds of an array of esteemed Lintian pundits, who, riffing on the endless possibilities of such a character, clearly relish the chance in Aylett’s debut movie project.
Working both as an introduction as well as an extension of the Jeff Lint history, the film mixes in some of the speculation and anecdotes that makes up the original Lint book and its sequel, And Your Point Is? (2006) taking some of these ideas further and giving them worthy airtime. Thankfully they survive the transfer from page to screen and remain full of Aylett’s sly subversions.
Lint was the ultimate non-conformist, to the point of failure. A variable variety of talking faces (the shots are usually that close-up) gladly confirm this. Intercut with archive footage, the faces detail much of the Lint legend: his distrust of waiters, his failed Star Trek and Patton scripts and his ‘magic bullet’ theory. Further highlights include some startlingly demented clips of Lint’s cartoon Catty and the Major and recounted tales from a gravelly Lord Caul Pin, writers Alan Moore, David Harlan Wilson (Codename Prague), Mo Ali and Bill Ectric (Tamper), plus comedians Stewart Lee, Josie Long, Robin Ince, and Aylett himself.
Similarly to its source material, Lint The Movie runs episodically with nugget after golden nugget of supreme absurdity, which often go beyond the simple exposition of Lint’s antics and instead into the realm of something meaningful and satiric (despite Aylett himself noting, “Satire has no effect – a mirror holds no fear for those with no shame”). But exactly what this ‘something’ is is hard to define, making Aylett’s Lint all the less boring and all the more satisfying.
Appropriately disrespectful of power, institution and instruction, Aylett is a writer who makes it look as if he is at play, before cunningly twisting on you with sudden twists of truth which make Lint, in all his forms (man/book/movie), true originals.
Now all we ask for is a full series of Catty and the Major.