Last night, in what could be construed as a desperate attempt to assuage her guilt at living in such a vast temple to yuppy-dom, Helen took us back to the 1980s to look at a slightly grittier side of Thatcher’s Britain with Stephen Frears’ My Beautiful Laundrette. In a wonderful twist we ended up watching the film from one of the locations in which the film was shot – Queenstown Road!
As we tucked into a splendid takeaway curry washed down with plenty of gin, we watched the story of Omar (Gordon Warnecke), a budding young entrepreneur of Pakistani origin, as he tries to turn around the fortunes of his uncle’s launderette and Johnny (Daniel Day-Lewis), his disaffected friend and lover. Omar is torn between the lure of the high life lived by his uncle Nasser (Saeed Jaffrey – previously married to well-know TV cook Madhur Jaffrey) and the higher socialist ideals of his alcoholic father (Roshan Seth), whilst Johnny is torn between his feelings for Omar, his need for employment and the racist peer pressure of his friends.
The screenplay for the film was written by Hanif Kureishi, a writer better known for his novel, The Buddha of Suburbia and its subsequent BBC TV adaptation, which featured original songs and music by David Bowie. Stephen Frears went on to direct hits like Dangerous Liaisons and The Queen. In spite of his badly bleached hair, Daniel Day-Lewis’s performance in the film was well-received. Interestingly, in America the film opened on the same day as A Room With A View, in which Day-Lewis plays a character who could not be more different. He is now the only man ever to have won the Oscar for Best Actor three times.
In our chin-stroking musings we pondered what aspect of the film would have been more controversial at the time – the racism or the homosexuality. We also agreed that the 80s were truly depressing, including the fashion and the films (even Dirty Dancing and its “Disney-fied” back street abortion!). What is even more depressing is the fact that the fashion is repeating before our very eyes.
Johnny’s pet name for Omar is Omo, which could either be viewed as a not-so-subtle indicator of his sexuality or a reference to the washing powder of the same name.
My Beautiful Laundrette was nominated for an Oscar for Best Original Screenplay in 1987, and scores a perfect 100% from critics on online film review site Rotten Tomatoes, although ordinary viewers have been more restrained in their praise.
Random cast & crew name aficionados were pleased to learn of the existence of stuntman Tip Tipping. Tip is sadly no longer with us, as he was killed whilst filming a stunt involving a parachute for nightmare-inducing BBC TV series 999. Click here to hear music that will send a shiver down your spine.
To lighten the mood, I give you the reason that Helen has been spending a lot of time online looking for tits. There are indeed a lot of mammaries on show; so many in fact that my computer basically went into total meltdown after about 30 seconds of the video. You can also enjoy some fan fiction to while away the hours, or appreciate the love of launderettes displayed on Flickr and blogs.
Until the 8th July, my brothers and sisters,
VARIETY IS THE SPICE OF FASCISM