The Aristocrats    -    rated HOT! HOT! HOT! (and I really mean it!).

I first saw this incredible film at a critic's screening, and at the end I turned to the stranger next to me, and said: "I can't believe I just saw that film!"  We then spoke for quite a while about our reactions to it: shock, embarrassment, laughter, hysterics, more shock, more giggling, gasping in awe, and, finally, bewilderment.  That person will no longer be a stranger, because of what we shared.

I think this is a seriously good film – not technically, because there it is a bit clunky.  But necessarily so.  You can't interview 100 or so of the world's top comedians (actually mostly Americans) and get their spontaeous reaction on film, and produce a great-looking and sounding film.  But what the film makers have got is the sponteneity.  It really works in that sense.

The film breaks two rules of joke-telling:  don't repeat a joke and don't analyse it.  It breaks these two rules, and it works brilliantly.  A O Scott, writing in The New York Times called it "a work of painstaking and penetrating scholarship, and,as such, one of the  most original and rigorous  pieces of criticism in  any medium I have encountered for quite some time".  Overstatement, perhaps, but there's some truth in what he says.

What I like about this film is that it starts off by tellig a dirty (and for me bvery funny) joke, with a classic structure of inversion of expectations.  Then it riffs on that joke for nearly 90 minutes, and the joke constantly renews itself.  You have to go through this process, which involves hearing some of the filthiest language ever collected on film, and imagining the most disgusting scenes of depravity and sordidness.  But it is painfully funny at the same time.  I was shocked and appallled time and again, but the film takes such an analytical approach (without being serious for a moment) that you felt taken by the hand and told: "It's OK to laugh.  It's only words.  It won't hurt you.  It's OK to find it funny."

I am recommending that everyone see this film.  Some people will not thank me.  Others will laugh their heads off.  But it's a good film!

And the best version of the joke?  For me, Gilbert Gottlieb - but what a piece of work is that Sarah Silverman!