He Maintains It… The Whole Show – Watching The First Four Films Of Alan Moore And Mitch Jenkins’ Jimmy’s End

Nucleotide – A single genetic “letter”; a nucleotide is one of the four chemical subunits of the DNA molecule, also called a base. They are known by their abbreviations A, T, C, and G.

Last night Kickstarter backers of Alan Moore and Mitch Jenkins Jimmy’s End films received four of the five films of this cycle of what Moore now calls “The Show”.

We’d seen An Act Of Faith and Jimmy’s End on YouTube (now taken down) and some us us lucky few saw the films at the actual St James Working Men’s Club they were filmed at, introduced by Alan and Mitch.

I felt it made it even more disturbing, to be in the place I’d see on the screen. I went to the same toilets afterwards and given the scene that takes place there, I pissed myself. Though I was meant to. Oh, you know what I mean.

This time I could sit down in the comfort of my own lounge, the curtains shut, the files slapped onto a USB stick stuck into the size of the flatscreen and watch in relative safety. It didn’t help.

There are four films, An Act Of Faith, Upon Reflection, Jimmy’s End and A Professional Relationship. That’s one order to watch them, there are probably others. Hmm, that also reflects one of the details of the films, Mr Metterton, Alan Moore, God, playing with cards that spell out the genetic code, but also other words, that coincide with events occurring, being talked about. You could shuffle these four films around in such an order too.

An easy way to explain the worlds is to see it as a provincial international franchise of David Lynch’s Black Lodge from Twin Peaks,  but while that drew more on Norse mythology, this is very Judeo-Christian indeed, obsessively so in places. This a place which is both a working’s men club and another place, of the afterlife, of the world to come, of heaven and hell, run by God and the Devil. Or a pair of famous TV entertainers. Or both. And each film gives us a point of view…

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I’ve talked about Act Of Faith and Jimmy’s End before. The two new films we haven’t seen before are solidly linked to the longer Jimmy’s End. One, A Professional Relationship, takes a scene between Metterton and Matchbright and extends it, looping through the existence of reality, destiny, nature, and exactly just how good Alan Moore looks in golden skin and a white beard. The second, Upon Reflection, is far more disturbing if only due to its more physical brutality, the lead from An Act of Faith as she enters Jimmy’s End before James and her utter humiliation and destruction in that place, all from the point of view of a mirror above the bar. It is nasty, it is brutal and it is not very short, and conflicts horrifically with the experience we have of Matchbright “off stage”. And the discussion at the bar as the film begins is topical, if tragically timeless.

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Because this is a show, The Show, with an ex comedian in charge who happens to be God behind the scenes with the Devil taking the lead. That reality is never explicitly revealed, everything is expressed in theological innuendo, sometimes subtle, sometimes with a dayglo brickbat. The films linger, they leer, they take everyday abusive behaviour and give them a wider context, almost as if to excuse and explain them, justify their actions, and utterly, deliberately, fail. It also gives watching Jimmy’s End another level of despair as you understand the stories of other characters to a far more sinister degree.

Yeah, not exactly a feel good experience.

So I watched these films late last night. And again just now. And they still fill me with loathing, even at their lighter moments. Possibly, especially at their lighter moments.

I dreamt strange dreams last night. About scenes from upstairs rooms in strange houses, my children being taken by strange giggling children, revealed to be actors, taking part on some prank that fails spectacularly when the pitchforks come out. It ended badly and I woke with start, wet with sweat.

Just saying. Rather than watch the films at night, why not watch them in the morning with the curtains wide? Just in case they burrow inside.

There’s a fifth film to come, his Heavy Heart, paid for by the Kickstarter and will tell us what happens to Jimmy.

I’m not expecting it to be nice.

We’re also expected to get Frank & Nick Will Make You Sick, an audio version of what is hinted at A Professional Relationship, and modelled on real life comedians Peter Cook and Dudley Moore’s Derek And Clive tapes.

That’s all to come. It will arrive, chez Johnston, in a specially designed DVD box.

I wonder if I’ll be able to bring myself to open it?

Maybe when the sun is shining.

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