“You c—!” The Ten Best Cinematic Uses Of The Ultimate Taboo Word

“Cunt” is about the last word possessing any power to shock, especially here in America. While the rest of George Carlin’s “Seven Words You Can Never Say On Television” list from 1972 – shit, piss, fuck, cocksucker, motherfucker, and tits – are now, to various extents (and particularly on cable) part of the public vocabulary, you’ll still rarely find the c-word used.

This does, of course, only apply in America. A lot of the time, it just doesn’t sound right when Americans use it, such as the line in Way of the Gun: “Shut that cunt’s mouth or I’ll come over there and fuckstart her head!” or when Bill tells the Bride in Kill Bill, “Every once in a while, you can be a real cunt.” These examples is like children, who know a bad word or two, but have no concept of how to use them correctly, only that they shock adults. That’s a sad waste of the power inherent in “cunt”.

When you do hear it used correctly, there’s often a Brit involved, either as actor, writer or director, perhaps because the word doesn’t have quite the same impact there. It has been used on broadcast TV in the UK since at least 1970, and its use in a film is not necessarily a ticket to an adults-only rating e.g. the Ian Dury biopic Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll, which was rated 15, despite dropping several C-bombs. That’s understandable, given there were street-names such as Gropecunt Lane as far back as 1230. At that point, the word was not considered obscene, though it had drifted into so being, by the time of Shakespeare, who alluded to it more than once in various plays.

There are suggestions that its use is inherently derogatory to woman. Obviously, when aimed at a woman, it’s pretty much the worst single word you can use, but I’m less convinced of this being the case in general usage – indeed, calling someone a “clever cunt” is a compliment, albeit a coarse one. And as a counter-argument to some feminists, no-one ever complains about the similarly “anti-male” aspects of insults such as prick, dick or knobhead. And when was the last time you heard anyone call somebody out for talking a load of ovaries? Not all women object to it: when they started filming Closer, Natalie Portman gave Julia Roberts a necklace that said “cunt”, because of their characters’ foul mouths. When shooting ended, Julia Roberts returned the favour, giving Portman a necklace reading “lil’ cunt”.

It’s not a word I use a lot, personally, simply because I’m a big believer that the less you swear, the more effective it is – I still recall the first time I heard my mother swear, and it was something relatively mild. My 15-year old jaw dropped, and I can tell you, whatever it was I was doing wrong – and I forget that aspect – I stopped. We do use it, semi-facetiously, when referring to those who use the HOV lane when they shouldn’t. Or Hummer drivers. That works too. But there have been some epic uses of the word in cinema. Here are ten of my favourites; I’ve stuck to film, but give an honourable mention to Kenny Powers’ from cable TV’s’s Eastbound and Down: “There is no I in team, but there is a U in cunt.”

10. Monty Python: Live at the Hollywood Bowl

Albatross Woman: Of course you don’t getting fucking wafers with it, you cunt. It’s a fucking albatross, isn’t it?

Why it works: Because it’s the only time the words “cunt” and “albatross” have ever been used in the same five-word stretch.

9. Memento

Natalie: You know what one of the reasons for short term memory loss is? Venereal disease. Maybe your cunt of a fucking wife sucked one too many diseased cocks and turned you into a fucking retard.

Why it works: One of the rare uses by a woman, though it does occasionally happen e.g. in Bridesmaids. But the venom on view is unsurpassed, and the quote also appreciates the use of “cunt”, not just on its own, but in combination with other expletives.

8. Silence of the Lambs

Hannibal Lecter: Now then, tell me. What did Miggs say to you? Multiple Miggs in the next cell. He hissed at you. What did he say?
Clarice Starling: He said, “I can smell your cunt.”
Hannibal Lecter: I see. I, myself, can not. You use Evian skin cream, and sometimes you wear L’Air du Temps, but not today.

Why it works: It’s all part of the power-play between Starling and Lecter. The good Doctor knew very well what Miggs said – but wanted to make Starling say it. Unfazed, Starling does so, and Lecter then responds on an entirely factual basis. Academy Awards all round!

7. Blade: Trinity

Hannibal King: That’s atomized colloidal silver. It’s being pumped through the building’s air conditioning system, you cock-juggling thundercunt!

Why it works: Writer/director David S. Goyer is American, as is actor Ryan Reynolds who plays the character. But if you can hear the phrase, “cock-juggling thundercunt” without smirking, you’re a better person than I. Every time we see Parker Posey – to whose vampiric character the line was addressed – we have to use it. Hopefully, we never meet Ms. Posey in real life, or we’ll have some ‘splainin’ to do…

6. Snatch

Brick Top: Do you know what nemesis means? A righteous infliction of retribution manifested by an appropriate agent, personified in this case by a ‘orrible cunt. Me.

Why it works: Contrast. What starts off as a dictionary definition, suddenly mutates at the end into something self-referential and a good deal more sinister. The rest of the film leaves no doubt that it’s an entirely accurate description.

5. Shaun of the Dead.

Ed: Can I get… any of you cunts… a drink?

Why it works: It’s addressed to Ed’s best friend, whose girlfriend is attempting to engage him in a meaningful conversation about their future, and why Ed should play no part in it. Case closed. Another case where a film was rated only ’15’ in the UK, despite its use of the word, likely due to the entirely non-sexual context.

4. Saturday Night Fever

Tony Manero: Look, what are you anyway? Are you a nice girl or are you a cunt?
Annette: I don’t know – both?
Tony: You can’t be both. That’s the thing, a girl’s gotta decide early on. You gotta decide if you’re gonna be a nice girl or a cunt.

Why it works: It’s easy to forgot what a harsh movie Saturday Night Fever was, full of violence, racism and – as the above illustrates – outright misogyny. Perhaps the most offensive use of the word – and, yet, Annette isn’t bothered by the philosophical dichotomy so eloquently expressed by Tony.

3. Sexy Beast

Don: Not this time, Gal. Not this time. Not this fucking time. No. No no no no no no no no no! No! No no no no no no no no no no no no no! No! Not this fucking time! No fucking way! No fucking way, no fucking way, no fucking way! You’ve made me look a right cunt!

Why it works: Rhythm. Listen to the audio clip below. Despite the limited vocabulary, it’s poetic, almost to the level of a Shakespearean sonnet. Okay, that might be a slight exaggeration, but “cunt” becomes the exclamation point on the end of the tirade. How could you possibly respond to that? Plus, it’s said by the guy who played Gandhi.

2. Kick-Ass

Hit Girl: Okay you cunts… Let’s see what you can do now!

Why it works: If having a woman say the word is a palpable shock, what about this approach?

Step 1. Have it said by an 11-year old girl – oh, and she’s about to kill most of the people in the room, while accompanied by The Dickies’ cover of the Banana Splits theme.

Step 2: receive loads of free publicity discussion, mostly complaining about how irresponsible the film-makers are to put such appalling language in the mouth of an adorable poppet like Chloe Moretz (who, ironically, wasn’t technically able to see the film in which she played such an integral part).

Step 3: Profit! Masterful.

1. In Bruges

Ken: Harry, let’s face it. And I’m not being funny. I mean no disrespect, but you’re a cunt. You’re a cunt now, and you’ve always been a cunt. And the only thing that’s going to change is that you’re going to be an even bigger cunt. Maybe have some more cunt kids.
Harry: Leave my kids fucking out of it! What have they done? You fucking retract that bit about my cunt fucking kids!
Ken: I retract that bit about your cunt fucking kids.
Harry: Insult my fucking kids? That’s going overboard, mate!
Ken: I retracted it, didn’t I?

Why it works: Figure it out for yourself, you smart cunt.

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TC’s Ten Best Films of 2009

Movies seen theatrically in 2009: three. Yes: you could count then on the fingers of one hand, while still hanging on to your large popcorn. This continues a trend noted in last year’s review, though was exacerbated by us moving house in the middle of the year. As well as the experience occupying us and then leaving us drained of energy for the summer blockbuster season, our new location doesn’t have quite the same easy access to cinemas. Though two of the three movies did make it into the top ten – the other being Avatar – I will also admit that four of the listed films arrived in TC Towers, shall we say, in unofficial ways.

Still, when the top five for the year included not only Avatar, but also Transformers 2 and Twilight: New Moon, Hollywood largely has itself to blame for my absence. But since overall American box-office was up 10% on 2008, and cracked the ten billion dollar mark for the first time, I doubt they noticed. However, I also think this does prove that any claims the downloading of movies is killing the industry are clearly nonsense, just as the music business somehow managed to survive audio-cassettes.

As usual, links go to the most appropriate review, which may be here or may be on GirlsWithGuns.org, and I am limiting myself for the purposes of this list, to movies that got their first North American release in 2009.  But here’s also a list of films seen in the past, which might have merited cond for a previous year’s top ten (having been rated B or better]. Lights in the Dusk, Vantage Point, The Memory of a Killer, In Bruges, Let the Right One In, The Wrestler, The Insurgents, Singh is Kinng, Ils, Black Book, Traitor, Fermat’s Room, King Arthur, Stuck, El Rey de la Montaña, Man on Wire, The Strangers, Let Him Have It, Princess Aurora

10. Raging Phoenix
Following up on Chocolate, which made last year’s list, Jeeja Yanin proves that when it comes to action-heroines, the Thais have it. Though not quite as “untainted” [in the sense that this time, the lead’s undoubted talents were more obviously enhanced by some wirework], the action was gloriously hard-hitting, in particular the final confrontations with the scary Roongtawan Jindasing, whom Chris was convinced was a man. The clash of power and flexibility was a joy to behold.

9. Ghost Image
Initially seeming as little more than a lame rip-off of The Ring – a haunted videotape, not seen that before – this managed to get past that, and deliver a genuinely creepy effort, that had a solid script and performance that made it credible. The ghost story has been one of the most over-mined genres of recent years [and the success of Paranormal Activity means that is likely to continue in 2010], but Ghost Image proved that there is still potential for fresh and interesting angles on the area.

8. Monsters vs. Aliens
The trailers didn’t do this justice – it looked like another in the apparently endless line of formulaic CGI animated movies churned out by Hollywood. However, that hid some smart writing, which elevated the film well above its competitors e.g. Bolt, and delivered a loving throwback to monster movies of the 50’s and 60’s, both in the West and Japan. Enjoyable for kids of all ages, this never forgot that the most important point of entertainment, is to actually be entertaining.

7. The Hurt Locker
That is also important for this film, which succeeded where many previous attempts to make a movie centred on the Iraq conflict have failed. It didn’t bother taking sides, and there was no discussion about whether the bomb-disposal unit should be there. They were, and this concerned their efforts to survive, in a world where death conceivably lurked behind every pile of rubble or with each approaching bystander. With tension amped up to 11, it was the year’s most highly-caffeinated movie.

6. Zombieland
Continuing to show that there’s life in the old undead yet, this was probably less a true zombie movie, than a road movie set against a backdrop of shambling flesheaters. Certainly self-aware, but at no time sinking into self-parody [there’s going to be a Scream 4 coming out? Really?], and with four beautifully-drawn central characters, each possessing their own quirks and foibles. Add in an all-you-can-shoot zombie bloodbath at the end, and you’ve got another good entry in the reborn genre.

5. Star Trek
The term “reboot” gets thrown about a lot in Hollywood, and the results have been variable, shall we say. However, this one worked very nicely, managing to return to the two-fisted style of the classic series, while still respecting the original (not least in what was probably the year’s best cameo). They got the casting just about spot-on too, with the actors chosen credible as young versions of the well-loved characters. While I am still not entirely sure about the whole Uhura-Spock thing, this was still a fine re-start to the franchise.

4. The Machine Girl
This lurid tale of betrayal, deep-fried limbs and mechanically-enhanced revenge painted the walls red, at the kind of firehose levels of blood pressure only ever seen in Japanese splatter movies. OTT excess is all the better, when done with a perfectly-straight face, and that’s what we have here. It hits the ground running with an opening sequence (below) that can only be described as berserk, and hardly pauses for breath the rest of its 96 minute running time. If you saw only one movie featuring drill bras last year, this was probably it.

3. District 9
It’s interesting to compare this to Avatar. Both films are about a human who is sent into an alien race, initially with malevolent intentions, but he comes to realize that they are not quite as painted, and he eventually [spoiler alert] becomes one of them [end spoiler alert]. District 9, however, managed to do it with a great deal less ham-handed bludgeoning of the audience, even if the apartheid symbolism here was kinda obvious. Technologically, it was a seamless meshing of CGI – you literally could not see the join – and it was also among the most credible depictions of what might happen when/if we finally have our first encounter.

2. Princess
Denmark is not really regarded as a hot-bed of animation, but this piece of work certainly made up for in impact anything that it lacked in mind-blowing technical quality. Truly a film which could only be done in animation [due to some truly shocking scenes involving the very young child at the center of things], it packed an emotional wallop far greater than all the tentacle rape flicks ever to come out of Japan, and uses live-action flashbacks and fantasy sequences, pulling the viewer in, to the point where the wallops which the movie then delivers have all the more tragic impact.

1. Martyrs
After a stream of highly-touted foreign horror movies that failed to live up to the hype. this one finally delivered the goods on all levels. While not skimping on the gore, with some of the nastiest violence to come across the screen, it was the fact that there was more than sheer psychopathy at work which made it disturbing. The perpetrators truly believed what they were doing was entirely justified, believing the ends justified the means ( I imagine the Nazis probably thought similarly). The degree of man’s inhumanity to man – or woman to woman – shown here can only be admired, in an appalling sort of way.

Summer Fun at the Multiplex

Well, everyone and their web-able mother are putting out previews of this summer’s movies. So why should we be any different? Here’s the TC guide to what we have to look forward to over the next four months (here in Phoenix, anyway – check local press for details, as they say). Be sure to check back at the end of August, when we’ll no doubt be terribly embarrassed by our selections. [And the links now go to the appropriate review. Christ, I can’t believe we were actually looking forward to Rollerball]


Sure thing: The Mummy Returns (May 4) – follow up to one of the most successful brainless popcorn consumption devices in recent years. Expect more of the same plus WWF’s The Rock (even if we knew he’d lose at Wrestlemania, since he’d be off doing promotion).

What we’re looking forward to: Shrek (May 18) – anything which takes pot-shots at Disney, with a villain strangely reminiscent of Michael Eisner, has to be worth seeing, even if Eddie Murphy’s sidekick schtick is not exactly breaking new ground.

Dodgy ground: A Knight’s Tale (May 11) – we’ve never been able to take medieval movies seriously since Holy Grail, and this looks pretentious as hell. And it has modern rock music behind the jousts! Sure it seemed like a good idea to someone.

Please bomb…please bomb: Pearl Harbor (May 25) – World War II didn’t star until 1942, after Ben Affleck sorted out his love-life. This desperately wants to be Titanic: a love story cunningly disguised behind an action-packed trailer. Let’s hope it doesn’t succeed.


What we’re looking forward to: Tomb Raider (June 15) – you expected perhaps something else? Angelina Jolie running around for 90 minutes, firing guns. Yes, we know all about computer game movies. I just don’t care. Will be there on the Friday for this one. Maybe Saturday too.

Dodgy ground: Evolution (June 8) – a bunch of goofy scientists save the world. David Duchovny has shown no ability to carry a movie without an “X” in the title. A lot will rely on the special effects here, which is thin ice for big success.

Please bomb…please bomb: Swordfish (June 8) – two of the less interesting X-Men (Jackson and Berry) team up with Travolta. It’s been fun watching Travolta’s overpaid and overhyped career explode in his face since Battlefield Earth, so fingers crossed this continues the trend.


Sure thing: Planet of the Apes (July 27) – as soon as we heard Tim Burton was on board, it was so obvious, in a smack your own forehead way. No doubt, this will look fabulous – however, will they be able to replicate the fabulous ending of the original?

What we’re looking forward to: Final Fantasy (July 11) – see previous qualms about computer games, yet there were moments in FF7 which were genuinely moving. If they can capture that spirit, and with undeniably jaw-dropping CGI, this could be the genuine groundbreaker of summer. Outside shot: just saw a trailer for Cats and Dogs which pits live-action kitties and pooches against each other, somewhere between Austin Powers and Mission Impossible. It looked fabulously crass and funny. Whether it can sustain it for ninety minutes, rather than ninety seconds…

Dodgy ground: Scary Movie 2 (July 4) – an idea which was initially fabulous, was already seriously running out of steam by the end of the first film. How many recent horror hits have there been for it to parody? I sense a departure into general movie parody territory: anyone remember Mafia!?

Please bomb…please bomb: Jurassic Park III (July 20) – enough with the dinosaurs already! What was once new and impressive has become nothing more than another studio franchise. They’re extinct: get over it. Though I can see how CGI dinosaurs would be better than having to deal with Demi Moore.


Sure thing: Rush Hour 2 (August 3) – this time, they’re in Hong Kong, so expect a lot of Chris Tucker-out-of-water gags. Otherwise, expect the same as last time – aimiable comedy, in which Jackie never gets out of second gear – and we cruise to another $100 million gross.

What we’re looking forward to: Rollerball (August 17) – while remaking classic films is often a recipe for disaster (Get Carter), this has potential, and the subject matter is even more fitting in these days of media conglomerates. From the director of Die Hard? Might just work.

Dodgy ground: American Pie 2 (August 10) – seems like the gross-out sex comedy has had its day, going by the grosses for the likes of Saving Silverman and Tomcats. It may not just be the apple-pie that gets screwed here, more like a few movie careers.

Please bomb…please bomb: Ghosts of Mars (August 24) – Carpenter’s career has been running on fumes for years. Since They Live, he’s batting 0-for-5; it’s a miracle any studio will touch him. He’s planning Vampires 2. Will someone please stop the man before he hurts others?

Incredibly Bad Film Show: Paradise

Dir: Stuart Gillard
Star: Phoebe Cates, Willie Aames

This takes almost all the best elements from The Blue Lagoon and Walkabout…and chucks them out of the window. Fortunately, the one that remains is Cates, following the footsteps of Brooke and Jenny into the “guilty pleasure” hall of fame. She teams up with Willie Aames, the straitlaced son of a preacher, as they wander across a desert conveniently supplied with a surprising number of oases, pursued by a feelthy Arab called The Jackal in lacklustre fashion (he seems to forget about them for months on end) who carries a British flag around with him for no readily apparent reason. It’s supposedly set in the 1820’s, but possesses absolutely no period atmosphere at all: going by the frequency with which Cates de-kits, it’s more like the late 1960’s.

Due to this, we’ll cut her some slack, and say she copes well with a role which would tax no-one’s acting ability. Aames, on the other hand is expected to be heroic, fighting off the Jackal, rescuing his pubescent squeeze and taking care of business. He is utterly unconvincing at any of this, admittedly hampered by direction so limp, you feel nothing at all when his parents are slaughtered (“Vengeance is mine, sayeth the Lord”, shouts his father – immediately before being kebabed. Oops). Since he also wrote the script, Gillard must also take blame for utterly laughable anachronisms. For example, there’s the totally fabulous house the pair knock up, complete with a verandah and all other mod cons. And if it really is “paradise”, why is no-one else living there – the Jackal and his gang know about it, since they visit repeatedly. There are also the long periods when nothing happens, save for the supposedly comedic antics of a pair of monkeys.

These are particularly irritating, since they’re a waste of perfectly good naked Phoebe time. The lack of head shots and some other strange quirks suggest that a body double was used for some of these. But that’s odd as it’s only some – other sequences are very obviously 100% for real, most notably a shower scene under a conveniently-warm waterfall that is both far too long, and not long enough, if you see what I mean. The scene appears on the sleeve of one British edition, with a little bra and panties painted onto her, which is kinda sweet. [I also don’t recall there being quite so much skin in that version…oh, dear, looks like I’ve just found an excuse to watch the film once more.] Moments like this are what provide the film with a reason for existing, crucial since we are left with no reason to care about the characters in the slightest.

So, where are the perpetrators of this waste of celluloid to be found now? Phoebe, as you should know, had a fine career, and made some 20-odd movies before retiring to becomes Mrs. Kevin Kline. Sadly, she was never again quite as revealing as here, save for one glorious moment in Fast Times at Ridgemont High. The director went on to do Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III – presumably, the one in which the turtles throw off their shells and frolic in the surf – while Willie Aames…

Ah, yes, Willie Aames. I was going to say that he vanished into obscurity, reaching the dizzy heights of voicing one of the characters in the Dungeons & Dragons cartoon show. But the story doesn’t end there. After a John Belushi-style binge, he found God, and he can now be seen playing Christian superhero Bibleman in a range of videos (click on the picture on the right for a beautifully straight-faced news story about him), as well as touring the States in a bizarre-sounding live shows designed to brainwash kids into accepting Christ as their Lord and Saviour. There’s something oddly satisfying about the way he has gone from playing the son of a preacher in a weird movie, to being a weird preacher himself.

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