Jonathan Silverman (“Weekend at Bernie’s”, “Brighton Beach Memoirs”) is Barry Thomas, and Barry is having a bad day… over and over and over again. That’s because Barry is caught in a “time bounce” – an atmospheric phenomenon – that occurs when his employer, the high-tech company Utrel, has an experiment that goes haywire. Spared from the effect of memory loss by an electric shock at the moment of the time bounce, Barry is the only one at Utrel who has the power to change the course of fate. And to Barry that means saving the life of the woman he loves, research scientist Lisa Fredericks (Helen Slater, “City Slickers”, “Ruthless People”). Tautly directed by Jack Sholder (“A Nightmare on Elm Street Part 2: Freddy’s Revenge”, “The Hidden”) and co-starring Academy Award winner Martin Landau (“Crimes and Misdemeanors”), “12:01” is a spirited sci-fi thriller you’ll enjoy again and again and again! “It’s Back to the Future” meets “Groundhog Day”!
1993 – Certificate PG-13 – American Film
Rating Details: Violence
6.0 out of 10
I really like tea, but I also drink a lot of not very nice instant coffee too. I drink the latter almost exclusively at work, as the caffeine helps me to do my shit. Without this stimulant, I’d not be able to deliver my corporate payload from a sufficiently high altitude to target my in-box effectively and render its population non-belligerent. Really. Like Bane in Batman (the version that hung about with Poison Ivy in the 1997 “Batman and Robin” film), each cup has the same effect on me as turning the ‘power dial’ on his head did on him. I shake a lot, growl a bit and look angry, my fingers a blur of motion on the keyboard, as I up the misspelling count to such a shocking level that even Bill Gates can’t work out what the hell I’m trying to write. Someone once sneaked a jar of decaffeinated coffee into the office and the whole organisation nearly went bankrupt. Conversely, at home I almost never drink coffee. About 15 years ago I bought a filter coffee-making machine when I had someone staying with me who liked coffee. Despite my ongoing battle with technology, it’s still fully functional. (I guess I don’t use it very often and it’s not a very ‘mission critical’ part of my lifestyle.) However, tonight I made myself some real coffee in it. It was very nice! Funny enough, it’s even nicer if you tip a load of Tia Maria in it. I wonder what happens if you try to get drunk on coffee?
The 80s and 90s were the golden age for ‘Made for TV’ films. This is one of them. It’s basically “Groundhog Day” with some sci-fi bolted onto it. It’s got Martin Landau in it, but I guess all those years of running Moonbase Alpha in “Space 1999” must have taken their toll on him, because he’s rubbish! Never mind phoning in his role, he didn’t even make contact. I think they just carried a cardboard cut out about from scene to scene. In fact the whole movie is pretty rubbish. However, despite its limitations it’s a fun, easy watch, ideal for when you can’t be bothered to concentrate on stuff. Our hero is Barry, who basically has to save the world, or universe, or something, from remaining stuck in the same 24 hour time loop. He’s a workshy loser in the personnel department of a company that’s doing research into faster than light travel; (don’t worry if you don’t understand, it’s really not that important). Now I’ve seen a lot of action heroes in my time with unlikely ‘day jobs’, but this is the first time I’ve come across one from an HR department. I now have a new-found respect for personnel staff, they kick ass. (Where I work we call them People Services, which I’m not sure quite conjures up the correct mental image to some.) Despite its many faults, this is a decent enough thriller/romance/comedy to waste 94 minutes of your life on.
The soundtrack does its job, collects its pay check and leaves.
Recommended for anyone working in human resources, or as a scientist carrying out cutting edge research into particle physics.
No cats, chainsaws or decapitations.
Top badass moment? Our hero finds himself breaking into his own employer’s offices. The security guards, already alerted to the fact, are polite but inept, as Bazza somehow manages to grab one of their guns out of its holster. Pretty impressive for an HR administrator. However, what’s really badass is the threat he uses to distract them as he’s doing so. “Stop giving me a hard time, because I’m going to have to come back here in the morning and make sure that you’re fired before we get here; and don’t think I can’t do it either, I’m in personnel.” A terrifying threat in these economically tough times.
Brigitte is the first work selflessly took care of his sister Hannah, who turned into a werewolf. Now her suffering worse. Sam’s sister Brigitte was infected! In the full moon must figure out how to cure it to prevent further bloody rampage. At least that’s how Google translates it from the Czech on the cover of my DVD. I think it’s losing something… Who’s Sam and why has Brigitte had a gender reassignment? I don’t remember either of those in the film. Wouldn’t the world be a much better place if everyone spoke the same language? Ideally English…
2004 – Certificate: 15 – Canadian Film
7.5 out of 10
I have/had an American Express Nectar Credit Card; (that’s the Amex Card that plebs are allowed to have.) Recently it decided to introduce an annual fee of £25 for the ‘privilege’ of having one. I, like (I’ve no doubt) millions of other ‘outraged customers’ decided that I didn’t fancy paying for something I can get for free elsewhere. So I rang up and cancelled it. There are three things that make American Express ‘different’ to ‘other’ credit card companies (i.e. Visa and MasterCard); 1 – nowhere accepts Amex credits cards; 2 – they identify you as a shallow, egotistic, posh snob, who wants to flaunt his or her success in the face of others; 3 – they have good customer service. So you can imagine my profound disappointment, when I got a letter a few days later confirming my cancellation. The letter said; “We are sorry you have decided to cancel your Nectar Credit Card. For this reason we have cancelled your Nectar Credit Card account as you requested.” So basically it’s cancelled the card because it’s sorry I’ve decided to cancel the card? What would have happened if it hadn’t been sad? Would it had continued to force me to have it and pay £25 a year for doing so? It seems good customer service stops when you leave. And yes, I realise that that’s a bit of a boring tale without much of a punch line. Mountains and mole hills come to mind.
Ginger Snaps is one of the best horror/comedy/teen/fantasy films ever. So what about its sequel? Well the comedy part has gone. The teen bit has also been diluted too. It’s still got teenagers in it (including the two stars from the previous instalment), but it’s not really a film about teenagers anymore; the story could have featured people of any age really. Instead we get an out-and-out horror and it’s not a bad one at all. Smiling less than an emo girl having a bad day, (a part Emily Perkins plays so well), Brigitte is a patient at the Happier Times Care Centre, a rehab clinic where she inexplicably seems to appear after an altercation over a few library books. I didn’t realise reading was quite that addictive. Unfortunately, the Centre isn’t a good advert for the voluntary sector providing health services, as most of the staff there are a bit weird or pervy and it looks very much like a rundown prison. I guess we’ll just have to blame it on funding cuts. It’s the sort of place Jimmy Saville would have enjoyed visiting. The ending is a bit rubbishy, but the rest of the film is fine and it’s good to see werewolves being given a bit of ‘quality screentime’; in footballing terms they always felt a bit like Manchester City, if you imagine vampires to be Manchester United; an occasional flash of success but basically always living in the shadow of their more successful, interesting and flamboyant neighbours. Sadly the stunning Katharine Isabelle (Ginger) isn’t in it very much, but considering what happened to her in the original film that’s not that surprising. Instead we get Ghost, a slightly creepy 13-year-old, who suffers from Hollywood Child-in-a-Film Syndrome, in that she acts like no real 13-year-old would; perhaps that’s why she was in the clinic in the first place? (Tatiana Maslany, who I think was actually 19 when she made this film, really doesn’t look her own age.) Anyway, it’s a very good film, well made, well acted and with decent special effects; but watch the brilliant Ginger Snaps before going onto this one, as it’s a direct sequel to it.
The music is serviceable, but forgettable. Some rather dull, alternative rock and an infrequently heard film score don’t make it a movie to remember.
Recommended for werewolves, junkies, emos and anyone providing health care services in the voluntary sector.
No cats, chainsaws or decapitations.
Top badass moment? “I’m going to kill it. Get me all the sharp things you can find.” No running away and falling over for her, Brigitte’s outcome-focused approach to dealing with an issue would be welcomed by many in the private sector, keen for employees with a clear vision of what they want to achieve and how they’re going to achieve it. Mission Drift isn’t something the viewer needs to worry about in this movie.
Sarah Lassez (“Nowhere”, “The Blackout”, “Until The Night”) delivers a star-making performance as Therese, an ass-kicking health inspector with a failed marriage, an on-going affair with a creepy televangelist (Walter Koenig, “Star Trek”), nymphomania, and an obsession with old kung-fu movies. Further complicating her life is a very questionable relationship with her brother Thierry (James Duval from “The Doom Generation” and “Donnie Darko”), a meat importer who may (or may not) have infected her with mad cow disease. She soon embarks on a surreal journey which descends into violence, insanity and her quest to kill the Ten Tigers From Kwangtung!
2006 – Certificate: Not Rated – American Film
Rating Details: Graphic violence and sexual situations
6.0 out of 10
I’ve described before how technology hates me. I think it probably hates most people, but for some reason it gets an especially perverse satisfaction out of giving me hassle and grief. The latest example was last Friday; the day my amplifier finally returned from over four months away being repaired, my Logitech Squeezebox died. This cute little device has helped me to go to sleep for years, playing Internet radio stations such as Dub Xtra, Ska World, Hussieskunk and Gutter Punk when I went to bad. I suppose I’ve had a reasonable amount of use out if it; they stopped making them quite some time ago. However, the loss has been keenly felt right across Cactus World. The nearest equivalent that’s now available is the Logitech UE Smart Radio, which isn’t what I really want. Logitech seems to think everyone has a smart phone these days and will use it to access music, so its range of products reflects this outlook; well I don’t so I can’t. Its loss then. I don’t have any friends so what’s the point of me having a phone, smart or stupid? Instead I’ve bought a Roberts Stream 83i. Doing this has also freed up my DAB radio alarm and a nice mini stereo system, as the 83i (wow, catchy name) has these things built into it. In fact, if I’d listed all the features I wanted, this clever bit of kit would be the result. The User Guide has 108 pages, all in English. It hasn’t been delivered yet, but I’m already looking forward to it pissing me off for some reason soon. Oh yes, and if this wasn’t proof enough of the self-aware nature of technology, the hard drive in my NAS also failed last week. I’m pretty sure it’s all a precursor to something resembling Skynet. And on the subject of not being able to tell reality from fantasy…
I always enjoy a film that within the first couple of minutes makes a positive statement about vegans. Sadly, I don’t feel I can really reciprocate the feeling. Maybe I should try to be more sober when I watch movies, so I can make more sense of them? Despite its title, this film isn’t trying to do for westerns what Twilight did for vampires and it’s probably much better that I’m giving it credit for. It staggers about like a drunk, from straight-forward drama, through slasher horror into surreal mind-fuck territory and then back again. On the surface it’s really quite a shambles, but underneath it’s actually quite a clever film. It’s a parody of a kung fu movie, yet it also offers up an emotionally screwed-up scene as the lead character breaks down in a confessional booth, with the realisation that’s she’s not got long to live. It’s got Chekov in it (the Enterprise’s navigator, not the doctor/writer), but far too much gratuitous gross meat-eating for my liking. In fact it’s a bit of a food-fight movie; there’s ideas and thoughts splattered everywhere. So something for everyone then, or nothing for anyone, or whatever.
This film offers up a muddle of many different types of music; an intentional mixture of a straight-forward soundtrack and kitsch opera, rock, rap, funk and many other music genus too, as it tries to keep up with the ever-changing vibe on-screen. There’s a brief burst of a great punk song at one point, but sadly I don’t know who it’s by or what it’s called.
Recommended for environmental health inspectors, butchers, evangelists, Trekkies and connoisseurs of kung fu movies.
3 decapitations, no cats or chainsaws. The Flying Guillotine is an interesting concept… And it was pleasing to see a battery-powered drill and circular saw being used to good effect too.
Top badass moment? Ten Tigers From Kwangtung! Cindy, The Girl With the Thunderbolt Kick, wasn’t bad either.
Distraught over breaking up with his girlfriend, Zia (Patrick Fugit) decides to end it all. Unfortunately, he discovers that there is no real ending, only a run-down afterlife that is strikingly similar to his old one, just a bit worse. Discovering that his ex-girlfriend has also “offed” herself, he sets out on a road trip, with his Russian rocker friend, to find her. Their journey takes them through an absurd purgatory where they discover that being dead doesn’t mean you have to stop livin’!
2006 – Certificate: R – American Film
Rating Details: Language and disturbing content involving suicide
8 out of 10
Let’s start with a history lesson. In January 2010 I bought myself a new amplifier, an Onkyo TX-NR807. (It’s totally overpowered for someone who lives in a flat like me and is surrounded by others they don’t hate, but hey, I’m a bloke and I need to make up for my perceived sexual inadequacies; I’d probably be tempted to buy a Porsche if I could afford it, just to drive up to the corner shop and back.) In January 2012 it broke down. Fear swept across Cactus World, as the population was plunged into a miserable silence. Fortunately it got fixed pretty quickly. In January 2013 it broke down again, with exactly the same fault. This time it wasn’t fixed quickly. Last Monday I rang up the crappy repair company, (Genserve, Onkyo’s official repair company in the UK). Not my first call to it. Fed up with it abysmal service, I used my ‘really, really, really pissed off customer who knows where you live and will kidnap your babies and torture and kill them if you don’t bloody get it fixed soon persona’, to get some information out of them. Apparently the replacement part was ordered from Germany but if it’s not in stock there it has to come from Japan. The guy I spoke to offered to send an e-mail to see where things had got to; wow, I bet that would’ve scared the shit out of them. I also phoned up Onkyo and gave it a load a grief about its shoddy amplifier design. What a lot of bollocks that all turned out to be, as strangely I got a phone call less than 48 hours later to tell me it had been fixed. I got it back on Friday and two days later it’s actually still working. Why do I have to pretend to be a murderous psycho to get anything sorted these days? And the moral of this story? Never, ever by anything made by Onkyo, because it’s unreliable, fucking shite; yep, I think that just about sums things up. A shame, because when it’s working it’s a great amp. It’s enough to drive someone to despair, get a gun and randomly go out and shoot people and then blow their own head off. All of which bring me to this film…
I’m swearing a lot here, sorry. Anyway, this is a mind-fuck movie, but a good one. The idea of an afterlife that’s just a bit more crappy than the living version, appeals to my pragmatic world view. It’s not a bad metaphor for life. In fact I’m starting to wonder if in fact I’m already there, given my recent experiences with my amplifier. Sometime between January 2012 and January 2013 I must have committed suicide, although I can’t for the life of me remember doing so. (By the way, my saying “Can’t for the life of me” there is a bit of a joke; I don’t want anyone to miss it so I thought I’d mention it.) I guess it just wasn’t very memorable. It would also explain a great many other things. One of the characters spends her time looking for the People In Charge, because she’s convinced there’s been a mistake and she shouldn’t be there; I could relate to the too. This is a really interesting film which, despite its theme, is fun; if there’s such a thing as a black, rom-com road-movie, this is probably it. Its story is really quite unique. Well worth watching.
This film has some interesting music in it and extends its theme by using some songs from bands whose singers sadly did commit suicide. A lot of the rest is from Gogol Bordello, a band who’s sizable appeal I’ve never really quite understood, although it sounds fine here. Tom Waits, who’s in the film quite a bit, also contributes a suitably jolly track.
Recommended for undiscovered rockers, pizza shop workers and cult leaders.
One cat, no chainsaws or decapitations. It’s only onscreen for a few moments, but it’s a cute ginger one!
Top badass moment? I watched this film about two weeks ago, so I have to admit I can’t remember enough to identify it now. I’m sure there was one though; probably several actually. I really should take notes.
This “deeply emotional…extraordinarily profound” film became a must-see sensation at the Sundance Film Festival. “Beautiful, bright and fearless” newcomer Brit Marling and fan-favourite William Mapother (TV’s “Lost”) star as Rhoda and John, two people whose worlds collide after a tragic accident. Their intimate drama plays out against the astounding discovery of Earth 2, a parallel world that poses provocative and fascinating possibilities. Does a new Earth mean a chance at another life? Another destiny? Another self? “Another Earth” is science fiction at its best, with a mind-bending surprise ending that you will never forget.
2011 – Certificate: 12: – American Film
Rating Details: Moderate sex and one scene of bloody accident injury
8 out of 10
I’m on holiday for two weeks. What this actually means is that I’m off work for two weeks, which isn’t exactly the same thing; I’m not planning on going away anywhere. When other people come back from being on holiday they say things like: we went windsurfing and it’s so easy once you get the hang of it; we made great friends with Dawuma of the Ingoca-Ti Tribe and helped them build a solar-powered oven; we got drunk every night on French wine in our château, but never had a hangover because it was really good quality stuff; we sat at the top of Ben Nevis and watched the sun go down, it was so romantic; we saved a species of bird from extinction by planting trees to extend the rainforests; we laid on the beach all day and got a perfect suntan; we went to Alton Towers and didn’t have to queue-up for any of the rides; we went to Butlins and the kids loved it; we went paragliding over Norwegian glaciers; we met the Dali Lama and now perfectly understand the Tibetan wish for autonomy, but respect the Chinese viewpoint too; etc, etc. I’ll just end up going to a few, half-empty gigs and trying to catch up with all my old e-mails from work, so I won’t have so much of a backlog to deal with when I start on the 500 new ones that will have arrived in my absence. This film features a great new place to go on holiday.
What if there was another you? Rhoda Williams is an ace student that gets accepted to go to university to study astronomy. On her way back from celebrating this news, its announced on the radio that a planet identical to Earth has been discovered. She looks up into the air to see if she can see it in the night sky and crashes her car, changing her life forever. (Most of us have to settle for fiddling with the car stereo to achieve the same thing, but I guess that’s not quite so exciting.) The rest of the movie is basically about her dealing with the consequences of this, which is played out against the background of Earth 2 (as it gets named) slowly getting closer and closer to us. Just occasionally I watch a film and I really, really want it to be great. This was one of those films. It turns out that it is great, but it isn’t GREAT. It has a wonderful, if mostly downbeat, ‘other-worldly’ vibe (literally) and a fairly unique background, but the narrative leave a little too much unsaid for my liking. Star Trek at least has the good sense to use some techno-babble to explain things; “Another Earth” just leaves you wondering. Even the ending is a bit of a “what?” one. This is really just a simple drama about two fucked-up people that’s played out against the biggest thing ever to happen to anyone. It’s nicely shot too. You really should watch this film.
The music used in this film is fine and provides a nice bed for the narrative. Unfortunately I just didn’t really like it that much. What a shame.
Recommend for cleaners, astronomers, composers and mirror-makers.
No cats, chainsaws or decapitations.
Top badass moment? It features a new planet. It’s like Earth. Exactly like Earth. If that’s not badass enough for you then I don’t know what is.
In a riveting performance that won him 1993’s Hong Kong Film Award for Best Actor, Anthony Wong (“Hard Boiled”) stars as the owner/chef of the Eight Immortals Restaurant, where the original owner and his family mysteriously disappear. As the police, led by Danny Lee (“The Killer”), intensify their investigation, they gradually uncover the shocking truth. Definitely not for the squeamish, “The Untold Story” is also an intelligent character study filled with dark humour touches. And remember… it actually happened!
1992 – Certificate: Not Rated – Hong Kong Film
Rating Details: Scenes of extreme violence and graphic sexual situations
6.5 out of 10
In the late 80s I stopped eating Birds Eye Potato Waffles. This is because I got really bad food poisoning from them, twice in a row. I can still remember it quite vividly. I think it’s the last time I took time off work through being physically ill. They’re the only thing that’s ever given me food poisoning, as far as I can remember. A few months ago I decided to try them again. The good news was, no sickness or diarrhea etc, a promising start. (I don’t recommend trying to microwave them though, the results aren’t especially satisfactory.) Now, these are potato waffles; they’re probably one of the Bird Eye brand’s ‘signature products’. On the side of the packaging is a marketing highlight which proudly proclaims, “Made with REAL potatoes”. What the fuck? Potato waffles and they’re actually made with potatoes; surely not? Is that really the best thing they can come up with? It doesn’t bode well for the rest of the product if that’s the highlight. This also left me wondering what exactly is an unreal potato. The packaging also goes on to say each 100g of waffles is made with 109g of potatoes. Really? I guess an understanding of particle physics is helpful if you want to enjoy Birds Eye Potato Waffles; it must be all that ‘new physics’ stuff again. Personally, I’d rather know that all the potatoes used are grown within 40 miles of the factory where they make them, which is what it says on its web site; I think that’s much more worthy. Has our food become so crap these days that the fact it contains what you’d expect it to contain has become such a big deal that it needs bragging about? (Oh, I forgot about all the horse burgers.) Birds Eye in Europe is presently owned by private equity group Primira. One of its 11 Business Principles is “Comply with both the letter and the spirit of all applicable laws, regulations and contractual obligations”. I guess that’s why it has its finance team based on Guernsey; nothing to do with its tax haven status then? This film features a restaurant and food that makes people sick; and dead.
Never released in the UK, Anthony Wong plays a restaurant owner called Wong Chi-Hang and it’s worth tracking down a copy of this film for his performance alone. The guy has some serious, anger management issues. When he’s not feeding his clientele with the ground-up remains of people he’s killed, raping his staff, beheading children or cheating at Mah Jong, he’s being beaten up by various people, generally the police or the relatives of those he’s murdered. For a pretty gruesome and dark film that’s basically about a serial killer, the police are presented as only a few steps above the Keystone Cops. The senior detective and his team investigating the case don’t seem to do a lot of work, they continually belittle the only woman in the team, they happy beat up poor old Anthony with the least provocation and the senior detective nearly always has a prostitute with him at work. It’s not often you can have any sympathy for a serial killer, but he’s clearly a product of his environment; well, sort of. Set in Macau, this film is meant to be based on a real crime too. It’s a bloody horror with the occasional bit of almost slapstick comedy; very watchable if you can deal with all that.
This film has a fair amount of background music, much of which is clearly inspired by the “Psycho” ‘shower scene’. You’ll not want to watch this film for the music.
Recommended for catering students, the police and anyone who’s crap at Mah Jong.
No cats or chainsaws and three decapitations; two of the latter were after they were dead though. It’s not often you see a child have her head cut off in a film…
Top badass moment? In the middle of cutting a load of people up, it was good to see Anthony Wong take time out to sharpen the meat cleaver he was using. (He forgot to wear safety goggles or gloves whilst using the grinder though.) No wonder he was so pissed off when the cutting edge got damaged soon after. (Maybe he sharpened the blade too finely for cutting bones; or perhaps he hit the floor with it by mistake?) Caring about your tools, even if you’re a serial killer, is good practice and therefore badass. They do say a blunt tool is more dangerous than a sharp one.