Archive for March, 2015

Pups / Shite Royal Mail


Pups  -  Front DVD Cover  -  UK Release

Rebellious teenager Stevie (Cameron Van Hoy) finds his mother’s gun and along with his girlfriend (Mischa Barton) impulsively decides to rob a bank, becoming a latter-day Bonnie & Clyde in the process.  The pair find themselves in over their heads, as they take hostages and the FBI become involved in negotiating Stevie’s absurd demands.  Head FBI agent (Burt Reynolds) struggles to control the mounting tension in the bank, as he tries to keep the violence from escalating.  “Pups” is an edgy, post-modern response to the growing trend of senseless gun crime in America, featuring “two of the most natural and freed performances I have seen by actors of any age.” (Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times)

1999  –  Certificate: 15  –  Rating Details: Strong Language and Moderate Sex References  –  American Film  –  6.5 out of 10

This week I’m seriously hating on the Royal Mail, the Post Office, Parcel Force, or whatever it’s called these days since it was stolen from everyone and then sold back to a small proportion of us.  In January I ordered a CD from Japan.   Instead of getting my CD, I got one of the dreaded, silver cards, explaining that I owed a £3.85 customs charge, plus a piss-taking £8.00 “handling fee”.  (And my name was spelt wrongly on the card too.)  So anyway, I paid the fees online eight days before the payment deadline but nothing then got delivered.  When I rang up (and it took three calls to get anywhere), I discovered that the CD had been returned to sender as it was claimed I’d not paid the fees.  So I then had to complete a claim (a two page P58) form to try and get my money back, plus the additional postage I’m now having to pay to get the CD reshipped to me, after I’d also had to go and sort that out with the company I’d bought it from.  The claim form itself was totally shit, as in festival toilets shit, as it asked loads of questions that I had no idea of the answer for, yet it was covered in threats telling me that if I didn’t answer them all my claim couldn’t be processed.  The form totally wasn’t designed for what I need to make a claim for.  The online version was even worse, as I couldn’t even get past the first page, or indeed the first paragraph.  I haven’t had a reply yet.  Why do they even need to know half the questions it asks anyway, as my CD clearly got as far as the UK or I’d not have been sent the silver card?  I remember when it cost 3p to send a first class letter (and 2.5p for second class).  Now it costs 93p (31 times as much) and the service seems worse, despite all the extra technology available these days.  It better pay my own, personal £8.00 “handling fee” I’ve added to my claim too.  And if this wasn’t all bad enough, two days ago I got a letter saying I needed to pay £9.14 VAT, plus an even bigger piss taking £13.50 “Clearance Fee” before they’ll redeliver it.  A total of £22.64, nearly twice as much as last time!  The CD only cost £20.34. What a load of bollocks it all is!  Unless the company has seriously undercharged me for delivery, then there’s no way the VAT can be £9.14.  The cost of the shipping would need to come to £25.36 for that VAT figure to be correct and I was only charged £8.03 for it each time.  I shall be interested to see what the packaging says, should it ever actually be delivered.  I don’t mind paying the VAT, but I can’t see how it’s been worked out correctly, or understand why the handing fee has now become a clearance fee and nearly doubled.  Fucking Nazi Postman Pat can fucking fuck off.  I’m going to write to The Queen, it is the Royal Mail after all; I’m sure she’ll go and bang a few heads together when she hears about this.  Right now I can so understand the protagonist in this film.  I feel like I want to go postal.

There’re three things about the US that no one else in the world understands.  These’re its favourite sports, its approach to public health care and it’s obsession with the right to own guns.  This film is about the latter.  It was made 16 years ago, yet despite a seemingly ongoing parade of nutters with guns going into shops, schools, offices and other places during this period, nothing much seems to have changed since then.  That’s kind of sad and reflects badly on the huge number of people there who do actually have some common sense.  This is quite a rubbishy movie.  The whole approach the police take to deal with the situation makes little sense and what Burt Reynolds is up to most of the time I have no idea; he spends most of it sitting in a car waiting for the kids in the bank to do something, pacing around smoking and scowling, or fielding calls from his wife.  The police and FBI seem to have very little control over the onlookers and the press too; there’re armed police everywhere as well as the kids with guns, yet they’re all within a few metres of the bank.  I’m not in law enforcement, but aren’t they supposed to keep everyone well away?  Even when one of the kids comes out waving a gun about they still don’t get the hint.  They seem to have about the same grasp on what to do as the Royal Mail has on postal delivery services.  In fact pretty well everyone seems to have a bit of a death wish.  However, it’s one saving grace is the boy with the guy.  He’s so over-the-top hyper and mad most of the time that it’s worth watching just for his performance.  He’s pretty unlikable, but somehow I feel a certain kindred spirit burns inside him.  Overall, the film is more entertaining than the sum of its parts might suggest.  At least they had a nice day for it, sunny and warm.  I’d imagine if it had been wet and cold, it would have been a much more miserable experience for everyone, especially those outside.

Recommended for school children, police officers and bank staff.

No cats, chainsaws or decapitations.

Top badass moment?  Banks aren’t exactly top of most people’s lists of favourite things right now, so with hindsight I’d like to consider the spontaneous decision by the two kids to rob one on the way to school, as an unconscious choice to stick it to the Man and get our money back.  That’s badass.  You’d do the same thing too, if you had the guts! 

Pups at IMDB (6/1 / 10)
Pups at Wikipedia
Pups at Roger Ebert (4.0 / 5)
Pups trailer at Video Detective

For some weird reason, there doesn’t appear to be an English language copy of the trailer on YouTube!

 

 

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Edge of Seventeen / When Guitars Were Illegal


Edge of Seventeen  -  Front DVD Cover  -  UK Release

One of the classics in contemporary American gay cinema, “Edge of Seventeen” recalls one high school student’s eventful and raucous coming-out during the steamy summer of 1984.  Eric (Chris Stafford) is a 17-year-old senior from Ohio who takes a summer job at a local amusement park.  Working alongside his best gal pal Maggie (Tina Holmes), the two idle away the days until Eric meets Rod (Andersen Gabrych), a sexy and openly gay college student.  Soon sparks fly and Eric must confront feelings he had long suppressed.  A funny, entertaining and insightful coming-of-age tale, Edge of Seventeen is enhanced by a great ’80s soundtrack (including Bronski Beat and Eurythmics), terrific period design and a high-energy, upbeat tempo, making this an exciting and original take on growing up and finding love.

1998  –  Certificate: 15  –  Rating Details: Some strong language, sex and drug use  –  American Film  –  7.5 out of 10

In the early/mid 80s, punk and new wave disintegrated into a mostly horrible hardcore noise of badly played, pretend heavy metal.  At the same time, 2 tone came, saw, conquered and quickly left.  Meanwhile, the charts filled up with synth-based pop and whining, pretty-boys and girls singing about mostly nothing.  (Unlike today, where it’s full of groups of boring guys with beards and guitars singing about absolutely nothing, boy-bands who get off on arousing ten-year-old girls, and wailing woman who are so heavy auto-tuned they may as well be aliens.)  And maybe my memory is playing tricks on me, but actually I’m pretty sure that for part of the early-mid 80s electric guitars where made illegal, (unless you were the Housemartins).  However, all these new bands were British.  I can’t really remember what was going on in America at the time, chart music-wise, but as a source of New Romantic and synthpop it really doesn’t feature in my memory.  I will admit to a certain, limited fondness for some of the music, but most of it wasn’t that good; but even Spandau Ballet had one decent song, (although the video should be certified X for fashion and pretentiousness.)

This film is set during that period and it has to be said it gets its look and vibe spot on.  It’s a shame it wasn’t released until 1998, as otherwise it might well be remembered fondly in the same way as many real 80s films from that period are now.  Maybe having a gay lead character in a teen drama would have been a bit too subversive for mainstream US cinema at that time.  After all, gay people (including lesbians) are obviously the 80s equivalent of Islamic State, hell bend on destroying the status quo of everything everyone else holds dear.  This film follows the same basic story as most coming-of-age films do, (but with added gay angst).  It’s well made, well-acted and at times it’s genuinely touching; (i.e. it’s got scenes that are hanky-friendly).  The ending is a bit jarring though and felt a bit out of line with the rest of the film.  Maybe I just wanted more of a traditional, happy conclusion; (I think I must be going soft or something).  For a movie about a young gay guy and the New Romantic scene in general, everyone really does come across as very typical and real.  It would have been so easy for it to features lots of caricatures.  Well worth watching.

This is a movie that majors on its soundtrack and with a long playlist of bona fide 80s hits, it contributes significantly to making the film what it is.  I was pleased to find out that despite my declining years and way too many gigs, my ears are still good enough to hear Jimmy Somerville’s singing.

The trailer’s a solid effort.

Movie Weather Forecast.  Warm, dry and sunny throughout.

Recommended for fast-food restaurant workers, New Romantics and any teenagers thinking of coming out.

No cats, chainsaws or decapitations.

Top badass moment?  There isn’t one.  Normally this is a sign of a potentially crappy movie, one filled with horrible characters, or one I was too drunk or tired when I watched it to remember properly now, but in this case it’s really a reflection of a lot of normal people doing their best.  That in itself is badass.

Edge of Seventeen at IMDB (6.8 / 10)
Edge of Seventeen at Wikipedia
Edge of Seventeen at Roger Ebert (2 / 4)
Edge of Seventeen trailer at YouTube


Masters of Horror: Pelts / Dirty Secrets


Pelts  -  Front DVD Cover  -  US Release

Meat Loaf Aday stars as Jake Feldman, a short-tempered furrier struggling to build a small-time business while being tormented by his obsession for a sexy stripper.  But when a sadistic backwoods trapper (John Saxon of “Nightmare on Elm Street” and Argento’s “Tenebre”) kills a strange group of pet raccoons, Jake knows their luxurious hides could make a coat that will change his fortunes forever.  Only these are no ordinary pelts.  Everyone who comes in contact with the cursed furs is soon driven to unspeakable acts of self-mutilation and extreme violence.  Even if Jake can now possess the flesh he desperately covets, what horrific final price will he pay for the skin he’s in?

2006  –  Certificate: Not Rated  –  American TV  –  6.5 out of 10

I virtually never watch TV.  I’ve access to hundreds of channels and a hard disk recorder, plus more catch-up and subscription services than I can pronounce, but I can count on one, typical, human hand, how often I use any of these.  It’s not that I’m a TV snob either, as amongst all the dross are some really great programmes.  However, once in a while I take an arbitrary liking to something and will collect it on DVD or Blu-ray.  Whilst I like to watch films and write garbage about them here, I have a dirty, embarrassing, hidden secret that I rarely talk about to anyone; that is to say I also have one or two TV programmes I’m watching at the same time too.  (Although not literally.)  I don’t really binge-watch, so it takes me a long time to work my way through one with a lot of episodes.  Over the past few years I’ve done “Dad’s Army” (so part of my childhood), “Andromeda”, (massively underrated), “The Likely Lads” / “Whatever Became of the Likely Lads” (TV that reminds me of my father), and Red Dwarf (you can’t be a student without watching it and learning the silly Rimmer salute).  At present I’m slowly working my way through “South Park” and “Pretty Little Liars”.  Sadly, embarrassed by my indiscretions with the ‘small screen’, I rarely write much about them here.  This is strange in a way, because however good a film is you only get to spend a few hours with most of the characters, (even with a long franchise).  However, with TV you can spend weeks or months with them, years even, investing a huge amount of emotional capital in their lives.  This is something even the best film can never hope to match.  But no more…  From now on I’m going to attempt, in my usual inept way, to make more of a song and dance about them, right here.  Well don’t get too excited…

By pure coincidence, Pelts is actually a TV programme, although just to be confusing I’m treating it as a film.  Staring Meat Loaf (yes, that Meat Loaf), who spends most of the movie looking like a very disreputable version of Liam Neeson’s father and wanting to get his hands on a local stripper, when he’s not stripping the skin of the local wildlife to make coats out of.  Even without his less than vegan lifestyle his character is entirely without a redeeming feature; indeed, he really doesn’t have any positive characteristics at all.  This is not a film for which the plot is worth analysing; it’s really just there to provide an excuse for (the admittedly beautiful) Ellen Ewusie to get her top off (and scream a lot and yes, fall-over when she’s running away) and some excellent special effects.  (Except when Meat Loaf pulls most of his skin off and runs about a bit with it; not sure that worked well for me, but I guess he was just trying to out-strip his female co-star.  The face sowing is excellent though!)  However, it was good to see the purveyors of a fur coat get their come-uppance.  The wearers of real fur really are the embodiment of all that’s fucked-up in fashion.

There’s a soundtrack.  Its plays.    

The trailer is what it is.  It reminded me a bit of magnolias paint.

Movie Weather Forecast:  Eh… it’s overcast; and dark a lot.

Recommended for furriers, poachers, strippers and the fashion industry in general.

No cats, chainsaws or decapitations.  (Unless you count all the poor racoons that get killed and skinned; I imagine that involved all their heads being removed at some point.)

Top badass moment?  There really isn’t a single nice or worthy person or act in this film.  There’s not even evil masterminds either, just a load of shallow, mostly worthless individuals.  However, I don’t like to admit defeat and there is a brief shot of a snail (and sorry I don’t know what species it is) crawling along.  In comparison with all the humans, that’s just totally, totally, hardcore badass.

Pelts at IMDB (6.6 / 10)
Pelts at Wikipedia
Pelts trailer at YouTube