Posts tagged “1996

Breaking the Waves / God for a Day


Breaking the Waves  -  Front DVD Cover  -  UK ReleaseIn the early 1970s a naïve young girl, Bess (Emily Watson – 1996 Academy Award Nominee – Best Actress), living in a small community on the north-west coast of Scotland, falls in love with oil-rig worker and man-of-the-world Jan.  Despite local opposition they marry and live out a brief but intense love life.  Jan returns to the rig, whilst Bess counts the days to his homecoming sure that their love is made in heaven.  When an accident renders Jan paralysed he is worried that Bess will cut herself off from a normal life. Realising that he will be bedridden, he convinces her that she will aid his recovery by taking a lover and relating to him their sexual acts.  “Breaking the Waves” with its electronic seventies soundtrack (featuring Deep Purple, T-Rex and Elton John) is a truly astonishing film, adored by critics and audiences alike.

1996  –  Certificate: 18  –  Danish Film
Rating Details:  Language: occasional, strong.  Sex/Nudity: occasional, strong. Violence: once, moderate. Other: drama, religion, marriage.
8.5 out of 10

I had a good day today.  To start with I woke up bright and early and reasonably ‘with it’ from the get go.  Then I walked into work and did a load of stuff that needed me to actually give it some thought; (complicated grown-up things, you know what I mean).  Sometimes I go to work and I wonder whether I’ve tarnished my god-like status in any way, especially when I find myself cutting the stamps off envelopes to (ironically) give to charity, straightening the leaflets in their dispensers for the sake of it, or laminating things just because it’s fun to laminate.  (And yes, I really did do all these things today too.)  However, any doubts as to my usefulness were swept away by my fundraising prowess, as I got a letter telling me I’d manage to get a grant of £8,891 from the Big Lottery Fund.  Like a lion hunting prey to feed its hungry family, (or perhaps more appropriately a scruffy yappy dog with a bone it won’t give up), I didn’t allow myself to be put off by my two previous attempt to get money for the same project from the same funder.  This was third time lucky.  Like Captain Kirk, I don’t believe in the No Win Scenario; however I do believe in flogging a dead horse, however unvegan that might appear.  The people of Eastleigh, Hampshire, will soon be worshiping my very footsteps, as the money transports them to a whole new plain of existence, enabling them to finally escape the trauma of Chris Hume tying to get himself a presenter’s job on “Top Gear”.  I wonder where they’ll erect my statue?  In complete contrast, this film is crushingly depressing.

Over two and a half hours long, this is a drama about love, belief and God. “Dude, Where’s My Car?” it isn’t.  A nihilistic nightmare, it features the slow destruction of a young woman (who appears to have some sort of undisclosed mental illness), trapped between her love for her husband and her love for God.  Set in the Highlands of Scotland, one of the most beautiful places in the world, it manages though a combination of miserable weather, a washed-out, grainy picture and an overbearingly dismal atmosphere, to make it feel like the bleakest place on Earth; even the happier scenes feel like they’re caught in a membrane of gloom.  Emily Watson puts in a stunning performance as Bess.  It’s well worth watching the whole film for her performance alone, before you go off and slash your wrists. Talking of the ending, it’s somewhat bizarre.  A great film and essential viewing.

Set in the first half of the 70s, this film includes some curiously long chapter interludes that feature music from the period.  It tries hard to pick some good stuff out, but it can’t hide the fact that pop music at the time was pretty dire.  However, when inserted into this film, it really does help to set the scene and drag you down to its level.

Recommended for religious zealots, Scots, God, doctors, nurses and people who work on oil and gas rigs.

No cats, chainsaws or decapitations.

Top badass moment?  At Bess’s wedding reception, a somewhat drunk Terry (one of ‘the lads’) crushes an empty beer can.  Not to be outdone, her grandfather squeezes and breaks a glass in his hand, cutting himself.  Considering this is a deeply religious guy who appeared to live in the last century, not have a sense of humour and was lukewarm at best with respect to the wedding, this did seem rather bizarre thing to do.  Why?  I’ve no idea if it was a joke, a threat, or what?  However, confounding people’s expectations is badass.

Breaking the Waves at IMDB (7.8 / 10)

Breaking the Waves at Wikipedia

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Bandwagon / The Roberts Stream 83i


Bandwagon  -  Front DVD Cover (US Release)“Bandwagon” is a fresh and exciting indie comedy about four unlikely characters, who together form a band.  Tony Ridge is a tragically shy singer and songwriter who can barely discuss his songs, let alone play them in public.  He meets up with Charlie, an anxious young drummer with a practice space and a mom who makes them snacks.  They seek out Wynn, a perpetually stoned lead guitarist, and finally, Eric, a feisty bass player who’s just given away his instrument as collateral on an overdue bet.  Once the bass is retrieved from an unforgettable drug-dealing redneck the guys are ready.  But ready for what? Is their band about the music, about getting the girls, or just something to pass the time?  They decide that the best way for them to get noticed is to hit the road so they procure Linus Tate, the elusive, but legendary, road manager.  The group soon realizes that life, confined to the space of their not-so-trusty van, isn’t always an easy endeavour.  First-time writer/director John Schultz, a native of North Carolina, has taken full advantage of the striking local scenery during the peak of fall.  Witty dialogue and clever plot twists punctuate a well-crafted story.  An expertly produced sound track, including original songs performed by the film’s band, Circus Monkey, as well as other independent bands, gives the film an edgy, contemporary sound.  A mix of familiar faces (Kevin Corrigan from “Living in Oblivion” and Steve Parlavecchio from “Amongst Friends”) and refreshing new talent round out an energetic ensemble cast.  “Bandwagon” is a good-time venture into young artistic expression.

1996  –  Certificate: Not Rated  –  American Film
7.0 out of 10

My new Roberts Stream 83i has arrived, as a replacement for my old but now sadly broken, Logitech Squeezebox.  It plays FM radio.  It plays Internet radio.  It’s a DAB radio.  It streams music from my NAS Drive.  It sounds nice.  It’s very easy to work out how to use it.  It looks a little too like it was designed by someone with an over enthusiasm for 50’s sci-fi spaceship control panels; Buck Rodgers would feel right at home with it.  What’s there not to like?  Well, two things so far.  Despite giving access to thousands of radio stations available on the Internet, it only give you 5 pre-sets for them, which is a bit perverse; was that bit of the specification sorted out on a Friday afternoon by some thickie on work experience with the company?  Also, and far more annoyingly, it won’t shuffle music from my NAS Drive unless there’re less than about 2,000 tracks or folders in a folder, so it expects me to rearrange my whole, digital music collection to convenience this crappy bit of its design.  I’ve e-mailed the company for a solution; let’s see how long it takes to reply and what it says.  It never fails to amaze me how those that design things never seem to get the details quite right.  This film is about music too.

Wynn, Eric, Tony and Charlie are four losers that have little else in common.  They form a band, go on tour, fall out a lot, deal with loads of angst and in the end come good.  So pretty much like every other film ever written about a band. Having said that, it’s quite a lot of fun and, critically, feels fairly authentic.  Their enigmatic road manager, Linus, also adds a slightly surreal feel to things too.  It’s often hard for actors to look like musicians in films, but in this case they generally do a pretty good job.  It does feel bit dated at times, mainly because these days so much independent music is promoted and distributed on the Internet.  There is a bit near the end where the band is being spoken to by the head of a record company, who’s explaining, quite convincingly, how the band has to do this, that and the other to be successful.  Sometimes it feels like that at work; I spend more time playing the game that doing anything that’s actually making any sort of difference.  It doesn’t matter how many times I have it explained to me, I’m still left with a feeling that there’s a better way to do things.

A film about a band needs to have good music.  With a number of decent, mid 90s, American indie rock songs, this movie does manage to be convincing enough on this level.  In fact a couple of them are actually pretty good.

Recommended for garage mechanics, dope-heads, record shop assistants and construction vehicle manufacturer workers.

No cats, chainsaws or decapitations.

Top badass moment?  The record company president meets the band and offers it a recording contract.  It turns it down.  That’s defiantly sticking it to The Man, and that’s badass; and in many ways stupid too, but there’s something to be said for keeping you integrity and principles intact.

Bandwagon at IMDB (6.7 / 10)

Bandwagon at Wikipedia


Organ: 1.5 Stars


Organ  -  Front DVD CoverThe Olympic Opening Ceremony in London was amazing.  I wasn’t even going to bother watching it, but then I thought it might be a bit interesting to see what they were going to do with some farm animals and all that grass in the middle of the stadium.  Six hours later, I realised I’d witnessed a modern-day miracle.  So many things could have gone wrong; all that technology, animals, kids, mechanics and volunteers, a recipe for disaster.  I ended up feeling I was watching England playing football and waiting for the inevitable failure that would leave the country ridiculed by the rest of the world for the next 1,000 years.  Actually I’ve no idea what the rest of the world really thought of it, but I think it was pretty spot on; it totally worked for me.  I loved the narrative that ran through it and it was great to hear three of my favourite 50 all-time songs (by OMD, the Jam and the Sex Pistols) used.  The part where the teams all parade around did go on for a bit, it was a little too like the voting section in the Eurovision Song Contest, which always seems never-ending.  Highlights were the team (and I forget which county it was) that came out in wellies so brightly coloured they’d not even be allowed into the Glastonbury Festival; the Queen fiddling with her nails whist the rest of the stadium went mental as the GB Team appeared, (well I guess if you’ve just jumped out of a helicopter and parachuted into the stadium with a famous fictional character, your nails might get a bit messed up); a realisation that I’ve never even heard of half of the countries in the world, (which all seem to be volcanic atolls in the Pacific somewhere, not that it’ll matter once they all disappear under the waves thanks to Global Warming, courtesy of the rest of us); David Beckman just being himself; and the countries that had woman athletes competing for the first time, (2012, has it really taken this long)?  Danny Boyle is a god.  The whole thing was great.  Unlike this movie…

1996  –  Certificate: 18  –  Japan

This movie is mostly rubbish.  In fact it’s possibly the worst film I’ve watched this year, (so far). It makes little sense, it’s hard to follow what’s going on and the picture quality is crap.  The special effects vary from okay to laughable and the rubbish acting has made me believe I would probably have a star-studded future on the stage, should I choose this path.  The characters appear to behave almost entirely randomly; (did they use a dice to select which line goes where in the script)?  I was glad I read the overview on the DVD cover, or I’d have been more lost than Jeremy Clarkson working as a fund-raiser for Sustrans.  Even the yucky parts are mostly rendered ineffective by the murky, dingy and colourless picture.  In its favour, it does however boast quite a high body count and it marginally improves during its second half.  Then again, we’re not exactly starting from the top of the entertainment mountain here; actually having your organs removed would provide a step up in quality of life from watching it being done to others in this film.  Oh God, I’m sitting here realising just how bad it was.  I’m sure there’s a decent film lurking in there somewhere, but sadly it remained elusive.  Not Japan’s finest moment.

No cats, no decapitations and no chainsaws.  But there are quite a number of missing organs and limbs.

Recommend for any guys who want a cowardly way to dump their girlfriends.  Just invite her around to watch this.  She will quickly come to the duel conclusion that you are both sick in the head (but not in a good way) and have no idea of what constitutes a good film for an evening of romance and passion.  Problem solved.

Top badass moment?  This film features a guy searching for his missing brother and having to deal with an organised crime syndicate along the way, so I imagine there’s a badass moment somewhere in it.  It’s just that I didn’t manage to spot it anywhere.

Organ at IMDB (5.2)