Posts tagged “1998

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

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Ring / Party!


Ring  -  Front DVD Cover  -  UK ReleaseAfter the death of her cousin Tomoko, reporter Reiko hears stories of a videotape that kills everyone who sees it exactly one week after viewing.  At first she discounts the rumours, but when she learns that Tomoko’s friend (who watched the video with her) died at exactly the same time, she begins to investigate.  After viewing the tape herself, strange things start happening and so she teams up with her ex-husband to try to stop the death clock that has once again begun ticking.

1998  –  Certificate: 15  –  Japanese film
6.0 out of 10

Despite being an antisocial loser and having no friends, I recently found myself in possession of a birthday party invitation.  Stress!  For a start, how does one present one’s self for such a social gathering these days?  Formal?  Casual but smart?  Street smart?  Metrosexual urbanite?  And as for presents; that’s a total, social minefield.  Still, not wanting to waste this once-in-ten-year opportunity to ‘have-a-good-time’ and ‘meet people’, last Saturday found me sitting in the sun in a garden in west London, twerking to ska-punk and reminiscing how when I was 13 I used to know be able to identify every car on the road and every plane in the sky; (a party animal, I know).  I also learnt loads about what it’s like to control one of those massive cranes that you see on building sites; met a really famous drummer, (I think it was either Charlie Watts or Tré Cool, but I’m not sure now); knocked a can of cider on the kitchen floor and starred somewhat dumbly at the mess as someone else cleaned it up; drunk an inappropriate mixture of drinks that included cider, port, Buckfast, Midori, vodka and some Lithuanian spirit that tasted a lot like medicine; had a long conversation about Syria; ate some peanuts and samosas, (which were very nice) and talked to someone who’s getting married in six weeks.  I probably bored a lot of other people too, but I can’t actually remember much else, but I imagine I wasn’t very interesting or coherent and spoke mostly drunkanise.  Finally I left and forgetting that when I’d learnt which way to turn to take me to the train station (which was a two-minute walk away) I’d had the map upside-down, went totally the other way, took two buses and ended up wandering around the empty corridors of Heathrow Airport all night, like an extra from a zombie apocalypse film, before finally getting an entirely empty coach back to Reading at five in the morning; (well it had a driver in it, and me, obviously).  I don’t suppose I’ll get another invite to a party anytime soon, but I was glad to have this opportunity to reconfirm that I have no social skills and really shouldn’t drink more than a pint of shandy.  And it took me over two days to recover too.  Frightening stuff.

This film has a fearsome reputation for being really, really scary.  It’s not really.  Well a couple of times it was but mostly it wasn’t.  It’s more creepy than anything else.  The anticipation that something was about to be scary was often more scary than what actually happened; a bit like crossing a busy road.  I suppose if you get off on a certain kind of Japanese ghost horror then you’d be more likely to have an underwear malfunction, but not otherwise.  The plot’s got something to do with a cursed video and a woman in a well.  In many ways it’s as much a whodunit thriller as a horror.  If a similar sort of thing happened today, it would end up on YouTube and probably wipe out most of the Earth’s population.  Given its video-based story, it hasn’t aged well.  Having said all that, it’s actually quite watchable.  I guess I just found it a bit of a disappointment after all the hype.

There isn’t a great deal of music in this movie and what there is sounded like it came straight off of “Now That’s What I Call Horror Film Music, Volume 34”.  The theme tune (used at the end of the film and on the trailer) is pretty horrific, but not it a good way.

Recommended for vindictive ghosts, journalists and ex-husbands.  It’s probably a real nightmare if you’re involved in the manufacture of videos or DVDs, etc; I can imagine something like this would really take the bottom out of the market.

No cats, chainsaws or decapitations.

Top badass moment?  I just can’t think of one.  Had too much to drink at the party.

Ring at IMDB (7.3 / 10)

Ring at Wikipedia


Saving Private Ryan / Saving Everyone Else


Saving Private Ryan  -  Front DVD Cover  -  UK ReleaseInternationally acclaimed by critics and audiences alike, Steven Spielberg’s “Saving Private Ryan” is an unforgettable film achievement that has had profound and lasting impact throughout the world.  Winner of five Academy Awards, including Best Director, the film also captured Oscars for Cinematography, Film Editing, Sound and Sound Effects Editing.  Saving Private Ryan was the top-grossing motion picture of 1998.  Seen through the eyes of a squad of American soldiers, the story begins with World War II’s historic D-Day invasion, then moves beyond the beach as the men embark on a dangerous special mission.  Captain John Miller (Tom Hanks) must take his men behind enemy lines to find Private James Ryan, whose three brothers have been killed in combat.  Faced with impossible odds, the men question their orders.  Why are eight men risking their lives to save just one?  Surrounded by the brutal realities of war, each man searches for his own answer – and the strength to triumph over an uncertain future with honour, decency and courage.

1998  –  Certificate:15  –  American Film
Rating Details:
9.0 out of 10

The Internet is awash with every possible analysis of this film.  So, let me just start by summarising its real plot.  Tom Hanks gets given a job to do with his team.  They have a few concerns and questions as to the point of what they’re asked to do.  The end.  Well, big deal.  Welcome to the modern world of employment gentleman.  I find myself in that situation a lot in my job, that’s just how it is.  It’s true, I’m not likely to kill many people or get killed if it all goes a bit pear-shaped, but as someone who’s employed to save the planet, it can get a bit onerous at times.  So here’s some advice for you Tom.  “You really need to visualise the big picture and stop looking at the details.  We’re all One Team and we’re all in this together, so stop giving bandwidth to our value chain and metrics that doesn’t concern you.  Just be happy to be a small piece in a big jigsaw and relentlessly concentrate on fitting yourself into the right place at the right time, for the greater good.  It’s other people’s challenge to sort out those sorts of mission critical, strategic goals, so you don’t need to quantify the methodology yourself.   Let them drill down, do the blue-sky thinking, and deal with the structural underpinning.  You’re good at what you do, so leverage your core competencies to provide locally focused, robustly broad-based solutions, as we incentivise our external stakeholders to strongly buy-in to our USP.  As a matrix organisation, your knowledge and experience as one of our best product evangelists and of interacting with a wide range of partners at a delivery level, is vital.  We know we can trust you to provide a flexible approach, as we move forward and in the current period harvest the low-hanging fruit.  Tom, it’s just a different way of working.  Allowing well-qualified colleagues to take the burden of decision-making away from you, should leave you time-enriched and in better shape to play your part, as well as provide you with a more focused environment in which to do so.  You don’t need to worry Tom, we’ve got everything covered for you, but I wanted to give you the heads-up on this.  However, if you have any other difficulties in living our values, let’s touch base offline and share a thought-shower; my office door is always open.”  As an unambitious nobody, it works for me.

This film is the 37th best ever movie, according to IMDB.  That’s pretty impressive.  Whilst I admire Steven Spielberg’s work, I sometimes find it makes me feel a bit queasy, as if I’ve eaten too many yummy sweets.  However, “Saving Private Ryan” is one of the good ones.  The battle scene at the start is 27 minutes of real movie magic and there are plenty of other parts that come pretty close to this too.  It’s essential viewing.  War is truly the biggest obscenity of all.

With a full orchestral score, music is used sparingly but effectively.  I think you can buy it on CD if you’re desperate enough.

No cats, chainsaws or decapitations.

Recommended for soldiers, politicians and middle managers.

Top badass moment?  Take your pick, there’s plenty of choice.

Saving Private Ryan at IMDB (8.6 / 10)

Saving Private Ryan at Wikipedia


The Mighty / King Arthur (The First Superhero)


The Mighty  -  Front DVD Cover  -  UK ReleaseAward-winning actress Sharon Stone (“Sphere”, “Casino”, “Basic Instinct”) and Gillian Anderson (“The X-Files”) star in this uplifting motion picture that’s received overwhelming critical acclaim.  With his loving and supportive mother (Stone), 13-year-old Kevin (Kierin Culkin) moves in next door to another teen, Max.  Though both have problems that label them as outcasts, Kevin and Max discover that by proudly combining their strengths and uniting as one, they can overcome their individual limitations and triumph over any adversity.  As this pair sets out on a series of courageous adventures, they find the mightiest treasure of all: friendship.  With Gena Rowlands (“Playing By Heart”) and a stellar supporting cast.

1998  –  Certificate: PG  –  American Film
Rating Details:  Threat of violence
8.0 out of 10

Had a bit of a scare this morning, when I woke up to a cloudy sky.  Was that the end of summer for another seven years?  Fortunately, things have got sorted out this afternoon and it’s now lovely and sunny again.  We seem to have temporarily lost our Level 3 Heat-Health Watch status, but it’s still managed to get to 32C in my living room this afternoon.  It was 33C in here yesterday, a new Cactus World record and a long way from last winter’s ghastly low of 14C.  This film has inspired me to reach for new heights too.

Almost everything about this film annoys me, from the entirely unrealistic plot, through to the emotionally manipulative ending.  You’ll find more realism on the front page of the Daily Mail than in this movie.  It even manages to ‘Disneyfy’ two characters from “Mad Mad: Beyond Thunderdome” and turn them into two ‘kids with issues’.  Even the ‘bad guy’ gets a Disney-like make-over and ends up about as threatening a red traffic light.  It’s also got Sharon Stone, Gillian Anderson and Meat Loaf in it too, yet fails to turn in a single, sexually provocative scene, alien or overwrought rock anthem.  What a waste; that latter lot would make a great film.  Now I’ve trashed it I will say that this is actually a really nice and enjoyable movie.  You know how when someone complements you and you know they don’t really mean it, but somehow you still like the fact that they said it anyway?  Well this movie feels a lot like that.  It’s like they vivisected all the great family movies to identify what makes them ‘work’ and then injected it into this one.  You know it’s not really that good but you still secretly like it anyway.  The two youngsters at the centre of the story manage to be the heroes they’re destined to be, without being too annoying in that ‘Hollywood way’; I found myself wanting them to succeed, despite the stupid plot.  What’s worse, the film borrows from Arthurian legend and I found myself thinking, why do I watch Batman etc when I could be lusting after the original superheroes?  And they’re Brits too.  Never mind the Justice League or The Avengers, here’s King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table; questing and kicking bad guy butt hundreds of years before Captain America had even been conceived.  Suitably horrified by my own lack of patriotic pride, as soon as I’d finished watching it I went and bought myself a copy of T. H. White’s “Once and Future King”, the definitive version of the story of King Arthur.  It’s a book (well sort of five really), that to my shame I’ve never read.  I’ve also burnt all my Batman and Superman DVDs too.  (Okay, so I made that last bit up.)  At work, I will no longer do funding-raising.  Instead, I will go on quests, to seek wisdom, resource further adventures and bring clarity of mind to the unbelievers.  True, it’s exactly the same thing, but it sounds a hell of a lot more exciting this way.  I will cease to fill in application forms; instead I’ll become a seeker of truth, enlightenment and the pathway to justice.  My armour with protect me from the blows of my enemies, whilst my heart will vanquish over adversity, as I rise a hero from the flames of battle.  I will walk to the office no longer; instead I will ride into combat!  A knight proves his worthiness by his deeds!  Or something like that anyway.

I have to admit I do like the soundtrack, despite Sting’s presence.  It’s a combination of the restrained and the epic, with some sub-Irish folksiness thrown in for good measure.

Recommended for King Arthur, trailer trash with a heart of gold and over and under-achieving kids.

No cats, chainsaws or decapitations.

Top badass moment?  In a film highlighting the actions of two kids fighting adversity, badass moments abound.  But the most badass of all is Max ripping the radiator off the wall, before telling his father ‘the truth’. After a lifetime of shit, turning on ‘the beast’ is pure badass.  Well done Max!

The Mighty at IMDB (7.1 / 10)

The Mighty at Wikipedia


Happiness / National Lottery Refuses to Fund Cactus World


Happiness  -  Front DVD Cover  -  UK ReleaseIsolation… alienation… happiness.  In America they all go hand in hand.  Buy a new TV and you will be happy.  Still not happy?  Experience alienation.  Can’t afford a new TV?  Then live in isolation.  “Be happy”, and if that doesn’t work, pretend to make it work.  For the characters in Todd Solondz’ award winning, subversively funny film “Happiness”, the struggle to attain such a state is fraught with perils both heartbreaking and hilarious.

1998  –  Certificate: 18  –  American Film
Rating Details:  Adult theme, strong sexual references, language and sex
8.5 out of 10

The National Lottery spoilt my day today and it was going so well too.  It started off sunny.  Then I drove to Berkhamsted, which included a slow selection along the M4.  This provided me with a golden opportunity to open all the windows and ‘educate’ my fellow motorists in what good music sounds like, whether they wanted educating or not.  It’s never too early in the day for some noisy punk rock.  I then passed my MiDAS trainer/assessor reassessment.  This means I can continue to train people to drive minibuses in my own, inimitable style.  (e.g. “Just put your foot down.”  “It’s not your vehicle, so don’t worry.”  “You’re not paying for the insurance.”  “You’re bigger than they are.”)  I then drove home again with the windows open.  This time there was no slow section, so thanks to a large articulated lorry I no longer need to tidy up the interior of my car, as all the rubbish in it suddenly got sucked out of the window as the lorry went past.  Then I got home and opened a letter from the Disclosure and Barring Service, which was happy to report that I’m not a pervert or a weirdo; at least not one that’s been caught anyway.  But then the Lottery spoilt my happiness by rejecting a funding application I’d made for a project.  For the second time!  Bloody hell!  I even buy two lottery tickets every week by Direct Debit.  That should guarantee success.  (Then again, I don’t know why this surprises me.  In the 19 years it’s been running, I’ve bought one or two tickets virtually every single week and personally never won more than £10; and that’s not happened more than a few times either.  I’m relying on a Lottery jacket win to act as my pension too.)  My failure was highlighted in some nonsense about insufficient evidence of need.  I guess interviewing every single person on the whole planet about the project and finding that all 7,164,915,211 of them supported it and would benefit from it, wasn’t sufficient.  Still, I’ve been invited to reapply if I can provide more information.  It’s lucky I’ve just got my DBS Certificate, as I’m now going to need to hang about in various maternity wards and try to consult with some babies as they come out of the womb, as just about everyone else has already expressed an opinion.  It’s not the rejection that hurts, (well okay it is really), but the fact that some of my colleagues north of the border seen to be able to provide enough evidence for similar applications, by simply stating that they think the project they’re apply for money for would be “nice”.  This doesn’t make me very happy.  It’s so easy being Scottish.  We have to work hard in the South East of England for everything.  I think a career as a diplomatic would suit me better.  That would make me much happier too.  This is a film about happiness.

This is a sick film.  It’s exactly the sort of perverse movie that the DBS should ask about before issuing Certificates.  It’s also very funny, in a blacker than black way.  There’re loads of reviews of it on the Internet, half of which say it’s great and the other half say they walked out of it after 15 minutes because it was so “disgusting”.  Despite its reputation as a bit of a dodgy film, it’s also surprisingly moving and very well acted.  I think I like it as it features a load of people who think they’re happy but actually they’re not, yet they still are in a rather strange way.  I like to see people bought down to my level.  It’s a movie for grow-ups you should watch.  You can always use a pair of sharp scissors to cut the DVD in two if you don’t like it.  (But remember to take care with the scissors, especially as DVDs can suddenly shatter into sharp pieces when stressed.  I’d advise you wear gloves and goggles too, just in case.)

There is a soundtrack but it’s pretty unmemorable.  Music is sparsely used, although when it is it does support the action nicely.   On many occasions it’s used more as an element in the scenes themselves, rather than simply as background ‘noise’ to build tension or whatever.  Michael Stipe does sing the theme song though.

Recommended for weirdos.  (Sorry, I can’t be arsed to write anything else.)

No cats, chainsaws or decapitations.

Top badass moment?  At the start of the film, Allen strikes a blow for downtrodden men everywhere, with his “I’m Champagne” tirade.  Admittedly he picks on the somewhat weedy Joy as the target for his ‘stand’, but nevertheless he knocks the ball right out of the ground.  Yeah; men rise up and take back your birth right!  No more will we be under the thumb of woman-kind!  Reclaim the mighty sword of masculinity and trousers of relationship power!  (Do I come across as sounding bitter or twisted at all?)

Happiness at IMDB (7.7 / 10)

Happiness at Wikipedia


Digging To China / My New Printer


Digging to China  -  Front DVD Cover (Canadian Release)Ten year-old Harriet (Evan Rachel Wood) dreams of escaping her colourless existence.  She lives with her alcoholic mother (Cathy Moriarty) and promiscuous older sister (Mary Stuart Masterson), the proprietors of a rural Pennsylvania motel.  Frequently misunderstood by classmates and family, Harriet prefers her time alone, free of ridicule and abuse.  For Harriet, fate arrives in the form of Ricky (Kevin Bacon), a mentally challenged young man who is passing through town with his mother.  Their common bond as misfits draws Harriet and Ricky to one another.  Together, they happily hatch a plan to alter their destinies.  In the face of bitter resistance, Harriet and Ricky cling to their friendship even as their families try blindly to separate them.

1997  –  Certificate PG  –  USA
6 out of 10

I’ve had to buy a new printer.  My trusty, seven-year-old HP Deskjet 5652 stopped working last week; I guess the two bits of metal that fell out of it a few months ago were important after all.  So off I went to Argos for a new one.  Doesn’t anyone these days make printers that just, well, print?  Most of the ones I looked at faxed, scanned, made tea, looked after small children and developed countermeasures based on home alien invasion scenarios.  I just wanted a printer to print stuff.  In the end, having decided that I’d been satisfied by my old printer, I decided to get another HP, this time a Deskjet 3000; £50, including delivery.   To say the new one doesn’t feel exactly robust would be a bit of an understatement.  I’m quite worried that if I open a window in the summer, the first gust of wind and it’s going to be flying away into the great beyond.  I guess it’s all those high-tech, space-age materials it’s probably made of.  My old printer would have made an effective close combat weapon, for anyone with the strength to pick it up.  A similar thing goes for the noises it makes when it prints.  The old one made a satisfyingly expensive and comforting sound whenever it printed anything.  The new one makes all my fillings want to fall out.  I now know what ‘cheap’ sounds like.  It said on the box it takes four minutes to set up.  Bollocks!  It took me four hours over two evenings.  Those bastards that write instructions and installation software, do they ever actually try out what they throw together?  Do they ever actually speak to the people who market the things they write for?  No! No, they don’t!  They just write trash to palm off on the technically inept public they sell stuff to and their IT-illiterate bosses who are too stupid to know how to check it; I image the consumer printer software and instruction writing department at HP is rather like that featured in “The IT Crowd”.  Trying to get it to talk to my network at home was harder than (inset politicians from your ‘favourite’ Middle Eastern conflict here) in the same room to actually talk about things like grown-ups.  In the end I totally ignored the instructions and the software and did it ‘my way’.  Result?  I can now print wirelessly from both my home computer and my work laptop.

This was another of those frustrating movies that could have been so much better than it actually was.  At its best it’s a sad and touching film about life and friendship; at its worst its, well it’s just a bit rubbishy.  Given the plot, it should have had a lot more emotional ups and downs, but it felt a bit flat to me.  I suppose what bought the film down most was some of the script, which at times didn’t seem very realistic.  The reactions of the characters to many of the sad or unexpected things that happened felt understated too.  It also had the misfortune to host yet another overly grown-up youngster; are all young kids in America either precocious, drug-dealing thugs, misfits or would-be superheroes?  They’re the only ones ever featured in the movies anyway; I guess the rest must be very boring or something.  In this particular case, Harriet was also just a bit too much of a little horror to gain much of my sympathy.  Brat.  It was strange to see Kevin Bacon not playing a shady character for a change.  His portrayal of Ricky, a man with learning difficulties, was generally really well done.  The depressing thing about the film was that I was sort of waiting for the ‘inevitable scene’ of ‘inappropriate behaviour’ that it seemed to be setting up between its two main characters.

Set in the late 1960s, the film features a nice selection of music, including some originals from the period.  One of its better features.  It’s always good to hear “Magic Carpet Ride” by Steppenwolf; as well as containing one of rock’s greatest guitar riffs, it is of course the song that was played when humans first broke the light barrier in 2063.  (It’s a Star Trek thing.)

No cats, chainsaws or decapitations.

Recommended for those who want to watch a decent little film that glosses over the worst bits of life.

Top badass moment?  The friendship that develops between Harriet and Ricky, as well as being the heart of the story, was also its best element.  A friendship forged in the heat of battle, at a time when whole civilisations rose and fell at the whim of the undead; two ordinary people rise up as heroes, to fight for good and the future of the human race, defeating overwhelming odds and overcoming personal tragedies for the good of mankind!  Okay, so I made that last part up.  Sounds good though…

Digging to China at IMDB (6.7/10)