Shy, unassuming teenager Mary ‘Mouse’ Bedford (Mischa Barton, “The OC”, “St. Trinian’s”) is enrolled at a prestigious all-girls’ boarding school. Upon arrival, she is welcomed by her two attractive and sexually adventurous roommates, the carefree Tori (Jessica Paré, “Wicker Park”) and excitable Paulie (Piper Perabo, “Coyote Ugly”, “The Cave”). Mary soon discovers that Tori and Paulie are embroiled in a passionate relationship, yet when Tori’s younger sister finds out and threatens to break the secret to her friends and family, Tori breaks off the relationship. Unable to deal with losing the other half to her whole, Paulie will do anything to get her ex-girlfriend back, even if it means risking her own life… A deeply moving and acclaimed film from the director of the award-winning “Emporte-Moi”, Léa Pool’s “Lost and Delirious” features a trio of young and talented actresses burning up the screen years before they went on to break Hollywood.
2001 – Certificate: 15 – Canadian Film
10 out of 10
I closed my bedroom window yesterday. There’s nothing especially unusual about that, except I did it in the morning and I wasn’t going out anywhere. The click of the handle had a certain finality about it. As I repositioned the pot plants on the sill, I was struck with the thought that this was probably the last time I’d do so for many, many months, as the weather has got a lot colder in the last few days. The final closing of the year is one of the Five Signs That Summer Has Ended and that the winter, with all its months of gloom, damp and cold, is fast approaching. Winter sucks; like old age, it has almost no real benefits. All that rubbish about those crisp, bright, winter days. Bollocks. They’re bloody cold, only last five minutes before the sun sets again and coming home from gigs at night soaked in sweat is a truly miserable experience. It’s going to be especially hard to cope with this year, as we actually had a really lovely summer. The carefree, happy days are at an end; fast approaching is the vindictive malevolence that is winter. The season of Hell is nearly upon us. And as for autumn, it’s just the rubbish bin of summer, containing the dead leaves and trash of good times past. This film is also about the passing of time, the loss of a relationship and an inability to cope with it.
I love this movie. If I had a Top 20 list of films, this one would probably be in it. On first impressions it looks like it’s going to be a bit crappy and should only appeal to me because of its girl-on-girl action. Set in a posh girls’ (very liberal) boarding school full of rich kids in Canada (so there’s not a lot there for me to relate to), the first 30 minutes or so are pretty mundane. Yes it’s got girls in school uniforms and the main characters are in a same-sex relationship, but other than that it’s pretty forgettable. But then it starts to get interesting… This is a dark movie. There’s a subtlety in it that only becomes apparent when you think about it afterwards. It’s occasionally a bit melodramatic and the odd bit of dialogue doesn’t quite work, but it’s wonderfully acted and has a number of genuinely heartbreaking moments in it. The use of Shakespeare and the hand-rearing of a Falcon as metaphors for the plot, are wonderfully interwoven into the story too. The character of Paulie is so well written. It’s quite strange considering she doesn’t superficially have anything in common with me, but I so totally ‘got it’ in terms of what she was going through. I guess emotions and feelings aren’t very gender, age, culture or sexuality specific. (It probably also means that I’m as messed up as she is and one day I’ll probably take it out on the world.) There aren’t a lot of characters from films or books that I can fully relate to and understand, but she’s one of them. Seeing her gradually lose the plot and take more and more bizzare actions to try to change the unchangeable, felt uncomfortably familiar. Despite her acting like a total loser a lot of the time, there’s a strange kind of honour in Paulie’s behaviour that goes beyond what she does and its consequences. Everyone should watch this movie. And if you’re one of those people who really can’t accept same-sex relationships then just ignore it, as other than on a superficial level (and as a huge plot contrivance) it’s really not that important to the feel of the film.
The ability of this movie’s music to write words where there are none, without dominating the visuals or attempting to drag (rather than lead) the emotions, is really well done. The mood shift provided in the scenes relating to the Falcon are very effective too. And any film that features any music by Ani DiFranco can’t be bad.
Recommended for anyone who’s ever been dumped by someone they really, really, really loved.
No cats, chainsaws or decapitations.
Top badass moment? There’s something very noble about doing something you know is going to fail and make you look really stupid, especially when it’s not funny. You know you’re about to do it but still go ahead. It’s probably got less to do with getting what you want, than demonstrating to yourself that you tried and remained true to your beliefs. It’s ultimately futile and pretty pointless, but very, very badass. And very Klingon too.
There is a buzz about Sherry McGrale’s band among those in the know. Her song “Never Knew your Name”, a song about the brutal rape of a young woman, is making an impact on the charts and Sherry is already building a reputation as a singer-songwriter. But Sherry already seems set on a self-destructive, sex and alcohol-fuelled descent, delayed only by her dedicated and devoted manager, Chuck. When Owen, a senior reporter from Hollywood music magazine ‘Vinyl Fetish’, is given the task of writing a profile on Sherry, he has a head start. As an old childhood friend, he already knows her background and even the story behind the song, an event that has cast a shadow over their whole lives. Setting off for Cocoa Beach, Florida, Owen realises this is more than an interview; it is an opportunity to confront the past and put their future in their own hands.
2001 – Certificate: 18 – American Film
Rating Details: Strong sex, language and rape theme
8.0 out of 10
Actually I wrote this on Friday last week, but anyway… I’m sitting here writing this right now, (by which as I’ve just mentioned, means last Friday and not today, Wednesday). I’m sitting here and it’s very warm, it’s 30C in my living room. (It still is actually; we’ve had such lovely, warm and sunny weather recently, not at all like an English summer.) I’m sitting here feeling stupid, because I got ready to go out to a gig, before noticing on the ticket that it’s actually tomorrow night, (which is now last Saturday night) and not this evening, (which then was last Friday night, obviously). I’m sitting here wondering why it took me 20 minutes to locate my wallet tonight (i.e. last Friday night), only to find it was laying in the middle of the floor in the living room. I’m sitting here wondering if this is the start of Alzheimer’s. Then again, I’m sitting here remembering that I’ve been a multi-tasking wizard at work this week, (by which I mean last week, although I’ve been pretty good this week too), despite my in-built gender limitations. I’m now sitting here thinking I’m suffering from some sort of hormone imbalance. I’m sitting here wondering why I read medical stuff online too. Is that all clear? I hope so, because it’s all pretty serious stuff, a bit like this movie.
It’s hard not to take a film like this seriously, especially when the rape scene was filmed in the same house where the director/writer was raped herself at around the same age as the character in the movie. I doubt that’s a technique described in many self-help books. This could have been a truly great film. It does manage to be a really good film, but it didn’t quite achieve that final leap to amazingness. Some scenes really worked well and I got a proper emotional reaction from watching them. But others were comparatively lifeless and I started thinking that they weren’t very realistic either. Unfortunately, because I need to take this movie seriously, I can’t really mention that the nearest it has to a hero, Chuck, drives a Volvo. Dear me, I’m really not in the mood to write this tonight. There’s lots of really interesting stuff I could say about this film, but I’m just too emotionally detached from it right now. I’ve got a bit of a headache too; I’ve just taken a pain-killer, which I hardly ever do. Your sympathy is appreciated. Oh, I couldn’t find a proper trailer for it anywhere either, so I’ve settled for an excerpt of one of its more interesting scenes. Well it’s got some singing, swearing and violence in it anyway.
Getting the music right in a film which relies on it as a major plot element is never an easy thing to do. In this case they’ve gone for a ‘lead song’ that sounds really like the Beau Brummels 1965 hit “Just a Little”. (Which I just happen to have an advanced pressing of, where the title etc is written by hand on the label.) This isn’t a bad choice, as it gives it an ethereal, timeless quality that works well in the context of its subject matter. The rest of the soundtrack is pretty good too. A lot was written and performed by Sonic Youth.
Recommended for musicians, band managers, journalists and Volvo drivers.
No cats, chainsaws or decapitations.
Top badass moment? Under the circumstances, the fact that Sherry didn’t end up wanting to do something very nasty to Owen is pretty badass. In fact her whole reaction to his news seemed a bit subdued.
Storytelling is comprised of two separate stories set against the sadly comical terrain of college and high school, past and present. Following the paths of its young hopeful, troubled characters, it explores issues of sex, race, celebrity and exploitation…
2001 – Certificate: 18 – USA
7.5 out of 10
On the walls in my office at work are maps of the eight counties that make up the South East of England. (By the way, I’m not looking now to debate if Sussex is one or two counties, or if the Isle of Wight is one or not, so if you don’t like the number I’ve come up with please feel free to substitute your own; and anyway, I haven’t actually put up the maps for two of them yet, as there’re some old filing cabinets in the way that someone was meant to have got rid of ages ago but hasn’t). The point of them is so when someone rings and starts talking about a detail of his/her tiny village somewhere, I have a chance of actually being able to find it quickly, seeing where it is relative to other places and not sound like I don’t have an intimate knowledge of every part of the 7,373 square miles of the South East. The latter seems to be what most people assume and then get all defensive about when I ask something like, “where exactly is Deeping Minor?” Near the edges of these maps is written stuff that I simply translate as “here be dragons”. I believe these to be blasted, post apocalyptic wastelands, inhabited by mutants, aliens and huge, people-eating monsters. I never go there but I’m pretty sure that’s what it’s like. (Okay, London runs along much of the top of the maps, but really, it’s so small and anyway in its own way it’s full of even weirder stuff.) I have a new boss at work, my fifth in under seven years; (I guess I must be a nightmare to manage). I had to go and visit him last week in his village, a place called Norwich. This is so far away it wasn’t even on the maps. I thought you just fell off the edge of the world if you went that far, but apparently not. The journey took days. It started on a (fairly) modern train and ended with an uncomfortable trip in the open wagon of a local journeyman, who spoke a strange Middle Earth dialect and was selling reeds for thatching; (he was probably a mutant too, but I didn’t like to ask). On reaching my destination I was confronted by a small, blue hut by a muddy river. I was ushered into a tiny room with a cup of some weird, local beverage, where my new manager was waiting. With hindsight, I believe the drink to have included some sort of witch-doctor truth serum. My new manager is a giant, at least thirty feet tall, which somewhat confirmed my suspicions about the conditions to be found beyond the South East. Ever heard or read stories about people confessing to crimes they didn’t commit? I used to think they must be very weak-minded. However, after my long journey and then over 20 hours of non-stop interrogation about what we do in the South East, work-wise, I was ready to agree to anything, just to get away. For some reason I now find myself with financial targets even ExxonMobil would be happy to achieve, so I guess I’m going to be a real bitch-from-hell manager to my team this year. This film is also about telling stories and interpreting life though the prism of a parallel, fictional narrative; or something.
This darkly funny movie is actually two films joined together. One features the students in a creative writing class and the other a would-be documentary maker. They don’t have anything to do with one another, except that push the overall point of the film along, which seems to be to highlight the hypocrisy of how people react to different things, based on how society perceives them rather than simply as a reaction to absolutely how good or bad they are. This is a very dense film in the sense that there’s a real mesh of subtexts and other stuff under its surface. I recommend Goolging it if you want to find out more about them. However, simply on a superficial level, (which is where I generally spend my time), the movie works. It provides plenty of nuanced, flawed characters for us to like, despise, relate to or misunderstand; a set of dysfunctional people trying to do more (and sometimes less), than they’re capable of and failing to realise, whilst getting lost in maze of political correctness and self-importance. Well worth watching, especially for the ‘did he/she just say/do that?’ moments. I watched the uncensored version; that’s the one that doesn’t have the big red rectangle over the ‘rude bits’, which itself was used as a statement by the Director.
Recommended for people who enjoy seeing others fail; not so good for the less-than-liberal middle-classes, who find anything less that PC perfection to be on a level equivalent to the Holocaust.
1 cat, no chainsaws or decapitations. A lovely grey and black stripy cat gets a brief bit of ‘lap-action’, but overall I felt it was very underutilised. A wasted opportunity.
Top badass moment? I’m not for a moment suggesting it’s something anyone else should look to emulate and she was a bit of a nutter on the quiet, but Consuelo’s way of dealing with unemployment was an interesting and radical departure from the norm. A definite bit of thinking outside the box badassness.
It’s the beginning of a long hot summer, and thirteen year old Janey (Alicia Fulford-Wierzbicki) and her family settle into their isolated cottage for what’s set to be another perfect holiday. But for Janey this will be no ordinary holiday, it will change her life forever. Every day she swims, fishes and cares for her brother Jim, while her mother Kate (Sarah Pierse) embarks on an affair with photographer Cody (Martin Csokas) and her father Ed (Alistair Browning) sits in the back yard, drinking whiskey and ignoring his family. Every night their parents throw parties to disguise their growing marriage problems and surrounded by adults drinking and flirting, she soon discovers her own sexuality with severe consequences. Rain is the provocative and moving debut feature film from acclaimed New Zealand director Christine Jeffs (Sylvia), set in the lush backdrop of New Zealand’s beautiful coastline.
2001 – Certificate: 15 – New Zealand
With all the rain most people seem to have been having recently in the UK, I thought I’d show a bit of solidarity with my sodden comrades and watch this film. Cactus World itself seems to have avoided the worst of the weather and today is presently sitting at a comfortable cloudy but dry, 24°C. (The latter’s in my lounge; I’ve no idea what the temperature is outside, but I don’t think it’s especially cold.) I’d like to take this opportunity to thank my neighbours too, for having their heating on so I don’t need to use mine. I haven’t had it on at all today. You know how hard it is to buy a Christmas present for someone who has everything? Well I like to think of this as my Christmas present to the Earth, but it’s proving to be a bugger of a thing to wrap up. The planet also has about a billion Christmas trees, which seems just a tad ostentatious even when compare with those people who cover their homes in sleigh-shaped lights and stuff, so I’ve not sure which one to put it under anyway. Despite its name, it doesn’t rain in this film at all. It does however, have a somewhat overcast vibe.
It’s time for another movie about a dysfunctional family. Yeah! This one’s set during a summer in the 1970s. From the use of Sherbet’s “Howzat” as part of the soundtrack, I’d say around 1976. (They don’t make songs like that anymore; thank goodness for punk.) A 13-year-old girl realises her parents have a dysfunctional marriage and whilst watching their drinking, depression and adultery, tries to figure out how to model her own behaviour. She spends most of the film trying to keep her (really very cute) younger brother happy and developing a crush on her mother’s lover. Of course, you know it’s not going to end well and my crystal ball tells me she’s going to have some pretty bad hang-ups when she’s older. Despite being made in a nice location in nice weather, the whole film has a slightly depressing and seedy 70s feel about it. There was something quite sad (as in sad pathetic rather than sad miserable) about the party scenes, a lot of adults pretending to have fun rather than actually having any; I’m glad I didn’t get invited, I’d rather have gone to see a dentist. The acting is good and the girl who plays the lead character Janey does a good job of playing a really quite complex character very well. As for the adults, they were all pretty pitiful really. They deserved one another. A decent film worth a watch, but not one New Zealand Tourism is likely to make heavy use of.
Recommend for people who have some sort of nostalgic connection to the mid 70s. Perverts! You can get treatment for that sort of thing these days; I suggest you go get some.
No cats, chainsaws or decapitations.
Top badass moment? This is a toughy. In fact I’m going to give up. Janey may have done something, but I can’t for the life of me think what. I’m afraid all the adults were far too boring, useless and flawed to have a hope in hell of being badass. Badass needs heroes and the strong, not contemptible weaklings!
I went to a gig last Saturday, to see Random Hand, Tyrannosaurus Alan and four other bands. One of the latter was Tallowah, a great reggae band from Southend-on-Sea which I hadn’t seen before; but now I have I’ll want to see again. I haven’t been to that many gigs over the past couple of months and oh boy did I feel it; all that ‘dancing’ and stuff people do. I felt really unfit and my neck is sore now too. It was like I’d forgotten what to do; weird. Random Hand was great; it’s pretty well always great. I’ve no idea why it’s not huge; (but then again, having heard today that the most pirated artist in the UK is Ed Sheeran, that doesn’t really surprise me). Tyrannosaurus Alan is continuing to get better and better. Saturday was by far the most moshing I’ve ever seen at one of its gigs. A highlight was the tallest guy in the room crowd surfing for an entire song without touching the floor; he must have been at least 12 feet tall and as is usual for the tallest person at every gig I’ve ever been to ever, he’d managed to stand in front of me. On the train journey home I also thoroughly enjoyed the antics of the snogging young couple sitting opposite. She finally ended up asleep with her head in his lap, (well I think she was sleeping); probably due to a lack of air, poor thing. I think this all goes to prove what a jolly nice, decent and tolerant person I am. However…
2001 – Certificate: R – USA
Rating Details: Drug use, language, some sexual content and a scene of violence, all involving teens.
One thing I really hate is when the cover of a DVD has little to do with the content. Here we have a classic example. Whoever it is that’s on the cover, she’s not in the film at all. Not only that, but her knickers are clearly white, whereas any we seen in the film are black; (and her skirt is totally different to the ones worn in the film too). That’s two DVDs in a row I’ve watched that have suffered from ‘false advertising’ in this way. Whoever designed and authorised the sleeve used for this DVD should go directly to prison and suffer some embarrassing, undignified and degrading experiences in the toilets, before finally being put up against a wall and shot. Well okay maybe just life imprisonment then; I did say I was a tolerant person. Oh, and before I forget, the title of the film is entirely misleading too; there’s no pastry-based food featured in it anywhere, with or without a sweet or savory filling! So anyway, now I’ve trashed the marketing, what about the film itself? Well, it basically follows a group of boring, spoilt, rich kids who go to a private school in New York, who spend most of their time taking drugs and trying to be ‘rebellious’. Of course, someone gets killed, friendships get tested and we all learn a bit more about life and ourselves; well, I’m certainly glad about all that then and I’m sure you are too. Actually I’m probably making it sound worse than it is; it is entertaining enough in its own way. Dominique Swain (Cat Storm) looks great in a school uniform (nice legs) and her mother is some sort of saint. It just somehow doesn’t really seem to get going before it’s all over. Even the injection of some oh so naughty bestiality and shocking gay sex can’t wake it up. (I bet you really do want to see it now.) Actually there’s a brilliant review of it on IMDB, which is so good it sort of put me off even trying to write anything better here. Go read it.
Recommended for boring, spoilt, rich kids, school uniform ‘enthusiasts’ and fans of the private education system.
No cats, chainsaws or decapitations.
Top badass moment? In a film filled with boring, self-centred people, the only contender is Lily Storm. Faced with an argumentative, selfish daughter and with an equally crappy ex-husband, she remains supportive, caring and understanding. Being the sort of mother everyone needs/wants is totally badass.
Today I’m thinking a lot about bananas, “Britain’s favourite fruit”. Admit it, when was the last time you ate a really nice tasting banana? I bet it’s a long time ago, if ever. Is it any wonder that banana favoured things don’t really taste like bananas at all, because if they did, no one would buy them. Other than they’re conveniently packaged and you can made rude jokes about them, what have bananas really got going for themselves? Most of them are supplied by just five companies and only 4% of the sale cost of them makes its way back to the growers. The whole bent banana system is abused and controlled by the large supermarkets too. Basically you’d be much better off buying yummy oranges and their smaller, delicious relatives. Oranges even have a colour named after them, that’s cool; bananas are just, yellow. Bananas, at best, should be squished up and hidden away inside smoothies; oranges deserve pride of place as the centrepiece of any meal. Not only that, but every time you eat an orange a small child somewhere smiles. Bananas just make people slip over and break legs and things. What an underhanded and mean fruit the banana is. Bananas hang about in big gangs (which they euphemistically call ‘bunches’) too, waiting to pick on little strawberries and raspberries and things. What a cowardly fruit. I haven’t checked this, but I’d image that more ASBOs have been issued to bananas than any other fruit; and I’m pretty sure the prison fruit population reflects this too. And don’t you just hate it when you peel a banana and the inside has either turned into a disgusting slime reminiscent of an oil slick, or its split and half of it falls to the floor as soon as you open it up? No one is going to tell me that something that turns into a vile, black goo that wouldn’t look out-of-place oozing from a zombie’s eye socket, is going to be good for you. This film is about someone who’s suffered from a botched, sex change operation. (See, I said that’s all bananas are good for.)
2001 – Certificate: 15 – USA
When this film first started I thought, oh God, this is going to be one of those ‘musicals’ that makes no sense and has awful American Adult Oriented Rock all the way through it. The sort of music that ineffective, male, middle-age managers in large corporations who like to pretend they’re 18 when no one is looking, think is kiss-ass rebel music that still has some relevance these days; it’s not and it doesn’t. (Yeh, go get on your Harley-Davidson’s gents; oh, you don’t actually have any? How surprising!) The first song in the movie seemed to confirm this. But then a really weird thing happened. It turned into a very good film with okay music (and two genuinely great songs), a decent plot and great (if a bit over the top) characters who are worth you caring about. The music performances are top stuff, very genuine. Follow Hedwig and her band as they tour local eateries, shadowing her ex, Tommy Gnosis (the G is silent), who stole all her songs and is now a big star. Listen to her sing about the aforementioned operation, the fall of the Berlin Wall and how fucked-up her life is. A black comedy-drama with a genuinely touching ending. Good stuff, go watch.
Recommended for fans of American proto-punk; and films about outsiders fighting back and discovering who you really are.
No cats and no decapitations.
Top badass moment? The band’s performance of Exquisite Corpse. 90 seconds of musical anger.
Today feels like a Sunday. It’s actually Monday but it feels like a Sunday because I worked on Saturday. Tomorrow is Tuesday, but I’ve no idea if it will feel like a Tuesday or more like a Monday. This film is similarly themed around confusion, except that it’s about a Jew who’s a Neo-Nazi. Okay, I’ve got a bit of a confession to make now. I’ve personally harboured a secret expectation for years that I might be a real Jedi Knight, who one day will be called upon to save the human race from some horrible fate. (I do actually do something very similar to this every day of life as part of my job, but somehow it’s not quite the same thing.) Sadly, up to now my attempts to influence people with my mind have been a singular failure; in fact I can’t even influence my own thoughts. I also can’t fight with a light sabre very well. If anyone remembers Star Wars Kid from a few years ago, you will probably be able to visualise just how well I can’t wield this awesome weapon; if I had one, which I don’t, obviously. I do however, enjoy waving a torch about when in a dark place as if it’s a light sabre, making ‘that’ light sabre sound. In fact I suspect I do this nearly every time I have a torch in my hand, probably not to anyone’s amusement except my own. I suppose I’m lucky that most people in Cactus World are pretty tolerant when it comes to care in the community.
2001 – Certificate: 15 – USA
This is a great film. Ryan Gosling makes a first class job of playing Danny, the main character in it, an anti-Semitic skinhead who’s actually Jewish. It’s all pretty engrossing stuff and the ending is far from clear until you reach that point. Despite his entirely repellent and ridiculous views (especially regarding Jewish people), the film does a good job of making Danny quite a sympathetic character at times. It’s often the sign of good writing and acting when an unpleasant character can still make you feel sorry for them. If the movie has a weakness, it’s probably that Danny seems educated and highly intelligent, yet his actions demonstrate quite a mixed up and confused outlook on life. It would have been good to have got inside his mind a bit more to find out what was going on in there. The film’s pivotal scene, where Danny and his gang get sent to ‘tolerance classes’ after a fight in a cafe, is genuinely powerful and heartbreaking stuff, from the point of view of both the stories that get told and the reactions to them. This movie also has Summer Phoenix in it, who as well as being a very beautiful woman also happens to be a lifelong vegan. Then again, all vegans are beautiful/handsome, clever, empathic, compassionate, determined, (please insert your 50 favourite human attributes here), etc. Except me, which is a bit annoying actually. And finally, I’d just like to remind people of the link between early reggae and skinheads. Being a skinhead doesn’t make you a raciest, although being a moronic asshole who frequently spouts uninformed and ill-conceived, generalised crap about other cultures, often does; so really, they should be easy enough to tell apart. Don’t fall into the trap of getting them confused and assuming they’re all the same, or you might just find you’ve become one yourself.
Recommended for people who like good films and topless vegans. (If anyone wants to see me topless I come pretty cheap!)
No cats and no decapitations.
Top badass moment? Danny in the scene near the end when he’s speaking to all the people at the fundraising meeting. Doing the unexpected with style and pissing just about every one off in the process is pretty badass.