Anxiously trying to fit into the peer-pressure cooker environment of junior high, thirteen-year-old Tracy (Evan Rachel Wood) goes to shocking lengths in order to befriend Evie (Co-writer, Nikki Reed), the most popular girl in school. Now the two are inseparable – and incorrigible – leaving Tracy’s desperate mother (Academy Award Winner Holly Hunter) powerless to rescue her from a whirlwind of drugs, sex and crime.
2003. Certificate: 18. American Film. Rating Details: very strong language and drugs use. 8.0 out of 10
Spent two hours with the dentist yesterday. I thought I was only going for a filling to replace a temporary one she put in last spring, after trying unsuccessfully to unblock some root canals in one of my teeth. However, she decided instead to have another go at the latter, but two hours later and we were still no further forward. It would probably be easier to get into Fort Knox than the bottom of my tooth. Two hours is a long time to lay back in a not-that-comfortable chair, looking at a very boring light fitting, listening to rather moribund, classical music. As the minutes ticked past, as I could think of was “please don’t let the anaesthetic wear off, please don’t let the anaesthetic wear off.” At one point some metal clamp around my tooth broke, which certainly woke me up. She even tried a new weapon I’ve not come across before, which heated up and made sizzling noises in my tooth, accompanied by little clouds of smoke! That’s okay in a frying pan but in my mouth? No, I don’t think so. I’m going back on Thursday for a regular ‘check-up’. I’m fully expecting to see some sort of army explosives expert waiting for me, to blast his way in with some high tech munitions.
I’m crap at being an adult*. Today I commented to one of the people I manage that coming to work sometimes felt a bit like a game; I’m not sure if this is good or bad, but it doesn’t sound like a very adult viewpoint. Films like this make me feel I was a crap teenager* too. It’s not that I was perfect or anything, but all I can remember doing is sitting in my room every night, listening to punk music very loud and trying to do my homework. Well sure I do have other memories, but that one seems to be the overriding one. The homework was rarely that great, but the soundtrack was fab! Strangely enough, I’m still listening to the same songs these days too, although the “homework” has mutated very slightly into what adults call “taking work home”. This movie is about how to be a teenager; well a girl-version anyway. Except these days few western teenagers rebel against anything. I heartedly recommended this movie to any young teenage girls who want to know how to rebel in an appropriately nihilistic and adult-seriously-pissing-off-way. It’s actually a great film with a bit of an interesting story behind it too. If it has a fault it sometimes introduces elements and people that don’t really go anywhere and just muddy the plot a bit, but beyond that it’s a great opportunity to watch peer pressure and allure of popularity in action. (The self-harming sub-plot was very underexplored, whereas it could have been highlighted far more.) The acting is great and it’s fun in a technical sense too, as the colour slowly gets leached out of the scenes until we’re left with little more than black and white. Being a miserable sod that loves nothing better than to see everyone die, the ending was a bit of a disappointment too, but that’s just me. Strangely enough, it’s not a depressing film; the makers seemed to have remembered that part of the role of a movie is to entertain. Holly Hunter is always great too. Well worth watching.
There’s plenty of music in this film, both a soundtrack and a lot of real songs from mostly pretty anonymous rock and hip-hip acts. However the opening shots with a track by Mark Mothersbaugh (from Devo) is great. Visually the film makes a great start and this track is a big part of that. I had to go and get hold of a copy afterwards.
The trailer’s okay. Not bad, not good; very middle of the road stuff. The whole movie is better.
Movie Weather forecast. Warm and sunny throughout.
Recommended for teenage girls, hairdressers and recovering alcoholics.
No cats, chainsaw or decapitations.
Top badass moment? A surprisingly tough question in this case. It’s a total cop out I know, but I may as well go for flawed mum Melanie. Considering everything, she really didn’t do too badly in the end. Sorry, I’ve just noticed this is so boring; please, seriously, don’t read anymore. I think I just crossed the line between ‘sort of okay’ and ‘crappy drivel’.
*These were the first pictures that came up when I Googled on Bing (can you even do that?) for “teenagers” and “adults”. The later is especially uncomfortable.
A dark and dynamic ride through Budapest’s labyrinthine subway system, “Kontroll” stylishly careens through genres, thriller, drama, comedy, horror and romance, at the breakneck pace of a runaway train. Life has turned upside-down for brooding Bulcsú (Sándor Csányi), a ticket inspector who patrols the platforms and trains of the city’s underground network with a motley crew of colleagues. Bulcsú has forged a series of ‘relationships’ with other long-term denizens of this neon-lit world; the serial fare-dodger, the shadowy serial-killer, the veteran whose seen it all before, and the mysterious, beautiful woman who rides the rails in a bear suit. The most successful Hungarian film of 2003 and selected for the Un Certain Regard section of the Cannes Film Festival, Kontroll”, with its echoes of “Run Lola Run”, is a fascinating tour of an unseen world and an atmospheric, pulsating search for redemption.
2003 – Certificate: 15 – Hungarian Film
Rating Details: Strong language and violence
8.0 out of 10
Today I’m being angry about dry pasta. Dry pasta is a total rip-off. By which I mean the price charged for some types is a blatant attempt to feed the insecurity, snobbishness and stupidity of a significant percentage of the population. Normally I buy Ocado (own brand) Fusilli pasta at 113p / kg. But on a whim, last time I did my ‘big shopping’ I also bought a bag of Giuseppe Cocco Fusilli Pasta at 598p / kg, to find out what’s so good about it. That’s over 5 times more expensive! The latter comes in a smaller bag and has fancy Italian writing all over the packet (that could be telling me to go fuck myself for all I know), but beyond that it isn’t any different. It looks and tastes just like the cheap stuff. People are soft in the head if they’re stupid enough to buy the expensive version and think it’s superior in some way. Listen up. It’s exactly the same! Whether you like it or not, it’s only bought by the dull-witted and easy led, who actually believe it’s better; or food snobs who’re clearly lacking something in their lives that impressing themselves, their family and friends with grossly overpriced food, helps them to cover up. It you really want to impress your peers, buy the cheap stuff and donate the £60 or so you’ll save each year to charity. And while I’m on the subject, why is it that if you don’t buy spirals, spaghetti or tubes, the price of pasta also goes up hugely? Another rip-off! In fact, the only thing more ridiculous is bottled water. Being a Brit who lives on a small island, I’m genetically programmed to think just about everywhere else in Europe is basically like one place as it’s joined together, such as Italy and Hungary…
I went to Hungary once. (Yes, it’s hard to believe isn’t it?) I arrived with no local currency and had no idea what the exchange rate was, so for quite a while I based my estimate of prices on the bottle of overpriced Coke I bought from a vending machine at the bus station in Budapest. (Based on this, a bottle of lager was about half the price of Coke.) I never went on the underground there, which now having seen this film I’m quite glad about; the bus was quite traumatic enough. This movie follows the exploits of a scruffy team of five ticket inspectors on the Budapest subway. It starts with an introduction from someone claiming to be from the subway company, explaining why permission was given for the film to be made (entirely underground) and for the company to be depicted in the way it is. I’m not 100% sure if this was serious or just a clever bit of writing. The whole movie has a well developed script and provides plenty of nuanced observations and WTF moments. The subway environment provides a great atmospheric background too, as the action switches quickly between different genera and pacing. Ticket inspectors are depicted as being very low on the ‘food chain’ of careers, with questionable management, rivalry between teams and a general antagonism towards them from the travelling public. A dark comedy (with a bit of romance and horror thrown in), this is a pretty fun, mind-fuck film that uses its setting well. A great film. Enjoy.
Musically it’s not an especially interesting movie as there’s not a lot used, although its scarcity does give it an impact when it does appear.
The trailer’s pretty decent, but I couldn’t find a copy of it with subtitles anywhere on the Internet. There’s a copy on the DVD though.
Recommended for ticket inspectors, tourists, serial killers and fare dodgers.
No cats, chainsaws or decapitations.
Top badass moment? For most of this film the ticket inspectors are on the wrong end of abuse from passengers who haven’t got a ticket. In one incident, an especially annoying woman threatens to report one for groping her if he hassles her any more about not having a ticket. So the guy promptly grabs her boobs, much to her horror and embarrassment. Now I’m not condoning this in any way, but somehow she deserved it. Calling someone’s bluff is always badass, if you get away with it.
Jackie, a hard-working assistant at a TV studio, pours herself into her work with an odd enthusiasm that her co-workers embrace with mixed feelings. An obsessed Morrissey fan, her off hours are spent talking to posters and photos that plaster her apartment. Her nights are spent scouring places Morrissey has been spotted around Los Angeles… One fateful night things take a turn for the worse when by chance her dream comes true. Meeting Morrissey in a deserted parking lot, Jackie’s world is suddenly turned upside down.
2003 – Certificate: Not Rated – American Film
8.0 out of 10
The last couple of days at work have been somewhat dispiriting. A mixture of ‘stuff’ and ‘other things’, combined with a lack of time and a recurring, nightmarish vision of the apocalypse, (complete with demons, fire, horseman and endless teleconferences), have made the first half of the week pretty heavy going. I forgot my mobile phone today too and came home to 14 missed calls. Someone had left me a voice mail which was so muffled and distant that I could only conclude it came from Satan himself, deep in the bowels of Hell. I wonder what he wants, this time? However, coming home from work each day I’ve been reminded of just how worse things could be. Whilst walking along the Oxford Road in Reading I’ve passed a guy dressed in a giant, blue, Domino’s Pizza takeaway box, loitering outside the Lidl supermarket. Whatever he had in mind as a career when he was at school, I don’t suppose hanging about dressed up like a homeless and miserable, blue version of SpongeBob SquarePants, was top of his list. Sadly for Domino’s, the overall effect of a bored looking guy in a scruffy pair of jeans and a baseball hat, inside a massive pizza box, wasn’t to make me want to eat pizza. Whatever they’re paying him, it’s not enough. Strangely, this film has a connection to SpongeBob too.
I always enjoy movies about losers that’re trying to fight back against ‘the system’, or at least exist alongside it; I suppose I can relate to them. This film starts off with us following a young woman with an over developed enthusiasm for all things Morrissey, into work, where we meet some of her rather overbearing colleagues; and it ends up with a nuclear explosion. I’m not really spoiling it for you though, as the latter doesn’t actually have any sort of connection to anything else. At some point whilst watching it, I was suddenly hit by a “wtf?” moment and realised that everything had become rather surreal, weird and odd. On one level, this is quite a disturbing film, as you watch a young woman descend into some sort of mental distress. On the other hand, it is kind of funny. Jackie Buscarino, who plays the main character who’s also called Jackie, as well as being very cute, throws herself into the role with a level of embarrassing intensity that’s really quite fun to watch. I can imagine it’s the sort of film that a lot of hardcore Morrissey fans would hate, but I really like Morrissey and think it’s very entertaining. I’m not sure if it’s a totally dumb, poorly scripted film, or one that subtly and covertly comments on modern society and its values; whatever, I’d recommend it either way.
This movie has some really good music in it, which certainly helps turn it from being a potentially slightly crappy film into a much better one. The fact that one track is by Nerf Herder (the band that bought you the theme to “Buffy the Vampire Slayer”), is just the icing on the cake. Needless to say, it features no music by Morrissey or The Smiths at all.
Recommend for fanboys (and fangirls).
No cats, chainsaws or decapitations.
Top badass moment? Who hasn’t at one time or another, secretly thought about going into work, trashing the place and abusing everyone? Okay… so just me then. Anyway, the overlong scene where Jackie goes into work and does just that, is badass.
From director Jean-Claude Brisseau (“Noce Blanche”) comes an immoral tale of two women who use their sexuality and beauty to climb through the dizzy heights of office politics. When the beautiful but naïve Sandrine meets the worldly stripper Nathalie they conspire to better themselves. Both gaining jobs in a Parisian bank, they set about using their wiles to gain promotion. Before long Sandrine has seduced her employer – the powerful owner of the bank, but it is his son who has his own secret agenda as both women fall hopelessly for him. Handsomely shot, this is one drama that positively relishes the sadistic pleasures of office politics.
2003 – Certificate: 18 – French
Rating Details: Strong sex and nudity
7 out of 10
For the past few months I’ve become increasingly convinced that as a species, humans are basically doomed; and doomed sooner rather than later, probably within my lifetime. Climate change; the ‘too big to fail’ power of large corporations; terrorism and the response to it; the pending failure of antibiotics; corrupt and inadequate politicians; greedy and inadequate big-business CEOs; the general failure of the global economy and the inaction of those that could do something about the system that led to it; the overuse of finite resources that are fast running out; an increasingly ineffective United Nations; too many old people who the rest of society can’t provide for; the power of the press; the dreadful behaviour of many banks; the exploitation of people in the developing world by western companies; national heroes turning out to be paedophiles; the police routinely bending the rules when it suits them; I’m sure there’s more. I just thought I’d share that. All those angry punk songs were right after all. Meanwhile, this movie provides an additional explanation for the collapse of the French economy.
“Lesbian sex, public masturbation, orgies and worse”, so said The Guardian about this film. Fortunately it’s French, so that’s okay then. A stripper and a bartender working in a seedy Parisian club, fed up with the world when they get the sack for refusing to have sex with some guy for their boss, decide to sleep their way to the top of a big bank instead. When they get there they find it’s run by a guy who’s irresistible to woman and holds orgies in his mansion; and is having a sexual relationship with his sister too. Where’s the News of the World when you actually need it? (Actually no, I’m glad it’s gone.) Now, I’d be the first to admit that I’m not that familiar with the workings of French banks so maybe they’re a bit different to here, but I can’t imagine a stripper and a barmaid, in a matter of months, working their way up from being new employees at RBS to becoming lovers to the two most senior staff in the organisation. And despite all the criticism of RBS, I have difficulty accepting Stephen Hester as being so irresistible to women that when he dumps his lovers, (of which there’d have been many), they’d have a habit of setting fire to themselves and this wouldn’t result in some sort of media ‘interest’. I’m pretty sure ‘Liverpool’s favourite newspaper’ would think that to be a story ‘in the public interest’, never mind the bank’s shareholders. So now I’ve established just how preposterous the plot of this film is, I can add that it’s actually a pretty good movie. The two lead actresses are excellent and the story, provided you can suspend your belief enough, (well I’d give it the rest of the day off to be on the safe side), flows really well. It gets going straight away with some ‘erotic dancing’ and doesn’t let up until the final showdown at Christophe’s mansion. (He’s the irresistible one by the way, even though his head is shaped exactly like an Action Man, with a personality to match.) All in all though, it’s a pretty depressing film, despite the lesbian sex; all played out on top of an overwrought classical soundtrack by Antonio Vivaldi and his mates. Office politics where I work isn’t nearly as exciting!
No cats, chainsaws or decapitations.
Recommended for people who can deal with the plot, the ‘explicit bits’ and the vibe. So basically that’s the French I guess. It’s no good for uptight Brits I’m afraid, there’s just too much to get outraged about. (As a little side note, I deplore the use of generalisations in this way; 130 million people aren’t really going to fall into one of two groups, based on their nationality. But hell, it’s a cheap, clichéd comment based on nothing but prejudice and media spin, so what does it matter? When it comes down to it I’m as rubbish as the next guy.)
Top badass moment? When Nathalie takes Sandrine back to her flat for the first time, they decide to open a bottle of wine. Champagne of course. If that happened in the UK it would be a bottle of Tesco own label plonk with a screw lid; or a few tins of lager. It’s hard to argue that a touch of class isn’t badass.
Yesterday I drove for two and a half hours, then spent three hours teaching three people how to drive a minibus, then spent another two and a half hours sitting in a minibus watching them drive it, then drove for another two and a half hours home. Yesterday the world seemed to be full of idiots driving cars, and I’m not referring to the learners who I was with either. At one point on the way home I was driving along a bit of dual carriageway and slowly catching a yellow car up. I don’t generally drive that fast, rarely more than 60 m.p.h., as I want to give myself the illusion that somehow I’m doing my bit to save the planet whilst simultaneously driving nearly 1,000 miles a month. Anyway, I pulled out to overtake the yellow car. As I passed it and looked in my mirror to see if I could go back into the inside lane, I noticed it had speeded up. I ended up doing over 80 with this fucking asshole still playing stupid buggers next to me. After having had to put up with so many other cretins on the roads yesterday, something snapped inside. I jerked the steering wheel to the left and hit the yellow car, forcing it off the road and down an embankment into a field, where I think it hit a tree or something and burst into flames. I’m not sure what happened to the driver and I don’t care as long as it hurt; I didn’t bother to stop and check what had happened to him. What a selfish bastard he was too, as I’ve now I’ve got a dent in my car to explain away and get fixed. It’s a jungle out there on the roads. (Just like Dennis Weaver in Steven Spielberg’s classic “Dual”, I never really got a good look at my protagonist.) Well, okay that only happened in my mind, but the intent (if not the guts) was there. In fact what did happen is that I gave up trying to overtake the yellow car and humiliatingly went back to 60 m.p.h. behind it. However, as cars, driving and men are inextricably linked to the latter’s sexual prowess and I failed to overtake the yellow car, I think I’m probably impotent now. He, on the other hand, is probably making his first porn movie even as I type this. Great! In a similar way, this film is about a young woman with intimacy issues.
2003 – Certificate: 18 – United Kingdom
I think the makers of this film started off wanting to make a serious torture porn movie but then got fed up with the idea and decided a comedy slasher/thriller would be a much better idea. Otherwise why suddenly introduce a bizarre sub-plot involving Siamese twins and then another one about a bank robbing stripper? It’s original, I’ll give it that. It suffers from some of the worst acting I’ve ever seen, yet at other times it’s really okay. Fiona Horsey (the lead character) is a bit of a babe; (am I still allowed to say stuff like that)? All the men in the film are portrayed as perverts, deviants, weirdos, rapists, sociopaths and murderers; the woman don’t do a lot better either, but the guys really do get a bit of a hammering. Ultimately it’s an entertaining movie, simply because it’s so ridiculous. I did feel a bit sorry for Helen, no one is that unlucky with men. Most of it was filmed on the Isle of Wight too.
Recommended for someone; not sure who, but someone.
No cats, chainsaws or decapitations. However, plenty of men do, em, ‘disappear’ inside Helen, totally.
Top badass moment? In a film filled with characters that are simultaneously both pathetic and horrible, there’s not a terribly large choice. So I guess it has to be Helen, for simply putting up with so much shit. They say dealing with it well makes you a stronger person.