Posts tagged “2004

Cutie Honey / Even More Root Canal Treatment…


Cutie Honey  -  Front DVD Cover  -  UK Release

Popular manga comic “Cutie Honey” is brought to life. Honey is an office worker who hides a secret.  Developed by her father, Honey has the ‘I System’ a necklace that allows her to transform into the super hero “Cutie Honey”.  The evil Claw Gang attempt to steal the necklace and “Cutie Honey” must use all of her superpowers to save the world from hate.  With plenty of eye candy and madcap villains, “Cutie Honey” is pure fun and truly wacky entertainment.

2004  –  Certificate: 12  –  Japan
Rating Details: Mildly sexualised posing
9.0 out of 10

It was back to the dentist for me again yesterday, to finish the root canal treatment on a tooth that was started in January.  For over 90 minutes my dentist drilled (as in I could see and smell clouds of smoke rising), filled and generally hacked about inside my tooth.  It’s actually really hard to lie still for that long on your back; (which is something that my many, many lovers could confirm).  Dentists’ chairs aren’t the most comfortable bits of furniture in the world and I was started to get a bit bored too.  There’s only so many times you can count the screws in a light-fitting before you realise that attempting yet another recount is probably not going to yield a more accurate total.  The ‘calming’ classical music playing on the CD kept skipping as well, which really started to bug me after a while.  The injection at the start was really weird.  I felt like it hadn’t really worked, as nothing seemed to go numb.  Normally you lose some of the sensation in the side of your face or lips, but this time I had none of that.  I was expecting the first touch of the drill to feel like it was boring into the centre of my brain or something, but actually it was fine.  Afterwards I had no sensation of the anaesthetic wearing off either. It was like I was just immune to the pain.  Maybe I’m a superhero, with the mental and physical power to control my body’s own pain reflexes?  (Nope, I don’t really believe that either.)  I was starting to think there must be more miles of canals in my tooth than in the whole of Birmingham, when the dentist finally declared she couldn’t do it.  Whatever’s blocking my root canal, it’s defeated the best that modern dentistry can provide.  (Perhaps I should give the Canal & River Trust or Inland Waterways Association a call?)  This was followed by a discussion about what I wanted to do about it.  I say ‘discussion’, but as I still had a mouth full of rubber dams and other weird stuff, I was limited to saying ur urggurggh, guhhh urgghhher; so it was a bit one-sided.  So now I’m the proud owner of a temporary filling, whilst we see how it settles down.  So it looks like there might be a sequel to this horror sometime.  Can’t wait…  This film is about a superhero who has perfect teeth.

I loved this film.  I’ve no idea what demographic the makers were aiming it at, but it was great.  Like a Power Ranger on acid, Cutie Honey (and that must be the worst superhero name ever) deals with the Panther Claw Gang, one by one.  Based on a manga/anime character, the story is some nonsense about saving the world from hate.  As a movie it has many highlights.  The opening 15 minutes are as fun as any opening to any film ever.  It does calm down in the middle a little and the ending is a bit wimpy, but overall it’s an over-the-top mess of action and fun.  I was especially impressed with the Black Claw’s song and dance routine.  When I’m involved in a fight to the death, I always like to start with one of those too.   My copy came in a vivid pink, DVD case.  Don’t think I’ve got many of those.

We see Honey change into her superhero alter-ego a number of times, which comes with a bit of music that wouldn’t be out-of-place in the world’s worst game show.

The trailer is a shambles of colour, noise and imagery.  It’s great.

One cat, no chainsaws or decapitations.  A beautiful, ginger cat (with a brief speaking part), steals the whole first scene from an otherwise naked (except for bath bubbles) Eriko Sato.

Recommended for police officers, journalists and anyone with an uncle who can invent cool stuff.  Also recommended for criminal gangs that want to fill the world with hate, (you know who you are).  Good for fans of 60’s Batman; not good for fans of Nolan’s Batman.

Top badass moment?  Starring Eriko Sato (Japan’s top swimsuit model).  That’s badass.  Well that bad just about everywhere really.  (Note for ‘old people’: that’s “bad” as in good, not “bad” as in bad).  In any case, any film that carries the BBFC Insight “Mildly Sexualised Posing” has got to be worth watching.

Cutie Honey at IMDB (6.5 / 10)
Cutie Honey at Wikipedia
Cutie Honey trailer at YouTube

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Godsend / Magnolia Hell


Godsend  -  Front DVDCover  -  UK ReleaseStarring screen legend Robert De Niro, “Godsend” is the story of an eight year old boy named Adam Duncan.  A kind, thoughtful and well-behaved child, he’s the apple of his parent’s eye, until one day he’s knocked down by a car and tragically killed.  With both parents totally grief-stricken, the mysterious Dr Richard Wells (De Niro) offers them another chance of happiness.  He can create a clone of Adam that will be identical to the child they lost.  Nine months later they have their child back.  Identical in every way, it’s like Adam had never left them.  He has his mother’s eyes, his father’s smile, but when he crosses the age at which he died, terrifying things begin to happen.

2004  –  Certificate: 15  –  American Film
Rating Details:  Language: once strong.  Sex/nudity: infrequent moderate.  Violence: infrequent moderate.  Other: moderate horror.
8.0 out of 10

Whilst I have a lot of sympathy for Jean-Paul Sartre’s view that “Hell is other people”, he failed to take into account their surroundings.  After this last week I now know that Hell is less to do with people, or fire and brimstone for that matter; in fact Hell is a large room painted magnolia.  In the same way as the Devil has a variety of different names, such as Satan, Beelzebub, Lucifer, etc, so magnolia disguises it’s presence amongst us as alternatives like light brown, biscuit, white with a touch of brown, beige, mushroom, wheat, taupe, fawn and harvest.  This week we moved our office at work, (or more accurately moved everything in our office to a different building to use as a new office; we didn’t actually dig up the existing one and put it elsewhere).  Moving is a stressful and spirit-sapping experience at the best of times, but when you have to paint every single surface, including the floor (about 500 square metres in all) before you leave, in three days, mostly magnolia, then you come to realise what pain is really all about.  The only respite was repainting the ceiling, doors, door frames, skirting boards and 12 radiators, white.  And painting something white on a white background in a weakly lit area isn’t exactly my idea of a fun day at Alton Towers either.  In fact the only facet of pleasure came from deciding which shade of gray to paint the floor, slate or frigate; and after magnolia, gray is the next worst colour.  I imagine there are more advanced species in the universe that have, in a similar way to smallpox, totally eradicated magnolia and grey from existence.  Magnolia is the distilled essence of evil.  However, for some reason there are many sick-minded and weak-willed individuals who appear to gain a sort of inner peace from using this colour.  Why?  What’s wrong with them?  Appearing initially to be the colour equivalent of elevator music, any close encounter with it soon dispels any pretence it has of being ‘neutral’.  It’s a vile, boring, sick, nauseating abomination, which is as attractive as having a squashed, pregnant cockroach smeared on your mouth; and then some.  And why is it always the cheapest paint you can buy?  The artificial distortion of the paint market in this way is clearly the work of some ungodly power.  If our media had any real balls, it would be investigating this bizarre and unwarranted proliferation of magnolia; it’s destroying lives.  In a similar way, this film is about something that goes against the laws of nature and scared the crap out of me too.

At its core, this is a thriller/horror about a disturbing, eight-year-old skinhead called Adam, who develops a mental illness of some sort.  The reasons for the latter are, unusual.  The rest of its runtime is spent faffing about with his parents and Robert De Niro, as they act and react to what Adam gets up to.  If you analyse the plot too much, you’ll come to the conclusion that some of it doesn’t really make a lot of sense.  Visually it’s not a very exciting film either; it looks a lot like it was ‘made for TV’ with a colour pallet that’s far too much like magnolia for my liking.  However, the acting’s pretty good and the story interesting enough.  The decision of the parents to have a clone of their recently killed son created is worthy of further study.  This part of the film could easily have been the whole story, but because it’s not it does get treated a bit superficially, which is a shame really.  What the movie does do really well is be creepy. I’m sure I aged a few years watching it, which is a somewhat alarming thought.  It’s one of the most unsettling films I’ve watched for quite a while.

The soundtrack is unmemorable, yet works well.  Job done.

Recommended for dodgy doctors, desperate parents, teachers, photographers and eight-year-olds that want to freak their parents out.  And clones of course.

No cats, chainsaws or decapitations.

Top badass moment?  We all know that a good teacher can change someone’s life, but in this film we also learn that it can literally save your own life too.  I sometimes provide training as part of my job and like most things I suck at it.  I’ve never managed to impart a single bit of knowledge to anyone and tying to do so has never saved my life or changed anyone else’s for the better.  So I guess being a good teacher is badass.

Godsend at IMDB (4.7 / 10)

Godsend at Wikipedia

Godsend at YouTube


Freeze Frame / Pavement Wars


Freeze Frame  -  Front DVD Cover  -  UK ReleaseSean Veil (Lee Evans) is an ultra-paranoid murder suspect who films himself around the clock to provide an alibi, in case he’s ever accused of another crime.  When the police come calling to investigate a new murder, the one tape that can prove his innocence has mysteriously disappeared.  Past and present collide as Sean strives to prove his innocence of this and all the other crimes that have been laid at his door.  But the accusations and the tension mount and just when Sean thinks it’s all over, an unexpected twist finds him fighting for his life…

2004  –  Certificate: 15  –  UK/Irish Film
Rating Details: Strong violence and language
8.0 out of 10

A couple of months ago I started walking into work again, rather than driving.  Regularly walking the 2.4 miles each way has turned me into a hyper-fit super-being, but it’s not without its drawbacks.  Today I’d like to briefly consider the concept of Pavement Wars.  My journey includes a significant section along the Oxford Road in west Reading, where I find myself walking ‘against the tide’, as most people are going in the other direction and into town.  I’m used to the barbaric anarchy of rush-hour on the Tube, where a fallen body is considered nothing more than an annoying trip hazard; but I thought out on the open road (well pavement) of the Home Counties, things would be a little different.  I thought people would lift their hats in polite greetings as they passed one another, whilst exchanging a few words of small talk, about the weather or cricket scores perhaps?  Sadly it’s more like a pedestrianised version of Carmageddon, with the sort of manoeuvring that would lose a driver his or her license in a moment.  Seriously, it’s like a war zone out there and I’m not winning.  I’ve lost count of the number of time I’ve been forced into walls, bollards and the road, in an effort not to get mowed down by others’ irresponsible walking.  But this guy is fighting back!  Last Thursday, my path was blocked by two women coming in the other direction.  Any decent human being, when walking next to a friend, would make sure they got out of the way if someone was coming in the opposite direction and the two of them were totally occupying the path.  But not these two.  And they both saw me coming along, I’m quite sure of that.  Did they expect me to step out into the road to let them pass, even though I had my back to the traffic?  Was I the innocent victim of bitchy office politics, which meant nether of them wanted to walk behind the other, in case this more submissive stance might have some bearing on an inter-departmental power-struggle?  Perhaps my “Do You Like Waffles?” t-shirt wasn’t scary enough?  Or were they just inconsiderate, stupid, thoughtless, brain-dead bimbos?  Who knows?  Whatever, this time there was going to be no hanging about waiting between the bollards for them to pass.  I braced myself for the inevitable impact, which happened just about here.  As we passed my arm briefly collided with the tall blonde’s.  I suppose with hindsight it was probably the most exciting sexual caress she’s had for ages, but to me it meant only one thing; at last, I was a true Pavement Warrior!  No longer will I cower in shop entrances, between bollards, behind bins or pavement furniture.  Reading take note; there’s a new kid on the block, a new kid who’s no longer gonna be pushed around by people who think the sidewalk owes them a living.  I’m ready for war.  Are they?  Given all that, it’s a shame I’m not about to consider a viewing of “Mad Max”.

In a thriller with more twists than a shop full of Curly Wurly bars (or an avenue of Corkscrew Willow if you prefer), comedian Lee Evans convincingly portrays a paranoid and socially inept guy (Sean) who films his every waking (and sleeping) moment.  Fortunately, we’re spared most of the more ‘intimate’ moments of his life, but  it does make for an original and interesting, although somewhat convoluted movie.  I’m a bit stupid so I’m pretty sure I didn’t manage to follow everything, but it was still a really good watch; (despite the overuse of blue filters and a tiny, non-anamorphic 2.35:1 picture).  So this probably means it’ll be a good watch next time too, as I still won’t know what’s going on; being an idiot does have its advantages.  I did feel sorry for Sean; putting up with dodgy TV reporters, useless and greedy psychologists, a whole population that thought he was a triple murderer and cops that ‘cross the line’, is enough to send anyone a bit round the bend.  The amount of plot twists in the last ten minutes are likely to send most viewers a bit round the bend too.  His ‘underground house’ was interesting though.

The soundtrack is exactly that.  There’re no dumb pop records put into the film to enable some sort of “as featured in” soundtrack to be released.  It’s just decent music added into scenes to make them better in that way that only music can.

Recommended for police detectives, the paranoid, the tabloid press, everyone who hates CCTV and any innocents who’ve ever been accused of murder.

No cats, chainsaws or decapitation.

Top badass moment?  In a film full of twists and turns, the fact that Sean managed to keep himself together enough to do what he needed to do, qualifies as badass.

Freeze Frame at IMDB (6.3 / 10)

Freeze Frame at Wikipedia


13 Going On 30 / New Town Kings Gig


13 Going On 30  -  Front DVD Cover (UK Release)Jennifer Garner (“Daredevil”, TV’s “Alias”) and Mark Ruffalo (“Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind”) star in this hilarious flash-forward romance about a pre-teen girl who goes from geek to glamorous.  With the help of some magic wishing dust, 13 year-old Jenna Rink (Garner) becomes 30 and gorgeous overnight, with everything she ever wanted, except for her best friend Matt (Ruffalo).  Now, this grown woman must create some magic of her own to help the little girl inside find the true love she left behind.

2004  –  Certificate: 12  –  American Film
Rating Details:  Moderate sex and drug references
8.0 out of 10

Went to see the New Town Kings last night at the Camden Underworld in London.  It’s probably the best ska band in the country.  (Quite why people listen to stuff like Coldplay when they could be listening to bands like the NTK entirely escapes me, but I think it’s probably just another symptom of the fall of humanity; the signs are all around us after all, this is just another scream of terror from the depths of hell into which we’re falling.)  The gig was great, had a little bit too much to drink but managed not to be too uncoordinated or tread on too many feet.  I really like going to gigs in the summer, as when you leave at the end in a sweat-soaked t-shirt, you don’t walk out into a dark night that has a wind chill that wouldn’t feel out of place in an Antarctic winter.  I hate that and hanging about at Paddington Station afterwards, waiting for a train that’s either packed and you can’t get a seat, or freeing cold.  (I know it’s partly my fault as I wear the same things all year, but cloakrooms are a pain so if I can’t wear it under ‘combat conditions’ or tie it around my waist, then it’s too much hassle.  I’m sure regularly undergoing a freeze-thaw cycle is good for something; it’s good for some seeds anyway.)  Have to say I’m feeling pretty fit at the moment.  I remember seeing NTK a couple of years ago and I was knackered at the end.  This time it didn’t feel that big a deal.  I truly have the body of top sportsman!  (Darts probably).

I can’t believe it, but this is the fifth comedy I’ve watch in a row.  What’s come over me?  Then again, I do choose the films I watch entirely at random, although there are a lot of complicated rules that govern this process, but at the end of the day it’s still pretty random.  Anyway, let’s not consider how clichéd or stupid this film is.  Let’s just consider it and its (I think for me) unique, pink DVD case.  To deflect the fact and consequent embarrassment that comes from my sitting and watching a chick-flick on my own, I like to consider this as a movie with a hard science fiction storyline, that just happens to have some sort of romance built into it somewhere.  We first meet our hero Jenna around the time of her 13th birthday, just before she travels about 27 years into the future, into an alternative time-line.   So okay, the ‘time-machine’ consists of some sort of ‘fairy dust’ that we never get an explanation for, but that’s the nature of these things, apparently.  Then in the future she does stuff and it all works out okay.  Right?  It is actually an excellent film, even though it’s rubbish too; I did feel myself getting emotional once or twice, (just a tiny bit of course).  It also has one of those brilliant, so-crap-it’s-good dance routine scenes in it; Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” being the victim in this case.  (You should check out all the people at IMDB seriously discussing how realistic this scene is and how poor the choreography is; and I thought I had trouble living in the real world sometimes.)  Technically I like how this film looks and sounds on DVD.

This movie uses it’s soundtrack to strongly emphasise its 80s vibe.  In this, thanks in part to the way the sound blasts out every time a song is played, it succeeds well.  Even I have to begrudgingly admit that it’s not that bad.

Recommended for magazine editors, freelance photographers, 13 year-old girls and anyone who thinks 80s pop music is of any value; (yes, you there at the back, I can see you).

No cats, chainsaws or decapitations.

Top badass moment?  Biach Tom-Tom getting her comeuppance.  So she gets a drink spilt on her, a few harsh words and some work ripped up in front of her face; but when you’re 13 and have a social position to maintain in front of your friends, that’s probably not dissimilar to having your head blown off with a big gun by the unsung hero in the climatic final scene in a bloody action film.

13 Going On 30 at IMDB (6.0 / 10)

13 Going On 30 at Wikipedia


Ginger Snaps 2: Unleashed / Amex Customer Service


Ginger Snaps  -  1-3  -  Front DVD Cover (Czech Release)Brigitte is the first work selflessly took care of his sister Hannah, who turned into a werewolf.  Now her suffering worse.  Sam’s sister Brigitte was infected!  In the full moon must figure out how to cure it to prevent further bloody rampage.  At least that’s how Google translates it from the Czech on the cover of my DVD.  I think it’s losing something…  Who’s Sam and why has Brigitte had a gender reassignment?  I don’t remember either of those in the film.  Wouldn’t the world be a much better place if everyone spoke the same language?  Ideally English…

2004  –  Certificate: 15 –  Canadian Film
7.5 out of 10

I have/had an American Express Nectar Credit Card; (that’s the Amex Card that plebs are allowed to have.)  Recently it decided to introduce an annual fee of £25 for the ‘privilege’ of having one.  I, like (I’ve no doubt) millions of other ‘outraged customers’ decided that I didn’t fancy paying for something I can get for free elsewhere.  So I rang up and cancelled it.  There are three things that make American Express ‘different’ to ‘other’ credit card companies (i.e. Visa and MasterCard); 1 – nowhere accepts Amex credits cards; 2 – they identify you as a shallow, egotistic, posh snob, who wants to flaunt his or her success in the face of others; 3 – they have good customer service.  So you can imagine my profound disappointment, when I got a letter a few days later confirming my cancellation.  The letter said; “We are sorry you have decided to cancel your Nectar Credit Card.  For this reason we have cancelled your Nectar Credit Card account as you requested.”  So basically it’s cancelled the card because it’s sorry I’ve decided to cancel the card?  What would have happened if it hadn’t been sad?  Would it had continued to force me to have it and pay £25 a year for doing so?  It seems good customer service stops when you leave.  And yes, I realise that that’s a bit of a boring tale without much of a punch line.  Mountains and mole hills come to mind.

Ginger Snaps is one of the best horror/comedy/teen/fantasy films ever.  So what about its sequel?  Well the comedy part has gone.  The teen bit has also been diluted too.  It’s still got teenagers in it (including the two stars from the previous instalment), but it’s not really a film about teenagers anymore; the story could have featured people of any age really.  Instead we get an out-and-out horror and it’s not a bad one at all.  Smiling less than an emo girl having a bad day, (a part Emily Perkins plays so well), Brigitte is a patient at the Happier Times Care Centre, a rehab clinic where she inexplicably seems to appear after an altercation over a few library books.  I didn’t realise reading was quite that addictive.  Unfortunately, the Centre isn’t a good advert for the voluntary sector providing health services, as most of the staff there are a bit weird or pervy and it looks very much like a rundown prison.  I guess we’ll just have to blame it on funding cuts.  It’s the sort of place Jimmy Saville would have enjoyed visiting.  The ending is a bit rubbishy, but the rest of the film is fine and it’s good to see werewolves being given a bit of ‘quality screentime’; in footballing terms they always felt a bit like Manchester City, if you imagine vampires to be Manchester United; an occasional flash of success but basically always living in the shadow of their more successful, interesting and flamboyant neighbours.  Sadly the stunning Katharine Isabelle (Ginger) isn’t in it very much, but considering what happened to her in the original film that’s not that surprising.  Instead we get Ghost, a slightly creepy 13-year-old, who suffers from Hollywood Child-in-a-Film Syndrome, in that she acts like no real 13-year-old would; perhaps that’s why she was in the clinic in the first place?  (Tatiana Maslany, who I think was actually 19 when she made this film, really doesn’t look her own age.)  Anyway, it’s a very good film, well made, well acted and with decent special effects; but watch the brilliant Ginger Snaps before going onto this one, as it’s a direct sequel to it.

The music is serviceable, but forgettable.  Some rather dull, alternative rock and an infrequently heard film score don’t make it a movie to remember.

Recommended for werewolves, junkies, emos and anyone providing health care services in the voluntary sector.

No cats, chainsaws or decapitations.

Top badass moment?  “I’m going to kill it.  Get me all the sharp things you can find.”  No running away and falling over for her, Brigitte’s outcome-focused approach to dealing with an issue would be welcomed by many in the private sector, keen for employees with a clear vision of what they want to achieve and how they’re going to achieve it.  Mission Drift isn’t something the viewer needs to worry about in this movie.

Ginger Snaps 2: Unleashed at IMDB (6.4 / 10)

Ginger Snaps 2: Unleashed at Wikipedia


The Notebook: 4.0 Stars


The Notebook  -  Front DVD Cover (UK)I’m vegan.  This makes me better than most other people.  I’m not being big-headed or stupid or anything, that’s just the way things are.  (See “Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World” for more details.)  I’m lucky, in that the whole population of Cactus World is vegan, which makes things a lot easier.  However, the same can’t be said for some of the neighbouring areas.  My flat has a couple of air vents in it with built-in fans.  These appear to be connected to all the other vents in the building, via a series of pipes buried in the walls.   They’re the sort of vents you can use to ‘enjoy’ a ‘domestic’ going on next door.  If I lived in a Hollywood film in an old apartment in New York, I’m sure I’d regularly hear murders being committed through them, (which there’d mysteriously be no evidence for when the police arrived to investigate things); or perhaps a major terrorist attack (with a nuclear bomb of course) being planned.  I suppose I should be thankful that the vents are in the kitchen and bathroom, as they don’t seem to pick up the sound from other rooms of happy couples em, coupling.  So anyway, a little while ago I went to the aforementioned bathroom, to do some ‘bathroom things’.  As soon as I opened the lounge door, my senses were assaulted by the smell of cooked fish.  I doubt the world’s oceans smell as fishy as my flat right now.  Unfortunately, the vents transport smells as easily as they transfer sounds.  Four emergency incense cones have now been lit, in an effort to neutralise the insidious odour.  (High-powered ones obtained from the US military, through a special arrangement with the authorities in New Mexico.  They have “the fragrant aroma of smouldering Piñon firewood that is characteristic of the whole Southwest and the foothills of the Rockies.”)  We’ve yet to hear any announcements regarding whether this is a deliberate chemical weapons attack on Cactus World, the result of a massive industrial accident, or simply the outcome of dinner-time for one of my neighbours.  For a vegan however, it’s pretty crap; and annoying.  The last time my flat smelt this fishy was the day I first came to see it prior to moving in.  This was later determined to be a deliberate ploy by the previous inhabitants to disguise one of their leisure activities; it was about a year before it ceased to smell of dope; my predecessors were apparently keen on a joint or two.  This film doesn’t feature any of these things.  In fact, it couldn’t ‘unfeature’ them more if it tried.

2004  –  Certificate: 15  –  USA
Rating Details: Moderate sex

I need to go on a diet, (even more than I normally do).  This film was so syrupy and sweet that just watching it has made me put on about 5kg.  The plot twist at the end is also so obvious that it probably shouldn’t really count as one at all; it’s like one of those weakening fronts you see on weather maps, which by the time they arrive only consist of a few clouds, so if they weren’t pointed out to you you’d probably not even notice them.  I’m not much of a fan of period dramas, so a movie set mostly in the 1930s and 1940s isn’t the sort of thing to really excite me.  The chances of there being many big explosions, spaceships or gratuitous violence felt slim.  Then again, any film with Ryan Gosling in is worth checking out.  James Garner’s in it too, who was already old even when I was young.  So anyway, okay, this is actually a great film, with the most romantic/tragic ending it’s probably possible to have.  As  a fan of Thomas Hardy, I’ve always had a soft spot for relationships that get fucked-up by families, class, money, etc.  This film delivers a classic Hardy class-barrier storyline, rich city girl and poor country boy; (sounds awful doesn’t it)?  Fact is, this film doesn’t really do anything very much else and it certainly doesn’t break any new ground, but what it does do it does really, really well.  In fact the only part that felt a bit weak was the Mother’s ‘revelation’; it did feel a bit of a plot contrivance rather than something that fitted into the overall narrative.  As a romantic period drama, this does deliver; and yes, it is, especially the ending, tissue-friendly.

Recommended for true romantics.  In the perfect world, we’d all end up with our first loves forever.  (Aw, see, I can be romantic too.)

No cats, decapitations or chainsaws.

Top badass moment?  I have to give this to Lon Hammond.  He just goes to prove that even if you’re handsome, a war hero, successful, attentive and an all-around nice guy, you don’t always get the girl.  Being a good loser is badass and he manages here to be a top bloke about everything, when he probably had every right to be really, really pissed off.

The Notebook on IMDB (7.9 / 10)


Saw: 4.5 Stars


Saw  -  Front DVD Cover (UK)I watch a lot of horror films.  So you’d think by now that I’d be used to people being killed, mutilated, raped, dismembered, or otherwise psychologically damaged.  But this week I’ve come face to face with real horror.  My Cyclamen has been infected with Mealy Bugs!  Like a crappy, straight-to-video horror, these little bastards just appeared, with little or no back-story and just got down to the business of terrorising my pot plant and by association, me.  It’s a home invasion experience of the worst kind.  All the leaves and even the pot are covered in some sort of evil, disgusting, Mealy Bug pus, whilst the sniveling little cowards hide beneath the leaves, plotting their next nefarious move.  Like a good slasher movie icon, they pouch on the innocents, newly emerging leaves, infecting them with an unearthly virus (or whatever it is that Mealy Bugs do).  It’s like watching a house plant version of “28 Days Later” or “Doomsday”.  They’re hideously ugly and have an aura I can only describe as feeling like undiluted, pure hate.  In a similar was to the Borg, they are seemingly linked to a single hive mind, intent on destroying all houseplant life on my bedroom window sill.  I’m half expecting the US to target my flat with a Cruise Missile, in an effort to destroy them before they take over the world.  I’ve not quite worked out how to get rid of them yet.  Negotiation has so far proved futile.  Strangely, my Cyclamen seems little effected by their malevolent presence thus far and is currently presenting me with 15 beautiful, pink flowers, although its leaves drip with a rancid, putrid slime that could have come from Hell itself.  I’ve got to rid my plant of them, and in a way that doesn’t leave any opportunity for a sequel!  After facing this crisis, this movie seems a bit tame.

2004  –  Certificate: 18  –  USA
Rating Details: Strong bloody violence

I’d forgotten just how good a thriller this film is.  So, it also gets credited for popularising torture porn, which later movies in the series do feature more heavily, but this one isn’t that explicitly gory.  It is however, clever, interesting and challenging.  Although I didn’t really care for the two main characters, I still worried about what was going to happen to them.  Sure they were flawed, annoying and a bit pathetic, but I was concerned enough about them that part of me wanted them to escape; no one deserves that much shit.  The film also does a good job of making the viewer feel a bit sorry for the perpetrator, too, which makes for a great set-up if you want to experience a range of feelings as things progress.  A great modern horror classic.

Recommended for fans of genuinely great thrillers and horrors.

No cats, decapitations or chainsaws.  There are a couple of hacksaws though.

Top badass moment?  It’s got to be Alison Gordon, fighting back against Zep and doing so pretty successfully.  With only the advantage of surprise, she manages to defend herself and her young daughter against a younger guy armed with a gun.  That’s got to be badass.  She’s had more balls that her pathetic husband, whose mindset was, “oh, my child and wife (whose back behind I’m having an affair) are in trouble; I know, I’ll cut my foot off.”  Yeh, good thinking Batman, give that man a cigar.

Saw at IMDB (7.7 / 10)

Cyclamen


Man On Fire: 3.5 Stars


Man On Fire  -  Front DVD CoverWe’ve had a lot of staff changes at work recently; many of my colleagues have left or had their jobs changed.  Today the team I’m part of all went out for lunch.  This was the last time we’ll all be in one place together, as maternity leave and restructures have taken their toll on our numbers and as such we’ll cease to exist at the end of this month.  Of course, I’m sure everything in future will be great for those of us that remain and the new team we work in, but there’s something very ‘final and not in a good way’ about these sorts of things.  I guess I’m just not very good at saying good-bye.  I’m sure Captain Picard would have had something inspirational, positive and life-affirming to say if he’d been in the same position as I was, but then again he’s captain of the Federation’s flagship and I’m an ineffective middle-manager, hiding deep-down in a staff structure somewhere.  I did enjoy my lunch though; we went to a local Indian restaurant and the food was yummy.  This film is about revenge.  I hope none of the people who’ve been restructured out of existence recently will follow John Creasy‘s example from this movie.  However, I will personally be taking inspiration from his ‘can do’ approach and trying to reverse some of the changes that have taken place.  I will probably fail (as I’m rubbish at my job and live in a fantasy world of movies and computer games), but I can at least try.  

2004 – Certificate: 18 – USA
Rating Details: Strong violence

So right then, let’s just forget about realism first, it will make everything a lot less stressful from here onwards, trust me.  Do you ever watch films that are ‘nearly great’?  This is one of them.  It’s 140 minutes long, but there’re over 30 minutes of deleted scenes on the DVD too, which include some that relate to a plot line that was entirely removed from the final version of the film.  Despite its length, it doesn’t feel especially long when you’re watching it and it’s nice to see a movie that takes a bit of time to give the main characters’ some history and personalities, before things start to blow up or go bang.  Denzel Washington is great as the burnt-out ex-CIA operative John Creasy.  I didn’t like his character’s name though, as every time I heard it I was reminded of how bad I am at ironing things.  I’ve never learnt to iron properly.  As is also the case for drawing and leaning languages, (neither of which I have any attribute for whatsoever), I think there’s a part of the brain that’s exclusively dedicated to ironing that I don’t have.  Mexico City, the setting for the film, comes across as a place that wouldn’t make it onto any sane person’s list of possible holiday destinations, as most of its population appear to be criminals, idiots, cowards or corrupt officials.  Oh wait, it sounds a little bit like the House of Commons, so that’s okay then.  But back to my original thought.  Despite this being a good film, it never quite became a great one; I struggled to build up a real empathy for either of the two main characters.  They were just a bit too good in that ‘Hollywood’ way to engage or deserve my full sympathy and support.

Recommended for anyone dealing with evil kidnappers, or looking for an alternative way to deal with organisational restructures.

No cats and no decapitations.

Top badass moment?  When you’ve lost faith in humanity and set yourself on a path of self-destruction (so it says on the DVD’s sleeve), finding redemption has to be considered badass.  So it involves torturing, killing and generally doing some pretty unpleasant things to people, but they were ’the bad guys’ so they probably deserved it, right?  If only real life was that simple.

Man On Fire at IMDB (7.7)


Thunderbirds: 3.5 Stars


Thunderbirds  -  Front DVD coverI took down my birthday cards today, all three of them; (thank-you Jacob, Rebecca and Laurel).  My birthday was almost two months ago; and yes, I do realise that’s it’s a little bit pathetic to leave your cards up for that long.  On my birthday I went to see a band at a venue in north London, the New Town Kings; a great ska band and the 12th best band on the planet at present.  Then I did something I’ve not done in 33 years of going to see gigs.  The set finished late, 00:10.  No problem I thought to myself, I’ll just walk down to the Underground station and get the Tube to Paddington in time for the last train to Reading at 01:00.  Oh…shit.  It’s that one night of the year when the clocks get put forward an hour.  So three night buses later and I’m contemplating spending the next six hours at Paddington Station; it was bloody freezing and nothing in the area was open.  The only people who seemed to be around were pimps and prostitutes, drunks and druggies; the last two groups of whom seem to be mostly lying about on the pavement outside the station.  Oblivious to the cold and their surroundings, I came to envy them.  I spent the night standing by the entrance to the Underground, where a slightly warm breeze of air was blowing out from the tunnels and passageways below.  Now I generally don’t mind my own company, but on my birthday, in the freezing cold, all night, in the world’s most boring location, when I’m tired and knackered from dancing at a gig which is rapidly becoming a dim and distance memory thanks to my semi-conscious state, I was not on best form.  I must have read the notices and adverts around the Underground entrance 100 times, as I endlessly paced slowly up and down the eight, small strides between the two ends of the locked gate, attempting to warm one side of myself followed by the other; I even learnt to do this with my eyes closed and get it right almost every time.  I read all the print on the screen of the Kindle in the Kindle advert that was shown for a few seconds every now and again, in one of those high-tech advertisement boards that show a revolving series of different ads; (it wasn’t a very interesting story, something about a big storm in London in the middle ages.)  I attempted a conversation with the rail maintenance guy who came and stood with me for around an hour, but my question suggesting that perhaps he ought to be out “repairing the track or something” didn’t get me very far; I guess that’s how he wastes some of his time each night.  I mused at great length on the fact that of all the people I’d heard on the night buses, not one was speaking English; (well except a group of Americans but that doesn’t count).  I considered the value of having ‘live’ indicator boards at bus stops, especially the one at the stop which said I had 20 minutes to wait and just as I was about to go off into some bushes to answer the call of nature, my bus came along, so I nearly missed it.  Of course, in my half awake, hypothermic condition, I’d forgotten that they’re actually special London Transport Minutes, which are only vaguely related to normal ones; so I’d forgotten to convert them; silly me.  At 06:45 I got the first train, along with a group of equally bedraggled and zombie-like others, who had all crawled out of various holes after spending equally miserable nights enjoying the concept of European Summer Time.  I even had the indignity of having to travel part of the journey back on the dreaded rail replacement bus service.  It’s a shame International Rescue weren’t having a bit of a quiet night too, I could have done with being rescued.      

2004 – Certificate: PG  –  USA
Rating Details: Mild violence, peril and language

Why are so many people so mean about this film?  I grew up watching Thunderbirds on TV; in fact it’s probably my most vivid TV memory from my youth.  I know this movie is full of plot holes, spends most of its time focusing on three kids (rather than the Thunderbirds) and comes across like “Spy Kids” on speed; but it’s still a fun and breathless watch.  It has a villain who’s basically a bad Captain Picard, it was directed by Commander Riker, has a big scene in it set in Jubilee Gardens in London (where I saw the Undertones play in 2003) and a cute scene with a puppet hand.  I even like the theme tune by “Busted”.  It’s also almost wall-to-wall action too.  Did you know that Thunderbird 1 can travel at up to 15,000mph?  That’s nearly seven times faster than the Lockheed SR-71 Blackbird, the fastest aircraft ever.  So don’t tell me that’s not cool.  That Brains dude, he’s one awesome genius.

Recommended for anyone who’s not going to bore me senseless by saying something along the lines of, “but that’s not how it was in the 60’s TV series”.  Get a life; even I realise its not 1965  now.

No cats and no decapitations.

Top badass moment?  Nearly 40 years after the original TV series, seeing Thunderbirds 1 and 2 in action again in the opening scenes is most definitely badass.

Thunderbirds on IMDB


The Incredibles: 3.5 Stars


The Incredibles  -  Front DVD coverWatching this film I felt a great deal of empathy with Mr. Incredible.  Here’s a guy who used to be a superhero, who regularly demonstrated death-defying feats of skill and bravery, saving people from certain doom on a frequent basis. Then stuff happened and 15 years later he’s a fat old bloke pushing bits of paper around on a desk for a living and secretly sneaking off with a mate to do the odd bit of superheroing (I just made that word up) in the evenings, without telling his wife what he’s up to.  15 years ago I used to save the planet on a regular basis, working as I do for an environmental charity.  15 years on I’m a fat old bloke who spends his time pushing bits of paper about on a desk, (well electronically via e-mail these days), who secretly sneaks off do to the odd bit of ‘planet saving’ as and when I can, without telling my employer.  It’s true, I don’t have any super powers, but then neither does Batman and he seems to do okay most of the time.  I also don’t have a skin-tight superhero costume (don’t go there), an extremely flexible wife (wish I could go there), or a room at home that I’ve covered the walls of in ego-flattering magazine articles, newspaper cuttings and pictures of myself; (although I do have some pictures of me ‘in action’ pinned on a cork-board at work behind my desk and a file of stuff from old newspapers in a desk-draw somewhere).  I didn’t have a fan-club either, but I do have a fan by my desk that’s useful in the summer.  So I guess what I’m really saying is that I should have been a famous hero and adored by everyone.  Having to have a secret identity can suck sometimes.

2004  –  Certificate: U  –  USA
Rating Details: Mild violence and peril

I watched this film on a Blu-ray disc and it looked great and sounded amazing.  It’s funny, but not that funny.  It’s good, but not that good.  It’s a detail and realistic fly-on-the-wall pseudo-documentary that takes a no-holds-barred look at what happens to real-life superheroes once they retire, examining the physical and mental effects of this on them and their immediate families’ well-being; a searing indictment of the treatment of minority groups by the media and public in post-war America.  Actually it’s not.  It’s really just a fun way to spend 115 minutes of your life and being impressed by how good animators are getting.  It’s Pixar, so you know what it’s going to be like.

No cats and no decapitations.

Recommend for people who watch films to be entertained by silliness.  (I also found myself finding Elastigirl just a little too sexy for my own liking; I guess it’s my age.)

Top badass moment?  Dude, it’s a film about a family of superheroes.  Do I have to do everything for you?

The Incredibles on IMDB