Posts tagged “2005

1 Litre of Tears / The End of a Revolution


1 Litre of Tears  -  Front DVD Cover  -  Japanese Release

Asae Ōnishi is the lead actress, starring as Aya Kito. 9th grader (third year of junior high school) Aya Kito collapses on the way to school.  Dr. Yamamoto discovers that Aya has spinocerebellar ataxia, a fatal and incurable disease that handicaps the body.  Aya’s mother and Dr. Yamamoto let Aya record in a diary to tell her story and to live her life to the fullest.

2005 –  Certificate: Unknown  –  Japanese Film
7.5 out of 10

Last Friday was Halloween. It was also the hottest ever Halloween on record in England, 24C.  Unfortunately I missed out on most of it as I left Cactus World and went to the Moon.  Yes, really.  Okay, to be more accurate I actually went to the Moon Club, although it is a long way from Cactus World and in a real foreign country too; a place called Wales.  Sadly, it was to attend the final gig by the 8th best band on the plant, Dirty Revolution.  After following the band for around five years and attending 28 gigs, everyone’s favourite alt-punk-ska-reggae-calypso-African-beats band was splitting up.  Support was from the awesome 10th best band on the planet, the New Town Kings, but it really was Dirty Revolution’s night.  Other than when the Undertones originally split up in 1983, I can’t think of a time when I’ve been so saddened by a band deciding to end it all.  The reasons appear to be the difficulty of having a young family and trying to tour, along with its alleged inability to know how to get people to sing along to the “whoo-ooos” and “yeh-yeh-yehs” etc that populate a number of its tunes.  I’d seriously considering ending it all too, but the fact that the band don’t seem to have fallen out with one another and that a quick look at my current Top Ten active bands indicates that all but two have split up and then reformed at some time or other.  This gives me hope that perhaps, one day in the dim and distant future, songs about having a fat ass, not feeling fear and highlighting the fact that Skrewdriver were a bunch of wankers, will once again reverberate around venues everywhere.  The Moon is a small club, with no air conditioning and sweat dripping from the ceiling.  The band played a long set.  I was at the front and could see a copy of the set list on the floor gradually being worked through; it was like waiting for the end of the world in some nuclear holocaust film, where all the characters can do is wait for the missiles to arrive, although before they do nothing seems any different to usual… and then all of a sudden it’s over.  The gig was filmed for a DVD.  One of the guys with a camera was menacingly close to where I was most of the time.  I guess with a decent bit of software they’ll be able to edit out the fat, old bloke trying to dance.  Joking aside, I do feel a genuine sense of loss.  This film is about loss too.  But before you read on,  I suggest you listen to some proper good music:

Dirty Revolution: Failure to Communicate
Dirty Revolution: Firing Line
Dirty Revolution: I Love Reggae
Dirty Revolution: This Community
Dirty Revolution:  Failure to Communicate (Live)

This is a movie of a book that was then a TV series. Something like that anyway.  The book (actually her diary) was written by a young woman called Aya Kitô.  She was diagnosed with Spinocerebellar ataxia when she was 15 (in 1977) and wrote a diary about her life for as long as she could, until she died when she was 26.  The film itself isn’t that great, although the actress who plays Aya is excellent.  I suspect that compared with the TV series and the diary itself, a lot was cut out to make it an appropriate length for a film.  However, there are a few really powerful scenes, often focusing on very small incidents; the one when Aya Kitô has to leave her school because it can no longer provide what she needs is pretty heart-breaking stuff.  People often seem to say that stories like this are “life-affirming” and “uplifting”.  No, they’re not. They’re sad and depressing.  I can’t see anything uplifting in a story about anyone, never mind a young person, who’s tragically struck down by a terrible illness that they had no way of avoiding, however brave he or she might be.  It’s just awful.

The soundtrack is mostly downbeat and piano driven. It fits the mood of the film well.

Movie Weather Forecast. Nope, still not started to take much notice of this yet.  Soon, I promise!

Try as I might, I couldn’t seem to find a trailer for this film anywhere.

Recommend for doctors, carers and heartless school teachers.

No cats, chainsaws or decapitations.

Top badass moment? This is a true story about a young woman with a horrible illness.  As her condition gets worse and worse, she never really stops trying to live her life as best she can, despite the increasing difficulty of doing so and the limitations of the physical world around her.  That makes her truly badass.

1 Litre of Tears at IMDB (8.1 / 10)
1 Litre of Tears at Wikipedia
1 Litre of Tears excerpt at YouTube

Advertisements

Time To Leave / Summer Holidays


Time to Leave  -  Front DVD Cover  -  UK Release

Acclaimed filmmaker Francois Ozon’s most intimate and lyrical work, ‘Time To Leave’ features a moving performance from Melvil Poupaud as a 30 year-old man facing up to the reality of his own mortality.  With his perfect life thrown into chaos by the shock diagnosis of a serious illness, fashion photographer Romain finds himself unable to share the news with his boyfriend or family, confiding instead only in his grandmother (affectingly played by screen legend Jeanne Moreau).  But anger and denial give way to an acceptance of sorts when a chance encounter with a waitress (Valeria Bruni-Tedeschi) offers Romain a glimmer of hope and the unexpected chance to leave something of himself behind.

2005  –  Certificate: 18  –  French Film
Rating Details:  Strong Sex
8.5 out of 10

I like this time of year.  Once my birthday has passed, the clocks have gone forward, I don’t need the heating on at home, we’ve got over the end of the Financial Year at work and the winter is fast receding, things start to look better.  The spring has arrived and the local plants and wild animals have started doing their stuff.  The weather’s getting better and the days are longer.  I can go to gigs and not freeze half to death on the way home in a soggy t-shirt.  And with all the bank holidays and most of my Annual Leave from work left to take, I get to (allegedly) work some shorter weeks; in fact from last week onwards I’m only meant to be working two out of the next twelve as five-day weeks.  A three-day weekend suits me I think.  I’ve even been giving some half-hearted thought to going on holiday somewhere.  I won’t be going far from Cactus World, but I feel I ought to do something.  After knackering my ankle on the South Downs Way a few years ago, I’ve been a bit reluctant to put it under too much pressure since, as it still doesn’t feel quite right.  But I might take a few days and go camping/walking along a canal; that will have a decent, flat path and plenty of pubs scattered along it.  The Kennet & Avon Canal starts only a few minutes walk from where I live and runs for 87 miles, so I may well pick on that.  Talk about putting minimal effort into planning a holiday!  This film ends on a beach, which is holiday-like.  And beaches are by water, just like canal tow-paths.  (Sorry, that’s the best link I can manage.)

Romain is a somewhat arrogant fashion photographer, who, when diagnosed with a serious illness, chooses not to have any treatment for it or to tell many people, but instead goes about pissing off most of those around him.  (They’re all rather forgiving it has to be said.)  Of course, as the film progresses, he goes on a life-journey of sorts, but in my opinion he never ceases being a little too self-centred.  So, he’s not the most likable of characters.  Now, I watch quite a lot of French films; (French movies are the fourth most common I watch, after American, British and Japanese).  However, I’ve never come across Melvil Poupaud before, but he puts in a totally amazing performance as Romain.  The film’s worth watching for this alone, although all the acting is uniformly great.  I don’t often single out actors but I was seriously impressed by this guy.  Even where the script or plot wobbled a bit he managed to make it all seem very believable.  Some of the scenes can’t have been easy to film either.  He’s a very good-looking chap, yet he loses a huge amount of weight as the story progresses and ends up being hardly recognisable.  I didn’t really like Romain, yet I really cared about what he was going through.  France is turning out some great movies these days.  They still feel French, but they’re also very grounded too and easier for more of the rest of us to relate to now.  This is an emotionally depressing film, but hugely rewarding too.  The scene where Romain rings his sister really was very powerful.  Go watch.  I’ve just realised that I’ve made this film sound a bit wimpy, but at times it’s quite raw; it didn’t get that 18 Certificate for nothing.

There’s a limited amount of music used in this movie and most of it sits in the background, but it really fits in well.

The trailer uses Lou Reed’s “Perfect Day”.  This bit of music isn’t used in the film and it’s a huge cliché, but it does do the job it’s being asked to do here.  (Then again, it’s such a great song that it would be pretty difficult for it not to.)

Recommended for photographers, grandmothers, dysfunctional families and people who spend way too long sitting on beaches.

No cats, chainsaws or decapitations.

Top badass moment?  Romain gives his sister Sophie an especially hard time and clearly had a track-record of doing so, long before he got ill.  Yet when he phones her to apologise, (well I think that’s what he was trying to do), after she’s sent him a letter, she was so nice about it.  She could easily have told the supercilious little sod to get lost, but she didn’t.  I guess that’s pretty badass.

Time to Leave at IMDB (7.2 / 10)
Time to Leave at Wikipedia
Time to Leave trailer


Alone in the Dark / Working for Fighter Command


Alone in the Dark  -  Front DVD Cover  -  US ReleaseEdward Carnby (Christian Slater) is a private investigator specializing in unexplainable supernatural phenomena.  His cases delve into the dark corners of the world, searching for truth in the occult remnants of ancient civilizations.  Now, the greatest mystery of his past is about to become the most dangerous case he has ever faced.  With the help of his ex-girlfriend, archaeologist Aline Cedrac (Tara Reid), and his bitter rival, government agent Richard Burke (Stephen Dorff), Edward is about to learn that just because you don’t believe in something doesn’t mean it cannot kill you!

2005  –  Certificate Not Rated  –  German/Canadian Film
4.0 out of 10

I hate this time of year.  It’s not just the fact that all the good bits of the winter are over and it’s still months until the summer; or the fact that I’ve got no money as I squandered it over the Christmas period; or even that there’s hardly ever any decent gigs to go to.  No, it’s also the time of year when everyone I care for dies and my relationships always end.  On top of all this, it’s when we write our Financial Plan at work too.  The latter is less a mathematical exercise and more a futile attempt to predict the future; (and the scale of my successes in the National Lottery over the past 20 years nicely demonstrates how well my precognitive abilities have been developed).  The process bares all the hallmarks of Fighter Command at the height of the Battle of Britain, wondering where the next plane or pilot is going to come from, as its fully committed assets are quickly depleted.  The consequences of all this is that it generally feels like we’re looking into a dark, bottomless abyss, as the world as we know it ends.  (Although on the up side, we are still here after nearly 55 years).  More to the point, I have to spend this afternoon and evening working, because I’ve been told to move loads of numbers about in mine; I’m not sure why, they won’t get any bigger however many times I move them.  This film is also about the end of the world as we know it.

Other than all the things and people I hate, despise or loathe, I like to think of myself as a pretty easy-going, laid-back, tolerant guy.  But even I have my limits and this film has just reached one.  What makes things worse is that it could have been really good.  The story’s fine (it’s based on a computer game), the effects are decent enough (the gun-shot one borders on impressive) and even I’ve heard of its three, principal actors.  Christian Slater was the Communications Officer on the Excelsior for goodness sake; it’s not the most challenging bridge job around that’s true, but it was on Captain Sulu’s ship so that must count for something.  And Tara Reid, the Choir Chick from “American Pie”, gets given some glasses to wear, so she can look intelligent and thus play the part of an archaeologist.  The chase scene, (once we’ve got over the longest “Star Wars” like preamble in cinematic history), is actually pretty good too.  Unfortunately, the characters are so poorly written that the Oxford English Dictionary is considering using them as part of its official definition of one-dimensional.  The Alpha Male rivalry between Richard Burke and Edward Carnby is a key plot element.  (Edward used to work with Richard, so consequently they scowl at one another a lot.)  It’s probably fair to say they don’t get on, aren’t each others’ friends on Facebook and don’t send one another Christmas cards, not even e-cards.  Then, in the middle of a big battle Edward shoots a ‘bad guy’ who’s coming up behind Richard.  The latter gives Edward a brief nod of gratitude.   This incident is never acknowledged or further developed, but from then on they’re instantly the best of buddies.  Is that what it takes to remove years of personal animosity?  Maybe I’ve entirely missed some sort of gay subplot, which would explain a great many things, as well as why Edward and Aline are ex-lovers. The whole film is littered with a garbage script and stereotypical characters that act in nonsensical ways.  I especially enjoyed the Abkani (they’re the bad guys) charging towards some soldiers and then basically stopping a few metres in front of them to growl and throw their limbs around a lot, thus allowing the latter to blast away at them for ages and ages; not that the sight of thousands of rounds of ammunition fired at point blank range not seeming to have much of an effect, puts them off trying.  When I see a movie like this I want to really believe the world is about to end, not keep glancing at the clock to see how long I’ve been watching it for.  So basically it’s great, except for the characters and everything they say or do…

It has a Scandinavian, heavy metal soundtrack.  Nightwish aside, this tells you a lot.  Listen up.  Heavy metal (and all its sub-genera) should never be used for any film with a budget of over $500,000, ever.  It’s just not right.

The trailer’s like the rest of the movie; it seems to promise lots but contains nothing.

Recommended for archaeologists, private investigators, ‘Government agents’ and anyone who wears glasses to look intelligent.

No cats, chainsaws or decapitations.

Top badass moment?  At one point Steven Dorff throws a bit of a wobbly.  He picks up a few bits of paper (probably the script), scans them briefly and then pushes over a table and screams out, “My guys are dying out there for nothing; for fucking nothing!”  Seeing an actor demonstrate a high level of emotional intelligence by empathising with the audience whilst also staying in character, just has to be badass.

Alone in the Dark at IMDB (2.3 / 10)
Alone in the Dark at Wikipedia
Alone in the Dark at YouTube

No trailer I’m afraid, thanks to YouTube blocking the video.  Liongate clearly doesn’t want anyone to find out about this film!


Kidulthood / Phall Curry


Kidulthood  -  Front DVD Cover  -  UK ReleaseFor 15-year-old Trife, life is a day-to-day struggle.  Trapped between the worlds of his school friends, the girl he loves and the draw of his powerful and dangerous uncle, Trife must choose between the path he knows is right and a life of guns, drugs and violence that he has come to know only too well.  When a classmate’s suicide leaves Trife and his crew, Moony and Jay, with the day off school, the tragedy seems overshadowed by the opportunity to shop, get high, get laid and party; but in a world where sex is currency, drugs are easy and violence is a way of life, trouble can never be too far around the corner.  On these streets kids grow up fast and 48 hours can be a lifetime.

2005  –  Certificate: 15  –  British Film
Rating Details:  Strong violence, language, sex references and drug use
8.0 out of 10

I haven’t really enjoyed this week.  It’s hard to identify one particular thing that’s made it a bit rubbish, it just was.  It’s been the sort of week where you’d spot a pound coin on the pavement, then when you’ve bend over to pick it up a car’s driven through a nearby puddle and soaked you.  To celebrate the better parts of the week and the fact that I’d got to the end of it, I decided to treat myself to an Indian takeaway.  However, to also enable the latter to best reflect how things have been recently, I decided to get a vegetable phall.  I really like curry, but this version is basically a few bits of vegetable with a goo made out of chillies all over it.  It’s virtually impossible to eat and tastes of nothing, except chillies and the inside of the Sun.  It’s the sort of thing guys eat when they want to try and impress other guys.  (I know, how on earth did humans manage to get to the top of the food chain?)  As I’ve got no friends and I ate it on my own, I’m not quite sure who I was trying to impress.  I think it was simply a cry for help, a punishment for not being good enough at work all week.  I imagine if I’d not eaten it I’d now feel obliged to roll around naked in a patch of stinging nettles instead.  And I didn’t win the National Lottery either.  Still, things could be worse; I could live in the ‘wrong’ part of W11, where this film is set.

I went to school in central London.  In my day we didn’t have mobile phones or gangsta rap; drugs were something you took for a toothache (and in any case were always called tablets) and oral sex meant talking about it, not that we knew what ‘it’ really was.  So films like this are really helpful in enabling me to keep myself ‘street’, ‘happening’ and ‘down with the kids’; although as anyone who’s a teenager now would have been about 7-years-old when it was made, I suspect things have moved on a bit since then.  Eschewing the fascination that movie-makers have with the East End, south London, Camden and Hackney, this movie mostly takes place in that forgotten realm west of the West End, where only the Hammersmith & City Line dares to go.  A land of council estates and old terrace housing hidden away behind the ‘glamour’ of Notting Hill, it’s about as uncool and unfashionable as you can get.  If it wasn’t for Portobello Market and the nearby Carnival, it would probably hold the world record for being the most unhip and dowdy place in any capital city anywhere.  In fact if you Google it, nothing comes up.  Despite my trashing of the location, this is actually an excellent film; (awful title though).  I’m also lucky to be gangsta enough to be able to understand what they’re all saying most of the time, which is just as well because my copy didn’t come with any subtitles.  I haven’t heard so much slang since I watched “Attack the Block”.

With a soundtrack that’s almost pure London hip-hop, grime and rap, it’s as good (or as bad) as you think that is.  Rodney Smith, Maxwell Ansah, Dylan Mills and Michael Skinner all provide parts of the soundtrack.  (And if you don’t know who they are then that makes you a total square.)

Recommended for ganstas, bros, crews and feds, init?

One cat, no chainsaws or decapitations.  A cute grey cat makes a brief but scene-stealing appearance, jumping off a sofa and then wondering about a bit.

Top badass moment?  There are plenty of small ‘growing-up’ badass moments scattered throughout this film, but I’m going to choose Alisa giving some home truths to the bullies on the tube.  They were really horrible!  Still, at least I know they’re probably all junkies, prostitutes or unmarried mothers by now.  I blame the parents.  (When I write things like that they so make me sound so like a Tory.  I’m really not, honest!)

Kidulthood at IMDB (6.5 / 10)

Kidulthood at Wikipedia


Shooting Vegetarians / Vegans Top the Food Chain


Shooting Vegetarians  -  Front DVD Cover (US Release)Neil (Guillermo Diaz) has been a vegetarian for one thousand two hundred and sixty-three days.  He and his girlfriend Daisy like to spend their days skateboarding, drinking organic coffee, and driving around talking about the state of the world.  Their idyllic existence is shattered when Neil’s father, Vic, reveals his grand plan for Neil to become a third generation butcher and work with him in the Father and Son butcher shop.  With no job to support himself and nowhere else to live, Neil is left with little choice but to report to work with his father.  Faced with the bloody reality of slabs of dead meat, Neil runs screaming from the shop, and keeps running and running and running, until he ends up in a deserted skateboard park.  There he has a visionary encounter with a Chicken Man, who kicks his ass and shows him how hypocritical his pseudo-political lifestyle has been.  With the Chicken Man’s inspirational words ringing in his head, “You know what you are supposed to do,” Neil returns to his life with a mission to change the world.

2005  –  Certificate: Not Rated  –  American Film
6.5 out of 10

As we all know, vegans are inherently more intelligent and all-around better than anyone else.  We also know that we’ll eventually inherit the Earth too; (I’m afraid the meek will just have to piss off down the job centre and look for something else to do).  True, it will probably resemble the inside of a Chinese takeaway’s wheelie bin by then, but it’s the principle that’s important here.  We look upon mere vegetarians as uneducated children, people with the potential to become civilised, but who have many dark sides to overcome and quests they need to undertake, before they attain true enlightenment.  Yes, I know there’re a lot more vegetarians about than vegans but really, they’re a bit like the Lib Dems, no one takes them seriously do they?  One pizza or the whiff of bacon cooking and they’re slobbering like a St. Bernard, apologising for their dietary ‘aberration’, in an attempt to appease their cannibalistic, meat-eating friends, in case the latter get offended.  If a vegan walks into a room, people take notice; think The Terminator.  (That’s probably not the best analogy, but it’s all I can come up with right now.)  When I walk into a room, people make their excuses and leave.  If I spot a non-vegan woman who I feel shows ‘potential’ and I explain to her that as a vegan we can’t actually breed as we’re basically different species so it’s okay for us to ‘do stuff’ together, she will inevitably make her excuses and leave too.  I guess the offer is just too awesome and mind-blowing for them to cope with.   I can appreciate that viewpoint; I have each and every one of the 453 times it’s happened.  This film is about a mere vegetarian.  One who realises that trying to negotiate your enemy into surrender isn’t always possible.

A lot of the time there’s not much really going on in this drama/comedy/horror; the characters mostly sit around and talk about uninteresting stuff.  In fact it’s so bad, Neil even speaks directly to the viewers, to give us some insight into what he’s thinking.  There aren’t a lot of films like that.  There aren’t a lot of films without a trailer either, but I think this might be one of them.  Actually, I think Neil is probably a sociopath; he really doesn’t seem to care a lot about those around him, even his family, girlfriend and best mate.  He looks like he does but really, it’s all for show.  A typical, serial killer personality trait.  I personally blame it on all the milk and cheese he probably eats.  I suspect there’s a tendency for all vegetarians to be that way inclined; can eat this, can’t eat that, I’m a lacto-ovo-talkbollocksaboutfoodo vegetarian so I can basically decide what I eat depending on what mood I’m in, etc.  It’s so complicated, no wonder it messes with their heads.  All that angst and guilt about everything.  Even the word vegetarian is (if you’ll excuse the pun) a mouthful; does it really need five syllables?  And vegetarianism?  That’s seven.  By the time you’ve explained what you are to someone and what you can and can’t eat, you’ll have starved to death.  No wonder they’re all so thin.  Look what happened to Robocop in “Robocop 2” when he had too many Prime Directives to deal with.  They should all just be vegan, it’s a whole lot simpler; if you like it you can’t eat it. Even I can understand that.  Oh the film? Actually it’s not bad at all; I’ve probably made it sound worse than it is.

The film sports a great soundtrack made up of songs by numerous and mostly obscure punk rock bands.  It’s good.

Recommended for vegetarians, skateboarders, coffee shop workers and punks.  Not recommend for butchers or pet shop store owners.

One cat, no chainsaws or decapitations.  There’s a cute cat on a cushion in a pet shop, which does have to do a bit of acting.  Stretching your paws out take real timing and effort to look good.

Top badass moment?  In the most poorly hidden plot development of the century (especially as I’m about to blab it now), vegetarian Neil kills his butcher father and feeds him to the customers.  Sorry, but that automatically qualifies as badass, regardless of the moral implications.

Shooting Vegetarians at IMDB (6.4 / 10)


Brokeback Mountain / The New Forest


Brokeback Mountain  -  Front Blu-ray Cover (UK Release)From Academy Award-winning filmmaker Ang Lee comes an epic American love story, “Brokeback Mountain”. Set against the sweeping vistas of Wyoming and Texas, the film tells the story of two young men – a ranch-hand and a rodeo cowboy – who meet in the summer of 1963, and unexpectedly forge a lifelong connection, one whose complications, joys, and tragedies provide a testament to the endurance and power of love.

2005  –  Certificate: 15  –  American Film
Rating Details: Strong language, moderate sex and violence
8.0 out of 10

I had a very disappointing day today.  I went to a meeting in a place called Lymington.  It’s about as far south-west as I can go and still remain in ‘my patch’ at work.  If I’d gone much furthered I’d have entered the “South West” and risked immediate kidnap, assassination, or worse, from my colleagues in that part of the country.  Although we’re officially “One Team” these days, at a local level there’re still some patches of tribalism, although it’s nothing that a forty-foot high electric fence topped with razor wire wouldn’t cure.  Anyway, Lymington is on the edge of the New Forest National Park.  But what a swizz it all is!  I drove right across it and all I saw were loads and loads of old trees, some of which actually looked dead and had ‘things’ like birds, bats and bugs living in them.  There were hardly any young ones at all.  How ‘they’ get away with such a bare-faced lie I’ve no idea; surely there must be some sort of advertising standards law they’re breaking?  It’s a terrible reflection on us all that these days unless something’s labelled new or improved, no one’s interested in it; indeed, I seem to suffer from this problem myself.  Washing powder and smartphone manufactures have a lot to answer for.  “A mosaic of ancient and ornamental woodland, open heather-covered heaths, rivers and valley mires, a coastline of mudflats and salt-marshes and pretty, historic villages; the largest area of lowland heath left in southern England.”  Who’s going to be interested in that when they could go and play Laser Quest and then get pissed in the pub afterwards?  Like the New Forest, this film also grossly misrepresents itself, as it fails to provide any sort of back injury whatsoever, not even a pulled muscle.

I’m not a big fan of westerns.  I also imagine Hell to have a soundtrack that features country music on heavy rotation.  Characters engaged in herding animals about and shooting others, have to work hard to overcome their inherent, non-vegan nature and don’t tend to attract my sympathy either.  It’s been a while since I was a cowboy too, so I’m probably a bit out of touch with what’s hot and what’s not in lasso-land; in fact the last time it happened I was very young and had been given a cowboy outfit for my birthday; I didn’t even know which way around to hold the gun and consequently went about shooting myself rather than the hordes of evil Indians that I imagined were busy invading our flat in central London.  I guess what I’m trying to say is that this film was not one that on the surface I was likely to enjoy and up until now, unlike every other human being on the planet, I’d never watched it.  Fortunately, I quickly realised what it’s really about and it suddenly made a lot more sense to me.  “Brokeback Mountain” is basically a reimagining of a number of Thomas Hardy’s novels, where the dictates of society prevent two people from being together.  “People go on marrying because they can’t resist natural forces, although many of them may know perfectly well that they are possibly buying a month’s pleasure with a life’s discomfort.”  (Jude the Obscure).  It’s a film that, like many Hardy novels, involves a lot of rural landscapes, shepherds, folk music and drinking in bars.  I was just waiting for all the sheep to find a cliff somewhere to throw themselves over.  Like Hardy, “Brokeback Mountain” demonstrates the futility of life and the inevitability of being disappointed, let down and kept apart from those you hold most dear.  At the very least, the credits should have said something to the effect that it was inspired by the poems and novels of Thomas Hardy.  “Brokeback Mountain” is a bleak  and touching film, with the last half hour providing a powerful bit of cinema.  The admission that your feelings for someone have effectively fucked up everyones’ lives; priceless wisdom.  This is also a lovely looking film (and I’m not just talking about Michelle Williams, who looks very cute in it), with lots of great views of the countryside.

Country and western music, noooooooooooo..!!!  I’m just a woman and my man beats me up and shot my dog for fun and had an affair with my sister and hates me but he’s still my man so I’ve got to love him….  The rest of the soundtrack isn’t bad and it does have ‘that’ bit of music, “The Wings” by Gustavo Santaolalla.

Recommended for fans of good movie making.  Not recommended for anyone that thinks gay people are an abomination or mentally ill; for you I recommend you go fuck yourselves instead, which if you’re a guy is actually a pretty gay thing to do when you think about it; but you probably won’t want to think about it.

No cats, chainsaws or decapitations.

Top badass moment?  It takes him long enough, but Jack finally giving Lureen’s father the bollocking he deserves.  I despise people like that who’re so full of themselves; what a bullying, arrogant prick he was.

Brokeback Mountain at IMDB (7.7 / 10)


Imagine Me & You / Pubs (In Didcot)


Imagine Me & You  -  Front DVD Cover (UK Release)Heck and Rachel are a young London couple about to embark on a new life together when an unexpected meeting turns Rachel’s world upside down.  What follows is the romantic, humorous and sometimes poignant journey familiar to anyone who has ever fallen in love at first sight.  And what if you discover that the one person you are destined to spend the rest of your life with might not be your boyfriend, but a perfect stranger?  “Imagine Me & You” shows that the path to true love isn’t always straight…

2005 – Certificate: 12  –  British Film
Rating Details: Moderate sex references and strong language
8.0 out of 10

Yesterday I went to see “Oblivion” at the cinema.  Intelligent sci-fi riddled with clichés.  Basically it’s Tom Cruise with an attractive woman on the back of his motorbike and flying around beating bad guys.  Afterwards I went for a drink in three pubs.  I don’t often go for a drink these days.  This is partly because I have no friends, partly because the ones I do have generally have the sense to live a long way-away from me, partly because it’s expensive, fattening and not good for you, and partly because I don’t think they ‘make’ pubs for people like me; I’m clearly not a demographic worth targeting.  Take yesterday for example.  Didcot is a town that’s not known for much, other than a railway museum and a power station; and the power station has now closed.  Broadways, a pub in the centre of the town, was almost empty and was the sort of place that if a fight broke out in it, they’d just pick up the broken glass and sweep the bodies to the side so no one tripped over them.  The Prince of Wales, opposite the station, was full of late teens and 20-somethings getting tanked up for a night on the town.  The Ladygrove, which was also full, is located on a ‘new’ estate and caters for “where did my life go wrong” 20 and 30-somethings with screaming kids in tow, eating anonymous pub-grub under searingly bright lights.  None of them had any decent cider.  Broadways caters for the working-class and underclass that the rest of us try to pretend don’t exist; the Prince of Wales for those that still think they can get on in life; and the Ladygrove for the same people as the Prince of Wales but ten years later.  I think I preferred Broadways, in the same way I’d prefer to break my arm than lose a finger.  There’s a scene in a pub in this film; actually there might be a few, but I can’t remember now.

London doesn’t really get well represented in films.  It seems the north and west are full of ‘beautiful people’ who behave like Hugh Grant, the east gangsters and immigrants and the south chavs.  Nowhere else exists.  This movie is set in ‘the north’ of the city.  It’s also a rom-com. So you now know most of the plot and what the characters are like.  Fortunately, this film has two elements that manage to drag it out of the cesspit of predictable, bland, anonymous, chick-flicks.  Firstly, it’s actually very funny.  The script works well and all the characters manage to be suitably engaging.  Secondly, it provides a bit of a plot-twist that gives it an element of originality, (although it quickly becomes very predictable again, so it’s not going to provide anyone with much of an insight into anything).  This is much more of an out-and-out comedy that a romance, which does it no harm at all.  It’s very watchable and fun.  And let’s not forget it’s got Giles (the man behind Buffy) and Sarah Connor (of Terminator fame) in it.  And one more thing, it’s one of those films where the seasons don’t seem to follow the narrative; there’re an awful lot of autumnal leaves on the trees, considering most of the film is set in the winter.  Because of my job I notice these things.  Our climate isn’t quite that fucked up, yet.

Music; exactly what you’d expect.  Exactly.

Recommended for people who like comedy who can manage not to retch at the more corny rom-com elements of it.  Not so good for anyone looking for a romantic weepy.

No cats, chainsaws or decapitations.

Top badass moment?  Yelling out “You’re a wanker number nine” while standing on the roof of a car, in a traffic jam, outside Bank Station in London, does it for me.  It’s interesting to note that if this film was set in New York, there’d be an endless honking of horns and abusive taxi-drivers shouting out things; in London, hardly a sound.  Our traffic jams are so much more civilised!  I’m not entirely sure how “you’re a wanker number nine” would translate either.

Imagine Me & You at IMDB (6.7 / 10)


Feed / My Diet: Day 46


Feed  -  Front DVD Cover (USA Release)Intensely grotesque and shocking as hell, “Feed” is a heavyweight thrill ride through the depths of depravity.  A veteran of cyberporn investigations, Australian cop Philip Jackson is no stranger to the dangerous side of sexual fetishes.  He may have found his sickest case yet when he discovers a sinister side to an American website devoted to fat-admiring men and obese women called “feeders” and “gainers.”  Could the man behind it all be force-feeding missing women to death?  Tense, dark and deeply disturbing, director Brett Leonard (“The Lawnmower Man”, “Virtuosity”) takes the crime-thriller genre to a twisted, gut-wrenching new level.

2005  –  Certificate: Not Rated  –  USA
7.5 out of 10

This film provided me with the ideal opportunity to review how my secret, special, weight management programme (aka my diet) is going.  I’ve now been on it for 46 days.  Mystifyingly, I haven’t lost 35kg yet, my initial target.  I thought it would only take a week or two, but apparently it takes long than that.  I don’t actually own any scales, so it’s difficult to be sure, but my wardrobe of retro trousers and other clothing from the 80s and 90s still remains stubbornly undersized.  It’s amazing how modern washing powders make most clothes shrink, isn’t it?  However, I do think I’ve lost some weight; if I breathe in enough, my trousers definitely seem looser.  You know how they say that ex-smokers are the worst type of non-smoker?  Well, what really drives me on is looking forward to being able to go up to fat people in the street and tell them they’re weak-willed, hideously ugly, pathetic, lazy, stupid and a serious drain on the NHS that people like me are forced to pay for; basically human garbage.  Most of them can’t even be bothered to breathe in a bit; no community spirit at all, they’re just so selfish.  In comparison, I have a Zen-like ability to control my mind and body, like David Carradine in the 70s TV series “Kung Fu”.  Like him, my training and sense of social responsibility repeatedly forces me out into the open, to fight for justice or protect the underdog; which in my case would mainly mean telling fat people they’re fat, well once I’m not one of them, obviously.  Sometimes you have to be tough to be kind.   I’m not without compassion though.  In school you learn about epidemics involving bubonic plague, flu, smallpox, malaria, cholera, etc; but I can tell you nothing’s as bad as the present Obesity Epidemic.  I’ve seen what it’s like; cakes, sweets, beer, burgers, takeaways, chocolate, all sitting in shop after shop on the high street.  It’s awful, having to stuff yourself silly with junk food and other crap; let me tell you it’s Hell out there.  I’m glad to say I’ve never suffered from bubonic plague, but nothing could be as bad as having to sit on the sofa all evening watching TV and eating a big tin of sweets.

This is another ‘cop on the edge’ film, taking the law into his own hands, who doesn’t get on with his boss, etc, etc, zzzzz.  Fortunately it’s also got a pretty unique focus for the story, some great characters and a nice, dark, stylish atmosphere; I really liked how the music was used in it too.  And let’s not forget our hero’s somewhat vivacious girlfriend.  Burnt out by his time as a ‘cyberporn cop’, Australian police officer Phillip Jackson begins investigating the activities of a guy who feeding a woman to death on the Internet, whilst others are betting on when she’ll die.  When he gets told to ‘take some time off’, he decides to go to America to track down this guy.  Depending on your world view, you’ll either find this movie perverted, cool or totally gross.  I liked it, but I can image a lot of people hating it.  Beyond the obvious plot, there’s quite a lot going on under the surface as well, about the nature of relationships, love, all that girly stuff.  Interestingly, the deleted senses remove a whole subsection of the film’s plot; it’s a while since I’ve seen that happen.  I recommend having a really big meal and then sitting down to watch it with some of your larger friends.

No cats, chainsaws or decapitations.

Recommended for fatties of course.  It provides the idea incentive to go on a diet.

Top badass moment?  Bad guy Carter’s conversation with Phillip Jackson in the hotel room.  It’s a load of psycho babble but it sounds sort of cool, until you remember he’s a complete nutter.  I’m not sure the coffee was that great though.

Feed at IMDB (5.3/10)


Tom and Jerry: Blast Off to Mars: 3.0 Stars


Tom and Jerry: Blast Off  To Mars  -  Front DVD Cover (UK)Once content to duel it out here on Earth, the eternally scrappy Tom and Jerry now boldly go where no cat and mouse have gone before, when they get trapped on a spaceship bound for Mars.  After their mistaken mission goes hilariously out of control, the tables are turned on Tom when, thinking him a giant outer space monster, the Martians attack!  But what really bristles the cat’s whiskers is Jerry being hailed as the Martians’ long-long supreme leader!  Will the duelling duo put their differences aside long enough to save Earth from invasion?  They may need all of Tom’s nine lives to succeed in this extraterrestrially funny adventure.

2005  –  Certificate: U  –  USA
Rating Details: Mild violence

In the first four and a half minutes, (which includes all the opening credits too), Tom has an ironing board smash down on his head, has his head ironed, sets fire to his feet, falls into a food mixer, falls into a liquidiser, gets his head jammed in a toaster and toasted, gets trapped in a dish washer and its associated plumbing, smashes his head into a sink, gets sucked through an aircraft’s jet engine and falls 1,000s of feet though the air onto the ground.  I guess that’s the “mild violence” I was warned about.  Lucky it’s not a real cat.

I like Tom and Jerry.  In fact they’re my favourite cartoon characters of all time.  The first part of this film is great, as Tom’s attempts to catch Jerry totally trash a house.  Sadly, when we meet a few folk (and aliens) and they start to speak, it all slows down and loses it a bit.  I don’t know, but people really shouldn’t talk in Tom and Jerry cartoons; in fact we should hardly see them at all.  A few screams and such like are okay, but when they start to have conversations then that’s just wrong.  Then again, I’m probably not the demographic that this film is aimed at.  If you’re eight years old you probably don’t care about the mythology of Tom and Jerry, you just want to see ‘funny stuff’.  Having said that, the big reference to “2001: A Space Odyssey” and the fact that the President looks and sound an awful lot like Arnold Schwarzenegger, are likely to appeal to the more ‘mature’ viewer.  The bad guy’s use of a vacuum cleaner as its weapon of choice is somewhat surreal too.  What was the originator of that idea on?  It’s far from classic Tom and Jerry, but it’s still quite entertaining.  The sound is surprisingly good, if a little unsubtle at times and the music excellent.  At its best, this film could almost have been made in the 40s, but all too often it falls into more stereotypical Saturday morning cartoon land and dilutes its best down.  And how come Tom and Jerry didn’t need spacesuits on Mars, but the astronauts from Earth did?  (Okay, maybe I’m overanalysing things a bit now.)

Recommended for the Tom and Jerry hardcore; and little kids.

1 cat (Tom of course), no chainsaws or decapitations.  However, a number of heads (mostly Tom’s) do get flattered, burnt, crushed or ‘deflated’.

Top badass moment?  I’m told following your dreams in life is important, regardless of the consequences.  So I guess Tom smashing up what looked like a really nice house, with a lot of unusual African artefacts it, in an attempt to catch Jerry, is badass then.  Jerry’s such a tease and you just know he’s not the one who’s going to get blamed for the mess either; there’re words for individuals like that and they’re not nice words.

Tom and Jerry: Blast Off to Mars at IMDB (5.4/10)


The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants: 4.0 Stars


The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants  -  Front DVD Cover (UK)I was driving home tonight and turning off the M3.  At the junction a car had just broken down in the middle lane of three, at a set of traffic lights. (A BMW, ha-ha-ha).  The driver behind it got all inpatient and started flashing and honking the broken-down driver.  Then he suddenly pulled into the inside lane right in front of me, forcing me to brake hard and throw everything off the seat next to me and onto the floor, before he drove straight through the now red light.  Asshole.  If my car’s lights had been lasers (the sci-fi gun version, not the CD reading version), I’d have blown him to pieces, such was my annoyance.  I doubt he heard it, but my language would have embarrassed more than just a nun too.  People like that should be taken outside and shot.  And no, I’m not going to give him a second chance on the assumption that he’d just had a bad day.  My life might not amount to much, but I’m going to waste it at my discretion, not some stupid moron behind the wheel of a car’s.   And talking of nuns, I thought this film was going to be about them.

2005  –  Certificate: PG  –  USA
Rating Details:  Mild language and sex references

Anyway, there I was, on Saturday evening, ready to watch what I thought was going to be a sleazy 70s, exploitation flick about nuns and kinky underwear.  So you can imagine my disappointment when, on starting to view this film,  instead of seeing nuns running around losing their clothing and wearing each other’s panties, I got a chick flick about four young friends and a pair of second-hand jeans.  Bloody American’s, why do they have to mess about with OUR language; pants are, well, pants, not trousers or jeans.  And a sisterhood really ought to have something to do with convents.  With hindsight, I suppose the PG certificate and the “Perfect film for teen girls” splash on the front cover should have warned me, but I thought they were just part of the marketing; I didn’t think they, you know, really meant what they said.  Anyway, to make the best of a bad job I watched it; I guess someone has to.  After the first ten minutes I was already tiring of the four-teenage-girls-all-talk-and-giggle-at-once-about-nothing narrative.  Still, a film has to be pretty bad for me to totally give up on it, so I persevered; and I’m glad I did.  What I ended up with was a really great movie about four friends who are separated one summer for the first time and how they keep in touch with one another, grow as individuals and ensure their friendship remains intact.  (Sounds a bit bluurrgg, doesn’t it?)  To be honest, some of the subtleties of this were probably lost on me; I’m an old(ish) bloke, so I’ve next to no chance of understanding teenage angst or relationships; hell, I didn’t even understand them when I was a teenager, although come to think of it, that’s maybe the point of them.  Okay, so it’s all a bit dumb, the ending is a bit too upbeat for my liking and the four main characters could basically be summed up as rebel, slut, wallflower and latch-key kid.  But it’s all done with such sincerity that it’s hard not to get swept along with it.  Most of it’s pretty lightweight stuff as you’d expect and the plot goes everywhere and nowhere, but every now and again a scene came along that enabled the whole movie to punch above its weight.  It’s been done a million times before in films, but the scene in the hospital was a genuinely great bit of acting and you’d have to be made of stone not to be affected by it.  I’m not sure if it’s a perfect film for teen girls, but it worked for this cynical old guy.  I didn’t even miss there being no nuns in it either; (it does have some panties though).  I wonder what the follow-up is like?

Recommended for teenage girls (according to the Sunday Mirror); and old blokes who are willing to step outside their comfort zones.  (But if you need an excuse lads, it has some women’s football in it too.)

No cats, decapitations or chainsaws.

Top badass moment?  The subplot involving Tibby and Bailey is especially affecting; (or is it effecting, I can never remember)?  This had lots of little scenes that are really quite special.  Learning to care about someone is one thing; learning to show it is another.  This is badass.

The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants at IMDB (6.6 / 10)