Posts tagged “2006

Masters of Horror: Pelts / Dirty Secrets


Pelts  -  Front DVD Cover  -  US Release

Meat Loaf Aday stars as Jake Feldman, a short-tempered furrier struggling to build a small-time business while being tormented by his obsession for a sexy stripper.  But when a sadistic backwoods trapper (John Saxon of “Nightmare on Elm Street” and Argento’s “Tenebre”) kills a strange group of pet raccoons, Jake knows their luxurious hides could make a coat that will change his fortunes forever.  Only these are no ordinary pelts.  Everyone who comes in contact with the cursed furs is soon driven to unspeakable acts of self-mutilation and extreme violence.  Even if Jake can now possess the flesh he desperately covets, what horrific final price will he pay for the skin he’s in?

2006  –  Certificate: Not Rated  –  American TV  –  6.5 out of 10

I virtually never watch TV.  I’ve access to hundreds of channels and a hard disk recorder, plus more catch-up and subscription services than I can pronounce, but I can count on one, typical, human hand, how often I use any of these.  It’s not that I’m a TV snob either, as amongst all the dross are some really great programmes.  However, once in a while I take an arbitrary liking to something and will collect it on DVD or Blu-ray.  Whilst I like to watch films and write garbage about them here, I have a dirty, embarrassing, hidden secret that I rarely talk about to anyone; that is to say I also have one or two TV programmes I’m watching at the same time too.  (Although not literally.)  I don’t really binge-watch, so it takes me a long time to work my way through one with a lot of episodes.  Over the past few years I’ve done “Dad’s Army” (so part of my childhood), “Andromeda”, (massively underrated), “The Likely Lads” / “Whatever Became of the Likely Lads” (TV that reminds me of my father), and Red Dwarf (you can’t be a student without watching it and learning the silly Rimmer salute).  At present I’m slowly working my way through “South Park” and “Pretty Little Liars”.  Sadly, embarrassed by my indiscretions with the ‘small screen’, I rarely write much about them here.  This is strange in a way, because however good a film is you only get to spend a few hours with most of the characters, (even with a long franchise).  However, with TV you can spend weeks or months with them, years even, investing a huge amount of emotional capital in their lives.  This is something even the best film can never hope to match.  But no more…  From now on I’m going to attempt, in my usual inept way, to make more of a song and dance about them, right here.  Well don’t get too excited…

By pure coincidence, Pelts is actually a TV programme, although just to be confusing I’m treating it as a film.  Staring Meat Loaf (yes, that Meat Loaf), who spends most of the movie looking like a very disreputable version of Liam Neeson’s father and wanting to get his hands on a local stripper, when he’s not stripping the skin of the local wildlife to make coats out of.  Even without his less than vegan lifestyle his character is entirely without a redeeming feature; indeed, he really doesn’t have any positive characteristics at all.  This is not a film for which the plot is worth analysing; it’s really just there to provide an excuse for (the admittedly beautiful) Ellen Ewusie to get her top off (and scream a lot and yes, fall-over when she’s running away) and some excellent special effects.  (Except when Meat Loaf pulls most of his skin off and runs about a bit with it; not sure that worked well for me, but I guess he was just trying to out-strip his female co-star.  The face sowing is excellent though!)  However, it was good to see the purveyors of a fur coat get their come-uppance.  The wearers of real fur really are the embodiment of all that’s fucked-up in fashion.

There’s a soundtrack.  Its plays.    

The trailer is what it is.  It reminded me a bit of magnolias paint.

Movie Weather Forecast:  Eh… it’s overcast; and dark a lot.

Recommended for furriers, poachers, strippers and the fashion industry in general.

No cats, chainsaws or decapitations.  (Unless you count all the poor racoons that get killed and skinned; I imagine that involved all their heads being removed at some point.)

Top badass moment?  There really isn’t a single nice or worthy person or act in this film.  There’s not even evil masterminds either, just a load of shallow, mostly worthless individuals.  However, I don’t like to admit defeat and there is a brief shot of a snail (and sorry I don’t know what species it is) crawling along.  In comparison with all the humans, that’s just totally, totally, hardcore badass.

Pelts at IMDB (6.6 / 10)
Pelts at Wikipedia
Pelts trailer at YouTube


Header / SSE


Header  -  Front DVD Cover  -  US Release

From the mind of horror author Edward Lee, comes this horrifying tale of gruelling revenge and backwoods terror!  Stewart Cummings (Jake Suffian), a government agent playing both sides of the law, finds himself in the nightmarish crossfire of a bloody family vendetta. Forced to delve deep into a series of gruesome murders, Cummings encounters the most twisted method of revenge ever conceived by man: The Header.  What’s a header?  Only redneck Travis Tuckton (Elliot V. Kotek) and his evil “grandpappy” knows for sure… and once you learn the shocking answer, you may never be the same. Get ready for the acclaimed horror film that may be the ultimate in violence and gore! “Header” is a film of unrelenting, twisted terror!

2006  –  Certificate: Not Rated  –  American Film
7.0 out of 10

There’s only 360 more days until next Christmas; how exciting!  I’ve managed to get all the way through this Christmas without putting the heating on at home.  It was my present for the planet and a middle finger to SSE (Scottish and Southern Electricity).  SSE managed to really piss me off recently.  I have (well had) an early version of a smart meter for my electricity.  I’ve had it about 2.5 years.  When I got it I had to change my tariff for a more expense one, (although to be fair it’s probably helped me save more money than the extra I spent on having it).  A couple of months ago it stopped working.  I e-mailed SSE to ask if it could be fixed or replaced.  The reply I got (that took longer to arrive that it should have) said that it was an outdated model and it couldn’t be replaced, but that I’d get a new, free smart meter in a few years’ time!  There was no suggestion that perhaps I’d like to change my electric tariff for a cheaper one again or anything.  This really annoyed me.  In fact it’s annoyed me so much that I’m going to change my electivity suppler next month.  Doing this has been on my mind for a while anyway, as SSE isn’t exactly top of the league when it comes to producing electricity from sustainable sources.  It will probably cost me a bit more, but I’m looking forward to using fair-trade, organic electricity in future, that’s produced by whole African villages of people peddling really quickly on static bikes to produce the stuff for me.  Quite why we can’t harvest the same stuff locally from all the private gyms around here I don’t know.  I guess it’s a similar situation to apples, where in the autumn I can either buy English Cox’s (the world’s best apple), or some tasteless replica with a brand name variety (like Pink Lady) grown in New Zealand.  That’s just weird.  So’s this film.

Agent Stewart Cummings is having a really, really bad day.  (I know he’s an agent as he spends most of the film running around in a t-shirt with the letters ATF on it.  (The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.)  His wife has a mystery illness for which the drugs she needs cost a fortune and his boss is less than supportive of him taking any sort of initiative when it comes to investigating crime.  And on top of that someone locally has started doing rather icky things with peoples’ heads.  Sadly for Stew it goes even further downhill from then on.  After the first ten minutes or so I thought I was going to be faced with an entirely crap film featuring poor production, acting and script.  Weirdly, as it progressed it improved.  It was like it was filmed in chronological order and everyone just got better as they went along.  That’s not to say it’s likely to worry the Oscars in any way, but it got good enough not to distract too much from the watching experience.  I’d love to tell you exactly what a header is, but that would spoil it for you.  Needless to say, it’s not got a great deal to do with aerial prowess in the penalty box, or plumbing.  If nothing else, it’s worth watching just to see Grandpappy, a brilliantly, over-the-top character who brings a level of enthusiasm to proceedings that I wish I could replicate myself when doing my budget forecasts at work.  I did have a lot of sympathy for Agent Cummings, a generally decent guy who just had a run of bad luck, really bad luck.  Sometimes you just have to lose it.  Whilst watching this movie, into my head popped the idea that American rednecks have a lot in common with the UK’s UKIP voters.  More weirdness.

There isn’t a lot of music used in the film, it’s mainly just over the credits, but it’s a decent bit of whatever sort of music it is.

The trailer isn’t exactly forthcoming with details.  (There is a better one on the DVD, but I couldn’t find a link to it anywhere to put here.)  I guess that’s what comes from having a ‘big secret’ that you don’t want to blow to quickly.

Movie Weather Forecast:  Warm and sunny through the course of the film.  Nice.

Recommended for police officers, cobblers, drug dealers and adulteresses.

No cats, chainsaws or decapitations.

Top badass moment?  In a fit of anger that wouldn’t have been out of place in the final verse of Eminem’s “Guilty Conscience”, Agent Cummings finally gets pissed at his bad luck.  I’m not condoning his behaviour of course, but, well, you can understand it.  I’m sure when I eventually ‘lose it’ I’ll go on the rampage too, probably on the London Underground in the rush hour, or maybe in Reading’s Oracle Shopping Centre, on a Saturday afternoon just before Christmas.

Header at IMDB (4.7 / 10)
Header at Wikipedia
Official Site
Header trailer at YouTube


This is England / Dreadzone


This is England  -  Front DVD Cover  -  UK Release

“This is England” tells the story of Shaun (Thomas Turgoose), an 11 year old kid growing up in the North of England. Set during the summer holidays of 1983, it follows his journey from a shaggy haired ruffian grieving the loss of his father into a shaven headed thug whose anger and pain are embraced by the local skinhead fraternity.  Largely based on Meadows’ own personal experience, “This is England” not only captures a specific point in British history, but also beautifully articulates the allure of being part of a gang.  Brilliantly charting a course from the joyous early passages to darker territory, Meadows also skilfully and with great sensitivity deals with the complexities of rage, race and masculinity.  Featuring astounding performances from Stephen Graham, (“Gangs of New York”) and newcomer Thomas Turgoose, “This is England” is a riveting and deeply moving portrait of an often-overlooked moment in cultural history and is arguably Meadows’ masterpiece.

2006 –  Certificate: 18  –  British Film
Rating Details: Very strong racist violence and language
9.0 out of 10

Went to see Dreadzone two nights ago. It was playing Sub89 in Reading, which is great because it’s a 20 minute walk from where I live in Cactus World.  There was a massive queue outside when I got there.  In fact it was so long that as I was walking alongside it, I started to doubt whether it was actually the queue at all; and the people in it mostly didn’t look like the sort who would go to a Dreadzone gig either.  In the end I took a walk around the block so I could reconsider the problem after having a bit of a think.  (I have a real phobia of new gig venues, although I’ve actually been to Sub89 quite a few times.)  However, after a little bit of loitering by the bus stops opposite, I decided that for some reason the doors that aren’t normally used for gig entrances were actually being used in this case.  It appeared they’d put the gig in the downstairs bar and the nightclub upstairs where gigs normally take place.  It’s a damming indictment of England and further proof that as a national were totally fucked, when the queue for a nightclub to dance to ‘chart music’ is about 1,000 times longer than the one for a quality band like Dreadzone.  The young of today have been brainwashed into accepting mediocrity as the norm and not wanting to rock the boat, because they’ve got no job or a massive student debt to pay off (or both) and need to save up for their pension, mortgage and overpriced wedding.  Fortunately, a few are still alive and they’d managed to make their way into the gig, along with a few survivors of times gone past.   The gig was in the Bowery District, which is basically a posh cocktail bar.  Having said that, it did have a proper little stage, some reasonable cider and a decent sound system.  (Then again, most systems sound okay if you hang around about a metre away from a speaker stack all night…)  What was also interesting about it is that if you stand near the stage, the design of the space effectively makes you feel you’re in a much smaller place and does a nice job of making things feel very intimate.  So actually it wasn’t bad at all.  Dreadzone played for what seemed like a long time.  There were no support acts; something that doesn’t happen very often.  It’s not a band I have a lot of recorded material by, but it’s one of those bands I’ll always try and go and see live, as that’s where it works best.  I was pretty tired by the end.  Dreadzone has quite a complex mix of beats and they certainly tax my abilities to the limit.  (Then again, a click track would do that too.)  The top of my legs are still somewhat sore today; which is odd, as it’s normally my calves that get knackered.  Fortunately it finished at 22:00, so I was home by half ten.  Dreadzone  –  Gangster  Dreadzone  –  Too Late  Dreadzone  –  Beyond a Rock  This is a film that features lots of music too.

Except for a period in the 80’s, I’ve always kept my hair pretty short. These days I shave it myself (a “Number 1” for the technically minded), because I’m too mean to pay someone else £10 to have it done each time.  I’ve been doing this for several years, so I imagine the part at the back that I can’t see probably looks a total mess now.  For years, I also used to wear a pair of DM boots too, (before I became vegan in about 1989).  Despite this, I’ve never really been a skinhead.  But it really, really pisses me off to see morons appropriate my flag and some of the musical styles I like for their racist shit.  These people have as much in common with the roots of the culture as IS has with the teachings of Islam (i.e. nothing), but as a result have tarnished a whole way of life.  This is a film that well illustrates the best and the worst of the skinhead culture in the early 80s.  It’s a brilliant movie on just about every level and a film everyone should see, if only to give themselves a history lesson.

As a film based on skinhead culture, it ought to have some great music in it and it doesn’t do too badly, although it would have been good to have a bit more. We get a good mix of reggae and 2 Tone ska, plus (rather more inexplicably), “Warhead” by the UK Subs.

In common with the film, its trailer is a top one too.  It’s exciting and intriguing, but doesn’t give the details of the plot away.

Recommended for skinheads, and anyone who’d thinking of putting a young character into a film and wants to see how to do it without making everyone groan.

No cats, chainsaws or decapitations.

Top badass moment? Woody and his gang of skinheads befriend an 11-year-old boy who’s being bullied at school.  They get him some proper clothes, a decent haircut and expose him to some quality reggae.  That’s badass.  What a shame it all gets spoilt by a racist idiot.

This is England at IMDB (7.7 / 10)
This is England at Wikipedia
This is England at Roger Ebert (3.5/4)
This is England trailer at You Tube


Fanaa / Hating Google


Fanaa  -  Front DVD Cover  -  UK ReleaseChoices… to choose between right or wrong is simple, but what defines one’s life is the decision between the greater of two goods or the lesser of two evils.  This is the advice that Zooni Ali Beg (Kajol) receives from her father just as she is about to venture out into the world on her own for the very first time.  Little does she know that these very words will shape her life.  Zooni, a blind Kashmiri girl, meets Rehan Qadri (Aamir Khan), a local tour guide and an incorrigible flirt. Her friends warn her against this good-for-nothing roadside Romeo, but she chooses to ignore them.  It is now her time to discover life, and love.  Is this really the right choice?  Rehan is fascinated by Zooni and wants her to see life as it should be seen, in its many colours.  He promises her that the time spent with him will be the most precious in all her life.  Zooni sees Delhi, life and love like she never has before, because of Rehan.  What Zooni doesn’t know is that Rehan has another side of his life that he has kept from her – something that can not only change her life, but can also destroy it.  Fanaa… destroyed in love…

2006  –  Certificate: 12  –  Indian Film
7.5 out of 10

I’ve had enough.  By this I mean I’ve had enough of Google, that clever little search engine that used to be run by a few fun people somewhere in California; a gang of outsiders, rebels fighting the ‘corporate system’ and using ‘new media’ to make their point.  However, Google now IS that corporate system and I’ve decided I hate it.  It’s officially become the first Spawn of the Devil of 2014.  From this point forward I won’t use its search engine, I won’t use it’s mapping system, I won’t Google anything, I won’t engage with any of its other, stupid ‘toys’ and I will never, ever, buy or use a smartphone or any other hardware that runs on Android, or anything else it invents in the future.  I despise everything it stands for.  Now, at this point you might be wondering, why?  Well, much to my disgust and with no notice whatsoever, it’s closed my YouTube account.  Even worse, its crap customer service is about as much use as a Ferrari 458 Speciale (and what a pretentious name that is) in the Somerset Levels right now.  If I get one more cheerful, automated e-mail telling me the good news that my account is fine and I just need to change my password if I can’t log in (and that’s not the problem you mindless cretins, as I’ve told you more than once), I will personally kill every cute, small puppy I come across with a version of Android’s Operating System.  I’ll become known as the Stupidly Named Food Themed Operating System Serial Puppy Killer.  Fucking Google can fucking fuck off and die, painfully.  The sooner Satya Nadella crushes this aggravating little upstart, the better.  Then we can go back to a world of Microsoft vs Apple and not worry about the slimy, data stealing evil empire that thinks giving us a few stupid pictures of our own street is payment for all its underhand and nefarious activities; which is somewhat ironically more than it pays in taxes.  It knows more about you than you do.  But don’t take my word for it, just Google (bollocks, it’s hard to get out of the habit) search for “Why Google Is Evil” on Bing.  I imagine my 600 YouTube subscribers are at this very moment planning the sort of campaign of civil disobedience that will make the Arab Spring seem like a bad day in Springfield.  I’m sorry if my rant has crashed Google’s share price but you know what?  I’m glad.  Anyone who’s invested in this dictatorship deserves what they get.

A power spike wrecked the PSU on my computer last Friday, so I’ve had to go and buy a new one and fit it, (a Corsair CX750M if anyone is interested).  It’s the 4th one my current computer’s had.  I was so distressed that I had to go sit down and watch nearly 3 hours of Bollywood style action-romance to recover.  I must confess that I’m getting to like Indian films.  The plot is nearly always sort of the same, random over-the-top song and dance routines break up whatever’s going on and bizarre bits of action suddenly populate the girl-meets-boy-loses-boy-meets-boy-again stuff.   But really, they’re a lot of fun and these days are well made technically.  Anyone that’s not watched a few really ought to try some.  In the same way that some things only become funny with repetition, films like this become entertaining once you’ve watched a few.  Probably best taken with alcohol. 

The trailer’s not bad.  Watch out for those weedy power chords that start 33 seconds in.  Reminds me of The Undertones 4th album.

The music is exactly what you’d expect.  Not saying it’s bad or anything, just that there’s nothing especially interesting about it either.  The silly ‘kid’s song’ “Chanda Chamke” is kind of sweet though.

Recommended for anyone with a visual disability, terrorists, tour guides and dancers.

No cats, chainsaws or decapitations.

Top badass moment?   It’s a huge spoiler, but shooting and killing your husband and the father of your child that you’re totally besotted with, in the back, because he’s a terrorist and going to set off a nuclear bomb and kill millions of people, is about as badass as it gets.

And okay, I know I’ve posted a YouTube link below.  I’m just so fickle.

Fanaa at IMDB (7.2 / 10)
Fanaa at Wikipedia
Fanaa at YouTube


Superman: Brainiac Attacks / The Truth About Superman


Superman: Brainiac Attacks  -  Front DVD Cover  -  American ReleaseEmbittered by Superman’s heroic successes and soaring popularity, Lex Luthor forms a dangerous alliance with the powerful computer/villain Brainiac.  Using advanced weaponry and a special strain of Kryptonite harvested from the far reaches of outer space, Luthor specifically redesigns Brainiac to defeat the Man of Steel.  But when Brainiac betrays Luthor and reveals its sinister plans for world domination, Superman must brave the mysterious Phantom Zone to find the strength to survive this deadly showdown. Fly with this all-new, feature-length spectacular and experience the action, adventure and excitement that only Superman can bring home!

2006  –  Certificate Not Rated  –  American Film
6.0 out of 10

If I’m ever in a position to suddenly change my whole life, I’m going to seriously consider becoming an insurance loss adjuster in Metropolis.  From the evidence presented in this film, I’d never be out of work.  Between the two of them, Superman and Brainiac trash a large amount of the city as they fight on and on and on, whilst failing to work out that no matter how often one of them throws the other through a building, it won’t do them much harm.  On the other hand, the damage to properly and the hundreds (if not thousands) of fatalities caused by all that Alpha Male nonsense is going to tie up Superman’s solicitor for a long, long time.   All that stuff about him not killing anyone, well I’m sorry, but it’s clearly a load of rubbish.  The guy’s a mass murderer on a scale even the worst war criminal would be hard pushed to match.  He’s a total psycho.  If Brainaic wants to steal all the data on Earth then I say let it.  Braniac’s a super-intelligent, incredibly strong, almost indestructible android that can access any computer at will, fly huge distances through space and probably answer any question on “Who Wants to Be A Millionaire”.  So really, what’s it going to learn by having access to the sum of human knowledge?  Is the back-story for “Eastenders” really that important to it?  Basically, us humans are having to deal with the consequences of their little tiff back on Krypton and Superman’s schoolboy crush on Lois Lane.  The guy’s so immature.  She’s only using him so she can move up the journalistic ladder; I’m sure she wouldn’t have any issues tapping his mobile phone if she thought it was worth it.  As far as I’m concerned they can all piss off and finish their stupid argument elsewhere.  I’ll take my chances with Batman thanks.

So it’s business as usual in Metropolis, (which according to Google Maps is apparently a motobike shop in south London.)  Bad guy arrives, Superman gets rid of bad guy and rescues Lois Lane.  Bad guy miraculously comes back to life.  Superman gets rid of bad guy again, after trashing huge areas of real estate and rescuing Lois once more.  Lex Luther whinges about things a bit and the local rag gets some good photos and copy to print.  The End.  To be fair, Superman’s been revamped so many times he’s probably succumbed to some sort of multiple personality disorder by now; and it’s not like he was the brightest superhero of the bunch to start with.  He’s never been the coolest one either, despite his muscular physique and Fortress of Solitude.  The latter could be so awesome, but it doesn’t even have a bed in it.  What bit of totty is going to want to hang out in the coldest, dullest pad on the planet?  Basically he’s just a cross-dresser that spends too long with the weights (and I’m pretty sure he’s on steroids too if you know what I mean), who’s got a 1,000 yard stare that really will cut right through you.  And what’s that alter ego Clark Kent all about?  Is that the best he could come up with?  What a dweeb.  You can probably tell I’m not Superman’s biggest fan.  The film itself is okay.  It’s fun.  I guess I’m easily pleased.

The soundtrack’s fine, but forgettable.

As a trailer I suppose this does just about do its job.  I hate all those MTV ‘fast cuts’ though; they give me a headache.  It feels a lot longer than 42 seconds.

Recommended for superheroes, powerful computers, androids and journalists.

No cats, chainsaws or decapitations.

Top badass moment?  I’m a bit mean about Superman sometimes, but when Brainiac gets into the Fortress of Solitude it takes Sups about five seconds to decide to totally trash the place, so Brains can’t get his hands on all the Kryptonion knowledge stored there.  Considering what the place means to him, that’s got to be badass.  Most people do a similar thing by having a mother of a party, but I guess Superman doesn’t have a lot of friends to invite, or a stereo.  Let’s be honest, who wants to hang out with a muscle-bound bore once he’s finished impressing everyone with all his beer-can crushing tricks?  I bet he’s a crap dancer too.

Superman: Brainiac Attacks at IMDB (5.8 / 10)
Superman: Brainiac Attacks at Wikipedia
Superman: Brainiac Attacks at YouTube


Meatball Machine / Epic Breakfast Fail


Meatball Machine  -  Front DVD Cover  -  US Release“Meatball Machine” is a wild, splatterific, experimental sci-fi/horror rollercoaster that will have your entire brain and body shaken and stirred.  Capable of making biomechanical weapons out of human flesh, alien parasites grotesquely invade the Earth, turning their hosts into maniacal killers who seek and destroy each other to the bloody death!  And yes, it’s also a human love story, even though the budding romantics are infested with slimy, tumour-like globules.  Co-directors Junichi Yamamoto and Yudai Yamaguchi (“Battlefield Baseball”) pull out all the stops and don’t let up until the final epic battle.  It’s a touching testament to young love, blood, and alien ooze that leaves you screaming for more!

2006  –  Certificate: Not Rated  –  Japanese Film
7.0 out of 10

I used to be quite a good cook.  Like many things, it’s an ability I seem to have lost.  Today I tried to make myself some breakfast, just some porridge and a cup of tea, not exactly rocket science.  I managed to burn the porridge to the bottom of the pan, let the tea go cold and fill my flat with the smell of ‘burnt something or other’ that even lighting an incense cone (mesquite) has failed to cover up.  It’s all a bit sad really.  I suppose it could have been worse; I could have been taken over by an alien.  Now that really does mess up your day.  By a strange coincidence…

I was very relieved to discover that this film was not about the exploitation of animals and their conversion into a disgusting, processed, flesh-food of the worst kind.  Instead, it focuses on humans infested by alien parasites, who take them over, convert them to necroborgs and then go about killing each other in very gruesome and bloody ways.  Much nicer, I think you’ll agree.  There’s blood and yukiness aplenty in this Japanese movie.  That pretty well sums the plot up, other than the inclusion of some soppy nonsense about the two main characters falling in love and ending up fighting.  Fortunately, this doesn’t really get in the way of the mess, which does look good.  By and large the effects are very nicely done; the little aliens in the tumours have an especially high ‘eew factor’.  For a film of this type it’s actually really well made.  The overall effect is kind of what would happen if the Borg went to English football matches in the 70’s but in Japan, got really pissed and then went looking for a fight with some rival team’s Borg supporters.  Despite all the gruesome action, it’s so comic book like that it doesn’t really leave much of a sickening after-taste.  The DVD I have also has good subtitles and loads of extras; a quality release.  Recommended.

The music’s there, it does it’s stuff.  That’s it really.  It works, feels accessible yet still Japanese.  Can’t think of anything else to say about it.

Recommended for factory workers, lovers and guys that like to tinker with electronic things.

No cats or chainsaws and 1 decapitation, (plus another head that blows up).

Top badass moment?   Sigh.  It’s so romantic.  The shared love of Yôji and Sachiko, helping them to overcome the power of the alien parasites infesting their bodies, before making the ultimate sacrifice.  Well, bollocks to that.  Seeing people turned into cyborgs, loads of blood, heaps of gross body parts and that unique Japanese touch that goes into films like this, is far more badass.  Give me a huge gun growing out of someone’s chest any day of the week over a candlelit dinner for two.

Meatball Machine at IMDB (5.8 / 10)

Meatball Machine at Wikipedia

Meatball Machine at YouTube


The Dark Hour / My E4300


The Dark Hour  -  Front DVD Cover  -  UK ReleaseThe world is teetering on the brink of the apocalypse.  A group of survivors have found themselves isolated from the remnants of society and under siege living in a subterranean bunker.  They dare not abandon the crumbling complex as it is the only security from the enemy that awaits them outside.  Living in a constant state of fear, they face the fact that food supplies and ammunitions are running out, giving them no choice but to leave the secure area.  Together they start their quest for survival, facing an enemy that is stronger than expected, with a power that can destroy all of mankind.

2006  –  Certificate: 15  –  Spanish Film
Rating Details:  Strong language, moderate violence and gore
7.5 out of 10

I’m teetering on the brink of an apocalypse too.  At work I use a Dell Latitude E4300 laptop.  This is a nice bit of kit that works well and still looks good, despite its age and the numerous scratches and marks on its minimalist, black lid.  It’s also narrow enough that I can use it on a train without a table, even when I’m having one of my ‘fat days’.  In fact it only has one fault.  Every time I go to any ‘important meetings’ where people get out their laptops to pretend they’re doing something, all those with an E4300 spend the first five minutes repairing all the bits that have fallen off it since the last time they used it.  The part around the screen is especially good at detaching itself.  As well as this, mine also has various other bits of trim that have either broken off and vanished; or are hanging off but refusing to let go, like teeth used to when you were little and losing them.  More recently, it’s decided that it would be extremely cool to allow one of its hinges to develop a more three-dimensional personal space than is generally regarded as normal for one.  For my part I don’t think a hinge that’s desperate to do a bit of twerking whilst I’m trying to work is all that helpful, or sexy.  A massive split the size of the Grand Canyon has also appeared in the case and my laptop now finds connecting to the Internet, either via a network cable or wirelessly, all a bit of a strain.  Today I wasted over an hour yanking the screen about from ‘here’ to ‘there’ in an effort to make the hinge behave and whatever inside wasn’t connected properly, connect.  I ended up pleading with it on my knees, using that well-known ‘tech support prayer’, “connect to the network you fucking bastard asshole machine!!”  (I know, I’m not the most tolerant when it come to technology.)  In the end I got it to work.  My previous laptop was a D610, a machine with all the combative prowess of the Terminator.  Sadly, the E4300 looks pretty, but is about as sturdy as a pink marshmallow.  This film is all about a group of people in a ‘no win’ scenario too.

Spain, as well as being a great place to grow oranges, has also developed a nice side-line in independent horrors.  This is one of them.  What’s interesting, is that in most apocalypse films, as soon as something goes wrong, the whole of civilisation quickly collapses and nearly everyone who’s left becomes a homicidal maniac.  In this one, we join a small group of people for a few days, who’ve banded together and are trying to live a vaguely ‘normal’ life, despite their circumstances; (for a while anyway).  I guess it’s a bit of tribute to the enduring values of humanity.  Alternatively, it’s got more to do with, “we’re a small group of people stuck in a small place without much to say, or the budget for a lot of special effects.”  In truth, there’s a lot of ambiguity in the plot and a lot of unexplained things, but as an ‘atmosphere’ film it’s great.  It also has two different groups of baddies, which makes for a change too.  The characters are mostly well written and believable; I did start to care what happened to them.  Two are called Jesús and Judas; I couldn’t decide if this was just a coincidence, or some sort of biblical reference relating to the film’s storyline that I couldn’t see.  Like I said, there’s a lot of ambiguity.  Even when we get to the inevitable ‘people running about in corridors with guns’ part, it manages to stay interesting.  This is a grimy looking, depressing film.  The ending is quite unexpected too and helps add to general air of despair.  I enjoyed it!

The soundtrack is one thing that makes this more of a horror than a sci-fi movie.  It’s also pretty good too and sounds ‘expensive’.  Like what I imagine an effective butler would be like, it turns up in all the right places, does what it’s meant to do and then leaves.  You won’t remember it but it does a great job of supporting everything else that’s going on.  Good stuff.

Recommended for apocalypse survivors.

No cats, chainsaws or decapitations.

Top badass moment?  I suppose having to deal with an apocalypse is pretty badass.  It’s not the sort of thing you generally chat to the career counsellor at school about when you’re 16.  Nurse, IT support, train driver, police officer, teacher, celebrity maybe, but the conversation probably doesn’t go along the lines of, “I’d like to become an Armageddon survivor please.  Which A Levels do I need to study to do that?”  Dealing with unexpected changes is badass, as most of us are crap at it.

The Dark Hour at IMDB (6.0 / 10)      The Dark Hour at Wikipedia      The Dark Hour at You Tube


Tom and Jerry: Shiver Me Whiskers / Fruit Salad


Tom and Jerry: Shiver Me Whiskers  -  Front DVD Cover  -  UK ReleaseIt’s a swashbuckling pirate adventure when Tom sets sail as a lowly cabin cat for the biggest, baddest pirate on the high seas: the infamous Captain Red.  Tired of swabbing the deck all day, Tom thinks his luck has changed when a mysterious bottle containing a treasure map washes on board.  Tom’s dream of finding the treasure for himself is ruined when he discovers the bottle also contains stowaway mouse Jerry.  Poor little Jerry has been guarding the treasure map and now has a greedy cat on his paws.  Will Jerry be forced to walk the plank?  Will Tom make it to the deserted island first?  The race is on and Tom and Jerry must work together to get past coconut-throwing monkeys and a giant slimy octopus, then outsmart the pirates to find the buried treasure!

2006  –  Certificate: U  –  American Film
Rating Details:  No material likely to offend or harm
5.0 out of 10

From time to time throughout my life I’ve eaten fruit salad, which often came out of a tin.  At its worst, tinned fruit salad is a euphemism for an unpalatable assortment consisting of squidgy bits of cheap apple, cubes of gritty pear and a few other, unrecognisable lumps, floating about in a sugary gunk.  If you were lucky you’d get the single, half cherry that was always immersed in this slime, or a random fragment of what the ingredients list claimed to be peach.  Certainly it never looked like the picture on the tin, which normally manifested itself as a lush, green jungle of exotic fruit trees.  Now, I really like oranges, a lot.  In fact, if I could find a woman who wanted to dress up as an orange in bed, I’d marry her tomorrow; even a satsuma or a clementine would do, I’m not fussy.  Despite the half cherry normally attracting everyone’s attention and desire, it was the occasional bit of mandarin that really sailed my boat. Absent from all but the ‘better quality’ tins, I used to desperately search for these elusive segments.  Although frequently disappointed, I never lost the urge to keep on searching, like some sort of hardened gold miner, panning the streams in an arid wasteland for that one strike that would change his life.  Now I’m an adult I have the luxury of being able to buy whole tins of fruit, containing nothing but mandarin segments in their own juice.  I buy about six a month, just to quench my perverted desires.  As Harold Macmillan said, I’ve “never had it so good.” This is a movie about searching for treasure too.

I’ve tried to work out why this isn’t one of my favourite Tom & Jerry Films.  On the surface it seems fine; they don’t talk, there’s plenty of brutality, it looks right and the music and effects sound like they’re supposed to.  Then it dawned on me; despite all the violence, most of it consists of Tom and Jerry crashing into things or being squashed.  Where’s Tom being blown up in an oven, turned inside out, or sliced up into lots of bits after being sucked into a jet engine, etc?  There’re only so many times you can watch them running into things or being thrown against something hard; the variety of animal cruelty on show is sadly lacking.  When the rating details say “no material likely to offend or harm” then you know there’s going to be a problem.  For Tom & Jerry I want them to say, “very strong bloody violence, strong torture and sadism theme featuring animals cruelty”.  The pirates and their parrots are a bit crappy too, although the skull is pretty cool and the treasure hunt part of the film does make up for its somewhat generic first section.  Oh, and the overview above isn’t accurate; Jerry’s already on the boat; he doesn’t arrive in the bottle at all!  Did the person who wrote it even bother to watch the film?

The music is pretty authentic classic Tom & Jerry.  Job done.

Recommend for pirates and parrots; and skulls that can talk like Luke Skywalker with a Spanish accent, although there’s probably not many of them about.

No chainsaws or decapitations, but one cat, (Tom of course).  And I guess there’s a good chance the skull was the result of a decapitation.

Top badass moment? Tom gets so much shit from everyone, it’s unreal; the pirates, Jerry, Spike.  In return, he really doesn’t do that much and it’s not like he wasn’t provoked.  If it ended up in court I bet he’d only get a suspended sentence, given all the mitigating circumstances.  For one brief moment he gets rewarded by the Red Pirate for giving him the treasure map.  In fact this scene feels really out of place, it’s so unusual.  When your life’s an endless round of crap, bad luck and failure, any moment of happiness is badass.  And has anyone noticed just how fit he is?  At one point, he rows a boat with five pirates in it (plus a mouse and a parrot) for what looks like hours and hours through a storm and then still manages to escape.

Tom and Jerry: Shiver Me Whiskers at IMDB (6.5 / 10)

Tom and Jerry: Shiver Me Whiskers at Wikipedia


Mad Cowgirl / I Meet Skynet’s Grandparents


Mad Cowgirl  -  Front DVD Cover (US Relese)Sarah Lassez (“Nowhere”, “The Blackout”, “Until The Night”) delivers a star-making performance as Therese, an ass-kicking health inspector with a failed marriage, an on-going affair with a creepy televangelist (Walter Koenig, “Star Trek”), nymphomania, and an obsession with old kung-fu movies.  Further complicating her life is a very questionable relationship with her brother Thierry (James Duval from “The Doom Generation” and “Donnie Darko”), a meat importer who may (or may not) have infected her with mad cow disease.  She soon embarks on a surreal journey which descends into violence, insanity and her quest to kill the Ten Tigers From Kwangtung!

2006  –  Certificate: Not Rated  –  American Film
Rating Details:  Graphic violence and sexual situations
6.0 out of 10

I’ve described before how technology hates me.  I think it probably hates most people, but for some reason it gets an especially perverse satisfaction out of giving me hassle and grief.  The latest example was last Friday; the day my amplifier finally returned from over four months away being repaired, my Logitech Squeezebox died.  This cute little device has helped me to go to sleep for years, playing Internet radio stations such as Dub Xtra, Ska World, Hussieskunk and Gutter Punk when I went to bad.  I suppose I’ve had a reasonable amount of use out if it; they stopped making them quite some time ago.  However, the loss has been keenly felt right across Cactus World.  The nearest equivalent that’s now available is the Logitech UE Smart Radio, which isn’t what I really want.  Logitech seems to think everyone has a smart phone these days and will use it to access music, so its range of products reflects this outlook; well I don’t so I can’t.  Its loss then.  I don’t have any friends so what’s the point of me having a phone, smart or stupid?  Instead I’ve bought a Roberts Stream 83i.  Doing this has also freed up my DAB radio alarm and a nice mini stereo system, as the 83i (wow, catchy name) has these things built into it.  In fact, if I’d listed all the features I wanted, this clever bit of kit would be the result. The User Guide has 108 pages, all in English.  It hasn’t been delivered yet, but I’m already looking forward to it pissing me off for some reason soon.  Oh yes, and if this wasn’t proof enough of the self-aware nature of technology, the hard drive in my NAS also failed last week.  I’m pretty sure it’s all a precursor to something resembling Skynet.  And on the subject of not being able to tell reality from fantasy…

I always enjoy a film that within the first couple of minutes makes a positive statement about vegans.  Sadly, I don’t feel I can really reciprocate the feeling.  Maybe I should try to be more sober when I watch movies, so I can make more sense of them?  Despite its title, this film isn’t trying to do for westerns what Twilight did for vampires and it’s probably much better that I’m giving it credit for.  It staggers about like a drunk, from straight-forward drama, through slasher horror into surreal mind-fuck territory and then back again. On the surface it’s really quite a shambles, but underneath it’s actually quite a clever film.  It’s a parody of a kung fu movie, yet it also offers up an emotionally screwed-up scene as the lead character breaks down in a confessional booth, with the realisation that’s she’s not got long to live.  It’s got Chekov in it (the Enterprise’s navigator, not the doctor/writer), but far too much gratuitous gross meat-eating for my liking.  In fact it’s a bit of a food-fight movie; there’s ideas and thoughts splattered everywhere.  So something for everyone then, or nothing for anyone, or whatever.

This film offers up a muddle of many different types of music; an intentional mixture of a straight-forward soundtrack and kitsch opera, rock, rap, funk and many other music genus too, as it tries to keep up with the ever-changing vibe on-screen.  There’s a brief burst of a great punk song at one point, but sadly I don’t know who it’s by or what it’s called.

Recommended for environmental health inspectors, butchers, evangelists, Trekkies and connoisseurs of kung fu movies.

3 decapitations, no cats or chainsaws.  The Flying Guillotine is an interesting concept…  And it was pleasing to see a battery-powered drill and circular saw being used to good effect too.

Top badass moment?  Ten Tigers From Kwangtung!  Cindy, The Girl With the Thunderbolt Kick, wasn’t bad either.

Mad Cowgirl at IMDB (5.0 / 10)

Mad Cowgirl at Wikipedia


Wristcutters: A Love Story / The Amplifier Returns


Wristcutters  -  Front DVD Cover (US Release)Distraught over breaking up with his girlfriend, Zia (Patrick Fugit) decides to end it all.  Unfortunately, he discovers that there is no real ending, only a run-down afterlife that is strikingly similar to his old one, just a bit worse.  Discovering that his ex-girlfriend has also “offed” herself, he sets out on a road trip, with his Russian rocker friend, to find her.  Their journey takes them through an absurd purgatory where they discover that being dead doesn’t mean you have to stop livin’!

2006  –  Certificate: R  –  American Film
Rating Details:  Language and disturbing content involving suicide
8 out of 10

Let’s start with a history lesson.  In January 2010 I bought myself a new amplifier, an Onkyo TX-NR807.  (It’s totally overpowered for someone who lives in a flat like me and is surrounded by others they don’t hate, but hey, I’m a bloke and I need to make up for my perceived sexual inadequacies; I’d probably be tempted to buy a Porsche if I could afford it, just to drive up to the corner shop and back.)  In January 2012 it broke down.  Fear swept across Cactus World, as the population was plunged into a miserable silence.  Fortunately it got fixed pretty quickly.  In January 2013 it broke down again, with exactly the same fault.  This time it wasn’t fixed quickly.  Last Monday I rang up the crappy repair company, (Genserve, Onkyo’s official repair company in the UK).  Not my first call to it.  Fed up with it abysmal service, I used my ‘really, really, really pissed off customer who knows where you live and will kidnap your babies and torture and kill them if you don’t bloody get it fixed soon persona’, to get some information out of them.  Apparently the replacement part was ordered from Germany but if it’s not in stock there it has to come from Japan.  The guy I spoke to offered to send an e-mail to see where things had got to; wow, I bet that would’ve scared the shit out of them.  I also phoned up Onkyo and gave it a load a grief about its shoddy amplifier design.  What a lot of bollocks that all turned out to be, as strangely I got a phone call less than 48 hours later to tell me it had been fixed.  I got it back on Friday and two days later it’s actually still working.  Why do I have to pretend to be a murderous psycho to get anything sorted these days?  And the moral of this story?  Never, ever by anything made by Onkyo, because it’s unreliable, fucking shite; yep, I think that just about sums things up.  A shame, because when it’s working it’s a great amp.  It’s enough to drive someone to despair, get a gun and randomly go out and shoot people and then blow their own head off.  All of which bring me to this film…

I’m swearing a lot here, sorry.  Anyway, this is a mind-fuck movie, but a good one. The idea of an afterlife that’s just a bit more crappy than the living version, appeals to my pragmatic world view.  It’s not a bad metaphor for life.  In fact I’m starting to wonder if in fact I’m already there, given my recent experiences with my amplifier.  Sometime between January 2012 and January 2013 I must have committed suicide, although I can’t for the life of me remember doing so.  (By the way, my saying “Can’t for the life of me” there is a bit of a joke; I don’t want anyone to miss it so I thought I’d mention it.)  I guess it just wasn’t very memorable.  It would also explain a great many other things.  One of the characters spends her time looking for the People In Charge, because she’s convinced there’s been a mistake and she shouldn’t be there; I could relate to the too.  This is a really interesting film which, despite its theme, is fun; if there’s such a thing as a black, rom-com road-movie, this is probably it.  Its story is really quite unique.  Well worth watching.

This film has some interesting music in it and extends its theme by using some songs from bands whose singers sadly did commit suicide.  A lot of the rest is from Gogol Bordello, a band who’s sizable appeal I’ve never really quite understood, although it sounds fine here.  Tom Waits, who’s in the film quite a bit, also contributes a suitably jolly track.

Recommended for undiscovered rockers, pizza shop workers and cult leaders.

One cat, no chainsaws or decapitations.  It’s only onscreen for a few moments, but it’s a cute ginger one!

Top badass moment?  I watched this film about two weeks ago, so I have to admit I can’t remember enough to identify it now.  I’m sure there was one though; probably several actually.  I really should take notes.

Wristcutters: A Love Story at IMDB (7.3 / 10)

Wristcutters: A Love Story at Wikipedia


Snow Cake / Being 50


Snow Cake  -  Front DVD Cover (UK Release)Alex (Alan Rickman), a tight-lipped Englishman recently freed from prison, is driving through Ontario when he begrudgingly picks up the vivacious teenage hitchhiker Vivienne (Emily Hampshire).  On the outskirts of her hometown, a truck hits the car. Vivienne dies instantly and Alex finds himself, for the second time in his life, grieving for someone he never knew.  Devastated by the accident, Alex goes to the frozen backwater of Wawa, Ontario to visit Vivienne’s mother Linda (Sigourney Weaver).  There, he discovers that she is autistic with an unconventional take on life and mourning. Drawn in to the small frozen backwater community, Alex soon forms a close relationship with Linda, begins an affair with her sassy neighbour Maggie (Carrie-Anne Moss), and becomes the object of scrutiny by the ineffectual law enforcement officer Clyde (James Allodi).  As the funeral approaches, life in Wawa seems to have enabled Alex to face the present, but how will he cope when the dark secrets of his past finally emerge?

2006  –  Certificate 15  –  UK/Canada
Rating Details:  Strong Language
8 out of 10

Well that’s it over with then.  Life I mean.  Last Sunday it was my 50th birthday.  A future of increasing ill-health, an inability to do or remember things, walking sticks, Zimmer frames, bifocals, tablets from the doctor, hip replacements and finally death, are all I have to look forward to now. As the Borg might say, “Your life as it has been, is over.”  I awoke this morning to find that overnight, a year’s worth of new aches and pains had been applied to my body, plus the special ‘new decade’ bonus ones, plus the 50 year Jackpot selection.  To say I now feel as if I’m virtually bed-bound wouldn’t be an exaggeration.  I did nothing to celebrate the momentous occasion, except mope about at home.  In some ways I was quite sad; I wished I could thank my parents for having me, being 50 felt like an especially appropriate point to do so, but it’s a bit too late for that now; (or, if your belief system supports it, a bit too early).  I was rubbish at being a young person, ineffective in middle-age and now I’m probably well on my way to becoming a cantankerous, teenager-hating, lecherous, ‘the world owes me a living’ old person.  Actually I’m quite looking forward to that.  In a similar way, this movie is about life as it has been, being over.

I really enjoyed this film.  It’s touching, funny and grounded.  It has some really wonderfully acted characters.  The aforementioned car crash provides a full-blown OMG movie moment.  Sigourney Weaver’s Linda is as far away from Ripley (“Alien”) that it’s possible to get, although both characters share a strength of character.  Her portrayal of a woman with autism seemed very convincing.  Alan Rickman’s laconic Alex is a sympathetic and interesting character, despite his background.  It’s also a film with a proper start, middle and end.  It’s not perfect though.  Sometimes the storyline goes a bit off track; I especially had trouble accepting Alex to be such a babe magnet and the subplot involving him and the neighbour did distract from the rest of the story a bit.  Vivienne is also one of those teenagers that doesn’t really exist in real life, but turns up in films on a regular basis.

There isn’t a large amount of music in the film and much of it is pretty generic.  However, when it is used, it greatly adds to the impact of the scenes.  Lovely job.

No cats, chainsaws or decapitations.

Recommended for people who like character-driven dramas.

Top badass moment?  Finding out from Linda that having a mouthful of snow is like having an orgasm.  That’s pretty badass when you think about it, and cold.

Snow Cake at IMDB (7.4/10)


Notes on a Scandel / Nightmare in Cactus World (Again)


Notes on a Scandal  -  Front DVD Cover (UK)Academy Award Winners Judi Dench and Cate Blanchett give outstanding, Oscar-nominated performances – one as a woman consumed by her colleague’s guilty secret, the other, a victim to her own dark obsessions – in this intelligent and stylish thriller.  Dench mesmerises as Barbara Covett, a teacher who rules over her classroom with an iron fist, yet leads a desperate, solitary life outside it.  That is, until she meets radiant new art teacher Sheba Hart (Blanchett).  Although at first overjoyed with her newfound kindred spirit, when Barbara discovers that Sheba is having an affair with a student, her jealously and rage spiral out of control.  Also starring Bill Nighy, “Notes on a Scandle” is “The first great British film of the year” (The Guardian).

2006  –  Certificate: 15  –  UK
Rating Details: Strong language and sex references
8.5 out of 10

Almost two years ago a nightmare descended upon Cactus World.  The entity known as The Amplifier became ill.  It suddenly ceased to have a voice; its thoughts, so important to every citizen of Cactus World, were gone.  Not a sound was to be heard from its mighty 7.2 outputs.  To locate a cure, special doctors in a land far, far away had to be tracked down.  The Amplifier then had to be prepared for the perilous odyssey it needed to undertake to visit them.  In the meantime the population were left despairing, with little to occupy their minds, as most of Cactus World’s entertainment infrastructure ground to a halt.  Some basic music services were eventually enabled through alternative means, but these bore little resemblance to the thoughts of The Amplifier, whilst TV and films remained entirely off-line.  Of course, as we all know now, The Amplifier eventually returned from its journey and with the help of Cactus World’s finest scientists, was reconnected in all the right places.  But this weekend, disaster!  The Amplifier became silent again.  Exactly the same evil curse has befallen it, as Onkyo’s entirely shit amplifier design raised its ugly head once more.  Government officials were observed frantically trying to put a call through to the doctors that helped us before; (unfortunately they seem to be closed at the weekend).  However, the citizens of Cactus World are nothing, if not resourceful.  After what happened before, a new emergency procedure was developed, known as Protocol One.  For the last 18 months this has been distributed to the entire population; schools have taught it as part of the curriculum, anyone wishing to settle in Cactus World has been required to lean about it.  It was a moment no one hoped they’d experience, but when the warning sirens unexpectedly went off on Saturday, indicating a malfunctioning Amplifier, it was hard not to be moved by the sight of the entire population quietly but determinedly going to their designated muster points, or reporting for their civic emergency duties; heroes, every one of them.  Anyway, Protocol One has two elements.  The first is focused on the safely of our citizens, (and if you’re a little bit cynical like me, is also there to prevent too much civil disobedience).  The second involves a plan to entirely reconfigure the national entertainmnet nexus, to bypass The Amplifier and provide full access to both music and films, something that has never ever been attempted before.  At the moment I’m feeling quite emotional and deeply indebted, along with the rest of the population I’m sure, to Cactus World’s best scientific minds and highly trained engineers, who have successfully carried out this complex procedure.  Pushing the boundaries of technology ever further.  Full, high-definition pictures and sound across all DVD and Blu-ray copyright region zones are now available and have been fully(ish) tested on this film.  It’s true, my living room does looks a bit like the Starship Enterprise on a bad day in Engineering, with cables and open maintenance panels all over the place, but the important thing is it works and I can watch films in the manner in which I’m accustomed.  This film pushes boundaries too, but in its case those of relationships.

When she’s not running Her Majesty’s Secret Service and telling James Bond to get his act together, Judi Dench spends her time as a psycho lesbian, teaching at a typical secondary school in north London.  Yes, it surprised me too.  Starting out with a ‘not that original’ plot about a teacher having an affair with a student, this proved to be a very tense thriller that ends in the way that all films featuring a ‘psycho something or other’ should end.  The acting’s terrific, the script’s great and it’s good to see a bit of anonymous, unglamorous London featured in a film for a change.  It’s also a movie that under the surface has a lot to say about chronic loneliness.  Both the primary characters are easy to sympathise with too, despite their behaviour.  This is a film you should see.

Recommended for psycho nutters everywhere; and school-teachers.

1 cat, no chainsaws or decapitations.  Portia, a beautiful, long-haired cat, has a small but key role, adding both depth to the plot and an air of pathos that the film was otherwise sadly lacking.  Unfortunately, as is often the case, I believe its lines, both meows and purrs, were dubbed.  When is the film industry going to end this shameless practice?

Top badass moment?  Judi Dench’s Barbara; a great, unsung movie bastard-from-hell.  So bad she’s badass.

Notes on a Scandal at IMDB (7.5 / 10)


The Bothersome Man: 3.5 Stars


The Bothersome Man  -  Front DVD Cover (UK)I spent this afternoon working, updating my financial budgets.  I seem to spend an inordinate amount of time on these, yet somehow they never seem to be quite up to date or accurate enough for anyone.  Numbers on a spreadsheet, there must be more to life than adding up endless numbers on a spreadsheet.  It doesn’t achieve or change anything.  A chief executive of a small, community regeneration charity in London once told me that “regeneration was invented to keep the liberal middle-classes happy”.  I think she meant projects that are set up to make a difference to people don’t really achieve much, but keep a lot of the latter group in jobs that make them feel good about what they do.  This film offers a similar view of the world.  Its main character Andreas even spends his days in an office adding up numbers on a computer screen.  Oh God, I think I’ve become him!  I need to go find a window and throw myself out of it; (which someone in this film appears to do as well.)

2006  –  Certificate: 15  –  Norway
Rating Details:  Scenes of strong gore

If you don’t like films with neat, tidy endings, or that make it clear what they’re about, then you’ll probably hate this one.  I viewed it as a statement on the mundane, superficial and uncaring lifestyles that many of us live these days, but maybe that’s just me.  As someone whose way of life is tissue-paper thin and pretty meaningless, I could relate to it.  A mindfuck of a movie, this is a nicely made black comedy that’s well worth a watch.  The snogging scene at the beginning is really quite disturbing and sets the tone for the rest of the movie.  The best bit of escape tunnelling I’ve seen since “The Great Escape” too; and a much better plan than trying to play with subway trains.  The more I’ve thought about it since I watched it a few days ago, the better it seems to become.  It represents 20% of my entire Norwegian film collection as well.

Recommended for people who enjoy thinking about the films they watch.

No cats, decapitations or chainsaws.  However, at one point a finger does get amputated by an office guillotine machine.

Top badass moment?  Andreas digging a tunnel to try to escape from his mundane life.  Despite being frequently surrounded by the mundane myself, it’s something I’ve personally never considered doing.  Trying to escape from the mundane is badass.

The Bothersome Man at IMDB (7.4 / 10)


Pan’s Labyrinth: 4.0 Stars


Pan's Labyrinth - Front Blu-ray Cover (UK)I got six new light bulbs this week.  This might not seem much of a big deal, but to me, after living in a perpetual twilight for the last month or two, is nothing short of a miracle.  The fact that I paid over £70 for them shouldn’t be allowed to dilute the effect of the spontaneous celebrations that have been breaking out throughout Cactus World to mark the occasion.  I now have light in my kitchen that doesn’t back away in fear when threatened by a candle, and a lounge that doesn’t has a less welcoming glow than a lump of plutonium in your bed.  Low energy light bulbs?  For £70 I expect them to be so efficient I actually receive payments for supplying electricity to the national grid every time I use them!

2006  –  Certificate: 15  –  Mexico

This is a brilliant film.  It’s original, interesting, childlike and innocent, yet grown-up and horrifying.  I watched it on Blu-ray and it sounded great and looked wonderful.  The only reason I haven’t given it a higher score is that I never quite connected with the main characters in it.  Even at its most intense, it did feel like they were playing a secondary role in supporting the movie’s feel and atmosphere.  In a different film I’d probably be moaning about how one dimensional they were, but in this case it doesn’t seem to matter; in fact their simplistic, goodness vs evilness helps to focus the mind on the textual elements of the film.  I’ve no idea what I just wrote means, but it sounds great to me!  It’s a wonderfully dark, genera-mixing and unique film.  Go watch.

Recommended for people that like the concept of horror nursery rhymes.

No cats, decapitations or chainsaws.

Top badass moment?  Mercedes dealing with Captain Vidal.  He was a seriously arrogant asshole with an inferiority complex and a whole take-away of chips on his shoulder.  Dealing with people like that is always badass.  The Joker look suited him.

Pan’s Labyrinth at IMDB (8.3 / 10)


Pulse: 4.0 Stars


Pulse - Front DVD Cover (USA)What marketing idiot (née liar) first suggested highlighting the ‘fact’ that low-energy light bulbs last longer than old-fashioned, incandescent ones? If they’re that good, how come I’ve had five blow in the last two months?  And it’s not like those are the only ones I’ve had to replace over the past few years either.  On Saturday evening the latest of these failed, the Omicron 40W über-bulb-monster I had in my lounge.  In doing so it took out the trip-switch too, leaving me to grope around in the dark for ages for a 5A fuse; (thanks to the amazing ability of rechargeable batteries not to actually hold their charge, my torch went flat after about a minute of use.)  I’m sure the Omicron is less than two years old and it cost nearly £20 too.  It’s all very well making changes to your lifestyle in an effort to ‘save the planet’, but now I’ve got to go and spend about £60 on five stupid light-bulbs.  That would have bought well over 100 in the ‘old days’.  What a rip-off.  No wonder they’re called low-energy bulbs, because they never bloody work!  In a spookily similar way, this film features modern technology that does us no good at all too.

2006  –  Certificate: Not Rated  –  USA

Hollywood remakes of Japanese horrors get a bad press, which isn’t always fair; but some film snobs like to trash them anyway, out of principle.  This one was no exception.  It’s true, most of the characters in it are somewhat one-dimensional and don’t always act very logically; and being a film about technology it’s aged very quickly too; it’s all pre-Smartphone era stuff.  Worst still, the plot has more big holes in it than an undersized fishnet bodystocking on an elephant; (steady on, don’t get too excited about that thought).  However, the acting’s okay and the special effects fine.  I actually really liked it.  It’s genuinely sinister, the cinematography and sound is great and the ending suitably apocalyptic.  The car crash works really well too.  The overall tone of the film is its best feature though, dark, disturbing, increasingly isolating and ultimately offering little real hope; the very ending reminded me of the ending of “The Terminator”.  If you can get into this and overlook its weaker elements, you’ll probably really enjoy it.  I don’t get the creeps from watching films very often, but I did from this one.  (Memo to self: don’t watch spooky films with headphones on, in a dark room with just an eerie green light bulb, low-energy of course, for company.)  When I went to the toilet after watching it, I did feel a little uncomfortable with my back to the door; I’d have hated to be grabbed by one of those dead people things when answering the call of nature.  I haven’t watched the two follow ups or the original Japanese version yet, but I will at some point.

Recommended for people who like creepy films. Boo!

1 cat, no chainsaws or decapitations.  The cat looked and sounded pretty gross though, having been locked in a cupboard for ages, poor thing.  :-(

Top badass moment?  Just because you’re on the run, escaping from unearthly, inhuman ‘dead things’ and you’ve just seen you’re best friend suddenly turn into a cloud of ash, that’s no reason to neglect dental hygiene.  It was good to see reluctant hero Mattie grab her toothpaste and toothbrush from the bathroom as she made her escape.  Taking the advice your dentist gives you seriously, is badass.  Imagine having to deal with a bad toothache at the same time the world is facing Armageddon; that would really suck.

Pulse at IMDB (4.5 / 10)


Little Children: 4.0 Stars


Little Children  -  Front DVD CoverI’m a bit fragile today.  I got ‘dragged around’ the Ashmolean Museum (of art and archaeology) in Oxford yesterday.  After two hours of looking at random bits of broken china in glass cases, bent bits of metal in more glass cases and portraits of people I’ve never heard of in rooms hotter and drier than the Sahara, I had a desperate need to ‘refresh’ myself in one of Oxford’s fine alehouses, to recover from this ordeal.  The museum was interesting enough, if you like that sort of thing, but when someone says “painting” to me, it’s normally a spot of DIY that comes to mind; and if I see bits of broken pottery, I tend to swear a bit and get a brush to sweep up the broken mug I’ve just dropped.  Neither of these things featured very heavy at the Ashmolean, although I did see a pound note; it’s amazing how quickly you forget about these things.  My joke about giving all the old Greek coins there back to Greece as it might find them useful now, fell on somewhat stony ground too.  I don’t suppose I’ll be allowed back in there anyway, as the person I was with first got told off for carrying her bag on her back (they don’t like small rucksacks in museums, in case you turn around and trash something with it); then one of her shoes developed a really loud squeak, which in a museum of ‘quiet stuff’ probably annoyed just about everyone there.  Yes, I needed to recover afterwards; it was all way too exciting for me.  I don’t think I’ve got that drunk for a long time and I’m trying not to remember what my companion for this adventure did in the middle of the high street in Oxford on the way back to the station; thank goodness it was dark.  For the first time in my life ever, I also managed to leave my mobile phone on the seat in the train when I got back to Reading, but fortunately some community minded spirit saw it and ran after me to return it; what a nice guy!  So what’s all that got to do with this film?  Well, there’s a couple of scenes in it (including the first) where some small figurines are featured, which later get broken; if that had happened to them 3,000 years ago they might have ended up in the Ashmolean Museum.  It also features a conversation about a mobile phone too.  Yes, it’s tenuous, I know.

2006  –  Certificate: 15  –  USA
Rating Details:  Strong sex and language

This is a great and rather cleverly written and acted drama, a real train-crash of a story, (as subtlety portrayed in the trailer).  Plenty of dysfunctional families and individuals.  Kate Winslet having sex.  A dark and depressing story.  Yep, all boxes ticked.  Just as well really, as it clocks in at 131 minutes.  Discover what goes on in the dull lives of a bunch of reasonably well-off people dissatisfied with their existence and relationships.  For a fairly mainstream Hollywood film, it does manage a high WTF quota too, which is good.  The ending is a bit inexplicable, but does sort of make sense in terms of the story and provides some suitable closure to things.  Yes, it’s well worth watching, even though it doesn’t have any aliens or explosions in it.  (I realise that this is a somewhat dull paragraph, but I’m struggling a bit today with basic things, like thinking.)

Recommended for people who like intelligent, great films.  It’s as simple as that.

No cats and no decapitations.

Top badass moment?  Larry overcoming his own problems and his hatred of pervert Ronnie.  Okay, so first Larry had to all but to kill Ronnie’s mother and then the latter castrate himself before he managed to do this, but I suppose he got there in the end.  Overcoming deeply held prejudices is badass; and generally a very good thing too.

Little Children at IMDB (7.7)


Date Movie: 2.5 Stars


Date Movie  -  Front DVD CoverIf you’re crap at interviews, you’ll probably never get a decent job, however good you are at anything else.  It’s how The Man has decided the world works, and that’s that.  So the next time you see a bit of dole-ite scum hanging about up to no good (and probably planning some scam to rip off all the hardworking members of society), then just remember what separates you from him/her.  In the same way, if you’re no good on dates, you’ll probably never get a decent boyfriend/girlfriend etc.  I like to remember these two facts when I’m reviewing my progress towards the mountain-top of life.  I’m incredibly intelligent, perceptive, knowledgeable, witty, charming, generous, sexy, handsome, thoughtful, sympathetic, understanding, empathic and generally a great guy, yet somehow I’ve failed to become chief executive of anything, or found anyone desperate enough to put up with me on a ‘social basis’ for very long.  I put this down to the two small flaws I have, which just happen to relate to interviews, (I forget everything I know and insult the organisation I’m attempting to get a job with) and dates, (I suddenly can’t think of anything interesting to say and end up staring into space or at her breasts).  None of these attributes are very helpful at the time, even though and somewhat ironically, if you are successful with both you’ll end up spending a great deal of time moaning about the organisation you work for and staring at your partner’s body.  For every one of life’s Edmund Hillarys, there’s a load of us stuck in the foothills, getting lost and trying to find the pub before it closes.  And speaking of dates…

2006  –  Certificate: 15  –  USA
Rating Details:  Moderate sex reference, gross humour and strong language once

This isn’t a very good comedy.  It’s funny in places, but for every ‘funny bit’ there’re two ‘embarrassingly stupid and shit bits’ to balance it out.  (By the way, these last two phrases are examples of film critics’ technical jargon, so don’t worry if you don’t fully understand them.)  I really wanted to like this film, a lot.  It stars the world’s most beautiful woman (Alyson Hannigan), who coincidentally shares my birthday.  (My card from her must have got lost in the post this year, again.)  Even when she’s really fat in the movie, she’s beautiful.  (Am I even allowed to say fat these days?  Perhaps I’m meant to say slimmingly-challenged or something?)  It has houmous-based jokes in it as well and houmous is one of the five great foods of the world; and some cats too.  So it had a lot going for it.  Maybe I just don’t watch enough romance comedies so didn’t understand the subtleties and the entomology of the highbrow humour involved?  Yes, I’m sure that’s it.  Or maybe it was the gross beefburger scene and the fact that Sophie Monk (who plays the sexy Andy and is a vegetarian in real life) rubs them all over herself and chews some too.  Nice.  Not.  Beefburgers are a lot of things, most of them bad, but what they’re not is sexy; if they were, McDonalds would have exploited the fact by now.  On the other hand, it does have loads of extras on the DVD, so it might be worth missing out on watching the film ‘proper’ and going straight to these instead; the anti-commentary by two film critics who also didn’t think it was that great, is worth a listen.  I watched the “Unseen Version” too, so got to enjoy over two minutes more of the most raunchy parts.  Lucky me…

Recommended for people who spend way too much time watching chick-flicks.

6 cats (plus 2 pretend ones) and no decapitations. Cute, especially the grey one, but I have to say the pretend puppet cats are vile.  It’s like watching some sort of cat-Frankenstein movie.  Listen up Hollywood.  Cats.  On.  Toilets.  Farting.  Simply.  Aren’t.  Funny.

Top badass moment?  Tricky.  Okay, I give up.  There isn’t one.  Well maybe Carmen Electra being covered in King Kong snot is, but that’s in the deleted scenes so I’m not sure it counts; I’ve no idea why it’s badass anyway, but she’s wearing a leopard-print bikini when it happens, so who cares?

Date Movie at IMDB (2.6)


The Last of the Crazy People: 3.0 Stars


The Last of the Crazy People  -  Front DVD CoverI went to the dentist yesterday.  The good news was that I didn’t need any treatment.  The bad news was that I need to have a wisdom tooth removed.  Having spoken to three people about this since, all of whom it turned out have had more than one of these teeth removed, I now realise that having my head amputated would be somewhat less painful and traumatic.  When a dentist has a look and goes “oooooh”, then you know her next line isn’t going to be good news.  My dentist’s helpful suggestion was that I should see one of her colleagues, as he’s better at extractions; and stronger.  I wouldn’t mind, but it’s not hurting me or bothering me in the least.  Who named them wisdom teeth anyway?  They’re clearly very stupid teeth!  Probably my earliest childhood memory is of having a tooth taken out at the dentist, screaming my head off in pain and my mum coming in and giving the dentist a piece of her mind; I recall she had him pinned up against the wall, which was very out of character for her!  To say having the opportunity to revisit this experience now I’m a grown-up is not top of my plans this summer, would be an understatement of galactic proportions.  I’m seriously considering giving up food entirely and just living on tepid, filtered, distilled water.  I’m sure I can probably do it myself anyway, with a pair of pliers or something.  I’m struggling to identify what the connection might be between this film and my impending operation, but I felt I needed to share the latter.

2006  –  Certificate: 15  –  France
Rating Details:  Moderate Violence, Suicide Scene, Brief Nudity and Strong Language

The Last of the Crazy People is a French film, in French.  After quite a long run of other sorts of films, it was good to get back to one of my favourite sub-genera, the dysfunctional family.  In this case it lives on a farm in France, not that there’re actually any scenes of farming going on in it.  I’m not sure what to make of it really.  It’s very slow, it has no music in it whatsoever and there are quite long periods when not a lot seems to be happening.  The main character in it is a ten-year-old boy called Martin, who’s basically neglected and ignored by most of the other people in the film who are too busy with their own problems; most of what’s going on is seen from his prospective.  I feel watching it probably ought to have had more of an effect on me than it did, but somehow I didn’t really feel very sorry for any of the characters and the more shocking scenes felt a bit flat. (I probably watch too many Hollywood blockbusters with lots of noise and explosions in them to help me to understand what’s going on.)  The boy who plays the part of Martin, does manage to look suitably miserable for virtually the entire film and is really very convincing, which helps the quality of the movie greatly.  He also walks exactly like Bod.  (If you don’t know who Bod is I suggest you type “Bod” in to YouTube.)  A few years ago I went through a phase of trying to write film reviews on the Amazon web site, which included writing one about this movie.  I eventually realised that my irrelevant and childish ramblings didn’t fit well with the average, serious Amazon DVD buying person; my review for this one is presently being found “helpful” by 7 out of 14 people; or to put it another way, it’s being found unhelpful by 7 out of 14 people.

Recommended for pissed off ten-year-olds everywhere.  Not so good for people interested in studying modern developments in agricultural land management in France.

1 cat and no decapitations.  The cat, a big ginger and white one, had a speaking part and appeared in five scenes!  Sadly it’s last one involved it being run over and then put into a freezer.  It did look suspiciously like it had been drugged for this last one too, which didn’t impress me one bit.

Top badass moment? Any ten-year-old who singlehandedly takes on responsibility for sorting out his family’s problems, is badass personified.  So okay, his solution was a little unorthodox, but it probably worked.

The Last of the Crazy People on IMDB