Posts tagged “2009

Frontier Blues / Begging for Money


Frontier Blues  -  Front DVD Cover  -  UK Release

In this debut feature written and directed by Iranian born Babak Jalali, “Frontier Blues” features four, intertwined stories all set in Iran’s northern frontier with Turkmenistan, a region that has long been neglected in Iranian cinema, interesting not only for its magnificent, forlorn landscape but also for its multi-ethnic population of Persians, Turkmens and Kazakhs. Featuring non-professional actors from the northern region of Iran, Jalali’s film looks at fragments of the everyday existence of a varied collection of characters from the region.

2009 –  Certificate: 12  –  Iranian Film
Rating Details: One use of strong language and a moderate sex reference
7.0 out of 10

Although I frequently do nothing at work for weeks at a time (except procrastinate), I occasionally have to do something. This is normally something which I can’t delegate downwards or pass the buck upwards.  Yesterday was one of those days.  I had to complete a funding application.  I’d known it’d need doing for the last month or so, but it was only yesterday that I did much about it, as it had a 17:00 deadline.  I’d had a quick look at it the day before and decided that it wasn’t a lot of work; why I believe myself when I think something like that I’ll never know, but somehow I always do.  So yesterday I found myself having to do some real work for a change.  Now, there are people who actually do this sort of thing as their full time job and some of them actually seem to enjoy it.  I lack the intelligence, focus and strength of character to be like that.  I see it as a necessary evil that allows me to lead the decadent lifestyle that I do.  No one should be forced to write funding applications; it’s only one step up from begging in the street.  Like writing poetry or songs, funding bids come from the heart; they’re not something that can be forced out of someone.  In my case they’re dragged screaming and kicking from my very soul, before being nakedly spread-eagled across the page for all to gawp at, pointing and laughing as they do so, as if I was exposing a very private part of me, which in a way I am.  Being forced to write a funding bid is like being forced to love someone.  Of course I enjoy getting that follow up letter that contains the word “congratulations”, but most of the time they just say “I’m sorry to inform you”.  Writing funding bids is like asking someone out, and I’m crap at that too.  (You work yourself up for ages to do it and then it all comes out wrong.)  I’m just not thick skinned enough to take the rejection and it sends me into a subconscious mire of desolation and self-loathing.  I still haven’t got over asking Debbie Warby out in 1977 and getting turned down; I only wanted to go and see “Star Wars” too.  I never did see it at the cinema; no wonder I prefer “Star Trek”.  So anyway, I got it done yesterday and what a beautiful creation it was; really, it should’ve been on display in a gallery, not stuffed into a brown envelope.  After a 100mph death-defying drive, (it wasn’t far to go and I had an hour or so to get there, but I’d drunk far too much coffee), I got to hand it in before the deadline.  I got a call about two hours later from the fund’s administrator, asking if I could e-mail her a copy, as she was having to scan all the applications and she’d been “inundated” with them and would be at work for hours doing them, so it would save her time.  Inundated.  Inundated!  It’s like asking girls out again; a futile exercise that ends in humiliation and a feeling of abject failure.  A woman gets asked out in this movie; that ends in abject failure too.

So this was a chance to watch my entire collection of Iranian films… all one of them. Not sure what I was expecting really, probably just some propaganda to do with nuclear bombs, oppressed women who choose to wear a burqa and jihadist wars.  There isn’t anything else there is there, other than sand and oil… and camels probably?  Well, that’s what it says in the papers, so it must be true.  Okay, I don’t really believe any of that nonsense, but I was surprised by what I did see.  In fact it took me a while to get over my preconceptions and begin to appreciate what this film actually was, which made me feel a bit guilty; I really was under the impression that it would be sort of worthy, but a bit amateurish and boring.  In fact this is a black comedy, which pokes fun at itself and Iran’s own, internal preconceptions about itself.  It’s true to say that not a lot happens for most of the film and there aren’t a great many spaceships, aliens or explosions in it.  It’s simply a snapshot of the lives of four people that to some extent are interconnected.  At first I did find it a bit boring, but when I finally worked out what I was watching it got a lot more interesting.  It was almost as if I felt guilty about finding the discomfort of the characters funny, which is a bit sad really.  The picture quality isn’t always the best, which is a bit frustrating as the scenery is really worth seeing.  It’s also quite slow and nothing happens quickly; and in a cultural way there are a few things that just don’t sit comfortably for many westerners too.  However, the majority of it is good stuff and I really rather enjoyed it.

The music used in the film is sparse and haunting. It’s not something I’d listen to on its own but as a soundtrack it’s great and adds to the atmosphere a lot.  We also get treated to a bit of what sounds like Marlene Dietrich, but I could be wrong.

Movie Weather Forecast. I’ve still not started doing this properly, but it was dry and mostly sunny, with some blustery wind at times.

For stupid people like me, the trailer makes the tone of the film a bit clearer.

Recommend for wrestlers, photographers and anyone who works on a chicken farm.

No cats, chainsaws or decapitations.

Top badass moment?  I like tea.  I drink a lot of tea.  I like coffee but I like tea more.  In this film the characters drink tea.  They drink a lot of tea.  In fact I suspect that it’s a subtle joke about how much tea people in Iran do drink.  I thought all they did there was build nuclear bombs and hate on the West, but actually they drink a lot of tea and have a sense of humour that I can relate to.  That’s cool, because most of the people I actually know don’t understand it.  I’m a Brit so tea is automatically badass and badass in a way coffee will never be.  In fact it’s the most badass of drinks; except perhaps cider.

Frontier Blues at IMDB (6.7 / 10)

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Earth Day / The Washer Dryer Has Landed


Earth Day  -  Front VD Cover  -  US Release

Welcome to Emerald City USA, where progressive ideals are held in high esteem, and when they’re not, it’s murder! One year after the Earth Day death of their leader, Pixie, a group of eco-crusaders find themselves being systematically slaughtered by an unknown assailant. The ECPD suspect one man; Hassan, who grew up in the most extreme terrorist sect in all of Pakistan, only to be expelled for embracing the forbidden art of Women’s hair care. Together with Priscilla, Pixie’s nihilistic twin sister, they strive to prove Hassan’s innocence while avoiding the clutches of Priscilla’s insanely overprotective plastic surgeon father Dr. Peever and his plastic surgery casualty of an assistant, Lenora.

2009 – Certificate: Unrated – American Film
Rating Details: Strong Violence, Nudity and Sexual Situations
6.5 out of 10

With the UN and Red Cross poised at the borders of Cactus World, ready to instigate a huge underwear (and other clothing) relief effort for the population, my new washing machine arrived just in the nick of time this week to prevent a major cholera outbreak; or at the very least a degree of embarrassment, along with dirt and body odour becoming the ‘must wear’ fashion accessories this spring in Cactus World. It was meant to have been delivered last Monday, but the idiots from Indesit only sent one guy around with it, who wasn’t allowed to try and carry it up the stairs to my flat and also wasn’t allowed to let me help him either. (I guess 70kg is pretty heavy and as I was delivering a risk assessment training course the next day, I would have felt a bit guilty if I’d made too much of a fuss.) It was especially frustrating, as Indesit had rung me up to confirm delivery and even checked if there were any stairs. What was the point of that if the information wasn’t going to be used for anything? It’s not the most interesting subject to make small talk about. So I had to wait two more days for it to be redelivered, at great, personal inconvenience. However, I’m now the proud owner of the first washing machine (or more technically correct washer dryer) I’ve ever bought. It’s an Indesit IWDC6125. (A pretty snappy name I think you’ll agree; and isn’t that video the most exciting thing you’ve watched for years?) It was the cheapest sensible washer dryer I could find and came from, surprisingly, Tesco Direct; (£325 including delivery, although it seems to have gone up £20 since I bought it.) I didn’t want a flashy one and I’ve better things to spend my money on at the moment than washing my clothes with something that wouldn’t look out-of-place on the bridge of the Enterprise. I only use three wash settings anyway. I can’t fully understand why anyone would need loads of them, or a large, full-colour LCD display to explain what the hell’s going on inside the machine. If it’s not washing or drying, what on earth would it be doing exactly? I’m a bit pissed off with Tesco though, as it claims the machine has an A Energy Rating, whereas Indesit’s own web site says it’s B. I think that’s called false advertising, bastards. Anyway, I’ve spent the last few days washing just about everything I own; (excluding things that aren’t meant to be washed in a washing machine, I’m not that dumb obviously). It seems to work great and it’s far quieter and more efficient than the old one too. It’s been so long since I had one that worked properly that I imagine I’m now experiencing the same sort of ecstasy that people in the 1940s and 1950s felt when automatic washing machines first became widely available. Say no to drugs kids, just go to the laundrette (or use a wash board) for a few months and then get a washing machine; it’s a unique sort of high. Getting rid of the old one was a bit of a challenge. It was too heavy for me to try to get down the stairs, so instead I dismantled it all and took it in bits to the dump for recycling. So inadvertently I’ve probably now become one of country’s leading experts on washing machine deconstruction too. I’m glad I’m doing my bit to save the planet, (ignoring the 21.3kWh of power I used yesterday thanks to my new washer dryer), a topic close to my heart and highlighted in this film.

This is a horror/comedy about ‘eco warriors’ so I was fully expecting it to reflect my day-to-day work, being as I’m employed by the best environmental charity on the planet. However, there wasn’t an e-mail, meeting, financial plan, or purchase to get requisitioned and authorised in sight. These people went out into the open air to do their stuff. ?? I’m pretty sure they didn’t have a four-year business plan either, although as they seem to spend most of their time sitting around smoking dope and getting drunk, they probably didn’t feel they needed one. Actually this is a much better film than it might appear at first glance. It works because it raises itself above the B-movie sludge-line and has two, very funny and well written characters in it. Plastic surgeon Dr. Peever is obscenely overacted, yet manages to give the impression of holding onto a consistent set of beliefs; whilst Hassan gets all the best lines, mainly due to his ‘calling’ as an expert in women’s hair care. The somewhat eye-watering (and reasonably original) murders and interesting body augmentation issues aside, most of the humour works most of the time, even though I suspect it’s a bit racist. Then again, it’s make fun of pretty well everyone. Worth a watch.

The soundtrack is a bit of a mish-mash of original and existing indie music. It sort of works though. Redox’s “Happy Death” is a really good track.

The trailer seems to be advertising a different cut of the film, as the balance of characters in it really doesn’t reflect the movie itself. Then again, as the DVD comes with nearly enough outtakes to replace the whole film, it probably does.

Recommended for eco warriors, plastic surgeons, police detectives, and anyone interested in products and services relating to women’s hair.

1 cat, 1 chainsaw and 2 decapitations. I can only offer my congratulations here; this is the first film I’ve watched for some considerable time that’s managed all three. The cat is sooooooo cute too.

Top badass moment? “Perhaps this town is not ready for all natural, holistic middle-eastern hair care”; so speaks the very put upon (and recently, physically enhanced) Pakistani ‘women’s hair care specialist’ Hassan, just before he drives off. I have days like that too, but don’t have quite such a cutting-edge one-liner to go with them. That’s badass.

Earth Day at IMDB (5.7 / 10)
Earth Day trailer at YouTube


The Hunger Games / My Own Hunger Game


The Hunger Games  -  Front Blu-ray Cover  -  UK ReleaseEvery year in the ruins of what was once North America, the Capital of the nation of Panem forces each of its twelve districts to send a teenage boy and girl to compete in the Hunger Games.  Sixteen year-old Katniss Everdeen volunteers in her younger sister’s place and must rely upon her sharp instincts when she’s pitted against highly trained Tributes who have prepared for these Games their entire lives.  If she’s ever to return home to District 12, Katniss must make impossible choices in the arena that weigh survival against humanity and life against love.

2012  –  Certificate: 15  –  American Film
Rating Details: Strong violence and threat
9.0 out of 10

It’s back to the humourless dentist oral surgeon for me this Wednesday.  Not sure what he’s going to say or do.  Perhaps there’ll be a full moon that night and he’ll be resting, or taking the day-off for a lie-in in his coffin.  Actually my wisdom tooth isn’t really hurting anymore, nowhere near enough for me to need pain-killers or anything.  However, I can’t open my mouth much now without my jaw aching, a lot.  In fact I can’t really open it at all.  Whilst this might seem to some around me to be a positive step, it’s really pissing me off.   My ability to eat has reverted to how I imagine I was when I was nine months old, all sloppy food which I then fail to push into my mouth properly, resulting in it ending up everywhere except my stomach.  I may not show it, but inside this is how I feel.  I did initially think this was a film about dentists, but apparently not.

A movie about a dystopian future?  That’s always a good start.  Female hero?  That’s good as well and makes a change too. Woody Harrelson’s in it, playing a character who looks very much how you might expect Kurt Cobain to look now, if he’d sadly not killed himself; somewhat ironically, this version is very much a survivor.  This is an awesome film, even though it’s only a few steps beyond a cross between “Big Brother” and any number of romantic dramas.  In fact the only reason I didn’t think it was even better was that I could sort of tell where some parts of the story that I’m sure must be in the books, weren’t really used in the film.  Not having read any of the latter, that’s not good. But I’m glad someone’s writing popular ‘teen fiction’ that uses this sort of challenging setting for its stories; it’s just a pity it’s a bit buried in this film.  I have to admit I couldn’t really see what Katniss saw in Peeta.  Sure he’s good looking and there’s all that stuff about being thrown together in a crisis, but really, he was a bit boring.  I can well imagine she’d soon get fed up with him.  I thought the make-up crew did a good job on Jennifer Lawrence, making her appear very different from setting to setting.  Then again, there’re so many credited at the end that each of her eyebrows must have had a whole team working on it, etc.  I watched the “Unseen Version” (which kind of isn’t true now).  I certainly enjoyed the extra 3.2 seconds and reinstated blood that had been digitally removed and denied to the sissies that went to see the Certificate 12 version shown in cinemas.  I’m so hardcore.  Anyway, despite it being targeted at a ‘younger audience’, I really enjoyed it and got an emotional buzz from watching it too.  Critically, I actually cared what happened to the main characters.  And let’s not forget that Katniss Everdeen gets her family name from Thomas Hardy’s Bathsheba Everdene, which alone is enough of a reason to recommend this film.

The orchestral score is great but I didn’t much care for the rest.  I guess it was an attempt to give a primitive, combative edge to things, but most of it sounded just like some boring drumming to me.

I really like this trailer.  It makes me want to see the film.

Recommended for sibling sisters, bakers and archers.

1 cat, no chainsaws or decapitations.  A great bit of cat hissing gets the action underway shortly after the start.  Sadly this isn’t utilised further and we just get a couple of hours of reality TV nonsense instead.

Top badass moment? At a key moment, Katness gives two fingers to the watching millions; (actually three but anyway).  A defiant gesture that starts her journey from ‘average teen’ to rebel hero.  There’s no way on Earth that’s not badass.  Sticking it to ‘The Man’ always is.

The Hunger Games at IMDB (7.3/10)
The Hunger Games at Wikipedia
The Hunger Games at Roger Ebert (3/4)
The Hunger Games Trailer
Spoof Trailer for The Hunger Games


True Adolescents / A Simple Recipe for a ‘Good Day’


True Adolescents  -  Front DVD Cover  -  US ReleaseAt 34, struggling Seattle musician Sam (Mark Duplass, “Humpday”, “The League”) finds himself broke, jobless and losing touch with the person he wants to become.  When his girlfriend kicks him out, he’s forced to crash with his Aunt Sharon (Academy Award winner Melissa Leo, “The Fighter”) and is reluctantly enlisted to take her teen son, Oliver, and his friend Jake camping.  Edgy, funny and honest, Craig Johnson’s film follows the trio into the rugged Pacific Northwest as unforeseen revelations and transformations force them to face adulthood.  Set to a mesmerizing soundtrack featuring both emerging and established artists including Band of Horses, The Black Keys and Devendra Banhart, “True Adolescents” remind us that sometimes people need to get lost to truly find themselves.

2009  –  Certificate: Not Rated  –  American Film
7.0 out of 10

I didn’t want to get up yesterday morning.  It was raining outside (again), grey and unpleasant.  On my journey to work, I was busy mentally congratulating myself on my meteorological forecasting skills and subsequent ability to make the journey during a break in the rain, just as it started to pour down for the last few minutes.  I got soaked.  It’s Fair Trade Fortnight and where I work was attempting to serve free tea, coffee and breakfasts to people outside; the rain pouring off the canopy in front of the building and onto the pavement was ‘intense’.  Strangely, I left work at about six feeling quite upbeat.  On my walk home I was wondering why, after such an unpromising start to the day, it had turned into quite a good one.  I didn’t really come up with anything, other than there were a number of nice, small things and a lack of bad things, which probably did the trick.  A CD/DVD I’d ordered on Sunday was delivered.  This was unexpectedly early.  I was due to have to go and do something all day, (basically sit and observe someone delivering a training course), but the date for this has now been changed, so I had an extra day in the office and got a lot of things done that I wasn’t expecting to get done.  I had a nice lunch with a colleague in the cafe, something I don’t often do.  Someone in the office got a grant of £2,500 to do some work; we were only expecting to get a few hundred, so this was a welcome surprise.  For the first time that I can remember, all eight volunteers and staff were in at the same time today; the place felt quite alive and buzzy.  Someone bought a big, homemade cake in.  I completed a grant claim that’s been hanging about for ages and I’ve had loads of hassle over.  I got a few other bits of outstanding work done that had been playing on my thoughts for a while.  I didn’t go into Tesco on the way home and buy crap for my dinner; I came home and cooked proper food instead.  So there you go, my recipe for an okay day.

A thirty-something guy takes his nephew and his nephew’s friend camping for a weekend.  They all grow up a bit.  The end.  This is a decent enough film that’s worth watching mainly for Mark Duplass’ man-boy character, who’s funny but in a believable way.  The main thing that bugged me was the fact that many of the various things that happen to them, especially the two most significant ones, don’t seem to get dealt will in any depth; they felt more like plot contrivances to take us towards the end, rather than big events that ought to have been considered in more detail.  Shame that.  It’s a decent enough watch though.   

This film makes much of its musical content and the main character is also a guitarist/singer in a not very good indie rock band.  Unfortunately most of the music is pretty mundane.  That’s a shame too.

Like a lot of things, the trailer is there or thereabouts.  It does a good job of not spoiling the film, but at the same time doesn’t tell you a great deal about it either.

Recommended for not-famous guitarists, rubbish indie rock bands, teenage boys and kindly aunts.

No cats, chainsaws or decapitations.

Top badass moment? The two lads ask Sam if he’s going to wear his hiking boots.  Sam glances down at what looks like a rather battered pair of Converse baseball shoes on his feet and says, “These are my hiking boots”, (with the emphasis on “are”).  Yeh, that’s rock ‘n’ roll for you!  I then spent the rest of the film all tensed up, waiting for him to turn his ankle over.  Weirdly, this fate befalls one of the other characters.  As someone who sprained his ankle hiking a couple of years ago, I could relate to this, which makes it badass.  Converse boots really aren’t good for hiking.     

True Adolescents at IMDB (6/0 / 10)
True Adolescents at Wikipedia
True Adolescents at YouTube


The Fish Child / The Dentist: Part 1


The Fish Child  -  Front DVD Cover  -  UK ReleaseLala, (Inés Efrón) a teenager from the most exclusive suburban neighbourhood in Argentina, is in love with the Guayi, the 20-year-old Paraguayan maid working at her mansion.  The pair hatch a plan to rob Lala’s family to fund their dream of living together in Paraguay, but while Lala waits to be reunited with her lover, she is detained in a prison in the outskirts of Buenos Aires for a crime she committed long ago.  Desperate to be with her girlfriend, Lala devises a dangerous rescue plan to get her back.  Boasting beautiful cinematography and electrifying performances from its two female leads, celebrated Argentine director Lucía Puenzo (“XXY”) returns with a gripping tale of forbidden lesbian romance and a crime heist gone awry.

2009 –  Certificate 15  –  Argentinean Film
Rating Details: Strong sex
7.0 out of 10

I spent well over an hour at the dentist last week, whilst she explored the inside of my sore tooth.  Given all the sawing and drilling that went on I was expecting to be presented with the oral equivalent of a handmade chest of draws, but all I’ve got out of it is a bill for £100, no reduction in the agony I’m feeling and an extra visit to go back a third time for more treatment on the same tooth.  Four hours or so?  What’s she up to in there?  Rebuilding my entire mouth at the molecular level?  Not only this, but my sore tooth has made a friend, another tooth that thinks it’s hilariously funny to give me pain and misery.  So now I’ve also got a wisdom tooth that needs removing in a completely different place in my mouth.  My dentist got one of her colleagues to come have a look at it.  Once he’d finished with the paramedics that came after he’d fainted from horror at the sight of it, he did make a remarkable effort to appear blasé about things, but suggested that he couldn’t deal with either and I really ought to have it removed at hospital.  Why don’t they just cut out the middle man and sent me to see an undertaker?  My tooth is clearly that bad.  I’m starting to forget a time when I didn’t have excruciating agony and was able to open my mouth properly.  Gosh, it’s lucky I’m not the sort of person that makes a big song and dance about things.  This is going to cost me an arm and a leg to get sorted out too, although ironically, the limb replacements I’ll then need I can get on the NHS for free.  The next American who suggests that Brits have bad teeth will need a visit to the dentist himself soon after.  I’m glad to say this film has no teeth-focussed scenes whatsoever.

I’m pretty sure there’s a great movie in here somewhere, trying to get out.  Trouble is, it got a bit buried under the non-linear timeline and suffered at the hands of my presently reduced mental capacity; (which sadly is more tooth-ache than alcohol related).  At its heart this is an out-and-out romance, which collides with a crime thriller in a less than satisfying way.  Oh, there’s also something about a legend regarding the Fish Child that swims around in a lake near a tree.  I imagine there’s some analogy between the latter and the characters or the plot, but in my painkiller induced drug high I did struggle a bit with everything.  It doesn’t provide an especially glowing reference for Argentinian parenting either.  Visually it’s a nice looking film with an intense feel and the two lead actresses are both talented and attractive, although in quite different ways.  Unfortunately it’s all a bit of a confused muddle at times, although it does gradually sort itself out a bit.  I probably ought to watch it again; I think I’ll get a lot more out of it the second time around.

There was one especially jarring and frightening scene with what I can only imagine is South America’s version of One Direction, (which can be seen for a brief moment in the trailer), but overall the soundtrack is pretty good.

The trailer tells you as much about the film plot as watching the whole movie will; i.e. not a lot.

Recommended for housekeepers, messed up families, lesbians, dog trainers and vets.

1 cat, no chainsaws or decapitations.  A big black cat plays dead as it’s rudely removed from the vet’s operating table so he can deal with someone with a gunshot wound.  Oi!  Get you’re priorities sorted out mate!

Top badass moment?  Lala goes in search of her lover, who’s been ‘rented’ from the local prison by a powerful ‘businessman’ for his own ‘entertainment’.  His house is protected by dogs and  armed guards, but that doesn’t stop her.  Love is blind and all that, but deliberately walking into a ‘situation’ that you clearly have no way of getting out off (unless you’re Batman) is quite obviously top grade badass.  (Note to self:  why all the inverted commas all of a sudden?  What’s wrong with you?)

The Fish Child at IMDB (5.9 / 10)
The Fish Child at Wikipedia
The Fish Child Trailer at YouTube


Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen / Decorating My Kitchen


Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen  -  Front Blu-ray Cover  -  UK ReleaseThe battle for Earth continues in this action-packed blockbuster from Michael Bay and executive producer Steven Spielberg.  When college-bound Sam Witwicky (Shia LaBeouf) learns the truth about the ancient origins of the Transformers, he must accept his destiny and join Optimus Prime and Bumblebee in their epic battle against the Decepticons, who have returned stronger than ever with a plan to destroy our world.

2009  –  Certificate 12  –  American Film
Moderate action, violence, language, sex and drug references
8.0 out of 10

This is going to be boring, sorry, as it’s about decorating; I’ll get to the film later on.  When I moved into where I live now, nearly eight years ago, everything was painted magnolia.  I hate magnolia like I hate the idea of all my limbs suddenly detaching themselves; (well obviously not really, but I’m trying to make a point).  The first thing I did when I moved in was paint nearly everything a different colour; hall white, bathroom blue and white, lounge yellow and green.  For reasons too complex to go into now, (but basically they revolve around me being too poor and lazy), the bedroom and kitchen never got done; and that’s how things have remained ever since.  However, inspired by my washing machine’s recent breakdown (and I still haven’t got around to getting it fixed yet) and the subsequent OH MY GOD horror when confronted with the state of things under and behind the washing machine when I pulled it out from its normal resting place, I’m going to ‘do’ the kitchen.  It’s going to be red and white.  It’s going to be red and white because the kitchen still boasts all it’s original fixtures and fittings and when I pulled all the horrible sticky plastic off everything it’d been stuck on, those are the colours I found underneath.  I hope it doesn’t turn me into a Manchester United fan.  This is an especially weak link, but the big tile cutter I’ve bought, with all its levers, moving parts and things, could well be a robot in disguise…

Ever eaten too much ice cream, cake or sweets?  The big ‘I can rule the world’ sugar hit followed by the comedown?  This film is like that.  Two and a half hours of too-fast-to-work-out-what-the-hell-is-going-on-half-the-time action, followed by the dreadful realisation that you’ve just taken several months off your lifespan by wearing your soul out.  This is a film that’s wrong in so many ways, but if you ignore all of them and just let the stuff that’s going on in front of you batter you senseless, then it’s actually loads of fun.  Enjoy watching what’s basically “Team America: World Police” on steroids.  Marvel at Megan Fox’s enormous, ‘porn star’ lips.  Relish the challenge of working out which fast-moving bundle of scrap metal is which.  To impress your mates with later, memorise Optimus Prime’s “Fate rarely calls upon us at a moment of our choosing” line.  Cheer along at every highly unlikely bit of good fortune that comes our heroes’ ways.  Be amazed that a load of robots that are huge, clumsy, noisy and trash everything they come into contact with, have managed to stay so well hidden for so long.  The highly irritating Sam Witwicky is back, although he’s marginally less irritating this time around, in the same way that a wasp is slightly less irritating than two wasps.  Megan Fox is also here again; (I don’t think her character’s got a name, as she’s Megan Fox in a range of tight shorts, so no one really cares about what her character gets up to).  On an entirely superficial level (which worked for me), the whole movie looks and sounds great.  The special effects are excellent and relentless; whilst it boasts a soundtrack that’s great for pissing off your neighbours.  One thing puzzles me though.  When I was young, Transformers weren’t “Robots in Disguise”.   What they were, were crappy little toys that you quickly lost half the bits for, got annoyed by and soon moved on from.  Who are all these people who’re so into them?  I’ve never met a single one in my life.  When I hear Hasbro, all I can think of are those sticky, disgusting jelly sweets made by Haribo.

Suitably bombastic, the soundtrack does all the things you’d expect it too.  It’s not bad.

The trailer is nearly two and a half minutes long, which means you get to see about 1/60th of the film by watching it.  Lucky you!

Recommended for robots, students and young women with ‘pouty’ lips.  Probably not the best movie for anyone interesting in recruiting new air force or navy pilots; or Egyptians.

No cats, chainsaws or decapitations.

Top badass moment?  Despite all the ‘good-guys bad-guys’ stuff going on, the sound of a Transformer saying “bollocks” to a door, works for me.  It’s probably the best line in the whole script.

Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen at IMDB (6.0 / 10)
Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen at Wikipedia
Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen at Roger Ebert (1.0 / 5)
Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen at YouTube


Defendor / Going Back to Work


Defendor  -  Front DVD Cover  -  UK ReleaseArthur Poppington (Woody Harrelson, “2012”) doesn’t need super powers or fancy toys to fight crime.  Armed only with a childlike sense of wonder and his quirky arsenal of cheap, home-made gadgets, he becomes “Defendor”!   He finds an unexpected partner when he rescues and falls for a local prostitute (Kat Dennings, “Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist”).  Can the two of them take down the city’s most fearsome crime boss without getting killed in the process?

2009  –  Certificate 15  –  Canadian Film
Strong language, sex references and drug use
8.5 out of 10

I’ve got to go back to work tomorrow.  At the moment it feels I’d have more chance of launching a 20 tonne satellite into space with an elastic band, than being able to work productively when I get into the office.  But I’m sure once I arrive, inspired by the latest tales about the England Cricket Team’s fighting spirit, I’ll soon be protecting the Earth once again from all manner of ‘bad guys and stuff’.  (That really is my job.)  I can sometimes feel a little ill-equipped for my mission though.  I guess in many respects that makes me a lot more like Defendor than Superman; just a few toys, homemade gadgets and no superpowers.  I have a quote on the wall in my office that says, “Do you ever find yourself striving for perfection with a virtually worthless attempt at it?”  I like to think it’s inspirational.  Indeed the whole song it’s taken from (“Lemon Water” by Guttermouth) is inspirational and can be applied to very many situations in life.

Billed as a comedy, this movie has quite a dark heart, whilst it highlights the value of friendship and sticking to what you believe in.  I was a bit worried that having a lead character with a mental illness might make it a bit uncomfortable to watch, but actually it more or less gets away with it; it quickly ceases to be anything more than a facet of Arthur’s make up and is rarely mentioned explicitly, other than on a couple of occasions where it fits appropriately into the scenes.  This is one of those films that after the first 15 minutes or so I thought I was watching a bit of an Edsel; but then it started to get good.  The final scene is pretty powerful and for a superhero film about a guy with no superpowers who takes on a ‘crime boss’, quite realistic.  This isn’t exactly a kid’s film, as it’s full of drug references and swearing, as well as quite a bit of violence too.  It’s not as good as the amazingly brilliant “Super”, but it’s most definitely worth watching.  If it has a weakness then it’s probably that it takes time for Arthur’s/Defendor’s character to settle down into someone understandable, but once it does you’ll be right behind him.  In many ways he’s as much a tortured soul as Batman, only he doesn’t realise it.  I love films like this.  I can relate to them.

I really like this movie’s soundtrack.  There’s not a lot to it really and it could so easily have ended up as a parody of what superhero films should sound like, but in fact it’s really good.  It makes a big difference when it matters.  I even went out and bought the track that plays over the first half of the end credits too. 

This trailer is a decent enough, although it probably plays down the darker elements of the film and instead highlights the comedy.

Recommended for superheroes (obviously), prostitutes, corrupt police, drug barons and ‘nice guys’.

No cats, chainsaws or decapitations.

Top badass moment?  Nearly all superheroes are badass and Defendor’s no exception.  Going after the city’s crime boss armed with only a few marbles and wasps is pretty ballsy; it’s also one of the most stupid things you can probably do too.  Monumental stupidity is always badass.

Defendor at IMDB (6.8 / 10)
Defendor at Wikipedia
Defendor at YouTube


Suck / A New Challenge


Suck  -  Front Blu-ray Cover  -  UK ReleaseThe greatest rock ‘n’ roll vampire comedy ever made, “Suck” stars rock royalty Alice Cooper, Iggy Pop and Henry Rollins, and brilliant performances from Moby and British screen legend Malcolm McDowell (“A Clockwork Orange”).   The Winners are a struggling band desperate to make it to the top and strike a record deal.  After another mediocre gig, Jennifer (Jessica Paré “Hot Tub Time Machine”) the sexy female bassist, disappears with a young vampire and returns the next morning sprouting fangs and a taste for blood.  One by one each member succumbs to the dark side and leaving a trail of lifeless groupies in their wake, they soon reach the heights of success that they could only dream of as mere mortals.

2009  –  Certificate: 15  –  Canadian Film
Rating Details: Strong language and comic gory horror
7.5 out of 10

Yesterday I walked to work at my new office for the first time.  No longer do I need to trek thousands of miles (well it felt like thousands) each day, face death as I cross the busy A4, deal with selfish pavement hogs along the Oxford Road, heroically climb ‘The Mountain’ or risk loss of sensory deprivation as I bisect the country-sized Tesco car park.  My journey now takes about 15 minutes and I don’t need to set up a series of resupply depots and emergency evac protocols to enable me to take the trip.  A number of other differences were apparent too.  For a start, I had to battle my way through two (yes two) school runs, as I passed two primary schools.  A pavement jam-packed with slow-moving mothers, toddlers in pushchairs and chaotic, hyper-active youngsters, who randomly change direction with no respect for The Rules.  I’m an experienced Pavement Warrior, but this was something else.  It’s only going to be a matter of time before I accidentally mow one of these tiny terrors down and end up in jail forever as a child killer.  Then there were the others, a mixture of students going to the Tesco Metro (I didn’t realise any got up that early) and men and women in business suits, power-walking into the centre of Reading.  On my previous journey, I’d count myself unlucky to be overtaken by even one person, but yesterday it happened twice, as I was left choking on the burning rubber left behind by the soles of two pairs of fast-moving, expensive shoes, worn by who I can only assume are relatives of Usain Bolt.  Unless I’m carrying a heavy bag, being overtaken by someone is a direct challenge to my sexuality, questions my prowess in bed and lessens my status as an Alpha Male.  Clearly more of a sprint than the marathon I’m used to, I’ll not be caught out next time.  Game on…  This film is about a group of people who make a change to how they do their job.

Sadly, this movie wasn’t so bad that I’m able to say it sucks.  Nether was it some sort of  unimaginatively named 70’s porn.  It’s actually quite a lot of fun and does feature a number of real rock stars amongst its cast.  (By the way, who originally came up with the expression “rock royalty”?  It’s an unspeakably dreadful term.)  The cast put in generally spirited performances and the whole thing is really quite endearing.  It’s got Malcolm McDowell in it as well, as vampire hunter Eddie Van Helsing; and let’s not forget that this is the guy who killed Captain Kirk!  That’s real ultra violence.  And while we’re on the Star Trek theme, it’s also got Ezri Dax in it.  Moby (who’s vegan and thus awesome), plays a character called Beef Bellows, lead singer of rock band The Secretaries of Steak.  See, even vegans have a sense of irony.  Jessica Paré, who plays bassist Jennifer, was a bit disappointing.  I’m not quite sure why, but she didn’t quite pull off the vampire diva ‘thing’ that was meant to propel the band to stardom.  Much more of a comedy than a horror, this movie’s a good excuse to while away 91 minutes of your life.

A film about a band needs to have good music, but unfortunately this one suffered a similar fate to so many others and features a lot of mediocre, bland, forgettable, indie rock.  It’s a film about a band of vampires, but the music’s about as gothic as One Direction.  The performances are pretty good though.

Recommended for rock stars, would-be rock stars and vampires (and the undead in general).

No cats, chainsaws or decapitations.

Top badass moment?  Nicole de Boer has a part in this film.  That’s badass.

Suck at IMDB (5.9 / 10)

Suck at Wikipedia

Suck at YouTube


Occupation / Inapproprate Advertising


Occupation  -  Front DVD Cover  -  UK ReleaseThis powerful, compelling drama traces the fraught interwoven journeys of three British soldiers who take part in the invasion of Iraq in 2003, return to Manchester, but are then inspired to revisit the chaos of Basra.  Danny, Mike and Hibbs, friends in the same army regiment, have their own very different reasons to return.  Danny (Stephen Graham) sees rich financial pickings in private security work, in a land awash with billions of dollars of reconstruction money.  Mike (James Nesbitt) has fallen in love with Iraqi doctor Aliyah.  Hibbs (Warren Brown) goes back because he believes in the mission to rebuild the country and help the Iraqi people.  Life in the new Iraq however is unpredictable, chaotic and dangerous.  Over the course of five years, the friendship of the three men comes under fierce pressure, as they pursue their dreams against the backdrop of growing fundamentalism, sectarian violence, and corruption in the world of privatised security.  Occupation is a darkly humorous and emotionally involving story, which slowly builds to a gripping and moving finale, as their conflicting ambitions come to define not just their own lives, but the war and the occupation of Basra itself.

2009  –  Certificate:15  –  British Film
Rating Details:  Strong language, injury detail and violence
9.5 out of 10

I went to see Bad Religion last Tuesday at Camden Koko. Whilst standing in the queue waiting to go in, (no thanks to the Tube, which thought it would be funny to have no trains in either direction running to Mornington Crescent), someone was handing out flyers for other gigs.  After having one of these shoved into my hand, I took a brief look at it.  FFS!  What do I see on the front but concerts by Barry Gibb, Rick Wakeman, Peter Gabriel and Wet Wet Wet.  I’m a baby-eating punk skinhead monster, standing in a queue waiting to see one of the best American punk bands ever and what do I get given?  A flyer for two very old prog rockers, a guy who sounds like he hasn’t got any balls and the extremely well named Wet Wet Wet.  If anyone at the Bad Religion gig decided to go to any of those concerts, he or she should be shot for treason.  If would be more appropriate to give out money-off coupons for Bernard Matthews turkey drumsticks at the Vegan Society AGM. To say I was incandescent with fury would be to rather understate the feeling.  However, I somehow managed to control my rage.  Bad Religion was great.  The support band Arcane Roots didn’t really do anything for me musically, but their sound was the nearest I ever want to get to being shot.  Koko probably has the most powerful bass system of any venue for its size in London and they had the kick drum totally maxed out.  Everything in the place just shook.  I’ve never experienced that intensity of bass before, so thumbs up to the band for such an unpleasant experience!  This film has some seriously intense stuff and people being shot in it too.

I always find it difficult to assess what I think of films when they’re based on true events, especially when the events weren’t very long ago; the drama and history remain so interconnected and the effects of the latter so raw and often still evolving, that it’s difficult to be objective.  This is one such example.  This film was originally a three-part BBC miniseries and it’s awesome.  A totally absorbing and sometimes uncomfortable watch, it manages to give a real sense of the chaos, suspicion and differing world views of and in Iraq, during and after the American-led invasion, as it chops back and forward between Iraq and Manchester.  It also manages to effectively explore the effects of this mess on some of the people caught up in it.  It has a number of genuinely powerful scenes, the sort you just think “wow” after.  It looks very authentic, the acting’s excellent and the script very nuanced.  What a shocking nightmare it all was, and still is in many ways too.  As an entertaining drama and as a reflection of what went on, it’s essential viewing.

There is very little music in this film.  It’s there and adds nicely to the scenes when it’s used, but no one’s going to watch this movie for that reason.

No cats or chainsaws.  There may or may not be a decapitation, but I don’t want to spoil what’s one of the most intense scenes in the film, so you’ll just have to watch it to find out.

Recommended for politicians and anyone who has any decision-making role relating to Syria.

Top badass moment?  In a movie full of very flawed heroes, there’re plenty of would-be badass moments.  But being a Brit and this being a drama rather than a documentary, I’ve had to pick out Mike (James Nesbitt) and his mercy dash with the young girl who got blown up by a hand-grenade.  The hospital was a frightening example of what happens when you try to pour a gallon into a pint glass.  James Nesbitt is the Undertones number one celebrity fan too!

Occupation at IMDB (7.5 / 10)

Occupation at Wikipedia


Kicks / I’m Experimenting With Drugs


Kicks  -  Front DVD Cover  -  UK ReleaseThe feature debut of Lindy Heymann is a clever comment on modern celebrity culture. Nicole (Kerrie Hayes) a Liverpudlian teenager, spends her time hanging around the gates of Anfield and the Liverpool training ground, desperate for a glimpse of her idol, the star footballer Lee Cassidy (Jamie Doyle).  There she meets aspirant WAG Jasmine (played by Nichola Burley from “StreetDance 3D”), instantly.  They trawl the city and its nightspots, fantasising about a time when they might have Lee for themselves, yet when the news breaks that the footballer is a transfer target for Real Madrid, they take drastic action to prevent him leaving…  Stand-out performances from the two lead actresses make this energetic, funny and tense film one of the best UK debuts of recent years.

2009  –  Certificate: 15  –  British Film
Rating Details: Strong language, sex and injury detail
8.5 out of 10

I’ve just drunk two big mugs of really strong coffee with Kahlúa poured into it.  I’ve not had anything to eat for nearly 24 hours, (yes I’m still on my stupid ‘eat every other day’ diet), so I expect it’s about to have some sort of weird physical, emotional and mental effect on me.  I’m about to experience the outer limits of human perceptions and experiences…  There’s something weird about this film too.

It’s a really bizarre feeling when you see someone who really reminds you of someone else.  You know it’s not the same person, yet you have a natural tendency to react to them as if it is.  You can’t help it, it just happens.  It’s futile to resist, as you’re trying to logically reason your way out of a whole lifetime of experience and memories, many of which you’ve subconsciously distorted over time to better fit your needs.  (I’ve no doubt this is what’s behind the many incidences of random people coming up to me in the street and calling me names; or maybe that’s just how I am?)  Kerrie Hayes (the blonde woman in the trailer) really, really, really reminds me of someone I knew years ago when she was a similar age; in fact we’re still close.  (By “close” I mean we see each other three or four times a year, which for someone with a social circle as meagre as mine, makes us virtually Siamese twins.)  They share the same mannerisms, the same look, the same intensity.  It made watching this film probably a more unique experience for me than normal.  This is a great movie.  It takes a while to get going and the ending is a bit (and I’m using that word again, it must be the coffee) weird.  You probably need to get drunk in ‘real time’ along with the characters, to get the most out of the latter part and to make their behaviour make sense.  The two lead actresses in it are excellent and I love the whole look and feel of the film, depressing though it is.  It’s basically a movie about a friendship between two young women, celebrity culture and living with this ‘illness’.  Definitely recommended.  I imagine if it isn’t already, obsessing over celebrities probably does has a medical name.  The clinical test to determine if you suffer from it being that you can watch a new series of “Celebrity Big Brother” or “I’m a Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here” and recognise over 25% of the ‘celebrities’ in it.  I’m pleased to say I’d struggle to recognise more than a couple.  So basically what I’m saying is that the media has created a new disease for everyone to suffer from and deliberately spreads the ‘virus’ around in the form of gossip mags, Internet rubbish and fake newspaper stories, in the hope of infecting more people.  What sort of sick bastards are they?  Well it’s certainly crossed one of my red lines, so it’s just as well for them that I’m not World President Obama, or they’d be some serious consideration going on, relating to the arming of freedom fighters like myself with big pairs of scissors, so we can go into shops selling this rubbish and cut it all up into small pieces.  Watch out News UK, we know who you are… even if you have just changed your name out of shame.

The soundtrack is all, slightly atmosphere indie rock.  The individual tunes weren’t that exciting, but they surprisingly all hang together pretty well and nicely enhance the impact of the scenes they’re used in.  They’re a really good fit into the overall feel of the film.

Recommended for bored teenagers, journalists who write about Kim Kardashian’s baby and professional footballers.

No cats, chainsaws or decapitations.

Top badass moment?  There’s frequently a dearth of badass in movies like this.  It’s all people with no real hope, no belief and no future.  This one is no exception.  So I guess the best I can come up with is the friendship that develops between the two main characters, Nicole and Jasmine.  In a film about the shallowness of celebrity, it’s the one really meaningful thing in it.

Kicks at IMDB (4.3 / 10)