Posts tagged “2011

Green Lantern / Being Fearless at Work


Green Lantern  -  Front Blu-ray cover  -  UK Release

In a universe as vast as it is mysterious, an elite force of protectors for peace and justice has existed for centuries. They are the Green Lantern Corps.  When a new enemy called Parallax threatens to destroy the universe, their fate and the fate of Earth lie in the hands of the Corps’ newest recruit, the first human ever selected: Hal Jordan (Ryan Reynolds).  Bringing the popular superhero to the big screen for the first time, “Green Lantern” also stars Blake Lively (“Gossip Girl”), Peter Sarsgaard (“Orphan”), Mark Strong (“Sherlock Holmes”), Academy Award nominee Angela Bassett and Academy Award winner Tim Robbins.

2011 –  Certificate: 12  –  American Film
Rating Details: Moderate fantasy violence
8.0 out of 10

I spent about two and a half hours today at work, attending a data protection webinar. So now I’m too scared to write anything here… about anything…  What I will say is that one of my colleagues, who will remain nameless (Oonagh), thought it would be funny to send a text to someone else in another office who was also attending it; so we got to hear that person’s mobile beep in the background during the webinar.  We all thought it was very funny!  It’s good being a grown-up.  Here’s something else that’s a bit childish too.

I can sort of understand why so many people trashed this film, but I thought it was jolly good fun. This might be to do with the fact that I lit my lounge with a green bulb to watch it, to help me feel immersed in the action so to speak, of which there was plenty.  So it’s a bit camp at times and the plot somewhat wooden (although it does have some good lines in it), but sometimes all we need are a few easy to identify goodies and baddies to have fun.  I thought Ryan Reynolds was pretty good as Green Lantern, even though he’ll always be the fat guy in “Just Good Friends” to me.  Maybe it’s because when I was young the Green Lanterns were very much B-class superheroes who I never really engaged with much; so I didn’t have any previous perceptions to have spoilt.  They actually have an interesting and unusual back story too, which makes them different to most of their super-colleagues.  But in the end I guess they’re just another manifestation of the United States, in terms of them acting as self appointed protectors of everyone else.  At first I thought the movie was some sort of documentary about environmentally friendly torches.  It took me quite a while to realise that it was actually about an arrogant test pilot.  I’m not a test pilot, but there’s still a chance that I might one day be selected as a Green Lantern, as I learnt that “In order to be chosen by the ring, it is said that one must be without fear.”  I’m pretty sure the discussions I have with my manager every month after I’ve submitted my financial variance report, puts me into that select group.

The soundtrack is pretty good. It’s suitably epic.

The trailer’s okay, but I don’t think it really captures the feel of the film that well. It seems a bit disjointed and not quite sure what sort of film it’s mean to be promoting.

Recommend for test pilots, xenobiologists and anyone who likes the colour green. Not recommend if you don’t like green; this movie will just make you retch.

No cats, chainsaws or decapitations.

Top badass moment? Hal Jordan’s been a Green Lantern for five minutes when he stomps into the Guardian’s hang-out and gives some impassioned speech about Earth and humans and stuff.  I’m not sure about anyone else, but if you get recruited by a Fortune 500 company, are you really going to barge into the boardroom on your first day and tell the directors, who have been there for basically forever, how to do things?  He doesn’t get his way but he doesn’t get the sack either.  That’s got to be badass behaviour in anyone’s book.  I have a feeling he’s going to be on the fast track to a more senior position very soon.

Green Lantern at IMDB (5.7 / 10)
Green Lantern at Wikipedia
Green Lantern at Roger Ebert (2.5 / 4)
Green Lantern trailer at YouTube

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Some Guy Who Kills People / Cooking ‘Chilli’


Some Guy Who Kills People  -  Front Blu-ray Cover  -  UK Release

Meet Ken Boyd: small-town loner and comic-book nerd, making ends meet by pushing a broom around the local ice-cream parlour. Fresh out of the loony bin, where he spent years recovering from the horrific torture he suffered at the hands of the high school basketball jocks, Ken (Kevin Corrigan) wants nothing more than to just be left alone.  But when the lovely Stephanie (Lucy Davis) comes into Ken’s life and he is reunited with his estranged, 11 year old daughter Amy, things finally seem to be looking up.  Even his constantly disappointed mother (Karen Black) and the town Sheriff (Barry Bostock) start to treat him with a little more respect.  That is, until those very same jocks that Ken deems responsible for his ruined life start turning up dead…

2011 –  Certificate: 15  –  American Film
Rating Details: Strong language and bloody violence
7.0 out of 10

For dinner last night I had a weird and not overly tasty concoction that was meant to be a chilli, except I didn’t have any chillies or chilli powder, so I thought I’d use paprika instead; well it’s nearly the same colour isn’t it? I also thought I’d use a whole garlic bulb in it too.  I ground the garlic up in an electric chopper, rather than cut it up into small bits with a knife, which is what I normally do.  This had the effect of spreading the taste throughout the rest of the food, instead of keeping it more concentrated in certain places.  The overall result of all this was an overpoweringly garlicky mush that didn’t go at all well with the paprika.  I ate it all, but I imagine anyone coming anywhere near me in the next 36 hours is likely to be putting in a call to National Grid soon after.  In the flats where I live, all the kitchens have a built in vent/fan system that is supposed to remove cooking smells.  It’s really not very efficient; it just makes a lot of noise.  Unfortunately and from personal experience over many years, this system also doesn’t seem to be very good at venting the smells out of the building either, preferring instead to simply pump them into all the neighbouring kitchens and bathrooms instead.  I imagine that many of my neighbours were busy last night with the Air Wick, in a desperate attempt to hide my dietary experimentation.  Still, I’m just getting my own back for all the meat and fish based meals they share with me in the same way.  This movie has a bit of a revenge theme going on too.

In common with much of life, this film is a gentle comedy with the occasional bit of slasher horror. Like far too many other films, this one features another of those young (in this case an 11-year-old) kids with impossibly high levels of emotional intelligence, empathy and stability.  They really are a cliché.  Listen Mr. Movie-Maker, they may make useful plot devices but they don’t actually exist in the real world.  You may as well have introduced a purple alien to fulfil the same role; it wouldn’t be any less believable (and could well end up actually being more believable).  Despite this and a sometimes weak storyline, the characters are actually the best things in this film; yes, even the 11-year-old with the professional life-coaching skills; (and she looks about 13 too.)  I enjoyed watching this movie more for the individual scenes to see everyone interacting, rather than the overall plot.  The ‘horror bits’ felt a bit bolted on to everything and it would have probably worked just as well without them.  So worth a watch for the fun and the acting, but it’s a disappointing horror with a wonky story.  (When was the last time you heard or saw anyone use the word “wonky” then?)  I’ve just though, this is the second American film in a row I’ve watched that has a ‘token Brit’ in it. She calls someone a “wanker” anyway; a complex term that I imagine goes over the head of many Americans.

The soundtrack does what it needs to do but is otherwise pretty anonymous.

The trailer’s entertaining, but it does sort of give away the story and has most of the best lines in it as well.

Recommended for police officers, precocious kids, bullies (and their victims), basketball fans, losers and anyone in a dead-end job.

1 decapitation, no cats or chainsaws. A clean if somewhat messy cut; off in one.

Top badass moment? As a minor plot point, this film includes issues around custody of a young girl.  Fortunately this appears to get sorted out in about 15 seconds to the satisfaction of all.  I thought these things are meant to take ages and cost a fortune?  Was this just lazy writing, or have I been brainwashed for years by the legal profession bent on maximising what it gets from the misery of others?  Regardless, the DIY result in this movie seems badass.

Some Guy Who Kills People at IMDB (6.4 / 10)
Some Guy Who Kills People at Wikipedia
Some Guy Who Kills People trailer at YouTube


The Colors of the Mountain / Comet ISON


The Colors of the Mountain  -  Front DVD Cover  -  US Release

Young Manuel lives with his hard-working farmer parents in the remote, mountainous region of the Colombian countryside.  While the adults in their lives try to avoid both the armed military and the guerrilla rebels fighting each other in the area, Manuel and his friend Julián are obsessed with playing soccer any chance they get.  Shortly after his birthday, the new ball Manuel received as a gift gets kicked off to a minefield, and he, Julián and their albino friend Poca Luz will do everything in their power to recover their prized belonging – an essential part of their everyday lives and dreams.

2011  –  Rating: Not Rated  –  Columbian Film
7.5 out of 10

So “comet of the century” ISON turned out to be more of a metaphor for life; all that potential, expectation and excitement, followed by an invisible anti-climax.  However, I would like to propose a new verb for the English language.  Ison: a state of disillusionment; e.g. “the band’s performance was somewhat isoning; or “I’m really isoned by this whole project of yours.”  It’s good to invent words.

This is an interesting, watchable but ultimately depressing film.  It’s a very simple story about three football-obsessed young boys, whose ball ends up in a minefield.  As this is not something that happens very often in the English Premier League, it provides a somewhat different viewpoint of the game.  Let’s not forget that the Colombian national team is ranked fourth in the world, whilst England is ranked 13th.  There’s a lot to be said for sharpening you team’s reactions with a few, well-placed landmines.  What this movie does really well is focus on the story from the boys’ point of view, allowing the realities of the ongoing, three-sided civil war in the area to colour what happens.  The insidious effect of the latter on the local people slowly comes into focus as the story moves along.  As the kids plot to recover their ball, things around them gradually fall apart and begin to directly change their lives.  It’s hard not to feel upset by the situation.  There isn’t anyone mowing down half the jungle with a minigun, or 100s of people being blown to pieces in huge, set-piece scenes.  Instead you get an insight into the subtle ways conflict changes things.  Not nice and very sad.  Filmed in the mountains, the scenery looks lush; (as in very green, not sexy).  Understated and documentary like, the whole movie feels very authentic and is well worth watching.  However, I do wish Americans would learn to spell “colour” correctly; it’s very irritating!

There’s a lot of ‘Spanish sounding’ music in the film.  It’s great. 

Recommended for football fans, guerrillas, freedom fighters and Roy Hodgson.

No cats, chainsaws or decapitations.

Top badass moment?  The teacher gets the kids to paint a big mural over the ‘war graffiti’ on the school building.  This is probably not the most sensible thing to do if you’re looking for a quiet life, but it is most definitely badass.

The Colors of the Mountains at IMDB (7.0 / 10)
The Colors of the Mountains at Wikipedia

The Colors of the Mountains at YouTube


Zombie Ass: Toilet of the Dead / Becoming a Master of Time


Zombie Ass: Toilet of the Dead  -  Front DVD Cover  -  US ReleaseDealing with guilt over the suicide of her sister Ai, karate student Megumi accompanies a group of older friends on a trip into the woods.  Things start to go badly when Maki finds a parasitical worm inside a fish and wolfs it down alive, in the hope that’ll help keep her skinny!  Attacked by a crowd of undead who emerge from an outhouse toilet, the group seek refuge at the home of Dr. Tanaka and his daughter Sachi.  Unbeknownst to them, Tanaka has been conducting experiments on the parasites and the zombies!

2011  –  Certificate: Not Rated  –  Japanese Film
7.0 out of 10

In the distant future, a scientist creates a shock-wave of anti-time, which then travels backwards through history.  Four fragments of a time crystal lost in four different timezones are needed to create a second shock-wave, which will eliminate the first one.  This has nothing to do with this film, but in the last century (1997 to be exact) a game for the PC called Timeshock was released and that was the basic plot.  This was (and still is) an excellent simulation of a pinball machine.  (A lot of the music used in it was written by half of Stiff Little Fingers too.)  I must have played it 1000s of times.   But like many things, as my life moved on (or stagnated to be more accurate) I stopped doing so.  Earlier this year I found out that a new version was being released via a Kickstarter campaign.  So I paid some money and now patiently await the arrival of this update.  However, whilst waiting I thought it would be fun to play the original again.  Despite playing it so often, I’d never quite managed to get all the way through it; occasionally I’d get close, but ultimately mess things up with the result that the Universe was destroyed, which was never very good for my self-esteem.  A few weeks ago I went to see The Wedding Present.  (The fourth best band on the planet.)  I was still a bit ‘buzzy’ when I got home, so I thought I’d play a few games of Timeshock before going to bed.  Despite the darkened room, the early morning hour, my sweat soaked t-shirt and being knackered from my earlier attempts to ‘dance’, I somehow got through to the ‘last bit’, where my meddling always ends up with the destruction of the Universe.  As usual I got off to my usual, panicky, crappy start.  But with the time ticking down I entered one of those oh too rare moments of mental clarity and physical coordination.  Being told I’d saved the Universe and consequently was now a Master of Time, has had a profound effect on my inner being.  I think I now realise what all my life has been preparing me for.  However, it wasn’t this film.

This movie is everything it sounds like it’ll be and a whole lot more.  Consider this though for a moment: there’s a futility in trying to explain the point of certain things.  Wind, fog, dust, wasps, mangos, pizza delivery leaflets, bottled water, slip-covers on DVDs.  This film is another.  It has little in common with either “The Matrix” or “2001: A Space Odyssey”.  But on a very primitive level it is quite entertaining.  In many ways this is the perfect movie and manages to pull together aspects of just about every dodgy Japanese film ever made.  It does have a fair bit of action in it and some (but not all) of the effects are pretty good.  It’s well made for what it is and provides a most entertaining encounter of the most juvenile kind.  From the horrible, 60s style opening credits to the flying battle scene near the end, it manages to cram in enough clichés to make anyone feel a bit queasy.  And I guess it’s simply not possible to fill a whole film with nothing but jokes based on flatulence, (although it does try).  Not surprisingly it maxes out on the official toilet humour scale, but given its title I can’t really imagine anyone watching it would be expecting to get a “Citizen Kane” experience. However, I was struck by the though that just a couple of Rennies could have solved the whole zombie, parasite, bonkers doctor and daughter problem very easily.

Musically the film actually has a decent horror soundtrack.  Maybe the composer wasn’t told all the details?  However the trailer is clearly in on the joke.  Why does the voice over become more and more German as it goes along?

Recommended for would-be models, karate experts, mad scientists and anyone with a digestive illness.

No cats, chainsaws  or decapitations.  However, a number heads explode or get totally squashed; I’d say around a dozen.

Top badass moment?  Megumi fighting the Nekurogedoro queen (or whatever it is) is pretty badass.  Using only the power of her, em, ‘indigestion’, to fly through the air, it’s difficult to imagine anything, ever, could be literally quite as badass as that.

Zombie Ass: Toilet of the Dead at IMDB (5.1 / 10)      Zombie Ass: Toilet of the Dead at Wikipedia      Zombie Ass: Toilet of the Dead at YouTube


Another Earth / Holidays


Another Earth  -  Front Blu-ray cover (UK Release)This “deeply emotional…extraordinarily profound” film became a must-see sensation at the Sundance Film Festival.  “Beautiful, bright and fearless” newcomer Brit Marling and fan-favourite William Mapother (TV’s “Lost”) star as Rhoda and John, two people whose worlds collide after a tragic accident.  Their intimate drama plays out against the astounding discovery of Earth 2, a parallel world that poses provocative and fascinating possibilities.  Does a new Earth mean a chance at another life?  Another destiny?  Another self?  “Another Earth” is science fiction at its best, with a mind-bending surprise ending that you will never forget.

2011  –  Certificate: 12:  –  American Film
Rating Details:  Moderate sex and one scene of bloody accident injury
8 out of 10

I’m on holiday for two weeks.  What this actually means is that I’m off work for two weeks, which isn’t exactly the same thing; I’m not planning on going away anywhere.  When other people come back from being on holiday they say things like: we went windsurfing and it’s so easy once you get the hang of it; we made great friends with Dawuma of the Ingoca-Ti Tribe and helped them build a solar-powered oven; we got drunk every night on French wine in our château, but never had a hangover because it was really good quality stuff; we sat at the top of Ben Nevis and watched the sun go down, it was so romantic; we saved a species of bird from extinction by planting trees to extend the rainforests; we laid on the beach all day and got a perfect suntan; we went to Alton Towers and didn’t have to queue-up for any of the rides; we went to Butlins and the kids loved it; we went paragliding over Norwegian glaciers; we met the Dali Lama and now perfectly understand the Tibetan wish for autonomy, but respect the Chinese viewpoint too; etc, etc.  I’ll just end up going to a few, half-empty gigs and trying to catch up with all my old e-mails from work, so I won’t have so much of a backlog to deal with when I start on the 500 new ones that will have arrived in my absence.  This film features a great new place to go on holiday.

What if there was another you?  Rhoda Williams is an ace student that gets accepted to go to university to study astronomy.  On her way back from celebrating this news, its announced on the radio that a planet identical to Earth has been discovered. She looks up into the air to see if she can see it in the night sky and crashes her car, changing her life forever.  (Most of us have to settle for fiddling with the car stereo to achieve the same thing, but I guess that’s not quite so exciting.)  The rest of the movie is basically about her dealing with the consequences of this, which is played out against the background of Earth 2 (as it gets named) slowly getting closer and closer to us.  Just occasionally I watch a film and I really, really want it to be great.  This was one of those films.  It turns out that it is great, but it isn’t GREAT.   It has a wonderful, if mostly downbeat, ‘other-worldly’ vibe (literally) and a fairly unique background, but the narrative leave a little too much unsaid for my liking.  Star Trek at least has the good sense to use some techno-babble to explain things; “Another Earth” just leaves you wondering.  Even the ending is a bit of a “what?” one.  This is really just a simple drama about two fucked-up people that’s played out against the biggest thing ever to happen to anyone.  It’s nicely shot too.  You really should watch this film.

The music used in this film is fine and provides a nice bed for the narrative.  Unfortunately I just didn’t really like it that much.  What a shame.

Recommend for cleaners, astronomers, composers and mirror-makers.

No cats, chainsaws or decapitations.

Top badass moment?  It features a new planet.  It’s like Earth.  Exactly like Earth.  If that’s not badass enough for you then I don’t know what is.

Another Earth at IMDB (7.0 / 10)

Another Earth at Wikipedia


Little Deaths / Margaret Thatcher


Little Deaths  -  Front DVD Cover (US Release)Welcome to the terrifying world of “Little Deaths”, where everyday people are thrust into nightmares that push the limits of sensuality and violence beyond the breaking point.  From a young homeless woman sucked into a whirlpool of cruelty by a wealthy couple, to a call girl used as a tool in a diabolical medical scheme and a domineering woman with a very unusual phobia, no one escapes unscathed and most don’t make it out alive.  Featuring a mesmerizing soundtrack and unpredictable twists and turns, this stylish, groundbreaking vision of terror has been hailed as “one of the most unique and challenging horror anthologies in quite some time” (FEARnet).

2011  –  Certificate: Unrated  –  British Film
8.5 out of 10

Margaret Thatcher has died.  The human personification of Marmite; you either love her or hate her.  An old woman of 87, suffering from senile dementia and living in a nursing home, (well okay, in the Ritz Hotel in London), has gone to a better place.  Well better that is, until she starts ‘sorting things out’ there.  I’ve watched loads of movies where the dead do (or try to) come back to life, with varying results; right about now I expect that a line of refugees from Heaven or Hell (depending on your point of view) to be winding its way back to Earth, resulting in a humanitarian crises that will make Syria look like Platform 5 at Reading Station after a train’s been cancelled.  The amount of shit written about her everywhere in the past few days has been quite overpowering; I’d forgotten just what a hated witch she was (and still is).  She’s getting a better press in Argentina than here!  I guess it’s easier to be rude about someone once they’ve died; it not like she’s going to get up out of her bed and twat anyone with her handbag.  You’re all tough guys now, aren’t you?  I can’t understand why anyone had a problem with her selling all the stuff we already owned back to us; sounds like a great business model to me.  I certainly enjoyed myself as one of the 3,500,000 unemployed in the 1980s, along with my time on that Government training programme that suddenly got cancelled one day; I wasn’t able to afford to buy those lovely oranges from the greengrocers on the hill in Rayners Lane after that.  And who can forget her services to vegan-kind, in her earlier guise as The Milk Snatcher?  Smashing the Unions, fighting General Galtieri and dealing with a party full of Tories would have been easy after dealing with the UK’s dairy industry.  I hate how people always dwell on the negative things she did.  She won three general elections for goodness sake; the only other person to do that recently was Tony Blair and everyone loves him.  Northerners, they’ve got such a blinked view of life; they can only see as far as the end of the mine shaft they’re working in, never the big picture.  Other than in Preston, where I think I still owe about £25 in Poll Tax, I can now freely explore the former council estates of Britain, safe in the knowledge that I’m surrounded by good, lower-middle-class owner-occupiers working in IT, breathing in air that’s free of heavy-industry pollutants or coal smog, knowing that thanks to Right to Buy and the resulting shortage of public housing and the artificially inflated cost of houses, I’ll be stuck in privately rented accommodation forever; until that is, I need to be moved to a nursing home like the Ritz.  Thank you Maggie, I’ll miss you.  You were great in “The Iron Lady” too; an excellent horror film that you really did look a lot like Meryl Streep in.  Anyway, I’m looking forward to playing my “In Memoriam: Margaret Thatcher” CD from Chumbawamba that got delivered yesterday.  I ordered it on 3rd March 2009, so it’s about time it arrived.  This is a horror film too.

Actually it’s a horror anthology.  I don’t normally like these but this one was actually really good.  Three stories.  The first stars a guy who looks scarily like George Osborne acting like Iain Duncan Smith, demonstrating the Government’s latest policy to deal with ‘welfare scroungers’.  The second features a bucket of semen; it’s been a while since I came across one of those.  And the final one’s about guy in a dog mask with a dominant girlfriend who’s terrified of dogs.  All pretty grim stuff.  Maggie was right, there really isn’t any such thing as society.  They’re all pretty pervy though.

The music varies between the three films, but is generally fine, if a bit forgettable.  However, the final one ends with a section that’s top stuff; brilliant.

No cats, chainsaws or decapitations.

Recommended for Government ministers, vivisectionists, homeless people, Nazis, prostitutes, drug-addicts and animal lovers.  You will find yourself in at least one of these films.

Top badass moment?  When you’ve just been done over by a George Osborne look-alike and his wife, it’s good to know that you and your mates will still get the last laugh.  Another Government policy to deal with spending on welfare goes wrong…

Little Deaths at IMDB (4.6 / 10)


Shame / Water Meters & Toilet Rolls


Shame  -  Front Blu-ray Cover (UK Release)Brandon (Michael Fassbender) is a 30-something man living comfortably in New York balancing a busy job and active social life.  When the wayward Sissy (Carey Mulligan), turns up at his apartment unannounced, Brandon’s carefully managed lifestyle spirals out of control.  From award-winning director Steve McQueen (“Hunger”), “Shame” is a compelling and timely examination of the nature of need, how we live our lives and the experiences that shape us.

2011  –  Certificate 18  –  USA
Rating Details: Strong sex and sex references
7.5 out of 10

I’m having a water meter fitted at home.  No longer will I pay Thames Water £36.60 a month for the few drops of H2O that I use every day.  (Apparently it has to dig up half the town to fit it, but who cares?)  No longer will I feel guilt if I wash-up, flush the toilet, have a shower or do some washing, as I’ll simply stop doing all of those things.  This will save me money and, more importantly, save the planet too.  Who would have though becoming a lazy, housework-averse, smelly slob would actually be more community-minded than keeping your whites white and your home clean?  The next time I see someone washing his or her car I’m going to go up to the criminal (and let’s face it, you can’t do much worse than destroy the whole planet), and tell them just how selfish they are.  They may as well just get a gun and start killing people.  Indeed, a clean 4×4 has a lot in common with a minigun.  In a mostly unrelated incident, the first thing I did this morning was knock an almost entirely new toilet role into the toilet, while I was using it.  I managed to knock it off the holder and in an effort to stop it falling on the floor, only managed to redirect it into the bowl instead.  (My hands were pretty full at the time.)  For the second time in about a month, I enjoyed the taboo experience of urinating onto something that’s not really meant to be treated in that way; (last time it was my mobile phone).  In a not dissimilar way, this is a film about a successful guy with an addiction to sex.  We also get to see him using a toilet in a similar fashion to me, although minus the bog role and with a ‘physical presence’ that made me feel somewhat inadequate.

This film has a story and a plot of sorts, but if you’re the sort of person who likes a story that sort of has a purpose, then you may not find it that satisfying.  On the other hand, if you like films with a vibe and an atmosphere, then you might quite enjoy it.  Depending on your world view, I guess you’ll either consider Brandon is ‘the man’ or a ‘total loser’.  (If it helps you, please feel free to insert a pair of diametrically opposed euphemisms of your choice in place of the two I’ve just used, perhaps more suited to your age and social background.)  This is actually a very good movie.  I didn’t really want to like Brandon, but somehow he manages to come across as a decent guy with two sides to his life; one a success at work and the other an uncontrollable addict that he keeps bottled up by routine and ‘rules’.  Then his somewhat messed up sister arrives on the scene.  I felt quite sorry for him actually.  This probably has a lot to do with how Michael Fassbender portrays the character, which is in a quite understated way.  The story does leave a lot of unfinished business and unanswered questions in its wake, but really, it’s the mood of the film that makes it work.  Mostly depressing (like most of what I watch), it’s a visually and emotionally entertaining portrayal of a guy with a problem, a guy with a problem that he then tries to do something about.

I really love how the music is used in this film, a mixture of mainly 80s pop, Johann Sebastian Bach and some great incidental stuff by Harry Escott.  It also seems to be part of the trigger that makes Brandon try to change his behaviour.

No cats, decapitation or chainsaws.

Recommended for perverts, obviously.

Top badass moment?  Twice in under two hours, we see Brandon make ‘meaningful’ eye contact with attractive women on the Subway.  I’ve spent hundreds of hours on the Tube and never managed that; in fact I’ve only seen it happen once between anyone.  Somehow that’s badass, or jealousy, I’m not sure which.

Shame at IMDB (7.3/10)


North Sea Texas / The Return of China Drum


North Sea Texas  -  Front DVD Cover (UK Release)North Sea Texas is the feature film debut from cult director Bavo Defurne.  His short films are love letters to the male form and soaked with lush visuals, garnering fans from across the globe and drawing comparisons to Pierre et Gilles, Herbert List, Dreyer and Eisenstein.  Pim lives in a small town on the Belgian coat, together with his single mother Yvette, a local accordion starlet.  It’s an ordinary existence which Pim brightens up by dreaming of princesses, beauty queens and handsome Gino, the boy next door. But when hunky traveller Zoltan blows through town, Pim’s life takes an exciting and unexpected turn.

2011  –  Certificate: 15  –  Belgium
Rating Details:  Infrequent strong sex
7 out of 10

On Thursday I went to see China Drum play at the Garage in Islington, London; its first gig for 13 years.  Since The Undertones reformed in 1999, it’s been the band I’ve wanted to see get back together more than any other.  Playing as a 5-piece, I can’t even begin to express the kick-ass awesomeness of this gig. The place looked packed out and despite a somewhat alarming number of 30-something couples, the mosh-pit was great.  The band played most of “Goosefair”, plus a few other tracks.  I was really glad they played “60 Seconds” from the second album.  China Drum is the band that singlehandedly got me back into going to gigs after about ten years of not really having been to any.  Without China Drum, my life would be an empty void, without meaning, without value, without soul.  (Well maybe not totally, but I’m sure you can see what I’m getting at here.)  It’s also a band that means a lot to me on a personal level and reminds me very specifically of a certain time in my life.  When the guitar chimed at the start of “Simple” (possibly the best revenge song ever written), 13 years of crappyness in my life was distilled into two and a half minutes of pure, sonic anger.  “And if you ever get a life, I hope that it’s in hell, I wish that I could kill you, I’d slit your ugly throat, I’d wrap you up in concrete and throw you from a boat.”  Well… sometimes you need to offload a bit of life’s baggage.  They ended the set with the best cover version by any band ever, Kate Bush’s “Wuthering Heights”.  I hope they don’t make this a one-off.

This film is about a right miserable little so and so.  Then again, I suppose having a less than attentive (accordion playing) mother and living in a boring little town on the coast of Belgium, (which as everyone knows is boring at the best of times anyway) and being called Pim, is probably enough to make any young teenager miserable.  This film follows Pim’s life for about seven years, as he falls for the handsome, older boy next door, Gino, who then basically dumps him for a girlfriend.  He also gets nowhere with the hunky border Zoltan, who then proceeds to run off with his mother, leaving Pim on his own.  Moving in with Gino’s family, the latter’s mother then dies.  Rarely smiling, seemingly having no job, no friends and no prospects, Pim spends his time moping about doing nothing much at all, spreading an air of negative vibes wherever he goes; what Gino’s sister saw in him I’ll never know, but it was clearly more than he saw in her.  There’s being “sensitive” and then there’s being “sullen”.  Then there’s the whole, are they or are they not half-brothers, bit going on too.  This film does its best to drag the viewer down to Pim’s level, with its unending vistas of meaningless days and general hopelessness.  (It’s a shame Pim didn’t get to hear China Drum.)  Despite its gay theme, this is more accurately a film about loneliness and rejection.  It’s a metaphor for life, a few good parts adrift in a sea of disappointment.  I guess that’s why I bought it.  It’s the sort of thing Thomas Hardy would have written, if he’d penned gay-themed screenplays, set in the latter half of the 20th Century in Belgium.  This is a movie which does an excellent job of capturing the futility of life; it’s well acted, the characters nicely rendered, it looks the part and it’s eminently watchable.

The music used in the film is mostly heard in the background, in pubs and on the radio, that sort of thing.  The theme song, “Wooly Clouds”, works well as a quirky little song that fits the overall feel of the film.  I really rather liked it actually.  (And it really is spelt “Wooly”; it must be a Flemish thing.)

No cats, chainsaws or decapitations.

Recommended for The Borg; in this case, resistance really is futile.

Top badass moment?  Pim burning his shoe-box of ‘mementoes’ on the beach, before running off into the sea naked.  I prefer to work out my frustrations with life in the mosh-pit, but hey, each to their own.  Burning things is a classic way to make a break with the past; irreversible, final and violent.  It’s always good to make a fresh start, just so you can bugger things up again from scratch.

North Sea Texas at IMDB (7.0/10)


Psycho Holocaust / Thomas Hardy and Star Trek, Separated At Birth


Psycho Holocaust  -  Front DVD Cover (USA)Eager for one final vacation before their lives change forever, six friends embark upon a camping trip to a remote mountainous area.  By nightfall, their lives will change forever… in ways too horrific to imagine.  For in the shadows awaits a pack of the most evil, vicious rejects of humanity, addicted to violence and thirsty for blood!  This is “Psycho Holocaust”…

2011  –  Certificate: Not Rated  –  USA
6 out of 10

I’m not just an uncouth, middle-aged yobbo, who only listens to angry punk music and watches slasher movies.  No, I also have a cultured, respectable side, the sort that The Queen would be entirely at home with.  In proof, I offer up the fact that I’ve just finished reading “The Hand of Ethelberta” by Thomas Hardy, not for the first time either.   In between reading Star Trek novels I read Thomas Hardy ones.  The latter is of course, the greatest writer the world has ever seen.  In fact I’m a fully paid-up member of the Thomas Hardy Society.  That’s how cultured I am.  Unlike “The Terminator” Sara Connor’s “No fate but what we make”, Hardy’s novels generally provide more of a ‘fate will do whatever it wants with you, despite your best efforts to do otherwise, and you probably won’t like it either’ point of view.  Even though it’s one of Hardy’s more light-weight stories, “The Hand of Ethelberta” once again provides us with a reminder that it’s basically pointless trying to do something about your lot in life, or dream about bettering yourself.  When it comes down to it, you might win a few battles, but the war will be lost.  I find Hardy an excellent counter-balance to the optimism and can-do attitude prevalent in Star Trek. Together, they help to keep me grounded!  This movie is more Thomas Hardy than Star Trek.

“Six friends embark upon a camping trip to a remote mountainous area” eh?  I wonder what on Earth this film could be about?  Ornithology?   Geology?   Photography?  Actually, it features three veterans of the conflict in Iraq, in a searing and damming documentary about the effects of combat on individuals and the political implications of going to war.  Okay, I lied a bit.  It does indeed feature three veterans (and one was a documentary film maker), but then it all sort of goes where a million low-budget horrors have gone before.  In its favour, our six ‘heroes’ weren’t teenagers and even the three war veterans displayed a clear lack of fantasy indestructibleness.  (Cool, a six-syllable word that Word approves of.)  The latter also exhibited a genuine concern for their local environment, (an attractive woodland).  It was heartening to see a couple of sick and twisted psychos busy taking two of their victims off to a location to kill them in, discussing an impending plan to turn the area into “one big fucking suburb”.  A small quirk of fate and they’d have been running about, carrying out direct action in the name of Earth First instead.  That’s the ‘Hardy Effect’ for you.  The violence is well up to scratch and some (though not all) of the special effects are generally pretty believable.  The lead baddie is suitably effective and entertaining, even though he did look a little too like Simon Pegg to be totally convincing.  I kept expecting him to pick up a pile of LPs and use them as weapons.  Despite the occasionally horrific bit of acting, the film works well as a B-movie and the violence scores highly on the official sick-gross-eew scale.  Turning to health and safety now, a number of different tools get used in the film, including two carpenter’s saws, a claw hammer, a few hand axes, a double-headed axe and a sort of flat bladed butcher’s hatchet, as well as a chainsaw.  By and large, these were used in a generally appropriate and certainly effective way, although the arm that was cut off wasn’t really secured properly and the no-handed use of one of the saws isn’t a formally recognised technique.  (You may wish to give that some further though.)  Unfortunately, as is often the case, the chainsaw was used with little or no attention paid to safety.  I couldn’t see any PPE in use and even an idiot must surely realise that running about in a woodland carrying a running chainsaw, over uneven terrain full of trip hazards, isn’t a terribly good idea.  It never fails to amaze me how few chainsaw wielding psychos use their equipment safely.  Particularly in this case, considering the latter were ex-military; this was disappointing and certainly made the whole movie feel a lot less realistic.  However, it did seem to start really easily, from both hot and cold, so at least it looks like it was being maintained properly, which is promising.

1 cat, 1 chainsaw and 1 decapitation.  Bingo!  The first film I’ve watched for ages that gets a full set.  (I think the cat was just a bystander that ran onto the set though.)  There’re a few other rather painful amputations too.

Recommended for would-be psychos.  An excellent training film.

Top badass moment?  It’s certainly a gentleman’s leg-crossing moment, but Laura’s treatment of her would-be rapist was pretty awesome; I’m just not sure how feasible it would be in real life (so says Mr. Modest-Bigboy).  It wasn’t that she’d had an especially good day up to then either.  A whipping, a drowning, another rape, a bashing on the head with a big rock and finding her boyfriend missing a leg, (who then promptly fell on her when she tried to help him, trapping her), do not a good day make for anyone.  And let’s not forget her safe and effective use of the double-headed axe too.

Psycho Holocaust at IMDB (4.9/10)


Ferocious Planet: 2.5 Stars


Ferocious Planet  -  Front DVD coverI got my car serviced today.  I had it done at Halfords.  After six years of shoddy, sub-standard work and customer service from those fuck-wits at the local Ford dealership, I’d had enough of them.  I must say, I did enjoy Ford ringing me up a few weeks ago to remind me that the service was due and to be able to thank them and say I was taking it to Halfords from now on and why.  Ford, I bet it’s one, scared multinational that’s probably in the market for some new underwear, now it’s attracted my wrath!  Halfords were much nicer, it actually felt as if they wanted me as a customer.  And I don’t know what they did to my car, but it feels so much nicer to drive now; they even gave it a good clean inside and out.  I realise that all this has absolutely no connection whatsoever to this movie, but sometimes these things have to be said.

2011  –  Certificate: Not Rated  –  USA

Even been dropped in the shit by someone and then had a really crap day as a result?  Ever had one of those days where absolutely everything you try goes wrong?  Well, welcome to “Ferocious Planet”, a Syfy Original Movie.  (I love how there’s a big sticker on the cover stating the latter, as if it’s actually going to encourage anyone to buy to it.  Using the same logic, I think I’ll get a massive, “stupid, fat, old bloke” sticker for myself and see if that attracts anyone to me.)  This movie has a great concept.  But OMG, its characters were straight out of rent a cliché.  In fact they were so bad, you wouldn’t even be able to dispose of them via Freecycle.  In fact they’d probably be labelled as Special Waste and you’d need a licence even to dump them somewhere legally.  It’s a shame the Olympics don’t include an event for “people that can act the most illogically in a dire situation”.  In a film dealing with the existence of “billions of parallel universes”, it’s ironic that the paper-thin characters could barely manage a single dimension between them.  A sociopathic disinterest in the fate of the other members of their group who were slowly being killed off and the ‘magic’ of a severe injury that five minutes later seem to have no effect on its sufferer, just added to the realism.  You may wish to consider how big a space 50 gallons of water needs too.  Now at this point I have to fess up that I’ve never actually been transported to a parallel dimension, accidentally or otherwise; I’ve had a few bad hangovers and felt like I’d been to one, but I guess that’s not quite the same thing.  Having said that, I think if I was I’d be mainly concerned with trying to get the machine that bought me there fixed, so I could get back home before the short window of opportunity to do so closed; especially if I’d already seen the very scary and deadly monster outside the room and what it could do.  I’d not think it was sensible to go ‘exploring’ if I was meant to be a highly intelligent person and I’d seen the monster outside with the huge teeth that had already ripped one of my colleagues in two right outside the door, (however annoying and unhelpful that person might have been).  The fact that the place looked exactly like a forestry plantation in Ireland would also probably put me off doing this a bit too; but that’s not a co-incidence, because that’s exactly what it was and probably explains why one of the characters got a stronger and stronger Irish accent as the film progressed.  It may have meant to have been an alien planet in a parallel universe, but it sure had some nice ivy, ferns and brambles growing on it.  But it’s not all bad.  If you watch it expecting to see a modern-day B-movie, then you’ll probably enjoy it.  And if you get a kick out of watching other people have a ‘really bad day’ then you’ll love it.  And as I said, the concept is great and it was strangely compelling viewing, waiting for them to do the next stupid thing and suffer the consequences.  A special “Tell It Like It Is Award” ought to go to Colonel Sam Synn’s too, for his wonderfully understated “Crap” as he faced the millionth problem of the afternoon; he really wasn’t having a good day.

Recommended for viewing when you’ve had a bad day, but you want to see just how much worse it could have been.

No cats and no decapitations.

Top badass moment?  In a film filled with idiots, genuine badass moments were hard to come by.  However, Dr Karen Fast gets to deliver the best line, “Don’t, poke, the alien.”  This is good advice at any time and good advice is often badass. 

Ferocious Planet at IMDB (4.3)