I got a feelin’ like a whipped dog. Someday, I’m gonna bite back.” Throughout his life, Sheriff Wade Whitehouse has been cowed and brutalised by his father, a venomous alcoholic. But a child never forgets a cruelty, and two suspicious deaths in their small New Hampshire town lead inexorably to a cataclysmic confrontation between father and son. Dark, powerful and moving, Paul Schrader’s adaptation of Russell Banks’ novel creates an indelible impression, enhanced by stunning performances from James Coburn and Nick Nolte.
1997 – Certificate: 15 – USA
6.5 out of 10
Apparently Tesco used its Store Defence Grid ground to air missile capability today to shoot down a helicopter in the centre of London, in an effort to deflect the news about its new range of delicious ‘horseburgers’ from the front pages. That’s pretty harsh, even for a business that’s run like Tesco. I can’t imagine Waitrose doing that, or the Co-op. I wouldn’t go shoplifting in Tescos if I was you, its store detectives don’t take prisoners. The way a lot of people appear to have reacted to ‘horseburgergate’ is rather like their reaction to the loss of the so many independent stores from our town centres. They shake their heads in sadness at the loss of diversity in the ‘high street,’ yet use the very shops that are causing the problem. In the same way, they react in horror at the idea of a horseburger, whilst happily chewing up bits of other animals made into disc shapes and given alterniatve names to disguse what they really are. What the fuck? That makes no logical sense at all. Be like the French and just eat everything with a face, at least that’s consistent. Meanwhile, that other destroyer of the high street and leading non-payer of what the tabloids think is a fair level of tax, Amazon, must be pissing itself laughing at the moment, in the week that Play, Blockbuster and HMV all rolled over and died. I went to buy a DVD from it this evening and for some reason they’re all now priced £30 or more. I guess the cost of plastic must have gone up… This is a film that I bought from Amazon, when it was the new kid on the block, the rebel outsider taking on the ‘big boys’.
This movie, despite its good points, I struggled to relate to. I probably need to file it under “too American”. Then again, a film about a son’s relationship with his abusive, alcoholic father is one I’m quite happy to feel I’ve missed out on. (My own father died almost 30 years ago; I wish I could remember more about him. He’s the person who gave me my love of music, even though his tastes and mine weren’t exactly the same; although I do have an inexplicable liking for easy listening, such as James Last, Mantovani, Franck Pourcel, Bert Kaempfert, etc. I still use the turntable he bought in 1969, a Thorens TD-150 Mk II, a wonderful bit of engineering.) This is a thoroughly depressing movie, on nearly every level. Nick Nolte does a great job of making the main character seem a decent guy, despite his failings. James Coburn is brilliant as his father; an evil motherfucker who’s as compelling to watch as he is a total bastard. What an awful character; my heart goes out to all those people who are (or have been) in the position of having someone like that as a father. It’s a shame he doesn’t get more screen time as you’ll really want to boo him and throw stuff at the TV. He won an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor for this role and I can see why. The rest of the film sort of gets lost in a weird narrative that doesn’t quite make sense, as we watch the life of his son, the local sheriff, fall apart. We get to see what happens but we don’t really get inside his head. I never got to fully understand why, after so many years, he suddenly got all weird about things. I’m a sympathetic guy, I wanted to understand his pain, not just watch him bugger up his whole life. He was a really crap police officer though; he should have become a dentist; (it makes sense if you watch the film). As a side issue, I thought his young daughter was a really whiny bitch. Geez, I’m bitter and twisted about everything today!
Recommended for James Coburn.
No cats, chainsaws or decapitations.
Top badass moment? It’s often hard to find a badass moment in a depressing film and this one is no exception. I accept defeat with good grace.
Six strangers awaken from their daily lives to find themselves trapped in a surreal prison – a seemingly endless maze of interlocking cubical chambers armed with lethal booby traps. None of these people knows why or how they were imprisoned… But it soon emerges that each of them has a skill that could contribute to their escape. Who created this diabolical maze, and why? There are unanswered questions on every side, whilst personality conflicts and struggles for power emerge as the tension rises. But one thing is crystal clear; unless they can learn to co-operate to work out the secrets of this deadly trap, none of them has very long to live…
1997 – Certificate: 15 – Canada
Rating Details: Language, occasional, strong; violence, infrequent, strong, horror; other, horror, science fiction.
I tend to buy a few books for myself around Christmas. I think I do this because I have a bit more time then and when I’ve got time I start to think how nice it would be to read a book. So off I trotted (electronically) to Amazon. I decided to buy a couple of Star Trek novels. For various dull reasons, the first one I selected was called “Homecoming”. £200.68 new! £200.68!! For that price I’d expect it to come with a full-sized, fully operational Star Trek spaceship, including crew. Is there suddenly a world shortage of letters? Are the Chinese restricting exports of full stops, thus leading to frantic trading in alternative punctuation marks on global stock markets? Have the Americans finally realised that they can’t spell and bought up the entire world output of letter Us for the next five years, in an effort to correct all those misspelt references to colour? So anyway, I’ve ended up buying myself a Kindle, the cheapest one, which costs £69. I can now buy the book for £4.99. I am suffering a bit of a guilt trip though. I feel like I should be castigating Amazon for its over-effective use of British tax laws and in fact be refusing to buy anything from it in line with the recently announced boycott. Then there’s also the fact that I’ve effectively allowed myself to be locked into its proprietary file format and e-book system for the rest of my life. However, there’s a certain thrill in the idea that the first book I read on it will be a Star Trek one, a franchise that frequently depicts characters reading from a small pad that with hindsight looks suspiciously like a Kindle. As for the other issue, if you’re going to lock yourself into a sweet factory, it may as well be in Willy Wonka’s. This film also features people who’re locked in somewhere, but there’s not a lot of chocolate around, or books, e or otherwise.
I simultaneously love and hate this film. It’s a great and stylish horror/sci-fi thriller, with an unusual and suitably disturbing and clever storyline. I also like how by using only seven people and virtually just a single, small set, it manages to be such a good movie. It creates a tense atmosphere by making great use of sound and the claustrophobic set-up; the traps are ‘nicely’ presented too. Sadly, the characters in it lack any semblance of common sense, so they seem unbelievably stupid, despite their unique talents. There’s not a great deal of emotional intelligence on show, or indeed any sort of togetherness. I’ve seen more communication between passengers on the London Underground in the rush hour than this lot managed, such was their inability to interact meaningfully in a ‘mission-critical’ way. The way they develop and change during the film also stretches their credibility to pretty ridiculous levels. At first, they seemed like a group of people under a lot of pressure, which does tend to make individuals do some strange things, but then I found myself thinking, “what the fuck”? What sort of morons are these people? Why don’t they just work things out together like everyone else would? Haven’t any of them watched “The Poseidon Adventure”? The cliché of groups of people in films who’re trapped together and then not getting on, is getting to be as bad as the one involving groups’ of young people going to remote places for a ‘good time’ and then meeting a grizzly end. Their over or under reaction to different situations just seemed to have been determined by the writers throwing a dice. 6? Oh dear, you’re going to freak out. 1? That’s cool, you’ll barely notice what’s going on, you’re so laid back about it. It’s not that the acting is especially poor, it’s more the script that’s at fault. One plus point is that it’s got Nicole De Boer in it, the world’s third most beautiful woman, although she’s not looking her best, but I can forgive her for that given the circumstances. Nicole De Boer is of course, Lieutenant Ezri Dax from Star Trek Deep Space Nine. However, despite its shortcomings, Cube still manages to be a really good film. Weird eh?
Recommended for fans of clever sci-fi, who won’t let a few hot-headed characters spoil their geeky fun.
No cats, chainsaws or decapitations. However, two heads do get well and truly mangled.
Top badass moment? Given the uniformly un-cooperative, combative and plainly stupid behaviour of most of the characters most of the time, the top badass moments have to be whenever the Cube does something that pisses one of them off, or worse. It’s a sad day when you end up having to cheer for the mechanical baddie. If our ancestors conducted themselves in the same way, we’d still all be living in caves and bashing one another over the head with clubs. Get some anger management people, for goodness sake.