Posts tagged “America

Header / SSE


Header  -  Front DVD Cover  -  US Release

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

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

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  The reply I got (that took longer to arrive that it should have) said that it was an outdated model and it couldn’t be replaced, but that I’d get a new, free smart meter in a few years’ time!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

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

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

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

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

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

No cats, chainsaws or decapitations.

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

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

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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


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)


Close Encounters of the Third Kind: 3.5 Stars


Close Encounters of the Third Kind  -  Front Blu-ray Cover (UK)Steven Spielberg’s classic film is back now on this never-before-released Ultimate Edition Blu-ray Disc, which includes all three versions of the sci-fi blockbuster.  Richard Dreyfuss stars as cable worker Roy Neary, who along with several other stunned bystanders experience a close encounter of the first kind – witnessing UFOs soaring across the sky.  After this life-changing event, the inexplicable vision of a strange, mountain-like formation haunts him. He becomes obsessed with discovering what it represents, much to the dismay of his wife and family.  Meanwhile, bizarre occurrences are happening around the world.  Government agents have close encounters of the second kind – discovering physical evidence of extraterrestrial visitors in the form of a lost fighter aircraft from World War II and a stranded military ship that disappeared decades earlier only to suddenly reappear in unusual places.  Roy continues to chase his vision to a remote area where he and the agents follow the clues that have drawn them to reach a site where they will have a close encounter of the third kind – contact.

1977  –  Certificate: PG  –  USA
Rating Details:  Mild language and scary scenes

In a departure from my normal viewing habits, I decided to take a look at some promotional films this week.  Quite randomly, I thought I’d start with this rather overlong ‘advert’ for the Devils Tower National Monument.  Looming more than 1,200’ above Wyoming’s eastern plains and the Belle Fourche River, it’s a one-of-a-kind natural wonder.  Northern Plains tribes have worshipped near this remarkable, geological formation for thousands of years.  Fur trappers, explorers and settlers alike were awed by the tower’s majesty.  In 1906, President Theodore Roosevelt established Devils Tower as America’s first National Monument.  Certainly it’s an amazing feature; I’d love to visit it one day.  However, what really gobsmacked me what that this was the site of Earth’s very first contact with aliens.  How the Hell did I miss that?  Possibly the most important thing to happen in my lifetime and I knew absolutely nothing about it!  This promo, which to be honest is more of a documentary than anything else, describes the actual meeting and there’s even film of the aliens in it too, as well as a load of scientists and other people.  Apparently some French guy called Steven Spielberg, who worked for an electricity company and used to be a shark fisherman, first made contact with them when his young son ran away one night.  In fact he was nearly run over by a flying saucer.  What’s especially interesting is that the aliens’ culture appears to be almost entirely based on the music of the Electric Light Orchestra; even the design of its flying saucers is based on the cover of ELO’s most successful album, “Out of the Blue”; a strangely apt title under the circumstances.  Incredible!  What isn’t made clear is what the aliens actually came here for, other than to give us a load of stuff they nicked during the Second World War; maybe an alien child took it and his/her/its mother send him/her/it back to return it, I’m not sure.  The only thing they seemed to introduce us to is the concept of ‘sonic branding’, something that Intel has been using ever since.  I have to admit I’m still having difficulty coming to terms with all this.  I’ve tried Googling “aliens”, but there’re 133 million pages of stuff about them.  Totally mind-blowing.

Unfortunately, despite the game-changing news it contains, this promo/documentary itself isn’t that great.  A lot of things aren’t explained very well.  I wanted to know about the aliens, not the personal relationships of the people involved.  The film of the spaceships does look excellent on Blu-ray, although their grasp of music, based as it is on ELO, isn’t exactly going to set the charts alight, or burn-up any dance-floors anytime soon.  Their song really could do with a good remix.  The same goes for this film.  I imagine if they’d got someone in who knew what they were doing, it would have been a lot shorter, more to the point and made it far clearer what the aliens wanted.  I guess it was just put together by some local film company; a tourist board would hardly be in a position to hire a top Hollywood director.  Come to think of it, as a fan of cinema I’m surprised no one has tried to make a movie about this event.  It would make an awesome film.

Recommended for idiots like me that missed this bit of news back in 1977.  I guess I was too busy with punk to notice.

No cats, chainsaws or decapitations.  Though I imagine there were a load of ray guns and stuff on the spaceship and who knows, maybe some aliens pets too.

Top badass moment?  Aliens landing on Earth for real?  What do you think?

Close Encounters of the Third Kind at IMDB (7.8/10)


A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge: 3.5 Stars


A Nightmare On Elm Street Collection - Front Blu-ray Cover (UK)Five years have passed since Freddy Krueger (Robert Englund) was sent howling back to hell.  But now, a new kid on Elm Street is being haunted every night by gruesome visions of the deadly dream stalker.  And if his twisted soul takes possession of the boy’s body, Freddy will return from the dead to wreak bloody murder and mayhem upon the entire town.  When “A Nightmare on Elm Street” made a killing, horror fans shrieked for more. Soon the diabolic Freddy was resurrected with a vengeance, along with some of the most terrifying special effects ever to splatter the screen. Look for Robert Englund minus his Freddy face in the opening sequence. He’s a real scream!

1985  –  Certificate: 18  –  USA
Rating Details:  Strong violence and horror

I’ve often considered Boxing Day to be a sort of inferior sequel to Christmas Day.  Well, okay, to tell the truth I’ve never actually thought that at all.  In fact, until about two minutes ago the idea had never even crossed my mind.  But there I was, sitting here and trying to think of something to write about this film and life in general and it just popped into my head.  I lead such a dull and monotone existence that it’s not always easy to come up with interesting stuff to say on the spur of the moment; there’re only so many things I can comment on about the weather and the amount of e-mail I get at work.  I did the washing-up about an hour ago, but that didn’t really give me the sort of emotional connection with the subject matter I was really looking for.  I do wish I could learn to rinse up a glass after I’ve used it though, it would really reduce the amount of washing-up I need to do quite considerably; but I’ve never been one for doing that when there’s a clean supply in the cupboard ready for use.  Even when I was young I was like this.  I guess I was just a hardcore rebel, fighting the system, looking to piss off The Man, running through the dark streets at night, giving the finger to society; or maybe I was just lazy.  Anyway, as I was saying, I’ve often considered Boxing Day to be a sort of sequel to Christmas Day; and all I really wanted to point out is that sequels are generally not as good as the originals, which is a bit like Boxing Day and Christmas Day.  Which brings us to this film.

Freddy’s revenge eh?  Sounds like serious stuff and to be fair at this point in the franchise Freddy was still the evil ne’er-do-well he started out as in the first movie; his later penchant for clever one-liners had yet to really take hold.  Trouble is, he spends most of this film trying to physically escape from inside some young lad, rather than terrorising loads of teens.  True, he does take time out to turn up at a party and trash it, but most of the time he’s inside rather confused teen Jesse.  Then again, this is the gay Nightmare movie, so it’s perhaps not so surprising after all.  If you view the film from this prospective it makes a lot more sense; if you’ve never done that, try it and see.  (By which I mean watching the film; I’m not suggesting everyone goes out and has a homosexual experience just so they can understand this film better, although if you want that’s fine too.)  I did quite enjoy the school bus scene the beginning, which does a clever job of turning a normal trip on a bus into a, em, nightmare one.  Then again, I could have just as much ‘fun’, albeit at a far lower speed, travelling on a Night Bus in London in the early hours of a Saturday morning.  All in all it’s a pretty average film, but the two main characters are quite engaging in their own way and I suppose you have to respect the makers for trying a slightly different angle this time around.  And it does have Fred Krueger in it of course.

Recommended for those that watched “A Nightmare on Elm Street”, obviously.

1 cat, no chainsaws or decapitations.  Well I think it’s a cat but it’s not a very nice cat.  I guess it suits Freddy though; I can’t really imagine him playing nicely with a cute kitten.

Top badass moment?  It has to be Lisa Webber driving to the old steelworks in the middle of the night, to confront Freddie and rescue her crush Jessie.  Not only is this a completely stupid thing to do under any circumstances, but he’s already told her he’s killed two people, including a mutual friend, whilst standing in front of her covered in blood; he’s also tried to kill her too, he’s trashed her home and when she tried to make out with him he wasn’t even into it.  That’s true friendship for you and friendship is badass.

A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge (5.1/10)


The Rocker: 4.0 Stars


The Rocker  -  Front DVD Cover (UK)Rainn Wilson (TV’s “The Office An American Workplace”) takes centre stage in this wildly irreverent comedy about living your dreams – and embarrassing your family – at any cost.  Twenty years after being kicked out of his nearly famous ‘80s rock group, Robert “Fish” Fishman (Wilson) gets a hilarious second chance at stardom when he joins his nephew’s high school garage band.  Without missing a beat, Fish vows to reclaim the rock-god throne he always thought he deserved… while taking his much younger band-mates along for the rides of their lives!

2008  –  Certificate: 12  –  USA
Rating Details:  Moderate sex references and infrequent muffled strong language

Today is a special day.  From the mid-late 80s until the mid-late 90s, I didn’t really go to see many gigs; in fact off the top of my head I can only remember one.  Then I went to see China Drum at ULU (University of London Union) and everything changed.  It was the band that singlehandedly reintroduced me to live music.  Then after three albums, China Drum split up and the world became a slightly more crappy place.  It’s been at the top of my “wish they would reform” list for years.  Now, twelve years on, China Drum is playing a gig in February in London.  To say I’m a bit excited is like suggesting the sun is a bit warm.  This movie is about something a little similar.

I’m a bit of a sucker for films about music and bands and I really like Rainn Wilson, so it’s probably no surprise that I enjoyed this one.  There’s nothing especially groundbreaking about it, but it’s fun and at times really very funny; it has some great lines in it.  It just about manages to stay on the right side of becoming a parody à la “Spinal Tap” and Fish remains a likable character.  It seems to get compared to “School of Rock” a lot, but I think this is the better of the two films as it feels (okay slightly) more grounded.  It has a number of clever little references in it to other films and ‘pop culture’ and there’s even a small cameo from Peter Best, The Beatles’ original drummer.  The DVD has loads of extras too.  Highly recommended.

Recommended for people who used to be into music and then ‘grew out of it’, but secretly wishes they hadn’t.

No cats, chainsaws or decapitations.

Top badass moment?  The ending is terribly clichéd, but who doesn’t want to get one over on someone who got one over on them years ago?  There’s nothing like holding a lifelong grudge; even I have one or two.  It’s not the most grown-up way to get rid of the latter, but beating a long-standing nemesis is most certainly badass.  Rock on!

The Rocker at IMDB (6.2/10)


The Road: 5.0 Stars


The Road  -  Front Blu-ray Cover (UK)Academy Award® nominee Viggo Mortensen leads an all-star cast including Guy Pearce, Academy Award® winners Robert Duvall and Charlize Theron and an incredible debut performance from Kodi Smit-McPhee.  “The Road” is a thrilling and deeply moving tale of survival as a father and his young son journey across a barren, post apocalyptic America.   Respectfully adapted from Cormac McCarthy’s hallowed novel, “The Road” boldly imagines a future in which men are pushed to the worst and the best that they are capable of; a future in which a father and his son are sustained by love.

2009  –  Certificate: 15  –  USA
Infrequent strong violence, language and gory images

It’s Sunday evening.  Monday is Christmas Eve.  Unlike most of my colleagues at work and indeed most other people everywhere else around these parts, I’ll be at my desk tomorrow, protecting the planet so the rest of you can enjoy the festive season, secure in the knowledge that the Earth is in safe hands.  Scanning the skyline for environmental Armageddon and other unpleasant circumstances, I’ll be poised, like a coiled snake, ready to pounce at a moment’s notice, should someone send in an e-mail for any reason that’s needs answering.  I’ve said this before and I’m sure I’ll say it again, but when I’m at work I really do feel like I’m one of the Avengers or part of the Justice League.  This movie features a hero too.

The trailer is really quite deceptive (and actually not very good), as it seems to suggest this is some sort of action film.  It does have moments, but overwhelmingly it’s slow, quiet and thoughtful, with most of the action involving hiding rather than fighting.  I have to admit to having a soft spot for post apocalyptic movies; I think they probably reflect my life in some ways.  However, this is possibly the best film I’ve seen for the first time this year.  It has few weaknesses.  It’s heartbreakingly sad.  As you watch an ordinary, decent guy trying to protect his wife and young son from everyone and everything, the hopelessness it presents will pretty well jump out of the screen, sit down and embrace you; eww, gross.  With so many superheroes and action-heroes routinely overcoming impossible odds in films, it’s easy to forget that most of us aren’t actually like that and there’s a limit to what we can do.  Seeing The Man (none of the characters’ names are ever given) slowly give up more and more of himself and his humanity is depressing beyond words and what few happy moments there are (and “happy” has to be taken to mean better relative to everything else), are quickly crushed.  The scene with the wallet and wedding ring is a real killer and the ending will make you want to cry; it did me. The scene when they catch up with the guy who’s stolen their belongings is pretty shattering too.  The photography is great.  I watched it on a Blu-ray disc and really gets across the whole look and feel of the landscape; everything dead, everything smashed up, looted, burnt out, destroyed, colourless.  The whole time it’s damp, cold and miserable, the sun hardly shines and it rains, a lot.  (Actually that’s not unlike the view from my lounge window recently, what with the weather and all the fly-tipping around the rubbish bins.)  The acting is top draw stuff too.  The two main characters spend most of their time sleeping, looking for food, trying to keep warm and walking.  This doesn’t sound very interesting, but the script is so good that you’ll want to celebrate whenever they get a bit of luck.  The only thing that lets it down slightly is the ending, which has a rather big “why didn’t they” moment.  I actually wanted to get something to eat whilst I was watching it, but I felt so bad for the characters that I didn’t;  I needed to empathise with their hunger, (although I did draw the line at soaking myself in the shower, opening all the windows and rolling around in the dirt outside in the dark).  This is a bleak movie; it offers a few moments of hope, but it’s overwhelmingly a wrist-slasher.  It’s also a must-see film.  I’m going to buy the book it’s based on.

Recommend for anyone with emotions. Probably not a great film for Christmas Day viewing; or Lieutenant Commander Data.

No cats, chainsaws or decapitations.

Top badass moment?  Like Batman, he’s not perfect and he doesn’t have any superpowers, but The Man’s single-minded devotion to protecting his son is pure Badass.  Yes, that’s badass with a capital B.

The Road at IMDB (7.3/10)


Twelve Monkeys: 3.5 Stars


Twelve Monkeys  -  FrontBlu-ray Cover (UK)What’s the point of daylight in winter?  Even on the odd occasion that it’s sunny, it’s so cold that no one really wants to spent time outside.  But most of the time it’s grey, miserable and wet, like today.  By 4pm it’s virtually night.  It’s so cold, the days are so short and it’s so dark all the time, that nothing grows.  Trees and plants have been around a lot longer than humans, so if they think the winter is a waste of time and just go to sleep, I really don’t see that we should be questioning their good judgement.  We should hibernate in the winter and enjoy the summer, when we can actually have fun being outside and it’s light for more than 20 minutes a day.  If I ever get my hands on a time machine, I’m going to grab myself a good pair of scissors and go back to wherever it was in our evolution that we decided that hibernating was a bad thing and snip off that particular evolutionary branch before it goes anywhere.  Trust me, you’d thank me for it.  This film is all about time travel and snipping off our evolutionary branch right here, right now; (well 1997 actually, but who’s counting)?

1995  –  Certificate: 15  –  USA

Good, another film about animal rights weirdos.  Seven years before trying to turn everyone into zombies in “28 Days Later”, here they are apparently trying to “erase humanity from the planet”.  They never want to do anything nice, do they?  (The irony being, we seem to be doing a good job of this ourselves, anyway, without any ‘help’).  Bloody hippies; I bet they all enjoy a McDonald’s double flesh-burger with calf-stomach rennet cheese when they think no one’s looking.  So throw in a bit of time-travel and a moody Bruce Wills and what do you get?  A decent, if sometimes confusing, slightly too clever for its own good, sci-fi  film, with a couple of horrendous one-line plot contrivances that appear to have been added in a desperate attempt to stop the story smashing into a dead-end, from which there would be no escape.  Image someone marooned on the Moon, air running out and with no chance of rescue, then suddenly coming across the remains of one of the lunar models from the 70s in which there’s not only a supply of air, but also an engine capable of allowing it to be piloted back to Earth safely, including a manual, in a language the guy understands of course, to teach him how to do this; with none of this being explained other than by something like the guy thinking, “wow, aliens must have done all this, lucky for me.”  I didn’t really like either of the main characters either.  Bruce Willis had a bit of an excuse, his character being a bit distressed and having a somewhat difficult lifestyle and everything, but I really wanted to strangle Madeleine Stowe’s Dr Kathryn Railly.  For someone who was meant to be an experienced and well thought of psychiatrist, she managed to turn into a rambling idiot bimbo at the drop of a hat.  And what on Earth did she like about Bruce’s character; god, there’s hope for me yet.  However, it is a decent film, despite all that, with the secret, special ingredient that Terry Gilliam adds to all the films he makes; I’m not sure if it’s good for you but I could definitely taste it.  A bit like what Colonel Sanders puts into Kentucky Fried Chicken to try to disguise what it is and make it edible, probably.

Recommended for animal right activists.  Not recommended for monkey enthusiasts, as there aren’t 12 in it; in fact I’m not sure they’re any in it.  Sounds like an e-mail to Trading Standards might be in order.

No cats, chainsaws or decapitations.

Top badass moment?  I’m struggling a bit here, but I’m going for Bruce bashing the hell out of a pissed-off pimp with an old-fashioned telephone.  I’d like to see someone do that much damage with a modern, hands-free set or mobile.  It’s good to talk, but clearly even better to bash someone’s brains out with a phone.  That’ll stop the silent calls and salesman ringing.  Finding a way to combat the latter is most certainly badass.

Twelve Monkeys at IMDB (8.1 / 10)


Terminator 2: Judgement Day: 5.0 Stars


Terminator 2: Judgement Day: Skynet Edition   -   Front Blu-ray cover (UK)I went to see The Wedding Present play in London last night.  There’s not much point me saying anything about its performance, as it’s the 4th best band on the planet.  Instead, here’s what I remember about the gig that doesn’t include the band.  At the end of its set, the guitarist from the first support band, Dead Wolf Club, smashed his guitar on the stage; very rock ‘n’ roll, except I got the distinct feeling he does this a lot and then just glues it back together again for next time.  The other support band, TOQUIWA (formally the Pinky Piglets), was from Japan and therefore made no sense whatsoever; three Japanese women running about on stage singing about wanting a chocolate and doing a lot of things that I haven’t a clue about, confirming my belief that Japan isn’t really from this Earth.  The venue, Koko in Camden, was really cold.  Koko has the worst bar of any venue in London; nothing on draft, with tins of bog-standard cider around £4.50 a can.  Koko has the worst decor of any venue, all gaudy red and gold.  Koko is the worst venue to get out of afterwards; considering its size, it takes forever.  A few years ago Koko used to have crappy sound, but it’s now much improved.  Between each band’s set, the stage lights got pointed towards the crowd, which was really annoying; I shall be seeing yellow spots before my eyes for weeks.  The stage at Koko is too low.  (As you’ve probably gathered, Koko is not my favourite place to see a band.)  As far as I can remember, this was the first time I’d been on the proper Guest List for a gig; I’d like to say I was a ‘friend of the stars’, but in reality I just happened to get my ticket in a slightly obtuse way.  My journey there was swift and easy, as I basically walked onto all three trains without a wait; I think the track in the West Country should get flooded every week, as it seems to improve train availability, despite there being lots of cancellations and delays.  My journey back was also easy; I even had my ticket checked on the train.  The woman sitting in the row of seats in front of me didn’t have a ticket, although there’re a million ways to buy one at Paddington Station, so it was obvious she was trying to get away without paying; she had an American Express credit card too, so I doubt she’s exactly poor; I’d have thrown her out of the train’s airlock into deep space (or whatever the train equivalent is) if I’d been the ticket inspector.  I read the London Evening Standard on the journey back, as there was a copy on the seat.  The Standard is a shit paper, no wonder it’s given away free.  This edition included some dreadful rubbish about young people and claiming housing benefit; if any other group in society was so picked on and vilified, we’d all be out on the street demanding equality and new laws.  Had an interesting chat with two guys in the crowd while waiting for the bands to appear; one later decided my t-shirt’s arm would make a great way to dry the sweat off his head, but I’m sure it was a sign of solidarity; but honestly, what sort of person wears a leather jacket in a most pit?  It’s going to be hot there!  The Wedding Present has very happy fans; the guys behind me in the crowd spent half the set just laughing as everything going on around them.  The band’s fans are mostly men. The gig finished before 10:00pm; a nice, civilised time.  Like the Wedding Present, there’s little point in my trying to give any sort of objective consideration to this film, as it’s just so awesomely amazing.

1991  –  Certificate: 15  –  USA

What can I really say about this movie? Everything about it is great.  It’s probably in my Top Ten films of all time.  This was the first time I’d watched it on Blu-ray and it looked and sounded fab on that.  I was also watching the Ultimate Cut for the first time, which includes a number of extra scenes, even more than the Director’s Cut, including a great dream sequence that features Kyle Reece from the first Terminator movie that was entirely omitted from the version shown in cinemas; and a not quite so great extended ending.  A modern classic and possibly the greatest action movie ever made. 

Recommended for everyone.  Well nearly everyone.

No cats, decapitations or chainsaws.  There’s a fair bit of shattering, melting and general ripping apart going on though.

Top badass moment?  “Come with me if you want to live.”  No ifs or buts there.  100% badass and good advice at any time, especially when some liquid metal freak is after you.  Trust me, I know….

Terminator 2: Judgement Day at IMDB (8.6 / 10)


The Notebook: 4.0 Stars


The Notebook  -  Front DVD Cover (UK)I’m vegan.  This makes me better than most other people.  I’m not being big-headed or stupid or anything, that’s just the way things are.  (See “Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World” for more details.)  I’m lucky, in that the whole population of Cactus World is vegan, which makes things a lot easier.  However, the same can’t be said for some of the neighbouring areas.  My flat has a couple of air vents in it with built-in fans.  These appear to be connected to all the other vents in the building, via a series of pipes buried in the walls.   They’re the sort of vents you can use to ‘enjoy’ a ‘domestic’ going on next door.  If I lived in a Hollywood film in an old apartment in New York, I’m sure I’d regularly hear murders being committed through them, (which there’d mysteriously be no evidence for when the police arrived to investigate things); or perhaps a major terrorist attack (with a nuclear bomb of course) being planned.  I suppose I should be thankful that the vents are in the kitchen and bathroom, as they don’t seem to pick up the sound from other rooms of happy couples em, coupling.  So anyway, a little while ago I went to the aforementioned bathroom, to do some ‘bathroom things’.  As soon as I opened the lounge door, my senses were assaulted by the smell of cooked fish.  I doubt the world’s oceans smell as fishy as my flat right now.  Unfortunately, the vents transport smells as easily as they transfer sounds.  Four emergency incense cones have now been lit, in an effort to neutralise the insidious odour.  (High-powered ones obtained from the US military, through a special arrangement with the authorities in New Mexico.  They have “the fragrant aroma of smouldering Piñon firewood that is characteristic of the whole Southwest and the foothills of the Rockies.”)  We’ve yet to hear any announcements regarding whether this is a deliberate chemical weapons attack on Cactus World, the result of a massive industrial accident, or simply the outcome of dinner-time for one of my neighbours.  For a vegan however, it’s pretty crap; and annoying.  The last time my flat smelt this fishy was the day I first came to see it prior to moving in.  This was later determined to be a deliberate ploy by the previous inhabitants to disguise one of their leisure activities; it was about a year before it ceased to smell of dope; my predecessors were apparently keen on a joint or two.  This film doesn’t feature any of these things.  In fact, it couldn’t ‘unfeature’ them more if it tried.

2004  –  Certificate: 15  –  USA
Rating Details: Moderate sex

I need to go on a diet, (even more than I normally do).  This film was so syrupy and sweet that just watching it has made me put on about 5kg.  The plot twist at the end is also so obvious that it probably shouldn’t really count as one at all; it’s like one of those weakening fronts you see on weather maps, which by the time they arrive only consist of a few clouds, so if they weren’t pointed out to you you’d probably not even notice them.  I’m not much of a fan of period dramas, so a movie set mostly in the 1930s and 1940s isn’t the sort of thing to really excite me.  The chances of there being many big explosions, spaceships or gratuitous violence felt slim.  Then again, any film with Ryan Gosling in is worth checking out.  James Garner’s in it too, who was already old even when I was young.  So anyway, okay, this is actually a great film, with the most romantic/tragic ending it’s probably possible to have.  As  a fan of Thomas Hardy, I’ve always had a soft spot for relationships that get fucked-up by families, class, money, etc.  This film delivers a classic Hardy class-barrier storyline, rich city girl and poor country boy; (sounds awful doesn’t it)?  Fact is, this film doesn’t really do anything very much else and it certainly doesn’t break any new ground, but what it does do it does really, really well.  In fact the only part that felt a bit weak was the Mother’s ‘revelation’; it did feel a bit of a plot contrivance rather than something that fitted into the overall narrative.  As a romantic period drama, this does deliver; and yes, it is, especially the ending, tissue-friendly.

Recommended for true romantics.  In the perfect world, we’d all end up with our first loves forever.  (Aw, see, I can be romantic too.)

No cats, decapitations or chainsaws.

Top badass moment?  I have to give this to Lon Hammond.  He just goes to prove that even if you’re handsome, a war hero, successful, attentive and an all-around nice guy, you don’t always get the girl.  Being a good loser is badass and he manages here to be a top bloke about everything, when he probably had every right to be really, really pissed off.

The Notebook on IMDB (7.9 / 10)