Posts tagged “American Film

Pups / Shite Royal Mail


Pups  -  Front DVD Cover  -  UK Release

Rebellious teenager Stevie (Cameron Van Hoy) finds his mother’s gun and along with his girlfriend (Mischa Barton) impulsively decides to rob a bank, becoming a latter-day Bonnie & Clyde in the process.  The pair find themselves in over their heads, as they take hostages and the FBI become involved in negotiating Stevie’s absurd demands.  Head FBI agent (Burt Reynolds) struggles to control the mounting tension in the bank, as he tries to keep the violence from escalating.  “Pups” is an edgy, post-modern response to the growing trend of senseless gun crime in America, featuring “two of the most natural and freed performances I have seen by actors of any age.” (Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times)

1999  –  Certificate: 15  –  Rating Details: Strong Language and Moderate Sex References  –  American Film  –  6.5 out of 10

This week I’m seriously hating on the Royal Mail, the Post Office, Parcel Force, or whatever it’s called these days since it was stolen from everyone and then sold back to a small proportion of us.  In January I ordered a CD from Japan.   Instead of getting my CD, I got one of the dreaded, silver cards, explaining that I owed a £3.85 customs charge, plus a piss-taking £8.00 “handling fee”.  (And my name was spelt wrongly on the card too.)  So anyway, I paid the fees online eight days before the payment deadline but nothing then got delivered.  When I rang up (and it took three calls to get anywhere), I discovered that the CD had been returned to sender as it was claimed I’d not paid the fees.  So I then had to complete a claim (a two page P58) form to try and get my money back, plus the additional postage I’m now having to pay to get the CD reshipped to me, after I’d also had to go and sort that out with the company I’d bought it from.  The claim form itself was totally shit, as in festival toilets shit, as it asked loads of questions that I had no idea of the answer for, yet it was covered in threats telling me that if I didn’t answer them all my claim couldn’t be processed.  The form totally wasn’t designed for what I need to make a claim for.  The online version was even worse, as I couldn’t even get past the first page, or indeed the first paragraph.  I haven’t had a reply yet.  Why do they even need to know half the questions it asks anyway, as my CD clearly got as far as the UK or I’d not have been sent the silver card?  I remember when it cost 3p to send a first class letter (and 2.5p for second class).  Now it costs 93p (31 times as much) and the service seems worse, despite all the extra technology available these days.  It better pay my own, personal £8.00 “handling fee” I’ve added to my claim too.  And if this wasn’t all bad enough, two days ago I got a letter saying I needed to pay £9.14 VAT, plus an even bigger piss taking £13.50 “Clearance Fee” before they’ll redeliver it.  A total of £22.64, nearly twice as much as last time!  The CD only cost £20.34. What a load of bollocks it all is!  Unless the company has seriously undercharged me for delivery, then there’s no way the VAT can be £9.14.  The cost of the shipping would need to come to £25.36 for that VAT figure to be correct and I was only charged £8.03 for it each time.  I shall be interested to see what the packaging says, should it ever actually be delivered.  I don’t mind paying the VAT, but I can’t see how it’s been worked out correctly, or understand why the handing fee has now become a clearance fee and nearly doubled.  Fucking Nazi Postman Pat can fucking fuck off.  I’m going to write to The Queen, it is the Royal Mail after all; I’m sure she’ll go and bang a few heads together when she hears about this.  Right now I can so understand the protagonist in this film.  I feel like I want to go postal.

There’re three things about the US that no one else in the world understands.  These’re its favourite sports, its approach to public health care and it’s obsession with the right to own guns.  This film is about the latter.  It was made 16 years ago, yet despite a seemingly ongoing parade of nutters with guns going into shops, schools, offices and other places during this period, nothing much seems to have changed since then.  That’s kind of sad and reflects badly on the huge number of people there who do actually have some common sense.  This is quite a rubbishy movie.  The whole approach the police take to deal with the situation makes little sense and what Burt Reynolds is up to most of the time I have no idea; he spends most of it sitting in a car waiting for the kids in the bank to do something, pacing around smoking and scowling, or fielding calls from his wife.  The police and FBI seem to have very little control over the onlookers and the press too; there’re armed police everywhere as well as the kids with guns, yet they’re all within a few metres of the bank.  I’m not in law enforcement, but aren’t they supposed to keep everyone well away?  Even when one of the kids comes out waving a gun about they still don’t get the hint.  They seem to have about the same grasp on what to do as the Royal Mail has on postal delivery services.  In fact pretty well everyone seems to have a bit of a death wish.  However, it’s one saving grace is the boy with the guy.  He’s so over-the-top hyper and mad most of the time that it’s worth watching just for his performance.  He’s pretty unlikable, but somehow I feel a certain kindred spirit burns inside him.  Overall, the film is more entertaining than the sum of its parts might suggest.  At least they had a nice day for it, sunny and warm.  I’d imagine if it had been wet and cold, it would have been a much more miserable experience for everyone, especially those outside.

Recommended for school children, police officers and bank staff.

No cats, chainsaws or decapitations.

Top badass moment?  Banks aren’t exactly top of most people’s lists of favourite things right now, so with hindsight I’d like to consider the spontaneous decision by the two kids to rob one on the way to school, as an unconscious choice to stick it to the Man and get our money back.  That’s badass.  You’d do the same thing too, if you had the guts! 

Pups at IMDB (6/1 / 10)
Pups at Wikipedia
Pups at Roger Ebert (4.0 / 5)
Pups trailer at Video Detective

For some weird reason, there doesn’t appear to be an English language copy of the trailer on YouTube!

 

 


Edge of Seventeen / When Guitars Were Illegal


Edge of Seventeen  -  Front DVD Cover  -  UK Release

One of the classics in contemporary American gay cinema, “Edge of Seventeen” recalls one high school student’s eventful and raucous coming-out during the steamy summer of 1984.  Eric (Chris Stafford) is a 17-year-old senior from Ohio who takes a summer job at a local amusement park.  Working alongside his best gal pal Maggie (Tina Holmes), the two idle away the days until Eric meets Rod (Andersen Gabrych), a sexy and openly gay college student.  Soon sparks fly and Eric must confront feelings he had long suppressed.  A funny, entertaining and insightful coming-of-age tale, Edge of Seventeen is enhanced by a great ’80s soundtrack (including Bronski Beat and Eurythmics), terrific period design and a high-energy, upbeat tempo, making this an exciting and original take on growing up and finding love.

1998  –  Certificate: 15  –  Rating Details: Some strong language, sex and drug use  –  American Film  –  7.5 out of 10

In the early/mid 80s, punk and new wave disintegrated into a mostly horrible hardcore noise of badly played, pretend heavy metal.  At the same time, 2 tone came, saw, conquered and quickly left.  Meanwhile, the charts filled up with synth-based pop and whining, pretty-boys and girls singing about mostly nothing.  (Unlike today, where it’s full of groups of boring guys with beards and guitars singing about absolutely nothing, boy-bands who get off on arousing ten-year-old girls, and wailing woman who are so heavy auto-tuned they may as well be aliens.)  And maybe my memory is playing tricks on me, but actually I’m pretty sure that for part of the early-mid 80s electric guitars where made illegal, (unless you were the Housemartins).  However, all these new bands were British.  I can’t really remember what was going on in America at the time, chart music-wise, but as a source of New Romantic and synthpop it really doesn’t feature in my memory.  I will admit to a certain, limited fondness for some of the music, but most of it wasn’t that good; but even Spandau Ballet had one decent song, (although the video should be certified X for fashion and pretentiousness.)

This film is set during that period and it has to be said it gets its look and vibe spot on.  It’s a shame it wasn’t released until 1998, as otherwise it might well be remembered fondly in the same way as many real 80s films from that period are now.  Maybe having a gay lead character in a teen drama would have been a bit too subversive for mainstream US cinema at that time.  After all, gay people (including lesbians) are obviously the 80s equivalent of Islamic State, hell bend on destroying the status quo of everything everyone else holds dear.  This film follows the same basic story as most coming-of-age films do, (but with added gay angst).  It’s well made, well-acted and at times it’s genuinely touching; (i.e. it’s got scenes that are hanky-friendly).  The ending is a bit jarring though and felt a bit out of line with the rest of the film.  Maybe I just wanted more of a traditional, happy conclusion; (I think I must be going soft or something).  For a movie about a young gay guy and the New Romantic scene in general, everyone really does come across as very typical and real.  It would have been so easy for it to features lots of caricatures.  Well worth watching.

This is a movie that majors on its soundtrack and with a long playlist of bona fide 80s hits, it contributes significantly to making the film what it is.  I was pleased to find out that despite my declining years and way too many gigs, my ears are still good enough to hear Jimmy Somerville’s singing.

The trailer’s a solid effort.

Movie Weather Forecast.  Warm, dry and sunny throughout.

Recommended for fast-food restaurant workers, New Romantics and any teenagers thinking of coming out.

No cats, chainsaws or decapitations.

Top badass moment?  There isn’t one.  Normally this is a sign of a potentially crappy movie, one filled with horrible characters, or one I was too drunk or tired when I watched it to remember properly now, but in this case it’s really a reflection of a lot of normal people doing their best.  That in itself is badass.

Edge of Seventeen at IMDB (6.8 / 10)
Edge of Seventeen at Wikipedia
Edge of Seventeen at Roger Ebert (2 / 4)
Edge of Seventeen trailer at YouTube


On the Doll / My Gambling Addiction


On the Doll  -  Front DVD Cover  -  US Release

Sex. Violence. Revenge. “On The Doll” is a dark look into the lives of sex workers and the affect it has had on their lives. Balery (Brittany Snow) is a call girl desperate for cash who conspires with Jaron (Josh Janowicz) to rob one of her regulars. Chantal (Shanna Collins) wants out of her door to door exploits to start life over with her boyfriend and Tara (Angela Sarafyan) has been pulled so far into her seedy peep show underworld that it could be too late. Mr. Garrett (Eddie Jemison), is a high school teacher who looks to bring some of his students (Candice Accola & Chloe Domont) into his world of sex and drugs. And behind it all is Jimmy Sours (Paul Ben-Victor), a twisted mastermind of the sex trade who controls the fate of everyone mixed up in his world. A cast of young, up and coming actors takes you to a place where victims search for new meaning in their lives, while fighting off the demons that lead to more pain. The first feature by acclaimed music video director Thomas Mignone, “On The Doll” is a shocking, but powerful look into a world that is sure to strike a chord.

2007. Certificate: Unrated. American Film.  7.0 out of 10

As everyone knows, I’m a hard rockin’, hard drinkin’, womanisin’ Lothario.  Recently I’ve added to my vices by also becoming a hardened gambler too.  How did this happen?  Well a few days ago I found myself standing in the queue at Tesco.  I refuse to use those nasty, automated, DIY checkout machines.  I want to be served by a human being.  I value the social intercourse I get with the frequently bored people I meet in this way; it helps give me a better prospective on my own life.  The choice as to whether or not to take advantage of the plastic bag I’m always offered keeps my mind sharp and helps me hone my decision-making abilities for the more ‘mission-critical’ circumstances to come, such as when to cross the road outside in a way that enables me to beat the traffic at the lights, before I’m turned into road-kill.  I distrust those self-service machines.   This is partly because all they’re good for is to do people out of jobs to boost shareholders’ profits.  I’m not letting them crush our will and independence comrades.  They also seem to have, en masse, taken a very personal dislike to me and enjoy nothing better than screaming out really loudly whenever I go near one that there’s an “unexpected item in the bagging area”.  Yes, me.  This phrase basically means the same as, “ha-ha everyone, let’s all draw attention to the stupid, luddite, fuckwit, who can’t operate us ‘idiot-proof’ machines properly and is now going to have to deal with the very public humiliation of being ‘helped’ by a smirking and bad-tempered shop assistant.  Seriously, it would be less embarrassing to stand in the middle of the High Street in Reading on a Saturday afternoon, dressed as a ballerina and announce to everyone there that I have the world’s lowest recorded sperm count. (Which of course, I don’t).  Anyway, back to my gambling addiction.  The person in front of me bought a Lottery Scratch Card.  I’ve never ever bought one of these.  I’ve always considered that they’re basically designed to entrap ‘weak-minded poor people’ into a downward spiral of debt and despair.  These people can then of course seek help to overcome their addiction, by attending a community-run self-help group, funded by the very same Lottery that caused their problem in the first place.  I don’t know what came over me, but when I got to the checkout I purchased three, £2 Scratch Cards.  And blimey, I only went and won £10 with one of them!  I must be so clever and skilful.   Trouble is, now this has happened it’s going to be a lot harder to ignore these things in future.  I feel my life now stands at a crossroads.  In one direction is a steep descent into a pit of unrelenting gambling debts, depression and finally suicide.  In the other is my present path, a steep decent towards a pit of unrelenting aging, depression and finally death.  I think I need to hone my decision-making abilities more.  This movie focuses on one vice that I don’t seem to have picked up yet, although I live in hope.

For a film about sex workers, this one’s surprisingly lacking in nudity; actually there isn’t any at all.  In fact it’s quite stylish, given its setting.  I find I don’t have a great deal to do with the sex industry on a regular basis myself, (but I guess that’s a good topic for a future blog entry), but if I did I can’t help thinking it would all seem a lot more seedy this this movie makes it out to be, although it does have its moments.  I guess they all just seemed a bit too clean, healthy and happy, even the sick, sad ones.  This ‘small detail’ aside, it’s actually quite a decent film, occasionally funny, occasionally painful.  (The latter will make sense if you watch it.)  The ending is a bit melodramatic but it kinda works.  I’m not sure if you’re really supposed to enjoy movies like this but I did.   

There’s a fair bit of music used in this film.  Most of it is fairly anonymous, modern indie rock, but it gets the job done.

It’s not a bad trailer.  Quite watchable as its own, little ‘mini-film’ that doesn’t give too much of the plot away. 

Movie Weather Forecast.  It’s another warm, dry, sunny day in movie land.

Recommended for prostitutes, school-girls, teachers and magazine publishers.

No cats, chainsaws or decapitations.

Top badass moment?  So few people really seem to make an effort to do their best at work, so it was great to see our anti-hero Jaron taking special care that the ads for prostitutes he was doing the layout and design for, were both spelt correctly and made sense logically.  Taking a pride in your work is badass, especially when it’s basically a crappy job to start with.

On the Doll at IMDB (5.8 / 10)
On the Doll at Wikipedia
Official On the Doll Website
On the Doll trailer at You Tube


Thirteen / Back to the Dentist (Part XXXVII or Something)


Thirteen - Front DVD Cover - UK ReleaseAnxiously trying to fit into the peer-pressure cooker environment of junior high, thirteen-year-old Tracy (Evan Rachel Wood) goes to shocking lengths in order to befriend Evie (Co-writer, Nikki Reed), the most popular girl in school.  Now the two are inseparable – and incorrigible – leaving Tracy’s desperate mother (Academy Award Winner Holly Hunter) powerless to rescue her from a whirlwind of drugs, sex and crime.

2003.  Certificate: 18. American Film.  Rating Details: very strong language and drugs use.  8.0 out of 10

Spent two hours with the dentist yesterday.  I thought I was only going for a filling to replace a temporary one she put in last spring, after trying unsuccessfully to unblock some root canals in one of my teeth.  However, she decided instead to have another go at the latter, but two hours later and we were still no further forward.  It would probably be easier to get into Fort Knox than the bottom of my tooth.  Two hours is a long time to lay back in a not-that-comfortable chair, looking at a very boring light fitting, listening to rather moribund, classical music.  As the minutes ticked past, as I could think of was “please don’t let the anaesthetic wear off, please don’t let the anaesthetic wear off.”  At one point some metal clamp around my tooth broke, which certainly woke me up.  She even tried a new weapon I’ve not come across before, which heated up and made sizzling noises in my tooth, accompanied by little clouds of smoke!  That’s okay in a frying pan but in my mouth? No, I don’t think so.  I’m going back on Thursday for a regular ‘check-up’.  I’m fully expecting to see some sort of army explosives expert waiting for me, to blast his way in with some high tech munitions. 

I’m crap at being an adult*.  Today I commented to one of the people I manage that coming to work sometimes felt a bit like a game; I’m not sure if this is good or bad, but it doesn’t sound like a very adult viewpoint.  Films like this make me feel I was a crap teenager* too.  It’s not that I was perfect or anything, but all I can remember doing is sitting in my room every night, listening to punk music very loud and trying to do my homework.  Well sure I do have other memories, but that one seems to be the overriding one.  The homework was rarely that great, but the soundtrack was fab!  Strangely enough, I’m still listening to the same songs these days too, although the “homework” has mutated very slightly into what adults call “taking work home”.  This movie is about how to be a teenager; well a girl-version anyway.  Except these days few western teenagers rebel against anything. I heartedly recommended this movie to any young teenage girls who want to know how to rebel in an appropriately nihilistic and adult-seriously-pissing-off-way.  It’s actually a great film with a bit of an interesting story behind it too.  If it has a fault it sometimes introduces elements and people that don’t really go anywhere and just muddy the plot a bit, but beyond that it’s a great opportunity to watch peer pressure and allure of popularity in action.  (The self-harming sub-plot was very underexplored, whereas it could have been highlighted far more.)  The acting is great and it’s fun in a technical sense too, as the colour slowly gets leached out of the scenes until we’re left with little more than black and white.  Being a miserable sod that loves nothing better than to see everyone die, the ending was a bit of a disappointment too, but that’s just me.  Strangely enough, it’s not a depressing film; the makers seemed to have remembered that part of the role of a movie is to entertain.  Holly Hunter is always great too.  Well worth watching.

There’s plenty of music in this film, both a soundtrack and a lot of real songs from mostly pretty anonymous rock and hip-hip acts. However the opening shots with a track by Mark Mothersbaugh (from Devo) is great.  Visually the film makes a great start and this track is a big part of that.  I had to go and get hold of a copy afterwards.

The trailer’s okay.  Not bad, not good; very middle of the road stuff.  The whole movie is better.

Movie Weather forecast.  Warm and sunny throughout.

Recommended for teenage girls, hairdressers and recovering alcoholics.

No cats, chainsaw or decapitations.

Top badass moment? A surprisingly tough question in this case.  It’s a total cop out I know, but I may as well go for flawed mum Melanie.  Considering everything, she really didn’t do too badly in the end.  Sorry, I’ve just noticed this is so boring; please, seriously, don’t read anymore.  I think I just crossed the line between ‘sort of okay’ and ‘crappy drivel’.

*These were the first pictures that came up when I Googled on Bing (can you even do that?) for “teenagers” and “adults”.  The later is especially uncomfortable. 

Thirteen on IMDB (6.9 / 10)
Thirteen on Wikipedia
Thirteen on Roger Ebert (3.5 / 4.0)
Thirteen trailer on YouTube


Look / Resolutions


Look  -  Front DVD Cover  -  US Release

There are an estimated 30 million surveillance cameras in the United States.  On any given day, the average American is captured approximately 200 times.  Every one of us is constantly being observed at our jobs, on the street, while shopping, and sometimes even in our own homes.  Every one of our secrets, lies, crimes and most private moments are all being recorded.  But who is watching us?  Rhys Colro (“Entourage”), Hayes MacArthur (“The Game Plan”), Jamie McShane (“24”) and Spencer Redford star in this award-winning drama from writer/director Adam Rifkin that takes the ultimate look at our ‘Big Brother’ world.  “This is a brash, darkly humorous and unsettling piece of work filled with startling scenes and fine performances,” raves Richard Roeper of Ebert & Roeper At The Movies.  “”Look” is a film worth seeking out!”

2007.  Certificate: R.  American Film.  Rating Details: strong sexual content, pervasive language, some violence and brief drug use.  8.0 out of 10.

Okay, it’s the start of the New Year so I feel obliged to make some New Year resolutions that I won’t keep.  So firstly, I’m going to lose some weight.  I have a pair of trousers (actually several) that I’ve never been able to use, so my target is to be able to wear them and not cause some horrible internal injury to myself.  I don’t exactly have a plan for doing this, but I’m sure it’s possible.  I guess ‘eat less’ is a good place to start.  Secondly, I’m going to not get behind with things at work.  I seem to perpetually be explaining why I haven’t done things and there’s only so many times I can use the “dog ate my homework” excuse before it starts to look a bit lame, especially as I don’t have a dog.  My target is to simply not have to explain my temporal inadequacies any more.  I don’t exactly have a plan for doing this either, but I’m equally sure it’s possible too.  I guess working ‘smarter’ is a good place to start.  (Well that’s what I tell my team whenever any of them whine about having too much to do; it doesn’t seem to work for any of them though.)

Well I must say, I wasn’t really expecting this film to be that great, what with its promise of crappy quality ‘security camera’ footage and their associated static camera shots; a bit like a found footage film but without the ‘shaky cam’, monsters, ghosts and up nostril views.  102 minutes later and I was really disappointed that it had ended.  It cleverly mixes up footage from lots of cameras to tell the stories (or partial stories) of a number of people, whose lives to some extent overlap.  Of course it does include murder, rape, ATM abuse, car crashes, bombs, child abduction, male strippers, sex (both gay and straight), office perverts and farts in elevators, but really, it’s all just about a lot of pretty mundane and dull people going about their day to day lives; so something I could relate to.  Well put together, this is strangely hypnotic movie and well worth watching.

There’s a lot of music used in this film, but most of it just sort of fades into the background.  Forgettable.

The trailer really doesn’t tell you a lot, other than it’s a ‘clever’ film that uses surveillance camera.  Try not to fall asleep.

Movie Weather Forecast:  Warm and sunny throughout.  It looks like it’s going to be a lovely summer!

Recommended for bimbos, petrol station attendants, teachers, bored office workers, parents and perverts.

No cats, chainsaws or decapitations.

Top badass moment?  Tricky; there’s not a lot of choice in a film filled with unprincipled losers dressed in a veneer of youth or respectability.   I guess the nearest we get to a hero is the guy working in the petrol station, who manages to report a couple of killers who call in for supplies.  Strangely he looks one of the most loser-like too.  Never judge a book by its cover.

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


Header / SSE


Header  -  Front DVD Cover  -  US Release

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

No cats, chainsaws or decapitations.

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

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


Tom and Jerry: Robin Hood and His Merry Mouse / Climate and Weather


Tom and Jerry: Robin Hood and His Merry Mouse  -  Front Blu-ray Cover  -  US Release

He stole from the rich, gave to the poor and desperately needs the help of Tom and Jerry! Now the famous outlaw Robin Hood has been captured by the evil Sheriff of Nottingham, and Robin Hood’s true love, the fair maiden Maid Marian, faces grave danger at the hands of greedy Prince John.  Can sworn adversaries Tom and Jerry set aside their differences long enough to save the day?  With high-flying action, daredevil stunts and rollicking songs, your favourite cartoon Cat-at-Arms Thomas and Merry Mouse Jerry take furry aim at the beloved medieval tale in a new, full-length original movie.  It’s all for one and fun for all in Sherwood Forest’s most madcap swashbuckling adventure ever!

2012 –  Certificate: Not Rated  –  American Film
7.0 out of 10

I was so busy at work last week that I didn’t even have the time to be busy. And I don’t think this week is going to be any better.  Tomorrow I’ve got to get up at stupid o’clock to drive to Croydon to interview people all day.  Perhaps I can just curl up under the table and go to sleep; there are four of us interviewing so I probably won’t even be missed.  In other Cactus World news, the weather continues to be unseasonably warm and I still haven’t had to put any heating on at home yet, although I have recently started to deploy ‘The Blanket’ sometimes, to put around myself when sitting in the lounge.  In my head I imagine I look a little like the Dark Knight, wrapped in his cloak and brooding over what to do about the latest crime wave in Gotham; whereas to anyone else I probably look like a little fat bloke with a maroon blanket wrapped around him, because he’s too mean to put the heating on.  But I’m happily sitting in just a t-shirt right now; (and trousers and stuff), so it’s not cold.  If only I can make it to Saturday, I’ll have got to November and can make some pointless point about something or other.  This Climate Change stuff isn’t all bad you know.  Worldwide, economic meltdown, wars, mass migration and a few ocean states totally obliterated under the waves, is a small price to pay for my comfort.  It almost makes me want to start eating meat again.  Or maybe not…  Oh wow, I’ve just had a really, really, REALLY cool idea.  In future I’m going to comment on the weather in each film I watch.  Is that not the most exciting thing you’ve heard for ages?  When I was in my teens I wanted to become a meteorologist.  I’m a Bit, we’re obsessed with the weather, it’s genetic.  The problem was that I was crap at just about all the subjects that you needed to be good at to become one.  So instead I ended up working for an organisation whose mission is basically to get people to dig lots of small, differently shaped holes and then fill them in again, or burn stuff.

Thought I’d been given the wrong disc when I first played it, as all I got was two posh guys going about their obsession with money and power and how they wanted to tax the poor more. I thought I’d mistakenly been sent a rogue copy of a party political broadcast on behalf of the Conservative Party.  But then I realised that it wasn’t; George Osbourne doesn’t have a beard.  So having sorted that out I was faced with a Tom and Jerry film that actually didn’t do too badly in terms of not abusing the general Robin Hood legend (for an American cartoon).  It also fancied itself as a bit of a musical, which again is quite a nice nod to the fact that a lot of Robin Hood folklore comes in the form of ballads.  Fortunately T&J don’t sing anything; that would just be a step too far.  Wars have been fought over less.  I actually quite enjoyed it and the plot was a bit more sensible than normal too.  Wasn’t nearly enough cat on mouse on cat violence though.  Why does everything have to be so toned down these days?  I watched loads of old school Tom & Jerry when I was young and it never did me any harm; and anyone who says different can fucking go and die horribly with an ironing board smashed into their face, whilst being ripped apart in a food blender, before being blown up in an oven and sent flying skyward and then sucked through a jet airline engine.  Anyway, another good point is that Maid Marian turned out to be a bit of a sex kitten in her strange, leotard-like dress; she was quite the feisty babe.  It was one of the rare occasions in T&J animations that I could really see what was ratting everyone’s cage, so to speak.  If you want to watch some modern T&J and see a bit of plot too, then you could do a lot worse than this movie.

Well it’s a musical of sorts and Tom and Jerry, not being the most talkative of guys, have traditionally always had full soundtracks to support their relationship. There’s nothing especially memorable here, but overall it’s pretty good stuff.  The musical songs actually sound like proper musical songs too, rather than crappy, modern pop.

Movie Weather Forecast. Nothing to report.  Well I only just thought of the idea so to be honest I didn’t really notice anything when I watched this last week.

The trailer’s okay, but it does undersell the movie a bit. The film’s better.

Recommend for politicians, outlaws and anyone planning next year’s (2015) Labour Party election publicity.

1 cat (obviously), no chainsaws or decapitations.

Top badass moment? Jerry shoots an arrow at Tom from a powerful, mounted crossbow, which pins Tom to a wooden post.  When Tom looks down and notices, we’re rewarded with one of his classic ARRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRGHs!!!  Unfortunately the arrow only goes under Tom’s arm rather than through him, such are kids’ cartoons these days.  But those moments are always badass.  As an adult I still mentally react in the same way as Tom whenever the occasion arises.

Tom and Jerry: Robin Hood and His Merry Mouse at IMDB (6.5/10)
Tom and Jerry: Robin Hood and His Merry Mouse at Wikipedia
Tom and Jerry: Robin Hood and His Merry Mouse trailer at YouTube


I Know What You Did Last Summer / Star Trek Novels


I Know What You Did Last Summer  -  Front DVD Cover  -  Uk Release

On the magic Summer’s night of high school’s end, Julie, Helen, Ray and Barry get into Barry’s new Beamer and drive out to celebrate, their lives and hopes before them. But on the road they have a terrible accident; hit and kill a man.  In the shock and panic that follows, they dump the body in the sea rather than reporting the accident.  As the body sinks, the hand of the dead man breaks the surface in a last grasp at life, then disappears into the murky depths.  The four friends realise they are now guilty of murder and swear to take their secret to their graves.  But now someone is stalking them, someone who knows who they are, knows what they did last Summer, and seeks revenge…

1997 –  Certificate: 15  –  American Film
8.0 out of 10

Recently I’ve been reading a lot of books. Not just any old book though, but Star Trek books.  (This is cue for you to both yawn and go find something else to do, or think this is the best thing, ever.  I don’t mind which you choose; after all, not everyone mentally and emotionally matures at the same speed.)  So anyway, for those of you who have matured sufficiently…  I’ll admit that in the past I’ve flirted a little with Star Trek novels and Star Trek audiobooks.  (I must confess that I especially love the minimal effort the latter take to enjoy and that I can do other things at the same time, like drive or go to sleep.  What’s not so good is the limited range of titles available, their cost and the fact that most have been greatly abridged.)   Star Trek was always as much about the relationships between the characters, as the ‘blowing things up’ stuff.  If it sometimes tries too hard to project a perfect version of America as itself, then I can forgive it that.  Most of these stories were based somewhere in the known Star Trek timeline, generally between this episode or that episode, or occasionally kind of outside it.  Following the release of “Star Trek: Nemesis” a void opened up, one as large as the universe itself.  The Star Trek reboot, whilst brilliant in its own way, can never hope to fill this space; it’s simply the wrong shape, size and timeline.  This void is empty except for one thing, a single Question; what happened to everyone?  The novels from this period are generally really entertaining and exciting, well written and treat ‘known’ Star Trek history with the appropriate level of respect and consistency.  However, they don’t answer that Question.   Then in May 2001, “Avatar” was published, a story written and set after the end of “Star Trek: Deep Space Nine”.  Over next few years more books came out that did a similar thing and were set after the various TV series and then finally Nemesis itself.  Suddenly we could have answers to the Question.  Of course not everyone likes how future history is working out and what’s happened or happening to all those characters we travelled with for so long, but I’m finding the experience to be wonderfully entertaining.  No longer hemmed in by ‘official’ history or the limitations of TV or film productions, the books set in the period after Nemesis are able to chart their own way forward, taking the Star Trek story further into the future.  They also do a pretty good job of maintaining their internal consistency from one to the next and between different authors.  This makes it feel like they’re all part of one, giant story arc, rather than just random tales.  I’ve just finished reading the “Destiny” trilogy.  This does fundamental things with the Star Trek universe that would have taken a whole series on TV to do justice to them, as well as a sizable special effects budget.  For anyone who hasn’t taken the plunge and started to read these books, I’d fully recommend you find the time to do so.  I wish I could write stories…  This film was the first part of a trilogy.  I think that’s about as far as I can push the comparison.

This movie initially worried me. If someone really did know what I did last summer, then it was likely to be a totally over the top erotic thriller, with elements of horror, science-fiction and comedy mixed in with it.  (Although I must admit I was curious to see who was playing me in it.)  In the end it turned out to be a teen horror with Buffy in it and some killer running around wearing a yellow pacamac and carrying a hook so bent I can’t imagine it was easy to get it to go into anything, never mind a squealing teen.  It also features the absolutely worst pretend ice cubes I’ve ever seen a movie; seriously, they don’t even sound like ice.  And it heavily features “Hush” by Kula Shaka on the soundtrack too, one of the most insipid, horrible tunes ever to be conjured into existence.  It’s awful.  I can remember walking past the video hire shop (remember them) in Colliers Wood on a number of occasions when it first came out on VHS and seeing a big, cardboard cut-out for it in the window.  (Come to think of it, it could have been for one of its two sequels, but let’s ignore that possibility for now.  N.B.  Actually I’ve thought about it some more, I think it might have been an advert for the whole trilogy.)  I can’t recall exactly what went through my mind at the time, but I think there was a level of disappointment that suggests to me now I wasn’t expecting to see it.  It’s weird how you can sometimes recall these random thoughts years later.  I guess my disappointment must have been pretty profound.  Despite all this (and more), it’s actually a really good film, but I can’t for the life of me work out why.  Pretty enigmatic, isn’t it?  I think they’re making a new version of it too…

The evil of Kula Shaker aside, the soundtrack is actually okay and includes songs by the Mighty Mighty Bosstones and The Offspring.

The trailer. It’s better with the sound off.

Recommend for students and fisherman.

No cats, chainsaws or decapitations.

Top badass moment? Despite being an entirely obnoxious rich-boy who seemed to exist entirely for the purpose of pissing off his friends and showing his stomach muscles off to the viewer, Ray finally does the right thing and saves The Girl from The Baddie.  As well as being a cliché of the first degree, this is (if it was real of course) a really badass thing to do.  (However, he’d probably have been killed by Ben if it was real life, so it’s just as well it’s only a movie.)

I Know What You Did Last Summer at IMDB (5.6/10)
I Know What You Did Last Summer at Wikipedia
I Know What You Did Last Summer at Roger Ebert (1.0/4)
I Know What You Did Last Summer trailer at YouTube


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


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


Go / Boomtown Fair 2014


Go  -  Front DVD Cover  -  UK Release

From the director of “Swingers” comes a black comedy tracing the outrageous misadventures of a group of young American delinquents.  18-year-old check-out girl Ronna (Sarah Polley – “The Sweet Hereafter”) is trying to score some rent money before she is evicted on Christmas Eve.  Accompanied by reluctant partner in crime Claire (Katie Holmes – “TV’s Dawson’s Creek”), she embarks on her first drug deal…  Meanwhile, impulsive Brit Simon (Desmond Askew – TV’s “Grange Hill”) is driving a stolen car with buddy Marcus (Taye Diggs – “How Stella Got Her Groove Back”) during a no-holds-barred night of partying in Vegas, as TV stars Adam (Scott Wolf – TV’s “Party of Five”) and Zack (Jay Mohr – “Jerry Maguire”) find themselves in the middle of a real-life drug sting – and a very creepy Christmas dinner…

1999  –  Certificate: 18  –  American Film
Rating Details: Strong sex, coarse language and drug use
8.0 out of 10

I don’t do music festivals.  Never have.  I’ve been to hundreds of gigs over the years but only a few festivals, which have mostly been indoors and only lasted a day; in fact I’ve only been to four outdoor music events ever.  In 1983 I did hitchhike from London to Stranraer in Scotland, got the ferry across to Larne in Northern Ireland, before hitching down through Belfast and then Dublin, to go to the Punchestown Racecourse.  That was to see The Undertones last ever gig (until the band reformed in 1999).  Dire Straits was the headliner, but I left before it came on.  This was still a one-day event, but I slept in a random field in the open by a haystack the night before.  (Until that is, I was woken up in the middle of the night by a lot of very drunk Irish guys, who ‘insisted’ I slept in their tent, which just happened to be elsewhere in the same field.  Being woken up by being dragged along the ground in your sleeping bag in the middle of the night by a load of incoherent drunks is a strange experience).  But that’s the nearest I’ve got to the real ‘festival experience’… until this year.  For some reason I rashly agreed to buy a £167 ticket to go to the Boomtown Fair near Winchester in Hampshire last month; four days of dance, reggae, ska and punk, all mixed up in a ‘pop-up’ town with 38,000 other people. Four days of drinking cider at 10:00am; eating nothing but bread and falafels; getting virtually no sleep courtesy of camping right next to the Hidden Woods and it’s seemingly non-stop diet of what I think young people might consider dubstep; and wandering around in what tuned into a quagmire of mud. I was lying in my tent one morning, holding onto the inner part of it in the hope that the tail end of what used to be Hurricane Bertha wasn’t going to blow it away; I’d never seen tent poles bend like that before.  (Typical Yanks, sending us their worn out, second-hand weather.)  I ‘lost’ my wallet at NOFX, (who were pretty crappy actually); lost my red/black hat (a huge tragedy) as I got too drunk; had something weird happen to my eyes so it looked like I’d not slept for 50 years; got so sunburnt that my nose fell off (well nearly); and spent a lot of time wondering about and occasionally dancing even more stupidly than normal to bands such as New Town Kings, Dirty Revolution, The Skints, Imperial Leisure, Culture Shock and Sonic Boom Six.  For most of the Skints’s set it poured down; not normal rain, but the sort of rain that Noah had to deal with.  I couldn’t have been wetter if I’d sat in a bath in my clothes.  There’s something very surreal about dancing in the pouring rain on a surface that’s rapidly turning into a mud slide.  The best ‘new’ bands were Smiley & the Underclass and (by coincidence) Smiling Ivy.  Other than the music, the other sound I heard most often was people filling balloons full of nitrous oxide to inhale.  In places the ground was covered in the little metal canisters it normally comes it.  We were also asked at least a dozen times if we were ‘selling’ anything.  I never realised I looked so much like a drug dealer.  Then again, about 99% of the people there were younger than me, so I guess to deal drugs is the only reason ‘old people’ go to festivals.  And then there were the toilets…  Would I go again?  Fuck, yeah!  And for those of you interested in the rather random set of photos I took, they can be viewed hereThis is a film about musical culture too, in this case the rave scene at the end of the 90’s.  (Nice segue me.)

So, this isn’t a film about the ancient, Chinese game of Go.  A sort of cross between “Pulp Fiction” and “Trainspotting”, we follow the exploits of a group of young friends over a weekend, seeing the story unfold three times as it focuses on different people.  It feels a bit OTT and kind of dated (pre mobile phones), but is actually very funny and well put together.  I’m not sure what I was doing when all this rave stuff was going on originally.  I seem to remember it was towards the end of the 80s and early 90s.  I own some 12” singles from that period, which would suggest I had some knowledge of it, but that’s all.  Maybe I was totally out of it on E, X, J or W, or whatever letter of the alphabet people took in them days.  Or perhaps I fell asleep in front of the TV for a few years or something.  Yeah, reach for the lasers…

For a film about rave culture, it has surprisingly little music in it and what there is sounds a bit bland.  It’s okay but a bit of a wasted opportunity; a little like this sentence really.  It does have Steppenwolf’s “Magic Carpet Ride” in it, which seems to turn up in a lot of films.  But it was used in “Star Trek; First Contact”, so that’s a good enough recommendation for me.  

The trailer’s not bad.  Actually it works quite well as an introduction to the film without giving much away.

Recommended for people who work in supermarkets, drug dealers, dodgy cops and losers in general.

2 cats, no chainsaws or decapitations.  Cute cats, awwww.  One has some top dialogue; it’s dubbed into English too, which is great for anyone that doesn’t understand cat language.

Top badass moment?  To raise money to pay her rent, Ronna starts selling aspirin and antihistamines and telling people that they’re drugs.  (That’s drugs as in drugs, not drugs as in, em, drugs).  People buy them and then think they’re having the sort of effect they expect.  It reminded me of how bottled water is sold to the masses.  Marketing pointless crap to stupid people successfully is, begrudgingly, badass. 

Go at IMDB (7.3 / 10)
Go at Wikipedia
Go at Roger Ebert (3.0/4)
Go trailer at YouTube


The Mothman Prophecies / Decorating as a Weapon of Mass Destruction


The Mothman Prophecies  -  Front DVD Cover  -  UK Release

Based on true events, “The Mothman Prophecies” is a  compelling, heart-pounding, bone-chilling thriller that will jolt you off your seat!  Driven to investigate the mysterious circumstances surrounding his wife’s death, John Klein (Richard Gere – “The  Hoax”, “Chicago”) uncovers chilling secrets behind The Mothman, a timeless, nameless horror whose appearance spells doom for all those who see it.  Klein discovers a connection between the supernatural being and Point pleasant, West Virginia; a small town paralysed by fear where he meets Connie (Laura Linney – “The Exorcism of Emily Rose”, “Mystic River”) who helps shed light on the crisis.  If you see it, are you safe? If you don’t… are you next?

2002  –  Rating: 12  –  American Film
Rating Details: Moderate Horror and Infrequent Strong Language
8.0 out of 10

So where have I been for the last month?  Serving a prison sentence for inciting a popular but ultimately unsuccessful uprising?  On a world tour to promote my latest bestseller?  Locked away in a Scottish castle writing my autobiography?  In a drunken stupor in a gutter somewhere?  Nope, in fact I’ve been decorating my kitchen.  Shortly after I moved in seven or so years ago, I found myself suffering from ‘decorating burnout’.  This is a tragic ailment for which the most common symptom is knowing exactly where everything is in the local B&Q, even when they keep moving the stuff on the shelves around from week to week.  This sadly happened before I’d got around to doing the kitchen, so it’s remained ‘as was’ ever since, slowly becoming more and more embarrassing and an increasing threat to world health.  My flat isn’t exactly what you’d call huge.  It’s so small that even when a single item gets left away from its normal resting place, the whole, fragile ecosystem of my life starts to break down.  This normally includes injuring myself on some bit of furniture or other item that I’ve inadvertently walked into or on, as I’ve tried to navigate around the out of place ‘thing’.  So you may wish to consider the real-life horror I’ve been living with that results from emptying everything out of my kitchen and storing it elsewhere in my flat.  I’ve seen tidier looking places in post-holocaust movies just after the bomb’s dropped.  My favourite injury this time was from a bracket that sticks out too far as it’s too big for the shelf it’s supporting.  Normally it’s not a problem, but this time I knelt down by it at one point in an attempt to open the door of the fridge that was facing directly towards a wall.  I managed to rip two nice grooves out of my right leg.  Oh what fun it was!  I’m sure I’m going to end up with a hideous scar.  It reminded me of why I don’t do DIY very often.  The kitchen took 36 days to finish.  It’s now going to take as long to sort out the chaos it caused everywhere else.  For anyone that’s interested, here’re a few photos of the final result:

I think I’m becoming a bit of a wuse in my old age.  I think it’s because as you get older you get nearer to death, so anything that involves ghostly dead things that are still around, starts to worry you more.  This film doesn’t exactly have ghosts in it, but it’s near enough.  It’s a 12 certificate film, how scary can it be?  Well it had me looking at the open door of the lounge as I was watching it, too scared to go over and close it in case the Mothman, or something like it, suddenly flew in.  If you want to frighten a few 12 year olds but be a goody-goody and not pull out you latest 18 certificate torture porn or “Exorcist” Blu-ray, show them this film.  Don’t forget to mention that it’s based on a true story too.  It helps that it takes a while for the nature of the Mothman to be revealed, as not knowing makes it all the more scary.  It also has great sound.  I didn’t think the two main characters had that much on-screen chemistry, but it punches above its weight in terms of mood and general atmosphere.  Things feel a bit safer once you find out what’s going on, but it still has a pretty good disaster movie ending to enjoy.

The soundtrack is decent enough.  I can’t remember anything else about it now, but it was good.  Honest.  I think it even won an award or something, so it must be good.

The trailer is pretty standard stuff.  You’ll watch it and then forget it.

Recommended for reporters and police officers.  (Wow, that’s original.)

No cats, chainsaws or decapitations.

Top badass moment?  Richard Gere goes house hunting with his wife and they decide to have sex in a wardrobe there, before being disturbed in it by the estate agent asking if they’re interested in buying the house.  I’m not sure what’s most badass, doing that at their age, or the way the estate agent closes the deal.  Well okay it’s not the latter; I just can’t make myself think of an estate agent as badass.   I don’t think I’d have space in my wardrobe to do that.

IMDB (6.5 /10)
Wikipedia
Roger Ebert (2/4)
YouTube


Lars and the Real Girl / Doing Less Than Nothing


Lars and the Real Girl  -  Front DVD cover  -  US Release

Sometimes you find love where you’d least expect it.  Just ask Lars (Academy Award Nominee Ryan Gosling), a sweet but quirky guy who thinks he’s found the girl of his dreams in a life-sized doll named Bianca.  Lars is completely content with his artificial girlfriend, but when he develops feelings for Margo, an attractive co-worker, Lars finds himself lost in a hilariously unique love triangle, hoping to somehow discover the real meaning of true love.  You’ll be swept off your feet by “Lars and the Real Girl”, hailed as “One of the Year’s 10 Best” by The Associated Press.

2007  –  Certificate: PG-13  –  American Film
Rating Details:  Some Sex-Related Content
8.0 out of 10

I’m on something called Annual Leave at the moment.  This is a strange, but rather welcome concept through which I get paid my salary to do sod all.  In fact for the last two days I’ve done even less than that and in doing so have actually discovered a new physics, which I’ve decided to call “Anti-nothing”.  This is a weird, quantum effect wherein you can actually do less than nothing at all.  It’s pretty scary stuff too.  It’s only through washing my sleeping bag at one point that I avoided crossing over the non-event horizon and falling into some sort of parallel dimension where no one does anything ever.  I’ve never been there myself, although I think I’ve met a few people who have.  Doing nothing has given me the time to enjoy the view out of my window a little more than usual.  I’ve notice a huge, bright orange building that has suddenly spring up amongst the trees that I’ve never seen before.  There’re also a couple of cars in the car park that have had most of their windows smashed in, which are accompanied by a number of dented panels.  I’ve no idea what the story is behind them, but they’ve been sitting there, neatly parked, side by side for several days now, and resemble a couple that have had a row and now aren’t speaking to one another.  Whoever owns then hasn’t even bothered to sweep up the glass or block up the holes.  Weird.  I’ve also observed the police dealing with who I imagine is my local drug dealer.  They spent ages searching him and his car yesterday morning; I watched all the action through my binoculars.  The good thing is that the car has gone now, because it’s been frequently and annoying parked just where I turn in.  There’s never a dull moment around here!  This movie has none of these exciting things in it, yet it’s still very entertaining.

This is basically a comedy-drama about a guy who buys a blow-up sex doll to have as his girlfriend.  Now I’ll readily admit that I’m not an expert in such ‘things’, but I’m willing to bet that most who are don’t take them outside to meet other people very often.  Although we live in relatively enlightened times, I’m not sure the world is quite ready for ‘significant others’ down the pub, at the shops or in the cinema, who are made of silicon and rubber and have lifelike ‘bits’ under their clothes.   It’s probably acceptable in the Star Trek version of the far future and in Japan right now, but for the rest of us it’s a bit of a social faux pas.  But this film sees Ryan Gosling doing exactly that.  This would all seem to suggest that this movie’s going to be full of smutty innuendo and body-function-based humour.  Actually it’s nothing like that at all.  It’s much more of a study of how one individual starts to recover from a life-long difficulty in relating to people.  Yes it is very funny at times, but it’s also quite moving too.  I really like Ryan Gosling and he seems to totally nail the part in this film.  The plot does start to stretch the boundaries of realism, especially towards the end, but it’s well written, acted and made.  Kelli Garner is very cute too.  An original, well-observed and great film.  It’s got one of the worst titles ever though.

The soundtrack is fine for what it is, but isn’t very memorable.

The trailer makes this movie seem more of a comedy than it really is.  It probably has most of the best jokes in it.

Recommended for people who work in builders’ merchants, mums-to-be, parents that want to have to explain what a “Living Doll” is to their offspring whilst watching the movie, and anyone who works in an office with people who clutter their desks with toys.  (I despair at some of my own colleagues, who stick lumps of brightly coloured fur-with-eyes to their monitors and clutter their work spaces with animal-based, plastic fripperies and desk tidies full of virtually unusable and hideously ugly pens.)

No cats, chainsaws or decapitations.

Top badass moment?  In the same way as I’ve never met anyone who’s admitted to voting for UKIP, I’ve never met anyone who’s admitted to using a blow-up sex doll. However, given the number of votes and sales associated with both, I probably have unknowingly met quite a few.  So it’s a pretty badass thing to take your blow-up girlfriend out and about with you, especially if you start to have conversations with her in public too.  (I’m not so sure voting for UKIP is though.)

Lars and the Real Girl at IMDB (7.4/10)
Lars and the Real Girl at Wikipedia
Lars and the Real Girl at Roger Ebert (3.5/4)
Lars and the Real Girl trailer at YouTube


Death Wish V: The Face of Death / MxPx at the Underworld


Death Wish 5  -  Front DVD Cover  -  Canadian Release

Paul Kersey has been retired from vigilantism for several years. Under an assumed identity, he’s adopted a new life as a teacher in a small town college outside New York.  Paul is a changed man.  He’s even fallen in love and become engaged to Olivia, a former fashion model turned industrial entrepreneur.  But fate won’t leave Kersey alone.  On a visit to Manhattan he finds himself caught in the middle of a street shootout.  Then he learns that his fiancé is a victim of a protection racket run by her ex-husband mobster Tommy O’Shea.  When Olivia goes to the district attorney for help, Tommy has her disfigured, then brutally killed.  Once again, Kersey becomes the relentless vigilante.  Only this time, instead of relying only on his .357, Kersey uses some creative technology to avenge his lover’s murder!

1994  –  Certificate: 18A  –  American Film
7.0 out of 10

Went to see MxPx at the Camden Underworld last night.  That’s the fourth time I’ve seen MxPx since 2005, although the last time was in 2008.  It only has one of the original members left these days, at least as a touring band.  I like the Underworld.  It has a capacity of 500, the sound’s decent, the vibe’s good, there’s no crash barrier in front of the stage and the beer isn’t too extremely priced for a London venue; (it was £4.20 for a pint of cider yesterday, even though I do have the distinct feeling that the price varies from gig to gig).  It’s the gig venue I go to most often.  Unlike the 100 Club, the concrete pillars that’re in front of the stage (they hold the building above up) don’t seem to get in the way too much.  It has a decent raised area around the dance floor too, with a railing that’s good for leaning on when you want to watch a band and don’t want to get your drink spilt.   It even seems to have got some new signs outside recently, so you can actually tell it’s there!  It was a lot of fun, even though I felt a bit ‘slow’.  I think I’ve been to see too many old bands and reggae groups recently; I’ve forgotten how fast punk rock can be live.  There were a lot of young women crowd surfing last night; clearly the new ‘no stage diving / crowd surfing’ poster stuck on one of the concrete pillars wasn’t having much effect.  There was also a young chap with his mum there too, right at the front; it’s a 14+ venue but he didn’t look any older than 12 to me.  He went for a surf too at one point.  That’s one cool mum.  It’s also been quite a while since I’ve seen so many happy people at a gig.  Nearly everyone seem to be so pleased just to be there, which was rather nice.  I can’t be bothered with miserable sods at gigs these days.  Got wacked the mouth at one point in the most pit so have a bit of a fat lip today, but that’s okay.  Charles Bronson does more than that to people in this movie.  (This is probably just as well, as otherwise it would have been a very boring vigilante film.)

Another year and another of Paul Kersey’s relationships ends with a rape and/or murder.  Some people seem to be born unlucky.  This, the last Death Wish film, doesn’t break the cycle.  Released in 1994, it’s a film that now looks and feels its age, in fact older; some of the story is a bit silly too.  However, Tommy O’Shea is one of the ‘forgotten’ badass movie baddies.  It’s worth watching for him alone.  In fact it has quite a few good characters in it.  Paul Kersey is a strange guy, even ignoring his habit of blowing away underworld scum.  Here he is, engaged to Olivia Regent, who has a young daughter.  Olivia is a ‘big deal’ in the New York fashion industry, (and about 30 years younger than him).  Yet he doesn’t seem to know very much about her ex-husband or even to have met him before, yet he turns out to be ‘Mr. Big’ when it comes to extorting money through controlling the local fashion industry and Olivia’s company in particular; as well as being her daughter’s father.  You would have thought they might have talked about him just a bit at some point; it hardly struck me as a whirlwind romance.

I didn’t much care for the soundtrack, but for the film itself it’s a great fit and helps to set the mood well.  In that sense it’s a bit like rain; it’s a pain in the arse when I want to do something outside, but it helps make things grow.

This film has a great trailer.  In fact, if someone ever makes a trailer about me, I want the guy who does the voiceover on this one to do mine.

Recommended for fashion designers and entrepreneurs, vigilantes, ineffective police officers and gangsters.

No cats, chainsaws or decapitations.

Top badass moment?  Charles Bronson and one of the best ‘forgotten’ movies baddies ever, Tommy O’Shea, face off in the last Death Wish film.  There’s enough badass action in this movie for you to need a rectal examination after watching it.  Charles Bronson was 74 (I think) when he made this film.  If he got involved in setting governmental pension policies, I doubt any old grannies would be dying from hyperthermia in winter because they couldn’t afford to put their heating on.  That would be badass too.

Death Wish V: The Face of Death at IMDB (4.6 / 10)
Death Wish V: The Face of Death at Wikipedia
Death Wish V: The Face of Death trailer at YouTube


Slaughter High / When Words Resemble Monkey Sick


Slaughter High  -  Front DVD Cover  -  US Release

There’s horror in the halls… lynching in the lunchroom…  murder in the metal shop.  Welcome to “Slaughter High”, where the students are dying to get out!  In high school, Marty was the kid all the students teased, taunted and tortured mercilessly.  One day, things went too far; one of their jokes backfired, disfiguring Marty for life.  Now, five years later, Marty has arranged a special reunion for all his high school “friends.”  The prom queen, the jock, the class clown, the rebel and a few select others have been invited… and it’s going to be a gala of gore!

1986  –  Certificate: Unrated  –  American Film
7.0 out of 10

I’m crap at everything.  However, I try very hard and surround myself with more able and talented people, which in some limited cases enables me to function in society without everyone pointing in my direction, or crossing the road when they see me coming.  Yesterday was a good case in point.  I spent all of it trying to complete a quotation (that a colleague had already done most of the work for), in response to a competitive tender document for a project to help set up a new community group, to care for the areas along the line of an old railway.   It didn’t really come with any sort of structure for what it was asking for, which means trying to do it was like trying to play a game that no one’s explained the rules to me about.  All that choice!  Vegans don’t deal with choice well; it’s typically the green salad, or chips, or nothing for us.  At about half past four I found myself staring at the words on the screen, able to read and understand them, but totally unable to work out what they meant, or how one string of them (a thing we call a sentence) related to any other.  Talk about not being able to see the wood for the trees.  Somehow I managed to complete about 98% of it, although when I proof-read it this morning most made less sense than a wall covered in a bucket full of scrabble letters and monkey sick.  There was one little bit that I had to complete by hand and I swear it looks like a six-year-old did it.  I don’t think I can write anymore; I used to have lovely handwriting too.  Sometimes I feel like life is teasing me for a laugh.  One day I’ll react like Marty in this film….

Oh dear, it’s the uncut version of a ‘forgotten classic’.  To be fair it’s probably not that obscure and it’s probably not that bad either.  It’s not boring anyway.  Here we have a group of young adults who behave in an almost entirely irrational way, an isolated location, a seriously pissed off guy harbouring a grudge… and you know the rest.  The murders are a mixed bag; I guess my favourite was the electric shock during sex, although the lawnmower one isn’t too bad either.  Did I like Marty the vengeful killer?  Well he was/is a dork, but clearly after his injury the law failed to provide him with the justice he genuinely did deserve, so in a way I can’t blame him for taking things into his own hands.  The guy had probably had a very successful and exciting career ahead of him too.  Actually, the more I think about it the more I realise that he really is the victim here.  The fact that the group that bullied him didn’t even seem to have any remorse for what they did, even though the outcome probably was an accident and unintended, just makes things worse.  What a nasty set of individuals.  Awful.  I’m glad they’re all dead now.  And another thing, the level of health & safety in the school’s science lab was woeful.  Seriously, no one would store a really large, glass bottle of nitric acid on top of a narrow, wobbly, free-standing shelf unit that itself is sitting on top of a table in the middle of a room, not even in the 80s.  And the bottle wasn’t labelled properly either.  And where were Marty’s gloves and protective goggles?  He didn’t strike me as the sort of guy who wouldn’t wear them because he didn’t look cool.  Then again, he does appear to take the time to take his Doddsville County High School jacket off in the middle of his science experiment starting to blow up all around him, so I guess his appearance did matter a lot to him, which probably explains why he got so worked up about being hideously burnt.  For that matter, why wasn’t he being supervised?  I know the school only appeared to have one teacher, who worked in the gym, but even so.  I know, I’m probably over analysing things.  Despite its intentions, the most offensive thing in the whole movie was the dreadfully racist scene involving the Black caretaker.  I image this is one of Jeremy Clarkson’s favourite movies.

Musically we’re deep into 80s low-budget territory.  Yes, very deep.

The trailer isn’t so bad, although it does manage to give away the entire plot and partly show a number of the murders too.  Then again, the plot isn’t exactly an original and you don’t get to see all of the murders.

No cats, chainsaws or decapitations.  Surprisingly.

Top badass moment?  No one likes a bully.  And we like groups of bullies even less.  So it’s high-fives all round for Marty, as he slowly dispatches them all one by one.  Also, given the speed at which he appears to be able to get from place to place at around the school, he’s apparently invented some sort of personal teleportation device too.  That’s seriously badass; or just dreadful editing.

Slaughter High at IMDB (5.0 / 10)
Slaughter High at Wikipedia
Slaughter High trailer at YouTube


The Bling Ring / My Epic Fail: Emulating William the Conqueror


The Bling Ring  -  Front Blu-ray Cover  -  UK Release

In the fame-obsessed world of Los Angeles, a group of teenagers take us on a thrilling and disturbing crime-spree in the Hollywood hills.  Based on true events, the group, who were fixated on a life of glamour, tracked their celebrity targets online and stole more than $3 million in luxury goods from their homes.  The victims included Paris Hilton, Orlando Bloom, Rachel Bilson and Lindsay Lohan.  The gang became known in the media as “The Bling Ring”.  Written and directed by Academy Award Winning Sofia Coppola (“Lost in Translation”, “The Virgin Suicides”, “Marie Antoinette”),”The Bling Ring” stars Emma Watson (“Harry Potte”, “The Perks of Being a Wallflower”), Leslie Mann (“This is 40”, “Knocked Up”), Taissa Farmiga, Claire Julien, Israel Broussard and Katie  Chang.

2013  –  Certificate: 15  –  American Film
Rating Details: Strong language and drug use
7.0 out of 10

In an effort to bolster our fading place in the world, us Brits often like to remind others that the last person to successfully invade mainland Britain was William the Conqueror, who in 1066 shot King Harold in the eye at the Battle of Hastings.  (And that’s about all we actually bother to learn about the story, even though that last bit probably isn’t even true either.  The fact that it happened before America and much of the rest of the world had been invented, is good enough for us. ) Last week I had a chance to do something similar.  (No, not shoot someone in the eye!  God, do I really need to even write that?)  Instead, I had a chance at fame and fortune on the south coast myself, when due to a severe lack of (and I’m putting it diplomatically) coordination at work, I found myself giving a presentation to a lot of ‘important people’.  (Well important in Hastings anyway.)  I spent the guts of two days (including a Sunday) putting the sort of PowerPoint presentation together that really ought to be released as a stand-alone DVD for others to enjoy.  Indeed, a limited cinema run wouldn’t be out-of-place.  It was all very stressful though; at one point I even had to order myself an Indian takeaway from the Alamin Tandoori to recover from the whole, ‘creative experience’.  (These things don’t just come together; each slide was torn from my very soul.)  So the day of the presentation arrived.  In my mind I had a vision, a vision of a room full of people, many of them standing, clapping and cheering me as an environmental saviour.  (A bit like Noah, but without the boat.)  Sadly, the train I was travelling on broke down and I ended up arriving 20 minutes late; obviously the 40 minute, ‘crappy public transport safety margin’ I’d opted for wasn’t up to the job.  Apparently there was a “communication problem” with the train; the driver couldn’t speak to the guard or something; (or Train Manager as they seem to get called these days.)  Bollocks to that.  How did them not being able to have a chat about last night’s TV stop the wheels turning?  Sitting in the train, watching three guys in orange jackets wondering about outside, the only other thing I could see was a bit of hawthorn growing nearby, as we’d got stuck in a cutting.  John Lydon told us all that “Anger is an energy”.  I could probably have solved the world’s energy crisis single-handedly such was my mood, which would have been quite ironic under the circumstances.  Well, it turned out to be the fastest PowerPoint presentation I’ve ever given to anyone, that’s for sure.  Thanks to Southern Trains, my chance to become an international eco-celebrity was ruined.  All I want to do is save the planet, I’m not asking for much really.  Next time I’ll rob a few rich people instead.  It worked for Robin Hood and I’m sure I can find a few affluent bankers that no one really cares about.  By a strange coincidence, this film covers a not dissimilar topic.  (That’s robbing the rich and famous, not inefficient pubic transport.)

Closely mirroring the real events it’s based on, this movie follows the exploits of a group of celebrity obsessed teenagers, who start robbing the homes of the rich and famous.  Paris Hilton, whose home they broke in to a number of times, allowed these scenes to be filmed in her house.  OMG! OMG!  (OMG I’m starting to talk like them now…)  A whole room full of shoes? A nightclub room, complete with pole?  I own six pairs of shoes, including two pairs of steel-capped boots for work.  The only poles I come into contact with are the ones living near me.  Not a lot seems to happen in this film.  Vacuous teens are not the most exciting of people, unless you like watching them hanging out in nightclubs taking selfies and immediately posting them on Facebook.  Even the break-ins are somewhat low-key and most of the time they just messed about when they got into these people’s homes.  Google Maps is every villain’s friend.  Somewhat trippy one moment and almost documentary-like at others, it’s actually quite entertaining.  Given that it’s based on a real group of people and real crimes, the extras are especially interesting and add quite a lot to the whole story.  The car crash scene works well too; it made me jump anyway.  The sound is pretty good, as is the overall look of the movie and the acting.  Well worth a watch.  At the end I was left with two questions.  Firstly, why?  Secondly, it features a group of very good-looking young people, plus drink and drugs; yet there wasn’t any sexual chemistry or apparent attraction between any of them, not even a little bit of tension.  That’s just a bit weird. I guess celebrities really do screw up your life.

Schoolboy Q, 2 Chainz, Young Jeezy, Bassnectar, Really Doe, Kid Cudi.  Yep, you’re right, that means it’s time for a hip-hop based soundtrack.  Given the nature of the movie, the music works really well.

The trailer’s pretty good. 

Recommended for vapid, non-celebrities and anyone who posts loads of pictures directly to their Facebook page without bothering to delete the technically crap ones (they make my eyes hurt) and doesn’t see the irony in doing it in the first place.  Also anyone who thinks they matter to anyone outside of their immediate family and friends.  Trust me, you really don’t.

No cats, chainsaws or decapitations.

Top badass moment?  The scenes where they break into Paris Hilton’s home were really filmed in Paris Hilton’s home.  She has cushions with her face on them!  Really big pictures of her face.  In her own home.  Whatever the story behind them, that’s just not normal.  Seriously, it’s not.  It’s only one step away from going to bed with a picture of yourself.  Still, at least I know what to get in future as presents for ‘those awkward people who have everything’.  Thanks Paris!  Sorting out this year’s Christmas pressies for me is badass.

The Bling Ring at IMDB (5.7 / 10)
The Bling Ring at Wikipedia
The Bling Ring at Roger Ebert (2.5 / 4)
The Bling Ring trailer at YouTube


Dogma / Surgery!


Dogma  -  Front DVD Cover  -  UK Release

Searching for a way back from everlasting exile, renegade fallen angels Loki (Matt Damon) and Bartleby (Ben Affleck) attempt to turn the cosmological system on its head – unless an unlikely horde of humans can stop them. Bethany (Linda Fiorentino), the heroine of “Dogma” is a woman convinced her prayers have not been answered when, out of nowhere, a heralding angel appears in her bedroom and declares her the potential saviour of humanity. Setting off on an extraordinary journey, Bethany meets a host of heavenly and hellish characters, including the celestial messenger Metatron (Alan Rickman), an apostle with a 2,000 year old grudge (Chris Rock), hot-headed demon Azrael (Jason Lee) and heavenly muse Serendipity (Salma Hayek). In Kevin Smith’s comic fantasia, angels, demons, apostles and prophets (of a sort) walk among the cynics and innocents of the Earth and battle it out for the fate of humankind.

1999 – Certificate: 15 – American Film
Language: Frequent Strong, Some Coarse. Sex/Nudity: Some Moderate References. Violence: Some, Strong, Fantasy. Other: Comic Fantasy, Religion
8.0 out of 10

Yesterday I underwent a major, surgical procedure; I had my bottom left wisdom tooth removed. Although initially thankful to discover that I’d survived the experience, I was horrified to find out that I got neither a week’s stay in a hospital bed to recover, nor six months’ worth of appointments with a councillor to enable me to cope with the ordeal; I’m pretty sure I’ve got Post Traumatic Stress Disorder from the operation, which took nearly ten, whole minutes! The initial injections, which got shoved into three places, including where my tooth was sorest, are already out of the running for my list of top ten fun things of 2014. Feeling the end of a needle against the side of my tooth somewhere deep inside my gum, was a bit disconcerting. A few minutes later he gave me two more injections. These all left me somewhat numb, along with hundreds of other people who got caught in the anaesthetic blast zone; not that I was complaining, I was just glad to have lost all tactile contact with the outside world. The executioner dentist then started pulling at my tooth. There was a very disconcerting cracking noise at one point, which I remember thinking would have been even more worrying had I been an astronaut in a space capsule. The dentist did make a comment to the effect that I shouldn’t worry about the noise, (although considering he was doing his best to flatten my head at the time with his arm, I don’t suppose there was much I could do anyway). I had visions of my tooth disintegrating, along with most of my jaw and skull. I started imagining that my head would end up resembling a Halloween pumpkin, that sort with a hideously cut out smile, which had gone a bit rotten and started to collapse in on itself. However, the tooth came out in one piece and I was then rewarded with four stitches that were done with such a flourish that I got the distinct feeling the dentist was looking to be scored well on artistic merit by someone. He also rather cruelly said the third was one the last, before adding a fourth. Then I just got booted out of the surgery and left to somehow stagger on my own to the chemist shop for more antibiotics. I also got given the huge, pink pain killers I’d had before too, although as far as I was concerned, there was no pain-killer big enough for what I felt I’d soon need. I thought I’d been pumped full of enough anaesthetic to numb my whole body for months, but it did start to wear off shortly after I got home. It was a bit sore for a few hours, but now it seems to have settled down and it’s not too bad. I imagine most people would describe the sort of discomfort I’m in as “agony”, but I’m not the sort of person to build mountains out of mole hills. I did have a look at my tooth once it had been pulled out, (I made the nurse get it out of the bin), but as the Tooth Fairy does everything online these days, I didn’t feel the need to bring it home to put under my pillow. I guess I could have drilled a hole in it and worn it as a sort of necklace I suppose. The wonderful National Health Service, despite all its ‘issues’, did everything for free, so once the Tooth Fairy has paid up, I should be well in the money. I’m seriously considering selling a few spare organs now. This film highlights two people who want to do something that will end all of existence, but after my traumatic tooth experience, the end of existence seems small beer to me.

I went to a Church School. (Hard to believe I know.) Ever Thursday we had our assembly in the local church, St. Mary’s. This I did all through my primary school education. Despite this, most of the ecumenical stuff mentioned in this film meant nothing to me. Then again, I went to a Protestant church rather than a Catholic one. The biggest difference between the two is if you go to the former and piss about, nothing much happens. If you do the same as the latter, you’ll end up committing a mortal sin and being dammed to spend all of eternity in Purgatory, or worse. I guess that makes you remember things more clearly. This is a great, original and clever comedy that stars a whole range of famous people and characters, from the talented and funny (Alan Rickman) and now mega successful (Matt Damon), to the hugely overrated (Jay and Silent Bob). Alanis Morissette is God, which probably came as a big shock to Morgan Freeman when he turned up to be God some years later in “Bruce Almighty”. Alanis is sexier though and unlike Morgan, got a song into the charts that references oral sex in public. A great film, well worth watching.

There’s quite an array of music used in this movie but weirdly I can’t remember much about it. I guess that means it did it’s job well, or it’s just rubbish.

I rather like the trailer for this film.  It makes it look ‘exciting’ and gives an idea of the plot, without really giving anything away. Sounds simple, but many trailers fail this simply test.

Recommended for rebranding consultants, out of work apostles, pole dancers, angels and abortion clinic doctors.

1 decapitation, no cats or chainsaws. Well it’s an exploding head really, but let’s not quarrel about semantics.

Top badass moment? Bethany saves all of existence. Not quite as impressive as my dealing with the trauma of having a wisdom tooth removed yesterday, but it’s still pretty badass.

Dogma at IMDB (7.4 / 10)
Dogma at Wikipedia
Dogma at Roger Ebert (3.5 / 4.0)
Dogma trailer at YouTube


Earth Day / The Washer Dryer Has Landed


Earth Day  -  Front VD Cover  -  US Release

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Olympus Has Fallen / Being Kidnapped by Terrorists


Olympus Has Fallen  -  Front Blu-ray Cover  -  UK Release

When a group of terrorists launch a daring ambush on the White House, the President (Aaron Eckhart, “The Dark Knight”) is taken hostage inside an impenetrable underground bunker. Only former U.S. Secret Service agent, Mike Banning (Gerard Butler, “300”), is left in the besieged building to protect the President, at all costs. Acting President Speaker Trumbull (Morgan Freeman, “The Dark Knight Rises”) must rely on Banning to rescue the President before the extremists can unleash their ultimate terrifying plan.

2013 – Certificate: 15 – American Film
Rating Details: Strong bloody violence and strong language
8.0 out of 10

I don’t know about anyone else, but I often sit and wonder how much effort my employer would make to rescue me if I was kidnapped by international terrorists. It probably wouldn’t pay a ransom, (it can’t afford it and I’m not worth anything anyway), but a rescue? I don’t have a secret, underground bunker to run off to at the first sign of trouble either, although due to the building where I’m based being constructed on a bit of a slope, you do have to go ‘below’ street level to reach my office. I also haven’t a large number of personal, highly-trained, armed bodyguards, (or even one actually), but the lock on the door frequently bamboozles me, even if I manage to pick the correct key for it. And trying to get through it with loads of hand grenades and guns etc would probably be a bit awkward; it’s certainly a challenge if you’ve got mugs of hot tea or coffee in each hand, as it has one of those self-closing hinge things on it. It’s true, the terrorists wouldn’t have to blast a hole on the wall to get in the building as its open to the public most of the time, but the signage inside is pretty ropey, so they’d probably struggle to find my office. And that’s important if you’re working against the clock and would only have a few minutes before the inevitable air support arrived to protect me. Those jets are pretty fast nowadays, but I wouldn’t like them to mess up the roof garden with their missiles and stuff, as it’s taken a lot of hard work over many years to get it as nice as it is. I’d be pretty disappointed if I escaped, only to find all the plants and trees in bits, scattered all over the car park outside.

Last weekend I went to the cinema. I don’t go very often as I’ve got no friends to go with and I’m too shy to go on my own. I went to see the Lego Movie; (those Lego women really do something for me, even fully clothed). Unfortunately I only got to see the adverts, although the one for Lego was pretty impressive; it went on for nearly two hours! Morgan Freeman was in it, playing a sort of mystic. But what a difference a week makes. Now I discover he’s become the Acting President of the United States of America. That’s seriously being on the fast track, whatever career path you’ve chosen. (My own organisation has recently introduced a bit of a process for doing a similar sort of thing, although I think I’m still stuck on the platform at one of those little stations that hardly any trains stop at; and when they do it’s always one of the slow, crappy ones with hardly any carriages and rubbish heating, which stop everywhere and take forever to get where they’re going to. But at least you get to enjoy the view out of the window.) In this film, President Asher (along with most of the other people who seem to be important) get kidnapped and his house gets trashed by North Korean terrorists. I’ve watched a lot of films that feature the President of the United States of America and few, if any, have been quite so ineffectual as the version in this film. Seriously, he really doesn’t do anything very heroic. President Whitmore in “Independence Day” nukes part of his own country for goodness sake, that’s how hardcore he was, whereas Asher is more than happy to sacrifice a whole country (South Korea) to save himself and his immediate staff a bit of grief. Worse than that, he actually puts his own country at risk too. And it’s even his fault the terrorists get into his underground bunker in the first place, because he chooses to ignore his own rules. What a moron! If international terrorists burst into my office and took any of my team hostage, I’d expect them to be tortured to death rather than hand over the password to even their e-mail accounts. Doing the latter would clearly be grounds for dismissal for gross misconduct anyway. Despite my disappointment with the “leader of the free world”, I did enjoy this film a lot. It’s total nonsense, but it’s still a really good-looking, tense action thriller that kept me well entertained. It’s not a wimpy PG either, so we get to see some blood and stuff as well. The first part of the film, up until the plane crashes, is especially good.

I have to admit to a certain liking of the film’s soundtrack. It does the job.

A trailer that nearly as bombastic as the movie itself. Not bad.

Recommended for terrorists, presidents, disgraced heroes and North Koreans, whatever hairstyle the latter have; (as long as it’s one of the approved ones).

No cats, chainsaws or decapitation.

Top badass moment? Any actor that can keep a straight face and with complete sincerity say to his shirt cuff, “Mustang this is Top Hat, bring it up to full package”, is badass in my book. Gerard Butler is worthy of an Oscar for that alone; (never mind the fact that he also singlehandedly foils an attempt to destroy America). I must try and sneak that sentence into a meeting at work one day, to see if anyone notices.

Olympus Has Fallen at IMDB (6.5 / 10)
Olympus Has Fallen at Wikipedia
Olympus Has Fallen at Roger Ebert (3.0 / 4.0)
Olympus Has Fallen trailer at YouTube


Dirty Harry / Beating the Banking System


Dirty Harry  -  Front DVD Cover  -  UK ReleaseHarry Callahan is a tough, streetwise San Francisco cop whom they call Dirty Harry.  In this action classic, you’ll see why – and also why Clint Eastwood’s reputation as a premier film star and moviemaker is secure.  A rooftop sniper (Andy Robinson) calling himself Scorpio, has killed twice and holds the city ransom with the threat of killing again.  Harry will nail him , one way or the other, no matter what the “system” prescribes.  Filming on location, director Don Siegel made the City by the Bay a vital part of Dirty Harry, a practice continued in its four sequels.  Forty three years after its arrival the original remains one of the most gripping police thrillers ever made.

1971  –  Certificate: 18  –  American Film
7.5 out of 10

This week I’ve inadvertently become a champion and role-model for the downtrodden masses, as I successfully concluded my fight for compensation as a result of the evil and corrupt banking industry misselling me Payment Protection Insurance for a credit card.  As we all know now, every single person who’s ever worked for a bank is a child of the Devil.  From the CEO to the office cleaners.  They exist for one purpose only and that’s to rip everyone else off.  Well they made one BIG mistake trying to take me on.  After many letters, the MBNA has finally capitulated, agreed it made a ‘mistake’ and has paid me back, with interest.  I can’t decide what to spend it on first, a yacht, a jet or an Aston Martin or two.  I guess a few lines of coke and some high-class ‘escorts’ wouldn’t go amiss either.  I can finally get rid of all my pathetic, stupid, so-called friends and buy myself a whole lot of new ones that better fit my improved social status.  The rich and the powerful will invite me to everything.  A-list celebrities will be at my beck and call.  My membership of the Bilderberg Group is assured.  I’m going to start voting Conservative at once, not that I really need to worry about politics now, as I could easily buy myself a whole country if I wanted to.  So I guess you probably want to know how much I got?  Well, the cheque I was sent is made out to me for 20p…

“Dirty Harry” is a film about a naughty policeman, which was inspired by the Lurkers’ 1999 non-hit “Go Ahead Punk”.  (I’ve got this on a very limited edition 7” single in grey vinyl, number 34 of the 125 that were made.)  Its main character Harry Callahan was based on James Callaghan, who was British Prime Minister from 1976-1979 and thus oversaw the invention of punk rock by the downtrodden masses that he created during the Winter of Discontent.  “Winter of Discontent” was also a great track from Political Asylum’s Winter EP, a copy of which I was sold by the band on the Fulham Palace Road, on my way to a Lurkers gig at the Fulham Greyhound.  (The latter was tragically renamed/relaunched earlier this year as an American theme pub called the Southern Belle. WTF?)  Its historical significance aside, this film gave us the original police officer who doesn’t play by the rules but gets away with, who still haunts TV and films to this day.  Scorpio is also a great psycho without a thread of remorse whatsoever and stands up well to the more modern versions that have followed in his wake.  I doubt there’s anything else I could possibly say about this film that hasn’t already been said 100 times before, so won’t.  But for what’s now quite an old film, it still looks good.   Essential viewing.

This movie is pretty light on music, which is just as well given it was made in the early 70s.

The trailer’s very long and seems to be desperate to portray Harry as more of a victim of circumstance than a police officer who really ought to be sacked for gross misconduct at the very least.  He could easily be Martin Riggs‘ father.

Recommended for police officers, psychos and school bus drivers.

No cats, chainsaws or decapitations.

Top badass moment?  Not once but twice, Harry gives us one of his two, world-famous quotes, here and here.  What other character would have the audacity to do that?  (Arnie’s done it but not twice in the same film I don’t think.)  That’s like a DJ playing the same song back-to-back, it just doesn’t happen; (unless you’re John Peel and you’re playing the Undertones, but that’s okay).  He must have been feeling lucky, punk.

Dirty Harry at IMDB (7.8 / 10)
Dirty Harry at Wikipedia
Dirty Harry at Roger Ebert (3.0/4.o)
Dirty Harry Trailer on YouTube


Star Trek 2: The Wrath of Khan / Cinematic Perfection


Star Trek 2: The Wrath of Khan  -  Front Blu-ray Cover  -  UK Release Box SetFeeling that the future holds nothing close to what the past once did, Admiral James T. Kirk begins to believe that galloping around the cosmos is a game for the young.  Yet on a routine inspection of the U.S.S. Enterprise, Kirk’s Starfleet career enters a new chapter as a result of his most vengeful nemesis: Khan Noonien Singh, the genetically enhanced conqueror from late 20th-century Earth.  Escaping his forgotten prison, Khan sets his sights on both capturing Project Genesis, a device of god-like power, and the utter destruction of Kirk.

1982  –  Certificate 12  –  American Film
10.0 out of 10.0

Yesterday was Wednesday; time for another trip to the dentist.  My dentist (who for some reason reminds me more and more of a vampire each time I see him), seemed in a slightly better mood this week; (I guess he must have had a good feed of virgin’s blood or something).  He still didn’t want to remove my misbehaving wisdom tooth though.  Instead he gave me even more antibiotics.  In this film Khan says to Kirk, “I’ve done far worse than kill you, Admiral.  I’ve hurt you.  And I wish to go on hurting you.”  This time my dentist gave my antibiotics that I’m not supposed to drink alcohol with.  I’m pretty sure I know how Kirk felt about Khan at that moment.  I think my dentist might be into my “utter destruction” too.  It’s just a feeling I have.

When people ask me what my favourite film of all time is, I often say this one. The best sequel ever, I’ve watched it 1,000s of times (poetic licence okay) and can probably quote most of the dialogue, but I still love watching it again.  And I’m probably about to gush a load of insufferable, embarrassing and slightly degrading stuff about it and how it’s affected my life, but I don’t care.  If this movie hadn’t become the success it was, it’s quite likely there’d have been no more Star Trek and basically life as we all know it would be futile and virtually meaningless.  Star Trek gives us meaning and purpose, and this film is probably as close as any of us will get to perfection.  From the awesome first scene, where most of the regular crew appear to get killed, until the final one where someone really does, it’s just one, long, cinematic orgasm.  It’s the sort of film the Borg would enjoy in its search for perfection.  The fact that it was revisited for “Star Trek: Into Darkness” (which was also an amazing movie) just goes to prove how good it really is.  It’s got a great villain and a great (if slightly clumsy looking) space battle in it too.  Made over 30 years old, it’s theme of getting old has become more and more relevant to me with each viewing, as they characters in it haven’t aged a bit but I have; I guess it wasn’t such a big deal when it was first released when I was 19.  I use so, so many out of context quotes from this film in my day-to-day life.  Indeed, I think I’ve probably arranged my life to better fit the film, entirely for this purpose.  So, for example, when I drive about in my car I secretly, (or not so secretly if I’ve got a passenger with me who I don’t feel will think I’ve lost it), when I go from one area to another, ‘borrow’ from Sulu’s words during the Kobayashi Maru scene and say something a bit like, “exiting the Berkshire sector, for the Hampshire sector”.  (Yes, I really do that; in fact it’s become such a habit that I have to actively stop myself doing it if I don’t want to weird anyone out too much.)  When I do my budget forecasts at work I often think that I’m facing my very own Kobayashi Maru test and then find myself quoting Sulu again, “We’re not going to make it, are we?”  In fact my whole life is a “no win scenario”.  And as someone who used to do something quite similar to “exploring strange new worlds” and “galloping around the cosmos”, but is now stuck behind a desk delivering the occasional bit of training, I can totally relate to Kirk when he says the latter “is a game for the young”.  If it didn’t mean I had to go outside when it was cold and wet, I’d follow McCoy’s advice; “Get back your command. Get it back before you really do grow old.”  Sadly I’ve never had anyone say anything like “Commanding a starship is your first, best destiny; anything else is a waste of material” to me.  I guess that means I was as rubbish at what I used to do as what I do now.  Shame really.  I guess I’ll have to steal one of our minibuses from work, go back in time and save the Dodo or something like that; which seems strangely apt.  (But that’s another tale for another Star Trek film.)  And the list goes on and on.  Sad, isn’t it?  And as for the overall story arc of starting the day with a routine bit of work and ending it literally saving the universe from an evil genius with a terrifying weapon; well, that’s not as unusual for me as it might seem.

Is there’s a bigger gap anywhere between a great film and a diabolically bad trailer?  I don’t think so.  OMG, it’s bad!  (Note for young people:  That’s “bad” as in actually bad, not “bad” as in wicked, sick, hot, etc.)

Not only is this film almost perfect, it’s also got an amazing soundtrack; I even bought it on CD and I hardly ever do that.  There’s a bit of music which is used when the Enterprise is first seen in dry dock just prior to launch.  Whenever I’ve start anything epic in my life (which is exceedingly rare), or driven a new vehicle for the first time (also exceedingly rare), that bit of music is my soundtrack to the event.  Imagine the lights coming on, the music booming out and try it yourself, it really works!  (Incidentally, I’ve never really understood why Kirk looks so uncomfortable in this scene.  Whatever Saavik says or does, it’s Sulu that’s actually ‘driving’, so I can’t imagine for a moment he’s just going to go ahead and crash into something if she makes a mistake.)

Recommended for everyone.  Seriously, if you don’t like this film you really need to go see a doctor.

No cats, chainsaws of decapitations.

Top badass moment?  Can I say the whole film?  I guess not, so I’m going to select Kirk’s reprogramming the Kobayashi Maru test so he could beat it.  Is that not the ultimate in thinking outside the box?  (You could set up an entire and very lucrative, senior management training programme around that one.)  It’s just a shame it’s not possible to do it to real-life.  I’d have my Aston Martin by now if it was.  It’s still totally badass though.

Star Trek 2: The Wrath of Khan at IMDB (7.8 / 10)
Star Trek 2: The Wrath of Khan at Wikipedia
Star Trek 2: The Wrath of Khan at Roger Ebert (3.0/4.0)
Star Trek 2: The Wrath of Khan trailer at You Tube (the original one)
Star Trek 2: The Wrath of Khan trailer at You Tube (a better one)


The Hunger Games / My Own Hunger Game


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

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

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

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

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

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

Recommended for sibling sisters, bakers and archers.

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

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

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


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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

No cats, chainsaws or decapitations.

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

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


Hello I Must Be Going / My Visit to a Modern Day Torture Chamber


Hello I Must Be Going  -  Front DVD Cover  -  US Release“Hello I Must Be Going” features acclaimed actress Melanie Lynskey (“Up In The Air”, “Two And A Half Men”) in her breakout role as Amy, a recent divorcée who seeks refuge in the suburban Connecticut home of her parents (Blythe Danner and John Rubinstein).  Demoralized and directionless, Amy begins an affair with 19-year-old actor Jeremy (“Girls”’ Christopher Abbott) that reignites her passion for life and jumpstarts her independence.  Coupling Danner’s riveting performance as a frustrated empty nester with Lynskey’s endearing depiction of both the comic and tragic avenues of life at a crossroads, “Hello I Must Be Going” is a modern, unconventional love story infused with sex, humour and raw, emotional honesty.

2012  –  Certificate: R  –  American Film
Rating Details:  Language and Sexual Content
7.0 out of 10

I went to see the dentist today.  Not my usual one but a “minor dental surgery” dentist.  I reported to reception and was promptly sent “downstairs”.  Isn’t that were they normally keep all the torture equipment in dungeons, along with the soundproofed rooms?  My earliest life memory is of a dentist removing one of my teeth when I was about five or six.  I just remember screaming my head off because of the pain and my mum coming into the room and pinning the dentist up against the wall, no doubt giving him quite a large piece of her mind.  Those sorts of things tend to stick in your mind.  I don’t think I’ve had a dentist remove any of my teeth since.  So anyway, downstairs I went.  The dentist I met appeared to have zero sense of humour and his comment that I’d been sent to him “as an emergency” to “have my wisdom tooth dug out” sounded  a little too near the truth for my liking.  Well I’m terribly sorry my “emergency” has taken so long to get sorted out that my body has given up waiting and decided to deal with the pain problem itself.  In future I’ll gargle with hot, melted sugar every four hours.  He had a five second look in my mouth before declaring that he could remove it there and then, but it would probably hurt.  He then ‘explained’ why this was so in such a way as to make no sense to me whatsoever; something to do with the fact that as it isn’t bothering me much now it would hurt to remove it.  (“But” I wondered to myself, “what about the injections and stuff you could give me to stop it hurting?”)  So instead he sent me away with another course of antibiotics and an instruction to go back next week.  When I tried to book the appointment I was told he was fully booked, so I now have to go back in two weeks instead.  The only other thing he told me was that the tooth was close to a nerve, so I might end up with numbness in my lip, chin or tongue, forever; although he did say that probably wouldn’t happen in my case; I guess that was his way of trying to cheer me up.  I don’t think he liked me…   When I left I was given a sheet of paper with some information on it.  This included the gem that, “ …wisdom teeth can cause a number of problems that mean the truth is best removed.”  Typo?  I don’t think so.  Maybe I’ll have a go myself with a bit of string tried to a door handle?  I think I’ll make a will.  This film is also about a life changing experience.

35 year old divorcée has affair with 19 year old guy.  Various embarrassing thing happen.  The end.  Why is it even called “an affair?”  She’s not married anymore and neither is he.  In fact neither of them is in any sort of relationship.  Calling it “an affair” just makes it seem a bit seedy.  I also hate that her family is one of those American ‘film families’ that go on about having no money, yet live in a big, flash house and even have workman in doing loads of improvement work to it.  Sorry, but that’s not my definition of poor.  My definition of poor includes taking the rubbish bags from outside the likes of Starbucks at night and going through them, looking for discarded packets of sandwiches etc that have passed their sell-by date.  Having said all that, this is actually quite a good film which is genuinely funny in places.  Melanie Lynskey makes it work.  The rest look like they were purchased from the Slightly Quirky Film Characters (American Division – Middle Class) Company.

It’s got a decent trailer, except it does big up the physical stuff a bit.  Most of the time Amy and Jeremy aren’t even onscreen together.  It’s far more of an embarrassing comedy that an erotic romance.

The movie contains a lot of well meaning but somewhat weedy, folky, guitar music.  It’s okay, it works.

Recommended for lawyers, divorcées, ‘poor people’ and teen guys that fancy ‘older women’.

No cats, chainsaws or decapitations.

Top badass moment?  19 year old Jeremy gets off with 35 year old Amy.  Well that’s pretty badass isn’t it?

Hello I Must Be Going at IMDB (6.2 / 10)
Hello I Must Be Going at Wikipedia
Hello I Must Be Going at Roger Ebert (3.0 / 5)
Hello I Must Be Going at YouTube