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!

 

 

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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