The greatest rock ‘n’ roll vampire comedy ever made, “Suck” stars rock royalty Alice Cooper, Iggy Pop and Henry Rollins, and brilliant performances from Moby and British screen legend Malcolm McDowell (“A Clockwork Orange”). The Winners are a struggling band desperate to make it to the top and strike a record deal. After another mediocre gig, Jennifer (Jessica Paré “Hot Tub Time Machine”) the sexy female bassist, disappears with a young vampire and returns the next morning sprouting fangs and a taste for blood. One by one each member succumbs to the dark side and leaving a trail of lifeless groupies in their wake, they soon reach the heights of success that they could only dream of as mere mortals.
2009 – Certificate: 15 – Canadian Film
Rating Details: Strong language and comic gory horror
7.5 out of 10
Yesterday I walked to work at my new office for the first time. No longer do I need to trek thousands of miles (well it felt like thousands) each day, face death as I cross the busy A4, deal with selfish pavement hogs along the Oxford Road, heroically climb ‘The Mountain’ or risk loss of sensory deprivation as I bisect the country-sized Tesco car park. My journey now takes about 15 minutes and I don’t need to set up a series of resupply depots and emergency evac protocols to enable me to take the trip. A number of other differences were apparent too. For a start, I had to battle my way through two (yes two) school runs, as I passed two primary schools. A pavement jam-packed with slow-moving mothers, toddlers in pushchairs and chaotic, hyper-active youngsters, who randomly change direction with no respect for The Rules. I’m an experienced Pavement Warrior, but this was something else. It’s only going to be a matter of time before I accidentally mow one of these tiny terrors down and end up in jail forever as a child killer. Then there were the others, a mixture of students going to the Tesco Metro (I didn’t realise any got up that early) and men and women in business suits, power-walking into the centre of Reading. On my previous journey, I’d count myself unlucky to be overtaken by even one person, but yesterday it happened twice, as I was left choking on the burning rubber left behind by the soles of two pairs of fast-moving, expensive shoes, worn by who I can only assume are relatives of Usain Bolt. Unless I’m carrying a heavy bag, being overtaken by someone is a direct challenge to my sexuality, questions my prowess in bed and lessens my status as an Alpha Male. Clearly more of a sprint than the marathon I’m used to, I’ll not be caught out next time. Game on… This film is about a group of people who make a change to how they do their job.
Sadly, this movie wasn’t so bad that I’m able to say it sucks. Nether was it some sort of unimaginatively named 70’s porn. It’s actually quite a lot of fun and does feature a number of real rock stars amongst its cast. (By the way, who originally came up with the expression “rock royalty”? It’s an unspeakably dreadful term.) The cast put in generally spirited performances and the whole thing is really quite endearing. It’s got Malcolm McDowell in it as well, as vampire hunter Eddie Van Helsing; and let’s not forget that this is the guy who killed Captain Kirk! That’s real ultra violence. And while we’re on the Star Trek theme, it’s also got Ezri Dax in it. Moby (who’s vegan and thus awesome), plays a character called Beef Bellows, lead singer of rock band The Secretaries of Steak. See, even vegans have a sense of irony. Jessica Paré, who plays bassist Jennifer, was a bit disappointing. I’m not quite sure why, but she didn’t quite pull off the vampire diva ‘thing’ that was meant to propel the band to stardom. Much more of a comedy than a horror, this movie’s a good excuse to while away 91 minutes of your life.
A film about a band needs to have good music, but unfortunately this one suffered a similar fate to so many others and features a lot of mediocre, bland, forgettable, indie rock. It’s a film about a band of vampires, but the music’s about as gothic as One Direction. The performances are pretty good though.
Recommended for rock stars, would-be rock stars and vampires (and the undead in general).
No cats, chainsaws or decapitations.
Top badass moment? Nicole de Boer has a part in this film. That’s badass.
There is a buzz about Sherry McGrale’s band among those in the know. Her song “Never Knew your Name”, a song about the brutal rape of a young woman, is making an impact on the charts and Sherry is already building a reputation as a singer-songwriter. But Sherry already seems set on a self-destructive, sex and alcohol-fuelled descent, delayed only by her dedicated and devoted manager, Chuck. When Owen, a senior reporter from Hollywood music magazine ‘Vinyl Fetish’, is given the task of writing a profile on Sherry, he has a head start. As an old childhood friend, he already knows her background and even the story behind the song, an event that has cast a shadow over their whole lives. Setting off for Cocoa Beach, Florida, Owen realises this is more than an interview; it is an opportunity to confront the past and put their future in their own hands.
2001 – Certificate: 18 – American Film
Rating Details: Strong sex, language and rape theme
8.0 out of 10
Actually I wrote this on Friday last week, but anyway… I’m sitting here writing this right now, (by which as I’ve just mentioned, means last Friday and not today, Wednesday). I’m sitting here and it’s very warm, it’s 30C in my living room. (It still is actually; we’ve had such lovely, warm and sunny weather recently, not at all like an English summer.) I’m sitting here feeling stupid, because I got ready to go out to a gig, before noticing on the ticket that it’s actually tomorrow night, (which is now last Saturday night) and not this evening, (which then was last Friday night, obviously). I’m sitting here wondering why it took me 20 minutes to locate my wallet tonight (i.e. last Friday night), only to find it was laying in the middle of the floor in the living room. I’m sitting here wondering if this is the start of Alzheimer’s. Then again, I’m sitting here remembering that I’ve been a multi-tasking wizard at work this week, (by which I mean last week, although I’ve been pretty good this week too), despite my in-built gender limitations. I’m now sitting here thinking I’m suffering from some sort of hormone imbalance. I’m sitting here wondering why I read medical stuff online too. Is that all clear? I hope so, because it’s all pretty serious stuff, a bit like this movie.
It’s hard not to take a film like this seriously, especially when the rape scene was filmed in the same house where the director/writer was raped herself at around the same age as the character in the movie. I doubt that’s a technique described in many self-help books. This could have been a truly great film. It does manage to be a really good film, but it didn’t quite achieve that final leap to amazingness. Some scenes really worked well and I got a proper emotional reaction from watching them. But others were comparatively lifeless and I started thinking that they weren’t very realistic either. Unfortunately, because I need to take this movie seriously, I can’t really mention that the nearest it has to a hero, Chuck, drives a Volvo. Dear me, I’m really not in the mood to write this tonight. There’s lots of really interesting stuff I could say about this film, but I’m just too emotionally detached from it right now. I’ve got a bit of a headache too; I’ve just taken a pain-killer, which I hardly ever do. Your sympathy is appreciated. Oh, I couldn’t find a proper trailer for it anywhere either, so I’ve settled for an excerpt of one of its more interesting scenes. Well it’s got some singing, swearing and violence in it anyway.
Getting the music right in a film which relies on it as a major plot element is never an easy thing to do. In this case they’ve gone for a ‘lead song’ that sounds really like the Beau Brummels 1965 hit “Just a Little”. (Which I just happen to have an advanced pressing of, where the title etc is written by hand on the label.) This isn’t a bad choice, as it gives it an ethereal, timeless quality that works well in the context of its subject matter. The rest of the soundtrack is pretty good too. A lot was written and performed by Sonic Youth.
Recommended for musicians, band managers, journalists and Volvo drivers.
No cats, chainsaws or decapitations.
Top badass moment? Under the circumstances, the fact that Sherry didn’t end up wanting to do something very nasty to Owen is pretty badass. In fact her whole reaction to his news seemed a bit subdued.
“Bandwagon” is a fresh and exciting indie comedy about four unlikely characters, who together form a band. Tony Ridge is a tragically shy singer and songwriter who can barely discuss his songs, let alone play them in public. He meets up with Charlie, an anxious young drummer with a practice space and a mom who makes them snacks. They seek out Wynn, a perpetually stoned lead guitarist, and finally, Eric, a feisty bass player who’s just given away his instrument as collateral on an overdue bet. Once the bass is retrieved from an unforgettable drug-dealing redneck the guys are ready. But ready for what? Is their band about the music, about getting the girls, or just something to pass the time? They decide that the best way for them to get noticed is to hit the road so they procure Linus Tate, the elusive, but legendary, road manager. The group soon realizes that life, confined to the space of their not-so-trusty van, isn’t always an easy endeavour. First-time writer/director John Schultz, a native of North Carolina, has taken full advantage of the striking local scenery during the peak of fall. Witty dialogue and clever plot twists punctuate a well-crafted story. An expertly produced sound track, including original songs performed by the film’s band, Circus Monkey, as well as other independent bands, gives the film an edgy, contemporary sound. A mix of familiar faces (Kevin Corrigan from “Living in Oblivion” and Steve Parlavecchio from “Amongst Friends”) and refreshing new talent round out an energetic ensemble cast. “Bandwagon” is a good-time venture into young artistic expression.
1996 – Certificate: Not Rated – American Film
7.0 out of 10
My new Roberts Stream 83i has arrived, as a replacement for my old but now sadly broken, Logitech Squeezebox. It plays FM radio. It plays Internet radio. It’s a DAB radio. It streams music from my NAS Drive. It sounds nice. It’s very easy to work out how to use it. It looks a little too like it was designed by someone with an over enthusiasm for 50’s sci-fi spaceship control panels; Buck Rodgers would feel right at home with it. What’s there not to like? Well, two things so far. Despite giving access to thousands of radio stations available on the Internet, it only give you 5 pre-sets for them, which is a bit perverse; was that bit of the specification sorted out on a Friday afternoon by some thickie on work experience with the company? Also, and far more annoyingly, it won’t shuffle music from my NAS Drive unless there’re less than about 2,000 tracks or folders in a folder, so it expects me to rearrange my whole, digital music collection to convenience this crappy bit of its design. I’ve e-mailed the company for a solution; let’s see how long it takes to reply and what it says. It never fails to amaze me how those that design things never seem to get the details quite right. This film is about music too.
Wynn, Eric, Tony and Charlie are four losers that have little else in common. They form a band, go on tour, fall out a lot, deal with loads of angst and in the end come good. So pretty much like every other film ever written about a band. Having said that, it’s quite a lot of fun and, critically, feels fairly authentic. Their enigmatic road manager, Linus, also adds a slightly surreal feel to things too. It’s often hard for actors to look like musicians in films, but in this case they generally do a pretty good job. It does feel bit dated at times, mainly because these days so much independent music is promoted and distributed on the Internet. There is a bit near the end where the band is being spoken to by the head of a record company, who’s explaining, quite convincingly, how the band has to do this, that and the other to be successful. Sometimes it feels like that at work; I spend more time playing the game that doing anything that’s actually making any sort of difference. It doesn’t matter how many times I have it explained to me, I’m still left with a feeling that there’s a better way to do things.
A film about a band needs to have good music. With a number of decent, mid 90s, American indie rock songs, this movie does manage to be convincing enough on this level. In fact a couple of them are actually pretty good.
Recommended for garage mechanics, dope-heads, record shop assistants and construction vehicle manufacturer workers.
No cats, chainsaws or decapitations.
Top badass moment? The record company president meets the band and offers it a recording contract. It turns it down. That’s defiantly sticking it to The Man, and that’s badass; and in many ways stupid too, but there’s something to be said for keeping you integrity and principles intact.
Rainn Wilson (TV’s “The Office An American Workplace”) takes centre stage in this wildly irreverent comedy about living your dreams – and embarrassing your family – at any cost. Twenty years after being kicked out of his nearly famous ‘80s rock group, Robert “Fish” Fishman (Wilson) gets a hilarious second chance at stardom when he joins his nephew’s high school garage band. Without missing a beat, Fish vows to reclaim the rock-god throne he always thought he deserved… while taking his much younger band-mates along for the rides of their lives!
2008 – Certificate: 12 – USA
Rating Details: Moderate sex references and infrequent muffled strong language
Today is a special day. From the mid-late 80s until the mid-late 90s, I didn’t really go to see many gigs; in fact off the top of my head I can only remember one. Then I went to see China Drum at ULU (University of London Union) and everything changed. It was the band that singlehandedly reintroduced me to live music. Then after three albums, China Drum split up and the world became a slightly more crappy place. It’s been at the top of my “wish they would reform” list for years. Now, twelve years on, China Drum is playing a gig in February in London. To say I’m a bit excited is like suggesting the sun is a bit warm. This movie is about something a little similar.
I’m a bit of a sucker for films about music and bands and I really like Rainn Wilson, so it’s probably no surprise that I enjoyed this one. There’s nothing especially groundbreaking about it, but it’s fun and at times really very funny; it has some great lines in it. It just about manages to stay on the right side of becoming a parody à la “Spinal Tap” and Fish remains a likable character. It seems to get compared to “School of Rock” a lot, but I think this is the better of the two films as it feels (okay slightly) more grounded. It has a number of clever little references in it to other films and ‘pop culture’ and there’s even a small cameo from Peter Best, The Beatles’ original drummer. The DVD has loads of extras too. Highly recommended.
Recommended for people who used to be into music and then ‘grew out of it’, but secretly wishes they hadn’t.
No cats, chainsaws or decapitations.
Top badass moment? The ending is terribly clichéd, but who doesn’t want to get one over on someone who got one over on them years ago? There’s nothing like holding a lifelong grudge; even I have one or two. It’s not the most grown-up way to get rid of the latter, but beating a long-standing nemesis is most certainly badass. Rock on!