Posts tagged “Black Comedy

101 Reykjavík / Hedge-laying


101 Reykjavik  -  Front DVD Cover  -  UK Release

Living on social security in the protected environment of his mother’s home, Hilmir has never felt the urge to venture beyond the confines of his neighbourhood, 101 Reykjavík, and is determined to resist adulthood at all cost.  However he soon finds out that life is busy making other plans for him when he discovers that the woman he has just been to bed with happens to be his mother’s lesbian lover, and may be carrying his child.  101 Reykjavik is a zany black comedy set against the backdrop of Iceland’s swinging nightlife and features a musical score by Damon Albarn and Einar Orn Benediktsson.

  1. Certificate: 18. Icelandic Film.  6.0 out of 10.

Tomorrow I’ve got to go out and teach some people how to lay hedges.  This isn’t as sexually adventurous as it sounds, but it is quite a lot of fun.  Hedge-laying is a traditional way to manage farm hedges to ensure they remain stockproof.  Doing so also ensures that they’ll survive almost indefinitely and continue to provide both homes and a transport network to wildlife, as well as attractive features in the landscape.  Of course, it’s a lot cheaper and faster just to put up a fence, or shove a few old beds and car doors in any gaps that appear in a hedge, but that’s not nearly as interesting.  The forecast is for rain, heavy at times, cloudy and windy, 10°C.  The weather in winter really sucks. I’ve also got to get up at some ungodly hour of the morning, so I’ve time to get all the kit packed, go pick up all the materials and then get out to the site.  By a cruel irony, the hedge runs alongside the Kennet & Avon Canal, a place I know well from having walked the entire length of it last summer in lovely weather.  Still, let’s look on the bright side, (not that it’s going to be very bright tomorrow); I’m unlikely to get skin cancer, but I will have an opportunity to try out my new, three-in-one fleece and waterproof jacket.  The weather is even worse in this film.

Representing 50% of my entire Icelandic film collection, I struggled a bit with this black comedy as its central character Hilmir isn’t really the anti-hero we’re meant to think he is.  He’s actually just a sponging loser who a bout of National Service would soon sort out.  Okay, I don’t really believe that either, but he was an almost total waste of space; (and I’m being nice by using “almost”).  He spent most of his time avoiding things or ineffectively moaning about them when he couldn’t.  I wasn’t able get behind him at all, I just wanted to see bad things happen to him and for him to get his comeuppance.   Walking around like an extra from Britpop, he’s the sort of person the Daily Mail would put on their front page to justly the abolition of welfare support and the reintroduction of capital punishment; and to be fair it would have a point too.  I guess this is a complement in terms of the acting and script, but the movie’s entrainment value was eroded by my frustration with its main character.  I’m not sure it did much to encourage me to visit Iceland either.  It just seems to be filled with people who’re a bit wacked out on their isolation, drinking hugely expensive beer in overly cramped bars, whilst its (insert your least favourite crappy weather here) outside.  We do get to see a bit of the countryside, but mainly it’s set inside ugly buildings made of concrete and corrugated metal.  Then again, all I though Iceland did was sell cheap frozen food, so what do I know?  Overall I’m probably being a little mean about this film.  I should watch it again sometime.

I was never a big Blur fan, so the fact that Damon Albarn wrote some of the soundtrack to this film didn’t really do much for me; it was okay but nothing special.  Having said that, the frequent use of a horrible sub-reggae / trip-hop version of the Kinks’ “Lola” was a notable low point, over and over and over again.  A good match for Hilmir in fact.

The trailer’s okay.  Pretty middle of the road.  One interesting thing is that despite most of the movie being made in Icelandic, the trailer uses a lot of parts taken from the English speaking sections.

Movie Weather Forecast.  Snow, heavy at times, turning to rain.  Further snow expected later.  Cold, with temperatures remaining below freeing for most of the time.

Recommended for wasters, lesbians and jobcentre advisers.

No cats, chainsaws or decapitations.

Top badass moment?   Main character Hilmir was a waste of space in so many ways.  However, his reaction when going to a family dinner party at Christmas and then having to sit there and watch a video they made the previous year of them all eating at the same dinner party, was understandable.  Please someone, if I ever get that bad, take me to a vet to be put down.

101 Reykjavík at IMDB (6.9 / 10)
101 Reykjavík at Wikipedia
101 Reykjavík Trailer


Frontier Blues / Begging for Money


Frontier Blues  -  Front DVD Cover  -  UK Release

In this debut feature written and directed by Iranian born Babak Jalali, “Frontier Blues” features four, intertwined stories all set in Iran’s northern frontier with Turkmenistan, a region that has long been neglected in Iranian cinema, interesting not only for its magnificent, forlorn landscape but also for its multi-ethnic population of Persians, Turkmens and Kazakhs. Featuring non-professional actors from the northern region of Iran, Jalali’s film looks at fragments of the everyday existence of a varied collection of characters from the region.

2009 –  Certificate: 12  –  Iranian Film
Rating Details: One use of strong language and a moderate sex reference
7.0 out of 10

Although I frequently do nothing at work for weeks at a time (except procrastinate), I occasionally have to do something. This is normally something which I can’t delegate downwards or pass the buck upwards.  Yesterday was one of those days.  I had to complete a funding application.  I’d known it’d need doing for the last month or so, but it was only yesterday that I did much about it, as it had a 17:00 deadline.  I’d had a quick look at it the day before and decided that it wasn’t a lot of work; why I believe myself when I think something like that I’ll never know, but somehow I always do.  So yesterday I found myself having to do some real work for a change.  Now, there are people who actually do this sort of thing as their full time job and some of them actually seem to enjoy it.  I lack the intelligence, focus and strength of character to be like that.  I see it as a necessary evil that allows me to lead the decadent lifestyle that I do.  No one should be forced to write funding applications; it’s only one step up from begging in the street.  Like writing poetry or songs, funding bids come from the heart; they’re not something that can be forced out of someone.  In my case they’re dragged screaming and kicking from my very soul, before being nakedly spread-eagled across the page for all to gawp at, pointing and laughing as they do so, as if I was exposing a very private part of me, which in a way I am.  Being forced to write a funding bid is like being forced to love someone.  Of course I enjoy getting that follow up letter that contains the word “congratulations”, but most of the time they just say “I’m sorry to inform you”.  Writing funding bids is like asking someone out, and I’m crap at that too.  (You work yourself up for ages to do it and then it all comes out wrong.)  I’m just not thick skinned enough to take the rejection and it sends me into a subconscious mire of desolation and self-loathing.  I still haven’t got over asking Debbie Warby out in 1977 and getting turned down; I only wanted to go and see “Star Wars” too.  I never did see it at the cinema; no wonder I prefer “Star Trek”.  So anyway, I got it done yesterday and what a beautiful creation it was; really, it should’ve been on display in a gallery, not stuffed into a brown envelope.  After a 100mph death-defying drive, (it wasn’t far to go and I had an hour or so to get there, but I’d drunk far too much coffee), I got to hand it in before the deadline.  I got a call about two hours later from the fund’s administrator, asking if I could e-mail her a copy, as she was having to scan all the applications and she’d been “inundated” with them and would be at work for hours doing them, so it would save her time.  Inundated.  Inundated!  It’s like asking girls out again; a futile exercise that ends in humiliation and a feeling of abject failure.  A woman gets asked out in this movie; that ends in abject failure too.

So this was a chance to watch my entire collection of Iranian films… all one of them. Not sure what I was expecting really, probably just some propaganda to do with nuclear bombs, oppressed women who choose to wear a burqa and jihadist wars.  There isn’t anything else there is there, other than sand and oil… and camels probably?  Well, that’s what it says in the papers, so it must be true.  Okay, I don’t really believe any of that nonsense, but I was surprised by what I did see.  In fact it took me a while to get over my preconceptions and begin to appreciate what this film actually was, which made me feel a bit guilty; I really was under the impression that it would be sort of worthy, but a bit amateurish and boring.  In fact this is a black comedy, which pokes fun at itself and Iran’s own, internal preconceptions about itself.  It’s true to say that not a lot happens for most of the film and there aren’t a great many spaceships, aliens or explosions in it.  It’s simply a snapshot of the lives of four people that to some extent are interconnected.  At first I did find it a bit boring, but when I finally worked out what I was watching it got a lot more interesting.  It was almost as if I felt guilty about finding the discomfort of the characters funny, which is a bit sad really.  The picture quality isn’t always the best, which is a bit frustrating as the scenery is really worth seeing.  It’s also quite slow and nothing happens quickly; and in a cultural way there are a few things that just don’t sit comfortably for many westerners too.  However, the majority of it is good stuff and I really rather enjoyed it.

The music used in the film is sparse and haunting. It’s not something I’d listen to on its own but as a soundtrack it’s great and adds to the atmosphere a lot.  We also get treated to a bit of what sounds like Marlene Dietrich, but I could be wrong.

Movie Weather Forecast. I’ve still not started doing this properly, but it was dry and mostly sunny, with some blustery wind at times.

For stupid people like me, the trailer makes the tone of the film a bit clearer.

Recommend for wrestlers, photographers and anyone who works on a chicken farm.

No cats, chainsaws or decapitations.

Top badass moment?  I like tea.  I drink a lot of tea.  I like coffee but I like tea more.  In this film the characters drink tea.  They drink a lot of tea.  In fact I suspect that it’s a subtle joke about how much tea people in Iran do drink.  I thought all they did there was build nuclear bombs and hate on the West, but actually they drink a lot of tea and have a sense of humour that I can relate to.  That’s cool, because most of the people I actually know don’t understand it.  I’m a Brit so tea is automatically badass and badass in a way coffee will never be.  In fact it’s the most badass of drinks; except perhaps cider.

Frontier Blues at IMDB (6.7 / 10)


Kontroll / The Great Pasta Rip-off


Kontroll  -  Front DVD Cover  -  UK ReleaseA dark and dynamic ride through Budapest’s labyrinthine subway system, “Kontroll” stylishly careens through genres, thriller, drama, comedy, horror and romance, at the breakneck pace of a runaway train.  Life has turned upside-down for brooding Bulcsú (Sándor Csányi), a ticket inspector who patrols the platforms and trains of the city’s underground network with a motley crew of colleagues.  Bulcsú has forged a series of ‘relationships’ with other long-term denizens of this neon-lit world; the serial fare-dodger, the shadowy serial-killer, the veteran whose seen it all before, and the mysterious, beautiful woman who rides the rails in a bear suit.  The most successful Hungarian film of 2003 and selected for the Un Certain Regard section of the Cannes Film Festival, Kontroll”, with its echoes of “Run Lola Run”, is a fascinating tour of an unseen world and an atmospheric, pulsating search for redemption.

2003  –  Certificate: 15  –  Hungarian Film
Rating Details: Strong language and violence
8.0 out of 10

Today I’m being angry about dry pasta.  Dry pasta is a total rip-off.  By which I mean the price charged for some types is a blatant attempt to feed the insecurity, snobbishness and stupidity of a significant percentage of the population.  Normally I buy Ocado (own brand) Fusilli pasta at 113p / kg.  But on a whim, last time I did my ‘big shopping’ I also bought a bag of Giuseppe Cocco Fusilli Pasta at 598p / kg, to find out what’s so good about it.  That’s over 5 times more expensive!  The latter comes in a smaller bag and has fancy Italian writing all over the packet (that could be telling me to go fuck myself for all I know), but beyond that it isn’t any different.  It looks and tastes just like the cheap stuff.  People are soft in the head if they’re stupid enough to buy the expensive version and think it’s superior in some way.  Listen up.  It’s exactly the same!  Whether you like it or not, it’s only bought by the dull-witted and easy led, who actually believe it’s better; or food snobs who’re clearly lacking something in their lives that impressing themselves, their family and friends with grossly overpriced food, helps them to cover up.  It you really want to impress your peers, buy the cheap stuff and donate the £60 or so you’ll save each year to charity.  And while I’m on the subject, why is it that if you don’t buy spirals, spaghetti or tubes, the price of pasta also goes up hugely?  Another rip-off!  In fact, the only thing more ridiculous is bottled water.  Being a Brit who lives on a small island, I’m genetically programmed to think just about everywhere else in Europe is basically like one place as it’s joined together, such as Italy and Hungary

I went to Hungary once.  (Yes, it’s hard to believe isn’t it?)  I arrived with no local currency and had no idea what the exchange rate was, so for quite a while I based my estimate of prices on the bottle of overpriced Coke I bought from a vending machine at the bus station in Budapest.  (Based on this, a bottle of lager was about half the price of Coke.)  I never went on the underground there, which now having seen this film I’m quite glad about; the bus was quite traumatic enough.  This movie follows the exploits of a scruffy team of five ticket inspectors on the Budapest subway.  It starts with an introduction from someone claiming to be from the subway company, explaining why permission was given for the film to be made (entirely underground) and for the company to be depicted in the way it is.  I’m not 100% sure if this was serious or just a clever bit of writing.  The whole movie has a well developed script and provides plenty of nuanced observations and WTF moments.  The subway environment provides a great atmospheric background too, as the action switches quickly between different genera and pacing.  Ticket inspectors are depicted as being very low on the ‘food chain’ of careers, with questionable management, rivalry between teams and a general antagonism towards them from the travelling public.  A dark comedy (with a bit of romance and horror thrown in), this is a pretty fun, mind-fuck film that uses its setting well.  A great film.  Enjoy.

Musically it’s not an especially interesting movie as there’s not a lot used, although its scarcity does give it an impact when it does appear.

The trailer’s pretty decent, but I couldn’t find a copy of it with subtitles anywhere on the Internet.  There’s a copy on the DVD though.

Recommended for ticket inspectors, tourists, serial killers and fare dodgers.

No cats, chainsaws or decapitations.

Top badass moment?  For most of this film the ticket inspectors are on the wrong end of abuse from passengers who haven’t got a ticket.  In one incident, an especially annoying woman threatens to report one for groping her if he hassles her any more about not having a ticket.  So the guy promptly grabs her boobs, much to her horror and embarrassment.  Now I’m not condoning this in any way, but somehow she deserved it.  Calling someone’s bluff is always badass, if you get away with it.

Kontroll at IMDB (7.7 / 10)
Kontroll at Wikipedia
Kontroll at Roger Ebert (3.5 / 4)
Kontroll trailer at YouTube


Meatball Machine / Epic Breakfast Fail


Meatball Machine  -  Front DVD Cover  -  US Release“Meatball Machine” is a wild, splatterific, experimental sci-fi/horror rollercoaster that will have your entire brain and body shaken and stirred.  Capable of making biomechanical weapons out of human flesh, alien parasites grotesquely invade the Earth, turning their hosts into maniacal killers who seek and destroy each other to the bloody death!  And yes, it’s also a human love story, even though the budding romantics are infested with slimy, tumour-like globules.  Co-directors Junichi Yamamoto and Yudai Yamaguchi (“Battlefield Baseball”) pull out all the stops and don’t let up until the final epic battle.  It’s a touching testament to young love, blood, and alien ooze that leaves you screaming for more!

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

I used to be quite a good cook.  Like many things, it’s an ability I seem to have lost.  Today I tried to make myself some breakfast, just some porridge and a cup of tea, not exactly rocket science.  I managed to burn the porridge to the bottom of the pan, let the tea go cold and fill my flat with the smell of ‘burnt something or other’ that even lighting an incense cone (mesquite) has failed to cover up.  It’s all a bit sad really.  I suppose it could have been worse; I could have been taken over by an alien.  Now that really does mess up your day.  By a strange coincidence…

I was very relieved to discover that this film was not about the exploitation of animals and their conversion into a disgusting, processed, flesh-food of the worst kind.  Instead, it focuses on humans infested by alien parasites, who take them over, convert them to necroborgs and then go about killing each other in very gruesome and bloody ways.  Much nicer, I think you’ll agree.  There’s blood and yukiness aplenty in this Japanese movie.  That pretty well sums the plot up, other than the inclusion of some soppy nonsense about the two main characters falling in love and ending up fighting.  Fortunately, this doesn’t really get in the way of the mess, which does look good.  By and large the effects are very nicely done; the little aliens in the tumours have an especially high ‘eew factor’.  For a film of this type it’s actually really well made.  The overall effect is kind of what would happen if the Borg went to English football matches in the 70’s but in Japan, got really pissed and then went looking for a fight with some rival team’s Borg supporters.  Despite all the gruesome action, it’s so comic book like that it doesn’t really leave much of a sickening after-taste.  The DVD I have also has good subtitles and loads of extras; a quality release.  Recommended.

The music’s there, it does it’s stuff.  That’s it really.  It works, feels accessible yet still Japanese.  Can’t think of anything else to say about it.

Recommended for factory workers, lovers and guys that like to tinker with electronic things.

No cats or chainsaws and 1 decapitation, (plus another head that blows up).

Top badass moment?   Sigh.  It’s so romantic.  The shared love of Yôji and Sachiko, helping them to overcome the power of the alien parasites infesting their bodies, before making the ultimate sacrifice.  Well, bollocks to that.  Seeing people turned into cyborgs, loads of blood, heaps of gross body parts and that unique Japanese touch that goes into films like this, is far more badass.  Give me a huge gun growing out of someone’s chest any day of the week over a candlelit dinner for two.

Meatball Machine at IMDB (5.8 / 10)

Meatball Machine at Wikipedia

Meatball Machine at YouTube


Happiness / National Lottery Refuses to Fund Cactus World


Happiness  -  Front DVD Cover  -  UK ReleaseIsolation… alienation… happiness.  In America they all go hand in hand.  Buy a new TV and you will be happy.  Still not happy?  Experience alienation.  Can’t afford a new TV?  Then live in isolation.  “Be happy”, and if that doesn’t work, pretend to make it work.  For the characters in Todd Solondz’ award winning, subversively funny film “Happiness”, the struggle to attain such a state is fraught with perils both heartbreaking and hilarious.

1998  –  Certificate: 18  –  American Film
Rating Details:  Adult theme, strong sexual references, language and sex
8.5 out of 10

The National Lottery spoilt my day today and it was going so well too.  It started off sunny.  Then I drove to Berkhamsted, which included a slow selection along the M4.  This provided me with a golden opportunity to open all the windows and ‘educate’ my fellow motorists in what good music sounds like, whether they wanted educating or not.  It’s never too early in the day for some noisy punk rock.  I then passed my MiDAS trainer/assessor reassessment.  This means I can continue to train people to drive minibuses in my own, inimitable style.  (e.g. “Just put your foot down.”  “It’s not your vehicle, so don’t worry.”  “You’re not paying for the insurance.”  “You’re bigger than they are.”)  I then drove home again with the windows open.  This time there was no slow section, so thanks to a large articulated lorry I no longer need to tidy up the interior of my car, as all the rubbish in it suddenly got sucked out of the window as the lorry went past.  Then I got home and opened a letter from the Disclosure and Barring Service, which was happy to report that I’m not a pervert or a weirdo; at least not one that’s been caught anyway.  But then the Lottery spoilt my happiness by rejecting a funding application I’d made for a project.  For the second time!  Bloody hell!  I even buy two lottery tickets every week by Direct Debit.  That should guarantee success.  (Then again, I don’t know why this surprises me.  In the 19 years it’s been running, I’ve bought one or two tickets virtually every single week and personally never won more than £10; and that’s not happened more than a few times either.  I’m relying on a Lottery jacket win to act as my pension too.)  My failure was highlighted in some nonsense about insufficient evidence of need.  I guess interviewing every single person on the whole planet about the project and finding that all 7,164,915,211 of them supported it and would benefit from it, wasn’t sufficient.  Still, I’ve been invited to reapply if I can provide more information.  It’s lucky I’ve just got my DBS Certificate, as I’m now going to need to hang about in various maternity wards and try to consult with some babies as they come out of the womb, as just about everyone else has already expressed an opinion.  It’s not the rejection that hurts, (well okay it is really), but the fact that some of my colleagues north of the border seen to be able to provide enough evidence for similar applications, by simply stating that they think the project they’re apply for money for would be “nice”.  This doesn’t make me very happy.  It’s so easy being Scottish.  We have to work hard in the South East of England for everything.  I think a career as a diplomatic would suit me better.  That would make me much happier too.  This is a film about happiness.

This is a sick film.  It’s exactly the sort of perverse movie that the DBS should ask about before issuing Certificates.  It’s also very funny, in a blacker than black way.  There’re loads of reviews of it on the Internet, half of which say it’s great and the other half say they walked out of it after 15 minutes because it was so “disgusting”.  Despite its reputation as a bit of a dodgy film, it’s also surprisingly moving and very well acted.  I think I like it as it features a load of people who think they’re happy but actually they’re not, yet they still are in a rather strange way.  I like to see people bought down to my level.  It’s a movie for grow-ups you should watch.  You can always use a pair of sharp scissors to cut the DVD in two if you don’t like it.  (But remember to take care with the scissors, especially as DVDs can suddenly shatter into sharp pieces when stressed.  I’d advise you wear gloves and goggles too, just in case.)

There is a soundtrack but it’s pretty unmemorable.  Music is sparsely used, although when it is it does support the action nicely.   On many occasions it’s used more as an element in the scenes themselves, rather than simply as background ‘noise’ to build tension or whatever.  Michael Stipe does sing the theme song though.

Recommended for weirdos.  (Sorry, I can’t be arsed to write anything else.)

No cats, chainsaws or decapitations.

Top badass moment?  At the start of the film, Allen strikes a blow for downtrodden men everywhere, with his “I’m Champagne” tirade.  Admittedly he picks on the somewhat weedy Joy as the target for his ‘stand’, but nevertheless he knocks the ball right out of the ground.  Yeah; men rise up and take back your birth right!  No more will we be under the thumb of woman-kind!  Reclaim the mighty sword of masculinity and trousers of relationship power!  (Do I come across as sounding bitter or twisted at all?)

Happiness at IMDB (7.7 / 10)

Happiness at Wikipedia


Mad Cowgirl / I Meet Skynet’s Grandparents


Mad Cowgirl  -  Front DVD Cover (US Relese)Sarah Lassez (“Nowhere”, “The Blackout”, “Until The Night”) delivers a star-making performance as Therese, an ass-kicking health inspector with a failed marriage, an on-going affair with a creepy televangelist (Walter Koenig, “Star Trek”), nymphomania, and an obsession with old kung-fu movies.  Further complicating her life is a very questionable relationship with her brother Thierry (James Duval from “The Doom Generation” and “Donnie Darko”), a meat importer who may (or may not) have infected her with mad cow disease.  She soon embarks on a surreal journey which descends into violence, insanity and her quest to kill the Ten Tigers From Kwangtung!

2006  –  Certificate: Not Rated  –  American Film
Rating Details:  Graphic violence and sexual situations
6.0 out of 10

I’ve described before how technology hates me.  I think it probably hates most people, but for some reason it gets an especially perverse satisfaction out of giving me hassle and grief.  The latest example was last Friday; the day my amplifier finally returned from over four months away being repaired, my Logitech Squeezebox died.  This cute little device has helped me to go to sleep for years, playing Internet radio stations such as Dub Xtra, Ska World, Hussieskunk and Gutter Punk when I went to bad.  I suppose I’ve had a reasonable amount of use out if it; they stopped making them quite some time ago.  However, the loss has been keenly felt right across Cactus World.  The nearest equivalent that’s now available is the Logitech UE Smart Radio, which isn’t what I really want.  Logitech seems to think everyone has a smart phone these days and will use it to access music, so its range of products reflects this outlook; well I don’t so I can’t.  Its loss then.  I don’t have any friends so what’s the point of me having a phone, smart or stupid?  Instead I’ve bought a Roberts Stream 83i.  Doing this has also freed up my DAB radio alarm and a nice mini stereo system, as the 83i (wow, catchy name) has these things built into it.  In fact, if I’d listed all the features I wanted, this clever bit of kit would be the result. The User Guide has 108 pages, all in English.  It hasn’t been delivered yet, but I’m already looking forward to it pissing me off for some reason soon.  Oh yes, and if this wasn’t proof enough of the self-aware nature of technology, the hard drive in my NAS also failed last week.  I’m pretty sure it’s all a precursor to something resembling Skynet.  And on the subject of not being able to tell reality from fantasy…

I always enjoy a film that within the first couple of minutes makes a positive statement about vegans.  Sadly, I don’t feel I can really reciprocate the feeling.  Maybe I should try to be more sober when I watch movies, so I can make more sense of them?  Despite its title, this film isn’t trying to do for westerns what Twilight did for vampires and it’s probably much better that I’m giving it credit for.  It staggers about like a drunk, from straight-forward drama, through slasher horror into surreal mind-fuck territory and then back again. On the surface it’s really quite a shambles, but underneath it’s actually quite a clever film.  It’s a parody of a kung fu movie, yet it also offers up an emotionally screwed-up scene as the lead character breaks down in a confessional booth, with the realisation that’s she’s not got long to live.  It’s got Chekov in it (the Enterprise’s navigator, not the doctor/writer), but far too much gratuitous gross meat-eating for my liking.  In fact it’s a bit of a food-fight movie; there’s ideas and thoughts splattered everywhere.  So something for everyone then, or nothing for anyone, or whatever.

This film offers up a muddle of many different types of music; an intentional mixture of a straight-forward soundtrack and kitsch opera, rock, rap, funk and many other music genus too, as it tries to keep up with the ever-changing vibe on-screen.  There’s a brief burst of a great punk song at one point, but sadly I don’t know who it’s by or what it’s called.

Recommended for environmental health inspectors, butchers, evangelists, Trekkies and connoisseurs of kung fu movies.

3 decapitations, no cats or chainsaws.  The Flying Guillotine is an interesting concept…  And it was pleasing to see a battery-powered drill and circular saw being used to good effect too.

Top badass moment?  Ten Tigers From Kwangtung!  Cindy, The Girl With the Thunderbolt Kick, wasn’t bad either.

Mad Cowgirl at IMDB (5.0 / 10)

Mad Cowgirl at Wikipedia


Wristcutters: A Love Story / The Amplifier Returns


Wristcutters  -  Front DVD Cover (US Release)Distraught over breaking up with his girlfriend, Zia (Patrick Fugit) decides to end it all.  Unfortunately, he discovers that there is no real ending, only a run-down afterlife that is strikingly similar to his old one, just a bit worse.  Discovering that his ex-girlfriend has also “offed” herself, he sets out on a road trip, with his Russian rocker friend, to find her.  Their journey takes them through an absurd purgatory where they discover that being dead doesn’t mean you have to stop livin’!

2006  –  Certificate: R  –  American Film
Rating Details:  Language and disturbing content involving suicide
8 out of 10

Let’s start with a history lesson.  In January 2010 I bought myself a new amplifier, an Onkyo TX-NR807.  (It’s totally overpowered for someone who lives in a flat like me and is surrounded by others they don’t hate, but hey, I’m a bloke and I need to make up for my perceived sexual inadequacies; I’d probably be tempted to buy a Porsche if I could afford it, just to drive up to the corner shop and back.)  In January 2012 it broke down.  Fear swept across Cactus World, as the population was plunged into a miserable silence.  Fortunately it got fixed pretty quickly.  In January 2013 it broke down again, with exactly the same fault.  This time it wasn’t fixed quickly.  Last Monday I rang up the crappy repair company, (Genserve, Onkyo’s official repair company in the UK).  Not my first call to it.  Fed up with it abysmal service, I used my ‘really, really, really pissed off customer who knows where you live and will kidnap your babies and torture and kill them if you don’t bloody get it fixed soon persona’, to get some information out of them.  Apparently the replacement part was ordered from Germany but if it’s not in stock there it has to come from Japan.  The guy I spoke to offered to send an e-mail to see where things had got to; wow, I bet that would’ve scared the shit out of them.  I also phoned up Onkyo and gave it a load a grief about its shoddy amplifier design.  What a lot of bollocks that all turned out to be, as strangely I got a phone call less than 48 hours later to tell me it had been fixed.  I got it back on Friday and two days later it’s actually still working.  Why do I have to pretend to be a murderous psycho to get anything sorted these days?  And the moral of this story?  Never, ever by anything made by Onkyo, because it’s unreliable, fucking shite; yep, I think that just about sums things up.  A shame, because when it’s working it’s a great amp.  It’s enough to drive someone to despair, get a gun and randomly go out and shoot people and then blow their own head off.  All of which bring me to this film…

I’m swearing a lot here, sorry.  Anyway, this is a mind-fuck movie, but a good one. The idea of an afterlife that’s just a bit more crappy than the living version, appeals to my pragmatic world view.  It’s not a bad metaphor for life.  In fact I’m starting to wonder if in fact I’m already there, given my recent experiences with my amplifier.  Sometime between January 2012 and January 2013 I must have committed suicide, although I can’t for the life of me remember doing so.  (By the way, my saying “Can’t for the life of me” there is a bit of a joke; I don’t want anyone to miss it so I thought I’d mention it.)  I guess it just wasn’t very memorable.  It would also explain a great many other things.  One of the characters spends her time looking for the People In Charge, because she’s convinced there’s been a mistake and she shouldn’t be there; I could relate to the too.  This is a really interesting film which, despite its theme, is fun; if there’s such a thing as a black, rom-com road-movie, this is probably it.  Its story is really quite unique.  Well worth watching.

This film has some interesting music in it and extends its theme by using some songs from bands whose singers sadly did commit suicide.  A lot of the rest is from Gogol Bordello, a band who’s sizable appeal I’ve never really quite understood, although it sounds fine here.  Tom Waits, who’s in the film quite a bit, also contributes a suitably jolly track.

Recommended for undiscovered rockers, pizza shop workers and cult leaders.

One cat, no chainsaws or decapitations.  It’s only onscreen for a few moments, but it’s a cute ginger one!

Top badass moment?  I watched this film about two weeks ago, so I have to admit I can’t remember enough to identify it now.  I’m sure there was one though; probably several actually.  I really should take notes.

Wristcutters: A Love Story at IMDB (7.3 / 10)

Wristcutters: A Love Story at Wikipedia


The Untold Story / Birds Eye Potato Waffles


The Untold Story  -  Front DVD Cover (US Release)In a riveting performance that won him 1993’s Hong Kong Film Award for Best Actor, Anthony Wong (“Hard Boiled”) stars as the owner/chef of the Eight Immortals Restaurant, where the original owner and his family mysteriously disappear.  As the police, led by Danny Lee (“The Killer”), intensify their investigation, they gradually uncover the shocking truth.  Definitely not for the squeamish, “The Untold Story” is also an intelligent character study filled with dark humour touches. And remember… it actually happened!

1992  –  Certificate: Not Rated  –  Hong Kong Film
Rating Details:  Scenes of extreme violence and graphic sexual situations
6.5 out of 10

In the late 80s I stopped eating Birds Eye Potato Waffles.  This is because I got really bad food poisoning from them, twice in a row.  I can still remember it quite vividly.   I think it’s the last time I took time off work through being physically ill.  They’re the only thing that’s ever given me food poisoning, as far as I can remember.  A few months ago I decided to try them again.  The good news was, no sickness or diarrhea etc, a promising start.   (I don’t recommend trying to microwave them though, the results aren’t especially satisfactory.)  Now, these are potato waffles; they’re probably one of the Bird Eye brand’s ‘signature products’.  On the side of the packaging is a marketing highlight which proudly proclaims, “Made with REAL potatoes”.  What the fuck?  Potato waffles and they’re actually made with potatoes; surely not?  Is that really the best thing they can come up with?  It doesn’t bode well for the rest of the product if that’s the highlight.  This also left me wondering what exactly is an unreal potato.  The packaging also goes on to say each 100g of waffles is made with 109g of potatoes.  Really?  I guess an understanding of particle physics is helpful if you want to enjoy Birds Eye Potato Waffles; it must be all that ‘new physics’ stuff again.  Personally, I’d rather know that all the potatoes used are grown within 40 miles of the factory where they make them, which is what it says on its web site; I think that’s much more worthy.  Has our food become so crap these days that the fact it contains what you’d expect it to contain has become such a big deal that it needs bragging about?  (Oh, I forgot about all the horse burgers.)  Birds Eye in Europe is presently owned by private equity group Primira. One of its 11 Business Principles is “Comply with both the letter and the spirit of all applicable laws, regulations and contractual obligations”.  I guess that’s why it has its finance team based on Guernsey; nothing to do with its tax haven status then?  This film features a restaurant and food that makes people sick; and dead.

Never released in the UK, Anthony Wong plays a restaurant owner called Wong Chi-Hang and it’s worth tracking down a copy of this film for his performance alone.  The guy has some serious, anger management issues.  When he’s not feeding his clientele with the ground-up remains of people he’s killed, raping his staff, beheading children or cheating at Mah Jong, he’s being beaten up by various people, generally the police or the relatives of those he’s murdered.  For a pretty gruesome and dark film that’s basically about a serial killer, the police are presented as only a few steps above the Keystone Cops.  The senior detective and his team investigating the case don’t seem to do a lot of work, they continually belittle the only woman in the team, they happy beat up poor old Anthony with the least provocation and the senior detective nearly always has a prostitute with him at work.  It’s not often you can have any sympathy for a serial killer, but he’s clearly a product of his environment; well, sort of.  Set in Macau, this film is meant to be based on a real crime too.  It’s a bloody horror with the occasional bit of almost slapstick comedy; very watchable if you can deal with all that.

This film has a fair amount of background music, much of which is clearly inspired by the “Psycho” ‘shower scene’.  You’ll not want to watch this film for the music.

Recommended for catering students, the police and anyone who’s crap at Mah Jong.

No cats or chainsaws and three decapitations; two of the latter were after they were dead though.  It’s not often you see a child have her head cut off in a film…

Top badass moment?  In the middle of cutting a load of people up, it was good to see Anthony Wong take time out to sharpen the meat cleaver he was using.  (He forgot to wear safety goggles or gloves whilst using the grinder though.)  No wonder he was so pissed off when the cutting edge got damaged soon after.  (Maybe he sharpened the blade too finely for cutting bones; or perhaps he hit the floor with it by mistake?)  Caring about your tools, even if you’re a serial killer, is good practice and therefore badass.  They do say a blunt tool is more dangerous than a sharp one.

The Untold Story at IMDB (6.8 / 10)

The Untold Story at Wikipedia


Involuntary / Teleconferencing


Involuntary  -  Front DVD Cover (UK ReleaseIt’s summer in Sweden…  A primary school teacher decides to teach her colleagues a lesson they’ll never forget.  Teenage girls are indulging in a webcam tease and seducing strangers.  University students are taking male bonding to a new level.  And as day turns to night, a coach driver decides enough is enough and won’t drive his passengers any further.  Showered with International awards and praised by critics the world over, “Involuntary” is a dazzling and highly original comedy from the new enfant terrible of Scandinavian cinema, Ruben Östlund.

2008  –  Certificate 18  –  Sweden
Rating Details: Very strong language and strong sex references
7 out of 10

Ever at the very cutting edge of technology, today at work we had our first regional management team meeting by phone; (or as important people like me prefer to call it, a Teleconference).  Instead of a very expensive, rush-hour-period trip on a crowded train into central London to sit in a cold, wooden shed in the woods with my colleagues, I had to endure a leisurely trip into my office, where I could lounge around, unshaven, in just my underwear, drinking coffee, adding elastic bands to our elastic band ball and sorting out the ever-growing collection of hole punches in the stationary cupboard; whilst making the occasional, worthwhile and insightful comment about something or other to impress the others, as we discussed how to reduce the amount of travelling we do by having more Teleconferences.  There are however, some downsides to all this.  As well as shocking the postman with my underpants, I’ve realised that listening hands-free on a cheap phone for hours that wasn’t designed with high fidelity sound in mind, has probably destroyed some part of the music-sensitive area of my brain.  The experience was not unlike being trapped for hours on a bus to Hell, with only a group of teenagers on the back seats listening to Top 40 R&B on a tinny smartphone for company.  This film also features two really annoying teenage girls, and several annoying adults too.

Years ago I watched a film with someone who, after a little while, got up, went over to the DVD player, took out the disc and threw it out of the window; (I was living on the third floor in a block of flats at the time.)  This was apparently a physical reaction caused by the highly annoying characters in the movie.  Had “Involuntary” been the film in question, I suspect the whole DVD player would have gone out of the window too.  A movie made up of five individual stories, all of which play out in small sections throughout its run-time, it features some of the most annoying and banal losers ever to have been conjured into existence.  For a while I sat watching and thinking, “what’s the point of all this?”  Then it dawned on me that the point was simply to watch ordinary people being ordinary.  I suppose for every remarkable person there has to be thousands of unremarkable ones; this is a film about the latter.  It’s a black comedy that manages to be amusing without being funny.  A coach driver, a father, two teenage girls, a teacher and a group of guys, all get themselves into slightly unfortunate situations, which could so easily be real.  Felling that I’d have fitted in well, it was an embarrassing experience at times.  I’d sum it up as a movie that celebrates the stupid and annoying uselessness of everyone.  I enjoyed it; it’s funny in the same way as seeing someone accidentally hit themselves on the finger with a hammer, or walk into a lamppost.  The cast do a great job.

There’s not a lot of music in this film, just some over the credits and at times in the background.  This lack probably explains a lot about the characters.

No cats, decapitation or chainsaws.

Recommended for the very, very, very patient.

Top badass moment?  Never mind the Higgs Boson, this film has introduced me to the much more remarkable concept of anti-badassness.  Its characters are so mind-numbingly ordinary and flawed…  Seriously, Batman would feel compelled to shoot them all and do the rest of us a favour.  Arrrraaggghh!

Involuntary at IMDB (7.0/10)


Storytelling / I Meet My New Manager


Storytelling  -  Front DVD Cover (UK)Storytelling is comprised of two separate stories set against the sadly comical terrain of college and high school, past and present. Following the paths of its young hopeful, troubled characters, it explores issues of sex, race, celebrity and exploitation…

2001  –  Certificate: 18  –  USA
7.5 out of 10

On the walls in my office at work are maps of the eight counties that make up the South East of England.  (By the way, I’m not looking now to debate if Sussex is one or two counties, or if the Isle of Wight is one or not, so if you don’t like the number I’ve come up with please feel free to substitute your own; and anyway, I haven’t actually put up the maps for two of them yet, as there’re some old filing cabinets in the way that someone was meant to have got rid of ages ago but hasn’t).  The point of them is so when someone rings and starts talking about a detail of his/her tiny village somewhere, I have a chance of actually being able to find it quickly, seeing where it is relative to other places and not sound like I don’t have an intimate knowledge of every part of the 7,373 square miles of the South East.  The latter seems to be what most people assume and then get all defensive about when I ask something like, “where exactly is Deeping Minor?”  Near the edges of these maps is written stuff  that I simply translate as “here be dragons”.  I believe these to be blasted, post apocalyptic wastelands, inhabited by mutants, aliens and huge, people-eating monsters.  I never go there but I’m pretty sure that’s what it’s like.   (Okay, London runs along much of the top of the maps, but really, it’s so small and anyway in its own way it’s full of even weirder stuff.)  I have a new boss at work, my fifth in under seven years; (I guess I must be a nightmare to manage).  I had to go and visit him last week in his village, a place called Norwich.  This is so far away it wasn’t even on the maps.  I thought you just fell off the edge of the world if you went that far, but apparently not.  The journey took days.  It started on a (fairly) modern train and ended with an uncomfortable trip in the open wagon of a local journeyman, who spoke a strange Middle Earth dialect and was selling reeds for thatching; (he was probably a mutant too, but I didn’t like to ask).  On reaching my destination I was confronted by a small, blue hut by a muddy river.  I was ushered into a tiny room with a cup of some weird, local beverage, where my new manager was waiting.  With hindsight, I believe the drink to have included some sort of witch-doctor truth serum.  My new manager is a giant, at least thirty feet tall, which somewhat confirmed my suspicions about the conditions to be found beyond the South East.  Ever heard or read stories about people confessing to crimes they didn’t commit?  I used to think they must be very weak-minded.  However, after my long journey and then over 20 hours of non-stop interrogation about what we do in the South East, work-wise, I was ready to agree to anything, just to get away.  For some reason I now find myself with financial targets even ExxonMobil would be happy to achieve, so I guess I’m going to be a real bitch-from-hell manager to my team this year.  This film is also about telling stories and interpreting life though the prism of a parallel, fictional narrative; or something.

This darkly funny movie is actually two films joined together.  One features the students in a creative writing class and the other a would-be documentary maker.  They don’t have anything to do with one another, except that push the overall point of the film along, which seems to be to highlight the hypocrisy of how people react to different things, based on how society perceives them rather than simply as a reaction to absolutely how good or bad they are.  This is a very dense film in the sense that there’s a real mesh of subtexts and other stuff under its surface.  I recommend Goolging it if you want to find out more about them.  However, simply on a superficial level, (which is where I generally spend my time), the movie works.  It provides plenty of nuanced, flawed characters for us to like, despise, relate to or misunderstand; a set of dysfunctional people trying to do more (and sometimes less), than they’re capable of and failing to realise, whilst getting lost in maze of political correctness and self-importance.  Well worth watching, especially for the ‘did he/she just say/do that?’ moments.  I watched the uncensored version; that’s the one that doesn’t have the big red rectangle over the ‘rude bits’, which itself was used as a statement by the Director.

Recommended for people who enjoy seeing others fail; not so good for the less-than-liberal middle-classes, who find anything less that PC perfection to be on a level equivalent to the Holocaust.

1 cat, no chainsaws or decapitations.  A lovely grey and black stripy cat gets a brief bit of ‘lap-action’, but overall I felt it was very underutilised.  A wasted opportunity.

Top badass moment?  I’m not for a moment suggesting it’s something anyone else should look to emulate and she was a bit of a nutter on the quiet, but Consuelo’s way of dealing with unemployment was an interesting and radical departure from the norm.  A definite bit of thinking outside the box badassness.

Storytelling at IMDB (6.7/10)


Betty Blue: 3.5 Stars


Betty Blue  -  Front DVD Cover (UK)Listen up, this is important.  I believe the Earth is about to be invaded and taken over by an evil alien, whose sole purpose is to enslave the entire human race and laugh in a really, really annoying way at our suffering.  Proof?  For a start, this film.  The main male character in it is called Zorg.  Is Zorg a common name in France?  I doubt it.  This film is clearly a message from the future sent back into the past, to warn us of the impending doom to come.  No one really calls their son Zorg, do they?  I hope not, because it’s the sort of name only megalomaniacs in 50’s pulp sci-fi and B-movies should have.  Emperor Zorg; Zorg the Mighty; Lord Zorg, Ruler of the Flatulent Empire and 10,000 Worlds; that sort of thing.  We never get to meet Zorg’s parents in this film, but honestly, what were they thinking?  They must have been smoking something when they came up with that name.  Then this evening I had my shopping delivered by someone called Zoltan.  Again, another clear example of a Flash Gordon era baddie, who was obviously casing the joint and looking for weaknesses in the Earth’s defences.  You shouldn’t allow the fact that he came not in a gigantic spaceship, but in the “cabbage van” (so the text from Ocado said), to deflect your attention.  He even had a bit of an accent, which I’m pretty sure wasn’t of this Earth.  These aliens, clever people, that’s why they’re ‘here’ and we’re not ‘there’.

1986  –  Certificate: 18  –  France
Rating Details:  Strong scenes of sex and nudity and some strong violence

Clocking in at almost three hours (it was the Director’s Cut), this is a loooong, French, romantic movie that takes us on a trip with young couple Zorg and Betty.  From painting beach houses, through to working in a pizza restaurant, writing books and selling pianos, it chronicles their relationship and the effect Betty’s (undefined) mental illness has on it.  Having a friend with the latter, I found it intensely saddening at times.  But I also enjoyed it in a rather Thomas Hardyish way, in the sense that I knew the relationship was probably doomed from the start and I was just waiting for it to crash and burn.  Now having just compared it to a quintessentially English author, it’s actually a very French film.  There’re plenty of examples of tasteful love-making (because the French are supposed to be good at that), as well as lots of ‘unconcerned nudity’ in it, most of it of the male variety it has to be said.  It also had several somewhat bizarre and funny scenes of what you might consider to be almost slapstick comedy too.  The ending is somewhat inexplicable as well, which seems to happen a lot in French films.  Ultimately though, it’s a downer of a movie and after spending three hours with the characters, sharing virtually every aspect of their relationship with them, it’s hard not to be affected.  I really felt sorry for them both.  It’s a nice looking film too (and I’m not just talking about the main characters) and the mono soundtrack is actually pretty decent.

Recommended for those who are willing to invest an evening in lusting after Betty or Zorg.

1 cat, no decapitations or chainsaws. The cat, a lovely white one, appears in three scenes and has a pivotal role right at the end, including a bit of (dubbed) dialogue.

Top badass moment?  Betty throwing a bucket of pink paint all over Zorg’s boss’s car.  He was a serious asshole and quite frankly a load of paint on his car was the least he deserved. When you’re boyfriend’s being a wimp and not sticking up for himself, someone has to be badass about it.  And let’s face it, who hasn’t thought of doing something like that to a crappy manager at one time or another?

Betty Blue at IMDB (7.2/10)


The Bothersome Man: 3.5 Stars


The Bothersome Man  -  Front DVD Cover (UK)I spent this afternoon working, updating my financial budgets.  I seem to spend an inordinate amount of time on these, yet somehow they never seem to be quite up to date or accurate enough for anyone.  Numbers on a spreadsheet, there must be more to life than adding up endless numbers on a spreadsheet.  It doesn’t achieve or change anything.  A chief executive of a small, community regeneration charity in London once told me that “regeneration was invented to keep the liberal middle-classes happy”.  I think she meant projects that are set up to make a difference to people don’t really achieve much, but keep a lot of the latter group in jobs that make them feel good about what they do.  This film offers a similar view of the world.  Its main character Andreas even spends his days in an office adding up numbers on a computer screen.  Oh God, I think I’ve become him!  I need to go find a window and throw myself out of it; (which someone in this film appears to do as well.)

2006  –  Certificate: 15  –  Norway
Rating Details:  Scenes of strong gore

If you don’t like films with neat, tidy endings, or that make it clear what they’re about, then you’ll probably hate this one.  I viewed it as a statement on the mundane, superficial and uncaring lifestyles that many of us live these days, but maybe that’s just me.  As someone whose way of life is tissue-paper thin and pretty meaningless, I could relate to it.  A mindfuck of a movie, this is a nicely made black comedy that’s well worth a watch.  The snogging scene at the beginning is really quite disturbing and sets the tone for the rest of the movie.  The best bit of escape tunnelling I’ve seen since “The Great Escape” too; and a much better plan than trying to play with subway trains.  The more I’ve thought about it since I watched it a few days ago, the better it seems to become.  It represents 20% of my entire Norwegian film collection as well.

Recommended for people who enjoy thinking about the films they watch.

No cats, decapitations or chainsaws.  However, at one point a finger does get amputated by an office guillotine machine.

Top badass moment?  Andreas digging a tunnel to try to escape from his mundane life.  Despite being frequently surrounded by the mundane myself, it’s something I’ve personally never considered doing.  Trying to escape from the mundane is badass.

The Bothersome Man at IMDB (7.4 / 10)


Eat The Rich: 5.0 Stars


Eat The Rich  -  Front DVD CoverI’ve won £500 worth of vouchers for Marks & Spencer.  I completed some questionnaire about holidays at http://www.tickbox.net and then got randomly picked by a computer as the winner.  After getting over my initial excitement and then realising I wasn’t actually going to be able to retire on the proceeds, I got down to the business of deciding exactly how I was going to squander away my newly found fortune.  At this point I realised that Marks & Spencer doesn’t actually sell anything I want/need.  Whatever it’s demographic is, I’m not in it.  There are only so many pairs of sensible underpants and socks you can wear.  I guess it’s just a bit too upmarket for me.  I could buy about 220 bottles of Lancashire Dark Mild I suppose; I’ve no idea what it tastes like but the M&S website says its vegan.  And I ought to get a new bag for work; anyone who’s seen the torn and battered one I use at the moment would probably agree with that idea.  I need a new potato peeler too, as I accidentally threw my beloved ‘high performance’ one away a couple of months ago, by leaving it in the bag with the peelings.  A decent toaster would be good as well; the handle you push down has fallen off mine and some of the plastic at the top has melted.  And some new drinking glasses, as I seem to have broken all but one of my nice ones; and a new duvet and pillows for the winter; and a couple of decent kitchen knives and some new pans.  Humm, maybe I can spend them after all.  Oh, and if anyone is interested, I’ve completed 895 questionnaires on this web site and this is the first time I’ve ever won anything.  I reckon that’s works out at about £8.50/hour.  Anyway, now I’m so filthy rich, this film should scare me….

1987  –  Certificate: FSK-16  –  United Kingdom

I love this film.  It’s the sort of film that was only made in the 80s, at a time when Britain was producing lots of new, alternative comedy; okay some of it was rubbish but at least it was happening.  Nowadays most comedy, at least what you get to see on TV, is pretty bland. This movie is a mess of politics, civil unrest, greed and generally awesome nonsense.  And I have to ‘fess up that it’s one of those films that I quote lines from in general conversation, from time to time.  It also has loads of cameos from properly famous and well-known people.  Other reasons to like this film?  I love the scene in the dole office; I don’t believe there’s a person alive who hasn’t wanted to do something like that, at least once in their life, when faced with annoying, inefficient and unfair, petty bureaucracy.   As Alex says in the film, “You’d do the same if you had the guts!”  I also love the basic premise of the story that demonstrates that vegans (as usual) would be able to take the moral high ground.  It has a Triumph Herald in it (a V6 of course), which was my second favourite car when I was in my teens.  Most of the outdoor scenes were filmed in Oxfordshire too; I’ve tried to work out the exact location but I’m not sure, but I think it’s probably south Oxfordshire somewhere.

Recommended for people who remember the 80s and how crappy they were a lot of the time.  25 years on and not a lot has changed, with many of this film’s themes in the news as much today as they were then.  Depressingly so in fact.

No cats, decapitations or chainsaws.  A lot of people do get turned into mincemeat though.

Top badass moment?  Alex in the dole office; one of my favourite all-time movie scenes.  I’m fortunate that I’ve not had to make a claim for any benefits for quite a while, but in the 80s/90s I had to deal with many less than competent jobsworths, idiots and assholes at the DHSS; (no wonder it ended up getting rebranded as Jobcentre Plus).  Alex is a true hero for the downtrodden masses and taking on the establishment is 100% pure badass.

Eat The Rich at IMDB (5.7/10)


Tart: 3.0 Stars


Tart  -  Front DVD CoverI went to a gig last Saturday, to see Random Hand, Tyrannosaurus Alan and four other bands.  One of the latter was Tallowah, a great reggae band from Southend-on-Sea which I hadn’t seen before; but now I have I’ll want to see again.  I haven’t been to that many gigs over the past couple of months and oh boy did I feel it; all that ‘dancing’ and stuff people do.  I felt really unfit and my neck is sore now too.  It was like I’d forgotten what to do; weird.  Random Hand was great; it’s pretty well always great.  I’ve no idea why it’s not huge; (but then again, having heard today that the most pirated artist in the UK is Ed Sheeran, that doesn’t really surprise me).  Tyrannosaurus Alan is continuing to get better and better.  Saturday was by far the most moshing I’ve ever seen at one of its gigs.  A highlight was the tallest guy in the room crowd surfing for an entire song without touching the floor; he must have been at least 12 feet tall and as is usual for the tallest person at every gig I’ve ever been to ever, he’d managed to stand in front of me.  On the train journey home I also thoroughly enjoyed the antics of the snogging young couple sitting opposite.  She finally ended up asleep with her head in his lap, (well I think she was sleeping); probably due to a lack of air, poor thing.  I think this all goes to prove what a jolly nice, decent and tolerant person I am.  However…

2001  –  Certificate: R  –  USA
Rating Details:  Drug use, language, some sexual content and a scene of violence, all involving teens.

One thing I really hate is when the cover of a DVD has little to do with the content.  Here we have a classic example.  Whoever it is that’s on the cover, she’s not in the film at all.  Not only that, but her knickers are clearly white, whereas any we seen in the film are black; (and her skirt is totally different to the ones worn in the film too).  That’s two DVDs in a row I’ve watched that have suffered from ‘false advertising’ in this way.  Whoever designed and authorised the sleeve used for this DVD should go directly to prison and suffer some embarrassing, undignified and degrading experiences in the toilets, before finally being put up against a wall and shot.  Well okay maybe just life imprisonment then; I did say I was a tolerant person.  Oh, and before I forget, the title of the film is entirely misleading too; there’s no pastry-based food featured in it anywhere, with or without a sweet or savory filling!  So anyway, now I’ve trashed the marketing, what about the film itself?  Well, it basically follows a group of boring, spoilt, rich kids who go to a private school in New York, who spend most of their time taking drugs and trying to be ‘rebellious’.  Of course, someone gets killed, friendships get tested and we all learn a bit more about life and ourselves; well, I’m certainly glad about all that then and I’m sure you are too.  Actually I’m probably making it sound worse than it is; it is entertaining enough in its own way.  Dominique Swain (Cat Storm) looks great in a school uniform (nice legs) and her mother is some sort of saint.  It just somehow doesn’t really seem to get going before it’s all over.  Even the injection of some oh so naughty bestiality and shocking gay sex can’t wake it up.  (I bet you really do want to see it now.)  Actually there’s a brilliant review of it on IMDB, which is so good it sort of put me off even trying to write anything better here.  Go read it.

Recommended for boring, spoilt, rich kids, school uniform ‘enthusiasts’ and fans of the private education system.

No cats, chainsaws or decapitations.

Top badass moment?  In a film filled with boring, self-centred people, the only contender is Lily Storm.  Faced with an argumentative, selfish daughter and with an equally crappy ex-husband, she remains supportive, caring and understanding.  Being the sort of mother everyone needs/wants is totally badass.

Tart at IMDB (4.3/10)


Bad Reputation: 3.5 Stars


  • Bad Reputation  -  Front DVD CoverOne of the things that’s always puzzled me about trees is that you chop them down and then you chop them up.  What’s all that about then?  This film features no scenes in which trees play a significant part, (although one does have what you might call an important ‘supporting role’ at one point); there is, nevertheless, quite a lot of chopping up going on in it.

2007  –  Certificate: R  –  USA
Rating Details: Violence (including rape), sexual content, language and substance abuse all involving teens

When I was 17/18, I spent most of my time either trying to learn things, or talking to my best mates, Jacob and Simon, about music and stuff.  It’s true, sometimes life wasn’t much fun, but I don’t recall anyone being branded the “school slut” or any murders taking place amongst the school population.  I guess everything really is bigger and, eh, ‘better’ in America.  Despite the sometimes weak acting, this is a generally fun horror to watch.  It’s especially fun if you like to see the clever, quiet girl at school (called Michelle in this example) get abused and then branded as the “School Slut”, before she takes revenge on her tormentors by killing them off, one by one; I know I do.  I have to say I could see her point, bullies are bad.  Her mum was the mother-from-hell too, with the film providing us with a master-class in how to be a bad parent.  If I was Michelle I’d had dealt with her at the same time; in for a penny in for a pound as they say.  Angelique Hennessy (Michelle) puts in a decent performance, some of the time anyway; but in truth all she really needs to do is look foxy (which she does) and let her unfeasibly long legs do the acting for her.  (Why the cover art on the DVD doesn’t even seem to feature her, I have no idea.)  She’s vegan too according to IMDB (the actress not the character), so as far as I’m concerned that means Michelle was just getting rid of a few carnivores, so we should all be thankful to her for that.  What this film does do well is take its time giving the main characters personalities that aren’t all a carbon copy of one another and seem more like real people with real motivations, before the inevitable blood-bath starts up.  It made watching them die more enjoyable!  Oh yes, the main male character Aaron, looks an awful lot like Tim Wheeler from Ash, which was decidedly weird.  On a technical note, it features a Dolby Digital 5.0 soundtrack.  Where’d the base channel go?  It did have a distinctly scratchy sound and would probably send any dogs unfortunate enough to hear it into a rage.  By the way, don’t watch this and expect it to be very realistic, it will just spoil it for you if you do.

No cats or chainsaws, but 1 decapitation.  The latter a one-swipe classic with a machete, in a full Jason Voorhees outfit.  Excellent!

You know what sort of characters are featured in this film; you know what they get up to; so you know exactly the sort of demographic it’s recommended for.

Top badass moment?  It was good to see Michelle, even during her killing spree, was taking the time to continue with her studies.  A good education is very important and therefore badass; after all, you can’t be a serial killer forever.

Bad Reputation at IMDB (4.9/10)


Penetration Angst: 3.5 Stars


Penetration Angst  -  Front DVD CoverYesterday I drove for two and a half hours, then spent three hours teaching three people how to drive a minibus, then spent another two and a half hours sitting in a minibus watching them drive it, then drove for another two and a half hours home.  Yesterday the world seemed to be full of idiots driving cars, and I’m not referring to the learners who I was with either.  At one point on the way home I was driving along a bit of dual carriageway and slowly catching a yellow car up.  I don’t generally drive that fast, rarely more than 60 m.p.h., as I want to give myself the illusion that somehow I’m doing my bit to save the planet whilst simultaneously driving nearly 1,000 miles a month.  Anyway, I pulled out to overtake the yellow car.  As I passed it and looked in my mirror to see if I could go back into the inside lane, I noticed it had speeded up.  I ended up doing over 80 with this fucking asshole still playing stupid buggers next to me.  After having had to put up with so many other cretins on the roads yesterday, something snapped inside.  I jerked the steering wheel to the left and hit the yellow car, forcing it off the road and down an embankment into a field, where I think it hit a tree or something and burst into flames.  I’m not sure what happened to the driver and I don’t care as long as it hurt; I didn’t bother to stop and check what had happened to him.  What a selfish bastard he was too, as I’ve now I’ve got a dent in my car to explain away and get fixed. It’s a jungle out there on the roads.  (Just like Dennis Weaver in Steven Spielberg’s classic “Dual”, I never really got a good look at my protagonist.)  Well, okay that only happened in my mind, but the intent (if not the guts) was there.  In fact what did happen is that I gave up trying to overtake the yellow car and humiliatingly went back to 60 m.p.h. behind it.  However, as cars, driving and men are inextricably linked to the latter’s sexual prowess and I failed to overtake the yellow car, I think I’m probably impotent now.  He, on the other hand, is probably making his first porn movie even as I type this.  Great!  In a similar way, this film is about a young woman with intimacy issues.

2003  –  Certificate: 18  –  United Kingdom

I think the makers of this film started off wanting to make a serious torture porn movie but then got fed up with the idea and decided a comedy slasher/thriller would be a much better idea.  Otherwise why suddenly introduce a bizarre sub-plot involving Siamese twins and then another one about a bank robbing stripper? It’s original, I’ll give it that.  It suffers from some of the worst acting I’ve ever seen, yet at other times it’s really okay.  Fiona Horsey (the lead character) is a bit of a babe; (am I still allowed to say stuff like that)?  All the men in the film are portrayed as perverts, deviants, weirdos, rapists, sociopaths and murderers; the woman don’t do a lot better either, but the guys really do get a bit of a hammering.  Ultimately it’s an entertaining movie, simply because it’s so ridiculous.  I did feel a bit sorry for Helen, no one is that unlucky with men.  Most of it was filmed on the Isle of Wight too.

Recommended for someone; not sure who, but someone.

No cats, chainsaws or decapitations.  However, plenty of men do, em, ‘disappear’ inside Helen, totally.

Top badass moment?  In a film filled with characters that are simultaneously both pathetic and horrible, there’s not a terribly large choice.  So I guess it has to be Helen, for simply putting up with so much shit.  They say dealing with it well makes you a stronger person.

Penetration Angst at IMDB (3.9/10)


Love Liza: 3.0 Stars


Love Liza  -  Front DVD CoverWhen you drive from Reading towards Oxford, as you leave the town you pass a number of road signs proudly proclaiming you’re entering Oxfordshire,  the Chiltern Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and, most importantly of all, that the speed limit is now 50mph.  After the slow 30mph climb out of Reading, with its 100s of speed cameras ready to catch the weary, the inattentive and the downright stupid, the sudden vista of trees and open fields, a straight road and all that ‘roadside furniture’ is enough to turn even the most mind-mannered driver into a Mad Max style petrol-head.  So imagine my pleasure recently, as when leaving the town along this very road, at the very moment of transition from high-tech military oppression to the anarchy of the countryside beyond, onto my car stereo came Andrew W.K.’s “Party Hard”.  This is a great bit of ‘speeding up’ music.  However, the intro goes on for 27 seconds.  Even in a Ford Focus that’s a lot of acceleration time.  I was quite surprised when I looked down to see I was doing over 200mph.  That’s pretty impressive for a diesel.  This film also has a main character that talks a lot of bollocks but thinks he’s making sense.

2002  –  Certificate 15:  –  USA
Rating Details:  Language: Frequent, Strong.  Sex/Nudity: Infrequent Moderate References.  Violence: None.  Other: Substance Abuse.

I feel a bit guilty for not liking this drama / black comedy more.  I did try, but I just couldn’t get behind the ‘hero’ Wilson.  I know he was having a bad time, what with his wife’s suicide and all that, but he had plenty of friends, family and work colleagues who wanted to help him.  But what does he do?  Not open the letter his wife left for him and develop a somewhat unhealthy interest in sniffing petrol and (in his own words) “radio-control”.  For a successful winner like me, who’s never failed at anything in his entire life, it’s hard to see someone behaving quite so pathetically over such a small thing.  What a wimp.  Loser.  Anyway, don’t let me put you off watching this film, because it is pretty entertaining and the acting’s great too.  It’s just that I got a little too much pleasure out of seeing Wilson make a bit of a tool of himself once too often and then that made me feel guilty.  I didn’t really get to feel his pain, you know what I mean?

Recommended for radio-controlled boat and plane enthusiasts.

No cats, decapitations or chainsaws.

Top badass moment?  In a film filled with flawed, somewhat sad individuals, where no one really ‘rises to the challenge’, this is not an easy thing to do.  So rather than bother I’ve decided that anyone who flies radio-controlled aeroplanes is badass.  For a hobby that’s easy for everyone else to ridicule, (it’s only one step above train-spotting in my mind), who hasn’t secretly wanted to have a go at it anyway?  Pursuing your interests when the rest of the world thinks you’re just a stupid kid who won’t grow up, is badass.  It’s just jealousy you know. 

Love Liza at IMDB (6.8)


Hedwig and the Angry Inch: 4.0 Stars


Hedwig and the Angry Inch  -  Front DVD coverToday I’m thinking a lot about bananas, “Britain’s favourite fruit”.  Admit it, when was the last time you ate a really nice tasting banana?  I bet it’s a long time ago, if ever.  Is it any wonder that banana favoured things don’t really taste like bananas at all, because if they did, no one would buy them. Other than they’re conveniently packaged and you can made rude jokes about them, what have bananas really got going for themselves?  Most of them are supplied by just five companies and only 4% of the sale cost of them makes its way back to the growers.  The whole bent banana system is abused and controlled by the large supermarkets too.  Basically you’d be much better off buying yummy oranges and their smaller, delicious relatives.  Oranges even have a colour named after them, that’s cool; bananas are just, yellow.  Bananas, at best, should be squished up and hidden away inside smoothies; oranges deserve pride of place as the centrepiece of any meal.  Not only that, but every time you eat an orange a small child somewhere smiles.  Bananas just make people slip over and break legs and things.  What an underhanded and mean fruit the banana is.  Bananas hang about in big gangs (which they euphemistically call ‘bunches’) too, waiting to pick on little strawberries and raspberries and things.  What a cowardly fruit.  I haven’t checked this, but I’d image that more ASBOs have been issued to bananas than any other fruit; and I’m pretty sure the prison fruit population reflects this too.  And don’t you just hate it when you peel a banana and the inside has either turned into a disgusting slime reminiscent of an oil slick, or its split and half of it falls to the floor as soon as you open it up?  No one is going to tell me that something that turns into a vile, black goo that wouldn’t look out-of-place oozing from a zombie’s eye socket, is going to be good for you.  This film is about someone who’s suffered from a botched, sex change operation.  (See, I said that’s all bananas are good for.)

2001  –  Certificate: 15  –  USA

When this film first started I thought, oh God, this is going to be one of those ‘musicals’ that makes no sense and has awful American Adult Oriented Rock all the way through it.  The sort of music that ineffective, male, middle-age managers in large corporations who like to pretend they’re 18 when no one is looking, think is kiss-ass rebel music that still has some relevance these days; it’s not and it doesn’t.  (Yeh, go get on your Harley-Davidson’s gents; oh, you don’t actually have any?  How surprising!)  The first song in the movie seemed to confirm this.  But then a really weird thing happened.  It turned into a very good film with okay music (and two genuinely great songs), a decent plot and great (if a bit over the top) characters who are worth you caring about.  The music performances are top stuff, very genuine.  Follow Hedwig and her band as they tour local eateries, shadowing her ex, Tommy Gnosis (the G is silent), who stole all her songs and is now a big star.  Listen to her sing about the aforementioned operation, the fall of the Berlin Wall and how fucked-up her life is.  A black comedy-drama with a genuinely touching ending.  Good stuff, go watch.

Recommended for fans of American proto-punk; and films about outsiders fighting back and discovering who you really are.

No cats and no decapitations.

Top badass moment?   The band’s performance of Exquisite Corpse.  90 seconds of musical anger.

Hedwig and the Angry Inch on IMDB (7.6)