Posts tagged “British Film

The Mouse on the Moon / Computer Games


The Mouse on the Moon  -  Front DVD Cover  -  US Release

The natives are growing restless in the tiny country of Grand Fenwick! There’s no indoor plumbing, no money to pay for it and no one’s had a hot bath in ages!  Facing a winter without warm water, the conniving Prime Minister (Ron Moody, “Oliver!”) convinces the U.S. Government to give him a million-dollar grant by promising to use it for Grand Fenwick’s Space Program.  There’s just one pesky problem: Grand Fenwick doesn’t have a space program!  But when a local crackpot professor discovers that the region’s wine makes radical rocket fuel, the little nation determines to blast its way into the space race… and land on the moon before the U.S., Russia or anyone else!  Get ready for a spoof on space travel and political plotting that’s so funny, it’ll have you howling at the moon!  Full of “hilarious slapstick moments” (Boxoffice), this lunar laugh-riot is a “delightful farce” (The Film Daily) that’s out of this world!

1963 –  Certificate: Not Rated  –  British Film
8.5 out of 10

My computer’s graphics card broke last week, which meant I had to buy a new one.  So Cactus World said goodbye to its old Foxconn NVIDIA GeForce 8800 GTS and hello to the Asus NVIDIA GeForce GTX 760, which despite its marginally less impressive name is actually a lot more powerful.  Consequently I can’t afford to eat this month, but if I ever find any time to play games, I’m sure I’ll experience an enhanced level of optical pleasure (and hopefully do a bit better too.)  I have tried it out on one game, “BattleZone II: Combat Commander” and it was very good.  (BZ2 is one of my all-time, favourite games).  The alien scum had no chance.  Then again, BZ2 was released in 1999, so a pencil and paper ought to be able to provide good graphics for it.  BZ2 is one of only nine games I can honestly say I’ve ever managed to play all the way through, (even though I own around 90).  The others are “BattleZone”, “Myst”, “Riven”, “Star Trek: Voyager: Elite Force”, “Star Trek: Borg”, “Star Trek: Starfleet Academy”, “Star Trek: The Next Generation: Klingon Honor Guard” and “The Longest Journey”. I must be the only person who’s still trying to finish “Carmaageddon II: Carpocalypse Now” and “Resident Evil” (as in the first Resident Evil game).  What can I say?  I’m hopeless at computer games and I like to explore the places I visit and not just go around killing everything.  At the rate I’m going I probably won’t even unwrap my pre-ordered copy of “LEGO Batman 3” until around the year 2145.  I think my oldest game is a 1990 ‘big box’ copy of “MegaTraveller 1: The Zhodani Conspiracy”. I haven’t actually got around to playing it yet, but it comes on a number of 5.25” floppy discs.  However, this film is even older than that… and me.

If I’d tried to come up with a list of my favourite films when I was young, this one would have been in it. In fact I’d go as far as to say it’s one of the two films that stick in my mind the most from when I was little.  (The other is “The Great Escape”, mainly because it always seemed to be on the TV every single Christmas.)  When I got older and DVDs came along, it was one of the very first ones I bought and I think the first one I got from Amazon via its US site.  This was back in 1993, when the idea of buying things like that from abroad still seemed a bit risky and weird.  Sadly it’s not been released on Blu-ray yet, so I still have my non-anamorphic flipper disc, with the widescreen version on one side and a horrible pan-and-scan one on the other.  The part where Bernard Cribbins tries to do what looks like The Twist in the café, only to find that the jukebox seemingly just plays music that would be more at home in barrel organ, has become a long-term memory that’s stuck in my mind for many years.  I don’t know why; it’s funny how random things like that happen.  Ed Bishop has a small part in it as an American Astronaut.  (He later went on to become the commander of SHADO (Supreme Headquarters Alien Defence Organization) in “UFO”, where he got to drive around in a cool-looking car and hang out with attractive women in silver hotpants, who wore purple wigs and worked on the Moon.)  With its political satire and caricature of the British Empire, “The Mouse on the Moon” is still pretty funny.  But more importantly it’s part of my childhood.  It reminds me of when I was young, my parents were both alive and life felt far simpler.  A wonderful film.

It doesn’t really have much of a soundtrack. A few bits of incidental music but that’s about it.

Movie Weather Forecast. Nothing to report.  I’d watched it before I decided to record the weather, so I’ve nothing much to say, although anecdotally I think it was pretty good, warm and sunny.

The trailer’s actually quite fun, although it wasn’t easy to find a decent copy online, despite there being one on the DVD itself.

Recommend for politicians, astronauts and twitchers.

No cats, chainsaws or decapitations.

Top badass moment? Grand Fenwick manages to use its locally produced wine to power a space rocket.  I guess that’s pretty badass, although if you ask me it looks even more like a criminal waste of good alcohol.  It must have been an excellent vintage.  Perhaps it’s something for Richard Branson to look into, after the very sad new this week about Virgin Galactic.

The Mouse on the Moon at IMDB (6.5 /10)
The Mouse on the Moon at Wikipedia
The Mouse on the Moon trailer on YouTube

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This is England / Dreadzone


This is England  -  Front DVD Cover  -  UK Release

“This is England” tells the story of Shaun (Thomas Turgoose), an 11 year old kid growing up in the North of England. Set during the summer holidays of 1983, it follows his journey from a shaggy haired ruffian grieving the loss of his father into a shaven headed thug whose anger and pain are embraced by the local skinhead fraternity.  Largely based on Meadows’ own personal experience, “This is England” not only captures a specific point in British history, but also beautifully articulates the allure of being part of a gang.  Brilliantly charting a course from the joyous early passages to darker territory, Meadows also skilfully and with great sensitivity deals with the complexities of rage, race and masculinity.  Featuring astounding performances from Stephen Graham, (“Gangs of New York”) and newcomer Thomas Turgoose, “This is England” is a riveting and deeply moving portrait of an often-overlooked moment in cultural history and is arguably Meadows’ masterpiece.

2006 –  Certificate: 18  –  British Film
Rating Details: Very strong racist violence and language
9.0 out of 10

Went to see Dreadzone two nights ago. It was playing Sub89 in Reading, which is great because it’s a 20 minute walk from where I live in Cactus World.  There was a massive queue outside when I got there.  In fact it was so long that as I was walking alongside it, I started to doubt whether it was actually the queue at all; and the people in it mostly didn’t look like the sort who would go to a Dreadzone gig either.  In the end I took a walk around the block so I could reconsider the problem after having a bit of a think.  (I have a real phobia of new gig venues, although I’ve actually been to Sub89 quite a few times.)  However, after a little bit of loitering by the bus stops opposite, I decided that for some reason the doors that aren’t normally used for gig entrances were actually being used in this case.  It appeared they’d put the gig in the downstairs bar and the nightclub upstairs where gigs normally take place.  It’s a damming indictment of England and further proof that as a national were totally fucked, when the queue for a nightclub to dance to ‘chart music’ is about 1,000 times longer than the one for a quality band like Dreadzone.  The young of today have been brainwashed into accepting mediocrity as the norm and not wanting to rock the boat, because they’ve got no job or a massive student debt to pay off (or both) and need to save up for their pension, mortgage and overpriced wedding.  Fortunately, a few are still alive and they’d managed to make their way into the gig, along with a few survivors of times gone past.   The gig was in the Bowery District, which is basically a posh cocktail bar.  Having said that, it did have a proper little stage, some reasonable cider and a decent sound system.  (Then again, most systems sound okay if you hang around about a metre away from a speaker stack all night…)  What was also interesting about it is that if you stand near the stage, the design of the space effectively makes you feel you’re in a much smaller place and does a nice job of making things feel very intimate.  So actually it wasn’t bad at all.  Dreadzone played for what seemed like a long time.  There were no support acts; something that doesn’t happen very often.  It’s not a band I have a lot of recorded material by, but it’s one of those bands I’ll always try and go and see live, as that’s where it works best.  I was pretty tired by the end.  Dreadzone has quite a complex mix of beats and they certainly tax my abilities to the limit.  (Then again, a click track would do that too.)  The top of my legs are still somewhat sore today; which is odd, as it’s normally my calves that get knackered.  Fortunately it finished at 22:00, so I was home by half ten.  Dreadzone  –  Gangster  Dreadzone  –  Too Late  Dreadzone  –  Beyond a Rock  This is a film that features lots of music too.

Except for a period in the 80’s, I’ve always kept my hair pretty short. These days I shave it myself (a “Number 1” for the technically minded), because I’m too mean to pay someone else £10 to have it done each time.  I’ve been doing this for several years, so I imagine the part at the back that I can’t see probably looks a total mess now.  For years, I also used to wear a pair of DM boots too, (before I became vegan in about 1989).  Despite this, I’ve never really been a skinhead.  But it really, really pisses me off to see morons appropriate my flag and some of the musical styles I like for their racist shit.  These people have as much in common with the roots of the culture as IS has with the teachings of Islam (i.e. nothing), but as a result have tarnished a whole way of life.  This is a film that well illustrates the best and the worst of the skinhead culture in the early 80s.  It’s a brilliant movie on just about every level and a film everyone should see, if only to give themselves a history lesson.

As a film based on skinhead culture, it ought to have some great music in it and it doesn’t do too badly, although it would have been good to have a bit more. We get a good mix of reggae and 2 Tone ska, plus (rather more inexplicably), “Warhead” by the UK Subs.

In common with the film, its trailer is a top one too.  It’s exciting and intriguing, but doesn’t give the details of the plot away.

Recommended for skinheads, and anyone who’d thinking of putting a young character into a film and wants to see how to do it without making everyone groan.

No cats, chainsaws or decapitations.

Top badass moment? Woody and his gang of skinheads befriend an 11-year-old boy who’s being bullied at school.  They get him some proper clothes, a decent haircut and expose him to some quality reggae.  That’s badass.  What a shame it all gets spoilt by a racist idiot.

This is England at IMDB (7.7 / 10)
This is England at Wikipedia
This is England at Roger Ebert (3.5/4)
This is England trailer at You Tube


Good Vibrations / My Life Story


Good Vibrations  -  Front Blu-ray Cover  -  UK Release

Eager to shift thoughts away from The Troubles during the 1970s, music fanatic Terri Hooley (Richard Dormer, TV’s “Game of Thrones”) opens a record store, ‘Good Vibrations’, in the heart of one of Belfast’s roughest districts.  As the shop gains a loyal following, Terri starts a small record label with the aim of launching some of the local bands, including The Undertones whose first single, ‘Teenage Kicks’, is championed by legendary Radio 1 DJ John Peel….  A heart-warming and hilarious true story, Good Vibrations is not a feel-good film – it’s a feel-great film!

2012 –  Certificate: 15  –  British/Irish Film
Rating Details: Strong language, once very strong, and drug use
8.5 out of 10

In 1981 I was selecting what universities might be desperate enough to entertain me with an offer of admission. This, you’re told, is an important decision that could affect your whole life and one you should make after due, diligent consideration.  At my sixth form college we had folders and files bulging with all the propaganda, prospectuses and other marketing materials from all the universities and polytechnics in the country.  At the bottom of one cabinet, filed away under U, was a folder containing a slim, A5 sized booklet, and that’s it.  Unlike everything else, which was dog-eared, scribbled over and had pages torn from it, this little publication was in pristine condition, untouched, unread.  In the early 80s The Troubles were in full swing in Northern Ireland and no self-respecting student from an okay suburb in north-west London was going to even consider the New University of Ulster.  The Undertones was (and still is) a punk band from Derry, which is about 30 miles from Coleraine, where the main campus was for the NUU.  Entirely on the strength of this geographical connection and much to the consternation of my parents, I picked the NUU as one of my five choices of university.  In the end I got offers from three of these, including the NUU.  Six months later, thanks to some less than stellar A Level results,  it’s where I ended up.  (In truth I think it would probably have take just about anyone from England, regardless of their stupidity levels, as it was so desperate for ‘overseas’ students.)  This film explains why this happened and why my life has turned out the way it has.  I’d like to think I’m a tiny, unwritten footnote somewhere that’s connected to this film.  I still have the Good Vibrations price labels on a few records (I didn’t want to peel them off) and without consciously trying to collect them have most of the label’s early releases too. Some wonderful songs were released during that period.  It’s hard to believe it’s almost ten years since John Peel died too.

I’ve never met Terri Hooley and I probably never will, but I think I’d like him if I did. He released the Undertones first single “Teenage Kicks” on his own little label that he started in his record shop in Belfast.  He then got a copy to John Peel, who played it twice in a row on his show on BBC Radio 1.  The rest is well documented history.  If he’d not done this, I’d never have heard of the Undertones and that modest prospectus would have remained hidden in the blue file in the bottom draw.  I think I still have it somewhere as I ‘borrowed’ it from the file; I don’t suppose anyone ever noticed it was missing.  It’s quite an experience to watch a film that tells the story of someone who had such an unplanned effect on your own life.   As a stand-alone movie it’s not perfect.  Of course it has a montage of The Troubles and lots of characters who could only be from Northern Ireland.  (When they weren’t busy marching around, shooting each other and blowing things up, the Northern Irish were some of the nicest and kindest people you could meet.  Better than the English anyway!)  In that sense it’s very clichéd, yet it’s still a really fun and enjoyable watch.   The fact that it’s based on a true story just adds to its attraction.  From my own knowledge of things, there are a number of scenes and touches in the film that really reflect what happened, although I’m sure there’s plenty of dramatisation too. An essential watch.

This is a film about someone who loves music. As such it features lots of great tunes, from reggae through to bands like the Outcasts, Rudi and of course the Undertones.  It also contains absolutely the best music porn I’ve ever seen.  For around 15 minutes it presents the story of “Teenage Kicks” and it couldn’t have been done better.  It’s perfect and a brilliant and loving homage to it.  After a couple of false starts the song finally bursts out on the screen and for 2 minutes and 28 seconds (more or less) we just get to experience the moment it was first played by John Peel.  Of course, the band has written better songs since, but none will ever quite have the impact and resonance of “Teenage Kicks”.   (They even managed to get some actors to play the band who mostly had a decent resemblance to the real people.)  I must have about a dozen copies of it on various records and CDs.  Of course, I already have a ticket for the band’s next gig in London, in nine months time.

The trailer is perfect. It contains “Teenage Kicks”.

Recommended for dreamers, musicians, music fans and anyone who’s ever fallen under the spell of any song.

No cats, chainsaws or decapitation.

Top badass moment? After the great built up, “Teenage Kicks” bursting out of the speakers provides THE most badass experience it’s possible to have.  An iconic tune by the best band on the planet.  Still gigging and still way ahead of their peers.

Good Vibrations at IMDB (7.2 / 10)
Good Vibrations at Wikipedia
Good Vibrations trailer at YouTube


Dad’s Army: The Movie / End of a (Whisky) Era


Dad's Army: The Movie  -  Front DVD Cover  -  UK Release

Captain Mainwaring and his men create comedy mayhem when they go on manoeuvres with other military companies under the eyes of a real Major-General.  The result is disaster after disaster…   After the shambles, the Walmington-On-Sea defenders return home just as a German scout plane crashes near their town.  Its crew captures the church hall and holds the vicar and mayor as hostages.  The Major-General sends for the Army, the Army sends for the Navy, the Navy sends for the Marines, the Marines call in the police, and the police call the fire brigade.  While this is going on, the irrepressible irregulars of Dad’s Army hilariously demonstrate that they really can do the job they were organised for…

1971  –  Certificate: U  –  British Film
7.0 out of 10

Last week saw the end of an era in Cactus World.  About 15 years ago I became the owner of a 1L bottle of Bell’s Whisky.  I think it came from a duty-free shop at an airport somewhere, although its exact heritage is now lost in the mists of time.  Last week I finished it.  I’d decided I wanted a drink one evening, but fancied something a bit different, so I ended up messing about with different whisky mixers; and suddenly it was empty.  It’s strange to think that Cactus World didn’t even exist when I first had that bottle.  (Along with most things from the era when Cactus World first came into existence, it was handed over by its evil predecessor, The Real World.)  And I had some sort of life and ambitions in those days too.  Then again, my Internet connection is now over 2,000 times faster, I’ve got a bigger TV and China Drum has reformed.  I’m probably not the world’s biggest whisky/whiskey/bourbon drinker.  To be honest I’m not sure I even like the taste very much, but feel I ought to make the effort.  So now I’m down to my last four and a half bottles of the stuff.    These include a bottle of Bladnoch 18-year-old single malt.  This is most expensive booze I’ve ever purchased (I think it was about £60) and came from Scotland’s most southerly distillery.  (This has sadly just gone into administration).  A bottle of Jack Daniels Old No. 7 and a bottle of Bushmills 10-year-old single malt.  And finally, a bottle of Amrut Indian single malt, which is the strongest alcohol I own at 61.9%.  I’ve never opened any of these.  Then again, I’ve never opened my bottle of Tesco Organic Vodka, which is even older and has spent nearly its whole life in my freezer.  Tesco stopped selling it in 2006.  Dad’s Army is even older than this bottle of vodka and most of it’s episodes predate punk, yet it still lots of fun; like whisky.

I don’t just watch films.  No, I’m far more multidimensional than that.  Far less documented is the fact that as well as watching films, I also have a TV series on the go at the same time too.  Watched between the films when I don’t have the time or inclination to watch anything longer.  I rarely binge on these, preferring instead to view a few episodes a week.  Over the past few years I’ve made my way through “Andromeda” (five seasons), “The Likely Lads” / “Whatever Happened to the Likely Lads” (five series and a film, although loads of episodes are missing) and “Red Dwarf” (nine series, as there was at the time I watched them).  Dad’s Army (on TV) ran for nine series, plus a film and three Christmas Specials, from 1968 to 1977.  A few early episodes are missing, but most are still around.  I’m now near the end of series 8, so I thought I ought to take a look at the film, which was made between series 3 and 4.  Chronologically it sits near the start of the whole story, so I guess I should have watched it earlier on, although as it sort of overlaps the TV episodes doing so would probably have confused me greatly.  The film is really like watching three episodes back to back and I suspect that’s how the script was developed originally.  Although it has most of the continuing cast/characters in it and the same writers, it was filmed in widescreen and doesn’t have a laughter track, so it feels a bit weird watching it.  It just doesn’t ‘feel’ quite right.  But it’s still a lot of fun and has the gentle humour that characterised the TV series.  Essential viewing if you liked it on television.  Part of the fourth best British sitcom of all time.

There’re small musical elements in the movie that aren’t generally in the TV series, but really, they don’t make a lot of difference.  If anything, they make it sound a bit like one of those 50s black and white Hollywood movies, that used to be shown on Saturday afternoons on BBC2 when I was young.

This is one of these films that doesn’t seem to have an official trailer.  Weird.

Recommended for old soldiers, the patriotic and heroes.

No cats, chainsaws or decapitations.

Top badass moment?  Pompous he may have been, but never a coward, Captain George Mainwaring rarely came face-to-face with any Nazis in the TV series.  However, this film provides his greatest moment and for a brief few minutes he really is the hero that in his own mind he always was.  Captain Mainwaring, the hero that Britain both deserved and needed.  Badass.

Dad’s Army: The Movie at IMDB (6.7 / 10)
Dad’s Army: The Movie at Wikipedia


Mum & Dad / I’m Going Travelling


Mum & Dad  -  Front DVD Cover  -  UK Release“Mum & Dad”, the impressive debut by writer-director Steven Sheil, is one of the most disturbing Brit-shockers to emerge in recent years.  When Lena, a young Polish immigrant working as an office cleaner at Heathrow Airport, misses her last bus home, she accepts an offer of help from friendly co-worker Birdie, who lives nearby with her ‘adoptive’ parents.  Knocked unconscious after arriving at the house, Lena soon finds herself imprisoned in a suburban house of horrors, a living nightmare of abuse, torture and murder.  Designated a ‘Mummy’s Girl’, Lena’s only options appear to be to become part of the family – and join Mum & Dad in their insanity – or die.

2008  –  Certificate 18  –  British Film
Strong bloody violence, torture, terrorisation and sex references
7.5 out of 10

I’ve been a pretty lucky bloke over the past few months.  I’ve been to Mexico, Bavaria in Germany, the mountains of Colombia, hung out with a rock ‘n’ roll band and met the Devil, flown around Los Angeles with a superhero, gone into space and met an alien (The Alien actually), been hassled by Japanese zombies that live in a toilet; yes, life’s been pretty interesting.  Of course I’ve not left my living room either, because that would mean, well, going out, making an effort and mixing with other people.  However, I’ve enjoyed these experiences through the films I’ve watched.  A much safer, easier, cheaper and more convenient alternative I’m sure you’ll agree.  I’ve never understood the urge some people have “to travel”.  It sounds like my worst nightmare; a commute that never ends, surrounded by people who don’t speak English and will probably kill or rob you given half a chance; wildlife that will sting you to death or eat you; constantly sick from the weird, contaminated food you’ll be forced to eat; and a rate of exchange that you won’t understand and before you know it you’ll have spent all your money on a can of Coke.  Even if you manage to survive all that lot, you’ll end up in prison forever, being buggered by a half human – half religious fanatic, all because you broke some local law you never knew existed, by making what you thought was a friendly gesture to someone. That’s what “going travelling” really means.  However, not wanting to miss out on all the fun it offers and on my return the chance to entertain everyone with my stories and deep understanding of how people in other places live their lives, I’ve decided to start plotting all my travel adventures on a map.  This will hopefully provide me with a constantly evolving picture of where I’ve been, complete with the odd photo and comment.  I look forward to boring sharing this with the world!  In a kind of appropriate way, this film takes place near Heathrow Airport in London, which will be the starting point for my global trek.

This is a decent, violent, low-budget horror that has the advantage of being set in a suburban house near Heathrow Airport.  It features some pretty normal looking people with normal jobs and an assortment of syringes and basic DIY tools; very British.  It’s a refreshing alternative to the endless American versions that tend to take place in the back of beyond and involve some in-bred weirdos having endless bad hair days and an impressive collection of power tools.  “Mum & Dad” boasts plenty of realistic looking gore and a cast of suitably deranged characters.  Dad is especially freaky.  It’s particularly impressive when it subverts normal family life; (for example, instead of breakfast TV on in the background over a typical breakfast, this family has hardcore porn on the telly).  Some of the justification used for Lena’s treatment is pretty scary too.  The late addition of a couple of extra residents in the house tends to slightly dilute the story a bit, even as it ups the yukiness score.  And if I thought about things too hard I started to wonder “why didn’t she just do” this, that or the other to escape, but other than that it’s a solid horror.  The scene with the wooden mallet is particularly effective.  It’s good to see that my lottery ticket money is being put to such good use.  It’s also a film that explains where all that lost luggage at airports end up.

There a limited amount of music used in this movie, other than the big Christmas Day scene, where it rather cleverly makes the likes of “Silent Night” etc rather creepy.

The trailer’s a fair enough representation of the film.

Recommended for cleaners, airport baggage handlers and Polish immigrants.

1 decapitation, no cats or chainsaws.

Top badass moment?  Lena looks pretty miserable for most of the movie, as well she might given the circumstances.  However, she never really gives up trying to get away, despite all the unpleasantness.  That’s badass.  Having said that, she was being offered free accommodation.  A room in a decent house in the Heathrow area has got to be worth £400 / month and for all they knew, she could have been an axe murderer or something.  To be honest, it makes her seem a bit ungrateful.

Mum & Dad at IMDB (5.9 / 10)
Mum & Dad at Wikipedia
Mum & Dad at YouTube


Aberdeen / My Aston Martin


Aberdeen  -  Front DVD Cover  -  US ReleaseKaisa (Lena Headey), a beautiful and feisty Scottish woman, finally has her life together, at least until her mother (Charlotte Rampling) asks an enormous favour; to bring back to her Kaisa’s estranged larger-than-life father (Stellan Skarsgård).  The two of them, father and daughter together, set out on a wild, brutally funny yet heartbreaking journey, which takes them through their emotional past before reaching their ultimate destination.

2000  –  Certificate: Not Rated  –  Norwegian / British Film
9.0 out of 10

Despite being a lowly nobody at work, a combination of staff sickness and annual leave yesterday meant that all the more senior staff with direct line management responsibility for me weren’t in.  Taking advantage of my self-appointed, temporary CEO role, I finally got to order that Aston Martin V12 Vantage S I’m always on about.  I knew my recent ‘job enrichment’ as “An Authoriser” would come in handy.  With this new company car, I’ll soon be making better use of my valuable time, by utilising its top speed of 205m.p.h.  (I spent over six hours driving today, mostly on the M25, covering a little over 200 miles in that time; it would’ve only taken me an hour in the Aston.)  I haven’t been able to find out much about it fuel consumption or exhaust emissions, but luckily it’s got a catalytic converter so I’m sure it’ll be really good for the environment too.  I can’t wait for it to be delivered.  I imagine the optional, 1000W Bang & Olufsen BeoSound with ICEpower technology audio system I’ve included in my order is pretty good as well.  This film features a decent car, but it’s not an Aston Martin.  I should have watched a James Bond movie instead.

I’ve been to Aberdeen.  It’s gray, depressing and bloody cold.  It’s so cold even ice tries to avoid the place.  The fact that many years ago I got dumped there by the most beautiful woman on the planet (although with hindsight she was clearly way out of my league), has no bearing whatsoever on my opinion of the place.  I’m nothing, if not a consummate professional when it comes to giving factual, well-balanced information about things.  (I remember the two of us building a huge snowman in a park.  A short time later as we walked past it again, we saw some little bastards abusing it.  They had just pushed its head off, in what turned out to be a remarkably accurate metaphor for our future together.)  This is an amazing film that features the relationship between a father and daughter, two emotionally damaged individuals; one an alcoholic and the other a successful solicitor who’s seemingly lost the ability to love anyone.  It’s essentially a road-trip movie, in which the daughter has to go from London to Norway to collect her father and then transport him to Scotland.  I like films like this, as they me feel better about myself.  Lena Headey and Stellan Skarsgård, who seem to turn up in quite a few films I watch, both put in wonderful performances and manage to make their characters sympathetic and somewhat endearing, despite their not being very nice people.  I really did end up caring about what happened to them.  If it has a fault, then it’s that some of the situations they run into on their journey just seem a bit too random and strange.  This is an emotionally tiring film to watch, but worth every second.  The trailer really doesn’t do it much justice.

To be brutally frank, the soundtrack’s unlikely to result in a circle pit in your living room.  However, I don’t think that was the intention.  Like most things about this film, the music works and really enhances the scenes its used in.

Recommended for alcoholics, solicitors and dysfunctional families.

No cats, chainsaws or decapitations.

Top badass moment?  I’ve never been an alcoholic; I don’t have the time or the money.  So I’ve never experienced what it’s like.  Tomas is an alcoholic and spends most of the film very drunk.  However, he does manage to go into a bar at one point and drink just water.  I’d imagine that’s pretty hard to do when you’re an alcoholic.  That’s badass.

Aberdeen at IMDB (7.1 / 10)

Aberdeen at Wikipedia

Aberdeen at YouTube


Occupation / Inapproprate Advertising


Occupation  -  Front DVD Cover  -  UK ReleaseThis powerful, compelling drama traces the fraught interwoven journeys of three British soldiers who take part in the invasion of Iraq in 2003, return to Manchester, but are then inspired to revisit the chaos of Basra.  Danny, Mike and Hibbs, friends in the same army regiment, have their own very different reasons to return.  Danny (Stephen Graham) sees rich financial pickings in private security work, in a land awash with billions of dollars of reconstruction money.  Mike (James Nesbitt) has fallen in love with Iraqi doctor Aliyah.  Hibbs (Warren Brown) goes back because he believes in the mission to rebuild the country and help the Iraqi people.  Life in the new Iraq however is unpredictable, chaotic and dangerous.  Over the course of five years, the friendship of the three men comes under fierce pressure, as they pursue their dreams against the backdrop of growing fundamentalism, sectarian violence, and corruption in the world of privatised security.  Occupation is a darkly humorous and emotionally involving story, which slowly builds to a gripping and moving finale, as their conflicting ambitions come to define not just their own lives, but the war and the occupation of Basra itself.

2009  –  Certificate:15  –  British Film
Rating Details:  Strong language, injury detail and violence
9.5 out of 10

I went to see Bad Religion last Tuesday at Camden Koko. Whilst standing in the queue waiting to go in, (no thanks to the Tube, which thought it would be funny to have no trains in either direction running to Mornington Crescent), someone was handing out flyers for other gigs.  After having one of these shoved into my hand, I took a brief look at it.  FFS!  What do I see on the front but concerts by Barry Gibb, Rick Wakeman, Peter Gabriel and Wet Wet Wet.  I’m a baby-eating punk skinhead monster, standing in a queue waiting to see one of the best American punk bands ever and what do I get given?  A flyer for two very old prog rockers, a guy who sounds like he hasn’t got any balls and the extremely well named Wet Wet Wet.  If anyone at the Bad Religion gig decided to go to any of those concerts, he or she should be shot for treason.  If would be more appropriate to give out money-off coupons for Bernard Matthews turkey drumsticks at the Vegan Society AGM. To say I was incandescent with fury would be to rather understate the feeling.  However, I somehow managed to control my rage.  Bad Religion was great.  The support band Arcane Roots didn’t really do anything for me musically, but their sound was the nearest I ever want to get to being shot.  Koko probably has the most powerful bass system of any venue for its size in London and they had the kick drum totally maxed out.  Everything in the place just shook.  I’ve never experienced that intensity of bass before, so thumbs up to the band for such an unpleasant experience!  This film has some seriously intense stuff and people being shot in it too.

I always find it difficult to assess what I think of films when they’re based on true events, especially when the events weren’t very long ago; the drama and history remain so interconnected and the effects of the latter so raw and often still evolving, that it’s difficult to be objective.  This is one such example.  This film was originally a three-part BBC miniseries and it’s awesome.  A totally absorbing and sometimes uncomfortable watch, it manages to give a real sense of the chaos, suspicion and differing world views of and in Iraq, during and after the American-led invasion, as it chops back and forward between Iraq and Manchester.  It also manages to effectively explore the effects of this mess on some of the people caught up in it.  It has a number of genuinely powerful scenes, the sort you just think “wow” after.  It looks very authentic, the acting’s excellent and the script very nuanced.  What a shocking nightmare it all was, and still is in many ways too.  As an entertaining drama and as a reflection of what went on, it’s essential viewing.

There is very little music in this film.  It’s there and adds nicely to the scenes when it’s used, but no one’s going to watch this movie for that reason.

No cats or chainsaws.  There may or may not be a decapitation, but I don’t want to spoil what’s one of the most intense scenes in the film, so you’ll just have to watch it to find out.

Recommended for politicians and anyone who has any decision-making role relating to Syria.

Top badass moment?  In a movie full of very flawed heroes, there’re plenty of would-be badass moments.  But being a Brit and this being a drama rather than a documentary, I’ve had to pick out Mike (James Nesbitt) and his mercy dash with the young girl who got blown up by a hand-grenade.  The hospital was a frightening example of what happens when you try to pour a gallon into a pint glass.  James Nesbitt is the Undertones number one celebrity fan too!

Occupation at IMDB (7.5 / 10)

Occupation at Wikipedia


Kidulthood / Phall Curry


Kidulthood  -  Front DVD Cover  -  UK ReleaseFor 15-year-old Trife, life is a day-to-day struggle.  Trapped between the worlds of his school friends, the girl he loves and the draw of his powerful and dangerous uncle, Trife must choose between the path he knows is right and a life of guns, drugs and violence that he has come to know only too well.  When a classmate’s suicide leaves Trife and his crew, Moony and Jay, with the day off school, the tragedy seems overshadowed by the opportunity to shop, get high, get laid and party; but in a world where sex is currency, drugs are easy and violence is a way of life, trouble can never be too far around the corner.  On these streets kids grow up fast and 48 hours can be a lifetime.

2005  –  Certificate: 15  –  British Film
Rating Details:  Strong violence, language, sex references and drug use
8.0 out of 10

I haven’t really enjoyed this week.  It’s hard to identify one particular thing that’s made it a bit rubbish, it just was.  It’s been the sort of week where you’d spot a pound coin on the pavement, then when you’ve bend over to pick it up a car’s driven through a nearby puddle and soaked you.  To celebrate the better parts of the week and the fact that I’d got to the end of it, I decided to treat myself to an Indian takeaway.  However, to also enable the latter to best reflect how things have been recently, I decided to get a vegetable phall.  I really like curry, but this version is basically a few bits of vegetable with a goo made out of chillies all over it.  It’s virtually impossible to eat and tastes of nothing, except chillies and the inside of the Sun.  It’s the sort of thing guys eat when they want to try and impress other guys.  (I know, how on earth did humans manage to get to the top of the food chain?)  As I’ve got no friends and I ate it on my own, I’m not quite sure who I was trying to impress.  I think it was simply a cry for help, a punishment for not being good enough at work all week.  I imagine if I’d not eaten it I’d now feel obliged to roll around naked in a patch of stinging nettles instead.  And I didn’t win the National Lottery either.  Still, things could be worse; I could live in the ‘wrong’ part of W11, where this film is set.

I went to school in central London.  In my day we didn’t have mobile phones or gangsta rap; drugs were something you took for a toothache (and in any case were always called tablets) and oral sex meant talking about it, not that we knew what ‘it’ really was.  So films like this are really helpful in enabling me to keep myself ‘street’, ‘happening’ and ‘down with the kids’; although as anyone who’s a teenager now would have been about 7-years-old when it was made, I suspect things have moved on a bit since then.  Eschewing the fascination that movie-makers have with the East End, south London, Camden and Hackney, this movie mostly takes place in that forgotten realm west of the West End, where only the Hammersmith & City Line dares to go.  A land of council estates and old terrace housing hidden away behind the ‘glamour’ of Notting Hill, it’s about as uncool and unfashionable as you can get.  If it wasn’t for Portobello Market and the nearby Carnival, it would probably hold the world record for being the most unhip and dowdy place in any capital city anywhere.  In fact if you Google it, nothing comes up.  Despite my trashing of the location, this is actually an excellent film; (awful title though).  I’m also lucky to be gangsta enough to be able to understand what they’re all saying most of the time, which is just as well because my copy didn’t come with any subtitles.  I haven’t heard so much slang since I watched “Attack the Block”.

With a soundtrack that’s almost pure London hip-hop, grime and rap, it’s as good (or as bad) as you think that is.  Rodney Smith, Maxwell Ansah, Dylan Mills and Michael Skinner all provide parts of the soundtrack.  (And if you don’t know who they are then that makes you a total square.)

Recommended for ganstas, bros, crews and feds, init?

One cat, no chainsaws or decapitations.  A cute grey cat makes a brief but scene-stealing appearance, jumping off a sofa and then wondering about a bit.

Top badass moment?  There are plenty of small ‘growing-up’ badass moments scattered throughout this film, but I’m going to choose Alisa giving some home truths to the bullies on the tube.  They were really horrible!  Still, at least I know they’re probably all junkies, prostitutes or unmarried mothers by now.  I blame the parents.  (When I write things like that they so make me sound so like a Tory.  I’m really not, honest!)

Kidulthood at IMDB (6.5 / 10)

Kidulthood at Wikipedia


Kicks / I’m Experimenting With Drugs


Kicks  -  Front DVD Cover  -  UK ReleaseThe feature debut of Lindy Heymann is a clever comment on modern celebrity culture. Nicole (Kerrie Hayes) a Liverpudlian teenager, spends her time hanging around the gates of Anfield and the Liverpool training ground, desperate for a glimpse of her idol, the star footballer Lee Cassidy (Jamie Doyle).  There she meets aspirant WAG Jasmine (played by Nichola Burley from “StreetDance 3D”), instantly.  They trawl the city and its nightspots, fantasising about a time when they might have Lee for themselves, yet when the news breaks that the footballer is a transfer target for Real Madrid, they take drastic action to prevent him leaving…  Stand-out performances from the two lead actresses make this energetic, funny and tense film one of the best UK debuts of recent years.

2009  –  Certificate: 15  –  British Film
Rating Details: Strong language, sex and injury detail
8.5 out of 10

I’ve just drunk two big mugs of really strong coffee with Kahlúa poured into it.  I’ve not had anything to eat for nearly 24 hours, (yes I’m still on my stupid ‘eat every other day’ diet), so I expect it’s about to have some sort of weird physical, emotional and mental effect on me.  I’m about to experience the outer limits of human perceptions and experiences…  There’s something weird about this film too.

It’s a really bizarre feeling when you see someone who really reminds you of someone else.  You know it’s not the same person, yet you have a natural tendency to react to them as if it is.  You can’t help it, it just happens.  It’s futile to resist, as you’re trying to logically reason your way out of a whole lifetime of experience and memories, many of which you’ve subconsciously distorted over time to better fit your needs.  (I’ve no doubt this is what’s behind the many incidences of random people coming up to me in the street and calling me names; or maybe that’s just how I am?)  Kerrie Hayes (the blonde woman in the trailer) really, really, really reminds me of someone I knew years ago when she was a similar age; in fact we’re still close.  (By “close” I mean we see each other three or four times a year, which for someone with a social circle as meagre as mine, makes us virtually Siamese twins.)  They share the same mannerisms, the same look, the same intensity.  It made watching this film probably a more unique experience for me than normal.  This is a great movie.  It takes a while to get going and the ending is a bit (and I’m using that word again, it must be the coffee) weird.  You probably need to get drunk in ‘real time’ along with the characters, to get the most out of the latter part and to make their behaviour make sense.  The two lead actresses in it are excellent and I love the whole look and feel of the film, depressing though it is.  It’s basically a movie about a friendship between two young women, celebrity culture and living with this ‘illness’.  Definitely recommended.  I imagine if it isn’t already, obsessing over celebrities probably does has a medical name.  The clinical test to determine if you suffer from it being that you can watch a new series of “Celebrity Big Brother” or “I’m a Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here” and recognise over 25% of the ‘celebrities’ in it.  I’m pleased to say I’d struggle to recognise more than a couple.  So basically what I’m saying is that the media has created a new disease for everyone to suffer from and deliberately spreads the ‘virus’ around in the form of gossip mags, Internet rubbish and fake newspaper stories, in the hope of infecting more people.  What sort of sick bastards are they?  Well it’s certainly crossed one of my red lines, so it’s just as well for them that I’m not World President Obama, or they’d be some serious consideration going on, relating to the arming of freedom fighters like myself with big pairs of scissors, so we can go into shops selling this rubbish and cut it all up into small pieces.  Watch out News UK, we know who you are… even if you have just changed your name out of shame.

The soundtrack is all, slightly atmosphere indie rock.  The individual tunes weren’t that exciting, but they surprisingly all hang together pretty well and nicely enhance the impact of the scenes they’re used in.  They’re a really good fit into the overall feel of the film.

Recommended for bored teenagers, journalists who write about Kim Kardashian’s baby and professional footballers.

No cats, chainsaws or decapitations.

Top badass moment?  There’s frequently a dearth of badass in movies like this.  It’s all people with no real hope, no belief and no future.  This one is no exception.  So I guess the best I can come up with is the friendship that develops between the two main characters, Nicole and Jasmine.  In a film about the shallowness of celebrity, it’s the one really meaningful thing in it.

Kicks at IMDB (4.3 / 10)


Satanic Sluts: The Black Order Cometh / Piñon Pine Incense Cones


Satanic Sluts:The Black Order Cometh  -  Front DVD Cover (UK Release)The Satanic Sluts are an all female collective (similar to the Suicide Girls), numbering up to 666 of the world’s most sexual, attitudinal, confrontational, creative and challenging women that have ever chosen to walk down the left-hand path.  In this exclusive and unique DVD six members of The Satanic sluts have bared their corrupt souls for your delectation and their dubious pleasure.  Featuring real bloodletting, Japanese rope bondage, whippings and satanic crucifixions, through to fantasized sequences involving torture, medical experiments and vampirism.  Watching this DVD will be akin to having your eyeballs licked – prepare to go blind!

2008  –  Certificate: 18  –  UK Film
Rating Details:  Very strong language, nudity, bloody gore and fetish
3.0 out of 10

I’ve always quite liked scented things for rooms.  I’m not talking about those dreadful air freshener sprays that appear to be a close relation of tear gas; or them plug-in abominations, whose mere existence confirms the inevitability of environmental Armageddon.  No, I’m talking about things like incense and oil burners.  A couple of years ago, two friends came to stay with me and gave me a gift of some piñon pine incense cones.  They were lovely, but sadly they ran out ages ago; (the cones, not the friends).  I hunted around on the Internet looking for a supplier, but they were all in America and the idea of paying zillions for shipping wasn’t that appealing.  All I could find closer to home were piñon incense sticks, which just weren’t the same.  However, I finally came access a cone supplier on eBay a month or two ago, based in the UK.  My flat now smells like an open wood fire in New Mexico.  Apparently it also repels mosquitoes. The only smells likely to emanate from this film are rubber, latex and leather.

Just for a moment, think about your favourite, male, movie action-hero. Okay, now imagine him in a tough spot; his gun’s out of ammo, he’s securely tied up with the film’s beautiful heroine and they’ve only got five minutes before the nuclear bomb they’re sitting on explodes, killing millions of innocents in Los Angeles.  He might say something along the lines of, “this is bad… really bad”.  Now, forget about the bomb and stuff and plonk that same action-hero in front of a TV and make him watch this film for a bit.  Spot the difference in the dialogue?  No, I can’t either.  Part drama and part documentary, this movie is made up of a series of quite random short scenes and interviews with some of the ‘cast’.  It’s probably supposed to provide an insight into an alternative lifestyle, whilst exciting the parts other films can’t reach.  Well it did neither and it all felt strangely old-fashioned to me too.  I’ve never quite understood the appeal of all that gothic, dominatrix in leather stuff; I suppose that comes of being vegan.  I did find myself wondering at one point how hot it must get wearing all that latex.  I use to have a pair of PVC trousers in my more flamboyant days and they used to really warm up if the sun got on them; they were good in wet weather though.  I can only imagine the 170 seconds of footage that the BBFC insisted were cut from the film to enable it to gain an 18 certificate, must have all the plot and ‘good stuff’ in them.  Yes, the compulsory cuts that were required to remove the “unsimulated sight of restrained woman’s arm being cut with a scalpel” must be where it all is.  I guess the sight of someone having needles pushed into various parts of her face is okay though, it was probably just something to do with acupuncture that I’ve misinterpreted.  And as I never open the security grills on the windows in my office at work, the stuff with the cages didn’t seem that big a deal to me.  However, the scariest thing about this film is that it’s the first part of a trilogy.  That will give me sleepless nights.

I’m not sure what sort of music soundtrack this film had.  Industrial techno?  Who knows? Anyway, it wasn’t very good.

Recommended for acupuncturists, nuns, birds in leather and nurses.

No cats, chainsaws or decapitations.  However, one of the ‘stars’ calls herself Chelsea Chainsaw.  I hope she has the proper ‘industry tickets’ for that name, at least CS30 and hopefully CS31 too.

Top badass moment?  Someone has lots of needles pushed into her face, for the entertainment of others.  It’s not made entirely clear what she gets out of it, but whatever, that’s kind of badass.  I might give it a miss myself; there’re some reruns of “Bargain Hunt” with David Dickinson I’m keen to catch up with this weekend.

Satanic Sluts: The Black Order Cometh at IMDB (2.3 / 10)