Posts tagged “California

Pups / Shite Royal Mail


Pups  -  Front DVD Cover  -  UK Release

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

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

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

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

Recommended for school children, police officers and bank staff.

No cats, chainsaws or decapitations.

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

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

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

 

 


I Know What You Did Last Summer / Star Trek Novels


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Recommend for students and fisherman.

No cats, chainsaws or decapitations.

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

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


Go / Boomtown Fair 2014


Go  -  Front DVD Cover  -  UK Release

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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


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

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

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

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

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

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

The trailer’s pretty good. 

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

No cats, chainsaws or decapitations.

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

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


Hancock / Tony Hancock


Hancock  -  Front Blu-ray Cover  -  UK ReleaseWill Smith explodes onto the screen in this action-packed comedy as Hancock, a sarcastic, hard-living and misunderstood superhero who has fallen out of favour with the public.  When Hancock grudgingly agrees to an extreme makeover from idealistic publicist Ray Embrey (Jason Bateman, “Juno”), his life and reputation rise from the ashes and all seems right again – until he meets a woman (Charlize Theron, “Aeon Flux”) with similar powers to his and the key to his secret past.  A past that will have earth shattering consequences…

2008  –  Certificate 15  –  American Film
Strong language, sex and violence
9.0 out of 10

I sort of remember Hancock’s comedy genius from when I was young.  Not so much directly, but more from my Father, who was a bit of a fan.  So I was understandably worried when I first found out that Hollywood was going to make a film about his life; and even more concerned when I found out it was going to ‘reimagine’ him as a superhero and have a Black guy play his part.  I like Will Smith, but Tony Hancock lived in East Cheam and I’d hazard a guess and say there weren’t a lot of Black people living in that part of Surrey in the late 50s.  Fortunately, this modern film biography captures many facets of his life; his comedy timing, his ‘loser persona’, his personal fight with alcohol, his wife’s attempted suicide, his affairs with other men’s wives.  It’s all here.  Not only that, but it also cleverly introduces the plot from his most famous film, “The Rebel”.  In this, he plays the part of someone else, whilst the title itself is also well reflected by Smith’s superb portrayal of the part in this new movie.  It’s a much-see for all fans of British, post-war, kitchen sink comedy.  Oh wait; I’ve fucked up again here haven’t I?

For some reason that I’m not fully aware of, I love this film.  I guess the idea that a superhero can be a scruffy, underachieving alcoholic who hates people, gives me hope for my own life.  The script is surprisingly well observed and it manages to provide most of the elements you’d expect to see in a movie about a superhero, without becoming a parody of one.  Will Smith is actually very good in it and manages to make Hancock seem genuinely not very nice, rather than a watered down Hollywood bad guy suitable for kids.  For a ‘summer blockbuster’, it does pretty well on the darker elements of the story, violence and language.  Then again, I watched the uncut version that basically has ten minutes or so of the good stuff that was removed for the version that was shown in most cinemas.  (It was good to see all the “jackass” references replaced with the original “assholes”.)  Of course it has a few crappy scenes, (the one with Hancock having sex is an especially cringe-worthy example of a pretty pointless one); and don’t bother trying to count the plot holes either.  But overall it’s a brilliant action film with a fun story, original lead character and a surprising amount of gravitas when it needs it.  I enjoyed the ending too, even though you sort of know what’s going to happen.  Go watch.

This is the ‘action’ orientated trailer; there’s a ‘comedy’ one out there too.  It’s okay, but it doesn’t really sell the film especially well, unless you’re just into big explosions and stuff.  It’s a far more multi-layed movie that this makes it seem.

I really like the soundtrack to this film.  It’s everything a soundtrack is meant to be, enhancing what’s on-screen without ever taking over.

Recommended for superheroes, losers, rebels, drunks and PR consultants.

No cats, chainsaws or decapitations.

Top badass moment?  It’s a film about a superhero.  Go figure.

Hancock at IMDB (6.4 / 10)
Hancock at Wikipedia
Hancock at Roger Ebert (3.0 / 5)
Hancock at YouTube


Gattaca / How a Washing Machine Can Start a Nuclear War


Gattaca  -  Front Blu-ray Cover  -  German ReleaseIn der nahen High-Tech-Zukunft entscheidet ein Gentest gleich nach der Geburt über das Schicksal der Kinder. Futuristische Biochemie macht es möglich, dass fast alle Eltern sportliche, hochintelligente Superbabies zur Welt bringen.  Vincent aber hat Pech gehabt.  Wegen seiner körperlichen Schwächen wird er nie zur Elite gehören.  Doch er träumt davon, als Gattaca-Pilot die Galaxis zu erforschen. Vincents Freund Jerome hat beste Gene, ein Unfall hat ihn allerdings an den Rollstuhl gefesselt.  Beide tauschen ihre Identität.  Ein äußerst riskanter Plan, denn die strengen Sicherheitskontrollen des perfekt organisierten Polizeistaates sind kaum zu umgehen. Bald hat Vincent die Geheimdienste auf den Fersen …  Ein spannender sci-fi thriller mit beängstigendem Zukunftsszenario.  Ethan Hawke (“Reality Bites”) und Uma Thurman (“Batman & Robin”, “Pulp Fiction”) in einem brandgefährlichen Spiel, das durchaus wahr werden könnte.  (It’s called German.  I’ve got a German copy of the film.)

1997  –  Certificate 12  –  American Film
8.5 out of 10

My washing machine broke down on Christmas Eve.  Well more accurately, it still washes things but it won’t dry them.  Using my amazing engineering skills, I’ve worked out that it’s either a broken thermostat or something to do with the fan.  Unfortunately I can’t be sure, as my skills don’t extend to having the special sort of screwdriver that appears to be needed to open the case where the fan lives.  I think I can hear it spinning but I can’t see the end of the spindle turning, which is a bit confusing.  Few things piss me off more than technology breaking and companies producing things which require a special bit of information (that they make it very hard to find out), or a special tool to fix.  So as you might imagine, this little occurrence has made me incandescent with fury.  The fact it happened at the most inconvenient possible moment of the year has just made things worse.  Really, it’s just as well I’m not the one with ‘my finger on the button’.

In the near future, parents will be able to create a ‘designer baby’ for themselves.  These “Valids” will go on to get all the best jobs, whilst the rest of us do the crappy stuff.  I know this to be true, because even Ernest Borgnine could only get a job as an office cleaner in “Gattaca”, yet a few years ago he was one of the crew of “Airwolf”, the most advanced helicopter ever built.  (It had a good theme tune too.)  Our hero Vincent wants to go into space, but sadly he’s one of the “Invalids”, the rubbish people who got born the normal way.  So starts his quest to beat the system.  I’ve seen a lot of good films over the past month or so and this is yet another.  Within its ‘hard’ sci-fi setting and 1984 overtones, this is a thriller with a great “will he or won’t he make it” right up to the end.  With its murder-crime subplot and some entirely superfluous love interest provided by Uma Thurman, we get to watch Vincent and his mate collecting bottles of blood, hair and other bits of discarded body from the latter; (mainly skin and stuff, we’re not talking about anything too Frankenstein-like here).  It’s a while since I saw a film with so much urine in it too, although to be fair it’s generally all contained in bags or plastic beakers; they’re a bit obsessed with testing at Gattaca.  (It’s the name of the company that does the space launches.)  Things don’t quite go to plan, (even more so if you watch the deleted scenes), someone gets murdered, the police investigate.  It’s just the sort of shit you don’t want to have to put up with when you’re about to diddle your way onto the first manned flight to Titan.  The final scene is really quite powerful and it’s a “proper good film” as they might say up North.

With a great film should come great music and we’re not disappointed here.  A full orchestral score, it’s not used a lot, but when it is things get taken to an extra level.  As an interesting side point, there’s a scene where we see a 12 fingered pianist playing a bit of music that’s actually meant to be impossible for one person to play; (Schubert’s Impromptu No. 3 in G flat Major, with some extra bits).  I find that strangely cool.

I’m not especially keen on this trailer.  It’s sort of okay, but it doesn’t really get across the feel of the film.

Recommended for astronauts, police detectives and the genetically pure.

No cats, chainsaws or decapitations.

Top badass moment?  It has to be the impossible to play piano performance.  As someone who can barely manage to play “English Country Garden” on the piano with two fingers, am I the only one who finds that whole idea strangely arousing?  Oh, right.  Okay then…  I think I’ve just discovered a new kind of porn.  (Well actually no, as Google gives nearly 52,000 results for “piano porn”.)  Now that really is very weird.

Gattaca at IMDB (7.8 / 10)
Gattaca at Wikipedia
Gattaca At Roger Ebert (3.5 / 5)
Gattaca at YouTube


Brake / My Car’s Boot


Brake  -  Front Blu-ray Cover  -  UK ReleaseSpecial agent Jeremy Reins (Stephen Dorff) is about to have a very bad day. He wakes up in total darkness, confused and disorientated. The only light comes from the blood-red digital numbers ticking away above his head. Jeremy quickly realizes he’s in trouble. It’s hard to breathe. He can barely move. And no one will answer his cries for help. Then, he hears the sound of an engine and it all becomes clear…he’s trapped in the trunk of a moving car. As his captors reveal their motives, Jeremy realizes he won’t be set free until he discloses classified Government information he has sworn to protect.

2012  –  Certificate 15  –  American Film Rating Details: Strong violence and bloody images 7.0 out of 10

My car’s boot is nearly always full of stuff to recycle.  Tins, bottles, bits of metal, broken and discarded electronics, batteries, bulbs, paper and cardboard; they all end up rolling about in the boot along with a first aid kit, a box about a quarter full of bottles of COUNTDown, a sharps kit, a pair of wellington boots and a 12” base speaker.  When I’m at my more organised these items are joined by a 4’ crow bar, a 21” bow saw, a spade and a pair of loppers.  A car boot is basically a giant pocket; it’s the male equivalent of a ladies handbag.  (I’m not sure what women drivers keep in the boot of their cars; it’s not the sort of question you ask in polite society.  Make-up?  Lipstick?  Soft toys?  Shoes? Who knows?)  I imagine there’s a whole branch of science that can determine someone’s past, present and future lives, simply by investigating what that person keeps in their boot.  The stuff for recycling does get removed from time to time, whenever I drive past the Smallmead Household Waste Recycling Centre; (or “the dump” as it’s know by just about everyone).  In a double-whammy of individual person-power, I not only recycle just about everything I can, but don’t make special trips to the dump to get rid of stuff either.  The Earth is so lucky to have me as a friend!  I suppose all I’m trying to do is point out that I don’t often have a special agent in my boot; or even a common or garden variety one; they don’t take either for recycling at the dump anyway.  And even if I did they’d just be able to rip the cover and get out, as I drive an estate with one of those roll back covers for hiding what’s there.

This is a film where 95% of the action takes place in the boot of a car.  A lot of the time most of what’s going on is only lit by the eerie glow from a large, red, digital timer.  This could have easily resulted in a very boring film and it’s true to say that it’s not the best one to watch if you’re trying to show off your new Blu-ray player and 65” smart TV to your mates.  However, on balance it’s a very watchable move that’s only let down by a few ugly plot-holes and a terrible ending that even I managed to predict.  Having said that, I liked the ending; it makes a change from the sort of thing we normally get.  I’m not sure Stephen Dorff manages to totally convincing 100% of the time, but when all you can do is shuffle about a bit in the dark and look confused, I guess it’s not an easy thing to do when you have to deliver an occasionally dodgy script.  All in all it’s enjoyable and a little bit different.  It’s just a shame they didn’t manage to keep up the level of some of the more intense parts.  It was so set up for a sequel too.

The soundtrack is fine and suitably thriller-like.  It comes and goes as it should.  The trailer here does a decent job of presenting the film.  I’ve no idea what the sleeve is all about though; it looks like that famous poetic licence that all DVD release companies have access to, has been invoked again.  I don’t think we see a gun sight, helicopter or the White House in the film at all.  I’m not sure about the person in the black gear with the gun either.

Recommended for special agents, terrorists and anyone who’s thinking of marrying a special agent.

No cats, chainsaws or decapitations.

Top badass moment?  Jeremy knows the location of the president and vice president.  Some terrorists want to know where they are.   They do various ‘not nice’ things to Jeremy and kidnap and threaten to kill his wife too, along with some other people.  But does Jeremy blab?  “This guy’s fucking hardcore!”  That’s badass.  I couldn’t help feeling sorry for him though.  A very bad day indeed.

Brake at IMDB (5.9 / 10)
Brake at Wikipedia
Brake at YouTube


The Philadelphia Experiment 2 / Marks & Spencer


The Philadelphia Experiment 2  -  Front DVD Cover  -  US ReleaseIn the hit sci-fi thriller “The Philadelphia Experiment” the sole survivor of a wartime experiment is catapulted 41 years into the future and must race to save the world as we know it.  It’s now 10 years later, 1993.  David Herdeg (Brad Johnson), the surviving hero, has built a life for himself and his young son that’s unravelling fast.  The U.S. military is conducting another Experiment, one that not only alters Herdeg’s DNA makeup, but also threatens the fabric of the entire universe.  The Experiment’s goal is to transport a Stealth Fighter back to 1943 to use as the ultimate war machine, but its effect hurls Herdeg into another time warp, still 1993, but a 1993 where Germany has won the war.  Can Herdeg win the race against time and save his son and the world from a terrible future?  Or will the future be a twisted reality distorted by the Philadelphia Experiment?

1993  –  Certificate: PG-13  –  American Film
Rating Details: Military violence
6.0 out of 10

Who actually shops in Marks and Spencer, unless they want a new bra or a pair of socks?  It’s like a John Lewis, except with all the interesting stuff removed.  For a start, it only sells a limited range of household things, none of which anyone would need; unless you feel owning a big, weirdly shaped glass jar full of ‘interestingly’ coloured marbles is essential.  Or a pastel coloured cushion with tassels on it rates as highly for you as food, shelter and safety.  Then there’s the Food Hall.  These huge caverns are full of food nobody really buys.  True, it’s all very nice and tasty looking, but it’s also all eye-wateringly expensive, pre-pealed, pre-prepared, over-packaged and marketed as over-valued ‘superfood’.  I don’t know why M&S doesn’t just take that find step and pre-digest it for you too and sell that instead.  In fact, just send it your money and save yourself from even having to bothering to do the shopping in the first place. The branch I went to, near Southampton, has its entrance 5m from a huge Sainsbury; why does an M&S Food Hall even exist there?  A small, plastic bowl-like container full of cherry tomatoes on the vine, asparagus tips and rocket, costs about a million pounds.  (Whatever happened to lumps of cucumber, lettuce and grated carrot?)  At the sort of prices it charges, I’d expect the rocket to be a fully functioning space shuttle, complete with crew.  Just before Christmas I won £500 of Marks and Spencer vouchers in a competition.  Unable to use them online, (and what’s the point of vouchers these days you can’t use online), I finally plucked up courage last week to go into an M&S store and use them.  It was a scary experience.  I had no idea how to behave.  I was convinced I’d get arrested for breaking some sort of social code of conduct, only known to people who have large jars of marbles in their bathrooms.  I was served by four people all at the same time, who insisted on wrapping everything up in millions of layers of paper to ‘protect’ it.  Do I look that clumsy?  What did they think I was going to do with it all?  I’m now the proud owner of the most expense set of pans it sells, two kitchen knives that actually cut, some glasses that match one another and a set of chopping boards that aren’t home to most of the world’s infectious diseases.  (And being the system-smashing rebel I am, I’m presently using the blue one that’s got the fish symbol on it, even though I don’t ever eat fish.)  I’ve also spent the last week or so living on strawberries, cherries, nectarines and ‘speciality’ apples.  My body thinks it’s been irrigated with bleach, such is the purity of my insides now.  I did manage to find some packets of pasta hiding away in the corner of the store, but the rice defied my best efforts to locate it anywhere.  This film is about someone who finds himself somewhere he’s not used to being.

The Philadelphia Experiment was an interesting, if horrendously dated-looking film that came out in 1984.  Nine years later we got the sequel.  In many ways this is a better film, although it still manages to look terrible dated.  It’s portrayal of an America 50 years after the Nazis won World War Two is really quite nicely presented. Very Orwellian.  I was interested to see that the concrete HQ ‘bunker’ that features in the film looks a lot like many of the new stations on the Jubilee Line in London.  The sight of a Nighthawk ‘stealth fighter’ decked out in swastikas makes a suitably big impression on the senses.  A few elements in the film reminded me of The Terminator too.  All the father-son-baseball nonsense at the beginning was a bit nauseating, but once we got past this it was a decent enough movie. Gerrit Graham puts in a good show as the slightly mad Dr. William Mailer.  Sadly, the sum of its parts is not up to its individual elements; it feels like a film that ought to be better than it actually is.

The soundtrack is a decent effort, with a mixture of what you’d expect, along with a bit of cowboy music and some suitably overwrought Richard Wagner.

Recommended for Nazis, slightly mad scientists, pilots and baseball fans.

No cats, chainsaws or decapitations.

Top badass moment?  David kills Mailer’s father, which results in some time-based shenanigans and Mailer disappearing, thus solving a number of tricky challenges.  I often do something quite similar myself, which makes it badass.  I can never understand why people have to complicate life so much.  If you don’t like something, just go back in time and try again.  It’s not rocket science.

The Philadelphia Experiment at IMDB (4.4 / 10)

The Philadelphia Experiment at Wikipedia

The Philadelphia Experiment at YouTube


Spider-Man / Being “An Authoriser”


Spider-Man - Front DVD Cover - UK Release

Peter Parker (Tobey Maguire) is an ordinary guy who lives with his beloved aunt and uncle and quietly pines for the girl next door, Mary Jane (Kirsten Dunst).  But when a genetically engineered “super-spider” bites him while on a school trip, Peter develops unusual skills – fantastic acrobatic strength, supernatural awareness and a talent for web-spinning.  It’s not until tragedy strikes at home that Peter decides to use his new powers to fight crime under a secret identity, Spider-man! When the evil Green Goblin (Willem Dafoe) attacks the good people of New York and endangers the life of Mary Jane, Peter commits himself to the ultimate tests: to thwart his arch-enemy and to win the heart of the girl that he loves.

2002  –  Certificate: 12  –  American Film
8.0 out of 10

With great power comes great responsibility…  That reminds me, I attended a webinar at work today, to enable me to become what’s called “An Authoriser”.  Thanks to having so recently watched “Spider-Man” I totally “got it” and realised the awesome obligation that had been bestowed on me.  True, it’s not given me enough super-powers to be able to go out and buy an Aston Martin as a company car, which I’m always going on about, but still.  I’m already responsible for saving the planet on a daily basis, so I guess adding this to my ‘portfolio of stress’ won’t make a lot of difference.  Jim gave the training, who’s the calmest person in the whole organisation.  Just as well really, as An Authoriser sounds more like someone who gives orders in a crime syndicate; or takes dead bodies, puts them in baths and pours acid all over them so they dissolve.  I probably watch too many films.  Ha, I just realised how apt attending a webinar was after watching Spider-Man. 

I enjoy superhero films.  It’s the ‘tortured hero that always comes good in the end’ that I can relate to.  I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, there’s a thin line between my job and Spider-Man’s, or any superhero’s for that matter; we all save civilisation on an almost daily basis.  This is a great film that still looks good.  In the big scheme of things, Spider-Man always came a distant fourth for me when I was young, behind Batman, Superman and Popeye (the spinach guy), but he looks good in action here.  It’s the usual stuff, guy finds he’s got super powers, pisses off someone powerful and bad, has a crisis of identity, then comes good and saves the girl, before giving her up for the greater benefit of everyone else.  Yep, sounds like my life, except the exciting and positive parts.

This film has a really good soundtrack by Danny Elfman, even though all the best bits of it sound like rejects from the Batman movie.

Recommended for people like me, photographers, military weapon designers; and, most importantly, arachnologists.

No cats, chainsaws or decapitations.

Top badass moment? It’s so mundane and predictable, but after spending ages (literally most of his life) chasing his soul mate, Peter Parker rejects her so he can ‘pursue’ his new ‘career’ more effectively.  What a do-gooder!  He didn’t even take her to bed first.  What a nice guy.  He made be stupid and he may be misguided, but the world needs more badass ‘nice people’ like him.

Spider-Man at IMDB (7.3 / 10)

Spider-Man at IMDB

Spider-Man at YouTube


My Life With Morrissey / Domino’s Pizza


My Life With Morrissey  -  Front DVD Cover  -  US ReleaseJackie, a hard-working assistant at a TV studio, pours herself into her work with an odd enthusiasm that her co-workers embrace with mixed feelings.  An obsessed Morrissey fan, her off hours are spent talking to posters and photos that plaster her apartment.  Her nights are spent scouring places Morrissey has been spotted around Los Angeles…  One fateful night things take a turn for the worse when by chance her dream comes true.  Meeting Morrissey in a deserted parking lot, Jackie’s world is suddenly turned upside down.

2003  –  Certificate: Not Rated  –  American Film
8.0 out of 10

The last couple of days at work have been somewhat dispiriting.  A mixture of ‘stuff’ and ‘other things’, combined with a lack of time and a recurring, nightmarish vision of the apocalypse, (complete with demons, fire, horseman and endless teleconferences), have made the first half of the week pretty heavy going.  I forgot my mobile phone today too and came home to 14 missed calls.  Someone had left me a voice mail which was so muffled and distant that I could only conclude it came from Satan himself, deep in the bowels of Hell.  I wonder what he wants, this time?  However, coming home from work each day I’ve been reminded of just how worse things could be.  Whilst walking along the Oxford Road in Reading I’ve passed a guy dressed in a giant, blue, Domino’s Pizza takeaway box, loitering outside the Lidl supermarket.  Whatever he had in mind as a career when he was at school, I don’t suppose hanging about dressed up like a homeless and miserable, blue version of SpongeBob SquarePants, was top of his list.  Sadly for Domino’s, the overall effect of a bored looking guy in a scruffy pair of jeans and a baseball hat, inside a massive pizza box, wasn’t to make me want to eat pizza.  Whatever they’re paying him, it’s not enough.  Strangely, this film has a connection to SpongeBob too.

I always enjoy movies about losers that’re trying to fight back against ‘the system’, or at least exist alongside it; I suppose I can relate to them.  This film starts off with us following a young woman with an over developed enthusiasm for all things Morrissey, into work, where we meet some of her rather overbearing colleagues; and it ends up with a nuclear explosion.  I’m not really spoiling it for you though, as the latter doesn’t actually have any sort of connection to anything else.  At some point whilst watching it, I was suddenly hit by a “wtf?” moment and realised that everything had become rather surreal, weird and odd.  On one level, this is quite a disturbing film, as you watch a young woman descend into some sort of mental distress.  On the other hand, it is kind of funny.  Jackie Buscarino, who plays the main character who’s also called Jackie, as well as being very cute, throws herself into the role with a level of embarrassing intensity that’s really quite fun to watch.  I can imagine it’s the sort of film that a lot of hardcore Morrissey fans would hate, but I really like Morrissey and think it’s very entertaining.  I’m not sure if it’s a totally dumb, poorly scripted film, or one that subtly and covertly comments on modern society and its values; whatever, I’d recommend it either way.  

This movie has some really good music in it, which certainly helps turn it from being a potentially slightly crappy film into a much better one.  The fact that one track is by Nerf Herder (the band that bought you the theme to “Buffy the Vampire Slayer”), is just the icing on the cake.  Needless to say, it features no music by Morrissey or The Smiths at all.

Recommend for fanboys (and fangirls).

No cats, chainsaws or decapitations. 

Top badass moment?  Who hasn’t at one time or another, secretly thought about going into work, trashing the place and abusing everyone? Okay… so just me then.  Anyway, the overlong scene where Jackie goes into work and does just that, is badass.

My Life With Morrissey at IMDB (3.9 / 10)

My Life With Morrissey at Wikipedia