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


Death Wish 4: The Crackdown / Soft Drink Shortage Hits Cactus World


Death Wish 4: The Crackdown  -  Front DVD Cover  -  US ReleaseThe streets are filled with death and destruction.  Ruthless drug traffickers prey upon the poor, the lonely, the helpless.  LA is a city desperate for deliverance… until now!  Charles Bronson returns as Paul Kersey, the original urban vigilante and one-man demolition force in this pulse-pounding, take-no-prisoners thriller!  Two rival drug gangs have a death-grip on LA’s battle-torn inner city.  But their brutal reign of terror is about to come to a violent end.  One man is out to avenge the cocaine-induced death of his girlfriend’s teenage daughter.  His name is Paul Kersey – and he’s armed, dangerous… and mad as hell!

1987  –  Certificate: R  –  American Film
6.0 out of 10

The unseasonal run of warm days we’ve been having recently has put an unprecedented strain on reserves of cold drinks in Cactus World.  In fact I’ve run out of normal soft drinks and the things I only drink in an emergency, like bitter lemon and ginger ale, have been in the fridge so long they’ve all frozen solid.  I tried opening one this afternoon, but so much pressure had built up in the bottle that the contents started to explode everywhere; in fact I read this evening that earlier today America had briefly gone to DEFCON 1, as some military satellite had mistaken my attempts to get something cold to drink as a ballistic missile launch.  I think it’s all okay now though.  Fortunately, I also found some old bottles of Bacardi Breezer (Pineapple) in the back of the fridge that the alcohol had stopped from freezing.  It tasted okay(ish), considering it was two years past its Best Before date.  I also have to report the good news that the far worse scenario of there being a shortage of cold, alcoholic drinks, is not presently a concern.

Before we had mega-budget screen superheroes and nutters like Martin Riggs cleaning up urban scum, we had Paul Kersey.  The original street-level vigilante, here’s a chap who reluctantly goes off on his own and sorts out bad guys.  In many ways he’s a lot like Batman, a tortured soul who’s lost the ones he cares for most; except he’s not especially fit and strong, isn’t a billionaire and doesn’t have a flash car, cave, computer, utility belt or butler.  Then again, he does use guns and he hasn’t got an annoying sidekick either.  Last time we saw him, he was busy helping disadvantaged communities in New York become more resilient.  This time he’s back in America’s other city, Los Angeles, sorting out corrupt police and drug barons; you know, the usual stuff architects deal with.  Scarcely have I recovered from seeing Lieutenant Commander Chakotay turn up in “Night of the Comet” when along comes Lieutenant Commander Tuvok in “Death Wish 4”.  Clearly working under cover for Starfleet in some sort of time-travel paradox, he inadvertently gives some drugs to some dumb bimbo, who promptly kills herself with them.  She just happens to be the daughter of Charles Bronson’s latest love interest too.  In another interesting parallel with “Star Trek” I would say it was at least as deadly being a friend of Paul Kersey, as it is wearing a red shirt as a member of a landing party.  There’ve been five Death Wish films and nearly all of his ‘nearest and dearest’ have ended up being raped and/or murdered.  You do see Bronson take out Tuvok’s car with a grenade in an underground garage, but I’m pretty sure I saw him being beamed out just before it exploded.  Tuvok could’ve easily stunned them all with his phaser, but he probably didn’t want to contaminate the time-line or such like.  I watched the hardcore, uncut version, not the old, UK cut one with its missing 54 seconds.  Because of that I’d have probably turned into a serial killer by now, if it wasn’t for the fact that it was also a pan and scan version too, so half of it was missing.  I hate it when they do that.  It was mono as well.

There’s not a great deal of music in this movie and what there is has a tendency to sound like a reject from The Terminator.  The theme music is horrible though; some nasty saxophone-heavy garbage that sounds like it escaped from an obscure, 70s porn VHS.

Recommend for architects, vigilantes, would-be superheroes and anyone who might make friends with Paul Kersey.  And a warning to the latter; DON’T DO IT!

No cats, chainsaws or decapitations.  However, someone does sort of explode into nothing after having a grenade fired into him.  And you thought The Terminator came up with that one first?

Top badass moment?  Dumb question. Charles Bronson IS badass.  And when someone asks, “who the fuck are you?” and you simply reply (after a tension building pause), “death”, that’s badass too.  And keeping a M203 grenade launcher attached to a M16 assault rifle in a cupboard behind your fridge is badass too.

Death Wish 4: The Crackdown at IMDB (4.8 /10)

Death Wish 4: The Crackdown at Wikipedia


13 Going On 30 / New Town Kings Gig


13 Going On 30  -  Front DVD Cover (UK Release)Jennifer Garner (“Daredevil”, TV’s “Alias”) and Mark Ruffalo (“Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind”) star in this hilarious flash-forward romance about a pre-teen girl who goes from geek to glamorous.  With the help of some magic wishing dust, 13 year-old Jenna Rink (Garner) becomes 30 and gorgeous overnight, with everything she ever wanted, except for her best friend Matt (Ruffalo).  Now, this grown woman must create some magic of her own to help the little girl inside find the true love she left behind.

2004  –  Certificate: 12  –  American Film
Rating Details:  Moderate sex and drug references
8.0 out of 10

Went to see the New Town Kings last night at the Camden Underworld in London.  It’s probably the best ska band in the country.  (Quite why people listen to stuff like Coldplay when they could be listening to bands like the NTK entirely escapes me, but I think it’s probably just another symptom of the fall of humanity; the signs are all around us after all, this is just another scream of terror from the depths of hell into which we’re falling.)  The gig was great, had a little bit too much to drink but managed not to be too uncoordinated or tread on too many feet.  I really like going to gigs in the summer, as when you leave at the end in a sweat-soaked t-shirt, you don’t walk out into a dark night that has a wind chill that wouldn’t feel out of place in an Antarctic winter.  I hate that and hanging about at Paddington Station afterwards, waiting for a train that’s either packed and you can’t get a seat, or freeing cold.  (I know it’s partly my fault as I wear the same things all year, but cloakrooms are a pain so if I can’t wear it under ‘combat conditions’ or tie it around my waist, then it’s too much hassle.  I’m sure regularly undergoing a freeze-thaw cycle is good for something; it’s good for some seeds anyway.)  Have to say I’m feeling pretty fit at the moment.  I remember seeing NTK a couple of years ago and I was knackered at the end.  This time it didn’t feel that big a deal.  I truly have the body of top sportsman!  (Darts probably).

I can’t believe it, but this is the fifth comedy I’ve watch in a row.  What’s come over me?  Then again, I do choose the films I watch entirely at random, although there are a lot of complicated rules that govern this process, but at the end of the day it’s still pretty random.  Anyway, let’s not consider how clichéd or stupid this film is.  Let’s just consider it and its (I think for me) unique, pink DVD case.  To deflect the fact and consequent embarrassment that comes from my sitting and watching a chick-flick on my own, I like to consider this as a movie with a hard science fiction storyline, that just happens to have some sort of romance built into it somewhere.  We first meet our hero Jenna around the time of her 13th birthday, just before she travels about 27 years into the future, into an alternative time-line.   So okay, the ‘time-machine’ consists of some sort of ‘fairy dust’ that we never get an explanation for, but that’s the nature of these things, apparently.  Then in the future she does stuff and it all works out okay.  Right?  It is actually an excellent film, even though it’s rubbish too; I did feel myself getting emotional once or twice, (just a tiny bit of course).  It also has one of those brilliant, so-crap-it’s-good dance routine scenes in it; Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” being the victim in this case.  (You should check out all the people at IMDB seriously discussing how realistic this scene is and how poor the choreography is; and I thought I had trouble living in the real world sometimes.)  Technically I like how this film looks and sounds on DVD.

This movie uses it’s soundtrack to strongly emphasise its 80s vibe.  In this, thanks in part to the way the sound blasts out every time a song is played, it succeeds well.  Even I have to begrudgingly admit that it’s not that bad.

Recommended for magazine editors, freelance photographers, 13 year-old girls and anyone who thinks 80s pop music is of any value; (yes, you there at the back, I can see you).

No cats, chainsaws or decapitations.

Top badass moment?  Biach Tom-Tom getting her comeuppance.  So she gets a drink spilt on her, a few harsh words and some work ripped up in front of her face; but when you’re 13 and have a social position to maintain in front of your friends, that’s probably not dissimilar to having your head blown off with a big gun by the unsung hero in the climatic final scene in a bloody action film.

13 Going On 30 at IMDB (6.0 / 10)

13 Going On 30 at Wikipedia


12:01 / Drinking Coffee


12:01  -  Front DVD Cover (US Release)Jonathan Silverman (“Weekend at Bernie’s”, “Brighton Beach Memoirs”) is Barry Thomas, and Barry is having a bad day… over and over and over again.  That’s because Barry is caught in a “time bounce” – an atmospheric phenomenon – that occurs when his employer, the high-tech company Utrel, has an experiment that goes haywire.  Spared from the effect of memory loss by an electric shock at the moment of the time bounce, Barry is the only one at Utrel who has the power to change the course of fate.  And to Barry that means saving the life of the woman he loves, research scientist Lisa Fredericks (Helen Slater, “City Slickers”, “Ruthless People”).  Tautly directed by Jack Sholder (“A Nightmare on Elm Street Part 2: Freddy’s Revenge”, “The Hidden”) and co-starring Academy Award winner Martin Landau (“Crimes and Misdemeanors”), “12:01” is a spirited sci-fi thriller you’ll enjoy again and again and again! “It’s Back to the Future” meets “Groundhog Day”!

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

I really like tea, but I also drink a lot of not very nice instant coffee too.  I drink the latter almost exclusively at work, as the caffeine helps me to do my shit.  Without this stimulant, I’d not be able to deliver my corporate payload from a sufficiently high altitude to target my in-box effectively and render its population non-belligerent.  Really.  Like Bane in Batman (the version that hung about with Poison Ivy in the 1997 “Batman and Robin” film), each cup has the same effect on me as turning the ‘power dial’ on his head did on him.  I shake a lot, growl a bit and look angry, my fingers a blur of motion on the keyboard, as I up the misspelling count to such a shocking level that even Bill Gates can’t work out what the hell I’m trying to write.  Someone once sneaked a jar of decaffeinated coffee into the office and the whole organisation nearly went bankrupt.  Conversely, at home I almost never drink coffee.  About 15 years ago I bought a filter coffee-making machine when I had someone staying with me who liked coffee.  Despite my ongoing battle with technology, it’s still fully functional.  (I guess I don’t use it very often and it’s not a very ‘mission critical’ part of my lifestyle.)  However, tonight I made myself some real coffee in it.  It was very nice!  Funny enough, it’s even nicer if you tip a load of Tia Maria in it.  I wonder what happens if you try to get drunk on coffee?

The 80s and 90s were the golden age for ‘Made for TV’ films.  This is one of them.  It’s basically “Groundhog Day” with some sci-fi bolted onto it.  It’s got Martin Landau in it, but I guess all those years of running Moonbase Alpha in “Space 1999” must have taken their toll on him, because he’s rubbish!  Never mind phoning in his role, he didn’t even make contact.  I think they just carried a cardboard cut out about from scene to scene.  In fact the whole movie is pretty rubbish.  However, despite its limitations it’s a fun, easy watch, ideal for when you can’t be bothered to concentrate on stuff.  Our hero is Barry, who basically has to save the world, or universe, or something, from remaining stuck in the same 24 hour time loop.    He’s a workshy loser in the personnel department of a company that’s doing research into faster than light travel; (don’t worry if you don’t understand, it’s really not that important).  Now I’ve seen a lot of action heroes in my time with unlikely ‘day jobs’, but this is the first time I’ve come across one from an HR department.  I now have a new-found respect for personnel staff, they kick ass.  (Where I work we call them People Services, which I’m not sure quite conjures up the correct mental image to some.)  Despite its many faults, this is a decent enough thriller/romance/comedy to waste 94 minutes of your life on.

The soundtrack does its job, collects its pay check and leaves.

Recommended for anyone working in human resources, or as a scientist carrying out cutting edge research into particle physics.

No cats, chainsaws or decapitations.

Top badass moment?  Our hero finds himself breaking into his own employer’s offices.   The security guards, already alerted to the fact, are polite but inept, as Bazza somehow manages to grab one of their guns out of its holster.  Pretty impressive for an HR administrator.  However, what’s really badass is the threat he uses to distract them as he’s doing so.  “Stop giving me a hard time, because I’m going to have to come back here in the morning and make sure that you’re fired before we get here; and don’t think I can’t do it either, I’m in personnel.”  A terrifying threat in these economically tough times.

12:01 at IMDB (6.7 / 10)

12:01 at Wikipedia


Mad Cowgirl / I Meet Skynet’s Grandparents


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mad Cowgirl at IMDB (5.0 / 10)

Mad Cowgirl at Wikipedia


Wristcutters: A Love Story / The Amplifier Returns


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wristcutters: A Love Story at Wikipedia


A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge: 3.5 Stars


A Nightmare On Elm Street Collection - Front Blu-ray Cover (UK)Five years have passed since Freddy Krueger (Robert Englund) was sent howling back to hell.  But now, a new kid on Elm Street is being haunted every night by gruesome visions of the deadly dream stalker.  And if his twisted soul takes possession of the boy’s body, Freddy will return from the dead to wreak bloody murder and mayhem upon the entire town.  When “A Nightmare on Elm Street” made a killing, horror fans shrieked for more. Soon the diabolic Freddy was resurrected with a vengeance, along with some of the most terrifying special effects ever to splatter the screen. Look for Robert Englund minus his Freddy face in the opening sequence. He’s a real scream!

1985  –  Certificate: 18  –  USA
Rating Details:  Strong violence and horror

I’ve often considered Boxing Day to be a sort of inferior sequel to Christmas Day.  Well, okay, to tell the truth I’ve never actually thought that at all.  In fact, until about two minutes ago the idea had never even crossed my mind.  But there I was, sitting here and trying to think of something to write about this film and life in general and it just popped into my head.  I lead such a dull and monotone existence that it’s not always easy to come up with interesting stuff to say on the spur of the moment; there’re only so many things I can comment on about the weather and the amount of e-mail I get at work.  I did the washing-up about an hour ago, but that didn’t really give me the sort of emotional connection with the subject matter I was really looking for.  I do wish I could learn to rinse up a glass after I’ve used it though, it would really reduce the amount of washing-up I need to do quite considerably; but I’ve never been one for doing that when there’s a clean supply in the cupboard ready for use.  Even when I was young I was like this.  I guess I was just a hardcore rebel, fighting the system, looking to piss off The Man, running through the dark streets at night, giving the finger to society; or maybe I was just lazy.  Anyway, as I was saying, I’ve often considered Boxing Day to be a sort of sequel to Christmas Day; and all I really wanted to point out is that sequels are generally not as good as the originals, which is a bit like Boxing Day and Christmas Day.  Which brings us to this film.

Freddy’s revenge eh?  Sounds like serious stuff and to be fair at this point in the franchise Freddy was still the evil ne’er-do-well he started out as in the first movie; his later penchant for clever one-liners had yet to really take hold.  Trouble is, he spends most of this film trying to physically escape from inside some young lad, rather than terrorising loads of teens.  True, he does take time out to turn up at a party and trash it, but most of the time he’s inside rather confused teen Jesse.  Then again, this is the gay Nightmare movie, so it’s perhaps not so surprising after all.  If you view the film from this prospective it makes a lot more sense; if you’ve never done that, try it and see.  (By which I mean watching the film; I’m not suggesting everyone goes out and has a homosexual experience just so they can understand this film better, although if you want that’s fine too.)  I did quite enjoy the school bus scene the beginning, which does a clever job of turning a normal trip on a bus into a, em, nightmare one.  Then again, I could have just as much ‘fun’, albeit at a far lower speed, travelling on a Night Bus in London in the early hours of a Saturday morning.  All in all it’s a pretty average film, but the two main characters are quite engaging in their own way and I suppose you have to respect the makers for trying a slightly different angle this time around.  And it does have Fred Krueger in it of course.

Recommended for those that watched “A Nightmare on Elm Street”, obviously.

1 cat, no chainsaws or decapitations.  Well I think it’s a cat but it’s not a very nice cat.  I guess it suits Freddy though; I can’t really imagine him playing nicely with a cute kitten.

Top badass moment?  It has to be Lisa Webber driving to the old steelworks in the middle of the night, to confront Freddie and rescue her crush Jessie.  Not only is this a completely stupid thing to do under any circumstances, but he’s already told her he’s killed two people, including a mutual friend, whilst standing in front of her covered in blood; he’s also tried to kill her too, he’s trashed her home and when she tried to make out with him he wasn’t even into it.  That’s true friendship for you and friendship is badass.

A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge (5.1/10)


Being John Malkovich: 4.0 Stars


Being John Malkovich  -  Front DVD Cover (UK)Craig Schwartz (John Cusack) is a struggling street puppeteer.  In order to make some money, Craig takes a job as a filing clerk.  One day he accidentally discovers a door… a portal into the brain of John Malkovich (played by John Malkovich)!  For 15 minutes, he experiences the ultimate head trip – he is being John Malkovich!  Then he’s dumped onto the New Jersey turnpike!  With his beautiful office mate Maxine (Catherine Keener) and his pet-obsessed wife (Cameron Diaz), they hatch a plan to let others into John’s brain for just $200 a trip.  See what all the critics are talking about.

1999  –  Certificate: 15  –  USA

I’ve got far too fat this year.  Too much to do at work, along with a very slowing recovering ankle injury (sustained whilst trying to walk the South Downs Way, that well-known hiking equivalent of climbing K2), have somewhat curtailed my more extreme sporting aspirations over the past 18 months.  It totally sucks, I must be the only fat vegan on the planet.  Although some kinds of exercise do have an attraction (by which I mean ‘dancing’ at punk and ska gigs), eating less has very little to recommend it using just about every system devised for measuring human fun levels.  Several years ago I didn’t eat anything for 35 days, which lead to my losing 23kg, but this didn’t exactly leave me with a lot of energy or get up and go; even less than normal, attributes which are often in short supply anyway.  (Please insert joke here about my get up and go having got up and went years ago.)  So this time I need a slightly different approach.  Having considered the wide range of fad diets and other crap that’s published about how to lose weight, I’ve realised that what I actually need is a more industry-standard, heavy-duty model; less like a pair of scissors and more like a chainsaw.  So for the last four days I’ve been following what I’ve dubbed the Husqvarna Diet; (other chainsaw-themed weight-loss programmes are available, probably).  And yes, I’m afraid it was a Christmas present to myself.  I need to lose 35kg, which will leave me weighing about the same as when I was born, I think.  I’m not sure what that is in ‘old money’ but I suspect it’s quite a lot.  At this point I’d like to reveal the details of the Husqvarna Diet, but I’m afraid I can’t; if it works I’ll be looking for a publishing deal to sell my brilliant idea to all the other obese, lazy, losers ‘out there’.  If I’m looking forward to one thing, it’s being able to wear a lot of totally out of date clothing, which like many people I’ve kept in the wardrobe for years and years in the stupidly misguided hope that somehow it will fit me again one day.  In fact, I’d go as far as to suggest that they’ll be so old-fashioned as to actually be cool and retro.  Like my diet plan, this film is also truly unique and rather ridiculous.

I really like this movie.  With what’s probably a one of a kind plot, it’s clever, amusing and watchable.  Unfortunately, it’s also just a little bit too clever for its own good.  Then again, the story doesn’t really make any sense, yet somehow is perfectly coherent and believable.  It could come across as a bit freaky and gruesome, but it doesn’t.  The characters could all easily seem quite unpleasant, but they aren’t.  A bit like in Star Trek when they use a bit of techno-babble to get around problems, this film creates a whole mythology around its characters and living forever, but doesn’t bother to explain where most of it came from.  You just need to accept things as is, but for all that it doesn’t really matter and it’s highly entertaining stuff.  Cameron Diaz is almost unrecognisable as the pet fixated wife, whilst Catherine Keener just looks sexy.

Recommended for people who enjoy weird films; but weird in a good way.

1 cat, no chainsaws or decapitations.  In a film featuring a lot of animals, it’s sad that the cat only has a brief cameo, but even so does introduce a classic continuity glitch.  You can’t keep a good animal actor out of the limelight!

Top badass moment?  This has to be John Malkovich playing (what I assume is a rather subtlety shallow version of) himself.  That’s just weird and weird is badass.

Being John Malkovich at IMDB (7.8/10)


Timer: 4.0 Stars


Timer  -  Front DVD Cover (UK)YouTube has some great tools for analysing the stuff you put up on it.  I had a look today and found out that over the past 16 months, I’ve uploaded 139 videos, nearly all film trailers.  The most popular one is for “Limitless”, which has somehow amassed 67,897 views.  At the moment they get around 3,500 views a day, that’s 2-3 a minute.  It’s not exactly Gangnam Style, but for a nobody loser like me it’s kind of freaky.  However, much more interesting is that by analysing all the data YouTube gives you, you can use it as a targeted dating service.   Around two-thirds of the people who watch my videos are men.  This isn’t perhaps all that surprising, as most are trailers for things with lots of explosions, evil aliens and people being blown to bits in them.  Rather than see this preoccupation with bad things as a flaw in my personality, I consider it to be a key element of my personal anger management routine.  Taking a closer look at the details of the data revealed the exciting news that of the 11,726 visits I’ve had from people in the Philippines, almost 50% are from females.  Clearly, there’s something about me, or at least the films I watch, that appeals to the ladies of that fine land more than anywhere else.  You may say I was clutching at straws, but on noticing this a holiday in the Philippines suddenly became a lot more attractive to me than it had been previously.  There’s just one small issue.  Does anyone know the age of consent in the Philippines?  I only ask this as the largest numbers of viewers from the Philippines are in the 13-17 age group and in fact this is the only group that the female-to-male ratio is tipped in favour of the female component, nearly 3:1 in fact.  Oh well, the system was going so well for a while there too; I guess I’ll be staying at home for Christmas after all.  This film is also about a system that enables you to find your one true love.

2009  –  Certificate: R  –  USA
Rating Details:  Language

I really like this movie.  It’s a romantic comedy with a science fiction based plot, set in the present day.  The story is really quite unique and it also provides you with a great topic to have a ‘pub chat’ about.  If you could, would you want a device that tells you when you meet your one true love and also tells you how long into the future that will happen?  The film explores some of this, but actually it’s really quite an interesting topic to think about.  There aren’t any spaceships, aliens or big explosions in it, but it is a cute, funny and interesting movie to watch.  For a romantic comedy it manages to avoid most of the more clichéd rubbish associated with that type of film and the ending is far from clear until it actually comes along.  It’s not a weepy, but having an emergency packet of tissues on hand might be advisable for the more sensitive out there. Go watch.

Recommended for people who enjoy simple, well-made, fun films.

No cats, decapitations or chainsaws.

Top badass moment?  I don’t really understand the relationship some sisters have with one another; why would I, I’m a bloke and I don’t have a sister?  But the one in this film between two step-sisters is believable, nuanced and ultimately sacrificing and loving.  I’ve no idea if it’s in anyway realistic, but that seems cool enough to be badass to me.

Timer at IMDB (6.5 /10)


Terminator 2: Judgement Day: 5.0 Stars


Terminator 2: Judgement Day: Skynet Edition   -   Front Blu-ray cover (UK)I went to see The Wedding Present play in London last night.  There’s not much point me saying anything about its performance, as it’s the 4th best band on the planet.  Instead, here’s what I remember about the gig that doesn’t include the band.  At the end of its set, the guitarist from the first support band, Dead Wolf Club, smashed his guitar on the stage; very rock ‘n’ roll, except I got the distinct feeling he does this a lot and then just glues it back together again for next time.  The other support band, TOQUIWA (formally the Pinky Piglets), was from Japan and therefore made no sense whatsoever; three Japanese women running about on stage singing about wanting a chocolate and doing a lot of things that I haven’t a clue about, confirming my belief that Japan isn’t really from this Earth.  The venue, Koko in Camden, was really cold.  Koko has the worst bar of any venue in London; nothing on draft, with tins of bog-standard cider around £4.50 a can.  Koko has the worst decor of any venue, all gaudy red and gold.  Koko is the worst venue to get out of afterwards; considering its size, it takes forever.  A few years ago Koko used to have crappy sound, but it’s now much improved.  Between each band’s set, the stage lights got pointed towards the crowd, which was really annoying; I shall be seeing yellow spots before my eyes for weeks.  The stage at Koko is too low.  (As you’ve probably gathered, Koko is not my favourite place to see a band.)  As far as I can remember, this was the first time I’d been on the proper Guest List for a gig; I’d like to say I was a ‘friend of the stars’, but in reality I just happened to get my ticket in a slightly obtuse way.  My journey there was swift and easy, as I basically walked onto all three trains without a wait; I think the track in the West Country should get flooded every week, as it seems to improve train availability, despite there being lots of cancellations and delays.  My journey back was also easy; I even had my ticket checked on the train.  The woman sitting in the row of seats in front of me didn’t have a ticket, although there’re a million ways to buy one at Paddington Station, so it was obvious she was trying to get away without paying; she had an American Express credit card too, so I doubt she’s exactly poor; I’d have thrown her out of the train’s airlock into deep space (or whatever the train equivalent is) if I’d been the ticket inspector.  I read the London Evening Standard on the journey back, as there was a copy on the seat.  The Standard is a shit paper, no wonder it’s given away free.  This edition included some dreadful rubbish about young people and claiming housing benefit; if any other group in society was so picked on and vilified, we’d all be out on the street demanding equality and new laws.  Had an interesting chat with two guys in the crowd while waiting for the bands to appear; one later decided my t-shirt’s arm would make a great way to dry the sweat off his head, but I’m sure it was a sign of solidarity; but honestly, what sort of person wears a leather jacket in a most pit?  It’s going to be hot there!  The Wedding Present has very happy fans; the guys behind me in the crowd spent half the set just laughing as everything going on around them.  The band’s fans are mostly men. The gig finished before 10:00pm; a nice, civilised time.  Like the Wedding Present, there’s little point in my trying to give any sort of objective consideration to this film, as it’s just so awesomely amazing.

1991  –  Certificate: 15  –  USA

What can I really say about this movie? Everything about it is great.  It’s probably in my Top Ten films of all time.  This was the first time I’d watched it on Blu-ray and it looked and sounded fab on that.  I was also watching the Ultimate Cut for the first time, which includes a number of extra scenes, even more than the Director’s Cut, including a great dream sequence that features Kyle Reece from the first Terminator movie that was entirely omitted from the version shown in cinemas; and a not quite so great extended ending.  A modern classic and possibly the greatest action movie ever made. 

Recommended for everyone.  Well nearly everyone.

No cats, decapitations or chainsaws.  There’s a fair bit of shattering, melting and general ripping apart going on though.

Top badass moment?  “Come with me if you want to live.”  No ifs or buts there.  100% badass and good advice at any time, especially when some liquid metal freak is after you.  Trust me, I know….

Terminator 2: Judgement Day at IMDB (8.6 / 10)


Saw: 4.5 Stars


Saw  -  Front DVD Cover (UK)I watch a lot of horror films.  So you’d think by now that I’d be used to people being killed, mutilated, raped, dismembered, or otherwise psychologically damaged.  But this week I’ve come face to face with real horror.  My Cyclamen has been infected with Mealy Bugs!  Like a crappy, straight-to-video horror, these little bastards just appeared, with little or no back-story and just got down to the business of terrorising my pot plant and by association, me.  It’s a home invasion experience of the worst kind.  All the leaves and even the pot are covered in some sort of evil, disgusting, Mealy Bug pus, whilst the sniveling little cowards hide beneath the leaves, plotting their next nefarious move.  Like a good slasher movie icon, they pouch on the innocents, newly emerging leaves, infecting them with an unearthly virus (or whatever it is that Mealy Bugs do).  It’s like watching a house plant version of “28 Days Later” or “Doomsday”.  They’re hideously ugly and have an aura I can only describe as feeling like undiluted, pure hate.  In a similar was to the Borg, they are seemingly linked to a single hive mind, intent on destroying all houseplant life on my bedroom window sill.  I’m half expecting the US to target my flat with a Cruise Missile, in an effort to destroy them before they take over the world.  I’ve not quite worked out how to get rid of them yet.  Negotiation has so far proved futile.  Strangely, my Cyclamen seems little effected by their malevolent presence thus far and is currently presenting me with 15 beautiful, pink flowers, although its leaves drip with a rancid, putrid slime that could have come from Hell itself.  I’ve got to rid my plant of them, and in a way that doesn’t leave any opportunity for a sequel!  After facing this crisis, this movie seems a bit tame.

2004  –  Certificate: 18  –  USA
Rating Details: Strong bloody violence

I’d forgotten just how good a thriller this film is.  So, it also gets credited for popularising torture porn, which later movies in the series do feature more heavily, but this one isn’t that explicitly gory.  It is however, clever, interesting and challenging.  Although I didn’t really care for the two main characters, I still worried about what was going to happen to them.  Sure they were flawed, annoying and a bit pathetic, but I was concerned enough about them that part of me wanted them to escape; no one deserves that much shit.  The film also does a good job of making the viewer feel a bit sorry for the perpetrator, too, which makes for a great set-up if you want to experience a range of feelings as things progress.  A great modern horror classic.

Recommended for fans of genuinely great thrillers and horrors.

No cats, decapitations or chainsaws.  There are a couple of hacksaws though.

Top badass moment?  It’s got to be Alison Gordon, fighting back against Zep and doing so pretty successfully.  With only the advantage of surprise, she manages to defend herself and her young daughter against a younger guy armed with a gun.  That’s got to be badass.  She’s had more balls that her pathetic husband, whose mindset was, “oh, my child and wife (whose back behind I’m having an affair) are in trouble; I know, I’ll cut my foot off.”  Yeh, good thinking Batman, give that man a cigar.

Saw at IMDB (7.7 / 10)

Cyclamen


The Entity: 4.5 Stars


The Entity  -  Front DVD CoverMy ability to remain busy doing nothing never fails to amaze me.  It’s not that I’m lazy or procrastinate a lot (well not often anyway), but time seems to just vanish at far too fast a rate for my taste.  They say time appears to go more quickly as you get older, which makes me feel really ancient.  Take today for example.  I got up quite late (okay around 10:30) and feel as if I haven’t stopped all day.  Yet a glance around the room makes me realise that I’ve spent nearly 12 hours doing absolutely nothing.  It’s not that I think I’ve wasted my time, it’s just that I can’t see the results of anything I’ve done, or remember doing anything that took even remotely like 12 hours to do.  All I’ve done is get up, cook lunch, take a photo, buy a few DVDs, write a posting in an online forum and answer a few online questionnaires.  I’ve no idea how I’ve managed to make that last 12 hours, especially as I know I didn’t spend any longer on any of those things than I actually needed to.  I think at the weekend I somehow get transferred into another dimension, where time goes more quickly.  (To be fair the same thing happens during the week too, when I’m at work and never have enough time to do what I want.)  Maybe I’m just slow, period.  How normal people with normal lives cope with everything I’ll never know.  This movie features ‘something’ from another plane of existence; but I swear it’s not me.

1981  –  Certificate: 18  –  USA
Rating Details: Language; Infrequent, Strong.  Sex/Nudity: Occasional, Strong.  Violence: Occasional, Strong.  Other: Horror, Sexual Assault

This is a genuinely great horror film.  It was one of the first horror DVDs I bought and is probably in my Top Ten horrors of all time.  And despite it going all a bit “Ghostbusters” at one point, it remains genuinely scary and horrifying.  It also has one of those classic bits of horror music, which in this case is little more than the same chord played over and over again, but the ugly violence of the sound really enhances the scenes it’s used in to up their impact.  The movie is based on what’s claimed to be real incidents in someone’s life, which gives it a bit of an unpleasant edge too. Barbara Hershey is great as our hero Carla Moran.  She convincingly portrays a whole range of emotions really well.  She also manages to vary her appearance too, from sexy and determined through to vulnerable and beaten.  Sadly, time hasn’t been so kind to the special effects, which definitely look dated now; the wobbly ice-cube thing near the end really has past its sell-by date.  It’s not the sort of film I can watch and then feel comfortable going into another room after, without quickly switch on the light.  However, the scariest thing of all is Doctor Phil Sneiderman, the psychiatrist who Carla goes to see.  He’s stalker-like attraction to Carla is pretty weasel-like; eew!  You expect poltergeists’ behavior to be kind of strange, but not your doctor’s.  What a weirdo.  I can’t imagine this film won’t be ‘reimagined’ at some point in the near future.

Recommended for fans of high quality, scary horror.

No cats, decapitations or chainsaws.

Top badass moment?  Has to be Carla Moran’s “I’ve finished running” monologue.  When you’ve got a supernatural being wanting to rape you, you’re trapped in a building with big containers of liquid helium suspended over your head and your bathed in stupid red lights and wailing sirens (courtesy of some dodgy scientists’ entirely superfluous “emergency mode” lighting), then calling the invisible baddie a bastard at that moment has got to be badass.  I think it probably just pissed him off though.

The Entity at IMDB (6.4)


Scream 2: 3.0 Stars


Scream 2  -  Front DVD CoverToday the world woke up to the fact that however good Polish workers are, you wouldn’t want to employ one to fix your roof.  This afternoon, England managed yet another lacklustre performance and gained a draw against Poland.  However, the real highlight of the football coverage came yesterday, watching ITV’s commentary team, lead by Adrian Chiles, desperately trying to fill two and a half hours, sitting in a studio watching it raining outside.  The highlight was Chiles’s genuine query to the rest of the team, “What’s the difference between heavy rain and a downpour?”  It gave a whole new meaning to the word “inane”.  Sadly, we were not treated to any great insight or wisdom on this matter either, which just goes to prove that men really can’t talk about anything other than football.  Although it has to be said that a group of men employed to commentate on an international football match probably do represent the pinnacle of male development, so it’s hardly surprising that something as complex as the weather might elude them.  I also enjoyed FIFAs attempts to entertain the crowd with its throw-back to the golden age of silent cinema; watching the referee regularly come out with a ball and then randomly throw it into the air and watch it land with a splash without bouncing, was a wonderful pastiche of the early greats, such as Charlie Chaplin Harold Lloyd and Buster Keaton.  It was raining, the pitch was clearly getting more and more waterlogged, what did he expect to happen? (If he was an astronaut he’d be the one to go outside and take off his helmet, just to check that there really wasn’t any air there.)  Not a smile did he flash either, not even for a moment; I couldn’t tell if he was totally raging inside at the futility of what he was being told to do, in front of millions of people, and getting soaked doing it, or he really was taking it very seriously.  Jeez, he needs to lighten up a bit.  He had all the demeanour of a detective investing a serious crime scene; which considering the nonsense with the automatically closing roof that they didn’t close, he sort of was.  This film also features a number of serious crime scenes.

1997  –  Certificate: 18  –  USA
Rating Details:  Strong Bloody Violence

Try as I might, I just can’t work up any real enthusiasm for this film.  I feel it ought to be a lot better than it is, which just added to my disappointment.  There’s nothing really wrong with it, but nothing really right with it either.  It just kind of exists because “Scream” exists, a bit like the relationship between dead leaves in autumn and trees.  It’s not really very scary, it’s not really very funny, it’s not really very gory and it’s not really very hip.  It doesn’t help that I get “Scream” and “Scary Movie” mixed up in my head, so in my mind it’s become a sort of inoffensive Frankenstein film made up of several others; (let’s not forget the two further sequels to “Scream” and the three sequels to “Scary Movie”.   That’s eight nearly identical films, so it’s no wonder I’m confused.   Watching it felt like one of things you just have to do from time to time, not something to get worked up about or anything, but just something you do and not give much thought to, like going to the toilet I guess.  What I did hate was that it was non-anamorphic, so with its widescreen aspect ratio I ended up watching a picture the size and shape of an enlarged match, without a head.  God, I can’t be bothered with anymore thinking about this film right now.

Recommended for people who saw Scream, I guess.

No cats, decapitations or chainsaws.

Top badass moment?   Whatever.  It might as well be Cotton Weary finally getting what he wanted (greedy asshole) and becoming a sort of hero(ish).  That’s badass(ish). 

Scream 2 at IMDB (6.0/10)


Evil Alien Conquerors: 3.0 Stars


Evil Alien Conquerors  -  Front DVD CoverOn the way back from a meeting today I had to drive across the Vale of Oxford, a rolling landscape of large fields and not a lot of trees or hedges.  It does however, provide some quite panoramic views of the sky.  Today I was accompanied on my journey by one of the scariest clouds I’ve ever seen.  An enormous line of meteorological anger, brightly illuminated by the sun, pushing huge, white fists of fury high up into sky above.  It was like the very Gates of Hell had opened across the Berkshire Downs and pure evil was boiling up from the ground below and into the heavens.  No really, it was that awe-inspiring!  A true litany of terror* stretched out before my eyes; Mother Nature telling us not to fuck with her any more.  I was put in mind of the clouds in “Independence Day” that the spaceships then appear out of, before the alien scum inside them start to trash the Earth.  (I’ve always liked the expression “alien scum”; I got it from Activision’s BattleZone 2 Combat Commander that was released in 1999, which is still my favourite all-time computer game.)  I was expecting Reading to be wiped off the map this afternoon by a deluge so awesome that Noah would have wimped out.  However, in the end it rained for about five minutes.  I wish I’d taken a photo, but my camera is totally broken now so I need to buy a new one.  This film is about aliens that seem to want to destroy the Earth and is also awesome, but not in quite the same way. *A quote from this film.

2003  –  Certificate: PG-13  –  USA
Rating Details: Crude and sexual humor including dialogue

This movie is dumb.  This movie is stupid.  This movie isn’t really very funny.  Having said all that, it is actually quite entertaining.  It also contains plenty of quotable lines too, which you’ll be able to have hours of fun using should you be lucky enough to find another human being somewhere who’s seen it too.  “Not a problem” I felt was particularly helpful and would have a number of ‘real-world’ applications.  “Enthuse for Rabirr” probably has a more limited range of specialist uses.  Anyway, it’s got a 100’ tall giant called Croker (who’s probably the funniest thing in it),  one of the most ineffective ray guns in any sci-fi film ever and some less than subtle product placement.  Another plus is the version of the theme tune played at the end.  This is by Nerf Herder, which was also responsible for the theme to TV’s “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” and is the 2nd best band on the planet.  A high-quality B-movie; if there is such a thing. 

 Recommend for anyone who secretly likes to watch a totally dumb film once in a while.

No cats and 2 decapitations.  (There’re also two heads that sort of get vaporised).  I have to say that the decapitation count is a little disappointing, considering that at one stage during the film we’re promised around 5.8 billion of them; which is probably the most in any film ever.

Top badass moment?  However stupid those threatening to use them were, the cow’s determination not to give in to chainsaw and machete wielding aliens, was badass;  its badass enough to make Ronald McDonald join the Vegetarian Society.  (I probably should have rewritten that sentence, it’s a bit of a mess syntaxically.  Oh, and now it contains a made-up word too.  I’m just digging the hole deeper and deeper…)

Evil Alien Conquerors at IMDB (4.7)


Date Movie: 2.5 Stars


Date Movie  -  Front DVD CoverIf you’re crap at interviews, you’ll probably never get a decent job, however good you are at anything else.  It’s how The Man has decided the world works, and that’s that.  So the next time you see a bit of dole-ite scum hanging about up to no good (and probably planning some scam to rip off all the hardworking members of society), then just remember what separates you from him/her.  In the same way, if you’re no good on dates, you’ll probably never get a decent boyfriend/girlfriend etc.  I like to remember these two facts when I’m reviewing my progress towards the mountain-top of life.  I’m incredibly intelligent, perceptive, knowledgeable, witty, charming, generous, sexy, handsome, thoughtful, sympathetic, understanding, empathic and generally a great guy, yet somehow I’ve failed to become chief executive of anything, or found anyone desperate enough to put up with me on a ‘social basis’ for very long.  I put this down to the two small flaws I have, which just happen to relate to interviews, (I forget everything I know and insult the organisation I’m attempting to get a job with) and dates, (I suddenly can’t think of anything interesting to say and end up staring into space or at her breasts).  None of these attributes are very helpful at the time, even though and somewhat ironically, if you are successful with both you’ll end up spending a great deal of time moaning about the organisation you work for and staring at your partner’s body.  For every one of life’s Edmund Hillarys, there’s a load of us stuck in the foothills, getting lost and trying to find the pub before it closes.  And speaking of dates…

2006  –  Certificate: 15  –  USA
Rating Details:  Moderate sex reference, gross humour and strong language once

This isn’t a very good comedy.  It’s funny in places, but for every ‘funny bit’ there’re two ‘embarrassingly stupid and shit bits’ to balance it out.  (By the way, these last two phrases are examples of film critics’ technical jargon, so don’t worry if you don’t fully understand them.)  I really wanted to like this film, a lot.  It stars the world’s most beautiful woman (Alyson Hannigan), who coincidentally shares my birthday.  (My card from her must have got lost in the post this year, again.)  Even when she’s really fat in the movie, she’s beautiful.  (Am I even allowed to say fat these days?  Perhaps I’m meant to say slimmingly-challenged or something?)  It has houmous-based jokes in it as well and houmous is one of the five great foods of the world; and some cats too.  So it had a lot going for it.  Maybe I just don’t watch enough romance comedies so didn’t understand the subtleties and the entomology of the highbrow humour involved?  Yes, I’m sure that’s it.  Or maybe it was the gross beefburger scene and the fact that Sophie Monk (who plays the sexy Andy and is a vegetarian in real life) rubs them all over herself and chews some too.  Nice.  Not.  Beefburgers are a lot of things, most of them bad, but what they’re not is sexy; if they were, McDonalds would have exploited the fact by now.  On the other hand, it does have loads of extras on the DVD, so it might be worth missing out on watching the film ‘proper’ and going straight to these instead; the anti-commentary by two film critics who also didn’t think it was that great, is worth a listen.  I watched the “Unseen Version” too, so got to enjoy over two minutes more of the most raunchy parts.  Lucky me…

Recommended for people who spend way too much time watching chick-flicks.

6 cats (plus 2 pretend ones) and no decapitations. Cute, especially the grey one, but I have to say the pretend puppet cats are vile.  It’s like watching some sort of cat-Frankenstein movie.  Listen up Hollywood.  Cats.  On.  Toilets.  Farting.  Simply.  Aren’t.  Funny.

Top badass moment?  Tricky.  Okay, I give up.  There isn’t one.  Well maybe Carmen Electra being covered in King Kong snot is, but that’s in the deleted scenes so I’m not sure it counts; I’ve no idea why it’s badass anyway, but she’s wearing a leopard-print bikini when it happens, so who cares?

Date Movie at IMDB (2.6)