Posts tagged “Canada

Lars and the Real Girl / Doing Less Than Nothing


Lars and the Real Girl  -  Front DVD cover  -  US Release

Sometimes you find love where you’d least expect it.  Just ask Lars (Academy Award Nominee Ryan Gosling), a sweet but quirky guy who thinks he’s found the girl of his dreams in a life-sized doll named Bianca.  Lars is completely content with his artificial girlfriend, but when he develops feelings for Margo, an attractive co-worker, Lars finds himself lost in a hilariously unique love triangle, hoping to somehow discover the real meaning of true love.  You’ll be swept off your feet by “Lars and the Real Girl”, hailed as “One of the Year’s 10 Best” by The Associated Press.

2007  –  Certificate: PG-13  –  American Film
Rating Details:  Some Sex-Related Content
8.0 out of 10

I’m on something called Annual Leave at the moment.  This is a strange, but rather welcome concept through which I get paid my salary to do sod all.  In fact for the last two days I’ve done even less than that and in doing so have actually discovered a new physics, which I’ve decided to call “Anti-nothing”.  This is a weird, quantum effect wherein you can actually do less than nothing at all.  It’s pretty scary stuff too.  It’s only through washing my sleeping bag at one point that I avoided crossing over the non-event horizon and falling into some sort of parallel dimension where no one does anything ever.  I’ve never been there myself, although I think I’ve met a few people who have.  Doing nothing has given me the time to enjoy the view out of my window a little more than usual.  I’ve notice a huge, bright orange building that has suddenly spring up amongst the trees that I’ve never seen before.  There’re also a couple of cars in the car park that have had most of their windows smashed in, which are accompanied by a number of dented panels.  I’ve no idea what the story is behind them, but they’ve been sitting there, neatly parked, side by side for several days now, and resemble a couple that have had a row and now aren’t speaking to one another.  Whoever owns then hasn’t even bothered to sweep up the glass or block up the holes.  Weird.  I’ve also observed the police dealing with who I imagine is my local drug dealer.  They spent ages searching him and his car yesterday morning; I watched all the action through my binoculars.  The good thing is that the car has gone now, because it’s been frequently and annoying parked just where I turn in.  There’s never a dull moment around here!  This movie has none of these exciting things in it, yet it’s still very entertaining.

This is basically a comedy-drama about a guy who buys a blow-up sex doll to have as his girlfriend.  Now I’ll readily admit that I’m not an expert in such ‘things’, but I’m willing to bet that most who are don’t take them outside to meet other people very often.  Although we live in relatively enlightened times, I’m not sure the world is quite ready for ‘significant others’ down the pub, at the shops or in the cinema, who are made of silicon and rubber and have lifelike ‘bits’ under their clothes.   It’s probably acceptable in the Star Trek version of the far future and in Japan right now, but for the rest of us it’s a bit of a social faux pas.  But this film sees Ryan Gosling doing exactly that.  This would all seem to suggest that this movie’s going to be full of smutty innuendo and body-function-based humour.  Actually it’s nothing like that at all.  It’s much more of a study of how one individual starts to recover from a life-long difficulty in relating to people.  Yes it is very funny at times, but it’s also quite moving too.  I really like Ryan Gosling and he seems to totally nail the part in this film.  The plot does start to stretch the boundaries of realism, especially towards the end, but it’s well written, acted and made.  Kelli Garner is very cute too.  An original, well-observed and great film.  It’s got one of the worst titles ever though.

The soundtrack is fine for what it is, but isn’t very memorable.

The trailer makes this movie seem more of a comedy than it really is.  It probably has most of the best jokes in it.

Recommended for people who work in builders’ merchants, mums-to-be, parents that want to have to explain what a “Living Doll” is to their offspring whilst watching the movie, and anyone who works in an office with people who clutter their desks with toys.  (I despair at some of my own colleagues, who stick lumps of brightly coloured fur-with-eyes to their monitors and clutter their work spaces with animal-based, plastic fripperies and desk tidies full of virtually unusable and hideously ugly pens.)

No cats, chainsaws or decapitations.

Top badass moment?  In the same way as I’ve never met anyone who’s admitted to voting for UKIP, I’ve never met anyone who’s admitted to using a blow-up sex doll. However, given the number of votes and sales associated with both, I probably have unknowingly met quite a few.  So it’s a pretty badass thing to take your blow-up girlfriend out and about with you, especially if you start to have conversations with her in public too.  (I’m not so sure voting for UKIP is though.)

Lars and the Real Girl at IMDB (7.4/10)
Lars and the Real Girl at Wikipedia
Lars and the Real Girl at Roger Ebert (3.5/4)
Lars and the Real Girl trailer at YouTube


Death Wish V: The Face of Death / MxPx at the Underworld


Death Wish 5  -  Front DVD Cover  -  Canadian Release

Paul Kersey has been retired from vigilantism for several years. Under an assumed identity, he’s adopted a new life as a teacher in a small town college outside New York.  Paul is a changed man.  He’s even fallen in love and become engaged to Olivia, a former fashion model turned industrial entrepreneur.  But fate won’t leave Kersey alone.  On a visit to Manhattan he finds himself caught in the middle of a street shootout.  Then he learns that his fiancé is a victim of a protection racket run by her ex-husband mobster Tommy O’Shea.  When Olivia goes to the district attorney for help, Tommy has her disfigured, then brutally killed.  Once again, Kersey becomes the relentless vigilante.  Only this time, instead of relying only on his .357, Kersey uses some creative technology to avenge his lover’s murder!

1994  –  Certificate: 18A  –  American Film
7.0 out of 10

Went to see MxPx at the Camden Underworld last night.  That’s the fourth time I’ve seen MxPx since 2005, although the last time was in 2008.  It only has one of the original members left these days, at least as a touring band.  I like the Underworld.  It has a capacity of 500, the sound’s decent, the vibe’s good, there’s no crash barrier in front of the stage and the beer isn’t too extremely priced for a London venue; (it was £4.20 for a pint of cider yesterday, even though I do have the distinct feeling that the price varies from gig to gig).  It’s the gig venue I go to most often.  Unlike the 100 Club, the concrete pillars that’re in front of the stage (they hold the building above up) don’t seem to get in the way too much.  It has a decent raised area around the dance floor too, with a railing that’s good for leaning on when you want to watch a band and don’t want to get your drink spilt.   It even seems to have got some new signs outside recently, so you can actually tell it’s there!  It was a lot of fun, even though I felt a bit ‘slow’.  I think I’ve been to see too many old bands and reggae groups recently; I’ve forgotten how fast punk rock can be live.  There were a lot of young women crowd surfing last night; clearly the new ‘no stage diving / crowd surfing’ poster stuck on one of the concrete pillars wasn’t having much effect.  There was also a young chap with his mum there too, right at the front; it’s a 14+ venue but he didn’t look any older than 12 to me.  He went for a surf too at one point.  That’s one cool mum.  It’s also been quite a while since I’ve seen so many happy people at a gig.  Nearly everyone seem to be so pleased just to be there, which was rather nice.  I can’t be bothered with miserable sods at gigs these days.  Got wacked the mouth at one point in the most pit so have a bit of a fat lip today, but that’s okay.  Charles Bronson does more than that to people in this movie.  (This is probably just as well, as otherwise it would have been a very boring vigilante film.)

Another year and another of Paul Kersey’s relationships ends with a rape and/or murder.  Some people seem to be born unlucky.  This, the last Death Wish film, doesn’t break the cycle.  Released in 1994, it’s a film that now looks and feels its age, in fact older; some of the story is a bit silly too.  However, Tommy O’Shea is one of the ‘forgotten’ badass movie baddies.  It’s worth watching for him alone.  In fact it has quite a few good characters in it.  Paul Kersey is a strange guy, even ignoring his habit of blowing away underworld scum.  Here he is, engaged to Olivia Regent, who has a young daughter.  Olivia is a ‘big deal’ in the New York fashion industry, (and about 30 years younger than him).  Yet he doesn’t seem to know very much about her ex-husband or even to have met him before, yet he turns out to be ‘Mr. Big’ when it comes to extorting money through controlling the local fashion industry and Olivia’s company in particular; as well as being her daughter’s father.  You would have thought they might have talked about him just a bit at some point; it hardly struck me as a whirlwind romance.

I didn’t much care for the soundtrack, but for the film itself it’s a great fit and helps to set the mood well.  In that sense it’s a bit like rain; it’s a pain in the arse when I want to do something outside, but it helps make things grow.

This film has a great trailer.  In fact, if someone ever makes a trailer about me, I want the guy who does the voiceover on this one to do mine.

Recommended for fashion designers and entrepreneurs, vigilantes, ineffective police officers and gangsters.

No cats, chainsaws or decapitations.

Top badass moment?  Charles Bronson and one of the best ‘forgotten’ movies baddies ever, Tommy O’Shea, face off in the last Death Wish film.  There’s enough badass action in this movie for you to need a rectal examination after watching it.  Charles Bronson was 74 (I think) when he made this film.  If he got involved in setting governmental pension policies, I doubt any old grannies would be dying from hyperthermia in winter because they couldn’t afford to put their heating on.  That would be badass too.

Death Wish V: The Face of Death at IMDB (4.6 / 10)
Death Wish V: The Face of Death at Wikipedia
Death Wish V: The Face of Death trailer at YouTube


Alone in the Dark / Working for Fighter Command


Alone in the Dark  -  Front DVD Cover  -  US ReleaseEdward Carnby (Christian Slater) is a private investigator specializing in unexplainable supernatural phenomena.  His cases delve into the dark corners of the world, searching for truth in the occult remnants of ancient civilizations.  Now, the greatest mystery of his past is about to become the most dangerous case he has ever faced.  With the help of his ex-girlfriend, archaeologist Aline Cedrac (Tara Reid), and his bitter rival, government agent Richard Burke (Stephen Dorff), Edward is about to learn that just because you don’t believe in something doesn’t mean it cannot kill you!

2005  –  Certificate Not Rated  –  German/Canadian Film
4.0 out of 10

I hate this time of year.  It’s not just the fact that all the good bits of the winter are over and it’s still months until the summer; or the fact that I’ve got no money as I squandered it over the Christmas period; or even that there’s hardly ever any decent gigs to go to.  No, it’s also the time of year when everyone I care for dies and my relationships always end.  On top of all this, it’s when we write our Financial Plan at work too.  The latter is less a mathematical exercise and more a futile attempt to predict the future; (and the scale of my successes in the National Lottery over the past 20 years nicely demonstrates how well my precognitive abilities have been developed).  The process bares all the hallmarks of Fighter Command at the height of the Battle of Britain, wondering where the next plane or pilot is going to come from, as its fully committed assets are quickly depleted.  The consequences of all this is that it generally feels like we’re looking into a dark, bottomless abyss, as the world as we know it ends.  (Although on the up side, we are still here after nearly 55 years).  More to the point, I have to spend this afternoon and evening working, because I’ve been told to move loads of numbers about in mine; I’m not sure why, they won’t get any bigger however many times I move them.  This film is also about the end of the world as we know it.

Other than all the things and people I hate, despise or loathe, I like to think of myself as a pretty easy-going, laid-back, tolerant guy.  But even I have my limits and this film has just reached one.  What makes things worse is that it could have been really good.  The story’s fine (it’s based on a computer game), the effects are decent enough (the gun-shot one borders on impressive) and even I’ve heard of its three, principal actors.  Christian Slater was the Communications Officer on the Excelsior for goodness sake; it’s not the most challenging bridge job around that’s true, but it was on Captain Sulu’s ship so that must count for something.  And Tara Reid, the Choir Chick from “American Pie”, gets given some glasses to wear, so she can look intelligent and thus play the part of an archaeologist.  The chase scene, (once we’ve got over the longest “Star Wars” like preamble in cinematic history), is actually pretty good too.  Unfortunately, the characters are so poorly written that the Oxford English Dictionary is considering using them as part of its official definition of one-dimensional.  The Alpha Male rivalry between Richard Burke and Edward Carnby is a key plot element.  (Edward used to work with Richard, so consequently they scowl at one another a lot.)  It’s probably fair to say they don’t get on, aren’t each others’ friends on Facebook and don’t send one another Christmas cards, not even e-cards.  Then, in the middle of a big battle Edward shoots a ‘bad guy’ who’s coming up behind Richard.  The latter gives Edward a brief nod of gratitude.   This incident is never acknowledged or further developed, but from then on they’re instantly the best of buddies.  Is that what it takes to remove years of personal animosity?  Maybe I’ve entirely missed some sort of gay subplot, which would explain a great many things, as well as why Edward and Aline are ex-lovers. The whole film is littered with a garbage script and stereotypical characters that act in nonsensical ways.  I especially enjoyed the Abkani (they’re the bad guys) charging towards some soldiers and then basically stopping a few metres in front of them to growl and throw their limbs around a lot, thus allowing the latter to blast away at them for ages and ages; not that the sight of thousands of rounds of ammunition fired at point blank range not seeming to have much of an effect, puts them off trying.  When I see a movie like this I want to really believe the world is about to end, not keep glancing at the clock to see how long I’ve been watching it for.  So basically it’s great, except for the characters and everything they say or do…

It has a Scandinavian, heavy metal soundtrack.  Nightwish aside, this tells you a lot.  Listen up.  Heavy metal (and all its sub-genera) should never be used for any film with a budget of over $500,000, ever.  It’s just not right.

The trailer’s like the rest of the movie; it seems to promise lots but contains nothing.

Recommended for archaeologists, private investigators, ‘Government agents’ and anyone who wears glasses to look intelligent.

No cats, chainsaws or decapitations.

Top badass moment?  At one point Steven Dorff throws a bit of a wobbly.  He picks up a few bits of paper (probably the script), scans them briefly and then pushes over a table and screams out, “My guys are dying out there for nothing; for fucking nothing!”  Seeing an actor demonstrate a high level of emotional intelligence by empathising with the audience whilst also staying in character, just has to be badass.

Alone in the Dark at IMDB (2.3 / 10)
Alone in the Dark at Wikipedia
Alone in the Dark at YouTube

No trailer I’m afraid, thanks to YouTube blocking the video.  Liongate clearly doesn’t want anyone to find out about this film!


Defendor / Going Back to Work


Defendor  -  Front DVD Cover  -  UK ReleaseArthur Poppington (Woody Harrelson, “2012”) doesn’t need super powers or fancy toys to fight crime.  Armed only with a childlike sense of wonder and his quirky arsenal of cheap, home-made gadgets, he becomes “Defendor”!   He finds an unexpected partner when he rescues and falls for a local prostitute (Kat Dennings, “Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist”).  Can the two of them take down the city’s most fearsome crime boss without getting killed in the process?

2009  –  Certificate 15  –  Canadian Film
Strong language, sex references and drug use
8.5 out of 10

I’ve got to go back to work tomorrow.  At the moment it feels I’d have more chance of launching a 20 tonne satellite into space with an elastic band, than being able to work productively when I get into the office.  But I’m sure once I arrive, inspired by the latest tales about the England Cricket Team’s fighting spirit, I’ll soon be protecting the Earth once again from all manner of ‘bad guys and stuff’.  (That really is my job.)  I can sometimes feel a little ill-equipped for my mission though.  I guess in many respects that makes me a lot more like Defendor than Superman; just a few toys, homemade gadgets and no superpowers.  I have a quote on the wall in my office that says, “Do you ever find yourself striving for perfection with a virtually worthless attempt at it?”  I like to think it’s inspirational.  Indeed the whole song it’s taken from (“Lemon Water” by Guttermouth) is inspirational and can be applied to very many situations in life.

Billed as a comedy, this movie has quite a dark heart, whilst it highlights the value of friendship and sticking to what you believe in.  I was a bit worried that having a lead character with a mental illness might make it a bit uncomfortable to watch, but actually it more or less gets away with it; it quickly ceases to be anything more than a facet of Arthur’s make up and is rarely mentioned explicitly, other than on a couple of occasions where it fits appropriately into the scenes.  This is one of those films that after the first 15 minutes or so I thought I was watching a bit of an Edsel; but then it started to get good.  The final scene is pretty powerful and for a superhero film about a guy with no superpowers who takes on a ‘crime boss’, quite realistic.  This isn’t exactly a kid’s film, as it’s full of drug references and swearing, as well as quite a bit of violence too.  It’s not as good as the amazingly brilliant “Super”, but it’s most definitely worth watching.  If it has a weakness then it’s probably that it takes time for Arthur’s/Defendor’s character to settle down into someone understandable, but once it does you’ll be right behind him.  In many ways he’s as much a tortured soul as Batman, only he doesn’t realise it.  I love films like this.  I can relate to them.

I really like this movie’s soundtrack.  There’s not a lot to it really and it could so easily have ended up as a parody of what superhero films should sound like, but in fact it’s really good.  It makes a big difference when it matters.  I even went out and bought the track that plays over the first half of the end credits too. 

This trailer is a decent enough, although it probably plays down the darker elements of the film and instead highlights the comedy.

Recommended for superheroes (obviously), prostitutes, corrupt police, drug barons and ‘nice guys’.

No cats, chainsaws or decapitations.

Top badass moment?  Nearly all superheroes are badass and Defendor’s no exception.  Going after the city’s crime boss armed with only a few marbles and wasps is pretty ballsy; it’s also one of the most stupid things you can probably do too.  Monumental stupidity is always badass.

Defendor at IMDB (6.8 / 10)
Defendor at Wikipedia
Defendor at YouTube


Rock ‘n’ Roll Nightmare / Bread Nightmare


Rock 'n' Roll Nighmare  -  Front DVD Cover  -  US ReleaseA hot new rock group… their sexy young girlfriends…  It should’ve been the best time of their lives, but it ended up being a “Rock ‘n’ Roll Nightmare”!  Recording some new music in an isolated farmhouse, the band gets more than they bargained for when something horrifying stirs in the darkness.  Eternal evil haunts this place and the band members start turning into demons from Hell itself!  After a day of making music – and making love – this band is starting to break up… one by one… limb by limb.  The bands lead singer, John (Jon-Mikl Thor) Triton, holds the key to defeating this horror once and for all… a secret that culminates in a battle between good and evil!  Triton versus the Devil himself!  This is it!  The hard rock cult sensation “Rock ‘n’ Roll Nightmare” finally explodes onto home video in this amazing Synapse Films Special Edition!  Available for the first time on DVD with rockin’ special features, a killer high-definition video transfer from the original negative and a brain-melting re-mastered 5.1 Dolby Digital soundtrack!  Featuring head-banging heavy-metal music by rock sensation Jon-Mikl Thor and some amazing visual and special make-up effects!

1987  –  Certificate: R  –  Canadian Film
5.5 out of 10

Bread is the spawn of the Devil.  It’s full of salt and shit calories, doesn’t fill you up one bit, tastes really nice and goes with everything.  Its one purpose is to make people fat.  I eat too much bread.  I can’t help it, I’m addicted to it.  There, I’ve said it now.  That’s the first step on the journey to recovery, so I’m regularly told at the Bread Eaters Anonymous meetings I attend.  Drugs, drink, smoking, gambling and Internet porn all pale into insignificance next to the horrors of a bread addiction.  Like cannabis, it comes it a range of different forms that can be utilised in many ways, loafs, baguettes, ciabattas, roti, French, soda, the list is endless.  Over nine million loafs are sold in the UK every day, as it invades 99% of households and infests them with its evil will, controlling minds and corrupting children in the form of sandwiches, baps and warm, crusty rolls.  That’s sick.  Like the Devil, it has a range of names, such as Allinson, Mother’s Pride, Hovis and Warburtons.  It even has a ‘good cop bad cop’ vibe, with the wholemeal vs white ‘thing’ going on.  It’s also got its own illness too, coeliac disease.  Bread will ultimately lead to the downfall of humans.  However, starting today I’m fighting back against this foul sputum of malevolence and bringer of despair.  Yes, it’s time for another one of my stupid, home-made diet plans!  From now on I’m not going to eat any bread, unless I make it myself.  Let it do its worst, I’m ready for it.  This movie is also about dealing with the Devil.

This is a film that tries to present its main characters as a kick-ass, mother of a rock band.  Indeed, Jon-Mikl Thor is such a character for real and has a bigger chest than most women.   Sadly, as everyone now knows, 80’s ‘rock bands’ were nothing but posers with big hair, who wrote uniformly crap songs.  Like monkeys on typewriters, they occasionally produced something worth listening to, but generally the results were not pretty.  This film does nothing to challenge that observation.  However, its worst offence is to have the band’s leader exhibit all the rock and roll excess of a successful estate agent.  I’m pretty sure that at one point he said everyone should get a good night’s sleep and then did some washing up.  WTF?  Very much a B-movie, this does have some good points, but a lot of it really isn’t that great.  It is a bit endearing in its own way though and I’ve got a soft spot for films about bands and music.  I don’t want to spoil the ending, but it had a twist that is even worse than, “then he woke up and found it was all just a dream”.  Really, it’s that ridiculous.  It’s like they started making the film, decided it was a bit crap, so changed the plot entirely and ended up with something even worse.  Ironically, the DVD looks really good and has a nice cover and loads of extra.  Don’t forget to watch out for the ‘rubber starfish’ too.  Rather frighteningly, it has a sequel lurking out there somewhere.

As a film that’s focused on a band, the music ought to be as important as the characters.  There is a fair amount in it, but sadly it’s firmly grounded in the worst horrors of its time and place.  Prepare to be scared, very scared.

Recommended for bad motherfuckers, rock bands, hairdressers and the Devil.

No cats, chainsaws or decapitations.

Top badass moment?  John Triton fights and defeats the Devil.  Well I’m not sure about you, but I can’t help thinking that’s pretty badass.   Even Arnold Schwarzenegger struggled with that.

This film doesn’t seem to have a trailer, but this music video is sort of one.  But if you want to hear a really good song called “Energy“, check out this one by the Buzzcocks.

Rock ‘n’ Roll Nightmare at IMDB (3.9 / 10)

Rock ‘n’ Roll Nightmare  at Wikipedia

Rock ‘n’ Roll Nightmare at YouTube


Suck / A New Challenge


Suck  -  Front Blu-ray Cover  -  UK ReleaseThe greatest rock ‘n’ roll vampire comedy ever made, “Suck” stars rock royalty Alice Cooper, Iggy Pop and Henry Rollins, and brilliant performances from Moby and British screen legend Malcolm McDowell (“A Clockwork Orange”).   The Winners are a struggling band desperate to make it to the top and strike a record deal.  After another mediocre gig, Jennifer (Jessica Paré “Hot Tub Time Machine”) the sexy female bassist, disappears with a young vampire and returns the next morning sprouting fangs and a taste for blood.  One by one each member succumbs to the dark side and leaving a trail of lifeless groupies in their wake, they soon reach the heights of success that they could only dream of as mere mortals.

2009  –  Certificate: 15  –  Canadian Film
Rating Details: Strong language and comic gory horror
7.5 out of 10

Yesterday I walked to work at my new office for the first time.  No longer do I need to trek thousands of miles (well it felt like thousands) each day, face death as I cross the busy A4, deal with selfish pavement hogs along the Oxford Road, heroically climb ‘The Mountain’ or risk loss of sensory deprivation as I bisect the country-sized Tesco car park.  My journey now takes about 15 minutes and I don’t need to set up a series of resupply depots and emergency evac protocols to enable me to take the trip.  A number of other differences were apparent too.  For a start, I had to battle my way through two (yes two) school runs, as I passed two primary schools.  A pavement jam-packed with slow-moving mothers, toddlers in pushchairs and chaotic, hyper-active youngsters, who randomly change direction with no respect for The Rules.  I’m an experienced Pavement Warrior, but this was something else.  It’s only going to be a matter of time before I accidentally mow one of these tiny terrors down and end up in jail forever as a child killer.  Then there were the others, a mixture of students going to the Tesco Metro (I didn’t realise any got up that early) and men and women in business suits, power-walking into the centre of Reading.  On my previous journey, I’d count myself unlucky to be overtaken by even one person, but yesterday it happened twice, as I was left choking on the burning rubber left behind by the soles of two pairs of fast-moving, expensive shoes, worn by who I can only assume are relatives of Usain Bolt.  Unless I’m carrying a heavy bag, being overtaken by someone is a direct challenge to my sexuality, questions my prowess in bed and lessens my status as an Alpha Male.  Clearly more of a sprint than the marathon I’m used to, I’ll not be caught out next time.  Game on…  This film is about a group of people who make a change to how they do their job.

Sadly, this movie wasn’t so bad that I’m able to say it sucks.  Nether was it some sort of  unimaginatively named 70’s porn.  It’s actually quite a lot of fun and does feature a number of real rock stars amongst its cast.  (By the way, who originally came up with the expression “rock royalty”?  It’s an unspeakably dreadful term.)  The cast put in generally spirited performances and the whole thing is really quite endearing.  It’s got Malcolm McDowell in it as well, as vampire hunter Eddie Van Helsing; and let’s not forget that this is the guy who killed Captain Kirk!  That’s real ultra violence.  And while we’re on the Star Trek theme, it’s also got Ezri Dax in it.  Moby (who’s vegan and thus awesome), plays a character called Beef Bellows, lead singer of rock band The Secretaries of Steak.  See, even vegans have a sense of irony.  Jessica Paré, who plays bassist Jennifer, was a bit disappointing.  I’m not quite sure why, but she didn’t quite pull off the vampire diva ‘thing’ that was meant to propel the band to stardom.  Much more of a comedy than a horror, this movie’s a good excuse to while away 91 minutes of your life.

A film about a band needs to have good music, but unfortunately this one suffered a similar fate to so many others and features a lot of mediocre, bland, forgettable, indie rock.  It’s a film about a band of vampires, but the music’s about as gothic as One Direction.  The performances are pretty good though.

Recommended for rock stars, would-be rock stars and vampires (and the undead in general).

No cats, chainsaws or decapitations.

Top badass moment?  Nicole de Boer has a part in this film.  That’s badass.

Suck at IMDB (5.9 / 10)

Suck at Wikipedia

Suck at YouTube


Godsend / Magnolia Hell


Godsend  -  Front DVDCover  -  UK ReleaseStarring screen legend Robert De Niro, “Godsend” is the story of an eight year old boy named Adam Duncan.  A kind, thoughtful and well-behaved child, he’s the apple of his parent’s eye, until one day he’s knocked down by a car and tragically killed.  With both parents totally grief-stricken, the mysterious Dr Richard Wells (De Niro) offers them another chance of happiness.  He can create a clone of Adam that will be identical to the child they lost.  Nine months later they have their child back.  Identical in every way, it’s like Adam had never left them.  He has his mother’s eyes, his father’s smile, but when he crosses the age at which he died, terrifying things begin to happen.

2004  –  Certificate: 15  –  American Film
Rating Details:  Language: once strong.  Sex/nudity: infrequent moderate.  Violence: infrequent moderate.  Other: moderate horror.
8.0 out of 10

Whilst I have a lot of sympathy for Jean-Paul Sartre’s view that “Hell is other people”, he failed to take into account their surroundings.  After this last week I now know that Hell is less to do with people, or fire and brimstone for that matter; in fact Hell is a large room painted magnolia.  In the same way as the Devil has a variety of different names, such as Satan, Beelzebub, Lucifer, etc, so magnolia disguises it’s presence amongst us as alternatives like light brown, biscuit, white with a touch of brown, beige, mushroom, wheat, taupe, fawn and harvest.  This week we moved our office at work, (or more accurately moved everything in our office to a different building to use as a new office; we didn’t actually dig up the existing one and put it elsewhere).  Moving is a stressful and spirit-sapping experience at the best of times, but when you have to paint every single surface, including the floor (about 500 square metres in all) before you leave, in three days, mostly magnolia, then you come to realise what pain is really all about.  The only respite was repainting the ceiling, doors, door frames, skirting boards and 12 radiators, white.  And painting something white on a white background in a weakly lit area isn’t exactly my idea of a fun day at Alton Towers either.  In fact the only facet of pleasure came from deciding which shade of gray to paint the floor, slate or frigate; and after magnolia, gray is the next worst colour.  I imagine there are more advanced species in the universe that have, in a similar way to smallpox, totally eradicated magnolia and grey from existence.  Magnolia is the distilled essence of evil.  However, for some reason there are many sick-minded and weak-willed individuals who appear to gain a sort of inner peace from using this colour.  Why?  What’s wrong with them?  Appearing initially to be the colour equivalent of elevator music, any close encounter with it soon dispels any pretence it has of being ‘neutral’.  It’s a vile, boring, sick, nauseating abomination, which is as attractive as having a squashed, pregnant cockroach smeared on your mouth; and then some.  And why is it always the cheapest paint you can buy?  The artificial distortion of the paint market in this way is clearly the work of some ungodly power.  If our media had any real balls, it would be investigating this bizarre and unwarranted proliferation of magnolia; it’s destroying lives.  In a similar way, this film is about something that goes against the laws of nature and scared the crap out of me too.

At its core, this is a thriller/horror about a disturbing, eight-year-old skinhead called Adam, who develops a mental illness of some sort.  The reasons for the latter are, unusual.  The rest of its runtime is spent faffing about with his parents and Robert De Niro, as they act and react to what Adam gets up to.  If you analyse the plot too much, you’ll come to the conclusion that some of it doesn’t really make a lot of sense.  Visually it’s not a very exciting film either; it looks a lot like it was ‘made for TV’ with a colour pallet that’s far too much like magnolia for my liking.  However, the acting’s pretty good and the story interesting enough.  The decision of the parents to have a clone of their recently killed son created is worthy of further study.  This part of the film could easily have been the whole story, but because it’s not it does get treated a bit superficially, which is a shame really.  What the movie does do really well is be creepy. I’m sure I aged a few years watching it, which is a somewhat alarming thought.  It’s one of the most unsettling films I’ve watched for quite a while.

The soundtrack is unmemorable, yet works well.  Job done.

Recommended for dodgy doctors, desperate parents, teachers, photographers and eight-year-olds that want to freak their parents out.  And clones of course.

No cats, chainsaws or decapitations.

Top badass moment?  We all know that a good teacher can change someone’s life, but in this film we also learn that it can literally save your own life too.  I sometimes provide training as part of my job and like most things I suck at it.  I’ve never managed to impart a single bit of knowledge to anyone and tying to do so has never saved my life or changed anyone else’s for the better.  So I guess being a good teacher is badass.

Godsend at IMDB (4.7 / 10)

Godsend at Wikipedia

Godsend at YouTube


Lost and Delirious / The End of Summer


Lost and Delirious  -  Front DVD Cover  -  UK ReleaseShy, unassuming teenager Mary ‘Mouse’ Bedford (Mischa Barton, “The OC”, “St. Trinian’s”) is enrolled at a prestigious all-girls’ boarding school.  Upon arrival, she is welcomed by her two attractive and sexually adventurous roommates, the carefree Tori (Jessica Paré, “Wicker Park”) and excitable Paulie (Piper Perabo, “Coyote Ugly”, “The Cave”).  Mary soon discovers that Tori and Paulie are embroiled in a passionate relationship, yet when Tori’s younger sister finds out and threatens to break the secret to her friends and family, Tori breaks off the relationship.  Unable to deal with losing the other half to her whole, Paulie will do anything to get her ex-girlfriend back, even if it means risking her own life…  A deeply moving and acclaimed film from the director of the award-winning “Emporte-Moi”, Léa Pool’s “Lost and Delirious” features a trio of young and talented actresses burning up the screen years before they went on to break Hollywood.

2001  –  Certificate: 15  –  Canadian Film
10 out of 10

I closed my bedroom window yesterday.  There’s nothing especially unusual about that, except I did it in the morning and I wasn’t going out anywhere.  The click of the handle had a certain finality about it.  As I repositioned the pot plants on the sill, I was struck with the thought that this was probably the last time I’d do so for many, many months, as the weather has got a lot colder in the last few days.  The final closing of the year is one of the Five Signs That Summer Has Ended and that the winter, with all its months of gloom, damp and cold, is fast approaching.  Winter sucks; like old age, it has almost no real benefits.  All that rubbish about those crisp, bright, winter days.  Bollocks. They’re bloody cold, only last five minutes before the sun sets again and coming home from gigs at night soaked in sweat is a truly miserable experience.  It’s going to be especially hard to cope with this year, as we actually had a really lovely summer.  The carefree, happy days are at an end; fast approaching is the vindictive malevolence that is winter.  The season of Hell is nearly upon us.  And as for autumn, it’s just the rubbish bin of summer, containing the dead leaves and trash of good times past.  This film is also about the passing of time, the loss of a relationship and an inability to cope with it.

I love this movie.  If I had a Top 20 list of films, this one would probably be in it.  On first impressions it looks like it’s going to be a bit crappy and should only appeal to me because of its girl-on-girl action.  Set in a posh girls’ (very liberal) boarding school full of rich kids in Canada (so there’s not a lot there for me to relate to), the first 30 minutes or so are pretty mundane.  Yes it’s got girls in school uniforms and the main characters are in a same-sex relationship, but other than that it’s pretty forgettable.  But then it starts to get interesting…  This is a dark movie.  There’s a subtlety in it that only becomes apparent when you think about it afterwards.  It’s occasionally a bit melodramatic and the odd bit of dialogue doesn’t quite work, but it’s wonderfully acted and has a number of genuinely heartbreaking moments in it.  The use of Shakespeare and the hand-rearing of a Falcon as metaphors for the plot, are wonderfully interwoven into the story too.  The character of Paulie is so well written.  It’s quite strange considering she doesn’t superficially have anything in common with me, but I so totally ‘got it’ in terms of what she was going through.  I guess emotions and feelings aren’t very gender, age, culture or sexuality specific.  (It probably also means that I’m as messed up as she is and one day I’ll probably take it out on the world.)  There aren’t a lot of characters from films or books that I can fully relate to and understand, but she’s one of them.  Seeing her gradually lose the plot and take more and more bizzare actions to try to change the unchangeable, felt uncomfortably familiar.  Despite her acting like a total loser a lot of the time, there’s a strange kind of honour in Paulie’s behaviour that goes beyond what she does and its consequences.  Everyone should watch this movie.  And if you’re one of those people who really can’t accept same-sex relationships then just ignore it, as other than on a superficial level (and as a huge plot contrivance) it’s really not that important to the feel of the film.

The ability of this movie’s music to write words where there are none, without dominating the visuals or attempting to drag (rather than lead) the emotions, is really well done.  The mood shift provided in the scenes relating to the Falcon are very effective too.  And any film that features any music by Ani DiFranco can’t be bad.

Recommended for anyone who’s ever been dumped by someone they really, really, really loved.

No cats, chainsaws or decapitations.

Top badass moment?  There’s something very noble about doing something you know is going to fail and make you look really stupid, especially when it’s not funny.  You know you’re about to do it but still go ahead.  It’s probably got less to do with getting what you want, than demonstrating to yourself that you tried and remained true to your beliefs.  It’s ultimately futile and pretty pointless, but very, very badass.  And very Klingon too.

Lost and Delirious at IMDB (6.8 / 10)

Lost and Delirious at Wikipedia

Lost and Delirious at YouTube


Ginger Snaps 2: Unleashed / Amex Customer Service


Ginger Snaps  -  1-3  -  Front DVD Cover (Czech Release)Brigitte is the first work selflessly took care of his sister Hannah, who turned into a werewolf.  Now her suffering worse.  Sam’s sister Brigitte was infected!  In the full moon must figure out how to cure it to prevent further bloody rampage.  At least that’s how Google translates it from the Czech on the cover of my DVD.  I think it’s losing something…  Who’s Sam and why has Brigitte had a gender reassignment?  I don’t remember either of those in the film.  Wouldn’t the world be a much better place if everyone spoke the same language?  Ideally English…

2004  –  Certificate: 15 –  Canadian Film
7.5 out of 10

I have/had an American Express Nectar Credit Card; (that’s the Amex Card that plebs are allowed to have.)  Recently it decided to introduce an annual fee of £25 for the ‘privilege’ of having one.  I, like (I’ve no doubt) millions of other ‘outraged customers’ decided that I didn’t fancy paying for something I can get for free elsewhere.  So I rang up and cancelled it.  There are three things that make American Express ‘different’ to ‘other’ credit card companies (i.e. Visa and MasterCard); 1 – nowhere accepts Amex credits cards; 2 – they identify you as a shallow, egotistic, posh snob, who wants to flaunt his or her success in the face of others; 3 – they have good customer service.  So you can imagine my profound disappointment, when I got a letter a few days later confirming my cancellation.  The letter said; “We are sorry you have decided to cancel your Nectar Credit Card.  For this reason we have cancelled your Nectar Credit Card account as you requested.”  So basically it’s cancelled the card because it’s sorry I’ve decided to cancel the card?  What would have happened if it hadn’t been sad?  Would it had continued to force me to have it and pay £25 a year for doing so?  It seems good customer service stops when you leave.  And yes, I realise that that’s a bit of a boring tale without much of a punch line.  Mountains and mole hills come to mind.

Ginger Snaps is one of the best horror/comedy/teen/fantasy films ever.  So what about its sequel?  Well the comedy part has gone.  The teen bit has also been diluted too.  It’s still got teenagers in it (including the two stars from the previous instalment), but it’s not really a film about teenagers anymore; the story could have featured people of any age really.  Instead we get an out-and-out horror and it’s not a bad one at all.  Smiling less than an emo girl having a bad day, (a part Emily Perkins plays so well), Brigitte is a patient at the Happier Times Care Centre, a rehab clinic where she inexplicably seems to appear after an altercation over a few library books.  I didn’t realise reading was quite that addictive.  Unfortunately, the Centre isn’t a good advert for the voluntary sector providing health services, as most of the staff there are a bit weird or pervy and it looks very much like a rundown prison.  I guess we’ll just have to blame it on funding cuts.  It’s the sort of place Jimmy Saville would have enjoyed visiting.  The ending is a bit rubbishy, but the rest of the film is fine and it’s good to see werewolves being given a bit of ‘quality screentime’; in footballing terms they always felt a bit like Manchester City, if you imagine vampires to be Manchester United; an occasional flash of success but basically always living in the shadow of their more successful, interesting and flamboyant neighbours.  Sadly the stunning Katharine Isabelle (Ginger) isn’t in it very much, but considering what happened to her in the original film that’s not that surprising.  Instead we get Ghost, a slightly creepy 13-year-old, who suffers from Hollywood Child-in-a-Film Syndrome, in that she acts like no real 13-year-old would; perhaps that’s why she was in the clinic in the first place?  (Tatiana Maslany, who I think was actually 19 when she made this film, really doesn’t look her own age.)  Anyway, it’s a very good film, well made, well acted and with decent special effects; but watch the brilliant Ginger Snaps before going onto this one, as it’s a direct sequel to it.

The music is serviceable, but forgettable.  Some rather dull, alternative rock and an infrequently heard film score don’t make it a movie to remember.

Recommended for werewolves, junkies, emos and anyone providing health care services in the voluntary sector.

No cats, chainsaws or decapitations.

Top badass moment?  “I’m going to kill it.  Get me all the sharp things you can find.”  No running away and falling over for her, Brigitte’s outcome-focused approach to dealing with an issue would be welcomed by many in the private sector, keen for employees with a clear vision of what they want to achieve and how they’re going to achieve it.  Mission Drift isn’t something the viewer needs to worry about in this movie.

Ginger Snaps 2: Unleashed at IMDB (6.4 / 10)

Ginger Snaps 2: Unleashed at Wikipedia


Brokeback Mountain / The New Forest


Brokeback Mountain  -  Front Blu-ray Cover (UK Release)From Academy Award-winning filmmaker Ang Lee comes an epic American love story, “Brokeback Mountain”. Set against the sweeping vistas of Wyoming and Texas, the film tells the story of two young men – a ranch-hand and a rodeo cowboy – who meet in the summer of 1963, and unexpectedly forge a lifelong connection, one whose complications, joys, and tragedies provide a testament to the endurance and power of love.

2005  –  Certificate: 15  –  American Film
Rating Details: Strong language, moderate sex and violence
8.0 out of 10

I had a very disappointing day today.  I went to a meeting in a place called Lymington.  It’s about as far south-west as I can go and still remain in ‘my patch’ at work.  If I’d gone much furthered I’d have entered the “South West” and risked immediate kidnap, assassination, or worse, from my colleagues in that part of the country.  Although we’re officially “One Team” these days, at a local level there’re still some patches of tribalism, although it’s nothing that a forty-foot high electric fence topped with razor wire wouldn’t cure.  Anyway, Lymington is on the edge of the New Forest National Park.  But what a swizz it all is!  I drove right across it and all I saw were loads and loads of old trees, some of which actually looked dead and had ‘things’ like birds, bats and bugs living in them.  There were hardly any young ones at all.  How ‘they’ get away with such a bare-faced lie I’ve no idea; surely there must be some sort of advertising standards law they’re breaking?  It’s a terrible reflection on us all that these days unless something’s labelled new or improved, no one’s interested in it; indeed, I seem to suffer from this problem myself.  Washing powder and smartphone manufactures have a lot to answer for.  “A mosaic of ancient and ornamental woodland, open heather-covered heaths, rivers and valley mires, a coastline of mudflats and salt-marshes and pretty, historic villages; the largest area of lowland heath left in southern England.”  Who’s going to be interested in that when they could go and play Laser Quest and then get pissed in the pub afterwards?  Like the New Forest, this film also grossly misrepresents itself, as it fails to provide any sort of back injury whatsoever, not even a pulled muscle.

I’m not a big fan of westerns.  I also imagine Hell to have a soundtrack that features country music on heavy rotation.  Characters engaged in herding animals about and shooting others, have to work hard to overcome their inherent, non-vegan nature and don’t tend to attract my sympathy either.  It’s been a while since I was a cowboy too, so I’m probably a bit out of touch with what’s hot and what’s not in lasso-land; in fact the last time it happened I was very young and had been given a cowboy outfit for my birthday; I didn’t even know which way around to hold the gun and consequently went about shooting myself rather than the hordes of evil Indians that I imagined were busy invading our flat in central London.  I guess what I’m trying to say is that this film was not one that on the surface I was likely to enjoy and up until now, unlike every other human being on the planet, I’d never watched it.  Fortunately, I quickly realised what it’s really about and it suddenly made a lot more sense to me.  “Brokeback Mountain” is basically a reimagining of a number of Thomas Hardy’s novels, where the dictates of society prevent two people from being together.  “People go on marrying because they can’t resist natural forces, although many of them may know perfectly well that they are possibly buying a month’s pleasure with a life’s discomfort.”  (Jude the Obscure).  It’s a film that, like many Hardy novels, involves a lot of rural landscapes, shepherds, folk music and drinking in bars.  I was just waiting for all the sheep to find a cliff somewhere to throw themselves over.  Like Hardy, “Brokeback Mountain” demonstrates the futility of life and the inevitability of being disappointed, let down and kept apart from those you hold most dear.  At the very least, the credits should have said something to the effect that it was inspired by the poems and novels of Thomas Hardy.  “Brokeback Mountain” is a bleak  and touching film, with the last half hour providing a powerful bit of cinema.  The admission that your feelings for someone have effectively fucked up everyones’ lives; priceless wisdom.  This is also a lovely looking film (and I’m not just talking about Michelle Williams, who looks very cute in it), with lots of great views of the countryside.

Country and western music, noooooooooooo..!!!  I’m just a woman and my man beats me up and shot my dog for fun and had an affair with my sister and hates me but he’s still my man so I’ve got to love him….  The rest of the soundtrack isn’t bad and it does have ‘that’ bit of music, “The Wings” by Gustavo Santaolalla.

Recommended for fans of good movie making.  Not recommended for anyone that thinks gay people are an abomination or mentally ill; for you I recommend you go fuck yourselves instead, which if you’re a guy is actually a pretty gay thing to do when you think about it; but you probably won’t want to think about it.

No cats, chainsaws or decapitations.

Top badass moment?  It takes him long enough, but Jack finally giving Lureen’s father the bollocking he deserves.  I despise people like that who’re so full of themselves; what a bullying, arrogant prick he was.

Brokeback Mountain at IMDB (7.7 / 10)


Snow Cake / Being 50


Snow Cake  -  Front DVD Cover (UK Release)Alex (Alan Rickman), a tight-lipped Englishman recently freed from prison, is driving through Ontario when he begrudgingly picks up the vivacious teenage hitchhiker Vivienne (Emily Hampshire).  On the outskirts of her hometown, a truck hits the car. Vivienne dies instantly and Alex finds himself, for the second time in his life, grieving for someone he never knew.  Devastated by the accident, Alex goes to the frozen backwater of Wawa, Ontario to visit Vivienne’s mother Linda (Sigourney Weaver).  There, he discovers that she is autistic with an unconventional take on life and mourning. Drawn in to the small frozen backwater community, Alex soon forms a close relationship with Linda, begins an affair with her sassy neighbour Maggie (Carrie-Anne Moss), and becomes the object of scrutiny by the ineffectual law enforcement officer Clyde (James Allodi).  As the funeral approaches, life in Wawa seems to have enabled Alex to face the present, but how will he cope when the dark secrets of his past finally emerge?

2006  –  Certificate 15  –  UK/Canada
Rating Details:  Strong Language
8 out of 10

Well that’s it over with then.  Life I mean.  Last Sunday it was my 50th birthday.  A future of increasing ill-health, an inability to do or remember things, walking sticks, Zimmer frames, bifocals, tablets from the doctor, hip replacements and finally death, are all I have to look forward to now. As the Borg might say, “Your life as it has been, is over.”  I awoke this morning to find that overnight, a year’s worth of new aches and pains had been applied to my body, plus the special ‘new decade’ bonus ones, plus the 50 year Jackpot selection.  To say I now feel as if I’m virtually bed-bound wouldn’t be an exaggeration.  I did nothing to celebrate the momentous occasion, except mope about at home.  In some ways I was quite sad; I wished I could thank my parents for having me, being 50 felt like an especially appropriate point to do so, but it’s a bit too late for that now; (or, if your belief system supports it, a bit too early).  I was rubbish at being a young person, ineffective in middle-age and now I’m probably well on my way to becoming a cantankerous, teenager-hating, lecherous, ‘the world owes me a living’ old person.  Actually I’m quite looking forward to that.  In a similar way, this movie is about life as it has been, being over.

I really enjoyed this film.  It’s touching, funny and grounded.  It has some really wonderfully acted characters.  The aforementioned car crash provides a full-blown OMG movie moment.  Sigourney Weaver’s Linda is as far away from Ripley (“Alien”) that it’s possible to get, although both characters share a strength of character.  Her portrayal of a woman with autism seemed very convincing.  Alan Rickman’s laconic Alex is a sympathetic and interesting character, despite his background.  It’s also a film with a proper start, middle and end.  It’s not perfect though.  Sometimes the storyline goes a bit off track; I especially had trouble accepting Alex to be such a babe magnet and the subplot involving him and the neighbour did distract from the rest of the story a bit.  Vivienne is also one of those teenagers that doesn’t really exist in real life, but turns up in films on a regular basis.

There isn’t a large amount of music in the film and much of it is pretty generic.  However, when it is used, it greatly adds to the impact of the scenes.  Lovely job.

No cats, chainsaws or decapitations.

Recommended for people who like character-driven dramas.

Top badass moment?  Finding out from Linda that having a mouthful of snow is like having an orgasm.  That’s pretty badass when you think about it, and cold.

Snow Cake at IMDB (7.4/10)


Affliction / Horseburger Threat To Life As We Know It


Affliction  -  Front DVD Cover (UK)I got a feelin’ like a whipped dog. Someday, I’m gonna bite back.”  Throughout his life, Sheriff Wade Whitehouse has been cowed and brutalised by his father, a venomous alcoholic.  But a child never forgets a cruelty, and two suspicious deaths in their small New Hampshire town lead inexorably to a cataclysmic confrontation between father and son.  Dark, powerful and moving, Paul Schrader’s adaptation of Russell Banks’ novel creates an indelible impression, enhanced by stunning performances from James Coburn and Nick Nolte.

1997  –  Certificate: 15  –  USA
6.5 out of 10

Apparently Tesco used its Store Defence Grid ground to air missile capability today to shoot down a helicopter in the centre of London, in an effort to deflect the news about its new range of delicious ‘horseburgers’ from the front pages.  That’s pretty harsh, even for a business that’s run like Tesco.  I can’t imagine Waitrose doing that, or the Co-op.  I wouldn’t go shoplifting in Tescos if I was you, its store detectives don’t take prisoners.  The way a lot of people appear to have reacted to ‘horseburgergate’ is rather like their reaction to the loss of the so many independent stores from our town centres.  They shake their heads in sadness at the loss of diversity in the ‘high street,’ yet use the very shops that are causing the problem.  In the same way, they react in horror at the idea of a horseburger, whilst happily chewing up bits of other animals made into disc shapes and given alterniatve names to disguse what they really are.  What the fuck?  That makes no logical sense at all.  Be like the French and just eat everything with a face, at least that’s consistent.  Meanwhile, that other destroyer of the high street and leading non-payer of what the tabloids think is a fair level of tax, Amazon, must be pissing itself laughing at the moment, in the week that Play, Blockbuster and HMV all rolled over and died.  I went to buy a DVD from it this evening and for some reason they’re all now priced £30 or more.  I guess the cost of plastic must have gone up…  This is a film that I bought from Amazon, when it was the new kid on the block, the rebel outsider taking on the ‘big boys’.

This movie, despite its good points, I struggled to relate to.  I probably need to file it under “too American”.  Then again, a film about a son’s relationship with his abusive, alcoholic father is one I’m quite happy to feel I’ve missed out on.  (My own father died almost 30 years ago; I wish I could remember more about him.  He’s the person who gave me my love of music, even though his tastes and mine weren’t exactly the same; although I do have an inexplicable liking for easy listening, such as James Last, Mantovani, Franck Pourcel, Bert Kaempfert, etc.  I still use the turntable he bought in 1969, a Thorens TD-150 Mk II, a wonderful bit of engineering.)  This is a thoroughly depressing movie, on nearly every level.  Nick Nolte does a great job of making the main character seem a decent guy, despite his failings.  James Coburn is brilliant as his father; an evil motherfucker who’s as compelling to watch as he is a total bastard.  What an awful character; my heart goes out to all those people who are (or have been) in the position of having someone like that as a father.  It’s a shame he doesn’t get more screen time as you’ll really want to boo him and throw stuff at the TV.  He won an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor for this role and I can see why.  The rest of the film sort of gets lost in a weird narrative that doesn’t quite make sense, as we watch the life of his son, the local sheriff, fall apart.  We get to see what happens but we don’t really get inside his head.  I never got to fully understand why, after so many years, he suddenly got all weird about things.  I’m a sympathetic guy, I wanted to understand his pain, not just watch him bugger up his whole life.  He was a really crap police officer though; he should have become a dentist; (it makes sense if you watch the film).  As a side issue, I thought his young daughter was a really whiny bitch.  Geez, I’m bitter and twisted about everything today!

Recommended for James Coburn.

No cats, chainsaws or decapitations.

Top badass moment?    It’s often hard to find a badass moment in a depressing film and this one is no exception.  I accept defeat with good grace.

Affliction at IMDB (7.0/10)


The Secret: 3.5 Stars


The Secret  -  Front DVD Cover (USA)What if you got one more chance to say goodbye to your loved ones after you died? But what if the only way to do that was to inhabit your daughter’s body?  David Duchovny (“The X-Files” and “Californication”) and Lili Taylor (“The Haunting” and “Ransom”) are Benjamin and Hannah, happily married soul mates whose relationship is brutally severed when Hannah is killed in a car accident.  As she dies, a bizarre twist of fate propels Hannah inside the body of her beautiful teenage daughter, Sam (Olivia Thirlby, “Juno” and “United 93”).  Immersing herself in Sam’s world, Hannah discovers some shocking truths about her daughter’s secret life, while at home, she and her husband draw closer and closer to rekindling their romance….

2007  –  Certificate: R  –  France
Rating Details:  Language Including Some Sexual References and Drug and Alcohol Use Involving Teenagers

I spoke to two people yesterday, on the phone, for quite a long time.  This made me realise that I can’t actually speak properly anymore or string a sentence together at ‘speaking speed’.  I’ve not really had a proper conversation with anyone for weeks; well since before Christmas anyway.  I’ve had plenty of ‘shop chats’ (where you just say “thanks” or “cheers”),  a few other short ones on the phone, plus some on the Tube and in venues where it’s really noisy so you have to shout, but no ‘normal’ ones.  I forgot how to have a normal conversation years ago, but now I can’t even make up sentences up that work grammatically or make sense.  I imagine this might make me even more of a social outcast than I already am, another embarrassing faux pas I can add to a growing list.   Then again, it doesn’t seem to have stopped Professor Stephen Hawking being a genius, although I probably don’t have his insight into ‘how things work’.  I can’t see myself being asked to advertise an insurance comparison website anytime soon; or writing a book on how the universe came into being either.  This film features someone who suddenly finds himself unable to communicate with his wife in the way he’s been used to doing.

This is a decent fantasy thriller.  It’s based on a Japanese one called “Himitsu” that I watched years ago.  (I don’t suppose the fact I watched the latter influenced the decision to make this film.)  It would be quite interesting to Go Compare them side by side, (which for those that haven’t made the connection, relates to the “insurance comparison website” I mentioned earlier).  There’re a number of ‘body swap’ movies out there, but most of them are comedies; this one isn’t.  This could have been a great film, but somehow it just doesn’t quite make it.  The script pulls its punches a bit when it could have really landed a few know-out blows.  The characters don’t quite feel coherent enough to be totally believable; there were too many gaps in time between some scenes, which changed their relationship without us really seeing or knowing why.  This is a shame, as this really is the core of the whole film and at times is really played out well.  It could have explored the difficulties of the situation a lot more too, which would be helpful to anyone who ever found themselves in the same one for real; (okay, so not very likely I admit).  Some of the minor characters seem a bit caricaturish too; I was half expecting them all to go off to a remote location somewhere and get killed by a nutter with a big knife.  Olivia Thirlby’s acting as the daughter/mother is great though.  In a few scenes she switches between them and it’s really spookily convincing.  The car crash one works well too, as does the one in the hospital, very realistic and effective.  So, it underachieves a bit, but at its best it’s more than worth a watch.  As for the rating details, they sound like they could be applied to life in general.

Recommended for people who want to debate the “would if have been incest or not” issue; which doesn’t include me as apparently I can’t speak anymore.

No cats, no chainsaws or decapitations.

Top badass moment?  It’s not every day you have to deal with your dead wife being sort of reincarnated inside your daughter’s body.  That has to make things really complicated, not that it’s something I’ve ever had to deal with personally you understand.  Under the circumstances, I thought Benjamin took it all pretty well and dealt with it in a relatively thoughtful way.  Dealing with adversity well is badass.

The Secret at IMDB (6.2/10)


The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants: 4.0 Stars


The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants  -  Front DVD Cover (UK)I was driving home tonight and turning off the M3.  At the junction a car had just broken down in the middle lane of three, at a set of traffic lights. (A BMW, ha-ha-ha).  The driver behind it got all inpatient and started flashing and honking the broken-down driver.  Then he suddenly pulled into the inside lane right in front of me, forcing me to brake hard and throw everything off the seat next to me and onto the floor, before he drove straight through the now red light.  Asshole.  If my car’s lights had been lasers (the sci-fi gun version, not the CD reading version), I’d have blown him to pieces, such was my annoyance.  I doubt he heard it, but my language would have embarrassed more than just a nun too.  People like that should be taken outside and shot.  And no, I’m not going to give him a second chance on the assumption that he’d just had a bad day.  My life might not amount to much, but I’m going to waste it at my discretion, not some stupid moron behind the wheel of a car’s.   And talking of nuns, I thought this film was going to be about them.

2005  –  Certificate: PG  –  USA
Rating Details:  Mild language and sex references

Anyway, there I was, on Saturday evening, ready to watch what I thought was going to be a sleazy 70s, exploitation flick about nuns and kinky underwear.  So you can imagine my disappointment when, on starting to view this film,  instead of seeing nuns running around losing their clothing and wearing each other’s panties, I got a chick flick about four young friends and a pair of second-hand jeans.  Bloody American’s, why do they have to mess about with OUR language; pants are, well, pants, not trousers or jeans.  And a sisterhood really ought to have something to do with convents.  With hindsight, I suppose the PG certificate and the “Perfect film for teen girls” splash on the front cover should have warned me, but I thought they were just part of the marketing; I didn’t think they, you know, really meant what they said.  Anyway, to make the best of a bad job I watched it; I guess someone has to.  After the first ten minutes I was already tiring of the four-teenage-girls-all-talk-and-giggle-at-once-about-nothing narrative.  Still, a film has to be pretty bad for me to totally give up on it, so I persevered; and I’m glad I did.  What I ended up with was a really great movie about four friends who are separated one summer for the first time and how they keep in touch with one another, grow as individuals and ensure their friendship remains intact.  (Sounds a bit bluurrgg, doesn’t it?)  To be honest, some of the subtleties of this were probably lost on me; I’m an old(ish) bloke, so I’ve next to no chance of understanding teenage angst or relationships; hell, I didn’t even understand them when I was a teenager, although come to think of it, that’s maybe the point of them.  Okay, so it’s all a bit dumb, the ending is a bit too upbeat for my liking and the four main characters could basically be summed up as rebel, slut, wallflower and latch-key kid.  But it’s all done with such sincerity that it’s hard not to get swept along with it.  Most of it’s pretty lightweight stuff as you’d expect and the plot goes everywhere and nowhere, but every now and again a scene came along that enabled the whole movie to punch above its weight.  It’s been done a million times before in films, but the scene in the hospital was a genuinely great bit of acting and you’d have to be made of stone not to be affected by it.  I’m not sure if it’s a perfect film for teen girls, but it worked for this cynical old guy.  I didn’t even miss there being no nuns in it either; (it does have some panties though).  I wonder what the follow-up is like?

Recommended for teenage girls (according to the Sunday Mirror); and old blokes who are willing to step outside their comfort zones.  (But if you need an excuse lads, it has some women’s football in it too.)

No cats, decapitations or chainsaws.

Top badass moment?  The subplot involving Tibby and Bailey is especially affecting; (or is it effecting, I can never remember)?  This had lots of little scenes that are really quite special.  Learning to care about someone is one thing; learning to show it is another.  This is badass.

The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants at IMDB (6.6 / 10)


Scanners: 3.0 Stars


Scanners - Front DVD CoverThe Internet broke yesterday; at least the bit of it I use.  My washing machine’s dryer function also developed a fault at around the same time, which meant it worked fine for about five minutes and then stopped; so I had to stand by it all the time so I could keep resetting it, over and over again.  Fortunately, with the Internet not working as well, I had endless time on my hands as I’d nothing else to do, so it was an ideal time for the washing machine to break down.  What a brilliant coincidence, I must be the world’s luckiest person!  At the time this film was made, there were 237 Scanners on Earth, out of a population of four billion.  I feel that ‘special’ right now.

1981  –  Certificate: 18  – Canada

This really isn’t that great a movie.  The idea is interesting, the exploding head is a bit of cinema history, (I read somewhere that this was the first time this had been seen on the screen) and the ‘epic battle’ at the end is a classic bit of good vs. evil.  Unfortunately, a lot of the rest hasn’t aged well; the dialogue sounds stilted, the acting’s wooden and the whole feel of the film makes it seem far older than it is.  The scanning process sadly provides plenty of opportunities for some less than high-quality overacting too; mouth full of sticky toffee anyone?  The audio tracks on my DVD were all thin, tinny and hissy as well.  What’s the point of DTS sound if all that bandwidth is just going to be used on the latter?  I guess I’m probably being a bit mean, as this film’s basically just a B-movie that’s had its status elevated beyond a level it’s really comfortable with.  On the plus side, the special effects still look pretty good, in a “Thunderbirds” kind of way, even after over 30 years.  It’s foreshadowing of the Internet is pretty cool too.  If you like a certain type retro-vibe in a film, then this is probably as good as it gets.

Recommended for fans of this sort of stuff; I can’t imagine anyone else getting off on it.

No cat, decapitations or chainsaws.  However, there is the famous exploding head, so that’s sort of like a decapitation in a way.

Top badass moment? The whole exploding computer lab scene, from the “no fireworks” comment through to the “oh shit” look of the guy sitting on his ass in the corner, surveying the mess.  Trashing your whole organisation’s computer system is badass, although it’s not a move that’s likely to expand your career options greatly. It might be a good time to book an appointment down at the local Job Centre.

Scanners at IMDB (6.8/10)


White Noise: The Light: 4.0 Stars


White Noise: The Light  -  Front DVD CoverI’ve got nothing to write about today.  For two days I’ve done nothing, except work.  Then again, I have been pretty awesome there, even if I’m the only one that thinks so.  I’ve done tons of stuff and promoted 4-dimensional synergy across a diagonal slice of the organisational structure, effectively creating product evangelists who will live the values of the organisation on an agnostic platform, using the sort of blue sky granularity that will engender a paradigm thrust in the engagement pipeline.   After all, we wouldn’t want to wrong-side the demographic.  Scary stuff.   This movie is also scary.

2007  –  Certificate: 15  –  Canadian
Rating Details: Supernatural horror

This is a really creepy horror.  In fact I’d go as far as to say it’s the scariest film I’ve seen this year.  I can generally deal with murders, wars, zombies, rapes, freaks, destruction of the Earth and other day-to-day stuff like that.  But things that involve the dead poking their noses where they don’t belong (i.e. around the living) tend to weird me out a bit.  To be fair, I sort of lost track of the nuances of the plot at some point, but the whole ‘I can see when someone is going to die and do something to stop that happening’ vibe is kind of cool; the reluctant superhero sort of thing mixed up with a bit of ghostbusters.  It’s not a comedy though.  The main character (Abe) was a sympathetic enough guy for me to want him to get it all sorted out in the end.  The ‘piano crash’ scene is great too.

Recommended for people who enjoy soiling their underwear.

No cats, decapitations or chainsaws.

Top badass moment?  Abe’s doing the superhero thing and tying to save people from dying.  That has to be badass, especially if you’re not a ‘real’ superhero and it’s only been a few days since you tried to commit suicide following the violent death of your own family.  What a shame it all goes a bit pear-shaped.  All in all, not a great week by anyone’s standard.  Still, he got a kiss from his nurse, so it’s not all bad.

White Noise: The Light on IMDB (5.8/10)



Hedwig and the Angry Inch: 4.0 Stars


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

2001  –  Certificate: 15  –  USA

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

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

No cats and no decapitations.

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

Hedwig and the Angry Inch on IMDB (7.6)


Bang Bang You’re Dead: 3.5 Stars


Bang Bang You're Dead  -  Front DVD CoverI feel a bit disconnected from the world at present, even more than usual.  Nothing I do at the moment seems to satisfy me and I’m not sure anything I’m doing is making the slightest difference to anything or anyone.  In the last three days I’ve done loads of stuff at work, yet somehow it all feels a bit pointless.  “Is That All There Is?” by Cristina pretty well sums everything up at the moment.  (I think it was first recorded by Peggy Lee; PJ Harvey has done a version of it too, but the Cristina Monet version from 1980 is the definitive one.)  I realised today, that with so many of my colleagues at work having recently been  ‘restructured out of existence’ I’m suffering from a form of ‘survivor’s guilt’.

2002  –  Certificate: Not Rated  –  United States

By a strange co-incidence, this move has an equally uplifting plot.  This is a drama about a play of the same name, being performed by a character in a similar position as the character in the play. (Oh oh, I think I’m going to need a painkiller soon, that sounds way too complicated now I’ve written it down.)  It’s a film about bullying in schools and the effect it has on some individuals who’re the victims of it.  This is a very American movie.  In the UK, victims of school bullying generally hide in their rooms and self-harm or commit suicide; in American it seems they build bombs or get guns and go to school and kill people.  Okay, I’m hugely trivialising and oversimplifying something that’s really tragic in reality, but it did feel a little over dramatic at times; then again, this sort of thing really has happened.  This film was made in 2002 and is based on a play written in 1999, so there’re no mobile phones to be seen anywhere in it, which makes it feel a bit dated now, especially as the mobile has become the modern-day school bully’s weapon of choice; all those embarrassing and humiliating videos, it’s what YouTube was invented for after all.  If most American schools really are like this, then it mystifies me as to why the country manages to turn out so many clever, imaginative and decent people; (I like Americans in general, even though I love to snigger behind their backs at their lack of culture and understanding of irony; and get frustrated by their politics.). The original play has apparently been performed thousands of times in schools and similar places and from reading the comments on IMDB and Amazon (USA) it’s clearly had a massive impact on lots of people, yet I didn’t fully connect with it myself; I guess I’m too old and too much of a Brit to fully appreciate it.  However, even taken as a stand-alone film it’s well worth a watch; but when you then take into account its background it takes on a while extra dimension.  It does feel a bit weak in places, but the power of its general narrative and all-around American goodness drags it through these parts with sufficient force to make you, you know, ‘a believer’.  Good quality drama with a social conscience.

Recommended for bullies.  If it makes a difference to any of them (and considering how many people have seen the play or film, I’m sure it must have had a positive effect on some of them), then it’s all been worth it.

No cats and no decapitations.

Top badass moment?  In that very American ‘we fucked up but then overcame our failure thus proving we were right to do what we did all along’ kind of way, it’s the big ‘penny drops’ scene when everyone watches Trevor’s videos taken by the police from his house; giving people a serious guilt trip they deserve is definitely badass.

Bang Bang You’re Dead at IMDB (7.9)