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 here. This 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.
Every year in the ruins of what was once North America, the Capital of the nation of Panem forces each of its twelve districts to send a teenage boy and girl to compete in the Hunger Games. Sixteen year-old Katniss Everdeen volunteers in her younger sister’s place and must rely upon her sharp instincts when she’s pitted against highly trained Tributes who have prepared for these Games their entire lives. If she’s ever to return home to District 12, Katniss must make impossible choices in the arena that weigh survival against humanity and life against love.
2012 – Certificate: 15 – American Film
Rating Details: Strong violence and threat
9.0 out of 10
It’s back to the humourless dentist oral surgeon for me this Wednesday. Not sure what he’s going to say or do. Perhaps there’ll be a full moon that night and he’ll be resting, or taking the day-off for a lie-in in his coffin. Actually my wisdom tooth isn’t really hurting anymore, nowhere near enough for me to need pain-killers or anything. However, I can’t open my mouth much now without my jaw aching, a lot. In fact I can’t really open it at all. Whilst this might seem to some around me to be a positive step, it’s really pissing me off. My ability to eat has reverted to how I imagine I was when I was nine months old, all sloppy food which I then fail to push into my mouth properly, resulting in it ending up everywhere except my stomach. I may not show it, but inside this is how I feel. I did initially think this was a film about dentists, but apparently not.
A movie about a dystopian future? That’s always a good start. Female hero? That’s good as well and makes a change too. Woody Harrelson’s in it, playing a character who looks very much how you might expect Kurt Cobain to look now, if he’d sadly not killed himself; somewhat ironically, this version is very much a survivor. This is an awesome film, even though it’s only a few steps beyond a cross between “Big Brother” and any number of romantic dramas. In fact the only reason I didn’t think it was even better was that I could sort of tell where some parts of the story that I’m sure must be in the books, weren’t really used in the film. Not having read any of the latter, that’s not good. But I’m glad someone’s writing popular ‘teen fiction’ that uses this sort of challenging setting for its stories; it’s just a pity it’s a bit buried in this film. I have to admit I couldn’t really see what Katniss saw in Peeta. Sure he’s good looking and there’s all that stuff about being thrown together in a crisis, but really, he was a bit boring. I can well imagine she’d soon get fed up with him. I thought the make-up crew did a good job on Jennifer Lawrence, making her appear very different from setting to setting. Then again, there’re so many credited at the end that each of her eyebrows must have had a whole team working on it, etc. I watched the “Unseen Version” (which kind of isn’t true now). I certainly enjoyed the extra 3.2 seconds and reinstated blood that had been digitally removed and denied to the sissies that went to see the Certificate 12 version shown in cinemas. I’m so hardcore. Anyway, despite it being targeted at a ‘younger audience’, I really enjoyed it and got an emotional buzz from watching it too. Critically, I actually cared what happened to the main characters. And let’s not forget that Katniss Everdeen gets her family name from Thomas Hardy’s Bathsheba Everdene, which alone is enough of a reason to recommend this film.
The orchestral score is great but I didn’t much care for the rest. I guess it was an attempt to give a primitive, combative edge to things, but most of it sounded just like some boring drumming to me.
I really like this trailer. It makes me want to see the film.
Recommended for sibling sisters, bakers and archers.
1 cat, no chainsaws or decapitations. A great bit of cat hissing gets the action underway shortly after the start. Sadly this isn’t utilised further and we just get a couple of hours of reality TV nonsense instead.
Top badass moment? At a key moment, Katness gives two fingers to the watching millions; (actually three but anyway). A defiant gesture that starts her journey from ‘average teen’ to rebel hero. There’s no way on Earth that’s not badass. Sticking it to ‘The Man’ always is.
Lala, (Inés Efrón) a teenager from the most exclusive suburban neighbourhood in Argentina, is in love with the Guayi, the 20-year-old Paraguayan maid working at her mansion. The pair hatch a plan to rob Lala’s family to fund their dream of living together in Paraguay, but while Lala waits to be reunited with her lover, she is detained in a prison in the outskirts of Buenos Aires for a crime she committed long ago. Desperate to be with her girlfriend, Lala devises a dangerous rescue plan to get her back. Boasting beautiful cinematography and electrifying performances from its two female leads, celebrated Argentine director Lucía Puenzo (“XXY”) returns with a gripping tale of forbidden lesbian romance and a crime heist gone awry.
2009 – Certificate 15 – Argentinean Film
Rating Details: Strong sex
7.0 out of 10
I spent well over an hour at the dentist last week, whilst she explored the inside of my sore tooth. Given all the sawing and drilling that went on I was expecting to be presented with the oral equivalent of a handmade chest of draws, but all I’ve got out of it is a bill for £100, no reduction in the agony I’m feeling and an extra visit to go back a third time for more treatment on the same tooth. Four hours or so? What’s she up to in there? Rebuilding my entire mouth at the molecular level? Not only this, but my sore tooth has made a friend, another tooth that thinks it’s hilariously funny to give me pain and misery. So now I’ve also got a wisdom tooth that needs removing in a completely different place in my mouth. My dentist got one of her colleagues to come have a look at it. Once he’d finished with the paramedics that came after he’d fainted from horror at the sight of it, he did make a remarkable effort to appear blasé about things, but suggested that he couldn’t deal with either and I really ought to have it removed at hospital. Why don’t they just cut out the middle man and sent me to see an undertaker? My tooth is clearly that bad. I’m starting to forget a time when I didn’t have excruciating agony and was able to open my mouth properly. Gosh, it’s lucky I’m not the sort of person that makes a big song and dance about things. This is going to cost me an arm and a leg to get sorted out too, although ironically, the limb replacements I’ll then need I can get on the NHS for free. The next American who suggests that Brits have bad teeth will need a visit to the dentist himself soon after. I’m glad to say this film has no teeth-focussed scenes whatsoever.
I’m pretty sure there’s a great movie in here somewhere, trying to get out. Trouble is, it got a bit buried under the non-linear timeline and suffered at the hands of my presently reduced mental capacity; (which sadly is more tooth-ache than alcohol related). At its heart this is an out-and-out romance, which collides with a crime thriller in a less than satisfying way. Oh, there’s also something about a legend regarding the Fish Child that swims around in a lake near a tree. I imagine there’s some analogy between the latter and the characters or the plot, but in my painkiller induced drug high I did struggle a bit with everything. It doesn’t provide an especially glowing reference for Argentinian parenting either. Visually it’s a nice looking film with an intense feel and the two lead actresses are both talented and attractive, although in quite different ways. Unfortunately it’s all a bit of a confused muddle at times, although it does gradually sort itself out a bit. I probably ought to watch it again; I think I’ll get a lot more out of it the second time around.
There was one especially jarring and frightening scene with what I can only imagine is South America’s version of One Direction, (which can be seen for a brief moment in the trailer), but overall the soundtrack is pretty good.
The trailer tells you as much about the film plot as watching the whole movie will; i.e. not a lot.
Recommended for housekeepers, messed up families, lesbians, dog trainers and vets.
1 cat, no chainsaws or decapitations. A big black cat plays dead as it’s rudely removed from the vet’s operating table so he can deal with someone with a gunshot wound. Oi! Get you’re priorities sorted out mate!
Top badass moment? Lala goes in search of her lover, who’s been ‘rented’ from the local prison by a powerful ‘businessman’ for his own ‘entertainment’. His house is protected by dogs and armed guards, but that doesn’t stop her. Love is blind and all that, but deliberately walking into a ‘situation’ that you clearly have no way of getting out off (unless you’re Batman) is quite obviously top grade badass. (Note to self: why all the inverted commas all of a sudden? What’s wrong with you?)
“Men in Black” follows the exploits of Agents K (Jones) and J (Smith), members of a top-secret organisation established to monitor alien activity on Earth. The two MIB find themselves in the middle of a deadly plot by an intergalactic terrorist (Vincent D’Onofrio) who has arrived on Earth to assassinate two ambassadors from opposing galaxies. K and J face a simple imperative: track down the interloper or the Earth will be destroyed. It’s all in a day’s work for the Men in Black.
1997 – Certificate: PG – American Film
Rating Details: Mild language, violence and horror
7.5 out of 10
At last, another film that has aliens, spaceships and explosions in it, as well as a plot I can relate to in a very meaningful way. As well as dealing with the scum of the universe, I also work for an organisation that does its best to remain hidden, even down to changing its name on a regular basis, to help ensure we remain a secret. Along with a somewhat stupid smartphone and a Dell laptop with bits falling off it, I have one of those ‘flashy things’ (a neuralyzer) to make people forget stuff, too. And I’m certainly never seen in anything but a black suit/tie and white shirt combo. And as for the cool shades, well I bought mine from eBay for about £2. Will Smith is a talented chap. He can act, sing and dance. I guess when he talks to people about me he says, “that Paul’s a boring guy. He can’t do bugger all.”
For a sci-fi movie made 16 years ago, this one still holds up well; it hasn’t really dated at all. I watched it on Blu-ray and it looks really lovely in that way too. According to IMDB this film contains 1 possible f-word, 13 anatomical terms (including 2 uses of a term for male genitals, i.e. dick), 18 scatological terms (crap, shit and piss), 29 mild obscenities, 3 religious profanities and 2 religious exclamations. There’s also some name-calling (bastard, prick, etc). Sadly, I had to watch the censored version, which of all this lot chooses to replace the word “prick” twice, with “twerp” and “jerk”. There must be a ‘league table’ of ‘bad words’ that people refer to, to find out how bad each one is. I wonder how they check if it’s correct? Get a big group of people in a room, swear at them a lot and see how offended they get? Funny thing is, someone must have sat down and made a record of all that; I bet that job’s a conversation starter at parties. “What do you do for a living then?” “Me? Well I count profanities.” You may also be interested to know that “the principal female character wears a short skirt that reveals a lot of her bare legs. Once, for less than a split second, it hikes up to reveal a little of her lower buttocks.” I must have missed that, I guess I’ll have to go back and use the frame-by-fame function to check for myself; thanks IMDB for letting me know, that’s my evening’s entertainment sorted out. It’s not even that short either. Actually I think I look a bit like Will Smith.
The music in this film is a bit of a disappointment. Danny Elfman wrote the totally brilliant music for “Batman”. I even bought the soundtrack of that on CD. But for this film he seems to have had a bit of an off-day. It’s serviceable but entirely forgettable. On the other hand, we do get Will Smith and his fun theme tune.
Recommended for anyone that works for a secret organisation, aliens and females that wear short skirts.
One cat, no chainsaws or decapitations. A true, starring role for a lovely ginger and white cat, complete with some real acting and lines. He/she just blew Tommy Lee Jones and Will Smith off the stage.
Top badass moment? There’s something to be said for driving a souped up car along the roof of an underground tunnel full of traffic and taking the time out to give some advice to your passenger about dealing with stress at work; whilst singing along to Elvis and trying to save the Earth. Even I don’t get to do that every week. That’s therefore very cool and very badass.
Panel vans, drive-ins, friendship rings & surfie beads. The ultimate coming-of-age film “Puberty Blues” is back. Based on the novel by the same name, written by the infamous Salami Sisters, namely Gabrielle Carey and Kathy Lette, “Puberty Blues” traces the adventures of Debbie (Nell Schofield) and her life-long companion Sue (Jad Capelja). Two teenagers are desperately trying to break into the “in” group who dominate Greenhill Beach. Once they are accepted into the group, they realise that the laid-back, ultra-cool façade is just that: a glossy cover-up. As they fall into all of the group’s vices, including drug-usage and casual sex, they willingly present themselves to the males of the group as virtual slaves, ready to serve their pre-chosen lover’s every need. Soon though, the girls grow tired of playing the victim role, and they work to regain respect and equality. From the Academy Award Winning Australian Director Bruce Beresford (“Driving Miss Daisy”, “The Club”, “Barry McKenzie” & “Black Robe”), “Puberty Blues” is the ultimate Australian beach classic.
1981 – Certificate: M – Australian Film
7.0 out of 10
As you should already know, I’ve recently become a fully fledged Pavement Warrior, in recognition of my bravery in standing up to greedy, urban footpath-hogging bastards. Just because this is an entirely self-administered qualification, shouldn’t reduce its significance. Indeed, as I’m the only Pavement Warrior in existence, it does in fact make the award all the more special. As part of my walk to and from work, I have to pass the planet-sized Tesco store on the Oxford Road in Reading. Behind the store is its car park, a car park so big that the other side of it is hidden by the curvature of the Earth. I have little choice but to cross this expanse of tarmac on my journey, corner to corner. Given its lack of surface features I need to navigate by compass; the tarmac interferes with GPS signals by destabilising the Earth’s magnetic field, as its metallic components combine with a thousand lost Smartphone signals to set up a sort of virtual Faraday Cage. Many a time I’ve come across lost shoppers, wondering hopelessly amongst the endless rectangular parking bays, surviving on the remains of their shopping, desperate to locate their cars before they starve to death; (which is somewhat ironic given the nature of Tesco’s core business). In winter I battle hurricane force winds and horizontal rain; whilst in summer baking hot temperatures and sunlight reflected from the ground, test me to my physical and mental limits. Now, you know those films where heroes walk out to their aircraft, before flying off to almost certain death? I’m thinking of “Battle of Britain” or Tom Cruise in “Top Gun”. (Except in the “Battle of Britain” they always ran to their aircraft and they were genuine heroes, whilst Tom Cruise swaggered to his jet like the overpaid Hollywood actor he is.) Well today in the Tesco car park I saw something very similar. Two guys were slowly walking out across the barren tarmac, their hair blowing in the summer wind, dressed in their Tesco high-vis jackets. They were going to their home delivery vans. I knew they were about to go ‘out there’ alone, face unknown horrors*, deliver their payloads and if lucky, God willing, return safely again. (*Such as ignorant home-shoppers who don’t even help them carry the bags from the vans to their kitchen tables, because they paid a few pounds for the privilege of having someone else do their shopping for them and expect to treat the delivery guys like their personal slaves for five minutes.) As they started their engines and drove slowly out of sight, I felt quite humbled and I’m not ashamed to admit it bought a lump to my throat. Home delivery drivers are the new heroes! This film has two heroes of its own.
Made in 1981, this movie is a nearly random slice of life in what I guessed passed for teenage normality in Australia around that time in the sort of place it features. This appeared to consist of thoughtless guys on surfboards who just put up with girls so they could have sex, (or root them as they tended to put it); and stupid young women who went along with this. It has all the normal stuff you’d expect, late periods, drug overdoses, drinking too much, ‘condom problems’, parental confusion, an ‘in-crowd’, drive-ins, ‘growing-up’, etc. This is an unusual film, in that it’s pretty boring but weirdly compelling too. For some reason Debbie reminded me of Wayne Rooney. (Facially at least; I doubt Rooney’s body looks like hers in a bikini.)
I hated the theme tune. Strangely it fitted the move well, but it was a dreadful dirge of the worst kind. However, I did rather like the version of Split Enz’s “Nobody Takes Me Seriously” that plays over the ‘climatic scene’ near the end of the movie.
Recommended for surfers, Australians, fans of Australian school uniforms (like they used to wear in “Neighbours”) and Wayne Rooney haters.
1 cat, no chainsaws or decapitations. A lovely black cat makes an appearance in a bedroom scene. (No, not ‘that’ sort of bedroom scene). It provides a master-class in how to lay on a bed and look cute.
Top badass moment? After 77 minutes of film-time living in the gender stone-age, Debbie and Sue finally realise that they can be something more. Overcoming a lifetime of stereotyping has got to hard-core badass.
Welcome to Pridemore Juvenile Facility For Girls, where forbidden passion and violent death are a shocking way of life. But when two innocent teens are thrust into this world of degradation, they must battle sadistic guards as well as a violent gang of lust-crazed lesbians (led by the legendary Wendy O’Williams of The Plasmatics). In a hellhole gone mad with chaos and desire, can they survive the ultimate orgy of naked rage? Sybil Danning and Pat Ast co-star in this cult classic of bad girls gone berserk, written and directed by Tom DeSimone (“Hell Night”, “Concrete Jungle”) and featuring songs by Wendy O. Williams, Etta James and more!
1986 – Certificate: R – American Film
6.0 out of 10
I have a microwave oven in my kitchen. (Actually I have two, but that’s not important right now.) It has a big sticker on it, which enthuses at some length about all its great features, of which there appear to be many. (Apparently it’s got a “digital clock”. Real state of the art stuff, I’m sure you’ll agree.) However, I’ve never really bothered myself to read this sticker. The only reason it’s still there is that I thought it might contain some ‘important stuff’. Although as the oven is now about ten years old, I can’t imagine there’s much especially important about it that’s worth learning now. If there was something I wasn’t supposed to do to stop it exploding in a fireball of microwave energy, I’d probably have found out by now. However, this afternoon I found myself reading the sticker in an idle moment, whilst waiting for the kettle to boil. (By which I mean the water in the kettle to boil; waiting for the kettle itself to boil would probably take quite a time, as I don’t think the Sun is expected to suddenly expand and engulf the Earth today.) Amongst my oven’s many interesting features, I learnt that it has “Easytronic Operation”. As you might imagine this got me pretty excited, as it sounds like the sort of thing Thunderbird 2 would have had fitted as standard. I’ve no idea what it really means though, but as the oven has a few buttons on it that are quite easy to press, I guess it might mean them. I wonder how much some marketing guru got paid to think up that one? Honestly, what a load of twaddle. This film is a load of twaddle too, but just like my microwave oven, it does have some entertainment value.
It’s hard to be too nasty about this movie, as it’s really not meant to be taken seriously. As far as B Movies go, it’s pretty entertaining. It’s a film set in a “juvenile facility”, which I imagine is meant to cater for those under the age of 18. This doesn’t stop Wendy O. Williams (who was the vocalist with overrated punk/metal band The Plasmatics) playing one of the main young characters in it, even though she must have been about 36 at the time. Then again, she looks so scarily tough that the makers probably didn’t want to bring it up. (Really sadly she committed suicide in 1998. She was a committed vegetarian and spent much of her latter years caring for animals.) This film also features the infamous kitten stomping scene, which I really shouldn’t approve of. Lots of mal-adjusted teens worldwide have probably gone on to become serial kitten stompers as a result of this film, in the same way that everyone who’s ever played Guitar Hero is now a world-class guitarist. I was a little disappointed to see a number of tools being used for weeding a field that weren’t really appropriate for the job. Long tail shovels and garden rakes really aren’t the correct equipment for that sort of thing. Then again, perhaps that was part of their punishment?
The soundtrack is mostly small sections of forgettable incidental music, mixed in with a few rock tracks. Unfortunately, the latter is that special brand of boring American rock, which tries to act tough but just ends up sounding old-fashioned. However, the film’s big saving grace is Wendy O. Williams’s “It’s My Life”, which plays over the end credits. Top stuff. I’ve got it as a 7” single.
Recommended for juvenile delinquents, lesbians, prison officers and psychiatrists.
1 cat, no chainsaws or decapitations. A really beautiful, fluffy, ginger tabby kitten has both a speaking role (that sadly looks like it was dubbed by another cat) and a proper action role. The kitten stomping scene, where it has to do a runner, is now considered a standard-bearer for cat-based action movies. Tragically, it doesn’t even get a credit!
Top badass moment? Fighting ‘the system’ is never easy, so whether it’s trashing the dormitory, trashing the dining room or trashing the whole facility, it’s all badass.
After a long night tending bar for a bunch of annoying drunks, Laura isn’t really feeling up to a long bus-ride home. She hails a cab and settles into the back seat, relieved that her terrible night is over. She doesn’t know it yet but her evening is about to get worse. A lot worse. Once Laura figures out what her driver has in mind, it’s too late and she must accompany him on a terrifying journey that she may not survive! “Bleed With Me” is a horrific journey into the mind of a cold-blooded killer.
2009 – Certificate: Not Rated – Danish Film
3.0 out of 10
Today was the hottest day in England for seven years, 92.3F. (I remember the hottest day ever in 2003, when it reached 101.3F. I stood in the roof garden of where I was living at the time and thought it was great.) It’s also really humid and sticky too. I feel like I’m experiencing all the fun of an evening of lovemaking, but without the lovemaking bit. On a related topic, I briefly saw on the Internet tonight that the Duchess of Cambridge has joined the Labour Party and this has made her have a baby. I’m not sure of the details but I expect I’m going to be sickened by the sheer weight of sycophantic and nauseating media coverage of the event over the next few weeks. Please God, if the Earth is going to be invaded by aliens in the next few years, make it now so that we aren’t force-fed Royal baby news 24/7. Not that I’m a killjoy; I’m celebrating by drinking a pint of the organic Dutchy beer Prince Charles brews for Waitrose. As long as mum and baby are fine I don’t need or want to know anymore. I really don’t care what sort of nappies they use or how much the baby’s nose resembles his grandfathers, etc, etc, etc, etc. Like press coverage of the Royal baby, this horror is overwhelmingly sickening too, but for all the wrong reasons.
This is the worst movie I’ve watched for several years. Before you even get to the DVD, you have to deal with the crappy cover and its dreadful photo-editing. I don’t think the building or the woman shown on it are even in the film. And the overview on it (and reproduced above) isn’t even factually correct. The only accurate thing in it is the reference to Laura’s evening getting worse, which is clearly what happened when she first had to sit through a viewing of this rubbish. And don’t even get me started on the fact that it’s an American DVD release of a Danish film, but doesn’t have any subtitles. What’s the point of that? Then again, given its overall quality and the fact that it’s got so little dialogue, not understanding it is probably a mercy; I don’t think they spent much time discussing anything to worry the Nobel Prize or Oscar people. Oh, and the review on IMDB that was blatantly posted by someone to do with the movie, doesn’t exactly earn it any brownie points or sympathy. But what of the film itself? Well, we’re led to believe that Laura’s had a crap evening at work, although we only ever see one customer; (but to be fair the guy was a total asshole). Then she gets a cab home with the most inept killer to grace the small screen for many a year. (Hint to all would-be serial killers out there; don’t leave your tools and weapons where the victim can reach them. It’s stupid, okay?) For much of the film we’re treated to endless minutes of them driving along in his taxi not speaking, at night. He does stop a couple of times, including to kill two prostitutes who he gets the address of his ex-partner from. I’ve no idea why they knew. Why he decided to (presumably) purchase their time to treat him to an erotic dance (whilst he sat with a bag on his head) before killing them, I’m not sure. But whatever, each to their own. At one point the taxi gets randomly stopped by the police but then… nothing happens and we’re back in the taxi driving along again. It was like they were shooting the scene and suddenly realised how awful everything was and just gave up filming it. I can’t finish without mentioning one more thing. Near the end Laura is running away and you’ll never guess what happens? Go on, try. Give up? Okay then, she falls over, enabling the killer to catch up with her. Dreadful. 74 minutes of purgatory. The only emotional response it elicited out of me was boredom.
Other than that under the credits there isn’t a lot more music in this movie, other than a few ‘horror noises’. The exception being when our friendly driver visits the prostitutes, when we’re forced to listen to several minutes of horrible euro-techno-pop as they dance. But at least that’s in English.
Recommended for taxi drivers, bar workers and trainee killers. (Actually I don’t recommend for anyone.)
1 cat, no chainsaws or decapitations. With its brief on-screen appearance and a speaking role that eclipses any of the human actors for its naturalistic delivery and emotional impact, Jonesy (who was apparently named after the cat in “Alien”), is the highlight of the film.
Top badass moment? Never mind the film, anyone careless enough to watch this garbage all the way through deserves to consider themselves badass. I salute your bravery, tenacity and heart. You’re a true movie-warrior who’s faced and overcome great adversity!
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.
Eager for one final vacation before their lives change forever, six friends embark upon a camping trip to a remote mountainous area. By nightfall, their lives will change forever… in ways too horrific to imagine. For in the shadows awaits a pack of the most evil, vicious rejects of humanity, addicted to violence and thirsty for blood! This is “Psycho Holocaust”…
2011 – Certificate: Not Rated – USA
6 out of 10
I’m not just an uncouth, middle-aged yobbo, who only listens to angry punk music and watches slasher movies. No, I also have a cultured, respectable side, the sort that The Queen would be entirely at home with. In proof, I offer up the fact that I’ve just finished reading “The Hand of Ethelberta” by Thomas Hardy, not for the first time either. In between reading Star Trek novels I read Thomas Hardy ones. The latter is of course, the greatest writer the world has ever seen. In fact I’m a fully paid-up member of the Thomas Hardy Society. That’s how cultured I am. Unlike “The Terminator” Sara Connor’s “No fate but what we make”, Hardy’s novels generally provide more of a ‘fate will do whatever it wants with you, despite your best efforts to do otherwise, and you probably won’t like it either’ point of view. Even though it’s one of Hardy’s more light-weight stories, “The Hand of Ethelberta” once again provides us with a reminder that it’s basically pointless trying to do something about your lot in life, or dream about bettering yourself. When it comes down to it, you might win a few battles, but the war will be lost. I find Hardy an excellent counter-balance to the optimism and can-do attitude prevalent in Star Trek. Together, they help to keep me grounded! This movie is more Thomas Hardy than Star Trek.
“Six friends embark upon a camping trip to a remote mountainous area” eh? I wonder what on Earth this film could be about? Ornithology? Geology? Photography? Actually, it features three veterans of the conflict in Iraq, in a searing and damming documentary about the effects of combat on individuals and the political implications of going to war. Okay, I lied a bit. It does indeed feature three veterans (and one was a documentary film maker), but then it all sort of goes where a million low-budget horrors have gone before. In its favour, our six ‘heroes’ weren’t teenagers and even the three war veterans displayed a clear lack of fantasy indestructibleness. (Cool, a six-syllable word that Word approves of.) The latter also exhibited a genuine concern for their local environment, (an attractive woodland). It was heartening to see a couple of sick and twisted psychos busy taking two of their victims off to a location to kill them in, discussing an impending plan to turn the area into “one big fucking suburb”. A small quirk of fate and they’d have been running about, carrying out direct action in the name of Earth First instead. That’s the ‘Hardy Effect’ for you. The violence is well up to scratch and some (though not all) of the special effects are generally pretty believable. The lead baddie is suitably effective and entertaining, even though he did look a little too like Simon Pegg to be totally convincing. I kept expecting him to pick up a pile of LPs and use them as weapons. Despite the occasionally horrific bit of acting, the film works well as a B-movie and the violence scores highly on the official sick-gross-eew scale. Turning to health and safety now, a number of different tools get used in the film, including two carpenter’s saws, a claw hammer, a few hand axes, a double-headed axe and a sort of flat bladed butcher’s hatchet, as well as a chainsaw. By and large, these were used in a generally appropriate and certainly effective way, although the arm that was cut off wasn’t really secured properly and the no-handed use of one of the saws isn’t a formally recognised technique. (You may wish to give that some further though.) Unfortunately, as is often the case, the chainsaw was used with little or no attention paid to safety. I couldn’t see any PPE in use and even an idiot must surely realise that running about in a woodland carrying a running chainsaw, over uneven terrain full of trip hazards, isn’t a terribly good idea. It never fails to amaze me how few chainsaw wielding psychos use their equipment safely. Particularly in this case, considering the latter were ex-military; this was disappointing and certainly made the whole movie feel a lot less realistic. However, it did seem to start really easily, from both hot and cold, so at least it looks like it was being maintained properly, which is promising.
1 cat, 1 chainsaw and 1 decapitation. Bingo! The first film I’ve watched for ages that gets a full set. (I think the cat was just a bystander that ran onto the set though.) There’re a few other rather painful amputations too.
Recommended for would-be psychos. An excellent training film.
Top badass moment? It’s certainly a gentleman’s leg-crossing moment, but Laura’s treatment of her would-be rapist was pretty awesome; I’m just not sure how feasible it would be in real life (so says Mr. Modest-Bigboy). It wasn’t that she’d had an especially good day up to then either. A whipping, a drowning, another rape, a bashing on the head with a big rock and finding her boyfriend missing a leg, (who then promptly fell on her when she tried to help him, trapping her), do not a good day make for anyone. And let’s not forget her safe and effective use of the double-headed axe too.
Academy Award Winners Judi Dench and Cate Blanchett give outstanding, Oscar-nominated performances – one as a woman consumed by her colleague’s guilty secret, the other, a victim to her own dark obsessions – in this intelligent and stylish thriller. Dench mesmerises as Barbara Covett, a teacher who rules over her classroom with an iron fist, yet leads a desperate, solitary life outside it. That is, until she meets radiant new art teacher Sheba Hart (Blanchett). Although at first overjoyed with her newfound kindred spirit, when Barbara discovers that Sheba is having an affair with a student, her jealously and rage spiral out of control. Also starring Bill Nighy, “Notes on a Scandle” is “The first great British film of the year” (The Guardian).
2006 – Certificate: 15 – UK
Rating Details: Strong language and sex references
8.5 out of 10
Almost two years ago a nightmare descended upon Cactus World. The entity known as The Amplifier became ill. It suddenly ceased to have a voice; its thoughts, so important to every citizen of Cactus World, were gone. Not a sound was to be heard from its mighty 7.2 outputs. To locate a cure, special doctors in a land far, far away had to be tracked down. The Amplifier then had to be prepared for the perilous odyssey it needed to undertake to visit them. In the meantime the population were left despairing, with little to occupy their minds, as most of Cactus World’s entertainment infrastructure ground to a halt. Some basic music services were eventually enabled through alternative means, but these bore little resemblance to the thoughts of The Amplifier, whilst TV and films remained entirely off-line. Of course, as we all know now, The Amplifier eventually returned from its journey and with the help of Cactus World’s finest scientists, was reconnected in all the right places. But this weekend, disaster! The Amplifier became silent again. Exactly the same evil curse has befallen it, as Onkyo’s entirely shit amplifier design raised its ugly head once more. Government officials were observed frantically trying to put a call through to the doctors that helped us before; (unfortunately they seem to be closed at the weekend). However, the citizens of Cactus World are nothing, if not resourceful. After what happened before, a new emergency procedure was developed, known as Protocol One. For the last 18 months this has been distributed to the entire population; schools have taught it as part of the curriculum, anyone wishing to settle in Cactus World has been required to lean about it. It was a moment no one hoped they’d experience, but when the warning sirens unexpectedly went off on Saturday, indicating a malfunctioning Amplifier, it was hard not to be moved by the sight of the entire population quietly but determinedly going to their designated muster points, or reporting for their civic emergency duties; heroes, every one of them. Anyway, Protocol One has two elements. The first is focused on the safely of our citizens, (and if you’re a little bit cynical like me, is also there to prevent too much civil disobedience). The second involves a plan to entirely reconfigure the national entertainmnet nexus, to bypass The Amplifier and provide full access to both music and films, something that has never ever been attempted before. At the moment I’m feeling quite emotional and deeply indebted, along with the rest of the population I’m sure, to Cactus World’s best scientific minds and highly trained engineers, who have successfully carried out this complex procedure. Pushing the boundaries of technology ever further. Full, high-definition pictures and sound across all DVD and Blu-ray copyright region zones are now available and have been fully(ish) tested on this film. It’s true, my living room does looks a bit like the Starship Enterprise on a bad day in Engineering, with cables and open maintenance panels all over the place, but the important thing is it works and I can watch films in the manner in which I’m accustomed. This film pushes boundaries too, but in its case those of relationships.
When she’s not running Her Majesty’s Secret Service and telling James Bond to get his act together, Judi Dench spends her time as a psycho lesbian, teaching at a typical secondary school in north London. Yes, it surprised me too. Starting out with a ‘not that original’ plot about a teacher having an affair with a student, this proved to be a very tense thriller that ends in the way that all films featuring a ‘psycho something or other’ should end. The acting’s terrific, the script’s great and it’s good to see a bit of anonymous, unglamorous London featured in a film for a change. It’s also a movie that under the surface has a lot to say about chronic loneliness. Both the primary characters are easy to sympathise with too, despite their behaviour. This is a film you should see.
Recommended for psycho nutters everywhere; and school-teachers.
1 cat, no chainsaws or decapitations. Portia, a beautiful, long-haired cat, has a small but key role, adding both depth to the plot and an air of pathos that the film was otherwise sadly lacking. Unfortunately, as is often the case, I believe its lines, both meows and purrs, were dubbed. When is the film industry going to end this shameless practice?
Top badass moment? Judi Dench’s Barbara; a great, unsung movie bastard-from-hell. So bad she’s badass.
Storytelling is comprised of two separate stories set against the sadly comical terrain of college and high school, past and present. Following the paths of its young hopeful, troubled characters, it explores issues of sex, race, celebrity and exploitation…
2001 – Certificate: 18 – USA
7.5 out of 10
On the walls in my office at work are maps of the eight counties that make up the South East of England. (By the way, I’m not looking now to debate if Sussex is one or two counties, or if the Isle of Wight is one or not, so if you don’t like the number I’ve come up with please feel free to substitute your own; and anyway, I haven’t actually put up the maps for two of them yet, as there’re some old filing cabinets in the way that someone was meant to have got rid of ages ago but hasn’t). The point of them is so when someone rings and starts talking about a detail of his/her tiny village somewhere, I have a chance of actually being able to find it quickly, seeing where it is relative to other places and not sound like I don’t have an intimate knowledge of every part of the 7,373 square miles of the South East. The latter seems to be what most people assume and then get all defensive about when I ask something like, “where exactly is Deeping Minor?” Near the edges of these maps is written stuff that I simply translate as “here be dragons”. I believe these to be blasted, post apocalyptic wastelands, inhabited by mutants, aliens and huge, people-eating monsters. I never go there but I’m pretty sure that’s what it’s like. (Okay, London runs along much of the top of the maps, but really, it’s so small and anyway in its own way it’s full of even weirder stuff.) I have a new boss at work, my fifth in under seven years; (I guess I must be a nightmare to manage). I had to go and visit him last week in his village, a place called Norwich. This is so far away it wasn’t even on the maps. I thought you just fell off the edge of the world if you went that far, but apparently not. The journey took days. It started on a (fairly) modern train and ended with an uncomfortable trip in the open wagon of a local journeyman, who spoke a strange Middle Earth dialect and was selling reeds for thatching; (he was probably a mutant too, but I didn’t like to ask). On reaching my destination I was confronted by a small, blue hut by a muddy river. I was ushered into a tiny room with a cup of some weird, local beverage, where my new manager was waiting. With hindsight, I believe the drink to have included some sort of witch-doctor truth serum. My new manager is a giant, at least thirty feet tall, which somewhat confirmed my suspicions about the conditions to be found beyond the South East. Ever heard or read stories about people confessing to crimes they didn’t commit? I used to think they must be very weak-minded. However, after my long journey and then over 20 hours of non-stop interrogation about what we do in the South East, work-wise, I was ready to agree to anything, just to get away. For some reason I now find myself with financial targets even ExxonMobil would be happy to achieve, so I guess I’m going to be a real bitch-from-hell manager to my team this year. This film is also about telling stories and interpreting life though the prism of a parallel, fictional narrative; or something.
This darkly funny movie is actually two films joined together. One features the students in a creative writing class and the other a would-be documentary maker. They don’t have anything to do with one another, except that push the overall point of the film along, which seems to be to highlight the hypocrisy of how people react to different things, based on how society perceives them rather than simply as a reaction to absolutely how good or bad they are. This is a very dense film in the sense that there’s a real mesh of subtexts and other stuff under its surface. I recommend Goolging it if you want to find out more about them. However, simply on a superficial level, (which is where I generally spend my time), the movie works. It provides plenty of nuanced, flawed characters for us to like, despise, relate to or misunderstand; a set of dysfunctional people trying to do more (and sometimes less), than they’re capable of and failing to realise, whilst getting lost in maze of political correctness and self-importance. Well worth watching, especially for the ‘did he/she just say/do that?’ moments. I watched the uncensored version; that’s the one that doesn’t have the big red rectangle over the ‘rude bits’, which itself was used as a statement by the Director.
Recommended for people who enjoy seeing others fail; not so good for the less-than-liberal middle-classes, who find anything less that PC perfection to be on a level equivalent to the Holocaust.
1 cat, no chainsaws or decapitations. A lovely grey and black stripy cat gets a brief bit of ‘lap-action’, but overall I felt it was very underutilised. A wasted opportunity.
Top badass moment? I’m not for a moment suggesting it’s something anyone else should look to emulate and she was a bit of a nutter on the quiet, but Consuelo’s way of dealing with unemployment was an interesting and radical departure from the norm. A definite bit of thinking outside the box badassness.
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.
Once content to duel it out here on Earth, the eternally scrappy Tom and Jerry now boldly go where no cat and mouse have gone before, when they get trapped on a spaceship bound for Mars. After their mistaken mission goes hilariously out of control, the tables are turned on Tom when, thinking him a giant outer space monster, the Martians attack! But what really bristles the cat’s whiskers is Jerry being hailed as the Martians’ long-long supreme leader! Will the duelling duo put their differences aside long enough to save Earth from invasion? They may need all of Tom’s nine lives to succeed in this extraterrestrially funny adventure.
2005 – Certificate: U – USA
Rating Details: Mild violence
In the first four and a half minutes, (which includes all the opening credits too), Tom has an ironing board smash down on his head, has his head ironed, sets fire to his feet, falls into a food mixer, falls into a liquidiser, gets his head jammed in a toaster and toasted, gets trapped in a dish washer and its associated plumbing, smashes his head into a sink, gets sucked through an aircraft’s jet engine and falls 1,000s of feet though the air onto the ground. I guess that’s the “mild violence” I was warned about. Lucky it’s not a real cat.
I like Tom and Jerry. In fact they’re my favourite cartoon characters of all time. The first part of this film is great, as Tom’s attempts to catch Jerry totally trash a house. Sadly, when we meet a few folk (and aliens) and they start to speak, it all slows down and loses it a bit. I don’t know, but people really shouldn’t talk in Tom and Jerry cartoons; in fact we should hardly see them at all. A few screams and such like are okay, but when they start to have conversations then that’s just wrong. Then again, I’m probably not the demographic that this film is aimed at. If you’re eight years old you probably don’t care about the mythology of Tom and Jerry, you just want to see ‘funny stuff’. Having said that, the big reference to “2001: A Space Odyssey” and the fact that the President looks and sound an awful lot like Arnold Schwarzenegger, are likely to appeal to the more ‘mature’ viewer. The bad guy’s use of a vacuum cleaner as its weapon of choice is somewhat surreal too. What was the originator of that idea on? It’s far from classic Tom and Jerry, but it’s still quite entertaining. The sound is surprisingly good, if a little unsubtle at times and the music excellent. At its best, this film could almost have been made in the 40s, but all too often it falls into more stereotypical Saturday morning cartoon land and dilutes its best down. And how come Tom and Jerry didn’t need spacesuits on Mars, but the astronauts from Earth did? (Okay, maybe I’m overanalysing things a bit now.)
Recommended for the Tom and Jerry hardcore; and little kids.
1 cat (Tom of course), no chainsaws or decapitations. However, a number of heads (mostly Tom’s) do get flattered, burnt, crushed or ‘deflated’.
Top badass moment? I’m told following your dreams in life is important, regardless of the consequences. So I guess Tom smashing up what looked like a really nice house, with a lot of unusual African artefacts it, in an attempt to catch Jerry, is badass then. Jerry’s such a tease and you just know he’s not the one who’s going to get blamed for the mess either; there’re words for individuals like that and they’re not nice words.
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.
Listen up, this is important. I believe the Earth is about to be invaded and taken over by an evil alien, whose sole purpose is to enslave the entire human race and laugh in a really, really annoying way at our suffering. Proof? For a start, this film. The main male character in it is called Zorg. Is Zorg a common name in France? I doubt it. This film is clearly a message from the future sent back into the past, to warn us of the impending doom to come. No one really calls their son Zorg, do they? I hope not, because it’s the sort of name only megalomaniacs in 50’s pulp sci-fi and B-movies should have. Emperor Zorg; Zorg the Mighty; Lord Zorg, Ruler of the Flatulent Empire and 10,000 Worlds; that sort of thing. We never get to meet Zorg’s parents in this film, but honestly, what were they thinking? They must have been smoking something when they came up with that name. Then this evening I had my shopping delivered by someone called Zoltan. Again, another clear example of a Flash Gordon era baddie, who was obviously casing the joint and looking for weaknesses in the Earth’s defences. You shouldn’t allow the fact that he came not in a gigantic spaceship, but in the “cabbage van” (so the text from Ocado said), to deflect your attention. He even had a bit of an accent, which I’m pretty sure wasn’t of this Earth. These aliens, clever people, that’s why they’re ‘here’ and we’re not ‘there’.
1986 – Certificate: 18 – France
Rating Details: Strong scenes of sex and nudity and some strong violence
Clocking in at almost three hours (it was the Director’s Cut), this is a loooong, French, romantic movie that takes us on a trip with young couple Zorg and Betty. From painting beach houses, through to working in a pizza restaurant, writing books and selling pianos, it chronicles their relationship and the effect Betty’s (undefined) mental illness has on it. Having a friend with the latter, I found it intensely saddening at times. But I also enjoyed it in a rather Thomas Hardyish way, in the sense that I knew the relationship was probably doomed from the start and I was just waiting for it to crash and burn. Now having just compared it to a quintessentially English author, it’s actually a very French film. There’re plenty of examples of tasteful love-making (because the French are supposed to be good at that), as well as lots of ‘unconcerned nudity’ in it, most of it of the male variety it has to be said. It also had several somewhat bizarre and funny scenes of what you might consider to be almost slapstick comedy too. The ending is somewhat inexplicable as well, which seems to happen a lot in French films. Ultimately though, it’s a downer of a movie and after spending three hours with the characters, sharing virtually every aspect of their relationship with them, it’s hard not to be affected. I really felt sorry for them both. It’s a nice looking film too (and I’m not just talking about the main characters) and the mono soundtrack is actually pretty decent.
Recommended for those who are willing to invest an evening in lusting after Betty or Zorg.
1 cat, no decapitations or chainsaws. The cat, a lovely white one, appears in three scenes and has a pivotal role right at the end, including a bit of (dubbed) dialogue.
Top badass moment? Betty throwing a bucket of pink paint all over Zorg’s boss’s car. He was a serious asshole and quite frankly a load of paint on his car was the least he deserved. When you’re boyfriend’s being a wimp and not sticking up for himself, someone has to be badass about it. And let’s face it, who hasn’t thought of doing something like that to a crappy manager at one time or another?
If 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?
I went to the dentist yesterday. The good news was that I didn’t need any treatment. The bad news was that I need to have a wisdom tooth removed. Having spoken to three people about this since, all of whom it turned out have had more than one of these teeth removed, I now realise that having my head amputated would be somewhat less painful and traumatic. When a dentist has a look and goes “oooooh”, then you know her next line isn’t going to be good news. My dentist’s helpful suggestion was that I should see one of her colleagues, as he’s better at extractions; and stronger. I wouldn’t mind, but it’s not hurting me or bothering me in the least. Who named them wisdom teeth anyway? They’re clearly very stupid teeth! Probably my earliest childhood memory is of having a tooth taken out at the dentist, screaming my head off in pain and my mum coming in and giving the dentist a piece of her mind; I recall she had him pinned up against the wall, which was very out of character for her! To say having the opportunity to revisit this experience now I’m a grown-up is not top of my plans this summer, would be an understatement of galactic proportions. I’m seriously considering giving up food entirely and just living on tepid, filtered, distilled water. I’m sure I can probably do it myself anyway, with a pair of pliers or something. I’m struggling to identify what the connection might be between this film and my impending operation, but I felt I needed to share the latter.
2006 – Certificate: 15 – France
Rating Details: Moderate Violence, Suicide Scene, Brief Nudity and Strong Language
The Last of the Crazy People is a French film, in French. After quite a long run of other sorts of films, it was good to get back to one of my favourite sub-genera, the dysfunctional family. In this case it lives on a farm in France, not that there’re actually any scenes of farming going on in it. I’m not sure what to make of it really. It’s very slow, it has no music in it whatsoever and there are quite long periods when not a lot seems to be happening. The main character in it is a ten-year-old boy called Martin, who’s basically neglected and ignored by most of the other people in the film who are too busy with their own problems; most of what’s going on is seen from his prospective. I feel watching it probably ought to have had more of an effect on me than it did, but somehow I didn’t really feel very sorry for any of the characters and the more shocking scenes felt a bit flat. (I probably watch too many Hollywood blockbusters with lots of noise and explosions in them to help me to understand what’s going on.) The boy who plays the part of Martin, does manage to look suitably miserable for virtually the entire film and is really very convincing, which helps the quality of the movie greatly. He also walks exactly like Bod. (If you don’t know who Bod is I suggest you type “Bod” in to YouTube.) A few years ago I went through a phase of trying to write film reviews on the Amazon web site, which included writing one about this movie. I eventually realised that my irrelevant and childish ramblings didn’t fit well with the average, serious Amazon DVD buying person; my review for this one is presently being found “helpful” by 7 out of 14 people; or to put it another way, it’s being found unhelpful by 7 out of 14 people.
Recommended for pissed off ten-year-olds everywhere. Not so good for people interested in studying modern developments in agricultural land management in France.
1 cat and no decapitations. The cat, a big ginger and white one, had a speaking part and appeared in five scenes! Sadly it’s last one involved it being run over and then put into a freezer. It did look suspiciously like it had been drugged for this last one too, which didn’t impress me one bit.
Top badass moment? Any ten-year-old who singlehandedly takes on responsibility for sorting out his family’s problems, is badass personified. So okay, his solution was a little unorthodox, but it probably worked.
In much the same way as everyone (except the most optimistic or stupid) have sort of resigned themselves to never having it so good again as a result of the economic realities we presently face, the population of Cactus World has been much comforted recently by the safe return of Penny from her visit to the vet, but realises that this is, at best, more of a stay of execution than anything else. When a vet says, ‘well we could do some blood tests” but then doesn’t pursue the suggestion, it does give you the feeling that what she’s really saying is, “well we could do some blood tests, but actually she’s old, she’s not going to live much longer and if we do find anything more specific wrong with her there’s probably not much we can do about it anyway”.
Penny is having a lot of trouble walking now too, as her back legs don’t seem to be working very well and she can’t jump up onto anything either; she has tried a few times but never gets off the ground. This wasn’t a problem until the last few days, as she was able to walk okay when she went to see the vet. She doesn’t seem to be in pain though, thank goodness, just a bit confused by the lack of support at the back. When she sits down she looks okay from the front, but then you realise that her back legs aren’t quite in the right place. When she walks she’s very unsteady and sort of staggers a lot. She’s also taken to sitting in quite random places, locations where’s she’s never sat before, probably when she gets tired walking. I only just missed treading on her when I got up this morning, as she’d wrapped herself in my fleece on the floor; it was simply luck that prevented me from stepping on her as I didn’t notice she was there until I went back into the bedroom a few minutes later. Poor Penny.
Still, she did manage to embarrass me at the vets. After my explaining, at great length, in a miserable and pathetic voice, about how Penny had stopped eating, the vet went and got a bowl of food for her. Doing her best “I’ve a cruel and heartless master who hates all animals and starves me purely for his own pleasure and entertainment” impression, Penny proceeded to eat all the food offered to her and then have a go at the plastic bowl too, with more energy than I’ve seen her do anything for years. Seriously, if she was playing the part of starving cat in a movie, she’d be up for an Oscar. I’m probably being secretly tailed by the RSPCA now, in the hope of catching me carrying out some sort of heinous crime against all animal-kind. I ended buying six tins of this über expensive cat food from the vet, which Penny has shown, at best, a luke-warm appreciation of ever since returning home. However, she’s eating more now and is more ‘with it’ than she was before too; I have to heat her food up a bit in the microwave first, which seems to make quite bit difference to her enjoyment of it.
Right now I’m listening to “Rock Me In (Dub)” by the Thompson All Stars.
Penny isn’t well. She’s been eating less and less over the last week or so and tonight didn’t even finishing her dinner. Even the horrible, meaty cat foot that I give her (which she normally scoffs), along with her yummy vegan biscuits (which she begrudgingly eats, mostly as a favour to me I think), was hardly touched. She also wouldn’t eat the treats I tried to tempt her with. Over the past week she’s lost a lot of weight and has become less and less active. She doesn’t seem in pain and can jump up on the bed or futon if she wants to. It’s just that doing anything appears to be too much of an effort for her at the moment.
No one knows Penny’s exact age, but Cactus World’s best archaeologists and historians have researched all the available data and come to the conclusion that she’s about 18, which is pretty old for a cat. I’m going to take her to see our top vet tomorrow, but the general feeling on the streets of Cactus World is that its first citizen may not been returning home again. The weather outside may be improving, but a grey, damp drizzle has mentally enveloped the population, as it struggles with its feelings of helplessness and despair. Like myself, everyone is having difficulty contemplating any sort of future, should the worst happen. Penny is one of the defining features of Cactus World and has touched every citizen’s heart, providing unconditional love, affection and spiritual guidance for all, since she first arrived after my mum died three years ago. I think it might soon be time for them to be together again.
All in all, this is turning into one really, really crap week.
Right now I’m listening to “5 Years” by the Outcasts.
In the same way that I feel a bit sorry for teenagers these days, growing up in a period swamped with crappy indie rock bands with nothing to say and auto-tuned dance music, I also feel sorry for those people who are now in their early 50s, who were teenagers in the early-mid 70s. It must have been awful deciding who to go and see, the Osmonds, David Cassidy, Paper Lace, the Bay City Rollers, Yes, or Emerson, Lake and Palmer; or maybe I’ll just kill myself instead. The first half of the 70s was a barren, talentless, artistically worthless vacuum. (Please don’t bother to take me to task over this statement; I’ve already determined this to be a fact, using the most up to date scientific methodology that you wouldn’t understand and a massive super-computer.) Unfortunately, the movie industry was equally as guilty of falling into this void. Now I appreciate that there were occasional, individual flashes of worthwhileness during this time and that people will say I’m missing the point of the vibe of the movies made then. To these people I’ll just say this; there are sometimes positive aspects to sitting in a traffic jam for ages, but on the whole not very many. You’re basically stuck there and you don’t have a lot of choice; rather like living in the early 70s with its range of music and films I suppose. Why do I even watch films made in the early-mid 70s? I must be a sick individual to put myself through the same pain, over and over again. I guess I must feel a bit of the pioneering spirit prevalent in the 19th Century Gold Rushes, living rough in the hope of uncovering that gem of artistic merit that makes it all worth it. (I’ve long given up on finding a whole seam of gold; just one flake would do me now).
1976 – Certificate: Not Rated
This obscure, B-movie home-invasion thriller (well I have to call it something) is about two young women who randomly turn up at some rich guy’s house in San Francisco and proceed to basically trash the place and fuck-up his life. Quite why is never really explained. To their credit, the two women do carry out their ‘mission’ in a very determined manner and never really show any signs of wavering. They were really quite disturbing and convincing at times. George (the victim) was a bit of a wimp to be honest; his wife beats him at croquet for goodness sake. It didn’t take much to make him cheat on her either; I really didn’t warm to him at all. There’s an awful lot of food eaten and thrown about too. The technical quality of this film is abysmal (lots of scratches and dirt all over it) and it’s pan and scan (an invention of the Devil) as well, so we lose a lot of the action off of the sides of the screen from time to time. The other thing that marks this film out is the music. Of course, it has the normal selection of horrible 70s inspired tunes; at one point George plays an LP for one of the women that his children have just got him for his 40th birthday. It did occur to me that they must have a terrible relationship, given the noise that came out of the stereo. However, the biggie music-wise is the song that gets played over the opening credits and at several points during the film over montage-like sequences. “Good Old Dad” is evil. It goes on and on, and on. It was amusing enough the first time, but by the 2,000th play it had actually caused me a measurable level of psychological damage. Come to think of it, the women in the film had probably heard it once too often, which would explain their behaviour. Oh I nearly forgot, the ending is one of those, “what the f***?” ones. However, I’m not going to entirely trash this film, as hidden inside all the bad things is a good movie trying to get out. It’s probably worth persevering and giving it a watch, if it’s Sunday and raining outside.
Recommended for time-travellers, who want to visit a bad place.
1 cat and no decapitations. The cat is so cute! Its name is (I think) Teaky and it’s lovely and white. It even has several lines of dialogue (although I do have reason to believe these were dubbed). It’s in two scenes, but sadly its final one involves it being hurled through a glass window. Poor Teaky. :-( If the same scenes had been in a more well know film I’m sure we’d be looking at an Oscar nomination at the very least.
Top badass moment? You don’t get a good look at it, but George’s stereo seemed to be pretty awesome; it certainly impressed the two woman and to his credit I don’t think he was even using it as a penis extension either. As well as being one of life’s essentials (like water, air, food, shelter, etc), having a big stereo is badass.
How exciting, I just checked and discovered that I’d got my first bit of spam here! But really, does Penny look like the sort of cat that wants to see Russian bondage porn? (Well it was hardly aimed at me was it? It’s not like I’ve made a career out of regularly commenting on this specific topic, so I can only imagine Penny’s been using the computer when I’m out and signing up for a range of dodgy literature to be sent to her; we’ll be having words about it later.) But here’s a little tip anyway, to all those that make their living from sending out spam. If you’re going to send porn to cats, do at least make it feature young, naked, live mice, splattered with a thick layer of catnip juice, wrestling in the jelly from a can of extra meaty Whiskas Supermeat. Now that’s hardcore.
Right now I’m listening to “Coppers” by Rancid.