Posts tagged “Classic

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Recommended for old soldiers, the patriotic and heroes.

No cats, chainsaws or decapitations.

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

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

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Dirty Harry / Beating the Banking System


Dirty Harry  -  Front DVD Cover  -  UK ReleaseHarry Callahan is a tough, streetwise San Francisco cop whom they call Dirty Harry.  In this action classic, you’ll see why – and also why Clint Eastwood’s reputation as a premier film star and moviemaker is secure.  A rooftop sniper (Andy Robinson) calling himself Scorpio, has killed twice and holds the city ransom with the threat of killing again.  Harry will nail him , one way or the other, no matter what the “system” prescribes.  Filming on location, director Don Siegel made the City by the Bay a vital part of Dirty Harry, a practice continued in its four sequels.  Forty three years after its arrival the original remains one of the most gripping police thrillers ever made.

1971  –  Certificate: 18  –  American Film
7.5 out of 10

This week I’ve inadvertently become a champion and role-model for the downtrodden masses, as I successfully concluded my fight for compensation as a result of the evil and corrupt banking industry misselling me Payment Protection Insurance for a credit card.  As we all know now, every single person who’s ever worked for a bank is a child of the Devil.  From the CEO to the office cleaners.  They exist for one purpose only and that’s to rip everyone else off.  Well they made one BIG mistake trying to take me on.  After many letters, the MBNA has finally capitulated, agreed it made a ‘mistake’ and has paid me back, with interest.  I can’t decide what to spend it on first, a yacht, a jet or an Aston Martin or two.  I guess a few lines of coke and some high-class ‘escorts’ wouldn’t go amiss either.  I can finally get rid of all my pathetic, stupid, so-called friends and buy myself a whole lot of new ones that better fit my improved social status.  The rich and the powerful will invite me to everything.  A-list celebrities will be at my beck and call.  My membership of the Bilderberg Group is assured.  I’m going to start voting Conservative at once, not that I really need to worry about politics now, as I could easily buy myself a whole country if I wanted to.  So I guess you probably want to know how much I got?  Well, the cheque I was sent is made out to me for 20p…

“Dirty Harry” is a film about a naughty policeman, which was inspired by the Lurkers’ 1999 non-hit “Go Ahead Punk”.  (I’ve got this on a very limited edition 7” single in grey vinyl, number 34 of the 125 that were made.)  Its main character Harry Callahan was based on James Callaghan, who was British Prime Minister from 1976-1979 and thus oversaw the invention of punk rock by the downtrodden masses that he created during the Winter of Discontent.  “Winter of Discontent” was also a great track from Political Asylum’s Winter EP, a copy of which I was sold by the band on the Fulham Palace Road, on my way to a Lurkers gig at the Fulham Greyhound.  (The latter was tragically renamed/relaunched earlier this year as an American theme pub called the Southern Belle. WTF?)  Its historical significance aside, this film gave us the original police officer who doesn’t play by the rules but gets away with, who still haunts TV and films to this day.  Scorpio is also a great psycho without a thread of remorse whatsoever and stands up well to the more modern versions that have followed in his wake.  I doubt there’s anything else I could possibly say about this film that hasn’t already been said 100 times before, so won’t.  But for what’s now quite an old film, it still looks good.   Essential viewing.

This movie is pretty light on music, which is just as well given it was made in the early 70s.

The trailer’s very long and seems to be desperate to portray Harry as more of a victim of circumstance than a police officer who really ought to be sacked for gross misconduct at the very least.  He could easily be Martin Riggs‘ father.

Recommended for police officers, psychos and school bus drivers.

No cats, chainsaws or decapitations.

Top badass moment?  Not once but twice, Harry gives us one of his two, world-famous quotes, here and here.  What other character would have the audacity to do that?  (Arnie’s done it but not twice in the same film I don’t think.)  That’s like a DJ playing the same song back-to-back, it just doesn’t happen; (unless you’re John Peel and you’re playing the Undertones, but that’s okay).  He must have been feeling lucky, punk.

Dirty Harry at IMDB (7.8 / 10)
Dirty Harry at Wikipedia
Dirty Harry at Roger Ebert (3.0/4.o)
Dirty Harry Trailer on YouTube


Star Trek 2: The Wrath of Khan / Cinematic Perfection


Star Trek 2: The Wrath of Khan  -  Front Blu-ray Cover  -  UK Release Box SetFeeling that the future holds nothing close to what the past once did, Admiral James T. Kirk begins to believe that galloping around the cosmos is a game for the young.  Yet on a routine inspection of the U.S.S. Enterprise, Kirk’s Starfleet career enters a new chapter as a result of his most vengeful nemesis: Khan Noonien Singh, the genetically enhanced conqueror from late 20th-century Earth.  Escaping his forgotten prison, Khan sets his sights on both capturing Project Genesis, a device of god-like power, and the utter destruction of Kirk.

1982  –  Certificate 12  –  American Film
10.0 out of 10.0

Yesterday was Wednesday; time for another trip to the dentist.  My dentist (who for some reason reminds me more and more of a vampire each time I see him), seemed in a slightly better mood this week; (I guess he must have had a good feed of virgin’s blood or something).  He still didn’t want to remove my misbehaving wisdom tooth though.  Instead he gave me even more antibiotics.  In this film Khan says to Kirk, “I’ve done far worse than kill you, Admiral.  I’ve hurt you.  And I wish to go on hurting you.”  This time my dentist gave my antibiotics that I’m not supposed to drink alcohol with.  I’m pretty sure I know how Kirk felt about Khan at that moment.  I think my dentist might be into my “utter destruction” too.  It’s just a feeling I have.

When people ask me what my favourite film of all time is, I often say this one. The best sequel ever, I’ve watched it 1,000s of times (poetic licence okay) and can probably quote most of the dialogue, but I still love watching it again.  And I’m probably about to gush a load of insufferable, embarrassing and slightly degrading stuff about it and how it’s affected my life, but I don’t care.  If this movie hadn’t become the success it was, it’s quite likely there’d have been no more Star Trek and basically life as we all know it would be futile and virtually meaningless.  Star Trek gives us meaning and purpose, and this film is probably as close as any of us will get to perfection.  From the awesome first scene, where most of the regular crew appear to get killed, until the final one where someone really does, it’s just one, long, cinematic orgasm.  It’s the sort of film the Borg would enjoy in its search for perfection.  The fact that it was revisited for “Star Trek: Into Darkness” (which was also an amazing movie) just goes to prove how good it really is.  It’s got a great villain and a great (if slightly clumsy looking) space battle in it too.  Made over 30 years old, it’s theme of getting old has become more and more relevant to me with each viewing, as they characters in it haven’t aged a bit but I have; I guess it wasn’t such a big deal when it was first released when I was 19.  I use so, so many out of context quotes from this film in my day-to-day life.  Indeed, I think I’ve probably arranged my life to better fit the film, entirely for this purpose.  So, for example, when I drive about in my car I secretly, (or not so secretly if I’ve got a passenger with me who I don’t feel will think I’ve lost it), when I go from one area to another, ‘borrow’ from Sulu’s words during the Kobayashi Maru scene and say something a bit like, “exiting the Berkshire sector, for the Hampshire sector”.  (Yes, I really do that; in fact it’s become such a habit that I have to actively stop myself doing it if I don’t want to weird anyone out too much.)  When I do my budget forecasts at work I often think that I’m facing my very own Kobayashi Maru test and then find myself quoting Sulu again, “We’re not going to make it, are we?”  In fact my whole life is a “no win scenario”.  And as someone who used to do something quite similar to “exploring strange new worlds” and “galloping around the cosmos”, but is now stuck behind a desk delivering the occasional bit of training, I can totally relate to Kirk when he says the latter “is a game for the young”.  If it didn’t mean I had to go outside when it was cold and wet, I’d follow McCoy’s advice; “Get back your command. Get it back before you really do grow old.”  Sadly I’ve never had anyone say anything like “Commanding a starship is your first, best destiny; anything else is a waste of material” to me.  I guess that means I was as rubbish at what I used to do as what I do now.  Shame really.  I guess I’ll have to steal one of our minibuses from work, go back in time and save the Dodo or something like that; which seems strangely apt.  (But that’s another tale for another Star Trek film.)  And the list goes on and on.  Sad, isn’t it?  And as for the overall story arc of starting the day with a routine bit of work and ending it literally saving the universe from an evil genius with a terrifying weapon; well, that’s not as unusual for me as it might seem.

Is there’s a bigger gap anywhere between a great film and a diabolically bad trailer?  I don’t think so.  OMG, it’s bad!  (Note for young people:  That’s “bad” as in actually bad, not “bad” as in wicked, sick, hot, etc.)

Not only is this film almost perfect, it’s also got an amazing soundtrack; I even bought it on CD and I hardly ever do that.  There’s a bit of music which is used when the Enterprise is first seen in dry dock just prior to launch.  Whenever I’ve start anything epic in my life (which is exceedingly rare), or driven a new vehicle for the first time (also exceedingly rare), that bit of music is my soundtrack to the event.  Imagine the lights coming on, the music booming out and try it yourself, it really works!  (Incidentally, I’ve never really understood why Kirk looks so uncomfortable in this scene.  Whatever Saavik says or does, it’s Sulu that’s actually ‘driving’, so I can’t imagine for a moment he’s just going to go ahead and crash into something if she makes a mistake.)

Recommended for everyone.  Seriously, if you don’t like this film you really need to go see a doctor.

No cats, chainsaws of decapitations.

Top badass moment?  Can I say the whole film?  I guess not, so I’m going to select Kirk’s reprogramming the Kobayashi Maru test so he could beat it.  Is that not the ultimate in thinking outside the box?  (You could set up an entire and very lucrative, senior management training programme around that one.)  It’s just a shame it’s not possible to do it to real-life.  I’d have my Aston Martin by now if it was.  It’s still totally badass though.

Star Trek 2: The Wrath of Khan at IMDB (7.8 / 10)
Star Trek 2: The Wrath of Khan at Wikipedia
Star Trek 2: The Wrath of Khan at Roger Ebert (3.0/4.0)
Star Trek 2: The Wrath of Khan trailer at You Tube (the original one)
Star Trek 2: The Wrath of Khan trailer at You Tube (a better one)


Alien / Immigration


Alien Anthology  -  Front Blu-ray Cover  -  UK ReleaseThe massive space-tug Nostromo glides silently through space.  Back from the outer reaches of the galaxy, it’s taking its seven-member crew back to Earth.  But when the ship’s computer receives a distress signal from a nearby planetary system, it rouses the crew from their cryo-sleep.  It isn’t until after the Nostromo has landed on a barren planet named LV-426 and three crewmembers have gone out to investigate a huge derelict spacecraft that the signal is deciphered and found to be a warning.  But one crewmember has already experienced a shocking face-to-face encounter with an alien creature while inspecting an egg-shaped pod.  And so the horror begins – a horror which will end the lives of six crewmembers and alter the life of the seventh forever.

1979  –  Certificate: 15  –  American Film
Rating Details:  Contains strong language, moderate violence and horror
8.0 out of 10

So anyway, I sat through this entire film convinced I was watching a party political broadcast on behalf of the Conservative Party; one that had chosen to spotlight the Party’s views on immigration.  Why?  1.  Well, for a start it’s called “Alien”, a phrase which seems to sum up a large proportion of everyone the Daily Mail, (which is the propaganda wing of the Party), doesn’t like.  2.  It features a crew of people who are “working hard to get on in life”, before having things suddenly buggered up for them by a nasty alien.  This is obviously a reference to wholesome, law-abiding Middle England British families having to deal with the effects of uncontrolled immigration.  3.  It features a hideous, unstoppable creature that wants what we have and bleeds acid everywhere if you piss it off.  (Well, it’s 45 years since Enoch Powell’s “Rivers of Blood” speech, so I guess you have to up the ante these days.)  This is clearly an allusion to foreigners, especially the billions of people from Bulgaria and Romania who’re poised to ‘invade’ Britain (or more importantly the Tory heartland of the South East of England) on the 1st January 2014.  From what I’ve seen in some of the media recently, I doubt there’ll be anyone left in either of those two countries by the time everyone here goes back to work the following week.  Not that we’ll have jobs anymore, because they’ll all have been taken by them instead, whilst they’re simultaneously signing on the dole, having babies and not learning to speak English.  And Romanians in particular are all just gymnasts, orphans or vampires, so why should they be allowed into the country?  4.  Crewmember Ash turns out to be an android, in the pay of some nefarious organisation, ready to sacrifice everyone to make sure the alien gets back to Earth.  Ash just has to be Vince Cable, working for the Lib Dems.  His dark, evil plan?  To let some foreigners into Britain.  Traitor!  And what does the android turn out to be full of? Nasty, goo-spewing Cables.  Case proved I think.  5.  The movie features a lot of people desperately running and creeping about in dark corridors, with a weird device that uses technobabble to find aliens, until they finally manage to successfully track one down.  To me that sounds a lot like politicians quoting from random surveys and statistics, in an effort to concoct some evidence to support their views.  6.  When they stop worrying about the alien for a few moments, it suddenly explodes out of John Hurt’s chest.  I think that’s self explanatory; give them an inch and they’ll take a mile.  7.  When they actually manage to find the alien, they quickly throw together some sort of bizarre, home-made weapon to try and get rid of it, which is undoubtedly analogous to their hastily thrown together ideas about caps on immigration; badly thought out, probably illegal, unfair and unworkable.  8.  The alien kills everyone off one by one, which is exactly what all foreigners want to do to our way of life.  Indeed, that’s their only reason to exist.  (And let’s not forget that John Hurt was also Doctor Who).  9.  Most things in the film have an alternative,  sexual interpretation, which somehow just comes across as eww.  Ever seen British politicians trying to be cool, attractive, or in-touch?  It’s provides much the same feeling.  10.  The alien is killed, after  just about everything is destroyed, including the whole spaceship.  This is exactly what will happen to the country if the Tories deal with immigration in their way.  Babies and bathwater.  Apparently there’s a party political broadcast on behalf of UKIP somewhere too.  It’s called “Aliens”.

There can’t be much that hasn’t been said or written about this film.  So I’m just going to say it’s essential viewing for anyone interested in cinema.

Most of the music used was composed by Jerry Goldsmith, one of the best film composers ever.  It’s good.  Very good.

Isn’t this a rubbish trailer?  Slow, confusing, and sounding and looking horrible, it makes the film seems about as appealing as snogging a face hugger.

Recommended for aliens, foreigners, politicians and anyone that works on a spaceship.

1 cat, no chainsaws or decapitations.  Despite providing one of the most famous cat characters in all of film history, Jonsey doesn’t even get a mention in the credits.  It must suck sometimes being a cat.

Top badass moment?    Vince Cable giving the rest of the Government shit about its approach to immigration.  No, wait, I’m mixing this film up with a Conservative party political broadcast again.  Malevolent aliens?  Bulgarians?  Romanians?  It’s confusing.  Don’t worry, I’ll check the facts in tomorrow’s Daily Mail.  (Interesting, when I was 16 I’d have probably said the top badass moment heavily featured Sigourney Weaver’s panties.  I must be getting old.)

Alien at IMDB (8.5 / 10)  –  43rd best film ever
Alien at Wikipedia
Alien at Roger Ebert (4.5 / 5)
Alien at YouTube


Saving Private Ryan / Saving Everyone Else


Saving Private Ryan  -  Front DVD Cover  -  UK ReleaseInternationally acclaimed by critics and audiences alike, Steven Spielberg’s “Saving Private Ryan” is an unforgettable film achievement that has had profound and lasting impact throughout the world.  Winner of five Academy Awards, including Best Director, the film also captured Oscars for Cinematography, Film Editing, Sound and Sound Effects Editing.  Saving Private Ryan was the top-grossing motion picture of 1998.  Seen through the eyes of a squad of American soldiers, the story begins with World War II’s historic D-Day invasion, then moves beyond the beach as the men embark on a dangerous special mission.  Captain John Miller (Tom Hanks) must take his men behind enemy lines to find Private James Ryan, whose three brothers have been killed in combat.  Faced with impossible odds, the men question their orders.  Why are eight men risking their lives to save just one?  Surrounded by the brutal realities of war, each man searches for his own answer – and the strength to triumph over an uncertain future with honour, decency and courage.

1998  –  Certificate:15  –  American Film
Rating Details:
9.0 out of 10

The Internet is awash with every possible analysis of this film.  So, let me just start by summarising its real plot.  Tom Hanks gets given a job to do with his team.  They have a few concerns and questions as to the point of what they’re asked to do.  The end.  Well, big deal.  Welcome to the modern world of employment gentleman.  I find myself in that situation a lot in my job, that’s just how it is.  It’s true, I’m not likely to kill many people or get killed if it all goes a bit pear-shaped, but as someone who’s employed to save the planet, it can get a bit onerous at times.  So here’s some advice for you Tom.  “You really need to visualise the big picture and stop looking at the details.  We’re all One Team and we’re all in this together, so stop giving bandwidth to our value chain and metrics that doesn’t concern you.  Just be happy to be a small piece in a big jigsaw and relentlessly concentrate on fitting yourself into the right place at the right time, for the greater good.  It’s other people’s challenge to sort out those sorts of mission critical, strategic goals, so you don’t need to quantify the methodology yourself.   Let them drill down, do the blue-sky thinking, and deal with the structural underpinning.  You’re good at what you do, so leverage your core competencies to provide locally focused, robustly broad-based solutions, as we incentivise our external stakeholders to strongly buy-in to our USP.  As a matrix organisation, your knowledge and experience as one of our best product evangelists and of interacting with a wide range of partners at a delivery level, is vital.  We know we can trust you to provide a flexible approach, as we move forward and in the current period harvest the low-hanging fruit.  Tom, it’s just a different way of working.  Allowing well-qualified colleagues to take the burden of decision-making away from you, should leave you time-enriched and in better shape to play your part, as well as provide you with a more focused environment in which to do so.  You don’t need to worry Tom, we’ve got everything covered for you, but I wanted to give you the heads-up on this.  However, if you have any other difficulties in living our values, let’s touch base offline and share a thought-shower; my office door is always open.”  As an unambitious nobody, it works for me.

This film is the 37th best ever movie, according to IMDB.  That’s pretty impressive.  Whilst I admire Steven Spielberg’s work, I sometimes find it makes me feel a bit queasy, as if I’ve eaten too many yummy sweets.  However, “Saving Private Ryan” is one of the good ones.  The battle scene at the start is 27 minutes of real movie magic and there are plenty of other parts that come pretty close to this too.  It’s essential viewing.  War is truly the biggest obscenity of all.

With a full orchestral score, music is used sparingly but effectively.  I think you can buy it on CD if you’re desperate enough.

No cats, chainsaws or decapitations.

Recommended for soldiers, politicians and middle managers.

Top badass moment?  Take your pick, there’s plenty of choice.

Saving Private Ryan at IMDB (8.6 / 10)

Saving Private Ryan at Wikipedia


Close Encounters of the Third Kind: 3.5 Stars


Close Encounters of the Third Kind  -  Front Blu-ray Cover (UK)Steven Spielberg’s classic film is back now on this never-before-released Ultimate Edition Blu-ray Disc, which includes all three versions of the sci-fi blockbuster.  Richard Dreyfuss stars as cable worker Roy Neary, who along with several other stunned bystanders experience a close encounter of the first kind – witnessing UFOs soaring across the sky.  After this life-changing event, the inexplicable vision of a strange, mountain-like formation haunts him. He becomes obsessed with discovering what it represents, much to the dismay of his wife and family.  Meanwhile, bizarre occurrences are happening around the world.  Government agents have close encounters of the second kind – discovering physical evidence of extraterrestrial visitors in the form of a lost fighter aircraft from World War II and a stranded military ship that disappeared decades earlier only to suddenly reappear in unusual places.  Roy continues to chase his vision to a remote area where he and the agents follow the clues that have drawn them to reach a site where they will have a close encounter of the third kind – contact.

1977  –  Certificate: PG  –  USA
Rating Details:  Mild language and scary scenes

In a departure from my normal viewing habits, I decided to take a look at some promotional films this week.  Quite randomly, I thought I’d start with this rather overlong ‘advert’ for the Devils Tower National Monument.  Looming more than 1,200’ above Wyoming’s eastern plains and the Belle Fourche River, it’s a one-of-a-kind natural wonder.  Northern Plains tribes have worshipped near this remarkable, geological formation for thousands of years.  Fur trappers, explorers and settlers alike were awed by the tower’s majesty.  In 1906, President Theodore Roosevelt established Devils Tower as America’s first National Monument.  Certainly it’s an amazing feature; I’d love to visit it one day.  However, what really gobsmacked me what that this was the site of Earth’s very first contact with aliens.  How the Hell did I miss that?  Possibly the most important thing to happen in my lifetime and I knew absolutely nothing about it!  This promo, which to be honest is more of a documentary than anything else, describes the actual meeting and there’s even film of the aliens in it too, as well as a load of scientists and other people.  Apparently some French guy called Steven Spielberg, who worked for an electricity company and used to be a shark fisherman, first made contact with them when his young son ran away one night.  In fact he was nearly run over by a flying saucer.  What’s especially interesting is that the aliens’ culture appears to be almost entirely based on the music of the Electric Light Orchestra; even the design of its flying saucers is based on the cover of ELO’s most successful album, “Out of the Blue”; a strangely apt title under the circumstances.  Incredible!  What isn’t made clear is what the aliens actually came here for, other than to give us a load of stuff they nicked during the Second World War; maybe an alien child took it and his/her/its mother send him/her/it back to return it, I’m not sure.  The only thing they seemed to introduce us to is the concept of ‘sonic branding’, something that Intel has been using ever since.  I have to admit I’m still having difficulty coming to terms with all this.  I’ve tried Googling “aliens”, but there’re 133 million pages of stuff about them.  Totally mind-blowing.

Unfortunately, despite the game-changing news it contains, this promo/documentary itself isn’t that great.  A lot of things aren’t explained very well.  I wanted to know about the aliens, not the personal relationships of the people involved.  The film of the spaceships does look excellent on Blu-ray, although their grasp of music, based as it is on ELO, isn’t exactly going to set the charts alight, or burn-up any dance-floors anytime soon.  Their song really could do with a good remix.  The same goes for this film.  I imagine if they’d got someone in who knew what they were doing, it would have been a lot shorter, more to the point and made it far clearer what the aliens wanted.  I guess it was just put together by some local film company; a tourist board would hardly be in a position to hire a top Hollywood director.  Come to think of it, as a fan of cinema I’m surprised no one has tried to make a movie about this event.  It would make an awesome film.

Recommended for idiots like me that missed this bit of news back in 1977.  I guess I was too busy with punk to notice.

No cats, chainsaws or decapitations.  Though I imagine there were a load of ray guns and stuff on the spaceship and who knows, maybe some aliens pets too.

Top badass moment?  Aliens landing on Earth for real?  What do you think?

Close Encounters of the Third Kind at IMDB (7.8/10)


Saw: 4.5 Stars


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

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

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

Recommended for fans of genuinely great thrillers and horrors.

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

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

Saw at IMDB (7.7 / 10)

Cyclamen


The Italian Job: 4.5 Stars


The Italian Job  -  Front DVD CoverBefore I wised-up and realised that cars were the spawn of the Devil and responsible for the political, environmental and social decline of our world, I was a bit obsessed with them.  When I was in my early teens I’d buy Motor magazine every week; I’d send off for reviews of cars from other magazines too, just so I could spend hours and hours comparing them.  I went to the Motor Show.  I had just about every pack of Top Trump cards you could get that were about cars.  I had about 50 Matchbox toy cars and regularly used to run them along a long section of track that started at my bedroom window (on the first floor) and went down into the garden below, before carefully putting them back in the box in the order of the ones that got the furthest down the track.  (I must have got a lot of exercise keep running up and down the stairs and into the garden, if I did that each time for all 50.)   I had a Saturday and school holiday job in a car repair shop, where I worked for several years.  (I earned £5 a day).  I could recognise and name just about every car on the road, in a matter of seconds.  When I was old enough to drive, I had several cars at different times, which I pulled to bits and rebuilt in various ways.  So basically, what I’m saying is that I knew everything about cars.

So what car did I decide to drive?  A Mini?  Nope.  In fact I choose the arch nemesis of the Mini, the Hillman Imp.  (I also had a Singer Chamois coupe and a Sunbeam Imp Sport too, which were basically different versions of the Imp.)  It was a great little car; even though it overheated all the time it was miles better than the boring old Mini; it just had an aversion to motorways.  It had a rear engine, which made it really like a Porsche, kind of.  When I was at university I managed to roll an Imp onto its roof, with five of us in it.  Fortunately no one was hurt.  I still have the pictures of what was left of the car.  I got done for careless driving too!  Who’s ever heard of a man who drives carelessly?  The police tried to make out I was doing over 60mph, but in fact the Imp struggled to get to that speed even on a motorway with just me in it.  When I went to the police station the next day to make a statement, there was a little piece of my Imp’s bodywork (it was partly fibreglass) in an ashtray on the desk; they’d thrown a bit of my car away!  (I didn’t ask for it back though.)  The police only found out about my accident as we were pushing what was left of the car along the road to get it home, when one overtook us and smashed head-on into one driving in the other direction.  Amazingly no one was badly hurt in that crash either, even though they must have hit each other at a combined speed of about 70mph.  I remember someone coming out of a nearby house, spotting some oil on the ground in the darkness and exclaiming with what I remember seemed a lot of excitement in his voice, “Is that blood?”  Weirdo.  Anyway, what I’m getting at here is that this film would have been a lot better if they’d picked Imps rather than Minis to star in it.

1969  –  Certificate: PG  –  United Kingdom

Rating Details: Mild violence, language and sex references

This is a true classic and contains one of the most quoted lines in movie history; (5, 4, 3, 2.. you know the one I’m talking about).  Made when England were still football world champions (okay I know it’s an old film), it’s got the added bonus of having Michael Caine and Noël Coward in it and the Brits getting one over on Johnny Foreigner, (always a good thing of course).  Sadly, as we don’t make anything in Britain anymore, including cars (and have become pretty hopeless at football too), there isn’t likely to be a undated version of it made anytime soon; (and I’m talking about a British version of it here, not something set somewhere like, oh, Los Angeles, for example).  It just wouldn’t be the same if they drove Peugeot 107s, or got the bus instead.  I watched a Blu-ray version of this film and if anyone wants to see what this format can bring to old films, I’d recommend watching this one, as it looked stunning. 

Recommended for fans of classic movies and for all English people.  It brings a lump to the throat and swells the heart; (with pride not cholesterol.)  If there was such a thing as an English passport, the watching and enjoyment of this film would be a mandatory requirement for getting one.  Also recommended for staff managers everywhere, as it contains some excellent advice from Charlie Croker; “Now, it’s a very difficult job, and, the only way to get through it is we all work together, as a team.  And that means, you do everything I say.”  Words of wisdom.

3 cats and no decapitations.  Enjoy the awesome cats-on-laps action, matched with some expertly written and delivered dialogue. 

Top badass moment?  The Minis in the sewer pipe, the Minis on the dam, the Minis on the steps, the Minis in the shopping plaza, etc.  Celebrating the best bit of British engineering since the Spitfire is badass; if you’re a Brit anyway.

The Italian Job at IMDB


Some Kind of Wonderful: 4.0 Stars


Some Kind of Wonderful  -  Front DVD CoverThis is a film about relationships, a subject I intrinsically know nothing about; (I blame it on my genes, it’s probably genetic or something).  As a result of this defect in my character, my entire understanding of this subject is based on films like this.  Like most other films of its type its plot is almost entirely unrealistic, which I guess must explain a great deal about my life.  The good guy always gets the nice girl in the end?  Don’t make me laugh.  When I can afford it I’ll be suing the makers of this film for messing up my life.  In my world, the 80s were full of crappy new romantic music and synth pop, (anarcho-punk and indie-pop were pushed to the sidelines) and everyone had bad hair and bad clothes.  Even I had bad hair; I can remember bleaching it and not getting it cut for over three years too; what a terrifying thought.  Scarily, this film makes the 80s seem quite cool, the fashion bearable and the music quite listenable.  See, I said it wasn’t very realistic.

1987  –  Certificate: 12  –  USA

Rating Details:  Language: Once strong, some moderate.  Sex/Nudity: Some mild references.  Violence:  Infrequent, mild.

This is a proper 80s teen classic.  It’s a classic film of its type and its era.  I hate myself for it but I really do like it.  A great bit of escapism.  From the great ‘drum intro’ at the start to the tear-inducing finale, its stupid plot and often annoying characters manage to be entertaining and often pretty funny.  I was never all that taken with Amanda Jones; she sometimes looked like a man in drag to me.  I couldn’t (and still can’t) really see what all the fuss was about.  Watts was about 100 times more interesting and better looking too.  And what a shame we didn’t get to know Duncan the skinhead more.  He was clearly the hero of the movie and someone we should have leant a lot more about.  And did anyone out there really not want Watts to ‘get her man’ in the end?  God, you’re a heartless bastard aren’t you!

Recommended for fans of classic genera movies and all things 80s; (just don’t admit the latter in public and keep taking the tablets, okay)?

One cat and no decapitations.  A quick run off scene (with dialogue) is all we get, cat-wise.  Shame.

Top badass moment?  Duncan and his gang gate-crashing Hardy’s party.  (What any annoying little prick he was.)  A rare, positive example of skinhead activism within in multi-cultural environment in a Hollywood movie.  That’s badass.

Some Kind of  Wonderful at IMDB