In this debut feature written and directed by Iranian born Babak Jalali, “Frontier Blues” features four, intertwined stories all set in Iran’s northern frontier with Turkmenistan, a region that has long been neglected in Iranian cinema, interesting not only for its magnificent, forlorn landscape but also for its multi-ethnic population of Persians, Turkmens and Kazakhs. Featuring non-professional actors from the northern region of Iran, Jalali’s film looks at fragments of the everyday existence of a varied collection of characters from the region.
2009 – Certificate: 12 – Iranian Film
Rating Details: One use of strong language and a moderate sex reference
7.0 out of 10
Although I frequently do nothing at work for weeks at a time (except procrastinate), I occasionally have to do something. This is normally something which I can’t delegate downwards or pass the buck upwards. Yesterday was one of those days. I had to complete a funding application. I’d known it’d need doing for the last month or so, but it was only yesterday that I did much about it, as it had a 17:00 deadline. I’d had a quick look at it the day before and decided that it wasn’t a lot of work; why I believe myself when I think something like that I’ll never know, but somehow I always do. So yesterday I found myself having to do some real work for a change. Now, there are people who actually do this sort of thing as their full time job and some of them actually seem to enjoy it. I lack the intelligence, focus and strength of character to be like that. I see it as a necessary evil that allows me to lead the decadent lifestyle that I do. No one should be forced to write funding applications; it’s only one step up from begging in the street. Like writing poetry or songs, funding bids come from the heart; they’re not something that can be forced out of someone. In my case they’re dragged screaming and kicking from my very soul, before being nakedly spread-eagled across the page for all to gawp at, pointing and laughing as they do so, as if I was exposing a very private part of me, which in a way I am. Being forced to write a funding bid is like being forced to love someone. Of course I enjoy getting that follow up letter that contains the word “congratulations”, but most of the time they just say “I’m sorry to inform you”. Writing funding bids is like asking someone out, and I’m crap at that too. (You work yourself up for ages to do it and then it all comes out wrong.) I’m just not thick skinned enough to take the rejection and it sends me into a subconscious mire of desolation and self-loathing. I still haven’t got over asking Debbie Warby out in 1977 and getting turned down; I only wanted to go and see “Star Wars” too. I never did see it at the cinema; no wonder I prefer “Star Trek”. So anyway, I got it done yesterday and what a beautiful creation it was; really, it should’ve been on display in a gallery, not stuffed into a brown envelope. After a 100mph death-defying drive, (it wasn’t far to go and I had an hour or so to get there, but I’d drunk far too much coffee), I got to hand it in before the deadline. I got a call about two hours later from the fund’s administrator, asking if I could e-mail her a copy, as she was having to scan all the applications and she’d been “inundated” with them and would be at work for hours doing them, so it would save her time. Inundated. Inundated! It’s like asking girls out again; a futile exercise that ends in humiliation and a feeling of abject failure. A woman gets asked out in this movie; that ends in abject failure too.
So this was a chance to watch my entire collection of Iranian films… all one of them. Not sure what I was expecting really, probably just some propaganda to do with nuclear bombs, oppressed women who choose to wear a burqa and jihadist wars. There isn’t anything else there is there, other than sand and oil… and camels probably? Well, that’s what it says in the papers, so it must be true. Okay, I don’t really believe any of that nonsense, but I was surprised by what I did see. In fact it took me a while to get over my preconceptions and begin to appreciate what this film actually was, which made me feel a bit guilty; I really was under the impression that it would be sort of worthy, but a bit amateurish and boring. In fact this is a black comedy, which pokes fun at itself and Iran’s own, internal preconceptions about itself. It’s true to say that not a lot happens for most of the film and there aren’t a great many spaceships, aliens or explosions in it. It’s simply a snapshot of the lives of four people that to some extent are interconnected. At first I did find it a bit boring, but when I finally worked out what I was watching it got a lot more interesting. It was almost as if I felt guilty about finding the discomfort of the characters funny, which is a bit sad really. The picture quality isn’t always the best, which is a bit frustrating as the scenery is really worth seeing. It’s also quite slow and nothing happens quickly; and in a cultural way there are a few things that just don’t sit comfortably for many westerners too. However, the majority of it is good stuff and I really rather enjoyed it.
The music used in the film is sparse and haunting. It’s not something I’d listen to on its own but as a soundtrack it’s great and adds to the atmosphere a lot. We also get treated to a bit of what sounds like Marlene Dietrich, but I could be wrong.
Movie Weather Forecast. I’ve still not started doing this properly, but it was dry and mostly sunny, with some blustery wind at times.
For stupid people like me, the trailer makes the tone of the film a bit clearer.
Recommend for wrestlers, photographers and anyone who works on a chicken farm.
No cats, chainsaws or decapitations.
Top badass moment? I like tea. I drink a lot of tea. I like coffee but I like tea more. In this film the characters drink tea. They drink a lot of tea. In fact I suspect that it’s a subtle joke about how much tea people in Iran do drink. I thought all they did there was build nuclear bombs and hate on the West, but actually they drink a lot of tea and have a sense of humour that I can relate to. That’s cool, because most of the people I actually know don’t understand it. I’m a Brit so tea is automatically badass and badass in a way coffee will never be. In fact it’s the most badass of drinks; except perhaps cider.
He stole from the rich, gave to the poor and desperately needs the help of Tom and Jerry! Now the famous outlaw Robin Hood has been captured by the evil Sheriff of Nottingham, and Robin Hood’s true love, the fair maiden Maid Marian, faces grave danger at the hands of greedy Prince John. Can sworn adversaries Tom and Jerry set aside their differences long enough to save the day? With high-flying action, daredevil stunts and rollicking songs, your favourite cartoon Cat-at-Arms Thomas and Merry Mouse Jerry take furry aim at the beloved medieval tale in a new, full-length original movie. It’s all for one and fun for all in Sherwood Forest’s most madcap swashbuckling adventure ever!
2012 – Certificate: Not Rated – American Film
7.0 out of 10
I was so busy at work last week that I didn’t even have the time to be busy. And I don’t think this week is going to be any better. Tomorrow I’ve got to get up at stupid o’clock to drive to Croydon to interview people all day. Perhaps I can just curl up under the table and go to sleep; there are four of us interviewing so I probably won’t even be missed. In other Cactus World news, the weather continues to be unseasonably warm and I still haven’t had to put any heating on at home yet, although I have recently started to deploy ‘The Blanket’ sometimes, to put around myself when sitting in the lounge. In my head I imagine I look a little like the Dark Knight, wrapped in his cloak and brooding over what to do about the latest crime wave in Gotham; whereas to anyone else I probably look like a little fat bloke with a maroon blanket wrapped around him, because he’s too mean to put the heating on. But I’m happily sitting in just a t-shirt right now; (and trousers and stuff), so it’s not cold. If only I can make it to Saturday, I’ll have got to November and can make some pointless point about something or other. This Climate Change stuff isn’t all bad you know. Worldwide, economic meltdown, wars, mass migration and a few ocean states totally obliterated under the waves, is a small price to pay for my comfort. It almost makes me want to start eating meat again. Or maybe not… Oh wow, I’ve just had a really, really, REALLY cool idea. In future I’m going to comment on the weather in each film I watch. Is that not the most exciting thing you’ve heard for ages? When I was in my teens I wanted to become a meteorologist. I’m a Bit, we’re obsessed with the weather, it’s genetic. The problem was that I was crap at just about all the subjects that you needed to be good at to become one. So instead I ended up working for an organisation whose mission is basically to get people to dig lots of small, differently shaped holes and then fill them in again, or burn stuff.
Thought I’d been given the wrong disc when I first played it, as all I got was two posh guys going about their obsession with money and power and how they wanted to tax the poor more. I thought I’d mistakenly been sent a rogue copy of a party political broadcast on behalf of the Conservative Party. But then I realised that it wasn’t; George Osbourne doesn’t have a beard. So having sorted that out I was faced with a Tom and Jerry film that actually didn’t do too badly in terms of not abusing the general Robin Hood legend (for an American cartoon). It also fancied itself as a bit of a musical, which again is quite a nice nod to the fact that a lot of Robin Hood folklore comes in the form of ballads. Fortunately T&J don’t sing anything; that would just be a step too far. Wars have been fought over less. I actually quite enjoyed it and the plot was a bit more sensible than normal too. Wasn’t nearly enough cat on mouse on cat violence though. Why does everything have to be so toned down these days? I watched loads of old school Tom & Jerry when I was young and it never did me any harm; and anyone who says different can fucking go and die horribly with an ironing board smashed into their face, whilst being ripped apart in a food blender, before being blown up in an oven and sent flying skyward and then sucked through a jet airline engine. Anyway, another good point is that Maid Marian turned out to be a bit of a sex kitten in her strange, leotard-like dress; she was quite the feisty babe. It was one of the rare occasions in T&J animations that I could really see what was ratting everyone’s cage, so to speak. If you want to watch some modern T&J and see a bit of plot too, then you could do a lot worse than this movie.
Well it’s a musical of sorts and Tom and Jerry, not being the most talkative of guys, have traditionally always had full soundtracks to support their relationship. There’s nothing especially memorable here, but overall it’s pretty good stuff. The musical songs actually sound like proper musical songs too, rather than crappy, modern pop.
Movie Weather Forecast. Nothing to report. Well I only just thought of the idea so to be honest I didn’t really notice anything when I watched this last week.
The trailer’s okay, but it does undersell the movie a bit. The film’s better.
Recommend for politicians, outlaws and anyone planning next year’s (2015) Labour Party election publicity.
1 cat (obviously), no chainsaws or decapitations.
Top badass moment? Jerry shoots an arrow at Tom from a powerful, mounted crossbow, which pins Tom to a wooden post. When Tom looks down and notices, we’re rewarded with one of his classic ARRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRGHs!!! Unfortunately the arrow only goes under Tom’s arm rather than through him, such are kids’ cartoons these days. But those moments are always badass. As an adult I still mentally react in the same way as Tom whenever the occasion arises.
Eager to shift thoughts away from The Troubles during the 1970s, music fanatic Terri Hooley (Richard Dormer, TV’s “Game of Thrones”) opens a record store, ‘Good Vibrations’, in the heart of one of Belfast’s roughest districts. As the shop gains a loyal following, Terri starts a small record label with the aim of launching some of the local bands, including The Undertones whose first single, ‘Teenage Kicks’, is championed by legendary Radio 1 DJ John Peel…. A heart-warming and hilarious true story, Good Vibrations is not a feel-good film – it’s a feel-great film!
2012 – Certificate: 15 – British/Irish Film
Rating Details: Strong language, once very strong, and drug use
8.5 out of 10
In 1981 I was selecting what universities might be desperate enough to entertain me with an offer of admission. This, you’re told, is an important decision that could affect your whole life and one you should make after due, diligent consideration. At my sixth form college we had folders and files bulging with all the propaganda, prospectuses and other marketing materials from all the universities and polytechnics in the country. At the bottom of one cabinet, filed away under U, was a folder containing a slim, A5 sized booklet, and that’s it. Unlike everything else, which was dog-eared, scribbled over and had pages torn from it, this little publication was in pristine condition, untouched, unread. In the early 80s The Troubles were in full swing in Northern Ireland and no self-respecting student from an okay suburb in north-west London was going to even consider the New University of Ulster. The Undertones was (and still is) a punk band from Derry, which is about 30 miles from Coleraine, where the main campus was for the NUU. Entirely on the strength of this geographical connection and much to the consternation of my parents, I picked the NUU as one of my five choices of university. In the end I got offers from three of these, including the NUU. Six months later, thanks to some less than stellar A Level results, it’s where I ended up. (In truth I think it would probably have take just about anyone from England, regardless of their stupidity levels, as it was so desperate for ‘overseas’ students.) This film explains why this happened and why my life has turned out the way it has. I’d like to think I’m a tiny, unwritten footnote somewhere that’s connected to this film. I still have the Good Vibrations price labels on a few records (I didn’t want to peel them off) and without consciously trying to collect them have most of the label’s early releases too. Some wonderful songs were released during that period. It’s hard to believe it’s almost ten years since John Peel died too.
I’ve never met Terri Hooley and I probably never will, but I think I’d like him if I did. He released the Undertones first single “Teenage Kicks” on his own little label that he started in his record shop in Belfast. He then got a copy to John Peel, who played it twice in a row on his show on BBC Radio 1. The rest is well documented history. If he’d not done this, I’d never have heard of the Undertones and that modest prospectus would have remained hidden in the blue file in the bottom draw. I think I still have it somewhere as I ‘borrowed’ it from the file; I don’t suppose anyone ever noticed it was missing. It’s quite an experience to watch a film that tells the story of someone who had such an unplanned effect on your own life. As a stand-alone movie it’s not perfect. Of course it has a montage of The Troubles and lots of characters who could only be from Northern Ireland. (When they weren’t busy marching around, shooting each other and blowing things up, the Northern Irish were some of the nicest and kindest people you could meet. Better than the English anyway!) In that sense it’s very clichéd, yet it’s still a really fun and enjoyable watch. The fact that it’s based on a true story just adds to its attraction. From my own knowledge of things, there are a number of scenes and touches in the film that really reflect what happened, although I’m sure there’s plenty of dramatisation too. An essential watch.
This is a film about someone who loves music. As such it features lots of great tunes, from reggae through to bands like the Outcasts, Rudi and of course the Undertones. It also contains absolutely the best music porn I’ve ever seen. For around 15 minutes it presents the story of “Teenage Kicks” and it couldn’t have been done better. It’s perfect and a brilliant and loving homage to it. After a couple of false starts the song finally bursts out on the screen and for 2 minutes and 28 seconds (more or less) we just get to experience the moment it was first played by John Peel. Of course, the band has written better songs since, but none will ever quite have the impact and resonance of “Teenage Kicks”. (They even managed to get some actors to play the band who mostly had a decent resemblance to the real people.) I must have about a dozen copies of it on various records and CDs. Of course, I already have a ticket for the band’s next gig in London, in nine months time.
The trailer is perfect. It contains “Teenage Kicks”.
Recommended for dreamers, musicians, music fans and anyone who’s ever fallen under the spell of any song.
No cats, chainsaws or decapitation.
Top badass moment? After the great built up, “Teenage Kicks” bursting out of the speakers provides THE most badass experience it’s possible to have. An iconic tune by the best band on the planet. Still gigging and still way ahead of their peers.
Meet Ken Boyd: small-town loner and comic-book nerd, making ends meet by pushing a broom around the local ice-cream parlour. Fresh out of the loony bin, where he spent years recovering from the horrific torture he suffered at the hands of the high school basketball jocks, Ken (Kevin Corrigan) wants nothing more than to just be left alone. But when the lovely Stephanie (Lucy Davis) comes into Ken’s life and he is reunited with his estranged, 11 year old daughter Amy, things finally seem to be looking up. Even his constantly disappointed mother (Karen Black) and the town Sheriff (Barry Bostock) start to treat him with a little more respect. That is, until those very same jocks that Ken deems responsible for his ruined life start turning up dead…
2011 – Certificate: 15 – American Film
Rating Details: Strong language and bloody violence
7.0 out of 10
For dinner last night I had a weird and not overly tasty concoction that was meant to be a chilli, except I didn’t have any chillies or chilli powder, so I thought I’d use paprika instead; well it’s nearly the same colour isn’t it? I also thought I’d use a whole garlic bulb in it too. I ground the garlic up in an electric chopper, rather than cut it up into small bits with a knife, which is what I normally do. This had the effect of spreading the taste throughout the rest of the food, instead of keeping it more concentrated in certain places. The overall result of all this was an overpoweringly garlicky mush that didn’t go at all well with the paprika. I ate it all, but I imagine anyone coming anywhere near me in the next 36 hours is likely to be putting in a call to National Grid soon after. In the flats where I live, all the kitchens have a built in vent/fan system that is supposed to remove cooking smells. It’s really not very efficient; it just makes a lot of noise. Unfortunately and from personal experience over many years, this system also doesn’t seem to be very good at venting the smells out of the building either, preferring instead to simply pump them into all the neighbouring kitchens and bathrooms instead. I imagine that many of my neighbours were busy last night with the Air Wick, in a desperate attempt to hide my dietary experimentation. Still, I’m just getting my own back for all the meat and fish based meals they share with me in the same way. This movie has a bit of a revenge theme going on too.
In common with much of life, this film is a gentle comedy with the occasional bit of slasher horror. Like far too many other films, this one features another of those young (in this case an 11-year-old) kids with impossibly high levels of emotional intelligence, empathy and stability. They really are a cliché. Listen Mr. Movie-Maker, they may make useful plot devices but they don’t actually exist in the real world. You may as well have introduced a purple alien to fulfil the same role; it wouldn’t be any less believable (and could well end up actually being more believable). Despite this and a sometimes weak storyline, the characters are actually the best things in this film; yes, even the 11-year-old with the professional life-coaching skills; (and she looks about 13 too.) I enjoyed watching this movie more for the individual scenes to see everyone interacting, rather than the overall plot. The ‘horror bits’ felt a bit bolted on to everything and it would have probably worked just as well without them. So worth a watch for the fun and the acting, but it’s a disappointing horror with a wonky story. (When was the last time you heard or saw anyone use the word “wonky” then?) I’ve just though, this is the second American film in a row I’ve watched that has a ‘token Brit’ in it. She calls someone a “wanker” anyway; a complex term that I imagine goes over the head of many Americans.
The soundtrack does what it needs to do but is otherwise pretty anonymous.
The trailer’s entertaining, but it does sort of give away the story and has most of the best lines in it as well.
Recommended for police officers, precocious kids, bullies (and their victims), basketball fans, losers and anyone in a dead-end job.
1 decapitation, no cats or chainsaws. A clean if somewhat messy cut; off in one.
Top badass moment? As a minor plot point, this film includes issues around custody of a young girl. Fortunately this appears to get sorted out in about 15 seconds to the satisfaction of all. I thought these things are meant to take ages and cost a fortune? Was this just lazy writing, or have I been brainwashed for years by the legal profession bent on maximising what it gets from the misery of others? Regardless, the DIY result in this movie seems badass.
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.
Sometimes you find love where you’d least expect it. Just ask Lars (Academy Award Nominee Ryan Gosling), a sweet but quirky guy who thinks he’s found the girl of his dreams in a life-sized doll named Bianca. Lars is completely content with his artificial girlfriend, but when he develops feelings for Margo, an attractive co-worker, Lars finds himself lost in a hilariously unique love triangle, hoping to somehow discover the real meaning of true love. You’ll be swept off your feet by “Lars and the Real Girl”, hailed as “One of the Year’s 10 Best” by The Associated Press.
2007 – Certificate: PG-13 – American Film
Rating Details: Some Sex-Related Content
8.0 out of 10
I’m on something called Annual Leave at the moment. This is a strange, but rather welcome concept through which I get paid my salary to do sod all. In fact for the last two days I’ve done even less than that and in doing so have actually discovered a new physics, which I’ve decided to call “Anti-nothing”. This is a weird, quantum effect wherein you can actually do less than nothing at all. It’s pretty scary stuff too. It’s only through washing my sleeping bag at one point that I avoided crossing over the non-event horizon and falling into some sort of parallel dimension where no one does anything ever. I’ve never been there myself, although I think I’ve met a few people who have. Doing nothing has given me the time to enjoy the view out of my window a little more than usual. I’ve notice a huge, bright orange building that has suddenly spring up amongst the trees that I’ve never seen before. There’re also a couple of cars in the car park that have had most of their windows smashed in, which are accompanied by a number of dented panels. I’ve no idea what the story is behind them, but they’ve been sitting there, neatly parked, side by side for several days now, and resemble a couple that have had a row and now aren’t speaking to one another. Whoever owns then hasn’t even bothered to sweep up the glass or block up the holes. Weird. I’ve also observed the police dealing with who I imagine is my local drug dealer. They spent ages searching him and his car yesterday morning; I watched all the action through my binoculars. The good thing is that the car has gone now, because it’s been frequently and annoying parked just where I turn in. There’s never a dull moment around here! This movie has none of these exciting things in it, yet it’s still very entertaining.
This is basically a comedy-drama about a guy who buys a blow-up sex doll to have as his girlfriend. Now I’ll readily admit that I’m not an expert in such ‘things’, but I’m willing to bet that most who are don’t take them outside to meet other people very often. Although we live in relatively enlightened times, I’m not sure the world is quite ready for ‘significant others’ down the pub, at the shops or in the cinema, who are made of silicon and rubber and have lifelike ‘bits’ under their clothes. It’s probably acceptable in the Star Trek version of the far future and in Japan right now, but for the rest of us it’s a bit of a social faux pas. But this film sees Ryan Gosling doing exactly that. This would all seem to suggest that this movie’s going to be full of smutty innuendo and body-function-based humour. Actually it’s nothing like that at all. It’s much more of a study of how one individual starts to recover from a life-long difficulty in relating to people. Yes it is very funny at times, but it’s also quite moving too. I really like Ryan Gosling and he seems to totally nail the part in this film. The plot does start to stretch the boundaries of realism, especially towards the end, but it’s well written, acted and made. Kelli Garner is very cute too. An original, well-observed and great film. It’s got one of the worst titles ever though.
The soundtrack is fine for what it is, but isn’t very memorable.
The trailer makes this movie seem more of a comedy than it really is. It probably has most of the best jokes in it.
Recommended for people who work in builders’ merchants, mums-to-be, parents that want to have to explain what a “Living Doll” is to their offspring whilst watching the movie, and anyone who works in an office with people who clutter their desks with toys. (I despair at some of my own colleagues, who stick lumps of brightly coloured fur-with-eyes to their monitors and clutter their work spaces with animal-based, plastic fripperies and desk tidies full of virtually unusable and hideously ugly pens.)
No cats, chainsaws or decapitations.
Top badass moment? In the same way as I’ve never met anyone who’s admitted to voting for UKIP, I’ve never met anyone who’s admitted to using a blow-up sex doll. However, given the number of votes and sales associated with both, I probably have unknowingly met quite a few. So it’s a pretty badass thing to take your blow-up girlfriend out and about with you, especially if you start to have conversations with her in public too. (I’m not so sure voting for UKIP is though.)
Popular manga comic “Cutie Honey” is brought to life. Honey is an office worker who hides a secret. Developed by her father, Honey has the ‘I System’ a necklace that allows her to transform into the super hero “Cutie Honey”. The evil Claw Gang attempt to steal the necklace and “Cutie Honey” must use all of her superpowers to save the world from hate. With plenty of eye candy and madcap villains, “Cutie Honey” is pure fun and truly wacky entertainment.
2004 – Certificate: 12 – Japan
Rating Details: Mildly sexualised posing
9.0 out of 10
It was back to the dentist for me again yesterday, to finish the root canal treatment on a tooth that was started in January. For over 90 minutes my dentist drilled (as in I could see and smell clouds of smoke rising), filled and generally hacked about inside my tooth. It’s actually really hard to lie still for that long on your back; (which is something that my many, many lovers could confirm). Dentists’ chairs aren’t the most comfortable bits of furniture in the world and I was started to get a bit bored too. There’s only so many times you can count the screws in a light-fitting before you realise that attempting yet another recount is probably not going to yield a more accurate total. The ‘calming’ classical music playing on the CD kept skipping as well, which really started to bug me after a while. The injection at the start was really weird. I felt like it hadn’t really worked, as nothing seemed to go numb. Normally you lose some of the sensation in the side of your face or lips, but this time I had none of that. I was expecting the first touch of the drill to feel like it was boring into the centre of my brain or something, but actually it was fine. Afterwards I had no sensation of the anaesthetic wearing off either. It was like I was just immune to the pain. Maybe I’m a superhero, with the mental and physical power to control my body’s own pain reflexes? (Nope, I don’t really believe that either.) I was starting to think there must be more miles of canals in my tooth than in the whole of Birmingham, when the dentist finally declared she couldn’t do it. Whatever’s blocking my root canal, it’s defeated the best that modern dentistry can provide. (Perhaps I should give the Canal & River Trust or Inland Waterways Association a call?) This was followed by a discussion about what I wanted to do about it. I say ‘discussion’, but as I still had a mouth full of rubber dams and other weird stuff, I was limited to saying ur urggurggh, guhhh urgghhher; so it was a bit one-sided. So now I’m the proud owner of a temporary filling, whilst we see how it settles down. So it looks like there might be a sequel to this horror sometime. Can’t wait… This film is about a superhero who has perfect teeth.
I loved this film. I’ve no idea what demographic the makers were aiming it at, but it was great. Like a Power Ranger on acid, Cutie Honey (and that must be the worst superhero name ever) deals with the Panther Claw Gang, one by one. Based on a manga/anime character, the story is some nonsense about saving the world from hate. As a movie it has many highlights. The opening 15 minutes are as fun as any opening to any film ever. It does calm down in the middle a little and the ending is a bit wimpy, but overall it’s an over-the-top mess of action and fun. I was especially impressed with the Black Claw’s song and dance routine. When I’m involved in a fight to the death, I always like to start with one of those too. My copy came in a vivid pink, DVD case. Don’t think I’ve got many of those.
We see Honey change into her superhero alter-ego a number of times, which comes with a bit of music that wouldn’t be out-of-place in the world’s worst game show.
The trailer is a shambles of colour, noise and imagery. It’s great.
One cat, no chainsaws or decapitations. A beautiful, ginger cat (with a brief speaking part), steals the whole first scene from an otherwise naked (except for bath bubbles) Eriko Sato.
Recommended for police officers, journalists and anyone with an uncle who can invent cool stuff. Also recommended for criminal gangs that want to fill the world with hate, (you know who you are). Good for fans of 60’s Batman; not good for fans of Nolan’s Batman.
Top badass moment? Starring Eriko Sato (Japan’s top swimsuit model). That’s badass. Well that bad just about everywhere really. (Note for ‘old people’: that’s “bad” as in good, not “bad” as in bad). In any case, any film that carries the BBFC Insight “Mildly Sexualised Posing” has got to be worth watching.
There’s horror in the halls… lynching in the lunchroom… murder in the metal shop. Welcome to “Slaughter High”, where the students are dying to get out! In high school, Marty was the kid all the students teased, taunted and tortured mercilessly. One day, things went too far; one of their jokes backfired, disfiguring Marty for life. Now, five years later, Marty has arranged a special reunion for all his high school “friends.” The prom queen, the jock, the class clown, the rebel and a few select others have been invited… and it’s going to be a gala of gore!
1986 – Certificate: Unrated – American Film
7.0 out of 10
I’m crap at everything. However, I try very hard and surround myself with more able and talented people, which in some limited cases enables me to function in society without everyone pointing in my direction, or crossing the road when they see me coming. Yesterday was a good case in point. I spent all of it trying to complete a quotation (that a colleague had already done most of the work for), in response to a competitive tender document for a project to help set up a new community group, to care for the areas along the line of an old railway. It didn’t really come with any sort of structure for what it was asking for, which means trying to do it was like trying to play a game that no one’s explained the rules to me about. All that choice! Vegans don’t deal with choice well; it’s typically the green salad, or chips, or nothing for us. At about half past four I found myself staring at the words on the screen, able to read and understand them, but totally unable to work out what they meant, or how one string of them (a thing we call a sentence) related to any other. Talk about not being able to see the wood for the trees. Somehow I managed to complete about 98% of it, although when I proof-read it this morning most made less sense than a wall covered in a bucket full of scrabble letters and monkey sick. There was one little bit that I had to complete by hand and I swear it looks like a six-year-old did it. I don’t think I can write anymore; I used to have lovely handwriting too. Sometimes I feel like life is teasing me for a laugh. One day I’ll react like Marty in this film….
Oh dear, it’s the uncut version of a ‘forgotten classic’. To be fair it’s probably not that obscure and it’s probably not that bad either. It’s not boring anyway. Here we have a group of young adults who behave in an almost entirely irrational way, an isolated location, a seriously pissed off guy harbouring a grudge… and you know the rest. The murders are a mixed bag; I guess my favourite was the electric shock during sex, although the lawnmower one isn’t too bad either. Did I like Marty the vengeful killer? Well he was/is a dork, but clearly after his injury the law failed to provide him with the justice he genuinely did deserve, so in a way I can’t blame him for taking things into his own hands. The guy had probably had a very successful and exciting career ahead of him too. Actually, the more I think about it the more I realise that he really is the victim here. The fact that the group that bullied him didn’t even seem to have any remorse for what they did, even though the outcome probably was an accident and unintended, just makes things worse. What a nasty set of individuals. Awful. I’m glad they’re all dead now. And another thing, the level of health & safety in the school’s science lab was woeful. Seriously, no one would store a really large, glass bottle of nitric acid on top of a narrow, wobbly, free-standing shelf unit that itself is sitting on top of a table in the middle of a room, not even in the 80s. And the bottle wasn’t labelled properly either. And where were Marty’s gloves and protective goggles? He didn’t strike me as the sort of guy who wouldn’t wear them because he didn’t look cool. Then again, he does appear to take the time to take his Doddsville County High School jacket off in the middle of his science experiment starting to blow up all around him, so I guess his appearance did matter a lot to him, which probably explains why he got so worked up about being hideously burnt. For that matter, why wasn’t he being supervised? I know the school only appeared to have one teacher, who worked in the gym, but even so. I know, I’m probably over analysing things. Despite its intentions, the most offensive thing in the whole movie was the dreadfully racist scene involving the Black caretaker. I image this is one of Jeremy Clarkson’s favourite movies.
Musically we’re deep into 80s low-budget territory. Yes, very deep.
The trailer isn’t so bad, although it does manage to give away the entire plot and partly show a number of the murders too. Then again, the plot isn’t exactly an original and you don’t get to see all of the murders.
No cats, chainsaws or decapitations. Surprisingly.
Top badass moment? No one likes a bully. And we like groups of bullies even less. So it’s high-fives all round for Marty, as he slowly dispatches them all one by one. Also, given the speed at which he appears to be able to get from place to place at around the school, he’s apparently invented some sort of personal teleportation device too. That’s seriously badass; or just dreadful editing.
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.
Searching for a way back from everlasting exile, renegade fallen angels Loki (Matt Damon) and Bartleby (Ben Affleck) attempt to turn the cosmological system on its head – unless an unlikely horde of humans can stop them. Bethany (Linda Fiorentino), the heroine of “Dogma” is a woman convinced her prayers have not been answered when, out of nowhere, a heralding angel appears in her bedroom and declares her the potential saviour of humanity. Setting off on an extraordinary journey, Bethany meets a host of heavenly and hellish characters, including the celestial messenger Metatron (Alan Rickman), an apostle with a 2,000 year old grudge (Chris Rock), hot-headed demon Azrael (Jason Lee) and heavenly muse Serendipity (Salma Hayek). In Kevin Smith’s comic fantasia, angels, demons, apostles and prophets (of a sort) walk among the cynics and innocents of the Earth and battle it out for the fate of humankind.
1999 – Certificate: 15 – American Film
Language: Frequent Strong, Some Coarse. Sex/Nudity: Some Moderate References. Violence: Some, Strong, Fantasy. Other: Comic Fantasy, Religion
8.0 out of 10
Yesterday I underwent a major, surgical procedure; I had my bottom left wisdom tooth removed. Although initially thankful to discover that I’d survived the experience, I was horrified to find out that I got neither a week’s stay in a hospital bed to recover, nor six months’ worth of appointments with a councillor to enable me to cope with the ordeal; I’m pretty sure I’ve got Post Traumatic Stress Disorder from the operation, which took nearly ten, whole minutes! The initial injections, which got shoved into three places, including where my tooth was sorest, are already out of the running for my list of top ten fun things of 2014. Feeling the end of a needle against the side of my tooth somewhere deep inside my gum, was a bit disconcerting. A few minutes later he gave me two more injections. These all left me somewhat numb, along with hundreds of other people who got caught in the anaesthetic blast zone; not that I was complaining, I was just glad to have lost all tactile contact with the outside world. The executioner dentist then started pulling at my tooth. There was a very disconcerting cracking noise at one point, which I remember thinking would have been even more worrying had I been an astronaut in a space capsule. The dentist did make a comment to the effect that I shouldn’t worry about the noise, (although considering he was doing his best to flatten my head at the time with his arm, I don’t suppose there was much I could do anyway). I had visions of my tooth disintegrating, along with most of my jaw and skull. I started imagining that my head would end up resembling a Halloween pumpkin, that sort with a hideously cut out smile, which had gone a bit rotten and started to collapse in on itself. However, the tooth came out in one piece and I was then rewarded with four stitches that were done with such a flourish that I got the distinct feeling the dentist was looking to be scored well on artistic merit by someone. He also rather cruelly said the third was one the last, before adding a fourth. Then I just got booted out of the surgery and left to somehow stagger on my own to the chemist shop for more antibiotics. I also got given the huge, pink pain killers I’d had before too, although as far as I was concerned, there was no pain-killer big enough for what I felt I’d soon need. I thought I’d been pumped full of enough anaesthetic to numb my whole body for months, but it did start to wear off shortly after I got home. It was a bit sore for a few hours, but now it seems to have settled down and it’s not too bad. I imagine most people would describe the sort of discomfort I’m in as “agony”, but I’m not the sort of person to build mountains out of mole hills. I did have a look at my tooth once it had been pulled out, (I made the nurse get it out of the bin), but as the Tooth Fairy does everything online these days, I didn’t feel the need to bring it home to put under my pillow. I guess I could have drilled a hole in it and worn it as a sort of necklace I suppose. The wonderful National Health Service, despite all its ‘issues’, did everything for free, so once the Tooth Fairy has paid up, I should be well in the money. I’m seriously considering selling a few spare organs now. This film highlights two people who want to do something that will end all of existence, but after my traumatic tooth experience, the end of existence seems small beer to me.
I went to a Church School. (Hard to believe I know.) Ever Thursday we had our assembly in the local church, St. Mary’s. This I did all through my primary school education. Despite this, most of the ecumenical stuff mentioned in this film meant nothing to me. Then again, I went to a Protestant church rather than a Catholic one. The biggest difference between the two is if you go to the former and piss about, nothing much happens. If you do the same as the latter, you’ll end up committing a mortal sin and being dammed to spend all of eternity in Purgatory, or worse. I guess that makes you remember things more clearly. This is a great, original and clever comedy that stars a whole range of famous people and characters, from the talented and funny (Alan Rickman) and now mega successful (Matt Damon), to the hugely overrated (Jay and Silent Bob). Alanis Morissette is God, which probably came as a big shock to Morgan Freeman when he turned up to be God some years later in “Bruce Almighty”. Alanis is sexier though and unlike Morgan, got a song into the charts that references oral sex in public. A great film, well worth watching.
There’s quite an array of music used in this movie but weirdly I can’t remember much about it. I guess that means it did it’s job well, or it’s just rubbish.
I rather like the trailer for this film. It makes it look ‘exciting’ and gives an idea of the plot, without really giving anything away. Sounds simple, but many trailers fail this simply test.
Recommended for rebranding consultants, out of work apostles, pole dancers, angels and abortion clinic doctors.
1 decapitation, no cats or chainsaws. Well it’s an exploding head really, but let’s not quarrel about semantics.
Top badass moment? Bethany saves all of existence. Not quite as impressive as my dealing with the trauma of having a wisdom tooth removed yesterday, but it’s still pretty badass.
A dark and dynamic ride through Budapest’s labyrinthine subway system, “Kontroll” stylishly careens through genres, thriller, drama, comedy, horror and romance, at the breakneck pace of a runaway train. Life has turned upside-down for brooding Bulcsú (Sándor Csányi), a ticket inspector who patrols the platforms and trains of the city’s underground network with a motley crew of colleagues. Bulcsú has forged a series of ‘relationships’ with other long-term denizens of this neon-lit world; the serial fare-dodger, the shadowy serial-killer, the veteran whose seen it all before, and the mysterious, beautiful woman who rides the rails in a bear suit. The most successful Hungarian film of 2003 and selected for the Un Certain Regard section of the Cannes Film Festival, Kontroll”, with its echoes of “Run Lola Run”, is a fascinating tour of an unseen world and an atmospheric, pulsating search for redemption.
2003 – Certificate: 15 – Hungarian Film
Rating Details: Strong language and violence
8.0 out of 10
Today I’m being angry about dry pasta. Dry pasta is a total rip-off. By which I mean the price charged for some types is a blatant attempt to feed the insecurity, snobbishness and stupidity of a significant percentage of the population. Normally I buy Ocado (own brand) Fusilli pasta at 113p / kg. But on a whim, last time I did my ‘big shopping’ I also bought a bag of Giuseppe Cocco Fusilli Pasta at 598p / kg, to find out what’s so good about it. That’s over 5 times more expensive! The latter comes in a smaller bag and has fancy Italian writing all over the packet (that could be telling me to go fuck myself for all I know), but beyond that it isn’t any different. It looks and tastes just like the cheap stuff. People are soft in the head if they’re stupid enough to buy the expensive version and think it’s superior in some way. Listen up. It’s exactly the same! Whether you like it or not, it’s only bought by the dull-witted and easy led, who actually believe it’s better; or food snobs who’re clearly lacking something in their lives that impressing themselves, their family and friends with grossly overpriced food, helps them to cover up. It you really want to impress your peers, buy the cheap stuff and donate the £60 or so you’ll save each year to charity. And while I’m on the subject, why is it that if you don’t buy spirals, spaghetti or tubes, the price of pasta also goes up hugely? Another rip-off! In fact, the only thing more ridiculous is bottled water. Being a Brit who lives on a small island, I’m genetically programmed to think just about everywhere else in Europe is basically like one place as it’s joined together, such as Italy and Hungary…
I went to Hungary once. (Yes, it’s hard to believe isn’t it?) I arrived with no local currency and had no idea what the exchange rate was, so for quite a while I based my estimate of prices on the bottle of overpriced Coke I bought from a vending machine at the bus station in Budapest. (Based on this, a bottle of lager was about half the price of Coke.) I never went on the underground there, which now having seen this film I’m quite glad about; the bus was quite traumatic enough. This movie follows the exploits of a scruffy team of five ticket inspectors on the Budapest subway. It starts with an introduction from someone claiming to be from the subway company, explaining why permission was given for the film to be made (entirely underground) and for the company to be depicted in the way it is. I’m not 100% sure if this was serious or just a clever bit of writing. The whole movie has a well developed script and provides plenty of nuanced observations and WTF moments. The subway environment provides a great atmospheric background too, as the action switches quickly between different genera and pacing. Ticket inspectors are depicted as being very low on the ‘food chain’ of careers, with questionable management, rivalry between teams and a general antagonism towards them from the travelling public. A dark comedy (with a bit of romance and horror thrown in), this is a pretty fun, mind-fuck film that uses its setting well. A great film. Enjoy.
Musically it’s not an especially interesting movie as there’s not a lot used, although its scarcity does give it an impact when it does appear.
The trailer’s pretty decent, but I couldn’t find a copy of it with subtitles anywhere on the Internet. There’s a copy on the DVD though.
Recommended for ticket inspectors, tourists, serial killers and fare dodgers.
No cats, chainsaws or decapitations.
Top badass moment? For most of this film the ticket inspectors are on the wrong end of abuse from passengers who haven’t got a ticket. In one incident, an especially annoying woman threatens to report one for groping her if he hassles her any more about not having a ticket. So the guy promptly grabs her boobs, much to her horror and embarrassment. Now I’m not condoning this in any way, but somehow she deserved it. Calling someone’s bluff is always badass, if you get away with it.
At 34, struggling Seattle musician Sam (Mark Duplass, “Humpday”, “The League”) finds himself broke, jobless and losing touch with the person he wants to become. When his girlfriend kicks him out, he’s forced to crash with his Aunt Sharon (Academy Award winner Melissa Leo, “The Fighter”) and is reluctantly enlisted to take her teen son, Oliver, and his friend Jake camping. Edgy, funny and honest, Craig Johnson’s film follows the trio into the rugged Pacific Northwest as unforeseen revelations and transformations force them to face adulthood. Set to a mesmerizing soundtrack featuring both emerging and established artists including Band of Horses, The Black Keys and Devendra Banhart, “True Adolescents” remind us that sometimes people need to get lost to truly find themselves.
2009 – Certificate: Not Rated – American Film
7.0 out of 10
I didn’t want to get up yesterday morning. It was raining outside (again), grey and unpleasant. On my journey to work, I was busy mentally congratulating myself on my meteorological forecasting skills and subsequent ability to make the journey during a break in the rain, just as it started to pour down for the last few minutes. I got soaked. It’s Fair Trade Fortnight and where I work was attempting to serve free tea, coffee and breakfasts to people outside; the rain pouring off the canopy in front of the building and onto the pavement was ‘intense’. Strangely, I left work at about six feeling quite upbeat. On my walk home I was wondering why, after such an unpromising start to the day, it had turned into quite a good one. I didn’t really come up with anything, other than there were a number of nice, small things and a lack of bad things, which probably did the trick. A CD/DVD I’d ordered on Sunday was delivered. This was unexpectedly early. I was due to have to go and do something all day, (basically sit and observe someone delivering a training course), but the date for this has now been changed, so I had an extra day in the office and got a lot of things done that I wasn’t expecting to get done. I had a nice lunch with a colleague in the cafe, something I don’t often do. Someone in the office got a grant of £2,500 to do some work; we were only expecting to get a few hundred, so this was a welcome surprise. For the first time that I can remember, all eight volunteers and staff were in at the same time today; the place felt quite alive and buzzy. Someone bought a big, homemade cake in. I completed a grant claim that’s been hanging about for ages and I’ve had loads of hassle over. I got a few other bits of outstanding work done that had been playing on my thoughts for a while. I didn’t go into Tesco on the way home and buy crap for my dinner; I came home and cooked proper food instead. So there you go, my recipe for an okay day.
A thirty-something guy takes his nephew and his nephew’s friend camping for a weekend. They all grow up a bit. The end. This is a decent enough film that’s worth watching mainly for Mark Duplass’ man-boy character, who’s funny but in a believable way. The main thing that bugged me was the fact that many of the various things that happen to them, especially the two most significant ones, don’t seem to get dealt will in any depth; they felt more like plot contrivances to take us towards the end, rather than big events that ought to have been considered in more detail. Shame that. It’s a decent enough watch though.
This film makes much of its musical content and the main character is also a guitarist/singer in a not very good indie rock band. Unfortunately most of the music is pretty mundane. That’s a shame too.
Like a lot of things, the trailer is there or thereabouts. It does a good job of not spoiling the film, but at the same time doesn’t tell you a great deal about it either.
Recommended for not-famous guitarists, rubbish indie rock bands, teenage boys and kindly aunts.
No cats, chainsaws or decapitations.
Top badass moment? The two lads ask Sam if he’s going to wear his hiking boots. Sam glances down at what looks like a rather battered pair of Converse baseball shoes on his feet and says, “These are my hiking boots”, (with the emphasis on “are”). Yeh, that’s rock ‘n’ roll for you! I then spent the rest of the film all tensed up, waiting for him to turn his ankle over. Weirdly, this fate befalls one of the other characters. As someone who sprained his ankle hiking a couple of years ago, I could relate to this, which makes it badass. Converse boots really aren’t good for hiking.
“Hello I Must Be Going” features acclaimed actress Melanie Lynskey (“Up In The Air”, “Two And A Half Men”) in her breakout role as Amy, a recent divorcée who seeks refuge in the suburban Connecticut home of her parents (Blythe Danner and John Rubinstein). Demoralized and directionless, Amy begins an affair with 19-year-old actor Jeremy (“Girls”’ Christopher Abbott) that reignites her passion for life and jumpstarts her independence. Coupling Danner’s riveting performance as a frustrated empty nester with Lynskey’s endearing depiction of both the comic and tragic avenues of life at a crossroads, “Hello I Must Be Going” is a modern, unconventional love story infused with sex, humour and raw, emotional honesty.
2012 – Certificate: R – American Film
Rating Details: Language and Sexual Content
7.0 out of 10
I went to see the dentist today. Not my usual one but a “minor dental surgery” dentist. I reported to reception and was promptly sent “downstairs”. Isn’t that were they normally keep all the torture equipment in dungeons, along with the soundproofed rooms? My earliest life memory is of a dentist removing one of my teeth when I was about five or six. I just remember screaming my head off because of the pain and my mum coming into the room and pinning the dentist up against the wall, no doubt giving him quite a large piece of her mind. Those sorts of things tend to stick in your mind. I don’t think I’ve had a dentist remove any of my teeth since. So anyway, downstairs I went. The dentist I met appeared to have zero sense of humour and his comment that I’d been sent to him “as an emergency” to “have my wisdom tooth dug out” sounded a little too near the truth for my liking. Well I’m terribly sorry my “emergency” has taken so long to get sorted out that my body has given up waiting and decided to deal with the pain problem itself. In future I’ll gargle with hot, melted sugar every four hours. He had a five second look in my mouth before declaring that he could remove it there and then, but it would probably hurt. He then ‘explained’ why this was so in such a way as to make no sense to me whatsoever; something to do with the fact that as it isn’t bothering me much now it would hurt to remove it. (“But” I wondered to myself, “what about the injections and stuff you could give me to stop it hurting?”) So instead he sent me away with another course of antibiotics and an instruction to go back next week. When I tried to book the appointment I was told he was fully booked, so I now have to go back in two weeks instead. The only other thing he told me was that the tooth was close to a nerve, so I might end up with numbness in my lip, chin or tongue, forever; although he did say that probably wouldn’t happen in my case; I guess that was his way of trying to cheer me up. I don’t think he liked me… When I left I was given a sheet of paper with some information on it. This included the gem that, “ …wisdom teeth can cause a number of problems that mean the truth is best removed.” Typo? I don’t think so. Maybe I’ll have a go myself with a bit of string tried to a door handle? I think I’ll make a will. This film is also about a life changing experience.
35 year old divorcée has affair with 19 year old guy. Various embarrassing thing happen. The end. Why is it even called “an affair?” She’s not married anymore and neither is he. In fact neither of them is in any sort of relationship. Calling it “an affair” just makes it seem a bit seedy. I also hate that her family is one of those American ‘film families’ that go on about having no money, yet live in a big, flash house and even have workman in doing loads of improvement work to it. Sorry, but that’s not my definition of poor. My definition of poor includes taking the rubbish bags from outside the likes of Starbucks at night and going through them, looking for discarded packets of sandwiches etc that have passed their sell-by date. Having said all that, this is actually quite a good film which is genuinely funny in places. Melanie Lynskey makes it work. The rest look like they were purchased from the Slightly Quirky Film Characters (American Division – Middle Class) Company.
It’s got a decent trailer, except it does big up the physical stuff a bit. Most of the time Amy and Jeremy aren’t even onscreen together. It’s far more of an embarrassing comedy that an erotic romance.
The movie contains a lot of well meaning but somewhat weedy, folky, guitar music. It’s okay, it works.
Recommended for lawyers, divorcées, ‘poor people’ and teen guys that fancy ‘older women’.
No cats, chainsaws or decapitations.
Top badass moment? 19 year old Jeremy gets off with 35 year old Amy. Well that’s pretty badass isn’t it?
Jiro (Keisuke Koide) meets a mystery girl (Haruka Ayase) on his birthday! One year later, they meet again. It is a shock to Jiro as she confesses and turns out to be a cyborg from the future that Jiro has sent to him as a present! Getting along with this mischievous cyborg girl friend, Jiro falls in love but she has no feelings at all. All of a sudden a disastrous earthquake his Tokyo, the cyborg saves Jiro’s life by sacrificing herself and the ultimate mystery of cyborg is going to be revealed.
2008 – Certificate IIA – Japanese Film
8.5 out of 10
Because I’m a fairly stupid person I sometimes buy DVDs or BDs (Blu-ray discs) that I’ve already got a copy of. I also occasionally upgrade from a DVD copy of a film or TV series to a BD one, or buy an alternative version because it’s longer or uncut. This means I gradually accumulate a supply of discs I no longer want. I used to sell these on eBay, but mostly I can’t be bothered to anymore so just get rid of them via MusicMagpie instead. The latter doesn’t pay a lot, but it’s quick and easy to dispose of them this way. Sadly, its home collection service is, (from my first attempt to use the latter), entirely shit. I waited about at home from 8:00am to 8:00pm on the relevant day for someone to come and collect my parcel, but no one came. It’s not like I live in an invisible castle floating in the sky, stuck in a parallel reality and out of phase with the regular universe, protected by a high (electrified) fence, a pack of hungry attack dogs and a set of visitor traps that even Indiana Jones would think twice about tackling; I live in a flat with a clearly marked buzzer on the outside wall by the door. And in a rare bit of good, British urban design, there’s always space outside to park too, without fear of getting a ticket or being clamped. I e-mailed the company a couple of days ago to find out what the problem was, but I’ve yet to get a reply.
Despite it’s time-travelling, disaster, sci-fi, slapstick, action-movie clothing, this is really a romantic comedy, the sort where nothing else really has any real world consequences outside of the two main characters. Get caught in the middle of a restaurant shooting? Big Deal. Doing your Terminator ‘thing’ in the middle of a busy road junction? So what? Your capital city gets destroyed? Whatever. It’s another one of those movies that only Japan seems to be able to produce, where this eclectic mixture of genres not only works together but feels entirely normal. In a damming indictment of our screwed up, star gossip culture, our hero, the nice but exceedingly dull and boring student Jiro, has become a bit of a celebrity in the future. This is enough for someone to want to travel back in time and meet him. Or something like that anyway. The special effects are decent enough and the story is fun in its own way, but it’s a film that gets its kicks from frequently and suddenly changing its mood. The scene where they travel to Jiro’s home village is really rather touching. It also has a dance-off scene that’s pretty cool too. The ending is a bit of muddle, as if the writers were suddenly struggling with how to sort out all the loose ends, but it’s a fab and fun mash-up of a movie, full of little Terminator references and well worth watching. Haruka Ayase is very cute too; not at all like Arnold Schwarzenegger.
The soundtrack varies from forgettable to okay, with the use of some pop songs filling in the gaps. J-pop is an interesting beast…
The trailer isn’t bad, although it does underplay the ever-changing mood of the film. The use of some questionable music over the action probably doesn’t help; then again, maybe it’s very appropriate given the ‘atmospheric turbulence’ of the movie. For some reason, YouTube has cut the second line off the subtitles; it probably doesn’t make a lot of difference though.
Recommended for dull students, both geeks and nerds, cyborgs (and other artificial life forms) and teachers who like to throw bits of chalk about. (Does that still happen these days or is chalk now classed as an offensive weapon?)
1 cat, no chainsaws or decapitations. A body does get severed in two though.
Top badass moment? I’m not sure someone/something that’s programmed to be what’s basically badass can actually then do anything that should count here, which leaves us with wusey Jiro. Sadly the latter fails to do anything remotely badass for the entire movie, which leaves me with a bit of a constitutional crisis. I’ll need to consult a solicitor before I’m prepared to comment further. Raoul, Jiro’s pet cat (not the lizard), puts in a couple of excellent performances; his eating from the dish was especially nuanced and controlled.
Will Smith explodes onto the screen in this action-packed comedy as Hancock, a sarcastic, hard-living and misunderstood superhero who has fallen out of favour with the public. When Hancock grudgingly agrees to an extreme makeover from idealistic publicist Ray Embrey (Jason Bateman, “Juno”), his life and reputation rise from the ashes and all seems right again – until he meets a woman (Charlize Theron, “Aeon Flux”) with similar powers to his and the key to his secret past. A past that will have earth shattering consequences…
2008 – Certificate 15 – American Film
Strong language, sex and violence
9.0 out of 10
I sort of remember Hancock’s comedy genius from when I was young. Not so much directly, but more from my Father, who was a bit of a fan. So I was understandably worried when I first found out that Hollywood was going to make a film about his life; and even more concerned when I found out it was going to ‘reimagine’ him as a superhero and have a Black guy play his part. I like Will Smith, but Tony Hancock lived in East Cheam and I’d hazard a guess and say there weren’t a lot of Black people living in that part of Surrey in the late 50s. Fortunately, this modern film biography captures many facets of his life; his comedy timing, his ‘loser persona’, his personal fight with alcohol, his wife’s attempted suicide, his affairs with other men’s wives. It’s all here. Not only that, but it also cleverly introduces the plot from his most famous film, “The Rebel”. In this, he plays the part of someone else, whilst the title itself is also well reflected by Smith’s superb portrayal of the part in this new movie. It’s a much-see for all fans of British, post-war, kitchen sink comedy. Oh wait; I’ve fucked up again here haven’t I?
For some reason that I’m not fully aware of, I love this film. I guess the idea that a superhero can be a scruffy, underachieving alcoholic who hates people, gives me hope for my own life. The script is surprisingly well observed and it manages to provide most of the elements you’d expect to see in a movie about a superhero, without becoming a parody of one. Will Smith is actually very good in it and manages to make Hancock seem genuinely not very nice, rather than a watered down Hollywood bad guy suitable for kids. For a ‘summer blockbuster’, it does pretty well on the darker elements of the story, violence and language. Then again, I watched the uncut version that basically has ten minutes or so of the good stuff that was removed for the version that was shown in most cinemas. (It was good to see all the “jackass” references replaced with the original “assholes”.) Of course it has a few crappy scenes, (the one with Hancock having sex is an especially cringe-worthy example of a pretty pointless one); and don’t bother trying to count the plot holes either. But overall it’s a brilliant action film with a fun story, original lead character and a surprising amount of gravitas when it needs it. I enjoyed the ending too, even though you sort of know what’s going to happen. Go watch.
This is the ‘action’ orientated trailer; there’s a ‘comedy’ one out there too. It’s okay, but it doesn’t really sell the film especially well, unless you’re just into big explosions and stuff. It’s a far more multi-layed movie that this makes it seem.
I really like the soundtrack to this film. It’s everything a soundtrack is meant to be, enhancing what’s on-screen without ever taking over.
Recommended for superheroes, losers, rebels, drunks and PR consultants.
No cats, chainsaws or decapitations.
Top badass moment? It’s a film about a superhero. Go figure.
Arthur Poppington (Woody Harrelson, “2012”) doesn’t need super powers or fancy toys to fight crime. Armed only with a childlike sense of wonder and his quirky arsenal of cheap, home-made gadgets, he becomes “Defendor”! He finds an unexpected partner when he rescues and falls for a local prostitute (Kat Dennings, “Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist”). Can the two of them take down the city’s most fearsome crime boss without getting killed in the process?
2009 – Certificate 15 – Canadian Film
Strong language, sex references and drug use
8.5 out of 10
I’ve got to go back to work tomorrow. At the moment it feels I’d have more chance of launching a 20 tonne satellite into space with an elastic band, than being able to work productively when I get into the office. But I’m sure once I arrive, inspired by the latest tales about the England Cricket Team’s fighting spirit, I’ll soon be protecting the Earth once again from all manner of ‘bad guys and stuff’. (That really is my job.) I can sometimes feel a little ill-equipped for my mission though. I guess in many respects that makes me a lot more like Defendor than Superman; just a few toys, homemade gadgets and no superpowers. I have a quote on the wall in my office that says, “Do you ever find yourself striving for perfection with a virtually worthless attempt at it?” I like to think it’s inspirational. Indeed the whole song it’s taken from (“Lemon Water” by Guttermouth) is inspirational and can be applied to very many situations in life.
Billed as a comedy, this movie has quite a dark heart, whilst it highlights the value of friendship and sticking to what you believe in. I was a bit worried that having a lead character with a mental illness might make it a bit uncomfortable to watch, but actually it more or less gets away with it; it quickly ceases to be anything more than a facet of Arthur’s make up and is rarely mentioned explicitly, other than on a couple of occasions where it fits appropriately into the scenes. This is one of those films that after the first 15 minutes or so I thought I was watching a bit of an Edsel; but then it started to get good. The final scene is pretty powerful and for a superhero film about a guy with no superpowers who takes on a ‘crime boss’, quite realistic. This isn’t exactly a kid’s film, as it’s full of drug references and swearing, as well as quite a bit of violence too. It’s not as good as the amazingly brilliant “Super”, but it’s most definitely worth watching. If it has a weakness then it’s probably that it takes time for Arthur’s/Defendor’s character to settle down into someone understandable, but once it does you’ll be right behind him. In many ways he’s as much a tortured soul as Batman, only he doesn’t realise it. I love films like this. I can relate to them.
I really like this movie’s soundtrack. There’s not a lot to it really and it could so easily have ended up as a parody of what superhero films should sound like, but in fact it’s really good. It makes a big difference when it matters. I even went out and bought the track that plays over the first half of the end credits too.
This trailer is a decent enough, although it probably plays down the darker elements of the film and instead highlights the comedy.
Recommended for superheroes (obviously), prostitutes, corrupt police, drug barons and ‘nice guys’.
No cats, chainsaws or decapitations.
Top badass moment? Nearly all superheroes are badass and Defendor’s no exception. Going after the city’s crime boss armed with only a few marbles and wasps is pretty ballsy; it’s also one of the most stupid things you can probably do too. Monumental stupidity is always badass.
Dealing with guilt over the suicide of her sister Ai, karate student Megumi accompanies a group of older friends on a trip into the woods. Things start to go badly when Maki finds a parasitical worm inside a fish and wolfs it down alive, in the hope that’ll help keep her skinny! Attacked by a crowd of undead who emerge from an outhouse toilet, the group seek refuge at the home of Dr. Tanaka and his daughter Sachi. Unbeknownst to them, Tanaka has been conducting experiments on the parasites and the zombies!
2011 – Certificate: Not Rated – Japanese Film
7.0 out of 10
In the distant future, a scientist creates a shock-wave of anti-time, which then travels backwards through history. Four fragments of a time crystal lost in four different timezones are needed to create a second shock-wave, which will eliminate the first one. This has nothing to do with this film, but in the last century (1997 to be exact) a game for the PC called Timeshock was released and that was the basic plot. This was (and still is) an excellent simulation of a pinball machine. (A lot of the music used in it was written by half of Stiff Little Fingers too.) I must have played it 1000s of times. But like many things, as my life moved on (or stagnated to be more accurate) I stopped doing so. Earlier this year I found out that a new version was being released via a Kickstarter campaign. So I paid some money and now patiently await the arrival of this update. However, whilst waiting I thought it would be fun to play the original again. Despite playing it so often, I’d never quite managed to get all the way through it; occasionally I’d get close, but ultimately mess things up with the result that the Universe was destroyed, which was never very good for my self-esteem. A few weeks ago I went to see The Wedding Present. (The fourth best band on the planet.) I was still a bit ‘buzzy’ when I got home, so I thought I’d play a few games of Timeshock before going to bed. Despite the darkened room, the early morning hour, my sweat soaked t-shirt and being knackered from my earlier attempts to ‘dance’, I somehow got through to the ‘last bit’, where my meddling always ends up with the destruction of the Universe. As usual I got off to my usual, panicky, crappy start. But with the time ticking down I entered one of those oh too rare moments of mental clarity and physical coordination. Being told I’d saved the Universe and consequently was now a Master of Time, has had a profound effect on my inner being. I think I now realise what all my life has been preparing me for. However, it wasn’t this film.
This movie is everything it sounds like it’ll be and a whole lot more. Consider this though for a moment: there’s a futility in trying to explain the point of certain things. Wind, fog, dust, wasps, mangos, pizza delivery leaflets, bottled water, slip-covers on DVDs. This film is another. It has little in common with either “The Matrix” or “2001: A Space Odyssey”. But on a very primitive level it is quite entertaining. In many ways this is the perfect movie and manages to pull together aspects of just about every dodgy Japanese film ever made. It does have a fair bit of action in it and some (but not all) of the effects are pretty good. It’s well made for what it is and provides a most entertaining encounter of the most juvenile kind. From the horrible, 60s style opening credits to the flying battle scene near the end, it manages to cram in enough clichés to make anyone feel a bit queasy. And I guess it’s simply not possible to fill a whole film with nothing but jokes based on flatulence, (although it does try). Not surprisingly it maxes out on the official toilet humour scale, but given its title I can’t really imagine anyone watching it would be expecting to get a “Citizen Kane” experience. However, I was struck by the though that just a couple of Rennies could have solved the whole zombie, parasite, bonkers doctor and daughter problem very easily.
Musically the film actually has a decent horror soundtrack. Maybe the composer wasn’t told all the details? However the trailer is clearly in on the joke. Why does the voice over become more and more German as it goes along?
Recommended for would-be models, karate experts, mad scientists and anyone with a digestive illness.
No cats, chainsaws or decapitations. However, a number heads explode or get totally squashed; I’d say around a dozen.
Top badass moment? Megumi fighting the Nekurogedoro queen (or whatever it is) is pretty badass. Using only the power of her, em, ‘indigestion’, to fly through the air, it’s difficult to imagine anything, ever, could be literally quite as badass as that.
The greatest rock ‘n’ roll vampire comedy ever made, “Suck” stars rock royalty Alice Cooper, Iggy Pop and Henry Rollins, and brilliant performances from Moby and British screen legend Malcolm McDowell (“A Clockwork Orange”). The Winners are a struggling band desperate to make it to the top and strike a record deal. After another mediocre gig, Jennifer (Jessica Paré “Hot Tub Time Machine”) the sexy female bassist, disappears with a young vampire and returns the next morning sprouting fangs and a taste for blood. One by one each member succumbs to the dark side and leaving a trail of lifeless groupies in their wake, they soon reach the heights of success that they could only dream of as mere mortals.
2009 – Certificate: 15 – Canadian Film
Rating Details: Strong language and comic gory horror
7.5 out of 10
Yesterday I walked to work at my new office for the first time. No longer do I need to trek thousands of miles (well it felt like thousands) each day, face death as I cross the busy A4, deal with selfish pavement hogs along the Oxford Road, heroically climb ‘The Mountain’ or risk loss of sensory deprivation as I bisect the country-sized Tesco car park. My journey now takes about 15 minutes and I don’t need to set up a series of resupply depots and emergency evac protocols to enable me to take the trip. A number of other differences were apparent too. For a start, I had to battle my way through two (yes two) school runs, as I passed two primary schools. A pavement jam-packed with slow-moving mothers, toddlers in pushchairs and chaotic, hyper-active youngsters, who randomly change direction with no respect for The Rules. I’m an experienced Pavement Warrior, but this was something else. It’s only going to be a matter of time before I accidentally mow one of these tiny terrors down and end up in jail forever as a child killer. Then there were the others, a mixture of students going to the Tesco Metro (I didn’t realise any got up that early) and men and women in business suits, power-walking into the centre of Reading. On my previous journey, I’d count myself unlucky to be overtaken by even one person, but yesterday it happened twice, as I was left choking on the burning rubber left behind by the soles of two pairs of fast-moving, expensive shoes, worn by who I can only assume are relatives of Usain Bolt. Unless I’m carrying a heavy bag, being overtaken by someone is a direct challenge to my sexuality, questions my prowess in bed and lessens my status as an Alpha Male. Clearly more of a sprint than the marathon I’m used to, I’ll not be caught out next time. Game on… This film is about a group of people who make a change to how they do their job.
Sadly, this movie wasn’t so bad that I’m able to say it sucks. Nether was it some sort of unimaginatively named 70’s porn. It’s actually quite a lot of fun and does feature a number of real rock stars amongst its cast. (By the way, who originally came up with the expression “rock royalty”? It’s an unspeakably dreadful term.) The cast put in generally spirited performances and the whole thing is really quite endearing. It’s got Malcolm McDowell in it as well, as vampire hunter Eddie Van Helsing; and let’s not forget that this is the guy who killed Captain Kirk! That’s real ultra violence. And while we’re on the Star Trek theme, it’s also got Ezri Dax in it. Moby (who’s vegan and thus awesome), plays a character called Beef Bellows, lead singer of rock band The Secretaries of Steak. See, even vegans have a sense of irony. Jessica Paré, who plays bassist Jennifer, was a bit disappointing. I’m not quite sure why, but she didn’t quite pull off the vampire diva ‘thing’ that was meant to propel the band to stardom. Much more of a comedy than a horror, this movie’s a good excuse to while away 91 minutes of your life.
A film about a band needs to have good music, but unfortunately this one suffered a similar fate to so many others and features a lot of mediocre, bland, forgettable, indie rock. It’s a film about a band of vampires, but the music’s about as gothic as One Direction. The performances are pretty good though.
Recommended for rock stars, would-be rock stars and vampires (and the undead in general).
No cats, chainsaws or decapitations.
Top badass moment? Nicole de Boer has a part in this film. That’s badass.
“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.
Jackie, a hard-working assistant at a TV studio, pours herself into her work with an odd enthusiasm that her co-workers embrace with mixed feelings. An obsessed Morrissey fan, her off hours are spent talking to posters and photos that plaster her apartment. Her nights are spent scouring places Morrissey has been spotted around Los Angeles… One fateful night things take a turn for the worse when by chance her dream comes true. Meeting Morrissey in a deserted parking lot, Jackie’s world is suddenly turned upside down.
2003 – Certificate: Not Rated – American Film
8.0 out of 10
The last couple of days at work have been somewhat dispiriting. A mixture of ‘stuff’ and ‘other things’, combined with a lack of time and a recurring, nightmarish vision of the apocalypse, (complete with demons, fire, horseman and endless teleconferences), have made the first half of the week pretty heavy going. I forgot my mobile phone today too and came home to 14 missed calls. Someone had left me a voice mail which was so muffled and distant that I could only conclude it came from Satan himself, deep in the bowels of Hell. I wonder what he wants, this time? However, coming home from work each day I’ve been reminded of just how worse things could be. Whilst walking along the Oxford Road in Reading I’ve passed a guy dressed in a giant, blue, Domino’s Pizza takeaway box, loitering outside the Lidl supermarket. Whatever he had in mind as a career when he was at school, I don’t suppose hanging about dressed up like a homeless and miserable, blue version of SpongeBob SquarePants, was top of his list. Sadly for Domino’s, the overall effect of a bored looking guy in a scruffy pair of jeans and a baseball hat, inside a massive pizza box, wasn’t to make me want to eat pizza. Whatever they’re paying him, it’s not enough. Strangely, this film has a connection to SpongeBob too.
I always enjoy movies about losers that’re trying to fight back against ‘the system’, or at least exist alongside it; I suppose I can relate to them. This film starts off with us following a young woman with an over developed enthusiasm for all things Morrissey, into work, where we meet some of her rather overbearing colleagues; and it ends up with a nuclear explosion. I’m not really spoiling it for you though, as the latter doesn’t actually have any sort of connection to anything else. At some point whilst watching it, I was suddenly hit by a “wtf?” moment and realised that everything had become rather surreal, weird and odd. On one level, this is quite a disturbing film, as you watch a young woman descend into some sort of mental distress. On the other hand, it is kind of funny. Jackie Buscarino, who plays the main character who’s also called Jackie, as well as being very cute, throws herself into the role with a level of embarrassing intensity that’s really quite fun to watch. I can imagine it’s the sort of film that a lot of hardcore Morrissey fans would hate, but I really like Morrissey and think it’s very entertaining. I’m not sure if it’s a totally dumb, poorly scripted film, or one that subtly and covertly comments on modern society and its values; whatever, I’d recommend it either way.
This movie has some really good music in it, which certainly helps turn it from being a potentially slightly crappy film into a much better one. The fact that one track is by Nerf Herder (the band that bought you the theme to “Buffy the Vampire Slayer”), is just the icing on the cake. Needless to say, it features no music by Morrissey or The Smiths at all.
Recommend for fanboys (and fangirls).
No cats, chainsaws or decapitations.
Top badass moment? Who hasn’t at one time or another, secretly thought about going into work, trashing the place and abusing everyone? Okay… so just me then. Anyway, the overlong scene where Jackie goes into work and does just that, is badass.