Stranded somewhere in the Ardennes after his van breaks down, Marc Stevens (Laurent Lucas “Harry He’s Here To Help”), a travelling cabaret singer, is taken in by a kindly inn keeper who offers to fix his van and give him shelter for the night. But the motivation for the innkeeper’s kind actions soon changes from altruism to a fervent desire to prevent his new guest from ever leaving. The thing is Marc reminds the lonely inn-keeper of his long-lost wife. Before Marc knows it, his van is sabotaged and he is stranded. But this is only the start of his ordeal and what follows has to be seen to be believed… “The Ordeal” (aka “Calvaire”) delivers a terrifying and darkly comic tale of obsession, kidnap, and borderline psychosis that brings to mind films such as “Deliverance”, “Straw Dogs” and “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre”, but that has a continental flavour very much its own.
2004 – Certificate: 18 – Rating Details: Strong bloody violence – Belgium Film – 5.0 out of 10
I don’t drink a lot of wine; (except ginger wine, but I’m not sure that really counts). I don’t know a lot about it either. I know it comes in three colours, bottles or boxes, sometimes it’s fizzy and in France they feed babies with it, but other than that… So imagine my surprise when I sat down on Friday evening and found myself drinking an excellent 2004, organic Merlot from the Central Valley of Chile. (Actually I bought it from Majestic Wines in Reading a number of years ago, due to my misunderstanding its rules about having to buy at least 12 bottles at a time; but you know what I mean.) I think I probably selected it based on four things; it was organic, it was vegan, it wasn’t from France and it was strong (14% vol). That’s basically how I select wine; although do generally prefer rosé wine because I can put it in the fridge and drink it cold, without the wine police raiding my home; and it’s a more interesting colour than white wine. I’m not especially a fan of red wine, but this was actually pretty nice. I’d had it laid down in my wine cellar for nearly ten years. (I don’t like to brag, but my personal wine cellar is a small rack I bought from Argos that sits on the bottom shelf of a bookcase in my hall.) I actually had to wipe all the dust off the bottle before opening it. Along with the bollocks written on the label and the lack of a hangover the next day, that pretty well demonstrates just how authentically high-quality it really was. In fact it was nice enough for me to finish off the whole bottle on my own whilst watching this film. With hindsight, it’s probably just as well, as this movie was a bit like the wine bottle’s label.
Well, this was all a bit rubbish. Weirdly, it seems to have a number of fans at IMDB, but really, it’s not very good. For a start it’s not funny. The sleeve says it is but it isn’t, unless it’s being ironic and we’re supposed to laugh at it because it’s so bad. The continuity is dreadful. Perhaps I’m missing something here, but to me it just looked like the weather changed from shot to shot; in one case from no snow at all to a thick layer of snow on the ground, in the middle of a chase. I’m sure dealing with weather is a nightmare for filmmakers, but most seem to manage. I didn’t find any of the characters the least bit sympathetic, not even the victim, although I think that was intentional; the guy was a stupid, boring wuss and his singing was crap too. There were just too many random incidents that really don’t go anywhere or explain anything. And at times the editing was more jarring than dropping to sub-light speed; (probably, as I’ve not actually done the latter, yet). Maybe I’m being a bit mean. Some of the cinematography is actually very impressive, the acting decent and the bizarre dance the guys do in the pub was nearly worth it for the wtf moment it provides. But no, actually I’m not. It’s entertaining in its own way, but I preferred my bottle of wine.
This movie has a very space soundtrack, very sparse. I guess what there is of it works well.
The trailer makes the film look a lot more horrific, a lot faster and more action packed than it really is.
Movie Weather Forecast. Heavy rain, followed by entirely random sunny spells, snow and rain showers, with the latter sometimes settling and sometimes melting very, very quickly, before suddenly coming back again. Cold at all times, but not so cold that a thin jumper won’t keep you warm enough.
Recommended for inn-keepers, cabaret singers and farmers.
No cats, chainsaws or decapitations.
Top badass moment? This is a movie with far too many arbitrary happenings in it, but credit where credit’s due. The random dance by the guys in the village pub is completely inexplicable, creepy and downright weird. Somehow (and I can’t really explain why), that makes it pretty 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.