Alex (Alan Rickman), a tight-lipped Englishman recently freed from prison, is driving through Ontario when he begrudgingly picks up the vivacious teenage hitchhiker Vivienne (Emily Hampshire). On the outskirts of her hometown, a truck hits the car. Vivienne dies instantly and Alex finds himself, for the second time in his life, grieving for someone he never knew. Devastated by the accident, Alex goes to the frozen backwater of Wawa, Ontario to visit Vivienne’s mother Linda (Sigourney Weaver). There, he discovers that she is autistic with an unconventional take on life and mourning. Drawn in to the small frozen backwater community, Alex soon forms a close relationship with Linda, begins an affair with her sassy neighbour Maggie (Carrie-Anne Moss), and becomes the object of scrutiny by the ineffectual law enforcement officer Clyde (James Allodi). As the funeral approaches, life in Wawa seems to have enabled Alex to face the present, but how will he cope when the dark secrets of his past finally emerge?
2006 – Certificate 15 – UK/Canada
Rating Details: Strong Language
8 out of 10
Well that’s it over with then. Life I mean. Last Sunday it was my 50th birthday. A future of increasing ill-health, an inability to do or remember things, walking sticks, Zimmer frames, bifocals, tablets from the doctor, hip replacements and finally death, are all I have to look forward to now. As the Borg might say, “Your life as it has been, is over.” I awoke this morning to find that overnight, a year’s worth of new aches and pains had been applied to my body, plus the special ‘new decade’ bonus ones, plus the 50 year Jackpot selection. To say I now feel as if I’m virtually bed-bound wouldn’t be an exaggeration. I did nothing to celebrate the momentous occasion, except mope about at home. In some ways I was quite sad; I wished I could thank my parents for having me, being 50 felt like an especially appropriate point to do so, but it’s a bit too late for that now; (or, if your belief system supports it, a bit too early). I was rubbish at being a young person, ineffective in middle-age and now I’m probably well on my way to becoming a cantankerous, teenager-hating, lecherous, ‘the world owes me a living’ old person. Actually I’m quite looking forward to that. In a similar way, this movie is about life as it has been, being over.
I really enjoyed this film. It’s touching, funny and grounded. It has some really wonderfully acted characters. The aforementioned car crash provides a full-blown OMG movie moment. Sigourney Weaver’s Linda is as far away from Ripley (“Alien”) that it’s possible to get, although both characters share a strength of character. Her portrayal of a woman with autism seemed very convincing. Alan Rickman’s laconic Alex is a sympathetic and interesting character, despite his background. It’s also a film with a proper start, middle and end. It’s not perfect though. Sometimes the storyline goes a bit off track; I especially had trouble accepting Alex to be such a babe magnet and the subplot involving him and the neighbour did distract from the rest of the story a bit. Vivienne is also one of those teenagers that doesn’t really exist in real life, but turns up in films on a regular basis.
There isn’t a large amount of music in the film and much of it is pretty generic. However, when it is used, it greatly adds to the impact of the scenes. Lovely job.
No cats, chainsaws or decapitations.
Recommended for people who like character-driven dramas.
Top badass moment? Finding out from Linda that having a mouthful of snow is like having an orgasm. That’s pretty badass when you think about it, and cold.
A charming and affecting tale charting the fortunes of three small town heroes pursuing their dreams, Carlos Sorin’s “Historias Mínimas” offers further evidence of the current riches to be found in Argentine cinema. Awarded a special jury prize at the San Sebastian International Film Festival, it’s a deceptively simple, yet delightful road movie concerned with three disparate characters heading for the Argentine city of San Julian amid the beautiful landscapes of Patagonia. Roberto (Javier Lombardo) is a travelling salesman hoping to impress a young widow by surprising her child with a birthday cake. Don Justo (Antonio Benedictis) is an old man with poor vision who sits in front of his son’s grocery store and entertains passing children by wiggling his ears. Maria (Javiera Bravo) is a shy young mother who has won an appearance on TV game show “Multicoloured Casino”. Gently probing the hopes and aspirations of his characters, Sorin uses the interconnected, tripartite structure to offer astute observations both on a culture relatively unscathed by modernity and on contemporary Argentina itself.
2002 – Certificate: 15 – Argentina
7 out of 10
I work for a charity. Ironically, considering we’re basically penniless (because we use all our dosh on doing ‘good stuff’) we spend a lot of time counting our money. We count it up, we count it down, we count it sideways, we even lend it to one another (a loving and intimate experience we call an “internal transfer”) so we can count it some more. Every year, to punish ourselves for not having enough money with which to save the planet, we like to spend ‘quality time’ counting what little we have. It’s a quasi-religious experience for us all, where staff from far and wide go back to their offices and sit in front of a computer, before subjecting themselves to a living Hell. In the ‘old days’ we called these bi-annual events “budgeting” or “forecasting”. Then, discovering we actually had less money than we thought, we decided to count it four times a year instead and call it “financial planning”. These are watched over by a group of pan-dimensional super-intelligent beings we call the Leadership Team, (although throughout the annuals of human history they’ve sometimes been given many other, less flattering titles). Their names are known to everyone, but few claim to have met any, (which certainly helps to keep the God theme going). Like visiting a priest, this is a time for people to confess their sins and fess up to all the non-existent income they’ve been claiming they’re going to raise. The naughtier you’ve been, the longer you’re required to do this for. This year I’ve been really bad, so I’ve just spent 6 days in Purgatory, filling in around 16,000 rectangles that needed a number put into them, mostly, as you might imagine, zeros. There were also about 100 pages of notes, to explain what all the noughts mean. I guess I could have spent six days filling in forms to gain some money to put into all the boxes that have nothing in them, but what do I know? I suppose if you add enough noughts together, they’ll end up equalling more than nothing; there must be some ‘weird’ maths somewhere that results in that happening, or maybe there’re just typos. That reminds me, I must go and spend my HMV Vouchers on Saturday. This is a film about some people without a great deal of money, who seem to get by okay.
This is a cute drama/comedy about three people undertaking different journeys in Argentina, from the same, small village to a (not so) nearby town. Unlike the last film I watched, “Say Yes”, which was a road trip movie about a psycho hitchhiker in Korea, this one is slow, nothing much happens and it’s really quite boring. Yet despite this it’s actually quite engrossing. There’s something very ‘reality TV’ about watching ordinary people going about their business and seeing how important seemingly small things are to them. Those little events that mean you have a good day or a crap day; in the big scheme of things they don’t make the slightest difference, but to us individually they’re immensely significant. This movie also highlights the fact that most people are inherently quite decent, which isn’t something you see in a film very often. If there isn’t at least one person trying to fuck up someone else’s life, then it’s just weird. If you remember “The Fast Show’s” Chanel 9, you’ll be able to relate to the Multicoloured Casino part. There’s something quite funny about watching a film in Spanish featuring a really crappy game show, which uses the word “multiprocessor” too many times. Some of scenery is pretty inspiring too, so it’s a shame the quality of the picture isn’t that great. Nice film, go watch.
Recommended for people who can manage 88 minutes without any aliens, explosions or superheroes. It’s tough I know, but someone has to do it.
No cats, chainsaws or decapitations.
Top badass moment? I’m going for the workman who helps Don Justo get his dog back. True, it’s probably not actually his dog and the workman does have to buy it from some guy, but considering he didn’t really know Don Justo, that was a pretty badass thing to do. And there I was, thinking that all that Argentinians are heartless bastards who just want to reinvade the Falklands. I guess that’s what happens when you confuse politicians with human beings.
Once content to duel it out here on Earth, the eternally scrappy Tom and Jerry now boldly go where no cat and mouse have gone before, when they get trapped on a spaceship bound for Mars. After their mistaken mission goes hilariously out of control, the tables are turned on Tom when, thinking him a giant outer space monster, the Martians attack! But what really bristles the cat’s whiskers is Jerry being hailed as the Martians’ long-long supreme leader! Will the duelling duo put their differences aside long enough to save Earth from invasion? They may need all of Tom’s nine lives to succeed in this extraterrestrially funny adventure.
2005 – Certificate: U – USA
Rating Details: Mild violence
In the first four and a half minutes, (which includes all the opening credits too), Tom has an ironing board smash down on his head, has his head ironed, sets fire to his feet, falls into a food mixer, falls into a liquidiser, gets his head jammed in a toaster and toasted, gets trapped in a dish washer and its associated plumbing, smashes his head into a sink, gets sucked through an aircraft’s jet engine and falls 1,000s of feet though the air onto the ground. I guess that’s the “mild violence” I was warned about. Lucky it’s not a real cat.
I like Tom and Jerry. In fact they’re my favourite cartoon characters of all time. The first part of this film is great, as Tom’s attempts to catch Jerry totally trash a house. Sadly, when we meet a few folk (and aliens) and they start to speak, it all slows down and loses it a bit. I don’t know, but people really shouldn’t talk in Tom and Jerry cartoons; in fact we should hardly see them at all. A few screams and such like are okay, but when they start to have conversations then that’s just wrong. Then again, I’m probably not the demographic that this film is aimed at. If you’re eight years old you probably don’t care about the mythology of Tom and Jerry, you just want to see ‘funny stuff’. Having said that, the big reference to “2001: A Space Odyssey” and the fact that the President looks and sound an awful lot like Arnold Schwarzenegger, are likely to appeal to the more ‘mature’ viewer. The bad guy’s use of a vacuum cleaner as its weapon of choice is somewhat surreal too. What was the originator of that idea on? It’s far from classic Tom and Jerry, but it’s still quite entertaining. The sound is surprisingly good, if a little unsubtle at times and the music excellent. At its best, this film could almost have been made in the 40s, but all too often it falls into more stereotypical Saturday morning cartoon land and dilutes its best down. And how come Tom and Jerry didn’t need spacesuits on Mars, but the astronauts from Earth did? (Okay, maybe I’m overanalysing things a bit now.)
Recommended for the Tom and Jerry hardcore; and little kids.
1 cat (Tom of course), no chainsaws or decapitations. However, a number of heads (mostly Tom’s) do get flattered, burnt, crushed or ‘deflated’.
Top badass moment? I’m told following your dreams in life is important, regardless of the consequences. So I guess Tom smashing up what looked like a really nice house, with a lot of unusual African artefacts it, in an attempt to catch Jerry, is badass then. Jerry’s such a tease and you just know he’s not the one who’s going to get blamed for the mess either; there’re words for individuals like that and they’re not nice words.
Working in the ‘environmental sector’ as I do, I frequently find myself watching films and noticing ‘environmental errors’. This one has a classic. Most of the movie appears to have been shot towards the end of the summer, given the condition and size of the Bracken that’s seen growing everywhere. However, the aerial shots appear to have been filmed in mid winter, given the totally dead appearance of the Bracken and the lack of leaves on many of the trees. I know, I know, I should ignore this stuff, but it’s hard to! Talking of big mistakes, Jenny and Steve made one or two in this movie.
2008 – Certificate: 18 – United Kingdom
Rating Details: Strong bloody violence and sustained terrorisation
Eden Lake is what the director happily calls a “genre film”. Group go somewhere isolated, group piss someone off, group get chased, group suffer the consequences; in this case it’s a young couple and some local kids, who spend most of the movie chasing each other around the woods. Having said that, it is a really good example of this type of horror/thriller, with decent acting, good photography/effects and well thought-out characters. The latter do actually manage to act in a reasonably realistic way most of the time, even if there were just a few too many coincidences used to push the plot along. I’ve slept in a tent ‘in the middle of nowhere’ lots of times and I’ve always had a slight fear that one night some weirdo is going to come and ‘disturb’ me. This film did nothing to allay my fears. I did struggle to relate to the couple (Jenny and Steve) a little. They were nice enough, but God were they boring; and he was also an irritating yuppie too. His attempts to be the ‘alpha male’ were somewhat pathetic as well, if sadly realistic. They were the classic, “what a shame they’re going to build all over this nice bit of land, so let’s go and enjoy it first by driving there in our 4×4, just to use as much fuel as we can doing so” middle-class couple. Very light green ‘greens’ if you ask me. I bet she uses a reusable shopping bag to buy her organic veg each time she goes to the shops in said vehicle. It was quite a while before I started to feel sorry for them. Not that the kids were any better; rural delinquents with equally crappy parents. The ending is pretty brutal too. And finally, a quick note for horror script writers. If you’re running around in the woods in England (and probably most other places too) trying to avoid others, (like in this film), it’s really not that hard to hide. Two intelligent adults trying escape from a group of thick kids in an area that probably covers 100s of acres, really shouldn’t be that difficult. The place was full of tall Bracken. Just! Don’t! Walk! Along! The! Paths!
Recommended for fans of classic modern horror. (Can you actually have classic modern anything?)
No cats, decapitations or chainsaws.
Top badass moment? Well all the kids were thick plebs, (and my thanks to the Rt Hon Andrew Mitchell MP, Member of Parliament for Sutton Coldfield and Government Chief Whip, for reminding me of that one). Steve was simply an annoying yuppie, too full of his own importance for anything he could ever do to be considered badass. So this only leaves Jenny really. She never totally got into full bad-bitch-from-hell mode, but for a primary school teacher she didn’t do too badly. That makeshift dagger was very effective! Considering the trying circumstances, her efforts probably should be considered badass.
I’ve probably made thousands of journeys on the London Underground in my life, a lot of them early in the morning or late at night. I think I can say that I’ve never noticed anyone famous, seen any fights, heard a gun-shot or met any homicidal maniacs. I’ve met a small number of weirdos, but that’s about it. I’m always secretly impressed by people who seemingly see a politician or film star on the Underground nearly every week, have tales of gunman or knife-wielding hoddies to share, or who regularly get trapped for hours in tunnels on broken-down trains. Maybe it has something to do with my ability to put on an iPod and fall asleep in almost any location; to me, the Underground is basically an uncomfortable, mobile bed. It’s like sleeping in a communal dormitory, where half the people look as miserable as sin, wear suits and never speak, whilst the other half talk all the time (but never in English), wear a range of strange clothing (I guess it’s all in fashion somewhere in the world) and continually look with confusion at a pocket-sized map of the Tube. However, I love the Underground, it’s a great social leveler. It’s a place where everyone can share equally in its sweltering, fetid, humid, summer ambience; enjoy having their faces pushed into other peoples’ armpits; or try desperately not to end up standing in the middle of an aisle, miles away from the doors that they’ve got zero chance of getting to when they want to get off and where whoever’s sitting adjacent to where they’re standing will have an eye-level and close-up view of their crotch, whether they want to or not; (remember kids, don’t get ‘excited’ and always go to the toilet and check your undies for the dreaded VPL, before you travel). It’s another example of a great bit of British engineering! (The Tube, not crotches.)
2004 – Certificate: 18 – United Kingdom
Rating Details: Strong bloody violence
This is a pretty good horror. The London Underground has plenty of potential to provide a creepy environment in which to trap people and it’s cool to see it used in this way in a film. It does drift off into torture porn territory towards the end, but it’s still entertaining. There’s loads of unrealistic stuff in it too, but let’s not dwell on that, as it will only spoil an otherwise pretty good movie. It also does a good job of making you have some sympathy for the ‘baddie’ too. I do hope all the survivors got checked for Weil’s Disease afterwards; it would be shame to escape from everything, only to succumb to an unpleasant disease a few weeks late; that would really suck.
Recommended for Tube fans, commuters and people who enjoy swimming in sewerage. If you fall into all three groups, then you’re in for a real treat; and you’re one sick puppy too.
No cats and no decapitations. There were a lot of rats and some decent neck cutting scenes though.
Top badass moment? It really has to be Kate throughout most of the film. She has to try to save the life of a guy who tries to rape her, deal with unhelpful London Underground staff, swim around with rats in sewerage, watch several people get killed, deal with the baddie herself and then still have to get home afterwards. Shit happens; dealing with it is badass.