One of the classics in contemporary American gay cinema, “Edge of Seventeen” recalls one high school student’s eventful and raucous coming-out during the steamy summer of 1984. Eric (Chris Stafford) is a 17-year-old senior from Ohio who takes a summer job at a local amusement park. Working alongside his best gal pal Maggie (Tina Holmes), the two idle away the days until Eric meets Rod (Andersen Gabrych), a sexy and openly gay college student. Soon sparks fly and Eric must confront feelings he had long suppressed. A funny, entertaining and insightful coming-of-age tale, Edge of Seventeen is enhanced by a great ’80s soundtrack (including Bronski Beat and Eurythmics), terrific period design and a high-energy, upbeat tempo, making this an exciting and original take on growing up and finding love.
1998 – Certificate: 15 – Rating Details: Some strong language, sex and drug use – American Film – 7.5 out of 10
In the early/mid 80s, punk and new wave disintegrated into a mostly horrible hardcore noise of badly played, pretend heavy metal. At the same time, 2 tone came, saw, conquered and quickly left. Meanwhile, the charts filled up with synth-based pop and whining, pretty-boys and girls singing about mostly nothing. (Unlike today, where it’s full of groups of boring guys with beards and guitars singing about absolutely nothing, boy-bands who get off on arousing ten-year-old girls, and wailing woman who are so heavy auto-tuned they may as well be aliens.) And maybe my memory is playing tricks on me, but actually I’m pretty sure that for part of the early-mid 80s electric guitars where made illegal, (unless you were the Housemartins). However, all these new bands were British. I can’t really remember what was going on in America at the time, chart music-wise, but as a source of New Romantic and synthpop it really doesn’t feature in my memory. I will admit to a certain, limited fondness for some of the music, but most of it wasn’t that good; but even Spandau Ballet had one decent song, (although the video should be certified X for fashion and pretentiousness.)
This film is set during that period and it has to be said it gets its look and vibe spot on. It’s a shame it wasn’t released until 1998, as otherwise it might well be remembered fondly in the same way as many real 80s films from that period are now. Maybe having a gay lead character in a teen drama would have been a bit too subversive for mainstream US cinema at that time. After all, gay people (including lesbians) are obviously the 80s equivalent of Islamic State, hell bend on destroying the status quo of everything everyone else holds dear. This film follows the same basic story as most coming-of-age films do, (but with added gay angst). It’s well made, well-acted and at times it’s genuinely touching; (i.e. it’s got scenes that are hanky-friendly). The ending is a bit jarring though and felt a bit out of line with the rest of the film. Maybe I just wanted more of a traditional, happy conclusion; (I think I must be going soft or something). For a movie about a young gay guy and the New Romantic scene in general, everyone really does come across as very typical and real. It would have been so easy for it to features lots of caricatures. Well worth watching.
This is a movie that majors on its soundtrack and with a long playlist of bona fide 80s hits, it contributes significantly to making the film what it is. I was pleased to find out that despite my declining years and way too many gigs, my ears are still good enough to hear Jimmy Somerville’s singing.
The trailer’s a solid effort.
Movie Weather Forecast. Warm, dry and sunny throughout.
Recommended for fast-food restaurant workers, New Romantics and any teenagers thinking of coming out.
No cats, chainsaws or decapitations.
Top badass moment? There isn’t one. Normally this is a sign of a potentially crappy movie, one filled with horrible characters, or one I was too drunk or tired when I watched it to remember properly now, but in this case it’s really a reflection of a lot of normal people doing their best. That in itself is badass.
Following on from the success of The Lives of Others and The Counterfeiters, the award winning “Four Minutes” sees wrongfully imprisoned piano prodigy Jenny, a Molotov cocktail of suppressed emotions and uncontrollable rage, locked in a constant battle with those around her. Together with Traude, a professional musician who wants to expose Jenny’s talents at a national competition, the pair develop a volatile teacher-pupil relationship. As the duo plan their intent to make it to the finals, it soon becomes apparent that, once there, Jenny will have only four minutes to prove herself, and no guarantee of freedom afterwards. Starring multiple award winner Hannah Herzsprung (“The Reader”, “The Baader-Meinhof Complex”), “Four Minutes” is a cinema tour de force that combines music, gritty prison drama and powerful performances to winning effect.
2006 – Certificate: 15 – German Film – Rating Details: Strong violence and very strong language. 10 out of 10.
To do most things that people consider important in life, you have to study and then possibly pass some sort of test, exam or interview. In other cases you need to read the instructions or practice, but in the end you’re required to be able to demonstrate a degree of competency before you’re trusted by anyone to do it ‘for real’. Yet for some reason, with one of the most important and challenging things, we expect everyone to just get on with it without demonstrating the slightest level of ability. That’s so stupid. Where’s the logic in that? It’s enough to make Mr. Spock freak out. I’ve mentioned it before, but my journey to work involves walking almost past an infant school, at least close enough for me to run into lots of parents taking their kids there. I don’t expect young kids to ever do anything remotely sensible; in fact it’s in their job description. They live in a world that isn’t quite in phase with grow-ups. However, if fate has put you in change of a young person, you really ought to be trained how to do this important job, as most people clearly don’t have a clue. In fact those that do know are generally too old to have any, which in my opinion is a really bad design error. I’m generally a very tolerant person; yes, really. But one thing that’s been testing me to my limits recently is the almost total inability of parents to wait at traffic lights and not block the entire pavement with hyperactive kids, bags, pushchairs, dogs and other non-essential stuff. Hell, it’s only a short walk to the local school, not a manned mission to Mars. Somehow, they think having control of a young person entitles them to inconvenience the rest of the universe, as if this is some sort of reward for proving their immense virility or fertility. Seriously dudes, we’ve managed to reproduce adequately enough to keep ourselves going since life first evolved on Earth; it’s really not that difficult and it doesn’t reflect on anyone’s worth. What does take skill and deserves admiration is dealing with the consequences, which many clearly fail at on an epic scale. I’m a Pavement Warrior and denying me my right of access is a direct challenge to my entire belief structure. I’m not keen on making kids orphans, but sometimes, someone needs to make a stand. Just today I narrowly avoided a serious incident on an especially narrow bit of pavement, when two young boys came flying out of a terrace house; the sort that has a front garden about 1m deep. A guy coming down ‘The Mountain’ (as I call this particularly steep section of my route to work) had to take evasive action to avoid running into them and nearly swerved into me as a result. Seriously, I was lucky to get out of that in one piece. Then again, what do I know? It was only very recently that I found out that you can’t just take the batteries out of them at night when you go to bed. And now something a whole lot better…
This is a totally awesome movie. One of the best 50 films ever made. It’s German, so unsurprisingly it’s not a comedy. (I guess saying that makes me a racist, unlike Nigel Farage because he’s got a German wife.) However, it is a kick-ass drama and totally absorbing. Slow, dark and smouldering, it just blew me away. I have a soft spot for movies about mavericks, rebels and people who don’t play the game properly. In particular the ones that do it for no other reason than to piss the world off and who’re willing to take themselves down along with everyone else rather than change. (I like to think that I’m a bit like that, except in reality I’m probably the world’s biggest ‘yes man’ and enjoy nothing better than asking “how high?” when someone tells me to jump.) Cutting off your whole head to spite your face. Our hero Jenny isn’t quite as nihilistic as that, but she comes close. The Four Minutes of the title refers to a scene near the end of the movie. One of the best bits of cinema ever; you could never play it loud enough. It’s not a perfect film for a range of minor but noticeable reasons, but I’m willing to overlook it small faults and consider the bigger picture. An essential watch.
This is a movie about someone who plays the piano and as such without a suitable soundtrack to support the story, it would fail miserably. Fortunately it’s a great mixture of original and (mainly) classical, (mainly) German composed music. There’s an interesting article on the official website about how hard it was to find a composer for the original music used.
I think this trailer lightens the mood of the film slightly and misrepresents the relationship between the two main characters, so it’s a bit disappointing. It really doesn’t portray the power or mood of the film well.
Movie Weather Forecast. Cloudy and cool. Stay indoors is my advice.
Recommended for pianists, lesbians, nurses, prison wardens, Nazis, abusive parents and rebels.
No cats, chainsaws or decapitations.
Top badass moment? The four minutes that give this film its title are as badass as it comes. The closest you can get to sticking two fingers up to the world without saying a word; a great bit of punk and not a guitar in sight.
I wrote about this film here in 2010. This is what I had to say then.
Sex. Violence. Revenge. “On The Doll” is a dark look into the lives of sex workers and the affect it has had on their lives. Balery (Brittany Snow) is a call girl desperate for cash who conspires with Jaron (Josh Janowicz) to rob one of her regulars. Chantal (Shanna Collins) wants out of her door to door exploits to start life over with her boyfriend and Tara (Angela Sarafyan) has been pulled so far into her seedy peep show underworld that it could be too late. Mr. Garrett (Eddie Jemison), is a high school teacher who looks to bring some of his students (Candice Accola & Chloe Domont) into his world of sex and drugs. And behind it all is Jimmy Sours (Paul Ben-Victor), a twisted mastermind of the sex trade who controls the fate of everyone mixed up in his world. A cast of young, up and coming actors takes you to a place where victims search for new meaning in their lives, while fighting off the demons that lead to more pain. The first feature by acclaimed music video director Thomas Mignone, “On The Doll” is a shocking, but powerful look into a world that is sure to strike a chord.
2007. Certificate: Unrated. American Film. 7.0 out of 10
As everyone knows, I’m a hard rockin’, hard drinkin’, womanisin’ Lothario. Recently I’ve added to my vices by also becoming a hardened gambler too. How did this happen? Well a few days ago I found myself standing in the queue at Tesco. I refuse to use those nasty, automated, DIY checkout machines. I want to be served by a human being. I value the social intercourse I get with the frequently bored people I meet in this way; it helps give me a better prospective on my own life. The choice as to whether or not to take advantage of the plastic bag I’m always offered keeps my mind sharp and helps me hone my decision-making abilities for the more ‘mission-critical’ circumstances to come, such as when to cross the road outside in a way that enables me to beat the traffic at the lights, before I’m turned into road-kill. I distrust those self-service machines. This is partly because all they’re good for is to do people out of jobs to boost shareholders’ profits. I’m not letting them crush our will and independence comrades. They also seem to have, en masse, taken a very personal dislike to me and enjoy nothing better than screaming out really loudly whenever I go near one that there’s an “unexpected item in the bagging area”. Yes, me. This phrase basically means the same as, “ha-ha everyone, let’s all draw attention to the stupid, luddite, fuckwit, who can’t operate us ‘idiot-proof’ machines properly and is now going to have to deal with the very public humiliation of being ‘helped’ by a smirking and bad-tempered shop assistant. Seriously, it would be less embarrassing to stand in the middle of the High Street in Reading on a Saturday afternoon, dressed as a ballerina and announce to everyone there that I have the world’s lowest recorded sperm count. (Which of course, I don’t). Anyway, back to my gambling addiction. The person in front of me bought a Lottery Scratch Card. I’ve never ever bought one of these. I’ve always considered that they’re basically designed to entrap ‘weak-minded poor people’ into a downward spiral of debt and despair. These people can then of course seek help to overcome their addiction, by attending a community-run self-help group, funded by the very same Lottery that caused their problem in the first place. I don’t know what came over me, but when I got to the checkout I purchased three, £2 Scratch Cards. And blimey, I only went and won £10 with one of them! I must be so clever and skilful. Trouble is, now this has happened it’s going to be a lot harder to ignore these things in future. I feel my life now stands at a crossroads. In one direction is a steep descent into a pit of unrelenting gambling debts, depression and finally suicide. In the other is my present path, a steep decent towards a pit of unrelenting aging, depression and finally death. I think I need to hone my decision-making abilities more. This movie focuses on one vice that I don’t seem to have picked up yet, although I live in hope.
For a film about sex workers, this one’s surprisingly lacking in nudity; actually there isn’t any at all. In fact it’s quite stylish, given its setting. I find I don’t have a great deal to do with the sex industry on a regular basis myself, (but I guess that’s a good topic for a future blog entry), but if I did I can’t help thinking it would all seem a lot more seedy this this movie makes it out to be, although it does have its moments. I guess they all just seemed a bit too clean, healthy and happy, even the sick, sad ones. This ‘small detail’ aside, it’s actually quite a decent film, occasionally funny, occasionally painful. (The latter will make sense if you watch it.) The ending is a bit melodramatic but it kinda works. I’m not sure if you’re really supposed to enjoy movies like this but I did.
There’s a fair bit of music used in this film. Most of it is fairly anonymous, modern indie rock, but it gets the job done.
It’s not a bad trailer. Quite watchable as its own, little ‘mini-film’ that doesn’t give too much of the plot away.
Movie Weather Forecast. It’s another warm, dry, sunny day in movie land.
Recommended for prostitutes, school-girls, teachers and magazine publishers.
No cats, chainsaws or decapitations.
Top badass moment? So few people really seem to make an effort to do their best at work, so it was great to see our anti-hero Jaron taking special care that the ads for prostitutes he was doing the layout and design for, were both spelt correctly and made sense logically. Taking a pride in your work is badass, especially when it’s basically a crappy job to start with.
Anxiously trying to fit into the peer-pressure cooker environment of junior high, thirteen-year-old Tracy (Evan Rachel Wood) goes to shocking lengths in order to befriend Evie (Co-writer, Nikki Reed), the most popular girl in school. Now the two are inseparable – and incorrigible – leaving Tracy’s desperate mother (Academy Award Winner Holly Hunter) powerless to rescue her from a whirlwind of drugs, sex and crime.
2003. Certificate: 18. American Film. Rating Details: very strong language and drugs use. 8.0 out of 10
Spent two hours with the dentist yesterday. I thought I was only going for a filling to replace a temporary one she put in last spring, after trying unsuccessfully to unblock some root canals in one of my teeth. However, she decided instead to have another go at the latter, but two hours later and we were still no further forward. It would probably be easier to get into Fort Knox than the bottom of my tooth. Two hours is a long time to lay back in a not-that-comfortable chair, looking at a very boring light fitting, listening to rather moribund, classical music. As the minutes ticked past, as I could think of was “please don’t let the anaesthetic wear off, please don’t let the anaesthetic wear off.” At one point some metal clamp around my tooth broke, which certainly woke me up. She even tried a new weapon I’ve not come across before, which heated up and made sizzling noises in my tooth, accompanied by little clouds of smoke! That’s okay in a frying pan but in my mouth? No, I don’t think so. I’m going back on Thursday for a regular ‘check-up’. I’m fully expecting to see some sort of army explosives expert waiting for me, to blast his way in with some high tech munitions.
I’m crap at being an adult*. Today I commented to one of the people I manage that coming to work sometimes felt a bit like a game; I’m not sure if this is good or bad, but it doesn’t sound like a very adult viewpoint. Films like this make me feel I was a crap teenager* too. It’s not that I was perfect or anything, but all I can remember doing is sitting in my room every night, listening to punk music very loud and trying to do my homework. Well sure I do have other memories, but that one seems to be the overriding one. The homework was rarely that great, but the soundtrack was fab! Strangely enough, I’m still listening to the same songs these days too, although the “homework” has mutated very slightly into what adults call “taking work home”. This movie is about how to be a teenager; well a girl-version anyway. Except these days few western teenagers rebel against anything. I heartedly recommended this movie to any young teenage girls who want to know how to rebel in an appropriately nihilistic and adult-seriously-pissing-off-way. It’s actually a great film with a bit of an interesting story behind it too. If it has a fault it sometimes introduces elements and people that don’t really go anywhere and just muddy the plot a bit, but beyond that it’s a great opportunity to watch peer pressure and allure of popularity in action. (The self-harming sub-plot was very underexplored, whereas it could have been highlighted far more.) The acting is great and it’s fun in a technical sense too, as the colour slowly gets leached out of the scenes until we’re left with little more than black and white. Being a miserable sod that loves nothing better than to see everyone die, the ending was a bit of a disappointment too, but that’s just me. Strangely enough, it’s not a depressing film; the makers seemed to have remembered that part of the role of a movie is to entertain. Holly Hunter is always great too. Well worth watching.
There’s plenty of music in this film, both a soundtrack and a lot of real songs from mostly pretty anonymous rock and hip-hip acts. However the opening shots with a track by Mark Mothersbaugh (from Devo) is great. Visually the film makes a great start and this track is a big part of that. I had to go and get hold of a copy afterwards.
The trailer’s okay. Not bad, not good; very middle of the road stuff. The whole movie is better.
Movie Weather forecast. Warm and sunny throughout.
Recommended for teenage girls, hairdressers and recovering alcoholics.
No cats, chainsaw or decapitations.
Top badass moment? A surprisingly tough question in this case. It’s a total cop out I know, but I may as well go for flawed mum Melanie. Considering everything, she really didn’t do too badly in the end. Sorry, I’ve just noticed this is so boring; please, seriously, don’t read anymore. I think I just crossed the line between ‘sort of okay’ and ‘crappy drivel’.
*These were the first pictures that came up when I Googled on Bing (can you even do that?) for “teenagers” and “adults”. The later is especially uncomfortable.
There are an estimated 30 million surveillance cameras in the United States. On any given day, the average American is captured approximately 200 times. Every one of us is constantly being observed at our jobs, on the street, while shopping, and sometimes even in our own homes. Every one of our secrets, lies, crimes and most private moments are all being recorded. But who is watching us? Rhys Colro (“Entourage”), Hayes MacArthur (“The Game Plan”), Jamie McShane (“24”) and Spencer Redford star in this award-winning drama from writer/director Adam Rifkin that takes the ultimate look at our ‘Big Brother’ world. “This is a brash, darkly humorous and unsettling piece of work filled with startling scenes and fine performances,” raves Richard Roeper of Ebert & Roeper At The Movies. “”Look” is a film worth seeking out!”
2007. Certificate: R. American Film. Rating Details: strong sexual content, pervasive language, some violence and brief drug use. 8.0 out of 10.
Okay, it’s the start of the New Year so I feel obliged to make some New Year resolutions that I won’t keep. So firstly, I’m going to lose some weight. I have a pair of trousers (actually several) that I’ve never been able to use, so my target is to be able to wear them and not cause some horrible internal injury to myself. I don’t exactly have a plan for doing this, but I’m sure it’s possible. I guess ‘eat less’ is a good place to start. Secondly, I’m going to not get behind with things at work. I seem to perpetually be explaining why I haven’t done things and there’s only so many times I can use the “dog ate my homework” excuse before it starts to look a bit lame, especially as I don’t have a dog. My target is to simply not have to explain my temporal inadequacies any more. I don’t exactly have a plan for doing this either, but I’m equally sure it’s possible too. I guess working ‘smarter’ is a good place to start. (Well that’s what I tell my team whenever any of them whine about having too much to do; it doesn’t seem to work for any of them though.)
Well I must say, I wasn’t really expecting this film to be that great, what with its promise of crappy quality ‘security camera’ footage and their associated static camera shots; a bit like a found footage film but without the ‘shaky cam’, monsters, ghosts and up nostril views. 102 minutes later and I was really disappointed that it had ended. It cleverly mixes up footage from lots of cameras to tell the stories (or partial stories) of a number of people, whose lives to some extent overlap. Of course it does include murder, rape, ATM abuse, car crashes, bombs, child abduction, male strippers, sex (both gay and straight), office perverts and farts in elevators, but really, it’s all just about a lot of pretty mundane and dull people going about their day to day lives; so something I could relate to. Well put together, this is strangely hypnotic movie and well worth watching.
There’s a lot of music used in this film, but most of it just sort of fades into the background. Forgettable.
The trailer really doesn’t tell you a lot, other than it’s a ‘clever’ film that uses surveillance camera. Try not to fall asleep.
Movie Weather Forecast: Warm and sunny throughout. It looks like it’s going to be a lovely summer!
Recommended for bimbos, petrol station attendants, teachers, bored office workers, parents and perverts.
No cats, chainsaws or decapitations.
Top badass moment? Tricky; there’s not a lot of choice in a film filled with unprincipled losers dressed in a veneer of youth or respectability. I guess the nearest we get to a hero is the guy working in the petrol station, who manages to report a couple of killers who call in for supplies. Strangely he looks one of the most loser-like too. Never judge a book by its cover.
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.
Asae Ōnishi is the lead actress, starring as Aya Kito. 9th grader (third year of junior high school) Aya Kito collapses on the way to school. Dr. Yamamoto discovers that Aya has spinocerebellar ataxia, a fatal and incurable disease that handicaps the body. Aya’s mother and Dr. Yamamoto let Aya record in a diary to tell her story and to live her life to the fullest.
2005 – Certificate: Unknown – Japanese Film
7.5 out of 10
Last Friday was Halloween. It was also the hottest ever Halloween on record in England, 24C. Unfortunately I missed out on most of it as I left Cactus World and went to the Moon. Yes, really. Okay, to be more accurate I actually went to the Moon Club, although it is a long way from Cactus World and in a real foreign country too; a place called Wales. Sadly, it was to attend the final gig by the 8th best band on the plant, Dirty Revolution. After following the band for around five years and attending 28 gigs, everyone’s favourite alt-punk-ska-reggae-calypso-African-beats band was splitting up. Support was from the awesome 10th best band on the planet, the New Town Kings, but it really was Dirty Revolution’s night. Other than when the Undertones originally split up in 1983, I can’t think of a time when I’ve been so saddened by a band deciding to end it all. The reasons appear to be the difficulty of having a young family and trying to tour, along with its alleged inability to know how to get people to sing along to the “whoo-ooos” and “yeh-yeh-yehs” etc that populate a number of its tunes. I’d seriously considering ending it all too, but the fact that the band don’t seem to have fallen out with one another and that a quick look at my current Top Ten active bands indicates that all but two have split up and then reformed at some time or other. This gives me hope that perhaps, one day in the dim and distant future, songs about having a fat ass, not feeling fear and highlighting the fact that Skrewdriver were a bunch of wankers, will once again reverberate around venues everywhere. The Moon is a small club, with no air conditioning and sweat dripping from the ceiling. The band played a long set. I was at the front and could see a copy of the set list on the floor gradually being worked through; it was like waiting for the end of the world in some nuclear holocaust film, where all the characters can do is wait for the missiles to arrive, although before they do nothing seems any different to usual… and then all of a sudden it’s over. The gig was filmed for a DVD. One of the guys with a camera was menacingly close to where I was most of the time. I guess with a decent bit of software they’ll be able to edit out the fat, old bloke trying to dance. Joking aside, I do feel a genuine sense of loss. This film is about loss too. But before you read on, I suggest you listen to some proper good music:
This is a movie of a book that was then a TV series. Something like that anyway. The book (actually her diary) was written by a young woman called Aya Kitô. She was diagnosed with Spinocerebellar ataxia when she was 15 (in 1977) and wrote a diary about her life for as long as she could, until she died when she was 26. The film itself isn’t that great, although the actress who plays Aya is excellent. I suspect that compared with the TV series and the diary itself, a lot was cut out to make it an appropriate length for a film. However, there are a few really powerful scenes, often focusing on very small incidents; the one when Aya Kitô has to leave her school because it can no longer provide what she needs is pretty heart-breaking stuff. People often seem to say that stories like this are “life-affirming” and “uplifting”. No, they’re not. They’re sad and depressing. I can’t see anything uplifting in a story about anyone, never mind a young person, who’s tragically struck down by a terrible illness that they had no way of avoiding, however brave he or she might be. It’s just awful.
The soundtrack is mostly downbeat and piano driven. It fits the mood of the film well.
Movie Weather Forecast. Nope, still not started to take much notice of this yet. Soon, I promise!
Try as I might, I couldn’t seem to find a trailer for this film anywhere.
Recommend for doctors, carers and heartless school teachers.
No cats, chainsaws or decapitations.
Top badass moment? This is a true story about a young woman with a horrible illness. As her condition gets worse and worse, she never really stops trying to live her life as best she can, despite the increasing difficulty of doing so and the limitations of the physical world around her. That makes her truly badass.
“This is England” tells the story of Shaun (Thomas Turgoose), an 11 year old kid growing up in the North of England. Set during the summer holidays of 1983, it follows his journey from a shaggy haired ruffian grieving the loss of his father into a shaven headed thug whose anger and pain are embraced by the local skinhead fraternity. Largely based on Meadows’ own personal experience, “This is England” not only captures a specific point in British history, but also beautifully articulates the allure of being part of a gang. Brilliantly charting a course from the joyous early passages to darker territory, Meadows also skilfully and with great sensitivity deals with the complexities of rage, race and masculinity. Featuring astounding performances from Stephen Graham, (“Gangs of New York”) and newcomer Thomas Turgoose, “This is England” is a riveting and deeply moving portrait of an often-overlooked moment in cultural history and is arguably Meadows’ masterpiece.
2006 – Certificate: 18 – British Film
Rating Details: Very strong racist violence and language
9.0 out of 10
Went to see Dreadzone two nights ago. It was playing Sub89 in Reading, which is great because it’s a 20 minute walk from where I live in Cactus World. There was a massive queue outside when I got there. In fact it was so long that as I was walking alongside it, I started to doubt whether it was actually the queue at all; and the people in it mostly didn’t look like the sort who would go to a Dreadzone gig either. In the end I took a walk around the block so I could reconsider the problem after having a bit of a think. (I have a real phobia of new gig venues, although I’ve actually been to Sub89 quite a few times.) However, after a little bit of loitering by the bus stops opposite, I decided that for some reason the doors that aren’t normally used for gig entrances were actually being used in this case. It appeared they’d put the gig in the downstairs bar and the nightclub upstairs where gigs normally take place. It’s a damming indictment of England and further proof that as a national were totally fucked, when the queue for a nightclub to dance to ‘chart music’ is about 1,000 times longer than the one for a quality band like Dreadzone. The young of today have been brainwashed into accepting mediocrity as the norm and not wanting to rock the boat, because they’ve got no job or a massive student debt to pay off (or both) and need to save up for their pension, mortgage and overpriced wedding. Fortunately, a few are still alive and they’d managed to make their way into the gig, along with a few survivors of times gone past. The gig was in the Bowery District, which is basically a posh cocktail bar. Having said that, it did have a proper little stage, some reasonable cider and a decent sound system. (Then again, most systems sound okay if you hang around about a metre away from a speaker stack all night…) What was also interesting about it is that if you stand near the stage, the design of the space effectively makes you feel you’re in a much smaller place and does a nice job of making things feel very intimate. So actually it wasn’t bad at all. Dreadzone played for what seemed like a long time. There were no support acts; something that doesn’t happen very often. It’s not a band I have a lot of recorded material by, but it’s one of those bands I’ll always try and go and see live, as that’s where it works best. I was pretty tired by the end. Dreadzone has quite a complex mix of beats and they certainly tax my abilities to the limit. (Then again, a click track would do that too.) The top of my legs are still somewhat sore today; which is odd, as it’s normally my calves that get knackered. Fortunately it finished at 22:00, so I was home by half ten. Dreadzone – Gangster Dreadzone – Too Late Dreadzone – Beyond a Rock This is a film that features lots of music too.
Except for a period in the 80’s, I’ve always kept my hair pretty short. These days I shave it myself (a “Number 1” for the technically minded), because I’m too mean to pay someone else £10 to have it done each time. I’ve been doing this for several years, so I imagine the part at the back that I can’t see probably looks a total mess now. For years, I also used to wear a pair of DM boots too, (before I became vegan in about 1989). Despite this, I’ve never really been a skinhead. But it really, really pisses me off to see morons appropriate my flag and some of the musical styles I like for their racist shit. These people have as much in common with the roots of the culture as IS has with the teachings of Islam (i.e. nothing), but as a result have tarnished a whole way of life. This is a film that well illustrates the best and the worst of the skinhead culture in the early 80s. It’s a brilliant movie on just about every level and a film everyone should see, if only to give themselves a history lesson.
As a film based on skinhead culture, it ought to have some great music in it and it doesn’t do too badly, although it would have been good to have a bit more. We get a good mix of reggae and 2 Tone ska, plus (rather more inexplicably), “Warhead” by the UK Subs.
In common with the film, its trailer is a top one too. It’s exciting and intriguing, but doesn’t give the details of the plot away.
Recommended for skinheads, and anyone who’d thinking of putting a young character into a film and wants to see how to do it without making everyone groan.
No cats, chainsaws or decapitations.
Top badass moment? Woody and his gang of skinheads befriend an 11-year-old boy who’s being bullied at school. They get him some proper clothes, a decent haircut and expose him to some quality reggae. That’s badass. What a shame it all gets spoilt by a racist idiot.
The sensually provocative images of internationally acclaimed photographer David Hamilton again move and breathe in Laura. A delicate journey through innocence, beauty and sensuality involving a 16 year old ballet dancer who falls in love with her mother’s former lover, a 40 year old sculptor. A classic cinematic treatment of mother-daughter competition and the first stirrings of sexuality. With utmost taste and talent, Hamilton presents the gratification of budding womanhood.
1979 – Certificate: 18 – French Film
5.0 out of 10
For reasons that mostly baffle me but probably point to a severe breakdown in the decision-making process somewhere, I’m trusted with the management of nine people at work, plus another two or three that are ‘incoming’. I’ve never received much in the way of training to accomplish this, but I do my best. I try to work them all to within an inch of their lives, make them feel worthless and in awe of me, blame them when something goes wrong and take the credit when something goes well. I provide them with impossible deadlines and grass them up to more senior people when they fail to meet them. I invent or overcomplicate existing procedures, to make their lives as difficult as possible. My managerial catch-phrase is, “if you don’t like it you can leave”. In fact the only book on management I’ve ever read is “The Art of Demotivation”. I’d heartily recommend this to anyone who manages staff. I keep my well-thumbed copy by my desk at all times. Despite my obvious lack of emotional intelligence, in a strange way I consider these ‘resource units’ as my family. (In that sense I care for them deeply, in the same way that Captain Janeway on the Starship Voyager cared for her crew, but still managed to nearly get them killed most weeks.) Consequently, I get very distressed when any of them decide to fly the nest or take maternity leave. (Mainly because of the extra hassle it’s going to cause me.) In the next couple of months I have to recruit three or four new members of staff. From experience, I’m pretty sure that interviewing is about as close as a man can get to giving birth. The only difference is that we interview during office hours to a sensible timetable that minimises the disruption it causes. It is however a painful experience, in which you deal with things as best you can, when all you really want to do is scream and moan about how long it’s all taking, as you wait for the candidate(s) to come into the room so to speak. And my top tips for interviewing? Always have the interview panel with the light behind its back. I find it helps to put interviewees at ease if you silhouette yourselves. I also find that starting off interviews with the question, “what’s the worst question we could ask you today?” often helps to put candidates at ease too. If I don’t see tears by the end, I know I’m facing a tough son-of-a-bitch, who might one day challenge my Alpha Male status, an attribute that at work we call Wow; strangely, these people always score really poorly and consequently never get appointed. There’s nothing Wow about this film either.
David Hamilton made a few films like this and they’re all crap. This is probably because I know nothing about art and can never relate to anything or anyone in them. And I hate the ‘soft focus’ (i.e. out of focus) photography that always seems to get used too, so it’s not just the people, plots and places I don’t get. I guess if I was cultured enough I’d think this movie was a cinegraphic masterpiece that “presents the gratification of budding womanhood” and unrequited love, rather than some child porn dressed up as art. But what do I know? I’m probably just an ignorant, Mail-reading Brit, who thinks anything foreign is rubbish (unless it’s American or curry). I guess if I go out and kill someone on purpose, as long as I do it tastefully it’s art, not murder. Having said that, there is a story of sorts (a somewhat pervy love triangle) and a bit of action when something catches fire. There’s also some ‘fun’ with weed-killer too. (It’s a good example of what happens when you don’t store and use chemicals correctly.) I guess if you can work around all its technical and plot foibles, then you could get something positive out of it. (It’s not unlike a trashy B-movie in that respect.)
The soundtrack is mainly plinky-plonky ‘emotional’ piano or dated prog rock. It’s not something I’d miss if it was somehow erased for existence by time-travelling, intergalactic film critics.
Trailer. Well if there is one I couldn’t find it. Yes, the Internet has let me down. The best I managed to locate were some clips, so I’ve picked out an especially action-packed one for here.
Recommended for sculptors, dancers and anyone with a very open mind.
No cats, chainsaws or decapitations.
Top badass moment? I guess it’s another reason for me to be sent to Hell, but Paul (40) manages to get off with Laura (15). It’s not that I approve or would want to be in his place; it’s just that he could, which makes it badass, although mostly just bad. What’s he got that I haven’t? Other than he’s good looking, French, talented, sexy and (in these post-Saville times) “a sinister pervert who used his fame to get close to young women and girls”. No wait, that’s Rolf Harris.
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.
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.)
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.
Lala, (Inés Efrón) a teenager from the most exclusive suburban neighbourhood in Argentina, is in love with the Guayi, the 20-year-old Paraguayan maid working at her mansion. The pair hatch a plan to rob Lala’s family to fund their dream of living together in Paraguay, but while Lala waits to be reunited with her lover, she is detained in a prison in the outskirts of Buenos Aires for a crime she committed long ago. Desperate to be with her girlfriend, Lala devises a dangerous rescue plan to get her back. Boasting beautiful cinematography and electrifying performances from its two female leads, celebrated Argentine director Lucía Puenzo (“XXY”) returns with a gripping tale of forbidden lesbian romance and a crime heist gone awry.
2009 – Certificate 15 – Argentinean Film
Rating Details: Strong sex
7.0 out of 10
I spent well over an hour at the dentist last week, whilst she explored the inside of my sore tooth. Given all the sawing and drilling that went on I was expecting to be presented with the oral equivalent of a handmade chest of draws, but all I’ve got out of it is a bill for £100, no reduction in the agony I’m feeling and an extra visit to go back a third time for more treatment on the same tooth. Four hours or so? What’s she up to in there? Rebuilding my entire mouth at the molecular level? Not only this, but my sore tooth has made a friend, another tooth that thinks it’s hilariously funny to give me pain and misery. So now I’ve also got a wisdom tooth that needs removing in a completely different place in my mouth. My dentist got one of her colleagues to come have a look at it. Once he’d finished with the paramedics that came after he’d fainted from horror at the sight of it, he did make a remarkable effort to appear blasé about things, but suggested that he couldn’t deal with either and I really ought to have it removed at hospital. Why don’t they just cut out the middle man and sent me to see an undertaker? My tooth is clearly that bad. I’m starting to forget a time when I didn’t have excruciating agony and was able to open my mouth properly. Gosh, it’s lucky I’m not the sort of person that makes a big song and dance about things. This is going to cost me an arm and a leg to get sorted out too, although ironically, the limb replacements I’ll then need I can get on the NHS for free. The next American who suggests that Brits have bad teeth will need a visit to the dentist himself soon after. I’m glad to say this film has no teeth-focussed scenes whatsoever.
I’m pretty sure there’s a great movie in here somewhere, trying to get out. Trouble is, it got a bit buried under the non-linear timeline and suffered at the hands of my presently reduced mental capacity; (which sadly is more tooth-ache than alcohol related). At its heart this is an out-and-out romance, which collides with a crime thriller in a less than satisfying way. Oh, there’s also something about a legend regarding the Fish Child that swims around in a lake near a tree. I imagine there’s some analogy between the latter and the characters or the plot, but in my painkiller induced drug high I did struggle a bit with everything. It doesn’t provide an especially glowing reference for Argentinian parenting either. Visually it’s a nice looking film with an intense feel and the two lead actresses are both talented and attractive, although in quite different ways. Unfortunately it’s all a bit of a confused muddle at times, although it does gradually sort itself out a bit. I probably ought to watch it again; I think I’ll get a lot more out of it the second time around.
There was one especially jarring and frightening scene with what I can only imagine is South America’s version of One Direction, (which can be seen for a brief moment in the trailer), but overall the soundtrack is pretty good.
The trailer tells you as much about the film plot as watching the whole movie will; i.e. not a lot.
Recommended for housekeepers, messed up families, lesbians, dog trainers and vets.
1 cat, no chainsaws or decapitations. A big black cat plays dead as it’s rudely removed from the vet’s operating table so he can deal with someone with a gunshot wound. Oi! Get you’re priorities sorted out mate!
Top badass moment? Lala goes in search of her lover, who’s been ‘rented’ from the local prison by a powerful ‘businessman’ for his own ‘entertainment’. His house is protected by dogs and armed guards, but that doesn’t stop her. Love is blind and all that, but deliberately walking into a ‘situation’ that you clearly have no way of getting out off (unless you’re Batman) is quite obviously top grade badass. (Note to self: why all the inverted commas all of a sudden? What’s wrong with you?)
Academy Award Winner Cuba Gooding Jr. and Academy Award Nominee Terrence Howard lead a powerful ensemble cast in this high-flying epic inspired by the real-life adventures of the first African-American combat unit to serve in World War II. Italy, 1944. As the war takes its toll on Allied forces in Europe, a squadron of black pilots known as the Tuskegee Airmen are finally given the chance to prove themselves in the sky… even as they battle discrimination on the ground. Featuring jaw-dropping aerial action and thrilling special effects, Red Tails is a breathtaking tribute to the unsung heroes who rose above extraordinary challenges and ultimately soared into history.
2012 – Certificate 12 – American Film
Rating Details: Moderate war violence
8.5 out of 10
When I was young I was kind of obsessed with aeroplanes. In particular, those used during the Second World War. I used to read as much as I could about them, make and paint models of them to hang from my bedroom ceiling, and see them in museums and shows whenever I could. I knew EVERYTHING there was to know about them. I also used to buy as many copies of the Commando war comics as I could, (just the ones featuring WW2 aircraft, although I did occasionally stoop to reading stories set during WW1 or about gliders). In these, I discovered how the brave, British Tommy basically won WW2 on his own, all the Germans were called Fritz or Hans and all they ever seemed to say was “Gott im Himmel!” or “mein gott!”, as an RAF Spitfire or Hurricane blasted to pieces whatever bit of German engineering the unfortunate Hans and Fritz happened to be in at the time. (I think the Italians fared even worse, as they always seemed to be presented as either cowards or traitors.) A few stories were set in Asia or North Africa, but most featured Europe. Despite all this, I like to think I’ve grown up with a fairly balanced view of Germans and history. In fact I had a lovely German girlfriend for many years, until she saw sense and left me. (Somewhat ironically, the printing of the comics was moved to Germany last year.) It’s many years since I threw them all away (and seeing the price some early copies now sell for, I wish I’d kept them), but my love of the aircraft has remained. “The Battle of Britain” is one of my all-time favourite films. Sadly, there aren’t a huge number of such films and there’s not exactly a lot being made these days, so I was quite excited when this one was released. So were my childhood memories trashed by the Yanks?
This movie is two things. Firstly, it’s a drama about the first American, Black fighter pilots in WW2 and the shockingly ignorant behaviour towards them by their own side. It’s also an action film about brave, gung-ho heroes, blowing up loads of Nazi stuff. Unfortunately the two things don’t quite go together. Only someone wearing with a silly-looking, pointy white hat, (or possibly some Daily Mail readers or EDF morons) are not going to accept the point of the first element. Although it provides a framework for everything else, this isn’t really looked into in enough depth to be totally satisfying. If simply raising awareness of what went on was the point then this part was a success, (it was all new to me), but as a drama about what happened, it was a bit ‘empty’. This brings us to the action side of things. In many ways this film was a bit of an ego project for George Lucas, but given his background you’d hope it would be fun; and it is. Nearly everything was created as computer graphics and watching it on Blu-ray they looked fab. The dogfight sequences are worth watching for their own sake. The film seems to have attracted a lot of criticism, but what did people expect? It’s about as realistic as “Star Wars” or “Indiana Jones”, but as a movie that bought the vibe of my Commando comics to life, it did good. For a lot of the time I forgot that most of the characters were Black and just enjoyed the sight of our heroes blasting away at all manner of Nazi hardware and personnel; trains, fighter aces, airfields, destroyers and even the Messerschmitt Me 262 jet all get blown to bits. The scrip is far from perfect and once or twice it felt more like I was watching Snoop Dogg rather than a 1940’s guy flying a plane; sometimes the characters seemed too modern. After starting with two clichéd lines of dialogue that really should only been seen in a comic book frame, it did finally produce a couple of powerfully emotional scenes towards the end. I loved it for what it is, but I can understand why it disappoints so many others.
The soundtrack is decent enough and it felt there’s an awful lot of it used.
The trailer is also decent enough, if a bit superficial.
Recommended for Second World War aircraft obsessives and war comic fans; not recommend for military historians, racists or ‘Lucas haters’.
No cats, chainsaws or decapitations.
Top badass moment? Joe “Lightening” Little does two strafing runs over a Nazi destroyer in his P-51 Mustang. The ship basically blows up. That’s badass. For that reason alone, we shouldn’t let a little something like military realism, the ‘law of averages’ or historical accuracy spoil the action. That’s what the History Channel is for.
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.
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.
Young Manuel lives with his hard-working farmer parents in the remote, mountainous region of the Colombian countryside. While the adults in their lives try to avoid both the armed military and the guerrilla rebels fighting each other in the area, Manuel and his friend Julián are obsessed with playing soccer any chance they get. Shortly after his birthday, the new ball Manuel received as a gift gets kicked off to a minefield, and he, Julián and their albino friend Poca Luz will do everything in their power to recover their prized belonging – an essential part of their everyday lives and dreams.
2011 – Rating: Not Rated – Columbian Film
7.5 out of 10
So “comet of the century” ISON turned out to be more of a metaphor for life; all that potential, expectation and excitement, followed by an invisible anti-climax. However, I would like to propose a new verb for the English language. Ison: a state of disillusionment; e.g. “the band’s performance was somewhat isoning; or “I’m really isoned by this whole project of yours.” It’s good to invent words.
This is an interesting, watchable but ultimately depressing film. It’s a very simple story about three football-obsessed young boys, whose ball ends up in a minefield. As this is not something that happens very often in the English Premier League, it provides a somewhat different viewpoint of the game. Let’s not forget that the Colombian national team is ranked fourth in the world, whilst England is ranked 13th. There’s a lot to be said for sharpening you team’s reactions with a few, well-placed landmines. What this movie does really well is focus on the story from the boys’ point of view, allowing the realities of the ongoing, three-sided civil war in the area to colour what happens. The insidious effect of the latter on the local people slowly comes into focus as the story moves along. As the kids plot to recover their ball, things around them gradually fall apart and begin to directly change their lives. It’s hard not to feel upset by the situation. There isn’t anyone mowing down half the jungle with a minigun, or 100s of people being blown to pieces in huge, set-piece scenes. Instead you get an insight into the subtle ways conflict changes things. Not nice and very sad. Filmed in the mountains, the scenery looks lush; (as in very green, not sexy). Understated and documentary like, the whole movie feels very authentic and is well worth watching. However, I do wish Americans would learn to spell “colour” correctly; it’s very irritating!
There’s a lot of ‘Spanish sounding’ music in the film. It’s great.
Recommended for football fans, guerrillas, freedom fighters and Roy Hodgson.
No cats, chainsaws or decapitations.
Top badass moment? The teacher gets the kids to paint a big mural over the ‘war graffiti’ on the school building. This is probably not the most sensible thing to do if you’re looking for a quiet life, but it is most definitely badass.
Produced by actors Gael Garcia Bernal and Diego Luna (“Y Tu Mama Tambien”), this sharp Mexican thriller focuses on two troubled teens, who attempt an impossible rebellion against the adult world and embark on a revolt against everything and everyone. This leads them to an accidental new intimacy and discovery of their sexuality, a bond that both unites and confuses them. But with the police and their parents in hot pursuit, will their actions have major consequences?
2008 – Certificate: 15 – Mexican Film
Rating Details: Strong language, sex and moderate violence
6.0 out of 10
I’ve been vegan for nearly 25 years. This probably makes me a better person than you mentally, emotionally, physically, sexually and anyotherlly. But it’s just a fact of life; don’t let it worry you too much. Throughout this time I’ve drunk soya milk. I’ve not been an especially big fan of the stuff, but it works okay in tea. It’s not something that I choose to drink on its own or put on cereal, although some of the flavoured types are okay. I’ve tried most of the other plant milks too, such as almond, pea, oat, rice and cashew; most of these (with the exception of the rice one which is really nice but very watery) cost more and taste worse. However, as part of one of my recent visits to M&S to spend the vouchers I’d won, (which have sadly all been spent now), I purchased a couple of cartons of soya milk. Nothing very odd about that, except this was the fresh type, not the UHT treated version I normally drink. I bought it out of curiosity; I’ve never actually tried any before as it’s so much more pricey than the UHT stuff. And wow, it’s like a totally different drink. It actually tastes really nice, is really creamy and totally yummy. I’ve since tried a different brand and although it tasted a bit different, it was still really good. Unfortunately, this now means I’ve developed a bit of an expensive, ‘real’ soya milk fetish. I hope it’s not illegal. Perhaps I should try injecting it? Like most films, this one has some illegal things in it. (Are there many that don’t?)
This is a Mexican film. For those of you that don’t know where Mexico is, it’s the part of the US that’s got a decent football team and its entire population is employed picking all the oranges everyone eats. If you’re Mexican, the police will also take you home from work each day, which helps cut down on commuting expenses. This is one of those movies that the overview tends to big up somewhat. “..an impossible rebellion against the adult world and embark on a revolt against everything and everyone.”? I’ll just translate… “…two youngsters that spend most of their time camping on the roof of one of their homes and spying on their parents getting pissed off because they think they’ve gone missing; and then going down and taking food and drink when no one is in, a fact that seems to go entirely unnoticed.” There, I think you’ll find that’s a lot more accurate. The boy, Román, is immensely annoying. His female sidekick, Maru, isn’t much better. They come across as selfish, clueless and nihilistic in that way that only those with sufficient money can afford to be, with an idea of what they want to do but no real plan of how to do it. I guess that’s exactly what they were meant to be, but it didn’t stop me wanting to give them a good shake and tell them to wise up. I’m afraid there just weren’t enough SMART targets for me. I find when I’m busy smashing the system, it’s helpful to have some Gantt charts and regular appraisals of my performance to help my forward planning in relation to overthrowing The Man. But that’s just me.
There is a great deal of music used in the film, although most of it tends to blend into the background and get on with doing its stuff there. There is one tune that’s used a number of times (and towards the end of the trailer) that’s really quite a decent tune. For some inexplicable reason, the overlong trailer uses a PiL song which has no other connection to the film. But then again, do we really need an excuse to hear John Lydon?
Recommended for slightly corrupt and/or self-aggrandising politicians, and kids of ‘absent’ parents with loads of money.
No cats, chainsaws or decapitations.
Top badass moment? These days young people don’t rebel. They’re more interested in finding out about pension schemes and getting pissed off because they can’t afford a mortgage until they reach the age of 60; assuming they can even get a job. I blame it on dull indie rock; Mogadon music for the masses. Román and Maru may have been immensity irritating but at least they were trying. Youth rebellion is always badass.
Chad (Aaron Eckhart), furious about the way women are ruining his man’s world, enlists his wishy-washy co-worker (Matt Malloy) in a callous plan to date then dump a vulnerable secretary (Stacy Edwards). Both horrifying and hilarious, “In the Company of Men” is “a brilliant black comedy… sure to be one of the best pictures of the year. This is a movie event.”
1997 – Certificate: R – Canadian Film
8.0 out of 10
For the past few days I’ve had the worst cold ever. The sort of cold that’s so bad it’s probably new to medical science and if anyone but me had it they’d be in hospital in intensive care; but I don’t like to make a fuss. Somewhat ironically, the day before I got it I’d remarked to a colleague how I hadn’t had one for ages and was considering the possibility that I’d somehow become immune to all forms of illness. Actually I’m blaming it on foreigners. It came on when I was in Kent for an overnight stay, so it’s probably some weird pathogen that somehow got blown across the Channel from France or somewhere. I think I’ll vote UKIP in the next election; I bet they’d keep this sort of thing out of the country. It’s Sunday evening now and its effects are starting to recede a little. Typically and somewhat heroically, I’ve been sick over the weekend. I often wonder if it’s better to be sick in my own time and reduce the consequential pile-up of work that results if I’m sick during the week. Life as a middle manager is tough, let me tell you. This film is about middle managers too.
I watch plenty of films with unpleasant, creepy or just plain nasty people in them. Destroying the universe, taking over the Earth, torturing innocents and blowing stuff up are commonplace. Whatever. Fortunately, most of these sorts of people don’t exist, or only do so in very small numbers. However, this film features two of the most annoying guys I’ve come across for quite a while, probably because they’re just a bit too ‘normal’ to explain away as a script writer’s dirty fantasy; I suspect people like them really do exist. One’s an exploitative, misogynist, back-stabbing middle management type with absolutely no redeeming features whatsoever. The other is one of his colleagues and a weedy, whiney loser. This is a movie about two ‘ordinary guys’ deciding to mess up a young woman’s life for no better reason than because they want to. In a lot of ways it reminded me of “Cruel Intentions”. It’s the sign of a good film when the two principal characters are uniformly loathable, yet somehow you half want them to keep going. The fact that the woman they pick on is disabled (and to be honest a bit boring), just makes it all worse. I felt like I was visiting the scene of a car crash; of course not wanting anyone to be hurt, but secretly getting a bit excited by the fact that someone might have lost a limb or two anyway.) It’s the same as watching motor racing; you don’t want anyone to get hurt, but the crashes and the risk of them do make things more exciting. At the end I didn’t know whether to be horrified, or think, “fuck, yeah, lucky bastard.” This is a nicely made and acted film; I enjoyed it! The trailer makes it look much more of a comedy than it really is.
The only music used in this film is made up of the sound of a saxophone being strangled over the top of a drum solo of sorts. I guess it’s some type of modern jazz. I have to say it works very well though.
Recommended for assholes, secretaries, middle managers and feminists.
No cats, chainsaws or decapitations.
Top badass moment? That’s a tough question. This is a film full of ambitious but somewhat inadequate middle managers, who wouldn’t know a badass moment if they sat on the toilet for a week with one. It’s a movie without a single, redeeming act of kindness or heroics in it, so for the first time in many months I have to admit defeat and accept my failure to identify one. Sorry. :-(
In an Oscar winning performance, Robin Williams (“The Birdcage”, “Dead Poets Society”) alongside Matt Damon (“The Bourne Trilogy”, “The Departed”) in the motion picture triumph that received an Oscar nomination for best picture of the year. The most brilliant mind at America’s top university isn’t a professor… he’s the guy who cleans its floors, Will Hunting (Damon in an Oscar nominated role). But Will is also a headstrong, penniless guy failing the lessons of life and love with his wealthy girlfriend (Oscar nominee Minnie Driver). Facing a jail sentence after one too many run-ins with the law, Will’s fate lies in the hands of his therapist (Williams), who might be the only man able to help him see his true potential. Also starring Ben Affleck (“The Town”, “Armageddon”), who co-wrote this Oscar winning original screenplay with Damon, “Good Will Hunting” is the inspiring, emotionally charged film that has everyone talking.
1997 – Certificate: 15 – American Film
Rating Details: Strong language and violence
7.5 out of 10
My sleep pattern is all messed up at the moment. Yesterday evening I was doing something on the computer and then suddenly felt really sleepy, so had to immediately go and lie down on the sofa in the middle of what I was doing. I fell asleep for about an hour. Then at about 2:00 am I woke up and was wide awake, so got out of bed, had something to eat and read a book for a while. Something is obviously bringing out the ‘inner baby’ in me. I blame the change in the weather and the longer evenings; I hate the winter. I’ve also got an on-off toothache at the moment. It’s not the physical pain I dread, it’s paying a dentist to sort it out that’s the real horror. I’m sure something’s going terribly wrong under a crown; it feels very expensive. I might just go for a head transplant, as it’ll probably work out cheaper. I wonder if I can have Will’s from this film.
This is an entertaining, if somewhat bland movie. There’s nothing especially wrong with it but there’s nothing that amazing about it either, which considering it won two Oscars is a bit of a letdown. I just found it hard to emotionally engage with what was going on. Matt Damon’s character (Will) was just a bit too unlikable for me to really care about what happened to him. So he had a tough upbringing. Big deal. I’ve got toothache and you don’t hear me going on about it… much. His ‘genius’ was just a bit too over-the-top too. Even the film’s title is trying to be far too clever for its own good. The fact that it’s currently meant to be the 143rd best ever movie (according to IMDB) just makes me worry a bit about people. Robin Williams plays Will’s shrink nicely enough, but I’ve never forgiven him for being in “Mork & Mindy”, one of the most awful, awful TV programme ever to be conjured into existence. When I get my hands on a time machine that’s definitely on my list of things to tamper with. I’ll certainly have no qualms about polluting the timeline by removing “Mork & Mindy” from it. On the plus side, this film’s got Stellan Skarsgård in it, who’s always great. He manages to make being a professor of mathematics seem almost cool, in a non geeky way. I do feel like I’m starting to stalk him though, as this is the third film I’ve watched with him in recently. Minnie Driver is very cute too. Reading that back to myself just now, I’ve realised that I’ve probably been a bit bitchy about this film; sorry, it’s the sleep deprivation and toothache talking.
The soundtrack is a bit “whatever”. A lightweight Batman one.
Recommended for geniuses, mathematicians, swotty students and psychiatrists.
No cats, chainsaws or decapitations.
Top badass moment? Until I was 16 I was really good at maths. By the time I was 18 I was crap at it. In revenge, I degrade it these days by referring to it as sums, just to get my own back on arithmetic. And I call rectangles, oblongs and deliberately fail to remember the difference between diameter, radius and circumference. No one’s more of a rebel than me! Secretly though, I’m deeply impressed by anyone who can make sense of maths, especially if they can then make it mean something. And pissing on students by being effortlessly better than them is good too. Like it or not, that makes Will badass.