From the director of “Swingers” comes a black comedy tracing the outrageous misadventures of a group of young American delinquents. 18-year-old check-out girl Ronna (Sarah Polley – “The Sweet Hereafter”) is trying to score some rent money before she is evicted on Christmas Eve. Accompanied by reluctant partner in crime Claire (Katie Holmes – “TV’s Dawson’s Creek”), she embarks on her first drug deal… Meanwhile, impulsive Brit Simon (Desmond Askew – TV’s “Grange Hill”) is driving a stolen car with buddy Marcus (Taye Diggs – “How Stella Got Her Groove Back”) during a no-holds-barred night of partying in Vegas, as TV stars Adam (Scott Wolf – TV’s “Party of Five”) and Zack (Jay Mohr – “Jerry Maguire”) find themselves in the middle of a real-life drug sting – and a very creepy Christmas dinner…
1999 – Certificate: 18 – American Film
Rating Details: Strong sex, coarse language and drug use
8.0 out of 10
I don’t do music festivals. Never have. I’ve been to hundreds of gigs over the years but only a few festivals, which have mostly been indoors and only lasted a day; in fact I’ve only been to four outdoor music events ever. In 1983 I did hitchhike from London to Stranraer in Scotland, got the ferry across to Larne in Northern Ireland, before hitching down through Belfast and then Dublin, to go to the Punchestown Racecourse. That was to see The Undertones last ever gig (until the band reformed in 1999). Dire Straits was the headliner, but I left before it came on. This was still a one-day event, but I slept in a random field in the open by a haystack the night before. (Until that is, I was woken up in the middle of the night by a lot of very drunk Irish guys, who ‘insisted’ I slept in their tent, which just happened to be elsewhere in the same field. Being woken up by being dragged along the ground in your sleeping bag in the middle of the night by a load of incoherent drunks is a strange experience). But that’s the nearest I’ve got to the real ‘festival experience’… until this year. For some reason I rashly agreed to buy a £167 ticket to go to the Boomtown Fair near Winchester in Hampshire last month; four days of dance, reggae, ska and punk, all mixed up in a ‘pop-up’ town with 38,000 other people. Four days of drinking cider at 10:00am; eating nothing but bread and falafels; getting virtually no sleep courtesy of camping right next to the Hidden Woods and it’s seemingly non-stop diet of what I think young people might consider dubstep; and wandering around in what tuned into a quagmire of mud. I was lying in my tent one morning, holding onto the inner part of it in the hope that the tail end of what used to be Hurricane Bertha wasn’t going to blow it away; I’d never seen tent poles bend like that before. (Typical Yanks, sending us their worn out, second-hand weather.) I ‘lost’ my wallet at NOFX, (who were pretty crappy actually); lost my red/black hat (a huge tragedy) as I got too drunk; had something weird happen to my eyes so it looked like I’d not slept for 50 years; got so sunburnt that my nose fell off (well nearly); and spent a lot of time wondering about and occasionally dancing even more stupidly than normal to bands such as New Town Kings, Dirty Revolution, The Skints, Imperial Leisure, Culture Shock and Sonic Boom Six. For most of the Skints’s set it poured down; not normal rain, but the sort of rain that Noah had to deal with. I couldn’t have been wetter if I’d sat in a bath in my clothes. There’s something very surreal about dancing in the pouring rain on a surface that’s rapidly turning into a mud slide. The best ‘new’ bands were Smiley & the Underclass and (by coincidence) Smiling Ivy. Other than the music, the other sound I heard most often was people filling balloons full of nitrous oxide to inhale. In places the ground was covered in the little metal canisters it normally comes it. We were also asked at least a dozen times if we were ‘selling’ anything. I never realised I looked so much like a drug dealer. Then again, about 99% of the people there were younger than me, so I guess to deal drugs is the only reason ‘old people’ go to festivals. And then there were the toilets… Would I go again? Fuck, yeah! And for those of you interested in the rather random set of photos I took, they can be viewed here. This is a film about musical culture too, in this case the rave scene at the end of the 90’s. (Nice segue me.)
So, this isn’t a film about the ancient, Chinese game of Go. A sort of cross between “Pulp Fiction” and “Trainspotting”, we follow the exploits of a group of young friends over a weekend, seeing the story unfold three times as it focuses on different people. It feels a bit OTT and kind of dated (pre mobile phones), but is actually very funny and well put together. I’m not sure what I was doing when all this rave stuff was going on originally. I seem to remember it was towards the end of the 80s and early 90s. I own some 12” singles from that period, which would suggest I had some knowledge of it, but that’s all. Maybe I was totally out of it on E, X, J or W, or whatever letter of the alphabet people took in them days. Or perhaps I fell asleep in front of the TV for a few years or something. Yeah, reach for the lasers…
For a film about rave culture, it has surprisingly little music in it and what there is sounds a bit bland. It’s okay but a bit of a wasted opportunity; a little like this sentence really. It does have Steppenwolf’s “Magic Carpet Ride” in it, which seems to turn up in a lot of films. But it was used in “Star Trek; First Contact”, so that’s a good enough recommendation for me.
The trailer’s not bad. Actually it works quite well as an introduction to the film without giving much away.
Recommended for people who work in supermarkets, drug dealers, dodgy cops and losers in general.
2 cats, no chainsaws or decapitations. Cute cats, awwww. One has some top dialogue; it’s dubbed into English too, which is great for anyone that doesn’t understand cat language.
Top badass moment? To raise money to pay her rent, Ronna starts selling aspirin and antihistamines and telling people that they’re drugs. (That’s drugs as in drugs, not drugs as in, em, drugs). People buy them and then think they’re having the sort of effect they expect. It reminded me of how bottled water is sold to the masses. Marketing pointless crap to stupid people successfully is, begrudgingly, badass.
Sometimes you find love where you’d least expect it. Just ask Lars (Academy Award Nominee Ryan Gosling), a sweet but quirky guy who thinks he’s found the girl of his dreams in a life-sized doll named Bianca. Lars is completely content with his artificial girlfriend, but when he develops feelings for Margo, an attractive co-worker, Lars finds himself lost in a hilariously unique love triangle, hoping to somehow discover the real meaning of true love. You’ll be swept off your feet by “Lars and the Real Girl”, hailed as “One of the Year’s 10 Best” by The Associated Press.
2007 – Certificate: PG-13 – American Film
Rating Details: Some Sex-Related Content
8.0 out of 10
I’m on something called Annual Leave at the moment. This is a strange, but rather welcome concept through which I get paid my salary to do sod all. In fact for the last two days I’ve done even less than that and in doing so have actually discovered a new physics, which I’ve decided to call “Anti-nothing”. This is a weird, quantum effect wherein you can actually do less than nothing at all. It’s pretty scary stuff too. It’s only through washing my sleeping bag at one point that I avoided crossing over the non-event horizon and falling into some sort of parallel dimension where no one does anything ever. I’ve never been there myself, although I think I’ve met a few people who have. Doing nothing has given me the time to enjoy the view out of my window a little more than usual. I’ve notice a huge, bright orange building that has suddenly spring up amongst the trees that I’ve never seen before. There’re also a couple of cars in the car park that have had most of their windows smashed in, which are accompanied by a number of dented panels. I’ve no idea what the story is behind them, but they’ve been sitting there, neatly parked, side by side for several days now, and resemble a couple that have had a row and now aren’t speaking to one another. Whoever owns then hasn’t even bothered to sweep up the glass or block up the holes. Weird. I’ve also observed the police dealing with who I imagine is my local drug dealer. They spent ages searching him and his car yesterday morning; I watched all the action through my binoculars. The good thing is that the car has gone now, because it’s been frequently and annoying parked just where I turn in. There’s never a dull moment around here! This movie has none of these exciting things in it, yet it’s still very entertaining.
This is basically a comedy-drama about a guy who buys a blow-up sex doll to have as his girlfriend. Now I’ll readily admit that I’m not an expert in such ‘things’, but I’m willing to bet that most who are don’t take them outside to meet other people very often. Although we live in relatively enlightened times, I’m not sure the world is quite ready for ‘significant others’ down the pub, at the shops or in the cinema, who are made of silicon and rubber and have lifelike ‘bits’ under their clothes. It’s probably acceptable in the Star Trek version of the far future and in Japan right now, but for the rest of us it’s a bit of a social faux pas. But this film sees Ryan Gosling doing exactly that. This would all seem to suggest that this movie’s going to be full of smutty innuendo and body-function-based humour. Actually it’s nothing like that at all. It’s much more of a study of how one individual starts to recover from a life-long difficulty in relating to people. Yes it is very funny at times, but it’s also quite moving too. I really like Ryan Gosling and he seems to totally nail the part in this film. The plot does start to stretch the boundaries of realism, especially towards the end, but it’s well written, acted and made. Kelli Garner is very cute too. An original, well-observed and great film. It’s got one of the worst titles ever though.
The soundtrack is fine for what it is, but isn’t very memorable.
The trailer makes this movie seem more of a comedy than it really is. It probably has most of the best jokes in it.
Recommended for people who work in builders’ merchants, mums-to-be, parents that want to have to explain what a “Living Doll” is to their offspring whilst watching the movie, and anyone who works in an office with people who clutter their desks with toys. (I despair at some of my own colleagues, who stick lumps of brightly coloured fur-with-eyes to their monitors and clutter their work spaces with animal-based, plastic fripperies and desk tidies full of virtually unusable and hideously ugly pens.)
No cats, chainsaws or decapitations.
Top badass moment? In the same way as I’ve never met anyone who’s admitted to voting for UKIP, I’ve never met anyone who’s admitted to using a blow-up sex doll. However, given the number of votes and sales associated with both, I probably have unknowingly met quite a few. So it’s a pretty badass thing to take your blow-up girlfriend out and about with you, especially if you start to have conversations with her in public too. (I’m not so sure voting for UKIP is though.)
I’ve recently come to realise that I live in a drug-dealing hotspot. I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve looked out of my window and seen a couple of dudes parked up outside at the back of the car park, only for another car to drive up, someone get out, go over to the first car, swap some brief ‘pleasantries’ by the window and then go back to the second car and drive off. This is often followed by the first car leaving shortly after. I guess they could be twitchers, swapping sightings of some rare bird recently seen in Reading, but somehow they don’t really look like they have much of an interest in ornithology. I think next time I see anyone there I’ll go out to them and ask which rare warbler they’re searching for. If they engage me in spirited conversation about the habit, feeding patterns and mating rituals of their favourite bird I’ll know I had them all wrong; on the other hand, if they get out a piece or shiv and merk me, then I‘ll know I was right and go and grass them to the feds. (See? I learnt loads of new words from this film.) What’s stranger, is that the bins in the corner of the car park suffer regularly from fly-tipping; quite why people make the effort to drive there to dump stuff, but then can’t quite manage to put the rubbish in the bins rather than all over the ground escapes me, but that’s lazy, dirty bastards for you I guess. Anyway, what’s weird is that I’ve never seen this actually being done, it just appears, by magic. Clearly fly-tipping is a far bigger offence than drug-dealing.
2011 – Certificate: 15 – United Kingdom
Rating Details: Strong language, violence, gore and soft drug use
This film features a drug dealer, but it’s okay because it’s only Nick Frost and he always plays Cornetto eating characters in films, well except this one. He’s not really in it that much anyway. This is a good film. It could have been a great film but it doesn’t quite get there. I guess the ‘greatness fairy’ was out of town when this movie was being made, which is a shame really as it’s a lot of fun and filmed and based in south London. Any film that features the always slightly seedy Oval Tube Station at the start is going to be good in my book. I rather liked the aliens in it, even though I can imagine a range of soft toys modelled on them wouldn’t look out of place in a young child’s bed; all fluffy and cute. I can also imagine that their teeth wouldn’t look out of place in a Government health promotion on oral hygiene either. They all looked like they had really good teeth. (I’ve got to go to the dentist soon, so I think I’ve got a bit of a fixation about teeth at the moment; where else can you go and pay a lot of money to someone to deliberately hurt you? No, not that sort of pain, I mean the ‘bad’ sort; pervert.)
Recommended for hoddies and chavs everywhere, who want to expand their vocabulary. It worked for me and I don’t even own a hoodie. (On the rare occasion I do put on a hoddie for some reason, I just get an overwhelming urge to start shadow boxing, skipping and appear an exercise montage, à la Rocky.)
No cats and 1 decapitation. (Well I think there was one; that crash helmet certainly went flying across the room and I think it probably still had a head inside it.)
Top badass moment? When you’re dealing with alien scum, there’s no shortage of badass moments. However, I’m selecting tiny-tot tearaways Probs and Mayhem and their Super Soaker filled with petrol. You grow up fast in south London. Streetwise nine-year-olds are badass; and probably really annoying too if you live near any.
Having thought that this film was going to be about life at a builders’ merchants, or perhaps focused on a particularly fast style of dance or punk music, I was astonished to discover it was none of these things. I really should read the stuff on the sleeve before watching a DVD; I was so looking forward to finding out more about the life of a delivery driver too, as he goes through his list of jobs, dropping off bricks, cement, plaster, wood and other materials essential to the construction of the buildings and other features we’ve all come to rely on these days. Anyway, let’s see what I can remember about it. Guns? Check. Drugs? Check. Beautiful lesbians? Check. Prostitution ring? Check? Some naked people (both genders)? Check. Seedy businessmen (and businesswomen)? Check. Roman soldier’s helmet on fire? Check. Pimp that uses colour-coded Post-It Notes to organise everything? Check. A drug dealer who only speaks in astrological predictions? Check. Bizarre fantasy sequence involving the main characters doing their own version of part of the opening credits sequence from “Beverly Hills 90210”? Check. Really awful version of Abba’s “Dancing Queen”? Check. It’s all in Greek? Check. Okay, I think I can remember some of it. By the way, if anyone is interested, the Post-It Note sequence appears to go yellow-blue-orange-purple, with yellow being used for low-paying customers requiring a ‘basic’ service and purple for higher-class events.
2004 – Certificate: Not Rated
I suspect this film is a lot better than I’m going to credit it for being. The trouble is, I think I fell asleep a few times whilst I was watching it; either that or it’s got really, really bad editing. I have to admit that I’m having some difficulty working out what to say about this movie. It’s basically a ‘get our own back on society and people in general’ type of film, which follows the lives of two young women. It sort of falls into two parts. The first covers the time they spend as prostitutes and the second the period when one of them is following a successful modelling and acting career. There’s a murder trial in the middle somewhere too. It does have some black comedy in it but the overall feel is one of it being a somewhat seedy drama.
Recommended for people who like films with a grubby storyline; along with those that like Quentin Tarantino-ish movies. It probably helps if you can understand Greek too.
No cats and no decapitations.
Top badass moment? I use a lot of Post-It Notes at work. In fact I probably use far too many and use them when I could just scribble stuff on a bit of scrap paper. I wouldn’t say I was addicted to them, like I don’t go home every night and stick them all over my naked body, but I would miss them if they vanished. So not surprisingly, the boss of the prostitution ring featured in this film, purely for his over-use of Post-It Notes to organise and categorise work for his ‘team’, is badass.