Posts tagged “Drugs

Thirteen / Back to the Dentist (Part XXXVII or Something)


Thirteen - Front DVD Cover - UK ReleaseAnxiously 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. 

Thirteen on IMDB (6.9 / 10)
Thirteen on Wikipedia
Thirteen on Roger Ebert (3.5 / 4.0)
Thirteen trailer on YouTube


Header / SSE


Header  -  Front DVD Cover  -  US Release

From the mind of horror author Edward Lee, comes this horrifying tale of gruelling revenge and backwoods terror!  Stewart Cummings (Jake Suffian), a government agent playing both sides of the law, finds himself in the nightmarish crossfire of a bloody family vendetta. Forced to delve deep into a series of gruesome murders, Cummings encounters the most twisted method of revenge ever conceived by man: The Header.  What’s a header?  Only redneck Travis Tuckton (Elliot V. Kotek) and his evil “grandpappy” knows for sure… and once you learn the shocking answer, you may never be the same. Get ready for the acclaimed horror film that may be the ultimate in violence and gore! “Header” is a film of unrelenting, twisted terror!

2006  –  Certificate: Not Rated  –  American Film
7.0 out of 10

There’s only 360 more days until next Christmas; how exciting!  I’ve managed to get all the way through this Christmas without putting the heating on at home.  It was my present for the planet and a middle finger to SSE (Scottish and Southern Electricity).  SSE managed to really piss me off recently.  I have (well had) an early version of a smart meter for my electricity.  I’ve had it about 2.5 years.  When I got it I had to change my tariff for a more expense one, (although to be fair it’s probably helped me save more money than the extra I spent on having it).  A couple of months ago it stopped working.  I e-mailed SSE to ask if it could be fixed or replaced.  The reply I got (that took longer to arrive that it should have) said that it was an outdated model and it couldn’t be replaced, but that I’d get a new, free smart meter in a few years’ time!  There was no suggestion that perhaps I’d like to change my electric tariff for a cheaper one again or anything.  This really annoyed me.  In fact it’s annoyed me so much that I’m going to change my electivity suppler next month.  Doing this has been on my mind for a while anyway, as SSE isn’t exactly top of the league when it comes to producing electricity from sustainable sources.  It will probably cost me a bit more, but I’m looking forward to using fair-trade, organic electricity in future, that’s produced by whole African villages of people peddling really quickly on static bikes to produce the stuff for me.  Quite why we can’t harvest the same stuff locally from all the private gyms around here I don’t know.  I guess it’s a similar situation to apples, where in the autumn I can either buy English Cox’s (the world’s best apple), or some tasteless replica with a brand name variety (like Pink Lady) grown in New Zealand.  That’s just weird.  So’s this film.

Agent Stewart Cummings is having a really, really bad day.  (I know he’s an agent as he spends most of the film running around in a t-shirt with the letters ATF on it.  (The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.)  His wife has a mystery illness for which the drugs she needs cost a fortune and his boss is less than supportive of him taking any sort of initiative when it comes to investigating crime.  And on top of that someone locally has started doing rather icky things with peoples’ heads.  Sadly for Stew it goes even further downhill from then on.  After the first ten minutes or so I thought I was going to be faced with an entirely crap film featuring poor production, acting and script.  Weirdly, as it progressed it improved.  It was like it was filmed in chronological order and everyone just got better as they went along.  That’s not to say it’s likely to worry the Oscars in any way, but it got good enough not to distract too much from the watching experience.  I’d love to tell you exactly what a header is, but that would spoil it for you.  Needless to say, it’s not got a great deal to do with aerial prowess in the penalty box, or plumbing.  If nothing else, it’s worth watching just to see Grandpappy, a brilliantly, over-the-top character who brings a level of enthusiasm to proceedings that I wish I could replicate myself when doing my budget forecasts at work.  I did have a lot of sympathy for Agent Cummings, a generally decent guy who just had a run of bad luck, really bad luck.  Sometimes you just have to lose it.  Whilst watching this movie, into my head popped the idea that American rednecks have a lot in common with the UK’s UKIP voters.  More weirdness.

There isn’t a lot of music used in the film, it’s mainly just over the credits, but it’s a decent bit of whatever sort of music it is.

The trailer isn’t exactly forthcoming with details.  (There is a better one on the DVD, but I couldn’t find a link to it anywhere to put here.)  I guess that’s what comes from having a ‘big secret’ that you don’t want to blow to quickly.

Movie Weather Forecast:  Warm and sunny through the course of the film.  Nice.

Recommended for police officers, cobblers, drug dealers and adulteresses.

No cats, chainsaws or decapitations.

Top badass moment?  In a fit of anger that wouldn’t have been out of place in the final verse of Eminem’s “Guilty Conscience”, Agent Cummings finally gets pissed at his bad luck.  I’m not condoning his behaviour of course, but, well, you can understand it.  I’m sure when I eventually ‘lose it’ I’ll go on the rampage too, probably on the London Underground in the rush hour, or maybe in Reading’s Oracle Shopping Centre, on a Saturday afternoon just before Christmas.

Header at IMDB (4.7 / 10)
Header at Wikipedia
Official Site
Header trailer at YouTube


Go / Boomtown Fair 2014


Go  -  Front DVD Cover  -  UK Release

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 hereThis 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. 

Go at IMDB (7.3 / 10)
Go at Wikipedia
Go at Roger Ebert (3.0/4)
Go trailer at YouTube


Slaughter High / When Words Resemble Monkey Sick


Slaughter High  -  Front DVD Cover  -  US Release

There’s horror in the halls… lynching in the lunchroom…  murder in the metal shop.  Welcome to “Slaughter High”, where the students are dying to get out!  In high school, Marty was the kid all the students teased, taunted and tortured mercilessly.  One day, things went too far; one of their jokes backfired, disfiguring Marty for life.  Now, five years later, Marty has arranged a special reunion for all his high school “friends.”  The prom queen, the jock, the class clown, the rebel and a few select others have been invited… and it’s going to be a gala of gore!

1986  –  Certificate: Unrated  –  American Film
7.0 out of 10

I’m crap at everything.  However, I try very hard and surround myself with more able and talented people, which in some limited cases enables me to function in society without everyone pointing in my direction, or crossing the road when they see me coming.  Yesterday was a good case in point.  I spent all of it trying to complete a quotation (that a colleague had already done most of the work for), in response to a competitive tender document for a project to help set up a new community group, to care for the areas along the line of an old railway.   It didn’t really come with any sort of structure for what it was asking for, which means trying to do it was like trying to play a game that no one’s explained the rules to me about.  All that choice!  Vegans don’t deal with choice well; it’s typically the green salad, or chips, or nothing for us.  At about half past four I found myself staring at the words on the screen, able to read and understand them, but totally unable to work out what they meant, or how one string of them (a thing we call a sentence) related to any other.  Talk about not being able to see the wood for the trees.  Somehow I managed to complete about 98% of it, although when I proof-read it this morning most made less sense than a wall covered in a bucket full of scrabble letters and monkey sick.  There was one little bit that I had to complete by hand and I swear it looks like a six-year-old did it.  I don’t think I can write anymore; I used to have lovely handwriting too.  Sometimes I feel like life is teasing me for a laugh.  One day I’ll react like Marty in this film….

Oh dear, it’s the uncut version of a ‘forgotten classic’.  To be fair it’s probably not that obscure and it’s probably not that bad either.  It’s not boring anyway.  Here we have a group of young adults who behave in an almost entirely irrational way, an isolated location, a seriously pissed off guy harbouring a grudge… and you know the rest.  The murders are a mixed bag; I guess my favourite was the electric shock during sex, although the lawnmower one isn’t too bad either.  Did I like Marty the vengeful killer?  Well he was/is a dork, but clearly after his injury the law failed to provide him with the justice he genuinely did deserve, so in a way I can’t blame him for taking things into his own hands.  The guy had probably had a very successful and exciting career ahead of him too.  Actually, the more I think about it the more I realise that he really is the victim here.  The fact that the group that bullied him didn’t even seem to have any remorse for what they did, even though the outcome probably was an accident and unintended, just makes things worse.  What a nasty set of individuals.  Awful.  I’m glad they’re all dead now.  And another thing, the level of health & safety in the school’s science lab was woeful.  Seriously, no one would store a really large, glass bottle of nitric acid on top of a narrow, wobbly, free-standing shelf unit that itself is sitting on top of a table in the middle of a room, not even in the 80s.  And the bottle wasn’t labelled properly either.  And where were Marty’s gloves and protective goggles?  He didn’t strike me as the sort of guy who wouldn’t wear them because he didn’t look cool.  Then again, he does appear to take the time to take his Doddsville County High School jacket off in the middle of his science experiment starting to blow up all around him, so I guess his appearance did matter a lot to him, which probably explains why he got so worked up about being hideously burnt.  For that matter, why wasn’t he being supervised?  I know the school only appeared to have one teacher, who worked in the gym, but even so.  I know, I’m probably over analysing things.  Despite its intentions, the most offensive thing in the whole movie was the dreadfully racist scene involving the Black caretaker.  I image this is one of Jeremy Clarkson’s favourite movies.

Musically we’re deep into 80s low-budget territory.  Yes, very deep.

The trailer isn’t so bad, although it does manage to give away the entire plot and partly show a number of the murders too.  Then again, the plot isn’t exactly an original and you don’t get to see all of the murders.

No cats, chainsaws or decapitations.  Surprisingly.

Top badass moment?  No one likes a bully.  And we like groups of bullies even less.  So it’s high-fives all round for Marty, as he slowly dispatches them all one by one.  Also, given the speed at which he appears to be able to get from place to place at around the school, he’s apparently invented some sort of personal teleportation device too.  That’s seriously badass; or just dreadful editing.

Slaughter High at IMDB (5.0 / 10)
Slaughter High at Wikipedia
Slaughter High trailer at YouTube


The Bling Ring / My Epic Fail: Emulating William the Conqueror


The Bling Ring  -  Front Blu-ray Cover  -  UK Release

In the fame-obsessed world of Los Angeles, a group of teenagers take us on a thrilling and disturbing crime-spree in the Hollywood hills.  Based on true events, the group, who were fixated on a life of glamour, tracked their celebrity targets online and stole more than $3 million in luxury goods from their homes.  The victims included Paris Hilton, Orlando Bloom, Rachel Bilson and Lindsay Lohan.  The gang became known in the media as “The Bling Ring”.  Written and directed by Academy Award Winning Sofia Coppola (“Lost in Translation”, “The Virgin Suicides”, “Marie Antoinette”),”The Bling Ring” stars Emma Watson (“Harry Potte”, “The Perks of Being a Wallflower”), Leslie Mann (“This is 40”, “Knocked Up”), Taissa Farmiga, Claire Julien, Israel Broussard and Katie  Chang.

2013  –  Certificate: 15  –  American Film
Rating Details: Strong language and drug use
7.0 out of 10

In an effort to bolster our fading place in the world, us Brits often like to remind others that the last person to successfully invade mainland Britain was William the Conqueror, who in 1066 shot King Harold in the eye at the Battle of Hastings.  (And that’s about all we actually bother to learn about the story, even though that last bit probably isn’t even true either.  The fact that it happened before America and much of the rest of the world had been invented, is good enough for us. ) Last week I had a chance to do something similar.  (No, not shoot someone in the eye!  God, do I really need to even write that?)  Instead, I had a chance at fame and fortune on the south coast myself, when due to a severe lack of (and I’m putting it diplomatically) coordination at work, I found myself giving a presentation to a lot of ‘important people’.  (Well important in Hastings anyway.)  I spent the guts of two days (including a Sunday) putting the sort of PowerPoint presentation together that really ought to be released as a stand-alone DVD for others to enjoy.  Indeed, a limited cinema run wouldn’t be out-of-place.  It was all very stressful though; at one point I even had to order myself an Indian takeaway from the Alamin Tandoori to recover from the whole, ‘creative experience’.  (These things don’t just come together; each slide was torn from my very soul.)  So the day of the presentation arrived.  In my mind I had a vision, a vision of a room full of people, many of them standing, clapping and cheering me as an environmental saviour.  (A bit like Noah, but without the boat.)  Sadly, the train I was travelling on broke down and I ended up arriving 20 minutes late; obviously the 40 minute, ‘crappy public transport safety margin’ I’d opted for wasn’t up to the job.  Apparently there was a “communication problem” with the train; the driver couldn’t speak to the guard or something; (or Train Manager as they seem to get called these days.)  Bollocks to that.  How did them not being able to have a chat about last night’s TV stop the wheels turning?  Sitting in the train, watching three guys in orange jackets wondering about outside, the only other thing I could see was a bit of hawthorn growing nearby, as we’d got stuck in a cutting.  John Lydon told us all that “Anger is an energy”.  I could probably have solved the world’s energy crisis single-handedly such was my mood, which would have been quite ironic under the circumstances.  Well, it turned out to be the fastest PowerPoint presentation I’ve ever given to anyone, that’s for sure.  Thanks to Southern Trains, my chance to become an international eco-celebrity was ruined.  All I want to do is save the planet, I’m not asking for much really.  Next time I’ll rob a few rich people instead.  It worked for Robin Hood and I’m sure I can find a few affluent bankers that no one really cares about.  By a strange coincidence, this film covers a not dissimilar topic.  (That’s robbing the rich and famous, not inefficient pubic transport.)

Closely mirroring the real events it’s based on, this movie follows the exploits of a group of celebrity obsessed teenagers, who start robbing the homes of the rich and famous.  Paris Hilton, whose home they broke in to a number of times, allowed these scenes to be filmed in her house.  OMG! OMG!  (OMG I’m starting to talk like them now…)  A whole room full of shoes? A nightclub room, complete with pole?  I own six pairs of shoes, including two pairs of steel-capped boots for work.  The only poles I come into contact with are the ones living near me.  Not a lot seems to happen in this film.  Vacuous teens are not the most exciting of people, unless you like watching them hanging out in nightclubs taking selfies and immediately posting them on Facebook.  Even the break-ins are somewhat low-key and most of the time they just messed about when they got into these people’s homes.  Google Maps is every villain’s friend.  Somewhat trippy one moment and almost documentary-like at others, it’s actually quite entertaining.  Given that it’s based on a real group of people and real crimes, the extras are especially interesting and add quite a lot to the whole story.  The car crash scene works well too; it made me jump anyway.  The sound is pretty good, as is the overall look of the movie and the acting.  Well worth a watch.  At the end I was left with two questions.  Firstly, why?  Secondly, it features a group of very good-looking young people, plus drink and drugs; yet there wasn’t any sexual chemistry or apparent attraction between any of them, not even a little bit of tension.  That’s just a bit weird. I guess celebrities really do screw up your life.

Schoolboy Q, 2 Chainz, Young Jeezy, Bassnectar, Really Doe, Kid Cudi.  Yep, you’re right, that means it’s time for a hip-hop based soundtrack.  Given the nature of the movie, the music works really well.

The trailer’s pretty good. 

Recommended for vapid, non-celebrities and anyone who posts loads of pictures directly to their Facebook page without bothering to delete the technically crap ones (they make my eyes hurt) and doesn’t see the irony in doing it in the first place.  Also anyone who thinks they matter to anyone outside of their immediate family and friends.  Trust me, you really don’t.

No cats, chainsaws or decapitations.

Top badass moment?  The scenes where they break into Paris Hilton’s home were really filmed in Paris Hilton’s home.  She has cushions with her face on them!  Really big pictures of her face.  In her own home.  Whatever the story behind them, that’s just not normal.  Seriously, it’s not.  It’s only one step away from going to bed with a picture of yourself.  Still, at least I know what to get in future as presents for ‘those awkward people who have everything’.  Thanks Paris!  Sorting out this year’s Christmas pressies for me is badass.

The Bling Ring at IMDB (5.7 / 10)
The Bling Ring at Wikipedia
The Bling Ring at Roger Ebert (2.5 / 4)
The Bling Ring trailer at YouTube


Side Effects / The Dentist: Part 3


Side Effects  -  Front DVD Cover  -  UK ReleaseEmily (Rooney Mara “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo”) and Martin (Channing Tatum “The Vow”) are a successful New York couple whose world unravels when a new drug prescribed by Emily’s psychiatrist (Jude Law “Sherlock Holmes”) intended to treat anxiety, has unexpected and dangerous side effects.  From director Steven Soderbergh (“Contagion”, “Ocean’s Eleven”, “Ocean’s Twelve”, “Ocean’s Thirteen”) comes a riveting psychological thriller where neither the symptoms nor the cure are quite as straightforward as they seem.

2013  –  Certificate: 15  –  American Film
Rating Details: Strong language, sex and violence
7.0 out of 10

Despite its capacity to bring good news, joy and happiness, the word “no” generally feels pretty negative.  So hearing a dentist mutter it twice whilst prodding and poking around in your mouth is not something that often generates a smile.  (Then again, when you’ve got a mouthful of torture devices masquerading as dental equipment, there isn’t actually an especially wide range of facial expressions at your disposal.)  My third 90 minute appointment this month bought me these two highlights, along with a comment at the end that she’d managed to get a few a millimetres further but the blockage was still there.  An hour and a half for that?  It’s not the London Crosslink rail tunnel; although all the talk of drilling, canals, bridges and crowns does put me in mind of a major, civil engineering project.  The only thing that kept me going we the fact that this was the last part of my own, personal, dental horror trilogy, (which itself was an expansion of the two-parter that had originally been planned).  Unfortunately, the news at the end was not good.  A fourth instalment is now required and ‘filming’ takes place in April, once the spin-off “The Dentist: Sore Wisdom Tooth” has wrapped. I still haven’t got the date for my trip to hospital to have the latter dealt with, but I’m pretty sure it’s going to be the most massively inconvenient one possible.

In the UK, you go to see your doctor and sometimes he or she gives you a prescription for some drugs.  You go to the chemist and he or she gives them to you.  You take them and hopefully feel better.  The end.  I don’t know anyone who has any sort of discussion about what brand of drug they want.  I guess it happens sometimes, but not very often.  They don’t get advertised on TV and I’d hazard a guess and say most people have no idea what make of drugs they’re taking or even if it stays the same between prescriptions.  Not so in America, where drug companies widely advertise their products and patents frequently tell their doctors what brand of drugs they want, presumably based on which has the best advertising on TV.  A movie like “Side Effects” simply wouldn’t make sense if it was set in the UK.  This film has more twists that you get in a big bag of that twisty-shaped pasta that’s always cheaper than any other shape of pasta.  (And why does the shape make such as huge difference to the price?  It’s feels like you’re charged a premium if it’s an easier shape to get onto a fork.)  It’s not a bad movie, as long as you concentrate, give its plot a bit of latitude and forgive its sometime dubious portrayal of same-sex relationships and mental health.  Jude Law and Rooney Mara are both great.  I guess if I wasn’t wracked with tooth inflicted agony and befuddled by antibiotics and pain-killing drugs (and no I’ve no idea what brand they are), I’d have got more out of it.

There’s a lot of music in this film.  None of it is especially memorable, but it’s there, in the background, most of the time.  A bit like weather.

Trailers for thrillers are often quite frustrating.  They want to encourage you to see the film, yet don’t want to give away the plot.  I guess it’s a bit like reading a book without looking at the words.  This is a good example.

Recommended for psychiatrists, lesbians, inside traders, drug pushers and conspiracy theorists.

No cats, chainsaws or decapitations.

Top badass moment?  You have to give Jude Law a bit of respect.  When the going gets tough he digs in and keeps going.  Bloody mindedness is always badass; and bloody annoying to everyone else too.

Side Effects at IMDB (7.1 / 10)
Side Effects at Wikipedia
Side Effects at Roger Ebert (3.5 / 5)
Side Effects trailer at YouTube


Defendor / Going Back to Work


Defendor  -  Front DVD Cover  -  UK ReleaseArthur 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.

Defendor at IMDB (6.8 / 10)
Defendor at Wikipedia
Defendor at YouTube


Kidulthood / Phall Curry


Kidulthood  -  Front DVD Cover  -  UK ReleaseFor 15-year-old Trife, life is a day-to-day struggle.  Trapped between the worlds of his school friends, the girl he loves and the draw of his powerful and dangerous uncle, Trife must choose between the path he knows is right and a life of guns, drugs and violence that he has come to know only too well.  When a classmate’s suicide leaves Trife and his crew, Moony and Jay, with the day off school, the tragedy seems overshadowed by the opportunity to shop, get high, get laid and party; but in a world where sex is currency, drugs are easy and violence is a way of life, trouble can never be too far around the corner.  On these streets kids grow up fast and 48 hours can be a lifetime.

2005  –  Certificate: 15  –  British Film
Rating Details:  Strong violence, language, sex references and drug use
8.0 out of 10

I haven’t really enjoyed this week.  It’s hard to identify one particular thing that’s made it a bit rubbish, it just was.  It’s been the sort of week where you’d spot a pound coin on the pavement, then when you’ve bend over to pick it up a car’s driven through a nearby puddle and soaked you.  To celebrate the better parts of the week and the fact that I’d got to the end of it, I decided to treat myself to an Indian takeaway.  However, to also enable the latter to best reflect how things have been recently, I decided to get a vegetable phall.  I really like curry, but this version is basically a few bits of vegetable with a goo made out of chillies all over it.  It’s virtually impossible to eat and tastes of nothing, except chillies and the inside of the Sun.  It’s the sort of thing guys eat when they want to try and impress other guys.  (I know, how on earth did humans manage to get to the top of the food chain?)  As I’ve got no friends and I ate it on my own, I’m not quite sure who I was trying to impress.  I think it was simply a cry for help, a punishment for not being good enough at work all week.  I imagine if I’d not eaten it I’d now feel obliged to roll around naked in a patch of stinging nettles instead.  And I didn’t win the National Lottery either.  Still, things could be worse; I could live in the ‘wrong’ part of W11, where this film is set.

I went to school in central London.  In my day we didn’t have mobile phones or gangsta rap; drugs were something you took for a toothache (and in any case were always called tablets) and oral sex meant talking about it, not that we knew what ‘it’ really was.  So films like this are really helpful in enabling me to keep myself ‘street’, ‘happening’ and ‘down with the kids’; although as anyone who’s a teenager now would have been about 7-years-old when it was made, I suspect things have moved on a bit since then.  Eschewing the fascination that movie-makers have with the East End, south London, Camden and Hackney, this movie mostly takes place in that forgotten realm west of the West End, where only the Hammersmith & City Line dares to go.  A land of council estates and old terrace housing hidden away behind the ‘glamour’ of Notting Hill, it’s about as uncool and unfashionable as you can get.  If it wasn’t for Portobello Market and the nearby Carnival, it would probably hold the world record for being the most unhip and dowdy place in any capital city anywhere.  In fact if you Google it, nothing comes up.  Despite my trashing of the location, this is actually an excellent film; (awful title though).  I’m also lucky to be gangsta enough to be able to understand what they’re all saying most of the time, which is just as well because my copy didn’t come with any subtitles.  I haven’t heard so much slang since I watched “Attack the Block”.

With a soundtrack that’s almost pure London hip-hop, grime and rap, it’s as good (or as bad) as you think that is.  Rodney Smith, Maxwell Ansah, Dylan Mills and Michael Skinner all provide parts of the soundtrack.  (And if you don’t know who they are then that makes you a total square.)

Recommended for ganstas, bros, crews and feds, init?

One cat, no chainsaws or decapitations.  A cute grey cat makes a brief but scene-stealing appearance, jumping off a sofa and then wondering about a bit.

Top badass moment?  There are plenty of small ‘growing-up’ badass moments scattered throughout this film, but I’m going to choose Alisa giving some home truths to the bullies on the tube.  They were really horrible!  Still, at least I know they’re probably all junkies, prostitutes or unmarried mothers by now.  I blame the parents.  (When I write things like that they so make me sound so like a Tory.  I’m really not, honest!)

Kidulthood at IMDB (6.5 / 10)

Kidulthood at Wikipedia


Death Wish 4: The Crackdown / Soft Drink Shortage Hits Cactus World


Death Wish 4: The Crackdown  -  Front DVD Cover  -  US ReleaseThe streets are filled with death and destruction.  Ruthless drug traffickers prey upon the poor, the lonely, the helpless.  LA is a city desperate for deliverance… until now!  Charles Bronson returns as Paul Kersey, the original urban vigilante and one-man demolition force in this pulse-pounding, take-no-prisoners thriller!  Two rival drug gangs have a death-grip on LA’s battle-torn inner city.  But their brutal reign of terror is about to come to a violent end.  One man is out to avenge the cocaine-induced death of his girlfriend’s teenage daughter.  His name is Paul Kersey – and he’s armed, dangerous… and mad as hell!

1987  –  Certificate: R  –  American Film
6.0 out of 10

The unseasonal run of warm days we’ve been having recently has put an unprecedented strain on reserves of cold drinks in Cactus World.  In fact I’ve run out of normal soft drinks and the things I only drink in an emergency, like bitter lemon and ginger ale, have been in the fridge so long they’ve all frozen solid.  I tried opening one this afternoon, but so much pressure had built up in the bottle that the contents started to explode everywhere; in fact I read this evening that earlier today America had briefly gone to DEFCON 1, as some military satellite had mistaken my attempts to get something cold to drink as a ballistic missile launch.  I think it’s all okay now though.  Fortunately, I also found some old bottles of Bacardi Breezer (Pineapple) in the back of the fridge that the alcohol had stopped from freezing.  It tasted okay(ish), considering it was two years past its Best Before date.  I also have to report the good news that the far worse scenario of there being a shortage of cold, alcoholic drinks, is not presently a concern.

Before we had mega-budget screen superheroes and nutters like Martin Riggs cleaning up urban scum, we had Paul Kersey.  The original street-level vigilante, here’s a chap who reluctantly goes off on his own and sorts out bad guys.  In many ways he’s a lot like Batman, a tortured soul who’s lost the ones he cares for most; except he’s not especially fit and strong, isn’t a billionaire and doesn’t have a flash car, cave, computer, utility belt or butler.  Then again, he does use guns and he hasn’t got an annoying sidekick either.  Last time we saw him, he was busy helping disadvantaged communities in New York become more resilient.  This time he’s back in America’s other city, Los Angeles, sorting out corrupt police and drug barons; you know, the usual stuff architects deal with.  Scarcely have I recovered from seeing Lieutenant Commander Chakotay turn up in “Night of the Comet” when along comes Lieutenant Commander Tuvok in “Death Wish 4”.  Clearly working under cover for Starfleet in some sort of time-travel paradox, he inadvertently gives some drugs to some dumb bimbo, who promptly kills herself with them.  She just happens to be the daughter of Charles Bronson’s latest love interest too.  In another interesting parallel with “Star Trek” I would say it was at least as deadly being a friend of Paul Kersey, as it is wearing a red shirt as a member of a landing party.  There’ve been five Death Wish films and nearly all of his ‘nearest and dearest’ have ended up being raped and/or murdered.  You do see Bronson take out Tuvok’s car with a grenade in an underground garage, but I’m pretty sure I saw him being beamed out just before it exploded.  Tuvok could’ve easily stunned them all with his phaser, but he probably didn’t want to contaminate the time-line or such like.  I watched the hardcore, uncut version, not the old, UK cut one with its missing 54 seconds.  Because of that I’d have probably turned into a serial killer by now, if it wasn’t for the fact that it was also a pan and scan version too, so half of it was missing.  I hate it when they do that.  It was mono as well.

There’s not a great deal of music in this movie and what there is has a tendency to sound like a reject from The Terminator.  The theme music is horrible though; some nasty saxophone-heavy garbage that sounds like it escaped from an obscure, 70s porn VHS.

Recommend for architects, vigilantes, would-be superheroes and anyone who might make friends with Paul Kersey.  And a warning to the latter; DON’T DO IT!

No cats, chainsaws or decapitations.  However, someone does sort of explode into nothing after having a grenade fired into him.  And you thought The Terminator came up with that one first?

Top badass moment?  Dumb question. Charles Bronson IS badass.  And when someone asks, “who the fuck are you?” and you simply reply (after a tension building pause), “death”, that’s badass too.  And keeping a M203 grenade launcher attached to a M16 assault rifle in a cupboard behind your fridge is badass too.

Death Wish 4: The Crackdown at IMDB (4.8 /10)

Death Wish 4: The Crackdown at Wikipedia


Hardware / My New Water Meter


Hardware  -  Front Blu-ray Cover (UK ReleaseIn a post-apocalyptic, nuclear-scarred future, the world has become a radioactive, neon drenched, industrial wasteland, populated by the disenfranchised and the demented.  Amidst the dust and decay of a poisoned landscape, a Zone Tripper manages to salvage a disembodied robotic head.  But what is initially mistaken for discarded techno trash is in fact the mechanical remains of the M.A.R.K. 13, a merciless killing machine programmed to activate, exhilarate and exterminate.  After ending up in the isolated apartment of an introverted artist, the M.A.R.K. 13 re-assembles itself for an eye-gouging, chainsaw-wielding, body-drilling, skull-crushing rampage, where no flesh shall be spared.  Directed by Richard Stanley (“Dust Devil”), “Hardware” features a face pounding soundtrack and appearances from rock legends Iggy Pop, Motörhead’s Lemmy and Fields Of The Nephilim’s Carl McCoy.  Available for the first time as a Special Edition, “Hardware” remains a highly original, mind-melding, Cyberpunk, horror/sci-fi cult classic.  So plug-in, turn on, download and prepare to have your inner circuits pulled out and re-wired.

1990  –  Certificate 18  –  British Film
Rating Details:  Strong bloody violence and sex
5.0 out of 10

I had a water meter fitted yesterday.  When I went to make a cup of tea afterwards I got soaked by a sudden explosion of water out of the tap, as the supply sorted itself out in the pipes.  Nice.  I currently pay about £330 a year for water rates, so I’ve convinced myself that by having a meter fitted, after just a few months I’ll have saved enough money to retire and go on that round-the-world cruise I’m always promising myself.  (Well I know the maths doesn’t really add up and I’d probably get bored after about five minutes on a cruise, but it’s the principle I’m trying to establish here.)  Who’d have thought that saving the planet could be so profitable?  I wonder how long you can go for and not flush a toilet?  A week?  Well it works for washing up…  In this film, water seems to be in pretty short supply; they should all have got meters fitted.

It’s the future, after some unspecified nuclear incident has taken place.  We join a guy who’s collecting junk in a desert.  This guy then sells some of the items he’s found in the sand, which include a bust-up robotic head, to a chap called Mo.  Mo, who’s obviously a true romantic, takes it to his girlfriend’s place in the city for her as a Christmas present.  Despite the fact that Jill’s more than a bit pissed off with him for being away so long, his gift has the desired effect (if you know what I mean).   She’s a sculptor, so she decides to put it into something she’s working on.  Unbeknownst to them, the head was part of a secret government war-bot programme.  Oh dear, it comes back to life and rebuilds itself from common household appliances; (I hate it when that happens, it really interferes with your day and the cost of replacing everything afterwards can be quite considerable).  It then starts killing people; although luckily it never really gets out of her flat.  Truth be told, this is a pretty crappy film.  It has a few interesting cameos, such as Iggy Pop as a radio DJ and Lemmy as a taxi-driver, plus some interesting musical choices, but most of the time it’s too dark or orange, or both, to make watching what’s going on a rewarding experience.  Even on Blu-ray it was still a murky mess.  One random sub-plot revolves around a pervy neighbour, who spies on Jill with a telescope whilst he ‘enjoys’ himself.  Unfortunately, we never really get to see what he finds so inspiring, thanks to the Anadin-sponsored visuals.  If ever there was a bad advert for sun beds, this film is it; there’s more orange about than in an episode of “Bargain Hunt” with David Dickinson.  The times I found myself thinking, “Jill, put the bloody light on, for God’s sake”)…  For all the time I spent in her apartment, I never managed to gain any sort of understanding as to its layout.  How hard can it be to find a large robot in a flat?  It’s not all bad by any means and it does have some interesting elements, but overall they just don’t overcome the ‘over-stylish’ look of the film.

One of this movie’s saving graces is its soundtrack. From traditional American folk to Public Image Ltd. we get a range of music that does its best to make up for what we can (or more accurately can’t) see.  “This is what you want, this is what you get.”  I don’t think so.

Recommend for people who like cult sci-fi.  And it is a British, low-budget sci-fi film from 1990; can you even name another?

No cats or decapitations, plus one ‘built-in’ chainsaw.  Someone does get sliced in two though, by a front door closing on him.  (I don’t think you’d get one that tough from B&Q.)

Top Badass moment?  To be honest she had the chance to get away on more than one occasion, but no one likes their place to get trashed by strangers.  Reluctant hero maybe, but Jill’s defence of her home is most definitely badass.  Not many people manage to really break a baseball bat over anyone’s (or anything’s) head.   I hope her insurers will take all this into account when they come around to assess her claim.  I wouldn’t want to be a Jehovah Witnesses in her neighbourhood.

Hardware at IMDB (5.7 / 10)

Hardware at Wikipedia