In the year 2008, U.S. President Walter Emerson (Kevin Pollak), who recently took office after the death of the former chief executive, is campaigning for re-election. After winning the Colorado state primary, Emerson finds himself stranded in a roadside diner after a freak snowstorm. While the president exchanges pleasantries with the diner’s staff and customers, a new bulletin appears on TV: Udei Hussein, son of the late Saddam Hussein, has invaded Kuwait and butchered several hundred U.S. peace-keeping troops. Outraged, the president announces that if Hussein and his forces do not withdraw and officially surrender, he will begin dropping nuclear weapons on Baghdad. However, Iraq responds that if they are attacked, 23 cities in the United States and allied nations will be immediately destroyed in a counterattack. Emerson, his advisors, and the others trapped in the diner with them debate long and loud about what to do, and what the potential consequences could be.
1999 – Certificate: Not Rated – French / American Film
8.5 out of 10
A few weeks ago I wrote about my work laptop having a few ‘issues’. Work-related stress, cruel and heartless management and a failure to ‘work smarter and not harder’, had reduced it to an untidy pile of nearly useless components unable to do the simplest things, other than make up excuses for not having done them. (Oh wait, that’s just me.) Over the past week or so, to coincide with moving our office, trying to sort out the old one and get the new one in a state to be used as anything more than a second-hand furniture shop, I’ve had ‘The Man From Dell’ visit no less than four times, in an attempt to fix my laptop’s problems. However, I’m now the proud owner of what looks like a new computer; although it’s been totally pulled to bits so many times and so many parts have been replaced, that I’m not sure it even recognises itself now. More importantly, it actually works. I really enjoyed downloaded the four million or so e-mails that have piled up for me over the past couple of weeks, many of which are increasingly angry ones from people demanding that I do this, that and the other by yesterday. I doubt they’ll care that moving office takes a bit of effort, my laptop’s gone mental, my mobile phone went into hiding and the new office looks like Engineering on the Enterprise after a particularly bad day dealing with Klingons. They’ll just think I’m a lazy, work-shy imbecile, who can’t be arsed to make an effort; trouble is, they’re probably right. In related news, ‘The Man From BT’ was also in today, to put in two basic phone lines. Quite why this took him (and a colleague) most of the day, I’m not sure. We’re in the centre of the town, there’re landlines and junction boxes everywhere. Unlike BT and myself, the President in this film manages to ‘get things done’, even though he’s stranded in a cafe with just a few phone lines and a TV, as he organises universal Armageddon faster than BT can get a telephone to work.
Despite all its plot holes and general dumbness, this is actually a really clever and tense political thriller. A number of its assumptions have since proved to be quite prophetic too. Its clever use of stock footage of American Presidents playing at “Team America: World Police” and TV coverage of the developing crisis, works very well. I wasn’t entirely sure if it was making a point about war being bad or necessary; or that American presidents have too much power or a responsibility to use that power. However, there is something very chilling about seeing someone ordering a nuclear attack on another country. It was also rather depressing to see how little value was placed by the Americans on the lives of its enemies and allies alike. (If it wasn’t for us, they’d still be riding around firing bows and arrows at one another.) I can’t really say much more as knowing about the plot would spoil things, but I’d certainly recommend watching it. It’ll give you lots to talk about afterwards too.
The soundtrack is good example of understated music making a big difference to the feel of the film. Good job.
Recommended for Special Agents, dictators and anyone caught in a snowstorm or who works in a cafe. Definitely not recommend for American Presidents.
No cats, chainsaws or decapitations.
Top badass moment? The American President ordering a nuclear attack is about as badass as you can get. Shame it’s not a good type of badass. I wouldn’t like to piss him off though.
For the first time on Blu-ray, see the original theatrical version of the film as it was initially released in theatres. A massive alien presence of enormous power enters Federation space destroying three powerful Klingon cruisers and neutralising everything in its path. As it heads towards Earth, Admiral James T. Kirk returns to the helm of an updated U.S.S. Enterprise and sets course to meet the aggressor head-on.
1979 – Certificate U – USA
7 out of 10
At work I often feel like Kirk does in this film. Like him, I’ve been promoted to such an enormously high level that I too haven’t logged a single star-hour in over two and a half years; (or at least our equivalent of them). Also like him, if I went out and tried to do a real day’s work like I used to, I’d not have a clue what I was doing. And I too, have needed to surround myself with people who do actually know how to do things properly, so I can make myself look good and benefit from their abilities. And, of course, like Kirk, I save the Earth on a regular basis. Actually, now I’ve thought about it in a bit more detail, pretty well the only way to tell us apart, other than the fact that he will live 300 years in the future and I’m here right now, is the fact that he did everything with the support of an effectively endless supply of resources; whereas I do the same with almost no resources whatsoever. I guess we’re probably cousins.
It’s hard to imagine there’s anything that hasn’t been said about this film 1,000s of times before. Yes it’s slow. Yes it’s overlong. Yes it’s not really like any other Star Trek movie or TV show. Yes it’s full of plot holes. One the other hand, it is Star Trek. It was the first new bit of Star Trek for years, (especially if you ignore the animated episodes) and we didn’t know then what we know now about the Star Trek Universe. It was a genuine attempt to turn Star Trek into proper, hard science-fiction; (not like that ‘other’ famous sci-fi film from the late 70’s that was clearly made for children). It’s got Klingons in it, (although not nearly enough of them). Both William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy give great performances; and Persis Khambatta had great legs and was a very attractive skinhead. It’s also a reminder that three of its stars have now been taken from us. :-( It’s far from the best bit of Star Trek ever made, but it’s had a bad press over the years and I think the passage of time has helped it. I watched it on Blu-ray. At points it looked great, but at others it’s pretty dodgy; some of the special effects are certainly showing their age, although to be fair many of them still look very cool. But it’s far from being a great, high-definition presentation. Another odd thing is that I don’t think any of it was filmed outside; it’s all studio shot, which is quite unusual for a major feature film. The trailer is terrible though; it’s like it’s for a low-budget, 50s, B-movie, sci-fi horror.
Jerry Goldsmith’s sound track is one of the high points of the film. From the Star Trek Theme through to the great scene where Kirk (and us) first see the new Enterprise, great stuff. The latter bit of music always reminds me of Jurassic Park for some reason. I wish I was talented enough to write music like that.
No cats, decapitation or chainsaws. There’re some photon torpedoes though; much cooler.
Recommended for people who seek out new life and new civilisations; even when they’re just down the road shopping.
Top badass moment? WTF? It’s the return of the Enterprise! Nothing could be more badass than that.
Academy Award Winners Judi Dench and Cate Blanchett give outstanding, Oscar-nominated performances – one as a woman consumed by her colleague’s guilty secret, the other, a victim to her own dark obsessions – in this intelligent and stylish thriller. Dench mesmerises as Barbara Covett, a teacher who rules over her classroom with an iron fist, yet leads a desperate, solitary life outside it. That is, until she meets radiant new art teacher Sheba Hart (Blanchett). Although at first overjoyed with her newfound kindred spirit, when Barbara discovers that Sheba is having an affair with a student, her jealously and rage spiral out of control. Also starring Bill Nighy, “Notes on a Scandle” is “The first great British film of the year” (The Guardian).
2006 – Certificate: 15 – UK
Rating Details: Strong language and sex references
8.5 out of 10
Almost two years ago a nightmare descended upon Cactus World. The entity known as The Amplifier became ill. It suddenly ceased to have a voice; its thoughts, so important to every citizen of Cactus World, were gone. Not a sound was to be heard from its mighty 7.2 outputs. To locate a cure, special doctors in a land far, far away had to be tracked down. The Amplifier then had to be prepared for the perilous odyssey it needed to undertake to visit them. In the meantime the population were left despairing, with little to occupy their minds, as most of Cactus World’s entertainment infrastructure ground to a halt. Some basic music services were eventually enabled through alternative means, but these bore little resemblance to the thoughts of The Amplifier, whilst TV and films remained entirely off-line. Of course, as we all know now, The Amplifier eventually returned from its journey and with the help of Cactus World’s finest scientists, was reconnected in all the right places. But this weekend, disaster! The Amplifier became silent again. Exactly the same evil curse has befallen it, as Onkyo’s entirely shit amplifier design raised its ugly head once more. Government officials were observed frantically trying to put a call through to the doctors that helped us before; (unfortunately they seem to be closed at the weekend). However, the citizens of Cactus World are nothing, if not resourceful. After what happened before, a new emergency procedure was developed, known as Protocol One. For the last 18 months this has been distributed to the entire population; schools have taught it as part of the curriculum, anyone wishing to settle in Cactus World has been required to lean about it. It was a moment no one hoped they’d experience, but when the warning sirens unexpectedly went off on Saturday, indicating a malfunctioning Amplifier, it was hard not to be moved by the sight of the entire population quietly but determinedly going to their designated muster points, or reporting for their civic emergency duties; heroes, every one of them. Anyway, Protocol One has two elements. The first is focused on the safely of our citizens, (and if you’re a little bit cynical like me, is also there to prevent too much civil disobedience). The second involves a plan to entirely reconfigure the national entertainmnet nexus, to bypass The Amplifier and provide full access to both music and films, something that has never ever been attempted before. At the moment I’m feeling quite emotional and deeply indebted, along with the rest of the population I’m sure, to Cactus World’s best scientific minds and highly trained engineers, who have successfully carried out this complex procedure. Pushing the boundaries of technology ever further. Full, high-definition pictures and sound across all DVD and Blu-ray copyright region zones are now available and have been fully(ish) tested on this film. It’s true, my living room does looks a bit like the Starship Enterprise on a bad day in Engineering, with cables and open maintenance panels all over the place, but the important thing is it works and I can watch films in the manner in which I’m accustomed. This film pushes boundaries too, but in its case those of relationships.
When she’s not running Her Majesty’s Secret Service and telling James Bond to get his act together, Judi Dench spends her time as a psycho lesbian, teaching at a typical secondary school in north London. Yes, it surprised me too. Starting out with a ‘not that original’ plot about a teacher having an affair with a student, this proved to be a very tense thriller that ends in the way that all films featuring a ‘psycho something or other’ should end. The acting’s terrific, the script’s great and it’s good to see a bit of anonymous, unglamorous London featured in a film for a change. It’s also a movie that under the surface has a lot to say about chronic loneliness. Both the primary characters are easy to sympathise with too, despite their behaviour. This is a film you should see.
Recommended for psycho nutters everywhere; and school-teachers.
1 cat, no chainsaws or decapitations. Portia, a beautiful, long-haired cat, has a small but key role, adding both depth to the plot and an air of pathos that the film was otherwise sadly lacking. Unfortunately, as is often the case, I believe its lines, both meows and purrs, were dubbed. When is the film industry going to end this shameless practice?
Top badass moment? Judi Dench’s Barbara; a great, unsung movie bastard-from-hell. So bad she’s badass.
The Amplifier is back! (Yes, it had to be sent away to get fixed, so I’ve been too depressed to write anything here recently and thus share the distress and abject misery this has caused me. Take my word for it, it’s a dark place you don’t want to go.) The sound of guns being fired into the air in celebration has been echoing around Cactus World for hours; (well I’m sure it would have been if anyone in Cactus World actually had a gun). And despite it being outside the guarantee period, those kindly people from Onkyo did the repair for free. This puts it on the same level as Samsung; great after sales service but crappy, unreliable products.
However, before I get carried away, I do need to mention that I haven’t actually plugged all the millions of cables back into it yet, so I haven’t seen it working since it returned; I don’t want to get too excited quite yet, just in case you know what happens. Nevertheless, I’m planning an action-packed evening in tomorrow, playing with cables, getting annoyed with cables and then in all likelihood swearing at cables, before settling back to watch a (hopefully) good film and drinking (probably) too much wine.
I have to leave home at 6:00am tomorrow, to go to a place that’s so far away even the Starship Enterprise has probably never visited it, just to deliver a training course in tree identification. Why do people what to go on a course like that? It’s easy; it’s just the big things that grown in the ground that really hurt if you run into them. How hard can that be to learn? You tend to remember what they’re like once you’ve done that a few times. I should really have gone to bed by now, just to give me time to actually get some sleep before I have to get up, but as I’m the party-animal-live-fast-die-young happening dude that I am, I thought I’d have a late Friday night and stay up until at least 10:00pm! I truly understand what John Lydon meant when he said, “I am an anarchist”!
Right now I’m listening to “Whuoackah” by Plastic Skanksters.
Well, Cactus World has survived its conversion from Live Spaces to WordPress, just. I’ve a lot of battle damage to repair over the next few weeks and I have a feeling that those of us that lived through it (so that’s Penny and I) will probably never be quite the same. It was touch and go at times, I really wasn’t sure we were going to make it through; it was very much a one-way trip and the idea of a one-way trip to nowhere didn’t exactly inspire me; I don’t especially like travelling at the best of times. The emotional scars are there on so many levels. It’s not something that I, or probably many people, could ever express in words; (and you can probably imagine how difficult it is for Penny, with only a few variations on meow to pick from). But I just know things will be different in future.
When I need to reflect on life, I tend to look for analogies from Star Trek, Thomas Hardy or punk; (and quite frankly, let us all face the truth, right here, right now; what else is there)? To reflect on this particular experience, I’ve decided that the following video sums it up pretty well. (For Xindi substitute WordPress and for Cactus World read Enterprise). Enjoy!
It really was exactly like that, over dramatic looks at one another, explosions, stuff falling out of the ceiling, Penny running about with a fire extinguisher. Whilst this Home Page may look okay now, everything else is still a bit of a shambles. We were ‘that’ close to going under. To be continued….
Right now I’m listening to “Underwear Goes Inside the Pants” by Lazyboy.