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.
The feature debut of Lindy Heymann is a clever comment on modern celebrity culture. Nicole (Kerrie Hayes) a Liverpudlian teenager, spends her time hanging around the gates of Anfield and the Liverpool training ground, desperate for a glimpse of her idol, the star footballer Lee Cassidy (Jamie Doyle). There she meets aspirant WAG Jasmine (played by Nichola Burley from “StreetDance 3D”), instantly. They trawl the city and its nightspots, fantasising about a time when they might have Lee for themselves, yet when the news breaks that the footballer is a transfer target for Real Madrid, they take drastic action to prevent him leaving… Stand-out performances from the two lead actresses make this energetic, funny and tense film one of the best UK debuts of recent years.
2009 – Certificate: 15 – British Film
Rating Details: Strong language, sex and injury detail
8.5 out of 10
I’ve just drunk two big mugs of really strong coffee with Kahlúa poured into it. I’ve not had anything to eat for nearly 24 hours, (yes I’m still on my stupid ‘eat every other day’ diet), so I expect it’s about to have some sort of weird physical, emotional and mental effect on me. I’m about to experience the outer limits of human perceptions and experiences… There’s something weird about this film too.
It’s a really bizarre feeling when you see someone who really reminds you of someone else. You know it’s not the same person, yet you have a natural tendency to react to them as if it is. You can’t help it, it just happens. It’s futile to resist, as you’re trying to logically reason your way out of a whole lifetime of experience and memories, many of which you’ve subconsciously distorted over time to better fit your needs. (I’ve no doubt this is what’s behind the many incidences of random people coming up to me in the street and calling me names; or maybe that’s just how I am?) Kerrie Hayes (the blonde woman in the trailer) really, really, really reminds me of someone I knew years ago when she was a similar age; in fact we’re still close. (By “close” I mean we see each other three or four times a year, which for someone with a social circle as meagre as mine, makes us virtually Siamese twins.) They share the same mannerisms, the same look, the same intensity. It made watching this film probably a more unique experience for me than normal. This is a great movie. It takes a while to get going and the ending is a bit (and I’m using that word again, it must be the coffee) weird. You probably need to get drunk in ‘real time’ along with the characters, to get the most out of the latter part and to make their behaviour make sense. The two lead actresses in it are excellent and I love the whole look and feel of the film, depressing though it is. It’s basically a movie about a friendship between two young women, celebrity culture and living with this ‘illness’. Definitely recommended. I imagine if it isn’t already, obsessing over celebrities probably does has a medical name. The clinical test to determine if you suffer from it being that you can watch a new series of “Celebrity Big Brother” or “I’m a Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here” and recognise over 25% of the ‘celebrities’ in it. I’m pleased to say I’d struggle to recognise more than a couple. So basically what I’m saying is that the media has created a new disease for everyone to suffer from and deliberately spreads the ‘virus’ around in the form of gossip mags, Internet rubbish and fake newspaper stories, in the hope of infecting more people. What sort of sick bastards are they? Well it’s certainly crossed one of my red lines, so it’s just as well for them that I’m not World President Obama, or they’d be some serious consideration going on, relating to the arming of freedom fighters like myself with big pairs of scissors, so we can go into shops selling this rubbish and cut it all up into small pieces. Watch out News UK, we know who you are… even if you have just changed your name out of shame.
The soundtrack is all, slightly atmosphere indie rock. The individual tunes weren’t that exciting, but they surprisingly all hang together pretty well and nicely enhance the impact of the scenes they’re used in. They’re a really good fit into the overall feel of the film.
Recommended for bored teenagers, journalists who write about Kim Kardashian’s baby and professional footballers.
No cats, chainsaws or decapitations.
Top badass moment? There’s frequently a dearth of badass in movies like this. It’s all people with no real hope, no belief and no future. This one is no exception. So I guess the best I can come up with is the friendship that develops between the two main characters, Nicole and Jasmine. In a film about the shallowness of celebrity, it’s the one really meaningful thing in it.
I was driving home tonight and turning off the M3. At the junction a car had just broken down in the middle lane of three, at a set of traffic lights. (A BMW, ha-ha-ha). The driver behind it got all inpatient and started flashing and honking the broken-down driver. Then he suddenly pulled into the inside lane right in front of me, forcing me to brake hard and throw everything off the seat next to me and onto the floor, before he drove straight through the now red light. Asshole. If my car’s lights had been lasers (the sci-fi gun version, not the CD reading version), I’d have blown him to pieces, such was my annoyance. I doubt he heard it, but my language would have embarrassed more than just a nun too. People like that should be taken outside and shot. And no, I’m not going to give him a second chance on the assumption that he’d just had a bad day. My life might not amount to much, but I’m going to waste it at my discretion, not some stupid moron behind the wheel of a car’s. And talking of nuns, I thought this film was going to be about them.
2005 – Certificate: PG – USA
Rating Details: Mild language and sex references
Anyway, there I was, on Saturday evening, ready to watch what I thought was going to be a sleazy 70s, exploitation flick about nuns and kinky underwear. So you can imagine my disappointment when, on starting to view this film, instead of seeing nuns running around losing their clothing and wearing each other’s panties, I got a chick flick about four young friends and a pair of second-hand jeans. Bloody American’s, why do they have to mess about with OUR language; pants are, well, pants, not trousers or jeans. And a sisterhood really ought to have something to do with convents. With hindsight, I suppose the PG certificate and the “Perfect film for teen girls” splash on the front cover should have warned me, but I thought they were just part of the marketing; I didn’t think they, you know, really meant what they said. Anyway, to make the best of a bad job I watched it; I guess someone has to. After the first ten minutes I was already tiring of the four-teenage-girls-all-talk-and-giggle-at-once-about-nothing narrative. Still, a film has to be pretty bad for me to totally give up on it, so I persevered; and I’m glad I did. What I ended up with was a really great movie about four friends who are separated one summer for the first time and how they keep in touch with one another, grow as individuals and ensure their friendship remains intact. (Sounds a bit bluurrgg, doesn’t it?) To be honest, some of the subtleties of this were probably lost on me; I’m an old(ish) bloke, so I’ve next to no chance of understanding teenage angst or relationships; hell, I didn’t even understand them when I was a teenager, although come to think of it, that’s maybe the point of them. Okay, so it’s all a bit dumb, the ending is a bit too upbeat for my liking and the four main characters could basically be summed up as rebel, slut, wallflower and latch-key kid. But it’s all done with such sincerity that it’s hard not to get swept along with it. Most of it’s pretty lightweight stuff as you’d expect and the plot goes everywhere and nowhere, but every now and again a scene came along that enabled the whole movie to punch above its weight. It’s been done a million times before in films, but the scene in the hospital was a genuinely great bit of acting and you’d have to be made of stone not to be affected by it. I’m not sure if it’s a perfect film for teen girls, but it worked for this cynical old guy. I didn’t even miss there being no nuns in it either; (it does have some panties though). I wonder what the follow-up is like?
Recommended for teenage girls (according to the Sunday Mirror); and old blokes who are willing to step outside their comfort zones. (But if you need an excuse lads, it has some women’s football in it too.)
No cats, decapitations or chainsaws.
Top badass moment? The subplot involving Tibby and Bailey is especially affecting; (or is it effecting, I can never remember)? This had lots of little scenes that are really quite special. Learning to care about someone is one thing; learning to show it is another. This is badass.
Today the world woke up to the fact that however good Polish workers are, you wouldn’t want to employ one to fix your roof. This afternoon, England managed yet another lacklustre performance and gained a draw against Poland. However, the real highlight of the football coverage came yesterday, watching ITV’s commentary team, lead by Adrian Chiles, desperately trying to fill two and a half hours, sitting in a studio watching it raining outside. The highlight was Chiles’s genuine query to the rest of the team, “What’s the difference between heavy rain and a downpour?” It gave a whole new meaning to the word “inane”. Sadly, we were not treated to any great insight or wisdom on this matter either, which just goes to prove that men really can’t talk about anything other than football. Although it has to be said that a group of men employed to commentate on an international football match probably do represent the pinnacle of male development, so it’s hardly surprising that something as complex as the weather might elude them. I also enjoyed FIFAs attempts to entertain the crowd with its throw-back to the golden age of silent cinema; watching the referee regularly come out with a ball and then randomly throw it into the air and watch it land with a splash without bouncing, was a wonderful pastiche of the early greats, such as Charlie Chaplin Harold Lloyd and Buster Keaton. It was raining, the pitch was clearly getting more and more waterlogged, what did he expect to happen? (If he was an astronaut he’d be the one to go outside and take off his helmet, just to check that there really wasn’t any air there.) Not a smile did he flash either, not even for a moment; I couldn’t tell if he was totally raging inside at the futility of what he was being told to do, in front of millions of people, and getting soaked doing it, or he really was taking it very seriously. Jeez, he needs to lighten up a bit. He had all the demeanour of a detective investing a serious crime scene; which considering the nonsense with the automatically closing roof that they didn’t close, he sort of was. This film also features a number of serious crime scenes.
1997 – Certificate: 18 – USA
Rating Details: Strong Bloody Violence
Try as I might, I just can’t work up any real enthusiasm for this film. I feel it ought to be a lot better than it is, which just added to my disappointment. There’s nothing really wrong with it, but nothing really right with it either. It just kind of exists because “Scream” exists, a bit like the relationship between dead leaves in autumn and trees. It’s not really very scary, it’s not really very funny, it’s not really very gory and it’s not really very hip. It doesn’t help that I get “Scream” and “Scary Movie” mixed up in my head, so in my mind it’s become a sort of inoffensive Frankenstein film made up of several others; (let’s not forget the two further sequels to “Scream” and the three sequels to “Scary Movie”. That’s eight nearly identical films, so it’s no wonder I’m confused. Watching it felt like one of things you just have to do from time to time, not something to get worked up about or anything, but just something you do and not give much thought to, like going to the toilet I guess. What I did hate was that it was non-anamorphic, so with its widescreen aspect ratio I ended up watching a picture the size and shape of an enlarged match, without a head. God, I can’t be bothered with anymore thinking about this film right now.
Recommended for people who saw Scream, I guess.
No cats, decapitations or chainsaws.
Top badass moment? Whatever. It might as well be Cotton Weary finally getting what he wanted (greedy asshole) and becoming a sort of hero(ish). That’s badass(ish).
Cactus World doesn’t have its own football team, so the population is forced to support England. This has a couple of drawbacks. For a start, England never actually wins anything. (Well that’s not strictly true I know and I was in fact alive when England last won anything, the World Cup in 1966, not that I remember this directly.) This makes for an ultimately depressing experience. Even if it did win something we’d find a good reason to trash the whole adventure and ensure that no one got any credit for the achievement. Secondly, on the odd occasion England win any individual matches, they do so in such a stress-inducing way that it’s been medically proved that it takes three months off the expected life-span of anyone unfortunate enough to witness the event. It’s only a matter of time before the England Football Team has to carry a big health warning on its strip, like cigarettes. Last night’s 3-2 win against Sweden is proof of this. When I watch England I have to drink a bottle of strong cider each time it scores a goal, (plus one to start with to prevent, ahem, dehydration); however, drunkenness is rarely a problem. I like to consider this not as a soft drugs problem, but more as a prescription, a medical thing, to help me deal with big-match stress issues. (Being made of apples, each bottle of cider also provides me with one of my five-a-day portions of fruit and vegetables, which makes it doubly good.)
2010 – Certificate: 18 – USA
Rating Details: Strong sex and sexualised nudity and frequent drug use
There are so many things to hate and despise about this film. I scarcely know where to start listing them. However, it’s also far funnier and better than it sounds like it ought to be. A group of young guys decide to ‘help’ one of their number, Matt, to lose his virginity and to put all the ‘action’ up on YouTube. I did genuinely feel sorry for Matt, even though he was a bit of a twat; but somehow he was a sympathetic enough character that I found myself on his side. In fact, for all their unpleasant traits, most of the characters in this movie are really quite likable, most of the time anyway. The relationships between them and their reactions to what happens feel very natural and help to offset the rest of the nonsense going on. The music works well in the film too, as does the documentary feel.
Recommended for people who aren’t going to get offended by, well, everything in the movie really.
No cats and no decapitations.
Top badass moment? Matt’s friends collecting money so they can pay his favourite porn star, Sunny Leone (who’s a real porn actress and plays herself in the film), to have sex with him. How sweet. True friends like that are hard to come by and are therefore badass.
Why is watching England play football like a re-enactment of the Battle of Britain, every time? My life expectancy has been reduced by another six months this evening.
Did anyone see John Terry trying to keep up with one of the Swedish players on the edge of the penalty area at one point? It was pitiful. It felt like I was watching a video of myself dancing.
Right now I’m listening to the “Violin Concerto in D major Op. 77 – Part 1” by Johannes Brahms.
Before I wised-up and realised that cars were the spawn of the Devil and responsible for the political, environmental and social decline of our world, I was a bit obsessed with them. When I was in my early teens I’d buy Motor magazine every week; I’d send off for reviews of cars from other magazines too, just so I could spend hours and hours comparing them. I went to the Motor Show. I had just about every pack of Top Trump cards you could get that were about cars. I had about 50 Matchbox toy cars and regularly used to run them along a long section of track that started at my bedroom window (on the first floor) and went down into the garden below, before carefully putting them back in the box in the order of the ones that got the furthest down the track. (I must have got a lot of exercise keep running up and down the stairs and into the garden, if I did that each time for all 50.) I had a Saturday and school holiday job in a car repair shop, where I worked for several years. (I earned £5 a day). I could recognise and name just about every car on the road, in a matter of seconds. When I was old enough to drive, I had several cars at different times, which I pulled to bits and rebuilt in various ways. So basically, what I’m saying is that I knew everything about cars.
So what car did I decide to drive? A Mini? Nope. In fact I choose the arch nemesis of the Mini, the Hillman Imp. (I also had a Singer Chamois coupe and a Sunbeam Imp Sport too, which were basically different versions of the Imp.) It was a great little car; even though it overheated all the time it was miles better than the boring old Mini; it just had an aversion to motorways. It had a rear engine, which made it really like a Porsche, kind of. When I was at university I managed to roll an Imp onto its roof, with five of us in it. Fortunately no one was hurt. I still have the pictures of what was left of the car. I got done for careless driving too! Who’s ever heard of a man who drives carelessly? The police tried to make out I was doing over 60mph, but in fact the Imp struggled to get to that speed even on a motorway with just me in it. When I went to the police station the next day to make a statement, there was a little piece of my Imp’s bodywork (it was partly fibreglass) in an ashtray on the desk; they’d thrown a bit of my car away! (I didn’t ask for it back though.) The police only found out about my accident as we were pushing what was left of the car along the road to get it home, when one overtook us and smashed head-on into one driving in the other direction. Amazingly no one was badly hurt in that crash either, even though they must have hit each other at a combined speed of about 70mph. I remember someone coming out of a nearby house, spotting some oil on the ground in the darkness and exclaiming with what I remember seemed a lot of excitement in his voice, “Is that blood?” Weirdo. Anyway, what I’m getting at here is that this film would have been a lot better if they’d picked Imps rather than Minis to star in it.
1969 – Certificate: PG – United Kingdom
Rating Details: Mild violence, language and sex references
This is a true classic and contains one of the most quoted lines in movie history; (5, 4, 3, 2.. you know the one I’m talking about). Made when England were still football world champions (okay I know it’s an old film), it’s got the added bonus of having Michael Caine and Noël Coward in it and the Brits getting one over on Johnny Foreigner, (always a good thing of course). Sadly, as we don’t make anything in Britain anymore, including cars (and have become pretty hopeless at football too), there isn’t likely to be a undated version of it made anytime soon; (and I’m talking about a British version of it here, not something set somewhere like, oh, Los Angeles, for example). It just wouldn’t be the same if they drove Peugeot 107s, or got the bus instead. I watched a Blu-ray version of this film and if anyone wants to see what this format can bring to old films, I’d recommend watching this one, as it looked stunning.
Recommended for fans of classic movies and for all English people. It brings a lump to the throat and swells the heart; (with pride not cholesterol.) If there was such a thing as an English passport, the watching and enjoyment of this film would be a mandatory requirement for getting one. Also recommended for staff managers everywhere, as it contains some excellent advice from Charlie Croker; “Now, it’s a very difficult job, and, the only way to get through it is we all work together, as a team. And that means, you do everything I say.” Words of wisdom.
3 cats and no decapitations. Enjoy the awesome cats-on-laps action, matched with some expertly written and delivered dialogue.
Top badass moment? The Minis in the sewer pipe, the Minis on the dam, the Minis on the steps, the Minis in the shopping plaza, etc. Celebrating the best bit of British engineering since the Spitfire is badass; if you’re a Brit anyway.