One of the classics in contemporary American gay cinema, “Edge of Seventeen” recalls one high school student’s eventful and raucous coming-out during the steamy summer of 1984. Eric (Chris Stafford) is a 17-year-old senior from Ohio who takes a summer job at a local amusement park. Working alongside his best gal pal Maggie (Tina Holmes), the two idle away the days until Eric meets Rod (Andersen Gabrych), a sexy and openly gay college student. Soon sparks fly and Eric must confront feelings he had long suppressed. A funny, entertaining and insightful coming-of-age tale, Edge of Seventeen is enhanced by a great ’80s soundtrack (including Bronski Beat and Eurythmics), terrific period design and a high-energy, upbeat tempo, making this an exciting and original take on growing up and finding love.
1998 – Certificate: 15 – Rating Details: Some strong language, sex and drug use – American Film – 7.5 out of 10
In the early/mid 80s, punk and new wave disintegrated into a mostly horrible hardcore noise of badly played, pretend heavy metal. At the same time, 2 tone came, saw, conquered and quickly left. Meanwhile, the charts filled up with synth-based pop and whining, pretty-boys and girls singing about mostly nothing. (Unlike today, where it’s full of groups of boring guys with beards and guitars singing about absolutely nothing, boy-bands who get off on arousing ten-year-old girls, and wailing woman who are so heavy auto-tuned they may as well be aliens.) And maybe my memory is playing tricks on me, but actually I’m pretty sure that for part of the early-mid 80s electric guitars where made illegal, (unless you were the Housemartins). However, all these new bands were British. I can’t really remember what was going on in America at the time, chart music-wise, but as a source of New Romantic and synthpop it really doesn’t feature in my memory. I will admit to a certain, limited fondness for some of the music, but most of it wasn’t that good; but even Spandau Ballet had one decent song, (although the video should be certified X for fashion and pretentiousness.)
This film is set during that period and it has to be said it gets its look and vibe spot on. It’s a shame it wasn’t released until 1998, as otherwise it might well be remembered fondly in the same way as many real 80s films from that period are now. Maybe having a gay lead character in a teen drama would have been a bit too subversive for mainstream US cinema at that time. After all, gay people (including lesbians) are obviously the 80s equivalent of Islamic State, hell bend on destroying the status quo of everything everyone else holds dear. This film follows the same basic story as most coming-of-age films do, (but with added gay angst). It’s well made, well-acted and at times it’s genuinely touching; (i.e. it’s got scenes that are hanky-friendly). The ending is a bit jarring though and felt a bit out of line with the rest of the film. Maybe I just wanted more of a traditional, happy conclusion; (I think I must be going soft or something). For a movie about a young gay guy and the New Romantic scene in general, everyone really does come across as very typical and real. It would have been so easy for it to features lots of caricatures. Well worth watching.
This is a movie that majors on its soundtrack and with a long playlist of bona fide 80s hits, it contributes significantly to making the film what it is. I was pleased to find out that despite my declining years and way too many gigs, my ears are still good enough to hear Jimmy Somerville’s singing.
The trailer’s a solid effort.
Movie Weather Forecast. Warm, dry and sunny throughout.
Recommended for fast-food restaurant workers, New Romantics and any teenagers thinking of coming out.
No cats, chainsaws or decapitations.
Top badass moment? There isn’t one. Normally this is a sign of a potentially crappy movie, one filled with horrible characters, or one I was too drunk or tired when I watched it to remember properly now, but in this case it’s really a reflection of a lot of normal people doing their best. That in itself is badass.
At 34, struggling Seattle musician Sam (Mark Duplass, “Humpday”, “The League”) finds himself broke, jobless and losing touch with the person he wants to become. When his girlfriend kicks him out, he’s forced to crash with his Aunt Sharon (Academy Award winner Melissa Leo, “The Fighter”) and is reluctantly enlisted to take her teen son, Oliver, and his friend Jake camping. Edgy, funny and honest, Craig Johnson’s film follows the trio into the rugged Pacific Northwest as unforeseen revelations and transformations force them to face adulthood. Set to a mesmerizing soundtrack featuring both emerging and established artists including Band of Horses, The Black Keys and Devendra Banhart, “True Adolescents” remind us that sometimes people need to get lost to truly find themselves.
2009 – Certificate: Not Rated – American Film
7.0 out of 10
I didn’t want to get up yesterday morning. It was raining outside (again), grey and unpleasant. On my journey to work, I was busy mentally congratulating myself on my meteorological forecasting skills and subsequent ability to make the journey during a break in the rain, just as it started to pour down for the last few minutes. I got soaked. It’s Fair Trade Fortnight and where I work was attempting to serve free tea, coffee and breakfasts to people outside; the rain pouring off the canopy in front of the building and onto the pavement was ‘intense’. Strangely, I left work at about six feeling quite upbeat. On my walk home I was wondering why, after such an unpromising start to the day, it had turned into quite a good one. I didn’t really come up with anything, other than there were a number of nice, small things and a lack of bad things, which probably did the trick. A CD/DVD I’d ordered on Sunday was delivered. This was unexpectedly early. I was due to have to go and do something all day, (basically sit and observe someone delivering a training course), but the date for this has now been changed, so I had an extra day in the office and got a lot of things done that I wasn’t expecting to get done. I had a nice lunch with a colleague in the cafe, something I don’t often do. Someone in the office got a grant of £2,500 to do some work; we were only expecting to get a few hundred, so this was a welcome surprise. For the first time that I can remember, all eight volunteers and staff were in at the same time today; the place felt quite alive and buzzy. Someone bought a big, homemade cake in. I completed a grant claim that’s been hanging about for ages and I’ve had loads of hassle over. I got a few other bits of outstanding work done that had been playing on my thoughts for a while. I didn’t go into Tesco on the way home and buy crap for my dinner; I came home and cooked proper food instead. So there you go, my recipe for an okay day.
A thirty-something guy takes his nephew and his nephew’s friend camping for a weekend. They all grow up a bit. The end. This is a decent enough film that’s worth watching mainly for Mark Duplass’ man-boy character, who’s funny but in a believable way. The main thing that bugged me was the fact that many of the various things that happen to them, especially the two most significant ones, don’t seem to get dealt will in any depth; they felt more like plot contrivances to take us towards the end, rather than big events that ought to have been considered in more detail. Shame that. It’s a decent enough watch though.
This film makes much of its musical content and the main character is also a guitarist/singer in a not very good indie rock band. Unfortunately most of the music is pretty mundane. That’s a shame too.
Like a lot of things, the trailer is there or thereabouts. It does a good job of not spoiling the film, but at the same time doesn’t tell you a great deal about it either.
Recommended for not-famous guitarists, rubbish indie rock bands, teenage boys and kindly aunts.
No cats, chainsaws or decapitations.
Top badass moment? The two lads ask Sam if he’s going to wear his hiking boots. Sam glances down at what looks like a rather battered pair of Converse baseball shoes on his feet and says, “These are my hiking boots”, (with the emphasis on “are”). Yeh, that’s rock ‘n’ roll for you! I then spent the rest of the film all tensed up, waiting for him to turn his ankle over. Weirdly, this fate befalls one of the other characters. As someone who sprained his ankle hiking a couple of years ago, I could relate to this, which makes it badass. Converse boots really aren’t good for hiking.
Lala, (Inés Efrón) a teenager from the most exclusive suburban neighbourhood in Argentina, is in love with the Guayi, the 20-year-old Paraguayan maid working at her mansion. The pair hatch a plan to rob Lala’s family to fund their dream of living together in Paraguay, but while Lala waits to be reunited with her lover, she is detained in a prison in the outskirts of Buenos Aires for a crime she committed long ago. Desperate to be with her girlfriend, Lala devises a dangerous rescue plan to get her back. Boasting beautiful cinematography and electrifying performances from its two female leads, celebrated Argentine director Lucía Puenzo (“XXY”) returns with a gripping tale of forbidden lesbian romance and a crime heist gone awry.
2009 – Certificate 15 – Argentinean Film
Rating Details: Strong sex
7.0 out of 10
I spent well over an hour at the dentist last week, whilst she explored the inside of my sore tooth. Given all the sawing and drilling that went on I was expecting to be presented with the oral equivalent of a handmade chest of draws, but all I’ve got out of it is a bill for £100, no reduction in the agony I’m feeling and an extra visit to go back a third time for more treatment on the same tooth. Four hours or so? What’s she up to in there? Rebuilding my entire mouth at the molecular level? Not only this, but my sore tooth has made a friend, another tooth that thinks it’s hilariously funny to give me pain and misery. So now I’ve also got a wisdom tooth that needs removing in a completely different place in my mouth. My dentist got one of her colleagues to come have a look at it. Once he’d finished with the paramedics that came after he’d fainted from horror at the sight of it, he did make a remarkable effort to appear blasé about things, but suggested that he couldn’t deal with either and I really ought to have it removed at hospital. Why don’t they just cut out the middle man and sent me to see an undertaker? My tooth is clearly that bad. I’m starting to forget a time when I didn’t have excruciating agony and was able to open my mouth properly. Gosh, it’s lucky I’m not the sort of person that makes a big song and dance about things. This is going to cost me an arm and a leg to get sorted out too, although ironically, the limb replacements I’ll then need I can get on the NHS for free. The next American who suggests that Brits have bad teeth will need a visit to the dentist himself soon after. I’m glad to say this film has no teeth-focussed scenes whatsoever.
I’m pretty sure there’s a great movie in here somewhere, trying to get out. Trouble is, it got a bit buried under the non-linear timeline and suffered at the hands of my presently reduced mental capacity; (which sadly is more tooth-ache than alcohol related). At its heart this is an out-and-out romance, which collides with a crime thriller in a less than satisfying way. Oh, there’s also something about a legend regarding the Fish Child that swims around in a lake near a tree. I imagine there’s some analogy between the latter and the characters or the plot, but in my painkiller induced drug high I did struggle a bit with everything. It doesn’t provide an especially glowing reference for Argentinian parenting either. Visually it’s a nice looking film with an intense feel and the two lead actresses are both talented and attractive, although in quite different ways. Unfortunately it’s all a bit of a confused muddle at times, although it does gradually sort itself out a bit. I probably ought to watch it again; I think I’ll get a lot more out of it the second time around.
There was one especially jarring and frightening scene with what I can only imagine is South America’s version of One Direction, (which can be seen for a brief moment in the trailer), but overall the soundtrack is pretty good.
The trailer tells you as much about the film plot as watching the whole movie will; i.e. not a lot.
Recommended for housekeepers, messed up families, lesbians, dog trainers and vets.
1 cat, no chainsaws or decapitations. A big black cat plays dead as it’s rudely removed from the vet’s operating table so he can deal with someone with a gunshot wound. Oi! Get you’re priorities sorted out mate!
Top badass moment? Lala goes in search of her lover, who’s been ‘rented’ from the local prison by a powerful ‘businessman’ for his own ‘entertainment’. His house is protected by dogs and armed guards, but that doesn’t stop her. Love is blind and all that, but deliberately walking into a ‘situation’ that you clearly have no way of getting out off (unless you’re Batman) is quite obviously top grade badass. (Note to self: why all the inverted commas all of a sudden? What’s wrong with you?)
Shy, unassuming teenager Mary ‘Mouse’ Bedford (Mischa Barton, “The OC”, “St. Trinian’s”) is enrolled at a prestigious all-girls’ boarding school. Upon arrival, she is welcomed by her two attractive and sexually adventurous roommates, the carefree Tori (Jessica Paré, “Wicker Park”) and excitable Paulie (Piper Perabo, “Coyote Ugly”, “The Cave”). Mary soon discovers that Tori and Paulie are embroiled in a passionate relationship, yet when Tori’s younger sister finds out and threatens to break the secret to her friends and family, Tori breaks off the relationship. Unable to deal with losing the other half to her whole, Paulie will do anything to get her ex-girlfriend back, even if it means risking her own life… A deeply moving and acclaimed film from the director of the award-winning “Emporte-Moi”, Léa Pool’s “Lost and Delirious” features a trio of young and talented actresses burning up the screen years before they went on to break Hollywood.
2001 – Certificate: 15 – Canadian Film
10 out of 10
I closed my bedroom window yesterday. There’s nothing especially unusual about that, except I did it in the morning and I wasn’t going out anywhere. The click of the handle had a certain finality about it. As I repositioned the pot plants on the sill, I was struck with the thought that this was probably the last time I’d do so for many, many months, as the weather has got a lot colder in the last few days. The final closing of the year is one of the Five Signs That Summer Has Ended and that the winter, with all its months of gloom, damp and cold, is fast approaching. Winter sucks; like old age, it has almost no real benefits. All that rubbish about those crisp, bright, winter days. Bollocks. They’re bloody cold, only last five minutes before the sun sets again and coming home from gigs at night soaked in sweat is a truly miserable experience. It’s going to be especially hard to cope with this year, as we actually had a really lovely summer. The carefree, happy days are at an end; fast approaching is the vindictive malevolence that is winter. The season of Hell is nearly upon us. And as for autumn, it’s just the rubbish bin of summer, containing the dead leaves and trash of good times past. This film is also about the passing of time, the loss of a relationship and an inability to cope with it.
I love this movie. If I had a Top 20 list of films, this one would probably be in it. On first impressions it looks like it’s going to be a bit crappy and should only appeal to me because of its girl-on-girl action. Set in a posh girls’ (very liberal) boarding school full of rich kids in Canada (so there’s not a lot there for me to relate to), the first 30 minutes or so are pretty mundane. Yes it’s got girls in school uniforms and the main characters are in a same-sex relationship, but other than that it’s pretty forgettable. But then it starts to get interesting… This is a dark movie. There’s a subtlety in it that only becomes apparent when you think about it afterwards. It’s occasionally a bit melodramatic and the odd bit of dialogue doesn’t quite work, but it’s wonderfully acted and has a number of genuinely heartbreaking moments in it. The use of Shakespeare and the hand-rearing of a Falcon as metaphors for the plot, are wonderfully interwoven into the story too. The character of Paulie is so well written. It’s quite strange considering she doesn’t superficially have anything in common with me, but I so totally ‘got it’ in terms of what she was going through. I guess emotions and feelings aren’t very gender, age, culture or sexuality specific. (It probably also means that I’m as messed up as she is and one day I’ll probably take it out on the world.) There aren’t a lot of characters from films or books that I can fully relate to and understand, but she’s one of them. Seeing her gradually lose the plot and take more and more bizzare actions to try to change the unchangeable, felt uncomfortably familiar. Despite her acting like a total loser a lot of the time, there’s a strange kind of honour in Paulie’s behaviour that goes beyond what she does and its consequences. Everyone should watch this movie. And if you’re one of those people who really can’t accept same-sex relationships then just ignore it, as other than on a superficial level (and as a huge plot contrivance) it’s really not that important to the feel of the film.
The ability of this movie’s music to write words where there are none, without dominating the visuals or attempting to drag (rather than lead) the emotions, is really well done. The mood shift provided in the scenes relating to the Falcon are very effective too. And any film that features any music by Ani DiFranco can’t be bad.
Recommended for anyone who’s ever been dumped by someone they really, really, really loved.
No cats, chainsaws or decapitations.
Top badass moment? There’s something very noble about doing something you know is going to fail and make you look really stupid, especially when it’s not funny. You know you’re about to do it but still go ahead. It’s probably got less to do with getting what you want, than demonstrating to yourself that you tried and remained true to your beliefs. It’s ultimately futile and pretty pointless, but very, very badass. And very Klingon too.
From Academy Award-winning filmmaker Ang Lee comes an epic American love story, “Brokeback Mountain”. Set against the sweeping vistas of Wyoming and Texas, the film tells the story of two young men – a ranch-hand and a rodeo cowboy – who meet in the summer of 1963, and unexpectedly forge a lifelong connection, one whose complications, joys, and tragedies provide a testament to the endurance and power of love.
2005 – Certificate: 15 – American Film
Rating Details: Strong language, moderate sex and violence
8.0 out of 10
I had a very disappointing day today. I went to a meeting in a place called Lymington. It’s about as far south-west as I can go and still remain in ‘my patch’ at work. If I’d gone much furthered I’d have entered the “South West” and risked immediate kidnap, assassination, or worse, from my colleagues in that part of the country. Although we’re officially “One Team” these days, at a local level there’re still some patches of tribalism, although it’s nothing that a forty-foot high electric fence topped with razor wire wouldn’t cure. Anyway, Lymington is on the edge of the New Forest National Park. But what a swizz it all is! I drove right across it and all I saw were loads and loads of old trees, some of which actually looked dead and had ‘things’ like birds, bats and bugs living in them. There were hardly any young ones at all. How ‘they’ get away with such a bare-faced lie I’ve no idea; surely there must be some sort of advertising standards law they’re breaking? It’s a terrible reflection on us all that these days unless something’s labelled new or improved, no one’s interested in it; indeed, I seem to suffer from this problem myself. Washing powder and smartphone manufactures have a lot to answer for. “A mosaic of ancient and ornamental woodland, open heather-covered heaths, rivers and valley mires, a coastline of mudflats and salt-marshes and pretty, historic villages; the largest area of lowland heath left in southern England.” Who’s going to be interested in that when they could go and play Laser Quest and then get pissed in the pub afterwards? Like the New Forest, this film also grossly misrepresents itself, as it fails to provide any sort of back injury whatsoever, not even a pulled muscle.
I’m not a big fan of westerns. I also imagine Hell to have a soundtrack that features country music on heavy rotation. Characters engaged in herding animals about and shooting others, have to work hard to overcome their inherent, non-vegan nature and don’t tend to attract my sympathy either. It’s been a while since I was a cowboy too, so I’m probably a bit out of touch with what’s hot and what’s not in lasso-land; in fact the last time it happened I was very young and had been given a cowboy outfit for my birthday; I didn’t even know which way around to hold the gun and consequently went about shooting myself rather than the hordes of evil Indians that I imagined were busy invading our flat in central London. I guess what I’m trying to say is that this film was not one that on the surface I was likely to enjoy and up until now, unlike every other human being on the planet, I’d never watched it. Fortunately, I quickly realised what it’s really about and it suddenly made a lot more sense to me. “Brokeback Mountain” is basically a reimagining of a number of Thomas Hardy’s novels, where the dictates of society prevent two people from being together. “People go on marrying because they can’t resist natural forces, although many of them may know perfectly well that they are possibly buying a month’s pleasure with a life’s discomfort.” (Jude the Obscure). It’s a film that, like many Hardy novels, involves a lot of rural landscapes, shepherds, folk music and drinking in bars. I was just waiting for all the sheep to find a cliff somewhere to throw themselves over. Like Hardy, “Brokeback Mountain” demonstrates the futility of life and the inevitability of being disappointed, let down and kept apart from those you hold most dear. At the very least, the credits should have said something to the effect that it was inspired by the poems and novels of Thomas Hardy. “Brokeback Mountain” is a bleak and touching film, with the last half hour providing a powerful bit of cinema. The admission that your feelings for someone have effectively fucked up everyones’ lives; priceless wisdom. This is also a lovely looking film (and I’m not just talking about Michelle Williams, who looks very cute in it), with lots of great views of the countryside.
Country and western music, noooooooooooo..!!! I’m just a woman and my man beats me up and shot my dog for fun and had an affair with my sister and hates me but he’s still my man so I’ve got to love him…. The rest of the soundtrack isn’t bad and it does have ‘that’ bit of music, “The Wings” by Gustavo Santaolalla.
Recommended for fans of good movie making. Not recommended for anyone that thinks gay people are an abomination or mentally ill; for you I recommend you go fuck yourselves instead, which if you’re a guy is actually a pretty gay thing to do when you think about it; but you probably won’t want to think about it.
No cats, chainsaws or decapitations.
Top badass moment? It takes him long enough, but Jack finally giving Lureen’s father the bollocking he deserves. I despise people like that who’re so full of themselves; what a bullying, arrogant prick he was.
Heck and Rachel are a young London couple about to embark on a new life together when an unexpected meeting turns Rachel’s world upside down. What follows is the romantic, humorous and sometimes poignant journey familiar to anyone who has ever fallen in love at first sight. And what if you discover that the one person you are destined to spend the rest of your life with might not be your boyfriend, but a perfect stranger? “Imagine Me & You” shows that the path to true love isn’t always straight…
2005 – Certificate: 12 – British Film
Rating Details: Moderate sex references and strong language
8.0 out of 10
Yesterday I went to see “Oblivion” at the cinema. Intelligent sci-fi riddled with clichés. Basically it’s Tom Cruise with an attractive woman on the back of his motorbike and flying around beating bad guys. Afterwards I went for a drink in three pubs. I don’t often go for a drink these days. This is partly because I have no friends, partly because the ones I do have generally have the sense to live a long way-away from me, partly because it’s expensive, fattening and not good for you, and partly because I don’t think they ‘make’ pubs for people like me; I’m clearly not a demographic worth targeting. Take yesterday for example. Didcot is a town that’s not known for much, other than a railway museum and a power station; and the power station has now closed. Broadways, a pub in the centre of the town, was almost empty and was the sort of place that if a fight broke out in it, they’d just pick up the broken glass and sweep the bodies to the side so no one tripped over them. The Prince of Wales, opposite the station, was full of late teens and 20-somethings getting tanked up for a night on the town. The Ladygrove, which was also full, is located on a ‘new’ estate and caters for “where did my life go wrong” 20 and 30-somethings with screaming kids in tow, eating anonymous pub-grub under searingly bright lights. None of them had any decent cider. Broadways caters for the working-class and underclass that the rest of us try to pretend don’t exist; the Prince of Wales for those that still think they can get on in life; and the Ladygrove for the same people as the Prince of Wales but ten years later. I think I preferred Broadways, in the same way I’d prefer to break my arm than lose a finger. There’s a scene in a pub in this film; actually there might be a few, but I can’t remember now.
London doesn’t really get well represented in films. It seems the north and west are full of ‘beautiful people’ who behave like Hugh Grant, the east gangsters and immigrants and the south chavs. Nowhere else exists. This movie is set in ‘the north’ of the city. It’s also a rom-com. So you now know most of the plot and what the characters are like. Fortunately, this film has two elements that manage to drag it out of the cesspit of predictable, bland, anonymous, chick-flicks. Firstly, it’s actually very funny. The script works well and all the characters manage to be suitably engaging. Secondly, it provides a bit of a plot-twist that gives it an element of originality, (although it quickly becomes very predictable again, so it’s not going to provide anyone with much of an insight into anything). This is much more of an out-and-out comedy that a romance, which does it no harm at all. It’s very watchable and fun. And let’s not forget it’s got Giles (the man behind Buffy) and Sarah Connor (of Terminator fame) in it. And one more thing, it’s one of those films where the seasons don’t seem to follow the narrative; there’re an awful lot of autumnal leaves on the trees, considering most of the film is set in the winter. Because of my job I notice these things. Our climate isn’t quite that fucked up, yet.
Music; exactly what you’d expect. Exactly.
Recommended for people who like comedy who can manage not to retch at the more corny rom-com elements of it. Not so good for anyone looking for a romantic weepy.
No cats, chainsaws or decapitations.
Top badass moment? Yelling out “You’re a wanker number nine” while standing on the roof of a car, in a traffic jam, outside Bank Station in London, does it for me. It’s interesting to note that if this film was set in New York, there’d be an endless honking of horns and abusive taxi-drivers shouting out things; in London, hardly a sound. Our traffic jams are so much more civilised! I’m not entirely sure how “you’re a wanker number nine” would translate either.
It’s summer in Sweden… A primary school teacher decides to teach her colleagues a lesson they’ll never forget. Teenage girls are indulging in a webcam tease and seducing strangers. University students are taking male bonding to a new level. And as day turns to night, a coach driver decides enough is enough and won’t drive his passengers any further. Showered with International awards and praised by critics the world over, “Involuntary” is a dazzling and highly original comedy from the new enfant terrible of Scandinavian cinema, Ruben Östlund.
2008 – Certificate 18 – Sweden
Rating Details: Very strong language and strong sex references
7 out of 10
Ever at the very cutting edge of technology, today at work we had our first regional management team meeting by phone; (or as important people like me prefer to call it, a Teleconference). Instead of a very expensive, rush-hour-period trip on a crowded train into central London to sit in a cold, wooden shed in the woods with my colleagues, I had to endure a leisurely trip into my office, where I could lounge around, unshaven, in just my underwear, drinking coffee, adding elastic bands to our elastic band ball and sorting out the ever-growing collection of hole punches in the stationary cupboard; whilst making the occasional, worthwhile and insightful comment about something or other to impress the others, as we discussed how to reduce the amount of travelling we do by having more Teleconferences. There are however, some downsides to all this. As well as shocking the postman with my underpants, I’ve realised that listening hands-free on a cheap phone for hours that wasn’t designed with high fidelity sound in mind, has probably destroyed some part of the music-sensitive area of my brain. The experience was not unlike being trapped for hours on a bus to Hell, with only a group of teenagers on the back seats listening to Top 40 R&B on a tinny smartphone for company. This film also features two really annoying teenage girls, and several annoying adults too.
Years ago I watched a film with someone who, after a little while, got up, went over to the DVD player, took out the disc and threw it out of the window; (I was living on the third floor in a block of flats at the time.) This was apparently a physical reaction caused by the highly annoying characters in the movie. Had “Involuntary” been the film in question, I suspect the whole DVD player would have gone out of the window too. A movie made up of five individual stories, all of which play out in small sections throughout its run-time, it features some of the most annoying and banal losers ever to have been conjured into existence. For a while I sat watching and thinking, “what’s the point of all this?” Then it dawned on me that the point was simply to watch ordinary people being ordinary. I suppose for every remarkable person there has to be thousands of unremarkable ones; this is a film about the latter. It’s a black comedy that manages to be amusing without being funny. A coach driver, a father, two teenage girls, a teacher and a group of guys, all get themselves into slightly unfortunate situations, which could so easily be real. Felling that I’d have fitted in well, it was an embarrassing experience at times. I’d sum it up as a movie that celebrates the stupid and annoying uselessness of everyone. I enjoyed it; it’s funny in the same way as seeing someone accidentally hit themselves on the finger with a hammer, or walk into a lamppost. The cast do a great job.
There’s not a lot of music in this film, just some over the credits and at times in the background. This lack probably explains a lot about the characters.
No cats, decapitation or chainsaws.
Recommended for the very, very, very patient.
Top badass moment? Never mind the Higgs Boson, this film has introduced me to the much more remarkable concept of anti-badassness. Its characters are so mind-numbingly ordinary and flawed… Seriously, Batman would feel compelled to shoot them all and do the rest of us a favour. Arrrraaggghh!
North Sea Texas is the feature film debut from cult director Bavo Defurne. His short films are love letters to the male form and soaked with lush visuals, garnering fans from across the globe and drawing comparisons to Pierre et Gilles, Herbert List, Dreyer and Eisenstein. Pim lives in a small town on the Belgian coat, together with his single mother Yvette, a local accordion starlet. It’s an ordinary existence which Pim brightens up by dreaming of princesses, beauty queens and handsome Gino, the boy next door. But when hunky traveller Zoltan blows through town, Pim’s life takes an exciting and unexpected turn.
2011 – Certificate: 15 – Belgium
Rating Details: Infrequent strong sex
7 out of 10
On Thursday I went to see China Drum play at the Garage in Islington, London; its first gig for 13 years. Since The Undertones reformed in 1999, it’s been the band I’ve wanted to see get back together more than any other. Playing as a 5-piece, I can’t even begin to express the kick-ass awesomeness of this gig. The place looked packed out and despite a somewhat alarming number of 30-something couples, the mosh-pit was great. The band played most of “Goosefair”, plus a few other tracks. I was really glad they played “60 Seconds” from the second album. China Drum is the band that singlehandedly got me back into going to gigs after about ten years of not really having been to any. Without China Drum, my life would be an empty void, without meaning, without value, without soul. (Well maybe not totally, but I’m sure you can see what I’m getting at here.) It’s also a band that means a lot to me on a personal level and reminds me very specifically of a certain time in my life. When the guitar chimed at the start of “Simple” (possibly the best revenge song ever written), 13 years of crappyness in my life was distilled into two and a half minutes of pure, sonic anger. “And if you ever get a life, I hope that it’s in hell, I wish that I could kill you, I’d slit your ugly throat, I’d wrap you up in concrete and throw you from a boat.” Well… sometimes you need to offload a bit of life’s baggage. They ended the set with the best cover version by any band ever, Kate Bush’s “Wuthering Heights”. I hope they don’t make this a one-off.
This film is about a right miserable little so and so. Then again, I suppose having a less than attentive (accordion playing) mother and living in a boring little town on the coast of Belgium, (which as everyone knows is boring at the best of times anyway) and being called Pim, is probably enough to make any young teenager miserable. This film follows Pim’s life for about seven years, as he falls for the handsome, older boy next door, Gino, who then basically dumps him for a girlfriend. He also gets nowhere with the hunky border Zoltan, who then proceeds to run off with his mother, leaving Pim on his own. Moving in with Gino’s family, the latter’s mother then dies. Rarely smiling, seemingly having no job, no friends and no prospects, Pim spends his time moping about doing nothing much at all, spreading an air of negative vibes wherever he goes; what Gino’s sister saw in him I’ll never know, but it was clearly more than he saw in her. There’s being “sensitive” and then there’s being “sullen”. Then there’s the whole, are they or are they not half-brothers, bit going on too. This film does its best to drag the viewer down to Pim’s level, with its unending vistas of meaningless days and general hopelessness. (It’s a shame Pim didn’t get to hear China Drum.) Despite its gay theme, this is more accurately a film about loneliness and rejection. It’s a metaphor for life, a few good parts adrift in a sea of disappointment. I guess that’s why I bought it. It’s the sort of thing Thomas Hardy would have written, if he’d penned gay-themed screenplays, set in the latter half of the 20th Century in Belgium. This is a movie which does an excellent job of capturing the futility of life; it’s well acted, the characters nicely rendered, it looks the part and it’s eminently watchable.
The music used in the film is mostly heard in the background, in pubs and on the radio, that sort of thing. The theme song, “Wooly Clouds”, works well as a quirky little song that fits the overall feel of the film. I really rather liked it actually. (And it really is spelt “Wooly”; it must be a Flemish thing.)
No cats, chainsaws or decapitations.
Recommended for The Borg; in this case, resistance really is futile.
Top badass moment? Pim burning his shoe-box of ‘mementoes’ on the beach, before running off into the sea naked. I prefer to work out my frustrations with life in the mosh-pit, but hey, each to their own. Burning things is a classic way to make a break with the past; irreversible, final and violent. It’s always good to make a fresh start, just so you can bugger things up again from scratch.
Five years have passed since Freddy Krueger (Robert Englund) was sent howling back to hell. But now, a new kid on Elm Street is being haunted every night by gruesome visions of the deadly dream stalker. And if his twisted soul takes possession of the boy’s body, Freddy will return from the dead to wreak bloody murder and mayhem upon the entire town. When “A Nightmare on Elm Street” made a killing, horror fans shrieked for more. Soon the diabolic Freddy was resurrected with a vengeance, along with some of the most terrifying special effects ever to splatter the screen. Look for Robert Englund minus his Freddy face in the opening sequence. He’s a real scream!
1985 – Certificate: 18 – USA
Rating Details: Strong violence and horror
I’ve often considered Boxing Day to be a sort of inferior sequel to Christmas Day. Well, okay, to tell the truth I’ve never actually thought that at all. In fact, until about two minutes ago the idea had never even crossed my mind. But there I was, sitting here and trying to think of something to write about this film and life in general and it just popped into my head. I lead such a dull and monotone existence that it’s not always easy to come up with interesting stuff to say on the spur of the moment; there’re only so many things I can comment on about the weather and the amount of e-mail I get at work. I did the washing-up about an hour ago, but that didn’t really give me the sort of emotional connection with the subject matter I was really looking for. I do wish I could learn to rinse up a glass after I’ve used it though, it would really reduce the amount of washing-up I need to do quite considerably; but I’ve never been one for doing that when there’s a clean supply in the cupboard ready for use. Even when I was young I was like this. I guess I was just a hardcore rebel, fighting the system, looking to piss off The Man, running through the dark streets at night, giving the finger to society; or maybe I was just lazy. Anyway, as I was saying, I’ve often considered Boxing Day to be a sort of sequel to Christmas Day; and all I really wanted to point out is that sequels are generally not as good as the originals, which is a bit like Boxing Day and Christmas Day. Which brings us to this film.
Freddy’s revenge eh? Sounds like serious stuff and to be fair at this point in the franchise Freddy was still the evil ne’er-do-well he started out as in the first movie; his later penchant for clever one-liners had yet to really take hold. Trouble is, he spends most of this film trying to physically escape from inside some young lad, rather than terrorising loads of teens. True, he does take time out to turn up at a party and trash it, but most of the time he’s inside rather confused teen Jesse. Then again, this is the gay Nightmare movie, so it’s perhaps not so surprising after all. If you view the film from this prospective it makes a lot more sense; if you’ve never done that, try it and see. (By which I mean watching the film; I’m not suggesting everyone goes out and has a homosexual experience just so they can understand this film better, although if you want that’s fine too.) I did quite enjoy the school bus scene the beginning, which does a clever job of turning a normal trip on a bus into a, em, nightmare one. Then again, I could have just as much ‘fun’, albeit at a far lower speed, travelling on a Night Bus in London in the early hours of a Saturday morning. All in all it’s a pretty average film, but the two main characters are quite engaging in their own way and I suppose you have to respect the makers for trying a slightly different angle this time around. And it does have Fred Krueger in it of course.
Recommended for those that watched “A Nightmare on Elm Street”, obviously.
1 cat, no chainsaws or decapitations. Well I think it’s a cat but it’s not a very nice cat. I guess it suits Freddy though; I can’t really imagine him playing nicely with a cute kitten.
Top badass moment? It has to be Lisa Webber driving to the old steelworks in the middle of the night, to confront Freddie and rescue her crush Jessie. Not only is this a completely stupid thing to do under any circumstances, but he’s already told her he’s killed two people, including a mutual friend, whilst standing in front of her covered in blood; he’s also tried to kill her too, he’s trashed her home and when she tried to make out with him he wasn’t even into it. That’s true friendship for you and friendship is badass.
I’m one of the lucky ones. Now of course, when I say this I do so with a degree of irony, as I’m talking of the current RBS ‘software glitch’ that’s prevented people getting money into (and therefore out again from) their bank accounts. Not only that, but I’m one of the extra-lucky 1% of its customers that banks with Ulster Bank, which still hasn’t managed to get things sorted out. I have most of my Direct Debits and credit card payments set up to happen at the beginning of each month, so I’m now looking forward to a couple of weeks of fun, as just about everyone I have any sort of financial relationship with starts hassling me for money. Anyone got Stephen Hester’s mobile number, so I can pass it onto these people? The only good thing I have to say about this is when I rang up my branch (not some stupid call-centre on another planet somewhere), I got straight through to a guy who was able to answer all my questions. RBS, great customer service, great corporate sponsorship (hey I work for a charity and it helps to pay for my wages), totally sucky IT. I’ve been consoling myself by considering that someone, somewhere, has had a seriously seismically cosmic bollocking over this; I’d have paid good money to have been a fly on the wall and seen that; oh, except of course I can’t get at my money… No one in this movie appears to have any issues with money, or banks, or IT; I guess that’s why it’s a fantasy film.
2010 – Certificate: 12 – USA
Rating Details: Moderate violence, sex references and bleeped strong language.
This is one amazing film. It’s got music, it’s got the awesome bass battle, it’s got an old computer game vibe, it’s got good-looking chicks, it proves that vegans are better than everyone else, it proves that ROCK (excuse the capitals, but it’s a word that you really have to always shout when you say it) is better than knob-twiddling keyboard-based dance music, it looks great and has fantastic sound; plus all the stuff you normally need in a film too, like a decent (and in this case quite original) plot and a ‘proper’ ending, etc. I’m starting to believe that Edgar Wright IS God. (I watched it on Blu-ray and this probably had more extras on it than any other film I’ve watched too.) So why am I not giving it 5 out of 5 I hear you ask? (Well okay, don’t ask then, but I’m telling you anyway.) Unfortunately, Scott Pilgrim annoyed me just a little bit too much at times; for a loser and a geek he was just a bit too successful for my liking; I have to work dammed hard to be even remotely adequate in life, so drifters that manage to do better than me without trying piss me off a bit. So I’m afraid the film isn’t perfect as I couldn’t totally engage with his ‘quest’. Yes, it loses a point because I’m bitter and jealous; (what, you going to make something of it)? Despite that, it’s a ‘must watch’ film because it’s brilliant and possibly my favourite film from 2010.
Recommended for everyone; no seriously, everyone, even you; and yes your granny; and yes your boss at work too; the dog yes, him as well; and yes the nice lady at the corner shop who occasionally lets you off a few pence when you don’t have quite enough to pay for something; and no, I don’t think she’s doing it just because she fancies you, she’s happily married and far too old you anyway; and what, no, I’m sure her sex life is fine and this really doesn’t have much to do with this film anymore has it? Well fine, ask her out then but don’t blame me when it all goes pear-shaped. Good, because I really don’t want to know about it.
No cats and no decapitations.
Top badass moment? Jeez, so much choice! However I’m vegan, so it has to be the timely arrival of the Vegan Police to strip the vegan superpowers from someone who hadn’t truly stuck to the faith. Everyone secretly knows that vegans are simply better than anyone else (not that we make a big deal about it), but nevertheless it’s good to see such a positive portrayal of veganism in a mainstream film; em, I think. Being vegan is entirely badass.
I went to the dentist yesterday. The good news was that I didn’t need any treatment. The bad news was that I need to have a wisdom tooth removed. Having spoken to three people about this since, all of whom it turned out have had more than one of these teeth removed, I now realise that having my head amputated would be somewhat less painful and traumatic. When a dentist has a look and goes “oooooh”, then you know her next line isn’t going to be good news. My dentist’s helpful suggestion was that I should see one of her colleagues, as he’s better at extractions; and stronger. I wouldn’t mind, but it’s not hurting me or bothering me in the least. Who named them wisdom teeth anyway? They’re clearly very stupid teeth! Probably my earliest childhood memory is of having a tooth taken out at the dentist, screaming my head off in pain and my mum coming in and giving the dentist a piece of her mind; I recall she had him pinned up against the wall, which was very out of character for her! To say having the opportunity to revisit this experience now I’m a grown-up is not top of my plans this summer, would be an understatement of galactic proportions. I’m seriously considering giving up food entirely and just living on tepid, filtered, distilled water. I’m sure I can probably do it myself anyway, with a pair of pliers or something. I’m struggling to identify what the connection might be between this film and my impending operation, but I felt I needed to share the latter.
2006 – Certificate: 15 – France
Rating Details: Moderate Violence, Suicide Scene, Brief Nudity and Strong Language
The Last of the Crazy People is a French film, in French. After quite a long run of other sorts of films, it was good to get back to one of my favourite sub-genera, the dysfunctional family. In this case it lives on a farm in France, not that there’re actually any scenes of farming going on in it. I’m not sure what to make of it really. It’s very slow, it has no music in it whatsoever and there are quite long periods when not a lot seems to be happening. The main character in it is a ten-year-old boy called Martin, who’s basically neglected and ignored by most of the other people in the film who are too busy with their own problems; most of what’s going on is seen from his prospective. I feel watching it probably ought to have had more of an effect on me than it did, but somehow I didn’t really feel very sorry for any of the characters and the more shocking scenes felt a bit flat. (I probably watch too many Hollywood blockbusters with lots of noise and explosions in them to help me to understand what’s going on.) The boy who plays the part of Martin, does manage to look suitably miserable for virtually the entire film and is really very convincing, which helps the quality of the movie greatly. He also walks exactly like Bod. (If you don’t know who Bod is I suggest you type “Bod” in to YouTube.) A few years ago I went through a phase of trying to write film reviews on the Amazon web site, which included writing one about this movie. I eventually realised that my irrelevant and childish ramblings didn’t fit well with the average, serious Amazon DVD buying person; my review for this one is presently being found “helpful” by 7 out of 14 people; or to put it another way, it’s being found unhelpful by 7 out of 14 people.
Recommended for pissed off ten-year-olds everywhere. Not so good for people interested in studying modern developments in agricultural land management in France.
1 cat and no decapitations. The cat, a big ginger and white one, had a speaking part and appeared in five scenes! Sadly it’s last one involved it being run over and then put into a freezer. It did look suspiciously like it had been drugged for this last one too, which didn’t impress me one bit.
Top badass moment? Any ten-year-old who singlehandedly takes on responsibility for sorting out his family’s problems, is badass personified. So okay, his solution was a little unorthodox, but it probably worked.