From the director of “Swingers” comes a black comedy tracing the outrageous misadventures of a group of young American delinquents. 18-year-old check-out girl Ronna (Sarah Polley – “The Sweet Hereafter”) is trying to score some rent money before she is evicted on Christmas Eve. Accompanied by reluctant partner in crime Claire (Katie Holmes – “TV’s Dawson’s Creek”), she embarks on her first drug deal… Meanwhile, impulsive Brit Simon (Desmond Askew – TV’s “Grange Hill”) is driving a stolen car with buddy Marcus (Taye Diggs – “How Stella Got Her Groove Back”) during a no-holds-barred night of partying in Vegas, as TV stars Adam (Scott Wolf – TV’s “Party of Five”) and Zack (Jay Mohr – “Jerry Maguire”) find themselves in the middle of a real-life drug sting – and a very creepy Christmas dinner…
1999 – Certificate: 18 – American Film
Rating Details: Strong sex, coarse language and drug use
8.0 out of 10
I don’t do music festivals. Never have. I’ve been to hundreds of gigs over the years but only a few festivals, which have mostly been indoors and only lasted a day; in fact I’ve only been to four outdoor music events ever. In 1983 I did hitchhike from London to Stranraer in Scotland, got the ferry across to Larne in Northern Ireland, before hitching down through Belfast and then Dublin, to go to the Punchestown Racecourse. That was to see The Undertones last ever gig (until the band reformed in 1999). Dire Straits was the headliner, but I left before it came on. This was still a one-day event, but I slept in a random field in the open by a haystack the night before. (Until that is, I was woken up in the middle of the night by a lot of very drunk Irish guys, who ‘insisted’ I slept in their tent, which just happened to be elsewhere in the same field. Being woken up by being dragged along the ground in your sleeping bag in the middle of the night by a load of incoherent drunks is a strange experience). But that’s the nearest I’ve got to the real ‘festival experience’… until this year. For some reason I rashly agreed to buy a £167 ticket to go to the Boomtown Fair near Winchester in Hampshire last month; four days of dance, reggae, ska and punk, all mixed up in a ‘pop-up’ town with 38,000 other people. Four days of drinking cider at 10:00am; eating nothing but bread and falafels; getting virtually no sleep courtesy of camping right next to the Hidden Woods and it’s seemingly non-stop diet of what I think young people might consider dubstep; and wandering around in what tuned into a quagmire of mud. I was lying in my tent one morning, holding onto the inner part of it in the hope that the tail end of what used to be Hurricane Bertha wasn’t going to blow it away; I’d never seen tent poles bend like that before. (Typical Yanks, sending us their worn out, second-hand weather.) I ‘lost’ my wallet at NOFX, (who were pretty crappy actually); lost my red/black hat (a huge tragedy) as I got too drunk; had something weird happen to my eyes so it looked like I’d not slept for 50 years; got so sunburnt that my nose fell off (well nearly); and spent a lot of time wondering about and occasionally dancing even more stupidly than normal to bands such as New Town Kings, Dirty Revolution, The Skints, Imperial Leisure, Culture Shock and Sonic Boom Six. For most of the Skints’s set it poured down; not normal rain, but the sort of rain that Noah had to deal with. I couldn’t have been wetter if I’d sat in a bath in my clothes. There’s something very surreal about dancing in the pouring rain on a surface that’s rapidly turning into a mud slide. The best ‘new’ bands were Smiley & the Underclass and (by coincidence) Smiling Ivy. Other than the music, the other sound I heard most often was people filling balloons full of nitrous oxide to inhale. In places the ground was covered in the little metal canisters it normally comes it. We were also asked at least a dozen times if we were ‘selling’ anything. I never realised I looked so much like a drug dealer. Then again, about 99% of the people there were younger than me, so I guess to deal drugs is the only reason ‘old people’ go to festivals. And then there were the toilets… Would I go again? Fuck, yeah! And for those of you interested in the rather random set of photos I took, they can be viewed here. This is a film about musical culture too, in this case the rave scene at the end of the 90’s. (Nice segue me.)
So, this isn’t a film about the ancient, Chinese game of Go. A sort of cross between “Pulp Fiction” and “Trainspotting”, we follow the exploits of a group of young friends over a weekend, seeing the story unfold three times as it focuses on different people. It feels a bit OTT and kind of dated (pre mobile phones), but is actually very funny and well put together. I’m not sure what I was doing when all this rave stuff was going on originally. I seem to remember it was towards the end of the 80s and early 90s. I own some 12” singles from that period, which would suggest I had some knowledge of it, but that’s all. Maybe I was totally out of it on E, X, J or W, or whatever letter of the alphabet people took in them days. Or perhaps I fell asleep in front of the TV for a few years or something. Yeah, reach for the lasers…
For a film about rave culture, it has surprisingly little music in it and what there is sounds a bit bland. It’s okay but a bit of a wasted opportunity; a little like this sentence really. It does have Steppenwolf’s “Magic Carpet Ride” in it, which seems to turn up in a lot of films. But it was used in “Star Trek; First Contact”, so that’s a good enough recommendation for me.
The trailer’s not bad. Actually it works quite well as an introduction to the film without giving much away.
Recommended for people who work in supermarkets, drug dealers, dodgy cops and losers in general.
2 cats, no chainsaws or decapitations. Cute cats, awwww. One has some top dialogue; it’s dubbed into English too, which is great for anyone that doesn’t understand cat language.
Top badass moment? To raise money to pay her rent, Ronna starts selling aspirin and antihistamines and telling people that they’re drugs. (That’s drugs as in drugs, not drugs as in, em, drugs). People buy them and then think they’re having the sort of effect they expect. It reminded me of how bottled water is sold to the masses. Marketing pointless crap to stupid people successfully is, begrudgingly, badass.
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 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.