Posts tagged “Japan

1 Litre of Tears / The End of a Revolution


1 Litre of Tears  -  Front DVD Cover  -  Japanese Release

Asae Ōnishi is the lead actress, starring as Aya Kito. 9th grader (third year of junior high school) Aya Kito collapses on the way to school.  Dr. Yamamoto discovers that Aya has spinocerebellar ataxia, a fatal and incurable disease that handicaps the body.  Aya’s mother and Dr. Yamamoto let Aya record in a diary to tell her story and to live her life to the fullest.

2005 –  Certificate: Unknown  –  Japanese Film
7.5 out of 10

Last Friday was Halloween. It was also the hottest ever Halloween on record in England, 24C.  Unfortunately I missed out on most of it as I left Cactus World and went to the Moon.  Yes, really.  Okay, to be more accurate I actually went to the Moon Club, although it is a long way from Cactus World and in a real foreign country too; a place called Wales.  Sadly, it was to attend the final gig by the 8th best band on the plant, Dirty Revolution.  After following the band for around five years and attending 28 gigs, everyone’s favourite alt-punk-ska-reggae-calypso-African-beats band was splitting up.  Support was from the awesome 10th best band on the planet, the New Town Kings, but it really was Dirty Revolution’s night.  Other than when the Undertones originally split up in 1983, I can’t think of a time when I’ve been so saddened by a band deciding to end it all.  The reasons appear to be the difficulty of having a young family and trying to tour, along with its alleged inability to know how to get people to sing along to the “whoo-ooos” and “yeh-yeh-yehs” etc that populate a number of its tunes.  I’d seriously considering ending it all too, but the fact that the band don’t seem to have fallen out with one another and that a quick look at my current Top Ten active bands indicates that all but two have split up and then reformed at some time or other.  This gives me hope that perhaps, one day in the dim and distant future, songs about having a fat ass, not feeling fear and highlighting the fact that Skrewdriver were a bunch of wankers, will once again reverberate around venues everywhere.  The Moon is a small club, with no air conditioning and sweat dripping from the ceiling.  The band played a long set.  I was at the front and could see a copy of the set list on the floor gradually being worked through; it was like waiting for the end of the world in some nuclear holocaust film, where all the characters can do is wait for the missiles to arrive, although before they do nothing seems any different to usual… and then all of a sudden it’s over.  The gig was filmed for a DVD.  One of the guys with a camera was menacingly close to where I was most of the time.  I guess with a decent bit of software they’ll be able to edit out the fat, old bloke trying to dance.  Joking aside, I do feel a genuine sense of loss.  This film is about loss too.  But before you read on,  I suggest you listen to some proper good music:

Dirty Revolution: Failure to Communicate
Dirty Revolution: Firing Line
Dirty Revolution: I Love Reggae
Dirty Revolution: This Community
Dirty Revolution:  Failure to Communicate (Live)

This is a movie of a book that was then a TV series. Something like that anyway.  The book (actually her diary) was written by a young woman called Aya Kitô.  She was diagnosed with Spinocerebellar ataxia when she was 15 (in 1977) and wrote a diary about her life for as long as she could, until she died when she was 26.  The film itself isn’t that great, although the actress who plays Aya is excellent.  I suspect that compared with the TV series and the diary itself, a lot was cut out to make it an appropriate length for a film.  However, there are a few really powerful scenes, often focusing on very small incidents; the one when Aya Kitô has to leave her school because it can no longer provide what she needs is pretty heart-breaking stuff.  People often seem to say that stories like this are “life-affirming” and “uplifting”.  No, they’re not. They’re sad and depressing.  I can’t see anything uplifting in a story about anyone, never mind a young person, who’s tragically struck down by a terrible illness that they had no way of avoiding, however brave he or she might be.  It’s just awful.

The soundtrack is mostly downbeat and piano driven. It fits the mood of the film well.

Movie Weather Forecast. Nope, still not started to take much notice of this yet.  Soon, I promise!

Try as I might, I couldn’t seem to find a trailer for this film anywhere.

Recommend for doctors, carers and heartless school teachers.

No cats, chainsaws or decapitations.

Top badass moment? This is a true story about a young woman with a horrible illness.  As her condition gets worse and worse, she never really stops trying to live her life as best she can, despite the increasing difficulty of doing so and the limitations of the physical world around her.  That makes her truly badass.

1 Litre of Tears at IMDB (8.1 / 10)
1 Litre of Tears at Wikipedia
1 Litre of Tears excerpt at YouTube

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Cutie Honey / Even More Root Canal Treatment…


Cutie Honey  -  Front DVD Cover  -  UK Release

Popular manga comic “Cutie Honey” is brought to life. Honey is an office worker who hides a secret.  Developed by her father, Honey has the ‘I System’ a necklace that allows her to transform into the super hero “Cutie Honey”.  The evil Claw Gang attempt to steal the necklace and “Cutie Honey” must use all of her superpowers to save the world from hate.  With plenty of eye candy and madcap villains, “Cutie Honey” is pure fun and truly wacky entertainment.

2004  –  Certificate: 12  –  Japan
Rating Details: Mildly sexualised posing
9.0 out of 10

It was back to the dentist for me again yesterday, to finish the root canal treatment on a tooth that was started in January.  For over 90 minutes my dentist drilled (as in I could see and smell clouds of smoke rising), filled and generally hacked about inside my tooth.  It’s actually really hard to lie still for that long on your back; (which is something that my many, many lovers could confirm).  Dentists’ chairs aren’t the most comfortable bits of furniture in the world and I was started to get a bit bored too.  There’s only so many times you can count the screws in a light-fitting before you realise that attempting yet another recount is probably not going to yield a more accurate total.  The ‘calming’ classical music playing on the CD kept skipping as well, which really started to bug me after a while.  The injection at the start was really weird.  I felt like it hadn’t really worked, as nothing seemed to go numb.  Normally you lose some of the sensation in the side of your face or lips, but this time I had none of that.  I was expecting the first touch of the drill to feel like it was boring into the centre of my brain or something, but actually it was fine.  Afterwards I had no sensation of the anaesthetic wearing off either. It was like I was just immune to the pain.  Maybe I’m a superhero, with the mental and physical power to control my body’s own pain reflexes?  (Nope, I don’t really believe that either.)  I was starting to think there must be more miles of canals in my tooth than in the whole of Birmingham, when the dentist finally declared she couldn’t do it.  Whatever’s blocking my root canal, it’s defeated the best that modern dentistry can provide.  (Perhaps I should give the Canal & River Trust or Inland Waterways Association a call?)  This was followed by a discussion about what I wanted to do about it.  I say ‘discussion’, but as I still had a mouth full of rubber dams and other weird stuff, I was limited to saying ur urggurggh, guhhh urgghhher; so it was a bit one-sided.  So now I’m the proud owner of a temporary filling, whilst we see how it settles down.  So it looks like there might be a sequel to this horror sometime.  Can’t wait…  This film is about a superhero who has perfect teeth.

I loved this film.  I’ve no idea what demographic the makers were aiming it at, but it was great.  Like a Power Ranger on acid, Cutie Honey (and that must be the worst superhero name ever) deals with the Panther Claw Gang, one by one.  Based on a manga/anime character, the story is some nonsense about saving the world from hate.  As a movie it has many highlights.  The opening 15 minutes are as fun as any opening to any film ever.  It does calm down in the middle a little and the ending is a bit wimpy, but overall it’s an over-the-top mess of action and fun.  I was especially impressed with the Black Claw’s song and dance routine.  When I’m involved in a fight to the death, I always like to start with one of those too.   My copy came in a vivid pink, DVD case.  Don’t think I’ve got many of those.

We see Honey change into her superhero alter-ego a number of times, which comes with a bit of music that wouldn’t be out-of-place in the world’s worst game show.

The trailer is a shambles of colour, noise and imagery.  It’s great.

One cat, no chainsaws or decapitations.  A beautiful, ginger cat (with a brief speaking part), steals the whole first scene from an otherwise naked (except for bath bubbles) Eriko Sato.

Recommended for police officers, journalists and anyone with an uncle who can invent cool stuff.  Also recommended for criminal gangs that want to fill the world with hate, (you know who you are).  Good for fans of 60’s Batman; not good for fans of Nolan’s Batman.

Top badass moment?  Starring Eriko Sato (Japan’s top swimsuit model).  That’s badass.  Well that bad just about everywhere really.  (Note for ‘old people’: that’s “bad” as in good, not “bad” as in bad).  In any case, any film that carries the BBFC Insight “Mildly Sexualised Posing” has got to be worth watching.

Cutie Honey at IMDB (6.5 / 10)
Cutie Honey at Wikipedia
Cutie Honey trailer at YouTube


Cyborg She / Rubbish MusicMagpie


Cyborg She  -  Front VDV Cover  -  Chinese ReleaseJiro (Keisuke Koide) meets a mystery girl (Haruka Ayase) on his birthday!  One year later, they meet again.  It is a shock to Jiro as she confesses and turns out to be a cyborg from the future that Jiro has sent to him as a present!  Getting along with this mischievous cyborg girl friend, Jiro falls in love but she has no feelings at all.  All of a sudden a disastrous earthquake his Tokyo, the cyborg saves Jiro’s life by sacrificing herself and the ultimate mystery of cyborg is going to be revealed.

2008  –  Certificate IIA  –  Japanese Film
8.5 out of 10

Because I’m a fairly stupid person I sometimes buy DVDs or BDs (Blu-ray discs) that I’ve already got a copy of.  I also occasionally upgrade from a DVD copy of a film or TV series to a BD one, or buy an alternative version because it’s longer or uncut.  This means I gradually accumulate a supply of discs I no longer want.  I used to sell these on eBay, but mostly I can’t be bothered to anymore so just get rid of them via MusicMagpie instead.  The latter doesn’t pay a lot, but it’s quick and easy to dispose of them this way.  Sadly, its home collection service is, (from my first attempt to use the latter), entirely shit.  I waited about at home from 8:00am to 8:00pm on the relevant day for someone to come and collect my parcel, but no one came.  It’s not like I live in an invisible castle floating in the sky, stuck in a parallel reality and out of phase with the regular universe, protected by a high (electrified) fence, a pack of hungry attack dogs and a set of visitor traps that even Indiana Jones would think twice about tackling; I live in a flat with a clearly marked buzzer on the outside wall by the door.  And in a rare bit of good, British urban design, there’s always space outside to park too, without fear of getting a ticket or being clamped.  I e-mailed the company a couple of days ago to find out what the problem was, but I’ve yet to get a reply.

Despite it’s time-travelling, disaster, sci-fi, slapstick, action-movie clothing, this is really a romantic comedy, the sort where nothing else really has any real world consequences outside of the two main characters.  Get caught in the middle of a restaurant shooting?  Big Deal.  Doing your Terminator ‘thing’ in the middle of a busy road junction?  So what?  Your capital city gets destroyed?  Whatever.  It’s another one of those movies that only Japan seems to be able to produce, where this eclectic mixture of genres not only works together but feels entirely normal.  In a damming indictment of our screwed up, star gossip culture, our hero, the nice but exceedingly dull and boring student Jiro, has become a bit of a celebrity in the future.  This is enough for someone to want to travel back in time and meet him.  Or something like that anyway.  The special effects are decent enough and the story is fun in its own way, but it’s a film that gets its kicks from frequently and suddenly changing its mood.  The scene where they travel to Jiro’s home village is really rather touching.  It also has a dance-off scene that’s pretty cool too.  The ending is a bit of muddle, as if the writers were suddenly struggling with how to sort out all the loose ends, but it’s a fab and fun mash-up of a movie, full of little Terminator references and well worth watching.  Haruka Ayase is very cute too; not at all like Arnold Schwarzenegger.

The soundtrack varies from forgettable to okay, with the use of some pop songs filling in the gaps.  J-pop is an interesting beast…

The trailer isn’t bad, although it does underplay the ever-changing mood of the film.  The use of some questionable music over the action probably doesn’t help; then again, maybe it’s very appropriate given the ‘atmospheric turbulence’ of the movie.  For some reason, YouTube has cut the second line off the subtitles; it probably doesn’t make a lot of difference though.

Recommended for dull students, both geeks and nerds, cyborgs (and other artificial life forms) and teachers who like to throw bits of chalk about.  (Does that still happen these days or is chalk now classed as an offensive weapon?)

1 cat, no chainsaws or decapitations.  A body does get severed in two though.

Top badass moment?  I’m not sure someone/something that’s programmed to be what’s basically badass can actually then do anything that should count here, which leaves us with wusey Jiro.  Sadly the latter fails to do anything remotely badass for the entire movie, which leaves me with a bit of a constitutional crisis.  I’ll need to consult a solicitor before I’m prepared to comment further.  Raoul, Jiro’s pet cat (not the lizard), puts in a couple of excellent performances; his eating from the dish was especially nuanced and controlled.

Cyborg She at IMDB (7.0 / 10)
Cyborg She at Wikipedia
Cyborg She at YouTube


Zombie Ass: Toilet of the Dead / Becoming a Master of Time


Zombie Ass: Toilet of the Dead  -  Front DVD Cover  -  US ReleaseDealing with guilt over the suicide of her sister Ai, karate student Megumi accompanies a group of older friends on a trip into the woods.  Things start to go badly when Maki finds a parasitical worm inside a fish and wolfs it down alive, in the hope that’ll help keep her skinny!  Attacked by a crowd of undead who emerge from an outhouse toilet, the group seek refuge at the home of Dr. Tanaka and his daughter Sachi.  Unbeknownst to them, Tanaka has been conducting experiments on the parasites and the zombies!

2011  –  Certificate: Not Rated  –  Japanese Film
7.0 out of 10

In the distant future, a scientist creates a shock-wave of anti-time, which then travels backwards through history.  Four fragments of a time crystal lost in four different timezones are needed to create a second shock-wave, which will eliminate the first one.  This has nothing to do with this film, but in the last century (1997 to be exact) a game for the PC called Timeshock was released and that was the basic plot.  This was (and still is) an excellent simulation of a pinball machine.  (A lot of the music used in it was written by half of Stiff Little Fingers too.)  I must have played it 1000s of times.   But like many things, as my life moved on (or stagnated to be more accurate) I stopped doing so.  Earlier this year I found out that a new version was being released via a Kickstarter campaign.  So I paid some money and now patiently await the arrival of this update.  However, whilst waiting I thought it would be fun to play the original again.  Despite playing it so often, I’d never quite managed to get all the way through it; occasionally I’d get close, but ultimately mess things up with the result that the Universe was destroyed, which was never very good for my self-esteem.  A few weeks ago I went to see The Wedding Present.  (The fourth best band on the planet.)  I was still a bit ‘buzzy’ when I got home, so I thought I’d play a few games of Timeshock before going to bed.  Despite the darkened room, the early morning hour, my sweat soaked t-shirt and being knackered from my earlier attempts to ‘dance’, I somehow got through to the ‘last bit’, where my meddling always ends up with the destruction of the Universe.  As usual I got off to my usual, panicky, crappy start.  But with the time ticking down I entered one of those oh too rare moments of mental clarity and physical coordination.  Being told I’d saved the Universe and consequently was now a Master of Time, has had a profound effect on my inner being.  I think I now realise what all my life has been preparing me for.  However, it wasn’t this film.

This movie is everything it sounds like it’ll be and a whole lot more.  Consider this though for a moment: there’s a futility in trying to explain the point of certain things.  Wind, fog, dust, wasps, mangos, pizza delivery leaflets, bottled water, slip-covers on DVDs.  This film is another.  It has little in common with either “The Matrix” or “2001: A Space Odyssey”.  But on a very primitive level it is quite entertaining.  In many ways this is the perfect movie and manages to pull together aspects of just about every dodgy Japanese film ever made.  It does have a fair bit of action in it and some (but not all) of the effects are pretty good.  It’s well made for what it is and provides a most entertaining encounter of the most juvenile kind.  From the horrible, 60s style opening credits to the flying battle scene near the end, it manages to cram in enough clichés to make anyone feel a bit queasy.  And I guess it’s simply not possible to fill a whole film with nothing but jokes based on flatulence, (although it does try).  Not surprisingly it maxes out on the official toilet humour scale, but given its title I can’t really imagine anyone watching it would be expecting to get a “Citizen Kane” experience. However, I was struck by the though that just a couple of Rennies could have solved the whole zombie, parasite, bonkers doctor and daughter problem very easily.

Musically the film actually has a decent horror soundtrack.  Maybe the composer wasn’t told all the details?  However the trailer is clearly in on the joke.  Why does the voice over become more and more German as it goes along?

Recommended for would-be models, karate experts, mad scientists and anyone with a digestive illness.

No cats, chainsaws  or decapitations.  However, a number heads explode or get totally squashed; I’d say around a dozen.

Top badass moment?  Megumi fighting the Nekurogedoro queen (or whatever it is) is pretty badass.  Using only the power of her, em, ‘indigestion’, to fly through the air, it’s difficult to imagine anything, ever, could be literally quite as badass as that.

Zombie Ass: Toilet of the Dead at IMDB (5.1 / 10)      Zombie Ass: Toilet of the Dead at Wikipedia      Zombie Ass: Toilet of the Dead at YouTube


Meatball Machine / Epic Breakfast Fail


Meatball Machine  -  Front DVD Cover  -  US Release“Meatball Machine” is a wild, splatterific, experimental sci-fi/horror rollercoaster that will have your entire brain and body shaken and stirred.  Capable of making biomechanical weapons out of human flesh, alien parasites grotesquely invade the Earth, turning their hosts into maniacal killers who seek and destroy each other to the bloody death!  And yes, it’s also a human love story, even though the budding romantics are infested with slimy, tumour-like globules.  Co-directors Junichi Yamamoto and Yudai Yamaguchi (“Battlefield Baseball”) pull out all the stops and don’t let up until the final epic battle.  It’s a touching testament to young love, blood, and alien ooze that leaves you screaming for more!

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

I used to be quite a good cook.  Like many things, it’s an ability I seem to have lost.  Today I tried to make myself some breakfast, just some porridge and a cup of tea, not exactly rocket science.  I managed to burn the porridge to the bottom of the pan, let the tea go cold and fill my flat with the smell of ‘burnt something or other’ that even lighting an incense cone (mesquite) has failed to cover up.  It’s all a bit sad really.  I suppose it could have been worse; I could have been taken over by an alien.  Now that really does mess up your day.  By a strange coincidence…

I was very relieved to discover that this film was not about the exploitation of animals and their conversion into a disgusting, processed, flesh-food of the worst kind.  Instead, it focuses on humans infested by alien parasites, who take them over, convert them to necroborgs and then go about killing each other in very gruesome and bloody ways.  Much nicer, I think you’ll agree.  There’s blood and yukiness aplenty in this Japanese movie.  That pretty well sums the plot up, other than the inclusion of some soppy nonsense about the two main characters falling in love and ending up fighting.  Fortunately, this doesn’t really get in the way of the mess, which does look good.  By and large the effects are very nicely done; the little aliens in the tumours have an especially high ‘eew factor’.  For a film of this type it’s actually really well made.  The overall effect is kind of what would happen if the Borg went to English football matches in the 70’s but in Japan, got really pissed and then went looking for a fight with some rival team’s Borg supporters.  Despite all the gruesome action, it’s so comic book like that it doesn’t really leave much of a sickening after-taste.  The DVD I have also has good subtitles and loads of extras; a quality release.  Recommended.

The music’s there, it does it’s stuff.  That’s it really.  It works, feels accessible yet still Japanese.  Can’t think of anything else to say about it.

Recommended for factory workers, lovers and guys that like to tinker with electronic things.

No cats or chainsaws and 1 decapitation, (plus another head that blows up).

Top badass moment?   Sigh.  It’s so romantic.  The shared love of Yôji and Sachiko, helping them to overcome the power of the alien parasites infesting their bodies, before making the ultimate sacrifice.  Well, bollocks to that.  Seeing people turned into cyborgs, loads of blood, heaps of gross body parts and that unique Japanese touch that goes into films like this, is far more badass.  Give me a huge gun growing out of someone’s chest any day of the week over a candlelit dinner for two.

Meatball Machine at IMDB (5.8 / 10)

Meatball Machine at Wikipedia

Meatball Machine at YouTube


Ring / Party!


Ring  -  Front DVD Cover  -  UK ReleaseAfter the death of her cousin Tomoko, reporter Reiko hears stories of a videotape that kills everyone who sees it exactly one week after viewing.  At first she discounts the rumours, but when she learns that Tomoko’s friend (who watched the video with her) died at exactly the same time, she begins to investigate.  After viewing the tape herself, strange things start happening and so she teams up with her ex-husband to try to stop the death clock that has once again begun ticking.

1998  –  Certificate: 15  –  Japanese film
6.0 out of 10

Despite being an antisocial loser and having no friends, I recently found myself in possession of a birthday party invitation.  Stress!  For a start, how does one present one’s self for such a social gathering these days?  Formal?  Casual but smart?  Street smart?  Metrosexual urbanite?  And as for presents; that’s a total, social minefield.  Still, not wanting to waste this once-in-ten-year opportunity to ‘have-a-good-time’ and ‘meet people’, last Saturday found me sitting in the sun in a garden in west London, twerking to ska-punk and reminiscing how when I was 13 I used to know be able to identify every car on the road and every plane in the sky; (a party animal, I know).  I also learnt loads about what it’s like to control one of those massive cranes that you see on building sites; met a really famous drummer, (I think it was either Charlie Watts or Tré Cool, but I’m not sure now); knocked a can of cider on the kitchen floor and starred somewhat dumbly at the mess as someone else cleaned it up; drunk an inappropriate mixture of drinks that included cider, port, Buckfast, Midori, vodka and some Lithuanian spirit that tasted a lot like medicine; had a long conversation about Syria; ate some peanuts and samosas, (which were very nice) and talked to someone who’s getting married in six weeks.  I probably bored a lot of other people too, but I can’t actually remember much else, but I imagine I wasn’t very interesting or coherent and spoke mostly drunkanise.  Finally I left and forgetting that when I’d learnt which way to turn to take me to the train station (which was a two-minute walk away) I’d had the map upside-down, went totally the other way, took two buses and ended up wandering around the empty corridors of Heathrow Airport all night, like an extra from a zombie apocalypse film, before finally getting an entirely empty coach back to Reading at five in the morning; (well it had a driver in it, and me, obviously).  I don’t suppose I’ll get another invite to a party anytime soon, but I was glad to have this opportunity to reconfirm that I have no social skills and really shouldn’t drink more than a pint of shandy.  And it took me over two days to recover too.  Frightening stuff.

This film has a fearsome reputation for being really, really scary.  It’s not really.  Well a couple of times it was but mostly it wasn’t.  It’s more creepy than anything else.  The anticipation that something was about to be scary was often more scary than what actually happened; a bit like crossing a busy road.  I suppose if you get off on a certain kind of Japanese ghost horror then you’d be more likely to have an underwear malfunction, but not otherwise.  The plot’s got something to do with a cursed video and a woman in a well.  In many ways it’s as much a whodunit thriller as a horror.  If a similar sort of thing happened today, it would end up on YouTube and probably wipe out most of the Earth’s population.  Given its video-based story, it hasn’t aged well.  Having said all that, it’s actually quite watchable.  I guess I just found it a bit of a disappointment after all the hype.

There isn’t a great deal of music in this movie and what there is sounded like it came straight off of “Now That’s What I Call Horror Film Music, Volume 34”.  The theme tune (used at the end of the film and on the trailer) is pretty horrific, but not it a good way.

Recommended for vindictive ghosts, journalists and ex-husbands.  It’s probably a real nightmare if you’re involved in the manufacture of videos or DVDs, etc; I can imagine something like this would really take the bottom out of the market.

No cats, chainsaws or decapitations.

Top badass moment?  I just can’t think of one.  Had too much to drink at the party.

Ring at IMDB (7.3 / 10)

Ring at Wikipedia


Terminator 2: Judgement Day: 5.0 Stars


Terminator 2: Judgement Day: Skynet Edition   -   Front Blu-ray cover (UK)I went to see The Wedding Present play in London last night.  There’s not much point me saying anything about its performance, as it’s the 4th best band on the planet.  Instead, here’s what I remember about the gig that doesn’t include the band.  At the end of its set, the guitarist from the first support band, Dead Wolf Club, smashed his guitar on the stage; very rock ‘n’ roll, except I got the distinct feeling he does this a lot and then just glues it back together again for next time.  The other support band, TOQUIWA (formally the Pinky Piglets), was from Japan and therefore made no sense whatsoever; three Japanese women running about on stage singing about wanting a chocolate and doing a lot of things that I haven’t a clue about, confirming my belief that Japan isn’t really from this Earth.  The venue, Koko in Camden, was really cold.  Koko has the worst bar of any venue in London; nothing on draft, with tins of bog-standard cider around £4.50 a can.  Koko has the worst decor of any venue, all gaudy red and gold.  Koko is the worst venue to get out of afterwards; considering its size, it takes forever.  A few years ago Koko used to have crappy sound, but it’s now much improved.  Between each band’s set, the stage lights got pointed towards the crowd, which was really annoying; I shall be seeing yellow spots before my eyes for weeks.  The stage at Koko is too low.  (As you’ve probably gathered, Koko is not my favourite place to see a band.)  As far as I can remember, this was the first time I’d been on the proper Guest List for a gig; I’d like to say I was a ‘friend of the stars’, but in reality I just happened to get my ticket in a slightly obtuse way.  My journey there was swift and easy, as I basically walked onto all three trains without a wait; I think the track in the West Country should get flooded every week, as it seems to improve train availability, despite there being lots of cancellations and delays.  My journey back was also easy; I even had my ticket checked on the train.  The woman sitting in the row of seats in front of me didn’t have a ticket, although there’re a million ways to buy one at Paddington Station, so it was obvious she was trying to get away without paying; she had an American Express credit card too, so I doubt she’s exactly poor; I’d have thrown her out of the train’s airlock into deep space (or whatever the train equivalent is) if I’d been the ticket inspector.  I read the London Evening Standard on the journey back, as there was a copy on the seat.  The Standard is a shit paper, no wonder it’s given away free.  This edition included some dreadful rubbish about young people and claiming housing benefit; if any other group in society was so picked on and vilified, we’d all be out on the street demanding equality and new laws.  Had an interesting chat with two guys in the crowd while waiting for the bands to appear; one later decided my t-shirt’s arm would make a great way to dry the sweat off his head, but I’m sure it was a sign of solidarity; but honestly, what sort of person wears a leather jacket in a most pit?  It’s going to be hot there!  The Wedding Present has very happy fans; the guys behind me in the crowd spent half the set just laughing as everything going on around them.  The band’s fans are mostly men. The gig finished before 10:00pm; a nice, civilised time.  Like the Wedding Present, there’s little point in my trying to give any sort of objective consideration to this film, as it’s just so awesomely amazing.

1991  –  Certificate: 15  –  USA

What can I really say about this movie? Everything about it is great.  It’s probably in my Top Ten films of all time.  This was the first time I’d watched it on Blu-ray and it looked and sounded fab on that.  I was also watching the Ultimate Cut for the first time, which includes a number of extra scenes, even more than the Director’s Cut, including a great dream sequence that features Kyle Reece from the first Terminator movie that was entirely omitted from the version shown in cinemas; and a not quite so great extended ending.  A modern classic and possibly the greatest action movie ever made. 

Recommended for everyone.  Well nearly everyone.

No cats, decapitations or chainsaws.  There’s a fair bit of shattering, melting and general ripping apart going on though.

Top badass moment?  “Come with me if you want to live.”  No ifs or buts there.  100% badass and good advice at any time, especially when some liquid metal freak is after you.  Trust me, I know….

Terminator 2: Judgement Day at IMDB (8.6 / 10)


Organ: 1.5 Stars


Organ  -  Front DVD CoverThe Olympic Opening Ceremony in London was amazing.  I wasn’t even going to bother watching it, but then I thought it might be a bit interesting to see what they were going to do with some farm animals and all that grass in the middle of the stadium.  Six hours later, I realised I’d witnessed a modern-day miracle.  So many things could have gone wrong; all that technology, animals, kids, mechanics and volunteers, a recipe for disaster.  I ended up feeling I was watching England playing football and waiting for the inevitable failure that would leave the country ridiculed by the rest of the world for the next 1,000 years.  Actually I’ve no idea what the rest of the world really thought of it, but I think it was pretty spot on; it totally worked for me.  I loved the narrative that ran through it and it was great to hear three of my favourite 50 all-time songs (by OMD, the Jam and the Sex Pistols) used.  The part where the teams all parade around did go on for a bit, it was a little too like the voting section in the Eurovision Song Contest, which always seems never-ending.  Highlights were the team (and I forget which county it was) that came out in wellies so brightly coloured they’d not even be allowed into the Glastonbury Festival; the Queen fiddling with her nails whist the rest of the stadium went mental as the GB Team appeared, (well I guess if you’ve just jumped out of a helicopter and parachuted into the stadium with a famous fictional character, your nails might get a bit messed up); a realisation that I’ve never even heard of half of the countries in the world, (which all seem to be volcanic atolls in the Pacific somewhere, not that it’ll matter once they all disappear under the waves thanks to Global Warming, courtesy of the rest of us); David Beckman just being himself; and the countries that had woman athletes competing for the first time, (2012, has it really taken this long)?  Danny Boyle is a god.  The whole thing was great.  Unlike this movie…

1996  –  Certificate: 18  –  Japan

This movie is mostly rubbish.  In fact it’s possibly the worst film I’ve watched this year, (so far). It makes little sense, it’s hard to follow what’s going on and the picture quality is crap.  The special effects vary from okay to laughable and the rubbish acting has made me believe I would probably have a star-studded future on the stage, should I choose this path.  The characters appear to behave almost entirely randomly; (did they use a dice to select which line goes where in the script)?  I was glad I read the overview on the DVD cover, or I’d have been more lost than Jeremy Clarkson working as a fund-raiser for Sustrans.  Even the yucky parts are mostly rendered ineffective by the murky, dingy and colourless picture.  In its favour, it does however boast quite a high body count and it marginally improves during its second half.  Then again, we’re not exactly starting from the top of the entertainment mountain here; actually having your organs removed would provide a step up in quality of life from watching it being done to others in this film.  Oh God, I’m sitting here realising just how bad it was.  I’m sure there’s a decent film lurking in there somewhere, but sadly it remained elusive.  Not Japan’s finest moment.

No cats, no decapitations and no chainsaws.  But there are quite a number of missing organs and limbs.

Recommend for any guys who want a cowardly way to dump their girlfriends.  Just invite her around to watch this.  She will quickly come to the duel conclusion that you are both sick in the head (but not in a good way) and have no idea of what constitutes a good film for an evening of romance and passion.  Problem solved.

Top badass moment?  This film features a guy searching for his missing brother and having to deal with an organised crime syndicate along the way, so I imagine there’s a badass moment somewhere in it.  It’s just that I didn’t manage to spot it anywhere.

Organ at IMDB (5.2)


All Night Long: 2.5 Stars


All Night Long Collection  -  Front DVD CoverI seem to have developed some sort of repetitive strain injury in my left shoulder and arm.  For the past five weeks they’ve been sore, but there’s no sign of any swelling and the pain tends to move about from day to day.  I’ve actually lost a lot of the strength in my arm too, as a result of trying not to use it too much.  In fact I’m going to go and see the doctor in the next week or two if it doesn’t improve. I always though as a conservationist, that one day I’d be shot by poachers, angry at my preventing them from harvesting elephant tusks, freeze to death whilst heroically planting one too many trees up a frozen mountain somewhere, or be poisoned by the ultra-rare and ultra-venomous bunga-woonga jungle snake that I was fighting to protect from extinction; (I made that name up by the way as a sort of plot contrivance to keep things moving here, so don’t bother Googling it).  Sadly I seemed to have been ‘taken out’ by driving to too many meetings and writing too many e-mails.  I guess this makes me a bit of a geek; but without the ‘clever attribute’; or the looks for that matter.

1992   –  Certificate: Not Rated  –  Japan

This is another slightly bonkers Japanese film and the first in a loosely connected trilogy with the overall tagline “human beings are garbage”.  Nice.  Despite this, it’s more of a thriller than a horror, with a little comedy and romance thrown in too.  The story sort of makes sense, but there’re plenty of blatant “but what about the…” moments in it too.  Three young guys become friends after witnessing a random murder at a level crossing.  They decide to hold a party, (well doesn’t everyone after witnessing a bloody, multiple stabbing of a schoolgirl)?  They all try to find a woman to take to the party to impress the others, but only one manages to find someone; of the other two, one ends up handcuffed to fence by a prostitute (well I think she was one anyway) and the other gets so nervous that he’s sick on his would-be date, which rather puts her off going with him for some reason.  Anyway, the lucky guy is on his way to the party with his date when they get attacked by a gang and of course she ends up dead.  Well the new friends all get together to track down the baddies, which results in some suitably nasty shotgun action and some general all-around unpleasantness.  The best/worst things to watch out for are the rather bizarre, entirely over-the-top maniacal laughter that most of the characters seemed to insist on emitting when they’re doing something particularly, em, maniacal; and the guy who plays the young geek (he’s the one that was sick on his date-to-be), who really does look and act like everyone’s idea of a Japanese geek.  Great stuff.  The music, when used, is surprisingly effective too.  In a technical sense, my DVD of this film was pretty awful.  The picture quality wasn’t very good (very over-exposed and washed out) and the sound was even worse.  Not only was it mono, but the centre of the sound-stage was located somewhere near my birthday cards, rather than in the centre of the TV screen.  (The cards, all three of them, which even after nearly three weeks I’ve still got displayed, are located somewhere off to the left of the telly.)  It’s surely not asking too much for the sound to seem vaguely focused near the picture, rather than adjacent to a cruel reminder of how many friends I don’t have?

Recommended for would-be-geeks who want to see the real deal in action; plus anyone who collects recordings of horror-movie laugher; I guess there aren’t a lot of the latter.

No cats and no decapitations.

Top badass moment?  It has to be the guy in the car at the end, complete with maniacal laughter and Proclaimers style glasses.  Weedy geeks fighting back is always badass.  The moral being, never push a geek, because in movies they’ll always kick your ass in the end.

All Night Long at IMDB


Star of David: Hunting for Beautiful Girls: 2.5 Stars


Star of David  -  Hunting for Beautiful Girls  -  DVD Front CoverIt’s good to explore the cultures of places far away.  Doing this can help make us a lot more understanding of the views of others, better able to celebrate what we have in common and appreciate what makes us different, rather than simply go around labelling everyone else as foreigners and you know, ‘not like us’.  Looking to fully play my part in this global exploration and to help reduce my own prejudices and ignorance, I’ve been spending the past few weeks finding out all about Japan and the Japanese, through the medium of film.  First I watched “Kamikaze Girls” and discovered what it’s like to be a teenage Japanese girl in modern Japan.  After that I watched “The Masked Girl” and found out what’s it’s like to be a Japanese superhero.  Then finally I watched this film and came to understand the difficulties of being a young man in Japan, coping with a father who lacks parenting skills, (well two fathers actually).  So my conclusion?  Japan is, ‘interesting’.  (Insightful stuff I know.)  Actually Japanese films are great, because they have a whole, different set of characteristics to just about any other.  I just wish I could relate to them more, but sadly my Western brain is just too limited to comprehend most of them; I must continue my studies further…

1979  –  Certificate: Unrated  –  Japan

On some levels, this is a great, erotic thriller, with a wide range of suitably nasty, unpleasant and disturbing scenes.  On the other hand, it’s pretty distasteful for exactly the same reasons.  I didn’t really enjoy it that much, but I can appreciate it for what it is.  It did feel a little like the writer had a tick-list of ‘shocking things you can include in films’ and was going to get through the whole lot, regardless of the results.  Murder, kidnapping, rape, character assassination, incest, torture, Nazi worship, it’s all here; and I’ve no idea what the scene with the butter and the Alsatian was all about.  At times it was a bit slow, but it does have a proper plot, is nicely filmed and in a technical sense looked excellent (considering its age and small budget).  Tatsuya (the film’s main protagonist) really isn’t a very nice person!  He’s a psycho playboy basically.  Even before he turned nasty I hated him, he was far too intelligent, talented, attractive and rich for my liking; (not that I’m jealous or anything).  With all his advantages and messed up childhood, he could easily have become Batman.

Recommended for people who like to watch challenging movies and twisted movies in general; or who’re used to exploring strange new worlds and seeking out new life and new civilisations.  It’s probably not worth watching if you think “Brokeback Mountain” represents the worst extremes of depraved modern cinema.

No cats and no decapitations. 

Top badass moment? Jun Yashioji (the pop singer) whacking Tatsuya over the head with a stool, in an effort to escape; (and it looked really solid on the screen too). Her singing was pretty terrible, but at least she made an attempt to get away.  Somewhat tragic timing in the end, talk about being unlucky; even though she was a bit of a bitch I did feel sorry for her.

Star of David: Hunting for Beautiful Girls at IMDB