Following on from the success of The Lives of Others and The Counterfeiters, the award winning “Four Minutes” sees wrongfully imprisoned piano prodigy Jenny, a Molotov cocktail of suppressed emotions and uncontrollable rage, locked in a constant battle with those around her. Together with Traude, a professional musician who wants to expose Jenny’s talents at a national competition, the pair develop a volatile teacher-pupil relationship. As the duo plan their intent to make it to the finals, it soon becomes apparent that, once there, Jenny will have only four minutes to prove herself, and no guarantee of freedom afterwards. Starring multiple award winner Hannah Herzsprung (“The Reader”, “The Baader-Meinhof Complex”), “Four Minutes” is a cinema tour de force that combines music, gritty prison drama and powerful performances to winning effect.
2006 – Certificate: 15 – German Film – Rating Details: Strong violence and very strong language. 10 out of 10.
To do most things that people consider important in life, you have to study and then possibly pass some sort of test, exam or interview. In other cases you need to read the instructions or practice, but in the end you’re required to be able to demonstrate a degree of competency before you’re trusted by anyone to do it ‘for real’. Yet for some reason, with one of the most important and challenging things, we expect everyone to just get on with it without demonstrating the slightest level of ability. That’s so stupid. Where’s the logic in that? It’s enough to make Mr. Spock freak out. I’ve mentioned it before, but my journey to work involves walking almost past an infant school, at least close enough for me to run into lots of parents taking their kids there. I don’t expect young kids to ever do anything remotely sensible; in fact it’s in their job description. They live in a world that isn’t quite in phase with grow-ups. However, if fate has put you in change of a young person, you really ought to be trained how to do this important job, as most people clearly don’t have a clue. In fact those that do know are generally too old to have any, which in my opinion is a really bad design error. I’m generally a very tolerant person; yes, really. But one thing that’s been testing me to my limits recently is the almost total inability of parents to wait at traffic lights and not block the entire pavement with hyperactive kids, bags, pushchairs, dogs and other non-essential stuff. Hell, it’s only a short walk to the local school, not a manned mission to Mars. Somehow, they think having control of a young person entitles them to inconvenience the rest of the universe, as if this is some sort of reward for proving their immense virility or fertility. Seriously dudes, we’ve managed to reproduce adequately enough to keep ourselves going since life first evolved on Earth; it’s really not that difficult and it doesn’t reflect on anyone’s worth. What does take skill and deserves admiration is dealing with the consequences, which many clearly fail at on an epic scale. I’m a Pavement Warrior and denying me my right of access is a direct challenge to my entire belief structure. I’m not keen on making kids orphans, but sometimes, someone needs to make a stand. Just today I narrowly avoided a serious incident on an especially narrow bit of pavement, when two young boys came flying out of a terrace house; the sort that has a front garden about 1m deep. A guy coming down ‘The Mountain’ (as I call this particularly steep section of my route to work) had to take evasive action to avoid running into them and nearly swerved into me as a result. Seriously, I was lucky to get out of that in one piece. Then again, what do I know? It was only very recently that I found out that you can’t just take the batteries out of them at night when you go to bed. And now something a whole lot better…
This is a totally awesome movie. One of the best 50 films ever made. It’s German, so unsurprisingly it’s not a comedy. (I guess saying that makes me a racist, unlike Nigel Farage because he’s got a German wife.) However, it is a kick-ass drama and totally absorbing. Slow, dark and smouldering, it just blew me away. I have a soft spot for movies about mavericks, rebels and people who don’t play the game properly. In particular the ones that do it for no other reason than to piss the world off and who’re willing to take themselves down along with everyone else rather than change. (I like to think that I’m a bit like that, except in reality I’m probably the world’s biggest ‘yes man’ and enjoy nothing better than asking “how high?” when someone tells me to jump.) Cutting off your whole head to spite your face. Our hero Jenny isn’t quite as nihilistic as that, but she comes close. The Four Minutes of the title refers to a scene near the end of the movie. One of the best bits of cinema ever; you could never play it loud enough. It’s not a perfect film for a range of minor but noticeable reasons, but I’m willing to overlook it small faults and consider the bigger picture. An essential watch.
This is a movie about someone who plays the piano and as such without a suitable soundtrack to support the story, it would fail miserably. Fortunately it’s a great mixture of original and (mainly) classical, (mainly) German composed music. There’s an interesting article on the official website about how hard it was to find a composer for the original music used.
I think this trailer lightens the mood of the film slightly and misrepresents the relationship between the two main characters, so it’s a bit disappointing. It really doesn’t portray the power or mood of the film well.
Movie Weather Forecast. Cloudy and cool. Stay indoors is my advice.
Recommended for pianists, lesbians, nurses, prison wardens, Nazis, abusive parents and rebels.
No cats, chainsaws or decapitations.
Top badass moment? The four minutes that give this film its title are as badass as it comes. The closest you can get to sticking two fingers up to the world without saying a word; a great bit of punk and not a guitar in sight.
I wrote about this film here in 2010. This is what I had to say then.
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.
Welcome to Pridemore Juvenile Facility For Girls, where forbidden passion and violent death are a shocking way of life. But when two innocent teens are thrust into this world of degradation, they must battle sadistic guards as well as a violent gang of lust-crazed lesbians (led by the legendary Wendy O’Williams of The Plasmatics). In a hellhole gone mad with chaos and desire, can they survive the ultimate orgy of naked rage? Sybil Danning and Pat Ast co-star in this cult classic of bad girls gone berserk, written and directed by Tom DeSimone (“Hell Night”, “Concrete Jungle”) and featuring songs by Wendy O. Williams, Etta James and more!
1986 – Certificate: R – American Film
6.0 out of 10
I have a microwave oven in my kitchen. (Actually I have two, but that’s not important right now.) It has a big sticker on it, which enthuses at some length about all its great features, of which there appear to be many. (Apparently it’s got a “digital clock”. Real state of the art stuff, I’m sure you’ll agree.) However, I’ve never really bothered myself to read this sticker. The only reason it’s still there is that I thought it might contain some ‘important stuff’. Although as the oven is now about ten years old, I can’t imagine there’s much especially important about it that’s worth learning now. If there was something I wasn’t supposed to do to stop it exploding in a fireball of microwave energy, I’d probably have found out by now. However, this afternoon I found myself reading the sticker in an idle moment, whilst waiting for the kettle to boil. (By which I mean the water in the kettle to boil; waiting for the kettle itself to boil would probably take quite a time, as I don’t think the Sun is expected to suddenly expand and engulf the Earth today.) Amongst my oven’s many interesting features, I learnt that it has “Easytronic Operation”. As you might imagine this got me pretty excited, as it sounds like the sort of thing Thunderbird 2 would have had fitted as standard. I’ve no idea what it really means though, but as the oven has a few buttons on it that are quite easy to press, I guess it might mean them. I wonder how much some marketing guru got paid to think up that one? Honestly, what a load of twaddle. This film is a load of twaddle too, but just like my microwave oven, it does have some entertainment value.
It’s hard to be too nasty about this movie, as it’s really not meant to be taken seriously. As far as B Movies go, it’s pretty entertaining. It’s a film set in a “juvenile facility”, which I imagine is meant to cater for those under the age of 18. This doesn’t stop Wendy O. Williams (who was the vocalist with overrated punk/metal band The Plasmatics) playing one of the main young characters in it, even though she must have been about 36 at the time. Then again, she looks so scarily tough that the makers probably didn’t want to bring it up. (Really sadly she committed suicide in 1998. She was a committed vegetarian and spent much of her latter years caring for animals.) This film also features the infamous kitten stomping scene, which I really shouldn’t approve of. Lots of mal-adjusted teens worldwide have probably gone on to become serial kitten stompers as a result of this film, in the same way that everyone who’s ever played Guitar Hero is now a world-class guitarist. I was a little disappointed to see a number of tools being used for weeding a field that weren’t really appropriate for the job. Long tail shovels and garden rakes really aren’t the correct equipment for that sort of thing. Then again, perhaps that was part of their punishment?
The soundtrack is mostly small sections of forgettable incidental music, mixed in with a few rock tracks. Unfortunately, the latter is that special brand of boring American rock, which tries to act tough but just ends up sounding old-fashioned. However, the film’s big saving grace is Wendy O. Williams’s “It’s My Life”, which plays over the end credits. Top stuff. I’ve got it as a 7” single.
Recommended for juvenile delinquents, lesbians, prison officers and psychiatrists.
1 cat, no chainsaws or decapitations. A really beautiful, fluffy, ginger tabby kitten has both a speaking role (that sadly looks like it was dubbed by another cat) and a proper action role. The kitten stomping scene, where it has to do a runner, is now considered a standard-bearer for cat-based action movies. Tragically, it doesn’t even get a credit!
Top badass moment? Fighting ‘the system’ is never easy, so whether it’s trashing the dormitory, trashing the dining room or trashing the whole facility, it’s all badass.
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.
Academy Award Winners Judi Dench and Cate Blanchett give outstanding, Oscar-nominated performances – one as a woman consumed by her colleague’s guilty secret, the other, a victim to her own dark obsessions – in this intelligent and stylish thriller. Dench mesmerises as Barbara Covett, a teacher who rules over her classroom with an iron fist, yet leads a desperate, solitary life outside it. That is, until she meets radiant new art teacher Sheba Hart (Blanchett). Although at first overjoyed with her newfound kindred spirit, when Barbara discovers that Sheba is having an affair with a student, her jealously and rage spiral out of control. Also starring Bill Nighy, “Notes on a Scandle” is “The first great British film of the year” (The Guardian).
2006 – Certificate: 15 – UK
Rating Details: Strong language and sex references
8.5 out of 10
Almost two years ago a nightmare descended upon Cactus World. The entity known as The Amplifier became ill. It suddenly ceased to have a voice; its thoughts, so important to every citizen of Cactus World, were gone. Not a sound was to be heard from its mighty 7.2 outputs. To locate a cure, special doctors in a land far, far away had to be tracked down. The Amplifier then had to be prepared for the perilous odyssey it needed to undertake to visit them. In the meantime the population were left despairing, with little to occupy their minds, as most of Cactus World’s entertainment infrastructure ground to a halt. Some basic music services were eventually enabled through alternative means, but these bore little resemblance to the thoughts of The Amplifier, whilst TV and films remained entirely off-line. Of course, as we all know now, The Amplifier eventually returned from its journey and with the help of Cactus World’s finest scientists, was reconnected in all the right places. But this weekend, disaster! The Amplifier became silent again. Exactly the same evil curse has befallen it, as Onkyo’s entirely shit amplifier design raised its ugly head once more. Government officials were observed frantically trying to put a call through to the doctors that helped us before; (unfortunately they seem to be closed at the weekend). However, the citizens of Cactus World are nothing, if not resourceful. After what happened before, a new emergency procedure was developed, known as Protocol One. For the last 18 months this has been distributed to the entire population; schools have taught it as part of the curriculum, anyone wishing to settle in Cactus World has been required to lean about it. It was a moment no one hoped they’d experience, but when the warning sirens unexpectedly went off on Saturday, indicating a malfunctioning Amplifier, it was hard not to be moved by the sight of the entire population quietly but determinedly going to their designated muster points, or reporting for their civic emergency duties; heroes, every one of them. Anyway, Protocol One has two elements. The first is focused on the safely of our citizens, (and if you’re a little bit cynical like me, is also there to prevent too much civil disobedience). The second involves a plan to entirely reconfigure the national entertainmnet nexus, to bypass The Amplifier and provide full access to both music and films, something that has never ever been attempted before. At the moment I’m feeling quite emotional and deeply indebted, along with the rest of the population I’m sure, to Cactus World’s best scientific minds and highly trained engineers, who have successfully carried out this complex procedure. Pushing the boundaries of technology ever further. Full, high-definition pictures and sound across all DVD and Blu-ray copyright region zones are now available and have been fully(ish) tested on this film. It’s true, my living room does looks a bit like the Starship Enterprise on a bad day in Engineering, with cables and open maintenance panels all over the place, but the important thing is it works and I can watch films in the manner in which I’m accustomed. This film pushes boundaries too, but in its case those of relationships.
When she’s not running Her Majesty’s Secret Service and telling James Bond to get his act together, Judi Dench spends her time as a psycho lesbian, teaching at a typical secondary school in north London. Yes, it surprised me too. Starting out with a ‘not that original’ plot about a teacher having an affair with a student, this proved to be a very tense thriller that ends in the way that all films featuring a ‘psycho something or other’ should end. The acting’s terrific, the script’s great and it’s good to see a bit of anonymous, unglamorous London featured in a film for a change. It’s also a movie that under the surface has a lot to say about chronic loneliness. Both the primary characters are easy to sympathise with too, despite their behaviour. This is a film you should see.
Recommended for psycho nutters everywhere; and school-teachers.
1 cat, no chainsaws or decapitations. Portia, a beautiful, long-haired cat, has a small but key role, adding both depth to the plot and an air of pathos that the film was otherwise sadly lacking. Unfortunately, as is often the case, I believe its lines, both meows and purrs, were dubbed. When is the film industry going to end this shameless practice?
Top badass moment? Judi Dench’s Barbara; a great, unsung movie bastard-from-hell. So bad she’s badass.
Each summer in the UK an ever-increasing number of music festivals seem to be organised. Every year we hold Wimbledon on almost all open courts. We insist on trying to have barbeques. We invented a sport, cricket, which relies on almost totally dry conditions for it to take place. And this year we have the Olympics too. Why is anyone the least bit surprised that the weather is being especially wet at present? (June was the wettest on record and half the country seems to be under threat of being flooded as I write this.) We should be proud that the British weather has raised it game to give us the sort of summer that befits the Olympics. Floods, lack of sunshine, torrential rain. I’m just worried that by the time the Olympics start, we’ll find that the weather has ‘gone too early’ (like a 1,500m runner starting his ‘run for home’ at the wrong time) and it might end up being a bit nicer next month. I want all the millions of visitors that are coming to the UK to enjoy the full range of experiences our special weather can offer them. We don’t need the drama of hurricanes, tornadoes or years of drought, our naturally understated thunderstorms, grey, drizzly weekends and ‘unseasonally cool for the time of year’ days is what they’re really coming for; I don’t want anyone to go home disappointed. Yeh! Yeh! Jet Stream go! You rule! The idea that we might actually get what we technically refer to as ‘nice weather’ anytime soon, is frankly absurd; a little like this film really.
1983 – Certificate: PG – USA
This ‘historical’ drama would be so easy to ridicule and quite frankly it deserves to be. For a start, it has a pretty ludicrous plot. It conveniently ‘ignores’ loads of issues that would have made things a whole lot harder than they actually appear to be, (money anyone)? It majors on continually reinforcing the notion that men and women have to stick to a strict code of social behaviours and expectations (that would give even a Thomas Hardy novel a run for its money); but then when they’re ignored it doesn’t seem to produce any consequences. It has a 40-year-old woman trying to play the part of a young woman passing herself off as a teenage boy, (her ‘disguise’ is even less convincing than Batman’s), who frequently bursts into song; (yes, it’s a musical too). After about 20 minutes I was ready to give up watching it. I was asking myself, why on earth had I bought this film? I don’t really like ‘period pieces’; (grown-up’s translation = historical dramas). I don’t especially enjoy musicals either. But then something really weird happened; it actually got, well, interesting. As soon as it started up with the pseudo-cross-dressing-gay-lesbian stuff, things improved loads! Well okay it’s a PG film, so don’t expect anything very explicit, but for a movie that’s basically ridiculous on nearly every level, it actually manages to feel quite realistic and touching. It also builds a decent amount of tension around the idea that her true identify as a woman might be discovered at any moment; I was sitting there getting agitated thinking, when are one of these stupid people going to realise she’s actually a woman; it’s like so totally obvious)? I have to say that Babs (that’s what Barbra Streisand’s fans seem to call her) does look rather fetching in it too. So yes, in the end I did quite enjoy it and consequently have to now file it away under lock and key as a guilty pleasure.
Recommended for Avril Lavigne fans who want a new kind of idol.
No cats and no decapitations.
Top badass moment? Barbra Streisand’s character Yentl/Anshel sticking it to ‘The Man’. At a time and place when women weren’t allowed to go to school but basically had to just hang around at home making dinner and babies, Babs most defiantly gives the finger to all and sundry. That’s 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.