Posts tagged “Los Angeles

Pups / Shite Royal Mail


Pups  -  Front DVD Cover  -  UK Release

Rebellious teenager Stevie (Cameron Van Hoy) finds his mother’s gun and along with his girlfriend (Mischa Barton) impulsively decides to rob a bank, becoming a latter-day Bonnie & Clyde in the process.  The pair find themselves in over their heads, as they take hostages and the FBI become involved in negotiating Stevie’s absurd demands.  Head FBI agent (Burt Reynolds) struggles to control the mounting tension in the bank, as he tries to keep the violence from escalating.  “Pups” is an edgy, post-modern response to the growing trend of senseless gun crime in America, featuring “two of the most natural and freed performances I have seen by actors of any age.” (Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times)

1999  –  Certificate: 15  –  Rating Details: Strong Language and Moderate Sex References  –  American Film  –  6.5 out of 10

This week I’m seriously hating on the Royal Mail, the Post Office, Parcel Force, or whatever it’s called these days since it was stolen from everyone and then sold back to a small proportion of us.  In January I ordered a CD from Japan.   Instead of getting my CD, I got one of the dreaded, silver cards, explaining that I owed a £3.85 customs charge, plus a piss-taking £8.00 “handling fee”.  (And my name was spelt wrongly on the card too.)  So anyway, I paid the fees online eight days before the payment deadline but nothing then got delivered.  When I rang up (and it took three calls to get anywhere), I discovered that the CD had been returned to sender as it was claimed I’d not paid the fees.  So I then had to complete a claim (a two page P58) form to try and get my money back, plus the additional postage I’m now having to pay to get the CD reshipped to me, after I’d also had to go and sort that out with the company I’d bought it from.  The claim form itself was totally shit, as in festival toilets shit, as it asked loads of questions that I had no idea of the answer for, yet it was covered in threats telling me that if I didn’t answer them all my claim couldn’t be processed.  The form totally wasn’t designed for what I need to make a claim for.  The online version was even worse, as I couldn’t even get past the first page, or indeed the first paragraph.  I haven’t had a reply yet.  Why do they even need to know half the questions it asks anyway, as my CD clearly got as far as the UK or I’d not have been sent the silver card?  I remember when it cost 3p to send a first class letter (and 2.5p for second class).  Now it costs 93p (31 times as much) and the service seems worse, despite all the extra technology available these days.  It better pay my own, personal £8.00 “handling fee” I’ve added to my claim too.  And if this wasn’t all bad enough, two days ago I got a letter saying I needed to pay £9.14 VAT, plus an even bigger piss taking £13.50 “Clearance Fee” before they’ll redeliver it.  A total of £22.64, nearly twice as much as last time!  The CD only cost £20.34. What a load of bollocks it all is!  Unless the company has seriously undercharged me for delivery, then there’s no way the VAT can be £9.14.  The cost of the shipping would need to come to £25.36 for that VAT figure to be correct and I was only charged £8.03 for it each time.  I shall be interested to see what the packaging says, should it ever actually be delivered.  I don’t mind paying the VAT, but I can’t see how it’s been worked out correctly, or understand why the handing fee has now become a clearance fee and nearly doubled.  Fucking Nazi Postman Pat can fucking fuck off.  I’m going to write to The Queen, it is the Royal Mail after all; I’m sure she’ll go and bang a few heads together when she hears about this.  Right now I can so understand the protagonist in this film.  I feel like I want to go postal.

There’re three things about the US that no one else in the world understands.  These’re its favourite sports, its approach to public health care and it’s obsession with the right to own guns.  This film is about the latter.  It was made 16 years ago, yet despite a seemingly ongoing parade of nutters with guns going into shops, schools, offices and other places during this period, nothing much seems to have changed since then.  That’s kind of sad and reflects badly on the huge number of people there who do actually have some common sense.  This is quite a rubbishy movie.  The whole approach the police take to deal with the situation makes little sense and what Burt Reynolds is up to most of the time I have no idea; he spends most of it sitting in a car waiting for the kids in the bank to do something, pacing around smoking and scowling, or fielding calls from his wife.  The police and FBI seem to have very little control over the onlookers and the press too; there’re armed police everywhere as well as the kids with guns, yet they’re all within a few metres of the bank.  I’m not in law enforcement, but aren’t they supposed to keep everyone well away?  Even when one of the kids comes out waving a gun about they still don’t get the hint.  They seem to have about the same grasp on what to do as the Royal Mail has on postal delivery services.  In fact pretty well everyone seems to have a bit of a death wish.  However, it’s one saving grace is the boy with the guy.  He’s so over-the-top hyper and mad most of the time that it’s worth watching just for his performance.  He’s pretty unlikable, but somehow I feel a certain kindred spirit burns inside him.  Overall, the film is more entertaining than the sum of its parts might suggest.  At least they had a nice day for it, sunny and warm.  I’d imagine if it had been wet and cold, it would have been a much more miserable experience for everyone, especially those outside.

Recommended for school children, police officers and bank staff.

No cats, chainsaws or decapitations.

Top badass moment?  Banks aren’t exactly top of most people’s lists of favourite things right now, so with hindsight I’d like to consider the spontaneous decision by the two kids to rob one on the way to school, as an unconscious choice to stick it to the Man and get our money back.  That’s badass.  You’d do the same thing too, if you had the guts! 

Pups at IMDB (6/1 / 10)
Pups at Wikipedia
Pups at Roger Ebert (4.0 / 5)
Pups trailer at Video Detective

For some weird reason, there doesn’t appear to be an English language copy of the trailer on YouTube!

 

 


Go / Boomtown Fair 2014


Go  -  Front DVD Cover  -  UK Release

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 hereThis 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. 

Go at IMDB (7.3 / 10)
Go at Wikipedia
Go at Roger Ebert (3.0/4)
Go trailer at YouTube


The Bling Ring / My Epic Fail: Emulating William the Conqueror


The Bling Ring  -  Front Blu-ray Cover  -  UK Release

In the fame-obsessed world of Los Angeles, a group of teenagers take us on a thrilling and disturbing crime-spree in the Hollywood hills.  Based on true events, the group, who were fixated on a life of glamour, tracked their celebrity targets online and stole more than $3 million in luxury goods from their homes.  The victims included Paris Hilton, Orlando Bloom, Rachel Bilson and Lindsay Lohan.  The gang became known in the media as “The Bling Ring”.  Written and directed by Academy Award Winning Sofia Coppola (“Lost in Translation”, “The Virgin Suicides”, “Marie Antoinette”),”The Bling Ring” stars Emma Watson (“Harry Potte”, “The Perks of Being a Wallflower”), Leslie Mann (“This is 40”, “Knocked Up”), Taissa Farmiga, Claire Julien, Israel Broussard and Katie  Chang.

2013  –  Certificate: 15  –  American Film
Rating Details: Strong language and drug use
7.0 out of 10

In an effort to bolster our fading place in the world, us Brits often like to remind others that the last person to successfully invade mainland Britain was William the Conqueror, who in 1066 shot King Harold in the eye at the Battle of Hastings.  (And that’s about all we actually bother to learn about the story, even though that last bit probably isn’t even true either.  The fact that it happened before America and much of the rest of the world had been invented, is good enough for us. ) Last week I had a chance to do something similar.  (No, not shoot someone in the eye!  God, do I really need to even write that?)  Instead, I had a chance at fame and fortune on the south coast myself, when due to a severe lack of (and I’m putting it diplomatically) coordination at work, I found myself giving a presentation to a lot of ‘important people’.  (Well important in Hastings anyway.)  I spent the guts of two days (including a Sunday) putting the sort of PowerPoint presentation together that really ought to be released as a stand-alone DVD for others to enjoy.  Indeed, a limited cinema run wouldn’t be out-of-place.  It was all very stressful though; at one point I even had to order myself an Indian takeaway from the Alamin Tandoori to recover from the whole, ‘creative experience’.  (These things don’t just come together; each slide was torn from my very soul.)  So the day of the presentation arrived.  In my mind I had a vision, a vision of a room full of people, many of them standing, clapping and cheering me as an environmental saviour.  (A bit like Noah, but without the boat.)  Sadly, the train I was travelling on broke down and I ended up arriving 20 minutes late; obviously the 40 minute, ‘crappy public transport safety margin’ I’d opted for wasn’t up to the job.  Apparently there was a “communication problem” with the train; the driver couldn’t speak to the guard or something; (or Train Manager as they seem to get called these days.)  Bollocks to that.  How did them not being able to have a chat about last night’s TV stop the wheels turning?  Sitting in the train, watching three guys in orange jackets wondering about outside, the only other thing I could see was a bit of hawthorn growing nearby, as we’d got stuck in a cutting.  John Lydon told us all that “Anger is an energy”.  I could probably have solved the world’s energy crisis single-handedly such was my mood, which would have been quite ironic under the circumstances.  Well, it turned out to be the fastest PowerPoint presentation I’ve ever given to anyone, that’s for sure.  Thanks to Southern Trains, my chance to become an international eco-celebrity was ruined.  All I want to do is save the planet, I’m not asking for much really.  Next time I’ll rob a few rich people instead.  It worked for Robin Hood and I’m sure I can find a few affluent bankers that no one really cares about.  By a strange coincidence, this film covers a not dissimilar topic.  (That’s robbing the rich and famous, not inefficient pubic transport.)

Closely mirroring the real events it’s based on, this movie follows the exploits of a group of celebrity obsessed teenagers, who start robbing the homes of the rich and famous.  Paris Hilton, whose home they broke in to a number of times, allowed these scenes to be filmed in her house.  OMG! OMG!  (OMG I’m starting to talk like them now…)  A whole room full of shoes? A nightclub room, complete with pole?  I own six pairs of shoes, including two pairs of steel-capped boots for work.  The only poles I come into contact with are the ones living near me.  Not a lot seems to happen in this film.  Vacuous teens are not the most exciting of people, unless you like watching them hanging out in nightclubs taking selfies and immediately posting them on Facebook.  Even the break-ins are somewhat low-key and most of the time they just messed about when they got into these people’s homes.  Google Maps is every villain’s friend.  Somewhat trippy one moment and almost documentary-like at others, it’s actually quite entertaining.  Given that it’s based on a real group of people and real crimes, the extras are especially interesting and add quite a lot to the whole story.  The car crash scene works well too; it made me jump anyway.  The sound is pretty good, as is the overall look of the movie and the acting.  Well worth a watch.  At the end I was left with two questions.  Firstly, why?  Secondly, it features a group of very good-looking young people, plus drink and drugs; yet there wasn’t any sexual chemistry or apparent attraction between any of them, not even a little bit of tension.  That’s just a bit weird. I guess celebrities really do screw up your life.

Schoolboy Q, 2 Chainz, Young Jeezy, Bassnectar, Really Doe, Kid Cudi.  Yep, you’re right, that means it’s time for a hip-hop based soundtrack.  Given the nature of the movie, the music works really well.

The trailer’s pretty good. 

Recommended for vapid, non-celebrities and anyone who posts loads of pictures directly to their Facebook page without bothering to delete the technically crap ones (they make my eyes hurt) and doesn’t see the irony in doing it in the first place.  Also anyone who thinks they matter to anyone outside of their immediate family and friends.  Trust me, you really don’t.

No cats, chainsaws or decapitations.

Top badass moment?  The scenes where they break into Paris Hilton’s home were really filmed in Paris Hilton’s home.  She has cushions with her face on them!  Really big pictures of her face.  In her own home.  Whatever the story behind them, that’s just not normal.  Seriously, it’s not.  It’s only one step away from going to bed with a picture of yourself.  Still, at least I know what to get in future as presents for ‘those awkward people who have everything’.  Thanks Paris!  Sorting out this year’s Christmas pressies for me is badass.

The Bling Ring at IMDB (5.7 / 10)
The Bling Ring at Wikipedia
The Bling Ring at Roger Ebert (2.5 / 4)
The Bling Ring trailer at YouTube


Hancock / Tony Hancock


Hancock  -  Front Blu-ray Cover  -  UK ReleaseWill Smith explodes onto the screen in this action-packed comedy as Hancock, a sarcastic, hard-living and misunderstood superhero who has fallen out of favour with the public.  When Hancock grudgingly agrees to an extreme makeover from idealistic publicist Ray Embrey (Jason Bateman, “Juno”), his life and reputation rise from the ashes and all seems right again – until he meets a woman (Charlize Theron, “Aeon Flux”) with similar powers to his and the key to his secret past.  A past that will have earth shattering consequences…

2008  –  Certificate 15  –  American Film
Strong language, sex and violence
9.0 out of 10

I sort of remember Hancock’s comedy genius from when I was young.  Not so much directly, but more from my Father, who was a bit of a fan.  So I was understandably worried when I first found out that Hollywood was going to make a film about his life; and even more concerned when I found out it was going to ‘reimagine’ him as a superhero and have a Black guy play his part.  I like Will Smith, but Tony Hancock lived in East Cheam and I’d hazard a guess and say there weren’t a lot of Black people living in that part of Surrey in the late 50s.  Fortunately, this modern film biography captures many facets of his life; his comedy timing, his ‘loser persona’, his personal fight with alcohol, his wife’s attempted suicide, his affairs with other men’s wives.  It’s all here.  Not only that, but it also cleverly introduces the plot from his most famous film, “The Rebel”.  In this, he plays the part of someone else, whilst the title itself is also well reflected by Smith’s superb portrayal of the part in this new movie.  It’s a much-see for all fans of British, post-war, kitchen sink comedy.  Oh wait; I’ve fucked up again here haven’t I?

For some reason that I’m not fully aware of, I love this film.  I guess the idea that a superhero can be a scruffy, underachieving alcoholic who hates people, gives me hope for my own life.  The script is surprisingly well observed and it manages to provide most of the elements you’d expect to see in a movie about a superhero, without becoming a parody of one.  Will Smith is actually very good in it and manages to make Hancock seem genuinely not very nice, rather than a watered down Hollywood bad guy suitable for kids.  For a ‘summer blockbuster’, it does pretty well on the darker elements of the story, violence and language.  Then again, I watched the uncut version that basically has ten minutes or so of the good stuff that was removed for the version that was shown in most cinemas.  (It was good to see all the “jackass” references replaced with the original “assholes”.)  Of course it has a few crappy scenes, (the one with Hancock having sex is an especially cringe-worthy example of a pretty pointless one); and don’t bother trying to count the plot holes either.  But overall it’s a brilliant action film with a fun story, original lead character and a surprising amount of gravitas when it needs it.  I enjoyed the ending too, even though you sort of know what’s going to happen.  Go watch.

This is the ‘action’ orientated trailer; there’s a ‘comedy’ one out there too.  It’s okay, but it doesn’t really sell the film especially well, unless you’re just into big explosions and stuff.  It’s a far more multi-layed movie that this makes it seem.

I really like the soundtrack to this film.  It’s everything a soundtrack is meant to be, enhancing what’s on-screen without ever taking over.

Recommended for superheroes, losers, rebels, drunks and PR consultants.

No cats, chainsaws or decapitations.

Top badass moment?  It’s a film about a superhero.  Go figure.

Hancock at IMDB (6.4 / 10)
Hancock at Wikipedia
Hancock at Roger Ebert (3.0 / 5)
Hancock at YouTube


Spider-Man / Being “An Authoriser”


Spider-Man - Front DVD Cover - UK Release

Peter Parker (Tobey Maguire) is an ordinary guy who lives with his beloved aunt and uncle and quietly pines for the girl next door, Mary Jane (Kirsten Dunst).  But when a genetically engineered “super-spider” bites him while on a school trip, Peter develops unusual skills – fantastic acrobatic strength, supernatural awareness and a talent for web-spinning.  It’s not until tragedy strikes at home that Peter decides to use his new powers to fight crime under a secret identity, Spider-man! When the evil Green Goblin (Willem Dafoe) attacks the good people of New York and endangers the life of Mary Jane, Peter commits himself to the ultimate tests: to thwart his arch-enemy and to win the heart of the girl that he loves.

2002  –  Certificate: 12  –  American Film
8.0 out of 10

With great power comes great responsibility…  That reminds me, I attended a webinar at work today, to enable me to become what’s called “An Authoriser”.  Thanks to having so recently watched “Spider-Man” I totally “got it” and realised the awesome obligation that had been bestowed on me.  True, it’s not given me enough super-powers to be able to go out and buy an Aston Martin as a company car, which I’m always going on about, but still.  I’m already responsible for saving the planet on a daily basis, so I guess adding this to my ‘portfolio of stress’ won’t make a lot of difference.  Jim gave the training, who’s the calmest person in the whole organisation.  Just as well really, as An Authoriser sounds more like someone who gives orders in a crime syndicate; or takes dead bodies, puts them in baths and pours acid all over them so they dissolve.  I probably watch too many films.  Ha, I just realised how apt attending a webinar was after watching Spider-Man. 

I enjoy superhero films.  It’s the ‘tortured hero that always comes good in the end’ that I can relate to.  I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, there’s a thin line between my job and Spider-Man’s, or any superhero’s for that matter; we all save civilisation on an almost daily basis.  This is a great film that still looks good.  In the big scheme of things, Spider-Man always came a distant fourth for me when I was young, behind Batman, Superman and Popeye (the spinach guy), but he looks good in action here.  It’s the usual stuff, guy finds he’s got super powers, pisses off someone powerful and bad, has a crisis of identity, then comes good and saves the girl, before giving her up for the greater benefit of everyone else.  Yep, sounds like my life, except the exciting and positive parts.

This film has a really good soundtrack by Danny Elfman, even though all the best bits of it sound like rejects from the Batman movie.

Recommended for people like me, photographers, military weapon designers; and, most importantly, arachnologists.

No cats, chainsaws or decapitations.

Top badass moment? It’s so mundane and predictable, but after spending ages (literally most of his life) chasing his soul mate, Peter Parker rejects her so he can ‘pursue’ his new ‘career’ more effectively.  What a do-gooder!  He didn’t even take her to bed first.  What a nice guy.  He made be stupid and he may be misguided, but the world needs more badass ‘nice people’ like him.

Spider-Man at IMDB (7.3 / 10)

Spider-Man at IMDB

Spider-Man at YouTube


My Life With Morrissey / Domino’s Pizza


My Life With Morrissey  -  Front DVD Cover  -  US ReleaseJackie, a hard-working assistant at a TV studio, pours herself into her work with an odd enthusiasm that her co-workers embrace with mixed feelings.  An obsessed Morrissey fan, her off hours are spent talking to posters and photos that plaster her apartment.  Her nights are spent scouring places Morrissey has been spotted around Los Angeles…  One fateful night things take a turn for the worse when by chance her dream comes true.  Meeting Morrissey in a deserted parking lot, Jackie’s world is suddenly turned upside down.

2003  –  Certificate: Not Rated  –  American Film
8.0 out of 10

The last couple of days at work have been somewhat dispiriting.  A mixture of ‘stuff’ and ‘other things’, combined with a lack of time and a recurring, nightmarish vision of the apocalypse, (complete with demons, fire, horseman and endless teleconferences), have made the first half of the week pretty heavy going.  I forgot my mobile phone today too and came home to 14 missed calls.  Someone had left me a voice mail which was so muffled and distant that I could only conclude it came from Satan himself, deep in the bowels of Hell.  I wonder what he wants, this time?  However, coming home from work each day I’ve been reminded of just how worse things could be.  Whilst walking along the Oxford Road in Reading I’ve passed a guy dressed in a giant, blue, Domino’s Pizza takeaway box, loitering outside the Lidl supermarket.  Whatever he had in mind as a career when he was at school, I don’t suppose hanging about dressed up like a homeless and miserable, blue version of SpongeBob SquarePants, was top of his list.  Sadly for Domino’s, the overall effect of a bored looking guy in a scruffy pair of jeans and a baseball hat, inside a massive pizza box, wasn’t to make me want to eat pizza.  Whatever they’re paying him, it’s not enough.  Strangely, this film has a connection to SpongeBob too.

I always enjoy movies about losers that’re trying to fight back against ‘the system’, or at least exist alongside it; I suppose I can relate to them.  This film starts off with us following a young woman with an over developed enthusiasm for all things Morrissey, into work, where we meet some of her rather overbearing colleagues; and it ends up with a nuclear explosion.  I’m not really spoiling it for you though, as the latter doesn’t actually have any sort of connection to anything else.  At some point whilst watching it, I was suddenly hit by a “wtf?” moment and realised that everything had become rather surreal, weird and odd.  On one level, this is quite a disturbing film, as you watch a young woman descend into some sort of mental distress.  On the other hand, it is kind of funny.  Jackie Buscarino, who plays the main character who’s also called Jackie, as well as being very cute, throws herself into the role with a level of embarrassing intensity that’s really quite fun to watch.  I can imagine it’s the sort of film that a lot of hardcore Morrissey fans would hate, but I really like Morrissey and think it’s very entertaining.  I’m not sure if it’s a totally dumb, poorly scripted film, or one that subtly and covertly comments on modern society and its values; whatever, I’d recommend it either way.  

This movie has some really good music in it, which certainly helps turn it from being a potentially slightly crappy film into a much better one.  The fact that one track is by Nerf Herder (the band that bought you the theme to “Buffy the Vampire Slayer”), is just the icing on the cake.  Needless to say, it features no music by Morrissey or The Smiths at all.

Recommend for fanboys (and fangirls).

No cats, chainsaws or decapitations. 

Top badass moment?  Who hasn’t at one time or another, secretly thought about going into work, trashing the place and abusing everyone? Okay… so just me then.  Anyway, the overlong scene where Jackie goes into work and does just that, is badass.

My Life With Morrissey at IMDB (3.9 / 10)

My Life With Morrissey at Wikipedia


Death Wish 4: The Crackdown / Soft Drink Shortage Hits Cactus World


Death Wish 4: The Crackdown  -  Front DVD Cover  -  US ReleaseThe streets are filled with death and destruction.  Ruthless drug traffickers prey upon the poor, the lonely, the helpless.  LA is a city desperate for deliverance… until now!  Charles Bronson returns as Paul Kersey, the original urban vigilante and one-man demolition force in this pulse-pounding, take-no-prisoners thriller!  Two rival drug gangs have a death-grip on LA’s battle-torn inner city.  But their brutal reign of terror is about to come to a violent end.  One man is out to avenge the cocaine-induced death of his girlfriend’s teenage daughter.  His name is Paul Kersey – and he’s armed, dangerous… and mad as hell!

1987  –  Certificate: R  –  American Film
6.0 out of 10

The unseasonal run of warm days we’ve been having recently has put an unprecedented strain on reserves of cold drinks in Cactus World.  In fact I’ve run out of normal soft drinks and the things I only drink in an emergency, like bitter lemon and ginger ale, have been in the fridge so long they’ve all frozen solid.  I tried opening one this afternoon, but so much pressure had built up in the bottle that the contents started to explode everywhere; in fact I read this evening that earlier today America had briefly gone to DEFCON 1, as some military satellite had mistaken my attempts to get something cold to drink as a ballistic missile launch.  I think it’s all okay now though.  Fortunately, I also found some old bottles of Bacardi Breezer (Pineapple) in the back of the fridge that the alcohol had stopped from freezing.  It tasted okay(ish), considering it was two years past its Best Before date.  I also have to report the good news that the far worse scenario of there being a shortage of cold, alcoholic drinks, is not presently a concern.

Before we had mega-budget screen superheroes and nutters like Martin Riggs cleaning up urban scum, we had Paul Kersey.  The original street-level vigilante, here’s a chap who reluctantly goes off on his own and sorts out bad guys.  In many ways he’s a lot like Batman, a tortured soul who’s lost the ones he cares for most; except he’s not especially fit and strong, isn’t a billionaire and doesn’t have a flash car, cave, computer, utility belt or butler.  Then again, he does use guns and he hasn’t got an annoying sidekick either.  Last time we saw him, he was busy helping disadvantaged communities in New York become more resilient.  This time he’s back in America’s other city, Los Angeles, sorting out corrupt police and drug barons; you know, the usual stuff architects deal with.  Scarcely have I recovered from seeing Lieutenant Commander Chakotay turn up in “Night of the Comet” when along comes Lieutenant Commander Tuvok in “Death Wish 4”.  Clearly working under cover for Starfleet in some sort of time-travel paradox, he inadvertently gives some drugs to some dumb bimbo, who promptly kills herself with them.  She just happens to be the daughter of Charles Bronson’s latest love interest too.  In another interesting parallel with “Star Trek” I would say it was at least as deadly being a friend of Paul Kersey, as it is wearing a red shirt as a member of a landing party.  There’ve been five Death Wish films and nearly all of his ‘nearest and dearest’ have ended up being raped and/or murdered.  You do see Bronson take out Tuvok’s car with a grenade in an underground garage, but I’m pretty sure I saw him being beamed out just before it exploded.  Tuvok could’ve easily stunned them all with his phaser, but he probably didn’t want to contaminate the time-line or such like.  I watched the hardcore, uncut version, not the old, UK cut one with its missing 54 seconds.  Because of that I’d have probably turned into a serial killer by now, if it wasn’t for the fact that it was also a pan and scan version too, so half of it was missing.  I hate it when they do that.  It was mono as well.

There’s not a great deal of music in this movie and what there is has a tendency to sound like a reject from The Terminator.  The theme music is horrible though; some nasty saxophone-heavy garbage that sounds like it escaped from an obscure, 70s porn VHS.

Recommend for architects, vigilantes, would-be superheroes and anyone who might make friends with Paul Kersey.  And a warning to the latter; DON’T DO IT!

No cats, chainsaws or decapitations.  However, someone does sort of explode into nothing after having a grenade fired into him.  And you thought The Terminator came up with that one first?

Top badass moment?  Dumb question. Charles Bronson IS badass.  And when someone asks, “who the fuck are you?” and you simply reply (after a tension building pause), “death”, that’s badass too.  And keeping a M203 grenade launcher attached to a M16 assault rifle in a cupboard behind your fridge is badass too.

Death Wish 4: The Crackdown at IMDB (4.8 /10)

Death Wish 4: The Crackdown at Wikipedia


Night of the Comet / Walking to Work


Night of the Comet  -  Front DVD Cover (US Release)It’s the first comet to buzz the planet in 65 million years and everyone seems to be celebrating its imminent arrival!  Everyone, that is, except for Regina Belmont (Catherine Mary Stewart) and her younger sister Samantha (Kelli Maroney), two valley gals who care more about meteoric fashion trends than celestial phenomena.  But upon daybreak, when the girls discover that they’re the only residents of Los Angeles whom the comet hasn’t either disintegrated or turned into a zombie,  they… well, they go shopping!  But when their day of malling threatens to become a day of the mauling, these two val gals flee with both killer zombies and blood-seeking scientists in hot pursuit!

1984  –  Certificate: PG-13  –  American Film
6.5 out of 10

Over the past year or so, I’ve become somewhat lazy in terms of travelling to and from work.  Using the excuse that “I’m really busy” to justify turning into a fat, sickly, exploitative capitalist, I’ve got into the habit of driving most days.  Fortunately, realising my impending metamorphosis into a fat, middle-aged asshole, along with the fact that at work we’re even more penniless than usual at the moment (it’s a company car), I’ve resolved to do things differently.  Remember kids, ‘smashing the system’ starts at home!  If you’re not part of the solution then you’re part of the problem.  In an effort to save the planet even more than I normally do and increase the likelihood of my still being around to enjoy the fruits of my labour, I’ve started walking into work and home again.  It’s 2.4 miles each way, so when I add a bit extra on for all the staggering I do that results from the exhaustion walking this far causes me, that almost 5 miles a day.  After a week or so I have to report that the main effect has been to make my left knee really sore, although I’m sure the reduction in the amount of driving I’m doing has probably resulted in the reversal of Climate Change and consequentially the crappy, cold weather we’ve been having recently.  I’m really sorry if I’ve spoilt anyone’s holiday.  This film is also about something that has global consequences.

This is a cult movie.  That means a lot of people have convinced themselves that it’s good, whereas in fact it’s pants.  Two young sisters, the tall, attractive but slightly geeky Regina and the out-and-out bimbo Samantha, manage to survive a phenomenon that turns most people turn into a brown dust or a zombie.  (I hate days like that.)  They manage this as one of them had sex with her boyfriend in a cinema, whilst the other had an argument with her mother about something ‘teenage’ that I don’t understand and then spent the night sulking in a garden shed.  Fortunately for them, they then manage to meet up with Lieutenant Commander Chakotay from “Star Trek Voyager”, although he’s a lot younger in it, nearly 400 years or so younger, given the date he was first aboard Voyager.  But it’s definitely Chakotay and not some actor playing his part; the way he reacts to the zombie boy in his parents’ house is just so Star Fleet.  Anyway, the sisters talk bollocks a lot, go shopping and foil a sinister plot of sorts by a group of Government scientists.  With hindsight, I guess it was lucky that their absent father was in the military and taught them how to use a range of guns.  Don’t mess with an armed cheerleader, good advice at any time.  In its defence, this is a fun, über 80s film, which manages to lampoon many others without ever turning into a parody of them.  I guess that makes it a bit of a geeks’ film too.  The fact that one of its two main characters has the top ten scores on a Tempest arcade game, just goes to reinforce my point.  (Tempest was crap; Asteroids was loads better.)  Less impressive is the random survivor that turns up near the end.  He’s driving a Mercedes sports car.  He’s in Los Angeles, almost everyone else is dead and he’s probably got the pick of just about every sports car ever made within a mile of the city centre; and he’s picked a Merc.  That’s so unrealistic, it totally undermines the believability of the whole film…

I like to moan about how rubbish most music is these days is, but in the 80s it was even worse.  This movie features a lot of music from that time period and it’s dire.  Trying to consider that it’s some sort of important cultural landmark and should be preserved, is rather like arguing we should keep a 60’s concrete tower block in place, simply because it’s an example of a certain type of architecture. No, no, no.  The clothes women wore at the time were awful too.

Recommended for airheads, scientists, geeks, bimbos and Star Trek Fans.

No cats, chainsaws or decapitations.

Top badass moment? When the whole burden of civilisation has fallen upon you, it’s good to see that the Green Cross Code Man’s word still counts for something.  After all, remember what he turned into.  How the once mighty can fall…  Even more badass is the fact that the traffic lights are still working so long after 99.9% of the world’s population has died.

Night of the Comet at IMDB (6.2 / 10)

Night of the Comet at Wikipedia


13 Going On 30 / New Town Kings Gig


13 Going On 30  -  Front DVD Cover (UK Release)Jennifer Garner (“Daredevil”, TV’s “Alias”) and Mark Ruffalo (“Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind”) star in this hilarious flash-forward romance about a pre-teen girl who goes from geek to glamorous.  With the help of some magic wishing dust, 13 year-old Jenna Rink (Garner) becomes 30 and gorgeous overnight, with everything she ever wanted, except for her best friend Matt (Ruffalo).  Now, this grown woman must create some magic of her own to help the little girl inside find the true love she left behind.

2004  –  Certificate: 12  –  American Film
Rating Details:  Moderate sex and drug references
8.0 out of 10

Went to see the New Town Kings last night at the Camden Underworld in London.  It’s probably the best ska band in the country.  (Quite why people listen to stuff like Coldplay when they could be listening to bands like the NTK entirely escapes me, but I think it’s probably just another symptom of the fall of humanity; the signs are all around us after all, this is just another scream of terror from the depths of hell into which we’re falling.)  The gig was great, had a little bit too much to drink but managed not to be too uncoordinated or tread on too many feet.  I really like going to gigs in the summer, as when you leave at the end in a sweat-soaked t-shirt, you don’t walk out into a dark night that has a wind chill that wouldn’t feel out of place in an Antarctic winter.  I hate that and hanging about at Paddington Station afterwards, waiting for a train that’s either packed and you can’t get a seat, or freeing cold.  (I know it’s partly my fault as I wear the same things all year, but cloakrooms are a pain so if I can’t wear it under ‘combat conditions’ or tie it around my waist, then it’s too much hassle.  I’m sure regularly undergoing a freeze-thaw cycle is good for something; it’s good for some seeds anyway.)  Have to say I’m feeling pretty fit at the moment.  I remember seeing NTK a couple of years ago and I was knackered at the end.  This time it didn’t feel that big a deal.  I truly have the body of top sportsman!  (Darts probably).

I can’t believe it, but this is the fifth comedy I’ve watch in a row.  What’s come over me?  Then again, I do choose the films I watch entirely at random, although there are a lot of complicated rules that govern this process, but at the end of the day it’s still pretty random.  Anyway, let’s not consider how clichéd or stupid this film is.  Let’s just consider it and its (I think for me) unique, pink DVD case.  To deflect the fact and consequent embarrassment that comes from my sitting and watching a chick-flick on my own, I like to consider this as a movie with a hard science fiction storyline, that just happens to have some sort of romance built into it somewhere.  We first meet our hero Jenna around the time of her 13th birthday, just before she travels about 27 years into the future, into an alternative time-line.   So okay, the ‘time-machine’ consists of some sort of ‘fairy dust’ that we never get an explanation for, but that’s the nature of these things, apparently.  Then in the future she does stuff and it all works out okay.  Right?  It is actually an excellent film, even though it’s rubbish too; I did feel myself getting emotional once or twice, (just a tiny bit of course).  It also has one of those brilliant, so-crap-it’s-good dance routine scenes in it; Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” being the victim in this case.  (You should check out all the people at IMDB seriously discussing how realistic this scene is and how poor the choreography is; and I thought I had trouble living in the real world sometimes.)  Technically I like how this film looks and sounds on DVD.

This movie uses it’s soundtrack to strongly emphasise its 80s vibe.  In this, thanks in part to the way the sound blasts out every time a song is played, it succeeds well.  Even I have to begrudgingly admit that it’s not that bad.

Recommended for magazine editors, freelance photographers, 13 year-old girls and anyone who thinks 80s pop music is of any value; (yes, you there at the back, I can see you).

No cats, chainsaws or decapitations.

Top badass moment?  Biach Tom-Tom getting her comeuppance.  So she gets a drink spilt on her, a few harsh words and some work ripped up in front of her face; but when you’re 13 and have a social position to maintain in front of your friends, that’s probably not dissimilar to having your head blown off with a big gun by the unsung hero in the climatic final scene in a bloody action film.

13 Going On 30 at IMDB (6.0 / 10)

13 Going On 30 at Wikipedia


12:01 / Drinking Coffee


12:01  -  Front DVD Cover (US Release)Jonathan Silverman (“Weekend at Bernie’s”, “Brighton Beach Memoirs”) is Barry Thomas, and Barry is having a bad day… over and over and over again.  That’s because Barry is caught in a “time bounce” – an atmospheric phenomenon – that occurs when his employer, the high-tech company Utrel, has an experiment that goes haywire.  Spared from the effect of memory loss by an electric shock at the moment of the time bounce, Barry is the only one at Utrel who has the power to change the course of fate.  And to Barry that means saving the life of the woman he loves, research scientist Lisa Fredericks (Helen Slater, “City Slickers”, “Ruthless People”).  Tautly directed by Jack Sholder (“A Nightmare on Elm Street Part 2: Freddy’s Revenge”, “The Hidden”) and co-starring Academy Award winner Martin Landau (“Crimes and Misdemeanors”), “12:01” is a spirited sci-fi thriller you’ll enjoy again and again and again! “It’s Back to the Future” meets “Groundhog Day”!

1993  –  Certificate PG-13  –  American Film
Rating Details: Violence
6.0 out of 10

I really like tea, but I also drink a lot of not very nice instant coffee too.  I drink the latter almost exclusively at work, as the caffeine helps me to do my shit.  Without this stimulant, I’d not be able to deliver my corporate payload from a sufficiently high altitude to target my in-box effectively and render its population non-belligerent.  Really.  Like Bane in Batman (the version that hung about with Poison Ivy in the 1997 “Batman and Robin” film), each cup has the same effect on me as turning the ‘power dial’ on his head did on him.  I shake a lot, growl a bit and look angry, my fingers a blur of motion on the keyboard, as I up the misspelling count to such a shocking level that even Bill Gates can’t work out what the hell I’m trying to write.  Someone once sneaked a jar of decaffeinated coffee into the office and the whole organisation nearly went bankrupt.  Conversely, at home I almost never drink coffee.  About 15 years ago I bought a filter coffee-making machine when I had someone staying with me who liked coffee.  Despite my ongoing battle with technology, it’s still fully functional.  (I guess I don’t use it very often and it’s not a very ‘mission critical’ part of my lifestyle.)  However, tonight I made myself some real coffee in it.  It was very nice!  Funny enough, it’s even nicer if you tip a load of Tia Maria in it.  I wonder what happens if you try to get drunk on coffee?

The 80s and 90s were the golden age for ‘Made for TV’ films.  This is one of them.  It’s basically “Groundhog Day” with some sci-fi bolted onto it.  It’s got Martin Landau in it, but I guess all those years of running Moonbase Alpha in “Space 1999” must have taken their toll on him, because he’s rubbish!  Never mind phoning in his role, he didn’t even make contact.  I think they just carried a cardboard cut out about from scene to scene.  In fact the whole movie is pretty rubbish.  However, despite its limitations it’s a fun, easy watch, ideal for when you can’t be bothered to concentrate on stuff.  Our hero is Barry, who basically has to save the world, or universe, or something, from remaining stuck in the same 24 hour time loop.    He’s a workshy loser in the personnel department of a company that’s doing research into faster than light travel; (don’t worry if you don’t understand, it’s really not that important).  Now I’ve seen a lot of action heroes in my time with unlikely ‘day jobs’, but this is the first time I’ve come across one from an HR department.  I now have a new-found respect for personnel staff, they kick ass.  (Where I work we call them People Services, which I’m not sure quite conjures up the correct mental image to some.)  Despite its many faults, this is a decent enough thriller/romance/comedy to waste 94 minutes of your life on.

The soundtrack does its job, collects its pay check and leaves.

Recommended for anyone working in human resources, or as a scientist carrying out cutting edge research into particle physics.

No cats, chainsaws or decapitations.

Top badass moment?  Our hero finds himself breaking into his own employer’s offices.   The security guards, already alerted to the fact, are polite but inept, as Bazza somehow manages to grab one of their guns out of its holster.  Pretty impressive for an HR administrator.  However, what’s really badass is the threat he uses to distract them as he’s doing so.  “Stop giving me a hard time, because I’m going to have to come back here in the morning and make sure that you’re fired before we get here; and don’t think I can’t do it either, I’m in personnel.”  A terrifying threat in these economically tough times.

12:01 at IMDB (6.7 / 10)

12:01 at Wikipedia