Captain Mainwaring and his men create comedy mayhem when they go on manoeuvres with other military companies under the eyes of a real Major-General. The result is disaster after disaster… After the shambles, the Walmington-On-Sea defenders return home just as a German scout plane crashes near their town. Its crew captures the church hall and holds the vicar and mayor as hostages. The Major-General sends for the Army, the Army sends for the Navy, the Navy sends for the Marines, the Marines call in the police, and the police call the fire brigade. While this is going on, the irrepressible irregulars of Dad’s Army hilariously demonstrate that they really can do the job they were organised for…
1971 – Certificate: U – British Film
7.0 out of 10
Last week saw the end of an era in Cactus World. About 15 years ago I became the owner of a 1L bottle of Bell’s Whisky. I think it came from a duty-free shop at an airport somewhere, although its exact heritage is now lost in the mists of time. Last week I finished it. I’d decided I wanted a drink one evening, but fancied something a bit different, so I ended up messing about with different whisky mixers; and suddenly it was empty. It’s strange to think that Cactus World didn’t even exist when I first had that bottle. (Along with most things from the era when Cactus World first came into existence, it was handed over by its evil predecessor, The Real World.) And I had some sort of life and ambitions in those days too. Then again, my Internet connection is now over 2,000 times faster, I’ve got a bigger TV and China Drum has reformed. I’m probably not the world’s biggest whisky/whiskey/bourbon drinker. To be honest I’m not sure I even like the taste very much, but feel I ought to make the effort. So now I’m down to my last four and a half bottles of the stuff. These include a bottle of Bladnoch 18-year-old single malt. This is most expensive booze I’ve ever purchased (I think it was about £60) and came from Scotland’s most southerly distillery. (This has sadly just gone into administration). A bottle of Jack Daniels Old No. 7 and a bottle of Bushmills 10-year-old single malt. And finally, a bottle of Amrut Indian single malt, which is the strongest alcohol I own at 61.9%. I’ve never opened any of these. Then again, I’ve never opened my bottle of Tesco Organic Vodka, which is even older and has spent nearly its whole life in my freezer. Tesco stopped selling it in 2006. Dad’s Army is even older than this bottle of vodka and most of it’s episodes predate punk, yet it still lots of fun; like whisky.
I don’t just watch films. No, I’m far more multidimensional than that. Far less documented is the fact that as well as watching films, I also have a TV series on the go at the same time too. Watched between the films when I don’t have the time or inclination to watch anything longer. I rarely binge on these, preferring instead to view a few episodes a week. Over the past few years I’ve made my way through “Andromeda” (five seasons), “The Likely Lads” / “Whatever Happened to the Likely Lads” (five series and a film, although loads of episodes are missing) and “Red Dwarf” (nine series, as there was at the time I watched them). Dad’s Army (on TV) ran for nine series, plus a film and three Christmas Specials, from 1968 to 1977. A few early episodes are missing, but most are still around. I’m now near the end of series 8, so I thought I ought to take a look at the film, which was made between series 3 and 4. Chronologically it sits near the start of the whole story, so I guess I should have watched it earlier on, although as it sort of overlaps the TV episodes doing so would probably have confused me greatly. The film is really like watching three episodes back to back and I suspect that’s how the script was developed originally. Although it has most of the continuing cast/characters in it and the same writers, it was filmed in widescreen and doesn’t have a laughter track, so it feels a bit weird watching it. It just doesn’t ‘feel’ quite right. But it’s still a lot of fun and has the gentle humour that characterised the TV series. Essential viewing if you liked it on television. Part of the fourth best British sitcom of all time.
There’re small musical elements in the movie that aren’t generally in the TV series, but really, they don’t make a lot of difference. If anything, they make it sound a bit like one of those 50s black and white Hollywood movies, that used to be shown on Saturday afternoons on BBC2 when I was young.
This is one of these films that doesn’t seem to have an official trailer. Weird.
Recommended for old soldiers, the patriotic and heroes.
No cats, chainsaws or decapitations.
Top badass moment? Pompous he may have been, but never a coward, Captain George Mainwaring rarely came face-to-face with any Nazis in the TV series. However, this film provides his greatest moment and for a brief few minutes he really is the hero that in his own mind he always was. Captain Mainwaring, the hero that Britain both deserved and needed. Badass.
Academy Award Winner Cuba Gooding Jr. and Academy Award Nominee Terrence Howard lead a powerful ensemble cast in this high-flying epic inspired by the real-life adventures of the first African-American combat unit to serve in World War II. Italy, 1944. As the war takes its toll on Allied forces in Europe, a squadron of black pilots known as the Tuskegee Airmen are finally given the chance to prove themselves in the sky… even as they battle discrimination on the ground. Featuring jaw-dropping aerial action and thrilling special effects, Red Tails is a breathtaking tribute to the unsung heroes who rose above extraordinary challenges and ultimately soared into history.
2012 – Certificate 12 – American Film
Rating Details: Moderate war violence
8.5 out of 10
When I was young I was kind of obsessed with aeroplanes. In particular, those used during the Second World War. I used to read as much as I could about them, make and paint models of them to hang from my bedroom ceiling, and see them in museums and shows whenever I could. I knew EVERYTHING there was to know about them. I also used to buy as many copies of the Commando war comics as I could, (just the ones featuring WW2 aircraft, although I did occasionally stoop to reading stories set during WW1 or about gliders). In these, I discovered how the brave, British Tommy basically won WW2 on his own, all the Germans were called Fritz or Hans and all they ever seemed to say was “Gott im Himmel!” or “mein gott!”, as an RAF Spitfire or Hurricane blasted to pieces whatever bit of German engineering the unfortunate Hans and Fritz happened to be in at the time. (I think the Italians fared even worse, as they always seemed to be presented as either cowards or traitors.) A few stories were set in Asia or North Africa, but most featured Europe. Despite all this, I like to think I’ve grown up with a fairly balanced view of Germans and history. In fact I had a lovely German girlfriend for many years, until she saw sense and left me. (Somewhat ironically, the printing of the comics was moved to Germany last year.) It’s many years since I threw them all away (and seeing the price some early copies now sell for, I wish I’d kept them), but my love of the aircraft has remained. “The Battle of Britain” is one of my all-time favourite films. Sadly, there aren’t a huge number of such films and there’s not exactly a lot being made these days, so I was quite excited when this one was released. So were my childhood memories trashed by the Yanks?
This movie is two things. Firstly, it’s a drama about the first American, Black fighter pilots in WW2 and the shockingly ignorant behaviour towards them by their own side. It’s also an action film about brave, gung-ho heroes, blowing up loads of Nazi stuff. Unfortunately the two things don’t quite go together. Only someone wearing with a silly-looking, pointy white hat, (or possibly some Daily Mail readers or EDF morons) are not going to accept the point of the first element. Although it provides a framework for everything else, this isn’t really looked into in enough depth to be totally satisfying. If simply raising awareness of what went on was the point then this part was a success, (it was all new to me), but as a drama about what happened, it was a bit ‘empty’. This brings us to the action side of things. In many ways this film was a bit of an ego project for George Lucas, but given his background you’d hope it would be fun; and it is. Nearly everything was created as computer graphics and watching it on Blu-ray they looked fab. The dogfight sequences are worth watching for their own sake. The film seems to have attracted a lot of criticism, but what did people expect? It’s about as realistic as “Star Wars” or “Indiana Jones”, but as a movie that bought the vibe of my Commando comics to life, it did good. For a lot of the time I forgot that most of the characters were Black and just enjoyed the sight of our heroes blasting away at all manner of Nazi hardware and personnel; trains, fighter aces, airfields, destroyers and even the Messerschmitt Me 262 jet all get blown to bits. The scrip is far from perfect and once or twice it felt more like I was watching Snoop Dogg rather than a 1940’s guy flying a plane; sometimes the characters seemed too modern. After starting with two clichéd lines of dialogue that really should only been seen in a comic book frame, it did finally produce a couple of powerfully emotional scenes towards the end. I loved it for what it is, but I can understand why it disappoints so many others.
The soundtrack is decent enough and it felt there’s an awful lot of it used.
The trailer is also decent enough, if a bit superficial.
Recommended for Second World War aircraft obsessives and war comic fans; not recommend for military historians, racists or ‘Lucas haters’.
No cats, chainsaws or decapitations.
Top badass moment? Joe “Lightening” Little does two strafing runs over a Nazi destroyer in his P-51 Mustang. The ship basically blows up. That’s badass. For that reason alone, we shouldn’t let a little something like military realism, the ‘law of averages’ or historical accuracy spoil the action. That’s what the History Channel is for.
In the hit sci-fi thriller “The Philadelphia Experiment” the sole survivor of a wartime experiment is catapulted 41 years into the future and must race to save the world as we know it. It’s now 10 years later, 1993. David Herdeg (Brad Johnson), the surviving hero, has built a life for himself and his young son that’s unravelling fast. The U.S. military is conducting another Experiment, one that not only alters Herdeg’s DNA makeup, but also threatens the fabric of the entire universe. The Experiment’s goal is to transport a Stealth Fighter back to 1943 to use as the ultimate war machine, but its effect hurls Herdeg into another time warp, still 1993, but a 1993 where Germany has won the war. Can Herdeg win the race against time and save his son and the world from a terrible future? Or will the future be a twisted reality distorted by the Philadelphia Experiment?
1993 – Certificate: PG-13 – American Film
Rating Details: Military violence
6.0 out of 10
Who actually shops in Marks and Spencer, unless they want a new bra or a pair of socks? It’s like a John Lewis, except with all the interesting stuff removed. For a start, it only sells a limited range of household things, none of which anyone would need; unless you feel owning a big, weirdly shaped glass jar full of ‘interestingly’ coloured marbles is essential. Or a pastel coloured cushion with tassels on it rates as highly for you as food, shelter and safety. Then there’s the Food Hall. These huge caverns are full of food nobody really buys. True, it’s all very nice and tasty looking, but it’s also all eye-wateringly expensive, pre-pealed, pre-prepared, over-packaged and marketed as over-valued ‘superfood’. I don’t know why M&S doesn’t just take that find step and pre-digest it for you too and sell that instead. In fact, just send it your money and save yourself from even having to bothering to do the shopping in the first place. The branch I went to, near Southampton, has its entrance 5m from a huge Sainsbury; why does an M&S Food Hall even exist there? A small, plastic bowl-like container full of cherry tomatoes on the vine, asparagus tips and rocket, costs about a million pounds. (Whatever happened to lumps of cucumber, lettuce and grated carrot?) At the sort of prices it charges, I’d expect the rocket to be a fully functioning space shuttle, complete with crew. Just before Christmas I won £500 of Marks and Spencer vouchers in a competition. Unable to use them online, (and what’s the point of vouchers these days you can’t use online), I finally plucked up courage last week to go into an M&S store and use them. It was a scary experience. I had no idea how to behave. I was convinced I’d get arrested for breaking some sort of social code of conduct, only known to people who have large jars of marbles in their bathrooms. I was served by four people all at the same time, who insisted on wrapping everything up in millions of layers of paper to ‘protect’ it. Do I look that clumsy? What did they think I was going to do with it all? I’m now the proud owner of the most expense set of pans it sells, two kitchen knives that actually cut, some glasses that match one another and a set of chopping boards that aren’t home to most of the world’s infectious diseases. (And being the system-smashing rebel I am, I’m presently using the blue one that’s got the fish symbol on it, even though I don’t ever eat fish.) I’ve also spent the last week or so living on strawberries, cherries, nectarines and ‘speciality’ apples. My body thinks it’s been irrigated with bleach, such is the purity of my insides now. I did manage to find some packets of pasta hiding away in the corner of the store, but the rice defied my best efforts to locate it anywhere. This film is about someone who finds himself somewhere he’s not used to being.
The Philadelphia Experiment was an interesting, if horrendously dated-looking film that came out in 1984. Nine years later we got the sequel. In many ways this is a better film, although it still manages to look terrible dated. It’s portrayal of an America 50 years after the Nazis won World War Two is really quite nicely presented. Very Orwellian. I was interested to see that the concrete HQ ‘bunker’ that features in the film looks a lot like many of the new stations on the Jubilee Line in London. The sight of a Nighthawk ‘stealth fighter’ decked out in swastikas makes a suitably big impression on the senses. A few elements in the film reminded me of The Terminator too. All the father-son-baseball nonsense at the beginning was a bit nauseating, but once we got past this it was a decent enough movie. Gerrit Graham puts in a good show as the slightly mad Dr. William Mailer. Sadly, the sum of its parts is not up to its individual elements; it feels like a film that ought to be better than it actually is.
The soundtrack is a decent effort, with a mixture of what you’d expect, along with a bit of cowboy music and some suitably overwrought Richard Wagner.
Recommended for Nazis, slightly mad scientists, pilots and baseball fans.
No cats, chainsaws or decapitations.
Top badass moment? David kills Mailer’s father, which results in some time-based shenanigans and Mailer disappearing, thus solving a number of tricky challenges. I often do something quite similar myself, which makes it badass. I can never understand why people have to complicate life so much. If you don’t like something, just go back in time and try again. It’s not rocket science.
Welcome to the terrifying world of “Little Deaths”, where everyday people are thrust into nightmares that push the limits of sensuality and violence beyond the breaking point. From a young homeless woman sucked into a whirlpool of cruelty by a wealthy couple, to a call girl used as a tool in a diabolical medical scheme and a domineering woman with a very unusual phobia, no one escapes unscathed and most don’t make it out alive. Featuring a mesmerizing soundtrack and unpredictable twists and turns, this stylish, groundbreaking vision of terror has been hailed as “one of the most unique and challenging horror anthologies in quite some time” (FEARnet).
2011 – Certificate: Unrated – British Film
8.5 out of 10
Margaret Thatcher has died. The human personification of Marmite; you either love her or hate her. An old woman of 87, suffering from senile dementia and living in a nursing home, (well okay, in the Ritz Hotel in London), has gone to a better place. Well better that is, until she starts ‘sorting things out’ there. I’ve watched loads of movies where the dead do (or try to) come back to life, with varying results; right about now I expect that a line of refugees from Heaven or Hell (depending on your point of view) to be winding its way back to Earth, resulting in a humanitarian crises that will make Syria look like Platform 5 at Reading Station after a train’s been cancelled. The amount of shit written about her everywhere in the past few days has been quite overpowering; I’d forgotten just what a hated witch she was (and still is). She’s getting a better press in Argentina than here! I guess it’s easier to be rude about someone once they’ve died; it not like she’s going to get up out of her bed and twat anyone with her handbag. You’re all tough guys now, aren’t you? I can’t understand why anyone had a problem with her selling all the stuff we already owned back to us; sounds like a great business model to me. I certainly enjoyed myself as one of the 3,500,000 unemployed in the 1980s, along with my time on that Government training programme that suddenly got cancelled one day; I wasn’t able to afford to buy those lovely oranges from the greengrocers on the hill in Rayners Lane after that. And who can forget her services to vegan-kind, in her earlier guise as The Milk Snatcher? Smashing the Unions, fighting General Galtieri and dealing with a party full of Tories would have been easy after dealing with the UK’s dairy industry. I hate how people always dwell on the negative things she did. She won three general elections for goodness sake; the only other person to do that recently was Tony Blair and everyone loves him. Northerners, they’ve got such a blinked view of life; they can only see as far as the end of the mine shaft they’re working in, never the big picture. Other than in Preston, where I think I still owe about £25 in Poll Tax, I can now freely explore the former council estates of Britain, safe in the knowledge that I’m surrounded by good, lower-middle-class owner-occupiers working in IT, breathing in air that’s free of heavy-industry pollutants or coal smog, knowing that thanks to Right to Buy and the resulting shortage of public housing and the artificially inflated cost of houses, I’ll be stuck in privately rented accommodation forever; until that is, I need to be moved to a nursing home like the Ritz. Thank you Maggie, I’ll miss you. You were great in “The Iron Lady” too; an excellent horror film that you really did look a lot like Meryl Streep in. Anyway, I’m looking forward to playing my “In Memoriam: Margaret Thatcher” CD from Chumbawamba that got delivered yesterday. I ordered it on 3rd March 2009, so it’s about time it arrived. This is a horror film too.
Actually it’s a horror anthology. I don’t normally like these but this one was actually really good. Three stories. The first stars a guy who looks scarily like George Osborne acting like Iain Duncan Smith, demonstrating the Government’s latest policy to deal with ‘welfare scroungers’. The second features a bucket of semen; it’s been a while since I came across one of those. And the final one’s about guy in a dog mask with a dominant girlfriend who’s terrified of dogs. All pretty grim stuff. Maggie was right, there really isn’t any such thing as society. They’re all pretty pervy though.
The music varies between the three films, but is generally fine, if a bit forgettable. However, the final one ends with a section that’s top stuff; brilliant.
No cats, chainsaws or decapitations.
Recommended for Government ministers, vivisectionists, homeless people, Nazis, prostitutes, drug-addicts and animal lovers. You will find yourself in at least one of these films.
Top badass moment? When you’ve just been done over by a George Osborne look-alike and his wife, it’s good to know that you and your mates will still get the last laugh. Another Government policy to deal with spending on welfare goes wrong…
Once again, my ego is crushed as an epic film disappoints me. I was so totally convinced that this was a documentary about doing my Financial Plan at work a couple of months ago. Okay, so it says on the box that it was made in 1962, but I thought that was just a typo. In the old days (well last year) we used to write budget forecasts, but now we prepare Financial Plans. These involve filling in hundreds and hundreds of little boxes with numbers. (Technically they’re rectangles, but you know what I mean.) Anyway, it takes a long time to fill in all those little boxes and doing so makes me feel quite heroic, even though, at the time, it’s hell. Every number I fill in that represents income is like a shot at the evil, triple alliance of decrepit resources, job loss and bankruptcy. It’s like I’m defending Cactus World and its allies from certain doom, which in fact is exactly what I am doing. So imagine my disappointment when I found out this film was about something called the Second World War. Bloody hell, it’s not even the original, it’s just a sequel. How ego deflating is that?
1962 – Certificate: PG – USA
Rating Details: Mild Violence
There are some great war films out there; this isn’t one of them. Despite its epic scale, it somehow doesn’t feel epic very often. It has so many characters in it that you scarcely get to know any of them before we’re whisked off to meet someone else. Yet you never really get a feel for the magnitude of what’s going on, or learn anything much either. It doesn’t work as a character study film (“Private Ryan”) or a fictional documentary (“Battle of Britain”); it’s just a load of A-listers in cameos with their own little stories, few of which actually join up in any useful way. As far as the Invasion goes, all I learnt was that we were having a normal crappy summer weather-wise, the Nazi’s made loads of mistakes because they were too arrogant, the rest of us blundered about in the dark lost and the air forces from both sides basically went on holiday. It wouldn’t really matter of course, but this was a significant point in history and a lot of people lost their lives or were horribly injured, etc. They deserve something better than Robert Mitchum and John Wayne wondering about acting like gung-ho heroes; Wayne with his broken ankle and Mitchum with his soggy cigar and drug-addict eyes. I can where Captain Kirk got his inspiration from. It’s sort of annoying how it just ends too; I know it’s The Longest Day and all that, but after 171 minutes I’d liked to have had a bit of closure, but it just kind of, ends; not unlike the trailer acually.
Recommended for people with three hours to spare.
No cats, decapitations or chainsaws.
Top badass moment? There were plenty of heroes in this movie, but the real badass ones are those that actually took part in this event for real. Yes, even the American ones. Ironically, modern Germany is light years away from the one depicted in this film, whereas some of us still think we’re fighting the war and running an empire. Losers.
I returned to work today after two weeks off. 336 e-mails awaited my attention. Not only that, but every time I did anything with any of them my copy of Outlook produced millions (well okay one each time then) of dialogue boxes screaming a warning at me that my mailbox was 95% full. (Thanks Bill, just one at the start of the day would have been fine.) Bloody Hell, it’s not the 3 Minute Warning, it’s just a bit of space on a hard drive somewhere, not a virus of “28 Days Later” proportions. What an overreaction it all was; I can’t stand anyone that exaggerates things. So anyway, I had in mind to now go and make a connection between this film and my hellish day on the frontline in the e-mail war zone, but somehow I can’t bring myself to do so; it’s just too much of a serious movie to trivialise it in that way.
1985 – Certificate: 15 – Soviet Union
Rating Details: Strong violence and holocaust footage
This is a bleak, bleak film. It starts off pretty depressing and then goes downhill. Take a trip alongside a youngster called Florya Gaishun, who proudly joins the Belarusian partisans (the local resistance movement) during the Second World War and slowly changes before our eyes into an aged, half-deaf, psychotic teenager, over a period of one summer. Yes, it really is as much fun as it sounds. Made in the Soviet Union in 1985, it does at times have the feel of a propaganda film, except that in those, the ‘good guys’ are normally seen as happy, courageous and generally over-achieving. In this they simply seem wretched, whilst the Nazis come across as Hell on Earth, destroying villages, stealing everything, murdering children and raping woman, whilst taking a lot of pleasure in doing so. It takes a bit of time to get going too (it’s 137 minutes long) and I found some of the editing a bit confusing, as the passage of time wasn’t always easy to gauge. It’s not Hollywood so there’re no heroes in this film. Kudos to the actors for some of what they had to go through too, wading through bogs, being shot at with live ammunition and generally having to run away from explosions and stuff. The acting, especially from the lead character, is top draw stuff. I was a bit uncomfortable about the scenes that involved some of the horses or the cow in them though; it looked a bit too much like they were being treated in entirely inappropriate ways; it might look realistic, but there’s no way that sort of thing is acceptable in a film. This isn’t an especially gory movie, it doesn’t need to be. However much gross horror and torture porn I watch, it’s films that’re based on reality that I find the most horrific. This is one of those. If you need convincing that war isn’t much fun and isn’t something you’d want to get involved with, here’s a good place to start. Probably one of the best war films ever made. It’s not exactly what you’d call entertaining, but it’s the sort of movie that ought to be seen.
Recommended for anyone that’s had a bad day and wants to put it in prospective.
No cats and no decapitations.
Top badass moment? I’m not sure about this film, but anyone who lived through the sort of things depicted in it and managed to keep a sense of proportion in their lives afterwards, is totally badass.