Posts tagged “Ohio

Edge of Seventeen / When Guitars Were Illegal


Edge of Seventeen  -  Front DVD Cover  -  UK Release

One of the classics in contemporary American gay cinema, “Edge of Seventeen” recalls one high school student’s eventful and raucous coming-out during the steamy summer of 1984.  Eric (Chris Stafford) is a 17-year-old senior from Ohio who takes a summer job at a local amusement park.  Working alongside his best gal pal Maggie (Tina Holmes), the two idle away the days until Eric meets Rod (Andersen Gabrych), a sexy and openly gay college student.  Soon sparks fly and Eric must confront feelings he had long suppressed.  A funny, entertaining and insightful coming-of-age tale, Edge of Seventeen is enhanced by a great ’80s soundtrack (including Bronski Beat and Eurythmics), terrific period design and a high-energy, upbeat tempo, making this an exciting and original take on growing up and finding love.

1998  –  Certificate: 15  –  Rating Details: Some strong language, sex and drug use  –  American Film  –  7.5 out of 10

In the early/mid 80s, punk and new wave disintegrated into a mostly horrible hardcore noise of badly played, pretend heavy metal.  At the same time, 2 tone came, saw, conquered and quickly left.  Meanwhile, the charts filled up with synth-based pop and whining, pretty-boys and girls singing about mostly nothing.  (Unlike today, where it’s full of groups of boring guys with beards and guitars singing about absolutely nothing, boy-bands who get off on arousing ten-year-old girls, and wailing woman who are so heavy auto-tuned they may as well be aliens.)  And maybe my memory is playing tricks on me, but actually I’m pretty sure that for part of the early-mid 80s electric guitars where made illegal, (unless you were the Housemartins).  However, all these new bands were British.  I can’t really remember what was going on in America at the time, chart music-wise, but as a source of New Romantic and synthpop it really doesn’t feature in my memory.  I will admit to a certain, limited fondness for some of the music, but most of it wasn’t that good; but even Spandau Ballet had one decent song, (although the video should be certified X for fashion and pretentiousness.)

This film is set during that period and it has to be said it gets its look and vibe spot on.  It’s a shame it wasn’t released until 1998, as otherwise it might well be remembered fondly in the same way as many real 80s films from that period are now.  Maybe having a gay lead character in a teen drama would have been a bit too subversive for mainstream US cinema at that time.  After all, gay people (including lesbians) are obviously the 80s equivalent of Islamic State, hell bend on destroying the status quo of everything everyone else holds dear.  This film follows the same basic story as most coming-of-age films do, (but with added gay angst).  It’s well made, well-acted and at times it’s genuinely touching; (i.e. it’s got scenes that are hanky-friendly).  The ending is a bit jarring though and felt a bit out of line with the rest of the film.  Maybe I just wanted more of a traditional, happy conclusion; (I think I must be going soft or something).  For a movie about a young gay guy and the New Romantic scene in general, everyone really does come across as very typical and real.  It would have been so easy for it to features lots of caricatures.  Well worth watching.

This is a movie that majors on its soundtrack and with a long playlist of bona fide 80s hits, it contributes significantly to making the film what it is.  I was pleased to find out that despite my declining years and way too many gigs, my ears are still good enough to hear Jimmy Somerville’s singing.

The trailer’s a solid effort.

Movie Weather Forecast.  Warm, dry and sunny throughout.

Recommended for fast-food restaurant workers, New Romantics and any teenagers thinking of coming out.

No cats, chainsaws or decapitations.

Top badass moment?  There isn’t one.  Normally this is a sign of a potentially crappy movie, one filled with horrible characters, or one I was too drunk or tired when I watched it to remember properly now, but in this case it’s really a reflection of a lot of normal people doing their best.  That in itself is badass.

Edge of Seventeen at IMDB (6.8 / 10)
Edge of Seventeen at Wikipedia
Edge of Seventeen at Roger Ebert (2 / 4)
Edge of Seventeen trailer at YouTube

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The Mighty / King Arthur (The First Superhero)


The Mighty  -  Front DVD Cover  -  UK ReleaseAward-winning actress Sharon Stone (“Sphere”, “Casino”, “Basic Instinct”) and Gillian Anderson (“The X-Files”) star in this uplifting motion picture that’s received overwhelming critical acclaim.  With his loving and supportive mother (Stone), 13-year-old Kevin (Kierin Culkin) moves in next door to another teen, Max.  Though both have problems that label them as outcasts, Kevin and Max discover that by proudly combining their strengths and uniting as one, they can overcome their individual limitations and triumph over any adversity.  As this pair sets out on a series of courageous adventures, they find the mightiest treasure of all: friendship.  With Gena Rowlands (“Playing By Heart”) and a stellar supporting cast.

1998  –  Certificate: PG  –  American Film
Rating Details:  Threat of violence
8.0 out of 10

Had a bit of a scare this morning, when I woke up to a cloudy sky.  Was that the end of summer for another seven years?  Fortunately, things have got sorted out this afternoon and it’s now lovely and sunny again.  We seem to have temporarily lost our Level 3 Heat-Health Watch status, but it’s still managed to get to 32C in my living room this afternoon.  It was 33C in here yesterday, a new Cactus World record and a long way from last winter’s ghastly low of 14C.  This film has inspired me to reach for new heights too.

Almost everything about this film annoys me, from the entirely unrealistic plot, through to the emotionally manipulative ending.  You’ll find more realism on the front page of the Daily Mail than in this movie.  It even manages to ‘Disneyfy’ two characters from “Mad Mad: Beyond Thunderdome” and turn them into two ‘kids with issues’.  Even the ‘bad guy’ gets a Disney-like make-over and ends up about as threatening a red traffic light.  It’s also got Sharon Stone, Gillian Anderson and Meat Loaf in it too, yet fails to turn in a single, sexually provocative scene, alien or overwrought rock anthem.  What a waste; that latter lot would make a great film.  Now I’ve trashed it I will say that this is actually a really nice and enjoyable movie.  You know how when someone complements you and you know they don’t really mean it, but somehow you still like the fact that they said it anyway?  Well this movie feels a lot like that.  It’s like they vivisected all the great family movies to identify what makes them ‘work’ and then injected it into this one.  You know it’s not really that good but you still secretly like it anyway.  The two youngsters at the centre of the story manage to be the heroes they’re destined to be, without being too annoying in that ‘Hollywood way’; I found myself wanting them to succeed, despite the stupid plot.  What’s worse, the film borrows from Arthurian legend and I found myself thinking, why do I watch Batman etc when I could be lusting after the original superheroes?  And they’re Brits too.  Never mind the Justice League or The Avengers, here’s King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table; questing and kicking bad guy butt hundreds of years before Captain America had even been conceived.  Suitably horrified by my own lack of patriotic pride, as soon as I’d finished watching it I went and bought myself a copy of T. H. White’s “Once and Future King”, the definitive version of the story of King Arthur.  It’s a book (well sort of five really), that to my shame I’ve never read.  I’ve also burnt all my Batman and Superman DVDs too.  (Okay, so I made that last bit up.)  At work, I will no longer do funding-raising.  Instead, I will go on quests, to seek wisdom, resource further adventures and bring clarity of mind to the unbelievers.  True, it’s exactly the same thing, but it sounds a hell of a lot more exciting this way.  I will cease to fill in application forms; instead I’ll become a seeker of truth, enlightenment and the pathway to justice.  My armour with protect me from the blows of my enemies, whilst my heart will vanquish over adversity, as I rise a hero from the flames of battle.  I will walk to the office no longer; instead I will ride into combat!  A knight proves his worthiness by his deeds!  Or something like that anyway.

I have to admit I do like the soundtrack, despite Sting’s presence.  It’s a combination of the restrained and the epic, with some sub-Irish folksiness thrown in for good measure.

Recommended for King Arthur, trailer trash with a heart of gold and over and under-achieving kids.

No cats, chainsaws or decapitations.

Top badass moment?  In a film highlighting the actions of two kids fighting adversity, badass moments abound.  But the most badass of all is Max ripping the radiator off the wall, before telling his father ‘the truth’. After a lifetime of shit, turning on ‘the beast’ is pure badass.  Well done Max!

The Mighty at IMDB (7.1 / 10)

The Mighty at Wikipedia


Feed / My Diet: Day 46


Feed  -  Front DVD Cover (USA Release)Intensely grotesque and shocking as hell, “Feed” is a heavyweight thrill ride through the depths of depravity.  A veteran of cyberporn investigations, Australian cop Philip Jackson is no stranger to the dangerous side of sexual fetishes.  He may have found his sickest case yet when he discovers a sinister side to an American website devoted to fat-admiring men and obese women called “feeders” and “gainers.”  Could the man behind it all be force-feeding missing women to death?  Tense, dark and deeply disturbing, director Brett Leonard (“The Lawnmower Man”, “Virtuosity”) takes the crime-thriller genre to a twisted, gut-wrenching new level.

2005  –  Certificate: Not Rated  –  USA
7.5 out of 10

This film provided me with the ideal opportunity to review how my secret, special, weight management programme (aka my diet) is going.  I’ve now been on it for 46 days.  Mystifyingly, I haven’t lost 35kg yet, my initial target.  I thought it would only take a week or two, but apparently it takes long than that.  I don’t actually own any scales, so it’s difficult to be sure, but my wardrobe of retro trousers and other clothing from the 80s and 90s still remains stubbornly undersized.  It’s amazing how modern washing powders make most clothes shrink, isn’t it?  However, I do think I’ve lost some weight; if I breathe in enough, my trousers definitely seem looser.  You know how they say that ex-smokers are the worst type of non-smoker?  Well, what really drives me on is looking forward to being able to go up to fat people in the street and tell them they’re weak-willed, hideously ugly, pathetic, lazy, stupid and a serious drain on the NHS that people like me are forced to pay for; basically human garbage.  Most of them can’t even be bothered to breathe in a bit; no community spirit at all, they’re just so selfish.  In comparison, I have a Zen-like ability to control my mind and body, like David Carradine in the 70s TV series “Kung Fu”.  Like him, my training and sense of social responsibility repeatedly forces me out into the open, to fight for justice or protect the underdog; which in my case would mainly mean telling fat people they’re fat, well once I’m not one of them, obviously.  Sometimes you have to be tough to be kind.   I’m not without compassion though.  In school you learn about epidemics involving bubonic plague, flu, smallpox, malaria, cholera, etc; but I can tell you nothing’s as bad as the present Obesity Epidemic.  I’ve seen what it’s like; cakes, sweets, beer, burgers, takeaways, chocolate, all sitting in shop after shop on the high street.  It’s awful, having to stuff yourself silly with junk food and other crap; let me tell you it’s Hell out there.  I’m glad to say I’ve never suffered from bubonic plague, but nothing could be as bad as having to sit on the sofa all evening watching TV and eating a big tin of sweets.

This is another ‘cop on the edge’ film, taking the law into his own hands, who doesn’t get on with his boss, etc, etc, zzzzz.  Fortunately it’s also got a pretty unique focus for the story, some great characters and a nice, dark, stylish atmosphere; I really liked how the music was used in it too.  And let’s not forget our hero’s somewhat vivacious girlfriend.  Burnt out by his time as a ‘cyberporn cop’, Australian police officer Phillip Jackson begins investigating the activities of a guy who feeding a woman to death on the Internet, whilst others are betting on when she’ll die.  When he gets told to ‘take some time off’, he decides to go to America to track down this guy.  Depending on your world view, you’ll either find this movie perverted, cool or totally gross.  I liked it, but I can image a lot of people hating it.  Beyond the obvious plot, there’s quite a lot going on under the surface as well, about the nature of relationships, love, all that girly stuff.  Interestingly, the deleted senses remove a whole subsection of the film’s plot; it’s a while since I’ve seen that happen.  I recommend having a really big meal and then sitting down to watch it with some of your larger friends.

No cats, chainsaws or decapitations.

Recommended for fatties of course.  It provides the idea incentive to go on a diet.

Top badass moment?  Bad guy Carter’s conversation with Phillip Jackson in the hotel room.  It’s a load of psycho babble but it sounds sort of cool, until you remember he’s a complete nutter.  I’m not sure the coffee was that great though.

Feed at IMDB (5.3/10)


The Rocker: 4.0 Stars


The Rocker  -  Front DVD Cover (UK)Rainn Wilson (TV’s “The Office An American Workplace”) takes centre stage in this wildly irreverent comedy about living your dreams – and embarrassing your family – at any cost.  Twenty years after being kicked out of his nearly famous ‘80s rock group, Robert “Fish” Fishman (Wilson) gets a hilarious second chance at stardom when he joins his nephew’s high school garage band.  Without missing a beat, Fish vows to reclaim the rock-god throne he always thought he deserved… while taking his much younger band-mates along for the rides of their lives!

2008  –  Certificate: 12  –  USA
Rating Details:  Moderate sex references and infrequent muffled strong language

Today is a special day.  From the mid-late 80s until the mid-late 90s, I didn’t really go to see many gigs; in fact off the top of my head I can only remember one.  Then I went to see China Drum at ULU (University of London Union) and everything changed.  It was the band that singlehandedly reintroduced me to live music.  Then after three albums, China Drum split up and the world became a slightly more crappy place.  It’s been at the top of my “wish they would reform” list for years.  Now, twelve years on, China Drum is playing a gig in February in London.  To say I’m a bit excited is like suggesting the sun is a bit warm.  This movie is about something a little similar.

I’m a bit of a sucker for films about music and bands and I really like Rainn Wilson, so it’s probably no surprise that I enjoyed this one.  There’s nothing especially groundbreaking about it, but it’s fun and at times really very funny; it has some great lines in it.  It just about manages to stay on the right side of becoming a parody à la “Spinal Tap” and Fish remains a likable character.  It seems to get compared to “School of Rock” a lot, but I think this is the better of the two films as it feels (okay slightly) more grounded.  It has a number of clever little references in it to other films and ‘pop culture’ and there’s even a small cameo from Peter Best, The Beatles’ original drummer.  The DVD has loads of extras too.  Highly recommended.

Recommended for people who used to be into music and then ‘grew out of it’, but secretly wishes they hadn’t.

No cats, chainsaws or decapitations.

Top badass moment?  The ending is terribly clichéd, but who doesn’t want to get one over on someone who got one over on them years ago?  There’s nothing like holding a lifelong grudge; even I have one or two.  It’s not the most grown-up way to get rid of the latter, but beating a long-standing nemesis is most certainly badass.  Rock on!

The Rocker at IMDB (6.2/10)