Posts tagged “Ontario

Lars and the Real Girl / Doing Less Than Nothing


Lars and the Real Girl  -  Front DVD cover  -  US Release

Sometimes you find love where you’d least expect it.  Just ask Lars (Academy Award Nominee Ryan Gosling), a sweet but quirky guy who thinks he’s found the girl of his dreams in a life-sized doll named Bianca.  Lars is completely content with his artificial girlfriend, but when he develops feelings for Margo, an attractive co-worker, Lars finds himself lost in a hilariously unique love triangle, hoping to somehow discover the real meaning of true love.  You’ll be swept off your feet by “Lars and the Real Girl”, hailed as “One of the Year’s 10 Best” by The Associated Press.

2007  –  Certificate: PG-13  –  American Film
Rating Details:  Some Sex-Related Content
8.0 out of 10

I’m on something called Annual Leave at the moment.  This is a strange, but rather welcome concept through which I get paid my salary to do sod all.  In fact for the last two days I’ve done even less than that and in doing so have actually discovered a new physics, which I’ve decided to call “Anti-nothing”.  This is a weird, quantum effect wherein you can actually do less than nothing at all.  It’s pretty scary stuff too.  It’s only through washing my sleeping bag at one point that I avoided crossing over the non-event horizon and falling into some sort of parallel dimension where no one does anything ever.  I’ve never been there myself, although I think I’ve met a few people who have.  Doing nothing has given me the time to enjoy the view out of my window a little more than usual.  I’ve notice a huge, bright orange building that has suddenly spring up amongst the trees that I’ve never seen before.  There’re also a couple of cars in the car park that have had most of their windows smashed in, which are accompanied by a number of dented panels.  I’ve no idea what the story is behind them, but they’ve been sitting there, neatly parked, side by side for several days now, and resemble a couple that have had a row and now aren’t speaking to one another.  Whoever owns then hasn’t even bothered to sweep up the glass or block up the holes.  Weird.  I’ve also observed the police dealing with who I imagine is my local drug dealer.  They spent ages searching him and his car yesterday morning; I watched all the action through my binoculars.  The good thing is that the car has gone now, because it’s been frequently and annoying parked just where I turn in.  There’s never a dull moment around here!  This movie has none of these exciting things in it, yet it’s still very entertaining.

This is basically a comedy-drama about a guy who buys a blow-up sex doll to have as his girlfriend.  Now I’ll readily admit that I’m not an expert in such ‘things’, but I’m willing to bet that most who are don’t take them outside to meet other people very often.  Although we live in relatively enlightened times, I’m not sure the world is quite ready for ‘significant others’ down the pub, at the shops or in the cinema, who are made of silicon and rubber and have lifelike ‘bits’ under their clothes.   It’s probably acceptable in the Star Trek version of the far future and in Japan right now, but for the rest of us it’s a bit of a social faux pas.  But this film sees Ryan Gosling doing exactly that.  This would all seem to suggest that this movie’s going to be full of smutty innuendo and body-function-based humour.  Actually it’s nothing like that at all.  It’s much more of a study of how one individual starts to recover from a life-long difficulty in relating to people.  Yes it is very funny at times, but it’s also quite moving too.  I really like Ryan Gosling and he seems to totally nail the part in this film.  The plot does start to stretch the boundaries of realism, especially towards the end, but it’s well written, acted and made.  Kelli Garner is very cute too.  An original, well-observed and great film.  It’s got one of the worst titles ever though.

The soundtrack is fine for what it is, but isn’t very memorable.

The trailer makes this movie seem more of a comedy than it really is.  It probably has most of the best jokes in it.

Recommended for people who work in builders’ merchants, mums-to-be, parents that want to have to explain what a “Living Doll” is to their offspring whilst watching the movie, and anyone who works in an office with people who clutter their desks with toys.  (I despair at some of my own colleagues, who stick lumps of brightly coloured fur-with-eyes to their monitors and clutter their work spaces with animal-based, plastic fripperies and desk tidies full of virtually unusable and hideously ugly pens.)

No cats, chainsaws or decapitations.

Top badass moment?  In the same way as I’ve never met anyone who’s admitted to voting for UKIP, I’ve never met anyone who’s admitted to using a blow-up sex doll. However, given the number of votes and sales associated with both, I probably have unknowingly met quite a few.  So it’s a pretty badass thing to take your blow-up girlfriend out and about with you, especially if you start to have conversations with her in public too.  (I’m not so sure voting for UKIP is though.)

Lars and the Real Girl at IMDB (7.4/10)
Lars and the Real Girl at Wikipedia
Lars and the Real Girl at Roger Ebert (3.5/4)
Lars and the Real Girl trailer at YouTube

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Death Wish V: The Face of Death / MxPx at the Underworld


Death Wish 5  -  Front DVD Cover  -  Canadian Release

Paul Kersey has been retired from vigilantism for several years. Under an assumed identity, he’s adopted a new life as a teacher in a small town college outside New York.  Paul is a changed man.  He’s even fallen in love and become engaged to Olivia, a former fashion model turned industrial entrepreneur.  But fate won’t leave Kersey alone.  On a visit to Manhattan he finds himself caught in the middle of a street shootout.  Then he learns that his fiancé is a victim of a protection racket run by her ex-husband mobster Tommy O’Shea.  When Olivia goes to the district attorney for help, Tommy has her disfigured, then brutally killed.  Once again, Kersey becomes the relentless vigilante.  Only this time, instead of relying only on his .357, Kersey uses some creative technology to avenge his lover’s murder!

1994  –  Certificate: 18A  –  American Film
7.0 out of 10

Went to see MxPx at the Camden Underworld last night.  That’s the fourth time I’ve seen MxPx since 2005, although the last time was in 2008.  It only has one of the original members left these days, at least as a touring band.  I like the Underworld.  It has a capacity of 500, the sound’s decent, the vibe’s good, there’s no crash barrier in front of the stage and the beer isn’t too extremely priced for a London venue; (it was £4.20 for a pint of cider yesterday, even though I do have the distinct feeling that the price varies from gig to gig).  It’s the gig venue I go to most often.  Unlike the 100 Club, the concrete pillars that’re in front of the stage (they hold the building above up) don’t seem to get in the way too much.  It has a decent raised area around the dance floor too, with a railing that’s good for leaning on when you want to watch a band and don’t want to get your drink spilt.   It even seems to have got some new signs outside recently, so you can actually tell it’s there!  It was a lot of fun, even though I felt a bit ‘slow’.  I think I’ve been to see too many old bands and reggae groups recently; I’ve forgotten how fast punk rock can be live.  There were a lot of young women crowd surfing last night; clearly the new ‘no stage diving / crowd surfing’ poster stuck on one of the concrete pillars wasn’t having much effect.  There was also a young chap with his mum there too, right at the front; it’s a 14+ venue but he didn’t look any older than 12 to me.  He went for a surf too at one point.  That’s one cool mum.  It’s also been quite a while since I’ve seen so many happy people at a gig.  Nearly everyone seem to be so pleased just to be there, which was rather nice.  I can’t be bothered with miserable sods at gigs these days.  Got wacked the mouth at one point in the most pit so have a bit of a fat lip today, but that’s okay.  Charles Bronson does more than that to people in this movie.  (This is probably just as well, as otherwise it would have been a very boring vigilante film.)

Another year and another of Paul Kersey’s relationships ends with a rape and/or murder.  Some people seem to be born unlucky.  This, the last Death Wish film, doesn’t break the cycle.  Released in 1994, it’s a film that now looks and feels its age, in fact older; some of the story is a bit silly too.  However, Tommy O’Shea is one of the ‘forgotten’ badass movie baddies.  It’s worth watching for him alone.  In fact it has quite a few good characters in it.  Paul Kersey is a strange guy, even ignoring his habit of blowing away underworld scum.  Here he is, engaged to Olivia Regent, who has a young daughter.  Olivia is a ‘big deal’ in the New York fashion industry, (and about 30 years younger than him).  Yet he doesn’t seem to know very much about her ex-husband or even to have met him before, yet he turns out to be ‘Mr. Big’ when it comes to extorting money through controlling the local fashion industry and Olivia’s company in particular; as well as being her daughter’s father.  You would have thought they might have talked about him just a bit at some point; it hardly struck me as a whirlwind romance.

I didn’t much care for the soundtrack, but for the film itself it’s a great fit and helps to set the mood well.  In that sense it’s a bit like rain; it’s a pain in the arse when I want to do something outside, but it helps make things grow.

This film has a great trailer.  In fact, if someone ever makes a trailer about me, I want the guy who does the voiceover on this one to do mine.

Recommended for fashion designers and entrepreneurs, vigilantes, ineffective police officers and gangsters.

No cats, chainsaws or decapitations.

Top badass moment?  Charles Bronson and one of the best ‘forgotten’ movies baddies ever, Tommy O’Shea, face off in the last Death Wish film.  There’s enough badass action in this movie for you to need a rectal examination after watching it.  Charles Bronson was 74 (I think) when he made this film.  If he got involved in setting governmental pension policies, I doubt any old grannies would be dying from hyperthermia in winter because they couldn’t afford to put their heating on.  That would be badass too.

Death Wish V: The Face of Death at IMDB (4.6 / 10)
Death Wish V: The Face of Death at Wikipedia
Death Wish V: The Face of Death trailer at YouTube


Defendor / Going Back to Work


Defendor  -  Front DVD Cover  -  UK ReleaseArthur Poppington (Woody Harrelson, “2012”) doesn’t need super powers or fancy toys to fight crime.  Armed only with a childlike sense of wonder and his quirky arsenal of cheap, home-made gadgets, he becomes “Defendor”!   He finds an unexpected partner when he rescues and falls for a local prostitute (Kat Dennings, “Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist”).  Can the two of them take down the city’s most fearsome crime boss without getting killed in the process?

2009  –  Certificate 15  –  Canadian Film
Strong language, sex references and drug use
8.5 out of 10

I’ve got to go back to work tomorrow.  At the moment it feels I’d have more chance of launching a 20 tonne satellite into space with an elastic band, than being able to work productively when I get into the office.  But I’m sure once I arrive, inspired by the latest tales about the England Cricket Team’s fighting spirit, I’ll soon be protecting the Earth once again from all manner of ‘bad guys and stuff’.  (That really is my job.)  I can sometimes feel a little ill-equipped for my mission though.  I guess in many respects that makes me a lot more like Defendor than Superman; just a few toys, homemade gadgets and no superpowers.  I have a quote on the wall in my office that says, “Do you ever find yourself striving for perfection with a virtually worthless attempt at it?”  I like to think it’s inspirational.  Indeed the whole song it’s taken from (“Lemon Water” by Guttermouth) is inspirational and can be applied to very many situations in life.

Billed as a comedy, this movie has quite a dark heart, whilst it highlights the value of friendship and sticking to what you believe in.  I was a bit worried that having a lead character with a mental illness might make it a bit uncomfortable to watch, but actually it more or less gets away with it; it quickly ceases to be anything more than a facet of Arthur’s make up and is rarely mentioned explicitly, other than on a couple of occasions where it fits appropriately into the scenes.  This is one of those films that after the first 15 minutes or so I thought I was watching a bit of an Edsel; but then it started to get good.  The final scene is pretty powerful and for a superhero film about a guy with no superpowers who takes on a ‘crime boss’, quite realistic.  This isn’t exactly a kid’s film, as it’s full of drug references and swearing, as well as quite a bit of violence too.  It’s not as good as the amazingly brilliant “Super”, but it’s most definitely worth watching.  If it has a weakness then it’s probably that it takes time for Arthur’s/Defendor’s character to settle down into someone understandable, but once it does you’ll be right behind him.  In many ways he’s as much a tortured soul as Batman, only he doesn’t realise it.  I love films like this.  I can relate to them.

I really like this movie’s soundtrack.  There’s not a lot to it really and it could so easily have ended up as a parody of what superhero films should sound like, but in fact it’s really good.  It makes a big difference when it matters.  I even went out and bought the track that plays over the first half of the end credits too. 

This trailer is a decent enough, although it probably plays down the darker elements of the film and instead highlights the comedy.

Recommended for superheroes (obviously), prostitutes, corrupt police, drug barons and ‘nice guys’.

No cats, chainsaws or decapitations.

Top badass moment?  Nearly all superheroes are badass and Defendor’s no exception.  Going after the city’s crime boss armed with only a few marbles and wasps is pretty ballsy; it’s also one of the most stupid things you can probably do too.  Monumental stupidity is always badass.

Defendor at IMDB (6.8 / 10)
Defendor at Wikipedia
Defendor at YouTube


Rock ‘n’ Roll Nightmare / Bread Nightmare


Rock 'n' Roll Nighmare  -  Front DVD Cover  -  US ReleaseA hot new rock group… their sexy young girlfriends…  It should’ve been the best time of their lives, but it ended up being a “Rock ‘n’ Roll Nightmare”!  Recording some new music in an isolated farmhouse, the band gets more than they bargained for when something horrifying stirs in the darkness.  Eternal evil haunts this place and the band members start turning into demons from Hell itself!  After a day of making music – and making love – this band is starting to break up… one by one… limb by limb.  The bands lead singer, John (Jon-Mikl Thor) Triton, holds the key to defeating this horror once and for all… a secret that culminates in a battle between good and evil!  Triton versus the Devil himself!  This is it!  The hard rock cult sensation “Rock ‘n’ Roll Nightmare” finally explodes onto home video in this amazing Synapse Films Special Edition!  Available for the first time on DVD with rockin’ special features, a killer high-definition video transfer from the original negative and a brain-melting re-mastered 5.1 Dolby Digital soundtrack!  Featuring head-banging heavy-metal music by rock sensation Jon-Mikl Thor and some amazing visual and special make-up effects!

1987  –  Certificate: R  –  Canadian Film
5.5 out of 10

Bread is the spawn of the Devil.  It’s full of salt and shit calories, doesn’t fill you up one bit, tastes really nice and goes with everything.  Its one purpose is to make people fat.  I eat too much bread.  I can’t help it, I’m addicted to it.  There, I’ve said it now.  That’s the first step on the journey to recovery, so I’m regularly told at the Bread Eaters Anonymous meetings I attend.  Drugs, drink, smoking, gambling and Internet porn all pale into insignificance next to the horrors of a bread addiction.  Like cannabis, it comes it a range of different forms that can be utilised in many ways, loafs, baguettes, ciabattas, roti, French, soda, the list is endless.  Over nine million loafs are sold in the UK every day, as it invades 99% of households and infests them with its evil will, controlling minds and corrupting children in the form of sandwiches, baps and warm, crusty rolls.  That’s sick.  Like the Devil, it has a range of names, such as Allinson, Mother’s Pride, Hovis and Warburtons.  It even has a ‘good cop bad cop’ vibe, with the wholemeal vs white ‘thing’ going on.  It’s also got its own illness too, coeliac disease.  Bread will ultimately lead to the downfall of humans.  However, starting today I’m fighting back against this foul sputum of malevolence and bringer of despair.  Yes, it’s time for another one of my stupid, home-made diet plans!  From now on I’m not going to eat any bread, unless I make it myself.  Let it do its worst, I’m ready for it.  This movie is also about dealing with the Devil.

This is a film that tries to present its main characters as a kick-ass, mother of a rock band.  Indeed, Jon-Mikl Thor is such a character for real and has a bigger chest than most women.   Sadly, as everyone now knows, 80’s ‘rock bands’ were nothing but posers with big hair, who wrote uniformly crap songs.  Like monkeys on typewriters, they occasionally produced something worth listening to, but generally the results were not pretty.  This film does nothing to challenge that observation.  However, its worst offence is to have the band’s leader exhibit all the rock and roll excess of a successful estate agent.  I’m pretty sure that at one point he said everyone should get a good night’s sleep and then did some washing up.  WTF?  Very much a B-movie, this does have some good points, but a lot of it really isn’t that great.  It is a bit endearing in its own way though and I’ve got a soft spot for films about bands and music.  I don’t want to spoil the ending, but it had a twist that is even worse than, “then he woke up and found it was all just a dream”.  Really, it’s that ridiculous.  It’s like they started making the film, decided it was a bit crap, so changed the plot entirely and ended up with something even worse.  Ironically, the DVD looks really good and has a nice cover and loads of extra.  Don’t forget to watch out for the ‘rubber starfish’ too.  Rather frighteningly, it has a sequel lurking out there somewhere.

As a film that’s focused on a band, the music ought to be as important as the characters.  There is a fair amount in it, but sadly it’s firmly grounded in the worst horrors of its time and place.  Prepare to be scared, very scared.

Recommended for bad motherfuckers, rock bands, hairdressers and the Devil.

No cats, chainsaws or decapitations.

Top badass moment?  John Triton fights and defeats the Devil.  Well I’m not sure about you, but I can’t help thinking that’s pretty badass.   Even Arnold Schwarzenegger struggled with that.

This film doesn’t seem to have a trailer, but this music video is sort of one.  But if you want to hear a really good song called “Energy“, check out this one by the Buzzcocks.

Rock ‘n’ Roll Nightmare at IMDB (3.9 / 10)

Rock ‘n’ Roll Nightmare  at Wikipedia

Rock ‘n’ Roll Nightmare at YouTube


Suck / A New Challenge


Suck  -  Front Blu-ray Cover  -  UK ReleaseThe greatest rock ‘n’ roll vampire comedy ever made, “Suck” stars rock royalty Alice Cooper, Iggy Pop and Henry Rollins, and brilliant performances from Moby and British screen legend Malcolm McDowell (“A Clockwork Orange”).   The Winners are a struggling band desperate to make it to the top and strike a record deal.  After another mediocre gig, Jennifer (Jessica Paré “Hot Tub Time Machine”) the sexy female bassist, disappears with a young vampire and returns the next morning sprouting fangs and a taste for blood.  One by one each member succumbs to the dark side and leaving a trail of lifeless groupies in their wake, they soon reach the heights of success that they could only dream of as mere mortals.

2009  –  Certificate: 15  –  Canadian Film
Rating Details: Strong language and comic gory horror
7.5 out of 10

Yesterday I walked to work at my new office for the first time.  No longer do I need to trek thousands of miles (well it felt like thousands) each day, face death as I cross the busy A4, deal with selfish pavement hogs along the Oxford Road, heroically climb ‘The Mountain’ or risk loss of sensory deprivation as I bisect the country-sized Tesco car park.  My journey now takes about 15 minutes and I don’t need to set up a series of resupply depots and emergency evac protocols to enable me to take the trip.  A number of other differences were apparent too.  For a start, I had to battle my way through two (yes two) school runs, as I passed two primary schools.  A pavement jam-packed with slow-moving mothers, toddlers in pushchairs and chaotic, hyper-active youngsters, who randomly change direction with no respect for The Rules.  I’m an experienced Pavement Warrior, but this was something else.  It’s only going to be a matter of time before I accidentally mow one of these tiny terrors down and end up in jail forever as a child killer.  Then there were the others, a mixture of students going to the Tesco Metro (I didn’t realise any got up that early) and men and women in business suits, power-walking into the centre of Reading.  On my previous journey, I’d count myself unlucky to be overtaken by even one person, but yesterday it happened twice, as I was left choking on the burning rubber left behind by the soles of two pairs of fast-moving, expensive shoes, worn by who I can only assume are relatives of Usain Bolt.  Unless I’m carrying a heavy bag, being overtaken by someone is a direct challenge to my sexuality, questions my prowess in bed and lessens my status as an Alpha Male.  Clearly more of a sprint than the marathon I’m used to, I’ll not be caught out next time.  Game on…  This film is about a group of people who make a change to how they do their job.

Sadly, this movie wasn’t so bad that I’m able to say it sucks.  Nether was it some sort of  unimaginatively named 70’s porn.  It’s actually quite a lot of fun and does feature a number of real rock stars amongst its cast.  (By the way, who originally came up with the expression “rock royalty”?  It’s an unspeakably dreadful term.)  The cast put in generally spirited performances and the whole thing is really quite endearing.  It’s got Malcolm McDowell in it as well, as vampire hunter Eddie Van Helsing; and let’s not forget that this is the guy who killed Captain Kirk!  That’s real ultra violence.  And while we’re on the Star Trek theme, it’s also got Ezri Dax in it.  Moby (who’s vegan and thus awesome), plays a character called Beef Bellows, lead singer of rock band The Secretaries of Steak.  See, even vegans have a sense of irony.  Jessica Paré, who plays bassist Jennifer, was a bit disappointing.  I’m not quite sure why, but she didn’t quite pull off the vampire diva ‘thing’ that was meant to propel the band to stardom.  Much more of a comedy than a horror, this movie’s a good excuse to while away 91 minutes of your life.

A film about a band needs to have good music, but unfortunately this one suffered a similar fate to so many others and features a lot of mediocre, bland, forgettable, indie rock.  It’s a film about a band of vampires, but the music’s about as gothic as One Direction.  The performances are pretty good though.

Recommended for rock stars, would-be rock stars and vampires (and the undead in general).

No cats, chainsaws or decapitations.

Top badass moment?  Nicole de Boer has a part in this film.  That’s badass.

Suck at IMDB (5.9 / 10)

Suck at Wikipedia

Suck at YouTube


Godsend / Magnolia Hell


Godsend  -  Front DVDCover  -  UK ReleaseStarring screen legend Robert De Niro, “Godsend” is the story of an eight year old boy named Adam Duncan.  A kind, thoughtful and well-behaved child, he’s the apple of his parent’s eye, until one day he’s knocked down by a car and tragically killed.  With both parents totally grief-stricken, the mysterious Dr Richard Wells (De Niro) offers them another chance of happiness.  He can create a clone of Adam that will be identical to the child they lost.  Nine months later they have their child back.  Identical in every way, it’s like Adam had never left them.  He has his mother’s eyes, his father’s smile, but when he crosses the age at which he died, terrifying things begin to happen.

2004  –  Certificate: 15  –  American Film
Rating Details:  Language: once strong.  Sex/nudity: infrequent moderate.  Violence: infrequent moderate.  Other: moderate horror.
8.0 out of 10

Whilst I have a lot of sympathy for Jean-Paul Sartre’s view that “Hell is other people”, he failed to take into account their surroundings.  After this last week I now know that Hell is less to do with people, or fire and brimstone for that matter; in fact Hell is a large room painted magnolia.  In the same way as the Devil has a variety of different names, such as Satan, Beelzebub, Lucifer, etc, so magnolia disguises it’s presence amongst us as alternatives like light brown, biscuit, white with a touch of brown, beige, mushroom, wheat, taupe, fawn and harvest.  This week we moved our office at work, (or more accurately moved everything in our office to a different building to use as a new office; we didn’t actually dig up the existing one and put it elsewhere).  Moving is a stressful and spirit-sapping experience at the best of times, but when you have to paint every single surface, including the floor (about 500 square metres in all) before you leave, in three days, mostly magnolia, then you come to realise what pain is really all about.  The only respite was repainting the ceiling, doors, door frames, skirting boards and 12 radiators, white.  And painting something white on a white background in a weakly lit area isn’t exactly my idea of a fun day at Alton Towers either.  In fact the only facet of pleasure came from deciding which shade of gray to paint the floor, slate or frigate; and after magnolia, gray is the next worst colour.  I imagine there are more advanced species in the universe that have, in a similar way to smallpox, totally eradicated magnolia and grey from existence.  Magnolia is the distilled essence of evil.  However, for some reason there are many sick-minded and weak-willed individuals who appear to gain a sort of inner peace from using this colour.  Why?  What’s wrong with them?  Appearing initially to be the colour equivalent of elevator music, any close encounter with it soon dispels any pretence it has of being ‘neutral’.  It’s a vile, boring, sick, nauseating abomination, which is as attractive as having a squashed, pregnant cockroach smeared on your mouth; and then some.  And why is it always the cheapest paint you can buy?  The artificial distortion of the paint market in this way is clearly the work of some ungodly power.  If our media had any real balls, it would be investigating this bizarre and unwarranted proliferation of magnolia; it’s destroying lives.  In a similar way, this film is about something that goes against the laws of nature and scared the crap out of me too.

At its core, this is a thriller/horror about a disturbing, eight-year-old skinhead called Adam, who develops a mental illness of some sort.  The reasons for the latter are, unusual.  The rest of its runtime is spent faffing about with his parents and Robert De Niro, as they act and react to what Adam gets up to.  If you analyse the plot too much, you’ll come to the conclusion that some of it doesn’t really make a lot of sense.  Visually it’s not a very exciting film either; it looks a lot like it was ‘made for TV’ with a colour pallet that’s far too much like magnolia for my liking.  However, the acting’s pretty good and the story interesting enough.  The decision of the parents to have a clone of their recently killed son created is worthy of further study.  This part of the film could easily have been the whole story, but because it’s not it does get treated a bit superficially, which is a shame really.  What the movie does do really well is be creepy. I’m sure I aged a few years watching it, which is a somewhat alarming thought.  It’s one of the most unsettling films I’ve watched for quite a while.

The soundtrack is unmemorable, yet works well.  Job done.

Recommended for dodgy doctors, desperate parents, teachers, photographers and eight-year-olds that want to freak their parents out.  And clones of course.

No cats, chainsaws or decapitations.

Top badass moment?  We all know that a good teacher can change someone’s life, but in this film we also learn that it can literally save your own life too.  I sometimes provide training as part of my job and like most things I suck at it.  I’ve never managed to impart a single bit of knowledge to anyone and tying to do so has never saved my life or changed anyone else’s for the better.  So I guess being a good teacher is badass.

Godsend at IMDB (4.7 / 10)

Godsend at Wikipedia

Godsend at YouTube


Snow Cake / Being 50


Snow Cake  -  Front DVD Cover (UK Release)Alex (Alan Rickman), a tight-lipped Englishman recently freed from prison, is driving through Ontario when he begrudgingly picks up the vivacious teenage hitchhiker Vivienne (Emily Hampshire).  On the outskirts of her hometown, a truck hits the car. Vivienne dies instantly and Alex finds himself, for the second time in his life, grieving for someone he never knew.  Devastated by the accident, Alex goes to the frozen backwater of Wawa, Ontario to visit Vivienne’s mother Linda (Sigourney Weaver).  There, he discovers that she is autistic with an unconventional take on life and mourning. Drawn in to the small frozen backwater community, Alex soon forms a close relationship with Linda, begins an affair with her sassy neighbour Maggie (Carrie-Anne Moss), and becomes the object of scrutiny by the ineffectual law enforcement officer Clyde (James Allodi).  As the funeral approaches, life in Wawa seems to have enabled Alex to face the present, but how will he cope when the dark secrets of his past finally emerge?

2006  –  Certificate 15  –  UK/Canada
Rating Details:  Strong Language
8 out of 10

Well that’s it over with then.  Life I mean.  Last Sunday it was my 50th birthday.  A future of increasing ill-health, an inability to do or remember things, walking sticks, Zimmer frames, bifocals, tablets from the doctor, hip replacements and finally death, are all I have to look forward to now. As the Borg might say, “Your life as it has been, is over.”  I awoke this morning to find that overnight, a year’s worth of new aches and pains had been applied to my body, plus the special ‘new decade’ bonus ones, plus the 50 year Jackpot selection.  To say I now feel as if I’m virtually bed-bound wouldn’t be an exaggeration.  I did nothing to celebrate the momentous occasion, except mope about at home.  In some ways I was quite sad; I wished I could thank my parents for having me, being 50 felt like an especially appropriate point to do so, but it’s a bit too late for that now; (or, if your belief system supports it, a bit too early).  I was rubbish at being a young person, ineffective in middle-age and now I’m probably well on my way to becoming a cantankerous, teenager-hating, lecherous, ‘the world owes me a living’ old person.  Actually I’m quite looking forward to that.  In a similar way, this movie is about life as it has been, being over.

I really enjoyed this film.  It’s touching, funny and grounded.  It has some really wonderfully acted characters.  The aforementioned car crash provides a full-blown OMG movie moment.  Sigourney Weaver’s Linda is as far away from Ripley (“Alien”) that it’s possible to get, although both characters share a strength of character.  Her portrayal of a woman with autism seemed very convincing.  Alan Rickman’s laconic Alex is a sympathetic and interesting character, despite his background.  It’s also a film with a proper start, middle and end.  It’s not perfect though.  Sometimes the storyline goes a bit off track; I especially had trouble accepting Alex to be such a babe magnet and the subplot involving him and the neighbour did distract from the rest of the story a bit.  Vivienne is also one of those teenagers that doesn’t really exist in real life, but turns up in films on a regular basis.

There isn’t a large amount of music in the film and much of it is pretty generic.  However, when it is used, it greatly adds to the impact of the scenes.  Lovely job.

No cats, chainsaws or decapitations.

Recommended for people who like character-driven dramas.

Top badass moment?  Finding out from Linda that having a mouthful of snow is like having an orgasm.  That’s pretty badass when you think about it, and cold.

Snow Cake at IMDB (7.4/10)


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)



Hedwig and the Angry Inch: 4.0 Stars


Hedwig and the Angry Inch  -  Front DVD coverToday I’m thinking a lot about bananas, “Britain’s favourite fruit”.  Admit it, when was the last time you ate a really nice tasting banana?  I bet it’s a long time ago, if ever.  Is it any wonder that banana favoured things don’t really taste like bananas at all, because if they did, no one would buy them. Other than they’re conveniently packaged and you can made rude jokes about them, what have bananas really got going for themselves?  Most of them are supplied by just five companies and only 4% of the sale cost of them makes its way back to the growers.  The whole bent banana system is abused and controlled by the large supermarkets too.  Basically you’d be much better off buying yummy oranges and their smaller, delicious relatives.  Oranges even have a colour named after them, that’s cool; bananas are just, yellow.  Bananas, at best, should be squished up and hidden away inside smoothies; oranges deserve pride of place as the centrepiece of any meal.  Not only that, but every time you eat an orange a small child somewhere smiles.  Bananas just make people slip over and break legs and things.  What an underhanded and mean fruit the banana is.  Bananas hang about in big gangs (which they euphemistically call ‘bunches’) too, waiting to pick on little strawberries and raspberries and things.  What a cowardly fruit.  I haven’t checked this, but I’d image that more ASBOs have been issued to bananas than any other fruit; and I’m pretty sure the prison fruit population reflects this too.  And don’t you just hate it when you peel a banana and the inside has either turned into a disgusting slime reminiscent of an oil slick, or its split and half of it falls to the floor as soon as you open it up?  No one is going to tell me that something that turns into a vile, black goo that wouldn’t look out-of-place oozing from a zombie’s eye socket, is going to be good for you.  This film is about someone who’s suffered from a botched, sex change operation.  (See, I said that’s all bananas are good for.)

2001  –  Certificate: 15  –  USA

When this film first started I thought, oh God, this is going to be one of those ‘musicals’ that makes no sense and has awful American Adult Oriented Rock all the way through it.  The sort of music that ineffective, male, middle-age managers in large corporations who like to pretend they’re 18 when no one is looking, think is kiss-ass rebel music that still has some relevance these days; it’s not and it doesn’t.  (Yeh, go get on your Harley-Davidson’s gents; oh, you don’t actually have any?  How surprising!)  The first song in the movie seemed to confirm this.  But then a really weird thing happened.  It turned into a very good film with okay music (and two genuinely great songs), a decent plot and great (if a bit over the top) characters who are worth you caring about.  The music performances are top stuff, very genuine.  Follow Hedwig and her band as they tour local eateries, shadowing her ex, Tommy Gnosis (the G is silent), who stole all her songs and is now a big star.  Listen to her sing about the aforementioned operation, the fall of the Berlin Wall and how fucked-up her life is.  A black comedy-drama with a genuinely touching ending.  Good stuff, go watch.

Recommended for fans of American proto-punk; and films about outsiders fighting back and discovering who you really are.

No cats and no decapitations.

Top badass moment?   The band’s performance of Exquisite Corpse.  90 seconds of musical anger.

Hedwig and the Angry Inch on IMDB (7.6)