Posts tagged “Play

Affliction / Horseburger Threat To Life As We Know It


Affliction  -  Front DVD Cover (UK)I got a feelin’ like a whipped dog. Someday, I’m gonna bite back.”  Throughout his life, Sheriff Wade Whitehouse has been cowed and brutalised by his father, a venomous alcoholic.  But a child never forgets a cruelty, and two suspicious deaths in their small New Hampshire town lead inexorably to a cataclysmic confrontation between father and son.  Dark, powerful and moving, Paul Schrader’s adaptation of Russell Banks’ novel creates an indelible impression, enhanced by stunning performances from James Coburn and Nick Nolte.

1997  –  Certificate: 15  –  USA
6.5 out of 10

Apparently Tesco used its Store Defence Grid ground to air missile capability today to shoot down a helicopter in the centre of London, in an effort to deflect the news about its new range of delicious ‘horseburgers’ from the front pages.  That’s pretty harsh, even for a business that’s run like Tesco.  I can’t imagine Waitrose doing that, or the Co-op.  I wouldn’t go shoplifting in Tescos if I was you, its store detectives don’t take prisoners.  The way a lot of people appear to have reacted to ‘horseburgergate’ is rather like their reaction to the loss of the so many independent stores from our town centres.  They shake their heads in sadness at the loss of diversity in the ‘high street,’ yet use the very shops that are causing the problem.  In the same way, they react in horror at the idea of a horseburger, whilst happily chewing up bits of other animals made into disc shapes and given alterniatve names to disguse what they really are.  What the fuck?  That makes no logical sense at all.  Be like the French and just eat everything with a face, at least that’s consistent.  Meanwhile, that other destroyer of the high street and leading non-payer of what the tabloids think is a fair level of tax, Amazon, must be pissing itself laughing at the moment, in the week that Play, Blockbuster and HMV all rolled over and died.  I went to buy a DVD from it this evening and for some reason they’re all now priced £30 or more.  I guess the cost of plastic must have gone up…  This is a film that I bought from Amazon, when it was the new kid on the block, the rebel outsider taking on the ‘big boys’.

This movie, despite its good points, I struggled to relate to.  I probably need to file it under “too American”.  Then again, a film about a son’s relationship with his abusive, alcoholic father is one I’m quite happy to feel I’ve missed out on.  (My own father died almost 30 years ago; I wish I could remember more about him.  He’s the person who gave me my love of music, even though his tastes and mine weren’t exactly the same; although I do have an inexplicable liking for easy listening, such as James Last, Mantovani, Franck Pourcel, Bert Kaempfert, etc.  I still use the turntable he bought in 1969, a Thorens TD-150 Mk II, a wonderful bit of engineering.)  This is a thoroughly depressing movie, on nearly every level.  Nick Nolte does a great job of making the main character seem a decent guy, despite his failings.  James Coburn is brilliant as his father; an evil motherfucker who’s as compelling to watch as he is a total bastard.  What an awful character; my heart goes out to all those people who are (or have been) in the position of having someone like that as a father.  It’s a shame he doesn’t get more screen time as you’ll really want to boo him and throw stuff at the TV.  He won an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor for this role and I can see why.  The rest of the film sort of gets lost in a weird narrative that doesn’t quite make sense, as we watch the life of his son, the local sheriff, fall apart.  We get to see what happens but we don’t really get inside his head.  I never got to fully understand why, after so many years, he suddenly got all weird about things.  I’m a sympathetic guy, I wanted to understand his pain, not just watch him bugger up his whole life.  He was a really crap police officer though; he should have become a dentist; (it makes sense if you watch the film).  As a side issue, I thought his young daughter was a really whiny bitch.  Geez, I’m bitter and twisted about everything today!

Recommended for James Coburn.

No cats, chainsaws or decapitations.

Top badass moment?    It’s often hard to find a badass moment in a depressing film and this one is no exception.  I accept defeat with good grace.

Affliction at IMDB (7.0/10)

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Bang Bang You’re Dead: 3.5 Stars


Bang Bang You're Dead  -  Front DVD CoverI feel a bit disconnected from the world at present, even more than usual.  Nothing I do at the moment seems to satisfy me and I’m not sure anything I’m doing is making the slightest difference to anything or anyone.  In the last three days I’ve done loads of stuff at work, yet somehow it all feels a bit pointless.  “Is That All There Is?” by Cristina pretty well sums everything up at the moment.  (I think it was first recorded by Peggy Lee; PJ Harvey has done a version of it too, but the Cristina Monet version from 1980 is the definitive one.)  I realised today, that with so many of my colleagues at work having recently been  ‘restructured out of existence’ I’m suffering from a form of ‘survivor’s guilt’.

2002  –  Certificate: Not Rated  –  United States

By a strange co-incidence, this move has an equally uplifting plot.  This is a drama about a play of the same name, being performed by a character in a similar position as the character in the play. (Oh oh, I think I’m going to need a painkiller soon, that sounds way too complicated now I’ve written it down.)  It’s a film about bullying in schools and the effect it has on some individuals who’re the victims of it.  This is a very American movie.  In the UK, victims of school bullying generally hide in their rooms and self-harm or commit suicide; in American it seems they build bombs or get guns and go to school and kill people.  Okay, I’m hugely trivialising and oversimplifying something that’s really tragic in reality, but it did feel a little over dramatic at times; then again, this sort of thing really has happened.  This film was made in 2002 and is based on a play written in 1999, so there’re no mobile phones to be seen anywhere in it, which makes it feel a bit dated now, especially as the mobile has become the modern-day school bully’s weapon of choice; all those embarrassing and humiliating videos, it’s what YouTube was invented for after all.  If most American schools really are like this, then it mystifies me as to why the country manages to turn out so many clever, imaginative and decent people; (I like Americans in general, even though I love to snigger behind their backs at their lack of culture and understanding of irony; and get frustrated by their politics.). The original play has apparently been performed thousands of times in schools and similar places and from reading the comments on IMDB and Amazon (USA) it’s clearly had a massive impact on lots of people, yet I didn’t fully connect with it myself; I guess I’m too old and too much of a Brit to fully appreciate it.  However, even taken as a stand-alone film it’s well worth a watch; but when you then take into account its background it takes on a while extra dimension.  It does feel a bit weak in places, but the power of its general narrative and all-around American goodness drags it through these parts with sufficient force to make you, you know, ‘a believer’.  Good quality drama with a social conscience.

Recommended for bullies.  If it makes a difference to any of them (and considering how many people have seen the play or film, I’m sure it must have had a positive effect on some of them), then it’s all been worth it.

No cats and no decapitations.

Top badass moment?  In that very American ‘we fucked up but then overcame our failure thus proving we were right to do what we did all along’ kind of way, it’s the big ‘penny drops’ scene when everyone watches Trevor’s videos taken by the police from his house; giving people a serious guilt trip they deserve is definitely badass.

Bang Bang You’re Dead at IMDB (7.9)