Posts tagged “Road Trip

Aberdeen / My Aston Martin


Aberdeen  -  Front DVD Cover  -  US ReleaseKaisa (Lena Headey), a beautiful and feisty Scottish woman, finally has her life together, at least until her mother (Charlotte Rampling) asks an enormous favour; to bring back to her Kaisa’s estranged larger-than-life father (Stellan Skarsgård).  The two of them, father and daughter together, set out on a wild, brutally funny yet heartbreaking journey, which takes them through their emotional past before reaching their ultimate destination.

2000  –  Certificate: Not Rated  –  Norwegian / British Film
9.0 out of 10

Despite being a lowly nobody at work, a combination of staff sickness and annual leave yesterday meant that all the more senior staff with direct line management responsibility for me weren’t in.  Taking advantage of my self-appointed, temporary CEO role, I finally got to order that Aston Martin V12 Vantage S I’m always on about.  I knew my recent ‘job enrichment’ as “An Authoriser” would come in handy.  With this new company car, I’ll soon be making better use of my valuable time, by utilising its top speed of 205m.p.h.  (I spent over six hours driving today, mostly on the M25, covering a little over 200 miles in that time; it would’ve only taken me an hour in the Aston.)  I haven’t been able to find out much about it fuel consumption or exhaust emissions, but luckily it’s got a catalytic converter so I’m sure it’ll be really good for the environment too.  I can’t wait for it to be delivered.  I imagine the optional, 1000W Bang & Olufsen BeoSound with ICEpower technology audio system I’ve included in my order is pretty good as well.  This film features a decent car, but it’s not an Aston Martin.  I should have watched a James Bond movie instead.

I’ve been to Aberdeen.  It’s gray, depressing and bloody cold.  It’s so cold even ice tries to avoid the place.  The fact that many years ago I got dumped there by the most beautiful woman on the planet (although with hindsight she was clearly way out of my league), has no bearing whatsoever on my opinion of the place.  I’m nothing, if not a consummate professional when it comes to giving factual, well-balanced information about things.  (I remember the two of us building a huge snowman in a park.  A short time later as we walked past it again, we saw some little bastards abusing it.  They had just pushed its head off, in what turned out to be a remarkably accurate metaphor for our future together.)  This is an amazing film that features the relationship between a father and daughter, two emotionally damaged individuals; one an alcoholic and the other a successful solicitor who’s seemingly lost the ability to love anyone.  It’s essentially a road-trip movie, in which the daughter has to go from London to Norway to collect her father and then transport him to Scotland.  I like films like this, as they me feel better about myself.  Lena Headey and Stellan Skarsgård, who seem to turn up in quite a few films I watch, both put in wonderful performances and manage to make their characters sympathetic and somewhat endearing, despite their not being very nice people.  I really did end up caring about what happened to them.  If it has a fault, then it’s that some of the situations they run into on their journey just seem a bit too random and strange.  This is an emotionally tiring film to watch, but worth every second.  The trailer really doesn’t do it much justice.

To be brutally frank, the soundtrack’s unlikely to result in a circle pit in your living room.  However, I don’t think that was the intention.  Like most things about this film, the music works and really enhances the scenes its used in.

Recommended for alcoholics, solicitors and dysfunctional families.

No cats, chainsaws or decapitations.

Top badass moment?  I’ve never been an alcoholic; I don’t have the time or the money.  So I’ve never experienced what it’s like.  Tomas is an alcoholic and spends most of the film very drunk.  However, he does manage to go into a bar at one point and drink just water.  I’d imagine that’s pretty hard to do when you’re an alcoholic.  That’s badass.

Aberdeen at IMDB (7.1 / 10)

Aberdeen at Wikipedia

Aberdeen at YouTube

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Wristcutters: A Love Story / The Amplifier Returns


Wristcutters  -  Front DVD Cover (US Release)Distraught over breaking up with his girlfriend, Zia (Patrick Fugit) decides to end it all.  Unfortunately, he discovers that there is no real ending, only a run-down afterlife that is strikingly similar to his old one, just a bit worse.  Discovering that his ex-girlfriend has also “offed” herself, he sets out on a road trip, with his Russian rocker friend, to find her.  Their journey takes them through an absurd purgatory where they discover that being dead doesn’t mean you have to stop livin’!

2006  –  Certificate: R  –  American Film
Rating Details:  Language and disturbing content involving suicide
8 out of 10

Let’s start with a history lesson.  In January 2010 I bought myself a new amplifier, an Onkyo TX-NR807.  (It’s totally overpowered for someone who lives in a flat like me and is surrounded by others they don’t hate, but hey, I’m a bloke and I need to make up for my perceived sexual inadequacies; I’d probably be tempted to buy a Porsche if I could afford it, just to drive up to the corner shop and back.)  In January 2012 it broke down.  Fear swept across Cactus World, as the population was plunged into a miserable silence.  Fortunately it got fixed pretty quickly.  In January 2013 it broke down again, with exactly the same fault.  This time it wasn’t fixed quickly.  Last Monday I rang up the crappy repair company, (Genserve, Onkyo’s official repair company in the UK).  Not my first call to it.  Fed up with it abysmal service, I used my ‘really, really, really pissed off customer who knows where you live and will kidnap your babies and torture and kill them if you don’t bloody get it fixed soon persona’, to get some information out of them.  Apparently the replacement part was ordered from Germany but if it’s not in stock there it has to come from Japan.  The guy I spoke to offered to send an e-mail to see where things had got to; wow, I bet that would’ve scared the shit out of them.  I also phoned up Onkyo and gave it a load a grief about its shoddy amplifier design.  What a lot of bollocks that all turned out to be, as strangely I got a phone call less than 48 hours later to tell me it had been fixed.  I got it back on Friday and two days later it’s actually still working.  Why do I have to pretend to be a murderous psycho to get anything sorted these days?  And the moral of this story?  Never, ever by anything made by Onkyo, because it’s unreliable, fucking shite; yep, I think that just about sums things up.  A shame, because when it’s working it’s a great amp.  It’s enough to drive someone to despair, get a gun and randomly go out and shoot people and then blow their own head off.  All of which bring me to this film…

I’m swearing a lot here, sorry.  Anyway, this is a mind-fuck movie, but a good one. The idea of an afterlife that’s just a bit more crappy than the living version, appeals to my pragmatic world view.  It’s not a bad metaphor for life.  In fact I’m starting to wonder if in fact I’m already there, given my recent experiences with my amplifier.  Sometime between January 2012 and January 2013 I must have committed suicide, although I can’t for the life of me remember doing so.  (By the way, my saying “Can’t for the life of me” there is a bit of a joke; I don’t want anyone to miss it so I thought I’d mention it.)  I guess it just wasn’t very memorable.  It would also explain a great many other things.  One of the characters spends her time looking for the People In Charge, because she’s convinced there’s been a mistake and she shouldn’t be there; I could relate to the too.  This is a really interesting film which, despite its theme, is fun; if there’s such a thing as a black, rom-com road-movie, this is probably it.  Its story is really quite unique.  Well worth watching.

This film has some interesting music in it and extends its theme by using some songs from bands whose singers sadly did commit suicide.  A lot of the rest is from Gogol Bordello, a band who’s sizable appeal I’ve never really quite understood, although it sounds fine here.  Tom Waits, who’s in the film quite a bit, also contributes a suitably jolly track.

Recommended for undiscovered rockers, pizza shop workers and cult leaders.

One cat, no chainsaws or decapitations.  It’s only onscreen for a few moments, but it’s a cute ginger one!

Top badass moment?  I watched this film about two weeks ago, so I have to admit I can’t remember enough to identify it now.  I’m sure there was one though; probably several actually.  I really should take notes.

Wristcutters: A Love Story at IMDB (7.3 / 10)

Wristcutters: A Love Story at Wikipedia


Historias Mínimas / Hell is 16,000 Rectangles


Historias Minimas  -  Front DVD cover (UK)A charming and affecting tale charting the fortunes of three small town heroes pursuing their dreams, Carlos Sorin’s “Historias Mínimas” offers further evidence of the current riches to be found in Argentine cinema.  Awarded a special jury prize at the San Sebastian International Film Festival, it’s a deceptively simple, yet delightful road movie concerned with three disparate characters heading for the Argentine city of San Julian amid the beautiful landscapes of Patagonia.  Roberto (Javier Lombardo) is a travelling salesman hoping to impress a young widow by surprising her child with a birthday cake.  Don Justo (Antonio Benedictis) is an old man with poor vision who sits in front of his son’s grocery store and entertains passing children by wiggling his ears.  Maria (Javiera Bravo) is a shy young mother who has won an appearance on TV game show “Multicoloured Casino”.   Gently probing the hopes and aspirations of his characters, Sorin uses the interconnected, tripartite structure to offer astute observations both on a culture relatively unscathed by modernity and on contemporary Argentina itself.

2002  –  Certificate: 15  –  Argentina
7 out of 10

I work for a charity.  Ironically, considering we’re basically penniless (because we use all our dosh on doing ‘good stuff’) we spend a lot of time counting our money.  We count it up, we count it down, we count it sideways, we even lend it to one another (a loving and intimate experience we call an “internal transfer”) so we can count it some more.  Every year, to punish ourselves for not having enough money with which to save the planet, we like to spend ‘quality time’ counting what little we have.  It’s a quasi-religious experience for us all, where staff from far and wide go back to their offices and sit in front of a computer, before subjecting themselves to a living Hell.  In the ‘old days’ we called these bi-annual events “budgeting” or “forecasting”.  Then, discovering we actually had less money than we thought, we decided to count it four times a year instead and call it “financial planning”.  These are watched over by a group of pan-dimensional super-intelligent beings we call the Leadership Team, (although throughout the annuals of human history they’ve sometimes been given many other, less flattering titles).  Their names are known to everyone, but few claim to have met any, (which certainly helps to keep the God theme going).  Like visiting a priest, this is a time for people to confess their sins and fess up to all the non-existent income they’ve been claiming they’re going to raise.  The naughtier you’ve been, the longer you’re required to do this for.  This year I’ve been really bad, so I’ve just spent 6 days in Purgatory, filling in around 16,000 rectangles that needed a number put into them, mostly, as you might imagine, zeros. There were also about 100 pages of notes, to explain what all the noughts mean.  I guess I could have spent six days filling in forms to gain some money to put into all the boxes that have nothing in them, but what do I know?   I suppose if you add enough noughts together, they’ll end up equalling more than nothing; there must be some ‘weird’ maths somewhere that results in that happening, or maybe there’re just typos.  That reminds me, I must go and spend my HMV Vouchers on Saturday.  This is a film about some people without a great deal of money, who seem to get by okay.

This is a cute drama/comedy about three people undertaking different journeys in Argentina, from the same, small village to a (not so) nearby town.  Unlike the last film I watched, “Say Yes”, which was a road trip movie about a psycho hitchhiker in Korea, this one is slow, nothing much happens and it’s really quite boring.  Yet despite this it’s actually quite engrossing.  There’s something very ‘reality TV’ about watching ordinary people going about their business and seeing how important seemingly small things are to them.  Those little events that mean you have a good day or a crap day; in the big scheme of things they don’t make the slightest difference, but to us individually they’re immensely significant.   This movie also highlights the fact that most people are inherently quite decent, which isn’t something you see in a film very often. If there isn’t at least one person trying to fuck up someone else’s life, then it’s just weird.  If you remember “The Fast Show’s” Chanel 9, you’ll be able to relate to the Multicoloured Casino part.  There’s something quite funny about watching a film in Spanish featuring a really crappy game show, which uses the word “multiprocessor” too many times.  Some of scenery is pretty inspiring too, so it’s a shame the quality of the picture isn’t that great.  Nice film, go watch.

Recommended for people who can manage 88 minutes without any aliens, explosions or superheroes.  It’s tough I know, but someone has to do it.

No cats, chainsaws or decapitations.

Top badass moment?  I’m going for the workman who helps Don Justo get his dog back.  True, it’s probably not actually his dog and the workman does have to buy it from some guy, but considering he didn’t really know Don Justo, that was a pretty badass thing to do.  And there I was, thinking that all that Argentinians are heartless bastards who just want to reinvade the Falklands.  I guess that’s what happens when you confuse politicians with human beings.

Historias Mínimas on IMDB (7.3/10)


Say Yes / Cleaning Toilets


Say Yes  -  Front DVD Cover (UK)Celebrating their first wedding anniversary, Yoon-hee (Chu Sang-mi “Soul Guardians”) and Jung-hyun (Kim Joo-hyuk “Blue Swallow”) embark on a road trip into the countryside.  During the trip they meet a stranger, M, (Park Joong-hoon “Nowhere to Hide”) and offer him a ride.  However things quickly turn sinister when M starts showing up at all the destinations the couple arrive at. Tensions escalate as this film becomes a taut psychological thriller that takes some unexpected turns.

2001  –  Certificate: 18  –  South Korea
Rating Details: Strong, bloody violence
7 out of 10

I’m pissed off today.  I feel like a toilet cleaner.  I feel like a toilet cleaner who’s getting blamed for the state of the toilets he’s cleaning.  I feel like a toilet cleaner who’s getting blamed for the state of the toilets he’s cleaning, but hasn’t been given the equipment he needs to clean them.  I feel like a toilet cleaner who’s getting blamed for the state of the toilets he’s cleaning, who hasn’t been given the equipment he needs to clean them and is then getting blamed for that too.  I feel like a toilet cleaner who’s getting blamed for the state of the toilets he’s cleaning, who hasn’t been given the equipment he needs to clean them and is getting blamed for that, whilst also being blamed for not cleaning them quickly enough either.  Cleaning toilets is literally a shit job.  On the upside, the couple in this film end up having an even more crap time than me.

This is a pretty obscure South Korean thriller/horror that’s actually not too bad.  Happy young couple go away for a few days to celebrate the husband’s success at getting a publishing deal for a book he’s written, nearly run a guy down in a service station car park, give him a lift somewhere because they feel bad about what they’ve done, then suffer the consequences as they realise they’ve picked up a psycho.  By and large, their reactions to things weren’t too outlandish most of the time, so the movie feels quite believable.  It’s films like this that I blame the lack of cohesion in many of our communities; no one trusts anyone these days.  How much nicer would it have been if the guy they picked up had turned out to be an all-around decent chap and they’d all become life-long friends?  Nice yes, but probably boring.  No, on second thoughts I think I prefer the fact that he spent the next few days terrorising them, trying to get the husband to tell him to kill his wife (the “say yes” of the title) and generally making their lives hell.  The couple was decent enough, quite easy to sympathise with.  The husband, Jung-hyun, started off as a bit of an ‘average-man’ trying to be the alpha-male and to his credit he did give the psycho a bit of a beating in the street at one point (and the latter wasn’t a small guy by any means), but he quickly realised he was out of his depth and didn’t continue to try to be a macho-style hero.  I’ve got to give him his credit though, he had to put up with a lot of shit (there’s a lot of it about at the moment) and he’d certainly earned the respect I accorded him by the time the film was over.  I thought the Korean police were pretty rubbish; the couple didn’t seem to think much of them either.  The psycho is suitably deranged, creepy looking and sounding; I couldn’t help thinking he’d probably had a toilet cleaning experience not unlike mine that had pushed him over the edge.  For all I know he had, as we learn very little about his life, but I guess he must have done something else with it as I can’t imagine he’d been regularly hassling holidaying couples over a long period of time.   The movie did drift into “Duel” and “The Terminator” territory once or twice, but if you’re going to borrow from elsewhere you may as well do so from the best.  It also felt like they’d finished making it and then thought, whoops, it’s not long enough and there’s not enough gratuitous violence in it either, so let’s add another 20 minutes and a load of blood and guts too. So watch out for the false ending and don’t get up to make a cup of tea until you see the credits.

Recommended for people who walk to the supermarket.  If you drive then don’t complain when you run into a psycho-shopper-hitchhiker from hell.  Statistically you’re probably more likely to get killed during the drive anyway.  In fact to be on the safe side, I recommend you use your local corner shop instead.  (I wrote this paragraph before I realised that they actually visit what looks more like a service station than a supermarket when they meet the nutter, but I was so pleased with it that I decided not to change it; it doesn’t take much to keep me happy…)

No cats or chainsaws and 1 decapitation.  That timeless classic,  ‘head in a bag’, used here for maximum impact.

Top badass moment?  Not once but twice, Jung-hyun has to deal with some pretty painful stuff being done to him by the psycho, but refuses to give in to protect his wife.  For an action-hero or superhero that would be tough enough, but this guy’s a writer, so you’ve got to big-up the respect for him.  You don’t need a huge gun to be a hero.

Say Yes at IMDB (5.5/10)