Posts tagged “Romance

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


Kontroll / The Great Pasta Rip-off


Kontroll  -  Front DVD Cover  -  UK ReleaseA dark and dynamic ride through Budapest’s labyrinthine subway system, “Kontroll” stylishly careens through genres, thriller, drama, comedy, horror and romance, at the breakneck pace of a runaway train.  Life has turned upside-down for brooding Bulcsú (Sándor Csányi), a ticket inspector who patrols the platforms and trains of the city’s underground network with a motley crew of colleagues.  Bulcsú has forged a series of ‘relationships’ with other long-term denizens of this neon-lit world; the serial fare-dodger, the shadowy serial-killer, the veteran whose seen it all before, and the mysterious, beautiful woman who rides the rails in a bear suit.  The most successful Hungarian film of 2003 and selected for the Un Certain Regard section of the Cannes Film Festival, Kontroll”, with its echoes of “Run Lola Run”, is a fascinating tour of an unseen world and an atmospheric, pulsating search for redemption.

2003  –  Certificate: 15  –  Hungarian Film
Rating Details: Strong language and violence
8.0 out of 10

Today I’m being angry about dry pasta.  Dry pasta is a total rip-off.  By which I mean the price charged for some types is a blatant attempt to feed the insecurity, snobbishness and stupidity of a significant percentage of the population.  Normally I buy Ocado (own brand) Fusilli pasta at 113p / kg.  But on a whim, last time I did my ‘big shopping’ I also bought a bag of Giuseppe Cocco Fusilli Pasta at 598p / kg, to find out what’s so good about it.  That’s over 5 times more expensive!  The latter comes in a smaller bag and has fancy Italian writing all over the packet (that could be telling me to go fuck myself for all I know), but beyond that it isn’t any different.  It looks and tastes just like the cheap stuff.  People are soft in the head if they’re stupid enough to buy the expensive version and think it’s superior in some way.  Listen up.  It’s exactly the same!  Whether you like it or not, it’s only bought by the dull-witted and easy led, who actually believe it’s better; or food snobs who’re clearly lacking something in their lives that impressing themselves, their family and friends with grossly overpriced food, helps them to cover up.  It you really want to impress your peers, buy the cheap stuff and donate the £60 or so you’ll save each year to charity.  And while I’m on the subject, why is it that if you don’t buy spirals, spaghetti or tubes, the price of pasta also goes up hugely?  Another rip-off!  In fact, the only thing more ridiculous is bottled water.  Being a Brit who lives on a small island, I’m genetically programmed to think just about everywhere else in Europe is basically like one place as it’s joined together, such as Italy and Hungary

I went to Hungary once.  (Yes, it’s hard to believe isn’t it?)  I arrived with no local currency and had no idea what the exchange rate was, so for quite a while I based my estimate of prices on the bottle of overpriced Coke I bought from a vending machine at the bus station in Budapest.  (Based on this, a bottle of lager was about half the price of Coke.)  I never went on the underground there, which now having seen this film I’m quite glad about; the bus was quite traumatic enough.  This movie follows the exploits of a scruffy team of five ticket inspectors on the Budapest subway.  It starts with an introduction from someone claiming to be from the subway company, explaining why permission was given for the film to be made (entirely underground) and for the company to be depicted in the way it is.  I’m not 100% sure if this was serious or just a clever bit of writing.  The whole movie has a well developed script and provides plenty of nuanced observations and WTF moments.  The subway environment provides a great atmospheric background too, as the action switches quickly between different genera and pacing.  Ticket inspectors are depicted as being very low on the ‘food chain’ of careers, with questionable management, rivalry between teams and a general antagonism towards them from the travelling public.  A dark comedy (with a bit of romance and horror thrown in), this is a pretty fun, mind-fuck film that uses its setting well.  A great film.  Enjoy.

Musically it’s not an especially interesting movie as there’s not a lot used, although its scarcity does give it an impact when it does appear.

The trailer’s pretty decent, but I couldn’t find a copy of it with subtitles anywhere on the Internet.  There’s a copy on the DVD though.

Recommended for ticket inspectors, tourists, serial killers and fare dodgers.

No cats, chainsaws or decapitations.

Top badass moment?  For most of this film the ticket inspectors are on the wrong end of abuse from passengers who haven’t got a ticket.  In one incident, an especially annoying woman threatens to report one for groping her if he hassles her any more about not having a ticket.  So the guy promptly grabs her boobs, much to her horror and embarrassment.  Now I’m not condoning this in any way, but somehow she deserved it.  Calling someone’s bluff is always badass, if you get away with it.

Kontroll at IMDB (7.7 / 10)
Kontroll at Wikipedia
Kontroll at Roger Ebert (3.5 / 4)
Kontroll trailer at YouTube


The Hunger Games / My Own Hunger Game


The Hunger Games  -  Front Blu-ray Cover  -  UK ReleaseEvery year in the ruins of what was once North America, the Capital of the nation of Panem forces each of its twelve districts to send a teenage boy and girl to compete in the Hunger Games.  Sixteen year-old Katniss Everdeen volunteers in her younger sister’s place and must rely upon her sharp instincts when she’s pitted against highly trained Tributes who have prepared for these Games their entire lives.  If she’s ever to return home to District 12, Katniss must make impossible choices in the arena that weigh survival against humanity and life against love.

2012  –  Certificate: 15  –  American Film
Rating Details: Strong violence and threat
9.0 out of 10

It’s back to the humourless dentist oral surgeon for me this Wednesday.  Not sure what he’s going to say or do.  Perhaps there’ll be a full moon that night and he’ll be resting, or taking the day-off for a lie-in in his coffin.  Actually my wisdom tooth isn’t really hurting anymore, nowhere near enough for me to need pain-killers or anything.  However, I can’t open my mouth much now without my jaw aching, a lot.  In fact I can’t really open it at all.  Whilst this might seem to some around me to be a positive step, it’s really pissing me off.   My ability to eat has reverted to how I imagine I was when I was nine months old, all sloppy food which I then fail to push into my mouth properly, resulting in it ending up everywhere except my stomach.  I may not show it, but inside this is how I feel.  I did initially think this was a film about dentists, but apparently not.

A movie about a dystopian future?  That’s always a good start.  Female hero?  That’s good as well and makes a change too. Woody Harrelson’s in it, playing a character who looks very much how you might expect Kurt Cobain to look now, if he’d sadly not killed himself; somewhat ironically, this version is very much a survivor.  This is an awesome film, even though it’s only a few steps beyond a cross between “Big Brother” and any number of romantic dramas.  In fact the only reason I didn’t think it was even better was that I could sort of tell where some parts of the story that I’m sure must be in the books, weren’t really used in the film.  Not having read any of the latter, that’s not good. But I’m glad someone’s writing popular ‘teen fiction’ that uses this sort of challenging setting for its stories; it’s just a pity it’s a bit buried in this film.  I have to admit I couldn’t really see what Katniss saw in Peeta.  Sure he’s good looking and there’s all that stuff about being thrown together in a crisis, but really, he was a bit boring.  I can well imagine she’d soon get fed up with him.  I thought the make-up crew did a good job on Jennifer Lawrence, making her appear very different from setting to setting.  Then again, there’re so many credited at the end that each of her eyebrows must have had a whole team working on it, etc.  I watched the “Unseen Version” (which kind of isn’t true now).  I certainly enjoyed the extra 3.2 seconds and reinstated blood that had been digitally removed and denied to the sissies that went to see the Certificate 12 version shown in cinemas.  I’m so hardcore.  Anyway, despite it being targeted at a ‘younger audience’, I really enjoyed it and got an emotional buzz from watching it too.  Critically, I actually cared what happened to the main characters.  And let’s not forget that Katniss Everdeen gets her family name from Thomas Hardy’s Bathsheba Everdene, which alone is enough of a reason to recommend this film.

The orchestral score is great but I didn’t much care for the rest.  I guess it was an attempt to give a primitive, combative edge to things, but most of it sounded just like some boring drumming to me.

I really like this trailer.  It makes me want to see the film.

Recommended for sibling sisters, bakers and archers.

1 cat, no chainsaws or decapitations.  A great bit of cat hissing gets the action underway shortly after the start.  Sadly this isn’t utilised further and we just get a couple of hours of reality TV nonsense instead.

Top badass moment? At a key moment, Katness gives two fingers to the watching millions; (actually three but anyway).  A defiant gesture that starts her journey from ‘average teen’ to rebel hero.  There’s no way on Earth that’s not badass.  Sticking it to ‘The Man’ always is.

The Hunger Games at IMDB (7.3/10)
The Hunger Games at Wikipedia
The Hunger Games at Roger Ebert (3/4)
The Hunger Games Trailer
Spoof Trailer for The Hunger Games


Hello I Must Be Going / My Visit to a Modern Day Torture Chamber


Hello I Must Be Going  -  Front DVD Cover  -  US Release“Hello I Must Be Going” features acclaimed actress Melanie Lynskey (“Up In The Air”, “Two And A Half Men”) in her breakout role as Amy, a recent divorcée who seeks refuge in the suburban Connecticut home of her parents (Blythe Danner and John Rubinstein).  Demoralized and directionless, Amy begins an affair with 19-year-old actor Jeremy (“Girls”’ Christopher Abbott) that reignites her passion for life and jumpstarts her independence.  Coupling Danner’s riveting performance as a frustrated empty nester with Lynskey’s endearing depiction of both the comic and tragic avenues of life at a crossroads, “Hello I Must Be Going” is a modern, unconventional love story infused with sex, humour and raw, emotional honesty.

2012  –  Certificate: R  –  American Film
Rating Details:  Language and Sexual Content
7.0 out of 10

I went to see the dentist today.  Not my usual one but a “minor dental surgery” dentist.  I reported to reception and was promptly sent “downstairs”.  Isn’t that were they normally keep all the torture equipment in dungeons, along with the soundproofed rooms?  My earliest life memory is of a dentist removing one of my teeth when I was about five or six.  I just remember screaming my head off because of the pain and my mum coming into the room and pinning the dentist up against the wall, no doubt giving him quite a large piece of her mind.  Those sorts of things tend to stick in your mind.  I don’t think I’ve had a dentist remove any of my teeth since.  So anyway, downstairs I went.  The dentist I met appeared to have zero sense of humour and his comment that I’d been sent to him “as an emergency” to “have my wisdom tooth dug out” sounded  a little too near the truth for my liking.  Well I’m terribly sorry my “emergency” has taken so long to get sorted out that my body has given up waiting and decided to deal with the pain problem itself.  In future I’ll gargle with hot, melted sugar every four hours.  He had a five second look in my mouth before declaring that he could remove it there and then, but it would probably hurt.  He then ‘explained’ why this was so in such a way as to make no sense to me whatsoever; something to do with the fact that as it isn’t bothering me much now it would hurt to remove it.  (“But” I wondered to myself, “what about the injections and stuff you could give me to stop it hurting?”)  So instead he sent me away with another course of antibiotics and an instruction to go back next week.  When I tried to book the appointment I was told he was fully booked, so I now have to go back in two weeks instead.  The only other thing he told me was that the tooth was close to a nerve, so I might end up with numbness in my lip, chin or tongue, forever; although he did say that probably wouldn’t happen in my case; I guess that was his way of trying to cheer me up.  I don’t think he liked me…   When I left I was given a sheet of paper with some information on it.  This included the gem that, “ …wisdom teeth can cause a number of problems that mean the truth is best removed.”  Typo?  I don’t think so.  Maybe I’ll have a go myself with a bit of string tried to a door handle?  I think I’ll make a will.  This film is also about a life changing experience.

35 year old divorcée has affair with 19 year old guy.  Various embarrassing thing happen.  The end.  Why is it even called “an affair?”  She’s not married anymore and neither is he.  In fact neither of them is in any sort of relationship.  Calling it “an affair” just makes it seem a bit seedy.  I also hate that her family is one of those American ‘film families’ that go on about having no money, yet live in a big, flash house and even have workman in doing loads of improvement work to it.  Sorry, but that’s not my definition of poor.  My definition of poor includes taking the rubbish bags from outside the likes of Starbucks at night and going through them, looking for discarded packets of sandwiches etc that have passed their sell-by date.  Having said all that, this is actually quite a good film which is genuinely funny in places.  Melanie Lynskey makes it work.  The rest look like they were purchased from the Slightly Quirky Film Characters (American Division – Middle Class) Company.

It’s got a decent trailer, except it does big up the physical stuff a bit.  Most of the time Amy and Jeremy aren’t even onscreen together.  It’s far more of an embarrassing comedy that an erotic romance.

The movie contains a lot of well meaning but somewhat weedy, folky, guitar music.  It’s okay, it works.

Recommended for lawyers, divorcées, ‘poor people’ and teen guys that fancy ‘older women’.

No cats, chainsaws or decapitations.

Top badass moment?  19 year old Jeremy gets off with 35 year old Amy.  Well that’s pretty badass isn’t it?

Hello I Must Be Going at IMDB (6.2 / 10)
Hello I Must Be Going at Wikipedia
Hello I Must Be Going at Roger Ebert (3.0 / 5)
Hello I Must Be Going at YouTube


Fanaa / Hating Google


Fanaa  -  Front DVD Cover  -  UK ReleaseChoices… to choose between right or wrong is simple, but what defines one’s life is the decision between the greater of two goods or the lesser of two evils.  This is the advice that Zooni Ali Beg (Kajol) receives from her father just as she is about to venture out into the world on her own for the very first time.  Little does she know that these very words will shape her life.  Zooni, a blind Kashmiri girl, meets Rehan Qadri (Aamir Khan), a local tour guide and an incorrigible flirt. Her friends warn her against this good-for-nothing roadside Romeo, but she chooses to ignore them.  It is now her time to discover life, and love.  Is this really the right choice?  Rehan is fascinated by Zooni and wants her to see life as it should be seen, in its many colours.  He promises her that the time spent with him will be the most precious in all her life.  Zooni sees Delhi, life and love like she never has before, because of Rehan.  What Zooni doesn’t know is that Rehan has another side of his life that he has kept from her – something that can not only change her life, but can also destroy it.  Fanaa… destroyed in love…

2006  –  Certificate: 12  –  Indian Film
7.5 out of 10

I’ve had enough.  By this I mean I’ve had enough of Google, that clever little search engine that used to be run by a few fun people somewhere in California; a gang of outsiders, rebels fighting the ‘corporate system’ and using ‘new media’ to make their point.  However, Google now IS that corporate system and I’ve decided I hate it.  It’s officially become the first Spawn of the Devil of 2014.  From this point forward I won’t use its search engine, I won’t use it’s mapping system, I won’t Google anything, I won’t engage with any of its other, stupid ‘toys’ and I will never, ever, buy or use a smartphone or any other hardware that runs on Android, or anything else it invents in the future.  I despise everything it stands for.  Now, at this point you might be wondering, why?  Well, much to my disgust and with no notice whatsoever, it’s closed my YouTube account.  Even worse, its crap customer service is about as much use as a Ferrari 458 Speciale (and what a pretentious name that is) in the Somerset Levels right now.  If I get one more cheerful, automated e-mail telling me the good news that my account is fine and I just need to change my password if I can’t log in (and that’s not the problem you mindless cretins, as I’ve told you more than once), I will personally kill every cute, small puppy I come across with a version of Android’s Operating System.  I’ll become known as the Stupidly Named Food Themed Operating System Serial Puppy Killer.  Fucking Google can fucking fuck off and die, painfully.  The sooner Satya Nadella crushes this aggravating little upstart, the better.  Then we can go back to a world of Microsoft vs Apple and not worry about the slimy, data stealing evil empire that thinks giving us a few stupid pictures of our own street is payment for all its underhand and nefarious activities; which is somewhat ironically more than it pays in taxes.  It knows more about you than you do.  But don’t take my word for it, just Google (bollocks, it’s hard to get out of the habit) search for “Why Google Is Evil” on Bing.  I imagine my 600 YouTube subscribers are at this very moment planning the sort of campaign of civil disobedience that will make the Arab Spring seem like a bad day in Springfield.  I’m sorry if my rant has crashed Google’s share price but you know what?  I’m glad.  Anyone who’s invested in this dictatorship deserves what they get.

A power spike wrecked the PSU on my computer last Friday, so I’ve had to go and buy a new one and fit it, (a Corsair CX750M if anyone is interested).  It’s the 4th one my current computer’s had.  I was so distressed that I had to go sit down and watch nearly 3 hours of Bollywood style action-romance to recover.  I must confess that I’m getting to like Indian films.  The plot is nearly always sort of the same, random over-the-top song and dance routines break up whatever’s going on and bizarre bits of action suddenly populate the girl-meets-boy-loses-boy-meets-boy-again stuff.   But really, they’re a lot of fun and these days are well made technically.  Anyone that’s not watched a few really ought to try some.  In the same way that some things only become funny with repetition, films like this become entertaining once you’ve watched a few.  Probably best taken with alcohol. 

The trailer’s not bad.  Watch out for those weedy power chords that start 33 seconds in.  Reminds me of The Undertones 4th album.

The music is exactly what you’d expect.  Not saying it’s bad or anything, just that there’s nothing especially interesting about it either.  The silly ‘kid’s song’ “Chanda Chamke” is kind of sweet though.

Recommended for anyone with a visual disability, terrorists, tour guides and dancers.

No cats, chainsaws or decapitations.

Top badass moment?   It’s a huge spoiler, but shooting and killing your husband and the father of your child that you’re totally besotted with, in the back, because he’s a terrorist and going to set off a nuclear bomb and kill millions of people, is about as badass as it gets.

And okay, I know I’ve posted a YouTube link below.  I’m just so fickle.

Fanaa at IMDB (7.2 / 10)
Fanaa at Wikipedia
Fanaa at YouTube


The Fish Child / The Dentist: Part 1


The Fish Child  -  Front DVD Cover  -  UK ReleaseLala, (Inés Efrón) a teenager from the most exclusive suburban neighbourhood in Argentina, is in love with the Guayi, the 20-year-old Paraguayan maid working at her mansion.  The pair hatch a plan to rob Lala’s family to fund their dream of living together in Paraguay, but while Lala waits to be reunited with her lover, she is detained in a prison in the outskirts of Buenos Aires for a crime she committed long ago.  Desperate to be with her girlfriend, Lala devises a dangerous rescue plan to get her back.  Boasting beautiful cinematography and electrifying performances from its two female leads, celebrated Argentine director Lucía Puenzo (“XXY”) returns with a gripping tale of forbidden lesbian romance and a crime heist gone awry.

2009 –  Certificate 15  –  Argentinean Film
Rating Details: Strong sex
7.0 out of 10

I spent well over an hour at the dentist last week, whilst she explored the inside of my sore tooth.  Given all the sawing and drilling that went on I was expecting to be presented with the oral equivalent of a handmade chest of draws, but all I’ve got out of it is a bill for £100, no reduction in the agony I’m feeling and an extra visit to go back a third time for more treatment on the same tooth.  Four hours or so?  What’s she up to in there?  Rebuilding my entire mouth at the molecular level?  Not only this, but my sore tooth has made a friend, another tooth that thinks it’s hilariously funny to give me pain and misery.  So now I’ve also got a wisdom tooth that needs removing in a completely different place in my mouth.  My dentist got one of her colleagues to come have a look at it.  Once he’d finished with the paramedics that came after he’d fainted from horror at the sight of it, he did make a remarkable effort to appear blasé about things, but suggested that he couldn’t deal with either and I really ought to have it removed at hospital.  Why don’t they just cut out the middle man and sent me to see an undertaker?  My tooth is clearly that bad.  I’m starting to forget a time when I didn’t have excruciating agony and was able to open my mouth properly.  Gosh, it’s lucky I’m not the sort of person that makes a big song and dance about things.  This is going to cost me an arm and a leg to get sorted out too, although ironically, the limb replacements I’ll then need I can get on the NHS for free.  The next American who suggests that Brits have bad teeth will need a visit to the dentist himself soon after.  I’m glad to say this film has no teeth-focussed scenes whatsoever.

I’m pretty sure there’s a great movie in here somewhere, trying to get out.  Trouble is, it got a bit buried under the non-linear timeline and suffered at the hands of my presently reduced mental capacity; (which sadly is more tooth-ache than alcohol related).  At its heart this is an out-and-out romance, which collides with a crime thriller in a less than satisfying way.  Oh, there’s also something about a legend regarding the Fish Child that swims around in a lake near a tree.  I imagine there’s some analogy between the latter and the characters or the plot, but in my painkiller induced drug high I did struggle a bit with everything.  It doesn’t provide an especially glowing reference for Argentinian parenting either.  Visually it’s a nice looking film with an intense feel and the two lead actresses are both talented and attractive, although in quite different ways.  Unfortunately it’s all a bit of a confused muddle at times, although it does gradually sort itself out a bit.  I probably ought to watch it again; I think I’ll get a lot more out of it the second time around.

There was one especially jarring and frightening scene with what I can only imagine is South America’s version of One Direction, (which can be seen for a brief moment in the trailer), but overall the soundtrack is pretty good.

The trailer tells you as much about the film plot as watching the whole movie will; i.e. not a lot.

Recommended for housekeepers, messed up families, lesbians, dog trainers and vets.

1 cat, no chainsaws or decapitations.  A big black cat plays dead as it’s rudely removed from the vet’s operating table so he can deal with someone with a gunshot wound.  Oi!  Get you’re priorities sorted out mate!

Top badass moment?  Lala goes in search of her lover, who’s been ‘rented’ from the local prison by a powerful ‘businessman’ for his own ‘entertainment’.  His house is protected by dogs and  armed guards, but that doesn’t stop her.  Love is blind and all that, but deliberately walking into a ‘situation’ that you clearly have no way of getting out off (unless you’re Batman) is quite obviously top grade badass.  (Note to self:  why all the inverted commas all of a sudden?  What’s wrong with you?)

The Fish Child at IMDB (5.9 / 10)
The Fish Child at Wikipedia
The Fish Child Trailer at YouTube


Cyborg She / Rubbish MusicMagpie


Cyborg She  -  Front VDV Cover  -  Chinese ReleaseJiro (Keisuke Koide) meets a mystery girl (Haruka Ayase) on his birthday!  One year later, they meet again.  It is a shock to Jiro as she confesses and turns out to be a cyborg from the future that Jiro has sent to him as a present!  Getting along with this mischievous cyborg girl friend, Jiro falls in love but she has no feelings at all.  All of a sudden a disastrous earthquake his Tokyo, the cyborg saves Jiro’s life by sacrificing herself and the ultimate mystery of cyborg is going to be revealed.

2008  –  Certificate IIA  –  Japanese Film
8.5 out of 10

Because I’m a fairly stupid person I sometimes buy DVDs or BDs (Blu-ray discs) that I’ve already got a copy of.  I also occasionally upgrade from a DVD copy of a film or TV series to a BD one, or buy an alternative version because it’s longer or uncut.  This means I gradually accumulate a supply of discs I no longer want.  I used to sell these on eBay, but mostly I can’t be bothered to anymore so just get rid of them via MusicMagpie instead.  The latter doesn’t pay a lot, but it’s quick and easy to dispose of them this way.  Sadly, its home collection service is, (from my first attempt to use the latter), entirely shit.  I waited about at home from 8:00am to 8:00pm on the relevant day for someone to come and collect my parcel, but no one came.  It’s not like I live in an invisible castle floating in the sky, stuck in a parallel reality and out of phase with the regular universe, protected by a high (electrified) fence, a pack of hungry attack dogs and a set of visitor traps that even Indiana Jones would think twice about tackling; I live in a flat with a clearly marked buzzer on the outside wall by the door.  And in a rare bit of good, British urban design, there’s always space outside to park too, without fear of getting a ticket or being clamped.  I e-mailed the company a couple of days ago to find out what the problem was, but I’ve yet to get a reply.

Despite it’s time-travelling, disaster, sci-fi, slapstick, action-movie clothing, this is really a romantic comedy, the sort where nothing else really has any real world consequences outside of the two main characters.  Get caught in the middle of a restaurant shooting?  Big Deal.  Doing your Terminator ‘thing’ in the middle of a busy road junction?  So what?  Your capital city gets destroyed?  Whatever.  It’s another one of those movies that only Japan seems to be able to produce, where this eclectic mixture of genres not only works together but feels entirely normal.  In a damming indictment of our screwed up, star gossip culture, our hero, the nice but exceedingly dull and boring student Jiro, has become a bit of a celebrity in the future.  This is enough for someone to want to travel back in time and meet him.  Or something like that anyway.  The special effects are decent enough and the story is fun in its own way, but it’s a film that gets its kicks from frequently and suddenly changing its mood.  The scene where they travel to Jiro’s home village is really rather touching.  It also has a dance-off scene that’s pretty cool too.  The ending is a bit of muddle, as if the writers were suddenly struggling with how to sort out all the loose ends, but it’s a fab and fun mash-up of a movie, full of little Terminator references and well worth watching.  Haruka Ayase is very cute too; not at all like Arnold Schwarzenegger.

The soundtrack varies from forgettable to okay, with the use of some pop songs filling in the gaps.  J-pop is an interesting beast…

The trailer isn’t bad, although it does underplay the ever-changing mood of the film.  The use of some questionable music over the action probably doesn’t help; then again, maybe it’s very appropriate given the ‘atmospheric turbulence’ of the movie.  For some reason, YouTube has cut the second line off the subtitles; it probably doesn’t make a lot of difference though.

Recommended for dull students, both geeks and nerds, cyborgs (and other artificial life forms) and teachers who like to throw bits of chalk about.  (Does that still happen these days or is chalk now classed as an offensive weapon?)

1 cat, no chainsaws or decapitations.  A body does get severed in two though.

Top badass moment?  I’m not sure someone/something that’s programmed to be what’s basically badass can actually then do anything that should count here, which leaves us with wusey Jiro.  Sadly the latter fails to do anything remotely badass for the entire movie, which leaves me with a bit of a constitutional crisis.  I’ll need to consult a solicitor before I’m prepared to comment further.  Raoul, Jiro’s pet cat (not the lizard), puts in a couple of excellent performances; his eating from the dish was especially nuanced and controlled.

Cyborg She at IMDB (7.0 / 10)
Cyborg She at Wikipedia
Cyborg She at YouTube


Meatball Machine / Epic Breakfast Fail


Meatball Machine  -  Front DVD Cover  -  US Release“Meatball Machine” is a wild, splatterific, experimental sci-fi/horror rollercoaster that will have your entire brain and body shaken and stirred.  Capable of making biomechanical weapons out of human flesh, alien parasites grotesquely invade the Earth, turning their hosts into maniacal killers who seek and destroy each other to the bloody death!  And yes, it’s also a human love story, even though the budding romantics are infested with slimy, tumour-like globules.  Co-directors Junichi Yamamoto and Yudai Yamaguchi (“Battlefield Baseball”) pull out all the stops and don’t let up until the final epic battle.  It’s a touching testament to young love, blood, and alien ooze that leaves you screaming for more!

2006  –  Certificate: Not Rated  –  Japanese Film
7.0 out of 10

I used to be quite a good cook.  Like many things, it’s an ability I seem to have lost.  Today I tried to make myself some breakfast, just some porridge and a cup of tea, not exactly rocket science.  I managed to burn the porridge to the bottom of the pan, let the tea go cold and fill my flat with the smell of ‘burnt something or other’ that even lighting an incense cone (mesquite) has failed to cover up.  It’s all a bit sad really.  I suppose it could have been worse; I could have been taken over by an alien.  Now that really does mess up your day.  By a strange coincidence…

I was very relieved to discover that this film was not about the exploitation of animals and their conversion into a disgusting, processed, flesh-food of the worst kind.  Instead, it focuses on humans infested by alien parasites, who take them over, convert them to necroborgs and then go about killing each other in very gruesome and bloody ways.  Much nicer, I think you’ll agree.  There’s blood and yukiness aplenty in this Japanese movie.  That pretty well sums the plot up, other than the inclusion of some soppy nonsense about the two main characters falling in love and ending up fighting.  Fortunately, this doesn’t really get in the way of the mess, which does look good.  By and large the effects are very nicely done; the little aliens in the tumours have an especially high ‘eew factor’.  For a film of this type it’s actually really well made.  The overall effect is kind of what would happen if the Borg went to English football matches in the 70’s but in Japan, got really pissed and then went looking for a fight with some rival team’s Borg supporters.  Despite all the gruesome action, it’s so comic book like that it doesn’t really leave much of a sickening after-taste.  The DVD I have also has good subtitles and loads of extras; a quality release.  Recommended.

The music’s there, it does it’s stuff.  That’s it really.  It works, feels accessible yet still Japanese.  Can’t think of anything else to say about it.

Recommended for factory workers, lovers and guys that like to tinker with electronic things.

No cats or chainsaws and 1 decapitation, (plus another head that blows up).

Top badass moment?   Sigh.  It’s so romantic.  The shared love of Yôji and Sachiko, helping them to overcome the power of the alien parasites infesting their bodies, before making the ultimate sacrifice.  Well, bollocks to that.  Seeing people turned into cyborgs, loads of blood, heaps of gross body parts and that unique Japanese touch that goes into films like this, is far more badass.  Give me a huge gun growing out of someone’s chest any day of the week over a candlelit dinner for two.

Meatball Machine at IMDB (5.8 / 10)

Meatball Machine at Wikipedia

Meatball Machine at YouTube


Lost and Delirious / The End of Summer


Lost and Delirious  -  Front DVD Cover  -  UK ReleaseShy, unassuming teenager Mary ‘Mouse’ Bedford (Mischa Barton, “The OC”, “St. Trinian’s”) is enrolled at a prestigious all-girls’ boarding school.  Upon arrival, she is welcomed by her two attractive and sexually adventurous roommates, the carefree Tori (Jessica Paré, “Wicker Park”) and excitable Paulie (Piper Perabo, “Coyote Ugly”, “The Cave”).  Mary soon discovers that Tori and Paulie are embroiled in a passionate relationship, yet when Tori’s younger sister finds out and threatens to break the secret to her friends and family, Tori breaks off the relationship.  Unable to deal with losing the other half to her whole, Paulie will do anything to get her ex-girlfriend back, even if it means risking her own life…  A deeply moving and acclaimed film from the director of the award-winning “Emporte-Moi”, Léa Pool’s “Lost and Delirious” features a trio of young and talented actresses burning up the screen years before they went on to break Hollywood.

2001  –  Certificate: 15  –  Canadian Film
10 out of 10

I closed my bedroom window yesterday.  There’s nothing especially unusual about that, except I did it in the morning and I wasn’t going out anywhere.  The click of the handle had a certain finality about it.  As I repositioned the pot plants on the sill, I was struck with the thought that this was probably the last time I’d do so for many, many months, as the weather has got a lot colder in the last few days.  The final closing of the year is one of the Five Signs That Summer Has Ended and that the winter, with all its months of gloom, damp and cold, is fast approaching.  Winter sucks; like old age, it has almost no real benefits.  All that rubbish about those crisp, bright, winter days.  Bollocks. They’re bloody cold, only last five minutes before the sun sets again and coming home from gigs at night soaked in sweat is a truly miserable experience.  It’s going to be especially hard to cope with this year, as we actually had a really lovely summer.  The carefree, happy days are at an end; fast approaching is the vindictive malevolence that is winter.  The season of Hell is nearly upon us.  And as for autumn, it’s just the rubbish bin of summer, containing the dead leaves and trash of good times past.  This film is also about the passing of time, the loss of a relationship and an inability to cope with it.

I love this movie.  If I had a Top 20 list of films, this one would probably be in it.  On first impressions it looks like it’s going to be a bit crappy and should only appeal to me because of its girl-on-girl action.  Set in a posh girls’ (very liberal) boarding school full of rich kids in Canada (so there’s not a lot there for me to relate to), the first 30 minutes or so are pretty mundane.  Yes it’s got girls in school uniforms and the main characters are in a same-sex relationship, but other than that it’s pretty forgettable.  But then it starts to get interesting…  This is a dark movie.  There’s a subtlety in it that only becomes apparent when you think about it afterwards.  It’s occasionally a bit melodramatic and the odd bit of dialogue doesn’t quite work, but it’s wonderfully acted and has a number of genuinely heartbreaking moments in it.  The use of Shakespeare and the hand-rearing of a Falcon as metaphors for the plot, are wonderfully interwoven into the story too.  The character of Paulie is so well written.  It’s quite strange considering she doesn’t superficially have anything in common with me, but I so totally ‘got it’ in terms of what she was going through.  I guess emotions and feelings aren’t very gender, age, culture or sexuality specific.  (It probably also means that I’m as messed up as she is and one day I’ll probably take it out on the world.)  There aren’t a lot of characters from films or books that I can fully relate to and understand, but she’s one of them.  Seeing her gradually lose the plot and take more and more bizzare actions to try to change the unchangeable, felt uncomfortably familiar.  Despite her acting like a total loser a lot of the time, there’s a strange kind of honour in Paulie’s behaviour that goes beyond what she does and its consequences.  Everyone should watch this movie.  And if you’re one of those people who really can’t accept same-sex relationships then just ignore it, as other than on a superficial level (and as a huge plot contrivance) it’s really not that important to the feel of the film.

The ability of this movie’s music to write words where there are none, without dominating the visuals or attempting to drag (rather than lead) the emotions, is really well done.  The mood shift provided in the scenes relating to the Falcon are very effective too.  And any film that features any music by Ani DiFranco can’t be bad.

Recommended for anyone who’s ever been dumped by someone they really, really, really loved.

No cats, chainsaws or decapitations.

Top badass moment?  There’s something very noble about doing something you know is going to fail and make you look really stupid, especially when it’s not funny.  You know you’re about to do it but still go ahead.  It’s probably got less to do with getting what you want, than demonstrating to yourself that you tried and remained true to your beliefs.  It’s ultimately futile and pretty pointless, but very, very badass.  And very Klingon too.

Lost and Delirious at IMDB (6.8 / 10)

Lost and Delirious at Wikipedia

Lost and Delirious at YouTube


Breaking the Waves / God for a Day


Breaking the Waves  -  Front DVD Cover  -  UK ReleaseIn the early 1970s a naïve young girl, Bess (Emily Watson – 1996 Academy Award Nominee – Best Actress), living in a small community on the north-west coast of Scotland, falls in love with oil-rig worker and man-of-the-world Jan.  Despite local opposition they marry and live out a brief but intense love life.  Jan returns to the rig, whilst Bess counts the days to his homecoming sure that their love is made in heaven.  When an accident renders Jan paralysed he is worried that Bess will cut herself off from a normal life. Realising that he will be bedridden, he convinces her that she will aid his recovery by taking a lover and relating to him their sexual acts.  “Breaking the Waves” with its electronic seventies soundtrack (featuring Deep Purple, T-Rex and Elton John) is a truly astonishing film, adored by critics and audiences alike.

1996  –  Certificate: 18  –  Danish Film
Rating Details:  Language: occasional, strong.  Sex/Nudity: occasional, strong. Violence: once, moderate. Other: drama, religion, marriage.
8.5 out of 10

I had a good day today.  To start with I woke up bright and early and reasonably ‘with it’ from the get go.  Then I walked into work and did a load of stuff that needed me to actually give it some thought; (complicated grown-up things, you know what I mean).  Sometimes I go to work and I wonder whether I’ve tarnished my god-like status in any way, especially when I find myself cutting the stamps off envelopes to (ironically) give to charity, straightening the leaflets in their dispensers for the sake of it, or laminating things just because it’s fun to laminate.  (And yes, I really did do all these things today too.)  However, any doubts as to my usefulness were swept away by my fundraising prowess, as I got a letter telling me I’d manage to get a grant of £8,891 from the Big Lottery Fund.  Like a lion hunting prey to feed its hungry family, (or perhaps more appropriately a scruffy yappy dog with a bone it won’t give up), I didn’t allow myself to be put off by my two previous attempt to get money for the same project from the same funder.  This was third time lucky.  Like Captain Kirk, I don’t believe in the No Win Scenario; however I do believe in flogging a dead horse, however unvegan that might appear.  The people of Eastleigh, Hampshire, will soon be worshiping my very footsteps, as the money transports them to a whole new plain of existence, enabling them to finally escape the trauma of Chris Hume tying to get himself a presenter’s job on “Top Gear”.  I wonder where they’ll erect my statue?  In complete contrast, this film is crushingly depressing.

Over two and a half hours long, this is a drama about love, belief and God. “Dude, Where’s My Car?” it isn’t.  A nihilistic nightmare, it features the slow destruction of a young woman (who appears to have some sort of undisclosed mental illness), trapped between her love for her husband and her love for God.  Set in the Highlands of Scotland, one of the most beautiful places in the world, it manages though a combination of miserable weather, a washed-out, grainy picture and an overbearingly dismal atmosphere, to make it feel like the bleakest place on Earth; even the happier scenes feel like they’re caught in a membrane of gloom.  Emily Watson puts in a stunning performance as Bess.  It’s well worth watching the whole film for her performance alone, before you go off and slash your wrists. Talking of the ending, it’s somewhat bizarre.  A great film and essential viewing.

Set in the first half of the 70s, this film includes some curiously long chapter interludes that feature music from the period.  It tries hard to pick some good stuff out, but it can’t hide the fact that pop music at the time was pretty dire.  However, when inserted into this film, it really does help to set the scene and drag you down to its level.

Recommended for religious zealots, Scots, God, doctors, nurses and people who work on oil and gas rigs.

No cats, chainsaws or decapitations.

Top badass moment?  At Bess’s wedding reception, a somewhat drunk Terry (one of ‘the lads’) crushes an empty beer can.  Not to be outdone, her grandfather squeezes and breaks a glass in his hand, cutting himself.  Considering this is a deeply religious guy who appeared to live in the last century, not have a sense of humour and was lukewarm at best with respect to the wedding, this did seem rather bizarre thing to do.  Why?  I’ve no idea if it was a joke, a threat, or what?  However, confounding people’s expectations is badass.

Breaking the Waves at IMDB (7.8 / 10)

Breaking the Waves at Wikipedia


In the Mood for Love / Drinking Port


In the Mood For Love  -  Front DVD Cover  -  UK ReleaseHong Kong, 1962.  Chow (Tony Leung – “Happy Together”, “Hard Boiled”) is a junior newspaper editor with an elusive wife.  His new neighbour, Li-zhen (Maggie Cheung – “Days of Being Wild”, “Irma Vep”), is a secretary whose husband seems to spend all his time on business trips.  They become friends, making the lonely evenings more bearable.  As their relationship develops they make a discovery that changes their lives forever…  In this sumptuous exploration of desire, internationally acclaimed director Wong Kar-Wai (“Chungking Express”, “Happy Together”, “Fallen Angels”) creates a world of sensuality and longing that will leave you breathless.  “In the Mood For Love” has seduced audiences and critics alike, winning awards at Cannes 2000 for best actor, cinematography and editing.

2000  –  Certificate: PG  –  Hong Kong Film
Rating  Details:  Mild sex references and language
7.0 out of 10

I’ve recently developed a new interest; a new kind of fetish if you like.  I’ve discovered port.  Not the type with boats and things, but the one that’s like red wine on steroids.  Cockburns Special Reserve Port is meant to be vegan and is well structured, with rich, ripe fruit and gentle spicy tannins.  It has a clean aroma, showing maturity and finesse, with a hint of dried plums.  Off dry to medium sweet, it has a rich, mellow texture and a smooth tannin structure, with a long, satisfying finish.  (Obviously I got that lot from the Internet; I don’t really know anything about port, other than it’s red and I like how it tastes.)  Apparently the classic way to serve Special Reserve is with aged Stilton cheese after dinner; or with roasted almonds or walnuts and squares of rich, dark chocolate, for a simple but elegant dessert.  Personally I just drink it on its own out of the wrong shaped glass.  Still, I like to think I’m a higher class sort of drunk.  You won’t find me in the gutter with some cans of Asda lager in the remains of a six-pack ring, or a smashed bottle of Buckfast.  Port is a bit of a throwback to a more civilized time now past; so’s this film.

When I was young I used to sit at home on a Saturday afternoon with my mum, watching old, black and white films on BBC2.  In those days we only had three TV channels to pick from and no Internet or home videos; life was hard.  Nowadays I can pick from about 200 TV channels and a billion videos on the Internet, or select a DVD or Blu-ray disc to watch.  No wonder more people suffer from mental health difficulties these days.  Those old films were inevitably made in the 50s and focused on some couple in America with ‘marital difficulties’.  They were pretty boring.  I’d much rather have watched the wrestling on ITV’s “World of Sport” and seen ‘bad-guy’ Mick McManus trashing another opponent illegally when the ref’s back was turned, but you only had one TV in those days.  (Sadly Mick died earlier this year.)  Watching “In the Mood For Love” took me straight back to those days; (the films that is, not the wrestling).  It’s in colour and set in Hong Kong in the first part of the 60s, but other than that…  When I was watching it I was trying to work out why I’d bought it, as it’s not the sort of movie I’d normally watch, but by the end it made perfect sense.  It’s got the sort of plot Thomas Hardy could easily have written, (if he’d been able to get away with writing about marital affairs).  Chow Mo-wan certainly has something in common with Jude Fawley.  The first 15 minutes or so are a real muddle to follow, but then it settles down.  It’s also currently the 247th most highly rated film on IMDB, so I guess that means it’s pretty special.  Whatever.  But overall it’s worth watching, despite the lack of explosions, spaceships and perverted sex.

The music plays a big part in making this movie work, from the use of a number of songs by Nat King Cole, through to the regular musical montages (using the same bit of hypnotic waltz music) that’s used to drive parts of the story along.  Not a soundtrack I’d want to listen to on its own, but great in the context of the film.

Recommended for newspaper editors, PAs and lonely husbands and wives.

No cats, chainsaws or decapitations.

Top badass moment?  It seems you have to be a bit of a bastard to get anywhere in life these days.  Su Li-zhen and Chow Mo-wan were just too nice.  This makes them badass, but unfortunately it also makes them total losers.  What a shame.

In the Mood For Love at IMDB (8.0 / 10)

In the Mood For Love at Wikipedia


Kicks / I’m Experimenting With Drugs


Kicks  -  Front DVD Cover  -  UK ReleaseThe feature debut of Lindy Heymann is a clever comment on modern celebrity culture. Nicole (Kerrie Hayes) a Liverpudlian teenager, spends her time hanging around the gates of Anfield and the Liverpool training ground, desperate for a glimpse of her idol, the star footballer Lee Cassidy (Jamie Doyle).  There she meets aspirant WAG Jasmine (played by Nichola Burley from “StreetDance 3D”), instantly.  They trawl the city and its nightspots, fantasising about a time when they might have Lee for themselves, yet when the news breaks that the footballer is a transfer target for Real Madrid, they take drastic action to prevent him leaving…  Stand-out performances from the two lead actresses make this energetic, funny and tense film one of the best UK debuts of recent years.

2009  –  Certificate: 15  –  British Film
Rating Details: Strong language, sex and injury detail
8.5 out of 10

I’ve just drunk two big mugs of really strong coffee with Kahlúa poured into it.  I’ve not had anything to eat for nearly 24 hours, (yes I’m still on my stupid ‘eat every other day’ diet), so I expect it’s about to have some sort of weird physical, emotional and mental effect on me.  I’m about to experience the outer limits of human perceptions and experiences…  There’s something weird about this film too.

It’s a really bizarre feeling when you see someone who really reminds you of someone else.  You know it’s not the same person, yet you have a natural tendency to react to them as if it is.  You can’t help it, it just happens.  It’s futile to resist, as you’re trying to logically reason your way out of a whole lifetime of experience and memories, many of which you’ve subconsciously distorted over time to better fit your needs.  (I’ve no doubt this is what’s behind the many incidences of random people coming up to me in the street and calling me names; or maybe that’s just how I am?)  Kerrie Hayes (the blonde woman in the trailer) really, really, really reminds me of someone I knew years ago when she was a similar age; in fact we’re still close.  (By “close” I mean we see each other three or four times a year, which for someone with a social circle as meagre as mine, makes us virtually Siamese twins.)  They share the same mannerisms, the same look, the same intensity.  It made watching this film probably a more unique experience for me than normal.  This is a great movie.  It takes a while to get going and the ending is a bit (and I’m using that word again, it must be the coffee) weird.  You probably need to get drunk in ‘real time’ along with the characters, to get the most out of the latter part and to make their behaviour make sense.  The two lead actresses in it are excellent and I love the whole look and feel of the film, depressing though it is.  It’s basically a movie about a friendship between two young women, celebrity culture and living with this ‘illness’.  Definitely recommended.  I imagine if it isn’t already, obsessing over celebrities probably does has a medical name.  The clinical test to determine if you suffer from it being that you can watch a new series of “Celebrity Big Brother” or “I’m a Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here” and recognise over 25% of the ‘celebrities’ in it.  I’m pleased to say I’d struggle to recognise more than a couple.  So basically what I’m saying is that the media has created a new disease for everyone to suffer from and deliberately spreads the ‘virus’ around in the form of gossip mags, Internet rubbish and fake newspaper stories, in the hope of infecting more people.  What sort of sick bastards are they?  Well it’s certainly crossed one of my red lines, so it’s just as well for them that I’m not World President Obama, or they’d be some serious consideration going on, relating to the arming of freedom fighters like myself with big pairs of scissors, so we can go into shops selling this rubbish and cut it all up into small pieces.  Watch out News UK, we know who you are… even if you have just changed your name out of shame.

The soundtrack is all, slightly atmosphere indie rock.  The individual tunes weren’t that exciting, but they surprisingly all hang together pretty well and nicely enhance the impact of the scenes they’re used in.  They’re a really good fit into the overall feel of the film.

Recommended for bored teenagers, journalists who write about Kim Kardashian’s baby and professional footballers.

No cats, chainsaws or decapitations.

Top badass moment?  There’s frequently a dearth of badass in movies like this.  It’s all people with no real hope, no belief and no future.  This one is no exception.  So I guess the best I can come up with is the friendship that develops between the two main characters, Nicole and Jasmine.  In a film about the shallowness of celebrity, it’s the one really meaningful thing in it.

Kicks at IMDB (4.3 / 10)


Gwendoline / Changing Evolution


Gwendoline  -  Front DVD Cover  -  UK ReleaseFrom acclaimed master of erotica Just Jaeckin (“Emmanuelle” “Story of O” “Lady Chatterley’s Lover) comes “Gwendoline”, one of the most sought-after ‘guilty pleasure’ movies of all time!  Filled to the brim with enough female flesh and fetishistic imagery to satisfy the most demanding of voyeurs, this is one cult fantasy film you definitely won’t want to miss!  Follow the adventures of the sweet and innocent Gwendoline (Tawny Kitaen of “Bachelor Party” and those legendary Whitesnake videos) in which she travels as a stowaway to the Far East with her sexy friend Beth (played by French actress and model Zabou) on a mission to track down her father, who has mysteriously disappeared whilst on a mission to find a mythical butterfly.  Rescued from a group of lecherous seamen by the hunky adventurer Willard (actor and male model Brent Huff), Gwendoline persuades him to make up their trio and embark on a daring journey to the land of the Yek Yeik, a country ruled by a diabolical dominant Amazon queen and an army of female fetish-clad Amazonian warriors!  There, Gwendoline must defeat the evil queen and prevent Willard from being forced to spawn a new race of female warriors – or face certain death.  Gwendoline is a bizarre adventure like no other, freely adapted from John Willie’s acclaimed erotic comic strip, which fans will be talking about for years to come.

1984  –  Certificate: 18  –  French Film
Rating Details:  Strong violence
7.5 out of 10

Right now I’m sitting here drinking a bottle of Batemans Victory Ale; (6% and Vegan Society approved), thinking how great the summer is.  I know, every year the weather’s a bit of a disappointment, but somehow it’s still loads better than the winter.  However crappy the weather is, it’s still always a lot lighter in the summer than the rest of the year.  In the summer, the sun goes down to the right of that tree over ‘here’.  In the winter, it goes down behind the tree over there; (trying to hide its embarrassment, no doubt).  It’s 8:42 pm right now, warm and light enough to sit and read in my lounge without a light or coat on.  In the winter at this time it would be freezing cold, dark and depressing dank outside.  If I ever own a time machine, I’m going to go way, way back, to the point where humans (or whatever we were then), evolved away from hibernating during the winter.  Out will come a very sharp pair of secateurs and whatever genetically mutated freak of nature caused us to stay awake all year, is going to find itself well and truly snipped away from the evolutionary tree.  Bastard!  This film is about natural history too.

I thought this was one of those nature documentaries, where we’d follow an intrepid explorer searching for new species of something, in this case a butterfly.  So you can imagine my surprise when I was confronted with a chisel-jawed anti-hero, two beautiful woman who’s tops fell off slightly more often than was strictly necessary, a lot of bald chicks in leather bikinis, a lost tribe of women and a quite imaginative torture chamber.  Then again, I’ve never been on as expedition to search for anything, so perhaps Sir David Attenborough runs into things like this all the time.  I guess that would explain why nature documentaries are so popular.  Nevertheless, it is a film all about a hunt for a butterfly and without wanting to spoil the ending, it looks a lot like a blacker and larger version of a Swallowtail.  Normally I’m not exactly inspired by trashy films like this.  It’s certainly another of those vegan-unfriendly, birds-in-leather with whips films.  However, this one’s funny enough (both intentionally and unintentionally), well-made enough, epic enough and silly enough, to provide a highly entertaining and fun watch.  It looks really good and the acting is pretty spirited too.  Brent Huff at the hero Willard is a hoot and Tawny Kitaen, (who goes from innocent convent-educated girl to kick-ass, gladiatorial warrior in less than 100 minutes), looks… good.  The movie starts with an establishing shot in a busy, crowded, claustrophobic market near a harbour; I think it’s meant to be in China.  In the first three minutes we see someone nearly get run down and his cart of fruit tipped over, a fight break out, a theft of goods from the quayside with some associated shooting as the crew attempt to stop the getaway lorry, a group breaking into storage boxes, someone stealing food and someone else having a trolley taken from him; whilst two mounted police look on magnanimously, clearly on the lookout for some real crime under their noses.  That pretty well sums this movie up, as does the “Barbarella meets Indiana Jones” line on the DVD’s cover art.  It’s interesting that the BBFC’s “insight” (that’s what we call the rating details), now just says “strong violence”.  When it was first released it had 194 seconds cut out of it to enable it to get a cinema release in the UK; whilst America suffered from a version 16 minutes shorter.  Clearly, chariots pulled by semi-naked woman have lost their impact in the 21st Century.

In a B movie kind of way, this film has quite a decent soundtrack.  There’s not a lot else I can say about it really.

Recommended for naturalists, lepidopterists, heroes and anyone with a convent-based education.

No cats, chainsaws or decapitations.

Top badass moment?  Willard first appears in the film by crashing through a window.  He then takes a few moments to adjust his hat and smile, before dispatching all the bad guys with a display of high quality, hand-to-hand combat and rescuing two women from human traffickers.  That’s badass.  I’ll never be that cool.  :-(

Gwendoline at IMDB (5.0 / 10)

Gwendoline at Wikipedia


Blood & Chocolate / My ‘New’ Phone


Blood & Chocolate  -  Front DVD Cover  -  UK ReleaseA werewolf tale from the producers of “Underworld”, “Blood & Chocolate” tells the story of Vivian (Agnes Bruckner), a young teenage girl who must choose between her love for a young artist and loyalty to her werewolf lineage.  Others may have secrets, but none as extraordinary as Vivian.  One of the last of her kind, she comes from a line of loup garoux, shape shifters able to transform into the form of both human and wolf at will.  When Vivian’s affections for a visiting artist threaten to reveal her family’s secret society, she must decide whether to prove her allegiance to their secret vows or follow her heart and betray them all.

2007  –  Certificate 12  –  American Film
Rating Details: Moderate violence, horror and drug references
7 out of 10

I’ve been provided with a new work mobile.  Well it’s not really new, it’s one that’s been ‘reallocated’; but it’s new to me.  Its predecessor, a seven-year-old Nokia 6300, had become a bit of an embarrassment, what with its unbusinesslike, tatty appearance and talk-time that struggled to get me past the ‘how are you?” stage of a phone conversation.  You can probably imagine how my pulling that out of my pocket at a critical moment in one of the many, high-powered meetings I attend, can undermine my negotiating position.  My new one is a Nokia E5.  It’s the first smart-phone I’ve ever had.  Something tells me it’s not a medal contender in the mobile coolness rankings, although as I don’t have a contract for it that includes a data allowance, this rather limits its use for anything resembling “smart” anyway.  It does seem to be able to ‘talk’ to my network at home though.  I’m not quite sure what all the buttons and icons are for yet, although I have managed to sort out the most important things, like the ringtones it uses.  For calls it plays “Do You Like Waffles?” by Parry Gripp, whilst for texts it blares out “Marco Polo” by Guttermouth.  The latter is 15 seconds of punk rock noise that when combined with its cheap, in-built speaker, is likely to send anyone else within 10m of it when it plays in an ‘office environment’, into an incandescent fury.  There’re quite a number of people in this movie who get pretty pissed about things too.

When they’ve got over bitching about how much this film doesn’t resemble the book of the same name, people seem to then suggest it’s some sort of teen romance about werewolves.  So let me tell you it’s really an out-and-out action movie; all it needs is Sylvester Stallone and it would be the whole package.  Big explosive finale?  Check.  Some guns and stuff?  Check?  An unlikely hero who performs way beyond the call of duty?  Check.  Some cheesy one-liners?   Check.  Being able to write and draw (our hero Aiden is a penniless graphic novel writer) is pretty cool; if you think my writing is bad you should see my drawing.  I took my last art exam when I was 14 years-old.  I got 18%.  I tried to draw sadness but it came out as a disgusting shambles of green, painted squiggles.  I imagine the teacher probably thought I was taking the piss but really, that was the best I could do.  Sadly (and somewhat ironically given the focus of my work), my canvas had all the emotionally resonance of a newly painted bathroom radiator, in magnolia.  To this day my ability to draw remains at the level of a 4 year-old; and not a talented one either.  I’m always a little in awe of those than can seemingly and effortlessly draw things; a genuine talent.  However, I’ve never considered that the traits that make someone a good artist or writer, would also equip the same person to be an action-hero too.  This movie is about a penniless artist/writer, who falls in love with a chick.  Of course, like many potential in-laws, hers don’t really take to him, so being werewolves they decide to kill him.  In the space of a day or two, our quiet, unassuming (although a little stalker-like) artist turns into one, badasss motherfucker, taking on half the werewolves in Bucharest.  To explain these abilities, the movie provides a brief throwaway line about something to do with his relationship with his father not being that great.  Bloody hell, poor guy.  What a bastard he must have been!  Aiden even manages to survive what looks like a good 50’ drop through a broken sky-light, before coming to a very sudden stop, dangling upside down, with his leg caught in a rope, without this causing him the slightest injury.  He even has the audacity to blame Vivian for the situation he’s in, even though he spends half the film virtually stalking her.  I’m certainly no expert on relationships, but something tells me theirs isn’t going to last much longer than the end credits.  Fortunately, what all this means is that I can admit to seeing this movie without having to invent an imaginary girlfriend “who made me watch it” as an excuse for doing so.  I have to say Agnes Bruckner does do a good, surly teenager, sulky pout.  It’s actually a decent film, well worth watching.

The soundtrack has a sort of gothic-Klingon-“The Equaliser” vibe going on.  Sadly it’s as ‘good’ as it sounds.  Serviceable but forgettable.

Recommended for artists, writers, teens, chocolate-addicts and action-heroes.  Not recommend for werewolves.  They always seem to end up on the losing side.

No cats, chainsaws or decapitations.

Top badass moment?  It has to be our mild-mannered, stalker/artist/writer/hero, Aiden.  He utters the one-liner “Drink Up” just before he sets fire to a load of alcohol to burn a couple of werewolves to death, after a fire-fight with a gang of them.  This is especially impressive as we’re not led to believe he makes a habit of this sort of thing.  The ability to up your game when the time comes is definitely badass.  It’ll be a brave person who gives any of the graphic novels he writes a bad review…

Blood & Chocolate at IMDB (5.2 / 10)

Blood & Chocolate at Wikipedia


12:01 / Drinking Coffee


12:01  -  Front DVD Cover (US Release)Jonathan Silverman (“Weekend at Bernie’s”, “Brighton Beach Memoirs”) is Barry Thomas, and Barry is having a bad day… over and over and over again.  That’s because Barry is caught in a “time bounce” – an atmospheric phenomenon – that occurs when his employer, the high-tech company Utrel, has an experiment that goes haywire.  Spared from the effect of memory loss by an electric shock at the moment of the time bounce, Barry is the only one at Utrel who has the power to change the course of fate.  And to Barry that means saving the life of the woman he loves, research scientist Lisa Fredericks (Helen Slater, “City Slickers”, “Ruthless People”).  Tautly directed by Jack Sholder (“A Nightmare on Elm Street Part 2: Freddy’s Revenge”, “The Hidden”) and co-starring Academy Award winner Martin Landau (“Crimes and Misdemeanors”), “12:01” is a spirited sci-fi thriller you’ll enjoy again and again and again! “It’s Back to the Future” meets “Groundhog Day”!

1993  –  Certificate PG-13  –  American Film
Rating Details: Violence
6.0 out of 10

I really like tea, but I also drink a lot of not very nice instant coffee too.  I drink the latter almost exclusively at work, as the caffeine helps me to do my shit.  Without this stimulant, I’d not be able to deliver my corporate payload from a sufficiently high altitude to target my in-box effectively and render its population non-belligerent.  Really.  Like Bane in Batman (the version that hung about with Poison Ivy in the 1997 “Batman and Robin” film), each cup has the same effect on me as turning the ‘power dial’ on his head did on him.  I shake a lot, growl a bit and look angry, my fingers a blur of motion on the keyboard, as I up the misspelling count to such a shocking level that even Bill Gates can’t work out what the hell I’m trying to write.  Someone once sneaked a jar of decaffeinated coffee into the office and the whole organisation nearly went bankrupt.  Conversely, at home I almost never drink coffee.  About 15 years ago I bought a filter coffee-making machine when I had someone staying with me who liked coffee.  Despite my ongoing battle with technology, it’s still fully functional.  (I guess I don’t use it very often and it’s not a very ‘mission critical’ part of my lifestyle.)  However, tonight I made myself some real coffee in it.  It was very nice!  Funny enough, it’s even nicer if you tip a load of Tia Maria in it.  I wonder what happens if you try to get drunk on coffee?

The 80s and 90s were the golden age for ‘Made for TV’ films.  This is one of them.  It’s basically “Groundhog Day” with some sci-fi bolted onto it.  It’s got Martin Landau in it, but I guess all those years of running Moonbase Alpha in “Space 1999” must have taken their toll on him, because he’s rubbish!  Never mind phoning in his role, he didn’t even make contact.  I think they just carried a cardboard cut out about from scene to scene.  In fact the whole movie is pretty rubbish.  However, despite its limitations it’s a fun, easy watch, ideal for when you can’t be bothered to concentrate on stuff.  Our hero is Barry, who basically has to save the world, or universe, or something, from remaining stuck in the same 24 hour time loop.    He’s a workshy loser in the personnel department of a company that’s doing research into faster than light travel; (don’t worry if you don’t understand, it’s really not that important).  Now I’ve seen a lot of action heroes in my time with unlikely ‘day jobs’, but this is the first time I’ve come across one from an HR department.  I now have a new-found respect for personnel staff, they kick ass.  (Where I work we call them People Services, which I’m not sure quite conjures up the correct mental image to some.)  Despite its many faults, this is a decent enough thriller/romance/comedy to waste 94 minutes of your life on.

The soundtrack does its job, collects its pay check and leaves.

Recommended for anyone working in human resources, or as a scientist carrying out cutting edge research into particle physics.

No cats, chainsaws or decapitations.

Top badass moment?  Our hero finds himself breaking into his own employer’s offices.   The security guards, already alerted to the fact, are polite but inept, as Bazza somehow manages to grab one of their guns out of its holster.  Pretty impressive for an HR administrator.  However, what’s really badass is the threat he uses to distract them as he’s doing so.  “Stop giving me a hard time, because I’m going to have to come back here in the morning and make sure that you’re fired before we get here; and don’t think I can’t do it either, I’m in personnel.”  A terrifying threat in these economically tough times.

12:01 at IMDB (6.7 / 10)

12:01 at Wikipedia


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


The Waiting Room / Happy Shopper Brown Sauce


The Waiting Room  -  Front DVD Cover (UK Release)“The Waiting Room” is the beautiful, feature debut of Academy-Award nominated writer/director Roger Golby.  The sterling cast give ‘top-notch performances’ in their portrayal of two strangers – Anna (Anne-Marie Duff) and Stephen (Ralf Little) – who are brought together by chance as they sit together in a deserted waiting room.  Here they make a brief but powerful connection, forgetting their individual lives for an isolated moment in time.  As Stephen and Anna’s lives move onwards, they find themselves thinking more and more of the stranger they met in the waiting room – and what would happen should they meet again.  This highly acclaimed and deeply moving film presents a fresh, edgy and totally romantic view of contemporary life and love in London.

2008  –  Certificate: 15  –  British Film
Rating Details: One strong sex scene and strong language
8.5 out of 10

On my way home from work two days ago I did a bit of food shopping.  A sudden impulse buy was a bottle of brown sauce.  I can’t remember the last time I bought any, but it must have been years ago.  If I’d had any sense I’d have bought some decent stuff, like HP.  Instead, I bought some cheap, Happy Shopper Brown Sauce.  It tasted sort of okay, but it contains about a tonne of salt per gram.  (No, I don’t know how that’s possible either; I guess it’s this sort of ‘new physics’ that makes the experiments being done with the Large Hadron Collider so exciting.)  Using it gave me a sore throat and I could feel my arteries bulging as if they were about to explode, thanks to my suddenly elevated blood pressure.  All in all it’s pretty toxic stuff.  I can only imagine that a large-scale deployment of Happy Shopper Brown Sauce would probably cross someone’s “red line” somewhere or other…  I’m glad I only have the one bottle.  I’ve not checked frame by frame, but I’m not aware that this film contains any brown  sauce, or  sauce of any colour for that matter.  If anyone spots any do let me know.

I can’t understand why this film isn’t better known.  It’s set in Wandsworth, south London and features a lot of Southern Trains suburban services in it; I mean seriously, how much more cool and fashionable could it possibly get?  It’s a story that revolves around three couples, their relationships and a chance meeting between two people in a waiting room at Wandsworth Common Station.  This is a gentle but hugely touching film about ordinary people.  Like many character-driven stories, it just sort of jumps into a period in their lives and then after a while it leaves them again, giving us a glimpse into their thoughts, feeling and actions.  It has a number of scenes that provide the sort of emotional impact that all good films should and characters, though flawed, it’s still easy to sympathise with.  Funny in places and intensely sad in others, at times it felt a bit too close to home for my linking, which is partly why it’s such a brilliant movie.

The soundtrack is generally restrained and unmemorable, but quietly gets on with business of extending the impact of the scenes it’s used in.  A job well done.

Recommended for anyone who accepts that their life is as good as it’s ever going to get.

No cat, chainsaws or decapitation.

Top badass moment?  Stephen, one of the two main characters, works in a nursing home.  When my mum was in a nursing home all the care staff there seemed too overworked to really spend much time with the residents.  Perhaps that’s the reality of it, but if any of them did ever have a bit of time on their hands, I’d have wanted them to be like Stephen.

The Waiting Room at IMDB (6.3 / 10)


Brokeback Mountain / The New Forest


Brokeback Mountain  -  Front Blu-ray Cover (UK Release)From Academy Award-winning filmmaker Ang Lee comes an epic American love story, “Brokeback Mountain”. Set against the sweeping vistas of Wyoming and Texas, the film tells the story of two young men – a ranch-hand and a rodeo cowboy – who meet in the summer of 1963, and unexpectedly forge a lifelong connection, one whose complications, joys, and tragedies provide a testament to the endurance and power of love.

2005  –  Certificate: 15  –  American Film
Rating Details: Strong language, moderate sex and violence
8.0 out of 10

I had a very disappointing day today.  I went to a meeting in a place called Lymington.  It’s about as far south-west as I can go and still remain in ‘my patch’ at work.  If I’d gone much furthered I’d have entered the “South West” and risked immediate kidnap, assassination, or worse, from my colleagues in that part of the country.  Although we’re officially “One Team” these days, at a local level there’re still some patches of tribalism, although it’s nothing that a forty-foot high electric fence topped with razor wire wouldn’t cure.  Anyway, Lymington is on the edge of the New Forest National Park.  But what a swizz it all is!  I drove right across it and all I saw were loads and loads of old trees, some of which actually looked dead and had ‘things’ like birds, bats and bugs living in them.  There were hardly any young ones at all.  How ‘they’ get away with such a bare-faced lie I’ve no idea; surely there must be some sort of advertising standards law they’re breaking?  It’s a terrible reflection on us all that these days unless something’s labelled new or improved, no one’s interested in it; indeed, I seem to suffer from this problem myself.  Washing powder and smartphone manufactures have a lot to answer for.  “A mosaic of ancient and ornamental woodland, open heather-covered heaths, rivers and valley mires, a coastline of mudflats and salt-marshes and pretty, historic villages; the largest area of lowland heath left in southern England.”  Who’s going to be interested in that when they could go and play Laser Quest and then get pissed in the pub afterwards?  Like the New Forest, this film also grossly misrepresents itself, as it fails to provide any sort of back injury whatsoever, not even a pulled muscle.

I’m not a big fan of westerns.  I also imagine Hell to have a soundtrack that features country music on heavy rotation.  Characters engaged in herding animals about and shooting others, have to work hard to overcome their inherent, non-vegan nature and don’t tend to attract my sympathy either.  It’s been a while since I was a cowboy too, so I’m probably a bit out of touch with what’s hot and what’s not in lasso-land; in fact the last time it happened I was very young and had been given a cowboy outfit for my birthday; I didn’t even know which way around to hold the gun and consequently went about shooting myself rather than the hordes of evil Indians that I imagined were busy invading our flat in central London.  I guess what I’m trying to say is that this film was not one that on the surface I was likely to enjoy and up until now, unlike every other human being on the planet, I’d never watched it.  Fortunately, I quickly realised what it’s really about and it suddenly made a lot more sense to me.  “Brokeback Mountain” is basically a reimagining of a number of Thomas Hardy’s novels, where the dictates of society prevent two people from being together.  “People go on marrying because they can’t resist natural forces, although many of them may know perfectly well that they are possibly buying a month’s pleasure with a life’s discomfort.”  (Jude the Obscure).  It’s a film that, like many Hardy novels, involves a lot of rural landscapes, shepherds, folk music and drinking in bars.  I was just waiting for all the sheep to find a cliff somewhere to throw themselves over.  Like Hardy, “Brokeback Mountain” demonstrates the futility of life and the inevitability of being disappointed, let down and kept apart from those you hold most dear.  At the very least, the credits should have said something to the effect that it was inspired by the poems and novels of Thomas Hardy.  “Brokeback Mountain” is a bleak  and touching film, with the last half hour providing a powerful bit of cinema.  The admission that your feelings for someone have effectively fucked up everyones’ lives; priceless wisdom.  This is also a lovely looking film (and I’m not just talking about Michelle Williams, who looks very cute in it), with lots of great views of the countryside.

Country and western music, noooooooooooo..!!!  I’m just a woman and my man beats me up and shot my dog for fun and had an affair with my sister and hates me but he’s still my man so I’ve got to love him….  The rest of the soundtrack isn’t bad and it does have ‘that’ bit of music, “The Wings” by Gustavo Santaolalla.

Recommended for fans of good movie making.  Not recommended for anyone that thinks gay people are an abomination or mentally ill; for you I recommend you go fuck yourselves instead, which if you’re a guy is actually a pretty gay thing to do when you think about it; but you probably won’t want to think about it.

No cats, chainsaws or decapitations.

Top badass moment?  It takes him long enough, but Jack finally giving Lureen’s father the bollocking he deserves.  I despise people like that who’re so full of themselves; what a bullying, arrogant prick he was.

Brokeback Mountain at IMDB (7.7 / 10)


Imagine Me & You / Pubs (In Didcot)


Imagine Me & You  -  Front DVD Cover (UK Release)Heck and Rachel are a young London couple about to embark on a new life together when an unexpected meeting turns Rachel’s world upside down.  What follows is the romantic, humorous and sometimes poignant journey familiar to anyone who has ever fallen in love at first sight.  And what if you discover that the one person you are destined to spend the rest of your life with might not be your boyfriend, but a perfect stranger?  “Imagine Me & You” shows that the path to true love isn’t always straight…

2005 – Certificate: 12  –  British Film
Rating Details: Moderate sex references and strong language
8.0 out of 10

Yesterday I went to see “Oblivion” at the cinema.  Intelligent sci-fi riddled with clichés.  Basically it’s Tom Cruise with an attractive woman on the back of his motorbike and flying around beating bad guys.  Afterwards I went for a drink in three pubs.  I don’t often go for a drink these days.  This is partly because I have no friends, partly because the ones I do have generally have the sense to live a long way-away from me, partly because it’s expensive, fattening and not good for you, and partly because I don’t think they ‘make’ pubs for people like me; I’m clearly not a demographic worth targeting.  Take yesterday for example.  Didcot is a town that’s not known for much, other than a railway museum and a power station; and the power station has now closed.  Broadways, a pub in the centre of the town, was almost empty and was the sort of place that if a fight broke out in it, they’d just pick up the broken glass and sweep the bodies to the side so no one tripped over them.  The Prince of Wales, opposite the station, was full of late teens and 20-somethings getting tanked up for a night on the town.  The Ladygrove, which was also full, is located on a ‘new’ estate and caters for “where did my life go wrong” 20 and 30-somethings with screaming kids in tow, eating anonymous pub-grub under searingly bright lights.  None of them had any decent cider.  Broadways caters for the working-class and underclass that the rest of us try to pretend don’t exist; the Prince of Wales for those that still think they can get on in life; and the Ladygrove for the same people as the Prince of Wales but ten years later.  I think I preferred Broadways, in the same way I’d prefer to break my arm than lose a finger.  There’s a scene in a pub in this film; actually there might be a few, but I can’t remember now.

London doesn’t really get well represented in films.  It seems the north and west are full of ‘beautiful people’ who behave like Hugh Grant, the east gangsters and immigrants and the south chavs.  Nowhere else exists.  This movie is set in ‘the north’ of the city.  It’s also a rom-com. So you now know most of the plot and what the characters are like.  Fortunately, this film has two elements that manage to drag it out of the cesspit of predictable, bland, anonymous, chick-flicks.  Firstly, it’s actually very funny.  The script works well and all the characters manage to be suitably engaging.  Secondly, it provides a bit of a plot-twist that gives it an element of originality, (although it quickly becomes very predictable again, so it’s not going to provide anyone with much of an insight into anything).  This is much more of an out-and-out comedy that a romance, which does it no harm at all.  It’s very watchable and fun.  And let’s not forget it’s got Giles (the man behind Buffy) and Sarah Connor (of Terminator fame) in it.  And one more thing, it’s one of those films where the seasons don’t seem to follow the narrative; there’re an awful lot of autumnal leaves on the trees, considering most of the film is set in the winter.  Because of my job I notice these things.  Our climate isn’t quite that fucked up, yet.

Music; exactly what you’d expect.  Exactly.

Recommended for people who like comedy who can manage not to retch at the more corny rom-com elements of it.  Not so good for anyone looking for a romantic weepy.

No cats, chainsaws or decapitations.

Top badass moment?  Yelling out “You’re a wanker number nine” while standing on the roof of a car, in a traffic jam, outside Bank Station in London, does it for me.  It’s interesting to note that if this film was set in New York, there’d be an endless honking of horns and abusive taxi-drivers shouting out things; in London, hardly a sound.  Our traffic jams are so much more civilised!  I’m not entirely sure how “you’re a wanker number nine” would translate either.

Imagine Me & You at IMDB (6.7 / 10)


My Father The Hero / Pepsi Max Is Bad


My Father The Hero  -  Front Blu-ray Cover (US Release)International superstar Gérard Depardieu plays André, a divorced father whose life is turned upside down when he takes his headstrong teenage daughter (Katherine Heigl) on a tropical island vacation. André’s troubles begin when his daughter, Niki – trying to impress the boy of her dreams – concocts an elaborate life story for herself, including the outrageous notion that André is really her boyfriend masquerading as her father. What follows is a comedy of errors and confusion that wreaks hilarious havoc on Niki’s budding romance and her father’s reputation. “My Father, The Hero” will take you on a charming, laugh-filled vacation you’ll never forget!

1994  –  Certificate PG
Rating Details: Language and elements of sensuality
6.0 out of 10

I’ve drunk three cans of Pepsi Max today.  Does that make me a bad person?  No one in this film is actually a bad person, but…

This movie was directed by the same guy who directed Friday the 13th Parts 2 & 3; but this is a horror of a different kind…  A remake of “Mon Pere Ce Heros” (which also starred Gérard Depardieu), “My Father The Hero” is a lightweight(ish) comedy that’s full of contradictions.  On the surface it all seems to make sense, but as soon as you think about anything (and I mean anything) you realise that it’s all a load of bollocks.  It’s like they wrote down a lot of funny scenes and then tried to linked them altogether with a plot.  No one acts in a rational way and the paedophilic(ish) central story just makes matters worse.  In fact it’s only saving grace is that it is quite funny at times and it looks nice; (well most of it was filmed in the Bahamas, so you’d have to work hard to make that look like crap).  I’m not entirely sure who the target demographic was for this movie.  I watched it on Blu-ray and the quality was surprisingly good.  However, the ‘extras’ consisted of nothing whatsoever; unless you think scene access is an extra.  Even finding a copy of the trailer proved exceedingly difficult; (so thanks to Retro Junk; a great site for people of a ‘certain’ age).  So to sum up, this film is a bit like the Sex Pistols, circa 1976; impossible to see, offering a weird sexuality and apparently appealing to no one.  According to IMDB, it’s grossed over $25M in the USA and over £2M in the UK.  Who are these people?

The music is a pretty foul mixture of synth pop and rubbish poppy calypso, plus pretty anonymous, although serviceable, incidental music.  A film set in the Caribbean and that’s the best they can do; shameful.  Prison sentences wouldn’t be out-of-order for those responsible.  I will add that Gérard Depardieu playing and singing “Thank Heaven for Little Girls” is one of the more ridiculous/funny/creepy parts of the film.

Recommended for God knows who.

No cats, chainsaws or decapitations.

Top badass moment?  Katherine Heigl’s ass in a white, thong swimsuit.  A 14-year-old playing a 14-year-old pretending to be 16; or something like that.  Doing this will enable you to better relate to the plot about a middle-aged guy pretending to go out with a child who’s actually his daughter.

My Father The Hero at IMDB (5.2 / 10)


Betty Blue: 3.5 Stars


Betty Blue  -  Front DVD Cover (UK)Listen up, this is important.  I believe the Earth is about to be invaded and taken over by an evil alien, whose sole purpose is to enslave the entire human race and laugh in a really, really annoying way at our suffering.  Proof?  For a start, this film.  The main male character in it is called Zorg.  Is Zorg a common name in France?  I doubt it.  This film is clearly a message from the future sent back into the past, to warn us of the impending doom to come.  No one really calls their son Zorg, do they?  I hope not, because it’s the sort of name only megalomaniacs in 50’s pulp sci-fi and B-movies should have.  Emperor Zorg; Zorg the Mighty; Lord Zorg, Ruler of the Flatulent Empire and 10,000 Worlds; that sort of thing.  We never get to meet Zorg’s parents in this film, but honestly, what were they thinking?  They must have been smoking something when they came up with that name.  Then this evening I had my shopping delivered by someone called Zoltan.  Again, another clear example of a Flash Gordon era baddie, who was obviously casing the joint and looking for weaknesses in the Earth’s defences.  You shouldn’t allow the fact that he came not in a gigantic spaceship, but in the “cabbage van” (so the text from Ocado said), to deflect your attention.  He even had a bit of an accent, which I’m pretty sure wasn’t of this Earth.  These aliens, clever people, that’s why they’re ‘here’ and we’re not ‘there’.

1986  –  Certificate: 18  –  France
Rating Details:  Strong scenes of sex and nudity and some strong violence

Clocking in at almost three hours (it was the Director’s Cut), this is a loooong, French, romantic movie that takes us on a trip with young couple Zorg and Betty.  From painting beach houses, through to working in a pizza restaurant, writing books and selling pianos, it chronicles their relationship and the effect Betty’s (undefined) mental illness has on it.  Having a friend with the latter, I found it intensely saddening at times.  But I also enjoyed it in a rather Thomas Hardyish way, in the sense that I knew the relationship was probably doomed from the start and I was just waiting for it to crash and burn.  Now having just compared it to a quintessentially English author, it’s actually a very French film.  There’re plenty of examples of tasteful love-making (because the French are supposed to be good at that), as well as lots of ‘unconcerned nudity’ in it, most of it of the male variety it has to be said.  It also had several somewhat bizarre and funny scenes of what you might consider to be almost slapstick comedy too.  The ending is somewhat inexplicable as well, which seems to happen a lot in French films.  Ultimately though, it’s a downer of a movie and after spending three hours with the characters, sharing virtually every aspect of their relationship with them, it’s hard not to be affected.  I really felt sorry for them both.  It’s a nice looking film too (and I’m not just talking about the main characters) and the mono soundtrack is actually pretty decent.

Recommended for those who are willing to invest an evening in lusting after Betty or Zorg.

1 cat, no decapitations or chainsaws. The cat, a lovely white one, appears in three scenes and has a pivotal role right at the end, including a bit of (dubbed) dialogue.

Top badass moment?  Betty throwing a bucket of pink paint all over Zorg’s boss’s car.  He was a serious asshole and quite frankly a load of paint on his car was the least he deserved. When you’re boyfriend’s being a wimp and not sticking up for himself, someone has to be badass about it.  And let’s face it, who hasn’t thought of doing something like that to a crappy manager at one time or another?

Betty Blue at IMDB (7.2/10)


Timer: 4.0 Stars


Timer  -  Front DVD Cover (UK)YouTube has some great tools for analysing the stuff you put up on it.  I had a look today and found out that over the past 16 months, I’ve uploaded 139 videos, nearly all film trailers.  The most popular one is for “Limitless”, which has somehow amassed 67,897 views.  At the moment they get around 3,500 views a day, that’s 2-3 a minute.  It’s not exactly Gangnam Style, but for a nobody loser like me it’s kind of freaky.  However, much more interesting is that by analysing all the data YouTube gives you, you can use it as a targeted dating service.   Around two-thirds of the people who watch my videos are men.  This isn’t perhaps all that surprising, as most are trailers for things with lots of explosions, evil aliens and people being blown to bits in them.  Rather than see this preoccupation with bad things as a flaw in my personality, I consider it to be a key element of my personal anger management routine.  Taking a closer look at the details of the data revealed the exciting news that of the 11,726 visits I’ve had from people in the Philippines, almost 50% are from females.  Clearly, there’s something about me, or at least the films I watch, that appeals to the ladies of that fine land more than anywhere else.  You may say I was clutching at straws, but on noticing this a holiday in the Philippines suddenly became a lot more attractive to me than it had been previously.  There’s just one small issue.  Does anyone know the age of consent in the Philippines?  I only ask this as the largest numbers of viewers from the Philippines are in the 13-17 age group and in fact this is the only group that the female-to-male ratio is tipped in favour of the female component, nearly 3:1 in fact.  Oh well, the system was going so well for a while there too; I guess I’ll be staying at home for Christmas after all.  This film is also about a system that enables you to find your one true love.

2009  –  Certificate: R  –  USA
Rating Details:  Language

I really like this movie.  It’s a romantic comedy with a science fiction based plot, set in the present day.  The story is really quite unique and it also provides you with a great topic to have a ‘pub chat’ about.  If you could, would you want a device that tells you when you meet your one true love and also tells you how long into the future that will happen?  The film explores some of this, but actually it’s really quite an interesting topic to think about.  There aren’t any spaceships, aliens or big explosions in it, but it is a cute, funny and interesting movie to watch.  For a romantic comedy it manages to avoid most of the more clichéd rubbish associated with that type of film and the ending is far from clear until it actually comes along.  It’s not a weepy, but having an emergency packet of tissues on hand might be advisable for the more sensitive out there. Go watch.

Recommended for people who enjoy simple, well-made, fun films.

No cats, decapitations or chainsaws.

Top badass moment?  I don’t really understand the relationship some sisters have with one another; why would I, I’m a bloke and I don’t have a sister?  But the one in this film between two step-sisters is believable, nuanced and ultimately sacrificing and loving.  I’ve no idea if it’s in anyway realistic, but that seems cool enough to be badass to me.

Timer at IMDB (6.5 /10)


The Notebook: 4.0 Stars


The Notebook  -  Front DVD Cover (UK)I’m vegan.  This makes me better than most other people.  I’m not being big-headed or stupid or anything, that’s just the way things are.  (See “Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World” for more details.)  I’m lucky, in that the whole population of Cactus World is vegan, which makes things a lot easier.  However, the same can’t be said for some of the neighbouring areas.  My flat has a couple of air vents in it with built-in fans.  These appear to be connected to all the other vents in the building, via a series of pipes buried in the walls.   They’re the sort of vents you can use to ‘enjoy’ a ‘domestic’ going on next door.  If I lived in a Hollywood film in an old apartment in New York, I’m sure I’d regularly hear murders being committed through them, (which there’d mysteriously be no evidence for when the police arrived to investigate things); or perhaps a major terrorist attack (with a nuclear bomb of course) being planned.  I suppose I should be thankful that the vents are in the kitchen and bathroom, as they don’t seem to pick up the sound from other rooms of happy couples em, coupling.  So anyway, a little while ago I went to the aforementioned bathroom, to do some ‘bathroom things’.  As soon as I opened the lounge door, my senses were assaulted by the smell of cooked fish.  I doubt the world’s oceans smell as fishy as my flat right now.  Unfortunately, the vents transport smells as easily as they transfer sounds.  Four emergency incense cones have now been lit, in an effort to neutralise the insidious odour.  (High-powered ones obtained from the US military, through a special arrangement with the authorities in New Mexico.  They have “the fragrant aroma of smouldering Piñon firewood that is characteristic of the whole Southwest and the foothills of the Rockies.”)  We’ve yet to hear any announcements regarding whether this is a deliberate chemical weapons attack on Cactus World, the result of a massive industrial accident, or simply the outcome of dinner-time for one of my neighbours.  For a vegan however, it’s pretty crap; and annoying.  The last time my flat smelt this fishy was the day I first came to see it prior to moving in.  This was later determined to be a deliberate ploy by the previous inhabitants to disguise one of their leisure activities; it was about a year before it ceased to smell of dope; my predecessors were apparently keen on a joint or two.  This film doesn’t feature any of these things.  In fact, it couldn’t ‘unfeature’ them more if it tried.

2004  –  Certificate: 15  –  USA
Rating Details: Moderate sex

I need to go on a diet, (even more than I normally do).  This film was so syrupy and sweet that just watching it has made me put on about 5kg.  The plot twist at the end is also so obvious that it probably shouldn’t really count as one at all; it’s like one of those weakening fronts you see on weather maps, which by the time they arrive only consist of a few clouds, so if they weren’t pointed out to you you’d probably not even notice them.  I’m not much of a fan of period dramas, so a movie set mostly in the 1930s and 1940s isn’t the sort of thing to really excite me.  The chances of there being many big explosions, spaceships or gratuitous violence felt slim.  Then again, any film with Ryan Gosling in is worth checking out.  James Garner’s in it too, who was already old even when I was young.  So anyway, okay, this is actually a great film, with the most romantic/tragic ending it’s probably possible to have.  As  a fan of Thomas Hardy, I’ve always had a soft spot for relationships that get fucked-up by families, class, money, etc.  This film delivers a classic Hardy class-barrier storyline, rich city girl and poor country boy; (sounds awful doesn’t it)?  Fact is, this film doesn’t really do anything very much else and it certainly doesn’t break any new ground, but what it does do it does really, really well.  In fact the only part that felt a bit weak was the Mother’s ‘revelation’; it did feel a bit of a plot contrivance rather than something that fitted into the overall narrative.  As a romantic period drama, this does deliver; and yes, it is, especially the ending, tissue-friendly.

Recommended for true romantics.  In the perfect world, we’d all end up with our first loves forever.  (Aw, see, I can be romantic too.)

No cats, decapitations or chainsaws.

Top badass moment?  I have to give this to Lon Hammond.  He just goes to prove that even if you’re handsome, a war hero, successful, attentive and an all-around nice guy, you don’t always get the girl.  Being a good loser is badass and he manages here to be a top bloke about everything, when he probably had every right to be really, really pissed off.

The Notebook on IMDB (7.9 / 10)


My Girl: 4.0 Stars


My Girl  -  Front DVD coverEver watched any of those TV ads, which always seem to feature a young and good-looking guy in a white shirt and tie, sitting on a train with loads of space around him?  The ones where it’s sunny outside and the train is passing through some beautiful countryside, which the guy in the shirt glances at contentedly whilst he works away on a laptop, looking happy and in control, as he drinks his complementary and delicious cup of coffee and deals with his important but achievable workload?  Well that’s total bollocks.  I’ve spend a lot of time recently sitting on trains trying to work on a laptop and its had about as much in common with that image, as someone sweeping the floor in an aircraft hangar has with Tom Cruise in “Topgun”.  So here’s a reality check.

1)  The trains are always over-crowded and no one looks happy.

2)  You always have to chuck someone out of the seat you’ve booked, who’s always the person most genuinely in need of a seat on the whole train; typically a heavily pregnant but exceedingly fray old lady, who’s often from a Black or Asian community too, so that everyone else on the train can brand you both a bastard and a racist.

3)  You can never plug your laptop in anywhere; there either isn’t a plug, or someone else is using it and will defend it to the death if need be.  You’d have more chance of negotiating a peace treaty between North and South Korea.

4)  The tables are too narrow to have the screen at the right angle or the keyboard in the right place; and there’s always some other poor sod sitting on the other side of the table trying to use a laptop too; and the nightmarish possibly that the backs of the lids might accidentally touch one another, would feel not unlike experiencing your best mate suddenly touching you ‘inappropriately’ and declaring he’s always loved you.

5)  You’re always stressed out because you’ve got too much work to do.  Internet access costs nearly £5 for an hour and at best is annoyingly intermittent and slow, so you end up having to close and reopen Outlook loads of times in an effort to send or receive any e-mail.  And don’t even think you can use a mouse, as the train’s movement will result in your clicking on everything but what you wanted and a screen full of usless boxes and windows that you’ve then got to try to close, an equally futile exercise that just perpetuates the nightmare.  And if you saved the link your mate sent you last week for that comedy bestiality gay porn website, you can be sure you’ll accidently click on it and everyone in the carriage with hear your tinny laptop speakers blare out the fact, confirming in their minds that you’re a social deviant as well as being a bastard and a racist, and probably a paedophile too.  Your only defence against all this is that the chance of you actually finding a suitable space in which to move a mouse around, is rather less than that of the Earth suddenly exploding right now… nope, we’re still here.  (And here’s a friendly bit of advice; don’t bother trying to use your mouse on your thigh, it doesn’t work and after it’s fallen on the floor with  a loud clatter a few times, everyone will be adding stupidity to your growing lists of crimes.) 

6)  The person sitting opposite you always has a better laptop that makes you feel like a Luddite and failure, as you look at your scratched Dell with its broken bit of trim in the corner; whilst his is miraculously in pristine condition, despite its apparently nomadic existence; they’re nearly always Macs too; does Apple pay people to travel on trains just to make it look like it has a bigger market share than it really does?

7)  The weather is always wet and horrible; or really bright and the sun shines directly onto the screen of your laptop, rendering it unreadable.

8)  The person next to you acts as if he’s Beelzebub’s cousin and insists on staking his claim to every square nanometre of his allotted space; even using his bag and jacket to build something akin to the Berlin Wall between you and him.  The unspoken threat this leaves hanging in the air will lead you to prefer the option of wetting yourself, rather than ask him to move so you can go to the toilet.

9)  If the person next to you is a woman, she will continually use body language that strongly suggests the world’s most evil-smelling pervert has just sat next to her.  Unlike Beelzebub’s cousin, she will attempt to curl up in as small a space as possible, mathematically as far from you as she can, whilst texting her mates non-stop to tell them of her ongoing trauma.

10)  The coffee is mediocre, costs £2.20 and comes in a paper cup.

This film is set in 1972. Before laptops existed.  (And I really actually like trains.)

1991  –  Certificate: PG  –  USA

Before I watched this film I couldn’t remember anything about it or why I’d bought it.  Neither the overview nor the trailer suggested that it’s going to be anything other than a fairly crappy, 90s, mainstream Hollywood romantic/family comedy with a precocious, ‘Hollywood-style’ kid in it.  An evening of British stoicism beckoned, as I looked forward to 98 minutes of mediocre averageness.  But when a film starts with an 11-year-old girl speaking directly into the camera, claiming to have caught haemorrhoids and explaining how her breasts are developing at different rates and that means she’s got cancer, does suggest that it’s going to have more balls that it ought to.  (Sorry if that all sounds a bit Jimmy Savilley, it’s not meant to.)  For a PG rated film, I bet that freaked out a few parents in the cinema!  It’s basically a film about death, a suitable depressing topic that probably explains why I bought it in the first place.  In the end, it still turned out to be a 90s, mainstream Hollywood romantic/family comedy with a precocious, ‘Hollywood-style’ kid in it, but at times it’s also a genuinely touching and powerful bit of drama.  The adults are more or less cardboard cut-out characters, but the kids make the film come alive and the script’s surprising subtle.  It’s got a good soundtrack too.  (Problem is, I still can’t get used to Dan Aykroyd not hunting ghosts, or Jamie Lee Curtis not fighting Michael Myers.) 

Recommended for people who want to revisit the experience of losing someone they love. 

No cats, decapitations or chainsaws. 

Top badass moment?  Vada sulking in the supermarket and throwing can after can from the shelf into the trolley.  Am I the only one who thinks doing this without looking at the shelf or fumbling any of the cans, whilst the trolley is moving, was pretty clever?  It’s hard to make sulking look cool, so managing to do so is badass.

My Girl at IMDB (6.5/10)