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

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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