Posts tagged “School

Slaughter High / When Words Resemble Monkey Sick


Slaughter High  -  Front DVD Cover  -  US Release

There’s horror in the halls… lynching in the lunchroom…  murder in the metal shop.  Welcome to “Slaughter High”, where the students are dying to get out!  In high school, Marty was the kid all the students teased, taunted and tortured mercilessly.  One day, things went too far; one of their jokes backfired, disfiguring Marty for life.  Now, five years later, Marty has arranged a special reunion for all his high school “friends.”  The prom queen, the jock, the class clown, the rebel and a few select others have been invited… and it’s going to be a gala of gore!

1986  –  Certificate: Unrated  –  American Film
7.0 out of 10

I’m crap at everything.  However, I try very hard and surround myself with more able and talented people, which in some limited cases enables me to function in society without everyone pointing in my direction, or crossing the road when they see me coming.  Yesterday was a good case in point.  I spent all of it trying to complete a quotation (that a colleague had already done most of the work for), in response to a competitive tender document for a project to help set up a new community group, to care for the areas along the line of an old railway.   It didn’t really come with any sort of structure for what it was asking for, which means trying to do it was like trying to play a game that no one’s explained the rules to me about.  All that choice!  Vegans don’t deal with choice well; it’s typically the green salad, or chips, or nothing for us.  At about half past four I found myself staring at the words on the screen, able to read and understand them, but totally unable to work out what they meant, or how one string of them (a thing we call a sentence) related to any other.  Talk about not being able to see the wood for the trees.  Somehow I managed to complete about 98% of it, although when I proof-read it this morning most made less sense than a wall covered in a bucket full of scrabble letters and monkey sick.  There was one little bit that I had to complete by hand and I swear it looks like a six-year-old did it.  I don’t think I can write anymore; I used to have lovely handwriting too.  Sometimes I feel like life is teasing me for a laugh.  One day I’ll react like Marty in this film….

Oh dear, it’s the uncut version of a ‘forgotten classic’.  To be fair it’s probably not that obscure and it’s probably not that bad either.  It’s not boring anyway.  Here we have a group of young adults who behave in an almost entirely irrational way, an isolated location, a seriously pissed off guy harbouring a grudge… and you know the rest.  The murders are a mixed bag; I guess my favourite was the electric shock during sex, although the lawnmower one isn’t too bad either.  Did I like Marty the vengeful killer?  Well he was/is a dork, but clearly after his injury the law failed to provide him with the justice he genuinely did deserve, so in a way I can’t blame him for taking things into his own hands.  The guy had probably had a very successful and exciting career ahead of him too.  Actually, the more I think about it the more I realise that he really is the victim here.  The fact that the group that bullied him didn’t even seem to have any remorse for what they did, even though the outcome probably was an accident and unintended, just makes things worse.  What a nasty set of individuals.  Awful.  I’m glad they’re all dead now.  And another thing, the level of health & safety in the school’s science lab was woeful.  Seriously, no one would store a really large, glass bottle of nitric acid on top of a narrow, wobbly, free-standing shelf unit that itself is sitting on top of a table in the middle of a room, not even in the 80s.  And the bottle wasn’t labelled properly either.  And where were Marty’s gloves and protective goggles?  He didn’t strike me as the sort of guy who wouldn’t wear them because he didn’t look cool.  Then again, he does appear to take the time to take his Doddsville County High School jacket off in the middle of his science experiment starting to blow up all around him, so I guess his appearance did matter a lot to him, which probably explains why he got so worked up about being hideously burnt.  For that matter, why wasn’t he being supervised?  I know the school only appeared to have one teacher, who worked in the gym, but even so.  I know, I’m probably over analysing things.  Despite its intentions, the most offensive thing in the whole movie was the dreadfully racist scene involving the Black caretaker.  I image this is one of Jeremy Clarkson’s favourite movies.

Musically we’re deep into 80s low-budget territory.  Yes, very deep.

The trailer isn’t so bad, although it does manage to give away the entire plot and partly show a number of the murders too.  Then again, the plot isn’t exactly an original and you don’t get to see all of the murders.

No cats, chainsaws or decapitations.  Surprisingly.

Top badass moment?  No one likes a bully.  And we like groups of bullies even less.  So it’s high-fives all round for Marty, as he slowly dispatches them all one by one.  Also, given the speed at which he appears to be able to get from place to place at around the school, he’s apparently invented some sort of personal teleportation device too.  That’s seriously badass; or just dreadful editing.

Slaughter High at IMDB (5.0 / 10)
Slaughter High at Wikipedia
Slaughter High trailer at YouTube

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The Colors of the Mountain / Comet ISON


The Colors of the Mountain  -  Front DVD Cover  -  US Release

Young Manuel lives with his hard-working farmer parents in the remote, mountainous region of the Colombian countryside.  While the adults in their lives try to avoid both the armed military and the guerrilla rebels fighting each other in the area, Manuel and his friend Julián are obsessed with playing soccer any chance they get.  Shortly after his birthday, the new ball Manuel received as a gift gets kicked off to a minefield, and he, Julián and their albino friend Poca Luz will do everything in their power to recover their prized belonging – an essential part of their everyday lives and dreams.

2011  –  Rating: Not Rated  –  Columbian Film
7.5 out of 10

So “comet of the century” ISON turned out to be more of a metaphor for life; all that potential, expectation and excitement, followed by an invisible anti-climax.  However, I would like to propose a new verb for the English language.  Ison: a state of disillusionment; e.g. “the band’s performance was somewhat isoning; or “I’m really isoned by this whole project of yours.”  It’s good to invent words.

This is an interesting, watchable but ultimately depressing film.  It’s a very simple story about three football-obsessed young boys, whose ball ends up in a minefield.  As this is not something that happens very often in the English Premier League, it provides a somewhat different viewpoint of the game.  Let’s not forget that the Colombian national team is ranked fourth in the world, whilst England is ranked 13th.  There’s a lot to be said for sharpening you team’s reactions with a few, well-placed landmines.  What this movie does really well is focus on the story from the boys’ point of view, allowing the realities of the ongoing, three-sided civil war in the area to colour what happens.  The insidious effect of the latter on the local people slowly comes into focus as the story moves along.  As the kids plot to recover their ball, things around them gradually fall apart and begin to directly change their lives.  It’s hard not to feel upset by the situation.  There isn’t anyone mowing down half the jungle with a minigun, or 100s of people being blown to pieces in huge, set-piece scenes.  Instead you get an insight into the subtle ways conflict changes things.  Not nice and very sad.  Filmed in the mountains, the scenery looks lush; (as in very green, not sexy).  Understated and documentary like, the whole movie feels very authentic and is well worth watching.  However, I do wish Americans would learn to spell “colour” correctly; it’s very irritating!

There’s a lot of ‘Spanish sounding’ music in the film.  It’s great. 

Recommended for football fans, guerrillas, freedom fighters and Roy Hodgson.

No cats, chainsaws or decapitations.

Top badass moment?  The teacher gets the kids to paint a big mural over the ‘war graffiti’ on the school building.  This is probably not the most sensible thing to do if you’re looking for a quiet life, but it is most definitely badass.

The Colors of the Mountains at IMDB (7.0 / 10)
The Colors of the Mountains at Wikipedia

The Colors of the Mountains at YouTube


The Class / Wild Rice


The Class  -  Front DVD Cover  -  UK ReleaseThe tense environment of a tough inner-city school where cultures and attitudes often clash is revealed in this award-winning drama based on François Bégaudeau’s best-selling novel Between the Walls.  Bégaudeau himself stars as an idealistic teacher of a class of unruly 15 year-olds, whose spiky independence present constant challenges to his sometimes unconventional teaching methods.  Featuring an outstanding non-professional cast of real teachers and students, Laurent Cantet’s gripping and sharply observed film offers a microcosm of contemporary society and explores the difficult issues facing education today.

2008  –  Certificate: 15  –  French Film
Rating Details: Strong Language
7 out of 10

I worked from home today.  Despite not having nearly enough space to do so, I quite enjoy it as it allows me to work in just my underpants (the pair I was wearing the day before of course) and indulge my anti-social tendencies by not going out or seeing anyone.  Today I did have to speak to people on the phone a lot, but that’s not as bad as actually having to speak to anyone face-to-face.  For my dinner tonight I had some weird concoction that included tinned tomatoes, rice and tofu.  To further indulge my anti-social tendencies, I do most of my food shopping online.  Last time, due to an apparent world shortage of cheap, brown rice, I was gifted by Waitrose with a bag of basmati rice with added wild rice; (for the same price as the cheap rubbish I’d ordered).  I’ve never eaten wild rice before, mainly because it’s about a million pounds a bag.  After eating it tonight, I was left wondering how many people are willing to spend twice as much on a bag of rice as they need to, simply because it’s got a few ‘black bits’ in it.  Taste-wise it didn’t seem to add anything, but I guess if you’re stupid, vein and rich, you can pander to your rice fantasies whenever you like.  Finally, to indulge my anti-social tendencies still further, my meal tonight included two whole garlic bulbs.  That’s a lot of garlic; and this film is French.

This is a movie that’s looks very much like a documentary.  It features the staff and pupils at an inner city school in Paris and focuses on one particular teacher and his class, over the course of a year.  Most of the time is spent in the classroom, watching him teaching them.  Yep, that’s pretty much it; for over two hours.  The teenagers act like real teenagers; sometimes they’re good and sometimes they’re bad.  The teacher acts like a teacher; he gets some stuff right and some stuff wrong.  Strangely, it’s all rather watchable, but I really have no idea why.  Perhaps it’s the almost constant mental combat that’s going on in the classroom that makes it so absorbing?  However, it has reminded me of just what a hard job teaching can be.

Music?  There isn’t any.  At all.

Recommended for teachers and school age teenagers.  Game on!

No cats, chainsaws or decapitations.

Top badass moment?  This is a film about one man who thinks he can ‘make a difference’.  He’s got no superpowers or cool gadgets, or a perfect physique.  He does however do battle on a daily basis, with a horde of confrontational, argumentative and troubled teenagers.  He’s a teacher.  That’s badass.

The Class at IMDB (7.5 / 10)

The Class at Wikipedia


Puberty Blues / A New Type of Hero


Puberty Blues  -  Front DVD Cover  -  Australian ReleasePanel vans, drive-ins, friendship rings & surfie beads.  The ultimate coming-of-age film “Puberty Blues” is back.  Based on the novel by the same name, written by the infamous Salami Sisters, namely Gabrielle Carey and Kathy Lette, “Puberty Blues” traces the adventures of Debbie (Nell Schofield) and her life-long companion Sue (Jad Capelja).  Two teenagers are desperately trying to break into the “in” group who dominate Greenhill Beach.  Once they are accepted into the group, they realise that the laid-back, ultra-cool façade is just that: a glossy cover-up.  As they fall into all of the group’s vices, including drug-usage and casual sex, they willingly present themselves to the males of the group as virtual slaves, ready to serve their pre-chosen lover’s every need.  Soon though, the girls grow tired of playing the victim role, and they work to regain respect and equality.  From the Academy Award Winning Australian Director Bruce Beresford (“Driving Miss Daisy”, “The Club”, “Barry McKenzie” & “Black Robe”), “Puberty Blues” is the ultimate Australian beach classic.

1981  –  Certificate: M  –  Australian Film
7.0 out of 10

As you should already know, I’ve recently become a fully fledged Pavement Warrior, in recognition of my bravery in standing up to greedy, urban footpath-hogging bastards.  Just because this is an entirely self-administered qualification, shouldn’t reduce its significance.  Indeed, as I’m the only Pavement Warrior in existence, it does in fact make the award all the more special.  As part of my walk to and from work, I have to pass the planet-sized Tesco store on the Oxford Road in Reading.  Behind the store is its car park, a car park so big that the other side of it is hidden by the curvature of the Earth.  I have little choice but to cross this expanse of tarmac on my journey, corner to corner.  Given its lack of surface features I need to navigate by compass; the tarmac interferes with GPS signals by destabilising the Earth’s magnetic field, as its metallic components combine with a thousand lost Smartphone signals to set up a sort of virtual Faraday Cage.  Many a time I’ve come across lost shoppers, wondering hopelessly amongst the endless rectangular parking bays, surviving on the remains of their shopping, desperate to locate their cars before they starve to death; (which is somewhat ironic given the nature of Tesco’s core business).  In winter I battle hurricane force winds and horizontal rain; whilst in summer baking hot temperatures and sunlight reflected from the ground, test me to my physical and mental limits.  Now, you know those films where heroes walk out to their aircraft, before flying off to almost certain death?  I’m thinking of “Battle of Britain” or Tom Cruise in “Top Gun”.  (Except in the “Battle of Britain” they always ran to their aircraft and they were genuine heroes, whilst Tom Cruise swaggered to his jet like the overpaid Hollywood actor he is.)  Well today in the Tesco car park I saw something very similar.  Two guys were slowly walking out across the barren tarmac, their hair blowing in the summer wind, dressed in their Tesco high-vis jackets.  They were going to their home delivery vans.  I knew they were about to go ‘out there’ alone, face unknown horrors*, deliver their payloads and if lucky, God willing, return safely again.  (*Such as ignorant home-shoppers who don’t even help them carry the bags from the vans to their kitchen tables, because they paid a few pounds for the privilege of having someone else do their shopping for them and expect to treat the delivery guys like their personal slaves for five minutes.)  As they started their engines and drove slowly out of sight, I felt quite humbled and I’m not ashamed to admit it bought a lump to my throat.  Home delivery drivers are the new heroes!  This film has two heroes of its own.

Made in 1981, this movie is a nearly random slice of life in what I guessed passed for teenage normality in Australia around that time in the sort of place it features.  This appeared to consist of thoughtless guys on surfboards who just put up with girls so they could have sex, (or root them as they tended to put it); and stupid young women who went along with this.  It has all the normal stuff you’d expect, late periods, drug overdoses, drinking too much, ‘condom problems’, parental confusion, an ‘in-crowd’, drive-ins, ‘growing-up’, etc.  This is an unusual film, in that it’s pretty boring but weirdly compelling too.  For some reason Debbie reminded me of Wayne Rooney.  (Facially at least; I doubt Rooney’s body looks like hers in a bikini.)

I hated the theme tune.  Strangely it fitted the move well, but it was a dreadful dirge of the worst kind.  However, I did rather like the version of Split Enz’s “Nobody Takes Me Seriously” that plays over the ‘climatic scene’ near the end of the movie.

Recommended for surfers, Australians, fans of Australian school uniforms (like they used to wear in “Neighbours”) and Wayne Rooney haters.

1 cat, no chainsaws or decapitations. A lovely black cat makes an appearance in a bedroom scene.  (No, not ‘that’ sort of bedroom scene).  It provides a master-class in how to lay on a bed and look cute.

Top badass moment?  After 77 minutes of film-time living in the gender stone-age, Debbie and Sue finally realise that they can be something more.  Overcoming a lifetime of stereotyping has got to hard-core badass.

Puberty Blues at IMDB (5.7 / 10)

Puberty Blues at Wikipedia


Impure Thoughts / Cactus World Declares War on iTunes


Impure Thoughts  -  Front DVD Cover  -  UK ReleaseFollowing the unrelated deaths of four old school friends Danny, William, Kevin and Steve, they find themselves meeting in the afterlife waiting room, a state of limbo between heaven and hell – Purgatory.  The four friend’s topic of conversation turns to their strict catholic upbringing and the possible wrongs that each has done through their lives that have earned them a seat in Death’s anteroom. Now will their actions as children forgo their future and determine the final resting place of their eternal souls?  A thought provoking film that explores the youthful coming of age and the views held by the catholic church of these adolescent years.

1986  –  Certificate: 12
Rating Details:  Moderate sex references
6.0 out of 10

I’ve been having some pretty disgusting, impure thoughts myself recently.  However, mine concern iTunes’s so called customer service.  Not for the first time, my iTunes account got hacked a couple of weeks ago.  I wasn’t able to reset it so I was forced to contact iTunes to sort it out.  Tying to find out how to get hold of the right person in the right part of the world, was akin to discovering how to levitate through the power of thought, whilst learning to write traditional Chinese, inside  a crater full of molten magma in a volcano on Titan, with a bad hangover.  I did eventually find an e-mail address to use and got a reply from Umair, who sounded like he’d find helping me with my problem as much fun as a three-in-a-bed session with Mila Kunis and Rihanna.  (I’m not a reader myself, but they topped the FHM Sexiest Women in the World poll for 2013.)  Seriously, I really thought my little issue was going to change his whole life for the better, provide him with eternal inner peace and a place in heaven, such was his enthusiasm for wanting to assist me.  Sadly, the latter only went as far as telling me to e-mail someone else and providing a link to another page of Apple-crap®.  What’s wrong with these people?  Haven’t they learnt how to forward an e-mail to the right person yet?  After trawling through more pages of advertising masquerading as ‘customer support’, I finally found out how to arrange for a call-back at a time convenient to me; (as long as it wasn’t for a day or two, as they seemed to be too busy to manage anything any earlier).   So I waited in at the appointed time, my hand poised over my phone, ready for action.  Of course, it never rang.  This evening I e-mailed Umair back and told him that if my account being compromised caused any problems they could argue it out with my credit card company.  I signed the e-mail an ex-iTunes customer.  Bollocks to iTunes.  Bastards.  I hope they all end up in Purgatory, which strangely is where the main characters in this film spend most of their time.

This is a pretty lifeless little movie that only occasionally brightens up.  Not only that, but it’s in mono and the print that was used to master the DVD I watched was dirty and dull too.  I couldn’t even find a trailer for it either, so I’ve just picked a bit of it to show here, although this does seem to have all the best parts in it.  If I’d gone to a convent school, had a Catholic upbringing or a ‘thing’ for nuns, I might have found it a bit more interesting, but I didn’t.  (How such a weird system manages to turn out reasonable well-rounded people most of the time, I’ve no idea.) I did however, learn the difference between venial and mortal sins.  There is in fact only one real reason to watch this film and that’s to see the world’s most beautiful woman, Alyson Hannigan, in her first ever role.  I guess she was about 11 when she made it.  And despite her age, she’s already playing the sort of quirky, sexually ‘interesting’ type of character that she later made famous in “Buffy” and “American Pie”.  That probably makes me sound terribly Stuart Hallish, but honestly, she’s such a tease!

The film’s soundtrack is about on par with the rest of it.  However, it does have “The O-men” as the band at the school dance, which does show it’s got a bit of a humorous, dark heart.

Recommended for Catholics, nuns and Hanniganites.  (I just made that last word up, but I’m sure they probably exist.)  I still can’t get into “How I Met Your Mother” though.  I’ve watched a couple of episodes and it didn’t look very good; too much like old-fashioned American sitcom humour, which anyone with a sense of humour will tell you isn’t actually very funny. 

No cats, chainsaws or decapitations.

Top badass moment?  It’s a toss-up between the lads stealing/drinking the communion wine and Alyson Hannigan’s first film role.  Then again, she’s busy stuffing her bra whilst they’re not even getting pissed.  So really, in the end there’s not a lot of competition.  Given her age, I guess it’s not appropriate to shout, “get ‘em out for the lads”?

Impure Thoughts at IMDB (6.1 / 10)


Tart: 3.0 Stars


Tart  -  Front DVD CoverI went to a gig last Saturday, to see Random Hand, Tyrannosaurus Alan and four other bands.  One of the latter was Tallowah, a great reggae band from Southend-on-Sea which I hadn’t seen before; but now I have I’ll want to see again.  I haven’t been to that many gigs over the past couple of months and oh boy did I feel it; all that ‘dancing’ and stuff people do.  I felt really unfit and my neck is sore now too.  It was like I’d forgotten what to do; weird.  Random Hand was great; it’s pretty well always great.  I’ve no idea why it’s not huge; (but then again, having heard today that the most pirated artist in the UK is Ed Sheeran, that doesn’t really surprise me).  Tyrannosaurus Alan is continuing to get better and better.  Saturday was by far the most moshing I’ve ever seen at one of its gigs.  A highlight was the tallest guy in the room crowd surfing for an entire song without touching the floor; he must have been at least 12 feet tall and as is usual for the tallest person at every gig I’ve ever been to ever, he’d managed to stand in front of me.  On the train journey home I also thoroughly enjoyed the antics of the snogging young couple sitting opposite.  She finally ended up asleep with her head in his lap, (well I think she was sleeping); probably due to a lack of air, poor thing.  I think this all goes to prove what a jolly nice, decent and tolerant person I am.  However…

2001  –  Certificate: R  –  USA
Rating Details:  Drug use, language, some sexual content and a scene of violence, all involving teens.

One thing I really hate is when the cover of a DVD has little to do with the content.  Here we have a classic example.  Whoever it is that’s on the cover, she’s not in the film at all.  Not only that, but her knickers are clearly white, whereas any we seen in the film are black; (and her skirt is totally different to the ones worn in the film too).  That’s two DVDs in a row I’ve watched that have suffered from ‘false advertising’ in this way.  Whoever designed and authorised the sleeve used for this DVD should go directly to prison and suffer some embarrassing, undignified and degrading experiences in the toilets, before finally being put up against a wall and shot.  Well okay maybe just life imprisonment then; I did say I was a tolerant person.  Oh, and before I forget, the title of the film is entirely misleading too; there’s no pastry-based food featured in it anywhere, with or without a sweet or savory filling!  So anyway, now I’ve trashed the marketing, what about the film itself?  Well, it basically follows a group of boring, spoilt, rich kids who go to a private school in New York, who spend most of their time taking drugs and trying to be ‘rebellious’.  Of course, someone gets killed, friendships get tested and we all learn a bit more about life and ourselves; well, I’m certainly glad about all that then and I’m sure you are too.  Actually I’m probably making it sound worse than it is; it is entertaining enough in its own way.  Dominique Swain (Cat Storm) looks great in a school uniform (nice legs) and her mother is some sort of saint.  It just somehow doesn’t really seem to get going before it’s all over.  Even the injection of some oh so naughty bestiality and shocking gay sex can’t wake it up.  (I bet you really do want to see it now.)  Actually there’s a brilliant review of it on IMDB, which is so good it sort of put me off even trying to write anything better here.  Go read it.

Recommended for boring, spoilt, rich kids, school uniform ‘enthusiasts’ and fans of the private education system.

No cats, chainsaws or decapitations.

Top badass moment?  In a film filled with boring, self-centred people, the only contender is Lily Storm.  Faced with an argumentative, selfish daughter and with an equally crappy ex-husband, she remains supportive, caring and understanding.  Being the sort of mother everyone needs/wants is totally badass.

Tart at IMDB (4.3/10)


Yentl: 3.5 Stars


Yentl  -  Front DVD CoverEach summer in the UK an ever-increasing number of music festivals seem to be organised.  Every year we hold Wimbledon on almost all open courts.  We insist on trying to have barbeques.  We invented a sport, cricket, which relies on almost totally dry conditions for it to take place.  And this year we have the Olympics too.  Why is anyone the least bit surprised that the weather is being especially wet at present?  (June was the wettest on record and half the country seems to be under threat of being flooded as I write this.)  We should be proud that the British weather has raised it game to give us the sort of summer that befits the Olympics.  Floods, lack of sunshine, torrential rain. I’m just worried that by the time the Olympics start, we’ll find that the weather has ‘gone too early’ (like a 1,500m runner starting his ‘run for home’ at the wrong time) and it might end up being a bit nicer next month.  I want all the millions of visitors that are coming to the UK to enjoy the full range of experiences our special weather can offer them.  We don’t need the drama of hurricanes, tornadoes or years of drought, our naturally understated thunderstorms, grey, drizzly weekends and ‘unseasonally cool for the time of year’ days is what they’re really coming for; I don’t want anyone to go home disappointed.  Yeh!  Yeh!  Jet Stream go!  You rule!  The idea that we might actually get what we technically refer to as ‘nice weather’ anytime soon, is frankly absurd; a little like this film really.

1983 – Certificate: PG – USA

This ‘historical’ drama would be so easy to ridicule and quite frankly it deserves to be.  For a start, it has a pretty ludicrous plot.  It conveniently ‘ignores’ loads of issues that would have made things a whole lot harder than they actually appear to be, (money anyone)?  It majors on continually reinforcing the notion that men and women have to stick to a strict code of social behaviours and expectations (that would give even a Thomas Hardy novel a run for its money); but then when they’re ignored it doesn’t seem to produce any consequences.  It has a 40-year-old woman trying to play the part of a young woman passing herself off as a teenage boy, (her ‘disguise’ is even less convincing than Batman’s), who frequently bursts into song; (yes, it’s a musical too).  After about 20 minutes I was ready to give up watching it.  I was asking myself, why on earth had I bought this film?  I don’t really like ‘period pieces’; (grown-up’s translation = historical dramas).  I don’t especially enjoy musicals either.  But then something really weird happened; it actually got, well, interesting.  As soon as it started up with the pseudo-cross-dressing-gay-lesbian stuff, things improved loads!  Well okay it’s a PG film, so don’t expect anything very explicit, but for a movie that’s basically ridiculous on nearly every level, it actually manages to feel quite realistic and touching.  It also builds a decent amount of tension around the idea that her true identify as a woman might be discovered at any moment; I was sitting there getting agitated thinking, when are one of these stupid people going to realise she’s actually a woman; it’s like so totally obvious)?  I have to say that Babs (that’s what Barbra Streisand’s fans seem to call her) does look rather fetching in it too.  So yes, in the end I did quite enjoy it and consequently have to now file it away under lock and key as a guilty pleasure.

Recommended for Avril Lavigne fans who want a new kind of idol.

No cats and no decapitations.

Top badass moment?  Barbra Streisand’s character Yentl/Anshel sticking it to ‘The Man’.  At a time and place when women weren’t allowed to go to school but basically had to just hang around at home making dinner and babies, Babs most defiantly gives the finger to all and sundry.  That’s badass!

Yentl at IMDB (6.2)


School of Rock: 3.5 Stars


School of Rock  -  Front DVD CoverI went to two really great gigs this weekend, the New Town Kings at the London Camden Barfly and Random Hand at the London Hackney Trashbar.  Each had really good support bands too.  The Barfly is in an upstairs room over a pub and the Trashbar in three adjoined cellars below an organic food store.  The Barfly is a well established venue, whilst the Trashbar only opened in March.  It took me six trains to get to and from home to the Barfly and four trains and two busses to get to the Trashbar and back; only London can manage to have a traffic jam for busses to get caught up in at midnight!  The Barfly sort of has some sort of air conditioning so it was only hot, the Trashbar has zero anything and a really low ceiling, so it was about 1000 degrees in it; in fact the ceiling is so low that two of the bands’ singers had to stand on the floor in front of the little stage, as they were too tall to stand upright on it.  Well anyway, both gigs were great and I was suitably knackered at the end of  them.  I felt sick on the way back from the NTK one on the Tube (too dehydrated) and (a first for me) felt sick on the way to the Random Hand one, (before realising I’d hardly eaten or drunk anything all day so was again dehydrated and probably suffering some sort of energy crisis as well).  Talking of gigs and music (and it makes a change to actually be able to draw a sensible link between the crap I’ve written in this paragraph and that in the next)….

2003  –  Certificate: PG  –  USA
Rating Details: Mild language and sex references

I can’t decide if I want to really really like this movie or really really  (which makes it a lot more realistic), the kids in it are generally pretty cool and okay it’s quite funny in places too.  Against it are the facts that the music featured in it is shit, (well, mostly anyway, except the Clash and Ramones songs, and I guess Immigrant Song is okay too if you really have to like that sort of thing), the school is also shit and has zero child protection in place, the end is way too “Hollywood” and Jack Black’s character is at times just a little bit too creepy.  I really want to like Jack Black, simply because he doesn’t look like George Clooney or Johnny Depp, but he makes it so, so difficult in his films at times.  (It’s the eyebrows I think, he moves then about way too much for me; they certainly take me outside my comfort zone.) In the end I’ve decided it’s an okay movie.

Recommended for people who like the sort of rock music that punk should really have finished off when it had the chance; you will either like hearing it, or get annoyed at hearing your favourite songs mangled by a load of kids and associated grown-ups; a good thing too if you take it that seriously.

No cats and no decapitations.

Top badass moment?  It has to be Jack Black’s “touch the kids” line.  It’s so way out of the park compared with the rest of the very safe script that you end up thinking, “wtf, did he really just say that”?  The delayed reaction of all the parents present in the scene (who are obviously busy thinking over what he’d just said too) makes it the best badass line in the film.

School of Rock at IMDB (7.1)


Bang Bang You’re Dead: 3.5 Stars


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

2002  –  Certificate: Not Rated  –  United States

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

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

No cats and no decapitations.

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

Bang Bang You’re Dead at IMDB (7.9)


All Night Long: 2.5 Stars


All Night Long Collection  -  Front DVD CoverI seem to have developed some sort of repetitive strain injury in my left shoulder and arm.  For the past five weeks they’ve been sore, but there’s no sign of any swelling and the pain tends to move about from day to day.  I’ve actually lost a lot of the strength in my arm too, as a result of trying not to use it too much.  In fact I’m going to go and see the doctor in the next week or two if it doesn’t improve. I always though as a conservationist, that one day I’d be shot by poachers, angry at my preventing them from harvesting elephant tusks, freeze to death whilst heroically planting one too many trees up a frozen mountain somewhere, or be poisoned by the ultra-rare and ultra-venomous bunga-woonga jungle snake that I was fighting to protect from extinction; (I made that name up by the way as a sort of plot contrivance to keep things moving here, so don’t bother Googling it).  Sadly I seemed to have been ‘taken out’ by driving to too many meetings and writing too many e-mails.  I guess this makes me a bit of a geek; but without the ‘clever attribute’; or the looks for that matter.

1992   –  Certificate: Not Rated  –  Japan

This is another slightly bonkers Japanese film and the first in a loosely connected trilogy with the overall tagline “human beings are garbage”.  Nice.  Despite this, it’s more of a thriller than a horror, with a little comedy and romance thrown in too.  The story sort of makes sense, but there’re plenty of blatant “but what about the…” moments in it too.  Three young guys become friends after witnessing a random murder at a level crossing.  They decide to hold a party, (well doesn’t everyone after witnessing a bloody, multiple stabbing of a schoolgirl)?  They all try to find a woman to take to the party to impress the others, but only one manages to find someone; of the other two, one ends up handcuffed to fence by a prostitute (well I think she was one anyway) and the other gets so nervous that he’s sick on his would-be date, which rather puts her off going with him for some reason.  Anyway, the lucky guy is on his way to the party with his date when they get attacked by a gang and of course she ends up dead.  Well the new friends all get together to track down the baddies, which results in some suitably nasty shotgun action and some general all-around unpleasantness.  The best/worst things to watch out for are the rather bizarre, entirely over-the-top maniacal laughter that most of the characters seemed to insist on emitting when they’re doing something particularly, em, maniacal; and the guy who plays the young geek (he’s the one that was sick on his date-to-be), who really does look and act like everyone’s idea of a Japanese geek.  Great stuff.  The music, when used, is surprisingly effective too.  In a technical sense, my DVD of this film was pretty awful.  The picture quality wasn’t very good (very over-exposed and washed out) and the sound was even worse.  Not only was it mono, but the centre of the sound-stage was located somewhere near my birthday cards, rather than in the centre of the TV screen.  (The cards, all three of them, which even after nearly three weeks I’ve still got displayed, are located somewhere off to the left of the telly.)  It’s surely not asking too much for the sound to seem vaguely focused near the picture, rather than adjacent to a cruel reminder of how many friends I don’t have?

Recommended for would-be-geeks who want to see the real deal in action; plus anyone who collects recordings of horror-movie laugher; I guess there aren’t a lot of the latter.

No cats and no decapitations.

Top badass moment?  It has to be the guy in the car at the end, complete with maniacal laughter and Proclaimers style glasses.  Weedy geeks fighting back is always badass.  The moral being, never push a geek, because in movies they’ll always kick your ass in the end.

All Night Long at IMDB