Sex. Violence. Revenge. “On The Doll” is a dark look into the lives of sex workers and the affect it has had on their lives. Balery (Brittany Snow) is a call girl desperate for cash who conspires with Jaron (Josh Janowicz) to rob one of her regulars. Chantal (Shanna Collins) wants out of her door to door exploits to start life over with her boyfriend and Tara (Angela Sarafyan) has been pulled so far into her seedy peep show underworld that it could be too late. Mr. Garrett (Eddie Jemison), is a high school teacher who looks to bring some of his students (Candice Accola & Chloe Domont) into his world of sex and drugs. And behind it all is Jimmy Sours (Paul Ben-Victor), a twisted mastermind of the sex trade who controls the fate of everyone mixed up in his world. A cast of young, up and coming actors takes you to a place where victims search for new meaning in their lives, while fighting off the demons that lead to more pain. The first feature by acclaimed music video director Thomas Mignone, “On The Doll” is a shocking, but powerful look into a world that is sure to strike a chord.
2007. Certificate: Unrated. American Film. 7.0 out of 10
As everyone knows, I’m a hard rockin’, hard drinkin’, womanisin’ Lothario. Recently I’ve added to my vices by also becoming a hardened gambler too. How did this happen? Well a few days ago I found myself standing in the queue at Tesco. I refuse to use those nasty, automated, DIY checkout machines. I want to be served by a human being. I value the social intercourse I get with the frequently bored people I meet in this way; it helps give me a better prospective on my own life. The choice as to whether or not to take advantage of the plastic bag I’m always offered keeps my mind sharp and helps me hone my decision-making abilities for the more ‘mission-critical’ circumstances to come, such as when to cross the road outside in a way that enables me to beat the traffic at the lights, before I’m turned into road-kill. I distrust those self-service machines. This is partly because all they’re good for is to do people out of jobs to boost shareholders’ profits. I’m not letting them crush our will and independence comrades. They also seem to have, en masse, taken a very personal dislike to me and enjoy nothing better than screaming out really loudly whenever I go near one that there’s an “unexpected item in the bagging area”. Yes, me. This phrase basically means the same as, “ha-ha everyone, let’s all draw attention to the stupid, luddite, fuckwit, who can’t operate us ‘idiot-proof’ machines properly and is now going to have to deal with the very public humiliation of being ‘helped’ by a smirking and bad-tempered shop assistant. Seriously, it would be less embarrassing to stand in the middle of the High Street in Reading on a Saturday afternoon, dressed as a ballerina and announce to everyone there that I have the world’s lowest recorded sperm count. (Which of course, I don’t). Anyway, back to my gambling addiction. The person in front of me bought a Lottery Scratch Card. I’ve never ever bought one of these. I’ve always considered that they’re basically designed to entrap ‘weak-minded poor people’ into a downward spiral of debt and despair. These people can then of course seek help to overcome their addiction, by attending a community-run self-help group, funded by the very same Lottery that caused their problem in the first place. I don’t know what came over me, but when I got to the checkout I purchased three, £2 Scratch Cards. And blimey, I only went and won £10 with one of them! I must be so clever and skilful. Trouble is, now this has happened it’s going to be a lot harder to ignore these things in future. I feel my life now stands at a crossroads. In one direction is a steep descent into a pit of unrelenting gambling debts, depression and finally suicide. In the other is my present path, a steep decent towards a pit of unrelenting aging, depression and finally death. I think I need to hone my decision-making abilities more. This movie focuses on one vice that I don’t seem to have picked up yet, although I live in hope.
For a film about sex workers, this one’s surprisingly lacking in nudity; actually there isn’t any at all. In fact it’s quite stylish, given its setting. I find I don’t have a great deal to do with the sex industry on a regular basis myself, (but I guess that’s a good topic for a future blog entry), but if I did I can’t help thinking it would all seem a lot more seedy this this movie makes it out to be, although it does have its moments. I guess they all just seemed a bit too clean, healthy and happy, even the sick, sad ones. This ‘small detail’ aside, it’s actually quite a decent film, occasionally funny, occasionally painful. (The latter will make sense if you watch it.) The ending is a bit melodramatic but it kinda works. I’m not sure if you’re really supposed to enjoy movies like this but I did.
There’s a fair bit of music used in this film. Most of it is fairly anonymous, modern indie rock, but it gets the job done.
It’s not a bad trailer. Quite watchable as its own, little ‘mini-film’ that doesn’t give too much of the plot away.
Movie Weather Forecast. It’s another warm, dry, sunny day in movie land.
Recommended for prostitutes, school-girls, teachers and magazine publishers.
No cats, chainsaws or decapitations.
Top badass moment? So few people really seem to make an effort to do their best at work, so it was great to see our anti-hero Jaron taking special care that the ads for prostitutes he was doing the layout and design for, were both spelt correctly and made sense logically. Taking a pride in your work is badass, especially when it’s basically a crappy job to start with.
At 34, struggling Seattle musician Sam (Mark Duplass, “Humpday”, “The League”) finds himself broke, jobless and losing touch with the person he wants to become. When his girlfriend kicks him out, he’s forced to crash with his Aunt Sharon (Academy Award winner Melissa Leo, “The Fighter”) and is reluctantly enlisted to take her teen son, Oliver, and his friend Jake camping. Edgy, funny and honest, Craig Johnson’s film follows the trio into the rugged Pacific Northwest as unforeseen revelations and transformations force them to face adulthood. Set to a mesmerizing soundtrack featuring both emerging and established artists including Band of Horses, The Black Keys and Devendra Banhart, “True Adolescents” remind us that sometimes people need to get lost to truly find themselves.
2009 – Certificate: Not Rated – American Film
7.0 out of 10
I didn’t want to get up yesterday morning. It was raining outside (again), grey and unpleasant. On my journey to work, I was busy mentally congratulating myself on my meteorological forecasting skills and subsequent ability to make the journey during a break in the rain, just as it started to pour down for the last few minutes. I got soaked. It’s Fair Trade Fortnight and where I work was attempting to serve free tea, coffee and breakfasts to people outside; the rain pouring off the canopy in front of the building and onto the pavement was ‘intense’. Strangely, I left work at about six feeling quite upbeat. On my walk home I was wondering why, after such an unpromising start to the day, it had turned into quite a good one. I didn’t really come up with anything, other than there were a number of nice, small things and a lack of bad things, which probably did the trick. A CD/DVD I’d ordered on Sunday was delivered. This was unexpectedly early. I was due to have to go and do something all day, (basically sit and observe someone delivering a training course), but the date for this has now been changed, so I had an extra day in the office and got a lot of things done that I wasn’t expecting to get done. I had a nice lunch with a colleague in the cafe, something I don’t often do. Someone in the office got a grant of £2,500 to do some work; we were only expecting to get a few hundred, so this was a welcome surprise. For the first time that I can remember, all eight volunteers and staff were in at the same time today; the place felt quite alive and buzzy. Someone bought a big, homemade cake in. I completed a grant claim that’s been hanging about for ages and I’ve had loads of hassle over. I got a few other bits of outstanding work done that had been playing on my thoughts for a while. I didn’t go into Tesco on the way home and buy crap for my dinner; I came home and cooked proper food instead. So there you go, my recipe for an okay day.
A thirty-something guy takes his nephew and his nephew’s friend camping for a weekend. They all grow up a bit. The end. This is a decent enough film that’s worth watching mainly for Mark Duplass’ man-boy character, who’s funny but in a believable way. The main thing that bugged me was the fact that many of the various things that happen to them, especially the two most significant ones, don’t seem to get dealt will in any depth; they felt more like plot contrivances to take us towards the end, rather than big events that ought to have been considered in more detail. Shame that. It’s a decent enough watch though.
This film makes much of its musical content and the main character is also a guitarist/singer in a not very good indie rock band. Unfortunately most of the music is pretty mundane. That’s a shame too.
Like a lot of things, the trailer is there or thereabouts. It does a good job of not spoiling the film, but at the same time doesn’t tell you a great deal about it either.
Recommended for not-famous guitarists, rubbish indie rock bands, teenage boys and kindly aunts.
No cats, chainsaws or decapitations.
Top badass moment? The two lads ask Sam if he’s going to wear his hiking boots. Sam glances down at what looks like a rather battered pair of Converse baseball shoes on his feet and says, “These are my hiking boots”, (with the emphasis on “are”). Yeh, that’s rock ‘n’ roll for you! I then spent the rest of the film all tensed up, waiting for him to turn his ankle over. Weirdly, this fate befalls one of the other characters. As someone who sprained his ankle hiking a couple of years ago, I could relate to this, which makes it badass. Converse boots really aren’t good for hiking.
The greatest rock ‘n’ roll vampire comedy ever made, “Suck” stars rock royalty Alice Cooper, Iggy Pop and Henry Rollins, and brilliant performances from Moby and British screen legend Malcolm McDowell (“A Clockwork Orange”). The Winners are a struggling band desperate to make it to the top and strike a record deal. After another mediocre gig, Jennifer (Jessica Paré “Hot Tub Time Machine”) the sexy female bassist, disappears with a young vampire and returns the next morning sprouting fangs and a taste for blood. One by one each member succumbs to the dark side and leaving a trail of lifeless groupies in their wake, they soon reach the heights of success that they could only dream of as mere mortals.
2009 – Certificate: 15 – Canadian Film
Rating Details: Strong language and comic gory horror
7.5 out of 10
Yesterday I walked to work at my new office for the first time. No longer do I need to trek thousands of miles (well it felt like thousands) each day, face death as I cross the busy A4, deal with selfish pavement hogs along the Oxford Road, heroically climb ‘The Mountain’ or risk loss of sensory deprivation as I bisect the country-sized Tesco car park. My journey now takes about 15 minutes and I don’t need to set up a series of resupply depots and emergency evac protocols to enable me to take the trip. A number of other differences were apparent too. For a start, I had to battle my way through two (yes two) school runs, as I passed two primary schools. A pavement jam-packed with slow-moving mothers, toddlers in pushchairs and chaotic, hyper-active youngsters, who randomly change direction with no respect for The Rules. I’m an experienced Pavement Warrior, but this was something else. It’s only going to be a matter of time before I accidentally mow one of these tiny terrors down and end up in jail forever as a child killer. Then there were the others, a mixture of students going to the Tesco Metro (I didn’t realise any got up that early) and men and women in business suits, power-walking into the centre of Reading. On my previous journey, I’d count myself unlucky to be overtaken by even one person, but yesterday it happened twice, as I was left choking on the burning rubber left behind by the soles of two pairs of fast-moving, expensive shoes, worn by who I can only assume are relatives of Usain Bolt. Unless I’m carrying a heavy bag, being overtaken by someone is a direct challenge to my sexuality, questions my prowess in bed and lessens my status as an Alpha Male. Clearly more of a sprint than the marathon I’m used to, I’ll not be caught out next time. Game on… This film is about a group of people who make a change to how they do their job.
Sadly, this movie wasn’t so bad that I’m able to say it sucks. Nether was it some sort of unimaginatively named 70’s porn. It’s actually quite a lot of fun and does feature a number of real rock stars amongst its cast. (By the way, who originally came up with the expression “rock royalty”? It’s an unspeakably dreadful term.) The cast put in generally spirited performances and the whole thing is really quite endearing. It’s got Malcolm McDowell in it as well, as vampire hunter Eddie Van Helsing; and let’s not forget that this is the guy who killed Captain Kirk! That’s real ultra violence. And while we’re on the Star Trek theme, it’s also got Ezri Dax in it. Moby (who’s vegan and thus awesome), plays a character called Beef Bellows, lead singer of rock band The Secretaries of Steak. See, even vegans have a sense of irony. Jessica Paré, who plays bassist Jennifer, was a bit disappointing. I’m not quite sure why, but she didn’t quite pull off the vampire diva ‘thing’ that was meant to propel the band to stardom. Much more of a comedy than a horror, this movie’s a good excuse to while away 91 minutes of your life.
A film about a band needs to have good music, but unfortunately this one suffered a similar fate to so many others and features a lot of mediocre, bland, forgettable, indie rock. It’s a film about a band of vampires, but the music’s about as gothic as One Direction. The performances are pretty good though.
Recommended for rock stars, would-be rock stars and vampires (and the undead in general).
No cats, chainsaws or decapitations.
Top badass moment? Nicole de Boer has a part in this film. That’s badass.
Panel 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.
I got a feelin’ like a whipped dog. Someday, I’m gonna bite back.” Throughout his life, Sheriff Wade Whitehouse has been cowed and brutalised by his father, a venomous alcoholic. But a child never forgets a cruelty, and two suspicious deaths in their small New Hampshire town lead inexorably to a cataclysmic confrontation between father and son. Dark, powerful and moving, Paul Schrader’s adaptation of Russell Banks’ novel creates an indelible impression, enhanced by stunning performances from James Coburn and Nick Nolte.
1997 – Certificate: 15 – USA
6.5 out of 10
Apparently Tesco used its Store Defence Grid ground to air missile capability today to shoot down a helicopter in the centre of London, in an effort to deflect the news about its new range of delicious ‘horseburgers’ from the front pages. That’s pretty harsh, even for a business that’s run like Tesco. I can’t imagine Waitrose doing that, or the Co-op. I wouldn’t go shoplifting in Tescos if I was you, its store detectives don’t take prisoners. The way a lot of people appear to have reacted to ‘horseburgergate’ is rather like their reaction to the loss of the so many independent stores from our town centres. They shake their heads in sadness at the loss of diversity in the ‘high street,’ yet use the very shops that are causing the problem. In the same way, they react in horror at the idea of a horseburger, whilst happily chewing up bits of other animals made into disc shapes and given alterniatve names to disguse what they really are. What the fuck? That makes no logical sense at all. Be like the French and just eat everything with a face, at least that’s consistent. Meanwhile, that other destroyer of the high street and leading non-payer of what the tabloids think is a fair level of tax, Amazon, must be pissing itself laughing at the moment, in the week that Play, Blockbuster and HMV all rolled over and died. I went to buy a DVD from it this evening and for some reason they’re all now priced £30 or more. I guess the cost of plastic must have gone up… This is a film that I bought from Amazon, when it was the new kid on the block, the rebel outsider taking on the ‘big boys’.
This movie, despite its good points, I struggled to relate to. I probably need to file it under “too American”. Then again, a film about a son’s relationship with his abusive, alcoholic father is one I’m quite happy to feel I’ve missed out on. (My own father died almost 30 years ago; I wish I could remember more about him. He’s the person who gave me my love of music, even though his tastes and mine weren’t exactly the same; although I do have an inexplicable liking for easy listening, such as James Last, Mantovani, Franck Pourcel, Bert Kaempfert, etc. I still use the turntable he bought in 1969, a Thorens TD-150 Mk II, a wonderful bit of engineering.) This is a thoroughly depressing movie, on nearly every level. Nick Nolte does a great job of making the main character seem a decent guy, despite his failings. James Coburn is brilliant as his father; an evil motherfucker who’s as compelling to watch as he is a total bastard. What an awful character; my heart goes out to all those people who are (or have been) in the position of having someone like that as a father. It’s a shame he doesn’t get more screen time as you’ll really want to boo him and throw stuff at the TV. He won an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor for this role and I can see why. The rest of the film sort of gets lost in a weird narrative that doesn’t quite make sense, as we watch the life of his son, the local sheriff, fall apart. We get to see what happens but we don’t really get inside his head. I never got to fully understand why, after so many years, he suddenly got all weird about things. I’m a sympathetic guy, I wanted to understand his pain, not just watch him bugger up his whole life. He was a really crap police officer though; he should have become a dentist; (it makes sense if you watch the film). As a side issue, I thought his young daughter was a really whiny bitch. Geez, I’m bitter and twisted about everything today!
Recommended for James Coburn.
No cats, chainsaws or decapitations.
Top badass moment? It’s often hard to find a badass moment in a depressing film and this one is no exception. I accept defeat with good grace.
Well well, it’s been a while since I wrote anything here. I guess that means I’ve been in prison again, on a secret mission for the Government, or abducted by aliens, (which in the latter case would be the third time, as far I can remember anyway). An alternative might be that I’ve just been too busy at work to want to type yet more stuff when I get home, or perhaps I’m just a lazy, old sod. Who knows?
Talking about being old, it was my birthday a couple of weeks ago. I spend the day in a place called ‘Up North’ at a meeting, to hear how we’re all going to be reorganised at work. I really like my job (most of the time), but I must say that I’m fortunate indeed to work for the organisation that probably restructures itself more than any other in the entire universe. (Okay, I appreciate that I’ve not actually got a total understanding of the universe and all the organisations in it, but I do have a good enough grasp on things to realise that it’s simply not possible to restructure more and not break any laws of physics.) But as I’m apt to tell the people I work with, if you don’t like the changes don’t worry, because it will all get changed again in a couple of years.
Anyway, back to my birthday. There I was, sitting on the final leg of my journey back to Reading, the last 30 minutes between Paddington and Reading, looking forward to getting home for my birthday; not that I had any plans, but there’s a principle here so stick with me on this. So anyway, there we are, speeding along at something over 100mph, when, oh dear, someone decides to get run over on the track up ahead and consequently turns my 30 minute journey into one lasting more than two and a half hours. Well done mate. Now this is of course, a really tragic thing to happen and call me self-centered if you like, but it was my birthday! And I’d had a long journey too. So much for partying the night away with a crowd of beautiful women, plentiful drugs, good music and an endless supply of beer. (As an aside to this, I only got two birthday cards, and one of those was just a 50p off voucher in a card from some company that I probably won’t use, but it did say happy birthday on it so it counts.)
And in other big news, I’ve decided to join the human race. What I mean by this is that I’ve now got a Facebook account. Having felt for several years like I was living off the grid by refusing to have one, ‘The Man’ has finally got me in his grasp. Bastard. I do need to point out that I’ve not done this because there’s been a huge influx of people suddenly thinking that I’m the best thing since sliced bread and wanting to be my mate; (sliced bread isn’t that good for you anyway, it doesn’t fill you up and it’s full of rubbish calories and salt, a bit like me really). The fact of the matter is I’ve only done it because hardly any bands are using MySpace anymore (as they’ve all gone over to Facebook as the new MySpace is virtually unusable now) and I’ve started to feel like I am loosing track of things. As this is basically all I care about in life (actually that’s not quite true but for dramatic effect I’ll say it), this is obviously a bad thing. I wonder how many Friends I’ll manage to pick up. None so far. I hate it’s ugly, blue colour and angular design too. The one good thing is that my having an account there has probably doomed it, as has been the case with several other social networking sites I’ve joined in the past. Facebook is the social networking equivalent of Tesco, minus the Clubcard Points. Oh God, I’ve even put a link in to them…
Right now I’m listening to “West Blanket” by Picked Dick (now known as Mike TV).