From the director of “Swingers” comes a black comedy tracing the outrageous misadventures of a group of young American delinquents. 18-year-old check-out girl Ronna (Sarah Polley – “The Sweet Hereafter”) is trying to score some rent money before she is evicted on Christmas Eve. Accompanied by reluctant partner in crime Claire (Katie Holmes – “TV’s Dawson’s Creek”), she embarks on her first drug deal… Meanwhile, impulsive Brit Simon (Desmond Askew – TV’s “Grange Hill”) is driving a stolen car with buddy Marcus (Taye Diggs – “How Stella Got Her Groove Back”) during a no-holds-barred night of partying in Vegas, as TV stars Adam (Scott Wolf – TV’s “Party of Five”) and Zack (Jay Mohr – “Jerry Maguire”) find themselves in the middle of a real-life drug sting – and a very creepy Christmas dinner…
1999 – Certificate: 18 – American Film
Rating Details: Strong sex, coarse language and drug use
8.0 out of 10
I don’t do music festivals. Never have. I’ve been to hundreds of gigs over the years but only a few festivals, which have mostly been indoors and only lasted a day; in fact I’ve only been to four outdoor music events ever. In 1983 I did hitchhike from London to Stranraer in Scotland, got the ferry across to Larne in Northern Ireland, before hitching down through Belfast and then Dublin, to go to the Punchestown Racecourse. That was to see The Undertones last ever gig (until the band reformed in 1999). Dire Straits was the headliner, but I left before it came on. This was still a one-day event, but I slept in a random field in the open by a haystack the night before. (Until that is, I was woken up in the middle of the night by a lot of very drunk Irish guys, who ‘insisted’ I slept in their tent, which just happened to be elsewhere in the same field. Being woken up by being dragged along the ground in your sleeping bag in the middle of the night by a load of incoherent drunks is a strange experience). But that’s the nearest I’ve got to the real ‘festival experience’… until this year. For some reason I rashly agreed to buy a £167 ticket to go to the Boomtown Fair near Winchester in Hampshire last month; four days of dance, reggae, ska and punk, all mixed up in a ‘pop-up’ town with 38,000 other people. Four days of drinking cider at 10:00am; eating nothing but bread and falafels; getting virtually no sleep courtesy of camping right next to the Hidden Woods and it’s seemingly non-stop diet of what I think young people might consider dubstep; and wandering around in what tuned into a quagmire of mud. I was lying in my tent one morning, holding onto the inner part of it in the hope that the tail end of what used to be Hurricane Bertha wasn’t going to blow it away; I’d never seen tent poles bend like that before. (Typical Yanks, sending us their worn out, second-hand weather.) I ‘lost’ my wallet at NOFX, (who were pretty crappy actually); lost my red/black hat (a huge tragedy) as I got too drunk; had something weird happen to my eyes so it looked like I’d not slept for 50 years; got so sunburnt that my nose fell off (well nearly); and spent a lot of time wondering about and occasionally dancing even more stupidly than normal to bands such as New Town Kings, Dirty Revolution, The Skints, Imperial Leisure, Culture Shock and Sonic Boom Six. For most of the Skints’s set it poured down; not normal rain, but the sort of rain that Noah had to deal with. I couldn’t have been wetter if I’d sat in a bath in my clothes. There’s something very surreal about dancing in the pouring rain on a surface that’s rapidly turning into a mud slide. The best ‘new’ bands were Smiley & the Underclass and (by coincidence) Smiling Ivy. Other than the music, the other sound I heard most often was people filling balloons full of nitrous oxide to inhale. In places the ground was covered in the little metal canisters it normally comes it. We were also asked at least a dozen times if we were ‘selling’ anything. I never realised I looked so much like a drug dealer. Then again, about 99% of the people there were younger than me, so I guess to deal drugs is the only reason ‘old people’ go to festivals. And then there were the toilets… Would I go again? Fuck, yeah! And for those of you interested in the rather random set of photos I took, they can be viewed here. This is a film about musical culture too, in this case the rave scene at the end of the 90’s. (Nice segue me.)
So, this isn’t a film about the ancient, Chinese game of Go. A sort of cross between “Pulp Fiction” and “Trainspotting”, we follow the exploits of a group of young friends over a weekend, seeing the story unfold three times as it focuses on different people. It feels a bit OTT and kind of dated (pre mobile phones), but is actually very funny and well put together. I’m not sure what I was doing when all this rave stuff was going on originally. I seem to remember it was towards the end of the 80s and early 90s. I own some 12” singles from that period, which would suggest I had some knowledge of it, but that’s all. Maybe I was totally out of it on E, X, J or W, or whatever letter of the alphabet people took in them days. Or perhaps I fell asleep in front of the TV for a few years or something. Yeah, reach for the lasers…
For a film about rave culture, it has surprisingly little music in it and what there is sounds a bit bland. It’s okay but a bit of a wasted opportunity; a little like this sentence really. It does have Steppenwolf’s “Magic Carpet Ride” in it, which seems to turn up in a lot of films. But it was used in “Star Trek; First Contact”, so that’s a good enough recommendation for me.
The trailer’s not bad. Actually it works quite well as an introduction to the film without giving much away.
Recommended for people who work in supermarkets, drug dealers, dodgy cops and losers in general.
2 cats, no chainsaws or decapitations. Cute cats, awwww. One has some top dialogue; it’s dubbed into English too, which is great for anyone that doesn’t understand cat language.
Top badass moment? To raise money to pay her rent, Ronna starts selling aspirin and antihistamines and telling people that they’re drugs. (That’s drugs as in drugs, not drugs as in, em, drugs). People buy them and then think they’re having the sort of effect they expect. It reminded me of how bottled water is sold to the masses. Marketing pointless crap to stupid people successfully is, begrudgingly, badass.
I went to see The Skints last night, at The Fighting Cocks in Kingston; (that’s Kingston-Upon-Thames, London, not Kingston, Jamaica). The Skints are a great, punk-edged reggae band from east London. Now, I have three irrational fears in life; getting my hair cut in a hairdressers/barbers, public toilets and seeing bands in venues I haven’t been to before. Given that selection, you’ll be please to know that my experiences last night only concerned the latter. Kingston is a bit of a pain to get to from Reading by public transport; well it’s okay to get to but really difficult to get back from afterwards, mainly because the last train times aren’t very bohemian. So on the odd occasion I go there I have to drive, which means I both add a little more towards the destruction of the planet (and suffer weeks of guilt-ridden nightmares as a consequence) and also of more immediate concern, I can’t really drink anything. Why new venues freak me out I’m not sure. I think it’s a fear of not knowing how to find where the stage is, while everyone else there knows the most intimate details of the place and will basically notice my confusion and inability to navigate myself around, leading to my being laughed at by them all (complete with pointing fingers) and as a consequence having to run away after suffering this public humiliation and never ever being able to go to a gig again, in case anyone recognises me and tells everyone and the nightmare starts again. Now I totally realise that this probably inflates my worldly importance and significance somewhat and that in reality no one would even notice or give a dam, or would just tell me where to go if I asked, but I did say it was an irrational fear. The venue in the Fighting Cocks is basically a shed (it looks like a garage from the outside) next to the pub. So after arriving and sitting in my car for ten minutes to build up the courage to go, I walked up the road to meet my nemesis. When I arrived the bloke on the door was giving some guy trying to get in a hard time, suggesting that the photo on the Driving Licence he’d provided as proof of his age had been tampered with; something to do with his eyes looking in different directions. Anyway he was got in in the end and I just walked past the bouncer; no one asks me to prove I’m over 18 these days; not sure why… Anyway, I walk into the place and what do I see? Giant writing on the wall saying “Toilets and venue this way”, with a big arrow to reinforce the message. (Well I think that’s what it said, I was just so happy that I could have thrown myself on the floor and prayed to God for thanks). There was also a bit of a queue too, which helped reinforce the suggestion; (well it could have been a queue for the toilets I guess). Inside the place wasn’t much bigger than a double garage, with a small bar in one corner, a stage in the other and paint peeling off the walls everywhere. I managed to end up trying to dance more or less under the speakers, as I slowly went deaf and the sweat of 150 people dripped down the walls. Yes, it was a pretty cool place! Great gig too; a benefit for the band (so it got to keep all the money from the sale of the tickets), as it had a van with most of its gear and merchandise in it stolen a couple of weeks ago. I only managed to stand on one person’s feet, which wasn’t too bad for me, but he was very forgiving. In a complete contrast to all this, Cruel Intentions features nothing materially seedy but lots of very questionable characters.
1999 – Certificate: 15 – USA
I love this film. I shouldn’t, but I do. Offering some terrible role-models and dodgy morals, we get to see so-rich-its-obscene kids taking pleasure in fucking up other people’s lives just for the fun of it. They aren’t even politicians or bankers either! In “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” I was always more of a Willow than a Buffy fan, but Sarah Michelle Gellar manages to turn her character in this film into a total sex diva. Let’s face it, who wouldn’t want to slobber all over her as she tells you to be like Captain Picard and “boldly go where no man has gone before”. (I’ll just add that one to my Bucket List, shall I?) A smart script makes the most of a less the original story and the characters are sufficiently well written and acted to make this a genuinely awesome, must-watch movie.
Recommended for fans of excellent films and those that like to say things like, “what a bitch” or “what a bastard” while watching them, especially when the primary emotion when saying them is jealously.
No cats and no decapitations.
Top badass moment? Sarah Michelle Gellar gets to be the sexy-bad-bitch-from-hell that Buffy could have become if she’d not have been a prime-time TV character; except without all the fighting. Her every word in this film is badass and not ‘good’ baddass either. However, I’m almost sorry she got her comeuppance in the end. What a bad person!
You read about this sort of stuff on the Internet or see it on the TV, but you never think it will actually happen ‘here’. But it does. The last week has seen a pandemic sweep across Cactus Word, one that had infected every single one of its inhabitants with a terrible illness that even now, Cactus World’s best scientists and researchers have failed to identify, (because they’ve all been sick too silly). So for clarity, let’s just called it Skanking Flue, as it’s become known ‘on the streets’. It has what can only be described as ‘mild(ish), cold like symptoms’, but does in fact feels 1,000 times more intense to those suffering its effects. And let me point out right here, right now, that it has nothing whatsoever to do with the common cold, seasonal flu, or Man Flu, or any of those things. The resemblance is entirely superficial. However, the good news is that I feel as if I’m starting on the long road to recovery, but it was touch and go there for a while.
It’s strange how just one thing can virtually destroy a civilised society. Let me give an example. As a result of the pandemic there were huge food shortages in Cactus World. Supplies of rice, tofu, onions and garlic, along with most other foods, were entirely depleted within days; whilst the discovery of an almost full packet of pasta caused what I can only describe as a near riot in my kitchen, as I greedily grabbed it from the cupboard shelf, spilling much of its contents onto the floor, much to Penny’s disgust. What can I say? Starvation drives people to this sort of behaviour and I was desperate. International travel was banned too and I was forced to work from home for two days, to save myself the gruelling, long-distance trek into the office.
Last week, just prior the arrival of the pandemic, I went to not one, not two, but three ska/punk/reggae gigs. (And I’d like to point out that going to these and the sudden and mysterious arrival of Skanking Flue in Cactus World are entirely unrelated.) The first saw the truly wonderful Skints supporting the rather excellent Bedouin Soundclash at the Camden Koko (capacity 1410); whilst the following day saw the rather excellent Bedouin Soundclash supporting the truly wonderful Skints at Nambucca on the Holloway Road (capacity a somewhat overstated 300; I doubt the room with the music in it can take any more than 100). The third gig saw the even more awesome Dirty Revolution (which released 2010’s best album “Before the Fire” that you should go buy now) supporting the wondrous Slackers at the Islington Academy (capacity 800). Whatever your taste in music, it has to be said that bands like this are nearly always great live and thus worth going to see, even if you’ve never heard of them before. Comparing this sort of thing with the almost universally dreadful dirge that is modern indie rock and chart R&B, brings to mind a Borg Cube and a dead fruit fly.
In a not unrelated way, I have also been blessed by the availability on YouTube, of a brief shot of me attempting to dance at the recent King Blues gig at Koko. (It’s all just a bit too much like trying to maneuver an oil tanker for my liking.) Despite every gig I go to now seemingly being filmed by someone, somewhere, I rarely manage to see myself, as despite a claimed height of 6 feet and 1 inch, I’m always surrounded by people who are even taller than me. (As an aside to this, for a few seconds I thought my luck had changed at this gig, when I felt someone grab my hand. Sadly it turned out to be a case of mistaken identity, as in the crowd she thought she’d got hold of her boyfriend’s hand. Oh well, back to reality.) Anyway, YouTube. I was, I have to say, rather disappointed to see not the suave, sophisticated dance-floor guru that I imagine myself to be, (the guy “women want to be with and men want to be” kind of person); the sort of cool dude who can combine the best of White indie/punk moves with the cool of Caribbean reggae and ska rhythms, in an entirely convincing and respectful way. Instead I got to see a rather bald, fat bloke in a black t-shirt being flung across the most pit and trying not to fall over, in an entirely undignified and dad-dancing way by, a person or persons unknown. Go check it out around the 2:05 mark.
Finally, my telly has been fixed! Well done Samsung. It can’t apparently make reliable TVs, but it’s great at getting them fixed when they do break down; I guess it gets a lot of practice.
Right now I’m listening to “Lonely Man of Spandau” by the Angelic Upstarts.