Posts tagged “Thriller

I Know What You Did Last Summer / Star Trek Novels


I Know What You Did Last Summer  -  Front DVD Cover  -  Uk Release

On the magic Summer’s night of high school’s end, Julie, Helen, Ray and Barry get into Barry’s new Beamer and drive out to celebrate, their lives and hopes before them. But on the road they have a terrible accident; hit and kill a man.  In the shock and panic that follows, they dump the body in the sea rather than reporting the accident.  As the body sinks, the hand of the dead man breaks the surface in a last grasp at life, then disappears into the murky depths.  The four friends realise they are now guilty of murder and swear to take their secret to their graves.  But now someone is stalking them, someone who knows who they are, knows what they did last Summer, and seeks revenge…

1997 –  Certificate: 15  –  American Film
8.0 out of 10

Recently I’ve been reading a lot of books. Not just any old book though, but Star Trek books.  (This is cue for you to both yawn and go find something else to do, or think this is the best thing, ever.  I don’t mind which you choose; after all, not everyone mentally and emotionally matures at the same speed.)  So anyway, for those of you who have matured sufficiently…  I’ll admit that in the past I’ve flirted a little with Star Trek novels and Star Trek audiobooks.  (I must confess that I especially love the minimal effort the latter take to enjoy and that I can do other things at the same time, like drive or go to sleep.  What’s not so good is the limited range of titles available, their cost and the fact that most have been greatly abridged.)   Star Trek was always as much about the relationships between the characters, as the ‘blowing things up’ stuff.  If it sometimes tries too hard to project a perfect version of America as itself, then I can forgive it that.  Most of these stories were based somewhere in the known Star Trek timeline, generally between this episode or that episode, or occasionally kind of outside it.  Following the release of “Star Trek: Nemesis” a void opened up, one as large as the universe itself.  The Star Trek reboot, whilst brilliant in its own way, can never hope to fill this space; it’s simply the wrong shape, size and timeline.  This void is empty except for one thing, a single Question; what happened to everyone?  The novels from this period are generally really entertaining and exciting, well written and treat ‘known’ Star Trek history with the appropriate level of respect and consistency.  However, they don’t answer that Question.   Then in May 2001, “Avatar” was published, a story written and set after the end of “Star Trek: Deep Space Nine”.  Over next few years more books came out that did a similar thing and were set after the various TV series and then finally Nemesis itself.  Suddenly we could have answers to the Question.  Of course not everyone likes how future history is working out and what’s happened or happening to all those characters we travelled with for so long, but I’m finding the experience to be wonderfully entertaining.  No longer hemmed in by ‘official’ history or the limitations of TV or film productions, the books set in the period after Nemesis are able to chart their own way forward, taking the Star Trek story further into the future.  They also do a pretty good job of maintaining their internal consistency from one to the next and between different authors.  This makes it feel like they’re all part of one, giant story arc, rather than just random tales.  I’ve just finished reading the “Destiny” trilogy.  This does fundamental things with the Star Trek universe that would have taken a whole series on TV to do justice to them, as well as a sizable special effects budget.  For anyone who hasn’t taken the plunge and started to read these books, I’d fully recommend you find the time to do so.  I wish I could write stories…  This film was the first part of a trilogy.  I think that’s about as far as I can push the comparison.

This movie initially worried me. If someone really did know what I did last summer, then it was likely to be a totally over the top erotic thriller, with elements of horror, science-fiction and comedy mixed in with it.  (Although I must admit I was curious to see who was playing me in it.)  In the end it turned out to be a teen horror with Buffy in it and some killer running around wearing a yellow pacamac and carrying a hook so bent I can’t imagine it was easy to get it to go into anything, never mind a squealing teen.  It also features the absolutely worst pretend ice cubes I’ve ever seen a movie; seriously, they don’t even sound like ice.  And it heavily features “Hush” by Kula Shaka on the soundtrack too, one of the most insipid, horrible tunes ever to be conjured into existence.  It’s awful.  I can remember walking past the video hire shop (remember them) in Colliers Wood on a number of occasions when it first came out on VHS and seeing a big, cardboard cut-out for it in the window.  (Come to think of it, it could have been for one of its two sequels, but let’s ignore that possibility for now.  N.B.  Actually I’ve thought about it some more, I think it might have been an advert for the whole trilogy.)  I can’t recall exactly what went through my mind at the time, but I think there was a level of disappointment that suggests to me now I wasn’t expecting to see it.  It’s weird how you can sometimes recall these random thoughts years later.  I guess my disappointment must have been pretty profound.  Despite all this (and more), it’s actually a really good film, but I can’t for the life of me work out why.  Pretty enigmatic, isn’t it?  I think they’re making a new version of it too…

The evil of Kula Shaker aside, the soundtrack is actually okay and includes songs by the Mighty Mighty Bosstones and The Offspring.

The trailer. It’s better with the sound off.

Recommend for students and fisherman.

No cats, chainsaws or decapitations.

Top badass moment? Despite being an entirely obnoxious rich-boy who seemed to exist entirely for the purpose of pissing off his friends and showing his stomach muscles off to the viewer, Ray finally does the right thing and saves The Girl from The Baddie.  As well as being a cliché of the first degree, this is (if it was real of course) a really badass thing to do.  (However, he’d probably have been killed by Ben if it was real life, so it’s just as well it’s only a movie.)

I Know What You Did Last Summer at IMDB (5.6/10)
I Know What You Did Last Summer at Wikipedia
I Know What You Did Last Summer at Roger Ebert (1.0/4)
I Know What You Did Last Summer trailer at YouTube

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The New York Ripper / The Role of Alcohol in Reviews


The NewYork Ripper  -  Front DVD Cover  -  Dutch Release

A serial killer makes New York unsafe. Brutally murders he maimed his female victims.  Inspector Williams in the dark.  Meanwhile, the killer continues to make victims and the police harass with nasty phone calls.  When the girlfriend of Williams is likely to be the next victim of the frustrated police launch an intense manhunt …  The New York Ripper (Los squartatore di New York) is one of Lucio Fulci’s most controversial films: stylish and exciting, but also extremely bloody, brutal and sadistic. A horror classic of the first water!  (Thanks Google, you’ve managed a perfect translation of the Dutch overview from my DVD!)

1982 –  Certificate: 16  –  Italian Film
6.0 out of 10

I like to watch films; and TV too, although I virtually never do the latter. I enjoy the experience and often have a wee drink as an accompaniment.  I’m not 100% sure, but I suspect there’s a correlation between how much I enjoy what I watch and what I have to drink, (or more accurately, how much alcohol I have to drink).  Not being the sort of person to pass up an opportunity to carry out radial, left-field, cutting edge research when the occasion arises, I’ve decided to report this information here from now on.  I know it’s not going to provide a cure for Ebola, sort out any civil wars or grant Scotland independence, but it’s still pretty exciting stuff isn’t it?  There is one small problem though.  I can’t actually start to do this yet, as I can’t remember what I had to drink whilst I was watching this film. I guess Einstein had days like this too.

Why do I watch films like this? A serial killer (who talks like a duck for reasons explained near the end of the movie) is on the loose in New York and a burnt out cop is after him.  I’m not a fan of cop films or 70s production values.  (It was made in 1982 but it looks like it was made in 1974.)  I guess as an example of ‘that’ kind of film it’s actually pretty good and carries an uncomfortably authentic level of sleaziness.  Most of the men in it are just dreadful.  I watched the uncut version.  In the UK the film was refused a certificate when first released (effectively banned) and an instruction given that all the prints of the film should be removed from the country. It’s never been released uncut in the UK.  So I ended up watching a Dutch import of an Italian film set in America, in which most of the actors are speaking Italian that was later dubbed into English for its release.  These days, now we’re more enlightened (i.e. when we’re happy for youngsters to play video games where they can actually rip people to pieces), most of it did feel dated and clichéd, although some of its murder scenes are still pretty unpleasant.  Probably not a good first date movie.

The soundtrack is uniformly horrible. In other words, it’s an ideal fit for the movie and adds a great deal to its sleazy, dated feel.  Way too much sax.

The trailer below is the ‘nice’ one. If you want to see the ‘not nice’ one, follow the link below instead.  Either way, they’re a suitably faithful representation of the film.  I can’t help thinking they overdid the screaming though, just a little bit.

Recommended for police offices, serial killers and psychiatrists; and sleazy guys in general.

No cats, chainsaws or decapitations.

Top badass moment? At the start of the film, a young woman on a bike (Rosie) manages to stupidly crash into a guy’s car and scratch it down the side.  She’s uninjured and her bike undamaged, but he’s naturally a bit pissed about it.  However, she just calls him an asshole and cycles off, leaving him with a lot of hassle and a big repair bill.  Shortly afterwards she’s murdered by a serial killer.  I know it’s wrong and everything and I’ll probably go to Hell for it, but a little bit of me was glad.  Payback is a bitch… and badass.

The New York Ripper at IMBD (6.4 / 10)
The New York Ripper at Wikipedia
The New York Ripper (red band) trailer at YouTube


The Mothman Prophecies / Decorating as a Weapon of Mass Destruction


The Mothman Prophecies  -  Front DVD Cover  -  UK Release

Based on true events, “The Mothman Prophecies” is a  compelling, heart-pounding, bone-chilling thriller that will jolt you off your seat!  Driven to investigate the mysterious circumstances surrounding his wife’s death, John Klein (Richard Gere – “The  Hoax”, “Chicago”) uncovers chilling secrets behind The Mothman, a timeless, nameless horror whose appearance spells doom for all those who see it.  Klein discovers a connection between the supernatural being and Point pleasant, West Virginia; a small town paralysed by fear where he meets Connie (Laura Linney – “The Exorcism of Emily Rose”, “Mystic River”) who helps shed light on the crisis.  If you see it, are you safe? If you don’t… are you next?

2002  –  Rating: 12  –  American Film
Rating Details: Moderate Horror and Infrequent Strong Language
8.0 out of 10

So where have I been for the last month?  Serving a prison sentence for inciting a popular but ultimately unsuccessful uprising?  On a world tour to promote my latest bestseller?  Locked away in a Scottish castle writing my autobiography?  In a drunken stupor in a gutter somewhere?  Nope, in fact I’ve been decorating my kitchen.  Shortly after I moved in seven or so years ago, I found myself suffering from ‘decorating burnout’.  This is a tragic ailment for which the most common symptom is knowing exactly where everything is in the local B&Q, even when they keep moving the stuff on the shelves around from week to week.  This sadly happened before I’d got around to doing the kitchen, so it’s remained ‘as was’ ever since, slowly becoming more and more embarrassing and an increasing threat to world health.  My flat isn’t exactly what you’d call huge.  It’s so small that even when a single item gets left away from its normal resting place, the whole, fragile ecosystem of my life starts to break down.  This normally includes injuring myself on some bit of furniture or other item that I’ve inadvertently walked into or on, as I’ve tried to navigate around the out of place ‘thing’.  So you may wish to consider the real-life horror I’ve been living with that results from emptying everything out of my kitchen and storing it elsewhere in my flat.  I’ve seen tidier looking places in post-holocaust movies just after the bomb’s dropped.  My favourite injury this time was from a bracket that sticks out too far as it’s too big for the shelf it’s supporting.  Normally it’s not a problem, but this time I knelt down by it at one point in an attempt to open the door of the fridge that was facing directly towards a wall.  I managed to rip two nice grooves out of my right leg.  Oh what fun it was!  I’m sure I’m going to end up with a hideous scar.  It reminded me of why I don’t do DIY very often.  The kitchen took 36 days to finish.  It’s now going to take as long to sort out the chaos it caused everywhere else.  For anyone that’s interested, here’re a few photos of the final result:

I think I’m becoming a bit of a wuse in my old age.  I think it’s because as you get older you get nearer to death, so anything that involves ghostly dead things that are still around, starts to worry you more.  This film doesn’t exactly have ghosts in it, but it’s near enough.  It’s a 12 certificate film, how scary can it be?  Well it had me looking at the open door of the lounge as I was watching it, too scared to go over and close it in case the Mothman, or something like it, suddenly flew in.  If you want to frighten a few 12 year olds but be a goody-goody and not pull out you latest 18 certificate torture porn or “Exorcist” Blu-ray, show them this film.  Don’t forget to mention that it’s based on a true story too.  It helps that it takes a while for the nature of the Mothman to be revealed, as not knowing makes it all the more scary.  It also has great sound.  I didn’t think the two main characters had that much on-screen chemistry, but it punches above its weight in terms of mood and general atmosphere.  Things feel a bit safer once you find out what’s going on, but it still has a pretty good disaster movie ending to enjoy.

The soundtrack is decent enough.  I can’t remember anything else about it now, but it was good.  Honest.  I think it even won an award or something, so it must be good.

The trailer is pretty standard stuff.  You’ll watch it and then forget it.

Recommended for reporters and police officers.  (Wow, that’s original.)

No cats, chainsaws or decapitations.

Top badass moment?  Richard Gere goes house hunting with his wife and they decide to have sex in a wardrobe there, before being disturbed in it by the estate agent asking if they’re interested in buying the house.  I’m not sure what’s most badass, doing that at their age, or the way the estate agent closes the deal.  Well okay it’s not the latter; I just can’t make myself think of an estate agent as badass.   I don’t think I’d have space in my wardrobe to do that.

IMDB (6.5 /10)
Wikipedia
Roger Ebert (2/4)
YouTube


The Day After Halloween / Real Life Horror


The Day After Halloween  -  Front DVD Cover  -  US Release

Angela (Sigrid Thornton, “The Man from Snowy River”) is a young hairdresser thrown out of home by her puritanical mother after too many nights out.  She quickly falls in with the modeling crowd and does some modeling work herself, while it seems she is being stalked by a mysterious figure driving an ice-cream van!  Also known as “Snapshot” and directed by award-winning director Simon Wincer (“Lonesome Dove, “Free Willy”), now see this Ozploitation film in its original scope format – first time anywhere in the world!

1979  –  Certificate: R  –  Australian Film
5.0 out of 10

Next week I have to face one of the greatest horrors in the civilised world.  Something so frightening, that juggling with chainsaws with one arm tied behind my back, in a cage full of hungry lions, would be preferable.  I have to go to a two-day meeting at work, one that everyone who’s anyone will be at.  (I guess a typo somewhere meant I got invited by mistake too.)  However, hanging out with the good and the great doesn’t bother me; after all, I’m pretty sure I was born to meet a higher purpose than I’ve so far managed to climb to, so I may as well get used to it.  I also don’t mind the fact that some of my more ambitions colleagues may well trample me to death on their way to ‘the top’ as they attempt to impress.  Even the thought of conversing ‘professionally’ with people so important that their job titles are almost too long to fit on a business card, is of little consequence to me.  (As long as I don’t have to make ’small talk’, as that’s a skill I’ve never developed as I don’t have a life to talk about.)  No, what really terrifies me is the fact that right at the bottom of the information I was sent it says, “Dress code smart casual”.  What does that even mean?  My idea of smart is wearing a new t-shirt that doesn’t have the name of an obscure punk band on it.  This requirement has bought into sharp focus the inadequacy of my wardrobe.  It’s years since I wore a shirt and I doubt there’s a diet in existence that will prepare me for wearing any of the ones I still own by next Wednesday.  In the trouser department things are even more desperate.  Can you even iron combat trousers?  I think the last thing I ironed was a screwed-up poster of the Buzzcocks to put on my wall when I was a student.  When I turn up wearing a hoddie, everyone is going to stare at me as if I’m some sort of migrant worker at a UKIP conference.  Life is so stressful.   Life as an aspiring model is stressful too, except the smart casual issue probably isn’t much of a problem to one.

Despite what it says on the cover, this film has nothing to do with Halloween, opening doors, answering phones or looking in attics.  There’s nothing anywhere in this movie that wants you either.  It’s barely even a horror.  In fact it’s barely anything at all.  I rarely find films boring but this one I did.  Get the feeling they’re trying to hide something?  It’s competently made and acted, but the script is just so dull.  It manages to take some interesting ideas and make them as exciting as watching magnolia paint dry.  All the men in it are horrible too, they’d hardly a redeeming feature amongst them.  (Actually most of the women are as well.)  It was originally called “Snapshot”, which is a far better name for it.  About the most interesting this about it is its lead actress Sigrid Thornton, who manages to look convincing as both a model and a woman out of her comfort zone.  (Next Wednesday I’ll know how the latter feels.)

The soundtrack is competent without being especially memorable.  It’s used a lot too.  The ‘Elvis’ is quite amusing though.

In the same way as the DVD cover, I think the trailer is trying to promote an entirely different film.

Recommended for models, stalkers, ice-cream sellers, hairdressers and photographers.

No cats, chainsaws or decapitations.

Top badass moment?  Given that this is a dull film with few characters that have any redeeming features, I’m going to have to go for Madeline running down her would-be lesbian lover’s stalker in his Mr Whippy ice-cream van.  Trust me, it sounds a lot more interesting that it really is, but I guess it beats most chat-up lines.

The Day After Halloween at IMDB (4.7 / 10)
The Day After Halloween at Wikipedia
The Day After Halloween trailer at YouTube


Olympus Has Fallen / Being Kidnapped by Terrorists


Olympus Has Fallen  -  Front Blu-ray Cover  -  UK Release

When a group of terrorists launch a daring ambush on the White House, the President (Aaron Eckhart, “The Dark Knight”) is taken hostage inside an impenetrable underground bunker. Only former U.S. Secret Service agent, Mike Banning (Gerard Butler, “300”), is left in the besieged building to protect the President, at all costs. Acting President Speaker Trumbull (Morgan Freeman, “The Dark Knight Rises”) must rely on Banning to rescue the President before the extremists can unleash their ultimate terrifying plan.

2013 – Certificate: 15 – American Film
Rating Details: Strong bloody violence and strong language
8.0 out of 10

I don’t know about anyone else, but I often sit and wonder how much effort my employer would make to rescue me if I was kidnapped by international terrorists. It probably wouldn’t pay a ransom, (it can’t afford it and I’m not worth anything anyway), but a rescue? I don’t have a secret, underground bunker to run off to at the first sign of trouble either, although due to the building where I’m based being constructed on a bit of a slope, you do have to go ‘below’ street level to reach my office. I also haven’t a large number of personal, highly-trained, armed bodyguards, (or even one actually), but the lock on the door frequently bamboozles me, even if I manage to pick the correct key for it. And trying to get through it with loads of hand grenades and guns etc would probably be a bit awkward; it’s certainly a challenge if you’ve got mugs of hot tea or coffee in each hand, as it has one of those self-closing hinge things on it. It’s true, the terrorists wouldn’t have to blast a hole on the wall to get in the building as its open to the public most of the time, but the signage inside is pretty ropey, so they’d probably struggle to find my office. And that’s important if you’re working against the clock and would only have a few minutes before the inevitable air support arrived to protect me. Those jets are pretty fast nowadays, but I wouldn’t like them to mess up the roof garden with their missiles and stuff, as it’s taken a lot of hard work over many years to get it as nice as it is. I’d be pretty disappointed if I escaped, only to find all the plants and trees in bits, scattered all over the car park outside.

Last weekend I went to the cinema. I don’t go very often as I’ve got no friends to go with and I’m too shy to go on my own. I went to see the Lego Movie; (those Lego women really do something for me, even fully clothed). Unfortunately I only got to see the adverts, although the one for Lego was pretty impressive; it went on for nearly two hours! Morgan Freeman was in it, playing a sort of mystic. But what a difference a week makes. Now I discover he’s become the Acting President of the United States of America. That’s seriously being on the fast track, whatever career path you’ve chosen. (My own organisation has recently introduced a bit of a process for doing a similar sort of thing, although I think I’m still stuck on the platform at one of those little stations that hardly any trains stop at; and when they do it’s always one of the slow, crappy ones with hardly any carriages and rubbish heating, which stop everywhere and take forever to get where they’re going to. But at least you get to enjoy the view out of the window.) In this film, President Asher (along with most of the other people who seem to be important) get kidnapped and his house gets trashed by North Korean terrorists. I’ve watched a lot of films that feature the President of the United States of America and few, if any, have been quite so ineffectual as the version in this film. Seriously, he really doesn’t do anything very heroic. President Whitmore in “Independence Day” nukes part of his own country for goodness sake, that’s how hardcore he was, whereas Asher is more than happy to sacrifice a whole country (South Korea) to save himself and his immediate staff a bit of grief. Worse than that, he actually puts his own country at risk too. And it’s even his fault the terrorists get into his underground bunker in the first place, because he chooses to ignore his own rules. What a moron! If international terrorists burst into my office and took any of my team hostage, I’d expect them to be tortured to death rather than hand over the password to even their e-mail accounts. Doing the latter would clearly be grounds for dismissal for gross misconduct anyway. Despite my disappointment with the “leader of the free world”, I did enjoy this film a lot. It’s total nonsense, but it’s still a really good-looking, tense action thriller that kept me well entertained. It’s not a wimpy PG either, so we get to see some blood and stuff as well. The first part of the film, up until the plane crashes, is especially good.

I have to admit to a certain liking of the film’s soundtrack. It does the job.

A trailer that nearly as bombastic as the movie itself. Not bad.

Recommended for terrorists, presidents, disgraced heroes and North Koreans, whatever hairstyle the latter have; (as long as it’s one of the approved ones).

No cats, chainsaws or decapitation.

Top badass moment? Any actor that can keep a straight face and with complete sincerity say to his shirt cuff, “Mustang this is Top Hat, bring it up to full package”, is badass in my book. Gerard Butler is worthy of an Oscar for that alone; (never mind the fact that he also singlehandedly foils an attempt to destroy America). I must try and sneak that sentence into a meeting at work one day, to see if anyone notices.

Olympus Has Fallen at IMDB (6.5 / 10)
Olympus Has Fallen at Wikipedia
Olympus Has Fallen at Roger Ebert (3.0 / 4.0)
Olympus Has Fallen trailer at YouTube


Dirty Harry / Beating the Banking System


Dirty Harry  -  Front DVD Cover  -  UK ReleaseHarry Callahan is a tough, streetwise San Francisco cop whom they call Dirty Harry.  In this action classic, you’ll see why – and also why Clint Eastwood’s reputation as a premier film star and moviemaker is secure.  A rooftop sniper (Andy Robinson) calling himself Scorpio, has killed twice and holds the city ransom with the threat of killing again.  Harry will nail him , one way or the other, no matter what the “system” prescribes.  Filming on location, director Don Siegel made the City by the Bay a vital part of Dirty Harry, a practice continued in its four sequels.  Forty three years after its arrival the original remains one of the most gripping police thrillers ever made.

1971  –  Certificate: 18  –  American Film
7.5 out of 10

This week I’ve inadvertently become a champion and role-model for the downtrodden masses, as I successfully concluded my fight for compensation as a result of the evil and corrupt banking industry misselling me Payment Protection Insurance for a credit card.  As we all know now, every single person who’s ever worked for a bank is a child of the Devil.  From the CEO to the office cleaners.  They exist for one purpose only and that’s to rip everyone else off.  Well they made one BIG mistake trying to take me on.  After many letters, the MBNA has finally capitulated, agreed it made a ‘mistake’ and has paid me back, with interest.  I can’t decide what to spend it on first, a yacht, a jet or an Aston Martin or two.  I guess a few lines of coke and some high-class ‘escorts’ wouldn’t go amiss either.  I can finally get rid of all my pathetic, stupid, so-called friends and buy myself a whole lot of new ones that better fit my improved social status.  The rich and the powerful will invite me to everything.  A-list celebrities will be at my beck and call.  My membership of the Bilderberg Group is assured.  I’m going to start voting Conservative at once, not that I really need to worry about politics now, as I could easily buy myself a whole country if I wanted to.  So I guess you probably want to know how much I got?  Well, the cheque I was sent is made out to me for 20p…

“Dirty Harry” is a film about a naughty policeman, which was inspired by the Lurkers’ 1999 non-hit “Go Ahead Punk”.  (I’ve got this on a very limited edition 7” single in grey vinyl, number 34 of the 125 that were made.)  Its main character Harry Callahan was based on James Callaghan, who was British Prime Minister from 1976-1979 and thus oversaw the invention of punk rock by the downtrodden masses that he created during the Winter of Discontent.  “Winter of Discontent” was also a great track from Political Asylum’s Winter EP, a copy of which I was sold by the band on the Fulham Palace Road, on my way to a Lurkers gig at the Fulham Greyhound.  (The latter was tragically renamed/relaunched earlier this year as an American theme pub called the Southern Belle. WTF?)  Its historical significance aside, this film gave us the original police officer who doesn’t play by the rules but gets away with, who still haunts TV and films to this day.  Scorpio is also a great psycho without a thread of remorse whatsoever and stands up well to the more modern versions that have followed in his wake.  I doubt there’s anything else I could possibly say about this film that hasn’t already been said 100 times before, so won’t.  But for what’s now quite an old film, it still looks good.   Essential viewing.

This movie is pretty light on music, which is just as well given it was made in the early 70s.

The trailer’s very long and seems to be desperate to portray Harry as more of a victim of circumstance than a police officer who really ought to be sacked for gross misconduct at the very least.  He could easily be Martin Riggs‘ father.

Recommended for police officers, psychos and school bus drivers.

No cats, chainsaws or decapitations.

Top badass moment?  Not once but twice, Harry gives us one of his two, world-famous quotes, here and here.  What other character would have the audacity to do that?  (Arnie’s done it but not twice in the same film I don’t think.)  That’s like a DJ playing the same song back-to-back, it just doesn’t happen; (unless you’re John Peel and you’re playing the Undertones, but that’s okay).  He must have been feeling lucky, punk.

Dirty Harry at IMDB (7.8 / 10)
Dirty Harry at Wikipedia
Dirty Harry at Roger Ebert (3.0/4.o)
Dirty Harry Trailer on YouTube


Emanuelle in America / Building My Own Sauna


Emanuelle in America  -  Front DVD Cover  -  American ReleaseThe stunning Laura Gemser stars as Emanuelle, the fearless fashion photographer and investigative photojournalist whose thirst for adventure is matched only by her insatiable erotic hunger.  But when Emanuelle uncovers shocking evidence of an international snuff film conspiracy, she is plunged into an odyssey of forbidden passion, depraved desires and unspeakable human brutality.  From the lust-filled streets of New York City to the corrupt corridors of Washington D.C. and beyond, one of the most controversial sex and gore epics in exploitation history has finally come home: This is “Emanuelle in America”!  Everything you’ve heard about this jaw-dropping cult classic is true: graphic sex, harrowing violence, a horse named Pedro and much, much more.  Directed by the notorious Joe D’Amato (“Beyond the Darkness”), “Emanuelle in America” has been newly mastered from pristine vault materials and is now presented completely uncut for the first time ever!

1976  –  Certificate: Not Rated  –  Italian Film
5.0 out of 10

Last weekend provided Cactus World with its warmest day of the year so far.  Apparently it got to nearly 70F in some parts.  The roads will be melting again at this rate…  Anyway, I was so excited by this sudden burst of warmth that I decided to wash nearly every bit of clothing that I normally wear, so even if my washing machine’s dryer failed to work (as is often the case) I’d still be able to dry things by draping them attractively all around my lounge.  I never did get to find out about the dryer, as the washing machine decided that this time it wasn’t going to bother spinning anything instead.  I was left with a big pile of soaking wet clothing that even now, some 70 hours later, has only just dried out.  I had to go to an external meeting for work on Monday morning in wet clothes.  What fun!  I spent all of Sunday converting my lounge into a DIY sauna, as my dripping clothing and heating combined to produce a pretty decent impersonation of a rain forest.  It hardly ever gets that hot here, even in the summer; Cactus World isn’t well-known for its extremes of temperature.  The only signs of happiness came from the pot plants, who all thought their Christmases and birthdays had come at once.  This film was probably viewed as ‘hot’ in the 70s, but now it just comes across as a bit creepy, old and at times unintentionally funny.

Emanuelle, the “fearless fashion photographer and investigative photojournalist” (I’d like to have seen her fit that on her passport) investigates the seedy world of decadent politicians and snuff movies.  Potentially an interesting and exciting plot for a horror-thriller, instead she seems to spend most of her time in various states of undress, or watching others in a similar position.  I’ve heard of people enjoying their jobs, but even on a good day I don’t enjoy mine quite that much; (which I sure comes as a great relief to all my colleagues).  The admittedly attractive Laura Gemser isn’t very convincing as a private investigator, although what she lacks in ability she makes up for with good fortune.  An example?  Undercover as some rich asshole’s plaything, she randomly wonders about his estate for a few minutes, where she finds a load of guns hidden in a crate under some sacks in a stable.  Yes, that’s bound to happen isn’t it?  Not that they play any other part in the movie after that of course.   Still, all journalists do these days is hack people’s mobile phones, whereas Laura most definitely had to do it the hard way.  She’s either very brave or very stupid.  Sadly, after all her clever undercover work, the newspaper she works for refuses to publish her story and she throws a bit of a wobbly at the editor.  So, instead of going to the police with all her evidence, she goes off on holiday with her boyfriend to some tropical island, which then inexplicably turns into a movie set.  (No, I didn’t fully understand that either).  The End.  I did initially get a bit excited at the beginning of the film, when what looked a lot like the view of a star field from a starship travelling at warp, popped up on the screen; but then it turned out it was just the StudioCanal logo.  After that things went a bit downhill.  To be fair, it still has a few scenes that are likely to ‘surprise’ some people and the snuff film effects are pretty horrific too; but it’s style and presentation now seem so overwhelmingly old fashioned that watching it was more akin to finding a long lost item of clothing, which, despite it’s now utterly unfashionable appearance, is still sort of comforting to wear.  A reminder of simpler times perhaps?  Did anyone really take this stuff seriously?  I’m so glad I was too young in 1976 to notice things like this.  Thank God punk came along.

Sadly, I wasn’t able to find a real trailer anywhere.  So instead here’s an entirely uneventful clip of Emanuelle in a gondola in Venice, Italy.  The film is called “Emanuelle in America” after all.

The music.  Yes, the music.  It’s a horrible cross between porn-funk, crappy early 70’s soft rock and easy listening.  It’s awful, but at the same time works really well in setting up the whole feel of the film.  Yep, it really is that bad.

Recommended for investigative journalists, corrupt politicians, swingers and guys with blonde moustaches and silly medallions, who wear white shirts with huge collars.

No cats, chainsaws or decapitations.

Top badass moment?  A guy with a gun suddenly pops up in the back of Laura Gemser’s car as she’s driving along.  Refusing money or the car, he says all he wants is to strangle and murder her.  Personally, that would probably freak me out and make me late for something, but not so the beautiful Laura.  Keeping totally cool and using her unique abilities, (which if I’m honest I’m unlikely to be able to reproduce if I should ever find myself in a similar situation), she ‘talks’ her way out of it.  I have to admit, that’s badass.  She’s a very cool babe.

Emanuelle in America at IMDB (5.4 / 10)
Emanuelle in America at Wikipeda
Emanuelle in America Clip

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Side Effects / The Dentist: Part 3


Side Effects  -  Front DVD Cover  -  UK ReleaseEmily (Rooney Mara “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo”) and Martin (Channing Tatum “The Vow”) are a successful New York couple whose world unravels when a new drug prescribed by Emily’s psychiatrist (Jude Law “Sherlock Holmes”) intended to treat anxiety, has unexpected and dangerous side effects.  From director Steven Soderbergh (“Contagion”, “Ocean’s Eleven”, “Ocean’s Twelve”, “Ocean’s Thirteen”) comes a riveting psychological thriller where neither the symptoms nor the cure are quite as straightforward as they seem.

2013  –  Certificate: 15  –  American Film
Rating Details: Strong language, sex and violence
7.0 out of 10

Despite its capacity to bring good news, joy and happiness, the word “no” generally feels pretty negative.  So hearing a dentist mutter it twice whilst prodding and poking around in your mouth is not something that often generates a smile.  (Then again, when you’ve got a mouthful of torture devices masquerading as dental equipment, there isn’t actually an especially wide range of facial expressions at your disposal.)  My third 90 minute appointment this month bought me these two highlights, along with a comment at the end that she’d managed to get a few a millimetres further but the blockage was still there.  An hour and a half for that?  It’s not the London Crosslink rail tunnel; although all the talk of drilling, canals, bridges and crowns does put me in mind of a major, civil engineering project.  The only thing that kept me going we the fact that this was the last part of my own, personal, dental horror trilogy, (which itself was an expansion of the two-parter that had originally been planned).  Unfortunately, the news at the end was not good.  A fourth instalment is now required and ‘filming’ takes place in April, once the spin-off “The Dentist: Sore Wisdom Tooth” has wrapped. I still haven’t got the date for my trip to hospital to have the latter dealt with, but I’m pretty sure it’s going to be the most massively inconvenient one possible.

In the UK, you go to see your doctor and sometimes he or she gives you a prescription for some drugs.  You go to the chemist and he or she gives them to you.  You take them and hopefully feel better.  The end.  I don’t know anyone who has any sort of discussion about what brand of drug they want.  I guess it happens sometimes, but not very often.  They don’t get advertised on TV and I’d hazard a guess and say most people have no idea what make of drugs they’re taking or even if it stays the same between prescriptions.  Not so in America, where drug companies widely advertise their products and patents frequently tell their doctors what brand of drugs they want, presumably based on which has the best advertising on TV.  A movie like “Side Effects” simply wouldn’t make sense if it was set in the UK.  This film has more twists that you get in a big bag of that twisty-shaped pasta that’s always cheaper than any other shape of pasta.  (And why does the shape make such as huge difference to the price?  It’s feels like you’re charged a premium if it’s an easier shape to get onto a fork.)  It’s not a bad movie, as long as you concentrate, give its plot a bit of latitude and forgive its sometime dubious portrayal of same-sex relationships and mental health.  Jude Law and Rooney Mara are both great.  I guess if I wasn’t wracked with tooth inflicted agony and befuddled by antibiotics and pain-killing drugs (and no I’ve no idea what brand they are), I’d have got more out of it.

There’s a lot of music in this film.  None of it is especially memorable, but it’s there, in the background, most of the time.  A bit like weather.

Trailers for thrillers are often quite frustrating.  They want to encourage you to see the film, yet don’t want to give away the plot.  I guess it’s a bit like reading a book without looking at the words.  This is a good example.

Recommended for psychiatrists, lesbians, inside traders, drug pushers and conspiracy theorists.

No cats, chainsaws or decapitations.

Top badass moment?  You have to give Jude Law a bit of respect.  When the going gets tough he digs in and keeps going.  Bloody mindedness is always badass; and bloody annoying to everyone else too.

Side Effects at IMDB (7.1 / 10)
Side Effects at Wikipedia
Side Effects at Roger Ebert (3.5 / 5)
Side Effects trailer at YouTube


Gattaca / How a Washing Machine Can Start a Nuclear War


Gattaca  -  Front Blu-ray Cover  -  German ReleaseIn der nahen High-Tech-Zukunft entscheidet ein Gentest gleich nach der Geburt über das Schicksal der Kinder. Futuristische Biochemie macht es möglich, dass fast alle Eltern sportliche, hochintelligente Superbabies zur Welt bringen.  Vincent aber hat Pech gehabt.  Wegen seiner körperlichen Schwächen wird er nie zur Elite gehören.  Doch er träumt davon, als Gattaca-Pilot die Galaxis zu erforschen. Vincents Freund Jerome hat beste Gene, ein Unfall hat ihn allerdings an den Rollstuhl gefesselt.  Beide tauschen ihre Identität.  Ein äußerst riskanter Plan, denn die strengen Sicherheitskontrollen des perfekt organisierten Polizeistaates sind kaum zu umgehen. Bald hat Vincent die Geheimdienste auf den Fersen …  Ein spannender sci-fi thriller mit beängstigendem Zukunftsszenario.  Ethan Hawke (“Reality Bites”) und Uma Thurman (“Batman & Robin”, “Pulp Fiction”) in einem brandgefährlichen Spiel, das durchaus wahr werden könnte.  (It’s called German.  I’ve got a German copy of the film.)

1997  –  Certificate 12  –  American Film
8.5 out of 10

My washing machine broke down on Christmas Eve.  Well more accurately, it still washes things but it won’t dry them.  Using my amazing engineering skills, I’ve worked out that it’s either a broken thermostat or something to do with the fan.  Unfortunately I can’t be sure, as my skills don’t extend to having the special sort of screwdriver that appears to be needed to open the case where the fan lives.  I think I can hear it spinning but I can’t see the end of the spindle turning, which is a bit confusing.  Few things piss me off more than technology breaking and companies producing things which require a special bit of information (that they make it very hard to find out), or a special tool to fix.  So as you might imagine, this little occurrence has made me incandescent with fury.  The fact it happened at the most inconvenient possible moment of the year has just made things worse.  Really, it’s just as well I’m not the one with ‘my finger on the button’.

In the near future, parents will be able to create a ‘designer baby’ for themselves.  These “Valids” will go on to get all the best jobs, whilst the rest of us do the crappy stuff.  I know this to be true, because even Ernest Borgnine could only get a job as an office cleaner in “Gattaca”, yet a few years ago he was one of the crew of “Airwolf”, the most advanced helicopter ever built.  (It had a good theme tune too.)  Our hero Vincent wants to go into space, but sadly he’s one of the “Invalids”, the rubbish people who got born the normal way.  So starts his quest to beat the system.  I’ve seen a lot of good films over the past month or so and this is yet another.  Within its ‘hard’ sci-fi setting and 1984 overtones, this is a thriller with a great “will he or won’t he make it” right up to the end.  With its murder-crime subplot and some entirely superfluous love interest provided by Uma Thurman, we get to watch Vincent and his mate collecting bottles of blood, hair and other bits of discarded body from the latter; (mainly skin and stuff, we’re not talking about anything too Frankenstein-like here).  It’s a while since I saw a film with so much urine in it too, although to be fair it’s generally all contained in bags or plastic beakers; they’re a bit obsessed with testing at Gattaca.  (It’s the name of the company that does the space launches.)  Things don’t quite go to plan, (even more so if you watch the deleted scenes), someone gets murdered, the police investigate.  It’s just the sort of shit you don’t want to have to put up with when you’re about to diddle your way onto the first manned flight to Titan.  The final scene is really quite powerful and it’s a “proper good film” as they might say up North.

With a great film should come great music and we’re not disappointed here.  A full orchestral score, it’s not used a lot, but when it is things get taken to an extra level.  As an interesting side point, there’s a scene where we see a 12 fingered pianist playing a bit of music that’s actually meant to be impossible for one person to play; (Schubert’s Impromptu No. 3 in G flat Major, with some extra bits).  I find that strangely cool.

I’m not especially keen on this trailer.  It’s sort of okay, but it doesn’t really get across the feel of the film.

Recommended for astronauts, police detectives and the genetically pure.

No cats, chainsaws or decapitations.

Top badass moment?  It has to be the impossible to play piano performance.  As someone who can barely manage to play “English Country Garden” on the piano with two fingers, am I the only one who finds that whole idea strangely arousing?  Oh, right.  Okay then…  I think I’ve just discovered a new kind of porn.  (Well actually no, as Google gives nearly 52,000 results for “piano porn”.)  Now that really is very weird.

Gattaca at IMDB (7.8 / 10)
Gattaca at Wikipedia
Gattaca At Roger Ebert (3.5 / 5)
Gattaca at YouTube


The Silence / Learning the Guitar


The Silence  -  Front DVD Cover  -  UK ReleaseOn a hot summer day, a bicycle is found in a wheat field, and, nearby, the body of a young girl.  The killer is never found. 23 years later.  Same date.  Same place.  Another bicycle.  Another girl.  This time round, an ageing detective convinced that history is repeating itself, comes out of retirement determined to track down the perpetrator with the help of his young colleague.  Spanning a week in the investigation, both of them will begin a journey that will see intact worlds shatter apart.  A striking debut, The Silence is based on an award-winning novel and follows European crime thrillers such as “The Killing” and “Wallander” as it delves into the psyche of detectives and criminals to deliver a chilling story of murder and betrayal.

2010  –  Certificate 15  –  German Film
Strong language and sexual violence
8.5 out of 10

I’ve got sore fingers.  Fed up with my existing career options, I’ve decided to take advantage of the Christmas week and learn how to play the guitar.  Once I’ve done this I’ll become a rock star.  I’ve got plenty of social grievances and failed love affairs to write about, so it ought to be pretty easy to do once I’ve managed to learn a chord.  Posters of me in seductive, semi-naked poses will soon be starring down from the walls of countless, teenage girls’ bedrooms up and down the country.  Justin Bieber will just have to piss off down the dole office where he belongs.   My guitar is a rather nice, left-handed Westbury Standard, a model that was made for a few years around 1980 and bought for me by one of those aforementioned failed lover affairs.  Despite my cack-handed abuse of it, it rarely goes out of tune and I’ve yet to break a string, even though my playing has all the subtlety of Freddy Kruger in a maternity ward.  But how hard can it be?  Look at all the stupid people who seem to have managed.  Sadly, I apparently have hands like a horse’s hooves when it comes to playing.  Why does it need so many strings and why are they so close together?  Stupid design.  I thought it would only take a few hours, but apparently it takes longer than that….  I’m not a happy bunny.

This is a film with no happy characters in it; at all.  No one comes out of it well.  Everyone ends up more fucked up than they were to start with.  No, it’s not a documentary about real life, but a German movie about two paedophiles and the police investigation to apprehend them.  I’m personally not a big fan of crime films.  All that Sherlock Homes, Poirot, Scooby Doo stuff, where at the end everyone’s in a room and all the details get blurted out.  Yawn…  Fortunately this is a lot better.  What actually makes it so good is the way it gets inside everyone’s head and exposes all the guilt within; the police, the victims’ families, the perpetrators, the perpetrators’ families.  It’s a real lose-lose story.  I found it hard at times not to feel sorry for everyone, even the ‘baddies’ in their own, screwed up way.  I was also struck by just how scruffy, undisciplined and a bit mad all the German police seemed to be.  At times the feel of the film reminded me of the French horror “7 Days”, although that’s even darker.  Overall this is very close to being a genuinely great film.  Only it’s slightly frustrating habit of introducing ideas that it then doesn’t really do anything with, let’s it down.

The music used in this film is fine and works well.

Considering this is a trailer with no words it actually not bad.  I’m not sure it tells a great deal about the film’s plot, although it does a decent job of getting the atmosphere across.

Recommended for the police, caretakers and architects.

No cats, chainsaws or decapitations.

Top badass moment?  Everyone is so miserable and wracked with guilt that it’s difficult to find anything worthy of being considered badass.  I guess the weather was nice most of the time; lovely warm, sunny days.  Summer is badass.  Winter is just crap; short days, cold, damp and wet.  Yuk.

The Silence at IMDB (6.8 / 10)
The Silence at Wikipedia
The Silence at Roger Ebert (3.5  / 5)
The Silence at YouTube