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.)
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.
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.
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.
Harry 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.
The 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.
On 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.
Special agent Jeremy Reins (Stephen Dorff) is about to have a very bad day. He wakes up in total darkness, confused and disorientated. The only light comes from the blood-red digital numbers ticking away above his head. Jeremy quickly realizes he’s in trouble. It’s hard to breathe. He can barely move. And no one will answer his cries for help. Then, he hears the sound of an engine and it all becomes clear…he’s trapped in the trunk of a moving car. As his captors reveal their motives, Jeremy realizes he won’t be set free until he discloses classified Government information he has sworn to protect.
2012 – Certificate 15 – American Film Rating Details: Strong violence and bloody images 7.0 out of 10
My car’s boot is nearly always full of stuff to recycle. Tins, bottles, bits of metal, broken and discarded electronics, batteries, bulbs, paper and cardboard; they all end up rolling about in the boot along with a first aid kit, a box about a quarter full of bottles of COUNTDown, a sharps kit, a pair of wellington boots and a 12” base speaker. When I’m at my more organised these items are joined by a 4’ crow bar, a 21” bow saw, a spade and a pair of loppers. A car boot is basically a giant pocket; it’s the male equivalent of a ladies handbag. (I’m not sure what women drivers keep in the boot of their cars; it’s not the sort of question you ask in polite society. Make-up? Lipstick? Soft toys? Shoes? Who knows?) I imagine there’s a whole branch of science that can determine someone’s past, present and future lives, simply by investigating what that person keeps in their boot. The stuff for recycling does get removed from time to time, whenever I drive past the Smallmead Household Waste Recycling Centre; (or “the dump” as it’s know by just about everyone). In a double-whammy of individual person-power, I not only recycle just about everything I can, but don’t make special trips to the dump to get rid of stuff either. The Earth is so lucky to have me as a friend! I suppose all I’m trying to do is point out that I don’t often have a special agent in my boot; or even a common or garden variety one; they don’t take either for recycling at the dump anyway. And even if I did they’d just be able to rip the cover and get out, as I drive an estate with one of those roll back covers for hiding what’s there.
This is a film where 95% of the action takes place in the boot of a car. A lot of the time most of what’s going on is only lit by the eerie glow from a large, red, digital timer. This could have easily resulted in a very boring film and it’s true to say that it’s not the best one to watch if you’re trying to show off your new Blu-ray player and 65” smart TV to your mates. However, on balance it’s a very watchable move that’s only let down by a few ugly plot-holes and a terrible ending that even I managed to predict. Having said that, I liked the ending; it makes a change from the sort of thing we normally get. I’m not sure Stephen Dorff manages to totally convincing 100% of the time, but when all you can do is shuffle about a bit in the dark and look confused, I guess it’s not an easy thing to do when you have to deliver an occasionally dodgy script. All in all it’s enjoyable and a little bit different. It’s just a shame they didn’t manage to keep up the level of some of the more intense parts. It was so set up for a sequel too.
The soundtrack is fine and suitably thriller-like. It comes and goes as it should. The trailer here does a decent job of presenting the film. I’ve no idea what the sleeve is all about though; it looks like that famous poetic licence that all DVD release companies have access to, has been invoked again. I don’t think we see a gun sight, helicopter or the White House in the film at all. I’m not sure about the person in the black gear with the gun either.
Recommended for special agents, terrorists and anyone who’s thinking of marrying a special agent.
No cats, chainsaws or decapitations.
Top badass moment? Jeremy knows the location of the president and vice president. Some terrorists want to know where they are. They do various ‘not nice’ things to Jeremy and kidnap and threaten to kill his wife too, along with some other people. But does Jeremy blab? “This guy’s fucking hardcore!” That’s badass. I couldn’t help feeling sorry for him though. A very bad day indeed.
In the year 2008, U.S. President Walter Emerson (Kevin Pollak), who recently took office after the death of the former chief executive, is campaigning for re-election. After winning the Colorado state primary, Emerson finds himself stranded in a roadside diner after a freak snowstorm. While the president exchanges pleasantries with the diner’s staff and customers, a new bulletin appears on TV: Udei Hussein, son of the late Saddam Hussein, has invaded Kuwait and butchered several hundred U.S. peace-keeping troops. Outraged, the president announces that if Hussein and his forces do not withdraw and officially surrender, he will begin dropping nuclear weapons on Baghdad. However, Iraq responds that if they are attacked, 23 cities in the United States and allied nations will be immediately destroyed in a counterattack. Emerson, his advisors, and the others trapped in the diner with them debate long and loud about what to do, and what the potential consequences could be.
1999 – Certificate: Not Rated – French / American Film
8.5 out of 10
A few weeks ago I wrote about my work laptop having a few ‘issues’. Work-related stress, cruel and heartless management and a failure to ‘work smarter and not harder’, had reduced it to an untidy pile of nearly useless components unable to do the simplest things, other than make up excuses for not having done them. (Oh wait, that’s just me.) Over the past week or so, to coincide with moving our office, trying to sort out the old one and get the new one in a state to be used as anything more than a second-hand furniture shop, I’ve had ‘The Man From Dell’ visit no less than four times, in an attempt to fix my laptop’s problems. However, I’m now the proud owner of what looks like a new computer; although it’s been totally pulled to bits so many times and so many parts have been replaced, that I’m not sure it even recognises itself now. More importantly, it actually works. I really enjoyed downloaded the four million or so e-mails that have piled up for me over the past couple of weeks, many of which are increasingly angry ones from people demanding that I do this, that and the other by yesterday. I doubt they’ll care that moving office takes a bit of effort, my laptop’s gone mental, my mobile phone went into hiding and the new office looks like Engineering on the Enterprise after a particularly bad day dealing with Klingons. They’ll just think I’m a lazy, work-shy imbecile, who can’t be arsed to make an effort; trouble is, they’re probably right. In related news, ‘The Man From BT’ was also in today, to put in two basic phone lines. Quite why this took him (and a colleague) most of the day, I’m not sure. We’re in the centre of the town, there’re landlines and junction boxes everywhere. Unlike BT and myself, the President in this film manages to ‘get things done’, even though he’s stranded in a cafe with just a few phone lines and a TV, as he organises universal Armageddon faster than BT can get a telephone to work.
Despite all its plot holes and general dumbness, this is actually a really clever and tense political thriller. A number of its assumptions have since proved to be quite prophetic too. Its clever use of stock footage of American Presidents playing at “Team America: World Police” and TV coverage of the developing crisis, works very well. I wasn’t entirely sure if it was making a point about war being bad or necessary; or that American presidents have too much power or a responsibility to use that power. However, there is something very chilling about seeing someone ordering a nuclear attack on another country. It was also rather depressing to see how little value was placed by the Americans on the lives of its enemies and allies alike. (If it wasn’t for us, they’d still be riding around firing bows and arrows at one another.) I can’t really say much more as knowing about the plot would spoil things, but I’d certainly recommend watching it. It’ll give you lots to talk about afterwards too.
The soundtrack is good example of understated music making a big difference to the feel of the film. Good job.
Recommended for Special Agents, dictators and anyone caught in a snowstorm or who works in a cafe. Definitely not recommend for American Presidents.
No cats, chainsaws or decapitations.
Top badass moment? The American President ordering a nuclear attack is about as badass as you can get. Shame it’s not a good type of badass. I wouldn’t like to piss him off though.
Sean Veil (Lee Evans) is an ultra-paranoid murder suspect who films himself around the clock to provide an alibi, in case he’s ever accused of another crime. When the police come calling to investigate a new murder, the one tape that can prove his innocence has mysteriously disappeared. Past and present collide as Sean strives to prove his innocence of this and all the other crimes that have been laid at his door. But the accusations and the tension mount and just when Sean thinks it’s all over, an unexpected twist finds him fighting for his life…
2004 – Certificate: 15 – UK/Irish Film
Rating Details: Strong violence and language
8.0 out of 10
A couple of months ago I started walking into work again, rather than driving. Regularly walking the 2.4 miles each way has turned me into a hyper-fit super-being, but it’s not without its drawbacks. Today I’d like to briefly consider the concept of Pavement Wars. My journey includes a significant section along the Oxford Road in west Reading, where I find myself walking ‘against the tide’, as most people are going in the other direction and into town. I’m used to the barbaric anarchy of rush-hour on the Tube, where a fallen body is considered nothing more than an annoying trip hazard; but I thought out on the open road (well pavement) of the Home Counties, things would be a little different. I thought people would lift their hats in polite greetings as they passed one another, whilst exchanging a few words of small talk, about the weather or cricket scores perhaps? Sadly it’s more like a pedestrianised version of Carmageddon, with the sort of manoeuvring that would lose a driver his or her license in a moment. Seriously, it’s like a war zone out there and I’m not winning. I’ve lost count of the number of time I’ve been forced into walls, bollards and the road, in an effort not to get mowed down by others’ irresponsible walking. But this guy is fighting back! Last Thursday, my path was blocked by two women coming in the other direction. Any decent human being, when walking next to a friend, would make sure they got out of the way if someone was coming in the opposite direction and the two of them were totally occupying the path. But not these two. And they both saw me coming along, I’m quite sure of that. Did they expect me to step out into the road to let them pass, even though I had my back to the traffic? Was I the innocent victim of bitchy office politics, which meant nether of them wanted to walk behind the other, in case this more submissive stance might have some bearing on an inter-departmental power-struggle? Perhaps my “Do You Like Waffles?” t-shirt wasn’t scary enough? Or were they just inconsiderate, stupid, thoughtless, brain-dead bimbos? Who knows? Whatever, this time there was going to be no hanging about waiting between the bollards for them to pass. I braced myself for the inevitable impact, which happened just about here. As we passed my arm briefly collided with the tall blonde’s. I suppose with hindsight it was probably the most exciting sexual caress she’s had for ages, but to me it meant only one thing; at last, I was a true Pavement Warrior! No longer will I cower in shop entrances, between bollards, behind bins or pavement furniture. Reading take note; there’s a new kid on the block, a new kid who’s no longer gonna be pushed around by people who think the sidewalk owes them a living. I’m ready for war. Are they? Given all that, it’s a shame I’m not about to consider a viewing of “Mad Max”.
In a thriller with more twists than a shop full of Curly Wurly bars (or an avenue of Corkscrew Willow if you prefer), comedian Lee Evans convincingly portrays a paranoid and socially inept guy (Sean) who films his every waking (and sleeping) moment. Fortunately, we’re spared most of the more ‘intimate’ moments of his life, but it does make for an original and interesting, although somewhat convoluted movie. I’m a bit stupid so I’m pretty sure I didn’t manage to follow everything, but it was still a really good watch; (despite the overuse of blue filters and a tiny, non-anamorphic 2.35:1 picture). So this probably means it’ll be a good watch next time too, as I still won’t know what’s going on; being an idiot does have its advantages. I did feel sorry for Sean; putting up with dodgy TV reporters, useless and greedy psychologists, a whole population that thought he was a triple murderer and cops that ‘cross the line’, is enough to send anyone a bit round the bend. The amount of plot twists in the last ten minutes are likely to send most viewers a bit round the bend too. His ‘underground house’ was interesting though.
The soundtrack is exactly that. There’re no dumb pop records put into the film to enable some sort of “as featured in” soundtrack to be released. It’s just decent music added into scenes to make them better in that way that only music can.
Recommended for police detectives, the paranoid, the tabloid press, everyone who hates CCTV and any innocents who’ve ever been accused of murder.
No cats, chainsaws or decapitation.
Top badass moment? In a film full of twists and turns, the fact that Sean managed to keep himself together enough to do what he needed to do, qualifies as badass.
Jennifer Garner (“Daredevil”, TV’s “Alias”) and Mark Ruffalo (“Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind”) star in this hilarious flash-forward romance about a pre-teen girl who goes from geek to glamorous. With the help of some magic wishing dust, 13 year-old Jenna Rink (Garner) becomes 30 and gorgeous overnight, with everything she ever wanted, except for her best friend Matt (Ruffalo). Now, this grown woman must create some magic of her own to help the little girl inside find the true love she left behind.
2004 – Certificate: 12 – American Film
Rating Details: Moderate sex and drug references
8.0 out of 10
Went to see the New Town Kings last night at the Camden Underworld in London. It’s probably the best ska band in the country. (Quite why people listen to stuff like Coldplay when they could be listening to bands like the NTK entirely escapes me, but I think it’s probably just another symptom of the fall of humanity; the signs are all around us after all, this is just another scream of terror from the depths of hell into which we’re falling.) The gig was great, had a little bit too much to drink but managed not to be too uncoordinated or tread on too many feet. I really like going to gigs in the summer, as when you leave at the end in a sweat-soaked t-shirt, you don’t walk out into a dark night that has a wind chill that wouldn’t feel out of place in an Antarctic winter. I hate that and hanging about at Paddington Station afterwards, waiting for a train that’s either packed and you can’t get a seat, or freeing cold. (I know it’s partly my fault as I wear the same things all year, but cloakrooms are a pain so if I can’t wear it under ‘combat conditions’ or tie it around my waist, then it’s too much hassle. I’m sure regularly undergoing a freeze-thaw cycle is good for something; it’s good for some seeds anyway.) Have to say I’m feeling pretty fit at the moment. I remember seeing NTK a couple of years ago and I was knackered at the end. This time it didn’t feel that big a deal. I truly have the body of top sportsman! (Darts probably).
I can’t believe it, but this is the fifth comedy I’ve watch in a row. What’s come over me? Then again, I do choose the films I watch entirely at random, although there are a lot of complicated rules that govern this process, but at the end of the day it’s still pretty random. Anyway, let’s not consider how clichéd or stupid this film is. Let’s just consider it and its (I think for me) unique, pink DVD case. To deflect the fact and consequent embarrassment that comes from my sitting and watching a chick-flick on my own, I like to consider this as a movie with a hard science fiction storyline, that just happens to have some sort of romance built into it somewhere. We first meet our hero Jenna around the time of her 13th birthday, just before she travels about 27 years into the future, into an alternative time-line. So okay, the ‘time-machine’ consists of some sort of ‘fairy dust’ that we never get an explanation for, but that’s the nature of these things, apparently. Then in the future she does stuff and it all works out okay. Right? It is actually an excellent film, even though it’s rubbish too; I did feel myself getting emotional once or twice, (just a tiny bit of course). It also has one of those brilliant, so-crap-it’s-good dance routine scenes in it; Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” being the victim in this case. (You should check out all the people at IMDB seriously discussing how realistic this scene is and how poor the choreography is; and I thought I had trouble living in the real world sometimes.) Technically I like how this film looks and sounds on DVD.
This movie uses it’s soundtrack to strongly emphasise its 80s vibe. In this, thanks in part to the way the sound blasts out every time a song is played, it succeeds well. Even I have to begrudgingly admit that it’s not that bad.
Recommended for magazine editors, freelance photographers, 13 year-old girls and anyone who thinks 80s pop music is of any value; (yes, you there at the back, I can see you).
No cats, chainsaws or decapitations.
Top badass moment? Biach Tom-Tom getting her comeuppance. So she gets a drink spilt on her, a few harsh words and some work ripped up in front of her face; but when you’re 13 and have a social position to maintain in front of your friends, that’s probably not dissimilar to having your head blown off with a big gun by the unsung hero in the climatic final scene in a bloody action film.
Jonathan Silverman (“Weekend at Bernie’s”, “Brighton Beach Memoirs”) is Barry Thomas, and Barry is having a bad day… over and over and over again. That’s because Barry is caught in a “time bounce” – an atmospheric phenomenon – that occurs when his employer, the high-tech company Utrel, has an experiment that goes haywire. Spared from the effect of memory loss by an electric shock at the moment of the time bounce, Barry is the only one at Utrel who has the power to change the course of fate. And to Barry that means saving the life of the woman he loves, research scientist Lisa Fredericks (Helen Slater, “City Slickers”, “Ruthless People”). Tautly directed by Jack Sholder (“A Nightmare on Elm Street Part 2: Freddy’s Revenge”, “The Hidden”) and co-starring Academy Award winner Martin Landau (“Crimes and Misdemeanors”), “12:01” is a spirited sci-fi thriller you’ll enjoy again and again and again! “It’s Back to the Future” meets “Groundhog Day”!
1993 – Certificate PG-13 – American Film
Rating Details: Violence
6.0 out of 10
I really like tea, but I also drink a lot of not very nice instant coffee too. I drink the latter almost exclusively at work, as the caffeine helps me to do my shit. Without this stimulant, I’d not be able to deliver my corporate payload from a sufficiently high altitude to target my in-box effectively and render its population non-belligerent. Really. Like Bane in Batman (the version that hung about with Poison Ivy in the 1997 “Batman and Robin” film), each cup has the same effect on me as turning the ‘power dial’ on his head did on him. I shake a lot, growl a bit and look angry, my fingers a blur of motion on the keyboard, as I up the misspelling count to such a shocking level that even Bill Gates can’t work out what the hell I’m trying to write. Someone once sneaked a jar of decaffeinated coffee into the office and the whole organisation nearly went bankrupt. Conversely, at home I almost never drink coffee. About 15 years ago I bought a filter coffee-making machine when I had someone staying with me who liked coffee. Despite my ongoing battle with technology, it’s still fully functional. (I guess I don’t use it very often and it’s not a very ‘mission critical’ part of my lifestyle.) However, tonight I made myself some real coffee in it. It was very nice! Funny enough, it’s even nicer if you tip a load of Tia Maria in it. I wonder what happens if you try to get drunk on coffee?
The 80s and 90s were the golden age for ‘Made for TV’ films. This is one of them. It’s basically “Groundhog Day” with some sci-fi bolted onto it. It’s got Martin Landau in it, but I guess all those years of running Moonbase Alpha in “Space 1999” must have taken their toll on him, because he’s rubbish! Never mind phoning in his role, he didn’t even make contact. I think they just carried a cardboard cut out about from scene to scene. In fact the whole movie is pretty rubbish. However, despite its limitations it’s a fun, easy watch, ideal for when you can’t be bothered to concentrate on stuff. Our hero is Barry, who basically has to save the world, or universe, or something, from remaining stuck in the same 24 hour time loop. He’s a workshy loser in the personnel department of a company that’s doing research into faster than light travel; (don’t worry if you don’t understand, it’s really not that important). Now I’ve seen a lot of action heroes in my time with unlikely ‘day jobs’, but this is the first time I’ve come across one from an HR department. I now have a new-found respect for personnel staff, they kick ass. (Where I work we call them People Services, which I’m not sure quite conjures up the correct mental image to some.) Despite its many faults, this is a decent enough thriller/romance/comedy to waste 94 minutes of your life on.
The soundtrack does its job, collects its pay check and leaves.
Recommended for anyone working in human resources, or as a scientist carrying out cutting edge research into particle physics.
No cats, chainsaws or decapitations.
Top badass moment? Our hero finds himself breaking into his own employer’s offices. The security guards, already alerted to the fact, are polite but inept, as Bazza somehow manages to grab one of their guns out of its holster. Pretty impressive for an HR administrator. However, what’s really badass is the threat he uses to distract them as he’s doing so. “Stop giving me a hard time, because I’m going to have to come back here in the morning and make sure that you’re fired before we get here; and don’t think I can’t do it either, I’m in personnel.” A terrifying threat in these economically tough times.
Eight candidates face the interview from hell. Led into a windowless concrete bunker they are given eighty minutes to answer one simple question. A question that will take each candidate to the very edge… and beyond, as they are forced to confront their deepest, darkest, most violent fears. This nerve shredding thrill ride features a cast that includes Colin Salmon (“AvP”, “Die Another Day”), Jimi Mistry (“2012”), and Luke Mably (“28 Days Later”). Do you have what it takes to sit the “Exam”?
2010 – Certificate: 15 – UK
Rating Details: Strong language and one scene of torture
8.5 out of 10
About once a week I travel by train in the evening between Reading and London. I use First Great (delusions of grandeur) Western’s non-stop service to/from London Paddington; takes about half an hour, there’s hardly ever a seat and it’s always cold. When I come back afterwards, if I’m lucky, I get the chance to travel on one of its stopping services, which are much the same except they take nearer an hour, are colder and even more crowded. It’s public transport for cattle, but it’s fast, (well except the stopping service). Yesterday I went to see the awesome Random Hand at the Borderline in central London. (An evening that included the observation by Robin the singer, that one side of the Wall of Death looked ready for action and the other like the end of a stag do; which I have to say was profoundly accurate.) So I got to Reading Station, only to discover that the whole line into Paddington is closed over Easter, while Railtrack plays ‘train sets’ with it. Three rail replacement bus services were being offered instead; noooooooooo! However, Reading isn’t a transport ‘node’ for nothing. Hidden away in the corner on the new platforms is the South West Trains direct service to London Waterloo. I never take it, as it stops 16 times and dumps you in south London 82 minutes later. (In fact under normal circumstances, it would actually be quicker to get the Paddington train and then travel on the Underground across London to Waterloo.) Putting my best Indiana Jones foot forward I decided to chance it and test out this hitherto, unexplored world. I can now confirm that it does officially ‘take forever’ to reach London this way. However, there was hardly anyone on the train (in either direction) and the carriages (which are pretty new) were actually quite warm. It all felt quite civilised, rather like I image the Orient Express to be, minus the “Express” and “Orient” bits; and probably most of the rest too. But all in all, it passed the test. This movie is about a test too.
I hate exams. Other people seem to breeze through them but I hate them. This probably has something to do with my being very stupid and not knowing anything, although I used to blame it on the injustices of a system that rewards people with large, page-filling handwriting. With this in mind it’s hard for me not to consider this film a horror, by it’s really a thriller. There are a few plot holes and other inconsistencies, but it’s otherwise a great study of a group of highly motivated people, who allow themselves to get spooked by stress and the environment they’re in. I remember being on a ‘Training the Trainer’ training course many years ago and for some reason when all the shutters on the windows of the room we were in were closed, it had a similar effect. This is an excellent film, made almost entirely in one room. “Resilience is a key attribute in these dark times and if you can’t survive our selection process you won’t survive in the job.” I must remember that for the next time I interview anyone at work, to put the candidates at their ease.
For a nice change this isn’t a film that’s a marketing exercise for a CD of tunes by loads of boring bands who have 15 second clips of their songs in it, who are also all strangely on a record label owned by the same company as the film. This movie has a soundtrack that you won’t remember, but if it was taken away you’d notice. It’s nicely done, tension-building stuff. The one exception to this ‘invisibility’ is the song that part of sounds exactly like the beginning of “Twilight of the Innocents” by Ash.
Recommended for anyone who‘s involved in setting exams, interviewing or just likes to mess with peoples’ heads.
No cats, chainsaws or decapitations.
Top badass moment? The Invigilator walks into the room, gives out the instructions for the exam to a group of highly qualified people and then leaves. That’s badass. I wish I could be that cool and self-assured. If it was me, I’d have forgotten some of what I was meant to say, made some not funny comments, confused everyone and then left.
Michael Haneke (“Hidden”, “The Piano Teacher”, “Code Unknown”) takes on America with an English language remake every bit as shocking as his brilliantly conceived original 1997 “Funny Games”. In this exploration of our violent society Haneke retells the story through the eyes of a middle-class family who arrive at their secluded holiday home in the Hamptons for a two-week vacation. Soon after, a young man makes a surprise call, and asks to borrow some eggs. When the man is joined by his ‘charming’ friend, what initially appears to be an innocuous visit by their neighbour’s guests, soon turns into a horrifying ordeal for all concerned as the two men embark upon a twisted campaign of torment and raw terror.
2008 – Certificate 18
Rating Details: Strong sustained threat, humiliation and violence
(I can’t help thinking the rating details sound like a day at work.) When I’m not saving the planet, listening to music, going to gigs or watching films, I like to read books. I often read them on trains, though mainly to help prevent the affliction known as eye-contact. Yesterday at work I had to go on a secret, special mission, to deepest, darkest, West Sussex; even my manager didn’t know where I was going, I think. I felt a bit like James Bond, except saving the planet and working for a charity seems (so far at least) to have precluded my being provided with an Aston Martin as a company car; (I have asked for one, many times). So I went by train instead. I got somewhat muddy trying to make-up a bit of time, by walking the three or four miles from the station to my ‘mission objective’ along a bridleway down the side of a field; I must speak to M, or P, or whatever letter of the alphabet is responsible for my equipment, about that. On the train afterwards I finished reading “Return of the Native” by Thomas Hardy. In fact I was so engrossed in it that I missed the station I was supposed to change trains at, to discover I was then stuck on a non-stop trip to London Victoria, which was a bit frustrating. I was also worried that when I got there, people might think I was a bit weird if I just carried on sitting on the train; well I had to get back to where I’d come from and I didn’t want the hassle of negotiating at the ticket barrier and trying to explain away my stupidity. In the end I did get out of the carriage and nonchalantly wonder about for a bit on the platform, before getting back on the same train when I though no one was watching; (I guess I’m very paranoid, or just have a hugely inflated opinion of my importance). As far as ‘classic literature’ is concerned, I only ever read Thomas Hardy. Despite Hardy’s misfortune to miss out on punk and modern movie blockbusters, I do find I share a lot of his world views. His books totally rock and if reading one whose first chapter is wholly devoted to the landscape of a heathland in southern England isn’t your idea of a fun time, then quite frankly you should go off and die; or at least feel very ashamed of your MTV-addled, “I want everything and I want it now” life-style. “Return of the Native” is probably my second favourite Hardy book. Honestly, you really should read it. My next book is “Star Trek: Millennium”; (which is really three books). And finally, if you still think my life isn’t exciting enough, then tomorrow I’m going to drive for about four hours, just so I can deliver four pints of hot water somewhere and shake a mayor’s hand. If someone wants to invade my home, then I probably won’t be in much, which if it was featured in a film like this one would have made it extremely boring and short. But even if I was home I’d be okay; I’m vegan so I don’t eat eggs.
In 1997 Michael Haneke wrote and directed a German thriller/horror home invasion film called “Funny Games”. It was so good that he remade it in English ten years later. That’s remade as in replicated virtually everything, even the camera angles. This is the American version. I have the German one but I’ve not got around to watching it yet. Most people seem to think the original version is the best. I really like this film. The victims were just a bit too nice and successful for my liking, what with their stupid 4WD car and huge, gated, second home in the country. The ‘bad guys’ were suitably bad and manage to be very unsettling. If the film does one thing well, it’s provide a real feel for the hopelessness of the family’s situation. Naomi Watts as Ann is really excellent and it provides a few “did they really just do that?” moments. It loses it a bit near the end, but overall it’s an excellent, tense, movie. Its pervading black humour and the hopelessness of the situation the family finds itself in are things Thomas Hardy might have appreciated.
Another film with a limited use of music, but when it does make an appearance its makes a big difference. The sudden jump from opera to Naked City’s thrash metal is a great segue. You just know something bad’s going to happen when you hear that.
Recommended for fans of tense, oppressive films. Not recommended for anyone who’s seen the first version; you know you’ll only moan that this one isn’t as good.
No cats, chainsaws or decapitations.
Top badass moment? Georgie, the little boy, did good; (for most of the film anyway). He was loads better than his useless father, who just sat around looking anguished and fussing about his leg. (Mister dull and conservative; whatever did Naomi Watts see in him?) It’s so wrong, but little kids with shotguns are badass.
Intensely grotesque and shocking as hell, “Feed” is a heavyweight thrill ride through the depths of depravity. A veteran of cyberporn investigations, Australian cop Philip Jackson is no stranger to the dangerous side of sexual fetishes. He may have found his sickest case yet when he discovers a sinister side to an American website devoted to fat-admiring men and obese women called “feeders” and “gainers.” Could the man behind it all be force-feeding missing women to death? Tense, dark and deeply disturbing, director Brett Leonard (“The Lawnmower Man”, “Virtuosity”) takes the crime-thriller genre to a twisted, gut-wrenching new level.
2005 – Certificate: Not Rated – USA
7.5 out of 10
This film provided me with the ideal opportunity to review how my secret, special, weight management programme (aka my diet) is going. I’ve now been on it for 46 days. Mystifyingly, I haven’t lost 35kg yet, my initial target. I thought it would only take a week or two, but apparently it takes long than that. I don’t actually own any scales, so it’s difficult to be sure, but my wardrobe of retro trousers and other clothing from the 80s and 90s still remains stubbornly undersized. It’s amazing how modern washing powders make most clothes shrink, isn’t it? However, I do think I’ve lost some weight; if I breathe in enough, my trousers definitely seem looser. You know how they say that ex-smokers are the worst type of non-smoker? Well, what really drives me on is looking forward to being able to go up to fat people in the street and tell them they’re weak-willed, hideously ugly, pathetic, lazy, stupid and a serious drain on the NHS that people like me are forced to pay for; basically human garbage. Most of them can’t even be bothered to breathe in a bit; no community spirit at all, they’re just so selfish. In comparison, I have a Zen-like ability to control my mind and body, like David Carradine in the 70s TV series “Kung Fu”. Like him, my training and sense of social responsibility repeatedly forces me out into the open, to fight for justice or protect the underdog; which in my case would mainly mean telling fat people they’re fat, well once I’m not one of them, obviously. Sometimes you have to be tough to be kind. I’m not without compassion though. In school you learn about epidemics involving bubonic plague, flu, smallpox, malaria, cholera, etc; but I can tell you nothing’s as bad as the present Obesity Epidemic. I’ve seen what it’s like; cakes, sweets, beer, burgers, takeaways, chocolate, all sitting in shop after shop on the high street. It’s awful, having to stuff yourself silly with junk food and other crap; let me tell you it’s Hell out there. I’m glad to say I’ve never suffered from bubonic plague, but nothing could be as bad as having to sit on the sofa all evening watching TV and eating a big tin of sweets.
This is another ‘cop on the edge’ film, taking the law into his own hands, who doesn’t get on with his boss, etc, etc, zzzzz. Fortunately it’s also got a pretty unique focus for the story, some great characters and a nice, dark, stylish atmosphere; I really liked how the music was used in it too. And let’s not forget our hero’s somewhat vivacious girlfriend. Burnt out by his time as a ‘cyberporn cop’, Australian police officer Phillip Jackson begins investigating the activities of a guy who feeding a woman to death on the Internet, whilst others are betting on when she’ll die. When he gets told to ‘take some time off’, he decides to go to America to track down this guy. Depending on your world view, you’ll either find this movie perverted, cool or totally gross. I liked it, but I can image a lot of people hating it. Beyond the obvious plot, there’s quite a lot going on under the surface as well, about the nature of relationships, love, all that girly stuff. Interestingly, the deleted senses remove a whole subsection of the film’s plot; it’s a while since I’ve seen that happen. I recommend having a really big meal and then sitting down to watch it with some of your larger friends.
No cats, chainsaws or decapitations.
Recommended for fatties of course. It provides the idea incentive to go on a diet.
Top badass moment? Bad guy Carter’s conversation with Phillip Jackson in the hotel room. It’s a load of psycho babble but it sounds sort of cool, until you remember he’s a complete nutter. I’m not sure the coffee was that great though.
Academy Award Winners Judi Dench and Cate Blanchett give outstanding, Oscar-nominated performances – one as a woman consumed by her colleague’s guilty secret, the other, a victim to her own dark obsessions – in this intelligent and stylish thriller. Dench mesmerises as Barbara Covett, a teacher who rules over her classroom with an iron fist, yet leads a desperate, solitary life outside it. That is, until she meets radiant new art teacher Sheba Hart (Blanchett). Although at first overjoyed with her newfound kindred spirit, when Barbara discovers that Sheba is having an affair with a student, her jealously and rage spiral out of control. Also starring Bill Nighy, “Notes on a Scandle” is “The first great British film of the year” (The Guardian).
2006 – Certificate: 15 – UK
Rating Details: Strong language and sex references
8.5 out of 10
Almost two years ago a nightmare descended upon Cactus World. The entity known as The Amplifier became ill. It suddenly ceased to have a voice; its thoughts, so important to every citizen of Cactus World, were gone. Not a sound was to be heard from its mighty 7.2 outputs. To locate a cure, special doctors in a land far, far away had to be tracked down. The Amplifier then had to be prepared for the perilous odyssey it needed to undertake to visit them. In the meantime the population were left despairing, with little to occupy their minds, as most of Cactus World’s entertainment infrastructure ground to a halt. Some basic music services were eventually enabled through alternative means, but these bore little resemblance to the thoughts of The Amplifier, whilst TV and films remained entirely off-line. Of course, as we all know now, The Amplifier eventually returned from its journey and with the help of Cactus World’s finest scientists, was reconnected in all the right places. But this weekend, disaster! The Amplifier became silent again. Exactly the same evil curse has befallen it, as Onkyo’s entirely shit amplifier design raised its ugly head once more. Government officials were observed frantically trying to put a call through to the doctors that helped us before; (unfortunately they seem to be closed at the weekend). However, the citizens of Cactus World are nothing, if not resourceful. After what happened before, a new emergency procedure was developed, known as Protocol One. For the last 18 months this has been distributed to the entire population; schools have taught it as part of the curriculum, anyone wishing to settle in Cactus World has been required to lean about it. It was a moment no one hoped they’d experience, but when the warning sirens unexpectedly went off on Saturday, indicating a malfunctioning Amplifier, it was hard not to be moved by the sight of the entire population quietly but determinedly going to their designated muster points, or reporting for their civic emergency duties; heroes, every one of them. Anyway, Protocol One has two elements. The first is focused on the safely of our citizens, (and if you’re a little bit cynical like me, is also there to prevent too much civil disobedience). The second involves a plan to entirely reconfigure the national entertainmnet nexus, to bypass The Amplifier and provide full access to both music and films, something that has never ever been attempted before. At the moment I’m feeling quite emotional and deeply indebted, along with the rest of the population I’m sure, to Cactus World’s best scientific minds and highly trained engineers, who have successfully carried out this complex procedure. Pushing the boundaries of technology ever further. Full, high-definition pictures and sound across all DVD and Blu-ray copyright region zones are now available and have been fully(ish) tested on this film. It’s true, my living room does looks a bit like the Starship Enterprise on a bad day in Engineering, with cables and open maintenance panels all over the place, but the important thing is it works and I can watch films in the manner in which I’m accustomed. This film pushes boundaries too, but in its case those of relationships.
When she’s not running Her Majesty’s Secret Service and telling James Bond to get his act together, Judi Dench spends her time as a psycho lesbian, teaching at a typical secondary school in north London. Yes, it surprised me too. Starting out with a ‘not that original’ plot about a teacher having an affair with a student, this proved to be a very tense thriller that ends in the way that all films featuring a ‘psycho something or other’ should end. The acting’s terrific, the script’s great and it’s good to see a bit of anonymous, unglamorous London featured in a film for a change. It’s also a movie that under the surface has a lot to say about chronic loneliness. Both the primary characters are easy to sympathise with too, despite their behaviour. This is a film you should see.
Recommended for psycho nutters everywhere; and school-teachers.
1 cat, no chainsaws or decapitations. Portia, a beautiful, long-haired cat, has a small but key role, adding both depth to the plot and an air of pathos that the film was otherwise sadly lacking. Unfortunately, as is often the case, I believe its lines, both meows and purrs, were dubbed. When is the film industry going to end this shameless practice?
Top badass moment? Judi Dench’s Barbara; a great, unsung movie bastard-from-hell. So bad she’s badass.
What if you got one more chance to say goodbye to your loved ones after you died? But what if the only way to do that was to inhabit your daughter’s body? David Duchovny (“The X-Files” and “Californication”) and Lili Taylor (“The Haunting” and “Ransom”) are Benjamin and Hannah, happily married soul mates whose relationship is brutally severed when Hannah is killed in a car accident. As she dies, a bizarre twist of fate propels Hannah inside the body of her beautiful teenage daughter, Sam (Olivia Thirlby, “Juno” and “United 93”). Immersing herself in Sam’s world, Hannah discovers some shocking truths about her daughter’s secret life, while at home, she and her husband draw closer and closer to rekindling their romance….
2007 – Certificate: R – France
Rating Details: Language Including Some Sexual References and Drug and Alcohol Use Involving Teenagers
I spoke to two people yesterday, on the phone, for quite a long time. This made me realise that I can’t actually speak properly anymore or string a sentence together at ‘speaking speed’. I’ve not really had a proper conversation with anyone for weeks; well since before Christmas anyway. I’ve had plenty of ‘shop chats’ (where you just say “thanks” or “cheers”), a few other short ones on the phone, plus some on the Tube and in venues where it’s really noisy so you have to shout, but no ‘normal’ ones. I forgot how to have a normal conversation years ago, but now I can’t even make up sentences up that work grammatically or make sense. I imagine this might make me even more of a social outcast than I already am, another embarrassing faux pas I can add to a growing list. Then again, it doesn’t seem to have stopped Professor Stephen Hawking being a genius, although I probably don’t have his insight into ‘how things work’. I can’t see myself being asked to advertise an insurance comparison website anytime soon; or writing a book on how the universe came into being either. This film features someone who suddenly finds himself unable to communicate with his wife in the way he’s been used to doing.
This is a decent fantasy thriller. It’s based on a Japanese one called “Himitsu” that I watched years ago. (I don’t suppose the fact I watched the latter influenced the decision to make this film.) It would be quite interesting to Go Compare them side by side, (which for those that haven’t made the connection, relates to the “insurance comparison website” I mentioned earlier). There’re a number of ‘body swap’ movies out there, but most of them are comedies; this one isn’t. This could have been a great film, but somehow it just doesn’t quite make it. The script pulls its punches a bit when it could have really landed a few know-out blows. The characters don’t quite feel coherent enough to be totally believable; there were too many gaps in time between some scenes, which changed their relationship without us really seeing or knowing why. This is a shame, as this really is the core of the whole film and at times is really played out well. It could have explored the difficulties of the situation a lot more too, which would be helpful to anyone who ever found themselves in the same one for real; (okay, so not very likely I admit). Some of the minor characters seem a bit caricaturish too; I was half expecting them all to go off to a remote location somewhere and get killed by a nutter with a big knife. Olivia Thirlby’s acting as the daughter/mother is great though. In a few scenes she switches between them and it’s really spookily convincing. The car crash one works well too, as does the one in the hospital, very realistic and effective. So, it underachieves a bit, but at its best it’s more than worth a watch. As for the rating details, they sound like they could be applied to life in general.
Recommended for people who want to debate the “would if have been incest or not” issue; which doesn’t include me as apparently I can’t speak anymore.
No cats, no chainsaws or decapitations.
Top badass moment? It’s not every day you have to deal with your dead wife being sort of reincarnated inside your daughter’s body. That has to make things really complicated, not that it’s something I’ve ever had to deal with personally you understand. Under the circumstances, I thought Benjamin took it all pretty well and dealt with it in a relatively thoughtful way. Dealing with adversity well is badass.
Six strangers awaken from their daily lives to find themselves trapped in a surreal prison – a seemingly endless maze of interlocking cubical chambers armed with lethal booby traps. None of these people knows why or how they were imprisoned… But it soon emerges that each of them has a skill that could contribute to their escape. Who created this diabolical maze, and why? There are unanswered questions on every side, whilst personality conflicts and struggles for power emerge as the tension rises. But one thing is crystal clear; unless they can learn to co-operate to work out the secrets of this deadly trap, none of them has very long to live…
1997 – Certificate: 15 – Canada
Rating Details: Language, occasional, strong; violence, infrequent, strong, horror; other, horror, science fiction.
I tend to buy a few books for myself around Christmas. I think I do this because I have a bit more time then and when I’ve got time I start to think how nice it would be to read a book. So off I trotted (electronically) to Amazon. I decided to buy a couple of Star Trek novels. For various dull reasons, the first one I selected was called “Homecoming”. £200.68 new! £200.68!! For that price I’d expect it to come with a full-sized, fully operational Star Trek spaceship, including crew. Is there suddenly a world shortage of letters? Are the Chinese restricting exports of full stops, thus leading to frantic trading in alternative punctuation marks on global stock markets? Have the Americans finally realised that they can’t spell and bought up the entire world output of letter Us for the next five years, in an effort to correct all those misspelt references to colour? So anyway, I’ve ended up buying myself a Kindle, the cheapest one, which costs £69. I can now buy the book for £4.99. I am suffering a bit of a guilt trip though. I feel like I should be castigating Amazon for its over-effective use of British tax laws and in fact be refusing to buy anything from it in line with the recently announced boycott. Then there’s also the fact that I’ve effectively allowed myself to be locked into its proprietary file format and e-book system for the rest of my life. However, there’s a certain thrill in the idea that the first book I read on it will be a Star Trek one, a franchise that frequently depicts characters reading from a small pad that with hindsight looks suspiciously like a Kindle. As for the other issue, if you’re going to lock yourself into a sweet factory, it may as well be in Willy Wonka’s. This film also features people who’re locked in somewhere, but there’s not a lot of chocolate around, or books, e or otherwise.
I simultaneously love and hate this film. It’s a great and stylish horror/sci-fi thriller, with an unusual and suitably disturbing and clever storyline. I also like how by using only seven people and virtually just a single, small set, it manages to be such a good movie. It creates a tense atmosphere by making great use of sound and the claustrophobic set-up; the traps are ‘nicely’ presented too. Sadly, the characters in it lack any semblance of common sense, so they seem unbelievably stupid, despite their unique talents. There’s not a great deal of emotional intelligence on show, or indeed any sort of togetherness. I’ve seen more communication between passengers on the London Underground in the rush hour than this lot managed, such was their inability to interact meaningfully in a ‘mission-critical’ way. The way they develop and change during the film also stretches their credibility to pretty ridiculous levels. At first, they seemed like a group of people under a lot of pressure, which does tend to make individuals do some strange things, but then I found myself thinking, “what the fuck”? What sort of morons are these people? Why don’t they just work things out together like everyone else would? Haven’t any of them watched “The Poseidon Adventure”? The cliché of groups of people in films who’re trapped together and then not getting on, is getting to be as bad as the one involving groups’ of young people going to remote places for a ‘good time’ and then meeting a grizzly end. Their over or under reaction to different situations just seemed to have been determined by the writers throwing a dice. 6? Oh dear, you’re going to freak out. 1? That’s cool, you’ll barely notice what’s going on, you’re so laid back about it. It’s not that the acting is especially poor, it’s more the script that’s at fault. One plus point is that it’s got Nicole De Boer in it, the world’s third most beautiful woman, although she’s not looking her best, but I can forgive her for that given the circumstances. Nicole De Boer is of course, Lieutenant Ezri Dax from Star Trek Deep Space Nine. However, despite its shortcomings, Cube still manages to be a really good film. Weird eh?
Recommended for fans of clever sci-fi, who won’t let a few hot-headed characters spoil their geeky fun.
No cats, chainsaws or decapitations. However, two heads do get well and truly mangled.
Top badass moment? Given the uniformly un-cooperative, combative and plainly stupid behaviour of most of the characters most of the time, the top badass moments have to be whenever the Cube does something that pisses one of them off, or worse. It’s a sad day when you end up having to cheer for the mechanical baddie. If our ancestors conducted themselves in the same way, we’d still all be living in caves and bashing one another over the head with clubs. Get some anger management people, for goodness sake.