Rebellious teenager Stevie (Cameron Van Hoy) finds his mother’s gun and along with his girlfriend (Mischa Barton) impulsively decides to rob a bank, becoming a latter-day Bonnie & Clyde in the process. The pair find themselves in over their heads, as they take hostages and the FBI become involved in negotiating Stevie’s absurd demands. Head FBI agent (Burt Reynolds) struggles to control the mounting tension in the bank, as he tries to keep the violence from escalating. “Pups” is an edgy, post-modern response to the growing trend of senseless gun crime in America, featuring “two of the most natural and freed performances I have seen by actors of any age.” (Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times)
1999 – Certificate: 15 – Rating Details: Strong Language and Moderate Sex References – American Film – 6.5 out of 10
This week I’m seriously hating on the Royal Mail, the Post Office, Parcel Force, or whatever it’s called these days since it was stolen from everyone and then sold back to a small proportion of us. In January I ordered a CD from Japan. Instead of getting my CD, I got one of the dreaded, silver cards, explaining that I owed a £3.85 customs charge, plus a piss-taking £8.00 “handling fee”. (And my name was spelt wrongly on the card too.) So anyway, I paid the fees online eight days before the payment deadline but nothing then got delivered. When I rang up (and it took three calls to get anywhere), I discovered that the CD had been returned to sender as it was claimed I’d not paid the fees. So I then had to complete a claim (a two page P58) form to try and get my money back, plus the additional postage I’m now having to pay to get the CD reshipped to me, after I’d also had to go and sort that out with the company I’d bought it from. The claim form itself was totally shit, as in festival toilets shit, as it asked loads of questions that I had no idea of the answer for, yet it was covered in threats telling me that if I didn’t answer them all my claim couldn’t be processed. The form totally wasn’t designed for what I need to make a claim for. The online version was even worse, as I couldn’t even get past the first page, or indeed the first paragraph. I haven’t had a reply yet. Why do they even need to know half the questions it asks anyway, as my CD clearly got as far as the UK or I’d not have been sent the silver card? I remember when it cost 3p to send a first class letter (and 2.5p for second class). Now it costs 93p (31 times as much) and the service seems worse, despite all the extra technology available these days. It better pay my own, personal £8.00 “handling fee” I’ve added to my claim too. And if this wasn’t all bad enough, two days ago I got a letter saying I needed to pay £9.14 VAT, plus an even bigger piss taking £13.50 “Clearance Fee” before they’ll redeliver it. A total of £22.64, nearly twice as much as last time! The CD only cost £20.34. What a load of bollocks it all is! Unless the company has seriously undercharged me for delivery, then there’s no way the VAT can be £9.14. The cost of the shipping would need to come to £25.36 for that VAT figure to be correct and I was only charged £8.03 for it each time. I shall be interested to see what the packaging says, should it ever actually be delivered. I don’t mind paying the VAT, but I can’t see how it’s been worked out correctly, or understand why the handing fee has now become a clearance fee and nearly doubled. Fucking Nazi Postman Pat can fucking fuck off. I’m going to write to The Queen, it is the Royal Mail after all; I’m sure she’ll go and bang a few heads together when she hears about this. Right now I can so understand the protagonist in this film. I feel like I want to go postal.
There’re three things about the US that no one else in the world understands. These’re its favourite sports, its approach to public health care and it’s obsession with the right to own guns. This film is about the latter. It was made 16 years ago, yet despite a seemingly ongoing parade of nutters with guns going into shops, schools, offices and other places during this period, nothing much seems to have changed since then. That’s kind of sad and reflects badly on the huge number of people there who do actually have some common sense. This is quite a rubbishy movie. The whole approach the police take to deal with the situation makes little sense and what Burt Reynolds is up to most of the time I have no idea; he spends most of it sitting in a car waiting for the kids in the bank to do something, pacing around smoking and scowling, or fielding calls from his wife. The police and FBI seem to have very little control over the onlookers and the press too; there’re armed police everywhere as well as the kids with guns, yet they’re all within a few metres of the bank. I’m not in law enforcement, but aren’t they supposed to keep everyone well away? Even when one of the kids comes out waving a gun about they still don’t get the hint. They seem to have about the same grasp on what to do as the Royal Mail has on postal delivery services. In fact pretty well everyone seems to have a bit of a death wish. However, it’s one saving grace is the boy with the guy. He’s so over-the-top hyper and mad most of the time that it’s worth watching just for his performance. He’s pretty unlikable, but somehow I feel a certain kindred spirit burns inside him. Overall, the film is more entertaining than the sum of its parts might suggest. At least they had a nice day for it, sunny and warm. I’d imagine if it had been wet and cold, it would have been a much more miserable experience for everyone, especially those outside.
Recommended for school children, police officers and bank staff.
No cats, chainsaws or decapitations.
Top badass moment? Banks aren’t exactly top of most people’s lists of favourite things right now, so with hindsight I’d like to consider the spontaneous decision by the two kids to rob one on the way to school, as an unconscious choice to stick it to the Man and get our money back. That’s badass. You’d do the same thing too, if you had the guts!
For some weird reason, there doesn’t appear to be an English language copy of the trailer on YouTube!
One of the classics in contemporary American gay cinema, “Edge of Seventeen” recalls one high school student’s eventful and raucous coming-out during the steamy summer of 1984. Eric (Chris Stafford) is a 17-year-old senior from Ohio who takes a summer job at a local amusement park. Working alongside his best gal pal Maggie (Tina Holmes), the two idle away the days until Eric meets Rod (Andersen Gabrych), a sexy and openly gay college student. Soon sparks fly and Eric must confront feelings he had long suppressed. A funny, entertaining and insightful coming-of-age tale, Edge of Seventeen is enhanced by a great ’80s soundtrack (including Bronski Beat and Eurythmics), terrific period design and a high-energy, upbeat tempo, making this an exciting and original take on growing up and finding love.
1998 – Certificate: 15 – Rating Details: Some strong language, sex and drug use – American Film – 7.5 out of 10
In the early/mid 80s, punk and new wave disintegrated into a mostly horrible hardcore noise of badly played, pretend heavy metal. At the same time, 2 tone came, saw, conquered and quickly left. Meanwhile, the charts filled up with synth-based pop and whining, pretty-boys and girls singing about mostly nothing. (Unlike today, where it’s full of groups of boring guys with beards and guitars singing about absolutely nothing, boy-bands who get off on arousing ten-year-old girls, and wailing woman who are so heavy auto-tuned they may as well be aliens.) And maybe my memory is playing tricks on me, but actually I’m pretty sure that for part of the early-mid 80s electric guitars where made illegal, (unless you were the Housemartins). However, all these new bands were British. I can’t really remember what was going on in America at the time, chart music-wise, but as a source of New Romantic and synthpop it really doesn’t feature in my memory. I will admit to a certain, limited fondness for some of the music, but most of it wasn’t that good; but even Spandau Ballet had one decent song, (although the video should be certified X for fashion and pretentiousness.)
This film is set during that period and it has to be said it gets its look and vibe spot on. It’s a shame it wasn’t released until 1998, as otherwise it might well be remembered fondly in the same way as many real 80s films from that period are now. Maybe having a gay lead character in a teen drama would have been a bit too subversive for mainstream US cinema at that time. After all, gay people (including lesbians) are obviously the 80s equivalent of Islamic State, hell bend on destroying the status quo of everything everyone else holds dear. This film follows the same basic story as most coming-of-age films do, (but with added gay angst). It’s well made, well-acted and at times it’s genuinely touching; (i.e. it’s got scenes that are hanky-friendly). The ending is a bit jarring though and felt a bit out of line with the rest of the film. Maybe I just wanted more of a traditional, happy conclusion; (I think I must be going soft or something). For a movie about a young gay guy and the New Romantic scene in general, everyone really does come across as very typical and real. It would have been so easy for it to features lots of caricatures. Well worth watching.
This is a movie that majors on its soundtrack and with a long playlist of bona fide 80s hits, it contributes significantly to making the film what it is. I was pleased to find out that despite my declining years and way too many gigs, my ears are still good enough to hear Jimmy Somerville’s singing.
The trailer’s a solid effort.
Movie Weather Forecast. Warm, dry and sunny throughout.
Recommended for fast-food restaurant workers, New Romantics and any teenagers thinking of coming out.
No cats, chainsaws or decapitations.
Top badass moment? There isn’t one. Normally this is a sign of a potentially crappy movie, one filled with horrible characters, or one I was too drunk or tired when I watched it to remember properly now, but in this case it’s really a reflection of a lot of normal people doing their best. That in itself is badass.
Meat Loaf Aday stars as Jake Feldman, a short-tempered furrier struggling to build a small-time business while being tormented by his obsession for a sexy stripper. But when a sadistic backwoods trapper (John Saxon of “Nightmare on Elm Street” and Argento’s “Tenebre”) kills a strange group of pet raccoons, Jake knows their luxurious hides could make a coat that will change his fortunes forever. Only these are no ordinary pelts. Everyone who comes in contact with the cursed furs is soon driven to unspeakable acts of self-mutilation and extreme violence. Even if Jake can now possess the flesh he desperately covets, what horrific final price will he pay for the skin he’s in?
2006 – Certificate: Not Rated – American TV – 6.5 out of 10
I virtually never watch TV. I’ve access to hundreds of channels and a hard disk recorder, plus more catch-up and subscription services than I can pronounce, but I can count on one, typical, human hand, how often I use any of these. It’s not that I’m a TV snob either, as amongst all the dross are some really great programmes. However, once in a while I take an arbitrary liking to something and will collect it on DVD or Blu-ray. Whilst I like to watch films and write garbage about them here, I have a dirty, embarrassing, hidden secret that I rarely talk about to anyone; that is to say I also have one or two TV programmes I’m watching at the same time too. (Although not literally.) I don’t really binge-watch, so it takes me a long time to work my way through one with a lot of episodes. Over the past few years I’ve done “Dad’s Army” (so part of my childhood), “Andromeda”, (massively underrated), “The Likely Lads” / “Whatever Became of the Likely Lads” (TV that reminds me of my father), and Red Dwarf (you can’t be a student without watching it and learning the silly Rimmer salute). At present I’m slowly working my way through “South Park” and “Pretty Little Liars”. Sadly, embarrassed by my indiscretions with the ‘small screen’, I rarely write much about them here. This is strange in a way, because however good a film is you only get to spend a few hours with most of the characters, (even with a long franchise). However, with TV you can spend weeks or months with them, years even, investing a huge amount of emotional capital in their lives. This is something even the best film can never hope to match. But no more… From now on I’m going to attempt, in my usual inept way, to make more of a song and dance about them, right here. Well don’t get too excited…
By pure coincidence, Pelts is actually a TV programme, although just to be confusing I’m treating it as a film. Staring Meat Loaf (yes, that Meat Loaf), who spends most of the movie looking like a very disreputable version of Liam Neeson’s father and wanting to get his hands on a local stripper, when he’s not stripping the skin of the local wildlife to make coats out of. Even without his less than vegan lifestyle his character is entirely without a redeeming feature; indeed, he really doesn’t have any positive characteristics at all. This is not a film for which the plot is worth analysing; it’s really just there to provide an excuse for (the admittedly beautiful) Ellen Ewusie to get her top off (and scream a lot and yes, fall-over when she’s running away) and some excellent special effects. (Except when Meat Loaf pulls most of his skin off and runs about a bit with it; not sure that worked well for me, but I guess he was just trying to out-strip his female co-star. The face sowing is excellent though!) However, it was good to see the purveyors of a fur coat get their come-uppance. The wearers of real fur really are the embodiment of all that’s fucked-up in fashion.
There’s a soundtrack. Its plays.
The trailer is what it is. It reminded me a bit of magnolias paint.
Movie Weather Forecast: Eh… it’s overcast; and dark a lot.
Recommended for furriers, poachers, strippers and the fashion industry in general.
No cats, chainsaws or decapitations. (Unless you count all the poor racoons that get killed and skinned; I imagine that involved all their heads being removed at some point.)
Top badass moment? There really isn’t a single nice or worthy person or act in this film. There’s not even evil masterminds either, just a load of shallow, mostly worthless individuals. However, I don’t like to admit defeat and there is a brief shot of a snail (and sorry I don’t know what species it is) crawling along. In comparison with all the humans, that’s just totally, totally, hardcore badass.
Sex. Violence. Revenge. “On The Doll” is a dark look into the lives of sex workers and the affect it has had on their lives. Balery (Brittany Snow) is a call girl desperate for cash who conspires with Jaron (Josh Janowicz) to rob one of her regulars. Chantal (Shanna Collins) wants out of her door to door exploits to start life over with her boyfriend and Tara (Angela Sarafyan) has been pulled so far into her seedy peep show underworld that it could be too late. Mr. Garrett (Eddie Jemison), is a high school teacher who looks to bring some of his students (Candice Accola & Chloe Domont) into his world of sex and drugs. And behind it all is Jimmy Sours (Paul Ben-Victor), a twisted mastermind of the sex trade who controls the fate of everyone mixed up in his world. A cast of young, up and coming actors takes you to a place where victims search for new meaning in their lives, while fighting off the demons that lead to more pain. The first feature by acclaimed music video director Thomas Mignone, “On The Doll” is a shocking, but powerful look into a world that is sure to strike a chord.
2007. Certificate: Unrated. American Film. 7.0 out of 10
As everyone knows, I’m a hard rockin’, hard drinkin’, womanisin’ Lothario. Recently I’ve added to my vices by also becoming a hardened gambler too. How did this happen? Well a few days ago I found myself standing in the queue at Tesco. I refuse to use those nasty, automated, DIY checkout machines. I want to be served by a human being. I value the social intercourse I get with the frequently bored people I meet in this way; it helps give me a better prospective on my own life. The choice as to whether or not to take advantage of the plastic bag I’m always offered keeps my mind sharp and helps me hone my decision-making abilities for the more ‘mission-critical’ circumstances to come, such as when to cross the road outside in a way that enables me to beat the traffic at the lights, before I’m turned into road-kill. I distrust those self-service machines. This is partly because all they’re good for is to do people out of jobs to boost shareholders’ profits. I’m not letting them crush our will and independence comrades. They also seem to have, en masse, taken a very personal dislike to me and enjoy nothing better than screaming out really loudly whenever I go near one that there’s an “unexpected item in the bagging area”. Yes, me. This phrase basically means the same as, “ha-ha everyone, let’s all draw attention to the stupid, luddite, fuckwit, who can’t operate us ‘idiot-proof’ machines properly and is now going to have to deal with the very public humiliation of being ‘helped’ by a smirking and bad-tempered shop assistant. Seriously, it would be less embarrassing to stand in the middle of the High Street in Reading on a Saturday afternoon, dressed as a ballerina and announce to everyone there that I have the world’s lowest recorded sperm count. (Which of course, I don’t). Anyway, back to my gambling addiction. The person in front of me bought a Lottery Scratch Card. I’ve never ever bought one of these. I’ve always considered that they’re basically designed to entrap ‘weak-minded poor people’ into a downward spiral of debt and despair. These people can then of course seek help to overcome their addiction, by attending a community-run self-help group, funded by the very same Lottery that caused their problem in the first place. I don’t know what came over me, but when I got to the checkout I purchased three, £2 Scratch Cards. And blimey, I only went and won £10 with one of them! I must be so clever and skilful. Trouble is, now this has happened it’s going to be a lot harder to ignore these things in future. I feel my life now stands at a crossroads. In one direction is a steep descent into a pit of unrelenting gambling debts, depression and finally suicide. In the other is my present path, a steep decent towards a pit of unrelenting aging, depression and finally death. I think I need to hone my decision-making abilities more. This movie focuses on one vice that I don’t seem to have picked up yet, although I live in hope.
For a film about sex workers, this one’s surprisingly lacking in nudity; actually there isn’t any at all. In fact it’s quite stylish, given its setting. I find I don’t have a great deal to do with the sex industry on a regular basis myself, (but I guess that’s a good topic for a future blog entry), but if I did I can’t help thinking it would all seem a lot more seedy this this movie makes it out to be, although it does have its moments. I guess they all just seemed a bit too clean, healthy and happy, even the sick, sad ones. This ‘small detail’ aside, it’s actually quite a decent film, occasionally funny, occasionally painful. (The latter will make sense if you watch it.) The ending is a bit melodramatic but it kinda works. I’m not sure if you’re really supposed to enjoy movies like this but I did.
There’s a fair bit of music used in this film. Most of it is fairly anonymous, modern indie rock, but it gets the job done.
It’s not a bad trailer. Quite watchable as its own, little ‘mini-film’ that doesn’t give too much of the plot away.
Movie Weather Forecast. It’s another warm, dry, sunny day in movie land.
Recommended for prostitutes, school-girls, teachers and magazine publishers.
No cats, chainsaws or decapitations.
Top badass moment? So few people really seem to make an effort to do their best at work, so it was great to see our anti-hero Jaron taking special care that the ads for prostitutes he was doing the layout and design for, were both spelt correctly and made sense logically. Taking a pride in your work is badass, especially when it’s basically a crappy job to start with.
Anxiously trying to fit into the peer-pressure cooker environment of junior high, thirteen-year-old Tracy (Evan Rachel Wood) goes to shocking lengths in order to befriend Evie (Co-writer, Nikki Reed), the most popular girl in school. Now the two are inseparable – and incorrigible – leaving Tracy’s desperate mother (Academy Award Winner Holly Hunter) powerless to rescue her from a whirlwind of drugs, sex and crime.
2003. Certificate: 18. American Film. Rating Details: very strong language and drugs use. 8.0 out of 10
Spent two hours with the dentist yesterday. I thought I was only going for a filling to replace a temporary one she put in last spring, after trying unsuccessfully to unblock some root canals in one of my teeth. However, she decided instead to have another go at the latter, but two hours later and we were still no further forward. It would probably be easier to get into Fort Knox than the bottom of my tooth. Two hours is a long time to lay back in a not-that-comfortable chair, looking at a very boring light fitting, listening to rather moribund, classical music. As the minutes ticked past, as I could think of was “please don’t let the anaesthetic wear off, please don’t let the anaesthetic wear off.” At one point some metal clamp around my tooth broke, which certainly woke me up. She even tried a new weapon I’ve not come across before, which heated up and made sizzling noises in my tooth, accompanied by little clouds of smoke! That’s okay in a frying pan but in my mouth? No, I don’t think so. I’m going back on Thursday for a regular ‘check-up’. I’m fully expecting to see some sort of army explosives expert waiting for me, to blast his way in with some high tech munitions.
I’m crap at being an adult*. Today I commented to one of the people I manage that coming to work sometimes felt a bit like a game; I’m not sure if this is good or bad, but it doesn’t sound like a very adult viewpoint. Films like this make me feel I was a crap teenager* too. It’s not that I was perfect or anything, but all I can remember doing is sitting in my room every night, listening to punk music very loud and trying to do my homework. Well sure I do have other memories, but that one seems to be the overriding one. The homework was rarely that great, but the soundtrack was fab! Strangely enough, I’m still listening to the same songs these days too, although the “homework” has mutated very slightly into what adults call “taking work home”. This movie is about how to be a teenager; well a girl-version anyway. Except these days few western teenagers rebel against anything. I heartedly recommended this movie to any young teenage girls who want to know how to rebel in an appropriately nihilistic and adult-seriously-pissing-off-way. It’s actually a great film with a bit of an interesting story behind it too. If it has a fault it sometimes introduces elements and people that don’t really go anywhere and just muddy the plot a bit, but beyond that it’s a great opportunity to watch peer pressure and allure of popularity in action. (The self-harming sub-plot was very underexplored, whereas it could have been highlighted far more.) The acting is great and it’s fun in a technical sense too, as the colour slowly gets leached out of the scenes until we’re left with little more than black and white. Being a miserable sod that loves nothing better than to see everyone die, the ending was a bit of a disappointment too, but that’s just me. Strangely enough, it’s not a depressing film; the makers seemed to have remembered that part of the role of a movie is to entertain. Holly Hunter is always great too. Well worth watching.
There’s plenty of music in this film, both a soundtrack and a lot of real songs from mostly pretty anonymous rock and hip-hip acts. However the opening shots with a track by Mark Mothersbaugh (from Devo) is great. Visually the film makes a great start and this track is a big part of that. I had to go and get hold of a copy afterwards.
The trailer’s okay. Not bad, not good; very middle of the road stuff. The whole movie is better.
Movie Weather forecast. Warm and sunny throughout.
Recommended for teenage girls, hairdressers and recovering alcoholics.
No cats, chainsaw or decapitations.
Top badass moment? A surprisingly tough question in this case. It’s a total cop out I know, but I may as well go for flawed mum Melanie. Considering everything, she really didn’t do too badly in the end. Sorry, I’ve just noticed this is so boring; please, seriously, don’t read anymore. I think I just crossed the line between ‘sort of okay’ and ‘crappy drivel’.
*These were the first pictures that came up when I Googled on Bing (can you even do that?) for “teenagers” and “adults”. The later is especially uncomfortable.
There are an estimated 30 million surveillance cameras in the United States. On any given day, the average American is captured approximately 200 times. Every one of us is constantly being observed at our jobs, on the street, while shopping, and sometimes even in our own homes. Every one of our secrets, lies, crimes and most private moments are all being recorded. But who is watching us? Rhys Colro (“Entourage”), Hayes MacArthur (“The Game Plan”), Jamie McShane (“24”) and Spencer Redford star in this award-winning drama from writer/director Adam Rifkin that takes the ultimate look at our ‘Big Brother’ world. “This is a brash, darkly humorous and unsettling piece of work filled with startling scenes and fine performances,” raves Richard Roeper of Ebert & Roeper At The Movies. “”Look” is a film worth seeking out!”
2007. Certificate: R. American Film. Rating Details: strong sexual content, pervasive language, some violence and brief drug use. 8.0 out of 10.
Okay, it’s the start of the New Year so I feel obliged to make some New Year resolutions that I won’t keep. So firstly, I’m going to lose some weight. I have a pair of trousers (actually several) that I’ve never been able to use, so my target is to be able to wear them and not cause some horrible internal injury to myself. I don’t exactly have a plan for doing this, but I’m sure it’s possible. I guess ‘eat less’ is a good place to start. Secondly, I’m going to not get behind with things at work. I seem to perpetually be explaining why I haven’t done things and there’s only so many times I can use the “dog ate my homework” excuse before it starts to look a bit lame, especially as I don’t have a dog. My target is to simply not have to explain my temporal inadequacies any more. I don’t exactly have a plan for doing this either, but I’m equally sure it’s possible too. I guess working ‘smarter’ is a good place to start. (Well that’s what I tell my team whenever any of them whine about having too much to do; it doesn’t seem to work for any of them though.)
Well I must say, I wasn’t really expecting this film to be that great, what with its promise of crappy quality ‘security camera’ footage and their associated static camera shots; a bit like a found footage film but without the ‘shaky cam’, monsters, ghosts and up nostril views. 102 minutes later and I was really disappointed that it had ended. It cleverly mixes up footage from lots of cameras to tell the stories (or partial stories) of a number of people, whose lives to some extent overlap. Of course it does include murder, rape, ATM abuse, car crashes, bombs, child abduction, male strippers, sex (both gay and straight), office perverts and farts in elevators, but really, it’s all just about a lot of pretty mundane and dull people going about their day to day lives; so something I could relate to. Well put together, this is strangely hypnotic movie and well worth watching.
There’s a lot of music used in this film, but most of it just sort of fades into the background. Forgettable.
The trailer really doesn’t tell you a lot, other than it’s a ‘clever’ film that uses surveillance camera. Try not to fall asleep.
Movie Weather Forecast: Warm and sunny throughout. It looks like it’s going to be a lovely summer!
Recommended for bimbos, petrol station attendants, teachers, bored office workers, parents and perverts.
No cats, chainsaws or decapitations.
Top badass moment? Tricky; there’s not a lot of choice in a film filled with unprincipled losers dressed in a veneer of youth or respectability. I guess the nearest we get to a hero is the guy working in the petrol station, who manages to report a couple of killers who call in for supplies. Strangely he looks one of the most loser-like too. Never judge a book by its cover.
From the mind of horror author Edward Lee, comes this horrifying tale of gruelling revenge and backwoods terror! Stewart Cummings (Jake Suffian), a government agent playing both sides of the law, finds himself in the nightmarish crossfire of a bloody family vendetta. Forced to delve deep into a series of gruesome murders, Cummings encounters the most twisted method of revenge ever conceived by man: The Header. What’s a header? Only redneck Travis Tuckton (Elliot V. Kotek) and his evil “grandpappy” knows for sure… and once you learn the shocking answer, you may never be the same. Get ready for the acclaimed horror film that may be the ultimate in violence and gore! “Header” is a film of unrelenting, twisted terror!
2006 – Certificate: Not Rated – American Film
7.0 out of 10
There’s only 360 more days until next Christmas; how exciting! I’ve managed to get all the way through this Christmas without putting the heating on at home. It was my present for the planet and a middle finger to SSE (Scottish and Southern Electricity). SSE managed to really piss me off recently. I have (well had) an early version of a smart meter for my electricity. I’ve had it about 2.5 years. When I got it I had to change my tariff for a more expense one, (although to be fair it’s probably helped me save more money than the extra I spent on having it). A couple of months ago it stopped working. I e-mailed SSE to ask if it could be fixed or replaced. The reply I got (that took longer to arrive that it should have) said that it was an outdated model and it couldn’t be replaced, but that I’d get a new, free smart meter in a few years’ time! There was no suggestion that perhaps I’d like to change my electric tariff for a cheaper one again or anything. This really annoyed me. In fact it’s annoyed me so much that I’m going to change my electivity suppler next month. Doing this has been on my mind for a while anyway, as SSE isn’t exactly top of the league when it comes to producing electricity from sustainable sources. It will probably cost me a bit more, but I’m looking forward to using fair-trade, organic electricity in future, that’s produced by whole African villages of people peddling really quickly on static bikes to produce the stuff for me. Quite why we can’t harvest the same stuff locally from all the private gyms around here I don’t know. I guess it’s a similar situation to apples, where in the autumn I can either buy English Cox’s (the world’s best apple), or some tasteless replica with a brand name variety (like Pink Lady) grown in New Zealand. That’s just weird. So’s this film.
Agent Stewart Cummings is having a really, really bad day. (I know he’s an agent as he spends most of the film running around in a t-shirt with the letters ATF on it. (The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.) His wife has a mystery illness for which the drugs she needs cost a fortune and his boss is less than supportive of him taking any sort of initiative when it comes to investigating crime. And on top of that someone locally has started doing rather icky things with peoples’ heads. Sadly for Stew it goes even further downhill from then on. After the first ten minutes or so I thought I was going to be faced with an entirely crap film featuring poor production, acting and script. Weirdly, as it progressed it improved. It was like it was filmed in chronological order and everyone just got better as they went along. That’s not to say it’s likely to worry the Oscars in any way, but it got good enough not to distract too much from the watching experience. I’d love to tell you exactly what a header is, but that would spoil it for you. Needless to say, it’s not got a great deal to do with aerial prowess in the penalty box, or plumbing. If nothing else, it’s worth watching just to see Grandpappy, a brilliantly, over-the-top character who brings a level of enthusiasm to proceedings that I wish I could replicate myself when doing my budget forecasts at work. I did have a lot of sympathy for Agent Cummings, a generally decent guy who just had a run of bad luck, really bad luck. Sometimes you just have to lose it. Whilst watching this movie, into my head popped the idea that American rednecks have a lot in common with the UK’s UKIP voters. More weirdness.
There isn’t a lot of music used in the film, it’s mainly just over the credits, but it’s a decent bit of whatever sort of music it is.
The trailer isn’t exactly forthcoming with details. (There is a better one on the DVD, but I couldn’t find a link to it anywhere to put here.) I guess that’s what comes from having a ‘big secret’ that you don’t want to blow to quickly.
Movie Weather Forecast: Warm and sunny through the course of the film. Nice.
Recommended for police officers, cobblers, drug dealers and adulteresses.
No cats, chainsaws or decapitations.
Top badass moment? In a fit of anger that wouldn’t have been out of place in the final verse of Eminem’s “Guilty Conscience”, Agent Cummings finally gets pissed at his bad luck. I’m not condoning his behaviour of course, but, well, you can understand it. I’m sure when I eventually ‘lose it’ I’ll go on the rampage too, probably on the London Underground in the rush hour, or maybe in Reading’s Oracle Shopping Centre, on a Saturday afternoon just before Christmas.
In this debut feature written and directed by Iranian born Babak Jalali, “Frontier Blues” features four, intertwined stories all set in Iran’s northern frontier with Turkmenistan, a region that has long been neglected in Iranian cinema, interesting not only for its magnificent, forlorn landscape but also for its multi-ethnic population of Persians, Turkmens and Kazakhs. Featuring non-professional actors from the northern region of Iran, Jalali’s film looks at fragments of the everyday existence of a varied collection of characters from the region.
2009 – Certificate: 12 – Iranian Film
Rating Details: One use of strong language and a moderate sex reference
7.0 out of 10
Although I frequently do nothing at work for weeks at a time (except procrastinate), I occasionally have to do something. This is normally something which I can’t delegate downwards or pass the buck upwards. Yesterday was one of those days. I had to complete a funding application. I’d known it’d need doing for the last month or so, but it was only yesterday that I did much about it, as it had a 17:00 deadline. I’d had a quick look at it the day before and decided that it wasn’t a lot of work; why I believe myself when I think something like that I’ll never know, but somehow I always do. So yesterday I found myself having to do some real work for a change. Now, there are people who actually do this sort of thing as their full time job and some of them actually seem to enjoy it. I lack the intelligence, focus and strength of character to be like that. I see it as a necessary evil that allows me to lead the decadent lifestyle that I do. No one should be forced to write funding applications; it’s only one step up from begging in the street. Like writing poetry or songs, funding bids come from the heart; they’re not something that can be forced out of someone. In my case they’re dragged screaming and kicking from my very soul, before being nakedly spread-eagled across the page for all to gawp at, pointing and laughing as they do so, as if I was exposing a very private part of me, which in a way I am. Being forced to write a funding bid is like being forced to love someone. Of course I enjoy getting that follow up letter that contains the word “congratulations”, but most of the time they just say “I’m sorry to inform you”. Writing funding bids is like asking someone out, and I’m crap at that too. (You work yourself up for ages to do it and then it all comes out wrong.) I’m just not thick skinned enough to take the rejection and it sends me into a subconscious mire of desolation and self-loathing. I still haven’t got over asking Debbie Warby out in 1977 and getting turned down; I only wanted to go and see “Star Wars” too. I never did see it at the cinema; no wonder I prefer “Star Trek”. So anyway, I got it done yesterday and what a beautiful creation it was; really, it should’ve been on display in a gallery, not stuffed into a brown envelope. After a 100mph death-defying drive, (it wasn’t far to go and I had an hour or so to get there, but I’d drunk far too much coffee), I got to hand it in before the deadline. I got a call about two hours later from the fund’s administrator, asking if I could e-mail her a copy, as she was having to scan all the applications and she’d been “inundated” with them and would be at work for hours doing them, so it would save her time. Inundated. Inundated! It’s like asking girls out again; a futile exercise that ends in humiliation and a feeling of abject failure. A woman gets asked out in this movie; that ends in abject failure too.
So this was a chance to watch my entire collection of Iranian films… all one of them. Not sure what I was expecting really, probably just some propaganda to do with nuclear bombs, oppressed women who choose to wear a burqa and jihadist wars. There isn’t anything else there is there, other than sand and oil… and camels probably? Well, that’s what it says in the papers, so it must be true. Okay, I don’t really believe any of that nonsense, but I was surprised by what I did see. In fact it took me a while to get over my preconceptions and begin to appreciate what this film actually was, which made me feel a bit guilty; I really was under the impression that it would be sort of worthy, but a bit amateurish and boring. In fact this is a black comedy, which pokes fun at itself and Iran’s own, internal preconceptions about itself. It’s true to say that not a lot happens for most of the film and there aren’t a great many spaceships, aliens or explosions in it. It’s simply a snapshot of the lives of four people that to some extent are interconnected. At first I did find it a bit boring, but when I finally worked out what I was watching it got a lot more interesting. It was almost as if I felt guilty about finding the discomfort of the characters funny, which is a bit sad really. The picture quality isn’t always the best, which is a bit frustrating as the scenery is really worth seeing. It’s also quite slow and nothing happens quickly; and in a cultural way there are a few things that just don’t sit comfortably for many westerners too. However, the majority of it is good stuff and I really rather enjoyed it.
The music used in the film is sparse and haunting. It’s not something I’d listen to on its own but as a soundtrack it’s great and adds to the atmosphere a lot. We also get treated to a bit of what sounds like Marlene Dietrich, but I could be wrong.
Movie Weather Forecast. I’ve still not started doing this properly, but it was dry and mostly sunny, with some blustery wind at times.
For stupid people like me, the trailer makes the tone of the film a bit clearer.
Recommend for wrestlers, photographers and anyone who works on a chicken farm.
No cats, chainsaws or decapitations.
Top badass moment? I like tea. I drink a lot of tea. I like coffee but I like tea more. In this film the characters drink tea. They drink a lot of tea. In fact I suspect that it’s a subtle joke about how much tea people in Iran do drink. I thought all they did there was build nuclear bombs and hate on the West, but actually they drink a lot of tea and have a sense of humour that I can relate to. That’s cool, because most of the people I actually know don’t understand it. I’m a Brit so tea is automatically badass and badass in a way coffee will never be. In fact it’s the most badass of drinks; except perhaps cider.
Asae Ōnishi is the lead actress, starring as Aya Kito. 9th grader (third year of junior high school) Aya Kito collapses on the way to school. Dr. Yamamoto discovers that Aya has spinocerebellar ataxia, a fatal and incurable disease that handicaps the body. Aya’s mother and Dr. Yamamoto let Aya record in a diary to tell her story and to live her life to the fullest.
2005 – Certificate: Unknown – Japanese Film
7.5 out of 10
Last Friday was Halloween. It was also the hottest ever Halloween on record in England, 24C. Unfortunately I missed out on most of it as I left Cactus World and went to the Moon. Yes, really. Okay, to be more accurate I actually went to the Moon Club, although it is a long way from Cactus World and in a real foreign country too; a place called Wales. Sadly, it was to attend the final gig by the 8th best band on the plant, Dirty Revolution. After following the band for around five years and attending 28 gigs, everyone’s favourite alt-punk-ska-reggae-calypso-African-beats band was splitting up. Support was from the awesome 10th best band on the planet, the New Town Kings, but it really was Dirty Revolution’s night. Other than when the Undertones originally split up in 1983, I can’t think of a time when I’ve been so saddened by a band deciding to end it all. The reasons appear to be the difficulty of having a young family and trying to tour, along with its alleged inability to know how to get people to sing along to the “whoo-ooos” and “yeh-yeh-yehs” etc that populate a number of its tunes. I’d seriously considering ending it all too, but the fact that the band don’t seem to have fallen out with one another and that a quick look at my current Top Ten active bands indicates that all but two have split up and then reformed at some time or other. This gives me hope that perhaps, one day in the dim and distant future, songs about having a fat ass, not feeling fear and highlighting the fact that Skrewdriver were a bunch of wankers, will once again reverberate around venues everywhere. The Moon is a small club, with no air conditioning and sweat dripping from the ceiling. The band played a long set. I was at the front and could see a copy of the set list on the floor gradually being worked through; it was like waiting for the end of the world in some nuclear holocaust film, where all the characters can do is wait for the missiles to arrive, although before they do nothing seems any different to usual… and then all of a sudden it’s over. The gig was filmed for a DVD. One of the guys with a camera was menacingly close to where I was most of the time. I guess with a decent bit of software they’ll be able to edit out the fat, old bloke trying to dance. Joking aside, I do feel a genuine sense of loss. This film is about loss too. But before you read on, I suggest you listen to some proper good music:
This is a movie of a book that was then a TV series. Something like that anyway. The book (actually her diary) was written by a young woman called Aya Kitô. She was diagnosed with Spinocerebellar ataxia when she was 15 (in 1977) and wrote a diary about her life for as long as she could, until she died when she was 26. The film itself isn’t that great, although the actress who plays Aya is excellent. I suspect that compared with the TV series and the diary itself, a lot was cut out to make it an appropriate length for a film. However, there are a few really powerful scenes, often focusing on very small incidents; the one when Aya Kitô has to leave her school because it can no longer provide what she needs is pretty heart-breaking stuff. People often seem to say that stories like this are “life-affirming” and “uplifting”. No, they’re not. They’re sad and depressing. I can’t see anything uplifting in a story about anyone, never mind a young person, who’s tragically struck down by a terrible illness that they had no way of avoiding, however brave he or she might be. It’s just awful.
The soundtrack is mostly downbeat and piano driven. It fits the mood of the film well.
Movie Weather Forecast. Nope, still not started to take much notice of this yet. Soon, I promise!
Try as I might, I couldn’t seem to find a trailer for this film anywhere.
Recommend for doctors, carers and heartless school teachers.
No cats, chainsaws or decapitations.
Top badass moment? This is a true story about a young woman with a horrible illness. As her condition gets worse and worse, she never really stops trying to live her life as best she can, despite the increasing difficulty of doing so and the limitations of the physical world around her. That makes her truly badass.