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.
I’ve won £500 worth of vouchers for Marks & Spencer. I completed some questionnaire about holidays at http://www.tickbox.net and then got randomly picked by a computer as the winner. After getting over my initial excitement and then realising I wasn’t actually going to be able to retire on the proceeds, I got down to the business of deciding exactly how I was going to squander away my newly found fortune. At this point I realised that Marks & Spencer doesn’t actually sell anything I want/need. Whatever it’s demographic is, I’m not in it. There are only so many pairs of sensible underpants and socks you can wear. I guess it’s just a bit too upmarket for me. I could buy about 220 bottles of Lancashire Dark Mild I suppose; I’ve no idea what it tastes like but the M&S website says its vegan. And I ought to get a new bag for work; anyone who’s seen the torn and battered one I use at the moment would probably agree with that idea. I need a new potato peeler too, as I accidentally threw my beloved ‘high performance’ one away a couple of months ago, by leaving it in the bag with the peelings. A decent toaster would be good as well; the handle you push down has fallen off mine and some of the plastic at the top has melted. And some new drinking glasses, as I seem to have broken all but one of my nice ones; and a new duvet and pillows for the winter; and a couple of decent kitchen knives and some new pans. Humm, maybe I can spend them after all. Oh, and if anyone is interested, I’ve completed 895 questionnaires on this web site and this is the first time I’ve ever won anything. I reckon that’s works out at about £8.50/hour. Anyway, now I’m so filthy rich, this film should scare me….
1987 – Certificate: FSK-16 – United Kingdom
I love this film. It’s the sort of film that was only made in the 80s, at a time when Britain was producing lots of new, alternative comedy; okay some of it was rubbish but at least it was happening. Nowadays most comedy, at least what you get to see on TV, is pretty bland. This movie is a mess of politics, civil unrest, greed and generally awesome nonsense. And I have to ‘fess up that it’s one of those films that I quote lines from in general conversation, from time to time. It also has loads of cameos from properly famous and well-known people. Other reasons to like this film? I love the scene in the dole office; I don’t believe there’s a person alive who hasn’t wanted to do something like that, at least once in their life, when faced with annoying, inefficient and unfair, petty bureaucracy. As Alex says in the film, “You’d do the same if you had the guts!” I also love the basic premise of the story that demonstrates that vegans (as usual) would be able to take the moral high ground. It has a Triumph Herald in it (a V6 of course), which was my second favourite car when I was in my teens. Most of the outdoor scenes were filmed in Oxfordshire too; I’ve tried to work out the exact location but I’m not sure, but I think it’s probably south Oxfordshire somewhere.
Recommended for people who remember the 80s and how crappy they were a lot of the time. 25 years on and not a lot has changed, with many of this film’s themes in the news as much today as they were then. Depressingly so in fact.
No cats, decapitations or chainsaws. A lot of people do get turned into mincemeat though.
Top badass moment? Alex in the dole office; one of my favourite all-time movie scenes. I’m fortunate that I’ve not had to make a claim for any benefits for quite a while, but in the 80s/90s I had to deal with many less than competent jobsworths, idiots and assholes at the DHSS; (no wonder it ended up getting rebranded as Jobcentre Plus). Alex is a true hero for the downtrodden masses and taking on the establishment is 100% pure badass.
Eat The Rich at IMDB (5.7/10)
Working in the ‘environmental sector’ as I do, I frequently find myself watching films and noticing ‘environmental errors’. This one has a classic. Most of the movie appears to have been shot towards the end of the summer, given the condition and size of the Bracken that’s seen growing everywhere. However, the aerial shots appear to have been filmed in mid winter, given the totally dead appearance of the Bracken and the lack of leaves on many of the trees. I know, I know, I should ignore this stuff, but it’s hard to! Talking of big mistakes, Jenny and Steve made one or two in this movie.
2008 – Certificate: 18 – United Kingdom
Rating Details: Strong bloody violence and sustained terrorisation
Eden Lake is what the director happily calls a “genre film”. Group go somewhere isolated, group piss someone off, group get chased, group suffer the consequences; in this case it’s a young couple and some local kids, who spend most of the movie chasing each other around the woods. Having said that, it is a really good example of this type of horror/thriller, with decent acting, good photography/effects and well thought-out characters. The latter do actually manage to act in a reasonably realistic way most of the time, even if there were just a few too many coincidences used to push the plot along. I’ve slept in a tent ‘in the middle of nowhere’ lots of times and I’ve always had a slight fear that one night some weirdo is going to come and ‘disturb’ me. This film did nothing to allay my fears. I did struggle to relate to the couple (Jenny and Steve) a little. They were nice enough, but God were they boring; and he was also an irritating yuppie too. His attempts to be the ‘alpha male’ were somewhat pathetic as well, if sadly realistic. They were the classic, “what a shame they’re going to build all over this nice bit of land, so let’s go and enjoy it first by driving there in our 4×4, just to use as much fuel as we can doing so” middle-class couple. Very light green ‘greens’ if you ask me. I bet she uses a reusable shopping bag to buy her organic veg each time she goes to the shops in said vehicle. It was quite a while before I started to feel sorry for them. Not that the kids were any better; rural delinquents with equally crappy parents. The ending is pretty brutal too. And finally, a quick note for horror script writers. If you’re running around in the woods in England (and probably most other places too) trying to avoid others, (like in this film), it’s really not that hard to hide. Two intelligent adults trying escape from a group of thick kids in an area that probably covers 100s of acres, really shouldn’t be that difficult. The place was full of tall Bracken. Just! Don’t! Walk! Along! The! Paths!
Recommended for fans of classic modern horror. (Can you actually have classic modern anything?)
No cats, decapitations or chainsaws.
Top badass moment? Well all the kids were thick plebs, (and my thanks to the Rt Hon Andrew Mitchell MP, Member of Parliament for Sutton Coldfield and Government Chief Whip, for reminding me of that one). Steve was simply an annoying yuppie, too full of his own importance for anything he could ever do to be considered badass. So this only leaves Jenny really. She never totally got into full bad-bitch-from-hell mode, but for a primary school teacher she didn’t do too badly. That makeshift dagger was very effective! Considering the trying circumstances, her efforts probably should be considered badass.
Yesterday I drove for two and a half hours, then spent three hours teaching three people how to drive a minibus, then spent another two and a half hours sitting in a minibus watching them drive it, then drove for another two and a half hours home. Yesterday the world seemed to be full of idiots driving cars, and I’m not referring to the learners who I was with either. At one point on the way home I was driving along a bit of dual carriageway and slowly catching a yellow car up. I don’t generally drive that fast, rarely more than 60 m.p.h., as I want to give myself the illusion that somehow I’m doing my bit to save the planet whilst simultaneously driving nearly 1,000 miles a month. Anyway, I pulled out to overtake the yellow car. As I passed it and looked in my mirror to see if I could go back into the inside lane, I noticed it had speeded up. I ended up doing over 80 with this fucking asshole still playing stupid buggers next to me. After having had to put up with so many other cretins on the roads yesterday, something snapped inside. I jerked the steering wheel to the left and hit the yellow car, forcing it off the road and down an embankment into a field, where I think it hit a tree or something and burst into flames. I’m not sure what happened to the driver and I don’t care as long as it hurt; I didn’t bother to stop and check what had happened to him. What a selfish bastard he was too, as I’ve now I’ve got a dent in my car to explain away and get fixed. It’s a jungle out there on the roads. (Just like Dennis Weaver in Steven Spielberg’s classic “Dual”, I never really got a good look at my protagonist.) Well, okay that only happened in my mind, but the intent (if not the guts) was there. In fact what did happen is that I gave up trying to overtake the yellow car and humiliatingly went back to 60 m.p.h. behind it. However, as cars, driving and men are inextricably linked to the latter’s sexual prowess and I failed to overtake the yellow car, I think I’m probably impotent now. He, on the other hand, is probably making his first porn movie even as I type this. Great! In a similar way, this film is about a young woman with intimacy issues.
2003 – Certificate: 18 – United Kingdom
I think the makers of this film started off wanting to make a serious torture porn movie but then got fed up with the idea and decided a comedy slasher/thriller would be a much better idea. Otherwise why suddenly introduce a bizarre sub-plot involving Siamese twins and then another one about a bank robbing stripper? It’s original, I’ll give it that. It suffers from some of the worst acting I’ve ever seen, yet at other times it’s really okay. Fiona Horsey (the lead character) is a bit of a babe; (am I still allowed to say stuff like that)? All the men in the film are portrayed as perverts, deviants, weirdos, rapists, sociopaths and murderers; the woman don’t do a lot better either, but the guys really do get a bit of a hammering. Ultimately it’s an entertaining movie, simply because it’s so ridiculous. I did feel a bit sorry for Helen, no one is that unlucky with men. Most of it was filmed on the Isle of Wight too.
Recommended for someone; not sure who, but someone.
No cats, chainsaws or decapitations. However, plenty of men do, em, ‘disappear’ inside Helen, totally.
Top badass moment? In a film filled with characters that are simultaneously both pathetic and horrible, there’s not a terribly large choice. So I guess it has to be Helen, for simply putting up with so much shit. They say dealing with it well makes you a stronger person.
This film features a Britain that’s been entirely depopulated by an infection; just about everyone who wasn’t evacuated is now dead. (And to think it all happened because of some cruel and pointless experiments on animals in the prequel “28 Days Later”). Most of it’s filmed in London. It’s set around six months after the first movie and focuses on the repopulation of the country, which has started in and around Canary Wharf. NATO (mainly the US Army) is in charge of this. While watching this movie I was struck by just how inexplicably uncomfortable the later felt. There’s no suggestion in the film that they’re doing this for any other reason than the obvious one, but it made me realise just how undesirable the armed forces from another country might feel if they were in your country and in control of things. I suppose it’s a feeling of powerlessness and not totally trusting people who aren’t ‘your own’. Needed perhaps, helpful possibly, but not really wanted. I think I now understand a little more about the relationship between the West and elsewhere and why countries like Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya (and even Russia) react they way they do to Western involvement in their affairs. All politicians and soldiers should watch this part of this film.
2007 – Certificate: 18 – United Kingdom
Rating Details: Strong bloody violence and gore
This is a sequel that’s actually better than the original. It’s an action-horror and possibly one of my ten favourite horror films of all time. It’s weird seeing so many shots of London entirely empty of people and traffic. With some great special effects, it works well as both a horror and an action film. It’s only its MTV-esque fast editing (which gives anyone over the age of 16 a headache) during some of the action scenes that I don’t like. It has a few classic “oh that’s so stupid” plot moments, but by and large it’s edge of the seat stuff; good music too. And did I get the very slight feeling that it might just have ended with a set up for another film? I think I did. This is a film you should watch.
Recommended for anyone who thinks zombies would be much better if they didn’t tend to stagger around very slowly; and for anyone who doesn’t like banks.
No cats and at least six decapitations. (You’d need to watch parts of it frame by frame to get the correct number; a helicopter blade can do a lot of damage!)
Top badass moment? Seeing the City fire-bombed to bits by the US Air Force. That’ll give us a banking crisis to really whine about. Bye-bye Canary Wharf Tower; a building that normally contains thousands of people who’re employed to press buttons all day; how constructive. Far more useful I’m sure, than a plumber, a carpenter, a scientist, an engineer, a teacher, a farmer, a nurse, a care worker…
I’ve probably made thousands of journeys on the London Underground in my life, a lot of them early in the morning or late at night. I think I can say that I’ve never noticed anyone famous, seen any fights, heard a gun-shot or met any homicidal maniacs. I’ve met a small number of weirdos, but that’s about it. I’m always secretly impressed by people who seemingly see a politician or film star on the Underground nearly every week, have tales of gunman or knife-wielding hoddies to share, or who regularly get trapped for hours in tunnels on broken-down trains. Maybe it has something to do with my ability to put on an iPod and fall asleep in almost any location; to me, the Underground is basically an uncomfortable, mobile bed. It’s like sleeping in a communal dormitory, where half the people look as miserable as sin, wear suits and never speak, whilst the other half talk all the time (but never in English), wear a range of strange clothing (I guess it’s all in fashion somewhere in the world) and continually look with confusion at a pocket-sized map of the Tube. However, I love the Underground, it’s a great social leveler. It’s a place where everyone can share equally in its sweltering, fetid, humid, summer ambience; enjoy having their faces pushed into other peoples’ armpits; or try desperately not to end up standing in the middle of an aisle, miles away from the doors that they’ve got zero chance of getting to when they want to get off and where whoever’s sitting adjacent to where they’re standing will have an eye-level and close-up view of their crotch, whether they want to or not; (remember kids, don’t get ‘excited’ and always go to the toilet and check your undies for the dreaded VPL, before you travel). It’s another example of a great bit of British engineering! (The Tube, not crotches.)
2004 – Certificate: 18 – United Kingdom
Rating Details: Strong bloody violence
This is a pretty good horror. The London Underground has plenty of potential to provide a creepy environment in which to trap people and it’s cool to see it used in this way in a film. It does drift off into torture porn territory towards the end, but it’s still entertaining. There’s loads of unrealistic stuff in it too, but let’s not dwell on that, as it will only spoil an otherwise pretty good movie. It also does a good job of making you have some sympathy for the ‘baddie’ too. I do hope all the survivors got checked for Weil’s Disease afterwards; it would be shame to escape from everything, only to succumb to an unpleasant disease a few weeks late; that would really suck.
Recommended for Tube fans, commuters and people who enjoy swimming in sewerage. If you fall into all three groups, then you’re in for a real treat; and you’re one sick puppy too.
No cats and no decapitations. There were a lot of rats and some decent neck cutting scenes though.
Top badass moment? It really has to be Kate throughout most of the film. She has to try to save the life of a guy who tries to rape her, deal with unhelpful London Underground staff, swim around with rats in sewerage, watch several people get killed, deal with the baddie herself and then still have to get home afterwards. Shit happens; dealing with it is badass.
Before I wised-up and realised that cars were the spawn of the Devil and responsible for the political, environmental and social decline of our world, I was a bit obsessed with them. When I was in my early teens I’d buy Motor magazine every week; I’d send off for reviews of cars from other magazines too, just so I could spend hours and hours comparing them. I went to the Motor Show. I had just about every pack of Top Trump cards you could get that were about cars. I had about 50 Matchbox toy cars and regularly used to run them along a long section of track that started at my bedroom window (on the first floor) and went down into the garden below, before carefully putting them back in the box in the order of the ones that got the furthest down the track. (I must have got a lot of exercise keep running up and down the stairs and into the garden, if I did that each time for all 50.) I had a Saturday and school holiday job in a car repair shop, where I worked for several years. (I earned £5 a day). I could recognise and name just about every car on the road, in a matter of seconds. When I was old enough to drive, I had several cars at different times, which I pulled to bits and rebuilt in various ways. So basically, what I’m saying is that I knew everything about cars.
So what car did I decide to drive? A Mini? Nope. In fact I choose the arch nemesis of the Mini, the Hillman Imp. (I also had a Singer Chamois coupe and a Sunbeam Imp Sport too, which were basically different versions of the Imp.) It was a great little car; even though it overheated all the time it was miles better than the boring old Mini; it just had an aversion to motorways. It had a rear engine, which made it really like a Porsche, kind of. When I was at university I managed to roll an Imp onto its roof, with five of us in it. Fortunately no one was hurt. I still have the pictures of what was left of the car. I got done for careless driving too! Who’s ever heard of a man who drives carelessly? The police tried to make out I was doing over 60mph, but in fact the Imp struggled to get to that speed even on a motorway with just me in it. When I went to the police station the next day to make a statement, there was a little piece of my Imp’s bodywork (it was partly fibreglass) in an ashtray on the desk; they’d thrown a bit of my car away! (I didn’t ask for it back though.) The police only found out about my accident as we were pushing what was left of the car along the road to get it home, when one overtook us and smashed head-on into one driving in the other direction. Amazingly no one was badly hurt in that crash either, even though they must have hit each other at a combined speed of about 70mph. I remember someone coming out of a nearby house, spotting some oil on the ground in the darkness and exclaiming with what I remember seemed a lot of excitement in his voice, “Is that blood?” Weirdo. Anyway, what I’m getting at here is that this film would have been a lot better if they’d picked Imps rather than Minis to star in it.
1969 – Certificate: PG – United Kingdom
Rating Details: Mild violence, language and sex references
This is a true classic and contains one of the most quoted lines in movie history; (5, 4, 3, 2.. you know the one I’m talking about). Made when England were still football world champions (okay I know it’s an old film), it’s got the added bonus of having Michael Caine and Noël Coward in it and the Brits getting one over on Johnny Foreigner, (always a good thing of course). Sadly, as we don’t make anything in Britain anymore, including cars (and have become pretty hopeless at football too), there isn’t likely to be a undated version of it made anytime soon; (and I’m talking about a British version of it here, not something set somewhere like, oh, Los Angeles, for example). It just wouldn’t be the same if they drove Peugeot 107s, or got the bus instead. I watched a Blu-ray version of this film and if anyone wants to see what this format can bring to old films, I’d recommend watching this one, as it looked stunning.
Recommended for fans of classic movies and for all English people. It brings a lump to the throat and swells the heart; (with pride not cholesterol.) If there was such a thing as an English passport, the watching and enjoyment of this film would be a mandatory requirement for getting one. Also recommended for staff managers everywhere, as it contains some excellent advice from Charlie Croker; “Now, it’s a very difficult job, and, the only way to get through it is we all work together, as a team. And that means, you do everything I say.” Words of wisdom.
3 cats and no decapitations. Enjoy the awesome cats-on-laps action, matched with some expertly written and delivered dialogue.
Top badass moment? The Minis in the sewer pipe, the Minis on the dam, the Minis on the steps, the Minis in the shopping plaza, etc. Celebrating the best bit of British engineering since the Spitfire is badass; if you’re a Brit anyway.