Posts tagged “War

Dad’s Army: The Movie / End of a (Whisky) Era


Dad's Army: The Movie  -  Front DVD Cover  -  UK Release

Captain Mainwaring and his men create comedy mayhem when they go on manoeuvres with other military companies under the eyes of a real Major-General.  The result is disaster after disaster…   After the shambles, the Walmington-On-Sea defenders return home just as a German scout plane crashes near their town.  Its crew captures the church hall and holds the vicar and mayor as hostages.  The Major-General sends for the Army, the Army sends for the Navy, the Navy sends for the Marines, the Marines call in the police, and the police call the fire brigade.  While this is going on, the irrepressible irregulars of Dad’s Army hilariously demonstrate that they really can do the job they were organised for…

1971  –  Certificate: U  –  British Film
7.0 out of 10

Last week saw the end of an era in Cactus World.  About 15 years ago I became the owner of a 1L bottle of Bell’s Whisky.  I think it came from a duty-free shop at an airport somewhere, although its exact heritage is now lost in the mists of time.  Last week I finished it.  I’d decided I wanted a drink one evening, but fancied something a bit different, so I ended up messing about with different whisky mixers; and suddenly it was empty.  It’s strange to think that Cactus World didn’t even exist when I first had that bottle.  (Along with most things from the era when Cactus World first came into existence, it was handed over by its evil predecessor, The Real World.)  And I had some sort of life and ambitions in those days too.  Then again, my Internet connection is now over 2,000 times faster, I’ve got a bigger TV and China Drum has reformed.  I’m probably not the world’s biggest whisky/whiskey/bourbon drinker.  To be honest I’m not sure I even like the taste very much, but feel I ought to make the effort.  So now I’m down to my last four and a half bottles of the stuff.    These include a bottle of Bladnoch 18-year-old single malt.  This is most expensive booze I’ve ever purchased (I think it was about £60) and came from Scotland’s most southerly distillery.  (This has sadly just gone into administration).  A bottle of Jack Daniels Old No. 7 and a bottle of Bushmills 10-year-old single malt.  And finally, a bottle of Amrut Indian single malt, which is the strongest alcohol I own at 61.9%.  I’ve never opened any of these.  Then again, I’ve never opened my bottle of Tesco Organic Vodka, which is even older and has spent nearly its whole life in my freezer.  Tesco stopped selling it in 2006.  Dad’s Army is even older than this bottle of vodka and most of it’s episodes predate punk, yet it still lots of fun; like whisky.

I don’t just watch films.  No, I’m far more multidimensional than that.  Far less documented is the fact that as well as watching films, I also have a TV series on the go at the same time too.  Watched between the films when I don’t have the time or inclination to watch anything longer.  I rarely binge on these, preferring instead to view a few episodes a week.  Over the past few years I’ve made my way through “Andromeda” (five seasons), “The Likely Lads” / “Whatever Happened to the Likely Lads” (five series and a film, although loads of episodes are missing) and “Red Dwarf” (nine series, as there was at the time I watched them).  Dad’s Army (on TV) ran for nine series, plus a film and three Christmas Specials, from 1968 to 1977.  A few early episodes are missing, but most are still around.  I’m now near the end of series 8, so I thought I ought to take a look at the film, which was made between series 3 and 4.  Chronologically it sits near the start of the whole story, so I guess I should have watched it earlier on, although as it sort of overlaps the TV episodes doing so would probably have confused me greatly.  The film is really like watching three episodes back to back and I suspect that’s how the script was developed originally.  Although it has most of the continuing cast/characters in it and the same writers, it was filmed in widescreen and doesn’t have a laughter track, so it feels a bit weird watching it.  It just doesn’t ‘feel’ quite right.  But it’s still a lot of fun and has the gentle humour that characterised the TV series.  Essential viewing if you liked it on television.  Part of the fourth best British sitcom of all time.

There’re small musical elements in the movie that aren’t generally in the TV series, but really, they don’t make a lot of difference.  If anything, they make it sound a bit like one of those 50s black and white Hollywood movies, that used to be shown on Saturday afternoons on BBC2 when I was young.

This is one of these films that doesn’t seem to have an official trailer.  Weird.

Recommended for old soldiers, the patriotic and heroes.

No cats, chainsaws or decapitations.

Top badass moment?  Pompous he may have been, but never a coward, Captain George Mainwaring rarely came face-to-face with any Nazis in the TV series.  However, this film provides his greatest moment and for a brief few minutes he really is the hero that in his own mind he always was.  Captain Mainwaring, the hero that Britain both deserved and needed.  Badass.

Dad’s Army: The Movie at IMDB (6.7 / 10)
Dad’s Army: The Movie at Wikipedia

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The Colors of the Mountain / Comet ISON


The Colors of the Mountain  -  Front DVD Cover  -  US Release

Young Manuel lives with his hard-working farmer parents in the remote, mountainous region of the Colombian countryside.  While the adults in their lives try to avoid both the armed military and the guerrilla rebels fighting each other in the area, Manuel and his friend Julián are obsessed with playing soccer any chance they get.  Shortly after his birthday, the new ball Manuel received as a gift gets kicked off to a minefield, and he, Julián and their albino friend Poca Luz will do everything in their power to recover their prized belonging – an essential part of their everyday lives and dreams.

2011  –  Rating: Not Rated  –  Columbian Film
7.5 out of 10

So “comet of the century” ISON turned out to be more of a metaphor for life; all that potential, expectation and excitement, followed by an invisible anti-climax.  However, I would like to propose a new verb for the English language.  Ison: a state of disillusionment; e.g. “the band’s performance was somewhat isoning; or “I’m really isoned by this whole project of yours.”  It’s good to invent words.

This is an interesting, watchable but ultimately depressing film.  It’s a very simple story about three football-obsessed young boys, whose ball ends up in a minefield.  As this is not something that happens very often in the English Premier League, it provides a somewhat different viewpoint of the game.  Let’s not forget that the Colombian national team is ranked fourth in the world, whilst England is ranked 13th.  There’s a lot to be said for sharpening you team’s reactions with a few, well-placed landmines.  What this movie does really well is focus on the story from the boys’ point of view, allowing the realities of the ongoing, three-sided civil war in the area to colour what happens.  The insidious effect of the latter on the local people slowly comes into focus as the story moves along.  As the kids plot to recover their ball, things around them gradually fall apart and begin to directly change their lives.  It’s hard not to feel upset by the situation.  There isn’t anyone mowing down half the jungle with a minigun, or 100s of people being blown to pieces in huge, set-piece scenes.  Instead you get an insight into the subtle ways conflict changes things.  Not nice and very sad.  Filmed in the mountains, the scenery looks lush; (as in very green, not sexy).  Understated and documentary like, the whole movie feels very authentic and is well worth watching.  However, I do wish Americans would learn to spell “colour” correctly; it’s very irritating!

There’s a lot of ‘Spanish sounding’ music in the film.  It’s great. 

Recommended for football fans, guerrillas, freedom fighters and Roy Hodgson.

No cats, chainsaws or decapitations.

Top badass moment?  The teacher gets the kids to paint a big mural over the ‘war graffiti’ on the school building.  This is probably not the most sensible thing to do if you’re looking for a quiet life, but it is most definitely badass.

The Colors of the Mountains at IMDB (7.0 / 10)
The Colors of the Mountains at Wikipedia

The Colors of the Mountains at YouTube


The Philadelphia Experiment 2 / Marks & Spencer


The Philadelphia Experiment 2  -  Front DVD Cover  -  US ReleaseIn the hit sci-fi thriller “The Philadelphia Experiment” the sole survivor of a wartime experiment is catapulted 41 years into the future and must race to save the world as we know it.  It’s now 10 years later, 1993.  David Herdeg (Brad Johnson), the surviving hero, has built a life for himself and his young son that’s unravelling fast.  The U.S. military is conducting another Experiment, one that not only alters Herdeg’s DNA makeup, but also threatens the fabric of the entire universe.  The Experiment’s goal is to transport a Stealth Fighter back to 1943 to use as the ultimate war machine, but its effect hurls Herdeg into another time warp, still 1993, but a 1993 where Germany has won the war.  Can Herdeg win the race against time and save his son and the world from a terrible future?  Or will the future be a twisted reality distorted by the Philadelphia Experiment?

1993  –  Certificate: PG-13  –  American Film
Rating Details: Military violence
6.0 out of 10

Who actually shops in Marks and Spencer, unless they want a new bra or a pair of socks?  It’s like a John Lewis, except with all the interesting stuff removed.  For a start, it only sells a limited range of household things, none of which anyone would need; unless you feel owning a big, weirdly shaped glass jar full of ‘interestingly’ coloured marbles is essential.  Or a pastel coloured cushion with tassels on it rates as highly for you as food, shelter and safety.  Then there’s the Food Hall.  These huge caverns are full of food nobody really buys.  True, it’s all very nice and tasty looking, but it’s also all eye-wateringly expensive, pre-pealed, pre-prepared, over-packaged and marketed as over-valued ‘superfood’.  I don’t know why M&S doesn’t just take that find step and pre-digest it for you too and sell that instead.  In fact, just send it your money and save yourself from even having to bothering to do the shopping in the first place. The branch I went to, near Southampton, has its entrance 5m from a huge Sainsbury; why does an M&S Food Hall even exist there?  A small, plastic bowl-like container full of cherry tomatoes on the vine, asparagus tips and rocket, costs about a million pounds.  (Whatever happened to lumps of cucumber, lettuce and grated carrot?)  At the sort of prices it charges, I’d expect the rocket to be a fully functioning space shuttle, complete with crew.  Just before Christmas I won £500 of Marks and Spencer vouchers in a competition.  Unable to use them online, (and what’s the point of vouchers these days you can’t use online), I finally plucked up courage last week to go into an M&S store and use them.  It was a scary experience.  I had no idea how to behave.  I was convinced I’d get arrested for breaking some sort of social code of conduct, only known to people who have large jars of marbles in their bathrooms.  I was served by four people all at the same time, who insisted on wrapping everything up in millions of layers of paper to ‘protect’ it.  Do I look that clumsy?  What did they think I was going to do with it all?  I’m now the proud owner of the most expense set of pans it sells, two kitchen knives that actually cut, some glasses that match one another and a set of chopping boards that aren’t home to most of the world’s infectious diseases.  (And being the system-smashing rebel I am, I’m presently using the blue one that’s got the fish symbol on it, even though I don’t ever eat fish.)  I’ve also spent the last week or so living on strawberries, cherries, nectarines and ‘speciality’ apples.  My body thinks it’s been irrigated with bleach, such is the purity of my insides now.  I did manage to find some packets of pasta hiding away in the corner of the store, but the rice defied my best efforts to locate it anywhere.  This film is about someone who finds himself somewhere he’s not used to being.

The Philadelphia Experiment was an interesting, if horrendously dated-looking film that came out in 1984.  Nine years later we got the sequel.  In many ways this is a better film, although it still manages to look terrible dated.  It’s portrayal of an America 50 years after the Nazis won World War Two is really quite nicely presented. Very Orwellian.  I was interested to see that the concrete HQ ‘bunker’ that features in the film looks a lot like many of the new stations on the Jubilee Line in London.  The sight of a Nighthawk ‘stealth fighter’ decked out in swastikas makes a suitably big impression on the senses.  A few elements in the film reminded me of The Terminator too.  All the father-son-baseball nonsense at the beginning was a bit nauseating, but once we got past this it was a decent enough movie. Gerrit Graham puts in a good show as the slightly mad Dr. William Mailer.  Sadly, the sum of its parts is not up to its individual elements; it feels like a film that ought to be better than it actually is.

The soundtrack is a decent effort, with a mixture of what you’d expect, along with a bit of cowboy music and some suitably overwrought Richard Wagner.

Recommended for Nazis, slightly mad scientists, pilots and baseball fans.

No cats, chainsaws or decapitations.

Top badass moment?  David kills Mailer’s father, which results in some time-based shenanigans and Mailer disappearing, thus solving a number of tricky challenges.  I often do something quite similar myself, which makes it badass.  I can never understand why people have to complicate life so much.  If you don’t like something, just go back in time and try again.  It’s not rocket science.

The Philadelphia Experiment at IMDB (4.4 / 10)

The Philadelphia Experiment at Wikipedia

The Philadelphia Experiment at YouTube


The Dark Hour / My E4300


The Dark Hour  -  Front DVD Cover  -  UK ReleaseThe world is teetering on the brink of the apocalypse.  A group of survivors have found themselves isolated from the remnants of society and under siege living in a subterranean bunker.  They dare not abandon the crumbling complex as it is the only security from the enemy that awaits them outside.  Living in a constant state of fear, they face the fact that food supplies and ammunitions are running out, giving them no choice but to leave the secure area.  Together they start their quest for survival, facing an enemy that is stronger than expected, with a power that can destroy all of mankind.

2006  –  Certificate: 15  –  Spanish Film
Rating Details:  Strong language, moderate violence and gore
7.5 out of 10

I’m teetering on the brink of an apocalypse too.  At work I use a Dell Latitude E4300 laptop.  This is a nice bit of kit that works well and still looks good, despite its age and the numerous scratches and marks on its minimalist, black lid.  It’s also narrow enough that I can use it on a train without a table, even when I’m having one of my ‘fat days’.  In fact it only has one fault.  Every time I go to any ‘important meetings’ where people get out their laptops to pretend they’re doing something, all those with an E4300 spend the first five minutes repairing all the bits that have fallen off it since the last time they used it.  The part around the screen is especially good at detaching itself.  As well as this, mine also has various other bits of trim that have either broken off and vanished; or are hanging off but refusing to let go, like teeth used to when you were little and losing them.  More recently, it’s decided that it would be extremely cool to allow one of its hinges to develop a more three-dimensional personal space than is generally regarded as normal for one.  For my part I don’t think a hinge that’s desperate to do a bit of twerking whilst I’m trying to work is all that helpful, or sexy.  A massive split the size of the Grand Canyon has also appeared in the case and my laptop now finds connecting to the Internet, either via a network cable or wirelessly, all a bit of a strain.  Today I wasted over an hour yanking the screen about from ‘here’ to ‘there’ in an effort to make the hinge behave and whatever inside wasn’t connected properly, connect.  I ended up pleading with it on my knees, using that well-known ‘tech support prayer’, “connect to the network you fucking bastard asshole machine!!”  (I know, I’m not the most tolerant when it come to technology.)  In the end I got it to work.  My previous laptop was a D610, a machine with all the combative prowess of the Terminator.  Sadly, the E4300 looks pretty, but is about as sturdy as a pink marshmallow.  This film is all about a group of people in a ‘no win’ scenario too.

Spain, as well as being a great place to grow oranges, has also developed a nice side-line in independent horrors.  This is one of them.  What’s interesting, is that in most apocalypse films, as soon as something goes wrong, the whole of civilisation quickly collapses and nearly everyone who’s left becomes a homicidal maniac.  In this one, we join a small group of people for a few days, who’ve banded together and are trying to live a vaguely ‘normal’ life, despite their circumstances; (for a while anyway).  I guess it’s a bit of tribute to the enduring values of humanity.  Alternatively, it’s got more to do with, “we’re a small group of people stuck in a small place without much to say, or the budget for a lot of special effects.”  In truth, there’s a lot of ambiguity in the plot and a lot of unexplained things, but as an ‘atmosphere’ film it’s great.  It also has two different groups of baddies, which makes for a change too.  The characters are mostly well written and believable; I did start to care what happened to them.  Two are called Jesús and Judas; I couldn’t decide if this was just a coincidence, or some sort of biblical reference relating to the film’s storyline that I couldn’t see.  Like I said, there’s a lot of ambiguity.  Even when we get to the inevitable ‘people running about in corridors with guns’ part, it manages to stay interesting.  This is a grimy looking, depressing film.  The ending is quite unexpected too and helps add to general air of despair.  I enjoyed it!

The soundtrack is one thing that makes this more of a horror than a sci-fi movie.  It’s also pretty good too and sounds ‘expensive’.  Like what I imagine an effective butler would be like, it turns up in all the right places, does what it’s meant to do and then leaves.  You won’t remember it but it does a great job of supporting everything else that’s going on.  Good stuff.

Recommended for apocalypse survivors.

No cats, chainsaws or decapitations.

Top badass moment?  I suppose having to deal with an apocalypse is pretty badass.  It’s not the sort of thing you generally chat to the career counsellor at school about when you’re 16.  Nurse, IT support, train driver, police officer, teacher, celebrity maybe, but the conversation probably doesn’t go along the lines of, “I’d like to become an Armageddon survivor please.  Which A Levels do I need to study to do that?”  Dealing with unexpected changes is badass, as most of us are crap at it.

The Dark Hour at IMDB (6.0 / 10)      The Dark Hour at Wikipedia      The Dark Hour at You Tube


Saving Private Ryan / Saving Everyone Else


Saving Private Ryan  -  Front DVD Cover  -  UK ReleaseInternationally acclaimed by critics and audiences alike, Steven Spielberg’s “Saving Private Ryan” is an unforgettable film achievement that has had profound and lasting impact throughout the world.  Winner of five Academy Awards, including Best Director, the film also captured Oscars for Cinematography, Film Editing, Sound and Sound Effects Editing.  Saving Private Ryan was the top-grossing motion picture of 1998.  Seen through the eyes of a squad of American soldiers, the story begins with World War II’s historic D-Day invasion, then moves beyond the beach as the men embark on a dangerous special mission.  Captain John Miller (Tom Hanks) must take his men behind enemy lines to find Private James Ryan, whose three brothers have been killed in combat.  Faced with impossible odds, the men question their orders.  Why are eight men risking their lives to save just one?  Surrounded by the brutal realities of war, each man searches for his own answer – and the strength to triumph over an uncertain future with honour, decency and courage.

1998  –  Certificate:15  –  American Film
Rating Details:
9.0 out of 10

The Internet is awash with every possible analysis of this film.  So, let me just start by summarising its real plot.  Tom Hanks gets given a job to do with his team.  They have a few concerns and questions as to the point of what they’re asked to do.  The end.  Well, big deal.  Welcome to the modern world of employment gentleman.  I find myself in that situation a lot in my job, that’s just how it is.  It’s true, I’m not likely to kill many people or get killed if it all goes a bit pear-shaped, but as someone who’s employed to save the planet, it can get a bit onerous at times.  So here’s some advice for you Tom.  “You really need to visualise the big picture and stop looking at the details.  We’re all One Team and we’re all in this together, so stop giving bandwidth to our value chain and metrics that doesn’t concern you.  Just be happy to be a small piece in a big jigsaw and relentlessly concentrate on fitting yourself into the right place at the right time, for the greater good.  It’s other people’s challenge to sort out those sorts of mission critical, strategic goals, so you don’t need to quantify the methodology yourself.   Let them drill down, do the blue-sky thinking, and deal with the structural underpinning.  You’re good at what you do, so leverage your core competencies to provide locally focused, robustly broad-based solutions, as we incentivise our external stakeholders to strongly buy-in to our USP.  As a matrix organisation, your knowledge and experience as one of our best product evangelists and of interacting with a wide range of partners at a delivery level, is vital.  We know we can trust you to provide a flexible approach, as we move forward and in the current period harvest the low-hanging fruit.  Tom, it’s just a different way of working.  Allowing well-qualified colleagues to take the burden of decision-making away from you, should leave you time-enriched and in better shape to play your part, as well as provide you with a more focused environment in which to do so.  You don’t need to worry Tom, we’ve got everything covered for you, but I wanted to give you the heads-up on this.  However, if you have any other difficulties in living our values, let’s touch base offline and share a thought-shower; my office door is always open.”  As an unambitious nobody, it works for me.

This film is the 37th best ever movie, according to IMDB.  That’s pretty impressive.  Whilst I admire Steven Spielberg’s work, I sometimes find it makes me feel a bit queasy, as if I’ve eaten too many yummy sweets.  However, “Saving Private Ryan” is one of the good ones.  The battle scene at the start is 27 minutes of real movie magic and there are plenty of other parts that come pretty close to this too.  It’s essential viewing.  War is truly the biggest obscenity of all.

With a full orchestral score, music is used sparingly but effectively.  I think you can buy it on CD if you’re desperate enough.

No cats, chainsaws or decapitations.

Recommended for soldiers, politicians and middle managers.

Top badass moment?  Take your pick, there’s plenty of choice.

Saving Private Ryan at IMDB (8.6 / 10)

Saving Private Ryan at Wikipedia


Occupation / Inapproprate Advertising


Occupation  -  Front DVD Cover  -  UK ReleaseThis powerful, compelling drama traces the fraught interwoven journeys of three British soldiers who take part in the invasion of Iraq in 2003, return to Manchester, but are then inspired to revisit the chaos of Basra.  Danny, Mike and Hibbs, friends in the same army regiment, have their own very different reasons to return.  Danny (Stephen Graham) sees rich financial pickings in private security work, in a land awash with billions of dollars of reconstruction money.  Mike (James Nesbitt) has fallen in love with Iraqi doctor Aliyah.  Hibbs (Warren Brown) goes back because he believes in the mission to rebuild the country and help the Iraqi people.  Life in the new Iraq however is unpredictable, chaotic and dangerous.  Over the course of five years, the friendship of the three men comes under fierce pressure, as they pursue their dreams against the backdrop of growing fundamentalism, sectarian violence, and corruption in the world of privatised security.  Occupation is a darkly humorous and emotionally involving story, which slowly builds to a gripping and moving finale, as their conflicting ambitions come to define not just their own lives, but the war and the occupation of Basra itself.

2009  –  Certificate:15  –  British Film
Rating Details:  Strong language, injury detail and violence
9.5 out of 10

I went to see Bad Religion last Tuesday at Camden Koko. Whilst standing in the queue waiting to go in, (no thanks to the Tube, which thought it would be funny to have no trains in either direction running to Mornington Crescent), someone was handing out flyers for other gigs.  After having one of these shoved into my hand, I took a brief look at it.  FFS!  What do I see on the front but concerts by Barry Gibb, Rick Wakeman, Peter Gabriel and Wet Wet Wet.  I’m a baby-eating punk skinhead monster, standing in a queue waiting to see one of the best American punk bands ever and what do I get given?  A flyer for two very old prog rockers, a guy who sounds like he hasn’t got any balls and the extremely well named Wet Wet Wet.  If anyone at the Bad Religion gig decided to go to any of those concerts, he or she should be shot for treason.  If would be more appropriate to give out money-off coupons for Bernard Matthews turkey drumsticks at the Vegan Society AGM. To say I was incandescent with fury would be to rather understate the feeling.  However, I somehow managed to control my rage.  Bad Religion was great.  The support band Arcane Roots didn’t really do anything for me musically, but their sound was the nearest I ever want to get to being shot.  Koko probably has the most powerful bass system of any venue for its size in London and they had the kick drum totally maxed out.  Everything in the place just shook.  I’ve never experienced that intensity of bass before, so thumbs up to the band for such an unpleasant experience!  This film has some seriously intense stuff and people being shot in it too.

I always find it difficult to assess what I think of films when they’re based on true events, especially when the events weren’t very long ago; the drama and history remain so interconnected and the effects of the latter so raw and often still evolving, that it’s difficult to be objective.  This is one such example.  This film was originally a three-part BBC miniseries and it’s awesome.  A totally absorbing and sometimes uncomfortable watch, it manages to give a real sense of the chaos, suspicion and differing world views of and in Iraq, during and after the American-led invasion, as it chops back and forward between Iraq and Manchester.  It also manages to effectively explore the effects of this mess on some of the people caught up in it.  It has a number of genuinely powerful scenes, the sort you just think “wow” after.  It looks very authentic, the acting’s excellent and the script very nuanced.  What a shocking nightmare it all was, and still is in many ways too.  As an entertaining drama and as a reflection of what went on, it’s essential viewing.

There is very little music in this film.  It’s there and adds nicely to the scenes when it’s used, but no one’s going to watch this movie for that reason.

No cats or chainsaws.  There may or may not be a decapitation, but I don’t want to spoil what’s one of the most intense scenes in the film, so you’ll just have to watch it to find out.

Recommended for politicians and anyone who has any decision-making role relating to Syria.

Top badass moment?  In a movie full of very flawed heroes, there’re plenty of would-be badass moments.  But being a Brit and this being a drama rather than a documentary, I’ve had to pick out Mike (James Nesbitt) and his mercy dash with the young girl who got blown up by a hand-grenade.  The hospital was a frightening example of what happens when you try to pour a gallon into a pint glass.  James Nesbitt is the Undertones number one celebrity fan too!

Occupation at IMDB (7.5 / 10)

Occupation at Wikipedia


Pan’s Labyrinth: 4.0 Stars


Pan's Labyrinth - Front Blu-ray Cover (UK)I got six new light bulbs this week.  This might not seem much of a big deal, but to me, after living in a perpetual twilight for the last month or two, is nothing short of a miracle.  The fact that I paid over £70 for them shouldn’t be allowed to dilute the effect of the spontaneous celebrations that have been breaking out throughout Cactus World to mark the occasion.  I now have light in my kitchen that doesn’t back away in fear when threatened by a candle, and a lounge that doesn’t has a less welcoming glow than a lump of plutonium in your bed.  Low energy light bulbs?  For £70 I expect them to be so efficient I actually receive payments for supplying electricity to the national grid every time I use them!

2006  –  Certificate: 15  –  Mexico

This is a brilliant film.  It’s original, interesting, childlike and innocent, yet grown-up and horrifying.  I watched it on Blu-ray and it sounded great and looked wonderful.  The only reason I haven’t given it a higher score is that I never quite connected with the main characters in it.  Even at its most intense, it did feel like they were playing a secondary role in supporting the movie’s feel and atmosphere.  In a different film I’d probably be moaning about how one dimensional they were, but in this case it doesn’t seem to matter; in fact their simplistic, goodness vs evilness helps to focus the mind on the textual elements of the film.  I’ve no idea what I just wrote means, but it sounds great to me!  It’s a wonderfully dark, genera-mixing and unique film.  Go watch.

Recommended for people that like the concept of horror nursery rhymes.

No cats, decapitations or chainsaws.

Top badass moment?  Mercedes dealing with Captain Vidal.  He was a seriously arrogant asshole with an inferiority complex and a whole take-away of chips on his shoulder.  Dealing with people like that is always badass.  The Joker look suited him.

Pan’s Labyrinth at IMDB (8.3 / 10)


Come and See: 4.0 Stars


Come and See  -  Front DVD CoverI returned to work today after two weeks off.  336 e-mails awaited my attention.  Not only that, but every time I did anything with any of them my copy of Outlook produced millions (well okay one each time then) of dialogue boxes screaming a warning at me that my mailbox was 95% full.  (Thanks Bill, just one at the start of the day would have been fine.)  Bloody Hell, it’s not the 3 Minute Warning, it’s just a bit of space on a hard drive somewhere, not a virus of “28 Days Later” proportions.  What an overreaction it all was; I can’t stand anyone that exaggerates things.  So anyway, I had in mind to now go and make a connection between this film and my hellish day on the frontline in the e-mail war zone, but somehow I can’t bring myself to do so; it’s just too much of a serious movie to trivialise it in that way.

1985  –  Certificate: 15  –  Soviet Union
Rating Details:  Strong violence and holocaust footage

This is a bleak, bleak film.  It starts off pretty depressing and then goes downhill.  Take a trip alongside a youngster called Florya Gaishun, who proudly joins the Belarusian partisans (the local resistance movement) during the Second World War and slowly changes before our eyes into an aged, half-deaf, psychotic teenager, over a period of one summer.  Yes, it really is as much fun as it sounds.  Made in the Soviet Union in 1985, it does at times have the feel of a propaganda film, except that in those, the ‘good guys’ are normally seen as happy, courageous and generally over-achieving.  In this they simply seem wretched, whilst the Nazis come across as Hell on Earth, destroying villages, stealing everything, murdering children and raping woman, whilst taking a lot of pleasure in doing so.  It takes a bit of time to get going too (it’s 137 minutes long) and I found some of the editing a bit confusing, as the passage of time wasn’t always easy to gauge.  It’s not Hollywood so there’re no heroes in this film.  Kudos to the actors for some of what they had to go through too, wading through bogs, being shot at with live ammunition and generally having to run away from explosions and stuff.  The acting, especially from the lead character, is top draw stuff.  I was a bit uncomfortable about the scenes that involved some of the horses or the cow in them though; it looked a bit too much like they were being treated in entirely inappropriate ways; it might look realistic, but there’s no way that sort of thing is acceptable in a film.  This isn’t an especially gory movie, it doesn’t need to be.  However much gross horror and torture porn I watch, it’s films that’re based on reality that I find the most horrific.  This is one of those.   If you need convincing that war isn’t much fun and isn’t something you’d want to get involved with, here’s a good place to start.  Probably one of the best war films ever made.  It’s not exactly what you’d call entertaining, but it’s the sort of movie that ought to be seen.

Recommended for anyone that’s had a bad day and wants to put it in prospective.

No cats and no decapitations.

Top badass moment?  I’m not sure about this film, but anyone who lived through the sort of things depicted in it and managed to keep a sense of proportion in their lives afterwards, is totally badass.

Come and See at IMDB (8.2)


War!


I’m sending this post from my secret underground bunker, so my apologies if it’s a bit of a mess as when I designed this place I forgot to include any lights, so it’s somewhat dark (well pitch black really) in here and I’m having to type from memory, never a popular option for me.

I’m in the bunker as I’m fighting a war against Them!.  But let me start from the beginning.  It’s hard to believe how hot it was just a few days ago, but, em, it was.  So I decided to open my bedroom window to let some air into my flat.  Penny loves the window being open too, as she can hang out on the window sill between the plants, smelling the air and generally watching what’s going on below.  Unfortunately, unbeknown to me, ‘they’ had been spending the winter preparing their forces ready to invade my flat and take from me everything I hold dear.  The open window and warm weather gave them their opportunity.  Before I could work out how to pronounce “zcghrtjhewjg srdlrktl’s hzzwquft” they were in, ants, the size of people (probably).  At one point during the ensuing battle there must have been nearly ten of them in my bedroom!  It was horrible.  One night I was even forced to retreat and sleep in the lounge, such was my worry that they’d take advantage of me in the night.

Now I have to remind people at this point that I’m vegan, although there’re three types of animal I have a pathological hatred of, wasps, sheep and ants.  I don’t wish them ill but quite frankly the day someone lends me a time machine I’m going to go back in time and tinker a bit with evolution to ensure they never come into existence.  Anyway, after a while I realised that The Ants were not taking my attempts at negotiation seriously; even my offer of a temporary summer home for them in one of the pot plants was rejected; I guess they thought they could take more by force.  It became apparent to me by Day 2, that I wasn’t going to win this war through talking or conventional warfare, (keeping the window closed, flicking them outside when I found them, etc).  They were just like the Borg.  I was facing the ultimate fighting force, one that seemingly had an endless supply of troops that never lose morale; they also seemed to have perfected the ability to teleport into my room too, as I never did work out how the hell they were getting in; even with the window closed they still appeared, walked about and did there diobolical ‘ant stuff’ in my bedroom, whatever that is exactly.  I even found one in my bed at one point, bloody pervert.  I will probably never recover from the emotional turmoil of it all, but in the end I was forced to use the Nuclear Option.  I had no choice.  I reasoned that in the end it would shorten the war by perhaps many months and ultimately reduce the suffering of millions (well me anyway).  It was a tough decision but that’s what I’m here for when it comes down to it.  So I ordered the full deployment of a bottle of Dettol Anti-bacterial Mould and Mildew Remover (which I just happened to have in the bathroom) and a can of Johnson Raid Ant & Cockroach Killer “kills in seconds and last for weeks” (that I purchased from a local arms dealer, codename “the corner shop”).  In fact they had to be deployed a number of times and I’m ashamed to say that the collateral damage was considerable, my hands smelt of bleach for days, two black t-shirts and some bedding were caught in the blast zone and now have brown bleach marks on them, whilst the window sill itself, the main combat zone, will probably never look the same again as the varnished wood surface has been partially destroyed.  It was all pretty horrible and most annoyingly I felt really bad seeing these horrid little insects perish one by one.  I feel like a mass murderer without a sociopathological shield to defend me from the emotional effects of what I’d done.  I will probably need counselling now.  However, as a means to an end it worked and my bedroom has been ant free for several days.  Which makes me wonder, why am I still sitting in this bunker? Duh!

Ants

The Ants Advance!

Writing this has actually made me itch all over.  Eew.

Right now I’m listening to “Sad?” by the BMX Bandits.