Stranded somewhere in the Ardennes after his van breaks down, Marc Stevens (Laurent Lucas “Harry He’s Here To Help”), a travelling cabaret singer, is taken in by a kindly inn keeper who offers to fix his van and give him shelter for the night. But the motivation for the innkeeper’s kind actions soon changes from altruism to a fervent desire to prevent his new guest from ever leaving. The thing is Marc reminds the lonely inn-keeper of his long-lost wife. Before Marc knows it, his van is sabotaged and he is stranded. But this is only the start of his ordeal and what follows has to be seen to be believed… “The Ordeal” (aka “Calvaire”) delivers a terrifying and darkly comic tale of obsession, kidnap, and borderline psychosis that brings to mind films such as “Deliverance”, “Straw Dogs” and “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre”, but that has a continental flavour very much its own.
2004 – Certificate: 18 – Rating Details: Strong bloody violence – Belgium Film – 5.0 out of 10
I don’t drink a lot of wine; (except ginger wine, but I’m not sure that really counts). I don’t know a lot about it either. I know it comes in three colours, bottles or boxes, sometimes it’s fizzy and in France they feed babies with it, but other than that… So imagine my surprise when I sat down on Friday evening and found myself drinking an excellent 2004, organic Merlot from the Central Valley of Chile. (Actually I bought it from Majestic Wines in Reading a number of years ago, due to my misunderstanding its rules about having to buy at least 12 bottles at a time; but you know what I mean.) I think I probably selected it based on four things; it was organic, it was vegan, it wasn’t from France and it was strong (14% vol). That’s basically how I select wine; although do generally prefer rosé wine because I can put it in the fridge and drink it cold, without the wine police raiding my home; and it’s a more interesting colour than white wine. I’m not especially a fan of red wine, but this was actually pretty nice. I’d had it laid down in my wine cellar for nearly ten years. (I don’t like to brag, but my personal wine cellar is a small rack I bought from Argos that sits on the bottom shelf of a bookcase in my hall.) I actually had to wipe all the dust off the bottle before opening it. Along with the bollocks written on the label and the lack of a hangover the next day, that pretty well demonstrates just how authentically high-quality it really was. In fact it was nice enough for me to finish off the whole bottle on my own whilst watching this film. With hindsight, it’s probably just as well, as this movie was a bit like the wine bottle’s label.
Well, this was all a bit rubbish. Weirdly, it seems to have a number of fans at IMDB, but really, it’s not very good. For a start it’s not funny. The sleeve says it is but it isn’t, unless it’s being ironic and we’re supposed to laugh at it because it’s so bad. The continuity is dreadful. Perhaps I’m missing something here, but to me it just looked like the weather changed from shot to shot; in one case from no snow at all to a thick layer of snow on the ground, in the middle of a chase. I’m sure dealing with weather is a nightmare for filmmakers, but most seem to manage. I didn’t find any of the characters the least bit sympathetic, not even the victim, although I think that was intentional; the guy was a stupid, boring wuss and his singing was crap too. There were just too many random incidents that really don’t go anywhere or explain anything. And at times the editing was more jarring than dropping to sub-light speed; (probably, as I’ve not actually done the latter, yet). Maybe I’m being a bit mean. Some of the cinematography is actually very impressive, the acting decent and the bizarre dance the guys do in the pub was nearly worth it for the wtf moment it provides. But no, actually I’m not. It’s entertaining in its own way, but I preferred my bottle of wine.
This movie has a very space soundtrack, very sparse. I guess what there is of it works well.
The trailer makes the film look a lot more horrific, a lot faster and more action packed than it really is.
Movie Weather Forecast. Heavy rain, followed by entirely random sunny spells, snow and rain showers, with the latter sometimes settling and sometimes melting very, very quickly, before suddenly coming back again. Cold at all times, but not so cold that a thin jumper won’t keep you warm enough.
Recommended for inn-keepers, cabaret singers and farmers.
No cats, chainsaws or decapitations.
Top badass moment? This is a movie with far too many arbitrary happenings in it, but credit where credit’s due. The random dance by the guys in the village pub is completely inexplicable, creepy and downright weird. Somehow (and I can’t really explain why), that makes it pretty badass.
The Ordeal at IMDB (6.2 / 10)
The Ordeal at Wikipedia
The Ordeal trailer at YouTube
The natives are growing restless in the tiny country of Grand Fenwick! There’s no indoor plumbing, no money to pay for it and no one’s had a hot bath in ages! Facing a winter without warm water, the conniving Prime Minister (Ron Moody, “Oliver!”) convinces the U.S. Government to give him a million-dollar grant by promising to use it for Grand Fenwick’s Space Program. There’s just one pesky problem: Grand Fenwick doesn’t have a space program! But when a local crackpot professor discovers that the region’s wine makes radical rocket fuel, the little nation determines to blast its way into the space race… and land on the moon before the U.S., Russia or anyone else! Get ready for a spoof on space travel and political plotting that’s so funny, it’ll have you howling at the moon! Full of “hilarious slapstick moments” (Boxoffice), this lunar laugh-riot is a “delightful farce” (The Film Daily) that’s out of this world!
1963 – Certificate: Not Rated – British Film
8.5 out of 10
My computer’s graphics card broke last week, which meant I had to buy a new one. So Cactus World said goodbye to its old Foxconn NVIDIA GeForce 8800 GTS and hello to the Asus NVIDIA GeForce GTX 760, which despite its marginally less impressive name is actually a lot more powerful. Consequently I can’t afford to eat this month, but if I ever find any time to play games, I’m sure I’ll experience an enhanced level of optical pleasure (and hopefully do a bit better too.) I have tried it out on one game, “BattleZone II: Combat Commander” and it was very good. (BZ2 is one of my all-time, favourite games). The alien scum had no chance. Then again, BZ2 was released in 1999, so a pencil and paper ought to be able to provide good graphics for it. BZ2 is one of only nine games I can honestly say I’ve ever managed to play all the way through, (even though I own around 90). The others are “BattleZone”, “Myst”, “Riven”, “Star Trek: Voyager: Elite Force”, “Star Trek: Borg”, “Star Trek: Starfleet Academy”, “Star Trek: The Next Generation: Klingon Honor Guard” and “The Longest Journey”. I must be the only person who’s still trying to finish “Carmaageddon II: Carpocalypse Now” and “Resident Evil” (as in the first Resident Evil game). What can I say? I’m hopeless at computer games and I like to explore the places I visit and not just go around killing everything. At the rate I’m going I probably won’t even unwrap my pre-ordered copy of “LEGO Batman 3” until around the year 2145. I think my oldest game is a 1990 ‘big box’ copy of “MegaTraveller 1: The Zhodani Conspiracy”. I haven’t actually got around to playing it yet, but it comes on a number of 5.25” floppy discs. However, this film is even older than that… and me.
If I’d tried to come up with a list of my favourite films when I was young, this one would have been in it. In fact I’d go as far as to say it’s one of the two films that stick in my mind the most from when I was little. (The other is “The Great Escape”, mainly because it always seemed to be on the TV every single Christmas.) When I got older and DVDs came along, it was one of the very first ones I bought and I think the first one I got from Amazon via its US site. This was back in 1993, when the idea of buying things like that from abroad still seemed a bit risky and weird. Sadly it’s not been released on Blu-ray yet, so I still have my non-anamorphic flipper disc, with the widescreen version on one side and a horrible pan-and-scan one on the other. The part where Bernard Cribbins tries to do what looks like The Twist in the café, only to find that the jukebox seemingly just plays music that would be more at home in barrel organ, has become a long-term memory that’s stuck in my mind for many years. I don’t know why; it’s funny how random things like that happen. Ed Bishop has a small part in it as an American Astronaut. (He later went on to become the commander of SHADO (Supreme Headquarters Alien Defence Organization) in “UFO”, where he got to drive around in a cool-looking car and hang out with attractive women in silver hotpants, who wore purple wigs and worked on the Moon.) With its political satire and caricature of the British Empire, “The Mouse on the Moon” is still pretty funny. But more importantly it’s part of my childhood. It reminds me of when I was young, my parents were both alive and life felt far simpler. A wonderful film.
It doesn’t really have much of a soundtrack. A few bits of incidental music but that’s about it.
Movie Weather Forecast. Nothing to report. I’d watched it before I decided to record the weather, so I’ve nothing much to say, although anecdotally I think it was pretty good, warm and sunny.
The trailer’s actually quite fun, although it wasn’t easy to find a decent copy online, despite there being one on the DVD itself.
Recommend for politicians, astronauts and twitchers.
No cats, chainsaws or decapitations.
Top badass moment? Grand Fenwick manages to use its locally produced wine to power a space rocket. I guess that’s pretty badass, although if you ask me it looks even more like a criminal waste of good alcohol. It must have been an excellent vintage. Perhaps it’s something for Richard Branson to look into, after the very sad new this week about Virgin Galactic.
The Mouse on the Moon at IMDB (6.5 /10)
The Mouse on the Moon at Wikipedia
The Mouse on the Moon trailer on YouTube