Posts tagged “Writer

Blood & Chocolate / My ‘New’ Phone


Blood & Chocolate  -  Front DVD Cover  -  UK ReleaseA werewolf tale from the producers of “Underworld”, “Blood & Chocolate” tells the story of Vivian (Agnes Bruckner), a young teenage girl who must choose between her love for a young artist and loyalty to her werewolf lineage.  Others may have secrets, but none as extraordinary as Vivian.  One of the last of her kind, she comes from a line of loup garoux, shape shifters able to transform into the form of both human and wolf at will.  When Vivian’s affections for a visiting artist threaten to reveal her family’s secret society, she must decide whether to prove her allegiance to their secret vows or follow her heart and betray them all.

2007  –  Certificate 12  –  American Film
Rating Details: Moderate violence, horror and drug references
7 out of 10

I’ve been provided with a new work mobile.  Well it’s not really new, it’s one that’s been ‘reallocated’; but it’s new to me.  Its predecessor, a seven-year-old Nokia 6300, had become a bit of an embarrassment, what with its unbusinesslike, tatty appearance and talk-time that struggled to get me past the ‘how are you?” stage of a phone conversation.  You can probably imagine how my pulling that out of my pocket at a critical moment in one of the many, high-powered meetings I attend, can undermine my negotiating position.  My new one is a Nokia E5.  It’s the first smart-phone I’ve ever had.  Something tells me it’s not a medal contender in the mobile coolness rankings, although as I don’t have a contract for it that includes a data allowance, this rather limits its use for anything resembling “smart” anyway.  It does seem to be able to ‘talk’ to my network at home though.  I’m not quite sure what all the buttons and icons are for yet, although I have managed to sort out the most important things, like the ringtones it uses.  For calls it plays “Do You Like Waffles?” by Parry Gripp, whilst for texts it blares out “Marco Polo” by Guttermouth.  The latter is 15 seconds of punk rock noise that when combined with its cheap, in-built speaker, is likely to send anyone else within 10m of it when it plays in an ‘office environment’, into an incandescent fury.  There’re quite a number of people in this movie who get pretty pissed about things too.

When they’ve got over bitching about how much this film doesn’t resemble the book of the same name, people seem to then suggest it’s some sort of teen romance about werewolves.  So let me tell you it’s really an out-and-out action movie; all it needs is Sylvester Stallone and it would be the whole package.  Big explosive finale?  Check.  Some guns and stuff?  Check?  An unlikely hero who performs way beyond the call of duty?  Check.  Some cheesy one-liners?   Check.  Being able to write and draw (our hero Aiden is a penniless graphic novel writer) is pretty cool; if you think my writing is bad you should see my drawing.  I took my last art exam when I was 14 years-old.  I got 18%.  I tried to draw sadness but it came out as a disgusting shambles of green, painted squiggles.  I imagine the teacher probably thought I was taking the piss but really, that was the best I could do.  Sadly (and somewhat ironically given the focus of my work), my canvas had all the emotionally resonance of a newly painted bathroom radiator, in magnolia.  To this day my ability to draw remains at the level of a 4 year-old; and not a talented one either.  I’m always a little in awe of those than can seemingly and effortlessly draw things; a genuine talent.  However, I’ve never considered that the traits that make someone a good artist or writer, would also equip the same person to be an action-hero too.  This movie is about a penniless artist/writer, who falls in love with a chick.  Of course, like many potential in-laws, hers don’t really take to him, so being werewolves they decide to kill him.  In the space of a day or two, our quiet, unassuming (although a little stalker-like) artist turns into one, badasss motherfucker, taking on half the werewolves in Bucharest.  To explain these abilities, the movie provides a brief throwaway line about something to do with his relationship with his father not being that great.  Bloody hell, poor guy.  What a bastard he must have been!  Aiden even manages to survive what looks like a good 50’ drop through a broken sky-light, before coming to a very sudden stop, dangling upside down, with his leg caught in a rope, without this causing him the slightest injury.  He even has the audacity to blame Vivian for the situation he’s in, even though he spends half the film virtually stalking her.  I’m certainly no expert on relationships, but something tells me theirs isn’t going to last much longer than the end credits.  Fortunately, what all this means is that I can admit to seeing this movie without having to invent an imaginary girlfriend “who made me watch it” as an excuse for doing so.  I have to say Agnes Bruckner does do a good, surly teenager, sulky pout.  It’s actually a decent film, well worth watching.

The soundtrack has a sort of gothic-Klingon-“The Equaliser” vibe going on.  Sadly it’s as ‘good’ as it sounds.  Serviceable but forgettable.

Recommended for artists, writers, teens, chocolate-addicts and action-heroes.  Not recommend for werewolves.  They always seem to end up on the losing side.

No cats, chainsaws or decapitations.

Top badass moment?  It has to be our mild-mannered, stalker/artist/writer/hero, Aiden.  He utters the one-liner “Drink Up” just before he sets fire to a load of alcohol to burn a couple of werewolves to death, after a fire-fight with a gang of them.  This is especially impressive as we’re not led to believe he makes a habit of this sort of thing.  The ability to up your game when the time comes is definitely badass.  It’ll be a brave person who gives any of the graphic novels he writes a bad review…

Blood & Chocolate at IMDB (5.2 / 10)

Blood & Chocolate at Wikipedia

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The Visitor / Ghost Trains


The Visitor  -  Front DVD Cover (UK Release)Walter Vale (Richard Jenkins, “Six Feet Under”), a widower of five years, lives an aimless life as a college economics professor in suburban Connecticut.  When Walter reluctantly agrees to fill in for a colleague at a conference in New York City he discovers a young couple, Tarek (Haaz Sleiman) and Zainab (Danai Gurira), have been scammed into illegally renting his vacant flat.  Walter agrees to let them stay until they find a place of their own.  However when an interaction with the police lands Tarek, an undocumented New Yorker, in an ICE detention centre, Walter emerges as the only person able to visit Tarek.  When Tarek’s mother Mouna (Hiam Abbass) appears in search of her son, Walter’s emotional commitment in Tarek’s case is sealed.  As the four people struggle to deal with the stark realities of the US immigration system and their own individual lives, their shared humanity is revealed in awkward, humorous and dramatic ways.

2007  –  Certificate 15  –  USA
Rating Details: Infrequent strong language
8.5 out of 10

In the last two days I’ve had the same, unnerving and surreal experience, twice; once last night and once this morning.  I’ve travelled on two trains and each time had a whole carriage to myself.  (I’ve seen plenty of films where people travel on empty trains and they never end well.)  Last night I could sort of understand; who wants to go from Oxford to London at seven minutes past midnight on a miserable, Monday evening?  (I’d been at a Stranglers gig; amazing band.)  But today I was going from Reading to Winchester at just gone midday.  I was really quite surprised (although relieved) to reach my destinations and not be accosted by a psychotic killer or two, or the undead, or some zombies; it was quite disappointing really.  There is something uniquely creepy about being on what feels like an empty train at night; you can’t see anyone, you can’t see anything out of the windows, you’re just in this metal tube that’s rumbling through the darkness like an out of control monster-thing.  It’s a bit of a tenuous link, but the last scene in this film takes place in a train station.

This is a great film.  It’s really well written, filmed and acted.  It makes a point (about the immigration system in the USA).  It has characters that don’t feel like they were cut out of the back of a cereal packet.  The interaction in it between people who, on the surface have little in common, is top stuff.  Despite their ‘illegal’ status, it’s hard not to feel sorry for Tarak and Zainab; in fact I can’t imagine anyone with any shred of humanity not sympathising with their situation.  Tarak is also Syrian, which give the film an extra poignancy at the moment, although it was made just before the civil war there started.  He comes across as a decent, nice person, a little reminder that most people there are just like the rest of us.  (At this point I started going on about Syria, politicians and diplomats, but when I read it back to myself it sound like total shite, so I deleted it; yes, it really was that bad.)  Anyway, yes, this film.  It was written and directed by Thomas McCarthy, who also wrote and directed “The Station Agent”, probably one of the best ten movies ever made.  “The Visitor” isn’t as good at that, but it’s still pretty awesome.  Watch.

This is another of those films where the music is almost a character in it.  I love them.  A lot of the ‘action’ revolves around Tarak teaching Walter how to play the djembe.

No cats, decapitation or chainsaws.

Recommended for the living.  Plenty of emotional ups and downs, so maybe not so good if you tend to throw up on rollercoasters.

Top badass moment?  When it comes to doing new things, I’ll be the first to admit I’m a coward.  My comfort zone is very well-defined and heavily defended by some serious, state of the art hardware.  Seeing Walter join the drumming circle in the park is most definitely badass.

The Visitor at IMDB (7.7/10)


Say Yes / Cleaning Toilets


Say Yes  -  Front DVD Cover (UK)Celebrating their first wedding anniversary, Yoon-hee (Chu Sang-mi “Soul Guardians”) and Jung-hyun (Kim Joo-hyuk “Blue Swallow”) embark on a road trip into the countryside.  During the trip they meet a stranger, M, (Park Joong-hoon “Nowhere to Hide”) and offer him a ride.  However things quickly turn sinister when M starts showing up at all the destinations the couple arrive at. Tensions escalate as this film becomes a taut psychological thriller that takes some unexpected turns.

2001  –  Certificate: 18  –  South Korea
Rating Details: Strong, bloody violence
7 out of 10

I’m pissed off today.  I feel like a toilet cleaner.  I feel like a toilet cleaner who’s getting blamed for the state of the toilets he’s cleaning.  I feel like a toilet cleaner who’s getting blamed for the state of the toilets he’s cleaning, but hasn’t been given the equipment he needs to clean them.  I feel like a toilet cleaner who’s getting blamed for the state of the toilets he’s cleaning, who hasn’t been given the equipment he needs to clean them and is then getting blamed for that too.  I feel like a toilet cleaner who’s getting blamed for the state of the toilets he’s cleaning, who hasn’t been given the equipment he needs to clean them and is getting blamed for that, whilst also being blamed for not cleaning them quickly enough either.  Cleaning toilets is literally a shit job.  On the upside, the couple in this film end up having an even more crap time than me.

This is a pretty obscure South Korean thriller/horror that’s actually not too bad.  Happy young couple go away for a few days to celebrate the husband’s success at getting a publishing deal for a book he’s written, nearly run a guy down in a service station car park, give him a lift somewhere because they feel bad about what they’ve done, then suffer the consequences as they realise they’ve picked up a psycho.  By and large, their reactions to things weren’t too outlandish most of the time, so the movie feels quite believable.  It’s films like this that I blame the lack of cohesion in many of our communities; no one trusts anyone these days.  How much nicer would it have been if the guy they picked up had turned out to be an all-around decent chap and they’d all become life-long friends?  Nice yes, but probably boring.  No, on second thoughts I think I prefer the fact that he spent the next few days terrorising them, trying to get the husband to tell him to kill his wife (the “say yes” of the title) and generally making their lives hell.  The couple was decent enough, quite easy to sympathise with.  The husband, Jung-hyun, started off as a bit of an ‘average-man’ trying to be the alpha-male and to his credit he did give the psycho a bit of a beating in the street at one point (and the latter wasn’t a small guy by any means), but he quickly realised he was out of his depth and didn’t continue to try to be a macho-style hero.  I’ve got to give him his credit though, he had to put up with a lot of shit (there’s a lot of it about at the moment) and he’d certainly earned the respect I accorded him by the time the film was over.  I thought the Korean police were pretty rubbish; the couple didn’t seem to think much of them either.  The psycho is suitably deranged, creepy looking and sounding; I couldn’t help thinking he’d probably had a toilet cleaning experience not unlike mine that had pushed him over the edge.  For all I know he had, as we learn very little about his life, but I guess he must have done something else with it as I can’t imagine he’d been regularly hassling holidaying couples over a long period of time.   The movie did drift into “Duel” and “The Terminator” territory once or twice, but if you’re going to borrow from elsewhere you may as well do so from the best.  It also felt like they’d finished making it and then thought, whoops, it’s not long enough and there’s not enough gratuitous violence in it either, so let’s add another 20 minutes and a load of blood and guts too. So watch out for the false ending and don’t get up to make a cup of tea until you see the credits.

Recommended for people who walk to the supermarket.  If you drive then don’t complain when you run into a psycho-shopper-hitchhiker from hell.  Statistically you’re probably more likely to get killed during the drive anyway.  In fact to be on the safe side, I recommend you use your local corner shop instead.  (I wrote this paragraph before I realised that they actually visit what looks more like a service station than a supermarket when they meet the nutter, but I was so pleased with it that I decided not to change it; it doesn’t take much to keep me happy…)

No cats or chainsaws and 1 decapitation.  That timeless classic,  ‘head in a bag’, used here for maximum impact.

Top badass moment?  Not once but twice, Jung-hyun has to deal with some pretty painful stuff being done to him by the psycho, but refuses to give in to protect his wife.  For an action-hero or superhero that would be tough enough, but this guy’s a writer, so you’ve got to big-up the respect for him.  You don’t need a huge gun to be a hero.

Say Yes at IMDB (5.5/10)


Betty Blue: 3.5 Stars


Betty Blue  -  Front DVD Cover (UK)Listen up, this is important.  I believe the Earth is about to be invaded and taken over by an evil alien, whose sole purpose is to enslave the entire human race and laugh in a really, really annoying way at our suffering.  Proof?  For a start, this film.  The main male character in it is called Zorg.  Is Zorg a common name in France?  I doubt it.  This film is clearly a message from the future sent back into the past, to warn us of the impending doom to come.  No one really calls their son Zorg, do they?  I hope not, because it’s the sort of name only megalomaniacs in 50’s pulp sci-fi and B-movies should have.  Emperor Zorg; Zorg the Mighty; Lord Zorg, Ruler of the Flatulent Empire and 10,000 Worlds; that sort of thing.  We never get to meet Zorg’s parents in this film, but honestly, what were they thinking?  They must have been smoking something when they came up with that name.  Then this evening I had my shopping delivered by someone called Zoltan.  Again, another clear example of a Flash Gordon era baddie, who was obviously casing the joint and looking for weaknesses in the Earth’s defences.  You shouldn’t allow the fact that he came not in a gigantic spaceship, but in the “cabbage van” (so the text from Ocado said), to deflect your attention.  He even had a bit of an accent, which I’m pretty sure wasn’t of this Earth.  These aliens, clever people, that’s why they’re ‘here’ and we’re not ‘there’.

1986  –  Certificate: 18  –  France
Rating Details:  Strong scenes of sex and nudity and some strong violence

Clocking in at almost three hours (it was the Director’s Cut), this is a loooong, French, romantic movie that takes us on a trip with young couple Zorg and Betty.  From painting beach houses, through to working in a pizza restaurant, writing books and selling pianos, it chronicles their relationship and the effect Betty’s (undefined) mental illness has on it.  Having a friend with the latter, I found it intensely saddening at times.  But I also enjoyed it in a rather Thomas Hardyish way, in the sense that I knew the relationship was probably doomed from the start and I was just waiting for it to crash and burn.  Now having just compared it to a quintessentially English author, it’s actually a very French film.  There’re plenty of examples of tasteful love-making (because the French are supposed to be good at that), as well as lots of ‘unconcerned nudity’ in it, most of it of the male variety it has to be said.  It also had several somewhat bizarre and funny scenes of what you might consider to be almost slapstick comedy too.  The ending is somewhat inexplicable as well, which seems to happen a lot in French films.  Ultimately though, it’s a downer of a movie and after spending three hours with the characters, sharing virtually every aspect of their relationship with them, it’s hard not to be affected.  I really felt sorry for them both.  It’s a nice looking film too (and I’m not just talking about the main characters) and the mono soundtrack is actually pretty decent.

Recommended for those who are willing to invest an evening in lusting after Betty or Zorg.

1 cat, no decapitations or chainsaws. The cat, a lovely white one, appears in three scenes and has a pivotal role right at the end, including a bit of (dubbed) dialogue.

Top badass moment?  Betty throwing a bucket of pink paint all over Zorg’s boss’s car.  He was a serious asshole and quite frankly a load of paint on his car was the least he deserved. When you’re boyfriend’s being a wimp and not sticking up for himself, someone has to be badass about it.  And let’s face it, who hasn’t thought of doing something like that to a crappy manager at one time or another?

Betty Blue at IMDB (7.2/10)