Monday, 26 January 2009

The Day The Earth Stood Still (1951)...

I've still not seen the remake - and nor did I want to until I'd seen the original film. Well, now I have seen the original, so I'm all open for seeing the remake now for a good old compare-and-contrast sesh.

I really enjoyed TDTESS, and the simple old-school pleasures of a classic flying saucer and the imposing figure of Gort, and indeed I could now fully enjoy the gag from Evil Dead 3 about "klaatu, berrata, ni-*cough-cough-cough*".

In fact, I watched TDTESS with my Dad, who had seen the movie when he was a young lad in the cinema upon a second run of the film, and we both revelled in the chuckles that hindsight provides.

Obviously it was a totally different world back then - these days "Carpenter" would be automatically labelled a paedophile at the very mention of taking the leading lady's young boy out for the day around the city - but clearly not so back then.

It really is a cinematic classic however, and the plot holes don't matter in the end (e.g. why only two measily guards outside the spaceship, why did nobody take a picture of 'The Man From Mars' with his helment off etc), because this film deeply speaks for the time in which it was made. The fresh threat of Communism and the recent discovery of atomic energy.

Indeed, the idea that "Carpenter" and Gort are merely policing the galaxy and suggest we'd be wise to quit our warring ways is interesting - for once the alien invader isn't the bad guy, and in this case it is planet earth who is seen as the bad guy.

It's also interesting that both sides look down on each other - we earthlings cock our brows at "Carpenter" as he surely has no idea how complex human society is, and he vice-versa treats us similarly in terms of earthlings being basic animals playing with primative tools.

The conclusion however - essentially, "don't be violent under the fear of galactic violence" - left food for thought, and having recently re-watched A Clockwork Orange, the theme and idea of "choice" came into play. For a race of space-men so advanced, they still resort to threats to cease a threat. There is no choice for mankind. We are threatened, in a somewhat bullying way, to be peaceful or we'll all be blown up.

You don't choose to live peacefully, you only decide to out of fear - mind you, the film doesn't go that far or gets into such a meaty issue.

It'll be interesting to see how the remake handles the original, and as I watched it I was thinking to myself how certain images or sequences could easily be translated into our world 50-odd years on. But importantly - which one will have the purest vision.

While TDTESS 1951 was no doubt populist in its general presentation, it was quite something for its different take on the alien invader story while everybody else thereafter would indulge in gleefully exploitative notions of giant ants, 50ft women and so on.

Will TDTESS 2008 feel cold and corporate? Will it feel too flashy, too smoothly made? Will it blow it all and churn out another lame-arse remake, which is usually the case of late when it comes to remakes of cinematic classics. When I see the 2008 version, I'll be sure to ponder these thoughts.

Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa...

I was quite late to seeing the first Madagascar, and for some reason I ended up watching it - and had a bloody good time too, especially enjoying the scene-stealing side-characters of the two chimps and the gang of penguins (who are fortunately back more-than-before in this sequel).

Essentially it's more of the same from before, although with a plot that's a bit more scatter gun and far looser than in the first film - mainly due to splitting the four characters up so they can go off and join their respective species in the nature preserve in which the film takes place. Toss in another couple of side-plots, and you've suddenly got an awful lot of ground to cover in 90 minutes.

As a result you often feel like you're always missing every one of the characters, as they can often disappear for long chunks of time as we race around all the other sub-plots going on elsewhere.

It still works, but not as well in filmmaking terms as the first movie did (even if that one wasn't rocket science to begin with anyway). In the end though, you've got nice characters with morals to learn while giving the audience a considerable number of chuckles along the way - for me at least, most of said chuckles came from the penguin gang, who stole the entire movie.

More penguins please, huzzah! ... Or could that be a case of "too much of a good thing"?

Thursday, 22 January 2009

The Wrestler...

I hadn't paid a great deal of attention to the run-up to this flick, but I was aware of it - I'd seen the hype getting built up, Rourke all over the interview circuit, awards talk and so on ... but it still wasn't quite on my radar until the lads and I needed something to go and see at the cinema (especially as one of our intended flicks to see is currently not available due to technical difficulties, and another has one measily showing at half nine, which wasn't do-able).

Despite the annoying fizzle from the half-buggered-out speaker to the mid-right in the somewhat pokey theatre the film showed in, it was a bloody great film. It really was.

Rourke has certainly never done better, and it is most definitely the victory flag planted atop the mountain of his career comeback which has been developing over the past few years. I've not really seen much of Rourke's pre-boxing phase career, but quickly noticed him in several post-boxing phase flicks - such as Spun, Once Upon A Time In Mexico and of course Sin City.

Having seen Aronofsky's Requiem For A Dream (excellent, but gruelling by the end, and the best anti-drugs movie that should be - but isn't - shown in schools), I had an idea of what to expect from The Wrestler. Indeed it's at times a dark film about missed opportunities, faded career hopes, dreams and everything in between. It's about lost family, lost connections and even about mortality and our bodies failing us when we need them most.

In a really quick summary, it's like Rocky Balboa meets Requiem For A Dream ... Requiem For Rocky Balboa then. There's more flair and a feel for the dramatic (in this case, the wrestling scenes), but this is probably the more realistic tale of an old war horse battling onwards despite being long past his prime.

Balboa was that 'one in a million' story ... The Wrestler is far more down-to-earth, and far more in touch with the reality of what becomes of every other person in that million who didn't make it, who didn't have a winner's story. It sounds depressing, I'm sure - but it works.

You root for Rourke's "Ram", you suffer with him as he struggles to keep himself going, as he desperately tries to reconnect with those he has left behind, or those he wants to join with to start afresh.

The ending - and don't worry, thar be nay spoilers ahead - is almost annoyingly open. Almost. You can make up your own ending, the post-script if you will, but on screen we're left with Ram doing what he does best - what defines him, what is his entire world.

Rocky Balboa certainly pushes the popular buttons and provides aspiration and hope, and is also a great film, while The Wrestler gives you both of those, but with a dose of reality check, and a lot more post-viewing food for thought. Both movies do what they do wonderfully, and indeed they both star two resurrected war horses hitting back triumphantly after troubles, strife and obscurities.

It's only mid-January, but already this is a strong contender for the best film of 2009 for me.

How To Lose Friends & Alienate People...

Indeed, I'm quite late in blogging up these thoughts, but what do you expect from of a 2-out-of-5 movie? Yep, Total Film had it pegged right (pun not intended)...there's a couple of giggles but that's your lot. You don't give a bollocks about any of the characters, Pegg's protagonist is essentially an unlikeable tosser until the end (by which time it's too little too late) - and then support wise, there's not much to chew on either from a series of dull or phoned in performances from those surrounding Pegg's character.

The vapid and soul-sapping world of a high-profile magazine that sucks up to pretentious MTV-suckled 'filmmakers' turns you off immediately and keeps you switched off throughout and well ... that's about it really ... it's a bit of a chore to sit through, barely raises a mere giggle from start to finish and is generally just a disappointment considering the potential it could have had.

Tuesday, 20 January 2009

Eyes Wide Shut, Role Models...and Kubrick...

So here we are, post #251, and as I've not blogged for a bit I thought I'd pimp up some quick thoughts on a couple of recently viewed flicks.

Role Models - the lads and I originally went to see The Spirit, but our nearest cinema is having some odd problems with the film, or probably the theatre in which it is being screened. So it was only around for about a week and a half, and since then it's not been around - hopefully they'll fix whatever the stupid problem is and put it back on screen so we can go and see it.

As a result we checked out Role Models instead, which was on our to-see-list anyway. All pretty good fun, chuckles were had, and like many films of its ilk, when the third act kicks in so the plot can be resolved, the humour tails off a bit - but I've seen far worse comedies in my time, and it's good for a laugh with the lads, and certainly worthwhile seeing if you're a fan of Paul Rudd's style - who delivered some of the guffiest of guffaws in the movie.


Now, I've been in a bit of a Kubrick phase for the past several days as I snapped up the 10-disc Stanley Kubrick box set (2001, A Clockwork Orange, The Shining, Full Metal Jacket, Eyes Wide Shut, plus Stanley Kubrick: A Life In Pictures - and all the copious extra features).

I'd never seen Eyes Wide Shut, I'd only seen snippets of it on Sky last year at most. I just never got around to it I guess, so here we are almost 10 years after it came out (and indeed almost 10 years since Kubrick's far-too-early death), and I finally checked it out thanks to this superb 10-disc box set.

I hadn't watched a Kubrick film all the way through in a fair while (there's just so many movies out there to see), but I'd been very strongly into Kubrick in my GCSE and A-Level years, and then I got distracted by many other films throughout my time at university - although I still found time to fit in a comparison between Saving Private Ryan and Full Metal Jacket - in terms of how each film showed us war. The former shows us warfare from a soldier's eye view, meanwhile the latter shows us warfare from a filmmaker's eye view.

But anyway, the point being, I realised it had been quite some time since I really indulged in some Kubrick - and with this box set, I finally got to see Eyes Wide Shut - which alerted me to the fact that I'd forgotten how sumptuous filmmaking could be. The meticulous attention to detail, the measured feel throughout, the slow but steady pacing and that deeper-something, which only comes out after a myriad of takes.

The lighting in itself was superb, but then the whole film was pretty damn great too. It's an intriguing film, and I just get the feeling that perhaps it needed a few years to mature to really show what it's made of. If memory serves it had a mixed reception, or was considered "unfinished" (even though this was not the case in actuality).

So indeed - it has stuck with me since seeing it.

It really is a great thing, this box set business, you can really indulge in whatever it is you have chosen - in this case the later works of Kubrick with lashings of the old ... extra features. It's great to rediscover these films all over again - and indeed 2001, which I'd only seen once before many years ago, has been particularly lodged in my brain since I watched it on this DVD set.

Last night I re-watched A Clockwork Orange, for the first time in a good few years, indeed it was the film of my final year in GCSE - it even became the focus of my final piece for my 2-D Art course (I still have the painting itself, in all its youthful obsession, covered up in the garage). It really took me back to that time - the film itself had only just been re-released in the UK, following Kubrick's death, and I subsequently dived into the world of the film - I saw the film, listened to the soundtrack, and read the book. I will point out that the obsession wasn't with the violence on show - indeed the violence is only a small part of the film (a bigger part in the book) - I guess it was really just the film that captured my imagination at that time when I was 15/16 years old.

Next up - re-watching The Shining for the first time in, yep, a good few years. Then obviously, Full Metal Jacket (which seems to have an interesting line-up for the commentary).

Alright, I've rambled on long enough - this has really become a post that's like a sandwich - Role Models is a sliver of meat wedged between two chunks of really thick-cut Kubrick bread, hehe.

Monday, 12 January 2009

A rant about Max Payne and videogame-to-movie adaptations...

Movie adaptations of videogames ... there's not much of a history of quality there really. Sure, I enjoyed Mortal Kombat a fair bit when I was a teenager - but that was the last time I saw it (I should re-watch the video I have of it, come to think). Doom momentarily entertained me, but then my mind came around and realised it was mostly naff - even if the much-talked-about FPS sequence was interesting.

The thing with the Doom movie though, is that even though they cut out all the Hell-related schtick (goodness knows why, Americans in the bible belt can't get enough of describing how hideous hell is should you dare do a single thing that might prove entertaining or pleasurable - meanwhile those not in the bible belt aren't bothered about religion, so they're not disturbed by the notion of hell) ... they still kept it to an "R" rating with swearing and gore and bouts of manliness ... and a chainsaw.

Silent Hill, too - which I maintain as the current best when it comes to videogames adapted into movies - stuck with an "R" rating and delivered on the juicy, gory horror in a film that, while perhaps a tad overlong - and not particularly deep - at least presented a good stab at bringing a videogame to life on the silver screen. That said, I'm not a Silent Hill gamer, so I wouldn't know the first thing about how it translates - but at least to me, a layman of the Silent Hill franchise, thought it was a decent effort.

Now - Max Payne ... the game was (and still is) a fantastic outing, and likewise Max Payne 2 was another slice of gaming gold, and with such a strong story behind it (and the added help of Hollywood-inspired action bursting from its seams) you'd have thought (and I certainly did) that Max Payne the videogame, would turn into a good Max Payne movie.

But what have we learned from videogame-to-movie adaptations (especially when they're connected to Uwe Boll's name) from the past? Yep - they're generally not much cop at all, and at best cater to teenagers who haven't developed their cinematic taste buds yet, or adults who still think like teenagers. Max Payne is no different, with the added insult of being rated PG-13.

It's all pathetic from the off - even if the visual look of the movie impresses/stays generally faithful(ish) - the original story is buggered about from all angles, with the added insult of this daft demon motif (if I dare attach such a high-falutin' word to something as basic as this flick) ... and since when was Lupino a buffed up marine ... and what happened to Vlad ... and what's Beau Bridges' character doing in it at all ... and why the fuck is Jim Bravura - an old white guy - being played by fuckin' Ludicris?!

It's all a fist-fuck to the fans from the off, especially with the briefly-used-but-then-shafted-forever-more flashes of red to denote violence, which they cannot show because it's a fucking PG-13 ... and speaking of fuck, that's something they can't use in a PG-13 either. To think, you can run around beating people up and shooting them - in a really stylish, romanticised and 'cool' way - but heavens forbid if little Johnny hears a tough guy in a shitty job, or a smacked-out crook say on itty-bitty "fuck"!

It's like Terminator 3 - absolute bullshit, and rated PG-13 having come from an "R" franchise. Same for Alien VS Predator, same for Die Hard 4 ... and what on earth is the point when in America any child or "minor" can be escorted before the silver screen by an adult regardless. Stop fucking off the fans of the franchise that made it popular in the first place, and leave the source material alone.

It really is a complete waste of time from start to finish, and a hugely missed opportunity. Goodness knows what Sam Lake and company could think to say after it had been previewed for them (after a special screening of the new Alan Wake trailer, I might add - another sure-fire critical-and-commercial-smash for the developers coming soon), because if I was in their boots I'd have struggled to escape the theatre without brandishing the movie-makers a bunch of charlatans for raping my creation.

Wahlberg could have carried off the character properly under better direction and unrestrained by a pathetic PG-13 rating. Mona could have been better utilised, and really required a better suited actress who actually looked something like Olga thingymybob from Quantum of Solace ... the sinister Valkyr was skirted around too much with this silly demon motif ... the plot was all over the shop, we couldn't give a buggery about any of the characters (unlike in the game where they were fully realised people - despite being CG creations), and while the gunplay was at times close to achieving that sense of flair that the videogame possessed, it oftentimes ended up flapping around in the world of "meh" or the land of "lame".

Max Payne the movie - it didn't come together, what a shocker - yet another videogame to movie adaptation that fails to live up to the source material, and yet another jaded sigh collectively released from another fanbase. When - for the love of decency - is there going to be a proper videogame adaptation?!

If any Hollywood type with a sense of wanting to produce a GOOD movie, rather than some vague box-ticker bag of bolts, is sat there reading this - gimme a pile of dosh and the rights to STALKER: Shadow of Chernobyl - and then gimme the Directing reigns and I'll gladly do my bloody-fisted best to wrestle a proper adaptation onto a silver screen.

And I'm deadly serious. I'd gladly do my level best.

Friday, 9 January 2009

SAW V...

Yes - it has taken me ages to get around to musing on this flick - but never mind, because here comes some muse-juice.

Saw V, basically it's an entire film made simply to explain what the fuck happened in Saw IV, and why the fuck that Hoffman dude - who looked pretty much identical to that Strahm guy - decided to come over all Jigsaw's New Apprentice. As Amanda got the Alan Sugar treatment for not paying attention to "the rules", and simply made torture devices to do nothing but kill, she was out of the game.

There's a similar strand connected to this Hoffman dude, but it's all pretty up in the air to be honest. Why bother investing the time and effort into believing what's happened when it'll just be re-explained in the next movie or two?

I thought the original Saw was a genuinely interesting and fresh slice of low budget indie horror ... then Saw II happened (resulting from a non-Saw script that was so similar to the franchise in question here, they just said "oh fuck it, just make that the next Saw movie instead") which was decidedly "meh" ... then Saw III came along, and I thought tidied it all up quite nicely. I would have ideally left it there - Jigsaw dies, Amanda dies, that nurse dies, the dude dies and the kid is left in that room - a suitably bleak, but final ending to the franchise.

Then they simply had to blunder in with the abominable Saw IV, in which they thought "oh bugger, we've practically killed off every single character except for one or two 'background artists' who had a couple of lines - let's make them the new focus of the movie!" ... so we ended up with that SWAT guy, who suddenly decides to overstep his official duties and come over all Inspector Gadget - minus the gadgets, humour, dog, niece, but with all the dopey barging forward.

I bet he wishes he had a ruff-talking dog and a super-smart crime-fighting niece watching his back though, because like many of the characters in the Saw franchise, they don't pay a blind bit of notice to "the rules" - a factor especially galling in Saw IV and now Saw V. You'd have thought that, mostly being detectives, they'd detect the key to surviving a Jigsaw "test" - do what he says, listen carefully to the message (although admittedly, you don't have to listen that carefully to get the underlying message).

At this stage it's become a franchise centred around torturing bastards and testing career-obsessed people in possession of one-tracked-minds.

Saw V is no different - you've got the ludicrous amount of time-line-bothering back-and-forth, a protagonist that doesn't pay attention to "the rules", a bunch of daft twists, more evidence of how Jigsaw seemingly possessed the ability to foresee the future as clear as crystal (explained limply by saying 'if you can predict human behaviour, then you'll do alright in this game sunshine') and of course - lashings of gore.

Now, as a gore-hound, the effects are eye-saucering ... although the sheer volume of nastiness, rather than Savini-style spectacle and magic, becomes swiftly hard-to-swallow, especially when you realise that there's yet more Saw films to come ... a sixth for sure.

Like I suggested earlier, it should have ended at Saw III, nuff said ... but oh no, they've gotta keep blundering on, making the franchise stray into intensely preposterous territory and further and further away from it's indie roots of intrigue and shock.

Saw V didn't shock me. I did grimace a couple of times - but then again, if you don't grimace at some poor bastard's forearm bursting through his flesh with squishy sound effects, then you simply aren't human and nobody in their right mind would want to meet you down a dark alley.

Was Saw V any better than Saw IV? Probably, because it explained (mostly) what the fuck Saw IV was supposed to all be about ... and I did gain glimmers of interest by saying to myself "hey, it's Morris from 24" or "hey, Julie Benz has had a boob job, hasn't she?".

The franchise really has become an industry unto itself (with spiralling production costs, and diminishing returns) ... a cookie cutter industry. Take the "Hello Zepp" theme tune, whack it on the audio track, give the cameraman some speed and some assorted hallucinatory drugs so he can flap around all over the latest trap like an ADD-addled hamster, have the writers take another kind of drug that lends itself to developing vast plot twists that could rival the daftest conspiracies bandied about by morons on "teh intarwebz" for head-scratched "eh?"-ness ... ... *gasp* ... ... then get an editor who also acts like a drug-addled rodent, and some CGI whizz-kid to splash a bit of digital-gore about to help turn the whole film into a frenetic lump of chaos in post production.

And new to the method with Saw V, add a bunch of distracting oval patches of post-production work where you've had to lighten the image up because you've suddenly realised the image is too dark, when really, you should have just left it alone.

So in summary (about time too), Saw V ... well I guess it's better than Saw IV, but that movie was utter shite, so it's not saying much really is it? Well, see you in a few months for some chit-chat about Saw VI, I guess...*sigh*

My first ever car tyre change...

This morning I was heading off to a meeting to hand over the final renders for the Sexual Ethics DVD that will be getting put together this month.

On my way there I found the steering sagging to the left a fair bit - the car always tugs to the left a little bit anyway, and considering the sheer cold we've been having lately (as low as minus 12 centigrade for those of you of a non-UK-resident persuasion) ... and perhaps my own limited car know-how ... I was figuring the steering column might be suffering from the cold snap, being that it's power steering and all.

Then over the sound of the stereo (at that point it was The Ramones) I started hearing a rather odd noise, just a lot of noise really and I began to think the engine was gonna give out - again feeding into my "it's the really cold weather" theory (the car hasn't really moved in the past couple of weeks), but then all of a sudden as I was beginning to slow for a car up ahead there was an loud bang/thud and the car drooped (seemingly) momentarily to the left - I thought I'd gone into a pot-hole that I'd not spotted.

With that distraction done with, there was some sturdy breaking for the person up front who'd now decided to turn right. At this time I was getting some severe steering wheel wobble, which only worsened considerably when I accelerated away again after the car in front had moved aside - clearly, something very wrong had happened and I ditched the car in a random drive way less than 100 metres away (which was handy).

Get out, have a gander - yep - flat tyre, my first ever flat tyre.

Rang my folks to let them know (a prudent idea considering my battery was (in)conveniently running low), and let the guy who I was meeting know too. Right - with my Dad heading out to provide back-up automatically (that's what good Dads do after all), I set about gathering the tools - the thingymy that you wind round (I forget the name, haha) and the jack (which I'd forgotten was under the bonnet in a little compartment.

Right - those tools now ready, let's get the spare tyre ... lift up the boot carpet ... where's the bloody tyre?! I'd been thinking of my Dad's car, which has the tyre in a cubby hole inside the boot, but that's not the case on my car - check the manual and yep, it's underneath and I have to unscrew a decidedly French device to unlock and lower the spare.

At which point my Dad had already arrived (the kind lady who owned the house and in turn drive way I was parked on, letting him park up at her garage) with experience and gloves.

With ideal supervision - in a veritable father-son moment - we set about jacking up the car, although I made sure I was doing it all to acquire my own experience. Anyway - car up - nuts off (tight enough to require a swift kicking), tyre off and ... what do you know ... it wasn't a normal flat ... and it wasn't a pot-hole I'd gone through.

In fact - the tyre had exploded. I'd had a "blow-out" at 40mph (approx), hence the bang/thud I'd heard and the violent shake of the steering wheel. So it's was double-experience this morning for me then - how to handle a blow-out (instinctively it seems, and grip the wheel like a bastard) and change a tyre.

Anyway, new tyre on, pressure checked and off I went ... ... remembering after almost setting off to fasten the spare tyre clip thingymajig - the very French solution to the problem of securing a spare under the car, that is. A moment of faff later and all was well again and off I trundled, my Dad taking the blown out original back home (basically on the inside of the wheel (which you can't see when the wheel is attached, of course) there was just a huge gash around the entire circumference).

And if that wasn't an eventful enough journey, some more firm breaking was required when a 4x4 decided to pull out at an inopportune moment ... yeah, cheers for that, haha.

So yep - at the ripe old age of 24, I got my first opportunity to change a car tyre ... ... and have a blow out at the same time.


In other news - Contempt of Conscience is apparently going to be shown on Al-Jazeerah (the English-speaking version of the news channel, Sky channel 5-something-something). Not sure when, but when I do know, I'll pimp the details here.

Monday, 5 January 2009


I've always liked Haggard - Bam Margera's first foray into fiction-based filmmaking - and so it was about bloody time he got around to doing another one, rather than so much of this MTV japery.

The problem however, with Margera's style of fictional filmmaking, is that it all ends up being a bunch of ideas tied together somewhat loosely, often involving so many in-jokes you have to be a Margera-follower to get a good amount of laugh-time out of it.

Haggard though, when compared to Minghags, certainly had a much tighter narrative through-line to guide us through the silliness and bum-based crudeness (even if it was all a bit melodramatic and over-acted when it got down to the nitty-gritty).

Minghags on the other hand, has a story running throughout, but quite often it meanders off into numerous alleys that ultimately end up unexplored to enough extent. It ricochets from one in-joke to another, one wild idea to the next. As a result it all feels a bit cluttered and scattershot.

Somewhat annoyingly, the Margera/Frantz visual style hasn't really developed either. Constant wobbling around rather than any attempt to gain consistent coverage, scattered use of the distracting fish-eye lens and over-use of fast-motion (although not quite as much as Haggard, which used it as excessively as a kid with a new, exciting toy), to name a few things.

There needs to be a bit more organisational effort put into a film to really make it hang together ... some tighter writing would really sort this out, and when done right can still include all the daft ideas to make your heart content.

Enough of the criticism though. Ultimately I did enjoy Minghags - and this was during a rather dribbly, shivery time in a rather violent outburst of post-New Year illness. No doubt upon second viewing, I'll like it more without the distraction of an aching nasal cavity, of sore teeth, of a bunged up hooter, of watery eyes and a dry mouth.

Mind you, this film probably works best with the employ of booze and some mates to watch it with (and probably something else, for those of you so inclined).

And it is good to see Margera looking (albeit briefly) outside of his usual circle of family and friends to find actors ... although like I said, this is brief. The majority of the film is a veritable who's who of the Margera universe ... which also goes for locations - however, that said, thankfully we don't see a huge amount of familiar settings (it was a bit much in Haggard to be honest, to see the same locations we'd seen plenty of already). And even though there is joy to be had from the likes of Pop-Pop, Mark the Bagger and Boof, the stuttery editing down of their 'one line at a time' coached performances does prove somewhat distracting after a while.

Hopefully with his next fictional outing, he'll seek to address some of these niggles ... to make something a bit more consistent, a bit more organised, a bit more polished and detailed - while importantly keeping all the infectious silliness that makes his stuff worth watching in the first place, which is certainly found in abundance in Minghags.

Ghost Town...

Ricky Gervais ... he's a funny fucker isn't he? Yes he is, and Ghost Town doesn't fail to get a laugh out of a Gervais fan, and while quite a lot of the plot is standard, it does what it does well - with ample back up by Tea Leoni as the cute, cooky chick.

However, amongst the stock parts, there are moments of genuine surprise and warmth - it certainly cheered me up when I watched it with a ghastly cold (at the time of viewing I was dribbling profusely and going through a session of 'the sweats'), and yet "lulz" were indeed had.

Good for a laugh and ideal for Gervais fans.

Yes Man...

Danny Wallace ... us Brits know him as "the guy off the telly who does weird-idea docu-tainment shows". The Americans probably have no idea who he is whatsoever, so they'll miss the cameo in a bar scene by the writer himself, whose book about him saying "YES!" to everything for a year (if I'm not mistaken) was used as a basis for this Jim Carrey vehicle.

I went to see it between Xmas and New Year, and while not a master stroke of comedy, it ticks all the right boxes for a solid chunk of entertainment. While yes, Carrey does the serious stuff well, we do rather like seeing him flap around like a clown (have you seen Ace Ventura lately? Damn that stuff's still gold).

No doubt the film is only loosely based on the original book, but it marches along with a sure stride and makes you chuckle - so aye, it's definitely worth seeing.

Mum & Dad...

Low budget Brit-horror, the British Texas Chainsaw Massacre as those behind the flick tout it, and you can see why. A ram-shackle band of a 'family' inflicting untold horrors upon their captives, while the filmmakers completely shred the rosy image the vast majority of the viewing public have when "family" springs to mind ... or indeed "Mum & Dad" ... which is quite possibly at the heart of why this flick fucks with your head.

Just saying the title immediately sparks your brain into thinking that you're on about your own parents, when in fact you're talking about the fictional "Mum & Dad" in this "micro budget" horror (the words of Microwave, one the groups behind it, not me - £100,000 to me is a shedload of cash).

Anyway - fucked up this movie most definitely is, and it's not always from what you see - it's often what you see suggests. At the peak of this mountain of creep-inducing familial slaying is 'what' is upstairs ... when you think beyond what you're simply seeing in those moments, and a bit deeper (as the result of a few words), you can't help but screw yourself up into a ball making a variety of disturbed and/or disgusted noises.

It's low budget, it has a story, it sits amidst a group of horror movie peers which have always sat high above the rest of the genre - and indeed the many of today's offerings. Hostel as a franchise was never that good (I maintain that the two movies could have been merged into one script, and that that on film would have been worthwhile) ... and SAW, as a franchise, farted out like a released baloon when #4 came along (#1 and #3 good, #2 meh, #4 shite, #5 I haven't even seen yet).

It doesn't hang around either at a slim 85 minutes, but it's a must-see for proper horror fans seeking something much more than another trap-obsessed torture film with either little to say, or such a preposterously convoluted plot you just can't be arsed.

And for those who saw High Tension (aka Switchblade Romance) and thought it was messed up when the dude shags that severed head ... well, take that general idea ... and just make it more disturbed. Yep, that's one of the multitude of reasons why "Mum & Dad" is highly recommended to all horror-heads.

Thursday, 1 January 2009

The first post of 2009...

Bloody heck, it's 2009 already!

Well, I'd said to myself a couple of weeks ago that I'd get my zombie epic script done before the end of the year, and hazah! I did!

And it actually still weighed in at 130 pages, in fact I ended up slimming the dialogue I'd considered extending ... well, maybe I added a bit and removed a bit, so overall it stayed the exact same length.

So between November 23rd and December 31st 2008 I hammered out my 130 page zombie epic, the most in-depth and character-filled script I've ever written. Heck, I spent a month of spare time just mapping it out, planning the world in which it takes place and so on.

Next up, I'm quite looking forward to getting into this low budget horror feature script I've got in mind, still inspired by Mum & Dad, which I got on DVD t'other day...or technically, last year!

Well here we are, at the door of 2009, wiping our feet on the doormat and ready to stride into its warm embrace...well, as warm as a year can be, which will be generally mild when all is weighed out.

One thing's for sure, it's not going to be anywhere near as rosy as the stupidly optimistic (read "delusional spin doctoring and lying") government keeps saying (while all economists and foreign governments ... and just anyone with even a half-engaged brain ... say "pfft, yeah right, you absolute morons").


Well, 2008 was an improved year over 2007 for me career wise, so hopefully 2009 will continue that forward momentum and get much better ... it's a slow old road to traverse, but hopefully it'll all pay off in the end.