Category Archives: DVDs

Review: Coraline (PG) – Bluray/DVD

By Adam Roche

coraline_movie_image__1_1Henry Selick is one of those heroes of Hollywood who largely go unsung. Take the other film he’s known for. It’s still inconceivable to me that all this time later, people still think Tim Burton directed ‘The Nightmare Before Christmas’. In fact, apart from a little input here and there, providing the germ of a story and adding his name above the title, Burton had relatively little to do with the making of the perennial spooky favourite. The director of the film was Henry Selick, and if you look waaaaaaaaay down at the bottom of the movie poster, you’ll see his name there. Last on the list, unsung, and yet generally responsible for its creation and longevity.

Fast forward 16 years and his name starts to emerge again, only this time it’s featured a little more prominently on the poster. With ‘Coraline’, it seems, Henry Selick has finally moved into the front seat, and it’s about time.

The film is a remarkably faithful adaptation of the book of the same name by Neil Gaiman, and concerns the book’s titular heroine, who moves into a dilapidated boarding house with her parents, and there discovers a small, papered-up doorway which leads to a parallel world, inhabitated by replicas of not only her parents, but of the house’s other inhabitants. Whereas the folks in the real world are irritable, too busy, and slightly deranged, the world beyond the door is a world of perfection, where everyone becomes their ideal.

CoralineREVIEW2-thumb-550x324-12951It’s a world where Coraline’s mother always has time to cook wonderful dinners and play games with her daughter, where her father enjoys gardening and playing the piano as opposed to staring ashen-faced into a computer screen as he endlessly writes (oh, how I know it well…). In short, it is the world in which Coraline dreams of living. Never mind that everyone there has black buttons sewn onto their face where their eyes should be.

Coraline is transfixed and intoxicated with it all, and when she is given the opportunity to leave her own drab world behind, and remain in the ‘other’ world forever, she jumps at the chance. However, there’s just one condition, and it involves a needle and a thread, and two shining black buttons…

Let’s make no mistake about it, people will see this and think it’s a kids film. You may even watch the first half hour and think it’s going to be something completely different, some kind of surreal fantasy about the way a child’s mind can turn a bad situation into something else. In actual fact, what it turns out to be is a dark horror story, a deliciously creepy fable with the power to make you thrill and gasp at it’s sheer audacity.

There are no friendly ‘Skellingtons’ here. Our villain likes to kidnap, to kill, and to pluck out the eyes of children. And just so you know that our villain means business, it’ll show you three former victims. It’ll stretch its face grotesquely as it screams. It’ll insist that you smile, and if you don’t, it’ll ‘fix’ your mouth so that you’ll be able to do nothing else. And then, just when you think you’ve gotten away, it’ll take your parents. Think you’ve got a pair of arms to run to? Think again.

It’s this audacity that marks ‘Coraline’ out as a surefire classic. Having watched the film with children of varying ages, I can assure you that the rumours are true. Children will find it scary. My 3 year old stopped watching and went off for some Care Bear therapy. My 7 year old saw it through to the end, and was simultaneously thrilled and terrified, spending a good deal of time after it had finished punching the air and shrieking with delight.020609coraline5

To scare a child and entertain them at the same time is an extremely hard trick to pull off, but ‘Coraline’ manages it it supremely, even utilizing some of the tricks that you’ll find in more established horror movies, such as it’s occasional use of sound maelstroms, and the dark, foreboding sensation as you realize that Coraline’s troubles may not quite be over once the door is locked behind her…

And of course, full credit must go to Henry Selick. This is his baby. It’s his heart, his genius you see on screen. Let’s just hope it’s not another sixteen years before he delivers his next defining moment.

As to the disc itself, I watched this on Bluray, which comes with a 2D version, and a 3D version complete with four pairs of 3D glasses, which is incredibly welcome as the two pairs we got with ‘Journey To The Center Of The Earth’ meant that only two of us could watch it at once, whilst everyone else had to look away or they got a headache.

coraline-1Having watched both versions, I can honestly say that 2D ‘Coraline’ features a truly eye-popping picture, a surefire reference disc if ever you needed one. The detail is so fine and crisp that you can feel every texture on display. The movie itself is such a colourful celebration of the artistic mind that you’ll be hard pressed to find another disc that surpasses it’s beauty. It really is that good.

The 3D version, whilst not as good looking, is surprising nonetheless. One of the bugbears of 3D film making is that directors always try to utilize the technology by inserting completely pointless actions into the film, such as arrows shooting out at you and Brendan Fraser spitting water. With ‘Coraline’ however, you finally get the feeling that it might just be possible to be immersed in a movie that way. Instead of a shooting arrow, we are given subtle depth of vision as Coraline arranges seed packets behind a rain spattered window. Instead of Brendan Fraser’s bile, we  walk alongside Coraline and a cat as they talk, truly able to feel the distance between them. Of course, being Stereoscopic 3D, the picture loses all colour, and you will find a hazy blur across certain frames that weren’t there before, but if you want to know what all the fuss about 3D is, ‘Coraline’ is a decent enough starting place.

In short, ‘Coraline’ is a movie that more than deserves a place in your collection simply for it’s bravery, it’s remarkably appealing lead character, and it’s bizarre flights of fancy. Watch and be dazzled.

coraline

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The Random Box Review – Supergirl

In the days before Photoshop, the superimposing of faces was a power even Supergirl could not attain

In the days before Photoshop, the superimposing of faces was a power even Supergirl could not master

Hurrah! Apparently, under the water, there is another universe, you betcha! It looks like a plastic bag being stretched out from the inside by lots of drinking straws. Mia Farrow lives there along with her new husband who looks nothing like Woody Allen.

Now meet the creator of this world, Zaltar! You have to say it right. You kind of have to frown and shout with an echo: ZALTAR! Anyway, ZALTAR!, is in reality Peter O’Toole, who I imagine must have been completely shit-faced, not only through the filming of the movie, but to have agreed to it in the first place. He has a magic candle which creates drinking straws, and an Omega Hedron, which is a round Faberge egg, which is placed on a not-very-well hidden spindle on the palm of your hand, where it spins and magic-ifies something or other. ZALTAR! makes a statue of a tree and shoots some life into it using said Omega Hedron. A young girl, Kara, is watching and is impressed. 3176803_gal

So impressed is she that she nicks the Omega Hedron and makes a moth which flies through the carrier bag world. Eek! The Omega Hedron gets sucked out, so Kara nips into a handy space ship that ZALTAR! had built for himself, and jets off after it. ZALTAR! however must ‘go to the Phantom Zone’. Go on then, Peter.

The Omega Hedron has landed in the Taramasalata of a witch, Selena. She immediately sees what it is (?) and decides to use it for evil. She’s a ropey old bag, and wants a younger stud than Peter Cook, which is understandable. Peter Cook was never the Brad Pitt of his day, and as if to accentuate this his name in the film is Nigel, which along with his 80’s suit, further asshole-anates him.

No, she sets her sights on Ethan the matchstick chewing gardener, and creates a potion that’ll make him fall in love with the first person he sees. The spell is made of a spider in a peanut, which she then boils in oil. Whilst this is a very inventive way of destroying spiders, you have to feel sorry for the little blighter, especially as he screams when she closes the lid of the nut. Oh yes! Spiders can scream like you and I.

Meanwhile, Kara has handily found a Supergirl costume in ZALTAR!’s ship, which suggests O’Toole was planning some kerrazy shit on his trip. She puts it on, and the ship travels through some eggs (honestly) and then she shoots out of the water and finds she can suddenly fly and shoot lasers out of her eyes. She is now Supergirl. Ta-da! Yes, it also seems that she’s Superman’s cousin, despite the fact that he came from Krypton and she comes from Plastic Bag Land under some lake in the North West of America

Lucy Lane - Assassinate at will

Lucy Lane - Assassinate at will

So to better blend in while she searches for the Amiga Headandshoulders, she turns herself into a schoolgirl, yet another power she’s handily discovered and mastered, and starts at a school under the name of Linda Lee. It just so happens that her room mate is Lucy Lane, the sister of Lois. Lucy is also the most annoying frigbrat in the history of movies, so we won’t mention her again. Just to give you an idea, I include a picture of her snivelling, be-capped visage.

supergirl2So while she’s out searching for the Sega Omegadron one day, Ethan who has fallen under the lurve spell which was hidden in a beer, calls Selena’s house a dump, then staggers through town in a daze, passing hundreds of women in the process, but somehow not falling in love with them. He meets “Linda” and handily falls for her though, which makes Selena very angry, so she borrows a tatty old bone wand thing from Peter Cook and sends “Linda” to the Phantom Zone.

Guess who’s there waiting? Yes, it’s ZALTAR! who offers her a squirt, then drags her up some washing machine/volcano type structure where he shouts “You caaaaaaaaaan” and then dies.

So Supergirl goes back to find Selena has made a great big castle thing in the road, and beats up a demon. Then the demon eats Selena I think, then the world snaps back to normal, and the castle disappears. Peter Cook looks a right state, and then it’s the end.

Seriously, it’s as boring as it sounds. It’s convoluted, tacky, cheap, dire drivel at it’s worst. If you want proof, look to Selena’s “lair”. It’s a disused ghost train at an old abandoned funfair. The evil witch has plastic spiders hanging on her fridge, and an abundance of spray cobwebs on her doorways. The whole thing must have cost an absolute tenner to decorate.

And watch her slink! Oh, slink she should not! I’ve seen sexier bowling shoes.

The effects are truly something else. The effect at the end when Supergirl is being stretched by the demon is excrescence personified. Likewise, the scene where a demon attacks the school should have been great, but obviously not having any faith in the production, the film makers choose to have Supergirl fight thin air, the plot excusing this by saying it was an invisible demon. Oh, the drama.

Supergirl-Faye_l

Putrid special effects, bouffant haircut after bouffant haircut, Faye ‘desperate and divorced’ Dunaway, Nigel the bumlovin’ lothario, Lucy ‘someone throw nail polish into this girl’s eyes’ Lane and a plot as non-existent as Jordan’s allure all add up to the worst superhero movie ever made, ever, ever, ever and that includes Ghost Rider.

Avoid. No, don’t avoid. Destroy.

P.S: Prepare yourself for a horrific trivia fact:

There is a director’s cut! It runs to 2 hours and 13 minutes, and fascinatingly adds another 6 minutes to the credits. Hurry up Christmas! Hurry do!

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Previous Random Box reviews:

Quicksand

Rasputin – The Mad Monk

Star Trek 2: The Wrath Of Khan

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The Random Box Review – Star Trek 2: the Wrath Of Khan

star-trek-ii-the-wrath-of-khanI must admit to feeling a little teary eyed when The Random Box ejaculated this week’s selection into my hand. Time has been kind to the second of the Star Trek movies. It is fondly remembered by nearly everyone as the best of the bunch. Certainly it is my favourite.

But why is this? Which magical ingredient did Star Trek 2 possess that turned it from Turd Bovril into Platinum On Toast? Was it Fat Kirk? Ricardo Whatthehellisthathairabout? The sight of a thin Kirstie Alley? Or is it because this movie, more than any other in the series, was just a good old fashioned space adventure?

That’s right. It was thin Kirstie Alley.

Spock - the quintessential drunk Vulcan. "Shorry Jim, thash not locigal"

Spock - the quintessential drunk Vulcan. "Shorry Jim, thash not locigal"

Okay, so I know that in the past two Random Box reviews, I’ve kind of had a great time ripping into them. This, however, is a different beast.

I frinkin’ love this movie. I ask you now, to raise yourselves from your chair and salute.

To all it’s fat bald “actors”. To the production budget of ten pounds. To the sight of Shat enraged, screaming into his communicator while Khan listens with a wry smile. To the self-sacrifice of Spock. To the way he straightens his trousers when he gets up to talk to Kirk at the end, his face covered in radiation bogeys. To the incredible emotion in the funeral scene. To the worms in the ears. To a thin Kirstie Alley. To these things we salute.

We salute.

Sarah Kennedy on BBC Radio 2 - 6am - 7:30am weekdays

Sarah Kennedy on BBC Radio 2 - 6am - 7:30am weekdays

I’ll make it quick. You’ve all seen this anyway.

So Kirk is now an Admiral, and spends his time having birthday parties which are, for want of a more suitable word, Shat. He drinks something blue and Bones says “Dammit Jee-um” and berates the poor old fatty for not spending his time gallivanting around the cosmos. It’s all very deep.

Meanwhile Chekhov, who is now on another starship, beams down to Seti Alpha 5 with Captain Tyrell to scan for lifeforms they’ve discovered. But Chekhov’s dropped a bollock! What he finds is Khan, the eight foot tall Latino man-slag from an earlier episode, in which Kirk marooned Khan on Seti Alpha 5 (or is it Seti Alpha 6?). Khan, incredibly, remembers Chekhov, even though Chekhov wasn’t in the original series of Star Trek. “I nah-var forget a face, Misterrrrrrrrrrr………. Chekhov!” or some such nonsense.

So Khan drops some worms in their ears which magically make them obey him, and he tells them to take him to “Ad-mee-ral Kir……kuh!”.

What follows is a beautiful game of cat and mouse as Khan and Kirk engage in an intergalactic chess match, which culminates in Khan’s demise at the hands of a Genesis device, Spock sacrificing himself to save the crew of the Enterprise, and the birth of a new planet.

"Khaaaaaan! At least leave us some crisps!"

"But surely, the worm should have been inserted into his ear?"

Okay, so the list of Star Trek films, minus Wrath Of Khan, can basically be summed up like this:

Star Trek 1 – Ponderous. Space machine says dull things. Snore.

Star Trek 3 – Spock is a naked child. Boring.

Star Trek 4 – Whales. Spock does the death grip on a punk. Very 80’s

Star Trek 5 – Kirk punches God

Star Trek 6 – Naughty Klingons. Nice Klingons. Christian Slater.

Then it was The Next Generation’s turn, and Kirk got killed by Alex from A Clockwork Orange.

Star Trek 2: The Wrath Of Khan was the only real romp in the series, and it scored big because it was so simple. It took the elements from the TV series that everyone loved. It had a baddie vs the Enterprise, some hammy acting, Shatner’s belly and lasers. It was a revenge movie set in space, an eternal storyline that would have translated had it been set in Swindon. It boiled down the chicken stock until it got soup, instead of trying to dress the silly campness of the whole thing up as some kind of profound Sunday lunch.

Boots No 7. Better hurry ladies.

Boots No 7. Better hurry ladies.

The only other movie in the series that almost attained the same status was number four, whose basic concept was ‘let’s send them back to present day Earth and see what happens’.

If Trek fans, and indeed the general public, want profound science fiction, they’ll look to Kubrick not William Shatner, and that’s why the other movies smell so stale. Sure, Star Trek 2 has monologues that’ll make your head fold, it contains acting that’ll make you wish for cancer, but it wears it’s silly ass party hat on it’s head lopsided. After the bomb of Star Trek: The Motion Picture, and in the wake of other sci-fi successes like Star Wars, they knew they’d taken the wrong tack. They needed something punchy, something jolly, and something fun. And they pulled it off.

And that’s why, in the midst of so much crapulence, The Wrath Of Khan stands out as a shining example of the effectiveness of simplistic storytelling. it’s the reason why Star Trek endures to this day. Remember if you will, that Star Trek had been cancelled as a TV series. The Motion Picture had been an experiment, and it hadn’t performed. If it wasn’t for Star Trek 2, people would today regard the Star Trek brand as wetter than Keane.

And if further proof should be needed, as if it should, then please remove your hat, bow your head and watch now the closing moments of The Wrath Of Khan. I thank you.

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The Random Box Review: Rasputin The Mad Monk

Reader, come with me if you will on a journey. It is a journey fraught with danger, bloodshed and clattering pain. You will gasp, your hand will close over your mouth in disbelief, your eyes will goggle, and as the travails continue, your brain will dissolve and seep from your ears ‘pon the shoulders of your clean shirt.

Oh misery, for sure reader. For nothing, no loss of loved one to death, no pain of heart, no paper cut ravaged by the juice of a lemon, can possibly prepare you for the horror of Christopher Lee’s ‘Revelation’

Without the whisper of a doubt, The Greatest Album Cover Of All Time

Without the whisper of a doubt, The Greatest Album Cover Of All Time

From the initial ‘F*ck Me!’ you have no doubt just uttered, it’s clear that Chris may know a thing or two about dying by the stake, but album cover design simply does not feature dans la repertoire.

But do I hear dissent?

What poise! What presence! What a cravat!

What the fu… is more like it. Yes, in 2006 Chris thought he’d attach another string to that knackered bow of his and release an album. Before we go on, I would like you to hear snippets from this musical abortion.

So click here and then come back. I’ll wait for you.

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I see from that haunted look in your eye that you have now experienced the power of ‘Revelation’. Which did you prefer? The statuesque majesty of ‘Oh What A Beautiful Morning’? The faultless cowboy ramblings of ‘High Noon’? The almost doppelganger-like Sinatra impersonations of ‘My Way’? Or the heartbreakingly melodious rendition of ‘Silent Night’?

Perhaps what’s impressed you is the fact that not once, not a single time, did Chris hit a correct note. You may laugh, but it is a feat of such bravado and skill that most pop stars a seventh his age have not the courage to attempt it.

But this is Lee. A law unto himself. A towering, magnificent ‘actor’s actor’. A man born of ‘musically talented forbears’. A man ‘genetically predetermined’ to be the holder of that magnificent singing voice. These are not my words. They are the words of Lee himself in the final track of the album, a 22 minute ode to himself entitled ‘Behind The Music’. Perhaps ‘Music From The Behind’ would have been more appropriate?

You may wonder what this has to do with Rasputin The Mad Monk, other than the obvious fact that Lee stars in the film. I’ll explain.

Christopher Lee, you see, regards himself with a level of esteem that most subjects don’t even have for their monarch. To say that he is up himself is an insult to enema technicians. He is so far up himself that the ‘shunt’ scene from the Billy Warlock horror film ‘Society’ was written in direct tribute to him.

And why does he feel this way about himself? Which feats of acting brilliance has he bestowed upon us throughout the ages? Dracula. Scaramanga. Lord Summerisle. Saruman. And these, these, are the best examples of his work.

Christopher Lee, I am afraid, is a ham. So when he tries to convince us of his genetically predisposed talent, or bangs on about how he’s the authority on The Hobbit because he once met Tolkien, or releases an album, the experience of which is akin to being locked in purgatory with your randy grandmother, you can quite easily give a merry ‘ha ha’ to his acid-bath features.

Or, if you want to make the old wallet shudder, throw the word ‘Rasputin’ at him.

Russia's Greatest Love Machiine

Russia's Greatest Love Machine

Yes, Rasputin The Mad Monk, in which Lee plays the Russian nutter himself, replete with bad wig, booming voice and ‘starey’ eyes. You’ll be amazed at the amount of staring done in the film. He mainly stares at ladies, before disrobing them and smothering their lady parts with his acrylic wig, but just to be fair, he throws a few stares manward too. He is an imposing presence, I give him that, but only because he’s dresses like the long lost Kenobi brother, whilst everyone else seems to have been sacked from Deep Throat 2.

Title

So we start with the title sequence, which you can see from the picture, isn’t exactly what you’d call inspired. You’d better get used to that red curtain and attractive golden ‘The Price Is Right’ tiebacks because for some inexplicable reason, you’re going to be watching them throughout the entire sequence.

We open on a boisterous country pub in rural Russia, in which an air of gloom pervades. It seems that the landlord’s wife is very ill, and the doctor doesn’t hold out much hope. Everyone hangs their head and mopes, that is until Rasputin bursts through the door demanding some booze. But the innkeeper isn’t presiding over the bar. He’s upstairs holding the hand of his dying wife. Who will work the optics?

So Rasputin bursts upstairs into their bedroom and sucks the woman’s fever out through his hands or something, then demands some booze, which the innkeeper is only too happy to give him. It just so happens that the innkeeper’s daughter is rather fetching too, and soon a celebratory party is in full swing downstairs. DzlItem711

Oh how Rasputin likes to dance. He’s literally all over the shop, moving with such flourish that soon the innkeeper’s daughter has decided that she is going to do some sexy time with the beardy tosser, who by this point is beginning to remind you of an even more annoying version of Brian Blessed, if such a thing can be envisaged.

But horror! In walks the boyfriend of said maiden, who we will call Chesney for some reason. Chesney isn’t happy that his beloved is dancing in such a way with Blessed, and resolves to ‘show him some real dancing’. It seems though, that he’s too late. Rasputin and the girl have snuck out and are currently rolling in the hay barn. Chesney follows them out and a fight ensues in which Chesney loses his hand.

So now Rasputin is chucked out of the monastery and goes to St Petersburg, where he proceeds to get drunk and dance again. Ah, the monk’s life for me, reader!

One night he’s dancing after getting arseholed in a drinking contest, and he sees the Tsarina’s lady-in-waiting laughing. She’s actually laughing because she choked on some vodka (oh, the hilarity) but he assumes that she’s laughing at his dancing, which frankly I would have been if I was her.

So he stares at the poor woman and tells her that she will come to him and apologize, which amazingly she does the next day. Not only that, but he somehow manages to take off her clothes and perform some sex on her without removing a single one of his garments. What magic these monks do possess…

He then proceeds to hypnotize her into causing an accident involving the Tsarina’s young son, which allows him to infiltrate the royal household, and so begins his play for power.

Unfortunately, this film isn’t in the public domain, so I can’t give you a link to watch it.

"You will buy my new album.... now get your niffs out..."

"You will buy my new album.... now get your niffs out..."

Never mind, it’s quite the shodfest. Hammer undoubtedly made some great films, but this isn’t one of them. Christopher Lee hams it up a treat with his big booming voice and his shatnificent beard, but the whole thing is rather humourless, and struggles for the most part to make coherent sense. What actually is an unbelievably dark and bizarre true story is boiled down to Chris staring a lot and shouting at ladies.

When they finally put an end to Rasputin again and again (and again), you actually find yourself glad that the whole thing’s coming to an end. In fact I’d go so far as to say that this is the dullest venture I’ve seen wearing the Hammer brand since Addams Family Rap.

But don’t worry, if it’s laughs you’re after, I refer you to a little known 2006 album called ‘Revelation’. Altogether now: “to lay before the king, barr-up-a-bum-bahhhhhhhhhhhhh!’

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Review: Knowing (15)

knowing_nicholas_cage

Oh Cage, how you have fallen. A face once so bright and shiny like a new penny, now so shrivelled and bald like a shrivelled bald horse’s face. Yes, it’s official, Nicolas Cage is pretty shat these days. He used to be great, look to Raising Arizona, Wild At Heart, Face/Off, Con Air and The Rock. Now turn the whole thing on it’s head and look at Next, The Wicker Man, Bangkok Dangerous and (shudder…) Ghost Rider.

And so when you come to Knowing, which has just been released on DVD and Bluray, you come to it with a sense that it’s going to be a dark day, and it’s all because of who’s in it.

Knowing is about an astrophysicist called John Kessler played by Nicolas Cage, no come back… His son receives a piece of paper from a 50 year old time capsule, covered in cryptographic numbers. At first they make no sense, but then Kessler discovers that they’re actually dates and locations of every major disaster for the last 50 years.

He also finds that three events have yet to happen, and begins to believe that he may have discovered the date for the end of the world.

Alongside this thread is a spooky little plotline about “the whispering people”, shadowy figures that seem to be stalking his son, and the daughter of a woman he has befriended in order to make sense of what is happening.

22956_nic_cage_in_knowing_but_wheres_the_tart

I won’t spoil any more for you, in case you do decide to watch it.

First of all, what’s right with it?

Well, actually, the central idea is intriguing once it starts to pick up steam. There is a genuine mystery at it’s heart, and it’s paced pretty well. Secondly, the “whispering people” parts are actually quite effective. The scene where his son has a nightmare is actually quite spooky. Alex Proyas is a very interesting director. He made The Crow and Dark City, one of the most under-appreciated science fiction films of recent years. Without sounding too pretentious, the man does have a very singular aesthetic. It’s not always apparent here, but it does bleed in when the script allows, mainly during the darker scenes.

There’s also a genuinely great scene involving an airplane about halfway in, which contains some superb effects. And this is a film which does at least seem to believe in it’s own convictions. The fate of the main adults in the movie seems to fly in the face of regular movie convention, as if the film makers were left to their own devices for once, to produce an original story without having to bow down to studio demands. I have to admit to feeling refreshed by the movie’s conclusion, even though it is rather downbeat.

Okay, so what’s wrong with it (cracks fingers).

First off, Nicolas Cage is just so completely and utterly wrong for this film it beggar’s belief. There aren’t any particularly kinetic scenes in this movie, nothing that requires more of him than perhaps to jog now and then, or rush from one room to the other. What on earth then, made them think that he was right for this? The character is supposed to be an astrophysicist for crying out loud. Surely, they could have just this once cast someone who was a bit more convincing? Trying to sell Nic Cage as an astrophysicist is like trying to sell Morrissey as Mary Poppins

And his name, for God’s sake. John Kessler? I know it could be an astrophysicist’s name, sure, but it’s such a ‘Hollywood Astrophysicist’s Name’ isn’t it. Seriously, this film would have been so much better if he’d been played with a wimpier name, I don’t know, Maurice Flackridden, Bertram Cornflakes, Francis Fotheringaylord. But no, astrophysicists are always called John Kessler, or Buck Fuck or Harlen Hardass. Sigh.

knowing2

The script is pretty bloody awful too. It’s hard to know who to blame though. There are scenes where conversations literally take place like this:

J: Diana, we should get out of here.

D: I agree, John.

J: We should probably eat first though, Diana.

D: Well okay, John. If you think we should eat first, John.

J: Diana, do you like fried eggs, Diana?

D: John, I flipping hate fried eggs, John. John, haven’t you got any John, John, John?

J: Oh Diana, I thought you’d never Diana. One lump or Diana?

Seriously, we know you’re talking to each other. Why do you have to constantly remind us what your names are. Is this a fault of the director, the writer or the actor? Surely SOMEONE should have spotted that it was sounding ropey in rehearsal?

Also, about two thirds of the way in it does get very, very stupid. And it gets stupider and stupider until the climax, which is quasi-stupid, but quite satisfying too.

So all in all, it’s no masterpiece. It doesn’t even try to get preachy like most other apocalyptic films, which is rather nice. It’s just a big, dumb horse-faced movie starring a big, dumb… yeah you get the idea. It has it’s moments, I won’t deny it, and I admire it’s ending. I just wish they’d had a bit more courage in their casting. Give it a rental, and imagine Nicolas Cage replaced by Lance Henriksen. You’ll see what I mean.

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The Random Box Review: Quicksand

The 'other kind' of girl. Namely, the one you can dig your garden with

The 'other kind' of girl. Namely, the one you can dig your garden with

There are some people in this world who are not built for the role they have been given. Orlando Bloom is a good example, the scrawny girl-faced dearie who for a spell was constantly placed in the role of swashbuckler, and for some strange reason, to further stretch your incredulity to breaking point, was made to wear beards of varying design.

Orlando didn’t complain. He merely continued to accept the roles, allowing the swooning make-up women to attach said bum fluff to his girl-child face. “Bring on ye beards!” proclaimed Orlando probably, whilst sipping his Lipton’s Peach Tea and pouting at a mirror, the steady rhythm of a Ben’s Brother album quiet and obnoxious in the background. Put the brat in a silken gold wig, add some mascara, some tights and call it Legolas however, and Robert is, and always has been, your mother’s brother.

And so we come to Quicksand, not starring Orlando Bloom you will be glad to hear. It stars instead the most ill-suited person to a hard-boiled, trash talking punk role you could imagine.

Mickey Rooney4

Yes, Mickey Frigging Rooney was chosen, for some inexplicable reason to star in this elephant pat of a movie. Just for those of you who aren’t familiar with him, he is the odd hybrid of child and pensioner, who has never aged. Never. He has been ten years old his entire life. He is the only person in the world to have been considered a child abuser for having masturbated.

But, this is not the most unbelievable thing about this film. There are two other things that will crack that frown of yours as you watch it.

The second unbelievable thing is that the plot is completely mental. Not good mental. Stupid mental. I’m going to tell you what happens, and you won’t believe it. And if you do believe it, you’ll think to yourself, why? Why? Why did someone pay for this to be made? Stay with me, okay? Here we go:

So Mick is a mechanic called Dan in a garage. He has an absolute honey of a girlfriend, but for some reason, he doesn’t appreciate her. Probably because she’s beautiful and kind and wants to give him money all the time. The bitch.

So anyway, one day while he’s having his lunch in a diner, he meets a blonde (rrow!) called Vera (oh…). He calls her “doll face” and “baby” a few times, and obviously flattered by this and the leering eyes of his mechanic friends, Vera (played by Jeanne Cagney, sister of James) agrees to go on a date with him that evening. But horror! Dan realizes he hasn’t got any money to finance his romantic evening!

So Dan does the smart thing. He goes back to the garage where he works and steals twenty dollars from the till. It’ll be all right. He’ll put it back when he gets the twenty dollars his buddy owes him the next day. The boss will never know. So he goes out for a date with Vera, this “gorgeous” femme fatale whom he’s hopelessly falling for. For whom he’s stolen!

Here’s the third most unbelievable thing. Vera looks like a spade.

happy-housewife1

A RECIPE FOR A QUICKSAND BOMBSHELL:

1. Take a famous actor, James Cagney will work best, and transplant his head onto the body of a woman.

2. Prune large branch from the boughs of the Ugly Tree, and proceed to beat face liberally until softened.

3. Using a file, remove any lips still remaining on face, and introduce ice into the bloodstream for the “pinched” effect.

4. Bake for two hours at Gas Mark 9.

5. Introduce a blonde wig garnish and shove into the world, to be salivated over by Man-Children.

Note: Throughout process, take care not to remove any manly attributes to the body itself, IE: The Man-Ass, the Man-Shoulders and the Man-Penis.

G301500

Yes, sad fact, but she’s actually hideous. But you know, diff’rent strokes for diff’rent folks. If Dan’s happy, then let him remove her from the singles bars. Bachelors of the world rejoice!

So for their first date, they go to an arcade on a pier. There’s no Street Fighter 2 or Chase HQ, so they have to make do with pinball and other such excrescence. While they’re there, they are approached by Vera’s former boss, Nick Dramoshag (no really) who’s played by Peter Lorre. He and Dan exchange some harsh words, and they leave. Date over.

So the next day, Dan’s boss has some news. The auditors are coming in to check all the accounts. Dan panics and calls his friend to ask for the twenty dollars, but shocker, his friend hasn’t got it. So now Dan has to try and “rustle up the dough” sharpish.

He hits on a brilliant idea. He goes to a jewellery store and buys a $100 watch on credit, then takes the watch to a pawnbroker and pawns it for $20. Shrewd Daniel. So he replaces the money, and all seems well.

That is until later he is accosted by a detective who tells him that he was observed pawning the watch! He explains that an item bought on Hire Purchase cannot be resold until the credit agreement has been satisified. Really. Really, this is the plot, I assure you. Oh but just hang on! It gets better!

So Dan’s going to prison now unless he can pay the $100 immediately, so he goes back to the pier and robs some poor drunk sod at gunpoint. He then pays the $100 back and everyone exhales. Surely Dan, you can’t fart this up any more can you?

You can indeed!

Whilst full of bravado, he again takes Spade Face out to the arcade, and this time decides to smack Nicholas Dramoshag (best name ever) around. But in doing so, lets slip that he might have had something to do with the robbery earlier. So now Nickington Dramoshag decides to blackmail Dan. He tells him that unless he receives a car from Dan’s garage, that he’ll go to the police and tell them that Dan was the one that mugged the wino. At this point, you can quite clearly see Dan’s face say “For fuck’s sa…”

So Dan breaks into the garage and steals a car, then takes it to Nickatoon Dramoshag’s place. But Spade Face has a better idea. Why not rob Dramoshag? Great idea! So they rob his safe of $3600 and split it.

Phew, thank goodness it all worked out all right.

Except that the next day Dan’s boss tells him that he knows he stole the car! And he wants paying for it right now! Good job they’ve got $3600 isn’t it? Only there’s a new hitch. Spade Face has decided to buy herself a coat made of dead animals. Plus, she has decided that she doesn’t want a man-child boyfriend anymore, and tells Dan to do one.

Finally, he has seen Spade Face for what she is. A spade.

So he takes the $1800 he has to his boss, but that’s not enough, so the boss calls the cops. Dan’s not having that though, so Dan murders him.

Image 507 Funny face Man

So now Dan’s on the run! He takes with him the lovely girlfriend he didn’t like before, but who he does like now because he’s seen that women who look like Spades are a heartless breed. It’s these gorgeous kind women, usually a blight on mankind, that are the true treasures. What a revelation!

And then he kidnaps some poor bloke with a car, who somehow manages to convince Dan to turn himself in at the end. It seems, you see, that Dan’s boss isn’t dead. He’s merely been beaten the crap out of. Dan will go to jail and Gorgeous O’Leary will wait for him. The End.

relief

So basically, you have an escalating series of events that begins with twenty dollars and ends with murder and hostages. It wouldn’t be so bad, except that it’s Mickey Rooney! When he starts talking trash and swatting drunks, and kicking ass, you simply think “Behave yourself you little turd, or no supper”. Why doesn’t he ask his mum for twenty dollars? Why is it that the name Rooney is so inextricably linked with the repellent?

And then you have Spade Face, who couldn’t pull a sickie. And then that plot, which I know I’ve spoiled for you, but seriously, I’ve done you a favour. I dare you to remember if you will, the salient points of the plot and recite them to your friends, and watch as they denounce you as a sorcerer.

But, dear reader, by a sickening twist of fate, you don’t have to go looking for this movie if you want to prove to yourself how anus-wideningly awful it is. You can download it here and see for yourself.

Come back next week, to see what The Random Box gives us.

I promise, no spades.

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The Random Box

mystery box

My DVD collection is way out of hand. I now have over 2,000 individual discs, making up some 1,300 separate pieces of entertainment. I also have a small house, in which far too many people live. Space is something we prize, and so gradually we have compromised and compromised, donating priceless heirlooms to charity, and telling the children that their many toys had gone to heaven. Finally though, the day came when I was told that enough was enough. The DVDs would have to go.

I fought, dear reader, like a rabid lion. Surely, I said, the children could all fit into one bed? Is a refrigerator really necessary? I even offered to make the ultimate sacrifice, and get rid of all the pictures of my wife’s family. We know what they look like, after all? But broken, bruised and defeated, I finally accepted defeat.

But then, we had a brainwave. If we could find a receptacle large enough to house the discs only, then they could be kept. Right? And so, only two days later, we found the container of my dreams, a large, imposing flight case, capable of holding 1,000 discs. When this proved to be too small, we bought another.

Reader, they are horrifically ugly, their corners sharper than a vinegar Mojito. One sits atop t’other, and so if access to the bottom box is required, three burly Irish labourers must be called upon to lift N-to-Z box to the floor so that A-to-M may be opened. The discs themselves are hardly visible, and so a Magoo like expression must be worn as you squint through every leafed disc wallet, trying myopically to discover the whereabouts of The Aristocats.

Oh, but what thrills await the intrepid explorer! Did my daughter replace Finding Nemo under F, or was it N? Or did she not even bother to try and alphabetize, and jam it between Irreversible and It Happened One Night? You can often find me weeping into a convenient waste paper basket at the sheer futility of  it all. Nary a day goes by when the box does not spew forth an unwelcome surprise.

N to Z

N to Z

There are upsides. One of the most pleasurable experiences I have ever had was taking thirty boxes of DVD cases to the recycling centre and scattering them mournfully into the appropriate skip, trying to ignore the incredulous looks of horror from all around, as they watched me supposedly send a world’s worth of movies to landfill.

I malevolently crept back minutes later to find a ‘recycling operative’ up to his knees in dumped cases, opening them in desperation, only to find them empty, a bit like Charlie Bucket but without the luck. And what excuse did he stammeringly give when I frowned at him reproachfully? Why, apparently, his “friend” is in the exact opposite situation to my own! This mythical beast is in fact the owner of thousands upon thousands of discs with no cases! What luck, reader!

pinnochio

Of course, I immediately and gallantly helped him retrieve five hundred or so of the cases as he muttered, stacking them haphazardly around his makeshift office of washing machines and his lunch of eggs and brandy or whatever it is they eat.

And so, by a roundabout way, I finally arrive at the point of my sad tale of woe.

The Random Box is a new feature, starting tomorrow, and running weekly. I will pluck from the midst of either box, a disc at random and review it. Doesn’t matter what it is, it shall be reviewed, and how! And let me tell you, I have got some crap in there. How about an in-depth analysis of Murder By Television starring Bela Lugosi? Or how about Roger Corman’s never released 80’s version of The Fantastic Four? (And by God, there are reasons it was never released, be sure of that).

I admit it, as well as some true classics, I have somehow, perhaps in the drug-addled twilight of here and thereafter, accumulated some complete bobbins. I’d rather be caught reading Gary Glitter’s spam folder than watch most of them.

Return tomorrow, won’t you? We might be lucky?

We probably won’t be.

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