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Theo Robertson

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Foureyes (2013)
The Changing Universe Of Puberty, 22 April 2014

I've got a confession to make . I am what's known in some circles as a " speccy " . It hasn't really affected my life in any great degree but I do feel slightly conscious about it and do my utmost in not being photographed with my glasses down to the fact that I'd rather be photographed as a thin , bald middle aged man rather than a thin , bald , middle aged man with glasses . Which is a bit like saying I'd rather be someone with terminal cancer , AIDS and chronic heart disease than someone with terminal cancer , AIDS , chronic heart disease and emphysema . There's no absolutes in life apart from death but I do vaguely remember in my youth that being bespectacled wasn't something that was considered cool

What FOUREYES does is convey the self conscious aspect of being diagnosed as being short sighted , being prescribed specs and feeling like it's the end of the world . . Add to this the onset of puberty and it feels like the universe is changing and not for the better . Obsession mixed in with narcissism takes over and life long embarrassment seems to consume you . It does this relatively well as young Bobby reaches that age and his repressed parents try to explain the facts of life to him at the dinner table . It's not an outstanding short and the comedy is perhaps played a little too broadly but we get a very effective performance out of Jake Ryan as Bobby who is able to portray embarrassed agony very convincingly without being irritating

Highly Biased And Selecitive Rewriting Of History, 22 April 2014

This is a look back to the famous intermittent BBC documentary show ROUGH JUSTICE . I remember it well . The music and title sequence alone will having you reaching for the anti-depressants but it sums up the tone of the show . Imagine a terrible crime has been committed . What can be worse than that ? How about finding yourself in prison for that crime knowing you're innocent and having nothing to look forward to except staring at a cell wall day after grim day as your reputation crashes in to the mud and anyone who can be bothered to remember does so with contempt or hatred . A terrible thing indeed and ROUGH JUSTICE tried to right these wrongs of innocent people imprisoned

What this documentary does very well is show the impact the show had on the viewing public . In those days there were only three TV channels and no one watched BBC2 . If you watched ROUGH JUSTICE in the company of someone then without fail you'd find yourself discussing with that someone the broadcast case which speaks well of the power of television . However very quickly this documentary cherry picks the good that it did and is very subjective about facts . It's interesting that the cases of Magaret Livesey , Ernie Clarke and George Beattie are never brought up . Probably down to the fact that none of these cases ended with an acquittal . One case that is brought up is Anthony Mycock who was sentenced to five years for aggravated burglary . The victim Ann Fitzpatrick wasn't a victim at all and she made up it all up and Mycock was released . The problem was that despite Mycock's conviction being quashed the producers of RJ were found guilty of breaking journalistic guidelines . In effect they blackmailed Fitzpatrick which led to the show being taken off air for a couple of years . RETRIAL totally downplays and sugar-coats this outrageous piece of coercive duress . It also feels the need to state the BBC offices were raided by Special Branch on a completely unrelated matter . When people start hinting about being victims of a conspiracy theory by an oppressive government then that's when they start loosing the argument . For some ridiculous reason RETRIAL then feels the need to bring up the subject of LIFE ON MARS and how popular it is with the public and insinuates this might lead to more miscarriages of justice in the future . Cause and effect ? I don't think so

What is brought up at the end is that now there's no protection against the double jeopardy rule . Nor can you be convicted on either heresay or anonymous evidence . It should also be pointed out that police interviews are recorded and that signing a confession isn't necessarily enough to secure a conviction . Add to this leap forwards in DNA testing and it means there's less chance of an unsafe conviction and for that we should be thankful . By a strange quirk of cruel irony the last edition of RJ centered around the case of Simon Hall who was convicted of murdering a pensioner while carrying out a burglary and claimed to be a victim of a miscarriage of justice and his case was quickly taken up with a small , vocal , self appointed , self publicists such as Dr Sandra Lean . As it turned out two years after RETRAIL was broadcast Hall confessed to the murder then a few months later committed suicide in jail . The problem with Lean and other self promoters is they're far too quick to take the side of people claiming innocence such as Jeremy Bamber , Adrian Prout and Luke Mitchell and are an absolute liability to anyone who feel they're a victim of a miscarriage of justice . I've no doubt there are innocent people doing long sentences but each case should be judged on its own . If you're too quick to say X.Y.Z is innocent and it turns out they're not you're tainted by association . The problem is compounded more in the internet age where supporters make constant dubious claims and risk every campaigner about a possible miscarriage of justice getting tarred with the same brush

Paedos ! What You Talking About Willis ?, 22 April 2014

When did you first hear about the word " paedophile " ? I'm certain that for me it was in 1987 . Being a massive fan of U2 I was reading an article about the band and their upcoming gig at Edinburgh Murrayfield stadium . In amongst the trivia facts was one that their debut album Boy released in 1980 had an entirely different cover for its American release because of concerns that it might have " paedophiliac connotations " .The word puzzled me so had to look it and found a paedophile was someone who had a sexual attraction to children . It might sound insane now but never thought there was anything amiss about U2s early iconography having a young boy on two of their first three albums . Indeed I actually proudly wore a U2 T-shirt that featured the young boy featured from the albums and that alone made me the coolest teenager on Bute . Nowdays any artist using children as an icon would be decapitated while being burned at the stake . While Bono and the band along with myself thought with some justification they were the coolest thing in history the American sit-com DIFFERENT STROKES was warning the public about child molesters " paedos ? What you talking about Willis ? " .It's only recently I found out this two part story existed . and like the deranged show DEADLIEST WARRIOR with a shoot off between the IRA versus the Taliban I'd have trouble believing it existed until seeing it with my own eyes . I can state for the record it does indeed exist and it's a contender for strangest comedy I've ever seen

The episodes are introduced by Conrad Bain who warns the audience that this weeks episode features an important topic that parents should discuss with their children . I don't doubt there's a genuine heart felt agenda being pushed forward . There is nothing more important than the safety of children especially from the most base elements of the human race but is a comedy show the best way to discuss sexual predators of children ? It possibly is but there's a painful problem in how are you going to make almost an hour's television featuring a child molester grooming a couple of kids funny ? The producers think constant one liners - something the show was very good at - like " you told us about the birds and the bees but that was nothing compared to what those mice were doing " might take some of the sting out of such a heavy theme but to frank you might be watching this while squirming in your seat . It's interesting I never felt like laughing once but watching the real life show that is TO CATCH A PREDATOR it constantly has me in tears of laughter no matter how often I watch it . Let's not forget however while DIFFERENT STROKES was being produced in America JIM'LL FIX IT was a popular TV show in Britain . Sometimes you have to admit even if it's through gritted teeth America is the best place on Earth in some rare ways . Even better is the fact that in American jails convicted child molesters don't get the same protection awarded to them in countries like Britain . Well done Yanks

Meltdown (2009/I)
More Stop Frame Animation . It Helps If You've A Sense Of Humour, 22 April 2014

By a strange coincidence the last short film I saw was BIG BANG BIG BOOM which was a stop frame animation movie as was this one . MELTDOWN does have its tongue planted firmly in its cheek and is an affectionate homage to both the horror and disaster genres . The idea is simple and that is a diverse range of food stuffs in the fridge find themselves being threatened by an approaching sheet of ice and director Dave Green plays up to the clichés and humorous aspects of the scenario . Some people might be offended that food is being used as an object of fun but it's a reality that the reasons there's so many hungry people in the world has nothing to do with a lack of food but more to do with hungry people being the victims of conflict or of failed economic policies . If anything they are victims of human nature rather than a lack of food . There's also a lack of humour in the human condition which MELTDOWN seeks to address so well done Dave

I was slightly struck that this was an American short film because the two human characters are a bit too broad and stereotypical " Noo York " sounding individuals , so much so I thought they might be parodies of the Eurocentric view of Americans - loud, brash, sarcastic philistines but as it turned out this remains an American film with a quirky sense of humour and remains appreciated by this reviewer

Suffers From A Hiccup Involving Giant Lizards And Humans, 22 April 2014

With a tittle like this I was expecting something along the lines of a documentary as to how everything in existence came in to being and it is indeed all about the big bang and its after effects . However I was surprised as to the concept and its execution because the story is told via stop frame animation . My own knowledge of this process is that you draw a picture , photograph it , draw another picture , photograph it etc etc then project the myriad of photographs and voilà . Special effects wizard Ray Harryhausen used the exact same technique with models and in an era where nearly everything is achieved nowadays via CGI you really do lament this labour of love .. That said you can understand why CGI replaced stop frame because it's relatively quick and cheap to achieve

Knowing this BIG BANG BIG BOOM is a herculean effort from animator Blu as he condenses billions of years of evolution in to ten minutes . Yes chaps evolution is proved scientific fact and if there's a problem I fail to understand why there's real life cars and human beings juxtaposed in front of the animated dinosaurs because it's highly anachronistic and distracting not to mention somewhat pointless . Still this is a fairly good animated film showing that a great number of artists are prepared to do something for love and not for love of money

A Mean Take On An Over Used Formula, 22 April 2014

must be something an intellectual challenge for a producer of a horror film to bring something new to the genre table . Imagine the screenplay of THE WATERMEN in development

" Hmmm . Horny teenagers in peril . How we going to bring a new angle to this premise ? "

" I know . Let's make it as unpleasant as possible and set it on a remote boat yard ? "

Hardly an original idea setting it in a boatyard but one thing the producers have done in way of qualified success is to make the film as unpleasant as possible .. I've seen a lot of horror films that more often than not have bored me rigid . Not so with THE WATERMEN . It's a slasher flick crossed with torture porn and while the torture is very graphic the operative word from the phrase " torture porn " isn't " torture " but " porn " . . By accident or design director Mark L Lockhart seems to linger a bit too long on the bodies of the female characters as they're physically abused by the watermen of the title . . The on screen violence is genuinely shocking and brutal so much so that I was tempted to switch off a few times . If the agenda of this film is to disturb and alienate the audience then it's mission accomplished but my own opinion is that even a horror film should have an element of morals and entertainment value and THE WATERMEN has none of these important things

Does So Much With So Little, 22 April 2014

A young girl finds a pencil that brings her drawings out in to the real world . Where have I seen that before ? Off the top of my head in the 1988 British ghost story PAPERHOUSE which was very boring and in the 2006 DOCTOR WHO story Fear Her which if not being the worst episode ever to have appeared since the show's return in 2005 is universally derided as the most boring one , one that felt like it was written on the back of a small notebook and then padded out to 45 minutes of yawn inducing television

I can vouch that Christian Simmons has made a short film that is not boring in anyway shape or form . I thought he'd have a near impossible task of frightening me since the previous short I saw was the Italian animated short METACHAOS which was like dipping your toe in to Hell itself but PENCIL FACE managed to creep me out even more . A young teenager finds a giant pencil that has a face on it and if you find clowns scary you'll find this face rabidly traumatic . Simmons manages to bring a crushingly oppressive atmosphere to the film by using something so simple - the musical soundtrack which is eerie and repetitive and yet works superbly . It's impressive the way a director can do so much with so little and I'm more than a little surprised he hasn't been given more projects to work on . I don't want to overstate the case and say we might be looking at the next Darren Aronofsky but this is excellent spinechilling short movie with a lot of impact

Metachaos (2010) (V)
Dante On Acid, 22 April 2014

I'll say one thing about METACHAOS and that is it certainly lives up to its name . I caught this on a short film website and the write up was kind enough to give the definitions of both meta and chaos , though the two words don't normally get joined together . Don't even start to think what sort of premise a film with a title of METACHAOS might be about because no one has bothered with narrative here . There is no story and the animation concentrates on horrific , grotesque , nightmarish imagery coupled with a soundtrack best described as a cross between a wailing choir , experimental industrial rock and techno . I watched this on my laptop with the lights out and my headphones on and seeing this in the dark is the only way to watch it for its full effect .

This is a totally divisive animated short and it should come with a warning . So I'll spell it out - if you're a stoner or someone who drinks to excess don't watch it under any type of substance stronger than nicotine or caffeine because your laptop will be drowned in a tidal wave of vomit . The lack of any storyline might also be a turn off to some . I rather enjoyed it in a strange unexplainable sort of way but I doubt if I'm in any hurry to rewatch because it is rather distressing . In fact if Dante overdosed on magic mushrooms this would be his vision of Hell and imagine being stuck in there for all of eternity ? So say your prayers and hedge your bets just in case

Plot Device (2011) (V)
Does What It Says On The Tin But Not Much Else, 22 April 2014

As someone who contributes far too much to the IMDb this short film should be just right up my street . Plot device ? That'll be something or someone that miraculously turns up to either push the story forward or save the day . Off the top of my head I can name numerous plot devices that are constantly used in DOCTOR WHO such as the Tardis , the sonic screwdriver , UNIT , psychic paper etc etc . That's in just one show and become so overused they actually icons rather than plot devices . With this short film it does exactly what it says on the tin , a wannabee screenwriter purchases a plot device and then finds himself in a series of genre films . The end . It's a nice homage to the different style of films that exist but doesn't really go beyond that . It's not helped by the fact that I still vaguely remember a short film from a while back called HELL NO that was exceedingly witty and deconstructs the entire genre of horror . On its own PLOT DEVICE is a nice little short by Seth Worley but doesn't really expand on its potential

Paranoia (2010/II)
One Wonders How It Might Have Worked As Live Action ?, 22 April 2014

Always a good idea not to learn too much about a short film before seeing it and while this holds true sometimes even this might prejudice an opinion before seeing it . Let me explain . I saw the synopsis to PARANOIA " Man sits on a train in India and suspects the man in front of him might be a terrorist " . So far so good but then when I watched it I was struck by an important little fact - it's an animated short . ! Nothing wrong with that in itself but I did spend much of the four minute running time wondering how the on screen story might have been realised if it was live action . As it stands the animation is pretty good and the storyline holds the attention

The story itself might be somewhat universal but this is an Indian film . So what ? you might ask but in the last few years you might be shocked to learn that after Iraq India holds the unwanted honour of being the most prolific target of terrorism . Some of the terrorists are Kashmiri nationalists , some of them are Pakistani based Jihadists and some of them are homegrown Indian terrorists backed by Pakistan . This constant targeting of India by terrorists is reflected in the fact that it's far harder to enter India than say Israel

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