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Theo Robertson

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Someone Hs No Understanding Of Christianity And Marxism, 16 April 2014

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Planet Earth has been receiving radio messages from its nearest neighbour Mars . Messages telling of a new type of technology means that fossil fuels will become redundant meaning that millions of jobs will be lost in the Western world . Are these messages genuine or is there another more Earthly power behind it ?

After seeing INVASION USA I found myself watching yet another American propaganda film from the same year . I was attracted to the title thinking it might be an obvious film where the red planet decides to enslave the countries of Western democracy because that's what reds do . This isn't how things developed but any sort of rugs being pulled out from under you or irony of the red planet not being communist at all is hardly a recommendation . I can understand the thinking behind INVASION USA and the points its making within its own twisted reality but this isn't the case with RED PLANET MARS

I don't know if I'm stupid or simply because I wasn't concentrating hard enough but I had difficulty paying attention to the plotting . It's not really a film that grabs your attention and is very static . I wasn't surprised in the slightest that this film was adapted from a stage play . One would have thought in that case it would be easy to follow since it's dialogue based but this isn't the case at all . Scientist Chris Cronyn receives messages from Mars and before he - and the audience - knows it religion is sweeping the world including the Soviet Union . The writers some entirely ignorant of religion and Marxism . Suppose we take on board the idea that our view of religion comes from a race from a higher civilisation . Ask yourself how does this explain life after death ? If a Martian lives 300 years then surely it'll die the same a human dies after 70 years . There will be no life after this one no matter what planet you're from . This is one of a number massive plot holes , and these plot holes even have the totally illogical nature of drawing attention to themselves such as the Soviet politburo asking themselves where are the Soviet population getting all their radios from ? Yeah I'd like to know too . I suppose this falls under the heading of plot connivance ?

Perhaps the most irritating thing is the ending and the way it's developed . For large sections of the film you're being led along that the Soviets are behind these messages and it's all a communist plot , so much so that the counter revolution in the Eastern bloc is just a staged event and the British ambassador is being used as a stooge the same way plenty of useful idiots were taken on tours to the USSR in the 1920s and 30s . The communist double dealing is reinforced at the end when a former Nazi now working for the communists turns up at the Cronyn's lab at the end . This villain despite being a former Nazi and communist reveals himself to be a Satan worshipper . Let me get this right ? He's not a Neo-pagan like the Nazis and he's not a Marxist atheist like all communists but he worships Satan ! . Like I said the writers haven't thought any of this through especially where religion or Marxism is concerned . One massive plot hole that jumps out and grabs you is that the Cronyns' and the villain are killed in a lab explosion with no witnesses but the final scene sees the American referring to their sacrifice to the United Nations . Either this unnamed president has second sight or this film has a really poor screenplay . Guess what one I'm putting my money on ? If you thought NOAH was a genuinely bad film you obviously haven't seen this one

Not Credible But It's Not Boring Either, 16 April 2014

A small diverse group of strangers lounge in a New York cocktail bar . Suddenly there's a newsflash and reports come in that a foreign power has captured key installations in Alaska and the whole of America is now threatened with invasion

You want to make a small subtle point ? Well just get a sledgehammer to crack a nut and this propaganda film is it . The opening sequence is set in a cocktail bar and a middle class businessman complains about having to pay the top rate of tax and if this atrocious behaviour by the government wasn't bad enough they also feel the need to interfere in other aspects of the free market . Wow next thing you know they'll be banning smoking in bars or perhaps even banning the sale of alcohol itself . Taking taxes off people is rather small fry compared to what American federal government has done in the past or indeed the future when this film was made . Perhaps this character might like to live under a regime where people don't tax simply because they don't get paid . Oh hold on here's a newsflash " Be careful what you wish for because you might just get it comrade "

I've seen a few Christian propaganda films recently that were all universally dreadful they made me forget there was a time when American studios were constantly spewing out propaganda like this one . Often they were entertaining enough to disguise the danger of communist invasion by producing science fiction films where the aliens were closet reds , usually from Mars which is " The red planet " . With INVASION USA no attempt is made to disguise who the invaders are . Even though both Joseph Stalin and the Soviet Union aren't name checked you're under no misapprehension who these bloodthirsty tyrannical invaders really are . I suppose this is indicative of American thinking at the time but the invasion itself isn't creditably developed or delivered . If the Soviets capture Alaska as a bridgehead why not nuke the airfields in that state ? How are they able to fly over Canada with impunity ? How are able to bomb New York from San Francisco ? etc etc etc . There's also a lack of credibility in other aspects ? For example here's no sense of time passing between events and the time frame seems bizarre to say the least . How on earth can the TV news report detailed casualty figures to events that have just happened ? OF course there might be a very good internal reason to this once the film ends but while the film is entertaining - possibly for all the wrong reasons - it's never credible on even the most basic level

Spaceways (1953)
More ( Non ) Science Fiction From Hammer, 16 April 2014

On a top secret base in the English countryside the British space programme is in full swing and it's not just the space programme that is swinging because Mrs Vanessa Mitchell is having an affair with Dr Phillip Crenshaw . This couple disappears and since security at the base is water tight suspicion falls that there's been foul play . Dr Smith is brought in to investigate and immediately suspects Vanessa's husband of double murder and of stashing the bodies on a rocketship that has just been launched in to space

Some three months after Hammer launched its first science fiction film FOUR SIDED TRIANGLE came its second SPACEWAYS and with a title like that you're instantly expecting a science fiction thriller . Your expectations will quickly crash land because just like FOUR SIDED TRIANGLE any science fiction element is used merely as a plot device and this film is much more in the way of a murder mystery B movie . The fact that it was released a mere three months after Terence Fisher's should give you an idea of the quality that it's fairly cheap and cheerless , made without any star names and is presumably shown before a bigger budget feature film

One thing it might have to interest science fiction fans is that it seems to have a few connections to Nigel Kneale's BBC QUATERMASS as well as sharing major differences . All this is coincidental since this came out the same month as THE QUATERMASS EXPERIMENT was broadcast but it's noticeable . Despite being considered Hammer's best in house director Fisher doesn't seem suited to science fiction and one wonders how the fortunes of the studio might have fared if he was chosen to direct the film version of THE QUATERMASS EXPERIMENT instead of Val Guest ? I have no hesitation in thinking Guest was a better SF director

So How Many People Did He Really Kill ?, 16 April 2014

A man called Henry Lee Lucas is arrested for murder in Texas . As he's interrogated by the police department he confesses to another murder . Then another . Before very long Lucas has been confessing to an unprecedented number of murders

I'm not really an aficionado of serial killers / spree killers and so consulted wiki as to this true life mass murderer . Henry Lee Lucas isn't going to win any humanitarian awards . He eventually confessed to 60 murders while in police custody . When he went to court he said he committed 100 murders then before long he was confessing to 3000 murders .. He was found guilty of the murder of an unidentified woman in Texas woman and sentenced to death but this was commuted to life imprisonment on the grounds that he was almost certainly in Florida at the time of this murder

" Hold on Theo . If he was in Florida that almost certainly means that he didn't commit the murder so why did the court do something resembling a strange compromise where's imprisoned instead of being executed ? Surely he's innocent or guilty and no compromise involving punishment is required ? "

Yeah that's what I don't understand either and things don't make a lot of sense . There's a massive difference between 3,000 murders and 1 murder . Most importantly from a legal point of view there's a massive difference between 3,000 murders and zero murders . If you don't kill anyone then no crime has been committed therefore the state has no right to imprison anyone . Lucas continually kept changing figures as to the numbers he supposedly murdered and that leads to a limited number of possible scenarios

1 ) He was guilty of at least one or more murders and seeing the resultant publicity decided to up the numbers to gain even more infamy . The good a man does while he is alive dies after him but the evil he does live long after him

2 ) The police deciding he's guilty of one or more murder decide to stitch him up for a few unsolved cold cases and Lucas went along with it and it kind of snowballed from there

3 ) Lucas was entirely deluded and committed no murders at all but the cops thought he was guilty of at least something so decided to stitch him up

What is certain is Lucas was found guilty of killing his mother and served ten years for her killing . Apart from that the film is unsure as to how it should play its hand . Lucas doesn't come across as the most pleasant or intelligent of men . He is from a background of to use a derogatory term " trailer trash " but this doesn't necessarily make him a murderer of one individual or many and the film does seem to be a bit to willingly say he was a serial killer without going in to any specifics as to the amount of people he murdered . It feels the need to be a a compromise . I'm not saying Lucas was in any way innocent of murder but you're painfully aware that the film isn't trying to make out what the truth may be and stick to its opinion of that possible truth and for what might have been a very impressive well made indie film featuring an outsider from society ends up sinking to a degree

Not That All That Gripping, 16 April 2014

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

A man drifts on a piece of deadwood upon the Ocean and has no hope of rescue . Or does he ?

This comes with bit of hype that " it's trying to be clever " and after seeing FLOTSAM/JETSAM you become aware that this is exactly is exactly what it is - hype . It's not clever at all and the hype surrounding it means it's a case of a self fulfilling prophecy ie it's clever and an outstanding short film because we're told it is . But it's not

I caught this on the shortoftheweek website and you'll never see a negatively written write up on the site and I quickly learned to ignore the write ups for this very reason . I thought perhaps the audience would have been watching the same incident from the same point of view but this doesn't materialise . In effect what the write up said in so many words is that this is an intelligent short down to the fact that it's a film within a film / meta-fiction / post modernism and other hyperbole it doesn't really deserve . To be honest I actually missed this on first viewing and thought the stranded shipwreck survivor was exactly that ,- a stranded shipwreck survivor who gets rescued while being attacked by a shark . But on second viewing it's clear that he's merely an actor taking part in a film . When you have to watch a film a second time in order to understand then that can only be seen as a failure of sorts . From a technical point of view it's by no means bad and the shark does indeed look like a real life shark who'd eat you as soon as look at you but FLOTSAM/JETSAM is not nearly as clever as some people are making it out to be

Racism Is Bad ? Hmmm Okay, 16 April 2014

A young teenager in New Zealand finds himself being roped in to committing a crime at a local corner shop owned by a Fijian woman

This is a relatively long short film clocking in at 15 minutes . One would have hoped in that case that its maker Shahir Daud might have developed the story a bit more but he fails to a large extent . It also shows signs that the short doesn't know what it's trying to be . Is it a coming of age story ? It shows signs that it's trying to show the angst ridden suffering of wanting to belong and of the dubious an individual someone will go to you in order to aciheve this . Paradoxically for a short film it shows signs of being padded until the final denountment . It's adequately directed and acted but there's a lot of substance to it which means it comes across as being a rather empty short film . We all know racism is bad but Paul Haggis achieved this point much better in CRASH

Jonah (2013/II)
Time And Tide Wait For No Man, 16 April 2014

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

This was directed by Kibwe Tavares who made a 2011 short called ROBOTS OF BRIXTON . Tavares is a talented guy who obviously has a background in visual effects and considering the exceptionally poor green screen and CGI that we often get in a Hollywood blockbuster like I AM LEGEND if I was a film producer it might be a smart move to give Kibwe a phone call . However I'm not entirely convinced his talents lie in directing movies . Despite some very impressive 3D animation that looks like it belonged in the same dimension as the live action ROBOTS suffered quite badly from a muddled confused message and we see something similar here

JONAH in its favour is self contained . Despite having an opening hook that perhaps resembles SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE a little bit too much for its own good the story really picks up when we're treated an effects extravaganza montage that genuinely feels like it belongs to the story . The problem is trying to guess what the story is actually saying . Bob mentions " the damaging effects of tourism " but I'm not entirely sure if that's the point that's being made . To me there's an element of " Be careful what you wish for because you might just get it " and this is reflected in the character arc of Mbwana who starts off as a simple street thief and quickly becomes a local celebrity . The downside is that this success is relatively brief and pines for lost success as well as his youth as he enters old age . Perhaps since it's set in a coastal town the subtext is also " time and tide wait for no man " ? That said subtext and parable is a difficult thing . Make it too sublime then you're going to complain its confused and make it too obvious you'll complain about being patronised with a simplistic story so I'll give Kibwe the benefit of the doubt and say my aforementioned reading of the story is how I interpreted it

Lukewarm (2012)
Pious Propaganda Leaves Me Cold, 16 April 2014

This starts with a preacher warning his congregation that " So many churchgoers today that call themselves Christian are fooling themselves " . Since this preacher has a Southern accent I'm kind of guessing he's an evangelical Protestant ,. Possibly a Baptist so he's probably referring to Catholics and every other Protestant denomination . Probably other Baptists too , especially black ones . Why is it that churches in one church for black people and another one for white people ? The supposed Jesus of Nazarath said " Love thy brother " but no doubt a lot of Christians get around stating that in those days nobody realised the racial diversity of the human species and loving thy brother is a dogma confined to those belonging to the same race . Probably confined to inside the local prayer meeting group members . Everyone else is defined as a heretic and the worst heretics are the scientifically minded atheists . At least that's the impression I got with LUKEWARM which left me cold . It's Christian propaganda and like the worst propaganda it's so useless it makes the people it's demonising feel superior about themselves

Early in the film the protagonist sees a colleague from church called Thomas knock on the door of a man . The shocking thing is Thomas is black and if a white guy and a black guy are a member of the same church group that strains credibility to breaking point . Thomas has knocked on the door of a man called George who looks exactly like an anorexic Burt Reynolds and is an obvious atheist because he tears the pamphlet up saying " Here's what I think of your God Jesus freak " and slams the door in Thomas face . The implication being all atheists are rude angry people . This might actually be justified because the following conversation indicates Thomas constantly knocks on his door trying to force feed him Christian pamphlets . Right let me get this straight . Thomas constantly knocks on someones door , doesn't take no for an answer and is puzzled why this person is a little bit angry at him . Anyone had these cold calls from India asking you to take part in a survey ? Difficult to politely say no when it happens at least every second day isn't it ? And suppose someone asks someone out for a date , doesn't take no for an answer so decides to keep knocking on their door asking for a date until they say yes . The sex offenders register awaits . Quite rightly too . By the way since the angry atheist looks like Burt Reynolds I wonder if the producers tried to get the real Burt Reynolds for that scene ? LUKEWARM could have done with a relatively big name . Since Thomas is black they could have got Ray Winstone for the role and he could have resurrected the boiler house scene from SCUM ?

The " All atheists are ignorant , worthless vermin " agenda continues with Luke taking a drive with his atheist friends . Don't ask why an evangelical Christian has atheist friends you're not supposed to question any logic . And what do atheists do ? They like driving around in a car with a couple of chicks who are hotter than Viagra vindaloo who just happened to be in the bar where Luke works because you know all atheists are sexually promiscuous ( I wish ) while gulping down bourbon . Just in case you missed this obvious point Luke needs to then point out is it a good idea to be drinking and driving ? Duh no but this film wants you believe that drunk driving as well as being a slapper is exclusive to atheists . Luke's atheist friend Sam ( He's an atheist don't you know ) then discusses evolution . " Do you know we're descended from apes ? It's survival of the fittest " Obviously the alcohol has affected his brain because he's repeating a common myth of evolution . Homo Sapiens are descended from the same family tree as all the other primates from million years ago . Some of them evolved in to apes and some of them evolved in to us so strictly speaking we're not " descended from apes " Also " survival of the fittest " isn't true either . If a species can't adapt to its environment it will become extinct . " Fitness " has nothing to do with it , it just means some species are more able to adapt to its surroundings " Survival of the fittest " isn't a Darwinian phrase but the war cry of Nazis and fascists and its euphemistic use here seems to be deliberate just to convince the world that if you portray atheists as drunk driving crypto fascists there might be some truth in it . What a disgustingly pious hate filled film

No More Pitches Please, 16 April 2014

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

One thing I have noticed about the large amount of short films I've seen recently is the cynical fundamental flaw a lot of them share - Give us the funds to make another 90 minutes . Some of them don't even seem to be trying . I noticed this with a short film about the Edward Snowdon case VERAX that I saw a few months ago . Since most of my output of reviews on this site seem to revolve around mainly horror movies I catch on The Horror Channel and short films I watch on the shortoftheweek website . One good watching short films is that if you've watched a stinker then that was only five or ten minutes you've sacrificed . In other words about the same time it takes to watch an entire run of BREAKING BAD or GAME OF THRONES on the highly amusing Honest Trailers website . Time is precious and we're all living on borrowed time . I shall now be deducting at least one point from every short film that is not self contained . You have been warned

Bob The Moo has been decent enough to write a spoiler warning that this film ends on a jump scare . One can only think Mr Moo is guarding his back in case he gets blacklisted by the site for giving away a very important plot turn . I've guarded my back by doing the same . There really should be no need because the one thing LOVELY MONSTER does very well is foreshadowing . It does it so well that any surprise at the end has been diluted to the point of nothingness . Sophia is an alienated young woman aged 21 . Since puberty she has been stricken by a physical affliction that has made her an outsider to society . A documentary crew charts her life via talking head interviews with her family , her friends and Sophia herself . This all adds up to a shock horror twist as the affliction itself makes a physical appearance

Did someone say that a film studio have bought the rights to turn this in to a feature length movie ? Can all you film makers out there do the audience a favour ? Please don't produce a film and release it saying it's a short film when you really mean " If you give us a wad of Wonga then we'll make another 85 minutes to go with it " because there's a difference between a short film and a sales pitch . Oh and if you're making a monsterplease no CGI please . Thank you in advance

Give The Plot The Slightest Scrutiny And It Falls Apart, 16 April 2014

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

A violent psychiatric patient escapes from a mental hospital . Nearby the next day Belle Adams is stuck in a roadside café . Accepting a life from a trucker she finds herself victim from unwanted attention by the trucker . Escapiing his clutches she staggers in to the road and his nearly hit by a car driven by Stephen Slade . Accepting a life from him she quickly becomes aware that he is doing all he can to avoid the police roadblocks searching for the patient


Sometimes someone comes up with a great idea that confounds all expectations . Reading the synopsis to this relatively unknown British thriller you'll be asking yourself why anyone wants to go out of their way to watch it because it has predictable written all over it . Innocent young woman accepts a lift from a stranger who is psychotic . The way the story is told is equally predictable . The producers don't have faith in the premise and therefore it gets padded out by having flashback scenes as if there's an agenda of employing as many actors as possible in a minimalist story . The cynicism extends to having Sterling Hayden appear wearing a comedy beard in order to appeal to American distributors and one constantly finds oneself asking why instead of melodrama we couldn't have had film confined to a slow burning tale involving two talking roles where the tension is slowly but surely cranked up until the shocking end

This has a relatively high average user rating . It's easy to see why because the ending is totally surprising and one that I didn't see coming . The problem is when you recall the rest of the story proceeding it then it doesn't make the slightest bit of sense whatsoever . When the patient escapes at the beginning they overpower a female nurse in an unpleasant scene that alludes to rape so we jump to the conclusion that Stephen is the escaped patient . When the cops arrive at the final scene they arrest Belle and it's rather obvious that by their reaction it is she who is the escaped patient who the authorities are hunting in a blaze of publicity . This was made in the mid 1970s when we didn't have 24 hour TV news broadcasting but yet every single character in the film knows there's an escaped maniac on the loose but unaware that she's female . The internal logic and continuity of the scenario doesn't hold up the slightest piece of scrutiny when given any thought . There's also another unpleasant scene where Stephen leaves Belle sleeping in the car , goes in to a shop and the young female counter assistant is murdered . We see the murder entirely take place through the murderer's POV then it cuts to Stephen going back to he car . You might think there might be a bit of ambiguity to this scene but it's almost certain Stephen carried out the murder , so we have a story about an escaped psychopath on the run from the police getting a lift from a serial killer . So what's the chances of anything like that remotely happening in real life ?

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