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From Sunny Oxford, UK.
Me Me Me (2011)
He turned around and smiled at me, You get the picture?
Second film from music producer Jonathan King and political figure/filmmaker Paul Wiffen, another musical, wider appeal than their first.
Story focuses on newbie at Britain's biggest tabloid, The Moon. Geddit?
Jane Fellowes, played with gusto by Scarlett Emmanuelle, a sweet, naive student, is tasked by editor, Marshall Artes to 'smash' open a huge story about a rising street artist, BabyDraw, who paints large babies in a Banksy type manner on to open spaces. BabyDraw's pictures are daft but this is the very core of the film. Why and how are media sensations created and what for, or more importantly, who for?
Attractive Scarlett Emmanuelle is here made up more like a WAG than a journalist, presumably intended to be a slight on the tabloid fixation with 'fake' women. Daniel Jefferson's Artes is a timely conflict between authoritarian leader and a man without any real idea of what he is doing.
Jane finds 'BabyDraw', an art student, Johnny Bambino, played by Henry Stansall, who regardless of what has been said lacks the charisma of Robert Pattinson and does not resemble him or Daniel Radcliffe at all.
Despite that though Stansall is a fresh faced young man, out of his depth here with what could have been a slightly meatier role but more apt at his main career, the band 'Red Lights One' with his real life brother Rupert Stansall here playing brother Jay Fratello.
Rupert also lacks real star quality as an actor but as a performing sibling duo the pair are a decent band and on the looks side have obvious appeal for, probably, largely teenage girls and gay men.
As Jane breaks the story Bambino becomes a huge media sensation with the BBB reaking (modelled on BBC but is 'reeking' intended as comment?) news seemingly reporting only on BabyDraw. The Moon feels some ownership leading Bambino to record producer Ben Volio, a star performance from Jonathan Benda.
Fantastically disinterested in his protégée, Volio muses on the benefits of fame with void eyes and a steady drone of a voice, a flawless performance. His secretary, played by Jane Tulett is also perfectly cast. These two inspired performances culminate in a wonderful singing and dancing sequence like something from a modern 'The Wizard of Oz' (which Tulett previously starred in on stage). With his awkward Tin Man dancing alongside a sexed up and frankly quite pretty Dorothy the scene is one of the film's best and most surreal moments.
Alongside Bambino's thrust in to fame is the romance between Jane and Bambino, a fairly unconvincing love story though tabloid friendly.
This is second though to the social commentary on the way the media leads our lives and how we are, even if we deny it, largely led by it. In the middle of all this Fratello is also falling in love with Jane's friend, Tabby (Olu Ubadike). Tabby is not a central character but manages to grab a short solo moment in a totally bizarre and not sure if it really works moment, idolising one of her own icons. Though rather out of place the scene in itself is amusing and Ubadike does a ridiculous song well.
The other two slightly random moments that keep cropping up are two other vocal groups. Aside from 'Red Lights One' who get to perform several tracks with Bambino singing and Fratello on instruments, the film also features a Goth band, 'Gogmagog' (played by real band 'Falling Red') who though perfectly good enough seem to have no real purpose in their couple of scenes and are quite disjointed from the general story.
The third band is 'The Sirens' a.k.a. 'The Angelettes' (three women, a kind of modern The Shangri-Las). The actresses Perry Kate Lambert (who also does the snippets of narration in the film); Suevia Perez-Castro and Ria Lopez star as Crystal Siren, Loud Siren and Baby Siren respectively and provide the film with a few 'fantasy' moments and it's most memorable song 'Don't Let Him Touch You'.
All three Sirens perform well but it is Ria Lopez, as weirdly the least used of the three, who has a screen presence combining a graceful aura with a subtle sexuality that allow her to become one of the best performances here. Her vocals are also spot on.
After a string of number one hits and with the media pimping his every move, Bambino decides to have one last attempt at creating the ultimate BabyDraw baby, his most controversial painting yet.
Thus the film takes perhaps a slightly surprising turn with a sudden short series of events that are unforeseen until now. After so many songs and so little drama it is no surprise however that the films' big finale is carried out at the speed of an express train with the viewer barely able to recollect what has happened previously before it is all over.
Director Paul Wiffen does a commendable job of linking the song performances with spoken script, rarely, indeed barely, does the film feel disjointed - even the rather irrelevant moments are never particularly laborious. Writer and Producer Jonathan King, who also features briefly in a rather cool religious parody scene, does a grand job of creating a daft but purposeful story with real vigour and some - though not all - brilliant songs. Meanwhile the comical miming of the songs works well as the comment that it is on the superficiality of it all but there is a slight yearning for a 'live' performed version, perhaps in the vein of 'Jerry Springer: The Opera'.
Overall, a highly inventive film with a wonderful array and diversity of creative people. None bad. Most good. Some exceptional. Put aside your prejudices - helped by the fact that this is free to view online - and watch this rainbow of a film.
So, there is my movie poster quote, 'Me Me Me', "A rainbow of a film".
Micmacs à tire-larigot (2009)
Visually grand, mentally transfixing
When you think of revenge movies you generally picture a guy with a gun taking a swift and direct action against everyone who has ever wronged him. Guns are a theme here but not because our lead character, Bazil, uses one to fight injustice but because two prominent French arms dealers are responsible for his predicament. Bazil's father was killed by a landmine and Bazil himself is unwittingly shot by a stray bullet during a drive by shooting. Though he survives, the bullet remains in his brain causing him regular discomfort and meaning that he might die at any moment. This adds an underlying tension to the fairly subtle story as Bazil, out of work with nowhere to live, finds comfort with a group of fascinating sideshow style vagabonds who eventually become his allies in his battle against the greed, murder and manipulation of powerful arms dealers.
Aside from a truly riveting series of sly, witty and purposeful acts by this band of revengers, the film is also striking in its beauty with every scene presenting an intense array of colours fusing with incredibly intricate and detailed backdrops. These prevail particularly with the 'sideshow' who recycle scrap in to wonderful creations fresh from a fifties cartoon short. At one point Bazil sees a segment of an old cartoon where a character shoots another in the head. This depicts the correlation between the real world here and an animated fantasy-land with the epic and extremely clever revenge plan played out in much the same way that Sylvester chases Tweetie Pie or Wyle E.Coyote stalks Road Runner.
The films only fault is that sometimes is all almost too imaginative, barely allowing the mind to recollect what has happened before twenty or so other things occur, each steeped in a tranquil haze teasing the viewer's eyes like a mirrored tunnel encompassing a silent disco. Wonderfully indulgent movie, a treat for the eyes, ears, nose and mind.
Regularly amusing and well made horror spoof with Charles Band and some Full Moon Productions buddies in ultimate 'taking the mickey' out of themselves mode. Stand-up comedian K-Von is suitably selfish as a kind of Charles Band head -of-studio who has inherited his father's love of low budget horror films and his studio (cue Albert Band's influence for his son). The Gingerdead Man accidentally finds his way to the studio and causes havoc as would be expected. It is difficult to say much about the film without giving the main jokes away, but for those familiar with Full Moon's output and Band's reputation then this is a hoot. Brother Richard Band provides a good score and some of the most talented Full Moon bunch are involved (think writer William Butler). I suspect that director Sylvia St. Croux is really Band himself and further testament to the sense that he knows how bad he can be (e.g. not paying staff). Ricardio Gill is great in a brief Phil Fondacaro spoof scene (clue: Phil swears about Band a lot). Older British actor Jacob Witkin is almost as good as the similar and great Pupper Master Guy Rolfe (Witkin was actually in 'Puppet Master Legacy'). Kelsey Sanders is an attractive female lead, one-to-watch.
Curse of the Puppet Master (1998)
A little random entry in the Puppet Master series with a 'gentle giant' gas station attendant Robert 'Tank' being offered a job for Dr. Magrew mirroring the work of Andre Toulon. George Peck who plays Magrew is fairly similar to the original Puppet Master (William Hickey). Anyway, Magrew daughter, pretty Jane (Emily Harrison) falls in love with Tank while Magrew wants to use him not only in recreating the dolls of Toulon but also more literally in his quest to create a range of 'perfect human puppets'. Of course Jane wouldn't want Tank to be used in this way and perhaps neither do our lovable puppet friends...
Well made film, directed by David DeCoteau. Fairly tame (except for a few scenes of Tunneller) but fun and a pleasant aside from the main series tale of Toulon's plight and his puppets adventures. Entertaining.
Vampire Journals (1997)
Like Angel to Buffy...
Odd fourth entry in the Subspecies series of films. This time there is little mention of Radu, instead focusing on a new character Zachery. Zachery wants to seek revenge on the vampire that killed his beloved Rebecca. Thus he befriends a concert musician, Sofia and uses her to find Ash, performing as much graphic vampire violence as he can on his crusade. In itself this is a superbly well acted and filmed addition to the series, though the lack of Radu is noted and at times problematic for the tension. A grand fable though and David Gunn and Kirsten Cerre, as Zachery and Sofia make a grand 'couple'. Incidentally Cerre attended acting school with Gunn and admits that everyone found him very scary as he is so serious and intense - though actually he is a lovely guy apparently. Jonathan Morris plays Ash again to maximum effect and one can only wish that all three leads were in either every film made or at least hundreds more vampire legacies. Grand.
Subspecies 4: Bloodstorm (1998)
The lovely Michelle (Denise Duff) has escaped from master vampire Radu and is taken to a hospital by a Ana, a woman who discovers a poorly Michelle. A doctor claims he can cure Michelle of her Vampire tendencies and is face with the danger of Radu - fresh to Bucharest to find his true love. Meanwhile Ash and his helper Serena join forces with Ana and the doctor to destroy Radu.
This fifth film (originally a planned Trilogy) follows 'Vampire Journals' which was an off-kilter fourth instalment. Though Ted Nicolaou continues to write and direct it feels here like 'Vampire Journals' might have sent him off course with the sense of originality and gripping drama replaced by a slightly tedious and by now becoming tired battle between Radu and Ash. Ash, here played by British actor Jonathan Morris has never been better and with such fine leads it is a true shame that the film, here, lets them down.
Bloodlust: Subspecies III (1994)
Conclusion to the planned trilogy directed by Ted Nicolaou this third film ends rather openly suggesting that Full Moon Productions were already sizing up future instalments. This time Radu kidnaps Michelle and takes her to the castle that he shares with his mother, a Sorceress. He teaches her to master her vampire powers, willing to sacrifice everything to empower his true love when Michelle's sister Rebecca attacks his stronghold.
The trilogy is weakening here with little original storyline and little excitement. However the series still - at this point - remains highly unique and still fantastically riveting. Once again the acting is of a high standard, the Romanian locations breathtaking and the script, score and direction, even in this 'weaker hour' surpass many larger budget films. Stable stuff.
Bloodstone: Subspecies II (1993)
Straight-forward sequel to Subspecies, this time Michelle - now a fully fledged vampire - attempts to escape the evil Radu who wants her as his very own love mate. Thus she steals the ancient bloodstone and forces Radu to pursue her for both reasons. Meanwhile her obsessive sister Rebecca (Melanie Shatner, William Shatener's daughter) travels to Rome enlisting the help of a local Police lieutenant.
Denice Duff in her debut as Michelle is exceptional, a grand actress and attractive too. The casting generally is very effective and Anders Hove as Radu - though perhaps less sinister than in the first film - is fitting more comfortably in to the character. Another fine effort from Ted Nicolaou and as riveting as fans might expect. Fine.
All the Small Things (2009)
All the SMALL things
Utter tripe TV series from UK BBC service. The acting is okay though the characters are dull, cumbersome and entirely irritating (like the sweetcorn in your teeth that you can't get out). The main characters' son is obsessed with the lead singer of American band Blink 182 (hence the title 'All the Small Things'). This means that we have endless renditions of this song - even at a choral contest where the lad singing this to rock guitars wins the contest (as a choir?!) against serious vocal harmony choirs (okay, yes some of the cast are humming vocals in the background but that does not a choir make). There is a bunch of malicious Christians (terribly scapegoat here, Christians that is), a vulnerable, mentally challenged man (who is also the show's only real ethic minority character (seriously!?!), siblings who act like more like school peers that fancy each other and don't know where to go next, motherly mentality (yet unfit mothers they are), rubbish script...and of course Tom - the lead singer of Blink 182. He is not in it but I'm sure he must have paid the BBC a great amount of money to make the show. I don't mind Blink 182, Tom has a good voice. However a prime time show (watched mainly - I imagine - by people who read 'The Daily Mail' or 'The Sun' - UK's best selling tabloid newspapers) with endless Wikipedia style snippets about Tom's life is at least bizarre and at worst (especially for a publicly funded, non-advertising broadcaster) completely ridiculous. All this show is good for is as a pointless, dumb and ill founded criticism of Christianity and an advertisement for the recent "let's hang out together again and maybe release an album" standing of Blink 182. Poor.
Frightfully original and bewilderingly entertaining tale of Radu, an evil vampire played by Greenland (in the Kingdom of Denmark) actor Anders Hove. Radu desperately craves the ancient relic of the Bloodstone, a stone that actually drips the blood of saints. Three visiting American women get caught up in an ancient vampire feud. Radu has slain his father (Scrimm) thus resulting in the wrath of his good vampire brother Stefan ('General Hospital's' Michael Watson).
Truly original story and sharp direction by Full Moon regular Ted Nicolaou (who admits that when Charles Band asked him to direct, in Romania, he thought it was some kind of scam). Speaking of Romania, the post Communist country still in a state of post war fear - hotels riddled with bullets and protest marches through the streets over loss of jobs and the terrifying economy - is a superb setting with grand ruins, beautiful woodland and excited locals in supporting roles. This was one of the first films made in Romania after the fall of Communism and the cast and crew overcame huge odds to produce an original, scary, bloodthirsty and fun film. Laura Tate as Michele is good as are the other leads but Denise Duff (in the sequels) makes Michele more appealing and gives her real heart. Horror actor Angus Scrimm merely rehashes previous roles he has played but is still fun to watch. Eerie music score and cruel Minions (small red creatures that help Radu - originally played by real local people but they were so passionate in the roles that it didn't work and David Allen's fantastical animation had to be used instead) make this an all round entertaining film.