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Enjoyable offbeat comedy
This is definitely not a great comedy or particularly original but it is certainly enjoyable with a few genuinely funny moments. It is quirky and charming and although the two main characters are self involved idiots they both somehow manage to remain likable. Although they are selfish and irresponsible they aren't actually malicious and seem blissfully unaware of their own antisocial behaviour. Charlotte Ritchie is delightful as Hannah, the lazy ex-vice-deputy-head-girl; a title she apparently bestowed upon herself at school. Tom Stourton delivers a genuinely funny performance as her childlike 23 year old idiotic brother Dan. The theme tune, which is used as incidental music through each episode, gives the show an innocent and slightly old fashioned feel. It gives you the sense that this is a light hearted comedy and that you don't have to take their behaviour too seriously, however it is contrasted by genuinely odd and occasionally dark humour.
Hannah is a girl who has elevated socially insensitive self-serving behaviour to an art form. However, she regards herself as a wonderful and caring human being. The contrast between her opinion of herself and her actual behaviour is not exactly an original source of comedy but Charlotte Ritchie carries it off so beautifully that you never actually feel angry at her and in fact remain strangely on her side. Dan is a 13 year old boy trapped in the body of a 23 year old man; he careers through life without ever achieving anything and yet throws himself into everything he does with boundless enthusiasm. We have learned that he spent 8 months at university, a fact he recalls as if it's an achievement, and has also been in prison for an as of yet undisclosed crime.
It's not a classic but it is enjoyable and has it's own vibe, well worth watching.
coming of age in the 1960s
I just watched this on DVD having not seen it for about 30 years and very much enjoyed it. It's a simple story and although set in the 1960s it's a timeless one. Every guy in the world remembers being that age and how desperate you are to experience the pleasures of women. The film also honestly depicts how the reality of losing your virginity isn't the mind blowing experience you imagined it would be and leaves you feeling a bit odd. Although reminiscent of the 70s sex comedies that followed this film has much more heart and depth.
It's also a perfect time capsule of Britain at a unique point in it's history. It shows the brave new world of 1960s architecture just before it all turned sour. This was to be the way we were going to live with. Everything made from concrete with people interacting in strange urban spaces. Of course we know that it failed miserably but there was a brief moment when it must have felt like a bright new future. The Victorian architecture that we now value depressed the people of the 1960s and reminded them of the past and of the war.
The overall experience of watching this was a strange one. It is very much of the 60s and yet it also feels incredibly modern as if it was made later but set in the 60s. Barry Evans wouldn't have looked out of place in the 80s with his jeans and white shirt. Of course the girls all look fantastic in their mini skirts and sexy boots. I don't know if suburbia was really as liberated as this in the 1960s but it's fun to imagine that it was.
Crying with Laughter (2009)
amateurish and unconvincing
The over all impression I had of Crying With Laughter was that of a film student or amateur film maker being let loose with a professional film crew and not really knowing what to do with it. The script wasn't great and the plot that unfolded down right silly. Low budget film makers always seem to feel the need to have a shocking element to their story as if this makes it intrinsically good drama and an obligatory climatic scene where all is revealed. It actually started off reasonably well with a solid enough character, the stand up comedian Joey Frisk played by Stephen MacCole. He's a bit clichéd but a decent script could have built around him and his relationship with his family. Instead a totally unconvincing character called Frank starts hanging around trying to get him to attend a school reunion. Frank apparently beats up Joey's landlord and then claims to be a witness to Joey doing it and identifies him in a police line up. It's such a severe attack that Joey is facing the possibility of many years in prison. Frank then pretends to be a friend to Joey offering him a place to live and even an alibi. Anyway a very silly plot unfolds where Frank kidnaps a former teacher who raped him as a child and as it turns out Joey but to be honest by this point I didn't really care. Frank also kidnaps Joeys daughter for reasons that shall remain a mystery.
The ending is a bit daft and there is absolutely no resolution as to what will happen to any of the characters concerning the assault charge or the kidnapping. Not that I was particularly interested in finding out.
Father Ted: New Jack City (1996)
Brendan Grace played it right.
As is suggested by the title the idea of this episode was to bring a priest into the parochial house who is a young version of Jack. Enter the wonderfully nasty Fintan Stack. The writers imagined that who ever played the part would shout the lines and generally behave like Jack. However Brendan Grace, who played Fintan Stack, pulled a masterful stroke and completely played down the role. He delivered his lines in soft voice with a camp menace that borders on sinister. This is one of my absolute favourite episodes and even after repeated viewings I still laugh at every one of Brendan's lines. It wouldn't have been half as funny if he had shouted them like a young Jack. It's a shame he only appeared in one episode.
I've just watched this again and it still stands up as a truly great piece of cinema. Anthony Perkins is superb as the nervous twitchy Norman Bates. The conversation between him and Janet Leigh is incredibly tense as the dark under currents in Norman's psyche show through. The shower scene is still shocking and Anthony Perkin's reaction when he sees what his "mother" has done is great acting. The style of the film is fascinating as well. It has elements of Film Noir but with a 60s art house feel. It was a brave film for Hitchcock to make at that stage in his career and demonstrates what a true master he was of his craft.
What was the point?
I'm not sure exactly what this film wants us to learn about Michael Peterson or Charles Bronson. All I learned about him was that he is an extremely violent self absorbed sociopath who lives in a tragic deluded fantasy world. Nothing else was offered, no hidden depths revealed. In the end he was just a violent sadistic idiot.
The heavy handed stylisation of the film was overly self conscious and blatantly copied from Clockwork Orange amongst other films. There was a clumsy attempt to turn scenes of violence into artistic aesthetic moments by using Stanley Kubric's method of showing them in slow motion with classical music playing in the background. The shear amount of extremely violent scenes grow painfully tedious. The way the film dealt with the hostage taking of Phil Danielson was offensive and totally disrespectful to Danielson himself who's life was ruined by the experience. Danielson was shown as a foppish idiot who deserved everything he got from Bronson. In reality Danielson was held captive for over 40 hours and was made to walk around the prison like a dog and was told by Brosnson that he was going to die. Bronson apologised in court to Danielson and his family which Bronson's supporters see as proof of the fundamental decency of the man.
I don't buy into the Bronson supporter's propaganda. Bronson is artistic they tell us. Yeah and so? I actually checked out his so called art online and it's talentless childish rubbish. Even if it wasn't I don't see why that means he should be released. Perhaps his supporters should try being held hostage by him for 40 hours. Bronson is warm hearted and funny they tell us. Yeah, Bronson and every other psychopath. Warmhearted until they take a dislike to you and use that as a justification for stamping on your head.
I don't see why this man should have had a film made about him, especially one that didn't seem to have any point to it. Having seen the film I hope he stays where he is, locked up safe and sound.
I've just ploughed my way through this mess of a film on DVD. It started off very promising, I liked the music and that it was set in the late 1970s. Also the fact that it was a hooligan film not set in London was very refreshing. However it quickly descended into tedious self indulgent drivel. It was one of those films where after an hour or so you felt that every scene might be the last and the place where it ended didn't make any more sense than it ending anywhere else. The fight scenes were pure fantasy. A bunch of wimpy young lads seemed to be able to go anywhere and turn over gangs of hardened grown men. The violence was also presented as deep and profound as if it was it was the perfect back drop to the tortured sound of bands like Joy Division.
When one of The Pack murders the gang leader by cutting in his throat in a crowded pub with no apparent repercussions legal or otherwise I realised this was a a fantasy film. A middle class art students take on what it is to be violent. By the end I was barely aware of what was going on I was so bored.
I give it a 3 rather than a 1 for the music, the fashion and the haircuts.
Rise of the Footsoldier (2007)
Enjoy the thrill
I can understand the criticism this film received. There isn't much plot, virtually zero character development and a huge amount of gratuitous violence which the director obviously relished.
However if you accept it on it's own terms as a drug and adrenalin fuelled roller-coaster ride through the British criminal underworld then it's a thrill a minute. The opening scenes showing the early days of the I.C.F. are possibly the best portrayals of football hooliganism committed to celluloid. I've never found films like the Football Factory or Green Street very convincing and the Rise of the Foot Soldier makes the fight scenes in them look like a jolly wheeze. The I.C.F. were frightening and sinister and the people involved were capable of extreme and sadistic violence. The scene where they are ambushed on the underground by the terrifying surgical mask wearing Millwall firm is particularly scary.
Overall though the film is patchy and a little bit random selecting bits and pieces of Carlton Leaches criminal life. He gets through two wives but we don't really get to find out anything about them or what motivated them to be with him. There was some humour though, I liked the scene when Leach first takes ecstasy.
I did find it slightly confusing that the film opens as a story about Carlton Leach only to find half way through that he becomes a minor character. The focus then switches to Tony Tucker, Pat Tate and Craig Rolfe, the victims of the notorious Range Rover Killings. I'm not sure exactly what the film wanted us take away from this. I personally thought the world was a better place without these three scum bags in it. I didn't find the scene where Tucker and Leach express their friendship for each other particularly moving. Both of them after all had committed numerous acts of terrifying violence in their day. Just because they showed some bizarre loyalty to each other doesn't really make up for the misery they had caused.
Pat Tate was, if the film is anything to go by, a mindless thug and Craig Rolfe a revolting cowardly retch of a human being. I don't think even Leach was crying for those two when he finds out about the murders.
As a last thought it does show that British crime is still, thankfully, nowhere near the level and violence of American crime. The Range Rover Killings are still regarded as a major event in British crime history. A bunch of drug dealers being blown away by shot guns would be business as usual in America.
It went badly wrong.
This film just didn't work very well. I found it hard to understand what the characters were saying and the acting was fairly awful. In a lot of the scenes it just didn't feel like the characters were even talking to each other. Also a lot of what happened wasn't very well explained and didn't make a lot of sense. I've read all the original books but this film just didn't capture them. Also a lot of original dialogue was contrived and complex which when read as the printed word was very funny. However hearing much of it regurgitated word for word in a feature film sounded clumsy and forced. A good film maker should understand this basic point when adapting a film from a book. I quite liked Martin Freeman in it although he wasn't exactly the Arthur Dent of the books who is a rather hapless and uncool figure. Mos Def wasn't very good and I didn't understand much of what he was saying and the less said about Zooey Deschanel the better. OK, she's easy on the eyes but she can't act. Also letting Arthur get Trillian in the end was kind of the exact opposite of the whole original story. Arthur is the good guy who doesn't get the girl. Trillian is an air head who goes off the total jerk.
Except for the dolphins, the Vogan space ships blowing up the Earth and the animated parts of the book it was a poor film.
Reggie Perrin (2009)
It's just not working
I've watched this with an open mind as a huge fan of the original and tried to appreciate it on it's own merits however I'm not getting into it. I don't dislike it exactly but it just doesn't really have any impact on me at all. The only thing keeping watching I think is the gorgeous and charming Lucy Liemann who plays Jasmine and the very cute and adorable Kerry Howard who plays Vicky, Reggie's dopey secretary. Kerry Howard is the only person in the show who has actually made me laugh.
So what's wrong with it? The story isn't as relevant as it was in the 1970s. Shows like Reggie Perrin, The Good Life and Butterflies all hit a nerve at the time with people. There must have a great deal of dissatisfaction amongst the middle aged suburbanites of the 1970s. I just don't find Martin Clunes dissatisfaction very believable. It seems forced, this is after all a show about Reggie Perrin and so he has to be dissatisfied. In the original you can really feel Reggie's mounting sense of frustration, boredom and insanity. The point about Reggie Perrin is that he is a man who has everything that society says you have to have and yet he is still bored and dissatisfied. He is driven mad by repetition, banality and the total absence of any kind of uncertainty. He has to create danger and uncertainty in order to make himself feel alive again. I don't think anybody in the Britain of 2009 could possibly have the luxury of being driven mad by too much security and certainty. A modern day executive is more likely to be driven to desperation by fear, over work and stress.
The biggest problem I have with it though is that it just isn't that funny. The script isn't very good, the editing is quite poor and the performances are average. Martin Clune's was on a hiding to nothing trying to step into the shoes of a masterful performer like Leonard Rossiter. I've nothing against Martin Clunes, he's a decent enough comedy actor but he's not one of the greats.
It was a brave thing to do and I'm sure they knew they were setting themselves up to be severely criticised, I just wish they had either done it better or not bothered.