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The Wall, adapted from the well regarded 1963 book by the same name, is a subtle feminist metaphoric polemic on the female condition and their place in the world, that of drudgery, restriction and oppression, quiet literally a physical glass ceiling in this film. My thoughts on feminism, of course, are well known here. I simply don’t buy into the idea that women don’t get the same chances to succeed today as men.
A woman (Martina Gedeck) is driving to the family hunting lodge in the stunning Austrian Alps with her retired parents. In the late summers afternoon mom and dad head into town to buy supplies, leaving the family dog Luchs with the daughter at the cabin. They fail to get back before nightfall and the woman waits alone. The next morning she decides to walk into the village to see what’s what. But her life is about to be turned upside down, supernaturally so, as an invisible and impenetrable wall stops her going any further on the main road to the town. Further investigation reveals the wall is all around her and this is not a bad dream. As the days pass and she ventures out she discovers two old people on the other side of the wall, but motionless, as if caught in time. Whatever this thing is no one is coming to rescue her any day soon. It rains inside the wall and there are clouds above but no obvious escape, digging under it, venturing into the mountains to find its boundary.
She slowly learns to survive, just Lynx, a hunting rifle and a cow for company. As days turn to weeks she has to hunt and kill to stay alive, the cow providing milk and responsibility. She begins to grow crops as she loses hope of rescue and surrenders to terrifying thoughts of infinite loneliness, writing a diary to keep her sanity. Is she being punished by God or is this some sort of government sociological experiment? Could she be the only person left on the planet and her forced regression some sort of rebirth for mankind?
Alas, if using a metaphor of an invisible transparent wall to examine feminism and the human condition through parable - and with subtitles and a harsh Germanic narration - is not your thing then look away now. Oh and the film is directed by a man, Julian Roman Pölsler, so one nil to the men. This is hard work guys and girls and increasingly depressing as the two hours begin to drag on. Once the premise of the wall thing is set up, the viewer, like the heroine, loses hope by the end of it, the point, I presume.
Martina’s performance is very impressive, no doubt feeling some of the emotions women go through in the movie. Its intelligent dialogue exploring the regression of a person to the point of being the animals we eat is mentally consuming and makes you think about things, and as far as a subtle metaphor on feminism goes it’s cleverly done, also dealing with depression in women that comes from perceived male repression. Working out what the wall is all about keeps you involved and certainly a better use of one than the ridiculous Under the Dome. This is not a science fiction film folks and the wall simply an unreal illusory mechanism to entrap the woman so we can explore that human condition.
It jumps from a contemporary feel early on to full on Ingmar Bergman by the end of it as we head into the solitary abyss, the Sound of Music to Cormac McCarthy’s The Road, the desolation of loneliness and all hope lost the final themes. May no mistake, this film is about the repression of women and it’s all men’s fault. As its narrative stalls you realize it may not be a happy ending, a woman permanently tied to her situation, her appearance increasingly butch, not killing herself so to protect the animals that have become dependent on her. For the animals its kill or be killed to survive but humans are the only living things that make conscious choices to survive, why we are the superior being.
Shell, a winner at the 2013 Edinburgh Film Festival, is where the low budget British film industry is right now, Film4 and Sky Arts their only real chance of being seen now - if they have failed to cast Hugh Grant or Colin Firth, what America thinks Britain is. With no Blockbuster on our high street and the need of expensive TVs to watch new films ‘on demand’ that are not deemed multiplex worthy you do wonder who would fund these low budget British films anymore, apart from the ever eager Lottery and Arts Foundation. Hardly any make a profit. The best films are not always from Hollywood and often foreign and the understated British ones are blanked by the American owned multiplexes here so can’t turn a buck. It’s left to film fans to tell you about them. I can’t see how they can survive anymore, Shell an example.
Attractive 17-year-old Shell (Chloe Pirrie) lives and works at a wind swept petrol station high on the remote Scottish Highlands. Apart from the occasional customers, and a few lonely regulars who acknowledge, flirt and catch up with her, Shell’s only company on the baron but beautiful moor is her reserved and softly spoken father Pete (Joseph Mawle), to whom she is devoted and dependent on at the same time, epileptic and somewhat haunted by his past.
Emotionally lonely and on the cusp of womanhood, Shell is ready to fly the nest. Pete, on the other hand, is still hurting from the loss of his wife, who legged it when Shell was just four, while his connection with his daughter is both difficult and disturbing, content with his rural sanctuary that’s claustrophobic to Shell. They are locked together in a dark secret that both don’t seem to want to stop. The only way to break the bond may prove too much for either. Every customer is a chance to flee for Shell but also a potential witness to their deceit.
The star of the film is the silence, no soundtrack but howling wind, the squeak of the rusty garage signs swinging in the wind and the oppressive hang of sexual taboo like the grey cloud that sweeps over the shuddering Scottish heather, cleansing these demons that run free here. It’s very much a mood piece. Don’t expect any slick dialogue and set pieces, very much in the Dogme school of filmmmaking.
Pirrie is good in the lead and received that BAFTA nomination whilst Mawle adds that needed ‘head banging the wall’ intensity to make the film have any sort of haunting tension. To be fair this is more of short film and perhaps bumped up to 90 minutes to get funding.
It’s a sensitive and intelligent effort but so slow-burning that sometimes the candle seems to go out. Its so baron and sparse that I can see that it would put people off watching it. But as Sigmund Freud discovered - Our darkest sexual thoughts are certainly worth exploration.
What a talent we have in 24-year-old Xavier Dolan, star, writer, director, producer here, penning this rather intelligent screenplay at just 16. The pretentious Cannes crowd adored him, Xavier receiving an eight-minute standing ovation, winning the Palme D’Or .
Part autobiographical its a tale of a gay schoolboy who loves him mum but can’t stand being her son, and one or two uncomfortable home truths there for many moody teenagers. Freud said that we all have a repressed need to kill our parents in the end to become true independent adults, normal behavior in the animal kingdom, of course. We had Gerbils as kids and still traumatized to this day seeing mummy Gerbil bite the heads off her new born.
17-year-old Hubert (Dolan) is pain in the ass, constantly criticizing his single mom (Anne Dorval) and not much to say of praise for anyone else in his life in urban middle-class Quebec, only secret boyfriend Antonin (François Arnaud) and his vivacious mom Hélène (Patricia Tulasne) his kind of people.
Mom seems a nice lady but not as smart as her highly intelligent son. Hubert’s brain needs to be nourished, pretty school teacher Julie (Suzanne Clément) taking up the challenge, impressed with his essay called ‘I killed my Mother’, and good extracurricular company.
His absent dad (Pierre Chagnon) is the direction Hubert needs in life. But papa doesn’t put up with nonsense and sends him to boarding school. Antonin thinks he will be happy there as private schools are ‘full of queers’. But they are also full of bullies, Hubert beaten up on his first week there. Maybe this place will make him realizes how much he misses his mom.
Son’s relationships with moms are often hostile, finding it hard to love someone always emasculating us telling us what to do, be it for our own good. Moms will always be jealous of the lovers that take away their sons. The struggle with the paradox of loving a mother without actually liking her feels remarkably honest to me. Problem is Dolan's hunger to prove his talent and hotpot of styles means the film quickly becomes showing off. But hey, he’s charismatic and this classy piece of art house cinema, pretty as it is intelligent. With his arrogant floppy fringe and good looks and thought out script to deliver, never has a film been so heartfelt and real. Gawd knows what his real mom made of it.
It looks great with an emotional soundtrack and plenty of center framing, Dolan as vain and conceited as his film. The bickering throughout does get a little testing as it seems absurdly over the top and you just want mom to smack him one. It does get a little self indulgent at times but you are witnessing a great young talent and so get to enjoy a striking and funny movie. I suspect if you are gay then this film will have even more impact on you.
So, British social realism and urban grit anyone? This London Film Festival winner says you need more. First time director Tinge Krishan certainly thinks you need some more. We don’t but why not. Middle-class directors love to write and depict East London how they see it and they rarely get it right, even when they come from those streets. Junkhearts tries it best but more of the same, only Eddie Marsan’s lead performance its savior. Actors like Marsan have to give 100% to these projects as they are no leading men and so this type of movie that puts the food on the table.
Ex soldier Frank (Marsan) is haunted by a violent past in Northern Ireland. He lives alone in his East London council flat, only PTSD for company, drowning his nightmares with booze and daytime TV. His successful and attractive single mom daughter Christine (Romola Garai) has disowned him and currently trying to care for her daughter and dyeing mom amongst her chaotic lifestyle of parties, guys and social drugs.
Marsan stumbles into the equally chaotic world of Lynette (Candese Reid), a pretty black girl who is everything his daughter isn’t, a young rough sleeper in Soho. Despite Franks misgivings, he offers her a place to stay, which she soon exploits by inviting her Irish boyfriend Danny (Tom Sturridge) around, who is low level drug dealer and hangs with a like wise chavy crowd. He is soon threatening an already vulnerable Frank as the flat becomes a drug den and Lynette starts using again. Frank knows this will only end one way and sets about making that happen, not wanting to lose another sweet girl at heart looking for a father to protect her.
It’s not bad but only really watchable for Marsan’s performance, excellent at these types of unbalanced roles. It is a character study and no more. Marsan is not going to be in a romcom any day soon. Let alone a leading man. He was good in Tyrannosaurus with Olivia Colman and Pete Mullen and very funny in Worlds End. But he generally plays serious roles and a haunted moon face made for pathos and loneliness on film, his performance in The Disappearance of Alice Creed his best so far. Young Candese Reid is good alongside and enjoyed sending up the ‘Sarf’ London accent.
It’s violent at times but the gritty stuff more cartoon than reality. We have seen it all before. It’s a bit of a muddle at times and somewhat ambitious in its attempt to pull so many strings together. We get that he is a soldier suffering post traumatic stress disorder but not quite sure why his daughter and mother would disown him at his time of need. I mean The Troubles was a good thirty years ago and so unlikely he would be still so unstable. I wonder if the Asian British writer and director got too timid and shied away from it being an atrocity in the Iraq War at the last. Saying that it’s plausible and worth a crack at a script on an illness that is believed to hit one-in-four returning troops. In America the military are so ashamed of the high numbers of PTSD that they try to hide it by denying veterans the right treatment. What soldiers hate most of all on the battlefield is seeing crippled and damaged soldiers allowed to return to the combat arena, a reminder what awaits them if they sign up for another tour or two.
As I have said before, 70% of all purchases on the planet are made by women, 70% of the money on the planet generated by men. Women love to shop and there is nothing men can do about that. We love em so we let them get on with it; even of they are doing it to look good for other men. Women feel confident when they feel pretty and thin. The only way you are going to get some touch and feel tonight is if you let her drag you into every clothes shop on the high street on Saturday afternoon for the touch and feel she likes. A pair of heels to girls is like a Ferrari for the boys. And don’t get me started on size ten dress sizes that are really size 12s’. Those changing room mirrors are concave for a reason. But those shopping habits are changing and the girls are moving online, cyber high street open 24 hours. While the boys are looking at naughty things or shooting up imaginary worlds on their Playstations in the den the girls are still shopping hard. There has been a 31% surge in online shopping at night in the last three years.
56% of all online sales are now made on Smartphone’s and Tablets, from just 3% five years ago, purchases you can make anytime, anywhere. This is why certain opinion sites dumbed down reviews to 500 words. A John Lewis survey revealed men are buying at midnight, stuff like games consoles and audio equipment, mostly ordered between 12 and 2am and then ties and suits before 3am. After that the women take over, screaming babies or worrying about nothing keeping them up all night and so time to log in. Nursery items are most popular at 4-5am and then handbags, clothes and shoes from 5 to 7am. Indeed buying habits seem to reflect the time of the day when you would most use those items, cutlery ordered at midday, TV’s at 4pm and beds and mattress at 11pm.
In Northampton the battle is lost between ‘clicks and bricks (on and off line shopping), the local council deciding to put a road half-way down the main pedestrianised high street to distract from the many empty units. The road doesn’t look like a road and made from the same bricks as the pathways, confusion for the shoppers and from the council, neither really sure what the main high street is for anymore. The council says they don’t see the shops coming back soon and so retail needs some encouragement. We, the people of Northampton, think they are simply creating work for the big construction companies that donate heavily to the Tory Party at election time. At least ex council employees laid off to pay for the unneeded building projects will have easier access to the pawn shops to sell their wares to meet their bills and get a new wardrobe from the many charity shops on the new Abington Street.
Amazon, of course, accelerated the end of the highstreet. Once they have your credit card digits you begin to buy other stuff from there. With free postage & packaging then why not? Smaller niche shops now can’t compete with their size, buying power and customer base and always have an inferior website. The biggest advantage (and disgrace) from Amazon is they don’t pay any tax and so even more cash to play with; cash the government would have got from those now defunct smaller shops forced under. It’s completely unfair and costing jobs. But I personally don’t think there is much value on Amazon anymore as they now charge high street prices as the big chains have trimmed the fat and tried to compete. Amazon remains glorified mail order and offers little value. If there was an electrical store in the high street I would buy my TVs from there.
I am surprised people buy clothes and food and the like online, those touch and feel products. I would bet that these are the products that are returned the most online. We all prefer to look, touch and feel clothes and shoes we buy. I’m sure they look online for the same product they have seen earlier for cheap but most want to buy there and then in Top Shop and H&M. Girls love walking home with a new pair of boxed up pretty shoes. I bought some jeans online and they looked nothing like the ones on the website and I sent them back straightway. I think we are all picky when it comes to clothes and I’m not surprised big online clothing retailer ASOS is struggling. Girls love to buy something for a special occasion to only wear it once and then return it on Monday for a full refund.
So summing up I prefer high street shopping. A pretty girl behind the counter is what it’s about for boys. I like the hustle and bustle of a trip into town and looking for bargains. I like to touch and feel to make sure the product is what it is. I don’t like ordering online and then the P&P pushing the price up and over high street prices. That is what is happening. I like getting stuff there and then and then taking it home and trying it straight away. I like face-to-face contact when the deal is struck.
So, Gloria, Chile’s 2014 entry at Oscars in Best Foreign Film category. It didn’t win as its subject matter of middle-aged romance was a bit too squeamish for The Academy. This is the sort of film role older actresses would die for in Hollywood. When women get to a certain age men stop looking if they don’t firm it all up. Cinema doesn’t like to show us as we are in that department, stretch marks and saggy boobs a big No No in Tinsel Town, only Jack Nicholson is allowed to get away with that. Older women will really identify with her performance here.
Gloria Menedez (Paulina García) enjoys her new found freedom, smoke when she wants and still feels young at heart, especially at the oldies Santiago Salsa and Flamenco club scene. She is pushing sixty but looks good for her age, not short of admirers. Rodolfo (Sergio Hernández) is one of those and makes his move, Gloria flattered by the attention of the polite ex navy man.
Gloria enjoys the next day at his adventure park, a spot of paintballing and Zorbing no problem for the free spirit that is Gloria. She is a little low right now and enjoys the booster of gentleman company, her daughter Ana (Fabiola Zamora) moving to Sweden with her mountain climbing boyfriend Gabriel (Alejandro Goic), and her neighbor (Hugo Moraga) keeps her up all night with his nervous breakdown. Rodolfo is also divorced and has needy unemployed daughters and an angry ex wife, constantly phoning him. But Rodolfo declares his unending love for Gloria and he also becomes needy, not what free spirit Glory is about.
Romances are not always happy and exciting times, often two people simply looking for company, sex and conversation. No one wants to be lonely, especially middle-aged women, and men don’t like the loss of their ego by not having sex. Problem is can we involve ourselves in fifty-year-olds having a relationship on the big screen, and bonking, as they do here. Do we want to see liver spots and child bearing hips doing battle? We need screen romances to make us laugh and cry whilst this one just makes you sad at the idea of getting old, especially for women viewers of that certain age. Men can get away with it for longer as younger women love the bulge in their trousers - the wallet. It’s not the same for women and off the market by the time they hit 50 and extremely conscious of that, time to take in that kitten your neighbor doesn’t want.
García is the film, her lead performance a cracker, why the film is called Gloria. I must admit her big round glasses and bouffant hair reminded me of Dustin Hoffman in Tootsie and I did think that would be the big twist. But there are no surprises here and she really does capture the loneliness of being a single older woman that men only see as matriarchs.
Since the ubiquitous cell phone it’s tricky to keep a modern day horror movie credible. If there is man with an axe in the spooky old house you just ‘snapchat’ him, text your mates and then call the cops. Sadly some directors think the mobile phone issue can be ‘got around’ by bad signals or low batteries at the critical moment. This social media conundrum has seriously curtailed the genre. And if directors make their films in spite of that then they look silly, as is the case here.
Friends Dan (Kevin Zegers), girlfriend Parker (Emma Bell) and best friend Joe (Shawn Ashmore) don’t have enough money to buy ski lift tickets for their college weekend snowboarding in Utah. So its decided that Parker should bribe ski lift-worker (Ed Ackerman) with a hundred bucks for all three to go up the mountain. When the system is nearing closure and a storm on the way, they force Jason to let them have one last pass. Jason sends them up the floodlit slopes and nips off for a pee, telling his colleague that there are three more boarders to come down before they can shut the lift of.
The lift stops near the top of the mountain as the cold bites. They are 50ft up and it’s now -10. When the lights of the ski resort are turned off, they need to make a choice: leave the chairlift somehow or risk freezing to death overnight.
I have seen three films called Frozen in the last year and this, by far, the most stupid. What was writer and director Adam Green thinking of? He of classics ‘Hatchet’ and ‘Hatchet 2’ has a lot to learn about horror movies. I mean what is the chance of three young people forgetting their cell phones on a ski lift? Seriously? Why would anyone try to jump 50ft at night when they safer in the lift? Surely it’s better to jump in the morning so to spot the landing? And since when do Wolves hang around Utah ski resorts? It’s like he got the funding for the film and felt he had to make it before anyone read the script.
The film was shot entirely practically, meaning no sound stage or green screen or CGI. The actors were truly suspended over fifty feet in the air on the side of a real mountain in Utah. Two of the three actors on the chair lift suffered vertigo during the filming so adding to the tension, of what little there was. It’s hardly method acting but at least they tried to make it worth while. But the whole film stands on how realistic there peril is and in the modern age of those Smartphone’s and personal injury claims it’s highly unlikely anyone would be left up there. Because of that you just don’t buy into it all by half-way and then things get really silly when the wolves show up.
So, Ian Dury, to me the punk bloke who had a big hit with ‘Hit me with your rhythm stick’ and only famous because he had polio as a kid and so an attention grabbing and noticeable disability on stage, rescuing him from being just another one hit wonder. But clearly there was more to him than that and a significant disability activist simply by achieving that much. If he could get up there and do what he did and be such a powerful voice on disability rights then clearly a talented guy and so a story to tell on film. The other song of his I recall was ‘Spasticus Autisticus’, the one he penned for the United Nations to publicize the UN Year of the Disabled’, Dury making it as deliberately offensive and uncomfortable as possible for the suits to make his point that you can’t be tokenistic around things that effect peoples lives so strongly. As the UN had failed to veto at least ten wars when Dury was alive he could rightfully turn around and say they were sanctioning many of those disabilities through those wars. After watching this film I have a lot more respect for one of life’s rebels, and Andy Serkis for his brilliant lead performance.
We meet Dury all grown up in his mansion with 8 albums to his name and a beautiful wife (Olivia Williams) by the pool, son Baxter (Bill Milner from Son of Rambo) playing with his action toy and a mistress (Naomi Harris) at beck and call. Through non linear narrative we learn how a man who calls himself a cripple got to this seemingly privileged place.
First we explore his disability, polio contracted as a boy at Southend-on-Seas public swimming pool during the epidemic of 1949, and the terrible operations and procedures he had to go through as a child to stay alive thereafter. The extreme form of Polio paralyzes the body and you have to get the virus out of the nerve system quickly, polio one of the main reasons why public pools had chlorine in them. Father Bill (Ray Winstone), a chauffeur, loves his boy but puts him in a boarding hospital for the disabled because he is widowed, a grim place, Ian regularly bullied, especially by the seedy Mr Hargreaves (Toby Jones).
Flashing forward we meet Ian’s first band, ‘Kilburn and the High Road’, quickly getting into a scrap in a rough East End bikers pub, Dury’s signature boisterous and antagonistic antics starting the fight. But it would split the band up and they would reform as the Blockheads, young guitarist Chaz Jankel (Tom Hughes) coming in to help with the song writing, meeting his sexy girlfriend Denise (Naomi Harris) at the first gig but still married to Betty(Olivia Williams).
But it’s the tempestuous relationship with Denise and that marital tryst that drives the film, both women in love with the talent as they are the man and his charisma, more entertainer than musician, surrounded by followers. Trying to cure their mans emotional turmoil is their impossible quest as he battles to deal with the past, and not let little Baxter suffer the way he did as a kid, always trying to be as strong as his father Bill but not being as hard, tough love indeed. Throw in the sex & drugs and rock and roll and its no surprise the kid wants to be like his father.
I was not sure about his one when it first came out and waited it for it to come on TV. I’m not a huge fan of fictional music biopic (the bass solo of film) and so reticent. I’m not exactly as fan of punk rock either. But Andy ‘Gollam’ Sirkis decided to venture away from the blue screen and latex to show his acting chops and what an effort it was, an amazing performance by the unheralded British actor. And by no means the only performance here, packed full of British talent. Clearly Dury and his music had an effect on the familiar cast as they grew up and they are here to pay tribute, the film only ever going to be about Serkis, if he pulls it off., which he spectacularly did, capturing Durys unhinged personality and physical deformity.
It’s a very visual and arty movie, expressing Durys style of showmanship on stage and his colorful life off it, and trippy too with that non linear narrative, hinting at mental illness. It’s just a brilliant performance by Serkis and the only reason you get to the end of what is a lightly filled movie. Not a lot happens as far as the story goes as we fail to explore his life outside of the band and the two women. It would have been fun to see some sort of interaction with other famous people of the time, especially politicians and Radio one DJs.
It’s a chunky two hours long and if you don’t like the dizzy visuals, his terrible vocal poet style of and a flashback narrative as wobbly on his feet as he is then not for you. But I have to say it was director Mat Whitecross that saved the movie with that vibrant approach and a talent to watch out for. I did sing along with the songs by the end and who doesn’t like ‘Hit me with your Rhythm stick’? Sadly, like the Dury’s music cannon, we are none the wiser about the other stuff in his life as this ends up a love story to Ian Dury and that 80s punk anthem. I’m sure there are so many more complexities to this guy. Maybe a real biography with the man and archive footage would have been the better option.
Apparently Tommy Byrne, the ‘Knacker from Dundalk’, as he calls himself, was the fastest Formula One driver the world has never seen. He rose through the Formula’s alongside the best and even the great Ayrton Senna dodged racing Tommy in the same series in the early days to avoid losing the tag of the next great thing. But why have we never heard of him? Crashed & Bryned endeavors to tell us why, Tommy’s version of events as funny as they are revealing. This book will make a hell of film documentary the way ‘Senna’ did, or should I say Anvil: The Story of Anvil.
Motor racing is a spoilt rich mans sport and talent alone is not enough to make it, why 16-year-old Max Verstappen got a drive. You have always had to bring money to a team to get a drive and for some they pay their way in and for others they have rich family or corporate connections. Even Lewis Hamilton had a loaded family. Tommy wasn’t as good looking as Ayrton or have Ayrton’s family money or the corporate poise required to be what is essentially an overpaid car salesman. If every wannabe race driver was given a test drive you would have never heard of Senna or many other greats. 5ft 5 inch Tommy was trying to break that mould to be the first flat broke Irishman to be world champion. It was never going to happen.
Tommy was a bit of a ‘cultchy’ (redneck) as a young man growing up in Ireland, up for a bit of teething and general no good. An interest in stockcar racing with his best mate got him the taste for speed and he soon progressed to track racing when working for a rich a businessman called Paddy Crawford, Tommy his personal paid chauffeur and go for on the condition Paddy would fund his race seat in his team, and wipe Crawford’s ass, quite literally. There are some gruesome stories poor Tommy had to go through to keep his seat with Crawford, like wiping the disabled Crawford’s fat ass every day when he sh*t himself at 4pm, apparently taking laxatives because it helped to ease the pain in the obese and rich businessman’s back. I bet Jenson Button never had to do that.
In the early 1980s Tommy took a quick stranglehold on the formulas just below F1 and led three championships, he was that good. Even today young drivers can race in many different formulas per season just to earn a living. Tommy actually combined F1 with the back of the grid team Theodore with F2 & F3 with Van Diemen for one whole season. He was so naturally gifted and quick everyone eulogized about him. But the Brazilian hotshots were seen as the way to go, not so much because of their talent but their cash, something that narks Tommy even today.
About this time Tommy was interviewed by Ron Dennis over a possible drive with the best team around back then. But the knacker from Ireland carried a chip on his shoulder and didn’t come across well in their face-to-face, not the finished article in Ron’s eye, very much a rough diamond. He wasn’t the complete package like Senna was and that was that as far as Byrne was concerned.
As part of a deal with Byrnes team Van Diemen the driver who won the F3 championship would earn an automatic test with the swanky McLaren team at Silverstone for what turned out to be an infamous test. Senna had not yet tested with Dennis and Byrne stormed it, those who were there astounded with his times. The other two drivers that tested that day for a potential F1 seat had wealthy fathers and it turned out the throttle on the car was rigged by the mechanic so Tommy wasn’t fastest that day as Dennis simply didn’t want the kid to be as good as he knew he was. He wanted rich young things in his cars to ease the finances. He wanted Senna.
In that heady time Tommy did get to live his dream and drive F1 for Theodore, a crappy privateer Irish team sucking up fumes at the back of the grid. A driver is as only s good as his car in F1, as four time world champion Sebastian Vettel has found out this season. If you put Tom Cleverly in Lionel Messi’s golden boots he aint going to be as good as Lionel Messi. This sport is pretty unique that way. Tommy always felt he was number one and would be F1 champions and chugging away at the back of the grid in the days when you had to qualify to race didn’t really appeal, often racing F2 as well that season to pay the bills when Theodore didn’t qualify. He was all-conquering in the lower formulas and the win bonuses were just enough to finance his F1 dreams. The quickest guy around just didn’t have all the temperament to make it and preferred the girls and the booze to the race track.
But, of course, Tommy never made it big and the rest of the book is his decent into mediocrity as the cash dried up and he settled down in America as a race school driver, where he is today, and no doubt dispensing great advice on how not to go about being an F1 racer. He had to work as laborer at one point in Ireland when the races dried up and things had turned bitter as his dream died. His love life faired little better, his divorce costing him everything, ending up with just £200 from the sale of a house he bought for £200,000 in 1985. At one point in the States in the 1990s he was racing in a team financed by ex Motley Crew drummer Vince Neil, things getting so bad with money that he had to let rocks wild man lap him in a race.
On the whole it’s a genuinely funny book from the off and a cautionary tale as Tommy’s decline sours the enjoyable read somewhat towards the end. Its just 250 pages long and so you can race through it as quick as Tommy around Silverstone, one for the beach or in the local park and not just a book for race fans. I’m sure other drivers could tell the ‘what if tale’ in a sport driven by technology and not so much raw talent but this is an interesting, enthralling and little told tale.
If you haven’t seen the show its about four male friends from Brooklyn who head out west to make their names in Hollywood, we, the viewers, picking up their experiences in series one as the oldest of the four, the super cute Vincent Chase (Adrian Grenier), makes it big as a movie star in the blockbuster ‘Head On’. Vincent’s dim brother Johnny Drama (Kevin Dillon, brother of Matt) is also an actor, but not so successful, the TV star of Viking Quest, whilst chubby hustler Turtle (Jerry Ferrara) does the driving and security. The brains of the operation is childhood friend Eric (Kevin Connolly), trying to keep the dream alive as Vincent’s manager in the cutthroat world of movie deal making, rubbing up against Vincent’s slimy agent Ari Gold (Jeremy Piven), and a loveable guy for that.
The guys experiences and events in the show are roughly based on Mark Wahlberg and his crew’s early days in Hollywood when the Boston boy made it big in Boogie Nights, big time hell raisers back in the day, Wahlberg the hands on Executive Producer here to make sure the show became a reality and authentic as possible. At first the cast were reticent on whether the idea would work and some of them nearly turned it down, Grenier with his bubble perm not looking much like Mark Wahlberg. But eight series later it all turned out spectacularly well and one of the most popular boxsets in American TV history. To give you a clue to the style of the show it’s a kind of Curb Your Enthusiasm meets the vapid Orange County, a younger version of Larry David’s brilliant reality TV sitcom.
Superstar to be Vincent Chase (Adrian Grenier) has just finished ‘Queens Boulevard’, getting the ‘cool’ indie film experience out of his system, now in the edit suit with temperamental director Billy Walsh (Rhys Coiro) as the boys plot their next move for super stardom. Ari (Jeremy Piven) wants Vince to do ‘Aquaman’, a big budget comic book adventure but Vince not keen to play a cheesy superhero just yet. He reminds Ari of The Phantom with Billy Zane.
Ari gets Eric (Kevin Connelly) to persuade him to do Aquaman as it will be great for all of their careers, the money running out and the boys now living beyond their means in a huge house with even bigger cars. All the revenue comes from Vince’s career to keep the dream going for all of them and so it’s a reciprocal deal.
Vincent’s interests perks up when James Cameron (James Cameron) is connected to the project, the star maker himself, so Vince finally agrees to do it. Things improve further when Vince gets to pick his leading lady from five possible names, Mandy Moore (Mandy Moore) getting the job as Aquagirl. Vince is a notorious ladies man and has previous with Moore, which could derail the movie. Meanwhile the boys enjoy the delights of Hollywood with money finally coming in, including the annual Playboy Mansion Party, Drama banned for life by Heffner for helping Pauly Shore release Hugh’s pet monkeys the previous year!
Season one took three or four episodes to get into its rhythm as the dynamic between the boys and the various Hollywood sharks needed to settle down. But season two has a lot more confidence and the boys well and truly settled in their roles, bringing extra warmth to the show as you pull for the main characters and laugh with them. The male friendship bond is the main driver to the show and there are more celebrity cameos here as the guest stars also get the joke and send themselves up, James Cameron particularly keen to use the opportunity to soften his notorious image. I have to say I have not heard of Mandy Moore but apparently she is a big star in her own right in America, most of this series centered on the romance.
Entourage is funny as it is snug and the guest stars playing themselves great fun, the first series of Entourage shot after at least three series of Curb Your Enthusiasm and so having a good template to pull on. The writing is smart, sharp and funny and cleverly mixes that up with the more sex, booze and bikini stuff, Jeremy Pivens agent character enjoying ripping into current and older stars with cutting lines. Both adults and teenagers can laugh at this, a rare skill. I wouldn’t say there is a specific age range that would enjoy it but it’s definitely presented as younger peoples TV although a lot of the in-jokes are aimed at older people with a great mix of humor on show, E4 its home if it was on British TV.
The Cordwainer is Northampton’s most popular young people’s central pub/hotel now, a big double leveled building with two sizeable bars, 400 packed in at peak. It has a small elevated dance floor for the girls to jig around their handbags. It also has a sizeable beer garden with tables so if you like a fag then no problems. There are not that many bars, pubs and clubs that do have decent garden areas in Northampton town center these days.
Because it’s a Wetherspoons pub the beer is cheaper and you can get good deals on bottles and pints, three bottles of Becks for a fiver. It’s all about shifting shots and cocktails in younger peoples pubs these days. If you are tight like me and only two of you in your party then you can save a bottle for the next pub in your top pocket, and so a cheap round there too.
It starts to get busy around 11pm, the chucking out time of the 1970s and 80s now the time people start to come out. The bar is slightly tall so a lean in although fully staffed on both levels and so not a long wait. The clientele is from all social classes although Northampton an upper working-class town so not many studenty types there. It’s not a rough place and very much about young men eyeing up pretty girls although the music’s loud enough to keep you buying and not flirting.
In the day time it’s a food pub and no such queuing. The food is basic and very English, a slice of gammon with pineapple here or fish and chips there… that type of thing. The clientele are much older and fussier in the day time. But you can get free Wifi on the Cloud there so good for a work time beer at lunch.
Now, as this is a mostly young people’s bar with loud music and lots of pretty girls the owners want to maintain that client base and so older and bigger ones may not get pass the bouncers at those peak party hours. In the summer they open up the garden and so the 30 plus tend to go outside and so no real image issue there and so you can get in. But last week me and my brother (both comfortably over 30) were turned away by the goons on the door for wearing fleeces. We were wearing smart shoes and shirts but with rain around some protection. But the match stick chewing thugs said no and not up for debating it, sad when you have money to spend in your home town you have lived in for 40-years and shoved away by two goons from Eastern Europe. One of them actually had those tight leather gloves you see in gangster movies, ready to crack some heads. The hotel side of things is a few rooms upstairs for sales reps, not quite nights sleep by any means.
I don’t like fishing, mostly working-class blokes who want to get away from the misses dosing down the local park for hours trying to catch the same fish they caught last week. But I did enjoy John Wilsons fishing show back in the day on Anglia TV, a lovely old guy who would fish the local rivers of Norfolk and Suffolk and somehow made for a half hour TV show. It would be a serene stuff, insects skating across winding rivers; the only drama of the day John knocking his flask over or being mooed by a cow. But fishing had to up its game on modern TV to compete on the 100 channel platform and so extreme fishing is here to stay, Robson Green and Jeremy Wade, the host of Extreme Fishing and River Monsters, respectively, going head-to-head. Green is in hog heaven and clearly a big game fisherman enthusiastic at heart; whereas Wade is more the articulate with a journalist background and Bear Grylls approach to fishing.
The more money, nouse and kit you have in this game the bigger your fish and the more exotic your location, the key to the success of these shows. No expense is spared as the hyperactive Green, and square jawed rugged Wade, are flown all around the world to take on biggest and most aggressive fish for Quest and ITV respectively. But it’s still fishing and so relaxing TV.
River Monsters is looped on ITV 4 most nights of the week. Wade heads out around the world to catch the world’s most illusive and often fearsome fish, a narrative built into each episode that the mysterious creatures of the deep attack locals, in most cases fatally. Everything from inland electric eels to ocean going Death Rays feature and not beasts you want to run into all alone.
Seasons Twos beasts range from the Goliath Tiger Fish of the Congo to the Giant Snakehead of the Florida Everglades, or the menacing Bull Shark of Australia that likes to drift up the river from the ocean and much the local wildlife. This guy is not hunting Perch or Chubb.
The set up is that he basically goes native and mingles with the locals, respecting local traditions and cultures. If Wade needs to put a bit of war paint on or drop the locals a few quid to receive a voodoo spell or two to help him catch that illusive pray then he will do it. The shows are edited so he tends to catch his target fish or debunk local myths by the end of the hour. The twist here is that he doesn’t go looking to catch a specific type of fish but work out what breed has been attacking the locals by actually trying to catch the beast. Seeing an electric eel fry a crocodile in Argentina is quite a sight. Most of these fish seem to have large teeth.
Aussie Guy Pearce is one of those square-jawed white teeth actors that are not quite handsome enough to be the leading man, often masking that by playing oddball or cool characters, his defining role being the tattooed character in Memento. He has been second banana to fellow Anzacs Russell Crowe and Hugo Weaving and he has never really gone on from that and hard to recall a recent film he was in, even though he has been in loads.
Slick jukebox salesman Jimmy Starks (Pearce) has car problems in a dusty New Mexico town. While being fixed he visits fortune teller ‘Vacaro’ (J.K. Simmons). For 15 bucks he tells him he will have good fortune soon, naming a job in Dallas and a big sports betting tip. But when pressured to look deeper he relates the information that Jimmy’s future is blank, and he is safe only until the first snow of winter, beyond which there is no future to foretell.
Although slightly unsettled Jimmy thinks nothing more of it. In a business meeting later that day his boss (Tom Morelane) informs Jimmy he has got an unexpected bonus for his effort and promoted to Dallas. On the same night his team wins at basketball. Jimmy gets thinking this guy is the real deal and rushes back to Vacaro to see of he is indeed going to be no more come the first snow.
As paranoia kicks in Jimmy tries to work out how it will come. Will it be an auto accident, maybe food poisoning, or perhaps someone from his past? But there is a suspect, ex employee Lopez (Rick Gonzalez), who he got fired, threats in Jimmy’s mailbox evidence of. But there is also jailbird and childhood friend Vincent (Shea Whigham), who is back in town and wants a word with Jimmy.
It’s not bad but it does drift along a bit as we try to work how he is going to meet his maker or wait for the twist that sadly never comes. You can’t argue that Pearce has screen presence and that’s what keeps you interested. It’s reasonably taught but it soon dribbles out to buddy thriller and the psychic side of things fogged.
It’s not particularly violent or intriguing. Once the parameters of mystery have been resolved it quickly slips into TV movie territory. The first half-hour is good as the premise is set up but you just yearn for it to be as cool as Pearce looks on screen as far as dialogue and plot goes.
It will appeal to those who like Pearce more than those expecting a stylish thriller. It’s a shame it doesn’t quite reach the good category as it explores those themes of chance, redemption and probability other films have been more successful with. Some flashback scenes may have helped but just not enough mystery to really dig this run of the mill rust belt drama.
So, Ebola is out of control, as predicted by yours truly back in April, the yellow suit and goggles coming to a town near you next spring. The panic that will cause will be like the days after 911, every black guy on the tube with a sniffle treated like an unattended rucksack. It’s going to get racially charged very quickly in the tabloids. A white middle-class woman in Peckham has taken her kid out of primary school until ‘further notice’, due to the fact that 87% of Britain’s Sierra Leon community lives in Southwick. But, The Express being the Express, deadly Earth Extinction Events is not that important compared to a woman who has been dead for 17 years, Princes Diana the headline, the newspaper still deluded that this vain airhead sells their newspaper. Only 48 people booked up for the annual August grave gawp at Althorp on the opening day this year. Let it go. Mrs Clooney is now the new Princess Diana. If it’s not Di on the front of the Express website or newspaper it’s Maddie McCann or killer storms, although the publicity shy McCann’s quiet at the moment. There is another pedophile story there about the McCann’s but, like Diana, nobody cares anymore. There is, however, another killer storm on the way. The sooner they accept the McCann’s should have looked after their young children properly and it will just be wet and windy then the sooner we can all move on.
Ebola does makes the Express sizeable front webpage as its expected to hit places like London, Birmingham and Manchester with a handful of cases by Christmas but the epidemic quickly contained as the authorities track people down who come in contact with those guys and girls. Well, in theory. If you do get flu and you are an illegal immigrant living in Southwick would you risk deportation by surrendering yourself to the NHS if you though you maybe didn’t have Ebola? I bet you didn’t know that Britain is STILL deporting people to those countries in West Africa.
Thankfully its Autumn/Winter and so people will be covered up and not sharing sweat, puke and urine on the transport hubs like they normally do and so we should be ok until spring. Presumably the carriers will be people fleeing West Africa expecting the white man cure (that doesn’t exist), the major incentive to flee, we presume, why we have Ebola checks at Heathrow. Those checks are actually voluntary to avoid racial profiling law suits but it’s a start. Most countries in West Africa have refused the indignity of Ebola checks at their end. If you know you have it you will want to be tested at the airport. But the West bought this outbreak on themselves by not acting the moment it came out of the jungle and hit the capital of Guinea, Conakry, and cases have doubled every three weeks since. Only did we act when a case made it to America, selfish as ever.
America have apparently ordered 500,000 hermetically sealed coffins and re-opened FEMA internment camps from Hurricane Katrina to treat possible cases. The fact the US Center for Disease Control actually patent Ebola strains suggests they want to cash in on the eventual vaccination process. NASA added to irrational fears in the Daily Express by saying an alien virus could fall to Earth on space debris at anytime and kill us all! Fear sells newspapers and governments love to hype that fear so to sell you the cure you wont actually need, classic marketing.
The Liberian chap died in Texas and infected two of his nurses that were supposedly wearing the correct protective clothing. The reality is that the Dallas hospital turned him away first time as he couldn’t pay and so lazily diagnosed flu. He knew he was infected but couldn’t say. The ratio of infection is 2:1 and that proved the case. When a man with Ebola symptoms rocked up at a London hospital most of the staff on duly panicked and ran away, as you would, those orderlies, ironically, from West Africa. I agree few people in the West will die from Ebola as it’s mainly spread through rank third world healthcare and ignorance of the disease but you can’t account for variables. It will be endemic around the world from now on. The NHS will fall apart as the cases explode in West Africa and so burst out into the West every other week. Would you go into work if you were a minimum wage orderly? Imagine those packed boats full of illegal’s coming across the Mediterranean carrying infections? As I said, the British government also know its low risk to their key voters and cant resist pumping the hype to dominate the media with Ebola stuff that fits their anti immigration ethos.
The other big story in the Express is the rise of UKIP, the right wing vote now legal and wearing new colors, that of red and mauve. Labor voters feel confident enough to vote on the ‘bloody foreigner’s’ issue and the UKIP party basing their entire vote grabbing policies on it. If you’re out of work or old and bored it feels good to vote that way, I suppose. We have never been comfortable with that fact we are a bigoted nation at heart. The irony is that most of the immigrants are simply here to work and do the jobs the British unemployed that vote UKIP simply won’t do. I believe immigration is the only driver in our economy right now, an endless source of cheap labor keeping inflation down and so middle-class mortgages low. Farage is fun but Carswell will see him off as leader pretty soon if the party is to be taken seriously, like having actual polices to run the country, for example. The Liberals were only ever the student/teacher vote and they betrayed their core voter and so soon to be extinct. The vacuum needs to be filled with a new pungent gas.
Judy Finnegan shocked the nation wit the showbiz story this week by seemingly siding with footballer Chad Evans over the rape sentence. Most people on the radio phone-in shows around the country – men and women – seemed to agree with her. Even the feminists are relatively quiet on it. Only young women really know why they get so drunk on Friday and Saturday night so to put themselves in tricky situations with boozed up men. It’s confusing why alcohol isn’t mitigation for men as well as women in rape cases. Surely it makes both parties incapable of making the right decision? But alcohol is always used to prosecute men and mitigate women, maybe why nothing has changed. Do some women get blasted simply to take away the decision process and decide how they feel about things in the morning? That appears the case in most of our universities. It’s liberating for some. Judy made it clear women should be more responsible about drinking. It’s mostly women that get drunk on a Saturday night these days and clearly a driver of promiscuity. Guys are nowhere near as bad as that 6% conviction rate suggests. Rape is rape as drunken sex is drunken sex. Feminist always think bad of men and good of women. We are equally as devious when smashed.
The Express have a similar website layout to The Mail and have smaller stories scrolling down the side. One is for Victoria Beckham, who is going down the Angelina Jolie line of International Earth Mother, hugging rainbow babies at the UN at every opportunity. She will soon have them dressed in her VB fashion line. Now that David isn’t earning as much PR as the 40th birthday wrinkles approach its time for VB to step up. The silly story in the paper is from the silly man in the paper, Boris Johnson, his plan to consider banning smoking in public parks not going down well, even from non smokers. When you guys actually start banging up burglars and scumbags for the crimes they commit over and over again then we will stop smoking in parks.
Two pretty white teens who fled Austria to marry Jihadi fighters in Syria want to return home, apparently ‘disillusioned’ with the lifestyle. I’m not quite sure what they were expecting other than shrapnel and the black veil but they face five years jail on their return, both pregnant at 15 and 16. See silly girls and getting drunken paragraph.
The Express are not impressed with South African white men justice as it looks like Oscar Pistorious will walk, if you excuse the pun, a suspended sentence for cold blooded murder very likely. The other big case there is that of Mr Derwani, who appears to have done his wife in as he was gay and the marriage of convenience, not convenient, of which neither could back out of for honor reasons, no doubt community service beckoning for him.
Energy bills are set to rise again as the absurd wind power folly continues, each windmill subsidized by the tax payers, and then again on our utility bills. The Muslim ‘Trojan Horse Schools’ case in Birmingham is set to reveal that ‘most’ Muslim parents prefer the conservative Muslim teaching methods that the government don’t, why it’s continuing. Time to send in Katie Hopkins to run Birmingham schools!!!
Showbiz stories really work for online newspapers as we all love the glamour and bikini photos, Mylene Klass stepping out with her new lover in a see-through blue number at some soirée. Speaking to the paper she said ‘every girl should do what she can to control her own destiny’, which presumably means wearing tiny bikinis. She quotes that ‘girls shouldn’t expect someone to hand them a handbag if they marry them’. Tulisa was also there, also wearing a borrowed handbag for the night from her sponsors, presumably with a little something for the toilet seat. No wonder most young working-class women aspired to be celebrities and not doctors, dealing with the deadly Ebola virus in Africa nowhere near as important and rewarding as sharing drinks with Christopher Biggins and Tinchy Stryder. Sexy fun chic Jennifer Lawrence backed up her media intrusion claims over hacked, next to nothing naughty photos by wearing next to nothing at her film premier.
Sports coverage is as big as all the over tabloids in the Express with Roy Hodsgon trying not to concede that he dropped the rather effeminate Raheem Sterling to stop him getting inured for Liverpool’s weekend match the way Sturiddge did. ‘Woy’ insisted the boy told him he was tired and that Brendan Rogers hadn’t phoned up Woy to tell him to drop the lad. Brendan (the next England manager) had indeed phoned up Woy to drop the lad.
Kevin Pietersen stories still rage after his book launch with the country split on whose fault the split was. For me England tolerated the KP ego as long as they were winning but soon turned on him when his average dropped and they were losing, suggesting he was doing the winning bit. Kevin simply didn’t judge the dressing room mood when it was time to back down. These types of sports stars tend not to. We all get old Kev.
The rest of the front page is sizable with sections like Health, Lifestyle, and Business near the bottom with plenty of links to other departments like Classifieds and Kids sections. I like the front page style as you can see everything at once. It’s not a pay wall paper so everything is free.
So, Perrier’s Bounty, a familiar diddly-dee-diddly-dee Irish crime caper, The Riverdance genre of Irish Cinema, stuffed full of familiar Irish actors talking in that ‘dat cheeky Dublin’ accent. In Brugges was very good at it, The Guard riffing on similar themes, a mix of the two. When Brendan Gleeson is in a movie you know what s coming, very much the Ray Winstone of the Irish film industry.
Post Smoking Barrels most crime dramas have borrowed heavily from Guy Ritchie and packed their movies full of quirky cartoonish characters with that familiar non linear narrative.
After a foreboding narration from Gabriel Byrne we meet McCrea (Cillian Murphy), a Dublin hustler looking for a loan to pay off another loan to avoid a beating. Mobster Jerome (Brendan Coyle) wont lend him the cash but impressed with his fighting skills when he beats up a bloke (Conleth Hill), the new boyfriend of his ex girlfriend Brenda (Jody Whittaker), resulting in the chance to earn the same amount of money on a job as an enforcer, robbing another member of Dublin’s crime fraternity that night. He needs the money quick because a couple of goons are looking to collect on behalf of big time crime boss Perrier (Brendan Gleeson).
The job is a success and £10,000 in the bank for McCrea to clear his debts, if he can shake off his goons to collect it. But disaster strikes when one of the heavies is fortuitously wiped out, resulting in Brenda (Jodie Whittaker) going on the run with McCrea and his dad Jim (Jim Broadbent), who seems to have a death wish and enjoying being chased by most of Dublin’s underworld. With a bounty now out on them they will be lucky to get out of this mess. But all westerns have a showdown and the trio is heading for a big one as they are betrayed again and again.
For a film with such a great cast this quickly pops its head up its bum. The Irish accent is over cooked and a little too much blarney, and baggy at 2 hours. After seeing In Brugges and Wild Bill you can’t help but compare other films in this contemporary western genre and this by far the lesser. It played for violent laughs, fair enough, but my world do they overdo the Dublin and crime caper cliché.
Its good fun but a routine crime yarn and easily forgotten. It tries hard not to be Layer Cake, taking every opportunity to fire a gun or break some heads with accompanying witty dialogue. It’s very middle-of-the-road as far as comedy crime dramas go and as much fun the cast have, hoping that will transfer into laughs; it doesn’t really do enough and gets silly at the end. Jim Broadbent is great fun through and so nice to see Murphy’s, Batman success not go to his head by supporting Irish film. Brendan Gleeson couldn’t give a feck and played it as tongue-in-cheek as ever.