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A Dog Called Money

As interesting as this is to a non PJ Harvey fan, I have not heard any of her music prior to this, this documentary leaves an overwhelming sense of exploitation. Part travel doc, part recording session and part navel gazing we follow PJ Harvey through a number of destinations. All they have in common is poverty, war and human suffering. This appears as a kind of poverty and grief safari which the artist can use as "inspiration" for an album which will no doubt bring in some cash. I used commas for inspiration as some of the resulting tracks seem to steal music from the locals of where she visits, no doubt they will be left off the sleeve notes and without cash from their input. Unfortunately white musicians have the knack for appropriation without compensation. At the same time as trying to pretend they are doing something deep or clever by copying music from other countries and cultures. A dog called money? Maybe call it something more accurate like rich artists visit the poor for profit? It's well shot but it's a very shallow exercise in rich peoples hypocrisy of pretending to care about the poor while making money off them. A quick look at her Instagram page shows over 330 thousand followers and not a single person followed back. Tells you all you need to know about the focus of this documentary. Avoid unless you are a fan.

The Boys in Blue

Val Guests worst movie?
If you have even heard of this movie then you likely have already seen it and it was a long time ago. Nostalgia is the only valid reason to watch this film. While it seems to have been forgotten by British TV it has resurfaced on YouTube. The reviews are mixed between rose tinted nostalgia and flat out hatred for what is a very shoddy piece of work. This was made by veteran director Val Guest, so why does this Cannon and Ball vehicle stink? I think the answer is Cannon and Ball. Now while they are experienced comics they simply cannot act. There are brief moments which are funny when they are doing what is there stage act while being filmed, but the majority of the film is them trying to act out scenes and cover the story. They simply aren't up to the job of an actor and it sucks the enjoyment out of the film. It looks like but was filmed on a shoestring budget and there are a few action scenes which are actually pretty boring. They must have spent a fair amount of the budget on the dodgy theme song at the end which if I recall was released as a single? Unless 1970s comedy is your thing, in which case you are likely in your 70s or 80s the humour is unlikely to appeal. Things like looking up a woman's skirt while she is on a ladder etc is the level on offer. You can only recommend this for people who want a second exposure to this movie not having seen it since 1982. There's a pretty good reason why it's not troubled the airwaves since then unlike many other 80s comedies. Although I'm sure with the passing of Bobby Ball this week it will get a few viewers. Now all I need to do is figure out how to delete all those Cannon and Ball recommendations on YouTube I have been lumbered with after sitting through Boys in Blue.....

Tremors: Shrieker Island

Tremors in Thailand or Tremors meets Predator
This is by far the best in the newer sequels episodes of Tremors. Its obvious from the start that this is very different movie in tone and in production values than anything which appeared after the initial trilogy. This is a much more serious and darker film, gone is the comedic tone and in its place we get much better action sequences and a real air of menace. There definite and deliberate nods to the movie Predator, particularly in the action scenes. One in particular midway through the movie is simply the best action scene in any Tremors movie. The production values for this are probably the best in the franchise. We have stunning visuals as this is set in Thailand which gives the movie a kind of Jurassic Park prehistoric vibe but the cinematography is worth a mention. Probably a first for a Tremors movie. The cast are great and unexpectedly (to me any) Jon Heder shows up as does an English actress mainly known for TV shows who plays Berts ex love interest, Fans of the franchise will be more than happy with this edition although there is an obvious departure from the previous formula. This perhaps signals an end to either the saga or possibly a shift away to a new Tremors series of movies. I wouldn't complain if they did based on this episode. I gave this a 6 however as its still a Tremors movie and partly for the ending...

Scheme Birds

The Scottish Underclass Under The Spotlight - Get Knocked Up Or Get Locked Up
Its a strange thing knowing that this documentary was not even homegrown, but was made by the Swedish. Why did Swedish documentary makers decide upon Scotland to make a film about poverty? What is even stranger is why they chose Motherwell? Its known that in general the west of Scotland has particularly poor health outcomes, high levels of obesity, alcohol/drug use, short life expectancy and also a significant problem with violence and young pregnancy. Typically these documentaries would focus on Glasgow however Motherwell in Lanarkshire is also on par for these grim statistics on life outcomes. This documentary follows an 18 year old girl, Gemma who is looked after by her paternal grandfather. If I recall correctly her father is in jail and she was left by her mother as a child and has no contact. Her grandfather is a pigeon fancier and runs a boxing gym where Gemma also trains, he treats her like a boy and she is very much a tomboy, footage shows her in gang fights and drinking with the boys her own age. Her motto in life is either get knocked up (pregnant) or get locked up (go to jail). Its obvious she has no real ambition to either leave her housing scheme or to aim for an education and a career. She views pregnancy as a route to a flat. With these ambitions and the gang she keeps as company, it doesn't take a genius to see where this story is going to end. This is oddly the most frustrating part of the documentary, the risks for all involved are there to see and some of them are horrifically realised. Unprotected sex, alcohol/drug use and regular violence. The outcomes are widely reported however this film gives you a front row seat. It will shock many who are unaware of the carnage on Scottish streets and the life changing effect of brutal violence which is mainly ignored by the press. Because its just so common. While these types of films have been labelled as "poverty porn" in the UK after similar productions such as The Scheme or Benefits Street, this definitely has a much higher production value. The cinematography and score are great and well suited to the subject matter. However ethically it may well be on the same level as The Scheme, put a camera in front of a few teenagers drunk on Buckfast its quite likely they will act up just for show. One fight in particular looks staged as the boys involved are smiling. How you feel about this documentary will be based on how you view these people, those who write them off as Neds probably won't care, while those who pity them (equally patronising) will probably came away thinking they are "better people" for having watched it. The irony being that the latter, mainly middle class would probably avoid these people at all cost or openly despise them. These are resilient people who understand the limitations of their environment but still engage with the lives on offer. I can see some people watching the inevitable teenage pregnancies shown and thinking its a disgrace. However research has established this motherhood/fatherhood can have a stabilizing effect on chaotic lives. The documentary does however show where the current Scottish government get their support, the narrative being that its all Maggie Thatchers fault Motherwell has no jobs, which this endorses. However this is a myth, these industries ended because they were no longer profitable. Is there profit in cinema like this? Whats unusual about Scheme Birds is that it appears to be more well known outside of Scotland and with the middle classes, rather than the people at the heart of the film. Its now on Streaming platforms so if you get the chance to see it, its well worth your time. And if you enjoy it I would also recommend the book Poverty Safari which explores similar issues in working class Scotland.

Queen of the Blues

Mary Millingtons final appearance.
For those not in the know Mary Millington was the UKs most famous adult film and magazine star. She was responsible for millions of magazine sales and is also one of the stars of the film which is credited as having the longer ever cinema run, 1977s Come Play With Me. A documentary about her life called Respectable chronicles her life, loves and battles with the anti-pornography movement spearheaded by Mary Whitehouse. Its well worth seeing. Queen of Blues is the last film she appeared in before she is reported to have committed suicide, citing worries about going to jail, tax issues and police harassment. She ran her own sex shop in London where she would also serve her fans and customers personally. According to her documentary she would also sell under the counter materials which gained her the attention of the police resulting in raids however she was a libertarian and campaigned to make adult materials available at a time when the UK had the most draconian laws in Europe. At the time of filming Queen of the Blues Mary was reportedly hooked on drugs and being arrested regularly for shoplifting, her mental health was unravelling. However there is nothing on screen that suggests any of this this was affecting her performance. The film itself is basically a UK version of Teaserama, the Betty Paige movie. Its mainly consists of strippers or burlesque dancers if you prefer, doing their routines on stage to sort commercial disco while older men drink while they watch. This is roughly 60% of the movie which is only a min or so over being an hours length. There is very little dialogue or story. A stand up comedian also introduces the girls and tells jokes which are very much of their time. The backstory is really paper thin and revolves around the club owners being pressured into paying protection money while a side story is concerned with one of the club owners trying to work over his hangups in the bedroom. On release this was an X rated movie however its very tame by todays standards, some flesh on show but thats it. Queen of the Blues is actually a good snapshot of a period of UK history with one of its biggest stars at the time. Its not a high quality movie but it is a good representation of popular culture, warts and all. Its also an important film as its the last outing for Mary Millington, who seems to have been forgotten by many despite the huge following she had during the 70s. If you are curious about this time in the UK and have never heard of Mary, watch the documentary about her life and then watch her films. It certainly puts a different spin on it and a life as short as her dying at age 33 in such tragic circumstances should not be forgotten. Especially when she was part of so many peoples lives. (even if they wont admit it!) Watch it for Mary!

A Field Full of Secrets

Yes its a waste of time.
We are at a strange time in entertainment. We know have nonsense TV shows which make up facts and stories but are being presented as the truth. Unfortunately some people don't have the education or reasoning skills to identify whats simply garbage opinions and what is real scientific evidence. These people talk about science yet do not understand what it actually is or how it works and in the same breath talk about their rights to believe what they want. This sums up what A Field Full of Secrets is all about. It follows two men who have a belief that crop circles are made by aliens. There is zero evidence they are and lots of evidence they are made by people. In fact the people who make them are quite open about this. This illustrates how wrongheaded these people are. They ignore actual evidence in favour of their fantasies simply because they prefer them. That one is openly smoking cannabis should tell you something. Also the false belief issues leak into other areas of their lives, one is a biological male who says he is a female. Do you see the pattern? Based on these false beliefs the guys in the show decide to make a model of a UFO based on their dreams about crop circles. This is a process which will cost thousands of dollars and take up many years and guess what, it didn't work. The reason this is not a spoiler is that in order for a dreamed up flying machine to actually fly, using technology which doesn't exist, which defies the laws of physics and to be built by people who aren't specialised engineers takes would take a miracle. So the moral is that you can decide to believe what you want however reality doesn't care about your beliefs when they fly in the face of common sense. What is laughable however is that it ends with the incorrect conclusion that "science" isn't a waste of time, which is basically the guys in the movie using their mental gymnastics to protect their egos from the reality they wasted so much time and money on nothing. Its a great example of what drives this kind of thinking. Its done to self soothe. They actually compare themselves to Edison and The Wright Brothers in terms of being scientists which just proves how ignorant they are. Edison and The Wright Brothers were actual scientists who tested hypothesis within their chosen discipline which had a body of evidence to support their work. The guys in this have done the opposite. They based their work on their own beliefs which run counter to all thats known about physics and flight. In short they are science deniers and ended up wasting huge amounts of time and money which could have been spent on real science which could have improved the lives of others. This documentary is a waste of time and pushes an anti science selfish agenda which is believe what you want and call it what you want and out anti science beliefs are just as important as real science. Oh and give us money so we can waste it on our vanity projects because we think the worlds wrong but we are right. The only people who believe this sort of nonsense are conspiracy theorists and we all know how out of touch they are... Two stars if simply for the production value which was adequate.

Normal People

Abnormal People, 50 Shades for Teenage Feminist Man Haters.
This series is getting alot of praise currently so I thought U would give it a go. Its based on a successful book of the same title and is on the youth channel BBC3. So whats all the fuss about and is it worth the hype? This is a love story written from the female perspective, its basically 50 shades for white middle class student girls. The story centres around a well off girl who is basically an emotionally screwed up snob. She comes from a family where her dad is no longer about, he was abusive to his mother and her older brother abuser her for no apparent reason. Yep its one of those shows. Every man is an abuser, hates women and is inferior to women in almost every sense. The women are "feminists" who date men but think they are boring and sexist when in this show its the females who are the most sexist ones. The main character is quite unsympathetic as she basically thinks she so intelligent she thinks she knows more than her teachers. She looks down her nose at her peers as she thinks shes too good for them. She actually says this to them, but the author seems to think because shes labelled "vulnerable" this means its fine to abuse people you deem to be of lower value than herself. Not a massive stretch to see why she had no friends at school. Fortunately for her she meets a couple of girls who are as deluded about their own intelligence as her as she now has friends. Theres also a couple of those spineless males who basically hang around girls they want to date but cant get and so spend their time orbiting in the friend zone badmouthing the guys they do date. At least that part was accurate. What so many seem to be missing is that the main protagonist basically only wants the guy in her life for sex and doesn't consider him worthy, she wants his body but hes working class. His mother cleans her mothers house, and so her snobbery means she doesn't see him as an actual partner. The story around them is basically her having sex and not much talking. Which becomes boring after the 20th time in a 6 hour show. Many people have been fooled into thinking this is deep and meaningful show because of all the slow motion segments and "emotive" music of a woman singing along to acoustic instruments. When its basically about a nasty selfish snob of a girl using a working class guy for sex when it suits her. Then wallowing in self pity when she falls out with him. His character does two things. Grunts and then spouts rubbish about his emotionally vulnerability ie talks like no man has ever talked and takes his clothes off for sex. He is such as flat one dimensional character its a wonder he doesn't fall over in a still breeze. Hes basically a construct of wish fulfilment for angsty emotionally disturbed teenage girls. Oh and hes emotionally abusive and unavailable. The rest of the cast are as follows, every girl thinks they are "smarter" than every guy, they offer threesomes as they think its "empowering" and use up 99% of the dialogue talking rubbish. The guys are sexist emotional bullies or are boring and get used. Like I said this is basically 50 shades but for a younger audience and with less BDSM, without the millionaire or and set at university. Its surprisingly shallow and sexist but this is the BBC and its worst channel. Its being championed by women who like the idea of a elite sportsman who also just happens to be an elite academic but is also poor as a sexual fantasy. As for the "progression" of the story, once you see it for what it is, its more of a comedy about how stupid young people are at relationships. And the girls worse than the guy. Its no spoiler but she initiates sex at the outset without knowing anything about him but gets hooked on the sex. Then wonders why the "relationship" doesnt work. Its not emotionally complicated, its called having sex with someone you don't know or like. Which is why the premise of the show is laughable. If you hadn't figure this out about relationships by the time your in your 20s, well your are probably a fan of this show and think its deep and meaningful. The rest of us see it for what it is. Soft core porn for the emotionally clueless written by people who are too blind to their own prejudices about the opposite sex. Avoid.


A middle class guilt trip.
This has to be Winter bottoms worst. Fans of his cannon are likely to be disappointed with Greed and it's very clumsy bash you over the head "message". It's a thinly veiled attacked on a well-known fashion chain owner in the UK as is a kind of a wish phantasy of what the director would probably like to do to him. The film is well shot but it's basically just 90 mins of the main character being unlikeable, with a few funny lines from Coogan. It was only the fact that Coogan was in this and I expected a certain level of humour from him that kept me watching. The trouble was this isn't the Coogan from The Trip or Partridge it's political Coogan who made himself look stupid during Brexit. This is obvious a political film but it's the politics of the out of touch rich elite. It's the kind of people who are very well off themselves but think that a shop chain owner is the devil. These are the same people who happily dismiss those who voted for Brexit as stupid (there's actually a Brexit joke in the movie) as being stupid. However the poor from another country are seen as exploited saints. And thats where this movie falls flat on its face. It's hypocritical. The ending is basically wish fulfillment for the loser left who voted Corbyn and Remain. This will only play well to the well off who despise the working class in the UK as much as they have those with more money than them. Anticapitalism at it's worst and it wasn't even funny. Apparently murder is ok as well as long as someone has more cash and is an unpleasant character.

Frankfurt Kaiserstraße

This is one of the weirdest movies I have ever seen. You know something strange is on the screen when you hear the opening score of this movie which is done in part by some German band I have never heard of called Autobahn. It sounds like bad 70s disco with possibly German lyrics which vary from being screamed like Bonnie Tyler to Kate Bush style twee musings. However oddly enough the soundtrack fits well with whats on the screen. I learned a number of things about Germany from this movie. They really do enjoy a good moustache, especially when worn with a sleeveless T-Shirt. Lots of Germans have red hair, probably more than in Ireland and that fashion is about 10 years behind. This looks like a late 70s disco movie. The story itself seems more suited to a TV soap than a movie. Its basically a young couple intent on "freedom" who move to the city to get away from parental supervision. The boy joins the army while the girl moves in with a gay drag queen uncle and his lover. The other narrative going on is a low level gangster story which at times reminded me of the Pusher movies. But its simply not that well done. The gangsters in this movie look like Miami Vice on a budget, plenty of mullet haircuts, cheap chains and badly fitting cheap suits. There isn't anyone in the movie you will particularly care about and the action is pretty low level, at stages the love story looks like one of those photo stories with captions that used to appear in girls magazines, intent on giving girls the "correct' message about what boys are after. There is however a decent payoff at the end though. Oh and another thing I learned about Germans, they take their clothes off alot and the men are all angry alot the time, plus their bullies are all very short. Remind you of anyone? Frankfurt, coming to a Rifftrax near you soon. Hopefully.

Birds of Prey: And the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn

More Tank Girl than Deadpool.
I finally got round to watching this, having mixed reviews I wasnt too keen on spending the cash to see this at the cinema but home for home viewing its fine. While the usual "its a woman" movie complainers have tried their best to force people to avoid this movie, having watched it its not really a feminist movie. It just happens to be a movie that has women in it. I couldn't see a single incidence of male bashing throughout. And thats something I am always critical of. The tone of the film is a bit strange for a superhero movie of that universe. It doesn't have at times nasty humour of Deadpool but nor does it have the same level of engagement. Thats my main issue with this movie. It sort of just happens. For example the fighting scenes have almost zero tension. Its simply one or a number of women beating up men who fail to land a single blow on the women. The outcome is that there is no risk or peril involved. Its like a shooting gallery and I found myself checking my phone. It does have the tone of a comic book adaption, probably more so that any of the recent super serious Marvel movies and it reminded me mostly of Tank Girl. As for storytelling, it does jump around alot and not in a satisfying way. I found this frustrating at times as would have preferred a linear narrative. Visually its well done and the cast is decent although its basically a Harley movie, the rest of the main cast are basically an add on for the final half hour. Worth a watch and while girls may enjoy this more than boys its certainly not pushing a feminist narrative or is anti-male in any way. Its just a female led story.


Late to the party.
I had managed to avoid watching Grease for 44 years. The reason being that Grease is primarily a movie for girls. The reason I say that is that even as a child I can vividly remember girls reactions to the movie which was basically the same as they would to a boy band. This response is guaranteed to repel any male. Not to mention its basically a love story from the female perspective and the males are basically goofballs along for the ride. All of the main characters are female, dont believe me? How many males versus females get their own song? There are some very odd complaints about this movie which are common. First is they thinks its anti-women. Which is impossible being a female focused cast. The other so called "anti-feminist" belief about the movie is that they think the message to girls is they have to change for a man. This is bizarre. We know that both the lead male and female make superficial attempts to change for each other. So to argue that its only the female who makes an effort to change is easily proven wrong. Not only that but if anyone genuinely believes that changing your clothes and hairstyle (which they both did) means a change in personality then psychological science has it all wrong. Everyone has to make allowances for their partners but in this case it was basically two people who made small changes in order to be closer and in effect try and take on some of the others' personality or likes, to be together. The thing is it was obvious that this wasn't actually required of either of them. What made me actually watch this was the current trend of live orchestral music during a movie. This is not a cheap option as its basically attending theatre (with theatre prices) while a movie plays. This is expensive event cinema. Luckily for me I obtained a complimentary ticket and attended, so this review is from someone who caught this as a movie with live orchestra which greatly enhanced the event. Basically without this I was unlikely to watch this on a big screen.Other odd complaints are that it feels dated (it was set in the 50s) or its not serious enough. If you want serious there is always Rumble Fish. This a musical comedy and supposed to be fun. Which it is. The enthusiasm of the cast and their joy on screen is what elevates this movie. Basically the grumps who dislike this are basically saying they don't enjoy watching people have a good time. Yes these people exist. The music is iconic and the performances perfect, yes we all know that they arent kids in this movie but hey, if it was it wouldn't be as good. There isn't much else to say about this apart from if you havent seen it you should as its part of the best American movies ever made. If your a guy, try your best to avoid watching it with large numbers of females (because they will get overly excited and sing along). And if you do get the chance watch it with the live orchestra, it brings a whole new level of enjoyment.

The Jesus Rolls

Jesus versus Karma
How you feel about this movie is likely influenced by what it is you are expecting. The Jesus is this movie is not the biblical one but the dodgy bowler from the Big Lebowski. However this is not a Coen brothers production but one written and directed by John himself. Once you make the adjustment from this not being another Coen brothers vehicle and don't have any expectations of their quirkiness then you can enjoy this for what it is. It's a basic comedy road movie about the Jesus on his release from jail. The thing about this character is he isn't that well fleshed out in Lebowski. He's only on screen a few mins. Apart from the arrogance and the sex offender allegations we don't know much. This is much lighter in tone than the majority of Coen movies and has much better cinematography and casting than you would expect. It's not overly action packed or has any extreme violence. It's quite an easy relaxed watch. Audrey Tatou makes a welcome return to the screen and this is exactly the kind of movie you expect her to be in. This is quite a chilled out movie with surprisingly gentle and good natured humour. Expect a sequel.


Dangerous. For all the wrong reasons.
I had little knowledge about the subject matter going into the movie. I knew it was political and about sexual harassment but that was pretty much it. It starts off Trump bashing and highlighting some of his negative press during the elections. This gave the impression the movie would be about Trump and somehow women getting justice against him. Then the movie does a 180 and it's about high powered rich white women being harassed at work. This leads me to think that the whole first section about Trump was just used as an opportunity to make a political point. Trump has no relevance to the workplace story. The whole thrust of this movie is that women should stand up against harassment at work. However the problem is that most people don't have the resources these rich women had. The sad reality is that many of not most of these cases against employers fail. People don't support the harassed, lawyers don't take on their cases and despite being genuine victims they aren't believed and can be left with nothing. To it's credit it does touch on the complicity of some of the women who play along with what is basically a casting couch environment. Which is a strange argument for Hollywood startlets to be making if you get my drift.... This is why the message behind this could be dangerous. It's one thing to shout from the sidelines about what the right thing to do is if there's a good chance of success. Maybe it is if you for the demographic in this movie. I sincerely hope this movie doesn't encourage people to take a leap of faith and jump into lawsuits like it the main character suggests when she breaks the 4th wall. The reality is unlikely to pan out Hollywood style. There are some odd digs at men in general during the movie which don't do it any favours. This is aimed squarely at idealistic young women who will lap it up. For the majority market it's a turn off, as could be assessed by the half empty theater.

Tales from the Crypt: Demon Knight

Surprisingly good.
I never know where I am with these tales from the crypt movies. I see one is on the TV and I am never sure if it's one I've already seen. Until today I had never seen this one and it's one of the best in the series. The premise is quite simple. A man is on the run from someone who seems to have supernatural powers. The action transfers to a hotel and a siege style action movie ensues. Watching this in 2020 is a blast. For the reason that the special effects predate CGI. There's nothing wrong with well done CGI but nothing beats the gunk and slime of real life physical models. There's no time to be bored during this movie. The plot is all very standard 80s horror fare and at points reminded me of classics like the Evil Dead and Fright Night. It's that good. The cast is great and there's plenty of gore, twists and violence to keep any horror fan happy. If you enjoy 80s horror movies but somehow this one has passed you by you wont be disappointed if you choose this. It's head and shoulders above 90% of what's currently produced and it's simply a lot of fun.

Queen & Slim

The Black Wall
This was the members preview screening at the Cameo in Edinburgh this month. There hasn't been much in terms of promotion for this movie. As someone who actively avoids trailers as they spoil far more than they should I took a gamble and went to see Queen & Slim. The reviews seem to be either love or hate the movie and its obvious to see why. This is an African American movie, told from their perspective which some audience members seem to have issues with. So much so that an elderly white lady walked out at a key point. The movie starts off as being the worst Tinder date imaginable. A store worker meets a lawyer for a date, they do not seem to like each other much but they are forced together through the actions of a trigger happy racist policeman and what follows.... This is a love/road movie with the backdrop of police shootings in America. While it has been compared by some to Bonnie and Clyde that view seems to highlight racial bias in and of itself for the simple reason B & C were criminal multiple murdering outlaws. That simply isn't the case with Queen & Slim. Its also the reason why the black community, in the main, respond the way the do to the pair. Whether you enjoy this movie will be down to your perspective of whether you side with the racist police character or the two main characters. Its as simple as that. If its the former then you wont like this at all. This is a well paced, well shot and acted movie. Its also one of the best of the year. It is however not for everyone but quite simply, who cares?

Uncut Gems

If you hate Sandler you will love this.
I managed to catch this at a preview screening at the Edinburgh Filmhouse. I was very keen to see this based on positive reviews as well as with the knowledge that Oneohtrix Point Never was doing the score. I cant recall an electronic artist doing a major film score since Orbital did for the under par remake of Pusher. This movie seems to set many people on edge, in the screening a girl next to me watched the majority of it through her fingers. The story is of a reckless gambler who seems to intentionally put himself into dangerous situations on the hope of a big payoff as well as the emotional buzz this gives him. You are unlikely to enjoy the company of any of the characters in this movie so its best watched with a level of disengagement so you can enjoy the ride. The movie will certainly play better in America due to the cameos involved as well as the details of how basketball rules work as well as gambling. Alot of the story line revolves around these points and while you can still get a rough idea of whats going on, it definitely helps to understand whats going on if you already know all this information. Its definitely worth a watch and sooner rather than later as there are some major spoilers in Uncut Gems. What is odd is the release schedule, for a Netflix movie its on a limited UK release and no set date for streaming. Catch it at the cinema before someone ruins it for you. If you don't like watching Sandler then you are in for a treat.

The Lighthouse

Well that just happened.
These kind of horrors aren't for everyone and probably aren't for the majority. There are no scares, gore or action sequences. Its basically a psychological horror of a similar tone to A Field in England in which two men with questionable sanity lose their grip on reality during a storm. If odd visions, incoherent dialogue and lack of story are frustrates you then avoid this at all costs. The sort of people who rate movies like this highly are the kind who wont actually admit it doesn't make any sense. Its ok as an atmospheric movie for a period and the production and acting are great, however there is a good reason why movies resolve clearly at the end. To not do so just to be "arty" or different doesn't make it any better an experience for the audience. Unfortunately watching this to its conclusion was not a satisfying experience. Expect critics and pseudo intellectuals to praise this to the high heavens while the general public will vote with their feet and wallets. For pretentious oddballs only.

Jojo Rabbit

Anne Frank With Added Whimsy
Having finally managed to find the time I decided to watch Jojo Rabbit, I had managed to avoid any trailers or spoilers. All I knew is who directed and the rough outline it was about the Nazis, Hitler in particular and was a surreal comedy. What stood out about this prior to seeing it was a general mood that this was too difficult a movie to describe. However having watched it and in the main enjoyed it, its simply an updated Anne Frank style story with some humour thrown in. Unfortunately it is not in the same league as Wilderpeople. Its good thats all not great. The humour mostly lands and in the main how you feel about the silly version of Hitler is likely how you will feel about this overall. A glaring mistake for me however was during the movie Hitler used a phrase which made reference to something which was actually contemporary which had a jarring effect as it spoiled the illusion of this being set during the war. Despite it mainly being a comedy with most of the gags at the expense of the Nazis the final act does turn darker which may explain why so many didnt like this movie.I can understand why as it feels like two separate movies split by the final act. Worth going to see but its not groundbreaking and the way its being sold to the public doesnt really fit with how it actually is. Its basically a rehash of Anne Frank with a few more gags.


Solid but not groundbreaking.
I was lucky to attend a preview screening of this for almost nothing. War movies are never my first choice. They either seem to be glorified body counts using high tech killing machines or preachy "isn't war just terrible and we should all be ashamed" movies. This one is in the latter camp. This is a saving private Ryan style narrative minus the pyrotechnics of the opening scene. Two soldiers are selected to pass a message to a commander to halt and advance into a planned trap. The movie itself is basically about their journey and the overall emotion it conveys is one of tension. The problem I had with the movie is that the soldiers are basically inept. Every problem that they face is basically self inflicted and the result of bad decision making. Which makes it a little hard to be sympathetic. This is really a story about dumb luck and who does or doesn't have it. It's well shot however it has less visual impact than the recent Peter Jackson effort which used real moving film. Which brings me to my next point. The tone of 1917 is very sombre while as the Peter Jackson documentary showed that wasn't always the case. For some reason its forbidden to show anyone smiling over anything in world war 1. This will earn high praise from the anti war middle-class that's lovely cinematography crowd. But many will be disappointed when the movie doesn't match the initial high scores of professional critics. Midway was a much more entertaining and emotionally engaging war movie.

Green Wing

Still good in 2020.
I avoided this show when it first aired as I found it quite pretentious and attempting to be weird for no real reason. This arrived on the back of genuine strange but great Channel 4 comedy from Chris Morris, namely Jam. Which to me at the time Green Wing was clearly trying to ape. Not to mention Green Wing also uses some of the same cast. Having just installed a streaming TV app and noticing this was available I decided to give it a second go. Yes the odd slow mo and score is still here as are the odd physical tics of some character but once you get used to this its actually enjoyable. Despite all the weird camera tricks its basically just a love triangle sitcom set in a hospital. Its mainly character driven with the three main actors being mostly normal while the rest of the cast are basically extremely exaggerated caricatures who display very bizarre behaviours. The is a strong surrealist element to Green Wing. The overacting by some characters I actually found irritating, especially the Radiologist who features heavily. He is known for playing oddballs but in Green Wing he is simply too over the top to the point he is frustrating to watch. The writing comes from the creator of Smack the Pony which I would argue is more fun than Green Wing. The fact its written by a female is evident as its actually very crude from a female perspective, simply put a male would not get away with writing this for female characters, certainly not in the current climate. This ran for two seasons with a feature length follow up which wraps up all the story arcs, almost. What is odd is that this show took quite a sentimental twist towards the end which upset some people. Including the actors. An alternative ending is online to watch. Its an interesting and ta times engaging watch if you can stomach the weirdness and zany people at this hospital. Its been compared to Scrubs however it doesnt have the same tone or reliance on Family Guy style cut away gags.

Jay and Silent Bob Reboot

Well we are all 20 years older....
I had been looking forward to this for quite some time. At the time I really enjoyed the first Jay and Silent Bob movie. But I was 20 years younger. Having watched the first clips of the new movie I was struck by how old the cast looked and also how jarring this type of humour seemed coming from a cast in their 50s. The current 90s nostalgia trend to reboot movies from the 90's /early 00's is a tricky one. Directors need to balance nostalgia with enough new content to not make it feel like a cash in copy. While I get that Kevin Smith was poking fun at reboots and himself in the movie, I just didnt feel as satisfied watching this as the initial outing. But thats likely down to the fact the audience from the first movie will have matured and moved on. Its seems that this was a movie for his uberfans who are still steeped in nerd culture, read the same comic they did when they were 20, despite being in their 40s or 50s and consume his numerous podcasts which are full of insider jokes. For them this may be a higher rated movie. The most enjoyable part for me was getting a glimpse of what could have been How High 2 with Redman and Method Man. One of the many (many) cameos in this movie. This may appeal to a younger audience as it does go a bit "woke" and "diverse", its unlikely to have the same cult success as the first movie, simply because people tend to grow out of stoner jokes and this brand of humour. Kevin Smith missed an opportunity to do a sequel at the time when it would have made sense. Twenty years on Jay and Silent in their 50s is more than a little cringey.

Star Wars: Episode IX - The Rise of Skywalker

Far too much in two hours!
I have just been to a midnight showing of this in the UK. I attended the other two recent movies in the same cinema also at midnight screenings and for some reason this one just didn't have the same excitement around it. The cinema was half empty which is very unusual for midnight screenings of Blockbusters. Even trying to avoid spoilers many of them have been leaked in the press so unless you have avoided all media you are sure to have any surprises ruined. As for the movie? It really just plays like an action movie. Which is no what these are supposed to be about. There is zero emotional content. This is supposed to be the resolution of a 40 year franchise and it just seems clang to a halt. It's not that the story doesn't resolve, its just that on an emotional level, it doesn't. This is partly to do with the sheer pace which things happen. Everything is so crammed in there's no space to breathe. This is a three hour plus movie crammed into just over two. You simply don't get the time to emotionally engage with the plot or characters which leaves it a bit of an empty experience. Also the story is far too similar to Jedi, it's just been done with 2019 special effects. The fact it's nothing new story wise also makes this feel like a wasted opportunity. It's one thing reference previous movies but 90% of this movie is from the first three. I think this episode will lead to a game of thrones response, I can see a petition to have this remade. Sorry to disappoint but for all the action it simply lacks emotional engagement and storyline.

The Art of Self-Defense

Surprisingly bad.
I was keen to watch this after seeing the trailer and noting how many positive reviews this had. So I was very surprised to see just how bad this was. Its billed as a dark comedy about martial arts however it simply isnt very funny. I had even saw a female reviewer on YouTube compare this Napoleon Dynamite. Simply how? It has nothing in common with Napoleon and the style of humour is very different and in this movie 99% of the jokes fall flat. There is a serious issue with the tone of the movie in that it takes itself far too seriously for the humour to work. Dark humour is probably the most difficult to pull of correctly and this movie is a good example of why thats the case. There are more reviews online now of this movie and they are slowly pulling down its rating and they appear to cite the same issues and that its underwhelming. I would go so far as to say it leaves a bad taste in the mouth. While I was expecting something like The Foot Fist Way, this movie has nothing positive to say about martial arts. It basically portrays martial artists as psychopaths so anyone with a background in martial arts may feel insulted that this is how the disciplines are portrayed. Also there are a number of extremely violent/gory scenes which come out of the blue and are another indication that the director simply has the tone of the movie wrong. If anything it overplays the effectiveness of karate, we now know exactly what professional MMA fighters can do to each other because of UFC and the sound effects and violence portrayed in this is actually more extreme based on supposedly part time karate students. This brings me to the final point. Realism. You can only suspend your disbelief so far. At no point during the first 70 or 80 mins is this movie seen as a surrealist story. However when bodies start to pile up and theres no consequences then it can only be a surrealist story? This is a poorly judged movie which is extremely negative about martial arts, gore and violence which doesn't fit with the tone, humour which simply doesn't work and cannot decide whether this is a crime movie or fantasy. The only positive reviews seem to come from critics who overly praise indie movies and who feel clever for watching crap the mainstream ignores. There are decent art house movies, but this isnt one of them.

The Day Shall Come

Good but not as good as Four Lions.
I am just back from the first public showing of this movie in the UK at the Cameo Edinburgh. This was billed as having a Q&A session with Chris Morris, usually this means the director is in London and its a satellite link up but no, he was actually here. My initial thoughts about the film was that its a very funny in a similar vein to Four Lions, its about inept would be terrorists and the authorities on their tail. The spin with this movie is that the FBI are out to entrap and this time its black Muslims in the vein of the 5% nation or nation of Islam. The main reason this does not feel as impactful is that the terrorist events which informed four lions are somewhat in the past. Four lions felt very immediate as there was a perception these events could happen anytime. With the war on terror on American soil now wound down, The Day Shall Come does not have the same weight. Its masterfully written and hysterically funny in parts however the premise that the FBI/authorities are as inept and that they only arrest and convict innocents will not go down well in some places. The fact that the terror threat has greatly reduced hints that they must be doing something right? And that is the main difficulty of the film. The fact that the war of terror strategy has worked not only counters the narrative of the film, the reduced threat means its no longer as current as Four Lions was. The cast and directing are excellent as is the dialogue and there are many shockingly great twists. It does feel an odd choice to use the black Muslim movement as a focus for the movie, I will be watching with interest how they respond to it. As for the Q&A with Chris Morris? There werent many questions from the audience as people seemed a bit intimidated by his intelligence. He did go on to explain his research suggested the FBI were the biggest "recruiter" of terrorists and explained how. I feel he will be doing alot of explaining once this hits the theatres. Highly recommended although thankfully things have moved on since Four Lions, which is surely a good thing.

The Fight

Its complicated.
Just managed to track this movie down after reading about it online last year. This is written and directed by Jessica Hynes who was one of the writers for the cult comedy Spaced on Channel 4. She is more well known as a comedy actor and writer and also features a number of other well known UK comedians such as Sally Phillips and Alice Lowe. However this is not a comedy. This is real life kitchen sink type of drama which explores motives around bullying and violence from a mainly female perspective. We get to see bullying but we also get to see what may be at the root of these issues, this is not a simplistic Hollywood good girl/bad girl type of narrative. Its more complicated than that. What this film did manage to achieve was to not paint people into simplistic archetypes of character and in particular it wasn't trying to sell the story violence and abuse is a male only problem. Its more sympathetic to males than some writers would have been. The film is beautifully shot and scored and is certainly aimed at the arthouse circuit. If in depth emotional studies are your thing then this is for you, do not expect any wacky Edgar Wright style shenanigans cos that aint what this is. This is a mature a accomplished directing debut and I hope its reflective of whats to come in the future from Jessica. Also she managed to squeeze some drum and bass in there and I am unsure if she also had her kids in this movie? It seems like a labour of love and she was able to get support from some of her friends to make this. Recommended.

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