The Detective

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Ever since I first saw Bangkok Haunted, I’ve loved the Pang Brothers. Then along came Bangkok Dangerous – one of my favourite movies of all time, and The Eye – a wonderful chiller. Since then, the Pangs haven’t had the same impact, with a string of films which were either passable or poor. The Detective is quite an unusual film – it shows that the Brothers haven’t lost their touch –but possibly tries a little too hard to be more than it needs to be. Having said that, it’s a strong film with an equally strong lead performance, and while not a horror film, features some chilling moments, and one of the greatest jump scares I’ve ever seen.

The film follows a down on his luck PI, scrounging around for a living. He is the laughing stock of the real police force who regard him as a nuisance, a conspiracy theory nut who chases loose ends convinced there is always some nefarious plot at work. Tam, the PI, stumbles upon the case of a missing woman who has been tenuously linked to a murder. Having only a photograph of the woman alongside a bunch of other people, and some wild claims, he starts his search. As the people in the photograph begin to die one by one, by accident, suicide, and a variety of grim ways, Tam finds his own life in danger but needs to solve the case.

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I like the idea behind the movie, and I love Tam’s character, brought to life by Aaron Kwok’s vibrant performance. The movie is an interesting whirlwind of genres, with scares, drama, comedy, and action all on screen – car chases, fights, shootouts with elephants, explosions, dialogue and plot intrigue to keep you guessing. With all this going on the directing can feel a little muddled and chaotic, but Oxide Pang manages to hold everything together while keeping it interesting and stylish. The plot does become a little confused, and the surrounding cast aren’t as memorable as Kwok, but it is still an engaging and odd thriller which the more adventurous viewer should seek out. The film was followed by a sequel four years later, and a third in 2013 -neither of which I have seem at the time of writing. If they are as interesting as this first part then they will be well worth a watch too.

Have you seen The Detective? What is your favourite Pang Brothers movie? Let us know in the comments!

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September 23, 2016 at 11:32 am Leave a comment

Amazon Vine Freebies – December 2015

….and may all your Christmases be shiiiittteee! I hope everyone has roasted their nuts suitably and are waiting to put their hand’s on Santa’s sack! Here meanwhile, I was provided with these lovely festive extras.

Maybelline SuperStay24H Dual Ended Lipstick 170 Crystal Shock Amber 9ml

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It’s lipstick. Shocking!

Maybelline Lasting Drama Gel Eyeliner 01 Black

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It’s eyeliner. Lasting!

Buzz Bee Toys Ultra Master Tek Blaster

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It’s a gun. Blasting!

L’Oreal Paris Volume Million Lashes Waterproof Mascara Black 9ml

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It’s mascara. Waterproofing!

September 22, 2016 at 9:48 am Leave a comment

Best Cinematography – 1968

Official Nominations: Romeo And Juliet. Ice Station Zebra. Star! Oliver! Funny Girl.

There is one obvious outcast here, and that one will obviously be my choice of winner. The other nominees each feel and look too much like stage adaptations to deserve a Best Cinematography win under my criteria so therefore my winner is Ice Station Zebra and Daniel L Fapp.

My Winner: Ice Station Zebra

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My Nominations: Ice Station Zebra. Planet Of The Apes. Bullitt. Hell In The Pacific. Once Upon A Time In The West. The Charge Of The Light Brigade.

It’s bizarre that in a year filled with so many stunningly shot films that The Academy fell back upon its old traditional ways and awarded wins and nominations to films which would look essentially identical on stage as they do on film. In that light, my list is almost completely different to the official one, with Planet Of The Apes shooting Earth as a foreign land and offering one of cinema’s most memorable shots and Bullitt showcasing a violent San Francisco in an all American ultra-modern fashion. Hell In The Pacific is a frequently beautiful looking film which doesn’t shy away from showing the wrath of nature and how insignificant man is, while The Charge Of The Light Brigade looks great even if it is largely forgettable. My winner is no surprise, with Tonino Delli Colli again working wonders with Sergio Leone in Once Upon A Time In The West to depict wide barren lands sparsely populated with distant bandits and assassins who seem to hang on the edge of a horizon.

My Winner: Once Upon A Time In The West

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Over to you, which movie of 1968 do you think has the Best Cinematography? Let us know in the comments!

September 21, 2016 at 11:36 am 2 comments

Chart Music Through The Years – 1990

Yes! Back thanks to an almost universal lack of demand, I stretch back the scalp of time and feast upon the mushy innards of the past – in this instance I return to the UK music charts. If you’re interested, you can read my original post here – https://carlosnightman.wordpress.com/2015/10/22/the-uk-top-40/

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1990 was a big year in world events, from a political and historical standpoint, with the  beginnings of The Gulf War, the collapse of Yugoslavia, the pseudo birth of the Internet, the release of Mandela, and the resignation of Thatcher all making headlines. On a happier and lighter note, McDonalds opened its first restaurants in China and Moscow, Mr Bean made his first TV appearance, The Nintendo World Championship took place, The Ultimate Warrior defeated Hulk Hogan at Wrestlemania’s Main Event, West Germany won the World Cup while Chris Waddle skyed his penalty, and Kevin McCallister was left Home Alone while the rest of us asked who killed Laura PalmerI was in my middle years in Primary School and just getting into metal music thanks to the likes of Guns ‘n’ Roses, Alice Cooper, and Bryan Adams and beginning to look for heavier stuff, while gorging myself on Bruce Lee, Arnie, and assorted action movies. My little sister was born meaning me and my older brother became a trio.

In the music world, Hair Metal and 80s metal in general was still successful but was on the decline thanks mostly to burnout of listeners and performers (though there were still a few seminal metal releases), Madchester continued to rise in the UK bringing with it a heady mixture of decent and atrocious music, Milli Vanilli admitted to lip syncing, Madonna continued to court controversy with apparently explicit videos and performances, and Roger Waters performed The Wall in Berlin. The list below contains a few of my most disliked songs – songs which I despised at the time and have shuddered in disgust at the very thought of them since. I suspect I’ll have heard them all but there are a few I’m not sure about just by reading the artist and song name, but as always we will soon find out.

  1. The Beautiful South: A Little Time
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The Annoying Twats

We start off badly with a song I detested then, but thankfully haven’t heard in a long time. Because I love you all so much though, I’ve decided to give it a new listen with my 2016 era ears and brains. Oh horrendously plain and twee vocals. Yes yes, I know the lyrics are about a breakdown so it isn’t as happy as it sounds, but man those vocals are just terrible. Of course it’s catchy enough to sink its claws in, but the music – those clicky drums, the simpering horns, and the vocals somehow get worse as the songs finally gets to the end.

2. Maria Mckee: Show Me Heaven

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Nascar and Ballads

Speaking of vocals, I remember this one having a powerfully sung but screechy chorus. The verses are quite whispery and deep, not quite sultry but something along those lines. it has all the hallmarks of an 80s Power Ballad but with the synth replaced by an organ. As far as I know this was a one hit wonder (let me know if I’m wrong in the comments) but as with many of its ilk I mostly like it. It certainly has a blasting, memorable chorus but I don’t get much emotion off it and it lacks the atmosphere I usually enjoy in these songs.

3. The Righteous Brothers: Unchained Melody

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Shep, come by! Come by, Shep!

I don’t need to hear this one again to know that I still hate it. One of the most covered, most overrated songs of all time, everything about this insipid, festering dump is wretched. If you think I love you that much to listen to it by choice again, then I hate you.

4. Status Quo: The Anniversay Waltz

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The Abomination

It appears that this one was in two parts, with the combined running time over 10 minutes, so here we go. Hmm, so it’s actually just a medley of existing rock and roll songs, starting off with ‘Rock And Roll Music’. Fine, I’ve heard these songs a million times so Status Quo won’t add much to it. An essentially pointless endeavour.

5. Happy Mondays: Kinky Afro

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Music For Tramps, By Tramps

I was never into the Madchester scene when it was popular, as I found most of the music boring, dull, and dumb. It took me until my later teenage years to reevaluate it thanks largely to many friends being fans and influenced by it. I still don’t get much from it and I think it came from a pretty crappy place and influenced more crappy bands than good, but I do like some stuff. Kinky Afro and a few other Happy Mondays songs were always played in the clubs or house party’s I frequented in my younger days so I had to get used to them – I don’t love or hate them, they’re just there in the background sending others into a frenzy while I watch in a state of drunken bemusement. Oh yeah, I hated the hair, the style, the vocals, the ridiculous videos of most of this stuff back then, and they aren’t much better now. Still, it’s a decent song, even if I do still find it dull, boring, and dumb.

6. Bobby Venton: Blue Velvet

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Baby Wants To Fuck

Well, there can be only one reason for this being in the charts in 1990, although given that Lynch’s movie was released a few years earlier this all seems bizarre. It’s your typical wavering, dreamy 50s ballad evoking images of cadillacs, skirts, burger joints and kids cruising. Very strange that it’s here, but the 1990 re-release was probably the first time I heard the song.

7. Whitney Houston: I’ll Be Your Baby Tonight

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Blue Velvet?

This starts out with horrendous 1980s sounds, feeble beats, and trumping trumpet bleats. It’s one of those songs that sounds dated on the day it’s released, but luckily Houston’s voice and a catchy chorus save it from being instantly forgettable. It has an ineffectual bridge and an overlong ending meaning the final product is over four minutes long instead of the two it should be.

8. Berlin: Take My Breath Away

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Jets and Ballads

Another song that has no business being in the charts in 1990. It’s one of the best and most instantly recognizable power ballads ever written, it suits Top Gun perfectly, and it ranks up there with one of the most memorable movie songs. I’m sure anyone reading this will know the song, will know its ‘dun dun dun dun dun -bum bum. bum bum’ riff and the vocals in the chorus which bum bum along, and the sultry verses with images of sun tanned chests vollyballing and jets and parachutes and danger zones.

9. Technotronic: Megamix

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Worse Than Hitler

I knew at an early age that the world was broken. I knew at an early age that this was an abomination.Time has not been kind to this junk, although strangely I don’t mind it as much now. It’s still a dreadful collection of noises and laughable rapping that appeals mainly to the mindless, but it’s better than a lot of what came from it afterwards. And it just keeps going, doesn’t it? It’s hilarious how edgy and cool people thought this was at the time, and how iconic it is claimed to be now; it was shit then, and it’s shit now, as were you and as you are.

10. Londonbeat: I’ve Been Thinking About You

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A’right, bruv

Right before I clicked play on this I couldn’t remember, but then it suddenly popped back into my head. So now I recall the song before hitting play. I remember thinking it was okay, it was tolerable and with a chorus you could hum along to. Hitting play now. Yes, I was right. The singer sounds like your doll from M People, even though she is a she and this is a he. Pretty funky, yes it’s dated but it’s the sort of song where the dated beats could easily be stripped away and updated to sound more modern and the song wouldn’t lose anything in the transition. There’s something a little bit dark, a little bit rock influenced about it too. Still, it does suffer from being too long at almost 5 minutes. There’s probably been a dozen remakes and remixes of this already, but I imagine it would sound great in a club with a thumping bass backing.

There you have it, the cream of the crop from the first year of the final decade of the last millennium. What can these songs teach the folks of today about the music of the time? Primarily it seems that big breathy ballads were doing battle with a new wave of dance music, and that seems like a respectable way to view much of 90s chart music – while grunge and britpop would have their moments and boy and girl groups would abound later, many of the early years of the nineties saw ballad after ballad as movie soundtracks topped the charts, and rave and underground dance culture swirled and became more palatable EDM and RNB junk. When looking at the biggest selling songs of 1990 we have two ballads – Nothing Compares 2U, It Must Have Been Love, and three dance and rap influenced pieces – You Can’t Touch This, Vogue, Ice Ice Baby. But 1990 also saw the release of Depeche Mode’s Violator, Public Enemy’s Fear Of A Black Planet, Bruce Dickinson’s Tattooed Millionaire, Sonic Youth’s Goo, Pantera’s Cowboys From Hell, and many more. So finally, here is a selection of ten songs which I feel better reflect the quality of music released in 1990. Enjoy!

  1. Megadeth: Hanger 18
  2. Angelo Badalamenti: Laura Palmer’s Theme
  3. Alice In Chains: Bleed The Freak
  4. Slayer: Dead Skin Mask
  5. Public Enemy: 911 Is A Joke
  6. Mother Love Bone: Man Of Golden Words
  7. Pantera: Cowboys From Hell
  8. Jon Bon Jovi: Blaze Of Glory
  9. LL Cool J: To Da Break Of Dawn
  10. Cher: The Shoop Shoop Song (for your movie soundtrack needs)

What songs have I missed from 1990? What do you make of the songs in both or either lists? What was a younger you getting up to back then? Let us know in the comments!

September 20, 2016 at 1:43 pm Leave a comment

Movie Trailers 2016 # 11

Look! Look at the things! Sparkly and new and full of intrigue, like a child fresh over the fields on the first day of Summer, shoving their hand into a muddy hole in the ground and yanking out fistfuls of gem-encrusted spiders. Why are they there? What do they do? Why are they biting me? MUMMY!? That’s right, it’s time for more trailers!

The Infiltrator – Trailer 1

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Walter White is a cop. A family man. A liar! 80s and Escobar. Setting up the lie. Has a Scorsese vibe. Could be another interesting crime thriller.

Things To Know: Based on the autobiography of Robert Mazur who helped bring down Escobar’s organization.

Whos To Know: Directed by Brad Furman (The Lincoln Lawyer) and starring Bryan Cranston, John Leguizamo, and Diane Kruger.

Jason Bourne  -Trailer 1

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Another Bourne movie, this time starring the original Bourne. How many is this now? I think I’ve seen the original trilogy, definitely the first two, not the fourth. Throb. Punch. Even after these movies does anyone seriously believe Matt Damon could win a fight? Memories. More edgy fights and chases. I did like the Bourne movies, good fun, interesting action, but I didn’t love them. Circle.

Things To Know: The fifth Bourne movie.

Whos To Know: The film reunites Matt Damon with director Paul Greengrass, and also stars Julia Stiles, Tommy Lee Jones, and Alice Vikander.

The Founder – Trailer 1

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Michael Keaton. Talking to the camera and not being Beetlejuice. True story of some restaurant dude. Hollywood really loves telling these stories wanking off already incredibly wealthy people recently. Keaton is always a joy to watch. Sounds like R Lee Ermey. I thought McDonalds was older. The trailer is pretty much telling the entire story.

Things To Know: A sort of biography of how Ray Kroc bought McDonalds and turned it into a monster.

Whos To Know: Directed by John Lee Hancock (The Blind Side) and starring Michael Keaton, Laura Dern, and Patrick Wilson.

Cafe Society – Trailer 1

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Old Hollywood. Fucking Eisenberg. Has there been a more annoying, limited, and over-exposed actor since Michael Cera? Oh right, Kristen Stewart, touche. Woody Allen. Famous people being famous people. Dialogue. Jazz music at any time is inexcusable. Blah.

Things To Know: It’s Woody Allen.

Whos To Know: Directed by Allen and starring those people above.

Independence Day 2: Trailer 2

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Well, this has been out for a while so you’ve probably seen it. I haven’t. I wasn’t a massive fan of the original so I have no great desire to watch this one, especially after the critical mauling it received. I’m sure I’ll see it at some point. Pianos. 20 years. Snazzy effects. Bigger aliens. Bigger explosions. Bigger BIGGERS. MORE SPEECHES!

Let us know in the comments which films you’ve seen/are looking forward to!

September 19, 2016 at 12:51 pm Leave a comment

Manic Mondays – 19th September 2016

‘Why walk when you can crawl/Stay on your knees and kiss my feet’

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Crucifix Kiss

September 19, 2016 at 10:03 am Leave a comment

Sukiyaki Western Django

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A muddled and often confused Miike effort, this nevertheless entertains and freaks out in equal measures. With admirable action pieces, plenty of humour, some decent cameos, the film is never subtle, is always excessive in every sense, and is about twenty minutes too long.

Featuring an almost all-Japanese cast speaking almost entirely in English, this feels like another experiment by Miike but unlike those which have succeeded this one is a bit of a stretch. The film does look great, and sound great, seeking to emulate and reverently spoof Spaghetti Westerns and Martial Arts epics. This is supposedly loosely based on historic events, but the plot feels an awful lot like Yojimbo, with a lone gunman riding into a solitary town broken by two warring clans. As the film progresses we learn more about the gunman’s reasons for being there, and learn a little of the history and hatred between the clans, but the central relationship is between the gunman, Ruriko, and her mute grandson. They provide the film’s emotional core and while the characters always feel distant and are never fully realised, there is a surprising amount of emotion in the movie once the killings start. There are laughs caused by outlandish action and violence, plenty of unintentional humour, and a Quentin Tarantino cameo.

I would struggle to recommend this one to anyone who isn’t a Miike fan – maybe uber-Tarantino fans will get a kick out of it, but from an action perspective there isn’t anything here you won’t have seen. The plot is needlessly complicated, there are perhaps too many characters, and it all has that Miike charm which you will either love or hate. It is stylish, looks a treat, and is a unique package. Still, I enjoyed it more than I expected and if you don’t mind a trip down a very weird avenue you might too.

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Have you seen Sukiyaki Western Django? Do you think it is one of Miike’s best? Let us know in the comments!

September 16, 2016 at 10:42 am Leave a comment

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