Birdy

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Man, Nic Cage looks really young here. No wait, Nic Cage looks really old here – what is he supposed to be, sixteen? But he looks like he’s in his twenties. Same with Matthew Modine. It’s all the more strange given the kids they’re playing with are a good two feet shorter and clearly much younger. ‘Nam man, it made weirdos of us all.

Birdy is a film I’d known about since I was first obsessed with the Manic Street Preachers. When you get obsessed with a band (I’m sure this still happens today with current artists but in a much different way), from an era gone by you have to do a lot of work to learn as much about them as possible. It’s not enough to simply buy the albums and learn the songs and know every single lyric. It’s not even enough to see them live and buy the shirt and tell your friends. No, you need to chase down every TV and Radio and magazine interview or quote they ever gave. Before Tweets and Blogs we had fanzines and paper. It’s there that I learned that the Manics were as much consumers of pop culture as they were detractors of it. It’s like the old saying about a rock star teaching you more than school ever did; the Manics certainly opened my mind to stuff I’d never thought about, music I’d never cared about, and movies and books I’d never heard of.

Birdy was one such movie. When you become a Manics obsessive, most people tend to become a Richey fanatic. As the band’s lead lyricist and a central part of their creative vision, he was as seductive and humble and intelligent a mouthpiece as a rock band could ever have. Most interviews he gave (as well as the rest of the band) were a treasure trove of quips and quotes and the media loved him as they knew he would be good for a soundbite – controversial or otherwise. Richey and the band understood this as well as any professional businessman, the difference being that what Richey said came from a place of honesty and understanding. Throw in the tragedy of his mental and physical state along with the mystery of his disappearance and you have a rock and roll, human story as alluring as it is heartbreaking.

It’s no surprise then to those fans who get around to checking out some of the well publicized ‘Richey’s Favourites’ lists discover that many of his most treasured works of fiction deal directly with subject matter he was obsessed with, or dealt with, or displayed, or despised. From Concentration Camp survivors texts, to stories concerned with violence and war, from the collapse of the human spirit and the chaos of a broken mind, to authors who killed themselves or vanished entirely. Humanity’s darkest innards are where Richey rent his most tortured lyrics from, inspired in part by the master works he knew inside out. It’s easy to draw a line between the works he coveted, the works he made, and the life he led.

Birdy is a 1984 movie based off the William Wharton novel of the same name. Both concern the lasting friendship between two men – their adolescence, their harrowing war experiences, and their struggle to adjust back home. When describe like that it sounds like any number of other Vietnam movies – if I can set this one apart from the others I would say that this one has a little more in the way of heart, hope, and comedy. In the book, the War in question is WWII, but in the movie it is Vietnam – a small change, but an important one nonetheless – each war is both the same and different from the next. Nic Cage stars as Al – a typical teenager in a rundown area of Philly, while Matthew Modine is the title character – a bird obsessed, socially naive kid who Al befriends. The film jumps liberally between different time-frames – the mishaps and adventures of the mismatched youths and how their home-life and charms somehow brought and kept them together, to some point after their return from war when Al is facially disfigured and Birdy is mute and unresponsive in an Army psych ward. Interspersed later in the movie are very brief scenes of what happened in Vietnam, relaying how the relate to both events from their youth and of their current state.

I was surprised by the lack of war scenes when I first watched Birdy. That’s another key difference between it and the more famous ‘nam movies. Directed Alan Parker, known more for his musicals, prefers to focus on the friendship and the internal struggles instead of the visceral reality of what happened on the battlefield. It’s a coming of age film as much as it is a portrayal of war horror, and it feels honest and authentic in both to the extent that it gave me some nostalgia for a time in which I didn’t exist. That’s not accurate – it’s the friendship I was nostalgic for, not the time, and it strikes a similar balance to something like Stand By Me. While Cage and Modine are good, and while their friendship is something I enjoyed watching, it lacks some of the fun and camaraderie of Stand By Me, probably because the latter focused on four central characters and on a different point in their lives.

While Birdy is a fairly unique character, the film is smart enough to send a more universal message – one which it is difficult to write about without avoiding the trite metaphors about birds and freedom and cages. At points in our lives we do feel trapped and we do yearn for freedom and flight and friendship – it doesn’t matter that not all of us have experience war or abuse or social scapegoating or growing up on the wrong side of the tracks. Birdy shows us what it was like for these characters and shows enough of the characters that we recognize certain traits within ourselves. Whether we deal with hardship by tackling it face on, by indulging in obsession, by ignoring it, or by falling into fantasy – hardships are going to hit us, and Birdy tackles the subject by showing each of these responses and how friendship is one of our greatest defenses.

Peter Gabriel crafted a thoughtful score for the movie – I haven’t listened to a lot of the man’s music beyond the obvious, but his score for Birdy (which is mostly instrumental) aptly conveys both heart and panic, fear and hope. From pounding drum interludes to inspirational synths, the music can be in your face and drift quietly on the outer reaches. Parker’s film uses ‘Skycam’ heavily to simulate bird flight as well as Birdy’s imaginings and some of the flashbacks. It seems a little silly today but it works well enough for 1984 and probably raised a few eyebrows from a stylistic perspective. The important thing is that the technology serves both character and plot and isn’t just there to show off.

I went into Birdy expecting a heavier drama than what I got, based on my own assumptions of what Richey liked. A war movie about a bird obsessed man on the fringes of society, scarred and left to a careless world? How could that not be a dark and gritty story? I forget than Richey was also defiant and human and hopeful, and in the end that is more what Birdy is about.

Let us know in the comments what you thought of Birdy!

Bait

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Why do we do it? Or more specifically, why do I do it? You can count the number of good, truly good shark movies on one hand and yet I watch as many of the bad ones as I can, knowing full well they are going to be bad. Is it my inherent love for the mysterious creatures? Is it because most shark movies are horror movies and an excuse to watch annoying people get chomped to pieces? Is it the hope that maybe one day someone will make another truly good one? I think it’s all of those things – I’ve always loved sharks and horror movies, and I always hope that another good one will appear. Reading the synopsis of shark movies, and knowing the companies and money involved before hand is a valid way of anticipating if the film will be good, but as I’ve said, that won’t put me off; it may not be good, but it could still be entertaining.

Bait has the following synopsis:

‘A freak tsunami traps a group of people in a submerged grocery store. As they try to escape, they are hunted by white sharks that are hungry for meat’

Aren’t most tsunamis freak events? Also, that kind of makes it sound as if the grocery store was already submerged. I assume they mean Great White Sharks too, and the fact that they’re hungry for meat goes without saying. If I was trapped in a grocery store, you’d better believe I’d be looting it to the bone. And I wouldn’t be starting with the meat, no, I’d be filling my face with sweets and crisps first – all that top shelf stuff (matron). Plus, that synopsis makes me think of two other movies I’d like to see – one set in a world where all shops are underwater, like The Jetsons but with water instead of space. So.. Spongebob, I guess. Secondly, a movie about a freakshow tsunami – a giant supafly wave which does funky dances and wears an afro.

All in all, I don’t mind the idea for this – it has potential, merging survival horror with loose disaster movie and siege movie tropes. I imagine John Carpenter having a go at this – it’s basically Assault On Precinct 13 but with sharks instead of gangstas and crap instead of goodness. Honestly, it’s not all that bad. In terms of being a cheap B movie, it’s perfectly watchable and gives enough attention to its characters that we have a passing interest in their fates, if not care. The acting is a notch above what you would expect from these things, with famous faces like Sharni Vinson and Julian McMahon providing the ‘oh, I know that guy’ moments. The film also spends time building up to the main scenario, introducing various characters and conflicts before releasing the sharks. It begins with a tragic event as lifeguard Josh watches his friend Rory be killed by a shark during a rescue. Rory was brother to Tina, Tina was engaged to Josh. Flashforward a year and Josh and Tina have split up, with Josh now working in a supermarket. Tina shows up with her new boyfriend – uh oh. Worse, a couple of criminals show up too in a botched armed robbery – oh no. Worse still, a tsunami drops, trapping the staff, shoppers, and criminals together – oopsy. Then to spice things up further, some sharks have been washed in by the tsunami, and I have a feeling they like the taste of young pretty flesh.

At times it feels like there are too many characters, each with their own crap. There are security guards, criminals, managers, shoplifters, couples galore, dogs, and some are revealed to be intertwined and some are revealed to be dicks. There are a couple of ‘twists’ though I pissed off my wife by calling them out long before they were revealed, as I always do. I won’t spoil them here, but they seemed fairly obvious even to me. There was a great moment where it looked like the dog was killed, only for a later cop-out. Hey, I love dogs but I love it just as much when people who moan about dogs being killed in movies (which almost never happens) are frightened that the dogs will be hurt. The dog here especially is more than deserving of being gobbled. But as mentioned, there is a lot going on, characters trying to resolve their differences all while working together (or not) to try to survive and escape. Certain characters are split off from the main group, some have selfish motives, others are fish fodder.

The gore and kills are as you would expect – a lot of improbable shark action and even more improbable attempts to hunt and kill the sharks. The CG isn’t great but it’s still a level or twelve above Sharknado – you’ll get a laugh out of it but can still suspend your disbelieve enough to not let it get in the way of the story. The film is actually known as Bait 3D – so you know you’re going to get some of those scenes to make the 3D stand out. Naturally I watched in 2D, so these scenes added to the ridicule. In terms of pacing and action, the film rattles along nicely and while it hits all of the expected notes, it does so in a fun way. I was never bored even though I’ve seen it all before. It’s much better than the ‘so bad it’s good’ shark movies, but still a way behind Jaws and… Jaws 2. Thanks to an interesting premise, a decent cast of recognizable faces, and actual attention to building story and character (somewhat), Bait is a film for anyone who enjoys shark movies or animal attack movies in general.

Let us know in the comments what you thought of Bait!

Chart Music Through The Years – 1999

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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Greetings, Glancers! Today we party like it’s the end of the century… the end of the millennium…. the end of your life… because it is! Yes, that’s right, I’m about to murder you! But before that inevitability, lets go back to 1999, a time when the world inexplicably lost its mind and started freaking out about clocks stopping, microwaves eating us, and computers stealing all the babies or something. We all looked forward to the greatest party the world has even known, which ended up more like any New Year’s Eve with me drunk in various alleys and streets. Music was probably blaring that night, I can’t remember, but I do remember lots of great stuff, and even more terrible stuff from that year – I suspect you’re going to be subjected to ten such terrible tracks below.

It wasn’t all bad news though – Iron Maiden announced that Brucey and Adrian were coming back to the band, Eminem released The Slim Shady LP, Californication made us all wish we were Californicators, and Metallica arsed about with strings and trumpets. Elsewhere there were many ugly events which propelled the species further down the road to where we find ourselves today – The Columbine Massacre (from which zero lessons appear to have been learnt), Shakespeare In Love won the Best Picture Oscar despite being mostly terrible, Jill Dando was murdered by a demented loon, wars and coups continued to kill and destroy throughout the Middle East, Africa, Europe, and Asia, and George Lucas introduced us all to Jar Jar Binks.

If all that adds up to a crazy time to be alive, a glance through the charts only confirms that thought. Grunge was dead and buried, Britpop had already been vomited up its own ass, and the illegitimate spawn of both had yet to enter the studio for one last shot at rock and roll salvation. Lets do this.

1: Christina Aguilera: Genie In A Bottle

What Britney can do, a comatose, crusty bowl of rabid feces can do just as well, right? Enter another Disney tween, just innocent enough to be exploited by anyone, just dirty enough to be… well, exploited by anyone.  At least Aguilera can sing they said and yes, that’s sort of true. Genie In A Bottle doesn’t exactly show off Aguilera’s dubious talents, but it’s actually a good song. It’s catchy and has a nifty chorus – much better than that love letter to abuse that Britney forced upon us. It’s possibly the only worthwhile thing Aguilera has released.

2: Ann Lee: 2 Times

I struggle to think of a better (worse?) example of twee. A song can’t really get any more simplistic or less emotional, and that wee do-di-do chorus was always shambolic. It’s still catchy yeah, but in this case it doesn’t help. This is what commercial dance music was in the 90s – shit. Guess what? All commercial dance music is shit – who’d’a’known? Just remember… human beings made this, and human beings bought this. Seriously.

3: ATB: Don’t Stop

I have no clue what this is, so I’ll have to listen to refresh my memory…. and instantly wish I hadn’t. It’s more 90s dance drivel – it has the exact same beat as 2 Times, the exact same drum machine was apparently used. I’m not sure I’ve heard this, but that noise which makes the main… noise, it’s very similar to a song I do remember which was marginally better than this so assuming it’s by the same twat(s). But that’s like saying Mengele was marginally better than Hitler. Utter wank.

4: Eiffel 65: Blue Da Ba Dee

Music in the 90s guys… once again someone made this, and people bought it. 

5: Steps: After The The Love Has Gone

It was bound to happen sooner or later. It’s the 90s. It’s Britain. It’s Steps. You don’t need to listen, you already know it’s shit. The only difference between this and The Teletubies is you weren’t embarrassed when you were caught masturbating over The Teletubies. Has there ever been a less attractive group of attractive people in pop history?

6: Buffalo Tom/Gallagher/Cradock: Going Underground/Carnation

I have no clue what this is. Ah right. Gallagher. So this was some sort of supergroup doing cover songs? I have absolutely no memory of this, so I refuse to believe it happened.

7: Honeyz: Never Let You Down

Why?

8: B*Witched: Jessie Hold On

Sweet fucking NO.

9: Macy Gray: I Try

Everyone loved this. I had no idea why then, and I have no idea now. Clearly everyone making and buying music in 1999 was insane. Out of all the shite on this list… this is the worst. It is absolutely not getting linked.

10: Shania Twain: Man I Feel Like A Woman

Yeah? Yet you sound like a twat? So which is it? As much as I dislike everything about this, it’s not as bad as everything else here, and I actually liked some of Shania’s earlier stuff.

As is almost always the case, the charts are not a fair or accurate depiction of the good music released at the time. For my alternative playlist, check out these bad boys:

  1. Blondie – Maria
  2. Eminem – Guilty Conscience
  3. Lene Marlin – Unforgivable Sinner
  4. Red Hot Chili Peppers – Otherside
  5. South Park – Blame Canada
  6. Tori Amos – 1000 Oceans
  7. Muse – Unintended
  8. Opeth – Face Of Melinda
  9. Rage Against The Machine – Testify
  10. Tool – Stinkfist

There you have it, folks. 1999, another year in the can. Let us know your favourite tracks and memories from ’99!

Best Original Song – 1975

Official Nominations: I’m Easy. How Lucky Can You Get. Do You Know Where You’re Going To. Richard’s Window. Now That We’re In Love.

This was always going to be a winner for Nashville, although when you throw in a more traditional musical there’s always a chance it could win. It’s generally rare that a song nominated or which wins in this category to have a life outside the movie, but I’m Easy was a fairly big hit this year in the US charts. It’s lovely, and thankfully doesn’t feel like a country song, outside of Carradine’s vocals. Good lyrics, nice melodies. In my younger days I was partial to Mariah Carey’s version of Do You Know Where You’re Going To and the movie version by Diana Ross was also a substantial hit. Should it be here though, given it was actually written and recorded a couple of years earlier? These rules are muddy. How Lucky Can You Get is almost everything I despise in music. Those opening seconds make me want to swallow my ears, then the male vocals start and it somehow it gets worse. Then Streisand starts, but by that point my ears are halfway down my throat – don’t put yourself yourself through it.

The Other Side Of The Mountain is one of those movies – true story, hallmark channel style, this time about a ski champion who is paralyzed. It’s a love story, but it was ludicrously successful. The song is weird – nicely sung, incredibly dated and with all these cheesy additions, and it’s very short – just when you think it’s going somewhere it ends. It’s okay, but given the music being released in 1975, it doesn’t need to be here. Whiffs…. ahh, Whiffs. Now That We’re In Love is sappy rubbish, only here because of the songwriting talent – it’s crap.

My Winner: I’m Easy

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My Nominations: I’m Easy. Love’s Dream. Camelot. O Brave Sir Robin. Time Warp. Mother And Son.

I’d love to pick something else from Nashville but almost every song has the cringworthy country guitar that I cannot abide. If I was to pick one, it would be Memphis, more for Karen Black’s performance. Love’s Dream (Lisztomania) is a showcase for how to do an interesting love song for a movie – it’s still sappy, but it has class and emotion thanks to Wakeman’s playing and Daltry’s vocals. For Holy Grail fans you can fight between my two picks here – I think the Camelot scene is funnier, but I prefer the O Brave Sir Robin song. Time Warp is Time Warp – I’m not a huge fan, but it’s everywhere and one of the most famous movie songs (even though the musical was earlier). Many of the new songs made for the Tommy soundtrack are expanded versions of the album tracks or feature twists on melodies and lyrics – Mother And Son starts out this way but ends up being its own entity. Again, not my favourite album but I had to pick something from it.

My Winner: O Brave Sir Robin

Let us know your winner in the comments!

Aftermath

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The big man is back, this time he’s gunning for revenge against the bad guy who murdered his family…. except it’s not the 80s anymore and this isn’t an action movie. Aftermath takes the true life story of a mid air collision between two airplanes, and one man’s quest for justice in the (insert title). Those looking for scenes of Arnie gunning down hordes of terrorists and quipping one-liners will be disappointed, but for more dedicated Arnie fans like me who are just happy that he’s still working, this is a unique oddity in his filmography.

Since stepping down as The Governator, Arnie has been expanded his dramatic chops more. He still throws down in old school Action flicks such as Sabotage and The Last Stand, he has made smaller films in quieter dramas such as Maggie or notable cameos like in Killing Gunther. Aftermath sees him star as an unassuming builder looking forward to the arrival of his wife and pregnant daughter, only to receive the news that they have tied in an air traffic accident. The film isn’t only his story, his is paralleled (just like the intersecting paths of the airplanes, get it?) by the air traffic controller who is ostensibly blamed for the incident. The film follows both characters, one racked with guilt, the other fueled by a need to hear someone apologize for what has happened, both suffering from different losses in different ways.

The film is well acted though strangely uneventful. There is a quietness to the emotional content which never wallows in grief or in breakdown, instead showing the simple void of shock and misunderstanding which surrounds loss. It is almost played like a TV drama – in terms of music, direction, writing, there is nothing out of the ordinary beyond the big name cast. It seems like a strange choice for Schwarzenegger as this was never going to be a money maker or raise his profile in any way, so we can only assume it was the story and character he was interested in. Just one side note – while the film ended essentially how you expect it to once its big shock is out of the way (I didn’t think the film would take the turn that it did), it did leave me wishing that one side character got his comeuppance. It’s immature and fruitless, but when dickish characters get away with their dickish behaviour in movies or TV, it pisses me off because I know that’s what tends to happen in real life. We like seeing these scumbags getting tossed off buildings or arrested etc because its escapism. There is a textbook smarmy lawyer in the film (played by good old Terry from Dawn Of The Dead) who refuses to look at a photograph of Arnie’s family, instead smirking with his Gordon Gecko hair and sitting smug in the knowledge that Arnie will never succeed in court. It would have been nice to see Arnie ram his fist into this guy’s stomach and break his Goddamn spine, but alas. The main issue with this is, there’s no way this character is a real person – for such a sensitive event, no firm in the world is going to send such a repugnant asshole – every firm in the world would be bending over backwards to make you feel good and freaking the hell out that they could lose.

Let us know in the comments what you think of Aftermath!

2019 In Film – A Preview – October

Note -written in January 2019 and I wasn’t arsed updating it since.

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Gemini Man

Will Smith aims to return to the big time with what seems to be a big budget sci-fi actioner. From the plot synopsis there could be some cool age techniques and effects going on, and the cast also features Clive Owen, Benedict Wong, and Mary Elizabeth Winstead – all good. To top it off, Ang Lee directs so we know there will be a certain flair and class.

Joker

I wish they would just stick with one actor for all these films with The Joker. I know they’re going for their own style, but personally this would work best if it had been the same actor all the way through. I don’t know anything about this beyond Joaquin Phoenix is playing the loon this time.

The Woman In The Window

It’s based on a book which I don’t know anything about, but the film blurb makes it sound like Rear Window and The Girl On The Train. Joe Wright is on familiar ground then, adapting yet another successful novel. In truth, I haven’t cared for anything Wright has made, but it’s Amy Adams and Gary Oldman and the idea seems interesting enough, but with Wright’s track record it’ll go for class over sleaze. I like sleaze.

The Addams Family

They’re going animation this time around, fair enough. When is someone going to make The Munsters?

Zombieland Too

I held off on seeing Zombieland until long after people had stopped talking about it. Being a big zombie fan, I always knew I would see it so I’m not sure why I didn’t for so long. The sequel seems like a miracle, given how so much time has passed and how the star rating of most of the cast has risen, yet they’re getting the band together again. Should be fun.

The Goldfinch

I haven’t read the book yet, but it’s been on my list since release. The film seems like a straight re-telling, but the cast is great – young and old – Finn Wolfhard, Ansel Elgort, Sarah Paulson, Nicole Kidman, Willa Fitzgerald. John Crowley follows up Brooklyn with this.

Are You Afraid Of The Dark?

Yay! I’ve no idea how they’re going to do this and what level of scares they’ll have. Both this and Goosebumps were for kids but AYAOTD always had more of an edge. It’s not going to be scary, but honest horror aimed at a younger audience is always good. I’ve no idea if they’ll take the campfire approach. My kids loved Goosebumps so I’ll rope them into this.

A Beautiful Day In The Neighborhood

Seems like Oscar bait – and already now I can see this winning a bunch due to the backlash at the Mr Rogers documentary not making it to this year’s Awards (baring in mind I’m updating this post at time of writing 20th February 2019). Let it just be clear – I don’t give a shit about Mr Rogers. It seems like he was this amazing person and did a load for kids through TV? Growing up in Northern Ireland I had no idea who he was – whatever shows he did never made it over here whatsoever – so I have no connection to the material whatsoever. Beyond this being a Tom Hanks vehicle, I’m not getting the impetus to see this.

What are your picks?

Dark Tide

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Well. Well, that was a piece of shit, wasn’t it? I’m not usually interested in criticizing a film when it’s bad or ripping it to shreds for comedy purposes, but when I’ve already stated that I watch a lot of bad, deliberately bad shark movies, and a lot of low budget, made for TV shark movies with the worst CG this side of me and Microsoft Paint, to say this is worse than those should be everything you need to know.

Halle Berry stars as Kate, a shark whisperer who likes to free dive with Great Whites. Fair enough. I don’t think she’s necessarily miscast and I usually like her, but she has no business being in this film beyond being as a vanity project for her and her husband and co-star Olivier Martinez. Note – I had no idea they were married or together or anything until my wife told me. Note – Olivier Martinez has never been good in anything. Ever. Some other people are in it – doesn’t matter. They are married in the movie and are making self-involved ‘movies’ about swimming with sharks, which involves jumping into the ocean and tugging on their fins. I… I sense something might be about to go wrong. Yes, Quarrel is gobbled by a shark and we flash-forward 12 months to see that Kate is… continuing like nothing ever happened. She doesn’t make the movies anymore and she doesn’t see her husband, but she’s still out on the water, now giving tours which isn’t bringing in much money. Her husband appears on the scene again with an offer to take some billionaire out on a special tour so he can swim with the sharks like she used to. I… I sense something might be about to go wrong…

This movie cost $25 million. Here are some things which could have been done with $25 million instead of making this movie:

Donate to Shark Preservation charities

Donate to me

Go to Space with you and all your friends

Buy your own island (and shoot your own shitty movies there)

Hire a hundred teachers

Buy 25 MRI machines

But 10 CAT machines

Give a hell of a lot of starving people a hell of a lot of food and water

Give a hell of a lot of homeless people a hell of a lot of shelter

I don’t know… a bunch of monkeys to play with.

Yet they decided to go ahead and make Dark Tide. I honestly have no idea why or how this was released in its current state. Filmed in 2010 it flapped around until a limited release in 2012 – clearly no-one (rightly) had any clue what to do with it and decided just to chuck it out there and maybe get a few bucks back on their investment. It is a completely incoherent mess. Halle Berry’s character, we assume is supposed to be traumatized by the death of her friend, yet spends the whole movie smiling and joking like she’s parading down a red carpet. She has spent a year away from swimming with sharks, but dives on in with zero hesitation or post traumatic stress. The wife of the guy who was killed at the start – far from blaming the sheer stupidity of her husband and Berry’s character, she just shrugs it off like ‘meh, he lived his life like he wanted – being eaten’. Berry is meant to be estranged from her husband, has removed his number from her phone, and hasn’t seen him in a year, yet spends the entire film flirting with and fondling him like they’re horny teens on their first date; even though he’s a complete dick the entire time. Later she finally comes to her senses and decides that no, they’re not going to take their clearly falling to pieces ship into the most shark invested part of the world and let some asshole swim outside a cage with sharks, only for the husband to slap her around about, to which SHE apologizes for, and then goes ahead and takes them to dive with the sharks.

Oh, we’re not finished folks. There’s a scene – a completely irrelevant scene early in the movie which… I have not idea why it exists. It sets up a bunch of shady characters who seem to be going poaching? They’re in a dodgy van, they go to a stretch of water, then go diving for oysters, or abalone, or doubloons or something. Right, so these are bad guys and they’re going to show up later and attack Berry’s boat or Berry will have to save them from being eaten. Nope, we see them swim around the water for a minute and then… nothing? They are never seen again, there is no mention of them again, they aren’t attacked? No idea. The dead guy’s wife is apparently psychic, calling the coastguard to tell them that she ‘knows something has gone wrong’ on Berry’s boat and to get a search party out there. It’s okay, she isn’t seen again either. There’s a 10 minute stretch where Berry takes a random family out on a trip – so these guys are going to get attacked and eaten? Nope, she just takes them out, comes back, and then takes out the next group who do get attacked. It’s almost like they filmed the first family and decided they weren’t interesting enough to spend the rest of the film with, but we’ve filmed the scenes so we may as well keep them in the movie.

Oh yeah, the boat keeps breaking – in the character’s own words beyond repair – then is suddenly fixed and working in the next scene. This happens more than once. Every character without fail has zero motivation for anything that happens or anything they do, everybody apparently hates everyone else yet spend most of their time joking and giggling. Berry’s character can hold her breath… forever? She’s down in that water as day turns to night, comes up for a quick puff, and then heads down again for a few hours. There’s a storm coming and their boat is already broken but why the hell shouldn’t they keep going for an hour and a half into the storm and further from shore to get to the sharks. Hell, it’s not like they could go home and come back the next day. They go out to an area which has literally hundreds of seals swimming around after telling us that sharks can’t resists seals. Then they get on the boat and say there are no sharks around so they tie a carboard seal to the back of the boat, drive forward a few yards, and lo and behold a shark attacks the fake seal? Eh? Why would it go for thi, and not one of the other thousand or so real seals around it? But wait – actually, it was a real seal the shark attacked because they put the cardboard on back on the boat, intact. So the fake one is used to attract sharks in an area full of real seals and make them attack the real ones? But wait – the footage of the shark attacking the seal is actually a fairly famous real-life clip of a shark attack that they edited into the movie. Believe me, I’m only scratching the surface here? Not a single moment passes in this movie without something entirely implausible, nonsensical, ridiculous, or pointless happening, completely without explanation.

As I said, it’s not like me to go harping on about a film’s shortcomings as I know how much effort and collaboration, and work goes into making a film to the extent that it’s almost a miracle anything ever gets made. But seriously, how did this ever see the light of day? Director John Stockwell seems to have a fetish for bikini clad women or deep blue seas, having also unleashed Blue Crush, Into The Blue, and the as yet to be imagined Blue Smurfs Have A Blue Old Time Playing The Blues In Blue Blue Sea (Part Blue). The film has a couple of things going for it – good underwater photography in places, and the use of actual sharks. Why bother choosing this over something on the Discovery Channel then? For the chumps being chomped of course, but unfortunately we only get that once in the opening five minutes, and briefly in the final ten. Everything else in between is completely bewildering. Anyway, I’ve watched quite a few shark movies recently but this is the first I just had to write about and publish immediately (having watched it last night). More shark movie reviews to come, and as not great as those movies were, I’d easily recommend those over this.

Let us know in the comments what you thought of Dark Tide, especially if you’re one of those weirdos who actually enjoyed it.

Best Writing (Adapted) – 1975

Official Nominations: One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest. Barry Lyndon. The Man Who Would Be King. Profumo di donna. The Sunshine Boys.

One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest continued its clean sweep of the big boys with an official win here. While Kesey was originally going to work on the screenplay, he later pulled out and refused to ever see the film. The film does contain some minor and significant changes to the story, having less of an emphasis on Chief’s role, but it retains the spirit of the novel and is peppered with great one-liners and speeches. Similarly, Kubrick’s screenplay for Barry Lyndon makes a major narrative change in having an omniscient narrator, as well has having little obvious comedy which made for an initially cold experience and reception.

The Man Who Would Be King is a film and story of adventure and glory, and one of the few non-horror films that ends with a severed head in a box. Spoiler alert, I guess? There isn’t much difference from the original story aside from the usual cinematic concessions, but there are plenty of speeches peppered throughout, with the odd bit of sarcastic patriotism. The Italian original of Scent Of A Woman is another weird one – it’s ostensibly a comedy, a film about two injured soldiers returning home to kill themselves, one of whom is blind and therefore accompanied by a younger army aide. While the days tick down he decides to meet as many hot women as he can, getting the boy to spot for him but eventually deciding to, literally, smell them out himself. I never got on well with the remake, and this gives me similar feelings, though plus marks for the unusual story. Finally, The Sunshine Boys, is Neil Simon adapting his own play so if you know his work you know what you’re going to get. It has some great comic talent so no matter what the material is you know they’re going to make it crackle – luckily they have a writer at the top of his game to play off – again plus points for showing something generally unorthodox on screen – old guys bickering rather than teens – but I guess they still did things differently in the 70s.

My Winner: One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest

tom

My Nominations: One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest. Barry Lyndon. Jaws. Picnic At Hanging Rock. Tommy.

The two big names make my list, joining two big name snubs. Jaws has many quotable one-liners and pieces of dialogue which have long since entered the public conscience – my personal favourite always being the Indianapolis speech penned by Robert Shaw, Howard Sackler, and the great John Milius. In fact, the film as a whole features a number of writers and contributions even though Benchley and Carl Gottlieb get the main credits. Picnic At Hanging Rock is an ambiguous novel and the film takes that ambiguity to the next level by instilling a dreamlike tone to the narrative. Finally, Tommy sees Ken Russell (no stranger to stories concerning music and musicians) somehow concoct a somewhat straight film from The Who’s scattered rock opera, expanding loose threads and minor lyrics into a fully formed screenplay.

My Winner: One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest

Let us know your winner in the comments!