Cockneys Vs Zombies

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It seems there’s a zombie mashup for every occasion; all we need now is Zombies vs Zombies, and the world will implode in an undead mass. While it’s true that the majority of these efforts are terrible, every so often something good squeezes through. Cockneys Vs Zombies just about hits the mark thanks to its charm and swagger and a number of funny moments and a good cast. Although the whole geezer thing gets irritating after a few minutes, it somehow doesn’t get too badly in the way of this entertaining jaunt through the East End.

Firstly, I’m surprised at how little money the movie has made given the critical consensus and a fair amount of hype and advertising around release, at least in the UK. According to Wikipedia, the movie has only made just over 100 grand off a 2 Million budget. That in itself is enough to make me recommend the movie – it’s a hell of a lot better than movies which rake in tens or hundreds of millions – better made, more inventive, funnier etc. Audiences outside of the UK may struggle with some of the speech and dialogue, but if you’re willing to give it a try, and if you like zombie movies, there’s no reason why you won’t enjoy this.

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Harry Treadaway and Rasmus Hardiker star as Cockney brothers who want to help raise the money required to prevent their Grandfather’s Retirement home from being demolished. Not having any particular skills or education, they decide to rob a bank. When the robbery goes tits up the brothers (along with their cousin Katy and two friends) take a couple of people hostage. While all this has been going on, a construction group has accidentally discovered an abandoned 17th Century graveyard underground containing zombies – unleashing a growing wave of the undead across the East End. Soon the group of friends and hostages are surrounded by zombies and need to set aside their differences to reach their loved ones and try to fight their way out of London.

The film has some very funny moments – the zombie chasing the old man (Richard Briers’ last role) and much of the action in and around the Retirement home. Although Alan Ford’s hard old man shtick wears then very quickly, the appearance of Honor Blackman and Michelle Ryan, along with the rest of the cast prove that the ensemble can carry and cover most annoyances. The movie doesn’t deviate far from most movies of its kind – the outbreak, the siege, and the escape are all present, but the addition of the elderly characters and the setting, along with the fact that everyone involved is having fun mean that this is infectious and entertaining, if not as timeless as Shaun Of The Dead. Give it a go if you are a fan of that movie as it shows there is still life in this beaten horse.

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Let us know in the comments what you thought of Cockney’s Vs Zombies – is it one film too many in the genre, or one joke too few?

Sh*t I Used To Watch – The League Of Gentlemen

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The early to mid-nineties was a glorious time for British TV comedy, but by the time the decade was coming to a close many of those shows were at an end and several new comedians were making their presence known, welcome or otherwise. I can’t remember how or where I first heard about The League Of Gentlemen – whether it was advertised beforehand, but regardless I was there on the first day it was shown on BBC 2. And mah gawd how I laughed. For many years since, I proclaimed the pilot episode as the single greatest pilot episode of any comedy show I had ever seen. And it only got better. Running for three Seasons and having one special Christmas episode and one movie, The League Of Gentlemen was based off a radio show, features three men playing multiple roles, and is obviously one of the best shows to ever grace the small screen.

The League Of Gentlemen are Mark Gatiss (Game Of Thrones), Steve Pemberton (Benidorm), Reece Sheersmith (A Field In England), and Jeremy Dyson, forming when they were in Theatre school together. Fast forward a few years and their show made it to television – a low budget mixture of horror and comedy, movie and TV references, sketch show and sitcom, packed with memorable characters, quotes, and moments – many of which I’m still amazed were allowed past the censors. Each of the three series deals with the various inhabitants of a fictional grim Northern England town called Royston Vasey, with each series a loose continuation of what has gone before and dealing with the aftermath of such things. Series 1 follows an outsider called Benjamin who decides to visit his aunt and uncle in Royston Vasey, an event which both triggers and symbolizes the central theme of the series – staying local, and keeping outsiders out. Series 2 deals with the town being infected by a horrific disease, while Series 3 takes a different spin, dealing with a different group of characters in each episode within the same 24 hour period and how they all tie together to a car crash. Meanwhile, the Christmas episode is an anthology horror featuring three blood-curdling tales involving many of your favourite characters.

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It’s difficult to explain the show’s charm to others without giving too much away – if you are a fan of horror or very dark comedy, then you will absolutely love this. There is a massive cast of zany, bizarre, ugly, and yet lovable characters. Many of these are not too subtle variations on people the actors and writers met in real life and who you have likely encountered, while some are nightmarish creations which can only be a pastiche of horror villains and WTF dreams. We have the angry, violent, middle-aged Pauline – a restart officer for ‘dole scum’, we have the sinister Butcher Hilary Briss, we have Tubbs and Edward, the pig-nosed, murderous weirdos who run The Local Shop and enjoy hunting and killing anyone who strays into the village, Barbara the taxi driver in the middle of a sex change, vet Doctor Chinnery who accidentally kills and maims any animal he comes into contact with, Rev. Bernice the local atheist Vicar, Herr Lipp the German Pedophile, Papa Lazarou the Circus ringmaster who steals wives for his Circus, and many many many more. There are close to 100 characters and most of them are gold – even if they only appear in one scene, you can be sure they will have some hilarious one-liner or joke.

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The dialogue in the show is fantastic and quotable from the popular ‘Hello, Dave’ to the more obscure ‘We didn’t burn him!’, everyone gets something memorable to say. In the grand tradition of sketch shows, the characters live and die by their catchphrases and this show has so many it would be ludicrous to try to list them. When the show first aired in 1999, indeed when the first episode aired, I was already quoting the dialogue. There was only one other guy in school who I knew watched from the start and we were both entirely smitten. Others caught up quickly, but it has taken until recent years for the show to be recognised as a cult classic. Never a day passes without some ad for a t-shirt website displaying a shirt with a quote from the show on my Facebook. But it is much more than simple catchphrases. The narratives which weave through each episode are expertly handled, and the show is twisting and turning and surprising, packed with scares, tension, and laugh out loud moments – hell there is even some pathos in there. Again, for my predominantly US based readers I wouldn’t want to spoil anything, but if anything I’ve said so far has intrigued you, then find and watch the show now. I’ve no idea if the show made it over there or if it is known at all outside of the UK, but I think enough of the humour is universal that anyone could enjoy it. It’s hardly a surprise that the writers have gone on to work on, star in, and help create some of TV’s most popular shows – Dr Who, Sherlock, Game Of Thrones, Shaun Of The Dead, Benidorm, etc.

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Seasons 1 and 2, and the Christmas episode are some of my favourite television ever, and I was sorely disappointed by Season 3. In fact, I’ve only watched it once compared to the multiple viewings of the others. Season 3 lost much of the sketch based action and instead became a more detailed character piece, more often than not dealing with characters from the previous seasons that weren’t as interesting to me, changing the characters too much so that they felt like different people, and introducing several new people who I didn’t find funny or engaging. However, I think the initial shock put me off and I need to go back and watch again. It would be like watching a Season 5 episode of The Simpsons versus a Season 20 – one is funny and memorable and brilliant, while the other is just some show written by some guy. I’m probably being too harsh so I do intend to watch it again. Likewise, the movie wasn’t great – I saw it in the cinema as soon as it was released, and while there are laughs it simply didn’t translate well to the big screen. That has always been strange to me as a movie based on those characters seems like it could and should have been the easiest thing in the world to do, especially given the cast’s affinity for movies. I must go back and watch it too.

When I planned this post in my head, I was laughing about all the things I could write and talk about, but then I thought that I would rather leave it up to you to decide if you’d like to watch it, while I go and hunt down my DVDs (and VHS) of the series. For those of you who have seen it, feel free to share your favourite moments and quotes in the comments section – I have too many to count, from Pam Doove’s audition, to the ‘Bummers are deaf’ discussion, to the gassy dog, to anything with Papa Lazarou, and so on, and so on…

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My Favourite 60 (is) Buffy The Vampire Slayer Episodes – Part 5 (Season 5)

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In honour of the (now not so) recent 10 year anniversary of Buffy’s final episode airing (tears), I’m adding my Buffy-related list to the millions of others slaying the internet at the mo. By way of introduction, this is slightly more than just a list, as I’m giving a tiny blurb on each episode along with why it’s a favourite, and I’ll be giving a favourite moment and piece of dialogue too. Most of the 12 people who will read this list, will likely be here because they are already Buffy fans, but for the rest of you, here be spoilers, so if you haven’t watched the show yet (weirdo) go do that first, then come back. I’ll still be here.

Season 5

Sorry, it’s been a while since my lost Buffy post. Too many ideas, so little time and will. Aah, Season 5. Depending on who you ask this is either where it started to go wrong, or is the peak of the show. While I would never say the show ever went wrong, I do prefer the earlier seasons – the humour, the lightheartedness, the camaraderie etc. With Season 5, things begin to get serious, and dark. Not in a ‘my boyfriend turned evil and I may have to kill him’ way, but in a ‘my future is going nowhere, I have no hopes or dreams, all my friends are moving on without me, I have too many responsibilities that I don’t want, and everyone I love is dying’ kind of way. There’s an unnamed atmosphere too that niggles me, a mixture of colour, texture, and sound rather than plot and character. But on the plus side, we have some of the finest episodes of Television ever made in this Season, we have massive, unexpected twists, we have plenty of powerful emotional episodes, unforgettable moments, and the show still manages to be fresh, funny, exciting, and scary at various points. It’s difficult to argue against this being the most consistently well serialized Season, and it’s easy to see why so many say it is the best.

Buffy Vs Dracula

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Another enjoyable Season Pilot, Buffy Vs Dracula does exactly as the title suggests. Out on patrol in the early moments of the episode, Buffy is confronted by a tall, dark stranger who claims to be Dracula. The real Dracula. Starstruck fun and games ensue. There really isn’t a lot more to it, story wise – the ladies are enchanted by the Count, Xander does a Renfield, Giles almost does three sisters, and it appears that Dracula cannot be killed and so disappears for another day. What the episode does do is set out a lot of the big stuff that will be happening throughout the rest of the Season and the Series as a whole – Giles feels like he is no longer needed and confides in Willow, not Buffy, that he wishes to return to England. Willow is casually using magic more and more, needlessly. Riley doesn’t appear to be giving Buffy everything she needs and while she appears distant, seeking out her own truths, he is hurt and depressed – Spike stirs the pot making Riley feel more useless. There is a scene on a beach where each of the couples is present and happy – a thundercloud and storm hits, and they all run to get out of the rain – foreshadowing. In the end, Buffy manages to convince Giles to stay (before he could get a chance to announce his departure) by asking him to be her Watcher again, and for them to go deeper into the history of The Slayer to learn about the source of her power. And finally, in the final scene of the episode we get one giant WTF as a young teenage girl appears in Buffy’s bedroom. Oh, didn’t you know? Buffy now has a sister. Hiya, Dawn!

There is a lot packed into this episode, but much of this is only apparent upon re-watches. It’s nice to get some humour in there, usually in the form of Xander being Dracula’s willing slave. In a funny hint towards the lack of humour coming in the rest of the Season, Xander announces he will no longer be the butt-monkey of the group. The appearance of Dawn is probably the top or second most problematic point in the show’s history which continues to divide fans (the other one being Buffy and Angel or Buffy and Spike). I never really had a problem with Dawn – she may be whiny at times and more often than not make stupid decisions which get her into trouble, but Trachtenberg is a capable actress and she brings a believability to the character. It simply seems at times that the writers didn’t know what to do with her, or how to write her, but her inclusion is a positive and of course of vital importance. As overall Season openers go, it isn’t particularly strong but it does lay out its intentions very well, with both clear and subtle flags. I like it though, because it gives a few of the last glimpses of the good old days before….

Favourite Moment: Xander’s addition of ‘Bater’ to various words to try to hide the fact that he is working for Dracula – ‘the dark Master…. Bater’…’the unholy Prince….Bater’.

The Replacement

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It’s no surprise that my next episode is another standalone, predominantly humour based episode. While the previous episode told us all about Dawnie, from her perspective, this one is all about Xander – a character who was largely put to the background in the previous Season. Like in Season 4, Xander is struggling to find his place in the group, especially now that he no longer wants butt-monkey duties. He has a stable relationship, but his work prospects and general outlook on life are poor. He doesn’t allow himself to see his own strengths, something all the more depressing when surrounded by Slayers, Witches, Demons, Vampires, soldiers, and brainiacs. He’s just a normal bloke, with plenty of flaws, and no super powers. The episode attempts to show us, and Xander himself that he is capable, that he has many strengths that others in the group do not possess – human strengths, but he just needs a little shove to see them, and to believe in himself. That shove comes in the form of a demon call Toth, who blasts Xander accidentally after trying to hit Buffy – Xander is spit into two forms – apparently good Xander, and bad Xander.

It’s a familiar trope, the old two bodies gag, and the episode revels in the charm of Brendon’s performance. We follow ‘good Xander’ as he stumbles between misfortunes, watching as ‘bad Xander’ seems to hypnotize everyone he meets, getting a new job, apartment, and getting a little too close to Anya. It turns out though that both Xanders are the real Xander, just that two sides of his personality were divided among the two bodies. Seeing that all the supposedly incredible stuff the other Xander was doing was him along, the newly joined Xander seems to have overcome his issues. Of course we know that ‘Weak Xander’ will continue to cause problems in the future, allowing doubts to persuade him to take ill-advised paths. While all of this is funny and revealing, we get some other important plot threads – Riley confesses to Xander at the end of the episode that Buffy doesn’t love him (Riley), Spike has a weird obsession with Buffy to the point of him having a doll version of her, and Joyce gets a sore head. It’s those late in the episode gut punches which go a long way to why the Season doesn’t always get in my best books – everything is going so well, and boom – depression. Good for the show, not good for me. Another solid episode, if not outstanding.

Favourite Moment: Anya’s plans for having two Xanders, and her disappointment at not getting some… plans.

Family

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I like Tara. I just don’t love Tara as many do. I really wish I could, but for most of the series run she just seems like a less interesting version of Willow who rarely finds her own personality or voice. I don’t think that Amber Benson is the best actress, or at least shows me enough as Tara to convince me (excellent singer though). However, the episodes that do focus on her, or something major happening in her life are usually very strong, and that strength stems from the emotion. Family finally delivers some much needed backstory for Tara, while cementing that core Buffy idea that family does not necessarily mean a blood connection, it’s who you choose. This of course is highly ironic given the importance of blood connections in this Season. Did the writers know this? Were the purposefully including Tara but preparing for her exclusion? Probably not.

The episode centres on Tara’s family coming to visit, and her being nervous about it all. We learn that Tara has essentially been a slave her entire life, and that her family doesn’t think much of women, especially not strong, clever, homosexual women. Tara has been lead to believe that she is a demon by her family (as a means of control) and they have come to Sunnydale to order her to return home with them. It’s not clear why such a controlling family ever allowed her to leave in the first place, but hey ho. Tara casts a spell so that her friends won’t see her demon side, but that happily coincides with Glory sending a pack of Demons to wipe out Buffy and her friends. We get an exciting finale as the gang blindly fights of invisible monsters. Just when it looks like the gang is about to blame Tara for all this, and send her back with her family, they instead embrace her, and form a wall of protection stating that she is part of the Scooby family. Tara realizes she is loved, finds out she’s all human, and we all cry. Amy Adams disapproves. The ending is fantastic, and a genuine, heartwarming tearjerker.

That’s not all that’s going on of course – the episode directly discusses my feelings about Tara  – the group all say they like her, it’s just that they don’t know enough about her. Presumably from this point on it’s known that Tara and the others become close, but with the exception of Dawn and Tara, it doesn’t really happen. We learn a little more about Glory, the gang tries to research her but come up blank, and Buffy decides to move back home from Uni to be closer to Dawn and Joyce and protect them. She tells Giles the truth about Dawn, and how it is important that no-one else finds out. Spike continues to hang around and in his spare time he fantasizes about Buffy (or while shagging Harmony). Riley continues his spiral of depression by drinking alone at bars, and gets hit on by a sexy vampire. Lots of stuff then, and most of it can be tied in to the episode’s central theme. It is nice to finally get this information on Tara, and it is nice to have her fully accepted into the group, and the final scenes are classic Buffy stuff.

Favourite Moment: Everything in that final Magic Shop scene, from Anya asking what kind of Demon Tara is, to Spike punching Tara, to Buffy’s final word on the matter – ‘we’re family’.

Fool For Love

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Keeping with the idea of Buffy seeking to learn more about her Slayer history and lineage, Fool For Love delves deep into the dark history of a number of Slayers but via the memories of Spike. Buffy is on a routine patrol and fights a routine vampire, but almost dies when the vampire uses her own stake against her. The fact that Buffy goes to Spike for this information is an interesting one and feeds into their slooowly growing relationship and the decay of Riley/Buffy. Giles is sure to have plenty of information on Slayers going back for centuries, and although she does discuss this with Giles first, it seems the Watcher’s literature comes up short. Spike is the only person she knows who has fought several Slayers and killed two. In seeing the flashbacks through Spike’s eyes, we learn a lot more of his character over five different periods – before he was a vampire as a romantic failed poet, his fledgling days terrorizing Europe with Angel, Drusilla, and Darla, in China where he kills his first Slayer, New York a century later where he kills his second, and a few months prior to the central timeline where he is dumped by Drusilla. The ‘fool for love’ in question appears to be Spike, as the interesting construction of the episode shows a rollercoaster series of events for Spike which take him full circle, and finally branches off in a potentially new direction – he starts out as a loser, becomes a feared vampire but eventually his somehow retained human feelings and characteristics show him to be the loser he always was, with both Cecily and Buffy uttering the same hurtful line to him. It’s in the dying moments of the episode where we see the truly new Spike for the first time, as he consoles Buffy even though he has no idea what is wrong with her, even though moments before he was planning to kill her.

It’s the script and the construction of Fool For Love which make it so strong – not only does it tie in well with the Angel episode Darla, but it revels in the dance between Spike and Buffy, between vampire and Slayer. Spike reveals that all Slayers have a dark side – a death wish, that having the burden of the world on their shoulders means that when the end comes they are glad for it; A Slayer may fight and win for years, but one single moment of doubt, of wanting it to be over is all an opportunistic vampire needs to kill her. Spike also draws attention to the fact that Buffy is admittedly different as she is not a lone wolf, but uses her family and friends as her strength. This all ties in with the dual forces tugging for control in Season 5 – with family being the source of strength for every character, but with the echoing sentiment that ‘Death Is Your Gift’ becoming increasingly important (if ambiguous). The death wish argument continues to be important all through Season 6 for Buffy, and even for Spike in Season 7. Also notable is the fact that there are not many laughs in the episode, the beginning of Season 5’s descent into much gloomier, depressing territory.

Favourite Moment: All of the flashback scenes standout, but just for a change I’ll pick a fight scene – Spike’s fight with the Chinese Slayer.

Listening To Fear

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I’d rank Listening To Fear as one of the most frightening Buffy episodes. Not only because the Queller demon is icky and skittering and yuck, but because of the reality of what is happening to Joyce and the way in which it is handled. We are watching a character we (mostly) love disintegrate as the tumour in her head causes her to lose her grip on reality. We are helpless in many ways, most notably that this is a medical condition that can’t be cured by magic or a stake, and because the demon in the house, in Joyce’s room is sitting there looking at her but no-one would realise she is talking about it because she has been ranting like a loon for the whole episode anyway. It’s also maybe the only time in the entire show that we deal with an alien, as the Queller is extra-terrestrial.

The demon doesn’t actually need to come from outer space, it seems like an excuse to throw in a few one-liners. The whole thing about the demon being summoned to rid the world of ‘crazy’ people is a little silly too but it does lead to the revelation that Ben knows Glory and is somehow connected to her. More important though is that while Joyce was off getting magical crazy person gifts, she saw what all of the other insane people saw – that Dawn is not real. She talks to Buffy about this, but in a touching scene says that it doesn’t matter if she’s not real, she is still her daughter, and she is still Buffy’s sister. She asks Buffy to take care of Dawn if anything should happen to her, before being wheeled into the operating room. Elsewhere Spike is still creeping on Buffy and belittling Riley any chance he gets. Those moments when Joyce suddenly switches and lets rip with some vulgarity are genuinely shocking and the scenes with the Queller demon in her room will make you uncomfortable – again there is not much humour or light-hearted stuff on offer.

Favourite Moment: The entire bedroom scene with Joyce, filled with little heartbreaking and terrifying moments, from Buffy sobbing while she does the dishes, to Dawn beating it off her mother.

Triangle

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Finally, praise be to Jane Espenson, a comedy based episode! We’ve needed this after the slow burning agony of the last string of episodes and after the departure of Riley. There’s a lot going on here, with Spike crafting speeches to his creepy Buffy mannequin, Buffy trying to move on without Riley, Giles trying to get information from The Council about Glory, Anya and Willow fighting over Xander, and a giant Troll rampaging through Sunnydale in search of ale, wenches, and babies. A lot of pack in, but Espenson and Director Hibler handle it all well. We get snippets about Anya’s past life as it turns out her and Olaf used to be a thing, we acquire Olaf’s Hammer, we learn that Willow thinks rat Amy is watching her and scheming, and that she is using magic increasingly without remorse. In the climax we see that Xander can’t choose between letting Willow or Anya live, yet Anya chooses to sacrifice herself (before Buffy gets her heartbroken rage on). An episode with some laughs then, not one which advances the series arc in any meaningful way (until watching in retrospect), but a respite from the gloom. There are some laughs, a few hilarious moments and plenty of good one-liners, but it doesn’t rank up with the funnier, earlier episodes.

Favourite Moment: Buffy bursting into tears over Xander and Anya’s ‘miraculous love’.

Checkpoint

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Checkpoint brings back, to the delight of no-one, The Watcher’s Council. As expected, the gang is nervous about this to varying degrees – Buffy is concerned that they will put her life in danger again with some silly set of tests, Giles is nervous that they will be looking down at him as a former employee and traitor, everyone feels they need to be on their best behaviour, Anya creates an elaborate back story so everyone thinks she is an apple pie eating patriotic non-demon, while Spike flirts. There’s a lot of fun in the episode with all of the lies and exaggerating and stress, but the episode does a lot to push forward the main arc about Glory and Dawn, as well as strengthening a few of our characters. It contains a few standout moments and shocks, and another wince-inducing, punch the TV moment.

The episode begins with a look at both the Scoobies and Glory’s freak outs – Scoobies for the aforementioned reasons, and Glory because she is growing weaker and more distressed at not being able to find The Key. The Watchers Council arrives and forces Buffy, surprise surprise, through a series of tests and interviews – if she doesn’t comply not only will they withhold information from her regarding Glory, but they will deport Giles. PUNCH TV. Ooh ho no, that isn’t the punch TV moment I referenced above, that comes courtesy of some random dickhead lecturer in one of Buffy’s classes. The whole University thing has been sadly neglected this Season, and this acts as the nail in the coffin – it’s nowhere near as bad as when the dickhead lecturer shouts at Buffy in The Freshman, but its enough to make Buffy feel like education is worthless. Buffy suggests an alternate way of thinking (what University should be about) but the lecturer ridicules her in front of everyone in a prime example of  what is known as tiny cock syndrome. The scene does of course serve a purpose, leading to Buffy’s decision in the final scene of the episode which ironically is one of the biggest and best fist-pumping moments in the whole show – yay! Basically, Buffy feels like she is losing control and others are either making decisions for her, taking away choice completely, or not allowing her to think and act for herself – she’s  Buffy, I think she’s earned a little credit.

On the Glory side, Ben foolishly lets slip that The Key is a person to one of Glory’s minions. Although he beats Jinx to a pulp, he stupidly doesn’t kill him, and Jinx revelas the truth to Glory – uh oh. Glory heads straight to Buffy’s house, where Dawn and Joyce are all alone. This scene is pretty scary as we are used to the anti-vampire stuff surrounding houses, but Glory heads on in with no issues. Luckily this leads to some fun between Spike and Joyce – some nice characterization which again makes Spike lovers go all luvvy duvvy. After this, the almost worthless Knights Of The Byzantium attack Buffy – this group opposes Glory and decides that the only way to stop her is to destroy The Key. Sigh, if only they worked with Buffy. I’ve never liked these Knights, finding them out of place, underwritten, and uninteresting, even though the idea of an ancient order of Knights trying to protect the world is interesting in itself. It just doesn’t pay off and takes time away from the more interesting Glory and what is happening with The Scoobies in the rest of the Season. Buffy has had enough, vocally rips the Watcher’s Council apart, and takes complete control of her own destiny – what a fantastic way to end the episode. Unnntil Travers tells us that Glory isn’t a demon…. she’s a God. Oh.

The whole Glory is a God thing is a fine gut punch to close the episode, but in retrospect it doesn’t really mean anything. Sure, it sounds like Glory can’t be killed but we know she is just another bad guy that Buffy will have to defeat somehow – in the end she isn’t really any different from a vampire, demon, or cyborg and this kind of takes the impact out of the God line on re-watches. It’s a memorable episode for the various reveals and plot pushing, and it thankfully does still have some humourous moments – it’s these reveals which distinguish the episode from others in the Season which I find to be very similar and more of a single large episode cut into different parts rather than actual separate stories.

Favourite Moment: Buffy’s entire final speech is glorious, from her delivery and performance, to the reactions and additions and reactions, all capped by the flawless ‘I’m fairly certain I said no interruptions’. Now Buffy is the Professor!

The Body

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Oh, Sweet Jeebus no. I feel entirely inadequate talking about this episode when so many smarter and more informed and more impacted people have written much better commentaries and reviews of this episode. For anyone who hasn’t read any of those, I’ll simply go as far as saying that this is unquestionably one of the best episodes of TV ever. That isn’t just the fanboy in me – anyone who watches this is moved, and perhaps even changed by the episode. Its depiction of death, grief, and loss, is so raw and unflinching and realistic that anyone who has been touched by death or even been close to it or thought about it will find this an incredibly difficult watch. I honestly can’t say anything bad about it aside from I wish I could watch it more – my favourite episodes by and large I can return to for a one-off watch, but nobody decides to just stick on The Body for an hour’s entertainment. There have been times I just haven’t been able to finish this episode, breaking down and turning it off. Whedon even manages plenty of black humour in the episode – two fake-outs (the ambulance and Dawn crying at school), Xander’s wall punch, the broken rib, as well as some touching stuff with Willow and Tara. How this episode didn’t win every award in the world is beyond me – Gellar, Trachtenberg, Hannigan, Caulfield all give extraordinary performances and Whedon’s direction and writing has never been better. Scratch that – nobody’s direction and writing has been better, anywhere, at any time. There are sooo many good moments in this episode, and so much to talk about, but talking would simply cheapen how I feel about it, and how it is. If you haven’t seen this episode, you owe it to yourself, hell you owe it to the show to go back and watch from Episode 1, all the way up to this point and experience The Body for yourself.

Favourite Moment: Anya’s speech.

Forever

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I’ve always felt that, after The Body, the remainder of Season Five drags along slowly as if it has admitted to itself that the quality will be inevitably downhill after such a high point. The episodes are less episodic and blend into one whole, which is fine when you have a show as good as this, but it feels too dreary and lifeless. Of course, all of that (or at least a large part of it) is intentional – we are in mourning, and even though we are in mortal danger there is a gaping void and an apathy to current events. However, Forever doesn’t truly fall into this category as it feels more like The Body 1.5. We deal with the events immediately following The Body, namely Joyce’s funeral and its preparations, and how the Scoobies are each coping with the realization that she is gone. We move beautifully between the characters coping individually and within groups – Buffy and Angel, Dawn and Willow and Tara, Xander and Anya, with touching cameos by Giles and Spike. Almost every one of these scenes is fine-tuned to twist our hearts that little bit tighter, whether it be Giles listening alone to a song he once played for Joyce, or Spike bringing flowers as a sign of respect for a woman who was good to Spike even though she had no reason to be.We briefly visit Ben and Jinx to remind ourselves that she is still plotting, and witness Ben letting slip that The Key is a human. Oopsee!

The rest of the episode is key (sorry) for quickening and preparing for what happens to Willow in Season 6 as she subtly encourages Dawn to investigate a resurrection spell – a serious piece of dark magic. It is clear here that Willow ‘s coping mechanism for her own grief or to help ease the grief of others, is to resort to the quick fix, the magic, and the things which go against the natural order. This leads to three important encounters; Dawn and Spike – where Spike offers to help Dawn, Spike, Dawn, and The Doc – an excruciatingly creepy scene featuring the excellent Joel Grey, and finally a rather generic action scene where Spike and Dawn try to steal an egg from some demon. This all culminates in a terrific scene with wonderful performances by Trachtenberg and Gellar as they argue over the spell, with Dawn accusing Buffy of being heartless while Buffy admits to trying to avoid the fact that Joyce is gone because it’s only real if she thinks about it. As all this is happening, we see the shadow of a woman pass by the window and head towards the front door….

While the episode can’t compete with the sheer exhausting exercise that is The Body, it is nevertheless another powerful episode which will have you quivering with fear and sadness at various points. At turns devastating and horrifying, the ending is yet another gut punch which we still carry the bruises of.

Favourite Moment: Buffy and Dawn falling to the floor together upon opening the front door.

The Gift

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Here we have it – the end. I mentioned before how I would have been happy had Buffy ended at Season 3 – it was a perfect way to end the show, with the group saving the world once more and looking towards bright futures. I feel the same way about The Gift in that it is a perfect ending to the show, and had it not been picked up by another network and continued for another two years, I would have been happy. It’s everything that a finale should be, and it is again one of the greatest hours of television you’ll ever experience. All those cryptic references from previous episodes and Seasons finally make sense, and Buffy does what every Slayer is born to do – give her life for the world.

We have seen in previous episodes Buffy’s world being stripped away – her friends trying to settle down, her boyfriend leaving, her mother dying, and finally her sister being kidnapped by an all powerful Goddess which she was entirely helpless to prevent. How can she protect the world if she can’t even protect her sister? But as the episode opens, there is a new sense of energy and purpose – we get quick blasts of every single episode before Buffy coolly dispatches a simple vampire in an alley while a bemused boy answers ‘you’re just a girl’. That’s the entire show in a nutshell, and although it grew into so much more it’s nice to see us stripped right back to the basics. Everything about this episode has that sense of closure and finality – from the references to the past, to the pacing, to the old fashioned Scooby plotting, all the way to the end – if we’re going out with a bang, lets make it one that will echo through the ages.

The gang are thinking desperately of ways to stop Glory – if she sacrifices Dawn then The Key’s power will unlock the doors between dimensions and basically rip apart reality, bringing hell on earth – few if any would survive. Killing Dawn is one solution, but Buffy will not consider it even if it means everyone else dies. Killing Ben is another, though nobody thinks Ben will be around. Willow suggests that no-one needs to die as (silly rules of rituals) Glory only has a few moments to perform her ritual so they just need to distract her and stop her long enough for that window of time to pass. Cue Dagon Spheres, Troll Hammers, magic, wrecking balls, Buffy Bots, and every other weapon they can muster. Elsewhere, Glory and Ben prepare Dawn for the ritual wile Dawn berates Ben for being worse than Glory as he is willingly going along with her murder. Buffy confides in Giles that she cannot be The Slayer anymore if these are the choices she is constantly being forced to make, saying she doesn’t understand who to live in a world like this. Willow plots to reverse Tara’s brain suck, Xander proposes to Anya, and the final battle begins.

I love everything about the final moments – there is such a wild mix of emotions that I wish there were some reaction videos of people watching the episode for the first time. Before that though, I think the setting is wonderful, the fight scenes and stunt work are exceptional, and we barely get a chance to catch our breath. There are so many fist-pumping scenes where you will be screaming ‘YESSSS!’ at the TV, coupled with quieter, more tender moments, cold and calculated surprises, and complete shocks where you all be screaming ‘NOOOO!’ at the TV. The final gut punch comes as it looks like The Scoobies have won – they have defeated Glory – but they are too late. Doc appears, cuts Dawn, throws Spike off the building, and makes sure that the ritual continues. While Buffy hilariously dispatches of Doc, we know that the portal is about to open and so Buffy has an epiphany, understands that Death is her gift, says goodbye to Dawn, and leaps to her death. When it all ends, we find Buffy’s body shattered, the Scoobies victorious, but broken and in mourning once more.

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A special episode in a special show, and there isn’t anything more any of us could ask for. The cast give some of their finest performances, you will cry until there is nothing left inside, and you’ll want everyone in the world to watch it too. Special kudos to Christophe Beck for coming back especially to write the music for this episode. Naturally it was written and directed by Whedon, instantly a seal of quality. There are so many discussion points in this episode that it will continue to be debated for decades to come – if only I had some real friends to talk about it to face to face, but when I was watching it live most of my friends had stopped watching it, and no-one I know now has seen it. Ah well, that’s what blogs are for. Next up we hit the critic’s favourite Season 6, the series where the show goes too far into the dark side and becomes almost unwatchable – not because of a drop in quality, but because it is unrelentingly grim as the fallout from this episode rip our favourite characters to tatters, and nothing is ever the same again.

What are your favourite episodes of Season Five? Which scenes, lines, and moments make you cry, scream, and laugh? Let us know you thoughts in the comments!

 Don’t forget my other Season recaps here: Season 1 Season 2 Season 3 Season 4

John Candy – October 31, 1950 – March 4, 1994

Like any child of the 80s or 90s, John Candy was a big part of growing up and someone who always managed to make me laugh and leave a mark on movies. He was one of those performers who manages to make us question if he actually is dead – it still seems strange to me that he has been gone for so long given that his work still seems so fresh and timeless. Starting out on TV and movies in the early 70s, it wasn’t until his work with Canada’s Second City TV group, featuring a host of future stars, that he gained recognition. From there he went on to star in a host of shows and movies that defined comedy in the 70s and 80s before his untimely death, as well as appearing in several dramatic roles. Whether it be part of an ensemble in Stripes, The Blues Brothers, Spaceballs, or a leading role in Uncle Buck, Planes, Trains, And Automobiles, or Armed And Dangerous, Candy always had a wink and a smile, and an immense talent.

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RIP

Feel free to leave your thoughts and memories of John Candy in the comments section below

Sh*t I Used To Watch/Sh*t I Watch

In this latest series of posts, I’m going to talk briefly about some of my favourite TV shows of yesteryear, and some which I’m watching at the moment. In ‘Sh*t I Used To Watch’ I’ll reminisce about some TV shows that I used to watch, from my childhood up until roughly the time I graduated from University – by and large these will be shows that I haven’t watched since that period, or have only caught a small numbers of episodes of. In ‘Sh*t I Watch’ I will talk briefly about the shows I’m watching at the moment, and will deal with both current series which have not yet been cancelled or completed, and those which I am catching up on having missed first time around. I’ll try to post one of these each week, but as regular Glancers will be aware, my regular posts are fairly irregular. Some of the shows in both categories which I’ll talk about will be ones you should all be familiar with, while others will be extremely niche and I can only imagine about three other people will have ever heard of.

It’s my assumption in these posts, perhaps more than all the other junk on this blog, that you will get a murky picture of the person I both am and once was, and that maybe in a wider lens you’ll get a higher level look at the White, Western, child of the 80s. I’ll let you make your own conclusions, but the most obvious may be that we are what we consume, and our lives are rarely more than a procession of vicarious experience. Drill deeper though and we find a less bleak vision, seeing a communal, shared, loving experience as the most important moments of our lives as a species are no longer things like ‘Which Side Won The War’ or ‘Who Got To The Moon First’ or even ‘Why Are We Here’, but rather ‘Will Rachel And Ross Get It Together’ ‘Who Killed JR/Laura Palmer’ and ‘ WTF is Laddergoat’. Actually, that is kind of bleak.

In today’s post, I will be looking at one of the seminal after-school comedies of my childhood, one backed by a legion of talent and which is still spoken of today in Holy terms.

Maid Marian And Her Merry Men ran for a glorious 5 years from 1989 to 1994, though in that time a meagre 26 episodes were produced. I think those episodes have been repeated several times over the years as I remember watching them during my mid teen years, and laughing my balls off all over again. But, what is the show about, some of you may be asking? The show is very British and features many, many in jokes and topical humour which you’ll likely only ‘get’ if you’re from England, Scotland, Wales, or Ireland. However, the humour is so sharp and wide-ranging that there is much to enjoy here for anyone with a sense of humour, from childhood to adulthood. Having watched some highlights recently on Youtube to see if it still holds up, the answer is a resounding YES.

The show a cross between Monty Python and Blackadder, but aimed at a younger audience, and set around the Robin Hood mythology. The central twist in the tale is that our hero, Robin Hood, is in fact a big sissy, getting by on an invented reputation and that it is actually Maid Marian who is the brains and brawn of the operation. We also have the band of Merry Men, each wonderfully written and with twists upon the character you know from legend – the show had such a power on me that it’s difficult for me to take the ‘real’ Robin Hood characters over the ones here. Each episode basically follows the misadventures of Ye Goodies as they try to mess up the plans of the wicked Sheriff Of Nottingham, King John, and his assorted Goons.

Episodes featured slapstick humour, offbeat, bizarre, and wacky plots, and lots of wonderful songs which will get stuck in your head for days. My favourite though was the satire and how the show would blend its historical setting to modern-day issues, with frequent meta references to movies and TV. I remember when I first watched Prince Of Theives I was laughing my head off that the actor of played Rabies appeared, and that later the show parodied both that movie, and his appearance. The show was always one that I talked about with friends of a similar mind in school the next day, particularly on the reruns, as you could tell instantly the caliber of a person by whether they appreciated the show or not (Spoiler – if you don’t like this, you’re a moron).

As I’ve been typing this, the wonderful theme music hasn’t left my brain – once heard never forgot. I admit I had a big crush on Marian when I was younger, as played by Kate Lonergan. According to various site, Lonergan has since left acting after featuring in a small number of other movies and TV shows, a pity as she was such a delight, but if she’s happy I’m happy. Other talents in the show included Tony Robinson (Blackadder, Time Team), Danny John-Jules (Red Dwarf, Blade II), Mike Edmonds (Return Of The Jedi, Dark Crystal) and a host of other familiar British actors. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – as a child of the 80s, we truly did grow up in a Golden Age of Kids TV – and not only from an animated perspective. Aside from all the kid oriented movies of the time, from The Goonies To The Karate Kid and beyond, we had shows like this to give us hope and entertainment and respite from the grim realities of school, homework, and just being young and frustrated, defenseless and voiceless. I think this will be a recurring thought over the rest of these posts.

If you’re interested, please seek out this wonderful series – available to purchase on DVD, and many clips available to browse on streaming sites. You’ll be a better person for it. If you have fond memories of the show, feel free to drop a comment below and if you’re particularly bitter you can even shake your fist at the sky and scream about how they don’t make kids shows like this any more!

Richard Pryor – December 1, 1940 – December 10, 2005

Arguably the greatest stand-up comedian of all time, and one of the first and most successful to transfer his talents onto the big screen, Pryor’s wit was often rooted in tragedy and his ability to instantly win over an audience with his charm. Multi-talented, multi-faceted, his award-winning performances touched on subjects such as race, politics, and sexuality, often with a self-deprecating and shockingly vulgar approach which audiences continue to be bowled over by. With an alarmingly difficult early life, Pryor had a brief stint in the Army before setting foot on the stage. Eventually writing and performing on TV shows such as Sanford And Son and Saturday Night Live, he found find greater mainstream success in a number of major hits including Brewster’s Millions, See No Evil, Hear No Evil, and Superman III. With the saddest eyes to ever look over an audience at a comedy show, and with endlessly energetic, manic performances, Pryor continues to make millions laugh uncontrollably.

RIP

Feel free to share your thoughts and memories of Pryor in the comments section below.

Hilarious Translations Of Song Lyrics – August 2014 Part 1

Please note – the following hilarious translations are not the same as the equally hilarious misheard lyrics, nor are they actual translations currently out there in Pop Land. All I have done is taken a famous song and slapped the lyrics into one of the famous (ly bad) Internet Translation tools – translated from English into Korean, then back into English, with hilarious results. I picked Korean because, based on previous experience, it seems to struggle in the funniest way with the English language, and vice versa. Each week, I’m going to select some of the most famous songs of all times, of recent times, and throw in a few obscure favourites too, all for your enjoyment! Lets start the laughter right now!

That’s All Right, Mama.

For our first song we go al the back to one of songs that started it all. Arthur Crudup’ s Blues Rocker was sexual, up-tempo, and featured some early guitar God fingering (good night, everybody!). Once Elvis got a hold of it, the rest of the world caught right on. Let’s take a look at the original lyrics.

Well, now that’s all right, mama. That’s all right for you. That’s all right mama, anyway you do.

But, that’s all right, that’s all right. That’s all right now mama, anyway you do

Well mama, mama she done told me, Papa told me too. They love you leavin’ son now. We’ll be there for you

That’s all right, that’s all right. That’s all right now mama, anyway you do. Yeah man

Baby one and one is two, Two and two is four, I love that woman but I’ve to let her go

But, that’s all right, that’s all right, That’s all right now mama, anyway you do

Babe now you don’t want me, why not tell me so? You won’t be bothered with me ‘Round you have no more

But, that’s all right, that’s all right, That’s all right now mama, anyway you do.

The Translation:

Well, now, all right, Mom, It’s all right for you. In other words, whatever you do, love, mom

However, that‘s all right, that‘s all right. That is, after all, you’re all mothers now

Then she told me to do the mom Mom. Dad told me.They leave a son now loves. We‘ll be there for you

That is, all right, that‘s all right. That is, after all, you’re all mothers now
Four people, The baby one two, one 2 is a two to four. I love her, but I let her

However, that‘s all right, that‘s all right. That is, after all, you’re all mothers now

Lady you do not want to tell me now, why? You do not bother me. You are no more abnormal round

However, that‘s all right, that‘s all right. That is, after all, you’re all mothers now.

The WTF:
We seem to have turned a fairly simply tale of love, rejection, heartache, and passive aggressive acceptance into a monstrous tale about Oedipal lust and mental breakdown, one which will surely end in a women-hating, serial killing rampage. The almost passive tone of the original becomes immediately cynical with the opening couple of lines, ending with the ominous ‘You’re all mothers now’. That is the sound of a man who has made the conscious decision to see the face of his mother on every women he sees. What it is Mom did is left unclear, and could it be that there are actually two ‘Moms’? The narrator switches between ‘Mom’ and mom at will, and finally the moniker ‘Lady’ appears – clearly the narrator recognises that his next victim is not his mother, or that the mother he thought he knew is now foreign to him. But what to make of the centrepiece? Most of the song is the same few rambling, confused thoughts, but in the middle we get the clusterfuck ‘Four people, The baby one two, one 2 is a two to four. I love her, but I let her’. Who are the four people – son, Mom, mom, Dad? Who, or whose, is the baby? This is the point in the narrative process that our hero loses the plot and starts thinking in random, nonsensical equations. Perhaps we get close to some sort of reasoning with ‘I love her, but I let her’, but he stops short of explaining exactly what it is he let her do. This is a secret the man will take to the grave. And he seems quite keen to take a few more mothers with him before he blows himself away at the end of an exciting, probably naked, car chase.

Too Much Of A Good Thing.

I was praying we would get something light-hearted after that gristly ending when I hit shuffle on my iPod, but I landed on another tale of lost love, courtesy of The Sons. If any of you out there recognise this song, it’s because you heard it while watching Dumb And Dumber. One thing to note is that this song has some interesting lyrics, and poetically selected words that you would assume would not translate well between English and Korean. Under such circumstances, hilarity is bound to ensue. Here we go:

The Original:

There’s a chill in the air comin’ off the river tonight, Sure am glad I chose my sweater,
Walk alone, I walk alone tonight,Yeah, I’ve felt better.
But I know, in my heart, One car in an alley is better than a vacant lot,
And you’ll see, on my face,Lines on a young man can find their place.

Baby, I have left so much behind, Until I passed the same place twice
Now I see just what ya done to me, Too much of a good thing.

Can you hold the line,another call’s comin’ in, Might be the one I just got over,
Back and forth and up again, For just a wrong number.
But to scream a good cry, Could leave me naked in some stranger’s eyes,
So I’ll whisper, a little cry, Hope this memory’ll soon pass by. Ooh.

Baby, I got feelin’s old and strong, I did not think they’ll last this long, Tell me why your light keeps turnin’ on,
I say too much of a good thing. Too much of a good thing.

A lonely voice finds little demand, it turns too shy and afraid to make a stand.

For one last time can’t you listen to me, Baby don’t let me go silently

You’re too much, you’re too much. You’re too much of a good thing, You’re too much of a good thing, too much
Much too, much too, much too, much too, much too, much too, much too much, You’re too much of a good thing.

The Translation:

The chill is in the air coming off the night today river, Of course, I’m glad I choose the sweater
Walk alone, I walk alone at night, Yeah, well, I thought.
But in my mind, you know, The car is better than a vacant lot in the alley,
And you can see my face You can find their place in line to a young man.

Baby, it remains very much I until it passes the same place twice
Now, do me just what ya see The good thing is too much.

You can hold the line, Import of other currencies‘, I just got one that can be,
Maximum back and forth Just wrong.
But a good cry scream You leave me naked in the eyes of the stranger
So, I whispered a little cry, Please memory’ll passing quickly. Right.

Baby, I‘m an old strong feeling I did not think they‘d be able to last for so long,
Turn in the light of why do you say, I say too much of a good thing.
The good thing is too much.

The WTF:

Well, where to begin? Once again, the song takes a cynical turn – the original being more of an anguished cry of depression, and once again the narrator experiences severe bouts of confusion, mumbling over his words like a scarecrow brought to life by the blackest of magic, and then being fed magic mushrooms. To his credit, he starts of stable enough, glad he chose a sweater for a late night walk, but a glimpse of his mind shows that all is not well – ‘The car is better than a vacant lot in the alley‘. What precisely does he mean? Is this a literal statement, that a car is better than nothing? Did he see something which sparked this? Or is he thinking that a car is better than a vacant lot to perform some fell action? Whatever it is, he appears to make a swift exit as someone sees his face and he runs off. ‘Do me just what ya see’ – is this something you say to a prostitute, or something you say as a final act of defiance to a torturer? After this we get some bizarre talk of currency, screaming, nudity in front of strangers, and the haunting ‘Maximum back and forth Just wrong‘. The torture theme comes round and round again as the protagonist seems to have achieved a higher state of being – removing his spirit from his body yet not understanding why, or how ‘they’d be able to last for so long’. Who ‘they’ are, it may be best to not know.

In conclusion, my first two songs walked a much darker path to hilarity than I expected, and any laughs to be found therein are likely the laughs of a madman as he rises from behind your sofa, blade in one hand, and decapitated doll’s head on the other. Sweet dreams.

Top 50 Moments Series – Dialogue – Part 3

It’s back! The series that opens the manhole cover of my mind to let my most fanatical followers get a glimpse of my truest loves, has returned. Please enjoy these exclusives!

Tary too long and you may become ill-scented carbonite
Tary too long and you may become ill-scented carbonite

21. Jaws. (1975, Spielberg): Everyone’s favourite film about sharks eating children, Jaws is undoubtedly timeless. Everyone has their favourite moment, and everyone has their favourite piece of dialogue. For such a momentous film, the dialogue is not something which gets a lot of respect, aside from the famous ‘We’re gonna need a bigger boat’. Much of the dialogue is delivered in such a way that it doesn’t sound scripted, which may be reason enough for why there aren’t many memorable one-liners. My personal favourite then will likely be a favourite of others, and due to its length, I won’t re-post it here; Quint’s Indianapolis speech is flawless – stunningly delivered, powerfully written, and the most chilling moment in the film, all the more so as it doesn’t really have a lot to do with the plot.

22. Assault on Precinct 13. (1976, Carpenter): It took quite some time for this film to get the recognition it deserves. Even after the recent John Carpenter resurgence, thanks to a raft of remakes (including one for this), Carpenter’s second film is still something of a cult gem. Brimming with pulp dialogue, the focus is most definitely on cool, on making a memorable impact with each word. Each character is almost defined entirely by their one-liners meaning that the almost mute father character fades into the background, but opposingly, the voiceless bad guys lack of speech makes them all the more menacing. The main group each have their moments, but the best bits go to one of the greatest anti-heroes of them all – Napoleon Wilson. Even his simple refrain ‘Got a smoke?’ becomes gold, but I’m especially partial to his ‘I was born out of time’ line. For such a tense film, Wells provides some brilliant comedy moment, particularly with his save-ass plan: ‘I got this plan. It’s called “Save Ass”. And the way it works is this – I slip outta one of these windows and I run like a bastard!’

Woops
Woops

23. Big Trouble in Little China. (1986, Carpenter): From one Carpenter classic to another, and from one anti-hero to another. Jack Burton is the 80s Napoleon Wilson, born out of time, always in the wrong place at the wrong time, always ready with a bullet and a quip. This movie has more quips than a stand-up comedian forced to make a deaf, dumb, and blind man laugh or be killed, whatever that means, and the dialogue comes thick, fast, and hammy. It also has a guy with the best/worst sunglasses ever (insert pic) but then again, it also has this (insert freak monster pic). While Wilson was born out of time, Burton was ‘born ready’ and has plenty of inspirational sayings like ‘it’s all in the reflexes’, whatever that means, but it’s when he is panicking that the real gold bubbles to the surface: ‘Tall guy, weird clothes. First you see him, then you don’t.

24. Jurassic Park. (1993, Spielberg): You would think a film about dinosaurs wouldn’t have all that much dialogue in it betwixt all the ROOARRGGHHs and SKKKEEEEEEEAAAAAAAAARRKs and chewing of flesh, but you’d be wrong. Jurassic Park contains several hundred words, and an all-round dialogue filled script, although clearly the focus was on the thunder lizards at release. This was one of the last old-school Spielberg romps and as such we can expect a particular eye for detail and script flourishes. Much of the dialogue does not feel rehearsed, seeming improvised instead, and most of the best moments fall on Jeff Goldblum’s leather clad shoulders. Actually, now that I think about it, this movie would have been so much better if the dinosaurs had had all the lines. Just imagine it from their perspective – Violently ripped from the eternal peace of extinction, a collection of dinosaurs must face off against a horde or white Americans, Santa Claus, and Samuel L Jackson. Classic moments include a husband and wife tag team of raptors attempting to snare a meal of snivelling kids to stave off starvation; a single, sexually tormented T-Rex must resort to eating from a toilet in order to survive; a spittysaurus tries to make friends with an obese man but instead tries to romance him in the back of a jeep. As for dialogue, I find myself shouting ‘Hold onto your butts’ at inappropriate, non-dinosaur related social events.

Poops
Poops

25. Leon.  (1994, Besson): Luc Besson is a French guy who looked at Hollywood and thought ‘Hmm, ze films are not bon anymore, ze need some le garlic, le baguette, and le Johavich’ and lo, Leon was born. Besson already had made a decent career back in gay Paris with a string of hits, including the excellent Subway (which tells of Christoper Lambert’s immortal quest to find the perfect sandwich) and the breakthrough smash Nikita. Leon is an almost perfect movie, with career best performances from all the main stars. Gary Oldman is a baddie, Jean Reno is a baddie too, but because he’s nice and cuddly we’ll forgive him for being a cold-blooeded killer, and Natalie Portman is a little girl whose hateful parents are blasted into oblivion. It’s a thinking man’s action movie, which is unfortunate as thinking men do not typically watch action movies. The film has rightly earned a following over the years, and will soon be remade as ‘Cody’ starring Bieber as the lovable rapist/killer Cody, Emma Whatersface as Natalie Portman, and Ben Kingsly as Baddie, the bad man who wants revenge on Bieber for being the little freak that he is. I’ll let young Miss Portman get the final say here, with a child’s apt view of revenge: ‘Forget? After I’ve seen the outline of my brother’s body on the floor, you expect me to forget? I wanna kill those sons of bitches, and blow their fucking heads off!’

26. Commando. (1985, Lester): Growing up in the 80s and 90s was a wonderful time for movie geeks and those who lurk in everyday water-cooler conversations, waiting for the perfect moment to inexplicably drop a one-liner from a movie no-one else involved in the conversation has seen. If you grew up in the 80s you are action an action movie fan, or a woman. And for action movie fans who love to mix up their mundane daily speech routines with some spicy zingers, you need look no further than any Arnie movie. Commando is probably the most genuine cult movie of his repertoire, as most of his other films from that era are no regarded as classics or worse than drunken sex in a toilet with what you assumed to be a superstar but turned out to be a mushed collection of soiled bog roll. Camp characters with names better than Biceps McTouchem and Napoleon Bonerhard, approximately 14 thousand on screens kills, (and a zinger for each), actors and actresses with either past or future soft-core porn careers, guns, knifes, bombs, and the single greatest ‘preparing for war’ moment in movie history, Commando could be a contender for best movie ever. Roll a few of these around your laughing gear – ‘I eat Green Beret’s for breakfast’, ‘He’s dead tired’, ‘I lied’, ‘Let off some steam, Bennett’, ‘Wrong!’, ‘I’m not going to shoot you between the eyes, I’m going to shoot you between the balls’, and my personal favourite – ‘Fuck you, asshole….Fuck YOU, asshole!’

Sullyoops
Sullyoops

27. Beauty And The Beast.  (1991, Trousdale, Wise): I was an ugly child. I am an ugly man. It is no wonder that this is one of my favourite movies ever, as it speaks to the beautiful, tortured romantic inside me, and the hairy, fanged creature on the outside. Actually, that’s not true, I was a cute kid, and I’m currently sexier than Liz Vicious wrestling with Ivana Fukalot in a giant tub of Hoi Sin sauce (which needs to be a scene in the next Bond movie. Or else). I was, and still am to an extent, a socially awkward buffoon who resorted to fantasy, movies, books, games, music, writing, anything that would shatter the reality of me being a hopeless-with-women bloke. Like all kids I liked a good Disney animation, but it wasn’t until I saw Beauty And The Beast that I truly appreciated the art, and uncovered the truth and cliché that sometimes the underdog can find love – you just need to kidnap a woman and/or her father to get it. Unfortunately, ladies, countless rewatches has turned me into a weirdo as I hold Belle up as the most perfect figure of womanhood who ever had life breathed into her, and you just can’t live up to her. Contemplate that before sending me a sexy Private Message. As for lovely dialogue, hows about the one that most frequently slips from my lips as I hide outside toilets – ‘Zut Alors! She has emerged!’

28. Don’t Tell Mom the Babysitter’s dead. (1991, Herek): If you know anything worth knowing (and the fact that you’re reading this tells me that, sadly, you don’t), you’ll know that 1991 messers Cobain,Grohl, and Novelisc made a wee album called Nevermind, which is named by man as single-handedly putting the 80s to bed, and gently placing a pillow over its face. Music was changed forever, almost overnight it now seems. Movies changed too, but at a more leisurely pace, and in 1991 we got one of the last great cheesy rock movies. The touch of Geffin is all over it, reeking of MTV, 80s cool, and a mix of heavy metal, cock, rock, and cheese. I loved this at the time, but it wasn’t until much later when I revisited it again, and realised what a great script it has, filled with unexpectedly strong humour, one-liners, and satirical twists on The American Dream. So, as much as I like to say ‘The dishes are DONE!’ after cleaning up, and shouting about the ‘buttcrack of dawn’ when I get up, and although Kenny gets the best lines, my favourite line, and joke, in the movie is ”No, I’ve never been to Santa Barbara’.

Yeeooops
Yeeooops

29. Night of the Living Dead. (1968, Romero): The original modern indie, made by a bunch of amateurs, friends, and family, and going on to being one of the most well-renowned horror movies ever made. The strength of the dialogue is in its realism – everyone is on guard, everyone is constantly in a panic, nobody trusts anyone, and the words coming out of mouths are exactly what I would expect people to say in such a dire situation. I love that it is so cold and, like this article, contains zero humour. Although there are few typical one-liners aside from the obvious ‘Hey Barbara, I’m gonna get ye!’ you would be hard pushed to find a stronger realistic script in the decade. We have to go to the Sheriff to get my favourite lines, classics such as ‘They’re dead, they’re all messed up’ and ‘Beat ’em or burn ’em, they go up pretty easy’.

30. Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. (1984, Spielberg): Until Spielberg and Lucas decide to resurrect Dr Jones in the ill-fated ‘Indiana Jones and the Magical Fridge’ (alternative title – Indiana Jones and the load of shite), Temple Of Doom was the least liked in the series. Naturally, this means it has always been my favourite. Sure Raiders has melting Nazis and Crusade has….I can’t remember, but Doom has Short-Round, cliffhanging fights, rope-bridge stand-offs, booby traps, Donkey Kong inspiring races, lava pits, blood drinking, heart-ripping – everything that every kids movie should have. As someone who loved those type of Haggard/Doyle/Verne/Burroughs movies which always featured sinking sand, giant spiders, and always ended with a volcano erupting, this was the epitome. It was a fantasy, but set in a realistic world. It was just real enough to make me think that some wacky priest could crawl out of my toilet and whisk me away to some underground slave trade, but thanks to short-round made me think that I could probably beat my way through thousands of baddies and get home safe. My most quoted line – especially when I run out of ANYTHING? ‘No more parachutes!’

Gloops
Gloops

Please share your pearls of wise-assdom in the comments!

Amazon Vine Freebies – Feb 2012

Well, it’s been a long time since I’ve done one of these posts. It hasn’t been an overly exciting year for me Vine-wise so far, with only 4 items in the first four months chosen. I was falling behind on my reviews, so I was partly responsible for not being able to select anything, but on the flip side there hasn’t been a lot I’ve really wanted. Anyway- only one pick for February:

http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B005VC5CIW

50/50: A film starring Joseph  Gordon Levitt and Seth Rogan. It’s a comedy about two friends helping each other on the road to recovery. I haven’t watched it yet, but I’m a fan of both actors so I have high hopes!

Shanghai Kiss

Shanghai Kiss

I am not a fan of romantic comedies. The genre as a whole as it stands at the moment offers no intelligence or excitement, and says absolutely nothing to me about my life. The main flaw with most, aside from being naturally predictable and bland, is that they are neither romantic or funny. With any genre of course there are exceptions- Amelie, Enchanted and to a lesser extent Heartbreakers are of recent note. Those films were exceptions though, because they offered something exceptional: Audrey Tautou flawlessly charming performance in Amelie; lots of Disney in-jokes in Enchanted; a darker side in Heartbreakers. Shanghai Kiss manages to stand above the mire too- the exceptions being Ken Leung and the fact that the film shifts between LA and China. For me, being a fan Chinese film this came as a plus- it gives a refreshing break from the usuall saccharine streets of the US. Ken Leung is an actor i could, and do watch for hours, thanks to Lost and Saw.

The film doesn’t stray too far outside the rom-com realms of normality- the characters are typical, and the plot and situation are not too surprising. Leung’s character is bored with life in LA, and when a tragic event calls him back to his homeland, he begins a typical journey of self discovery, questioning what and who he wants. His main love interests are- LA: the usual pretty, wholesome teenage blonde American stereotype, and Shanghai: the usual mysterious, exotic Asian type who brings his life into doubt. Although these are typical characters, the performances are strong enough not to make them bland or annoying. Some of the cinematography is stunning and offers something different for the genre, and although it is slow moving with few big laughs, and doesn’t at any point try to impress any laboured humour on you; the speed of the film if anything reflects Leung’s meandering life.

Overall, not too bad as romantic comedies go, with some good performances and ideas, but perhaps still to slow, soft, and light for the taste of some people.

As always, feel free to leave your thoughts on the movie- have you seen it?