Hamlet: Epic Fail

‘To be or not to be’- is that a question? Yes, it is. Is it a good question? No, it is not. In fact, it’s not even proper English. For someone who is supposedly the best writer ever, his English ain’t too good. He should really have said something like ‘Should I be doing this, or should I just top myself?’ or even better ‘if I’m not me, then who da hell am i!?’

Hamlet is a Shakespeare Comedy based on an earlier work by Chaser or someone. They tried to make us study this in school, but most of us couldn’t even read it! I don’t know why they don’t make us read comics, it would be easier, more exciting, more fulfilling, and would make more kids turn up to class. In fact, everyone knows that books and reading is pretty much obsolete these days so they should really just show classic movies or TV shows like The A-Team, CHiPs, and Superted. ‘What have we got next? Asked Neville when we were in school. ‘English I think’ I replied. ‘Balls to that, man, I’m away for a walk’. Yes, when English came around most of us most of the time mostly sat outside the room for most of the class, mostly because we were bored, but mostly because there was a radiator we could stand against. It was cold in school; so cold. Thinking about it now gives me the shivery chills. Brrrr. I think I’ll put some gloves on.

This film as far as I know follows the novel word for word, scene for scene. This is to be expected, given that Shakespears’s Grandson Kenneth Brana stars and directs. There was controversy here as Brana claimed sole writing credits, meaning that Shakespeare never saw a penny, or a shilling as the case may be. Given the length of the book (over 2 thousand pages) the film is actually 7 hours long – a nice bit of irony by Brana as this is about 6 hours longer than any person should be expected to sit in any one place. The story is hardly an original one; a man wants revenge for the murder of his father by his mother’s lover. Simple. Why it takes so long to tell this story I don’t know. Rather than showing the murder, showing Hamlet (what sort of a name is that anyway!?) finding out, and then chasing Alan Rickman and killing him would have been much easier and/or pleasing to the eye. Instead he fills it up with pointless characters like Roseypants and Glidingbum, wastes time with ‘solitudies’ (scenes where a character talks to himself for 10 minutes) and confusing sexy times with his crazy sister Kate Beckinsale. I admit that some of the clothes look nice, but if I wanted to look at fancy costumes I would go to Coventry. There is a scene with a ghost and it was a little spooky, but I would hardly call it scary- another wasted opportunity. There is a sword fight, but there are better sword fights in Once Upon A Time In China, The Matrix, and any number of Hong Kung movies. Brana clearly doesn’t know how to ‘stage’ an ‘action’ ‘scene’. All he can do is talk, and talk… wear black, then talk some more. This is 10 hours of my life I will never get back. GIVE ME BACK MY MONEY BANA! If not, I’m coming to Shrewsbury and I’m gonna steal Shakespeer’s pantaloons!

Best Scene: When I fell asleep and dreamt that I was driving a tank through a field of zombies. Crrrrunnch! I rescued Melinda Culea from them (and later from her clothes) and we went on together to find Jan Michael Vincent who was busy serenading pigeons with his impressive Tromboner.

Brana prepares for the famous speech
Brana prepares for the famous speech

Big Wednesday: A Poignant Tale, and all too familiar

This movie is it all; everything; it has something for everyone, including a tanned and toned Young Michael Vincent. There is action, a romance, funny moments, some action, good script and stunning surfing footage, as well as plenty of action, but not too much. Yes, Big Wednesday is a classic ‘coming out age’ story set in Vietnam era America involving a group of school friends who love to surf. As is typical of these types of films we get a group of friends on the verge of growing up, setting off on their own path, possibly parting ways, and having one last kick ass summer. It reminds me of my own last kick ass summer with my friends. There was me, Neville, Bobert, Shawsy, Wee Scott, Bunter, Fitz, Simon, Murph, Stoat, Biggles, Rodger, as well as a few girls like Jem, Lee, Gree, Corky and of course my little brother Andy tried to tag along. That fool Brendan and his scumbag mates tried to spoil it on us, wherever we went, he was there too, looking at us with his eyes. Sure enough the exams were done, we knew that we would all be getting jobs or going off to university, or being mauled by bears, or moving away. None of us were going to fight in Vietnam (though Neville claimed he had already been and would have frequent flashbacks), and none of us were into surfing, but you can see the comparison.

Jan Michael and Co- they just wanted to ride one last big wave, but the real wave (the Tsunami of life) was washing towards them at an unstoppable rate, unavoidable and inevitable. Crazy Gary Busey also stars in this Milius film (Milius would go onto wide spread acclaim and fame with Knightriders, having already made a name writing The Godfather), and Vincent would go off to become TV’s biggest star in Airwoof. The army comes to town to draft any young, fit men into the army- any injured or crazy types had to stay at home (this is based on actual events) so Busey stayed and got a job stealing motorcycles, all the smart guys could go to college or become a military strategist. The remainder of the gang, including Vincent go off to War and experience some terrifying events- being locked in cages filled with water and rats, but no surfboards, and being forced to play Vietnam Roulette with each other. The game is thus: 5 cups are presented, each filled with same coloured liquid. The treat is that one of the liquids is actually so disease filled that as soon as it is swallowed the drinker begins to convulse, blood pours from every orifice and they eventually melt. Later they escape and before they go home they ask one request of one of their friends (a young Freddy Kruegger) who has now become their commanding officer- will you surf before we go home. He has however succumbed to the madness of war, wishes to stay, and heart breakingly replies ‘Charlie Don’t Surf!’ This proved to be one of the pivotal moments in 70s cinema, and indeed in American History, signifying loss of innocence, tainting The American Dream, and squirting out the final puff from the spliff of the Hippy Movement and Freedom.

I was fortunate enough to go off to University and subsequently get a 6 figure salary, some of my friends came along too, more went further afield, or stayed at home and began to fade away, losing the beautiful fire of youth that once burned ever so brightly. I sometimes wander through my home town now, and occasionally see one of the old gang across the street. I wave to them, but time and circumstance has been unkind to us, fate conspiring to gouge an impenetrable void between us. They don’t wave; they barely look; in fact, they don’t even recognise me. Who would have though that all those jokes we shared, all those lazy days walking through the forests together, all the sunsets we watched and the nights we hoped would never end, all those great times which would never come round again; who would have thought that now it is as if they have never happened at all? I refuse to give up though- I still chat with a few of them, those who made it. Some are married, heck- some even have kids! I know when we have a few drinks, I see the old glint in their eyes that our youth is still alive and well inside, it’s just having a lie down. Sure I have new friends now, but it’s our oldest ones that count most, those we shared our defining moments with. We don’t say anything; we don’t need to. We may have lost some along they way, but as long as there is at least one of us, we know we’ll be okay.

Best Scene: The flashback to the group of friends hugging and laughing- when times were good. The slow motion, the smiles, the memories, the music. It is my life. I wish I could jump in, take off my shirt, and hug them too.

It Was The Best Of Times It Was The Blurst Of Times