Tuesday, July 28, 2009
Crooked Little Vein
Reviewed by Matt Adcock
Here’s something a bit special for those who can handle their fiction extreme – meet Michael McGill, a burned-out private detective and self-styled sh*t magnet who is just about to get a virtual cattle prod to the crotch, in the form of an impossible assignment delivered directly from the president's heroin-addict chief of staff. It seems the Constitution of the United States has some skeletons in its closet: the Founding Fathers doubted that the document would be able to stave off human nature indefinitely, so they devised a backup Constitution to deploy at the first sign of crisis. In the government's eyes, that time is now, as America is overgrown with perverts who spend more time surfing the Web for fetish porn than they do reading a newspaper. They want to use this "Secret Constitution" to drive the country back to a time when civility, God, and mom's homemade apple pie were all that mattered.
The only problem is, no one can seem to find it . . .
So who better to track it down than a private dick who's so down-and-out that he's coming up the other side, a shamus whose only skill is stumbling into every depraved situation imaginable? His partner in crime is sexy college student side-kick, Trix, who is writing a thesis on sexual fetishes (and she does a lot of field work for her project).
With no lead to speak of, and no knowledge of the underground world in which the Constitution has traveled, McGill embarks on a cross-country odyssey of America's darkest, dankest underbelly. Along the way, his white-bread sensibilities are treated to a smorgasbord of depravity that runs the gamut of human imagination. The filth mounts; it is clear that this isn't the kind of life, liberty, or happiness that Thomas Jefferson thought Americans would enjoy in the twenty-first century.
But what McGill learns as he closes in on the real Constitution is that freedom takes many forms, the most important of which may be the fight against the "good old days." Like Vonnegut, Orwell, and Huxley before him, Warren Ellis deftly exposes the hypocrisy of the "moral majority" by giving us a glimpse at the monstrous outcome that their overzealous policies would achieve.
Graphic Novelist Warren Ellis blows a hole in the seedy underbelly of Middle America in Crooked Little Vein. His debut novel is a drama / thriller / comedy so irreverent yet touches a core vein of humanity and holds up a dark tinged mirror to our base instincts. There are scenes here that you’ll never forget – my favourite being where Mike gets an entire planeload of passengers to beat the crap out of a boring guy next to him by handing him his lighter and yelling that he saw him trying to light a bomb in his shoe!
There are some cool extra materials in the book too - notes by the author including cooking tips… Even a soundtrack listing that inspired the project.
Hat's off to Ellis -I hope he writes another, or maybe would like to do some Darkmatters based graphic novel pages?
“The kids, only one of whom sounded hopelessly stoned, explained that their signal didn’t reach more than a couple of miles, and only that if the wind was behind it and you were standing downhill with your arms out and a wire coat-hanger stuck on top of your head.
The unstoned one was pretty smart. In between the music – which apparently was all by local unsigned bands, and some of it wasn’t bad – he talked about what they were doing and why. By playing local indie music, they were both supporting his community and broadcasting donated content that didn’t require a royalty payment. They weren’t, they insisted, pirates. They were even observing band adjacency, he said – this one, the guy who hadn’t smoked a field of weed, was obviously the Head Geek – broadcasting on 94.2, clear space between two “lite”/soft rock channels. And that was the point, he figured – most of Columbus’ dial was all eaten up by soft rock, country and Christian radio. All the major monolithic radio entities ran stations in Colombus, but they all broadcast exactly the same kind of material. They all had a Christian station, they all had anaesthetic adult easy-listening rock stations playing the kinds of records we used to lift out of our parents’ collections and use as ashtrays when I was a kid.
It suddenly occurred to me: I didn’t remember the last time I went to a gig. Couldn’t remember the last time I heard live music. Or went to a club to hear a DJ.
They played something by another local group, that had the real thump and clang of live music. The drummer started up on the toms, and collapsed into a glorious mess that sounded like he'd kicked the drumkit down a flight of stairs. The bass walked in and made the back of the car rattle. The lead guitarist went screaming down the strings and I laughed out loud, it sounded so good. And then there was a f**kload of static, ten seconds of silence, and a fight. Someone had entered their makeshift recording studio, and one of the kids, probably the smart one, had put the microphone back on.
"We are the FCC," a loud voice proclaimed. "Take off your clothes and put these orange jumpsuits on."
"The f**k?" said Herb Boy.
"Pirate radio operations have been reclassified as Broadcast Terrorism. You're going to be wearing dogs in your asses at Abu Ghraib for the next five years, you dirty bast*rds."
"This is community radio!"
"If we wanted communities, we'd make Clear Channel pay us to run them. Put on the hoods too. No more devil music for you, radio bin Laden."
Darkmatters final rating of: ööööööööö (9 – Twisted genius that drives you over the cliff of normality with nitro turbo boosts of subversiveness)
"If a Crooked Little Vein film is being considered - I'd vote Emily Browning for Trix"
Monday, July 27, 2009
The Proposal (12a)
Dir. Anne Fletcher - who previously brought you 27 Dresses
Reviewed by Matt Adcock (with his lovely wife)
ONE WORD SUMMATION: Rom-cheese-com
All couples have a ‘tale’ about how they got together - mine is how I asked out both my wife and her best friend at the same time in a kind of “Would you and / or your friend like to go out with me?”… It was a bit cheeky but we’ve been married 15 years now so it must have been the right thing to do. If however I’d been in ‘The Proposal’ my tale would have gone like this:
Evil boss Margaret (Sandra Bullock) is executive editor-in-chief at book publishers Colden Books, she blackmails her loyal assistant Andrew (Ryan Reynolds) to marry her in prevent her being deported. He isn’t thrilled at the prospect but agrees if she will promote him to the rank of Editor. But the course of quickie-convenience-marriage doesn’t run smoothly and much humour occurs as the awkward pair have to spend the weekend with his parents in Alaska. Can they convince the family, and more importantly the man from immigration, that they are really in love? Is it even possible that they might actually fall for each other?
Director Anne ’27 Dresses’ Fletcher brings her pleasant brand of slick romantic comedy to this tale of true love blossoming in the face of adversity and for the first hour or so it works well. Alas by the end all has turned to overly twee, sentimental mush but there are just enough laughs along the way to make The Proposal one worth considering as a decent date movie. The scenes containing the annoying ‘Granny Annie’ (Betty White) however should have been cut because they are truly terrible…
I saw this with my wife who gave it the thumbs up, although she mentioned that Sandra Bullock might be getting a little old for this sort of role!? We agreed that Ryan Reynolds however is going to be a big star and is quality leading man material.
The two likeable leads are ably supported by the likes of the lovely Malin ‘Watchmen’ Akerman who plays Andrew’s hot blond ex-girlfriend and Craig T. Nelson who does the harsh disapproving father well.
The Proposal is probably the best girly rom-com this year so far and has done big business in the U.S. but it’s still not half as funny as The Hangover…
Darkmatters final rating of: öööööö (6 – here comes the bribe…)
Darkmatters quick reference guide:
Action 4 (move along…)
Style 6 (sassy n fun)
Babes 7 (Malin sexier than Bullock)
Comedy 6 (Some good laughs)
Horror 6 (The Grannie scenes are horrific)
Spiritual Enlightenment 4 (Limited)
"if this was your ex-girlfriend would you pick Bullock instead?"
Monday, July 20, 2009
Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince (12a)
Dir. David Yates - who previously brough you Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
Reviewed by Matt Adcock (with eldest son Luke in a packed show in Stevenage)
ONE WORD SUMMATION: Horcruxed
“Years ago, I knew a boy who made all the wrong choices. He seemed a student like any other. His name was Tom Riddle. Today, the world knows him by another name: Voldemort…”
Listen up muggle lovers, Harry Potter is back for the sixth time – now tackling a historical mystery about a rogue agent known only as ‘The Half Blood Prince.’ This ‘prince’ once attended Hogwarts and his annotated potions text book helps Harry shoot to the top of the class – now taught by the slimy Horace Slughorn (a genius turn from Jim Broadbent). But young Harry is growing up and so fighting ‘He Who Must Not Be Named’s minions (again) takes a bit if a backseat whilst his hormones dictate that he needs to wise up to the wiles of the fairer sex.
"Hermione - she's a keeper!"
Harry’s best friends Ron (lanky Rupert Grint) and Hermione (Emma Watson getting cuter every year) are also feeling the effects of teenage emotions kicking in and start to find each other irresistible. It is Ron’s sister Ginny (Bonnie Wright) who becomes the focus of Potter’s adolescent fantasies – or might it be true love?
The upshot of all this teen angst and hormonal desire is that Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince – working title ‘Harry Potter and the Slightly Tedious Tying Up Of Plot Points’ limps around signifying nothing much. To this end the film, much like the book, feels like we’re treading water, dragging out the story rather than ramping up to the final climactic showdown that everybody is waiting for. Sure we do get the death of a major character but even that feels a bit cheap and is not afforded the magnitude that they deserved.
"Did I mention - miss Watson is the best thing about Half Blood Prince?"
Having said all that, Half Blood Prince isn’t actually a bad film and Potter fans will find much to enjoy here. Returning director Yates is right at home in the magical world and delivers some sumptuous visuals, a cracking game of Quidditch and plenty of wizardly attention to detail. The cast have made these parts their own and even their limited acting ability works to make the awkwardness of being a teenage feel more authentic.
If you’ve seen parts 1 – 5 then you’ll need to see this but I doubt that anyone will come out proclaim this their favourite of the series. Bring on the Deathly Hallows parts 1 & 2 already…
Darkmatters final rating of: ööööööö (7 – Harry's still quality but this one drags a bit)
Darkmatters quick reference guide:
Action 5 (lacking)
Style 7 (magical)
Babes 8 (jailbait)
Comedy 6 (Ron W)
Horror 6 (curses)
Spiritual Enlightenment 5 (sacrifice)
Matt reviews Harry Potter and:
THE GOBLET OF FIRE
THE ORDER OF THE PHOENIX
Monday, July 13, 2009
Dir. Larry Charles
Reviewed by Matt Adcock (at a raucous late night screening)
ONE WORD SUMMATION: Kugelsack-for-the-masses
2006 saw the excellent ‘Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan’ blast a strong comedy shockwave across the world as Sasha Baron Cohen provoked middle America into showing their bigoted ugly faces to the camera. Now he’s back with Brüno – originally entitled ‘Bruno: Delicious Journeys Through America for the Purpose of Making Heterosexual Males Visibly Uncomfortable in the Presence of a Gay Foreigner in a Mesh T-Shirt’ and that title pretty much sums it up…
Brüno may have a weaker storyline than Borat, i.e. the overly camp Brüno (Cohen), a disgraced fashion TV presenter, goes to the USA to try and become a celebrity, but it overcompensate with levels of crudeness beyond what you’d usually expect of even an ’18 rated’ movie (although have just seen announcement that there will be a toned down 15 version also hitting screens).
If you’re at all squeamish about sexual imagery – we’re talking full close up male bits to camera, which are even hilariously animated to talk at one point - then you might want to look elsewhere for your laughs but if you’ve a very open mind or are looking to be challenged about people’s
responses to overt sexuality then you won’t find a funnier or more subversive big screen ‘outing’ this year.
Brüno closely follows the Borat formula of setting up deliberately incendiary situations such as a proposed peace negotiation between Israelis and Palestinians where the only thing they can agree on is that ‘humus is healthy’. Other highlights include a ‘can’t believe he’s doing this’ adoption of an African baby named OJ who he takes on black TV chat show and causes uproar, plus a climactic cage wrestling session where the term ‘man on man combat’ is put through a new definition much to the indignation and violent outrage of the beer fuelled redneck crowd.
Cohen certainly has balls in his kugelsack and he’s not shy about showing them – there is even a crazy scene of them being vacuumed at one point. But where Borat got away with lots of his racist outrageous world views due to his bumbling cultural ineptitude, Brüno often comes across
as being a less likeable and self indulgent glory hunter.
It is hard however to resist getting to witness a terrorist being asked to his face why his “King Osama looks kind of like a dirty wizard or a homeless Santa Claus?” or to wonder quite how far this self-confessed ‘hottest Austrian export since Hitler’ will go. The only way to find out is to take a date with Brüno, you might never be the same…
Darkmatters final rating of: öööööööö (8 – balls to the wall comedy goes OTT!!)
Darkmatters quick reference guide:
Spiritual Enlightenment 3
S. Darko: A Donnie Darko Tale (15)
Dir. Chris Fisher
Reviewed by Matt Adcock
ONE WORD SUMMATION: Manipulated-Living
“Look up there on that screen and try to visualise what you think God’s plan for your life is...” Pastor John, S. Darko
Life is one long insane trip. Some people just have better directions…
This genius tagline from Donnie Darko is very true when comparing the two ‘Darko’ films. I love Donnie Darko and now having witnessed S. Darko (which my son suggested they should have called ‘Sammie Darko’) I think the torrent of negative reviews it has attracted are somewhat unjustified.
Donnie Darko swept along on the genius that Richard ‘Southland Tales’ Kelly imbibed into it. S. Darko however travels in the slip stream of Donnie, it’s an engaging, thought provoking trip that seems uncertain of its freakiness just as Donnie has seemed so surely through the wormholes of tangent universes.
Is S.Darko a terrible movie? No – not in it’s own right, but is it terrible in the light of it being the sequel to one of the best films of all time?
What’s it all about then? Well, this is the tale of Samantha Darko (yep, ill fated Donnie’s little sister) played again by Daveigh Chase- who has grown up all oddly sexy in a kind of Alicia Silverstone / Liv Tyler circa Aerosmith Cryin’ video way.
S. Darko is now a troubled teen who runs away from home with her bratty best friend Corey (Briana Evigan) – the two girls hit the open road but break down in a freakshow Utah town. Whilst waiting for their car to be repaired by local heart throb Randy (Ed ‘Gossip Girl’ Westwick) with whom Corey gets very friendly.
Twilight star Jackson Rathbone pops up as nerdorama Jeremy who has a thing for Samantha, also around is Iraq Jack (James Lafferty) who for reasons probably only known to the writer decides to make a ‘Frank’ metal bunny mask.
Throw into the oddball mix religious nutjob Pastor John (Matthew Davis) who may or may not be taking advantage of his one true disciple Trudy (Elizabeth Berkley).
Here's some sample dialogue:
Pastor John: “I used to be like you.”
Corey: “What, you had a training bra?”
Pastor John: “Not exactly. But when I was your age, I experienced things that made me feel like God didn't exist. Maybe you've experienced something like that too.”
Sam: “You don't know anything about me.”
Pastor John: “I can see that you're in pain.”
Sam: “I'm alive.”
So Sam’s story is less a standard sequel, more a companion piece, a lesser piece for sure but still an interesting one.
If you’re a Darko fan, then you might want to give this a look because there are some amazing scenes, stunning visuals and hey Briana Evigan is cute. But you absolutely have to set your expectations to ‘low’ because if you hope for a classic follow up then you’ll be lost in a time bending loop of disappointment…
"...what if you could go back in time, and take all those hours of pain and darkness and replace them with something better?"
Darkmatters final rating of: öööööö (6 – Living Recievers will worry about the Darko quality control)
Darkmatters quick reference guide:
Spiritual Enlightenment 6
"Red car of death approaches"
A storm is coming, Frank says / A storm that will swallow the children / And I will deliver them from the kingdom of pain / I will deliver the children back the their doorsteps / And send the monsters back to the underground / I'll send them back to a place where no-one else can see them / Except for me / Because I am Donnie Darko…
Not convinced? Read what Marc Patterson over at the awesome Brutal As Hell has to say:
"For me Donnie Darko was simply the 12 Monkeys and Mouth of Madness for a different younger generation of movie viewers and watching it gave me a sense that others had tread this ground before and done so with perhaps a bit more intelligence. Ironically, a little over halfway through S. Darko there is a scene set at a movie theater where the featured attractions are shown on the marquis written backwards. Pay attention. They say “Twelve Monkeys” and “Strange Days”. Two not so subtle nods to a couple of influential films."
Friday, July 10, 2009
"Thanks Matt, glad you liked it!"
BAD ASS GAMER site... Seemed like a good idea but the guy running it folded.
So this post is defunct except for this great quote from Mr Woods:
“Hockey is a sport for white men. Basketball is a sport for black men. Golf is a sport for white men dressed like black pimps.” Tiger Woods...
Tiger’s cup of golfing goodness runs very deep this year!
Monday, July 06, 2009
Public Enemies (15)
Dir. Michael Mann
Reviewed by Matt Adcock (with good friends J and G)
ONE WORD SUMMATION: Crimtastic
“I like baseball, movies, good clothes, fast cars... and you. What else you need to know?
My name is John Dillinger and if you ask me what I want? – I’ll tell you - everything.
Public Enemies see Johnny Depp playing the infamous criminal Dillinger in Michael ‘Heat’ Mann’s love letter to the 1930s one man Chicago crimewave. This is without doubt 2009’s classiest, coolest and most engaging action thriller – a perfect storm of quality cast, attention to detail and stylish visual flair.
Depp is perfect in the lead role bringing the FBI’s most wanted man to believable life dripping with dangerous charisma and cool swagger. This is a guy who believes in himself, who isn’t afraid to take on the system – mostly through the liberal application of audacious bank robberies. Exciting gun fights, chases and heists ensue as the authorities do everything they can to try and contain him.
Christian ‘Terminator Salvation’ Bale plays FBI Agent Melvin Purvis, the man tasked by J. Edgar Hoover to bring Dillinger down and a wildcard in the mix here is vicious psycho ‘Baby Face Nelson’ (a convincingly unhinged Stephen Graham). Nelson doesn’t subscribe to Dillinger’s gentlemanly conduct in keeping his criminal activities to the liberation of money from major banks whilst keeping the body count to a minimum.
And the path of true robbery runs even less straight when Dillinger loses his head and his heart to Billie Frechette (Marion ‘La vie en Rose’ Cotillard).
Public Enemies is a fantastic film which rewards viewers with a captivating story, it’s hard not to find yourself rooting for the bank robbing pose as they repeatedly stick it to the man. The timing of the film couldn’t be better either with banks being at a potential all time low in the affections of most people.
Standing head and shoulders above the very average blockbusters we’ve had so far this summer, it is refreshing to find a film that you’ll want to think about afterwards and want to see again.
Director Mann has shown that he can deliver superb period action thrills to match his modern day classics Heat and Miami Vice. For me Public Enemies has crashed straight into my list of ‘best ever crime films’ to stand beside others like Goodfellas, The Godfather and Miller’s Crossing – denying yourself the chance to see this on the big screen would be a crime!
Darkmatters final rating of: ööööööööö (9 – Public Enemies will blow you away!)
Darkmatters quick reference guide:
Spiritual Enlightenment 7