29 October 2012

Skyfall Is Where We Start

Being the miserable cunt that I am, I'm obviously not a fan of special occasions. I could rant all day about my hatred of jolly, merry Shitmas but the rest are just as bad. All of the other yearly occasions were simply invented to make insecure people feel loved at the benefit of card companies. I hate to sound like a twat but if I have to pick a side, I'd rather be labelled as a 'cynic' than be a dead-eyed member of team gullible. Despite all that however, there is one thing that I look forward to more than anything else and that's the release of a new James Bond film. If commercialised affection isn't for me then you can damn well bet that watching a misogynist shooting a Russian in the face is. I think that everybody should also agree that after fifty years and twenty-three official films, the latest adventure to feature one of Britain's finest contributions to pop-culture really is something that should be celebrated. Given a choice between a birthday or 007's latest premier, I honestly prefer the one that doesn't make me feel a year closer to fucking death.

Because of this, Skyfall has a lot of expectation to live up to. Not only has it got several generations of film lovers eager to see it but it's been four years since the release of Quantum of Solace. I'm a punctual chap in general who treats lateness with such a level of fascism that for every minute waiting for someone who is late, I spend it planning the next holocaust. Considering that Bond has had me waiting for approximately one thousand, four hundred and fifty days, that suave cunt had better have a fucking good excuse. As it turns out, he bloody well does.

Skyfall begins with Bond trying to salvage a mission gone wrong. Somebody has stolen a hard-drive which contains a list of all known working field agents and M wants it back. Bond therefore gives chase in an attempt to prevent this sensitive information from being released. To be honest, the only thing on my hard-drive is hardcore pornography so I can empathise with MI6 here. God knows what I'd do if my computer was stolen because I'm seriously prepared to kill if anyone even glances towards my browsing history. 
After a destructive motorbike chase, Bond quickly finds himself fighting the thief on the top of a moving train as a fellow agent tries to snipe the assailant from afar. Under M's orders, Bond’s colleague takes a shot, misses the target and accidentally hits him. When I worked as a wedding videographer, the only way I could fuck my job up as much as this would have been if I was caught shaft deep inbetween the bride’s tits. The rest of the film is therefore M's attempt to repair the reputation of MI6, correct the mistake of shooting Bond and avoid the threat of a forced retirement. I don't want to call M incompetent but with Ralph Fiennes walking around, she also seems to have missed the fact that her department has been successfully infiltrated by Lord Voldemort using only a prosthetic nose as a disguise. What a stupid, useless bitch!

Considering that most people would feel short-changed if this was the end, I think it's obvious that 007 doesn't die in the first five minutes. Instead he decides to take a little time out to recuperate on a relaxing sandy beach. We rarely see Bond on holiday so it's interesting to watch what he gets up to. As it turns out he enjoys getting wankered, pissing about with scorpions and fucking people. I'm not a travel agent but I think that's called the 'Charlie Sheen Package'.
After an attack on MI6 headquarters, Bond decides to return to work. The stolen hard-drive from the beginning has come back to haunt them and the culprit appears to have some personal vendetta against M. It's not revealed why yet but I suspect it's probably that he saw the Judi Dench fingering scene in Notes on a Scandal. Unfortunately for her, 007 is now out of shape and needs retraining. Since being shot a couple of times, he can now only run several miles, do a few hundred sit ups and really struggles at a few measly pull ups. What a lazy, fat bastard he is!

In the twenty-three films released so far, it seems that there are two kinds of Bond film. There's the slightly more grounded ones like Live and Let Die and then there are the bat-shit crazy ones like Moonraker. I know every Bond film is technically a fantasy but there are obviously various degrees of it. 007 verses the drugs trade is quite grounded whereas Roger Moore riding a hover gondola past the double-take pigeon isn't. On a scale of zero-to-'what the fuck', I'd say that interestingly Skyfall is heading back into the more fantastical kind of Bond film. Personally I don't have a problem with this so long as they stay in control by continuing to hire respectable directors. Sam Mendes proved his credibility when he won an Oscar for American Beauty, a film which brilliantly depicted a man having a midlife crisis. Lee Tamahori helmed Die Another Day and has since been arrested for dressing up as a woman and trying to charge random men for a shag. No prizes for guessing which of those two had the better insight into the mind of James Bond.

One of the more fantastical elements of Skyfall is of course the crazed villain Raoul Silva. Played by Javier Bardem, he's a bit like a cross between Hannibal Lecter, The Joker and Quentin Crisp. I won't reveal too much about him except to say he's brilliant and proper full-on gay. As far as I know, there hasn't been a male villain who threatens Bond with sex since Grace Jones fucked him in A View to a Kill. Each Bond villain in the Daniel Craig films has had a disability and Skyfall is no exception. Again, I won't reveal it, except to say it's worse than Le Chiffre's bleeding eye but not as awful as Dominic Greene being French.

The other thing that I really loved about Skyfall was just how much of it was set in Britain. There's always been an odd relationship between Bond and Batman and there's no denying that this film borrows from The Dark Knight. The shots of Bond surveying London from the rooftops are iconically similar to Batman guarding his city of Gotham and there's a downbeat tone suggesting that not everyone will survive. Bond’s dead parents also get highlighted and used as the motivation for his life a little like Batman's always were. I think it's strange that being an orphan would make Bond want to become a spy as both my parents are alive and nothing could drive me to kill more than them. None of these comparisons are a criticism either by the way, as Nolan has made a career out of pilfering from 007 in the first place. To be honest I think if that fucker tries to take anything else from Bond he should be punished and forced to direct the next film in the franchise. That'd teach the talented little shit a lesson!

It was always obvious that Mendes would be able to handle the drama of a Bond film but the question was ‘could he do the action too?’ So far the closest thing he's done to this is Jarhead which follows a gulf war soldier who, in an act of pure visual cinema, didn't kill a single bloody person. I hate to reveal my own mental issues but if Bond hasn't fucked and killed some dumb broad within the first hour then I'm really not happy. It's not that I'm a sexist, it's just that he is and I'm a little afraid of any change whatsoever. Luckily however, Mendes knows this and so deals with the death and destruction in a suitably nonchalant way. At one point there's a game of 'shoot the bottle off a girls head' followed by a brilliant, cold-hearted and fucked up quip from Bond. To be honest I'm glad the quips are making a return as from 007's previous one liners, it's obvious that like Fatty Arbuckle, he's always going to be known for being more of a killer than a comedian. However nothing beats a man with a prosthetic hand struggling to remove a watch before Roger Moore angrily calls him a “Butterhook”.

The other great thing that Mendes did was bring over his regular cinematographer Roger Deakins. For anyone that doesn't know, a cinematographer is simply the guy who hangs the lights up and makes a film look all pretty and shit. In terms of the people doing that job, Deakins is one of the best and a genuine genius. Being a reserved and gentle Brit, he's also one of the better DoP's that's not stupid enough to slag off The Avengers and piss off the fanboys. His inclusion on Skyfall is an act of sheer brilliance with this clearly now being the most visually impressive Bond film ever. Thinking about it, I'd probably say that the Shanghai sequence was so beautiful that with it's neon lighting I swear they must have invented some brand new colours for us.

There's also a shadowy noir feel to Skyfall that creates a blanket of mood so heavy it could almost smother Bond himself. In fact, the end of the movie looks so gloomy and haunted that it almost becomes the Bond equivalent of Straw Dogs. Just for clarification though, I mean that in terms of style and tone and not the occurrence of a randomly indulgent rape scene. It took us long enough to accept a blonde Bond so I think it'll be a few more years before we allow him to become a full blown sex offender. Whether he gets consent or not however, I do think it's about time Q branch started supplying him with standard issue condoms. If they designed some of those novelty luminous ones, Deakins could probably control that too and make a sex scene look like some sort of fucking poetic lightsaber fight.

If I have a criticism with Sam Mendes's usual team here, then it would probably be with the hiring of composer Thomas Newman. It's not that the music wasn't good but rather it was possibly too obviously his own. Half the film sounded like American Beauty and then every so often the Bond theme would unsubtly kick in. There was scenes in which Bond was talking to Silva and it genuinely felt like Chris Cooper was going to walk in and shoot them because of his own repressed homosexuality. Having said that though and because I'm really, really cool, I've just spent the last few hours repeatedly listening to the score and it does sound great. Maybe it just felt a little jarring at first because I'm used to the sound of regular Bond composer David Arnold being here. Like I said before, I'm not a fan of change so maybe this will be a grower. I know that the film isn't perfect but I'm genuinely struggling to find anything negative I want to say about it and that was the closest I could think of…

Daniel Craig's ears looked particularly massive but that's not really a fault of the film. If anything they'd probably even help Bond as a spy by acting as a pair of huge, meaty satellites. In fact you know what? Fuck it. The film is genuinely fucking brilliant and probably the best thing I've seen this year. I've been a huge fan of the franchise ever since I was old enough to support the weight of my own head and so this film was as enjoyable and appealing to me as pregnancy is to underage trailer-trash. It's nice to see too, that Craig is settling into the role with the kind of comfort that's going to ensure that every one of his successors will be one day compared to him. Judi Dench was also so stupidly good in this that she's officially become the first and best Bond Woman. She plays the vulnerable but confident surrogate Mum to both Bond and Silva with the two brothers fighting to protect and kill her. It's nice to know that the plot of Skyfall is kept very British and is clearly an adaptation of The Jeremy Kyle Show.  

In a way, Skyfall almost feels like it could, in an alternate world, be the reboot film that Casino Royale turned out to be. Its basic theme seems to be looking at how relevant Bond is in this modern world and then asking if we could get by without him. In fact that the whole set up can be summed up by Bond and M's first exchange in Goldeneye. She accuses him of being a, “Sexist, misogynist, Dinosaur. A relic of the Cold War!” before admitting that, “If you think for one moment I don't have the balls to send a man out to die, your instincts are dead wrong”. To her cold hearted credit she at least can't be accused of being two faced!

Skyfall spends its duration subtly and lovingly hinting towards 007's past films and upbringing and then like a twat, rather bluntly burns it all to the ground. By the end of this film, Bond is as complete, fresh and attachment free as Sean Connery's was at the start of Dr No. As far as last scenes go, Skyfall's is almost fifty years in the making and has created a level of excitement not felt since Batman Begins revealed the Joker card. The franchise has being going for half a century and the line; “He'll see you now” has ensured a freshness of direction that makes the sequel just too exciting to think about. Is Bond still relevant? Relevant's got nothing to do with it. Bond has an unexplainable and ingrained sense of loyalty to his country and so do we, to him. It's a similar relationship that fatties share with cake and lard.

For as long as they make films, Bond will be around with each new adventure being treated with the excitement and sense of occasion that they genuinely deserve. Perhaps the character has been a little lost since the Cold War ended, but finally with Skyfall he knows where he is and has found his place in our world. That's definitely more than can be said of hairy man-tit David Hasselhoff and he's still got a career. Five decades since the first film and I'm already looking forward to being in the queue for Bond 24. If there's two things us Brits love, it's a Bond movie and a good queue. Throw in a cup of tea and some repressed sexual urges and you've got yourself a perfect Saturday night. Is Skyfall the best Bond? Maybe- I'm just glad that we've now got twenty-three to choose from and there's a chance that it could be.

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21 October 2012

You Call That A Knife?!

Steve Irwin was a conservationist, and a proper fucking nutcase, who spent his entire life caring for animals and then doing his best to piss them off. There's no denying that the man knew his stuff although even I'm aware that most creatures don't like being poked in the eye for fun... and higher ratings. I don't mean to insult his television shows but should an animal documentary really have so much in common with Jackass? The only thing missing from The Crocodile Hunter was a beard of pubes and a cast of bruised ball-sacks. I presume Irwin's risky method of teaching was intended to prove that animals aren't simply monsters and so won't just kill for no reason. Unfortunately however this lesson seemed somewhat undermined when one of them decided to freak the fuck out and left him for dead on a beach.

The irony of course was that of all the creatures that he annoyed, the identity of his killer was both surprising and anti-climactic. The man made a living from dry humping Crocodiles and pissing about with snakes and yet in the end he was murdered while paddling with a stingray. No offense to that odd looking fish but if the sea had vaginal flaps, I strongly suspect they'd look alike. The fact that Irwin was killed by the ocean’s equivalent to a meaty cape just goes to prove one thing- Australia is fucking dangerous.

Wolf Creek was a 2005 horror movie telling the story of a group of tourists who went missing in the Australian outback. The film is allegedly “based on a true story”, which technically isn't lying but only in a Bible-y sort of way. They're both completely true unless you're after any facts or honesty at all. It's sort of like how The Texas Chainsaw Massacre is based on the factual story of Ed Gein who didn't live in Texas and didn't massacre anybody with a chainsaw. Not that this is a problem by the way. Due to the films content, if it was based on a true story, Wolf Creek would be horrifically exploitative and as morally sinister as R Kelly offering to child-mind with a full bladder and a throbbing erection.

In a way, Wolf Creek is a film of two halves with the first section being spent getting to know our three main characters. The group consists of two British girls named Liz and Kristy and an Aussie, surfer type dude called Ben. Liz and Kristy are played by two Australian actresses who are about as convincing as Brits as George Lazenby was when he played James Bond in OHMSS. In 1969 the only way 007 could have seemed more Australian would have been if he'd killed Blofeld with a boomerang, drank a can of Fosters, committed infanticide and then blamed it on a dingo.

Accent aside however, Liz and Kristy are genuinely believable characters that I completely bought throughout. It's a credit to them too, that after thirty minutes I also very nearly stopped staring at the freakishly large stalactite chin attached to Liz's face. I don't mean to make a big deal out of it but there was one point when, despite all evidence to the contrary, I convinced myself Liz might actually be played by Bruce Campbell. The third character of Ben was an Aussie played by an Aussie so it's hard to criticise him. He's a bit of an idiot but not in an unlikeable way- more in an adrenaline junkie kind of way. It's not that I dislike people who surf in an ocean infested with sharks, it's just that the term, “adrenaline junkie” is clearly the polite way of saying someone’s a knob-head. Oh and by the way, did I mention Liz's huge chin? Honestly if you stuck a nipple on the end of it, I reckon she'd have herself a pretty sexy face-boob.

Anyway so like I said the first half of the film is all set up with the three tourists having decided to take a road trip into the outback. We learn the dynamics of the characters and watch as Ben develops a crush on 'Liz the chin'. During their journey, one of the sites that they intend to stop off at is a giant meteor crater known as Wolf Creek. For anyone unsure, a meteor is basically a giant rock that falls from the sky and not, as my friends genuinely assumed, a type of dinosaur. After I corrected them they laughed at their mistake and then informed me that they'd actually gotten it confused with the dinosaur known as a Minotaur... I need to get myself some new fucking friends.

As soon as they get to their destination, things start to go a little wrong. Their car mysteriously breaks down leaving them stranded and alone in the middle-of-fucking-nowhere. Considering how dangerous that country is, with its venomous spiders, massive snakes and boxing kangaroos, if I were them I'd have accepted my upcoming death a lot more quickly. It's at this point that the main villain of the film finally arrives and in the form of a friendly, old-school style Aussie bloke called Mick Taylor.

Played by John Jarrett, Mick may well be my favourite horror character of the last decade or so. To my mind, his only main competitor would probably be Jigsaw from The Saw series, but in honesty he really pisses me off. He preaches to everyone about savouring life and yet spends all of his time building torture chambers instead of going to chemotherapy. Although even beyond the stupidity of his motives, I think what annoys me most about Jigsaw is just how much of a pretentious, bald cunt he is. Mick on the other hand is a great laugh and if it wasn't for all the killing and craziness, he'd make great company down at the pub. Being an Australian archetype, he's kind of like a cross between Mick Dundee and Jack the Ripper. He's a violent crazy bastard but fuck it at least he's having fun. I guess it serves as a good reminder of Australia's history as a giant prison. Even the friendliest of people there are descended from a British convict and so shouldn't be trusted… kind of like scousers.

The clever thing about the film however, is that Mick never quite becomes an anti-hero. After meeting the three main characters at Wolf Creek, he proceeds to take them back to his home and torture them. However, where other films have fallen in love with their villain, at no point here do you find yourself on his side. An example of this sort of character could be Hannibal Lector who started off as a creepy cannibal before evolving into a loveable, dapper gent with an insatiable taste for face. Despite Mick being such a laugh, there's a moment where 'Liz the chin' points a gun at him and all you want her to do is blow his fucking head off. This is probably due to the films genius of allowing us to get to know the victims in the first half. Now that we've formed a bond with them, it's less enjoyable to watch them die. That's coincidentally also why in reality I never learn the first name of any whores.

In a way, the difference between Wolf Creek and most other slashers is the same as the difference between Saw and Saw 2. Rather than being presented with a gang of talking meat, we are watching likeable humans who we want to see survive. In Saw 2, the conflict isn't how are the victims going to get away but rather how are they going to die. The traps are too complicated, the characters too weak and the investigating detective is Donnie Wahlberg. If I was being held hostage and my only chance of hope was a member of 'New Kids on the Block', I'd probably leap eyes first into the pit of needles just to save time.

The point that I'm starting to drag out is that for the viewer, watching the violent scenes in Wolf Creek is actually less of a sadistic pleasure and more of a masochistic endurance test. Just to clarify, an example of sadism would be the derivation of pleasure from burning Piers Morgan for his corruption with fiery copies of the News of the World. Masochism would be like forcing yourself to wank with a knife up your arse whilst staring at a picture of Britney Spears's snaggletoothed vagina.

The very first torture scene in Wolf Creek is voyeuristically shot through the crack of a broken window. Like the cupboard scene in Blue Velvet, this isn't done to titillate the audience but rather instil a feeling of helplessness, fear and realism. There's no close-ups or kinetic flourishes to remind us that this is actually a movie. Instead it's filmed amateur-porno style with a handheld grittiness that's more reminiscent of a news story than a Hollywood film. By underplaying everything that happens, it really helps to highlight the nihilism of our world and the pointlessness of life. Mick kills for seemingly no reason at all and does so apparently free of any civilised consequences. There's probably not a God and the loneliness and pointlessness of Mick's killings really do highlight just how little everything really means. However, as depressing as that might sound don't forget that Wolf Creek is still a righteous chucklefest in comparison to the grimness and cynicism of the genuinely evil Sex and the City 2.

However it's not all just doom and gloom as visually, the film looks genuinely phenomenal. This is mostly down to the gorgeous scenery that the Aussie landscape has to offer, although its vastness does still highlight how insignificant we all really are. I guess as a country, Australia is a bit like Ted Bundy- there's no denying that it is fucking dangerous, but it can scrub up well when it needs to. In fact it could be argued that the whole of Wolf Creek is simply about the clash between civilisation and the wildly uncivilised. In a way, Mick is the face of the outback with his final shot almost highlighting his connection to the uncontrollable wilderness. It seems that he feels as genuinely comfortable in that environment as a drunk Lindsey Lohan does when facehugging a camera lens with her vagina. I suppose everybody just has their natural place in this world.

Wolf Creek came out during the height of the 'gorno' craze and so was unfortunately and wrongly placed into that category. The only thing that Hostel did was spend ninety minutes chopping its characters up and then boring my tits off. This is something that was proved to me when I had a girlfriend who told me how genuinely clever Hostel Part 2 was. The fact that she also once asked me, “Where about in England is Down South?” may indicate the level of intelligence required to enjoy that crap franchise.

In the end I'd say Wolf Creek is actually a lot closer to something like Jaws than any of that 'gorno' bollocks. Both are less explicit than you might remember with the camera actually instead focusing more on the suffering of the victims than the actual injuries they've sustained. In the way that Jaws has put me off ever going back into the sea Wolf Creek too has ensured I'll never go backpacking anywhere ever. Not that I had any plans to visit Australia anyway. Beyond all the murderous wildlife and psychotic loners, you've got to question the morals of a country willing to inflict Kylie Minogue onto Western civilisation. I know I enjoy the masochistic pleasure of enduring Wolf Creek, but listening to that Aussie midgets hollow, pointless warbling is just a pain too far.

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15 October 2012

Raiders With A Martial Art

If watching violent films and playing violent games could turn us into violent people then there's no doubt I'd have killed someone by now. I already have a predisposition towards misanthropy and so it really wouldn't take that much to push me over the edge. A few years back I endured a particularly brutal breakup with someone in which they wouldn't take the hint and piss the fuck off. After three hours of trying to convince her to get out of my house I found myself defeated and exhausted. I sat on the floor with my brain all argued out and tried in silence to think of something I could say that would end this siege of emotional retardation.

Although she did eventually leave it wasn't before I'd been turned into a lobotomised wreck. Dribbling, disorientated and overwhelmed I was like a drunk Paris Hilton in a cum factory. I therefore did the only thing that I could to regain my sanity and so switched on the Xbox. Say what you like about Call of Duty: Black Ops but it's combat training was a godsend. I set the bots to easy, found the smallest possible level and then spent the next two hours repeatedly shooting the poor little bastards pointblank in the face with a shotgun. It'd been a difficult night for me so I'm  glad nobody was around to witness my maniacal laughter or raging boner.

My point is that rather than turning me into a genuine psycho this virtual slaughter actually mellowed me out and helped to relieve a fuck load of stress. Despite the bad press they get, violent films work just the same for me by acting as an effective celluloid stress-ball. If I accidentally catch just a glimpse of Piers Morgan's mutated ball-sack of a face then I have to watch Natural Born Killers for six solid hours to try and calm down... It's either that or I have to kill a budgie.

The most violent film I've seen both recently and for the first time is the Indonesian action film The Raid. I'd heard good things about it beforehand, but then I'd also heard good things about anal sex and I can't say I enjoyed that particularly. The difference I suppose was that I watched The Raid of my own free will whereas it wasn't until mid-fuck I realised that I'd been duped into performing buggery. Call me old fashioned but my general outlook is that a vagina is usually snug enough unless, of course, your cock is quite small, or your girlfriend’s a slut.

The Raid starts quietly with the main character Rama preparing for his next assignment. He's a member of an Elite SWAT team, an excellent fighter and his wife is currently expecting their first child. I guess Rama figures that as soon as his partner gives birth, his life is basically over anyway and so why not go for a job in which you're likely to die in a hail of bullets? The opening scene is the closest we get to any real backstory and even that features Rama slapping a punching bag as though he's just caught AIDs off the village tart.

If there's one thing that can be said about The Raid, it’s that it's not complicated. In fact, the plot is probably about as simple and single-minded as Ashton Kutcher in a coma dreaming about eggcups. I mean that as a complement too by the way, as so many action films are ruined by a convoluted story. For example, The Merovingian adds nothing to The Matrix Reloaded except running time and annoying, pseudo-philosophical drivel. If there's any one nation that I refuse to be lectured by about 'Cause and Effect' then it's the fucking French (worse still by someone pretending to be French). The Raid on the other hand is so lean that if it were an actor, it could easily play a holocaust victim or perhaps a smack addict.

Rama gets called up for his assignment and quickly finds himself in the back of a van with the rest of his team. Their mission is to invade a scummy block of flats and then arrest the gang leader who lives there. Unfortunately for them, the majority of people who inhabit it are also criminals using the security of the building to lie low. I hate to draw comparisons to this tower and the unemployed yobs who live there, to a block of flats in the poorer parts of Liverpool, so I won't. Not because I don't believe it but because Scousers can be fucking touchy when they want to be.

Despite this being a crack team of well-trained law enforcers, they manage to fuck things up within seconds of entering the building. They're spotted by a young child who manages to sound the alarm and warn everyone inside that they're on the prowl. I hate to criticise the Indonesian Police but what the fuck was their delay. They had a clear two seconds to shoot that lookout kid in the fucking head and yet they hesitated. I know he hadn't done anything to warrant his death when they had the opportunity, but since when would that stop our police? Until I live in a fascist society were innocent people can be shot to death by the law and with no real consequences, then I just won't be able to feel safe.

The building is instantly put into lockdown with the residents ordered to kill Rama and his colleagues in exchange for some free rent. What follows is ninety minutes of hardcore action and survival horror that makes your average snuff movie look like the latest Pixar film. To describe the violence in The Raid as extreme would be an understatement. It features people getting shot in the face, stabbed in the throat and the most horrific gaping axe wound since Pamela Anderson hit that red record button, spread her legs and showed us what she had for breakfast.

If the plot of this film sounds in any way familiar then I'd assume that's because you're one of the twelve people to have seen the recent and excellent Dredd. Comparisons between the two films have been widely made with their similarity in fact being used as criticism against Dredd. However having now seen both films, I really don't see what the problem is. Sure they share the same set up but that's about it. It's kind of like the start of Casino Royale when Bond is chasing the black guy who’s bouncing around a construction site like an evil Tigger with a bomb. They come to a dead end in which the black guy leaps athletically through a small window only for Bond to plough straight through it like a proper defiant bastard. With this analogy, The Raid is Tigger the bomber and Dredd is Bond. They both face the same hurdles but where one solves it with a dignified display of lethal ballet, the other just smashes things up like an angry cunt with a wasp up his arse.

I don't want to have to choose between Dredd and The Raid because I loved them both. However after watching the latter I kind of realised I never need to see another action film ever again. Everything about The Raid is pretty much perfect with the stunts being exciting, imaginative and relentlessly bone-crunching. Most films break up their action with scenes of exposition or ‘backstory’ but The Raid can't be fucked with something as pathetic as dialogue. It therefore breaks up its action with different forms of violence. They start off shooting at each other, then move onto knife fights and then conclude with some phenomenal kung-fu shiz. I'm not exaggerating when I say the martial arts here really does makes the incredible fighting in The Matrix look like two thalidomide's trying to happy-slap each other in a desperate attempt to somehow climax.

I'm in no way a sporty person but the level of dedication on display with The Raid’s stunts is genuinely shocking. At times the fighting gets so extreme you can't help but wonder if anybody genuinely got hurt. I'm not saying that action films are improved by the possibility of real danger but it would certainly make some movies more entertaining. In fact if someone actually kicked Chris Tucker in the throat then Rush Hour would be at risk of becoming almost watchable.

Bizarrely, and despite The Raid being an Indonesian kung-fu film, it is in fact written and directed by some Welsh bloke called Gareth Evans. Before seeing this movie, I'd always thought of the Welsh as an English secret and considered them our sort-of-simple cousins. They were basically only known for living in the hills and riding sheep in a way that can only be safe with the use of a condom. Having now seen The Raid, my opinion hasn't changed but Gareth Evans is clearly a talented man. For the full running time, his camera never stops moving, whizzing about like an bonus character on crack. The ‘kineticism’ really is up their with Sam Raimi and Edgar Wright and really does go to show that it's not the budget that dictates excitement, but the level of talent in control. If Michael Bay was even half as talented as Evans then he'd realise how shite Transformers: Dark of the Moon was and cry himself to death in a puddle of piss and shame. If we, as a species, realised how much more money was involved with that ball-poppingly dull threequel was, we'd hopefully do the same.

If I have one criticism of The Raid, it would be regarding a minor plot development in which two characters turn out to be brothers. Despite this adding a little extra tension and character development it also comes across as a little bit of a coincidence. Although in its defence, that is only a minor point and is in no way as contrived as Star Wars: The Phantom Menace. I'd always wondered who built C3-PO and so thank God it turned out to be a young Darth Vader. Without that random and unnecessary development, the saga wouldn't have held together as well and Episode one would probably be considered to be proper shite.

In the end, The Raid probably won't be everybody’s cup of tea, but that's only because some people are pussies. Yes, it's violent, but it's really not as offensive as something like the morally bankrupt Sex and the City 2. After watching The Raid all I wanted to do was tell people how brilliant it was. After Sex and the Shitty I just wanted to self-harm for a few hours until the memories went away. I guess what I'm saying is that violent films really don't make the people watching them violent. After enduring the self-indulgent escapades of Miranda, Charlotte, Samantha and Seabiscuit, they might even help to calm us down. Sure laughing at the sight of seeing someone knifed in the throat might seem anti-social but fuck it- I can assure you it was through the sheer giddy of The Raids brilliance and not because I think being stabbed is a source of humour. Not unless Piers Morgan's after any tips for a stand up routine, anyway.

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8 October 2012

Mighty Joe Young And Old

If I had a chance to chat to my younger self, I would most probably warn him about certain events that have unfolded since my birth. One of the more prominent, easily-avoidable memories occurred at the local swimming pool. This one time I had goggles on and so could see everything under the water when I noticed a pound coin at the bottom. Excited, I swam down to grab it, dodging loose verrucas and mouldy plasters as I went. When it was within reach, I picked it up and then proudly examined my winnings. As I glanced at my newly gained loot I was surprised and disappointed to witness the coin completely dissolve away. It was at that point that I realised that it wasn't money that I'd had in my hand but was in fact a little tiny lump of shit. Somebody around me had taken a crap, shook out their shorts and then left it for me to find.

If I did have a time machine, not only would I stop myself from reaching for the abandoned turd but I'd stop myself going into the pool altogether. A second after that, I noticed a middle-aged woman in a white swimming costume. For a start I could clearly see the silhouette of her wiry, black pubes but worst of all was the obvious outline of her sanitary towel. Being male, I deliberately don't know too much about periods however, if I am sure of one thing it's that I don't want to be swimming around in a pool of lady-clot soup. What a disgusting fucking species we are.

The film Looper was released in 2012 and depicts a different use of time machines to my above suggestion. Beginning in 2044 the world has predictably turned to shit with the streets being full of tramps and whores. I don't actually think I saw any whores walking about but that's probably just because they were off working, quite rightly. Considering hobos and prostitutes are like the ‘his and hers’ of murder victims, no future dystopia could be without the complete set. At this point, time travel hasn't been invented yet which is fair enough... They currently can't make a fully working cock for trannies, so time travel in thirty-two years seems unlikely. However, in around 2077 the mob are using time machines to send people back three decades to be murdered by somebody waiting for them in the past. So the basic set-up is a bit like being driven blindfolded to Manchester and then stabbed to death in a grotty pub car-park.

Joseph Gorden-Levitt plays one of the assassins who waits for a victim to be beamed back from the future. He then shoots them, takes some silver strapped to their back and burns the body. If it wasn't for the chap getting his head turned inside out by a shotgun blast to the face, it would basically be a victimless crime. The assassins themselves are known as Loopers and live a comfortable lifestyle amongst the widespread poverty. Joseph Gorden-Levitt uses his money to drive fast cars, take drugs and chill with strippers, meaning that he's basically living the “Charlie Sheen lifestyle”. Oh and just for the sake of clarity, I can't be bothered typing out Joseph Gorden-Levitt anymore so from this point on he'll be known as 'JGL'. For other examples of celebrity short-hand, Robert Downey Jr is 'RDJ', Daniel Day Lewis is 'DDL' and Piers Morgan is 'that smug, slimy cunt with the punchable face'. I know that last one isn't shorter but it just makes me feel less sick than typing his actual name.

Anyway, JGL is a Looper living the highlife but with one big downside... He had to kill his older self but instead let him get away. People say that going to jail is brilliant with its free gym membership, room-service and en-suite shit-can. They make the place sound great until you get there and suddenly find yourself being arse-fucked into oblivion by an angry, gay, murderer. My point is that there's always a catch, and being a Looper is no exception. One day somebody will get sent back in time for you to kill and as usual you'll put a bullet in their fucking head. Instead of silver however their back will this time be lined with gold. This means your contract has been terminated, you've just killed your future self and now have thirty years left to enjoy your life. I guess that would sort of count as probably the second weirdest suicide since David Carradine tied up his own cock and then wanked himself to death in a wardrobe.

I should also mention that at some point between now and 2044 certain humans have begun to develop minor telekinetic powers. There's no explanation as to how this has happened but I reckon it's got to be a result of all our wireless technology slowly fucking with our brains. I spend so long with a laptop resting over my balls that if I'm not infertile by now then any child of mine will definitely be born with some sort of genetic mutation. I'm hoping that my offspring will have powers to save the world but knowing my luck it'll probably just end up with four arms and autism.

Looper is directed by Rian Johnson whose first feature film, Brick, is probably one of my all time favourites. Beyond his ability to tell a complicated story in an entertaining way, that movie deserves to get him credit for simply making school-life look pretty interesting. I think I was in education for about seventeen years and the only time that I was less than completely bored was the day a teacher came in having had botched botox injections in her lips. I don't know why she did it but if her aim was to make her mouth look like King Kong's arse hole then the operation was a great success. With this in mind, another movie by Rian Johnson was therefore something that I was particularly excited about.

Anyway so I guess the first thing that should be said about Looper is just how phenomenal JGL's performance is. It's a credit to his acting that despite him being the main character, it feels a lot more like a Bruce Willis film. Not because Willis steals his scenes particularly but because JGL's replication of his mannerisms are absolutely spot on. In fact, JGL is genuinely as believable here as the young Bruce Willis as the current Pope is with his portrayal of the young Emperor Palpatine. There's a cool scene in which JGL meets Willis in a cafe and we get to see the two performances brilliantly match up for the first time. It's during this encounter that JGL angrily tells his older self that his, “face is on backwards”. Bruce may be looking old but that's clearly an insult written for Mickey Rourke. The first time I watched The Wrestler it took me ten minutes to realise the mouldy, tenderised bit of beef on screen was the main character.

I've always thought that Willis plays two different types of character which is either 'himself' or 'not himself'. Meaning that he basically either plays a variation of John McClane or he plays the complete opposite of it. I guess 12 Monkeys would be an example of the complete opposite in which he spends half the film dribbling like John Travolta's arse-hole at a massage parlour, allegedly. However, interestingly, in Looper, we kind of get a mixture of both performances. For the most part, Willis's character is understandably subdued. Not only is his younger self trying to kill him but he's also been sent back in time after the death of his future wife. I guess that must be as confusing as waking up the next morning and realising you've just started a restaurant chain with Arnie and Stallone. I've never owned a restaurant but if I did, I'd hope my business partners weren't a giant Austrian pervert and a down-syndrome chimp with a plastic forehead.

This mellow performance led me to question why it was they decided Bruce Willis should play the older character. It's not that he wasn't good but I just wondered what he was bringing to the table that any other actor of his age couldn't. About three quarters in, I got my answer when Willis temporarily becomes John McClane again and massacres about twenty people in ten seconds. The only other two actors with the baggage to believably do that are ironically Willis's Planet Hollywood colleagues. However despite Arnie and Stallone's action background, the one minor thing that Willis has over them is his ability to perform language. I do love Arnie but there's no denying that at times his voice does sound like a gay lion having an orgasm. Whereas Willis here exudes a combination of masculinity and vulnerability, the best Stallone could have brought to the table is an ability to grunt audibly through his odd face, which is like the backend of a misshapen ball-sack.

In terms of inspiration, Looper appears to borrow from a wide range of movie influences. JGL swaggers around like a character from A Bout De Souffle and Willis starts massacring children like a cross between The Terminator and a slightly late Vera Drake. For a film set in the near future, it could easily slip into the world of Blade Runner so it was interesting to see that the second half of the movie  takes place almost entirely on a farm. There was this one time I tried to Google the character 'Beast' from X-men and found a link to a bestiality website by mistake. I didn't want to click on it but it felt too wrong not to and so I ended up watching several tense seconds of a woman in a stable sucking off a horse. It's a credit to the originality of Looper that prominent farmyard movies are so rare, the only other example of one that I could think of involved a slut deep-throating Seabiscuit. As odd as I found that animal porno to be, just think how weird it must be for Sarah Jessica Parker to know her parents filmed her conception.

It's on this farm that Looper appears to change influence again and starts to become a sort of rural Akira. I don't want to give too much away but there's a child here who is the definitive definition of, 'a tiny little bastard'. According to SuperNanny, a child should spend one minute on a naughty step for every year of their life to punish them for misbehaving. However here I think I'd recommend that the stroppy, toddling turd should be held face down in a swamp for ten minutes and repeatedly kicked up the arse until it dies. After the film, both me and a friend argued the toss about whether or not we'd have murdered the little twat given the opportunity. You know a film is good when its conclusion results in a casual discussion about the merits of infanticide.

There's always a risk with time travel movies that they won't make sense, will contain too many paradoxes or will point to distractingly obvious plot holes. A huge one for me would be The Butterfly Effect in which Ashton Kutcher time travels by reading a diary. Beyond the obvious stupidity of that plot, I just don't find it believable that Kutcher would own any literature more advanced than a pop up book, let alone write something. After seeing Looper, the good news is that here it doesn't really matter- Jeff Daniels tells us not to dwell on such things and ever since he got his tongue stuck to some ice in Dumb and Dumber, I've been a sucker for his wisdom and philosophies. I do have certain questions about Looper’s logic, but that just makes me want to go back and re-watch it to discover the answers.

If there is any issue then for me it would be regarding JGL's actions at the end. I won't ruin it but for me he did something which seemed a little out of character. However I've only seen it once and so it's probably my own fault for not picking up on certain signs or hints. This reminds me of a video I saw online in which you're asked to count how many times a group pass a ball between each other. Afterwards, the video then asks if you saw the gorilla that casually wondered into shot and gave a little wave. Most people are so busy counting, the ape goes past completely unnoticed. It's an interesting experiment with the bloke in the gorilla suit giving a far superior performance to anything Danny Dyer could even dream of. My point is that Looper is such a layered, brilliant film, I'm sure JGL's character acts perfectly appropriately. Though, because there's so much to take in on first viewing, I'll just have to find out how it does all completely work together next time. Either way, it makes a nice change to see an intelligent blockbuster that requires repeat viewing to fully get to grips with it. I saw The Fifth Element once and the only question I was left with was; ‘what the fuck is Chris Tucker’ and ‘why is it allowed to live?’

Anyway, so obviously I was quite a fan of the film Looper. I've been waffling for a while now and not even mentioned everything from the great script to the performance by Emily Blunt. There are too few decent roles for women in cinema at the minute and so Blunt's complex but sympathetic character was also a refreshing change. I always find it odd that good female roles are rare as not only can women act but I prefer looking at the boobs on them to those on most male actors. Although having said that, I've noticed Val Kilmer has a cracking pair of titties on him these days so I guess it's all just swings and roundabouts. Either way I can't recommend this film enough to anybody. As movies go, it’s definitely one for the brain and contains the only bit of advice you'll ever need to know to survive the future; “Go to China”. Whilst I've got the chance, I'd like to pledge my allegiance to the Chinese government and ask them to simply show me mercy when they eventually decide to strike. So Zài Jiàn and Xie xie motherfuckers!

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