Dark Crimes

On the return flight back to Japan I watched only one film, this one. I chose it because it was a film I had heard nothing about, and it is probably a film I would not have watched otherwise. Also, it has Jim Carrey, one of my favourite comedians, but I knew before watching it that this is not a comedy at all.

The story follows Jim’s character, a Polish detective who is trying to bust Marton Csocas’ character for the murder of a businessman. The story seems pretty straightforward, but by the end it is a jumbled mess of a story, but has a nice twist at the end.

It is very dark watching, both the subject matter and the cinematography. It has very little action and just spends a lot of time making us feel really down and bummed out about life in general.

Jim was good, but all he to do really was keep that face he has in the poster throughout the whole film. Marton Csocas was great as the villain of the story.

The internet does not like this film at all, Rotten Tomatoes gives it 0%. I wouldn’t say this is a bad film, but it is not exactly riveting stuff either, just a real downer overall. It was well made and the acting was good, but the subject matter probably suits a novel better than a film. The twist at the end does give it a kind of satisfying end, even if it is still a downer.

Jim’s next project is the live action animated film “Sonic the Hedgehog”, he plays Dr. Ivo Robotnik. I think you might be making more bad film choices Jimbo.

Date watched: March 31st
Score: 4/10
Film count 2019: 7

First Man

The second film on the plane was this one about Neil Armstrong, and it was also another brillo film.

It told the story of how Neil got into the space program, his training and testing programs, and of course the trip to the moon. It also looked at his home life, or as the film would have you believe, his lack of interest in family life and his obsession of doing spacey things.

The direction was superb, and the acting just as good, although Ryan Gosling just had to look po-faced and serious all the time. The moon landing sequence was great.

As with Bohemian Rhapsody I can’t really fault this one, but it is not quite as gripping. Still, it is a very worthwhile watch.

Date watched: March 19th
Score: 9/10
Film count 2019: 6

Bohemian Rhapsody

On March 19th I flew back home to New Zealand with my daughter, which gave me an excellent chance to watch a couple of in-flight films. My first choice was this one.

And it was a most excellent film, every bit as good as it’s four Academy Awards would suggest. Rami Malek was absolute superbness as Freddie, he nailed I thought. Everything else about the film was all well done too, and I have no complaints at all really. Nice one.

I wonder what the next music film will be after “Rocketman” comes out… perhaps a John Lennon flick, or a film about Duran Duran, or maybe Jim Morrison? Who knows, but as long as they are well made I don’t really care who it is about.

Date watched: March 19th
Score: 9.5/10
Film count 2019: 5

Library Listens: O.G. Original Gangster

An idea suddenly appeared in my head that I should review various albums from my library of CDs, just for fun, and to see how the music stands up. And in my never-ending quest for knowledge it will give me a chance to learn more about my favourite artists. I chose this album because I am listening to it as I type, and I like Ice-T, he is dope.

This was released in 1991, which I didn’t really need to look up, it was ingrained in my brain for some esoteric reason. Actually 1991 was quite a year for music with the release of albums such as Nirvana’s Nevermind, Achtung Baby from U2, Badmotorfinger from Soundgarden, and Bandwagonesque from Teenage Fanclub, and I have all of those in my collection. There were plenty more.

It peaked at number 15 on the Billboard Chart, and number 9 on the Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart. Reviews in the day were mostly good, NME liked it a lot saying ” Ice-T’s best shot yet; riotous vignettes from a decaying America full of devious humour and striking pathos – all those things NWA profess to be but clearly aren’t.”

Select magazine, a now defunct mostly Britpop-oriented magazine, (the term “Britpop” was actually coined by one of the writers there), said: “Three tracks “Mind Over Matter”, “The Tower” and “The House” are outstanding while “much of the rest relies on a well-tested recipe of looped breakbeats and linear drums.” and that the album’s themes function “better as manifesto than as music”.

I remember buying this, probably in 1991 or 1992, and liking it a lot. It was refreshing stuff, and was probably the first Gangsta Rap album I ever bought. The only other rap bands I liked in those days were Public Enemy, Eric B. and Rakim, Run D.M.C., and the Beastie Boys of course. I still listen to all of them regularly.

And I still like this album a lot, nothing changes with Ice-T. Good beats, lots of attitude, and funny at times. There are plenty of tracks too, 24 in all. I have a couple of other of his albums, but this one is always the bomb. The album artwork though is not the best.

If you want to see a good documentary then check out Something From Nothing: The Art of Rap. Ice directed and produced this in 2012 and it is about how rap artists go about their trade. He visited rap luminaries all over the U.S. such as Q Tip, Chuck D, Eminem, Kanye West, and Rakim. Ice is obviously a nice fellow, and is good on camera.

I have never seen Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, but I imagine he is good in that.

Ice is also in Body Count, a thrash metal band, and they are pretty good too.

Ice-T has a few children from different partners, and is currently married to an ex-swimsuit model. They have a four year old daughter named Chanel Nicole Marrow, and they all seem to be happy. He is 61.

To end these posts off I have decided that I must find a photo of the musician taken with Lemmy, and Ice-T did indeed meet Lemmy. The other homey is from Ugly Kid Joe.

Diamond Trail

This is a 1933 pre-code film about the daring adventures of newspaper reporter “Speed” Morgan and his run-in with gangster boss “Flash” Barrett.

Here is the full synopsis from IMDB: Reporter “Speed’ Morgan helps gangster “Flash” Barrett escape an ambush by rival gangster Mullin’s henchmen, and then escape the pursuing police. Posing as a wanted gangster named “Frisco” Eddie, Morgan is made a member of the gang and goes West with them as Barrett is looking for rancher Bill Miller, who was his in-between man on stolen diamonds until Miller dropped a package, found out it contained diamonds and hid and kept them. Miller’s sister, Lois, is unaware of her brother’s connection to the eastern gangsters.

“Hiya Doll!”

This is very simple story telling, and also made very simply. It is all-round simple.

It is also quite genre bending. The film starts off as a 1933 modern day style film, with the moider of a rival gang member by “Flash” barret, which “Speed” Morgan witnesses. Sensing a scoop he helps “Flash” flee the scene of the crime in the hope that he can infiltrate the gang, which he does. We are then introduced to the main plot of the story which takes place in the Wild and Woolly West. The gang members actually drive into a Western town like the one in Gunsmoke or Rawhide in a gangster-style convertible jalopy. The town’s folk are all dressed in cowboy garb of course, and all ride horses instead of driving cars, although there is a car in the town that they can rent if they need it.

“Tell me where da ice is at, or I’ll plug ya. See?”

It is as though the film producers thought it would be a great idea to mix a gangster land story with a western. Perhaps 1930’s America was actually like that…no idea.

Something I really liked is that everyone was wearing a hat of some sorts… those were the days!

Kirk Douglas was 17 years old when this film was made.

Silly entertainment, but entertaining it was, and thought-provoking on many existential levels.

Date watched: February 24th
Score: 6/10
Film count 2019: 4

Alphaville

I tried to watch this in full as the first film of the year, but I quickly lost interest in it and watched The Force Awakens instead. Last night I decided to finish watching it, and while it did get a bit better, I didn’t think much of it overall. It was directed by Jean-Luc Godard, so that basically means this is a high-art film that makes me a film snob just for watching it.

It is lauded on the interwebs as an intellectual, witty, stylish, and age-less film, amongst other adjectives. And yes, I suppose it is all of those, but for me it was strangely paced, a bit sloppily made, and things were happening which didn’t make any sense at all. The dialogue used lines and quotes from a couple of well-known poets which helped to confuse things a little.

The story is about Lemmy Caution, an undercover agent posing as a journalist who drives to Alphaville, a large city controlled by a sentient computer called “Alpha 60”. He gets there by driving his Ford Galaxie from “the Outlands”. Lemmy’s mission was to find out what happened to another agent, kill Alpha 60’s creator, Professor von Braun, and to destroy Alphaville. Lemmy is dressed just like The Bogart in Casablanca, and is constantly taking snaps with an Agfa camera.

Alphaville’s residents are conditioned to not show emotion, and to never say the word “why”, instead they must use “because”. Anyone showing emotion, digs poetry, or shows symptoms of free thought are rounded up and executed by being shot in the back next to a pool, then collected by several women in swimsuits who also do a little synchronised swimming while they are at it. The fellow in the white shirt below makes an emotional speech before getting plugged, but he survives that and continues his speech in the water, so the sychronised swimmer ladies push him under the water until he is quite dead…

There is of course a love interest in the form of the daughter of Professor von Braun (played Jean-Luc Godard’s wife at the time, Anna Karina). She has been brainwashed so cannot show emotion, but discovers she is falling in love, putting her in danger.

Throughout the film we could hear the voice of Alpha 60 talking to Lemmy, and his voice was quite unique, as well as a little annoying. From Wikipedia: The voice of Alpha 60 was performed by a man with a mechanical voice box replacing his cancer-damaged larynx. That certainly explains the weirdness there.

Also from Wikipedia: Despite its futuristic scenario, Alphaville was filmed entirely in and around Paris and no special sets or props were constructed. Buildings used were the Electricity Board building for the Alpha 60 computer centre and the Hotel Sofitel Paris le Scribe.

An American actor by the name of Eddie Constantine played Lemmy. He was popular in Europe and seems to have spent most of his career making French or German films. He named one of his sons Lemmy.

I think I will need to watch this again, perhaps I will understand it better second time around. If it was more polished and some of the editing less jarring it would certainly help to make it easier to watch. It did have some interesting ideas though, and some scenes were fun to watch. Terry Gilliam’s Brazil is a similar kind of film, but does it better in many ways.

Date watched: February 21st
Score: 6.5/10
Film count 2019: 3

Doug DeMuro

The first YouTube channel I will write about is the first channel I subscribed to, I think.

Doug DeMuro is a writer for Autotrader where he writes about all kinds of cars. But, he is also a very popular YouTuber because of his car reviews in which he gives us a tour of a car’s “quirks and features”, takes it for a test drive, then gives the car a “Doug Score”.

He always does this wearing shorts, sneakers, and usually two layers of T-shirts. He is also quite funny, sometimes quite goofy, but is always entertaining. He gets to drive the most amazing cars, mostly borrowed from local car dealerships, or viewer’s cars. Mostly they are luxury cars, and occasionally hypercars such as the Bugatti Veyron or Porsche 918.

Here is a best bits video that will give you a good idea of what the channel is like…

He now has over 2.5 million subscribers, and is in the top ten of most popular car channels.

Highly recommended for car buffs.