Bad Taste

I felt like returning to this Peter Jackson classic horror film after many years since my last viewing. In fact I have no review of it on this blog, so it was quite some time ago that I last saw it.

Even though it has been a long time, I remembered most of the film. Scenes such as Derek falling down the cliff, Frank having to eat from a bowl of puke (and enjoying it), various chainsaw scenes, and the exploding sheep.

Despite being a film made on a budget by a bunch of friends in weekends, and being Peter’s first proper film, it was very well made. Peter’s film techniques and comedy timing were impressive, as well as the special effects and makeup which Peter mostly did himself. Peter also had a couple of roles in the film, including Derek who was the funniest character in the story.

I remember going to see this at a theatre not long after it was released, and my cousin who was with me had to leave a few minutes after it started, he couldn’t handle the gore (I think it was the scene where the alien had the top of his head blown off, and the brains slopping out that did it). I though thoroughly enjoyed it back then, and still do.

Braindead, Peter’s next film, was probably better overall, but as I cannot find that film anywhere I cannot compare the two films. But Bad Taste is a fun film and I would say is one of Peter Jackson’s best.

Addendum: After a quick search I found Braindead… watching it tonight!

Date watched: June 16th
Score: 9/10
Film count 2019: 17

Children of Men

I watched this back in 2008 and recently decided I had to see this excellent film again.

As I wrote in my original post for this it is a brilliant film. It is extremely well made, acted, and told. The story is pretty depressing stuff on the whole, but it ends with hope for humankind.

Clive Owen, Julianne Moore, and Michael Caine were all bonkers good, as were the rest of the cast. The cinematography was stunning, especially the long shots which this film is well known for. The dark post-apocalyptic style of the film looked very good, they certainly went to a lot of trouble to make it look that way.

Some of it seemed a bit forced, especially the extras who were trying just a bit too hard to look desperate and downtrodden. No biggie though.

I will definitely watch this again in another 11 years time, and blog about it again of course. Gee, I wonder what Tommo will be starring in then? He will be 67 in 2030.

Date watched: May 3rd
Score: 9/10
Film count 2019: 12

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

Monty Python’s The Meaning of Life

Of the three Monty Python films I watch this one the least, I can’t pinpoint why exactly, but it is still a very funny film.

Perhaps it is because the other films had an actual plot, whereas this was just a series of skits strung together, and there were no consistent characters to follow. But, it was no less funny, and it has more memorable songs than the other films. It was certainly the most disgusting and bloody…

Live liver donor scene

Mr Creosote is one of the more memorable parts of the film…

And one of my favourites is the Grim Reaper scene near the end…

Here is an article by the Pythons about how the film was made. And here is an interview with Terry Jones about Mr Creosote.

So it was funny stuff, and of the three films is the most Pythonesque.

Date watched: December 29th
Score: 9/10
Film count 2018: 88

Barton Fink

After Miller’s Crossing I just had to watch another Coen Brothers film, so I chose this one, a film I last saw probably over 20 years ago.

Re-imagined poster

The story, if you have forgotten, is about a successful and intense Broadway writer who reluctantly accepts an offer from a Hollywood studio to write for movies. So, he goes to Hollywood and for his first picture is asked to write a wrestling story, something far below his talents. He tries to give it a go, but knowing nothing about wrestling flicks he gets nowhere.

Barton Fink

He stays at a dodgy hotel which has very gooey wallpaper that peels off in the heat, and a neighbour (John Goodman) who talks a lot, but ends up being the only friend Barton has. Also in the story is a famous writer who gets extremely drunk when he has writer’s block, which is where we find him in the film. His assistant/lover tries to help Barton write the wrestling movie, and that is where the story turns very bad for Barton.

The rest of the story is a murder cover-up and serial killer story, that by the end is also quite surreal and confusing.

Reading about this film online reveals that the story is supposedly an allegory for the rise of fascism in Nazi Germany, which is the time period that this film was set in. Film forums have all kinds of theories about what the film is about, and one film review even hypothesised that Charlie (John Goodman) was in fact Barton’s alter ego. I just took most of it at face value…over-thinking does nothing more than killing precious brain cells.

The Coens actually wrote this film while they were taking a break from making Miller’s Crossing because they were having problems with it. This film was written in three weeks with the main role specifically written for John Turturro. The Wikipedia page on this is long and interesting. A lot of thought went into the writing and production of the film, and there were influences galore.

Everything in this was superb, as every Coen Brothers film is. John Turturro and John Goodman were perfect, as were the rest of the cast which included a few Miller’s Crossing actors. I was just thinking what it would have been like if The Cruiser played Barton instead…best not to.

But, I didn’t quite enjoy it as much as Miller’s Crossing, I can’t quite pinpoint why. Maybe it was the effort of trying to figure out the deeper meanings of the story. Barton stared at a painting on the wall of his hotel wall of a woman sitting on a beach several times, a scene that would play out in real life at the end of the film…brain hurts.

Still, this is superbness.

Date watched: December 8th
Score: 9/10
Film count 2018: 81

Heavy Metal Britannia

This is another of the Britannia series of documentaries, the previous one I watched was Synth Britannia, which I wrote about a couple of posts back.

In this we follow heavy metal from it’s very early beginnings in England with bands like Budgie, Deep Purple, and of course Black Sabbath. There are plenty of interviews with many people including Tony Iommi, Geezer Butler, Rob Halford, Bruce Dickinson, Lemmy, and Ozzy. And there is plenty of interesting footage and photos.

I learned a few interesting things such as how the term “heavy metal” was coined by William H. Burroughs in his “Naked Lunch” book. Steppenwolf then used it in their song “Born To Be Wild”. However, to check the story on the interwebs I came up with this article which tells a different and not conclusive tale.

I also learned that it was Judas Priest who started the whole leather, gun belts, and plenty-of-studs look that defined how a heavy metal band should look. And I learned that many of these heavy metal chaps are quite nice fellows who just love what they do…always the best way to be. Rob Halford is a very likeable fellow, and Ozzy is just plain funny.

Rob Halford

Definitely a must-watch for metal fans, and an education for those who know little about one of the happiest forms of music there is (I can attest to that).

Date watched: October 28th
Score: 9/10
Film count 2018: 71

Synth Britannia

This is a BBC documentary about the rise of synth music in Britain. It features band members from pioneering bands such as OMD, The Normal, Depeche Mode, Pet Shop Boys, New Order, and Throbbing Gristle, as well as Wolfgang Flür (ex-member of Kraftwerk).

Synth music was introduced to England because of Kraftwerk, and from there synth music battled to become accepted for quite some time until Gary Numan came along and after his big success with Cars the record companies started to notice (that they could make money).

I was surprised at just how much good synth equipment cost back in the early seventies, one particular synth machine was said to cost the same as a small house. A musician that was interviewed had to choose between buying a car to get his driver’s licence, or buying a synth, and of course he chose the synth and said to this day he still cannot drive. They were mostly poor musicians too, Depeche Mode said they had to carry their synths on the train to get to their first Top of the Pops performance…synths are very heavy of course. Depeche Mode are all filthy rich guys now.

The documentary itself was well made, true of any BBC documentary. The interviews were all interesting, and there was plenty of great archive footage. The story had a narrator, but it was mostly told by the musicians themselves.

The Golden Age of British synth ended in the 90’s due to over-commercialisation and the resurgence of guitar music. The final words in the film from Andy McCluskey of OMD sum it up quite well and amusingly (click on the link).

Electronic music these days is alive and well, I enjoy listening to The Chemical Brothers, Buck Futtons, Fatboy Slim, and Aphex Twin. Still, I have good memories of synth music in the 80’s, even if I wasn’t huge fan at the time.

Recommended watching if you like a bit of music history. It would also help if you are familiar with most of the bands.

Watch it here.

Date watched: October 27th
Score: 9/10
Film count 2018: 69