The Salinger – One And Only

The Salinger are a Japanese alternative rock band that formed in 1997. I bought their album “Let It Rock” way back in the early 2000’s and thought it was a decent listen. While I did not deliberately seek their music out since then, I always hoped to find another album of theirs in a bargain bin somewhere, which is what happened a couple of weeks ago. I found it at a Hard Off in the central city, in a bargain bin full of mostly rubbish CDs for only 100 yen.

This album came out in 1999, the same year as “Let It Rock”, which explains why both albums sound the same. It is good rocky stuff with a bit of a punky vibe to it too. To listen to samples of the songs click here.

It is very hard to find information about the band on the interwebs. They have a website but there has been no activity on it since 2013.

Nothing great, but worth a listen every now and then.

Music count 2019: 23

The Charlatans

It is a holiday tradition of ours to visit a Book Off in any new city we visit, so our trip to Hokkaido gave us a few opportunities to do just so.

We found a Book Off near the Sapporo Beer factory where we had a nice but expensive dinner. The selection in Book Off was not very good, this was my only choice. Recently I have been getting into The Charlatans, and as it was only 280 yen it was an easy buy.

It is a very good album, and I might say one of their better ones. This was released in 1995, but it sounds just as fresh today as it probably did then.

We did visit another Book Off in Hokkaido, but again the pickings were slim, and I am just not interested in CDs anymore, so it was for the best.

Music count 2019: 22

Terminator

A couple of weeks back we all headed to Hokkaido by ferry, which was a long and somewhat boring trip, although I did enjoy looking at the wide open sea. I did not see any sea creatures though, which was disappointing. In Sapporo, where we stayed, our hotel had a nice TV setup that included a few free films to watch, so I chose this one as I felt like an Arnie action flick, and it has been quite some time since I last watched this.

It was just as I remember it, and in some ways better. Despite being released in 1984, it has aged quite well and it’s eighties-ness only added to the spectacle. The CGI of course is primitive, and the shots of Arnie doing eye surgery on himself were very obviously an animatronic Arnie head, but it didn’t detract from the film at all. In fact, it was rather quaint, and modern films these days are just not quaint are they?

I can’t really fault it. It moved along at a good pace, Arnie was having a good time playing a video nasty and came up with one of the the most famous lines in film history all by himself, and he got to shoot a lot of people up. All good.

Here are some dancing chimps, which for some reason came up in my search on Giphy.com for Terminator…

Thoroughly enjoyable.

Hokkaido was great, I thoroughly recommend you go there if you can.

Date watched: August 16th
Score: 8.5/10
Arnie-O-meter: 10/10
Film count 2019: 24

The Adventures of Baron Munchausen

I last watched this a very long time ago, some time before the turn of the century, so I had forgotten most of it.

This was a bomb when it came out in 1988, it made only $8 million from it’s $46 million budget, but it is a Terry Gilliam film after all. This article explains the making of the film, and also some of the troubles in the film including some quite dangerous scenes, which were very clearly evident while watching it. Sarah Polley, who was nine years old at the time, had a co-starring role and as you will read in the aforementioned article was very traumatised as a result of being in the film.

I quite enjoyed it though. It was funny in places, especially when Robin Williams made his appearance as King of the Moon. Oliver Reed too was very funny as Vulcan, in fact I would say he was the highlight of the film. The rest of the film though was entertaining and quite good to look at. As well as Robin and Oliver, the film included such fine actors as Eric Idle, Uma Thurman, and Jonathan Pryce. A very respected actor, but virtually unknown at the time was John Neville who played the Baron, and he was most excellent. Sting had a cameo.

Some of the humour does fall a bit flat, and if you are a Monty Python fan then you will know what the punchlines to some jokes will be, and it also slows down a bit in places. It is also not really a kid’s film, especially with several beheadings and a risqué scene involving the tickling of the Queen of the Moon’s feet and suggestive groans.

A rather enjoyable watch, and better than I was anticipating.

Date watched: August 11th
Score: 8/10
Film count 2019: 23

Casino Royale

James wanted to watch a Bond film in the weekend, so he chose this one as he has not seen it yet.

I have seen this a couple of times before at least, with my last post about it way back in 2012. So here is what I wrote that time:

I saw this a few years back for the first time and decided to watch it again to see how well it has stood up after seeing most of the older Bond movies.

And I was quite impressed. Daniel Craig was as good as I remember and the rest of the film was much more polished, mature and action-like than any Bond film before it, but pretty much minus the camp Bond humour. That though did not matter too much, this seemed more like a proper action/thriller/spy film that can hold it’s own against the Jason Bourne and Tom Cruise flicks that could have easily wiped out Bond if he did not get up with the times.

Hopefully Daniel Craig does a few more Bond films.

I am in agreeance with myself on what I wrote, but I don’t agree with my score of 8.5 out of 10, it was a tad too generous. There were a few long scenes where the story slowed down just a bit too much and I was longing for some action sequences. The poker game for example dragged on a bit which could have been shortened or livened up a bit with a shootout at some point. And the romance storyline in the third act, which seemed like it was tacked on, was kind of dull… it too needed a shootout scene or at least a car chase somewhere.

But these gripes aside it was still a good Bond film, and solidified Daniel Craig as a very worthy Bond.

Date watched: August 3rd
Score: 7.5/10
James’ score: 7.5/10
Film count 2019: 22

Animal Factory

“Animal Factory” is a 1977 novel by Edward Bunker, and is an extremely excellent read.

Because Edward spent a lot of his first 42 years in and out of prisons (mostly for bank robberies, drug dealing, extortion, armed robbery, and forgery), it has a very authentic feel to it. The experiences told through the eyes of a young man sent to San Quentin are no doubt all based on what Edward experienced or saw for himself in the joint (in 1951 he became the youngest ever inmate in San Quentin). He also did time in Foxriver Penitentiary where Michael Scofield famously escaped.

The writing is superb, honest, and raw. Edward was obviously an intelligent chap.

A most excellent book, certainly the best prison story I have ever read along with his equally excellent book “No Beast So Fierce”. You will certainly not ever want to go to prison after reading this.

Book count 2019: 3

Airplane II

I felt like a comedy last night, and Airplane came to mind first. But, I saw that recently so decided to go with it’s sequel, even though I remember it as not being nearly as good (I have seen this at least twice previous).

Right from the beginning it started re-hashing jokes from the original, even using a few of the original’s characters such as the Hare Krishnas at the airport. Some jokes were just variations. But, there were some new jokes, and I did laugh a few times, but overall it got to be tiresome, and some jokes were just not funny at all.

Julie Hagerty, Robert Hays, Lloyd Bridges, Peter Graves, and Steven Stucker returned and were just as good, it is just a pity they didn’t have a better script to work with. The Shat seemed to enjoy his part, and being The Shat he did overdo it a little… but, we expect nothing less.

From IMDB: This film was created with the obligation that its creative team return for a third installment. Expectations were so high that the next film was promised at the end of the credits of this one. When the film was released to mediocre box office, plans for Airplane III was doomed. However, the advertisement remains in most prints.

This is not worth watching again, but some day I will probably watch the first film again, and perhaps another time after that.

My previous score for this film was 7 out of 10 (February, 2016), but I feel that is too high now.

Date watched: July 6th
Score: 4/10
Film count 2019: 21