You Must Be Joking!

This is a 1965 British comedy film starring Terry Thomas, Denholm Elliot, and a few other familiar faces from British comedy.

It was supposed to be a madcap and nutty comedy with all kinds of sillines, but I don’t remember any particularly funny bits, although Terry Thomas is always funny, even when he doesn’t actually say anything funny. I actually watched this over three sessions because I just didn’t feel like watching it in one go.

The story is about some army guys who have to go on a scavenger hunt to test their initiative. They are tasked with getting things like an electric rabbit (greyhound rabbit), the “Spirit of Ecstasy” from a Rolls Royce, and , the Lutine bell from Lloyds of London, among other random things.

The best thing about the film was the acting. All of the actors were doing the best with what they were given, and they are obviously funny people, but the script was just not up to the task methinks.

Well, at least I can say I have seen it if it ever pops up in a conversation some day.

Date watched: November 9th (final third)
Score: 3/10
Film count 2017: 125

The Decline of Western Civilization Part II: The Metal Years

This is a 1988 documentary about metal, and mostly about glam metal or hair metal.

While I do like a bit of metal, I cannot stand those old hair metal bands, most of them are fake and play terrible music, some still continuing to do so today somehow. However, this documentary was well made and told, and some of the interviews (some were faked or staged according to Wikipedia) were quite funny. The bassist of W.A.S.P. was interviewed lying on a pool floaty thing, clothed in his metal garb and swigging from a Smirnoff bottle. He was quite blotto, and to make it even more cringe-worthy his mother was sitting poolside. Read this article about the interview, funny stuff.

There were interviews with bands like Odin and Seduce which at the time were convinced they were going to be the next Guns ‘n’ Roses or Ratt, but didn’t get anywhere. There were interviews with Aerosmith (they mostly talked about their drug and alcohol addiction), Alice Cooper, Paul Stanley of Kiss (lying on a large bed with scantily clad ladies around him), Dave Mustaine, and good ol’ Lemmy from Motorhead who was the most sensible one of all. The best though was Ozzy Osbourne (interviewed while cooking bacon in a kitchen, all staged it turns out), who was just plain funny, and while comprehensible (unlike these days) was probably on something at the time.

So, despite being about hair metal it was quite fun to watch, kind of an enjoyable train wreck as you knew most the the bands in this were soon to disappear. Here is an article about the main protagonists in the film.

Date watched: November 4th
Score: 7.5/10
Film count 2017: 124

The Stone Roses: Made of Stone

I found this on Netflix and had to watch it as I have fond memories of their first album back in the day, quite a big thing at the time.

This documentary follows the band as they get back together after a long time of ignoring each other and prepare first for a free gig in their hometown of Manchester, then a huge gig at Heaton park with 72,000 fans. In between all this it looks back on their early days as they tell the world they are the greatest band ever, give some very awkward interviews, start fighting with their record label, then each other, finally resulting in the inevitable split and not talking to each other. Why can’t people just get along?!

It is all very well done, and is a fascinating look into the world of music-making. What struck me the most though is that all of the band members are just regular guys, the kind of British chaps you would meet at the pub. They spoke in strong Manchester accents (I couldn’t understand the drummer at all hardly) and swore and larked about like anyone else. Four David Bowies or Mick Jaggers they are not. Which makes their music all the more impressive really: four ordinary-looking blokes making some of the best music the 90’s had to offer (from their first album).

It seems though that the band have basically split again, they played a gig in Glasgow in June this year where Ian Brown said “Don’t be sad that it’s over, be happy that it happened”, so it looks as though there will be another documentary in 20 years or so.

This is really only a watch for Stone Roses fans.

Date watched: November 2nd
Score: 8/10
Film count 2017: 123

Snowpiercer

Browsing through Netflix looking for something exciting to watch I came across this, and after looking it up online I found that it has a 95% fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes, so I had to watch it.

And it was every bit as good as it’s rating would suggest. Maybe it was a bit cliché at times, but on the whole it was well directed, acted, and the story was intriguing.

Tilda Swinton was the acting highlight as the second-in-command to the main bad dude (played by Ed Harris). She was an absolute hoot.

Also in the film were Chris Evans and John Hurt, and a supporting cast that included a couple of fine Korean actors (this is a Korean/Czech production).

The special effects too are impressive, and a replica train was built which was moved on a gimbal to simulate the actual train movement.

Good stuff.

Date watched: October 28th
Score: 8.5/10
Film count 2017: 122

Doctor Syn Returns

I have just finished the third book in a series of seven about Dr Syn, also known as Captain Klegg, and The Scarecrow of Romney Marsh.

In this adventure we follow Dr Syn and his loyal sexton “Mipps” as they meet again after their adventures in the Americas, and settle down once again in Dymchurch, a small village on Romney Marsh (an actual place known for smuggling a long time ago).

Dr Syn is taken on as the Dymchurch preacher, but secretly also becomes the leader of the local smugglers. He rides on a fearsome horse named “Gehenna” and wearing the scary costume of a scarecrow strikes fear into the Dragoons (mounted infantry) tasked with stopping the smugglers.

It’s all rollicking good stuff, and has a few twists and turns on the way, with Dr Syn always coming out on top because he is a brilliant man who out-thinks all of his enemies.

A thoroughly good read, and I am going straight on to the next book in the series, Further Adventures of Doctor Syn.

Book count 2017: 4

The Card

This is a 1954 film starring Alec Guinness, and follows his character “Denry” as he goes from rags to riches.

The story is rather simple, and just follows Denry from one situation to the next, as he figures out how to make money and woo the ladies. It is a light comedy, which Alec does very well, he was quite a good comic actor it seems.

Petula Clark plays one of his love interests. Another actress, Glynis Johns, was great as dance instructor who loves to spend rich men’s money.

This is not essential watching, but at the very least it is interesting to see a young Alec Guinness do comedy.

Date watched: October 26th
Score: 7/10
Film count 2017: 121

The Promoter must be an alternative title.

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