JAPANORAMA - Seven Monkey BANNER JAPAN-O-RAMA.jpgR100 Review Movie Film Nao Ōmori, Shinobu Terajima, Hitoshi Matsumoto, Ai Tominaga, Eriko Sato, Naomi Watanabe, You, Suzuki Matsuo, Atsuro Watabe, Gin Maeda R100: A quiet salaryman in Japan signs up for a year-long mysterious bondage contract with only one rule – you cannot cancel it. First thing you’ll notice is that this looks weird; the colours aren’t far off black and white and there’s a full-on noir aesthetic (clothes, props, etc). The next strange aspect is the editing: for no reason whatsoever the film keeps ‘stopping’ and cutting to some test viewers trying to figure bits out; and for no reason it dips in to ‘interview’ / ‘documentary’ formats – both tactics demolish the flow of the story. For a whacky, kinky S&M / Bondage comedy… there’s simply not enough laughs, one or two at most, which is unforgivable as a story like this has so, so, so much potential. Overall, R100 is far, FAR too eclectic and random for its own good; but instead of being cult, it’s TRYING to be cult, and falls short, landing up as more ‘rubbish’ than weird, even by Japanese standards.

Score: 2.5/10

Sabotage Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sam Worthington, Olivia Williams, Mireille Enos, Terrence Howard, Joe Manganiello, Josh Holloway, Harold Perrineau, Martin Donovan

Sabotage: a D.E.A. legend and his off-the-rails team of undercover NARCs are being hunted down by a cartel for skimming off $10M of the gang’s money in a recent raid. I know, I know, this one’s never going to win any awards – but in a world where studios are pussying out of 18-rated movies right, left, and center this is like a breath of fresh (or rotten) air. A dark, violent, dingy film that harks back to the 70s-90s cop films that had plenty of grit and edge. From the writer of Training Day, Street Kings and End of Watch you know you’re in good hands here. Machismo’d to the rafters, there’s a whole lot of big-dick swinging, heavy swearing, ‘cop banter’ – and the women in here are strippers, ‘sluts’ or a general nuisances to the lads. The story’s not as black-and-white as it first seems, and neither are the characters – as the film balances both intense action scenes with a well-crafted thriller storyline. You either love these sort of films, or you hate ‘em; and for me, Sabotage is a decent, violent cop film with a rock-solid ensemble cast and an interesting enough story to keep you tuned in.

Score: 7/10

Irreversible Tunnel Rape Scene Monica BelluciThink of the most powerful movie scenes you can remember? The scenes that shocked and grabbed you. The moments that punched you in the gut. The takes that made you fall in love with Cinema. My guess is that they’re not from a kids film?!?!? For me, there’s something more raw, powerful and hard-hitting about the scenes and themes in 18-rated film that lesser certificates fail to match. Despite this, it feels like there are almost no 18-rated movies being released in the UK any more.

In Britain we have the following certificates for cinema-screened movies, issued by the BBFC (British Board Film Classification)

U: Universal – everyone can watch
PG: Parental Guidance
12A: Children under 12 must be accompanied by an adult
15: Fifteen years and older
18: Eighteen years and older

The Exorcist Regan Head TurnBetween 2003 and 2013 the number of films released in UK cinemas jumped from 587 to 994; a raise of 59%. U-rated films went from 60 (10% of all films) to 127 (13%), 12A went from 153 (26%) to 321 (33%) yet the number of 18-rated films has gone from 56 (9.5%) to 68 (6.8%). Of the 28 UK box office number 1 movies this year so far, only one – The Wolf of Wall Street – was an 18; and the last 18 before then was Dredd back in September 2012.

Fargo WoodchipperIn reality, most of what comes out would be broadly categorized as either kids/family films (PG/U), teen/comedy films (12A), and thriller/horror films (15-18). Despite this, distributors seem hell-bent on cutting 18s down to 15s, 15s down to 12As, and 12As down to PG. It’s frustrating because you pay good money to see a film that’s been censored by the distributors to maximize the bums on seats – but the studios release the DVD as the higher certificate anyway.

Battle Royale Suicide Pact Poison FoodMost notoriously, The Hunger Games dropped 7 seconds of ‘gore’ to limbo under the 12A bar. Doesn’t sound bad? Think how much more powerful it would have been with a little bit of blood or some realistic swearing in there! I zoned out of the ‘fighting’, as you saw someone hack into an opponent, and raise their weapon which was clean and shiny. Rubbish! Sure, it didn’t have to be another full-blown Battle Royale, but don’t sanitise it this much – at the end of the day, it’s kids killing kids!

Die hard Dead Henchman ho ho ho now I have a machine gunA Good Day to Die Hard was another movie that was intentionally cut from a 15 to a 12A – by removing some violence and swearing. This is a franchise that started life as a genre-topping hard-18 action thriller, which has been diluted down to a family-friendly romp. You know what I say to that? “if you’re not a part of the solution, you’re a part of the problem. Quit being a part of the fucking problem!!”

These films aren’t alone – Jack Reacher lost some violence to drop from a 15 to a 12A. Woman in Black was a 15 that got trimmed down to a 12. Robocop & Total Recall, both originally ultra-gory 18s were re-made as 12As. Machete was an 18, Machete Kills – 15… I’m sure you get my drift

Dawn of the Dead iconic zombieBut it’s not all bad news. Nebraska last year should have been a 12A, but for the term C*cksucker being deliberately left in by the director – Alexander Payne, step up and receive your bravery medal. And then there’s Airplane! A film that has been a PG for over 20 years, but was recently has been uppded to a 12A for the sexual references – I guess I picked the wrong day to look up film certificates.

Where did all the brash, bold, action-packed, risqué, sexy, and ballsy film-making go? And why the fudge are the Jackass Movies all rated 18?!?!?!?!

Advice to aspiring (movie) bloggers.

For any readers thinking ‘this site is rubbish‘, ‘this guy knows nothing’, or ‘I’ve got loads of time to burn’, you may want to consider starting your own blog. The bottom line is that on WordPress it takes about 2 minutes, and it’s a brilliant way of making yourself feel important – “Yah, I run a Film Review website in my spare time, yah”. But before you dive at the deep end in – STOP! Think about the following…

TIme Lola Rennt Run LolaDo you have enough spare time? Writing, re-writing, editing, pictures, and posting takes longer than you’d think, but that’s only the first part. You should also be reading, linking, and commenting on similar sites. Movie bloggers should join the LAMB, participate in Blogathons, and after a while start your own blogathons… If you’re wanting a decent level of traffic and interaction, you have to invest a lot of time.

So you’ve convinced yourself you want to be a blogger? Before you register, the next two things will be the biggest factors in your blog’s future; so don’t rush them.

Heisenberg Say my name

It’s all in the name: ideally you want a unique and self-explanatory website title, with a matching URL. It also has to be memorable enough that fleeting visitors will be able to recall it and search for your site again. For me having “Film Reviews” in the title and URL works because it’s on several places in every page, which makes for some good SEO.

What’s your niche? Short articles? Long essays? Detailed analysis? Humour? Technical? Industry insider? Genre specific? Debate? A single country’s or region’s cinema? Pick a pigeonhole and stick to it. In my opinion, there are too many broad film review sites, all busting out generally similar reviews of the same films at the same time – the “one stop shop” market is packed. Pick a niche and fill the vacuum.

Once you’ve registered, here’s some more general advice gleaned from years with my nose stuck in the WP dashboard.

You’ve heard the hyperbolic cliché a bajillion times before; but content really is king. It’s your site: should be your content. There’s no point in regurgitating or aggregating stories & content from established movie news sites like IMDB / empire / SlashFilm… who themselves are constantly scanning studio, production and industry sites. Original articles, ideas, features, opinions and reviews will be why people tune in again and again.

Patience Baseball Great Escape

Be patient. Don’t worry about your first few months; unless you can log some serious hours it will take a while to find your stride, hone your own style and work out how to best layout your website, widgets and articles themselves. It can take years for your stats to truly snowball, and for your site to build up a loyal readership & subscribers.

Be critical, keep reading/re-reading your articles – looking for mistakes, and areas of improvement. Comb through your stats and find out what’s driving people to your site, and what else is keeping them there. It could be a particular franchise, actor, or catchphrase – once you know, write more about it.

Be honest; a lot of movie reviewers seem to ‘go with the flow’ and mark a film depending on how it’s generally received. Don’t worry about being the stick in the mud, tell it like you see it and readers will genuinely respect you more, comment more, read more…

Cinema Paradiso - Watch

Watch a film just before you review it: remember how awesome you thought a film was when you were ten years old, drunk or stoned? (You’re a legend if it’s all three) Watch it again to make sure it’s still good and funny!

Review the movie, don’t re-tell the entire plot. This is easily the biggest and most infuriating mistake of many ‘review’ sites – a sentence or two should cover the plot, any more and you’re probably in spoiler territory. If you write a couple of paragraphs about the story, you’re being a dick.

Use the wider WordPress community. As mentioned above, join an index site like the LAMB and participate in as much as you can. Seek out similar, but larger and more successful sites and leave meaningful comments & links there – don’t spam the same comment on every article about a particular topic.

Posting semi-regularly; is far better than bunching reviews together. Start aiming for 2-3 posts a week to keep people interested and coming back to your site. The ‘schedule’ feature in WP is great, use and abuse it!

Pictures - Bean Whistlers Mother

Pictures help: I went several years with no pictures, thinking short reviews were snappy enough. Now the site looks a lot slicker, and hits from image-specific search engines make up around 30% of all incoming traffic. Some pictures have more hits than the actual review of that movie.

Finally, some advice from one of Britain’s top film critics. The spectacularly quiffed Mark Kermode – as pointed out in his book The Good, The Bad and The Multiplex – lists five essential components to proper for any movie criticism (which applies to all writing)

  1. Opinion
  2. Description
  3. Contextualisation
  4. Analysis
  5. Entertainment.

Kermode The Good The Bad The Multiplex

keep-calm-and-get-to-the-choppa-49Most importantly, ENJOY BLOGGING This should be a fun hobby, not a chore. If you ever feel like you’re beginning to loathe writing, GET TO ZE CHOPPA and escape before it’s too late! It’s worth taking some time off to clear your head and put some good content together if you hit the wall.

If you’ve been mulling it over for a long time, the best advice I can give you is to start as soon as you can; you’ll wish you’d done it years ago.

Archer is one of those great shows where the more you watch, and re-watch it, the more you appreciate and pick up on the obscure and flat moments that you didn’t ‘get’ first time round. Here’s another list of even more recurring jokes that you’ll find in TVs greatest adult cartoon.

Kenny Loggins Archer KLOG Danger ZoneKenny Loggins / Danger Zone – this fan favourite appears time and time again; mostly when a perilous mission is being described, or Lana’s feelings for Archer surface. Going beyond bad (and country) renditions of the 80s pop classic, it comes to a head in an episode where ‘K-LOG’ is the central storyline, but it all becomes a bit self-indulgent. Personal favourite. “I will hire Kenny Loggins to come here and play an acoustic set, while I slap some sense in to you”.

Archer Phrasing BoomBoom… Phrasing – essentially the “that’s what she said”, of the show. Every time someone says anything that has even a fraction of innuendo (pretty much every second line) someone will inevitably shout phrasing – BOOM! Dropped in Season Five, as it was getting a bit too obvious when they were appearing. Favourite: Other Barry calling Phrasing on Barry “So tell Archer I’m coming for him, phrasing, boom, and both Barrys out! “

Archer Smut re-heat a chilliSmut – it’s far raunchier than most cartoons, and the cast doesn’t hold back with the x-rated running gags. There’s everything from inappropriate boners (favourite: “I love that I have an erection, that didn’t involve homeless people” – Kreiger), to arousal descriptions (favourite: “I swear to god you could drown a toddler in my panties right now” – Pam) and even the blackest of taboo, as Archer gets a stiffy at the thought of his dead mother – it’s wrong on soooooo many levels. Cheryl/Carol is also a one woman choke-fetish gag factory.

Archer Tinitus MAP MOP mahp finger ear rip rileyTinnitus – every time there’s an explosion, or a grenade / gun goes off next to someone’s ear the aftermath is undoubtedly peppered with the affected character poking their ear(s) and shouting “Maaahhh” “Mahp”. Favourite: when Archer tries to bazooka the ISIS Armory Requisitions officer Rodney – it doesn’t end well.

Archer Woodhouse Ants Itchy Heroin Addict Spiders Webs Sandpaper Boil an egg cold turkeyWoodhouse – Archer’s long-suffering live-in man-servant is a great minor-character. For no reason whatsoever he is a heroin addict, WWII hero (arguably the original rampager) that collected Nazi scalps – he is also absolutely bursting with gay innuendo and British stereotypes. This is best displayed in the Tontine episode (“The Double Deuce”). Favourite, when Woodhouse learns what his fellow soldier naming his aeroplane “Choke and Stroke” really meant.

Archer Brett Buckley Bunsen Bloodmobil Ricochet Magic Bullet Blood Friendly FireBret Bunsen/Buckley – being a spy agency, every so often a gun will go off in the ISIS offices, and unfortunately mild-mannered clerk Brett usually ends up with a slug in him. Last count I did was six times – although I’m sure it’s probably higher. Season Five opens with Bret’s funeral – “he died doing what he loved – getting shot”. He also got the nickname “Mr Bloodmobile” because he lost so much blood, without ever bleeding out.

Archer Lana Kane Sterling Animal Farm Novella Allegorical BookGrammar Nazi / Literary References ­– for a racy, adult style comedy one of the best, and most subtle, recurring jokes is that Archer is a complete book-and-grammar pedant;
– to whom,
– can’t or won’t
– literally and figuratively
– Irony lessons

Favourite: on being told that Animal Farm is a book “No, it’s not Lana. It’s an allegorical novella about Stalinism by George Orwell, and spoiler alert, it sucks”

Archer I can't hear you giant throbbing erection awesomeness me punching you in the faceCouldn’t hear you – even when you can clearly hear someone, it’s not uncommon for agents to bait each other by saying I Couldn’t hear you over the sound of… “… my giant throbbing erection”, “… me breaking your nose”, “… how awesome I am”, Favourite, the one time someone says “I can’t hear you over the sound of.. I genuinely couldn’t hear you” was so unexpected that I snorted.

Archer_WooWoooooooh! – any time Archer partakes in some high-adrenaline activity (or enters the Danger Zone) he will end up running into enemy fire laughing or shouting Wooooh.. Favourite: “he broke both of Wu’s arms; while shouting Wooo!”

LINK TO THE FIRST NINE BRILLIANT RUNNING JOKES!

And for anyone that doesn’t like Archer…. THIS

Shamelessly stolen from Michael over at It Rains… You Get Wet.

Oldboy Korean Movie1 – A movie you love with a passion

Oldboy: saw it in a tiny – practically empty – 50-seater screen [Aberdeen, Belmont Cinema] and just fell in love right there. It’s got plot, style, direction, acting, editing, originality, and groundbreaking themes that the re-make probably hasn’t touched with a bargepole: I’m not rushing to watch it! Such a fine example of original, bold, and brave film-making.

High School The Musical Logo2 – Movie you vow to never watch

Don’t think I would purposely decide to never watch a particular film on grounds that it’s potentially bad (I’ve sat though old propaganda films, terrible B-movies, outrageous exploitation films with no problems), but you’d be hard-pushed to convince me to watch the High School Musical movies, or any of those “he/she dies of cancer at the end” manipulative sob-fests.

Children of Men Clive Owen Michael Caine No more babes future london dystopia3 – Movie that literally left you speechless

Children of Men: My friend Spencer and I literally walked home slack-jawed, glancing at each other occasionally and muttering phrases like “No way”, “Holy shit” and “Fuck me” for 20 minutes after we left the cinema. Unbelievable, powerful film-making, paired with groundbreaking technical precision that should be watched big, loud and uninterrupted.

City Of God Brasil Brazil Lil Ze Rocket Drugs Crime Gangs4 – Movie you always recommend

City of God: usually to people that haven’t yet been swayed to world cinema yet. My DVD of this has been continuously whored out for the past 5 years. Actually, I don’t even know where it is any more… Poor Rocket! Take that acclaimed coming-of-age crime film Gomorrah, turn that son-bitch sideways, and stick it straight up your candy ass!

Barry Pepper Hollywood's unsung hero5 – Actor / Actress you always watch no matter how crappy the movie

I try to catch as many Barry Pepper films as I can. For me, he’s one of American cinema’s unsung heroes, never the leading man, but always putting in a top shift, and connects with the audience so effortlessly. Jackie Chan too, although he’s done so many movies that it’s hard to keep tabs – and had a few ropy hollywood outings.

Zooey Deschanel GROSS6 – Actor / Actress you don’t understand the appeal of

Zooey Deschanel: seems to have carved herself out as the go-to queen of the quirk. I cannot stand her cutesy, look at me, bug-eyed, big-fringed, dressed-like-a-tranny-from-the-1980s vibe. Arrested Development is Michael Cera’s get out of jail free card, or else he’d be cast off in the same boat.

Russell_Crowe7 – Actor / Actress, living or dead, you’d love to meet

See next question – LOL. Seriously, I’d love to sit down and have a few beers with Russell Crowe. Of all the egos, stars, and reported stories from behind the scenes, he’s been the most fun to follow through the years, and sounds like he’d be a great drinking buddy. It helps that he can act the pants off of most people too, at least when he puts his mind to it.

Gina Gershon OH MY GOD SHE IS SO DAMN HOT8 – Sexiest actor / actress you’ve ever seen

I have always exclusively reserved my Hollywood-wood for the lovely Gina Gershon (Those eyes! Those lips! That hair!) – she’s like an expensive whiskey that keeps getting better with age. Although recently I saw a few photos of Italian actress Sophia Loren and my life hasn’t been the same since. Too close to call. Maybe Lizzie Capplin, or Penelope Cruz. Toughest question on the list for sure.

The Good Bad Weird Korean Blockbuster Dream Cast9 – Dream Cast

The Good, The Bad & The Weird is as close to a ‘dream movie’ I’ve seen in real life. However, if I were a producer I would go for… Brian De Palma directing an international action-thriller with an ensemble including Javier Bardem, Jean Reno, Penelope Cruz, Barry Pepper, Moritz Bleibtreu, Monica Bellucci, Vincent Cassel - all in their prime.

Boyd Crowder Raylan Givens walton goggins timothy olyphant justified10 – Favourite actor pairing

When Raylan Givens (Timothy Olyphant) and Boyd Crowder (Walton Goggins) are in the same scene my telly, brain, and Marshall stiffy pretty much explode simultaneously. The back-and-forth banter between those two is some of the best-written TV out there, and the actor’s chemistry is sublime.

BASEketball Court Matt Stone Trey Parker I hear your moms going out with SQUEAK]11 – Favourite movie setting

If I was living in a world where BASEketball or Death Race 2000 were actual sports I’d quit my job tomorrow. Being dropped into a Jean-Pierre Jeunet (Amelie, MicMacs, Delicatessen) or Luc Besson (Fifth Element, Adele Blanc Sec, Angel-A, Nikita, The Last Battle) would be wildly entertaining, although I know for a fact that this is going to change when Snow Crash is finally made – come on Hollywood, pull your finger out!

Amores Perros12 – Favourite decade for movies

I think the 2000s is a tough decade to beat, so much emerging talent and superb movies. Probably helps that I spent most of the decade in front of a cinema screen.

Oldboy, Amores Perros, Mystic River, A Bittersweet Life, Children of Men, Kill Bill Vol 1, Together, No Country For Old Men, 3:10 to Yuma, Battle Royale, Memento, The Fall, Intacto, Infernal Affairs, The Woodsman, Bourne Ultimatum, District 9, 3-Iron, Brick, Eternal Sunshine, Primer, Lilya-4-Ever, In Bruges, City of God, Love Me If You Dare

Commando John Matrix Rocket launcher four barrel carnage moustache guy multipl deaths13 – Chick flick or action movie

Action; every single time. I like the odd chick-flick now and again – Just Like Heaven, Princess Bride, SATC – but even the Mrs prefers a good old action-film over the chick-flicks.

James Bond 007 Everything or Nothing Sean Connery George Lazenby Roger Moore Timothy Dalton Pierce Brosnan Daniel Craig14 – Hero, villain or anti-hero

Two words – James. Bond. Total hero.

Survive Style 5+ Vinnie Jones 15 – Black and White or colour

Colour for the most part. I’m not particularly adverse to black and white – it has its merits – but I’ll take ‘modern cinema’ every time over the classics. Imagine watching films like Volver, Scott Pilgrim, The Fall, Lego Movie, Kill Bill and Survive Style 5+ in monochrome / B&W… no chance.

Peep Show Logo, Channel 4, E4, Harvey Danger, Flagpole Sitta

As a British male under 40, there are very few things that unite almost everyone in this demography – a love for Peep Show, is one of those things. To those unfamiliar, it’s a British sit-com about two flatmates that uses First-Person (from the character’s perspective) viewpoints, and their stream-of-consciousness internal thoughts as part of the dialogue.

Peep Show Mark Corrigan - They can laugh, but I win, they think I've pissed myself. They have no clue I came in my pants

I remember being so confused the first couple of episodes – why is it filmed like this? Is he saying this out loud? WTF is going on? But when it clicks it’s seamless. (Not unlike Family Guy’s confusing jumping to unrelated events, timelines, and situations). Essentially, Peep Show is Being John Malcovich, but through the eyes of two atypical British guys.

Peep Show Jez Jeremy Usbourne Vegetarian Chicken fish posh bacon

Most of the comedy comes from the two central characters being wildly opposing personalities; and although they’re almost caricatures – we can all relate to a bit of each of them. One is an uptight, awkward, history boffin loan manager with confidence issues; the other is a happy-go-lucky, idiotic failed-musician / eternal waster. Naturally, these two try to help each other feel more normal, and hijinks / hilarity ensues. We love them because you hear what they think, which is usually what everybody thinks, but society says you shouldn’t say out loud – and you never hear on other shows.

Peep Show Super Hans is the bottom half of me on fire?

What separates the Peep Show style of humour from other comedy series’ is that it’s so awkward & realistic – with some scenes being difficult to watch. The closest thing I can think of is that it’s a bit like Party Down but – being British – has more deadpan/reserved characters and less glamorous settings & scenarios: basically, everyone’s like Roman & Henry.

Peep Show Mark She like me blog it public record

Although it isn’t quite as witty, or well-written, as shows like Arrested Development or Father Ted (the storylines are often a bit clunky) the charm of Peep Show is that it’s grounded, brutally honest and unfiltered – like your own thoughts. Because of this, it can stand proud alongside British TV Comedies like Fawlty Towers, BlackAdder, The Young Ones, The IT Crowd and Mr Bean. If anyone was interested in knowing what It’s actually like being awkwardly British in today’s world, take a look at this.

Peep Show Super Hans You Get a Van, we could be men with ven

As a bonus, I’m from a Scottish City called ‘Aberdeen’, which is name-checked a disproportionately high number of times for a TV show (i.e. way more than once)

 

Peep Show Mark and Jez

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