The Double Topher Grace, Richard Gere, Martin Sheen, Tamer Hassan, Stephen Moyer, Chris Marquette, Odette Yustman, Stana Katic, Jeffrey Pierce, Nicole Forester, Ed Kelly

The Double: a retired CIA operative is paired with a pen-pushing rookie – both specialists on a hitman called ‘Cassius‘ – who is believed to have re-surfaced, years after his apparent death. Cassius (ka-see-us) – for some unbelievably annoying reason pronounced “cashus” for the runtime – if I ever hear that name again it will be too soon – it would make a great drinking game. Gere is OK here, but it’s not outside his comfort zone. Topher Grace gets enough screentime to shine, but doesn’t shine because his acting is terrible. Everyone else it a footnote. The story could have been quite interesting – but doesn’t start twisting and turning until it’s far too late – and you’ve lost all interest. The action is sub-standard, and overall – there’s not a whole lot of anything likeable, or even admirable to be found in here. It’s a bad film, but mostly because it plays its hand after 30 minutes and spends the rest of the runtime carelessly smashing through every spy/thriller cliché imaginable. Not good. Not good at all.

Score: 1.5/10

Orphan Black Season 1 - Tatiana Maslany, Jordan Gavaris, Michael Mando, Kevin Hanchard, Maria Doyle Kennedy, Dylan Bruce, Natalie Lisinska, Matt Frewer, Evelyne Brochu, David Richmond-Peck,

Orphan Black (Season 1) [Mild Spoilers]: When her doppelganger commits suicide a con artist tries to steal her identity; but gets way more than she bargained for. I’d class this as ‘Sneaky Sci-Fi’ – it starts out as an innocuous TV drama, but soon hits some obscure territory: DNA sequencing, evolution, cloning, body mods, it even gets a bit ‘Matrixy‘ in tone and style. The smart part about this is that by the time someone figures out it’s not something they’d usually watch, they’re probably hooked. Despite the Sci-Fi leanings there’s enough titbits of standard genres (Police procedural, Suburban Housewife comedy, Science girl for the nerds, religion) to give it general appeal. The central actress (Tatiana Maslany) is absolutely outstanding; she has to play at least 6 people, often one disguised as another – and is so convincing throughout; looks, mannerisms, accents – all nailed down. The gay step-brother is also fantastic comic relief. There are a heap of welcome – albeit unnecessary – panty shots / lesbian scenes for no real reason other than to keep the hard sci-fi dudes interested. Overall, a good concept, tight story, great talent and a solid budget – what’s not to like?

Score: 8/10

Orphan Black Season 1  - Tatiana Maslany, Jordan Gavaris, Michael Mando, Kevin Hanchard, Maria Doyle Kennedy, Dylan Bruce, Natalie Lisinska, Matt Frewer, Evelyne Brochu, David Richmond-Peck,

JAPANORAMA - Metal Lord BANNER JAPAN-O-RAMA.jpg

If you know any metalheads you’ve probably seen a few links spreading through social media about “The best band you’ve never heard of”. Here’s a brief rundown of the band, and their best songs for you to enjoy.

TL;DR – If you even remotely love Metal, and are open to other genres sneaking in this is absolutely a band you must try.

Listening to Maximum the Hormone is an experience that no other band comes close to. While you’d probably have to class them as a ‘Metal’ / ‘JMetal’ outfit, playing one of their discs is like sprinting through a music store, listening to as many genre sections as you can cram in to four minutes; everything’s covered, from funk and thrash through to pop and ska.

Maximum The Hormone

Maximum The Hormone MTH Rokkinpo GoroshiMost other genre-crossing bands usually stick to one combo – the burgeoning Dance / Metal genre being a popular one (Nine Inch Nails, Rammstein, Mindless Self Indulgence, Enter Shakari etc) – but where MTH stand out is that they do a whole raft of styles, yet they never come across as gimmicky or ridiculous; the switches between styles are all seamless, and ultimately it makes them impressive and admirable to listen to – it also helps that singing duties are split over three vocalists (One screamer, one rapper and a pop singer) and backing vocals done from the fourth.

 

Maximum The Hormone MTH buiikikaesuTheir ‘sound’ is massive; huge, broad and accomplished production that’s evenly split over all frequencies. Whereas most rock bands dial guitar and vocals to 11, the MTH bassist is their main producer, which helps to emphasise the lower range and rhythm tracks. It’s amazing what your ears can pull out of a well-mixed song!

 

Maximum The Hormone MTH Yoshu FukushuThe true beauty of their music is that their songs are packed full of great riffs (from a rock/metal perspective), yet they do justice to all of the genres mentioned above, and many more. Below is a whistle-stop tour of one of the best (Metal) bands in the world, and one that are criminally under-rated – alongside Hot Action Cop, Phil X and The Drills and Danko Jones.

 

Koi No Mega Lover - I’d happily put this down as THE best Metal song of the 00s. This has everything that makes the band great: pop-hook vocals, crunching metal riffs, super-tight bass/drum rhythms, and a genre-bending structure. You just can’t help but be uplifted by the greatness of this track – and that’s without even understanding a single lyric. It’s way over five minutes long, but always seems to finish too quickly. (Bonus: Fake subtitle version)

Uehara~Futoshi~ (Apologies for the terrible Anime video) Named after the bassist, this song is raw, fast, angry and bassey, and with one of the most stand-out bass licks since Rancid’s Maxwell Murder. At 2:36 long, it’s one of the band’s shorter tracks, but it doesn’t half pack a punch. Sounds like RHCP in parts (if they were actually good). Signature pop/slap funk bass playing.

Buiikikaesu – a great album-into track that tries its best to prepare you for the rest of the album. It lulls you in with a soft – unassuming – guitar riff, then clobbers you over the head with a wall of Nu-metal riffage, rap rock, slap bass, and pop chorus. This is primal MTH, going from 1-100mph in 5 seconds.

Bikini. Sports. Ponchin’ - Split in to several contrasting parts; starting at Emo/Metal with some screaming, an angry rock pre-chorus, which bursts into a disco-inflected funk chorus and middle-eight. On paper a song like this should be terrible; but as MTH prove over and over, any genre can be combined with metal.

A L I E N: sitting at the more extreme end of the spectrum. This one begins with thrash, nosedives into death/grind metal before pulling off one of the most powerful jumps into some bass showboating and short-lived rock riffs that most bands would regurgitate for a full five-minute entire song. Unfortunately, the end of this one digresses to a simple, repetitive power-pop chant for 2 minutes. Still, worth watching for the bizarre video alone.

Rokkinpo Goroshi: another absolute knockout of an opening track. This uses an Asian scale (and some old gongs) to let you know for sure that this is a metal band from the Far East. Twisting between rock, metal

Louisiana Bob: (another poor anime vid) If you ever wanted to here how some crunchingly good, full-bodied, rock production, then this is your track. Metal vocals, rock riffs, rhythmic breakdowns and pop chorus – you know the drill by now.

Chu Chu Lovely Muni Muni Mura Mura Purin Purin Boron Nururu Rero Rero: (again, rubbish video). Classic retro, almost ‘heavy surf rock’ bubblegum chorus hook. But being MTH it’s followed up with some coarse vocals and crushing riffs.

[Remotely decent video unavailable]

My Girl: no, not that one, although it is slipped in right at the end. One of the more steady and straightforward metal tracks in the band’s canon. A good sound mix, catchy vocals and the ‘headbangability’ make this one an instant classic.

Berberian Sound Studio Tonia Sotiropoulou, Toby Jones, Susanna Cappellaro, Cosimo Fusco, Suzy Kendall,Berberian Sound Studio: A mild-mannered sound designer / foley artist is hired to work on an Italian Giallo (B-move slasher) film – and goes a bit mad in the process. The director is clearly fixated on the mechanics of period cinema: there’s a lot of shots of spinning reels, needles, gauges, readings, dials, etc. This is interesting for about 2 minutes. Then there’s the foley work where you see how everyday objects make unlikely sounds. This is interesting for about 10 minutes (tops!). If only the director had been so fascinated by things like plot, dialogue, editing, and entertainment – all of which are categorically absent from this. It feels like a 10 minute short stuffed to breaking point with so much pointless filler. It keeps cutting to a ‘Silence!’ sign – for no reason. There are lingering close ups of rotten vegetables – for no reason. There’s a tantalisingly sexy Italian receptionist – for no reason. Finally, for a movie about movie sound, the sound mix is laughable – quiet LOUD quiet LOUD and some generically eerie scratching / screetching for dramatic effect. This 100% feels more like an art/pet project than a legitimate movie. Schmerschmerian Schmoud Schmudio. Bleurgh.

Score: 1/10

BASEketball Trey Parker, Matt Stone, Dian Bachar, Yasmine Bleeth, Jenny McCarthy, Ernest Borgnine, Robert Vaughn, Trevor Einhorn, Reggie Jackson, Robert Stack,

BASEketball: Two childhood friends create a new sport called BASEketball, but have to ensure that corporate sponsors don’t ruin the league. This film is as funny as they come – everything from college humour, gross-outs, slapstick, sports and normal gags; every scene is crammed with throwaway jokes, both in the script and in the background – it’s truly a gag-a-minute. From the director of Airplane!, The Naked Gun, and writer of Kentucky Fried Movie – you would expect no less. It’s got a surprisingly high budget too; no expenses spared with sets, extras, and an impressive comedy cast. There are a couple of small issues – notably that it’s very American, with lots of US-based gags, stars and parodies that don’t export well. it’s also quite clean and timid, given that it stars the creators of South Park and several playboy playmates – you feel that someone was deliberately keeping this reasonably clean. Having watched this over 20 times as a kid, it’s still as enjoyable as an adult. BASEketball is one of my comedy benchmarks, with more laughs and gags per scene than any modern comedy could even dream about.

Score: 9/10

BASEketball League Teams
Milwaukee Beers
Dallas Felons
Miami Dealers
New Jersey Informants
San Francisco Ferries
Roswell Aliens
L.A. Riots
San Antonio Defenders
Detroit Lemons

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

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