Tag Archives: UK

The Watch: Richard Ayoade Needs to be Talked Up

As much as I’m sure some people wanted to see this movie for Vince Vaughn, Ben Stiller, and Jonah Hill, there is one man I wanted to see this movie for in particular. And that man was Richard Ayoade. From over the pond, Richard was brought to us as a gift, and should be treated as one. It’s not that often that a truly talented and gifted British

The true star of the film.

comedian graces us with his presence in an American typical absurdist comedy. It’s not to say that the rest of it wasn’t great, but one person stood out. IT Crowd’s lovable Moss. Let’s get it on.

What makes this movie great for me? The fact that it takes place in a fictitious town in my home state of Ohio. In a typical suburban neighborhood like the one I grew up in, Glenview, Ohio gives a true sense of how mundane and fake people can be in a well off town like this one. Where does a character like Evan Trautwig (Ben Stiller) find excitement from? Creating neighborhood groups and organizations and running. Just as well he would create the local Neighborhood Watch.

Classic slo-mo roll seen with every group of slick bricks.

After a horrendous Predator skinning of his recently hired Latino night guard, Trautwig takes it upon himself to keep the streets safe and find his employee’s murderer. Inspiring justice-like feelings in three men, Trautwig creates a badass group of rollers with great hangout basements. You got Bob Finnerty (Vince Vaughn). He’s the lovable dad and sports fan who wants nothing more than utilize the man cave he created years ago but his wife won’t let him even touch. Franklin (Jonah Hill) is the off the walls juvenile who will do and say anything, at any moment. This movie is where it all started with me. I decided to give Jonah Hill a second chance with all his movies from the past. I love him now.

And last and never least is Richard Ayoade. Everything he’s done for the British comedy circuit on television and otherwise is golden. His

Lookin’ fly with that egg in yo eye, Stiller.

geeky attitude and intelligently witty characters may go unappreciated by the masses, but he hits true to home with me. The I.T. Crowd, his work with The Mighty Boosh, this, and anything else he’s ever made an appearance in. He leaves a memorable place in my heart.

It’s about to get heavy up in this biatch.

The movie got its criticisms for vulgarity and poor plot, but I feel the movie delivered when it had to. The plot wasn’t too complicated so it could focus on the humor, and I got that from the start. Take one part Aliens, and one part small American town dynamic, and you have The Watch. Vince Vaughn almost stole the show (in combination with Jonah Hill) and the vulgarity added to all the angst that someone like me feels in a town where there’s nothing to do and everyone is just too nice. You gotta have the right experiences or this movie doesn’t hold the same amount of weight. Keep that in mind, critics.

Billy Crudup makes the greatest appearance as one of the creepiest neighbors I can think of, and Will Forte is classic

You guys are #1 in my book.

dumbass failure as the cop who didn’t hire Jonah Hill’s character. The movie moves along at the perfect pace but sadly doesn’t give enough funny lines to Richard. Seth Rogen better get off the bong and beer and learn to revise that shizz. But I do hope this movie gives Richard Ayoade other opportunities to shine in American cinema, but he’s just fine where he is in the U.K. So I tip my hat to this film for trying and succeeding to tickle my funny bone. And look forward to a lot of reviews on Jonah Hill films. That dude is gold.

7.8 out of 10.

Advertisements

Cemetery Junction: Some New British Faces

A Ricky Gervais/Stephen Merchant collaboration featuring Matthew Goode and Ralph Fiennes? And it’s not exactly a comedy? Count me in? I was sold after you said Ricky Gervais. And he even makes a cameo or two. Cemetery Junction is one of those stock idea genres that deals with a young man’s coming-of-age story. But what interested me is that I had no idea who any of the men who were coming of age. With a bunch of fresh new faces, I was slightly touched and given a few laughs with another creation from Gervais and Merchant.

In Cemetery Junction, we meet Freddie Taylor (Christian Cooke), a young man looking

Some new British faces.

to make something of himself in a part of England that doesn’t seem to let anyone escape or actually succeed. His friends Bruce (Tom Hughes) and Snork (Jack Doolan) are stuck in the same boat, but they seem to be okay with their situation. Dead end jobs and nothing of interest, Cemetery Junction is a town full of ghosts. But when Freddie is inspired by his former girlfriend Julie (Felicity Jones) to be something more, he shoots a bit higher, not trying to be sucked back into his small town.

Classic Gervais.

So I mentioned I didn’t know any of the young men actors in this film. After looking them up on IMDB, I thought I knew them, but I don’t. Christian Cooke was a standout leading actor, holding down the fort for the rest of the younger actors in the film. I thought of him as a younger version of Matthew Goode, they played off each other so well. Bruce Pearson reminded me of a rebellious and dashingly good looking Cillian Murphy. His character and his troubles gripped me quite well in this one. And Jack Doolan reminded me of a chubbier Iwan Rheon, with all the same dorkiness and charm. These three young men made a winning team.

Throw in a great secondary cast and you have yourself a swinging 70’s period piece. Ricky Gervais was going to include himself no matter what, and he had to inject some of his snarky comedy into this one. It worked well, but I can’t really picture Ricky Gervais as a dad. Stephen Merchant and Karl Pilkington

Lookin’ good, as per usual.

made great little cameos as well, providing a chuckle for those who know them. Matthew Goode played a great playboy d-bag boyfriend, and Ralph Fiennes is as fierce and dominating as usual. And Emily Watson was simply pleasant and stunningly caring as the captured bird of a wife in this film. I was quite happy with the results of all the acting when it all came together.

I must admit, I also enjoyed the soundtrack to this movie as well. I dunno what it is, but this and Velvet Goldmine have just gotten to me

Thanks again, boys.

with their tributes to the 70’s. I had no idea I could enjoy that type of music with my death metal background. The humor is fresh and feels like it comes from a very true place, much different from the extremely awkward style of Ricky Gervais (but that doesn’t mean there wasn’t some of his in there as well). It’s refreshing to see a film like this coming from well known comedic creators and you are surprised because it has substance along with comedy. And even some heart in there. This was an interesting little film that doesn’t break the mold too much, but it is British. So watch it. 7.4 out of 10.


Velvet Goldmine: “G” Stands for Glam and Gay

To be honest, I had no idea what this movie was going to be about when I first started it. I searched Netflix for movies starring Christian Bale and/or Ewan McGregor and

The perfect glamster couple. (Collette + Meyers)

found this little gem. (I think gem’s the right word to use for this movie in particular.) Not a strong runner in the money department, this movie has a star studded cast but boasts the time and effort of an independent film with a message to put across. I was perfectly okay with all the homosexuality as well. And trust me, there was a lot.

And it wasn’t even a gay vibe from the outfits.

This movie exudes glam and glitter more than any other film I’ve ever seen. In the same documentary/journalistic vein of Party Monster (review a few entries back), this movie handles the earlier era of Glam Rock (back in the 70’s). Knowing not much about glam rock other than David Bowie, it was interesting to see a character based on him. This movie performs as an homage to David Bowie and Iggy Pop, but with less of a focus on the drugs and more on the sex. I wasn’t expecting as much of a straight edge film, but this movie doesn’t leave out the Sex, Drugs, and Rock ‘n’ Roll.

And here’s something even weirder. I’m not that huge of a fan of glam rock. Sure, I have Gary Glitter’s Rock ‘n’ Roll Pt. II on my iPod, but that’s about as far as it goes. Oh, and this:

That’s the extent of my glam rock knowledge. But what surprised me about this film is how much I enjoyed the musical soundtrack of the film. The movie was right in informing me from the very beginning that I should turn up the volume on my T.V. I thoroughly enjoyed the songs of the 70’s, and had no idea how much I would enjoy glam rock. John Rhys Meyers and Ewan McGregor both lent their vocals to the soundtrack to give it a truer feel to the film, something I always

The fantastical outfits.

appreciate.

But let’s get into the story a little bit. Structured after what is considered by every film student as the greatest film of all time, Citizen Kane, this movie attempts to uncover the glittery veil on who Brian Slade (John Rhys Meyers) truly was. Arthur Stewart (Christian Bale) is a journalist and former glam enthusiast who has come full circle in what used to be his glory days. He has been charged with unearthing the truth on Slade/Persona known as Maxwell Demon. After he pulled a fake assassination stunt at one of his concerts, he fell from grace and landed in obscurity. Meanwhile, everyone around him give their opinion of what their lives were like with Brian Slade around.

The Glam-man Rises.

It’s interesting to see how involved Christian Bale’s character was with the glam scene and those who surrounded Brian Slade. In a world of blossoming bisexuality, all of the characters explore just what it means to be human through sexual interaction. At the same time that it could be discomforting to someone who is against abnormal sexual acts, this movie doesn’t play it up to more than it is, human interaction on a very base and carnal level. It is always amazing to see actors perform onscreen what they truly aren’t in real life. All three (Bale, Meyers, and McGregor) are straight men. They all simulate homosexual acts (kissing, suggestive thrusting, etc) on camera in front of what I would expect is a mixed morals cast and crew. When you slip into something you’re not and sell it, I give you props for that.

The costumes and personalities flair onscreen creating something pretty to look at as well as substance for a story about a form of music that swept both the U.K. and America. With this clash of countries (Ewan McGregor plays Curtis Wild, a glam rocker from Michigan) and love all over, this movie

Ewan McGregor, showin’ it all.

professes love and understanding, no matter what beliefs, morals, or nationality. I was impressed with John Rhys Meyers haunted acting (just as I was with Culkins in Party Monster) and everyone did their share. Christian Bale created a character conflicted with his sexual identity and his confused past, while Ewan staged an opposite character that embraced all life offers. It was a dazzling performance by everyone, including Toni Collette. Throw in Eddie Izzard to add some pizzazz and you have yourself a great cast of rockers.

A side you’ll never see of John Rhys Meyers.

And that’s what I loved about this movie. This isn’t your average film. Combining the worlds of musical and sexual liberation created something that an outsider like myself wouldn’t be able to acquire otherwise. The actors deliver superbly and the songs and colors create a fantastical cosmic journey you don’t want to end. If they couldn’t strung a series of glam rock music videos together, I wouldn’t have complained. So I say anyone looking for a change of pace to life should check out this film. It’s fab. 8.4 out of 10.


Lock, Stock, And Two Smoking Barrels

I gotta tell ya, if you didn’t already know this about me, I love British films. I’ve watched the casts in British T.V., films, and American movies alike, starring alongside other big name actors. They crush their lines with timing and precision, they hold an air of Shakespearean flair, and

The Lock and Stock gang (not actual name).

they got the whole suave, posh thing goin’ on. I gotta hand it to Jason Statham, he’s a godawful muscle man stunt actor in American films, but he fits right in when the rest of the cast is from the U.K. And Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels is this perfect case when it comes to that. A flavorful British cast with a renowned British director in one of his first film debuts, Guy Ritchie. Let the guns fly and the villains die.

Always out for a pint.

That’s basically what this movie is. Although there’s not really any big hero vs. villain gun fights or anything (you can’t tell the heroes from the villains anyway. Why would you want to?) you love the situation and the feel of the movie. It seems like everyone in the film has got a mouth on them, and they all speak the crime lingo. Everyone’s out for themselves with the big payday, and this movie has a big payday indeed.

The movie starts out with Bacon (Jason Statham) a two-bit swindler who speaks easy and cons you out of your money. Selling less than par jewelry, he and Eddy the Card Shark (Nick Moran) run through the streets of London after they’ve been had. Meanwhile, Tom (Jason

Talk about your smoking barrels…

Flemyng) is finishing his last deal with Nick “The Greek” (Stephen Marcus). He’s the brash leader of the group. Then there’s Soap (Dexter Fletcher), the straight walking saucier chef of the bunch. They all bring together 100,000 pounds for Eddy to play with versus Harry “The Hatchet” (P.H. Moriarty). After being forced into a loan and some shady dealings with some cameras and Morse code, Eddy loses and all four of the guys have to pay back 500,000 pounds. Oh no.

Cage match. For keeps.

With no means of being able to pay Harry back, the gang decides to drop in on a fellow gang’s robbery idea, stealing from the thieves. With a domino effect of a plot ensuing, you’ll never see the ending coming (or will you?). I personally was very satisfied with this film. Considered one of those “classic films” you should probably see before you die, I do agree. It is. It has a witty cast and a great vibe to it that just reeks of British gangster (as it should. They’re pretty ballin’.)

I want to spend a bit more time on that ballin’ cast I was talkin’ about. I already said Jason Statham, familiar with his feet set on the other side of the pond (not in America, obviously). There’s Nick Moran, who is someone I’ve seen occasionally in small roles, but after seeing this, I think he is destined for bigger and better things.

You bald buffoon.

Jason Flemyng is one of those actors I love seeing (besides his classic role and Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde in The League of Extraordinary Gentelmen), and I can’t get enough of his versatility. It was nice to see Dexter Fletcher without gray hair (he plays Nathan’s dad in the British T.V. show, Misfits) and his character is worth a few laughs. And I have to admit that I found P.H. Moriarty to be a pretty nefarious gang boss in this one. He played Gurney Halleck in the Dune series movies for cryin’ out loud! And there’s Vinnie Jones, the former club soccer player in England. Ever since he did this movie, he’s been poppin’ up all over the place. More power to him.

I’m the Juggernaut, female dog.

I loved the plot of this film. I don’t know if I can speak highly enough of it. It has at least 6 moving parties in the film (even some bumbling idiots you wouldn’t expect to do much), and everyone gets in a whole lotta shenanigans by the end. It’s not very often you see such complicated plots like this with such a great amount of dialogue that is pulled off so well. Leave it to the British to do that.

Combine all this with a solid soundtrack, colorful references and

Let’s get it poppin’.

language and a dialect all its own, and you have a crime film that defines the late 1990’s (even into the 2000’s). I’m just sorry I hadn’t seen this earlier. It kicked my ass, and left me wanting to see some other crime flicks. Looks like Revolver and RocknRolla are up now on my list of things to watch. 8.8 out of 10.


An Idiot Abroad Series 2: The Bucket List

Let me start off my saying this series did do me head in. I’ve learned after a second trip with Karl Pilkington around the world, that you can do a load of amazing things in less than a year (proper funding needed, of course). But if a major programming station is footing the bill and your friends find you some wild experiences, go with it. Karl may think he hasn’t changed, but you can tell right from the get go, he’s a lovable guy who’s just like me. (Back to that later.)

In Series 2, we follow Karl’s choices off a huge generated list of “kick the bucket” like wishful experiences before you die. And even though he may choose things like Whale Watching and Desert Island, we know that isn’t all

Karl and some good ole Americana.

Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant have in store for him. He may eventually get to “swim with the dolphins,” but he has to travel Thailand and be dressed up as a ladyboy before he even steps foot in the water in Australia. I laughed right along with Ricky Gervais in part two of the most expensive prank ever.

Go skimp Karl, or go home.

But I was a bit more proud of Karl this time for sticking up for what he wanted to do. He refused the bungee jump, as I would have. But, along with the bucket list things he did, he got expenses paid trips to Japan and Thailand. Ever since I discovered the wonder that is Thai cinema, I have been dying to go over there. Please Sky 1, pick me up as a travel host and transport me over there! But Karl pulled it all of in stride. If someone that stubborn can make it in Japan or Thailand and still do amazing things, sign me up.

I loved the little breaks Karl took during his work over in other countries. That is to say that the English speaking countries weren’t as fun because he wasn’t dictating the conversation or speaking for the locals in a hilarious way. He went to a cheap Ugandan flea market before seeing the gorillas. And he took his time there as well. Whenever there was an opportunity to jump in and dance someplace, Karl took it

The face of a scared man.

immediately. He may seem daft and apelike, but that man can light up a room with his goofy dancing.

And what’s to make it better than that Karl ends the show on a touching note. He has his revelation on Mt. Fuji, but Gervais and Merchant just knock it down. I, over the course of this show, have come to love and respect Karl Pilkington. I find his insights to be funny and all of his scenario situations are exemplary and logic (to a point). When I travel over to the UK someday, I’m not gonna wanna go running and looking for Clive Owen or Emma Watson. I’m going to find the nearest info booth and look at the worker and say, “Right, where do I find Karl Pilkington?” No joke, I want to sit down with this man and become his friend.

Only one of those is true… Karl.

Why would I say that about a dull, homely man like Karl? Because I am a dull, homely man like Karl. I don’t enjoy traveling or big crowds. I don’t like trying new foods or doing anything I know I will fail at no matter what. And I want to meet a man who can inspire me to do it by saying, “Look, we’re about the same right? If I can do it, so can you.” And I believe meeting Karl Pilkington, of all people, can make that happen. You hear me, UK? When this whole college thing is done, I’m comin’.

So I think it says loads about what I thought of the show and the content of what Karl Pilkington is as a person to say I want to meet him first and foremost. The show is entertaining and eye opening, funny, and extremely witty coming from a person

Don’t all British mind like a bit of drag?

everyone calls a div. To say I wouldn’t mind being Karl Pilkington is no stretch of the goal I could reach for. I even hear his voice in me head now. What a mental thing that is. Well, add that to me bucket list, meeting Karl Pilkington. Cause this show and the series as a whole (including Karl) deserve a 10 out of 10.


An Idiot Abroad Series 1

… Or as Karl Pilkington would’ve liked to call it, “Karl Pilkington and the Seven Wonders”. Either way, executive producers Ricky Gervais (star and creator of UK’s The Office) and Stephen Merchant (co-creator of The Office), along with Sky1 programming, made this an experience that Karl would never forget. In 7 episodes (and a hindsight 8th episode), Karl Pilkington visits the seven wonders of the ancient world. What happens in the meanwhile makes all the comedy.

I love Ricky Gervais’s idea for this show. He calls it “the most expensive prank on national television”. He wants to throw Karl out of his comfort zone and make him do

This… is Karl Pilkington.

terribly uncomfortable and wacky things he would never do. If Karl brings something up (like rather living in a cave than in a nice house so he can see the nice house) they do that. His sometimes backwards and small minded opinions on the world come out constantly and he must deal with those consequences.

Unimpressed.

That’s what I loved about this travel documentary. Karl is constantly talking. (He says he hates noise, but a lot of it is coming from him.) He complains, in a very comedic way, although he may not know it, and has this constant set of stand up comedian like scenarios and jokes when he talks about native cultures. He won’t try any foods (sensitive gag reflex, he says) and his three favorite phrases are:

1. I’m completely knackered.

2. This is doing me head in.

3. Insert ethnically racial stereotype here.

A little bit jealous of the Shaolin Wushu…

He is unabashedly forward with people and, for some, that may come off as insensitive and stupid. For me, it was comedic timing and forward humor at its best. He has this insane amount of diction in his head that he can apply to any situation in order to describe it to another layperson such as himself. He is thoroughly unimpressed by every wonder (“It’s alright…”) and finds any way to use Sky1’s money in order to relax when he can.

But that’s where that stops. Gervais and Merchant are constantly calling Karl up in order to get him to do funny things for the camera. He awkwardly rides a camel, wrestles with pro wrestlers in Mexico, is unwittingly asked to stay with a gay crossdresser in Brazil, and is

Like a needle in a haystack…. (Preview of Series 2…)

always being pushed to live in terrible hotels and hostels. Seeing Karl as “the kid crying in the corner getting poked with the stick,” really is enjoyable television. I do feel bad for him sometimes though…

Is he truly an idiot? That face kinda says so…

Either way, Karl Pilkington gets to do some incredible things and see some incredible sights. He showed me, and all the other thousands of viewers who have watched him, how to rough it in other countries and where/what to steer clear of. Karl goes well beyond my own comfort zone and travels and does things I would never enjoy doing. If I had the opportunities he had, there would still be no show. So I salute you, Mr. Pilkington, for doing what Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant made fun of you for. Now, on to Series 2: The Bucket List of Karl Pilkington! 8 out of 10.


The Great Happiness Space

In this documentary by Jake Clennell (a UK documentarian), the world of Ouran High School Host Club comes to life. In Osaka, Japan, the Cafe Rakkyo is a place for tired and worn down women to come and feel healed, emotionally and probably physically, by the male hosts. With lots of drinking and fake flirting, Clennell dives into the secrets and tips of being a Japanese male host.

For Jake Clennell’s first time doing a documentary, he does a great job. In a mere hour and fifteen minutes, he captures the host life through a

Not your average Ouran boys…

handful of interviews and first hand events. Centered around the owner of Cafe Rakkyo, Issei, who every girl loves and wants to be with. His animal magnetism comes from the way in which he tailors himself to what a girl wants. And what’s the endgame? Money.

This entire interview/documentary is about a human’s instability. Growing up into such a business mogul the way in which Issei did has sacrificed something. Even those who have come in fresh to the game (as one host did) notice something different about themselves. The hosts can’t escape the attraction to the girls (some say love, others say connection) but in the end there is a lot of focus on materialism. Fashion designer clothes, accessories, hairstyles, it’s all about selling themselves to entice women to come to their host club. They lose the excitement of falling in love with someone and lose senses of trust, commitment, and honesty.

Some cute Asian cuddling?

From someone who doesn’t know a thing about host clubs or anything other than from anime, it comes as a culture shock. To see men in a power and control of sexuality and a socialite position in quite in contrast to America. Here, women hold all the power when it comes to sex. We pay for their drinks, we are the ones that instinctively flock towards them in clubs and bars. Men actively seek women in this country. It is up to the women to say yes or no.

But, in the world of Japan, men are the ones in these types of clubs that dictate the tempo. Women pay for privacy and one on one time with them. Women buy the men drinks in order to loosen them up and make them more friendly towards them. These women spend

Just your average host selection bar…

thousands of dollars a visit in order to woo these men. A male host starting off can make $10,000 American dollars a month. How insane!

And then comes the issue of who comes to these host clubs. More often than not, they’re call girls/prostitutes who have just gotten off work. They come to relax and enjoy time away where they’re the ones being catered to. The Osaka district in Japan is drenched in sex. Male businessmen, young impressionable females, host club employees, it’s everywhere. And to see a place that encourages social interaction other than sex is something interesting and new.

The real message to take away.

In the end, as these boys emerge from their cavernous man-den, the come out drunkenly into the sunlight, falling over, hair a bit askew, wanting a good night’s rest. And they’ll be back in a few hours to do it all over again. Issei heads back to his apartment, speculating about his future life and if he’ll ever marry. But what this documentary has delved into is that this may not be the case for this host culture. A bunch of boys jaded by love and what it means to be faithful, who knows if they’ll ever find love. All I know is that this documentary was entertaining and complex, insightful and opened a whole new culture aspect to me (being interested in Japanese culture and all). If you like pretty Asian boys or just something that will make you more aware and intelligent on Japan, you need to check this out. It’s pretty deep. 7.2 out of 10.