Thursday, July 26, 2007


Here's a brilliant idea: the "stop global warming" leather bracelet!

100% of the net proceeds from the sale of the bracelets will be donated to the Stop Global Warming Fund. Made from 100% recycled scrap leather. Embroidered detailing.

I'm slightly concerned that the bracelet is made out of scrap leather, meaning that production is not reducing the number of those methane-producing cows who pollute our precious planet. But I suppose the Stop Global Warming people are doing the best they can.

In a similar vein, I'd like to announce the new Stop Bad Things Happening bracelet!

Buy one today and show the world that you are against the occurence of Bad Things. 100% of the net proceeds from the sale of the bracelets will be donated to the Stop Bad Things Happening Fund (a division of Blandwagon Self-Indulgence Enterprises). Isn't a measly five dollars a small price to pay for the chance to stop bad things happening?* This is your opportunity to be part of the solution rather than the problem! And remember, your purchase of a bracelet will be every bit as effective in putting an end to bad things happening as the stop global warming bracelet is to putting an end to global warming. It's just that simple!

*disclaimer: While an end to bad things happening is my ultimate goal, the pursuit of the Stop Bad Things Happening campaign may result in some bad things happening, such as me crashing a Mercedesful of bikini models into a tree on the French Riviera while blind drunk on vintage champagne.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007


This, my friends, is a momentous day. This is the day that I review ‘Laser Mission’.

Make sure you’re sitting in a comfortable chair and holding a strong drink. You’re going to need both.

In preparing for this review, I realised that it was going to have to be something special. 'Laser Mission' is so improbably crammed with incompetence, stupidity, shoddiness and an overall lack of talent that it would take a lot of work to bring it's myriad failings to light. Its awfulness is so exquisitely detailed that one would have to take one's time with it, lest one miss some glorious vein of ineptitude. It takes a certain kind of man to undertake such a massive, thankless task.

Fortunately, I am such a man.

'Laser Mission' was made in 1990, by the same South Africans who'd lobbed the live grenade that was 'Space Mutiny' onto the world stage two years earlier. I discovered it in a compilation entitled "Super Sci Fi", which I purchased at WA Salvage for $5. The fact that 'Laser Mission' isn't Sci Fi by any stretch of the imagination obviously didn't bar it from this collection. Perhaps it was included because it had "laser" in the title, and as we all know, lasers are science fictiony.

Although come to think of it, lasers have been science fact, rather than science fiction, for nearly half a century, so even that slim justification doesn't work. Oh well. It certainly sets the tone for the level of forethought and attention to detail of the movie itself.

We begin in an underdecorated set with fake windows, pretending to be a luxury salon, full of extras in eveningwear, pretending to be classy. They are there to witness the unveiling of the fabulous Varbeek diamond… “varbeek” obviously being Afrikaans for “tacky crystal door stop”. However moments after it is revealed, gas grenades go off inside the room and masked gunmen burst in. They grab the diamond, but not before their leader fires off a few rounds from his semi-automatic weapon into the glassware. Of course everyone is dead or unconscious already, thanks to the gas, so presumably he just has a thing against champagne flutes.

Cue the first of several abrupt scene changes, as we leap over to what purports to be Cuba, where chiselled mercenary Michael Gold has just arrived at the airport. Michael is played by Brandon Lee, who is not so much an actor as a set of well-defined cheekbones looking for a raison d'etre. Given his biological heritage and his flinty glare, for a few seconds the credulous viewer might actually believe that he's a little bit bad-ass. Sadly, however, it isn't long before he opens his mouth, and any illusions we ever had about his coolness are thus ruined.

Customs officer: Are you here for pleasure or business, Mr Gold?

Me: Don't do it, Brandon. Don't say "A little of both."

Brandon: A little of both, you might say.

Me: Dammit!

Customs officer: What kind of business do you do?

Brandon: People management and conduct behaviour modification.

Customs officer: That sounds very interesting and dangerous work.

Brandon: Let’s put it this way – I’ll always have a job.

Customs officer: Trouble is, are you always able to do the job? (stamps passport)

Brandon: You wouldn’t happen to know where I could get a good Cuban cigar, would you?

Customs officer: You Americans, with your sense of humour. You kill me.

Brandon: Another time, another place.

Me: Well, welcome to Cuba, and thank you for using the "Awkward Banter" window. Next!

Having baffled the local customs service, Brandon heads off the baffle Ernest Borgnine. Since Ernest was probably lured onto the set by wafting an open bottle of scotch under his nose, this shouldn’t be too difficult. Brandon finds him sunning himself on a bench by the beach.

Brandon: Mind if I sit, Professor Braun?

Ernest: Oh no, no, sit, it’s a free country.

Me: Uh, I hate to disappoint you, Ernest, but it’s supposed to be Cuba.

Ernest: Wait… who are you, and how do you know me?

Brandon: My name is Michael Gold. I represent a group of concerned citizens in the United States.

Ernest: Oh.

Brandon: You’re fond of birds.

Ernest: Yes. Yes, I have an affinity for them. My daughter works… what a strange approach! What do you want?

Brandon: We want to help you.

Ernest: “We”?

Me: Yes, Brandon represents People for the Ethical Treatment of Non Sequiturs.

Somehow, possibly with the promise of a hip flask full of horse tranquiliser, Brandon persuades Professor Borgnine to flee to America with him. Before they can make their move, however, he is captured by a trio of mysterious strangers and thrown into prison.

It’s in prison that he meets the man who is to become his nemesis. He is Kalashnikov, some sort of commie Russian army guy with a ginger buzz cut and a steely glare. Out of all the cast, his fake accent is the most convincing. It’s not actually Russian, of course, but it is vaguely eastern European. As for the rest of the cast… well, let’s just say that there are ducks who can do better German accents than Professor Borgnine.

Kalashnikov takes great delight in informing Brandon that he’s already been tried and found guilty by the People’s Court.

Brandon: What charges?

Kalashnikov: Treason. Espionage. The death penalty.

My Viewing Buddy: But Brandon’s not Cuban. How can he be charged with “treason”?

Me: Hey, if that’s the most illogical thing in this movie, I’ll eat my car.

But you can’t keep a good man down. Or Brandon, for that matter. He soon escapes, and tracks down the only person who might know what has happened to Professor Borgnine: his lovely daughter Alissa.

Alissa is played by Debi Monahan, whose qualifications consist, in their entirety, of her possession of a bleach-blonde perm and perky breasts. She’s a little suspicious of this strange man with razor-sharp cheekbones, a perma-tan and a complete inability to make one statement coherently follow another, but she agrees to meet him for dinner at 9pm.

At the restaurant, the sexual tension and repartee zing and sizzle like somebody dropping a dead jellyfish onto a beanbag. At the cost of great personal suffering, I’ve transcribed the entire, wretched scene. Witness the full, poetic glory of ‘Laser Mission’ romantic dialogue!

Debi: So tell me, why should I trust you?

Brandon: I’m somebody who wants to help you find your father.

Debi: My father? I think that my father’s dead.

Brandon: That’s possible. But I’ll find out if you’ll help me.

Debi: When I want to flirt, I’ll tell you.

Me: …the hell? Debi thinks that talking about her dead father is flirting? Ewww!

Brandon: Alright Alissa, I’m going to find your father.

Debi: That’s if they don’t kill you first.

Brandon: That’s my problem.

Debi: Yeah well it’s my problem too if I help you!

Brandon: Did he discuss his work with you?

Debi: No, we talked about birds, and music, and life. Never about his work.

Brandon: Who would he have discussed his work with?

Debi: Professor Rice, perhaps? His colleague and his closest friend.

Brandon: Where do we find this Professor Rice?

Debi: “We”?

Brandon: We’re partners, remember?

Debi: Oh, am I worth $100,000 too?

Brandon: I never put price tags on women. It's much more fun taking them off.

Debi: Some things come off very easily.

Brandon: Such as?

Debi: Such as... your head if you don't stick to business.

Me: Is Brandon dating Debi Monahan or Idi Amin here?

Brandon: Let’s go find Professor Rice, shall we? (stands and gestures to pull out her chair)

Debi: (sarcastically) Oh, such a gentleman.

Brandon: (under his breath) Oh, such a bitch!

It’s like Tracy and Hepburn all over again... after they’d been reincarnated as trolls.

Following dinner, Brandon and Debi leave the restaurant to meet Professor Rice… and suddenly it’s the middle of the day. It’s not merely blue-tinted filters filming day for night; it’s actual daytime. But they’re still wearing their dinner clothes. So it must be the same night. But it’s day.

It’s at around this point that my brain started to hurt.

Soon they’re ambushed by the military, and there’s a car chase, with Brandon and Debi in a 1968 Combi van and the Cuban military in whatever vehicles the extras happened to drive to the set that day. Considering the craptacularity of the rest of the movie, it’s a surprisingly professional car chase, although perhaps this is less surprising when you discover that “director” BJ Davis is really a stuntman. This may explain why the falls and explosions are pretty good, while piffling details like script and acting seem to have been thrown together by a coke-snorting Best Boy.

It’s also worth noting that even when playing to his strengths, BJ can’t resist the siren song of incompetence.

VB: Hey! That door fell off the Combi in the last shot! But now it's back again!

Me: That must be what the latin americans call "magic realism".

VB: That's not magic realism.

Me: Okay well maybe the “realism” part is a bit of a stretch.

By now, Brandon and Debi have learnt that Professor Borgnine is being held in the desert compound of a villain named Eckhardt, so Brandon decides that they should drive “south” to get there. The only problem is, they’re supposed to be in Cuba, and Eckhardt’s lair is supposed to be in Namibia.


And you know what? I say fine. Drive south from Cuba to Namibia.

To do this, of course, Brandon will need to get the Combi converted into an amphibious vehicle. Fortunately he's in Cuba, where such conversions aren't uncommon. From there, it's a quick jaunt across the Caribbean Sea to Columbia, and south to Peru, then Chile. At Puerto Williams, the southernmost point of Chile, it's back onto the high seas for the several hundred kilometres to Antarctica, and thence across a vast plain of ice to the South Pole. There, Brandon will apparently use the advanced technology of his 1968 Volkswagen to reverse the polarity of the Earth magnetic fields, causing the North and South Poles to swap. Then it's off across the ice again! Once he reaches the coast, there's several thousand kilometres of the tumultuous Southern Ocean to cross before he makes landfall at Capetown, and from there, it's just a short run through South Africa to Namibia.

Of course the reversal of the Earth's magnetic fields has caused mass extinctions of migratory birds, fish and mammals, leading to a cascade of ecological disaster that will eventually wipe out humanity, but at least we can all die in the knowledge that Brandon Lee did what he set out to do, and reached Namibia by driving south from Cuba!


How!? How does a scriptwriter forget halfway through his movie where he’s set it!?

Set it in Cuba if you want! Set it in Namibia if you prefer! We don’t care! But don’t suddenly decide to shift your entire story to the other side of the planet without a word of explanation!


Sorry. I just had to get that out of my system before I had an aneurism.

Okay. So now we’re in Namibia. Brandon and Debi lose their long-suffering Combi to murderous militias armed with RPG launchers, walk through the hellish Namibian desert for a bit, find a horse, ride that for a bit, then eventually end up in a decent-sized town with a luxury hotel where they can rest, freshen up and give in to their seething sexual tension and do the nasty. Fortunately for all concerned, the strong puritanical streak in South African culture prevents us seeing anything more graphic than Brandon unzipping Debi’s dress and giving her the old lip lock.

Some hours later, while Brandon sleeps, Debi notices a car pulling up outside and Kalashnikov getting out. She sneaks downstairs, and while Kalashnikov is beating up the desk clerk, she hotwires the car and roars away. An infuriated Kalashnikov carjacks a passing Volkswagen Golf and takes off in hot pursuit.

When Brandon eventually wakes up, he receives a phone call from Debi.

Debi: Listen, I’ve got good news about Kalashnikov.

Brandon: What about Kalashnikov?

Debi: He’s dead.

Brandon: You killed him?

Debi: With pleasure.

Me: Wait... you killed him with pleasure? Whoa!

VB: Me next! Me next!

But Debi’s lying; Kalashnikov is holding a gun to her head. She’s going to be his little insurance policy when the Irresistible Force that is Brandon Lee hits the Immovable Object that is the plot.

Brandon eventually finds Eckhardt's lair, breaks in, and meets Eckhardt. They fight, as you’d expect, and Eckhardt is killed after he falls into some spiked iron railings. Of course even this relatively straight-forward death scene couldn't be done without glaring logical errors... despite the fact that he fell down onto the spikes, one of his arms is resting in such a way that it could only have got there from the side. You've got to love a considerate corpse that arranges itself postmortem to its best photogenic advantage.

And then Brandon gets attacked by a ninja. Because… well, by this stage we know better than to ask why. He just does.

Once the ninja is dispatched, Brandon heads back inside to untie Professor Borgnine, and to ask the question that's been on everyone's lips: how did he get from doing 'Summer of the Seventeenth Doll' and 'From Here To Eternity' to this? And also, why did Eckhardt want the Varbeek diamond?

Ernest stays mum about the myriad failings of his career, but he does reveal that Eckhardt wanted to use the diamond in conjunction with the Professor's laser expertise to create a doomsday device.

Professor Borgnine: You see, with the Varbeek diamond and my laser, I can create a nuclear weapon.

Me: What!?

VB: He can create a nuclear weapon with a diamond and a laser? How?

Me: Sweet merciful crap, Ernest! It's a diamond and a laser! THERE ISN’T EVEN ANY FISSILE MATERIAL!

VB: I have just now lost all faith in this movie's narrative coherence.

But now Kalashnikov has the diamond, and has hightailed it to his diamond mine, for reasons of... well, he just has. Such considerations as "reasons" were left behind twenty scenes ago.

At the diamond mine, we’re reintroduced to a couple of bumbling Cuban guards who filled some earlier comic relief roles back in Cuba, and who are now part of a mine chain gang. I for one don’t ask why. At this point, my brain isn't so much hurting as disintegrating. Heck, I see no reason why the two Cuban guards shouldn't suddenly turn up in Namibia. They are manifestations of an eternal comic archetype, not intended to resemble real people or be bound by the laws of time and space. They appear for the same reason that wealthy dowagers keep improbably turning up in Marx Brothers sketches, or that Kenny keeps coming back to life in South Park; because they symbolise an aspect of Thaleian truth that overrules all more mundane modes of discourse. Shakespeare understood this, and so, apparently, did 'Laser Mission' scriptwriters David A. Frank and Philip Gutteridge. It may seem strange to mention them in the same breath as The Bard, but hey, why not? They deserve it.

Meanwhile Kalashnikov is in his office, amusing himself, as any red-blooded man would, by lobbing large, uncut diamonds into Debi's cleavage.

No, really. She’s tied up, he has a handful of diamonds, and he's tossing them, one by one, into the little triangular space between her breasts and the front of her dress. Maybe that's what they do for fun in South Africa. This sight gag is genuinely hilarious, and as such it must be a piece of improv. It certainly can't have been part of the script, since every other joke in this movie is as laboured as Michael Moore's breathing.

In due course Brandon and Professor Borgnine turn up, and the big climactic shoot out occurs. Brandon gets shot in the stomach, which causes him to wince and stagger around a bit, but a minute or two later he’s running, leaping, cracking jokes and not, you know, bleeding to death. What a trooper. Meanwhile Professor Borgnine is manoeuvring his massive beer gut around the scene like a man wrestling a walrus, possibly in an attempt to demonstrate that even at the age of 73 he can still take part in action sequences. It’s like watching your grandad shuffling his way through the Macarena.

The movie ends with Kalashnikov and all his men dead, and Brandon and Debi laughing in an 80s sitcom kinda way, as Brandon declares that he is now the rightful owner of the Varbeek diamond. Obviously he has a door somewhere that keeps slamming shut.

And so it ends, with all of our souls besmirched by its foulness.

Despite the fact that this review is now three thousands words and counting, I've barely scratched the surface of 'Laser Mission's ineptitude. I had to leave out the hilarious "being chased by the world's least competent bounty hunters" scenes, the "Alissa at work as a female version of Steve Irwin" montage, and the haunting "Mercenary Man" theme song written and performed by Mark Knopfler's underachieving little brother Dave. I am only one man, with only so much snark to give.

Before I finish, however, I think it only fair to hand out a few Colmie Awards (named after MST3K stalwart Coleman Francis) to a few of the people behind the scenes who made ‘Laser Mission’ all that it was.

Philip Gutteridge, scriptwriter, who couldn't have had less of an ear for rational human dialogue if he'd been raised by wolves.

Marina Bekker, who was responsible for continuity, and judging from the evidence on the screen spent the entire shoot lying dead drunk under the catering van.

E. Selavie and Bob Yrtuc, who edited the film with all the panache of a three year old mashing play-doh into his hair.

And of course BJ Davis, a man with a dream he wanted to turn into a film, who didn’t realise that it was one of those dreams that cause you to wake up screaming.

Anyone can make a bad movie. Heck, give me a hundred bucks and a camcorder and I can make something completely unwatchable right now. The exquisite pain of movies like ‘Laser Mission’ is that they are technically competent. The lighting, the sound, the stunts and the camera work were all indistinguishable from proper, professional Hollywood movies. It’s in the areas that require creativity – the acting, the scripts, the direction and the editing – that movies like ‘Laser Mission’ reveal the complete and comprehensive lack of talent in their makers.

It's the perfect storm of bad movies, and we will never, if there is any justice in the universe, see its like again.

Monday, July 23, 2007


I had a fairly productive weekend, working on various items from my 'Things To Do That Need To Be Done' list.

Item 7, 'Put a riser on that one sprinkler in the front yard so that it doesn't bury itself all the time', took a couple of minutes and a little plastic part from the hardware store.

Item 10, 'Stain, then oil, the bedside tables in the spare room', took a little longer. The tables in question are raw pine, purchased for some oppressively low price at Ikea, and without any protective coating they were getting dusty and grimy. I've stained them, and a large portion of myself, a light jarrah colour to match the room's built-in wardrobes. The stain didn't have any large-font exhortations to only use in a well-ventilated area, so I just did it in the dining room. Although there was a bit of a chemical smell in the air, it didn't seem all that bad. However, I woke up several times in the night to find my nostrils filled with their stink. They were in another room, on the far side of the house, and they'd been done twelve hours earlier, but somehow the smell was so bad that it found its way through the airconditioning ducts and woke me up. Satan himself could have been sitting on my bedside table, rubbing his feet with gorgonzola, and it wouldn't have smelled as bad.

Item 5, 'Buy a new pillow and a new mattress', was something I've been putting off for months, possibly years. Mattresses are a) expensive, b) boring and c) uniformly comfy when you lie on them in the shop. I tried one that cost $600 and one that cost $3,500, and they both felt fine. How can you lie on something for thirty seconds and realise, "Yes, this is the one that will feel best over eight hours and also still feel best in ten years' time"?

Perhaps the mattress shop people would allow me to lie on their beds for hours, over several visits, but that would entail going to the mattress shop again and again and again, spending hours there each time, and frankly, I had trouble going there just once for half an hour.

In the end, I subscribed to the notion that if you throw enough money at a problem you can't fail. If you buy an expensive mattress more or less at random, perhaps it won't be the best one there is for the money, but it won't actually be bad. I didn't buy the $3,500* one, but I bought another one that, even on sale and with a degree of haggling, cost more than a month's mortgage payments.

*I do question why mattresses are so expensive. Even the $3,500 one was basically just a big bag of springs and foam. For $3,500 I'd want angels to gently bear me off to sleep in their arms while Franz Joseph Haydn played soothing meoldies on a ghostly piano forte.

Friday, July 20, 2007


Wednesday, July 18, 2007


Last night I did Items 13 and 14 on my "Things To Do That Need To Be Done" list: clean the drain in the laundry and then just clean the laundry in general.

I am not a fan of the laundry. Nothing good ever happens in laundries. Mine adds absolutely nothing to my life other than to host my washing machine, and it's not like I have a very meaningful relationship with my washing machine to begin with. I go in there, add clothes to or remove clothes from the machine, and leave. Everything in the room is simply a tool for, or worse a reminder of, chores that need to be done. There's the mop for cleaning the kitchen floor, the iron for doing the ironing, the ladder for changing light globes, the rags for doing the dusting... it's like a small, tiled Museum of Drudgery. No wonder even the most creative interior designers can't make a laundry look like anything other than a depressing hole.

You see? Your laundry can be the size of my living room and painted with liquefied Martha Stewart, and it'll still look like a bastion of chores and toil.

It took me a while, but I managed to unblock the drain, or at least make a tiny hole in the blockage that allows water to meander away at a slightly faster rate than evaporation. Then I audited everything in there, and took all the things I don't need to the spare room, to await my domestic Final Solution. Included in the cull were my spare ironing board (is there anything more depressing than the concept of a spare ironing board?) and an old melamine stereo cabinet inherited from an ex-flatmate (melamine has no place in my home, or indeed even in my vocabulary). Sadly the mop, the iron, the ladder, the rags and all the other accoutrements of the daily* domestic grind had to stay. Unless I want to end up awash in my own filth, like some sort of Anti-Howard Hughes, I need to keep them.

*or in my case weekly, monthly, or any indeterminate but embarrassingly longer period of time.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007


Yesterday I made a list entitled "Things To Do That Need To Be Done", because I needed such a list. Lately I've been spending too much time moping around the house with my own particular brand of Severe Depressive Inertia, and I'm hoping that formalising all of my half-developed household projects and long-neglected chores will help to a) lift me out of it and b) get things done.

The list has 25 items so far, ranging from the excruciatingly demanding (Item 9 - go through all the rigmarole of getting bespoke couches made) to the practically effortless (Item 13 - clean the drain in the laundry). I got to it last night and did the single easiest thing on the list: Item 16 - take the painting that's been leaning against the wall in the bedroom for the last six months and find a proper place to store it. It took less than ten minutes and didn't appreciably improve either the look of my bedroom or my mood, but at least it was a start.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007


Possible captions for this image:

1. Sadly, although she remembered to do her forehead, Madonna forgot to Botox the rest of her body.

2. "Screw the gingerbread house! I'm gonna be a star!"

3. "The dead have risen and they're faking guitar solos!"

Further suggestions will be gratefully received in comments.

Monday, July 09, 2007


My first thought upon waking this morning:

Yay! It's Saturday! What shall I do today? Off to a cafe for breakfast? Maybe watch a movie? Play some games?

My second thought upon waking this morning:

Wait a minute... didn't I go to church yesterday?

My third thought upon waking this morning:

If I went to church yesterday, it must have been Sunday, so today can't be Saturday. It must be... Monday.

My fourth thought upon waking this morning:

So it's actually five days of work until Saturday.

My fifth thought upon waking this morning:

[censored due to extreme violence and coarse language]

Friday, July 06, 2007


Nora Ephron experiences an epiphany that the rest of us had ten years ago. But because she's Nora Ephron, it gets published in The New York Times.

Next week, Francis Ford Coppola finds out that airline food isn't very good!


I'm off to a wedding this Saturday, so I went to the local Myer department store last night to see the bridal registry. There were only a half dozen things left on the list, and none of them seemed appropriate for me, so I'm going to have to go freelance and hope for the best.

Number 2,986 on the lengthy list of Things That Annoy Me is the fact that it's called a Bridal Registry rather than a Wedding Registry. It evokes a mental image of Bridezilla striding around the department store, delivering a running oration of "We will have the Royal Doulton Fleur de Lis china set and the Amberly crystal wine glasses and the Crowley Miller towels... no, the SCARLET ones, not the CRIMSON ones!... and the silver Finemore House napkin rings and..." while the groom scuffs along in her wake, making assenting noises as required. I'd hate to think that it's actually like that.

Still, it could be worse. It could be more like this:

Bride: Honey, what do you think of this china pattern?

Groom: It's nice.

Bride: What about this one?

Groom: It's nice too.

Bride: But which one do you prefer?

Groom: Hmmm... I think the first one.

Bride: The first one?

Groom: Yep.

Bride: You don't think the second one is more classic?

Groom: They're both fine. I'd be happy with either one.

Bride: Don't take that tone with me.

Groom: What tone? I said they're both fine. Get whichever one you like.

Bride: This is supposed to be our decision!

Groom: Look, I really don't care what sort of china we have.

Bride: I knew it! You don't really want to get married at all, do you!

Groom: What? Of course I do! I just don't see what china patterns have to do with...

Bride: I hate you! The wedding's off! (Exeunt, weeping)

Weddings do have a tendency to bring out the worst in people.

The last wedding I went to was horrible, largely because of the naked greed of the bridal registry. The happy couple were well-paid professionals in their thirties who had been living together for years, and since their parents were paying for the wedding their sole reason for doing it appeared to be the acquisition of a truckload of free luxury consumer goods. I wished the couple well, but not to the tune of a $300 bed sheet or a $120 pepper grinder.

This Saturday's couple, I'm happy to say, are the exact opposite: impoverished twentysomethings who've been living in (separate) sharehouses and who are paying for the bulk of their wedding themselves. They actually need and deserve the material spoils of the wedding day. In fact, they're rather humble; everything on the registry is very ordinary and workaday, from the Maxwell Williams china to the Panasonic telephone. I don't think they quite get it - once they're married they'll be able to buy their own Maxwell Williams crockery, but they're unlikely to be able to afford a Portmeirion salad bowl or a Bang & Olufsen alarm clock. A wedding is one of the very few times that people expect to give extravagant gifts like these. I think they could have gone a little further in that direction without becoming the acquisition-crazed monsters mentioned above.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007


My Two Second Review of the new 'Transformers' movie:

So that's what the id of an over-caffeinated, over-sugared 14 year old boy looks like.

Monday, July 02, 2007


To paraphrase the sixteenth century poet Willliam Butler, "Doubtless the Italians could have made a worse movie than 'Bronx Executioner', but doubtless they never did."

Granted, I'm paraphrasing him fairly liberally, but if he had seen 'Bronx Executioner', I'm sure this would have been his assessment.

It's quite difficult to review a movie like 'Bronx Executioner'. You can't pick holes in it because it's primarily made of holes. Pick at it with any sort of force and the whole thing falls apart. It wasn't so much filmed as edited together from other footage, and even the fresh new footage was routinely looped to pad out the action. As for the story, even in its most abbreviated form, the synopsis either doesn't make sense or doesn't match what's happening on screen. It's the equivalent of hearing a voiceiver intone, "In the years after the Apocalypse, the shattered remnants of humanity banded together in savage gangs to battle for survival", while watching Vivien Leigh flounce around a ballroom in a hoop skirt exclaiming "Fiddle dee dee!".

It's only due to my intense personal courage that I can attempt to compare the movie's conceits with reality.

Conceit: It's the near future.

Reality: It's 1989, and roughly half of the footage came from 1983's 'L'Ultimo Guerriero'. So at least half of the time it's actually the near past.

Conceit: It's the Bronx.

Reality: Except for a few seconds of establishing shot right after the opening credits, we're about as close to the Bronx as we are to the bottom of the Mariana Trench. We're quite obviously in an abandoned quarry in a pleasant rural district somewhere outside Turin. Who knew that the Bronx was so pastoral?

Conceit: Replicant human androids are common. Androids who are defective or in some way sub-par are abandoned in the Bronx to fend for themselves.

Reality: So the future doesn't have outlet malls or factory seconds stores. Or recycling.

Conceit: Warring gangs of androids battle over scarce resources, like food, cars and hot women.

Reality: Androids have little use for food, cars or hot women. Z-grade Italian actors, on the other hand, have little use for anything but.

Conceit: Newly qualified "Lawman" James Crawley is sent in by the NYPD to keep the androids under control.

Reality: Crawley has blow dried hair and designer stubble. His office, in what looks like someone's basement, has a hand-lettered sign on the wall reading "New York Police Department". There's a poster of the New York City skyline at night on the wall in lieu of a window. He's an idiot who could be taken out by a malfunctioning wristwatch, never mind a malfunctioning android.

Conceit: After one group of androids kills most of another group, the remnants vow revenge.

Reality: In the big massacre scene, I swear the victims were doing jazz hands as they pirouetted down the side of a slag heap under a hail of supposed gunfire. I've seen more convincing death throes in games of 'ring-a-ring-a-rosie'.

Conceit: Eventually everyone except Crawley ends up dead.

Reality: Actually this bit is true.

The good news is that the DVD only cost me $1.66.