Monday, March 28, 2011


"Face your deepest fears", says the tagline. That's right. You may have just wasted your money on the most useless film ever.

A few years ago my friends and I got into the habit of buying naff knockdown price DVDs for a laugh.

Two spring to mind, an American B-horror called The Dentist and an even worse one sporting the unbeatable title The Nosepicker. Proper cheap cheap cheap tacky dim-witted crap. We were pissing ourselves laughing at the crassness of the acting, the story, the soundtrack.

But it was great. There is something uniquely endearing about rubbish films.

In the unlikely event you may have heard of 2010's Basement, please be warned that it does not even make it into the above-described category. We are talking about something else here. Levels of nothingness that not even the most cynical of viewers could have anticipated.

Basement is the equivalent of being served a completely rancid dinner at a restaurant. Or the equivalent of buying a new suit only to discover that it's made of meat wrappers selotaped together.

What is unbelievable is the idea that someone, somewhere, thought that this thing could be knocked together, let alone produced, and that nobody along the way was honest enough to tell the director, the screenwriter, the producers or whoever that perhaps jacking it in would have been a more dignified move.

There's no danger of a spoiler because this film is about nothing. In theory the premises are interesting, not miles away from The Hole: a group of people are lost in the woods and end up in a dark and creepy basement. "Wow", you'd think, "Great!".

No it isn't. Because that's where it all ends. You wait and wait while the characters redraw the boundaries of the expression "dead end" and, within half hour, it's quite obvious that nowt's ever gonna happen.

The rest is some sort of tedious, repetititive, shallow, unengaging and inconsequential bilge. It goes nowhere. It says nothing. It's not even dumb. I guess it's the closest a film ever got to representing the concept of nothingness which, in a way, you could argue is actually an achievement.

Oh, and by the way, the acting is the worst ever. By far. Times ten.

"Basement" is like a Year-9 project carried out by a group of kids messing about with some recording equipment. Except worse.


Sunday, March 13, 2011

Another Year

Mike Leigh's run of form continues.

Review by Claude Carpentieri

If there ever was an imaginary Award for Best Social Observation and another for Best Depiction of the Ordinary, Mike Leigh would probably make a clean sweep each time.

His new release Another Year follows in the footsteps of some of his best work - 2002's All or Nothing and 1995's Secrets And Lies to mention but two.

This, however, is probably the first time Leigh casts his lens solely on the middle classes.

Past criticism that most of his work is allegedly a patronising take on the working classes as downtrodden salt-of-the-earth types was always ingenerous. And, like in every other of his films, Another Year goes to show that dysfunctional interaction and social ineptitude, contentment and loneliness, delusion and caring alike have all little to do with class as they're just integral to humanity.

At the core of Another Year, a couple approaching retirement; husband Tom (Jim Broadbent - Slater from Only Fools and Horses), a geologist and wife Gerri (Ruth Sheen), a psychologist. Their house, a large and cosy one in a leafy London suburb. Their son, Joe (possibly separated at birth from Keane's lead singer), an affectionate, sensible young lawyer. Their relationship, an island of warmth, affection and security amidst a social cluster where all of their friends and extended family seem to struggle with solitude and assorted demons.

The film unravels over a year. Each season, a friend or family visits Tom and Gerri, initially proudly claiming that "all is fine" and that "they're happier than ever", only to gradually let on - generally courtesy of a few drinks - that the picture is a totally different one and that, actually, loneliness and ageing are corroding them from within.

Another Year works because of its contemplative, gentle pace and its minimalistic touches. It wouldn't be a Mike Leigh film if the camera work wasn't so subtly masterful and the depiction of the most precious details so intense.

But Another Year also works because it never wishes to lecture anybody on anything. It's just a take on the fact that sometimes companionship can serve as the best refuge against ageing, insecurity and depression.

An absolute masterpiece.

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

The Mechanic

Two reviews for the price of one.

The mere sight of big/fast cars makes you wet your bed. Films where burly geezers square each other up without flinching one bit give you a feeling of excitement which is only comparable to when you squash bugs or when you watch Jeremy Clarkson testing a new motor.

You probably think that smiling at someone in public makes you a wuss because you're a true man and any deeper than The Fast and the Furious makes it too hard to deal with emotionally.

If you ticked all of the above (and also if your parents used to lock you in the garage when you were a naughty child), then you'll probably find that The Mechanic is genius and you should watch it and spunk in your pants.

You just know from the start that the main bloke in the film (Jason Statham) will survive with barely a scratch. He takes no shit and he's built like a brick shithouse. The words predictable and boring start flashing in neon lights as the first five minutes unravel.

This is a geezer's equivalent of Sex & The City, the type of stuff that girlfriends only watch at the movies just to keep their manly boyfriend happy and to make up for when they forced him to watch Valentine's Day and, of course, Love Actually.

Oh...and Donald Sutherland has gone downhill and you just don't think that lots of guns, car chases, broken limbs and gravity defying jumps make for good entertainment, light or otherwise.

The retro-looking poster is great though. The gun even matches the colour of this blog.