Monday, October 31, 2005
Mars: an eyewitness account
In which V. has stepped outside for a few minutes to look at Mars.

It's frickin' huge! Like, unusually huge. Not quite "OMG an asteroid is hurtling towards us and we're all gonna die" huge. But definitely several times larger than your average star (or planet, as the case may be). And from where I was looking, it was quite a festive shade of orange - quite lovely for the holiday.

So now you all have a homework assignment: look at Mars. Seriously, it's badass.
Happy Halloween!
Today is V's favorite day of the whole year! Everyone must celebrate. Do something creepy. Here's a creepy picture to look at, to help you get in the spirit.

Come and play with us! Die die die!
Saturday, October 29, 2005
(Belated) Friday Baddie

"You can trouble me for a warm glass of shut-the-hell-up! Now, you will go to sleep or I will put you to sleep. You're in my world now, grandma!"
(Nursing home orderly in Happy Gilmore aka Ben Stiller)

This is in honour of V.'s Grandma who amused her very much yesterday :)
Thursday, October 27, 2005
Today's weird Omar Sharif-related news
Apparently Hollywood Film Legend Omar Sharif is kind of a total asshole and likes to beat people up.

The photographic evidence at hand would suggest that Omar Sharif does in fact have a bit of an attitude problem.

Image Hosted by
I am Omar Sharif! I will put you in the ground!

On the other hand, isn't Omar Sharif, like, 800 years old? Is he even physically capable of knocking the crap out of a much younger man? Who knows. I could maybe picture him administering a pretty solid bitch-slapping. Maybe.
Wednesday, October 26, 2005
A dramatic re-enactment of this afternoon's abducted post
Having learned a valuable lesson, I am now composing this in Word. That certainly wasn’t the first time Blogger ate a lengthy post, so I’m done taking chances. Sigh. I wonder if the Typepad kids have to put up with that kind of rubbish… Ah well.

So yes. Here I am. It’s… what, like the 27th of October or something? I realized today that I’ve spent maybe four days at home the whole month. And those four days were spent working my ass off. But I love what I do, even though I’m not getting paid for it yet. And even though I begin to have creeping doubts that I will ever get paid, or see the work in print… Ah well.

In the midst of this whirlwind adventure of travel and intrigue that has been October 2005, I’ve managed to see a crapload of films. Many of them were enjoyed with M, and have already been reviewed for your pleasure. But over the past few days I’ve seen a couple more, and they were mostly enjoyable. I shall say a few words about them now.

1. Corpse Bride.

This is the new Tim Burton film, animated in the style of Nightmare Before Christmas. I was a bit uncertain about this one. I used to be a huge (like, mega-huge) Burton fan, but then he went and pulled that whole Planet of the Apes spectacle. That cost him serious respect points from yours truly. Serious points, yo.

But I was, for the most part, pleased with Corpse Bride. It was delightfully gothic, in that lovely Victorian gothic way. Gothic like Edward Gorey was gothic. It was (I thought) genuinely very romantic and tragic as well. What happens is, this fellow Victor accidentally marries a corpse. This leads to a love triangle between himself, the corpse bride, and the human woman he was all set to marry.

The only problem I really had with the film was that it was full of tedious song and dance numbers. There seems to be this convention that all animated films are “for kids”, and all films “for kids” must be chock full of tedious song and dance numbers. I blame Disney.

(Aside: during my research for this post, it has come to my attention that there is a fan site for the song “A Whole New World” from Aladdin. This discovery is causing me actual physical pain. Dear lord. Not a fan site for the FILM, mind you, but a fan site for THAT ONE SONG. And I must say, that song is so terrible, I am certain that hearing it would cause my ears to bleed and my brain to explode. EXPLODE, people.)

So yes, tedious song and dance numbers. They really didn’t add anything to the film. If anything, they distracted from what was actually a darn good plot. Go see this one, but think twice about taking the kids. Yes, I am aware of the above-mentioned “animation is for kids” philosophy, but FFS, the main character is A ROTTING CORPSE. And I do mean rotting. Also, it’s a safe bet that nobody else in the cinema wants to be around your kids. Sorry.

2. Stay.

Oh my. Where to begin? What was this film about? To put it as simply as possible, this film was about the nature of man’s existential struggle. Really, that’s as simply as I could put it. Really.

You’ve got Ewan McGregor as a psychiatrist, and he’s got this patient Henry. And I’m not sure where to start trying to explain the situation, but suffice it to say that before too long, you start wondering, WTF is going on here? What is real? Is Henry real? Is Ewan McG real? Are the other characters real? Are You The Viewer real? Well, ARE YOU?!? Cos honestly, you don’t know.

This is truly one of those great mindfuck films that leads your brain through a maze of total confusion before throwing a simple conclusion at you. The film really strongly reminded me of a couple of other things I’d seen, and when I finally figured out what it reminded me of, I figured out what was going on.

Thing is, I can’t tell you outright what other two films this reminded me of. If you’re at all familiar with them, you’ll know right away what the twist is, and I don’t like to spoil things for people. But if you absolutely MUST know, I am referring to this film and this film here.

The verdict: see this one, but only if you can tolerate mindfuck films.

I was gonna take the time to review Serenity, but to be honest I don’t have a whole hell of a lot to say about it. It was based on some cancelled TV show I never watched, and I didn’t have a very high level of interest. I didn’t pay strict attention, and wasn’t terribly impressed. It had its moments, but not enough of them. And to be totally honest, I sort of prefer my sci-fi films to have Mega-Extreme Violence of the flesh-eating, acid-blood, face-hugging, offspring bursting through the stomach variety. So there.
A message to Blogger
Hey Blogger! I just spent OVER AN HOUR composing a complex and detailed post, only to have your server eat it. So you know what?

Image Hosted by

That's what. FFS, this is annoying.
Saturday, October 22, 2005
Trafalgar and more film stuff
OK, so the country seems to have been hijacked into celebrating the 200th anniversary of 'The Battle of Trafalgar'. Fireworks (ugh), 'beacon lightings' and her Maj. herself is even going to show her sour face. What are they going to have next? I seriously doubt whether the person in the street has the faintest idea what this event is celebrating. I believe there was a survey in a national newspaper (and I take these with a pinch of salt) that said many kids in schools thought Adolph Hitler was a fictional character. I wonder what V would make of all this if she lived here....

What are we going to be celebrating next? 1066 day? Actually that's a good question - do we feel we invaded this country in 1066 or were invaded? I'm sure we'll be celebrating 1066 day in 2066 with Joy joy feelings and seashells for everyone (that's a reference for V. )

Speaking of V. she highly recommended a film to me that I will now briefly review. I picked it up today on DVD for a pittance in a sale which made me happy. It is.... Deathwatch!

This film had a great premise. A bunch of British soldiers in WW1 get lost in a horrific push forward and regroup in a captured German trench. This trench is... weird though. It seems to have no purpose in it's design. It's perpetually surrounded by fog. There are too many dead bodies that seem to have died in bizarre circumstances. As the men dig in to await relief they begin to see strange things.... This film reminded me a LOT of The Bunker . I am not sure which I liked better. Deathwatch has ALL the right ingredients but it's kind of slow paced. The Bunker is better paced but also slightly fails to really make the most of a good premise. There seem to have been a slew of WW1/2 horror films around this time - I haven't yet seen Below. What I liked most in Deathwatch was the fact that you could interpret the events you see in several different ways according to your own thoughts. I'd say this is certainly worth a look, along with The Bunker. Deathwatch's main problem in the UK is that everyone 'kind of looks familiar' from TV. Especially disturbing is the kid from the sitcom 'My Family' masturbating over black and white pics of German flappers! Also, the 'psycho soldier' kind of seemed a bit lame and cartoonish.
Friday, October 21, 2005
While I'm here .... films!
I usually don't find the time for all this stuff (not that I'm ultra busy, just a bad time manager) but V. is visiting pals at the moment and I said I'd say something about some films.

High Tension

OMG. V. got me this on DVD as a surprise in the last few days I visited her, for my birthday (in about 3 weeks).
This was originally a French film, so it has: the original uncut French version (best, natch, and not specifically mentioned on the back of the DVD); An unrated US dubbed version...yeah; An English dubbed version that I assume has the mediocrity of being dubbed AND cut!
OK, this is a GORE film!

Plot: 2 French girl students drive to the home of one for a summer of college study. Events take a horrifically violent turn in a home invasion that creates one long, bloody chase with death seemingly imminent every minute. (That's my synopsis anyway).

Facts. Firstly this film blows you away with it's violence. It's genuinely shocking and actually makes you afraid of what depravity is going to occur next. How about a shot of a man getting 'head' in his truck right at the start in the background of the girl's family waiting for the girl to arrive. He then reached out and dumps the SEVERED head out of the truck window while her kid brother plays nearby... wait though, don't take ANYTHING for granted!
The violence is so extreme so fast that it makes you think ANYTHING can happen (and it does). This film essentially only has 3 characters...

There are twists in this film that are great though you'll maybe feel a little cheated by them. I am still unsure. I do know it was great fun though, so thanks V.!

The Village

This was a very worthwhile film but not quite the mind blower I expected from M. Night.Shyam...say it V!

Firstly, I loved 6th sense and I also loved Unbreakable. This more than OK but I thought not on their entertainment level.

There is 'supposedly' a huge twist in this film that 'M. Night' made big showy pretensions about during the film's avertising. This 'twist' was lost on me, as I kind of assumed it right from the start, not through any cleverness but just normal assumption. I won't go any further.

The film is WELL worth seeing. V pointed out a part I didn't realise after seeing, that made me think about it a bit more even though the supposedly great shock had just happened. V stated to me after I saw it that it was a tragic romance. I'd agree with that.

Very good. Watch 6th Sense or Unbreakable first though! I haven't seen Signs yet...
Friday Baddie

Phil Mitchell. Be afraid. His 'bruvva' has been lounging in Brazil for years and doing 'SAS' dramas and his Mum has been doing copious adverts while claiming stress has stopped her working, though now she's back wiv a big mafff!. He has been 'doing panto' and living in his camper van but he is back to 'ketchup' on old scores with his nemeses (everyone) starting with Ian 'Squeal' Beale who feints with his Aiki-do that turns into Aiki-don't in the gutter with tomato sauce. A lesson for us all I think! Everyone praise the return of some ridiculous and hopefully entertaining bullying hi-jinks in the tragi-comedy that is...Eastenders!

I apologise for the formatting of this post as V. is so careful to arrange everything properly!

Tuesday, October 18, 2005
M.'s first bloggy blog film blow out
Hello and welcome to M.'s first amateur attempt at screwing up V.'s blog with inane comments.
Firstly - let's clear up the 'facts' about V.'s recent film-orama extravaganza, to which I bore witness...

Batman Begins:
this was great just as V. promised. And we saw it in the cinema for $1 each! OK our feet stuck to the floor and an ancient old coot came up to us after the finish and started yelling 'waaaaaay batman!' while flailing his arms around. But it was $1! Self same old codger wandered in and out of the cinema peering s-l-o-w-l-y at everyone in each row trying to find where he was sitting. Did I mention V. picked a fight with a girl-gang of 'toughs' in the back row for making too much noise (see also 'History of Violence' for similar antics). Anyway, enough about the venue.
Good points -
Almost dark and moody enough to do Batman full justice and the best Batman so far by FAR.
Scarecrow running Arkham Asylum.
Horror style effects when the bat attacks the baddies.
Bad points (being picky) -
V. pointed out that Katie Holmes wobbles her face non-stop whenever she talks and then I couldn't see anything else except wobbling faces...aaagh!
The event that triggers young Batty's vigilante streak was rather flat and poorly portrayed whereas it should have been a pivotal and emotional scene - take a look at how it's portrayed in the graphic novels in just a few panels...
They can't get away from the fact that a bunch of 'supervillains' want to 'destroy Gotham' with a giant comical and improbable superweapon - the personal vengeance and character issues are much more involving.

The Exorcism of Emily Rose:
henceforth this film will be named the Exorcism of Emily Bivens. Some very creepily effective imagery and the plot structure was well handled. Impressive how the film portrays both possibilities as seen or explained by different characters. I don't think it'll change anyones mind about the supernatural but it might make you look on the bedroom floor at night when you can't sleep...

Cry Wolf
Utter crud which V. cruelly persuaded me was 'going to be good'. As mentioned, all (OK most.. OK some) damn films currently being shown in the US features : a high school full of 'hip' 30 year old kids. A foppish 'new' British boy who talks like Hugh Grant and wins over the hip 'youngsters' with his damn jolly fine Englishness and ability to cope without his 'queen' and 'cups of tea'. Eurgh. The plot DID have a ludicrous twist in the nature of a scooby doo episode.

Hmmmm. I'm not sure why V. wanted me to see TWO films about airline terror when I had to catch a long-haul flight. This was slick but not exactly a brain teaser. There were too many plot holes and unexplained loose ends to really satisfy. Damn they had some nice roomy seats on that plane though! Also, the mood in the cinema turned quite ugly when almost everyone seemed to find the 'Arabs being beaten up' hilarious and worth clapping.

Red Eye
Wow - even bigger plot holes here that just get absolutely ludicrous when the plane lands. The interplay between the 2 leads was very engaging with Cillian Murphy particularly good (at first) though I think V. has a 'thing' about him... Most noteworthy scene was the final 4 minute climax where a woman (let's call her...V) dashed from the theatre, silhouetted against the screen with arms flailing towards the nearest restroom after helping consume a large cherry coke, thus missing the 'exciting' finale....shame! I doubt either this or Flightplan will be appearing on the back of a seat in front of you any time soon.

War of the Worlds
I'm a fan of that musical version with the Richard Burton voiceover and was hoping for a mix of the horror of this with some 'Dawn of the Dead' style updating and credible and bloody epic effects. I don't think there's anything much to give away about the plot. I do NOT get why the Martians buried their war machines on pre-historic earth(?) so they could wait a few aeons until there would be anything around to fight with them. Also the ending had a disgustingly sappy Morgan Freeman God-bothering voiceover prayer to all the suffering, much like his presidential prayer in Deep Impact. The noise the Martians made was pretty creepy too (not UUULAH!)

A History of Violence
Pretty much agree with V. on this on all counts. I DID find the violence a little too comic-book though. Not 'comical' but 'Rambo style' unrealistic, though very brutal. A very polished film and I'm sure there is much Cronenbergian imagery of significance that will require a future re-watching.

The Fog
You know how 'Dawn of the Dead' and 'The Texas Chainsaw Massacre' have been 're-imagined' (along with many other films recently) and that they were pretty good entertainment, right? Well this stinks like a pile of leperous pirates kipper slippers.
Bad points: not scary; doesn't make sense; horribly wooden 'characters'; crappy CGI ghosts; utterly unneccessary - the 80's weren't THAT long ago! Yeah I know Amityvile was the 80's too but it had merit....
Good points: 2 bikini bimbos apparently love to dance vacuously with each other on a fishing boat deck in the dark to a small transistor radio for hours - what a party life eh?; You can watch the original which succeeds where this fails on all counts.

Phew! I'm off to watch some Special Perverts Unit. Hopefully V. will let me write my reviews of High Tension and The Village which I saw this weekend on the DVD.
Here are some brief reviews of films
In which V. sums up the movies she and M. saw over the past couple of weeks.

1. Batman Begins

Premise: Duh, it's Batman. From the beginning.

Review: I have seen this three times, and would gladly see it three more. I mean, duh, it's Batman. You can't go wrong with Batman. Well, actually I suppose you can, if you count the entire series of films from the 80s-90s. Except the one with the Riddler, I liked that one. But I am soooo digressing right now.

2. The Exorcism of Emily Rose

Premise: Emily Rose dies during an exorcism. What's up with that?

Review: See a few posts down. I recommend this one.

3. Cry Wolf

Premise: Some spoiled rich kids at prep school invent stories about a serial killer and email them to the whole school, and then the invented serial killer seemingly comes to life and starts picking them off one by one.

Review: HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA! I should note, expectations of this were pretty low. On the plus side, it had Jon Bon Jovi in it. On the negative side, it was pretty much exactly like every other "kill the pretty teenagers" film ever made. Well, no, there was a twist. I'll give credit for the twist. And M. takes issue with the fact that films about American prep schools always have to have a British exchange student in them. But hey, he can tell you about that himself.

4. Flightplan

Premise: Jodie Foster loses child on transatlantic flight; air crew react as though she is a complete nutter.

Review: This was an okay film. But the plot was almost 100% ripped off from "Bunny Lake Is Missing," which is a superior and more creepy film. Flightplan wasn't creepy, it was just kind of mildly tense. Cos you KNOW the daughter has to be real and you KNOW Jodie Foster isn't a nutter, otherwise where's the plot? On the plus side: explosions! On the negative side: it gets pretty old watching Jodie Foster run around for two hours shouting WHERE'S MY DAUGHTER?!?! OMG HER DAD JUST DIED!!!!!11!

5. Red Eye

Premise: Attractive yet cruel man holds pretty girl hostage on an airplane in order to force her to go along with some convoluted assassination plot.

Review: Yeah, this was good. Kind of loses a bit of credibility once they get off the plane, but still, enjoyable. We were sitting in front of a woman who desperately tried to engage us in conversation before the film, and then during the film she would clap loudly whenever the attractive yet cruel bad guy got kicked in the nuts, etc. And she laughed loudly at things that weren't really THAT funny. Which kind of led me to wonder, WTF?

Oh wait, I'm supposed to be reviewing the film, not the nutter sitting behind us. The film: good. Not brilliant, but very good. Go watch it. Yeah.

6. War of the Worlds

Premise: Aliens vs Tom Cruise

Review: You know who wins. See also: explosions, mayhem, strife, irritating female child. Good entertainment, in that "blow shit up" huge blockbuster kind of way.

7. A History of Violence

Premise: Good upstanding small-town man kills in self-defense; things get out of control.

Review: I can't give away much of the plot of this without spoiling the film for you. I really liked this. It's serious and thought-provoking. The point of the film seems to be this: our society has been conditioned to accept that violence against "bad guys" is acceptable. More than acceptable, even... worthy of praise.

This film tries to show that violence is VIOLENCE, and it doesn't matter who the good guys or bad guys are... there are always consequences, and things aren't always so black and white.

By the end of the film you're left wondering: who ARE the good guys? Are there any good guys at all? You're shown some quite brutal and excessive violence - which yes, may seem a bit unrealistic and cartoonish, but I think that's exactly the point. I'm not saying this well, I'll attempt to sum up. Americans watch all these films in which we're encouraged to cheer when the bad guys get what's coming to them. But in this film, Cronenberg manages to make you feel absolutely sick about it. Some people in our audience DID laugh and cheer at the violence, and I found that repulsive. They're living examples of the point the film wants to make.

I'm not saying that we should never laugh or cheer when bad guys bite it in a film. Just that this particular film had a very good message about violence and our reactions to it. Where should we draw the line? And what is all of this doing to people and peoples' mindsets? Anyway. I said it was thought provoking, and these are some of the thoughts that it provokes. Moving on...

8. The Fog

Premise: Remake of outstanding John Carpenter film.

Review: No. Just... no.

Whoah, we saw eight films. I had no idea.
Monday, October 17, 2005
Behold, I have posted!
Some big news here at Codename V: general brilliant mastermind and all-around genius M will be joining as a contributor to this blog. He's known to appreciate a wide variety of books, films, music, etc. Plus he's a fan of Vikings. So I think you'll all like what he has to say. However, he still must get to the West Indies of his own accord.

Hopefully soon I'll be re-adding the links and things back to the sidebar there, with M's input. Comments will probably still be disabled, as I generally find comments to be problematic. But you don't want to hear all this boring administrative stuff. No, that's not what you come to Codename V for. No, you come here to be told what to do. And now I will tell you what to do.

You will watch Rome. If you're already on the Rome bandwagon, good for you! You get bonus points and a gold star! If not, I really have to insist that you give it a try. Ancient Romans are very nearly as cool as Vikings. This show has it all: humor, bloodshed, sex (gay and straight), scandal, graphic violence, graphic nudity, political intrigue... what more could you want? Nothing, that's what. So watch Rome, dammit!

If you have HBO OnDemand, you're lucky enough to be able to watch this from the beginning at your own leisure. If you have just plain old HBO, you have the following week to get all caught up, as it's my understanding that they plan to show it all again over two or three nights.

If you don't have HBO... well... you'll just have to miss out.

That's all I have to say at the moment. M and I saw loads and loads more films over the past couple of weeks, and I'll try and write those up later.
Tuesday, October 04, 2005
V and M see a film
In which V. realizes that she's neglected to mention being away on holiday with M. for a couple of weeks, and thus will not be posting regularly.

So yeah, M's here, and we've seen a film! Well, two films actually, the first being Batman Begins, which I've now seen three times. But you can't get too much Batman. That is a fact.

The other film we saw was The Exorcism of Emily Rose. It was very good. Emily Rose was killed during an exorcism, and the film was mostly about the priest being on trial for negligent homicide or something like that. There were flashbacks to some creepy stuff, and V. was pretty effectively creeped out and unable to get to sleep that night.

It was the kind of film that makes you ask yourself questions. Like, what's real and what's not, and how do we explain things? The prosecution claimed that Emily Rose had epilepsy, and the defense's argument was, what if she really WAS possessed? Personally I don't think I could have found the priest guilty... the whole point was that he genuinely believed, in good conscience, that he was doing the right thing for her.

M says that doesn't make it right, though. Oh, and he wants me to mention this one scene where Emily Rose's boyfriend wakes up and she's not in bed, and he sits up and finds her on the floor, and her body's all twisted and distorted, and she's staring creepily and blankly into space, and you don't know whether to be scared of her or feel sorry for her (I was scared of her, very scared). Oh, oh. And M found this site, which tells a bit of the true story that this was based on. I'd sort of like to learn more about it.

But for now, we are on holiday.