A low rumble, a metallic swink, a golonk…”

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Groundhog Day (1993 USA)

I think one of the smartest ideas here is that the setting, pure and simple: it could be anywhere but nowhere important. Of course, it is important for our character to get stuck in the middle of nowhere – then it wouldn’t come as such a curse to spend every day on a nice island or a big city. Here monotomy hits us hard. And here comes the life lesson: people in their 30s & 40s can easily get the metaphor, that ‘every day looks the same’. We work, sleep, eat, …. and what else? Something is missing, right? Maybe words that begin with L and H. [Read more…]

The Ax ( Donald E Westlake)

Wanted: Middle management for the oversight of an assembly line in an industrial paper factory. College degree and experience a must. Homicidal maniacs welcome to apply. Burke Devore is a typical middle-aged guy with a steady job, a wife and two kids. When he gets laid off he spends 2 years looking for new employment and realizes that there are too many people with more education and experience looking for similar work. Donald Westlake wrote this in 1997, but his publishers missed an opportunity during the last economic bust to reissue this book with great fanfare because it’s even more poignant now. There is not a single dull moment in the entire novel and to top it all off, the ending is even more brilliant.
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Bottom (1991–1995 United Kingdom)

Richard “Richie” Richard (Rik Mayall) — a sex-starved, sadistic, physically repugnant loser with delusions of sophistication — takes out his frustrations with life upon Eddie Elizabeth Hitler (Adrian Edmondson): his boozy, slightly more intelligent yet equally perverted and sadistic flatmate. The two of them spend each episode torturing each other with various household objects and I don’t want to know where he got that–type weapons. Thus causing unending chaos to both their surroundings and their neighbours. This classic TV series is definitely very slapstick in style and relies heavily on violence for its main base of humour. [Read more…]

The Dark Room (Minette Walters)

This book gave my brain cells a real work out. The first page is an attention grabber – two children having underage sex, the girl sullenly pulling up her knickers while taunting the boy’s inability to last more than three minutes. But this fun opening is not the real plot dynamic: a woman wakes up in a hospital with amnesia and is told she tried to kill herself. Also, her friend and her fiance are dead. Did she kill them, or is she being framed? You have to be very alert reading this book, as events are presented out of sequence, and times and dates of actions are important. Who is lying and who is telling the truth? It kept me guessing right up until the end. This is a psychological thriller, where you are invited to be a] the protagonist b] the police inspector and c] the protagonist’s psychiatrist. Got it? [Read more…]

Les Tossers (See The Last 3 Convicts Shipped To Australia)

Happiness (1998 USA)

This sadistic 2 hour film has no plot, in the sense of a meaningful series of events. Things happen, but there is no “story.” The film functions only to document human ugliness and suffering in the most agonizing detail possible, depicting several people causing and experiencing suffering, and then eventually the credits roll. I’ve seen other films that had no story line, some of which were very good, so I don’t mean it as a criticism of Happiness. Its a fact. I’ve seen many films that depicted human suffering, the majority of my favourite films have done so to a greater or lesser degree. Art is largely about “the human condition”, and whatever else it might involve, that condition certainly has its share of suffering. [Read more…]

A Bit Of Fry & Laurie ( UK 1987–1994 )

neddy-and-jackCambridge graduates Fry and Laurie would, by their appearance and elocution, fit the bill of upper class twits perfectly. And certainly a lot of the humour on offer in this series does test your sense of subtlety to the limit. But these two pithy academics also seem to have an interest in lampooning the lower classes they seem to have less in common with, so the humour covers a wider section of society than those this might be slightly more aimed at. You can see where David Mitchell and Robert Webb got their idea of a sketch show from. These two chaps. The usual gripe, that is common to most sketch shows of the time, is the unnecessary inclusion of musical numbers, but that aside its a thoroughly enjoyable show. [Read more…]

Into Thin Air: A Personal Account Of The Mt Everest Disaster (John Krakauer)

book-coverA great adventure story worth reading. On May 10 -11, 1996 a blizzard struck Mount Everest on the day when numerous individuals and groups were attempting to ascend the mountain. Eight people died that day, making it, at the time, the deadliest day in the mountain’s history. Written by a journalist, one of the strengths of the book is actually it’s lack of journalistic detachment. The author was there that day, on assignment from Outside magazine to write a story on the climb and watched several of the people he knew and became friends with, die. [Read more…]

The Firm (1993 USA)

The-Firm-1993-tom-cruise-27898687-500-336An early shooting script for this ended with Mitchell McDeere (Tom Cruise) blowing away all the partners in a restaurant with an AK-47. Thank goodness they didn’t run with that idea. It made me appreciate the re-write by David Rayfiel and Robert Towne. Moving on…in the early 1990’s, movies based on lawyers and law were the fashion, so it’s no surprise that many of John Grisham’s books were adapted onto the big screen during this time. And I imagine that dude was totally stoked by all the success and accolades he received. [Read more…]

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