My Top 5 Musicals (for people who don’t like musicals)

I have a little confession to make.

I love musicals.

I love the stories, the romance, the songs! I love learning the songs and singing along, much to the annoyance of my housemates and neighbours (they dread Christmas and my annual Nightmare Before Christmas sing along), they’re quite often a bit of good old fashioned, campy fun.

Which is why I never understand it when people tell me they don’t like musicals, how can you not love escapist cinema in it’s purest form. For a couple of hours you’re going to get some great songs, a bit of a love story and a rolicking good time!

So, to try and spread the joy and my love of musicals to as many people as possible, I present to you a list of musicals that have often been accompanied by the phrase ‘I don’t like musicals, but I loved that!’.

5) The Wiz (1978, 127mins, U, Dir: Sidney Lumet)

the wiz poster

The Wiz, a Motown production, presents an alternative look at the The Wizard of Oz. Goodbye cute little Munchkins from the Lollypop guild, and hello urban wall dwelling graffiti munchkins!

I’m sure you’re familiar with the original story, Dorothy (here played by Diana Ross) ends up in Munchkinland and kills the Wicked Witch. The only way she can get home is by visiting the Wizard in the Emerald City, with Dorothy making friends with some unlikely heroes along the way.

As much as The Wiz sticks with the original plot it makes up for it with it’s wonderfully original design. It transports Oz from being a twee cute world into one of urban vibrancy. It celebrates African American culture, when it was first performed on broadway it was lauded for it’s roots in African American culture.

the wiz michael jackson

This celebration is most present in the soundtrack. The songs are all wonderful and full of soul, the title of the original broadway musical is The Wiz: The Super Soul Musical “Wonderful Wizard of Oz”. As soon as they hit wonderland you’re taken back to that great era of soul, the mid seventies. 

Should see this film, it’s for a Sunday afternoon. Just look at Michael Jackson as the scarecrow there! Look at his little face, you wouldn’t to disappoint him, would you? Go watch it!

4) South Park: Bigger, Longer, and Uncut (1999, 78mins. 15, Dir: Trey Parker)

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Those of us of a certain age are sure to have watched this at some point. Due to its excellent story and writing, the fact it’s a musical often gets forgotten.

It’s rude, crude and sometimes kinda lewd.

All our favourite foul mouthed 8 year olds are here, and they have to go on an adventure to liberate their comedy heroes Terrance and Phillip who are to be executed for farting on TV.

Yeah, it’s as daft and as bitingly satirical as you could hope for from a big screen outing of one of the smartest shows on television.

The songs are wonderfully written and composed, especially with the Oscar Nominated ‘Blame Canada’. It’s here that we really see the influences of classic musicals such as Les Miserable.

If you want a bit of biting satire with your spontaneous music sequences then this is the one for you!

 

3) Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975, 96mins, 15, Dir: Jim sharman)

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One of the original Midnight Movies, Rocky Horror has delighted audiences for 40 years.

It was first recognised for being terrible, audiences would start dressing up and talking or responding to the dialogue on screen, giving the film it’s cult classic status.

Brad (Barry Bostwick) and Janet (Susan Sandon) find themselves with a flat tyre, so they knock at the door of the nearest mansion to use the phone (remember kids, people in the 70s didn’t have mobiles), where they find themselves in a musical house of horrors.

This is the film that gave us the Time Warp, a staple of school discos everywhere. It’s got Meatloaf riding a motorcycle through a wall, it has half naked men running about the place, and best of all it has Dr Frank ‘N’ Furter (played wonderfully by Tim Curry) the ultimate transvestite party boy who creates his own human toy.

I Rocky Horror is truly a beacon for the lost generation, for those that march to the beat of their own drummer, it’s united those of us who enjoy and revel in the non-mainstream, the freaks, the weirdos. Watch this if you have ever felt ‘out of place’, you may just fit in.

 

2) Pitch Perfect (2012, 112mins, 12, Dir: Jason Moore)

pitch perfect

The most recent film on my list; Pitch Perfect has the perfect mix of irreverent comedy and brilliant songs. Unlike the other films this one relies mostly on cover versions, making Pitch Perfect feel like the edgier, more grown up,  cousin of Glee.

The story follows Becca (Anna Kendrick) as she tries to make friends with the Barden Bellas, her college’s only all female acapella group. The Bella’s are fighting their way to get to the national championships and come up against some stiff competition.

The premise sounds kinda lame, but I promise that I have yet to meet anyone who has not been swept along with it’s amazing cheeriness, brilliant covers of some inspired songs, and fantastic humour (with just the right hint of a bit of gross out). A shout out goes to Rebel Wilson who mostly improvised her lines.

 

1) Little Shop of Horrors (1986, 91mins, PG, Dir: Frank Oz)

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And so we make it to the final curtain. Little Shop of Horrors is with Rocky Horror in the cult classic camp. Like many great films that have reached the hearts of the people this didn’t do too well at the box office and really found it’s home in, well, the home. It’s release on VHS and Betamax really gave this it’s cult status.

Seymore (the always lovable Rick Moranis) was out buying plants one day (for the flower shop he works in) and came across an unusual looking plant. He simply has to buy it, and then name it Audrey II after his crush. The delightfully high pitched Audrey who goes out with a scoundrel dentist played by Steve Martin. However, it turns out the plant only eats human blood… Dum dun duuuuuunnnnnn.

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There is nothing not to like here, it’s got bright, lovely and somewhat intimate songs (see Audrey singing ‘Somewhere That’s Green’ and not cry, I dare you!) to great scary moments. There’s thrills, there’s spills, there are moments where you’ll laugh, cry, and maybe wet your pants, if you’re into that kind of thing.

The puppetry was all the work of the Jim Henson Co. and it is astounding. There are stories I could tell about how they had to shoot certain scenes at super slow speeds and speed it up later so it syncs up with lyrics.

See this film! There is really no reason not to, the musical numbers are just fab and very original, there’s a mix of genres, the design is scrungy yet beautiful, the characters are just adorable and lovely. I would recommend the Blu-Ray version as you can opt to play it with the original ending. I won’t spoil anything, but it’s very different from the theatrical version.

My Top 5 Disney-Pixar Characters

 

Everyone loves Disney-Pixar. They’re some of the most amazing films that have been made over the last twenty years. They might be classed as children’s movies, but they have always been greatly enjoyed by adults as well. This is mostly thanks to their ability to tap into deep emotions and stories in a way that everyone can understand.

All their best characters are ones that have gone on a true emotional journey to learn something about themselves, and to grow as people giving them a deeper depth than many other kid’s films dare to go.

In this list I’m going to be looking at some of my favourite characters that Pixar have brought to the big screen.

5) Merida (Brave)

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Who is she?

The feisty red headed Scottish lassy. She’s an independent young lady who doesn’t want to conform to what her mother considers to be ‘lady-like’. So upon discovering her mother expects her to marry a suitor she’s never met before Merida runs away and accidentally turns her mother into a bear. Like you do.

What makes her great?

she’s a princess (a Disney Princess technically) and she breaks all the rules of ‘traditional’ femininity. She fights, is awesome with a bow and arrow and shoves food in her mouth like she’s not been fed in a month.

Her lesson is to learn to bond with her mother. At it’s core Brave is about the mother/daughter relationship. As someone who had a fractious relationship with her mother growing up I’m not ashamed to admit I was in floods of tears at the film’s conclusion when Merida (and her mother) learn the other’s point of view and reach an understanding and reconciliation.

 

4) Carl (up!)

carl up

Who is he?

A curmudgeonly old man who turns his house into a giant hot air balloon using nothing but some very strong string and some party balloons. Though he accidentally brings along Wilderness Explorer, Russell along for the ride.

Why is he great? 

The start of Up! has ten minutes of pure emotion. We see him fall in love with Ellie, their heartbreak at not being able to have children, and then growing old together. We also see the tragedy of Carl lose Ellie.

Carl’s whole world came crashing around him. As such he was unable to move past this, he was stuck trying to relive the life had shared with Ellie. Through his adventure and building (rather unwillingly) a relationship with Russell, Carl is able to learn to say goodbye to Ellie and to begin a new chapter in his life.

3) Joy (Inside Out)

joy and sadness

Who is she?

Joy is the cheery, and very yellow characters in charge of the feelings of happiness inside the head of Riley, a little girl who is struggling with a big move from Minnesota to California.

What makes her great?

Joy always has a need to be in charge, she feels that she cannot let Riley be sad, even when times are tough and Riley is having trouble with the big move, Joy will always find a way to try and keep Riley happy. However, when her and Sadness accidentally get lost in the long term memory Joy learns from Sadness. She comes to realise that not only is it OK to feel sad sometimes, but that it is important to feel sad in order to grow and heal as a person.

2) Wall.e (Wall.e)

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Who is he?

He’s the cute little robot left on planet Earth to tidy up the mess left by the humans, who are all on a really, really long space cruise.

What makes him so great?

All you need to do is look at him, he’s so cute and adorable. He roams the wasteland of the planet humans once called home. Still carrying out his intended purpose, despite all the others of his kind having burnt out due to the monumental task at hand.

As he wanders through the rubbish dump he finds beauty in the mundane and ordinary. He’s fascinated by Rubix cubes, light bulbs, lighters and ring boxes.

When Eve comes along his love to her is amazing, and helps her to learn to love in return

1) Woody (Toy Story)

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Who is he?

If you don’t know Woody you must have been living under a rock for the last 21 years. He’s the rootinest tootinest cowboy leader of the toys from Andy’s Room.

What makes him so great?

He was the first and the best. He’s the cowboy whose everyone’s best friend. Especially Andy.

For years Woody has been Andy’s favourite toy which has given him the position of leader. When Andy’s birthday comes along and a fancy new toy called Buzz Lightyear turns up, Woody can’t help but feel jealous at all the time Andy is spending with his new rival.

After nearly killing Buzz and getting them both lost in the big wide world outside of Andy’s room Woody has to get the two of them back in time before the family move to a new house.

Through the journey Woody learns that Andy will always love him. Even if he might spend time with another toy, Andy will come back, and the best way to be a friend to Andy is just to be there for him whenever he may need Woody. He also learns to befriend Buzz and something may seem like a threat can actually be a big asset.

Turbo Kid

You could be forgiven for not having heard of Turbo Kid. It premièred at the Sundance Film Festival last year, and received a modest release later on in August.

I must admit that I had never heard of Turbo Kid before stumbling across it whilst browsing Netflix for something to watch with a bucket o’ popcorn and a cuddle with the guinea pigs on the sofa.

Although I like to know what I’m getting in for most of the time, occasionally I love just watching something and knowing nothing about what I’m getting myself into. It’s a gamble, you may well end up seeing your new favourite film, or something that will change your outlook on life. Or it can make you rue the day you ever saw the words nine and months. 

Turbo Kid, I am pleased to announce was a very pleasant success.

Set in an alternative, post apocalyptic 1997. The story revolves around one teenager and his bike (he’s only ever referred to as The Kid) trying to salvage as much scrap from The Wasteland that his now his home as possible so he can make the trip to the town and trade it all for a bottle of (very murky) water.

swings

When taking a moment out of his subsistence to revel in being a kid by sitting on a swing and reading a comic he encounters a young lady called Apple, a slightly simple, well meaning and kinda sweet girl, who befriends The Kid immediately. Despite his initial resistance to company, her persistence brings about a companionship between the two .

Together they end up embroiled in a plot by the evil Zeus, the one eyed owner and leader of the town, as well as the aforementioned water) to get water from new sources, adventure ensues.

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I loved this film, from the beginning it has an amazing sense of nostalgia. From what I’ve learnt of the internet this is something called New Retro. A brand new genre which is innovative and new, but at the same time referencing (predominantly) the 80s and 90s. I think this image pretty much sums things up

Remember all those great kids adventure films from the 80s? Labyrinth, The Goonies, Flight of the Navigator, Never Ending Story. All of those were great and you can see their influence in Turbo Kid. You can also tell that other post apocalyptic films like Mad Max have been a massive influence on the design with some of the costumes looking like they stepped straight from Mel Gibson’s side.

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As part of the new wave of new retro movies, there is a great sense of nostalgia for the 80s and 90s, yet it manages to be fresh and new enough to not just feel like a pastiche or a satire. At times it feels like it’s walking a tightrope between loving homage to the action and adventure movies of old and a satire (a la Kung Fury). For me, it was this tightrope that really drew me into the film. Sometimes it felt like it was swerving towards parody and other times you could feel the love for those old movies shining through as the directors  re-create their own story in that style. Sometimes it almost feels like three kids (There are three directors; François Simard, Anouk Whissell, and Yoann-Karl Whissell) using a dad’s camcorder in the backyard playing at being film maker makers, though  very good ones with a much bigger budget.

The violence gives it an 18 certificate, and this is well deserved. The violence is bloody, gory and quite graphic at times. There’s blood spurting everywhere, guts get pulled out, limbs get chopped off, and there’s even a guy with a circular saw for a hand.

hand

With all this violence and gore being thrown about with gay abandon it never goes too far with it. They always manage to stop just short of you getting bored of it.

On a side note, I must applaud the directors for going down the route of physical effects rather than CGI, not only does it look great, but it all adds to the nostalgic feeling that really makes this film great. I love real life effects, they make it feel tangible and much more scrungy than if it was CGI.

By the end of the film’s conclusion I found that I had a love for the characters. This was a slow builder with the relationship between the two protagonists building up over the course of the movie, and by the end you just love them.

The last thing I’m going to mention is the soundtrack. Jean-Philippe Bernier and Jean-Nicolas Leupi were in charge of this, and I have to say they did an amazing job. Like the rest of the film It harks back to a simpler times when synthesizers were just a keyboard a few fancy buttons. Yet they also manage to keep it modern and fresh. I’ll be honest here and say that I would listen to the score on my iPod on the way to work.

I would wholeheartedly recommend this movie. If you love violence, if you love nostalgia, if you love synthy music, if you love a good love story, or just like a good post apocalyptic romp with daft costumes and gore you’ll love this. Go see it on Netflix before it gets taken off. Go. Now!

★★★★★

 

Is Better Call Saul Better Than Breaking Bad?

Breaking Bad was one of the greatest and most popular TV series of the 21st century According to this study people lie about seeing cause they’re so fed up of being told to do so.

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When it’s season finale aired in 2013 there was a void in many people’s lives. So, there was a collective cheer of excitement when it was announced there would be a spin off.

Instead of it being a sequel, like Frasier or Joey it was going to be a prequel, following the lawyer of questionable morals Saul Goodman.

I must admit whilst I did love Saul in the show, I was really dubious as to whether he would be strong enough to give an origin story to. Imagining a ‘case of the week’ type plot with a bit of overarching story thrown in. Somewhat similar to Buffy and co.

Boy was I wrong.

BCS has proven itself to be an amazing show worthy of accolades in it’s own right. Like Frasier before it BCS will be remembered on it’s own terms and not just as ‘that spin off from that other show’. The characters and riveting plot have made it a must see

On to the main question. Has it surpassed it’s predecessor?

jimmy american flag

Characters

Breaking Bad was highly praised at the time for it’s characters, especially the main character, Walter White. Over the course of the series’ five seasons we see Walter turn from mild mannered school chemistry teacher to ultimate drug lord.  

It was seen as revolutionary for showing the evolution of a character into someone unrecognisable from the first episode.

jimmy brief case

However, I often felt that some of the secondary characters were kind of forgotten about, the female characters, Skylar and Marie in particular felt a little underdeveloped. Even Walter’s right hand man Jesse could feel like he was flip flopping over what was happening to him at times.

Being a prequel for one of the smaller characters Better Call Saul had a lot of scope for creating all new characters, which it does with aplomb. We see Saul start out life as plain ol’ Jimmy McGill. A struggling lawyer practising out the back office of a beauty salon and taking care of his ill brother, Chuck.

BCS is much more character based rather than Breaking Bad. The venture with Netflix has given Vince Gilligan (both the series’ creator) more time to breath and to fully explore the characters without the network television constraints of ratings chasing.

Saul’s best friend (and lover), Kim is also a vast improvement on some of the female characters featured in Breaking Bad. Whilst sometimes it felt a little like the writers didn’t really know what to do with Skylar in Breaking Bad, Kim is as complex as they come, she can be unsure of her decisions, at the same time as being kind of a badass and sticking up for what she feels is right.

Furthermore, in Breaking Bad most of the characters are terrible people.  This can make for some entertaining viewing you never truly love Walter, or Jesse, or even Saul at this point. BCS though makes you fall in love with Jimmy, he might be up to some dodgy dealings, but he has a heart of gold deep down and you’re with him every step of the way, cheering him on.

jimmy and kim

Breaking Bad was full of twists and turns. It kept us all on the edge of our seats for five whole seasons. It was gripping from start to finish. It was great at cliff hangers and always left you wanting more. You needed to know what happened.

Breaking Bad was one of the first series’ to make it big on Netflix, and was the king of ‘just one more episode before bed’ because you just couldn’t leave it not knowing how this week’s caper resolved itself.

BCS, whilst in keeping with a feel for it’s parent series is a very different kettle of fish in this regard. As I stated before this is a joint venture between AMC and Netflix, and I think it’s this partnership with Netflix that has really  helped to make BCS what it is. As Netflix is a streaming service it doesn’t need to worry about ratings. This means that there are no mid-season opinion polls on what audiences want to see more of, no pressure from the Network to stick in as many short term hooks as possible. This has allowed to show to plant many more long term hooks that keep you coming back for more.

This means that BCS is a lot more slow paced, it really takes it’s time to reveal back-story and plot points, even the twists the plot takes can take a whole episode to reveal itself. It opens up so many questions and really takes it’s time to resolve them. It drip feeds you the information slowly, over the course of several episodes  Allowing those characters to build up slowly, allowing the questions from episode one to linger on. At the start of each season there has been a black and white scene from clearly set post Breaking Bad, so from the go you’re invested in Jimmy.

jimmy black and white

I loved Breaking Bad, I was a little late to the game, only starting to watch just before the last series. Luckily this meant that I could binge watch it all and only had to endure the agony of waiting for the next week and the next fix of meth induced television.

BCS I have watched since the beginning, and despite the Netflix production it has only been put up one episode a week due to the collaboration with AMC, and the sweet agony of waiting for the next instalment has been there all along. For a generation that’s gotten used to just consuming entire seasons within a couple of days this takes some patience to get used to. It is, however worth every second of waiting to follow the adventures of Jimmy McGill.

My Top 5 Stop Motion Animation Films

I love animation. I love that it can take you to worlds and places you could only ever see in your dreams. It’s not constrained by real life and as such can create places that can be as normal or surreal as you like.

It can take you to an island where it rains food, you can go on a trip in a yellow submarine, you can dance with beasts and go on a magic carpet ride. You can even go down a magical rabbit hole into Wonderland. The only limit is your imagination (and artistic skills).

Animated films and TV shows have brought delight and wonder to children and adults everywhere and in this list I am choosing just 5 of my favourite movies animated using stop motion techniques.

Stop motion has a special quality to it, because it’s filmed using real puppets that are painstakingly moved centimetre by centimetre with a picture taken after every move you can feel the love and dedication that is poured into producing them. It also makes it more tangable than other forms of animation. There ar fantastical images happening on the screen, and yet, it all feels real. Perhaps because at some point, somewhere it was real. Even if it is a little on the small side. This is why stop motion is my favourite animation method.

So, without further ado here’s number 5!

5) Alice (1988, PG, 86mins Dir. Jan Svankmajer)

alice mad hatter

This film on our list is also the only one to incorporate live action into the animation.

An adaptation of Alice in wonderland, Alice was brought to life by czechoslovakian animator Jan Svankmajer. It brings forth a much more dark and disturbing version of alice white rabbitWonderland than previous adaptations had portrayed. It follows a live action Alice in her adventures down the rabbit hole. Gone away are the bright coloured and friendly characters. In their place we get characters that seem dangerous and confusing. The puppets are often found objects re-purposed for the film. Even using a real stuffed rabbit for The White Rabbit. Wonderland itself looks like an old house where any child could wander and find any manner of strange things.

All this give Alice a unique feel and mood, and is often cited as one of the great films about childhood, discovery and the loss of innocence though I’m not sure I would let a child watch this. Even with the PG certificate I feel that it would be a little too disturbing for young children.

4) Mary and Max (2009, 12, 92mins Dir. Adam Elliot)

mary and max

An amazing film about a friendship between a man with Autism in New York and his pen pal. A lonely little girl in Australia.

Mary and Max is one of the most beautiful and emotional films you will ever watch. While the colour palette has been deliberately kept to browns and greys to reflect the lives of the two protagonists, this film is anything but.

You’ll laugh out loud at some of the childish musings of Mary (Toni Collette) and you will cry at the tragedy of Max’s (Philip Seymour Hoffman) life.

mary and max meetIf there was ever a film that could be described as a roller coaster of emotion, this is truly it. It’s about finding a partner in loneliness and making your way in a world that perhaps doesn’t accept who you are. 

The design and animation is beautiful, and the soundtrack will have you humming The Penguin Cafe Orchestra for weeks. One word of caution, this is rated 12, and like Alice, it is not really intended for children.

 

3) Chicken Run (2000, U, 81mins Dir. Peter Lord & Nick Park)

chicken run poster

No list about stop motion is complete without at least one Aardman entry. I decided to go with Chicken Run, because it was the first feature film they produced. I remember going to the cinema to see it with my family, and everyone enjoyed it. Even when watching it back now it really stands the test of time.

chickensThe story is essentially The Great Escape, but with chickens. It sounds absurd when said out loud, and it’s this slightly eccentric absurdity that makes this work so well. The humour is daft British through and through and the voice performances from the cast are great and really help to make the chickens characters that you feel for and are with every step of the way.

You can tell that this is an Aardman production, the chickens have the iconic Aardman mouth made famous from Wallace And Gromit, and the humour is so British there may as well be a bowler hat floating at the top of the screen the whole time.

Gather the family round one Saturday night with some popcorn and you are all guaranteed a good time.

2) Coraline (2009, PG, 101mins Dir. Henry Selick)

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Based on a novella by Neil Gaiman this animation was brought to life by the animator Henry Selick, who also brought us such delights as James and the Giant Peach and Monkeybone.

This is one of several films released in the last few years that really hits the sweet spot in being great for kids and adults alike.

coraline other motherIt is full of magic and wonder at the start when Coraline explores the alternate world she finds in a small door in the living room. However the film takes a much darker turn when Coraline’s wishes for a more attentive family come with a caveat she’s not so happy with. Her ‘Other Mother’ who has constructed this alternative world of amazing feats and characters, wants to sew buttons in her eyes. Coraline revolts and has to fight for her life against the ‘Other Mother’.

This manages to balance the magic and the darkness perfectly, and whilst this might be a little too scary for younger kids this will give slightly older children (and adults) a great thrill when the dreams start to crumble and Coraline isnt so sure what to believe anymore.

I’m fairly certain this has had a helping hand from our friend CGI to create some of the special effects, but you will be honestly amazed at some of the shots and the scenes that the animators were able to create with puppets and cameras. It is truly breathtaking.

1) The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993, PG, 73mins, Dir. Henry Selick)

 

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This is the first stop motion film I remember truly falling in love with and helped to inspire my love of all things stop motion.

Everything is great about this film. The characters, despite being mostlly monsters from Hallowe’en Town are all relatable. We’ve all felt like Jack, no longer content with what surrounds us, and in need of something new to explore. Sally, also desperate to escape and help Jack all she can.

salyThe songs are just wonderful, all of which were written by Danny Elfman, there’s an array of different musical styles and are all sing along-able. From Jack’s Lament on the curly hill to Ooogie Boogie’s song in his lair of dirty tricks.

Then there’s the  design. I first saw this when I was 6 years old. I am now 28 and even now I can watch it and still spot something new. There’s so much detail put into it, you can see every line in the field with the curly hill, you can see all the small, insignificant details and the minor background characters given the same attention as the stars.

The animation itself may seem a little clunky and not as swish as some of the more modern stop motion films, but for it’s time it was very pioneering. It was the first film to use a metal ‘skeleton’ in the puppets to keep them in place.

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Even the story and the tone was quite brave at the time, though Disney are now quite proud of NBC and include it in their merchandise in their stores at the time they tried to distance themselves from it by releasing it under the Touchstone label they created for more ‘adult’ content. Now it is considered a classic of children’s movies and animated movies.

 

Board Game: Ghost Stories

Players: 1-4 Time: 45-90 mins Ages: 14+

Do you like Kung Fu Movies? Got an interest in Eastern history and philosophy? Or just enjoy the aesthetic? Do you like games that give you loads to think about? A game with a massive challenge? Or even just enjoy a good co-op game?  If the answer is yes to any of these questions then this game could very well be for you.

Back in 2008 the good people at Repos Produduction’s publish this beautiful game from Antoine Bauza, who would later go on to design 7 Wonders, the winner of the inaugural Kennerspiel des Jahres (Connoisseur Game of the Year at the Spiel de Jahres) in 2011.

In this game you’ll be trying to protect the village by killing as many ghosts as possible. If you manage to survive to the end, you’ll meet an incarnation of the big bad guy Wu-Feng. Defeat him and you all win (this is a co-op after all, you all win or lose together), run out of ghost cards before defeating Wu-Feng, allow three village tiles to become haunted or if all players are dead at the same time, you all lose.

What’s in the Box?

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  • 4 player boards
  • 9 village tiles
  • 4 Tao Dice
  • 1 Curse Die
  • 65 Ghost Cards
  • A whole load of various tokens
  • 8 Haunting figures
  • 2 Buddah figures
  • 1 Rulebook
  • 1 Help sheet
  • 1 Score sheet

 

How to play      

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Ghost stories starts out with the nine village tiles randomly arranged in a square in the middle with the four coloured player boards placed along the sides. Each player board is one colour with a corresponding Taoist monk figure, which starts off in the middle village tile. Each colour has it’s own special ability to help you defeat the barrage of ghosts that will be coming your way, and each player board has two different sides with different abilities so you can choose which one you would rather play with, or if you like to live dangerously, just randomly assign.

At the start of each turn there will be a ghost drawn and placed on the appropriate player board. You then get the choice to get help from one of the villagers or to go and fight a any ghost on the board.

20160407_194851.jpgIt’s these horrible guys that you’re going to be fighting. They all have dots down the side, which indicate how many dots of that colour you need to roll to kill it, and down the bottom they have any effects they may have (depending on positioning this can be when the ghost is drawn at the start of the players turn who’s board it’s on, or when it gets killed)

Fighting is pretty simple, position your Taoist monk in front of a ghost, roll the three Tao dice and if you manage to get the correct number of colours the ghost dies and is removed from the game. For example if you were in front of the yellow ghost above and roll two yellows on the dice that sucker gets killed. You can bolster your roll with Tao tokens that you can gain through help from certain villagers or from your special ability. So if you were to have only rolled one yellow, you can chuck in a yellow Tao token to make it up to two.

What’s so great about it?

Well, so, so much. I’ve tried to keep my rules explanation brief, otherwise we could be here a while. The basic rules are quite simple, (draw ghost, place ghost, perform any curses ghosts require, move about the village, either get help or fight). The strategy involved is ghostlydeep and can be quite intense at times.

There’s a new ghost drawn every turn, so you need to keep on top of them or else you’re going to get over run and start losing Qi tokens (they work kinda like lives in an old school Mario game, run out and you die). It’s this constant barrage of ghosts that can really make it nail biting, as you can be quite on top of things, and due to a run of bad luck you’ll suddenly find yourself staring at a board full of ghosts, all proving a threat to killing you or ending the game at any moment.

While you want to be fighting ghosts as much as possible, you might also need help from the villagers to be able to improve your chances of killing them. Sometimes you can spend ages weighing up if you can leave that haunter ghost (they have the little ghost figurines, and if left un-killed can haunt a village tile so you can no longer use it, and possibly end the game) and instead get help so that you’re more likely to kill it. Do you have time? Will another haunter come out on the next go? Can one of the other players maybe tackle it? Would going for another ghost be better? They’re all some of the questions that can go through your head within about three seconds.

This is a very hard game, even on the easiest setting (There are various ways to set up the game to make it easy or harder) I have only managed to win the game once, and have  only made it to the incarnation of Wu-Feng a handful of times.ghosty

As it is a co-op game you can plan out your moves to a certain degree and you can ask for help from your fellow players. This can have drawbacks as some people can be a little forceful and plan your next 10 moves for you. We find it best to play with the rule of ‘you can discuss as much as you like, but the player whose turn it is gets the final say as to what they do’, which helps to eliminate some of that.

The Artwork is simply stunning. The amount of work that has gone into the design of the game is bewildering when you think about it. Every Ghost card has been individually designed with some very gruesome images. Each village tile and player board has all had the same treatment. This all helps to give the game a real sense of atmosphere and brooding.

What’s not so great?

Well, as I’ve stated before, this is a really tough going game. Which is great if you’re looking for a challenge. However it can be a little disheartening when you still haven’t won after 20 games.  I haven’t even attempted this on the harder settings. The rules do state that it will be hard and it will take you a few games to really get into it, and possibly win the game (again, this can be great. I like a slow burner that you can take your time to really get to know, but some might get a little impatient). on the board

The rule book is awful. It was very difficult to understand. I had to look a few bits up on-line just to clarify what it meant. The flow chart on the back is handy for the basics, but for some of the more fiddly rules you might be better going straight to on-line sources. The rule book is the only thing that I feel could do with a redesign and a re-write. Even Antoine Bauza himself has admitted that the rule book was a little confusing and has learnt from his mistakes on that one.

Reccomended?

Yes. I fully recommend this game, it’s a great stepping stone from gateway games to something a bit more meaty to sink your teeth into. It can be difficult, but the challenge is great and rewarding when you do well.

As it’s co-op it’s great for if you want to bring everyone together for a change from competition.

The artwork is atmospheric and really goes with the theme.

On top of all this, if you get bored of the base game there are at least two expansions, one of which allows up to 5 players, one of whom will be playing as Wu-Feng himself. As well as an iOS app to play on the go and practice for when you’re playing with friends.

One last thing worth mentioning. It can be played solo. So if you’re having trouble getting everyone together or want to practice at it a little more or even if you enjoy a little time lost in your own thoughts on a game you can bust it out any time.

★★★★★

 

 

 

 

Ticket To Ride Review

Ticket to Ride, the classic board game of planes, trains and automobiles, well. Trains at least.

When creator, Alan Moon and publisher Days of Wonder first released Ticket to Ride back in 2004, they had little idea that it would go on to be one of the most successful games of recent years, reportedly selling in excess of 3 million copies. Upon it’s release it was nominated for one of the most prestigious accolades in the board game world, the Spiel De Jahres and won  Not to mention the slew of spinoffs, expansions, extra map collections and even a smartphone/tablet app emulating the game that it has spawned due to it’s popularity.

ticket to ride app 1

This was the first board game I bought after realising there was more to board gaming than Monopoly and Cluedo. It often pops in lists of the best games to introduce a new gamer to. A ‘Gateway Game’ if there ever was one, it has sparked the gaming imagination of many a player. It’s even managed to reach my mother (a lady who has always had little interest in my hobbies) when one day on a visit to see her she excitedly asked if I’d ever played ‘The Train Game’. I even let her win a game or two.

So, the big question: What do you get in the box?

ticket to ride contents

  • 1 Board map of North America,
  • 240 coloured train cars,
  • 144 coloured train cards,
  • 30 destination ticket cards,
  • 1 continuous path bonus card,
  • 5 wooden scoring tokens,
  • and a rules booklet.

 

 

Like many of the greatest games the rules are simple (the rule booklet is pleasingly thin at four a4 pages), but the strategies are many.  

So, let’s don our ten gallon hats and shout out our best Texan accents as we transform into railway tycoons to claim railway routes across the US of A (and the South of Canada) and become the tycooniest of all the tycoons!

To start with you have a big ol’ pile of trains all one colour in front of you, which you will use to place on the board to claim your routes.

20160330_224713.jpg

 

You get dealt three destination cards to link up cities say, New York to L.A or Florida to Chicago, each one is worth a different amount of points at the end of the game if completed. However if you fail to complete the destination those points are deducted from your final score. choose at least two and discard the third if you don’t think you’ll finish it before the end of the game.

 

 

 

ticket to ride colour cardsDuring your turn you get three options, either you can pick up up to two of the five colour cards on display at the side of the board, or from the draw deck. You can exchange the colour cards to claim routes, or if you’ve had a lot of luck (or very little) you can pick up more destination cards. 

 

 

The end of the game is declared once one of the players reaches 0, 1 or 2 trains left. You tote up the end scores, points are awarded for routes placed, destination cards fulfilled (or deducted if not fulfilled) and there’s 10 bonus points on offer for whoever has the longest continuous train chain. The player with the highest point score wins the game!

ticket to ride board

Whilst the rules are simple, the game play is not.

 

The strategy planning begins the second you get your destination tickets, you already have so many things to think about. Will it be better to go for the long route and risk not being able to do it, but getting a large reward if you do? Or is it better to go for the shorter routes and getting more of them. Can you link them all up to get that much prized and quite often game deciding longest route card at the end.

This is all before you even come to actually start the game, and the sometimes heartbreaking decisions that go with it. It is better to go for the cards and build them up and risk someone taking the route you needed. Or is it better to place down your trains as soon as possible and risk losing out on the cards that you might need next or later on?

ticket to ride mid play

 

You need to think about all of this within seconds as it is possible that one of your opponents can swoop in and steal that card or route you needed and you’ll be forced to recalibrate your plan with a moments notice, as once a route has been claimed there’s no turning back.

 

Whilst I think the simple yet hard choices and is what has brought about TTR’s initial popularity, I think this coupled with the game’s cut throat attitude is what has broadened it’s appeal  to those not usually interested in board games.

If you’re the kind of person who loves a game of Monopoly and taking over your friends’ properties when they go bankrupt, or take glee in asking for rent on a hotel on Mayfair, when the other player only has a tenner left then you will love Ticket to Ride. There are so many ways to totally screw up your competitors plans (though often you may not know it). It’s a great game for making enemies as well as friends.

So, the games got a pretty good ticklist going on, it has simple rules [tick], great strategy [tick] lost of player interaction [tick] can be a great game for non gamers [tick]. Yet there is one bug bear that I have with TTR, and that is it’s re-playability, after a while you get used to the destination cards and you start relying on lot of the same tactics and the same routes where possible. This can be solved to a certain extent if you purchase the 1910 expansion. This gives you a lot more destination cards and a couple of new rules options for playing.

The 1910 expansion also gives you re-printed, and re-sized coloured cards as the  ones you get with the game are tiny for some reason, and these ones are normal playing card size, which makes them a bit easier to hold as well.

tt-mc5_inside

The re-playability issue can also be addressed with the map collections that you can buy to freshen things up with a new map of a new country or continent, there are about 5 of these now, the latest including the UK. Despite the basic game play staying the same, each new map has it’s own unique rules to give you something new to sink your teeth in.

I have played TTR Europe, and I have to say I didn’t enjoy it as much as I enjoyed the original.

 

 

This game is recommended, especially if you’re new to the hobby or if you’re looking for something to introduce to a friend who’s new to board gaming.The rules are simple enough to pick up quickly yet the play is complex enough to be interesting without being too daunting, but if you’re already a big fan of board games and looking for the next big juicy game to really get into, with plenty of re-playability then you will probably be best getting your rocks off elsewhere. 

★★★★

 

 

Pee Wee’s Big Holiday Review

In the 80s and early 90s and you wanted to have a wacky fun filled time there was one man you could always rely on. Pee Wee Herman.

pee wee

He provided kids with a haven of silly crazy, nonsense, where anything could happen and it often did. One moment that always sticks in the mind is when Pee Wee married his bowl of fruit salad.  Here’s the theme song, you can get it stuck in your head too. 

 

It’s been 28 years since the last cinematic outing of everyone’s favourite man child. In the last installment he went to work in a circus in Big Top Pee Wee, which was somewhat of a let down after the triumphant Pee Wee’s Big Adventure and the subsequent TV series Pee Wee’s Playhouse.

As a big fan of zany nonsense, I loved Pee Wee as a child, and I still believe Pee Wee’s Big Adventure (which shall henceforth be called PWBA) to be one of the greatest kids films and one of the best of the director, Tim Burton’s.

pee wee big adventuer

So, as you might imagine when I heard there was going to be a new Pee Wee movie that was going to involve Judd Apatow I was pretty excited. So, once the morning of 18th March finally rolled around, I stayed in my pyjamas, poured myself some cereal, and pretended I was 7 years old again as I turned on Netflix for something I have been waiting for for a long time.

The plot starts off with Pee Wee (according to the credits, Pee Wee plays himself, but really it’s Paul Rubens) loves his home town of Fairville, CA. so much that he has never left, and has no intention of ever leaving to explore the big wide world. However, one day a handsome cool stranger walks into the diner where Pee Wee works as a chef  (Joe Manganiello, who plays himself with great humour) and they immediately hit if off and become BFFs. So much so that Joe invites Pee Wee to his birthday party. In New York. In 5 days time!

pee wee joe 2

After some advice not to just get a plane and go cross country, Pee Wee takes the plunge and sets off on an adventure of a lifetime.

Along the way he conveniently meets a ragtag collection of characters who both help and hinder our plucky hero along the way, including a travelling salesman, a farmer and his nine daughters, an Amish community, and a gang of female thieves on the run.

pee wee maebe

If you’ve ever seen PWBA then this might sound a little familiar, just replace birthday party for stolen bike and you pretty much have the same story with new characters. Which is not necessarily a bad thing, out of the slew of remakes and reboots of famous franchises over the last few years the best ones have essentially followed the format of the original movie (Jurassic World and Star Wars: The Force Awakens, I’m looking at you!).

The jokes are hilariously bad, if you love a good dad joke, then you’ll happily chuckle away throughout the film. There’s a great use of slapstick humour as well, an art form I feel is sadly lacking these days. The movie starts off with a beautifully orchestrated Rube Goldberg machine that involves the entire community helping Pee Wee on his way to work.

The plot bounces along with a good pace, and none of the supporting characters feel like they overstay their welcome, despite the long list of cameos there is only one true star of this picture. Pee Wee himself.

Paul Reubens, Pee wee Herman

 

Rubens manages to bring his famed Character back to life with a great energy for a man of over 60. Pee Wee feels like his good old self, though I suspect Rubens may have farmed out some of the more strenuous stunts to a team of stunt Pee Wees. He carries the film through to the finale with all the adorable naive aplomb you’ve come to expect.

Even though I was thrilled with the silly, slapstick humour I think my main problem with the film was the feeling that it couldn’t quite escape the shadow of PWBA, although many reboots have made use of old formats, they’ve been able to update them enough that they become fresh, unfortunately there just wasn’t enough changes from PWBA for me to fully get it out of my mind, and all I could do was compare it throughout my viewing. Along with the lack of originality it sometimes the wacky, zaniness that comes with Pee Wee felt a little forced, like they had to do it because it worked before. PWBA, although similar, always made sense within the world that was created around and by Pee Wee. I never quite got that same feeling in Big Holiday. 

pee wee amish

I did enjoy the movie on the whole, and this will definitely help to keep the kids quiet on a Saturday morning. For those of slightly older fans, however, I would make sure to put any other Pee Wee incarnations out of your head before watching and just take the movie for what it is; a daft romp about a man child exploring and discovering a big wide world in the best way that he can. By making friend with everyone he meets.

 

★★★☆☆

John Hughes: The Best of the Worst

John Hughes is a bastion of teen movies, he practically invented the modern teen movie.

If you grew up in the 80s and 90s, the chances are John Hughes helped you to get in touch with your acne covered, slightly greasy, hormonal feelings!

john hughes breakfast club.jpg

Hughes gave us some great movie moments. There’s the emotionally charged scene in The Breakfast Club (you know, the one where we found out Emilio Estevez is a person as well as a jock, and The nerd can’t make an elephant lamp). Ferris Bueller somehow getting away with destroying his friend’s Dad’s car. Let’s not forget Kevin McCallister beating a couple of inept burglars with a house of tricks. So sometimes it can be easy to forget just how many duffers he squeezed out the nib of a pen.

john hughes home alone

Ladies and Gentlemen I am here with you today to give you five reasons that John Hughes, should have stuck to capers involving children being abandoned and teenagers coming to terms with growing up.

So, let’s start at the end:

5. Drillbit Taylor (2008, 1hr 50mins, 12A)

john hughes drillbit

The classic tale of little kids getting even with their bullied.

So, take three nerds, some bullies and an older father type figure who helps them to overcome their demons. It’s like the Karate Kid but with a pathetic loser instead of Mr Miyagi. And there’s three of them.

Most of the jokes involve rather terrible slapstick and Owen Wilson (as the eponymous Drillbit Taylor, our Mr Miyagi) pretending to be cool when he clearly isn’t. At least Mr Miyagi was legit.

Hughes used a pseudonym, Edmond Dantes and you can tell why. Maybe he didn’t want people to remember him with this film, the very last before his death in 2009

4. Maid in Manhattan (2002, 1hr 45mins, PG)

john hughes maid in manhatten

Where to begin with this festering, cesspool of a movie? This was a pretty big hit back in the day, grossing $155 million worldwide. It became the go to date movie of late ‘02 and early ‘03, and middle age ladies love watching it on a Saturday afternoon with a bowl of Chunky Monkey.

So, why is this movie so terrible? People clearly like it. Well we’ll start with the acting, Jennifer Lopez as Marisa Ventura is so wooden she could be picked up to stir your favourite cake batter with. Ralph Fiennes as the bajillionaire that rescues Marisa from her terrible life was also pretty bad, but in his defense he does his best with what he’s got. Which isn’t much.

The script is Awful, you can tell that it was heavily influenced by Pretty Woman, as it’s essentially the same story. Only told less well and even more patronising to women. Hey girls! If you want to get away from your life of drudgery and awfulness, just meet a rich, white dude. He’ll be amazed at how novel poor people are and buy you nice thing

3. Curly Sue (1991, 1hr 41mins, PG)

john hughes curly sue

Upon it’s release Curly Sue was a a bit of a flop, and gained a lot of criticism from critics and fans alike.

The story centres around a homeless man with a heart of gold, Bill Dancer (Jim Belushi). Along with his plucky sidekick, Curly sue (Alisan Porter), a young child about the age of 8. They pulls scams, not to get money, because that would be wrong, but to get food to eat, that’s survival, so it’s OK.

Apart from some loose back story revealing Bill knew Curly’s (Or Sue’s?) mother and agreed to look after her once her mother died it’s not really clear why he didn’t just dump this irritating little weasel as soon as he could.

She’s just. So. Annoying! She has a whiney voice and shows a level of cutesy precociousness not witnessed since Shirley Temple sang about her Goodship Lollypop.

Then, one day they try and scam a fancy lawyer. They end up getting invited to stay the night in her house, and in what I am sure will be a shock twist to you all. She ends up falling in love with Bill, the homeless guy that tried to scam her for free food. How adorable.

Most of this film doesn’t make sense, the characters are two dimensional and (as previously stated) really annoying. This film did so badly, Hughes actually dropped out of the business of show for a little bit. Not for long though as the next year he saved himself with Home Alone II

2. She’s Having a Baby (1988, 1hr 46mins, 15)

 john hughes shes baby

Hughes didn’t want to be typecast, over his 30 year career he tried his hand at many genres, from pure kids’ movies (Home Alone), to teen movies,(Pretty in Pink) and Comedy movies (The Vacation series). Some genres he could tap into and others he just couldn’t get the hang of. Adult drama, unfortunately falls into the latter category.

It’s about a newly married couple learning how to be married. An interesting concept, getting married is a pretty big change in people’s lives, you have to learn to adjust and compromise and make big decisions together. Like weather or not to have a baby.  

Like other films on this  list, the catalogue of errors is present, the bad acting, terrible direction. Awful dialogue and a script that doesn’t always make sense. You have zero sympathy for the characters as Kevin Bacon’s character, Jake Briggs drops out of his Master’s degree, seemingly because he got scared of not being good enough. Meanwhile Kirsty Briggs (Ally Sheedy) just randomly stops taking birth control without telling her husband. I’m all for women being in charge of their own bodies, but having a baby affects both of you… At least tell the guy! By the end, when they eventually have the baby they have learnt so little and seem like such terrible people you really wish they hadn’t just procreated.

 

And the winner of worst John Hughes movie is

1. Mr. Mom (1983, 1hr 31mins, PG)

john hughes mr mom

A man has to look after a child. Hilarity ensues. This should be enough to tell you all that you need to know about this movie. That and the poster, just look at it! You know you’re in for a hilarious time when you see a man wearing rubber gloves and carrying a baby.

I know that this film is over 30 years old now, and some allowances must be given for historical context. Even with that in mind, this is really just. Anger inducing.

So, Jack Butler (Michael Keaton) loses his job. So wife, Caroline (a housewife of many years) has to go out to work. After a few japes involving terrible slapstick and pooey nappy jokes Jack starts to get the hang of this child care and cleaning malarky. However, after a while he starts to find this life a little constricting (he’s learning what it’s like to be a woman in the 80s… How very progressive!). Then his neighbours start coming onto him. Let’s face it all housewives are horny and just want to sleep with whoever is going, married or not.

I’m sure at the time it was thought of as being progressive, it was only 4 years later we got Three Men and a Baby (a much better film following a similar theme) but it’s just misguided. Caroline works for an ad executives, and they want to hire her based on her housewife know how, they might as well have patted her on the head and said ‘now now pretty lady, we need someone who knows about these… Women’s things’. Eurgh. 

Trainspotting: 20 Years On

On 23 February 1996 Trainspotting exploded onto our cinema screens, and arguably, they were never quite the same again.

I first saw Trainspotting on my 13th birthday (late night Channel 4 FTW!). I became obsessed with this film, I had the poster, the soundtrack, I watched it at least once a week for about a year, I pre-ordered the The Definitive Edition on DVD a good three years before I should have done (The Internet: helping youngster view inappropriate content since 1995) . A few years later I even bought the special edition VHS with a lighter and metal Rizzla holder.

However, due to growing older and discovering new interests It’s been a few years since I last watched it. So, as this year marks the film’s 20th birthday I thought I might revisit this classic British tale of drugs, sex, thievery and betrayal.

trainspotting feet

Right from the opening scene the film still packs a punch. From the moment Iggy Pop starts declaring his Lust for Life I was hooked in all over again, as we see our band of plucky drug addicts running down the street, laughing and full of life, we know we’re in for a ride full of thrills and spills. With the main character, Renton’s (played brilliantly by a young Ewan Mcgregor) voice over enthusiastically telling us all “Choose life… But why would I want to do a thing like that?”, showing how he decided to reject the conventions of a normal life. No wonder 13 year old me who always struggled to fit in loved this film, it’s about people that don’t fit in in society, and whats more, they actively reject it.

At the time of release the film received criticism from the press for ‘glamorizing’ the use of heroin and drugs. I really feel that nothing could be farther from the truth. Trainspotting is brutal in the realities of what can happen when you’re addicted to heroin. The filmmakers were bold enough to not talk down to it’s audience, to show them both sides of the story and let us make up our own minds about the subject.

Trainspotting needle

Yes, it shows the positives in a world that has mostly been shown as only negative, Renton tells us about the amazing high, a woman tells us after shooting up that it beats ‘any fucking cock in the world’. The set design is bright and colourful at times, the editing is fast paced and full of energy, the performances are three dimensional and well rounded. This positive light, sometimes venturing into the slightly surreal is what really sets Trainspotting apart from other films depiction of heroin addiction. Even now it feels like a breath of fresh air on this subject. Something showing drug addiction as something other than a desperate, low state of affairs was essential to it’s success.

On the other side of the same coin they were also bold enough to show  us some of the more disturbing aspects of drug addition.We see a woman lose her baby in the smack den, we see Renton going through hell during one of the most iconic scenes, where his parents lock him in his childhood bedroom to quit smack cold turkey. We feel that we are there with him, going through all the stages and all the hallucinations. There’s a character who started off choosing life, then choose heroin when his life starts going downhill (thanks, in large part to Renton stealing his home made sex tape), he gets AIDS from dirty needles and ends up dying alone, in the dirt, with no one to notice him missing. These might be something that other films with this much joviality in it might shy away from. Trainspotting went there through, it dared to show us a spectrum of the life of an addict. They’re not just poor miserable little people taking drugs to make their lives bearable. There’s more to it than that, and Trainspotting really opened the door on being able to show all aspects of smack and not just the doom and despair that is often portrayed in films on the subject. Perhaps it even helped to open the doors on discussions about drugs and their effects in the wider community. 

trainspotting diane

This is before we can even touch on some of the other themes in the film, such as poverty, underage sex, relationships, and betrayal.

When watching the film I was shocked at how fresh and innovative it still felt. A lot of that has to do with the director Danny Boyle, he wanted it to be funny and for it to have moments of surrealism, this is not just a doom and gloom story, this is an adventure. Trainspotting was only his second feature film, and it’s down to him where the film gets it’s great energy, and manages to draw great performances from his actors. The scene where Renton takes an overdose and sinks into the carpet is still one of the best, like the scene where his parents lock him in his room it works to place us in his place, we all sink into the ground with him, his lowest point this far (literally and figuratively). We are always with the characters, they are not just there to be pitied or vilified, you identify with them, you go with them through the good and the bad.

trainspotting toilet

The use of Lou Reed’s Perfect Day during this scene is also a great example of the film’s great used of music and sound. The soundtrack helps to set the time period (approx mid/late 80s’ mid 90s according to Danny Boyle in one of the special features on the DVD), and the use of the opening sequence again later in the film, but with different music totally changes how you feel about it, it not longer feels full of exuberance and freedom, it becomes a dead end, they get arrested, Spud ends up going to prison and Renton fails at trying to wean himself away from heroin onto methadone.  The music really helps to make the film, it helps to set the changing of time without it being said explicitly by the cast. 

Revisiting an old favourite after a few years can sometimes leave you disappointed, after all as humans we are prone to change our tastes and wants from our art. Trainspotting did not disappoint. It was just as fresh and vibrant as it was on that first viewing 15 years ago. It might not have blown my mind as it did once, but it certainly captivated me for an hour and a half. Even twenty years on this is as relevant and as exciting as it ever was.

 

(technically this isn’t really a review, but I’m going to give it some stars anyway, just ’cause I want to)

 

★★★★★