Tuesday, 31 March 2015

Himizu (5 Stars)

This epic film tells the tale of a 14-year-old boy struggling to find himself in a world where everyone is against him. At least, he thinks everyone is against him. He's so convinced that everyone is against him that he rejects acts of kindness from those who love him. He sees evil intentions in everyone.

So who is Sumida? Is he a mole? Or is he the Messiah?

God creates. God destroys. People dance.

Monday, 30 March 2015

Wie Feuer und Flamme (5 Stars)

I've watched this film a few times, but today is the first time that it made me cry. I don't even know why I was crying. I shed my first tears less than five minutes into the film as I watched the scene where the Berlin Wall was opened. I dried my eyes to carry on watching, but I sobbed repeatedly, right up to the final scene where Captain has abandoned his life as a punk. I'm a sentimental fool.

However, it does make me sad to see a devoted punk move on and lead a normal life just because he's older. The older I get, the more important it is for me to cling to the ideals that meant a lot to me when I was young. Okay, I spent a few years involved in the punk scene, but that doesn't apply to me because I never really considered myself to actually be a punk. I listened to the music, I hung out with punks, but I demonstratively wore psychedelic shirts to look different from them. I considered myself to be a hippy when I was young. I rejected money making and capitalism. I still don't want to be rich. I want enough money for food, clothing and the basic pleasures in life, but I don't want luxury. That's something that people don't understand about me. Even my ex-wife, Brigitte, has accused me of wanting her money. Ridiculous! If I'd wanted her money I would never have left her. But then again, it's now 18 years since I walked out and she still doesn't know why I left her. I've told her again and again, but she's never believed me and she keeps speculating what the real reason might be. But now I'm getting onto a different subject. I'll stop now before I start crying again.

Saturday, 28 March 2015

Off-Topic: Internet Censorship

This is my third post on this topic this month. No, it's nothing to do with ASA this time. Now it's all about Facebook's censorship.

A 17-year-old girl at a school in Iceland, Adda Þóreyjardóttir Smáradóttir, who was the leader of her school's feminist society, announced that March 26th would be her school's Free The Nipple Day, to protest against the sexualisation of women's breasts. On this day all the girls in her school were encouraged to come to school topless or wearing see-through tops; at the very least they should wear no bras. Last weekend, March 21st and 22nd, there were a series of Twitter posts on the subject which turned viral and made it a national debate. First Adda's boyfriend posted on Twitter mocking her. Then she posted a topless photo of herself which led to a rash of sexist abuse. In shame she removed the photo, but her friends encouraged her to repost it. What was intended to be a local school event became a national protest: Free The Nipple Day was celebrated throughout Iceland. (Not that that means much, because only a small area of Iceland is populated). The highlight of the protest was a march of topless schoolgirls to Iceland's parliament.

Now Facebook steps in. On the evening of March 26th many of the girls involved in the protest posted photos of themselves to social media sites. Twitter, which is usually restrictive, recognised the photos as part of a genuine political protest and allowed them. Facebook, on the other hand, reacted heavy-handedly, either removing individual photos or deleting user accounts altogether. The action was defended by referring to clauses in their "Community Standards" policy, but that was just an excuse. The truth of the matter is that Facebook is a company ruled by men which intends to suppress women's rights at all costs.

A lot of the protesters say that female nipples are just the same as male nipples. Male nipples aren't sexual objects, so female nipples shouldn't be sexual objects either. I have to disagree on this. There's a big difference between male and female nipples. Female nipples are part of the breasts, and breasts do have a sexual effect on men. But all the other arguments of the feminists are valid. For centuries men have decided when women are allowed to show their breasts and when they aren't. Men are afraid of the power that women's breasts have and the effects that they have on men. For this reason men restrict the times and places where women are allowed to expose their breasts. Women are allowed to show their breasts in strip clubs, men's magazines and pornographic films, but they aren't allowed to reveal their breasts at the workplace or on the street. That would scare men, so men forbid it.

But why should men have the exclusive right over women's bodies, to say when they can and can't reveal their breasts? (I realise that I'm talking about breasts, not nipples, but that's the real issue here). Women should have a free choice. If a woman wants to cover her body, that's her choice. But if she wants to expose her breasts, or even walk completely naked, that should also be her own choice. No man should dictate to her what she can and can't do. If men feel threatened by naked breasts, they should learn to deal with it, either by looking away or by avoiding them altogether. For instance, imagine an office where one or more of the female employees sit at their desk with naked breasts. This might make it difficult for some men to concentrate on their work. The traditional patriarchal solution is to tell the women to cover themselves up. The correct way to deal with it would be to tell the men to look for another job.

A small example from my own life. A few years ago I was at a funeral wake. We were sitting in a restaurant having a meal. At some point the woman opposite me decided that her baby needed breast feeding and opened her top. This was extremely embarrassing for me. The shock of seeing a young woman bare her breasts at a funeral wake, of all places, was too much for me. But I didn't complain. I knew it was my problem, not hers. I just sat silent, blushing furiously and trying my best to look in other directions. It would have been immoral if I had told the woman to stop, as if she were to blame for my personal problems.

But this is exactly what Facebook is doing. On one day there were hundreds of photos of schoolgirls exposing their breasts. Out of embarrassment they decided to stop them. They made feeble excuses about it being illegal to show topless pictures of young girls, who were definitely under the age of 18, and maybe even younger than 16 in some cases. This wasn't about paedophiles exploiting girls by publishing under-age photos. This was about young girls exposing their nipples and saying, "This is my body. Deal with it".

This is girl power on display on the streets of Iceland's capital city, Reykjavik. Do you accept it? Then stand and support the girls. Are you afraid? Then crawl back into your house and let the girls take over your country. The one thing you shouldn't do is try to suppress the female revolution by using your patriarchal position of authority to suppress the girls. That's what Facebook is doing. Facebook's bans are undermining women's rights in the vilest of ways.

Addendum on Wednesday, 8th April 2015

Nobody has commented on my post, unfortunately, but I've read comments on this topic on the web sites of news companies. One thing that many people say in criticism of the Icelandic campaign is that by revealing their breasts in public girls are inviting themselves to be raped. People who say this don't know what rape is about. Rape is primarily an act of aggression, not a sexual act. A man rapes a woman because he wants to hurt her. But more importantly, rapists are men who feel inadequate. They are unable to have sex with a woman by normal means, so they take women by force. They are scared of approaching women under other circumstances. For this reason, rapists target women that they think are weak. If a rapist is looking for a victim he will avoid women who are walking confidently and select a woman who looks nervous. Do the girls in the pictures above look nervous? No way! They look strong and self-confident. They would scare potential rapists away. A rapist will look for a woman who is walking along the road covered up and repeatedly adjusting her skirt because she thinks it is riding up and revealing too much flesh.

Friday, 27 March 2015

Scorned (2013) (2 Stars)

"Scorned" seems to be a popular name for films. According to IMDB, five films have been released with this name: one in 1994, one in 2005, two in 2010 and finally this film in 2013.

Sadie finds out that her boyfriend Kevin is cheating on her with her best friend, so she drugs him, and when he wakes up he finds himself tied to the bed. For me that was the most exciting part of the film. From then on it went downhill. Sadie sends a text from Kevin's phone to her friend to invite her round, and when she arrives she overpowers her and ties her up as well. Sadie tortures the two in the most horrible sadistic ways. I won't even begin to describe what she does. I'll just say one thing: out of all the things she does, she doesn't use scissors. So why does the English DVD box, shown above, use that picture? So strange.

I didn't actually watch the film on DVD. I saw it on Netflix today. I've been subscribing to Netflix for a few months, and mostly I use it to watch television series, but this film was recommended to me. I admit that the picture above is what attracted me to the film. It's obvious what it suggests. But as I said, there were no scissors used in the film, and I was disappointed. The torture scenes were horrific, forcing me turn away more than once.

I have a request for my readers. If you're a Netflix customer, please do a little test for me. Write down the names of your 10 favourite films. Then check how many of them are available on Netflix. Whatever the total is, between 0 and 10, write it in a comment. I don't want to know what the films are, just the result. Oh, and write what country you live in, because Netflix has different films in different countries. I'll convert the totals into a percentage, which will be Netflix's rating. To start things off, out of my top 10 films only two are available on Netflix, which gives Netflix UK a 20% rating so far.

Thursday, 26 March 2015

Final Examination (3½ Stars)

Shane Newman is a good cop. He catches the bad guys, whatever it takes. Unfortunately, that sometimes means high speed car chases through the middle of Los Angeles, resulting in millions of dollars of damage. So he's transferred to Hawaii, where he can do less harm.

However quiet Hawaii might be when he arrives, murder can happen anywhere. A group of sorority sisters is celebrating their five year reunion at a luxury resort hotel, and one of them is killed on the day of their arrival. The next day a second girl is killed. Linking their deaths is an exam paper left at the scenes, stamped with the word "Failed".
I wonder what happened with Brent Huff, the actor who plays Shane Newman. This is only the second film that I've seen him in. The first was "The Perils of Gwendoline in the Land of the Yik Yak", made in 1984. I saw it in the cinema, and I was amazed by Brent's performance as the adventurer Willard. I was sure that he would become a big star. "Final Examination" was made 19 years later in 2003. What had he been doing all that time? 27 low budget films. He had the lead role in many of them, but somehow he never managed the leap into the big time. That's unfair for a man with so much talent. Since 2003 he's made another dozen films, but he's still an obscure actor. "Brent Huff? Who's that?" Sometimes I think that success in Hollywood is just a lottery.

Wednesday, 25 March 2015

Princess Raccoon (3 Stars)

Emperor Azuchi, who considers himself to be the world's most beautiful man, is jealous of his son Amechiyo's good looks, so he banishes him to the Kairasu mountain. The mountain is the home of shape-shifting raccoons, and when Amechiyo sees the princess of the raccoons in human form he falls in love with her. Romance is forbidden between humans and raccoons, so there is opposition from both their families.

This is a musical that is based on traditional Japanese kabuki theatre, but it incorporates modern western elements such as tap dancing and rap music. It's strange watching women in kimonos twerking. The princess is played by Zhang Ziyi, who doesn't speak Japanese, so she must have learnt her lines for the film phonetically.

It's a weird film. I don't know what to make of it. Both the story and the style are completely alien to me. I need to watch it again to make up my mind about it.

Tuesday, 24 March 2015

Zombie Chronicles (2 Stars)

Tara Woodley is a reporter looking for a remote town called Scopesborough which is home to many ghost stories. She gets lost, but she picks up an old hitchhiker, Ebenezer Jackson, who promises to show her the way. They make a stop at an abandoned hut, and he tells her tales about the woodlands surrounding the town that involve zombies.

This is a low budget short film (69:19) that doesn't have a sufficiently good plot or good acting to make it worth watching. If you love zombie films it might interest you. Otherwise forget it. I was happy to see that this was one of the first films made by Beverly Lynne, but after she was killed in the first half of the film I lost interest.

Monday, 23 March 2015

The Revenge of Trinity (4 Stars)

This is an example of the bad marketing of a good film. The film was released in England as "The Revenge of Trinity". That makes it look like this is a sequel to "They call me Trinity" and "Trinity is still my name". Wrong. This film has nothing to do with Trinity. It was actually made before the Trinity films that made Terence Hill famous. And it's a completely different character. In the Trinity films Terence Hill plays the part of a rather unskilled cattle thief called Trinity. In "La colera del viento" (literally translated "The wind's anger") he plays a ruthless killer for hire called Marco. The Trinity films are spaghetti westerns that take place in the border area between America and Mexico. "The wind's anger" takes place on the southern coast of Spain in Andalusia (not Valencia, as incorrectly stated in IMDB).

I wonder why Terence Hill is shown crushing ants on the cover of the English DVD. He doesn't do that in the film. Strange.

The film itself isn't too bad. It takes place in the late 19th Century. Marco and Jacabo grew up in an orphanage. Jacabo is a few years younger, so Marco treats him like a younger brother. Together they become Andalusia's best hitmen. They are hired to prevent a rebellion of workers against the landowners who make them work for very low pay. After killing two of the workers' leaders Marco begins to think he's fighting on the wrong side, but Jacabo insists on continuing with the job.

The film's atmosphere is dark and gloomy. It's really a film about slavery, although in this case the slaves are poor Spanish peasants, not black people in America. I don't know of any other films that deal with this period in Spanish history. The only thing that spoils the film -- apart from the bad marketing -- is the strange cinematography in the romantic scenes. Whenever Trinity kisses Soledad, the beautiful tavern owner in the Spanish poster, the camera keeps changing viewpoints erratically. It's like the quick cuts in music videos. Totally annoying.

P.S. In Germany the film is called "The Devil knows no Hallelujah". Even though this has nothing to do with the film, I have to praise the Germans for their imaginative film titles.

Off-Topic: Internet Censorship

A few days ago I reported that a photo of 20-year-old Kacy Anne Hill had to be removed from American Apparel's web site because the UK's Advertising Standards Authority thought she looked like she was under 16. Click here to read my post, in which I discuss the issue in detail. I commented that many similar photos were still on the web site. Now, four days later, they have all been removed. In order to fight against Internet censorship I have published a gallery of all 40 photos of Kacy Anne Hill in a thong. Please join the fight against censorship by downloading the photos and sharing them on your own web site or social media networks.

Of course, there are many more photos of Kacy Anne Hill available on the Internet. Many are more sexually explicit than the photos I have published. You can find them easily by searching the web. I have no interest in displaying them on my blog. My photo gallery only contains the 40 photos that have fallen victim to censorship.

You can find all 40 photos of Kacy Anne Hill by clicking on this picture. If you enjoy the photos, please leave me a comment saying "Thank You".

Sunday, 22 March 2015

Chappie (4½ Stars)

I finally went to see this film in the cinema, after being busy arranging my move for the last few weeks. I don't think I've mentioned it in my blog yet. I'm in the middle of moving house. I've never liked the house that I live in. I moved here because the last house I was renting was sold in 2008 and I had to move in a hurry. I cried when I moved here. Literally, I cried. It's so much smaller than the house I was living in until 2008, and as a result I had to throw away a lot of my furniture. My four-poster bed and my wall-sized wardrobe had to be left behind. It was heart-breaking.

Now I have to move again. Last year my landlord attempted to increase the rent, and I refused to pay more because I couldn't afford it. Now he's finally lost his patience and given me notice. I was told to leave within two months unless I pay the new rent. My previous rent was £510 per month, now he wants £600. Last year I went to the council office to get advice. In my street all the houses are identical, as is typical for streets in England's industrial cities. I was told that I could appeal against the rent increase, because the average rent in my street is £400. In addition, I spoke to two of my neighbours who live in my street; one of them pays £350 per month rent, the other pays only £220. They were both shocked that my rent is so high for a house the same as theirs, and even more shocked that my landlord wants more.

I suppose I could take my landlord to court over his proposed rent increase, and I would probably win the case, but I don't want the stress of years of arguments while I'm living here in this poor quality house in which the unused fireplace has only been closed by taping plastic bags over the hole in the wall. I was lucky enough to be recommended a new house by my next door neighbour. The quality of the house is better, it's slightly cheaper (£500 per month) and it's in a quieter street. The disadvantage is that it's slightly smaller than the house I'm in now. I have to downsize again. Sigh..... At least this time I don't have any beautiful furniture to take with me. My previous house, where I lived from February 2002 until April 2008, was a home which I felt comfortable in, where I liked to invite my friends, and I would gladly have remained in it for the rest of my life. My new house (May 2008 to March 2015) is just four walls around me, nothing more, nothing less. I don't live here, I survive. My bedroom doubles as a storage room, and even if I were dating a girl I would feel ashamed to take her into my room. I'm fortunate that my dating days are behind me.

Will I feel better in my new home? Ask me again a few months from now. Somehow I can't imagine remaining there for the rest of my life. I'll try to make it look cosier than than the hole I've been in for the last seven years, but I don't think of it as a place for living a long time. At the moment my daughter Fiona is still living with me. When she moves out I'll start looking for something more suitable for myself. Slowly. As long as I have a roof over my head I'll be in no rush. I won't invest in any attractive new furniture, but at least I'll make an effort to keep my bedroom tidy.

I almost forgot that I'm supposed to be writing about a film. Despite the bad reviews from critics, I consider this to be director Neill Blomkamp's best film so far. He's taken a risk by setting the film in the near future, claiming that it will happen in South Africa in 2016. That will already be the past by the time most people watch it on Netflix. A company called Tetravaal has created police robots that it has sold to the Johannesburg police force. The rest of the world is looking on to see whether the experiment will be successful. But the robots' creator, Deon Wilson, doesn't want to stop there. Instead of just programming a machine to act like a police officer, he wants to give a robot real artificial intelligence and the ability to learn.

Deon takes a broken robot home to experiment with his new software, but he's hijacked by a criminal gang and the robot is stolen. The two gangsters Ninja and Yolandi take it upon themselves to educate the robot, that they call Chappie. Ninja wants to use Chappie as a tool to aid him in his robberies, but Yolandi has motherly instincts and wants to bring him up as a child.

The real stars of the film are Ninja and Yolandi, members of the South African group Die Antwoord. They're usually described as a rap group, but their music includes elements of 1990's Europop, and the lyrics are laced with dark humour, meaning they have more in common with goth music than other rappers. They're difficult to pin down to any music genre, and that's the way they like it. Neill Blomkamp is a fan of the group, and he asked them to just be themselves rather than act. Their characters in the film even use their real life names, or at least the stage names that they use as musicians. As a fan of Die Antwoord I immediately noticed that Yolandi was wearing the same outfits that she's worn in her music videos. Several of Die Antwoord's songs are used in the film soundtrack.

According to an interview with Neill Blomkamp, the film was devised as the first part of a trilogy. That's exciting. I know that the critics have panned "Chappie", but I love the film, and I hope that it makes enough money at the box office to justify the other two parts being made.

Bagged (1 Star)

I bet this photo on the DVD box has got your attention. A sexy girl in a tiny crop top carrying a big gun. Helicopters. Cars exploding. The girl is wearing a khaki bikini bottom and has dog tags round her neck, so she's probably an ex-soldier. This looks like a sexy version of "Taken".

But hold on a moment. I have bad news for you. There are no helicopters in the film. No exploding cars. There's no big city, the action all takes place indoors or on hilltops. And worst of all, there are no girls with guns. The picture has nothing to do with the film, except for the fact that the girl does appear in the film, but covered up. It's not Stephanie Arellano though, it's Kelly Walker.

So what is the film about? The plot is so stupid that it's hardly worth describing, but if I don't say anything about it you might be so curious that you'll buy the film, and I want to stop that happening.

Lawrence Rutherford is a millionaire property developer. He has two daughters, Maria (Stephanie Arellano) and Memo (Kelly Walker). Memo is his real daughter, Maria is adopted. His wife has passed away, and he regrets never having had a son to take over his business. Memo has just turned 18, so he gives her an ultimatum: she must bear a son before he dies, so that he can have a grandson as his heir. If she doesn't have a son before her father dies his Will stipulates that the business will be sold and the money given to charity, leaving both daughters with nothing. It has to be Memo who has a son, because Maria is only adopted and it wouldn't be his bloodline. So Memo uses the Internet to find men to sleep with her.

Is that silly enough already? Wait, there's more. When Maria is walking home she finds a man who has been beat up by two thugs. He's suffering from amnesia and he has no proof of health insurance, so she brings him to a homeless shelter. She visits him regularly and a romance develops. Unknown to both of them the thugs who beat him up are looking for him. They are inept blunderers who repeatedly injure one another while searching for the mystery man.

I hope that's enough to put you off the film. The action scenes are so poorly filmed that they made me laugh. The comedy scenes were so poor that they made me groan. I regret watching the film all the way to the end. I kept thinking that it had to get better. It didn't.

Saturday, 21 March 2015

Attack of the 50 Foot Cheerleader (3½ Stars)

What does a girl do if she wants to become a cheerleader, but she's unathletic and has a bad facial complexion? Every film fan knows the answer. She breaks into a laboratory and swallows an experimental drug. The next morning she wakes up with a beautiful face, and she's so fit that she easily passes the cheerleader trials. The problem is that over the next few days her height increases dramatically.

This was the first film produced by Roger Corman in 3D. Luckily I saw the 2D version today. 3D is overrated. The plot is so similar to "Attack of the 60 Foot Centerfold" that Roger Corman could be accused of plagiarism. I have no problems with films copying other films, as long as it's done well. In this case it doesn't succeed. Fred Olen Ray's unique touch is missing, and the girls don't look as good. It's a fun film, but not worth watching more than once. Unless, of course, you have a giant cheerleader fetish, in which case it'll be your favourite film.

The Wolf Man (1941 version) (4 Stars)

Even a man who is pure in heart and says his prayers by night
May become a wolf when the wolfbane blooms and the autumn moon is bright.

When people reminisce about the great actors of American horror films the first names they mention are Boris Karloff and Bela Lugosi. Not many people will remember Lon Chaney Jr, the actor who played the Wolf Man. Even the film freaks who remember and love the Wolf Man might not know that Lon Chaney was the only actor who played the role of all of Universal's major horror characters. Apart from the Wolf Man, he also played the part of Count Dracula ("Son of Dracula", 1943), Frankenstein's Monster ("Ghost of Frankenstein", 1942) and the Mummy ("The Mummy's Tomb", 1942, "The Mummy's Ghost", 1944, and "The Mummy's Curse", 1944). Boris Karloff and Bela Lugosi were definitely good actors, each in their own way, but Lon Chaney had greater all round talent, and it could be argued that he was the greatest star of Universal's horror films.

Clocking in at 69 minutes, "The Wolf Man" only qualifies as a short film. (By modern definition, to be considered a full length feature a film has to last at least 70 minutes). It isn't an accident that the film was so short. It was intended to be a B-Film, i.e. the minor film in the days when it was usual to show two films together. I still remember those days. I think it continued until the mid-1970's. First the B-Film was shown, then there was an intermission in which a lady served ice cream at the front of the theatre, and then the main film was shown. I don't know what the main film was when "The Wolf Man" was shown. I doubt it was anything that people still want to watch. It was the B-Film that made history.

Lon Chaney Jr. was born as Creighton Chaney in 1906. His father was Lon Chaney, one of the most famous actors of silent movies. As a teenager he wanted to follow in his father's footsteps, but his father forbade him to become an actor. Maybe he considered acting to be too risky as a career? Whatever the reason, those were the good old days when children did what their parents told them to do. Creighton Chaney worked as a plumber. When his father died in 1930 Creighton felt he was free of his promise and turned to acting. Not only did he change his career, he also changed his name to Lon Chaney Jr. The name change probably wasn't a good idea. For the next 10 years he had to listen to people telling him he wasn't as good as his father. The first role that won him respect was as Lennie in "Of Mice and Men" (1939). This was soon followed by "The Wolf Man" (1941), and he was now considered to be the equal of his father.

This 1941 short film defined the werewolf genre more firmly than vampire mythology has ever been fixed. There were old legends about people morphing into wolves, but the legends usually involved a person becoming a wolf as the result of a witch's curse, or through eating an enchanted fruit. The screenwriter Curt Siodmak abandoned all these ideas and said that people become a werewolf by being bitten. He also invented the full moon mythology, and added that the ones most likely to become werewolves are those who are pure of heart. I don't believe that any films have strayed from Curt Siodmak's ideas since.

The make-up girl took no risks while she was preparing Lon Chaney for the film. She kept him in handcuffs while she was trimming his hair.

Lon Chaney Jr
February 10, 1906 – July 12, 1973

Thursday, 19 March 2015

Off-Topic: Internet Censorship

One thing that always makes my blood boil is Internet censorship, however well intended it might sometimes be. Yesterday I read that the UK's Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) found the above displayed page on American Apparel's web site offensive. (Image removed -- please read addendum below). The ASA accused American Apparel of publishing a photo of an under-age girl in a sexual pose. American Apparel replied that the model, Kacy Anne Hill, is 20 years old, but the ASA wasn't satisfied. They stated that the model looks like she's under 16, which is all that matters. The precise wording of the ASA's decision is:

We considered the model had a youthful appearance and that some consumers were likely to regard her as being younger than 16 years of age. The model was shown looking back at the camera over her shoulder with her buttocks visible. We considered that readers were likely to interpret the model's expression and pose as being sexual in nature. In conjunction with the youthful appearance of the model, we considered the ad could be seen to sexualise a child. We therefore concluded that the ad was irresponsible and was likely to cause serious offence.

This is amazing, utterly amazing. The ASA has acted incorrectly in so many different ways.

  • The model in the picture is being punished because she is fortunate enough to look younger than she is. She is not under-age according to UK law.
  • The model is not naked. She is clothed with a garment such as might be seen on any English beach.
  • The ASA has overstepped its authority by making American Apparel remove the image not just from the UK web site, but from all their web sites, including the American and Australian web sites.

This is the image of Kacy Anne Hill which the ASA found so offensive. I was fast enough to save it before it was removed from the American Apparel web site. I've shrunk the picture to make it fit on my page, but if you click on it you will see the full size image that I downloaded.

Interestingly, the ASA didn't complain about other images of Kacy Anne Hill used on the web site. I just spent an hour clicking through the site and found more than 30 other photos of her that seem equally provocative. Here are just two examples.

All three photos seem equally sexual to me, but am I the right person to judge? I don't have a twisted mind like the ASA employees. I don't look at a picture of an adult woman and immediately start fantasising about young girls. Maybe the ASA just hasn't noticed the other pictures yet, and they'll be removed from the web site by tomorrow.

A positive thing about the whole issue is that it's a source of publicity for the model concerned. People had never heard of Kacy Anne Hill, but now she's well known as the beautiful model who looks like she's under 16. Supposedly under 16, that is, but whether or not it's true it's the way she'll be known. I'm glad I managed to save and re-publish the photo of her before it was removed from the site. Please share it. For Kacy's sake.

Addendum on Monday, 23rd March, 2015

It's only four days since I made this post, and I've discovered that all the photos of Kacy Anne Hill wearing a thong have now been removed from the American Apparel site. I'm considering posting them all on my blog as a gallery. If I do this it will be my stand against Internet censorship.

Addendum on Tuesday, 24th March, 2015

I have now published a gallery of Kacy Anne Hill's thong photos. This is the link. This is my stand against Internet censorship, but I have also done this for Kacy herself, to promote her on the Internet.

Addendum on Sunday, 23rd August, 2015

Yesterday I discovered by accident that a copyright complaint was sent to Google on July 22nd, 2015. The reason for the complaint was the title image of this post. The copyright complaint named not only the image itself, but the blog post that contained it. A second complaint about the same image and the same post was sent on July 29th. This annoyed me greatly. I have a legal disclaimer at the bottom of every page on my blog, which I shall quote here:

The purpose of using the images above is to advertise the products that I review and assist in their sale. I assume that the copyright holders will agree with the use for this purpose, but if the copyright holder of any image disagrees with its use please leave a comment below the post and I shall replace it.

That's clear enough, isn't it? I have offered my cooperation in dealing with any disputed material. But instead of dealing with this in a friendly manner, by leaving a comment on my blog, the law company Stone, Meyer, Genow, Smelkinson and Binder (SMGSB) has made a complaint about my blog behind my back directly to Google.

The disputed image (which I have already removed) was a screenshot of a page on American Apparel's web site with a link to the page itself where the item could be bought. When I checked yesterday the link was broken, because the item is no longer on sale. This means that my use of the image no longer "assists in a sale", so I have replaced it. I hope that this is the end of the matter.

If any representatives of SMGSB read this, I hope they will deal with any complaints against my blog more politely in future.

Wednesday, 18 March 2015

X-Men XXX (3 Stars)

This was the last film that Axel Braun made for Vivid Entertainment. When he left Vivid to make films for Wicked Pictures it meant he was turning his back on superhero films. At Wicked he has been concentrating his efforts on making pornographic versions of fairy tales. I read recently that he has been persuaded to make a superhero film series for Wicked. Good luck to him, but I intend to boycott his films made at Wicked, due to their policy of requiring condoms for all penetrative sex acts. Let's hope he leaves them soon.

The film copies the story of the official X-Men film made in 2000. It deals with Wolverine trying to free Rogue from the clutches of Magneto and his Brotherhood of Evil Mutants. All the Wolverine-centric films of the recent years are getting on my nerves. There are other X-Men apart from him. "Days of Future Past" is a good example of over-emphasis on Wolverine. It's not a bad film, but in the original story from the comics it was Kitty Pryde who travelled into the past to change the future. Why was it necessary for the film to send Wolverine instead? Nevertheless, Tommy Gunn adequately portrays Wolverine. At least he wears yellow spandex in Axel Braun's films.

This is also the last film featuring Billy Glide before his death from a rattlesnake bite in May 2014. In this film he plays Colossus, putting on a convincing Russian accent. He enjoyed a certain notoriety due to having the largest penis in the porn industry. In this film the actress playing Kitty Pryde can't even get her hand around his penis. It must be as thick as my wrist. If you don't believe me, watch the film for yourself. Or watch "This ain't Dirty Jobs", in which he has a bigger part. No pun intended.

Billy Glide
July 25, 1970 – May 25, 2014

Monday, 16 March 2015

Suite Francaise (3¾ Stars)

The film takes place in a village called Bussy, 20 miles from Paris, in 1940. I didn't realise until the end of the film that it's a true story. It was written shortly after the events by a French Jewess who lived in the village after fleeing from Paris, but it wasn't published until 60 years later when her daughter finally discovered what was contained in her mother's notebook.

The main character is Lucille Angellier (Michelle Williams), who lives in a large mansion in Bussy with her mother-in-law, a wealthy land-owner referred to only as Madame Angellier. Her husband has left to fight against the Germans, but when Germany conquers Paris in June 1940 she begins to despair that he's still alive. At first the war seems far away, but Bussy is overrun by a stream of refugees from Paris, and shortly afterwards a German regiment is posted in the village. Each household has to put up a German soldier, and as the owner of the largest house Madame Angellier is assigned the highest ranking German office, Lieutenant Bruno von Falk (Matthias Schoenaerts).

The Germans are the enemies, and Lucille expects to have an inhuman monster living in her house. She's surprised when she meets a highly sensitive man who spends the evenings sitting at her piano composing a piece of music that he calls the "Suite Francaise". A romance develops between the two.

The film is a very honest portrayal of the situation during the German occupation of France. It's usual for the opposing sides in a war to demonise one another, but the fact is that the soldiers who fight for a country are just normal men who have more in common with the enemy soldiers than they do with their warmongering leaders. This is especially the case if the soldiers have been conscripted. While I lived in Germany I had a friend whose father had been part of the occupying army in France. His father was a religious man, and while in France he had visited French churches, sitting side by side with the enemy. War is something that divides people who would otherwise have been friends.

I enjoy films based on true stories, even if they lack the tidy resolution of purely fictional films. Real life never ties up loose ends, and there's rarely a happy ending. My only real criticism of the film is that the romance isn't as tender as the picture above suggests. When Lucille and Bruno are together they seem to be driven by lust rather than love. That clashes with the love of classical music that first draws them together. This must have been an interpretation of the film's screenwriters, because I doubt that the authoress knew the couple well enough to know that when in private they were tearing one another's clothes off to have a hasty fumble.

My praise goes out to Sam Riley, who is barely recognizable as the French farmer Benoit. His wife Alexandra Maria Lara plays a small role as a Jewish refugee, probably the authoress herself. Tom Schilling ably portrays the swaggering German lieutenant Kurt Bonnet. He's fast developing into one of Germany's top actors. Heino Ferch, probably my favourite German actor, plays a small role as the commander of the troops stationed in Bussy. Matthias Schoenaerts is a Belgian actor who is currently making a breakthrough into the American market, and he certainly has the talent to go all the way to the top. But all the other actors are eclipsed by Michelle Williams. After all these years I still associate her with the TV series "Dawson's Creek", which was her first big role at the age of 18. I never realised that she would develop into such a competent actress. She has a cool composure that makes her able to express emotions with the slightest change of facial expressions.

Friday, 13 March 2015

General: My film collection

A friend of mine wrote in his blog, "If you have a large music collection, don't leave it to your family when you die. The chances are they won't appreciate it and they'll dump it in the trash. It's better to sell your records before you go, so they'll be in the hands of someone who will find pleasure in them".

Those are wise words, but there's a fault in his argument. Some of us are ill and know we're going to die, but death can also come unexpectedly. We could be hit by a car crossing the road tomorrow.

I used to have a large music collection, about 1800 CD's, but in June 2000 everything was stolen while I was in hospital. I know who took them. It was Thomas Kuzilla of Dearborn Heights, Michigan. He knew they were worth a lot to me, so he sent me emails offering to sell them back to me. I was in hospital for over a year, and I didn't read most of the emails until I got home. His girlfriend, who was my ex-girlfriend, sent me a package with about 20 CD's. She wrote that she couldn't send more without Thomas noticing. I don't know how he was treating her, but she was obviously scared of him.

But that's getting off the topic of this post. I've re-bought my favourite CD's, but I had to make do with downloading MP3's for the rest, so today I only have about 100 CD's. My main collection is my film collection on DVD and Blu-ray. Apart from 1600 films, I have dozens of television box sets, so it's difficult for me to estimate the total number of discs. If I were hit by a car tomorrow my daughter would be overwhelmed by the size of the collection and wouldn't know what to do with it. Her mother, my ex-wife, has already told me I should throw my DVD's away because they take up too much space, so I have little doubt that in the event of my sudden death most or all of my collection would be destroyed.

My film collection is a mixed bunch. Most of the DVD's are common films that can be bought as used copies for two pounds or less. There are a few rarities among them that collectors would pay high prices for. If my daughter tried selling a few of my DVD's on Ebay and didn't get much for them she would give up and throw the rest away.

How can I get around this? I could put a clause in my Will that my property isn't allowed to be destroyed, but I don't know if it would be enforcible. It might be legally enforcible, but in practice it would be impossible to check. My family might nod politely to the lawyer reading out the conditions, but ten years later they would assume everything's been forgotten and they would dump everything anyway.

Think of this blog post as a promise. In the event of my death, whether it's in 30 years, seven years or tomorrow, any of my friends who read this have permission to visit my house and take with them any of my DVD's or Blu-ray discs that my daughter doesn't want to keep. My collection is well sorted by category, so unless everything has already been thrown into boxes it should be easy to find what you like.

In case anyone intends to ask me why this post includes photos of Ai Shinozaki, let me ask you a question first: Is there any reason why I shouldn't post photos of her? She's the world's most beautiful actress, in my opinion, so she deserves to be seen.

Wednesday, 11 March 2015

R100 (4¼ Stars)

R100 doesn't exist. If anyone tells you he's seen R100 he's lying.

I just watched R100. I'm sure I did. It seemed so real.

There is no R100. There are earthquakes. There are comas. There is no R100.

Trinity is still my name (4 Stars)

This is a sequel to "They call me Trinity". It's usually considered to be the best film made by Terence Hill and Bud Spencer, and when it was released in 1971 it was the highest grossing Italian film ever. I think I forgot to mention in my previous reviews that Terence and Bud are Italians. Terence's birth name was Mario Girotti, while Bud's birth name was Carlo Pedersoli. Their American sounding names probably contributed to their success. Nowadays it's not usual for stars from non-English speaking countries to change their names for the sake of international audiences. That's a shame. Germany's Matthias Schweighöfer is in serious need of a new name.

After the events of the first film the two brothers, Trinity (Terence Hill) and Bambino (Bud Spencer) are wandering around in the desert. I should really put the names in the other order, because Bambino is the older brother, whatever his name might suggest. Trinity looks up to his older brother and wants to follow in his footsteps, but Bambino finds him annoying because Trinity is a failure in the family business: stealing horses and cattle. When they return home their parents persuade them to work together. But Trinity still hasn't learnt how to be a professional. When they ambush a farmer's family to steal their horses he falls in love with their daughter and spares them, much to his brother's dismay. Their misadventures continue through the film, ending with an epic 10-minute battle in a monastery while they're disguised as monks.

This is once more a very good film from Terence Hill and Bud Spencer, though spoilt by poor picture quality. The remastered version is only available in Germany.

Tuesday, 10 March 2015

Psycho Beach Party (3¾ Stars)

Boy, there are a lot of twisted souls out there!

Even though this film was a box office flop, earning less than a quarter of its budget in the cinemas, it's considered by many to be a cult film. I won't try to explain what that means, because I'm not sure I understand it myself. Nevertheless, it's been a favourite rental film in video stores ever since it was released on disc. Maybe the film's title appeals to young people who want a movie night at home.

The film was made in 2000, but it's set in the 1960's, the decade of beach parties. Marvel Ann heads down to Malibu Beach in the sexiest bikini she dares to wear -- see above! -- to pick up boys. She takes her two best friends with her for company, nerdy Bernadine (on the left) and tomboy Florence (on the right). She tries to lose her friends when the surfers show up, but they embarrass her by joining in her conversations with the boys. Worst of all, Florence insists on learning to surf so that she can be one of the guys.

Unknown to the girls, there's a killer stalking the beach. Dead bodies are found each day, and not even the best work of the transvestite police detective Monica Stark can find the killer. Florence is suffering from a multiple personality disorder and suspects herself. But the killer may even be supernatural. There's a haunted house on the beach in which a whole family was slaughtered 20 years ago. The house has been empty ever since, but now it's being rented by Bettina Barnes, a big star in horror and science fiction films.

The film doesn't take itself too seriously. It parodies the surfing culture of the 1960's, including the brash sexism of the age. The lines are delivered with wooden precision. It's not too scary, it's not too funny, but it's cute. It's a good film for a movie night at home.

A Hole in my Panty (3½ Stars)

This is a Japanese coming-of-age drama made in 2011. Before today I didn't know that films like this were made in Japan. In fact, I didn't think they had been made anywhere since the 1980's. "A Hole in my Panty" shares the style of the Canadian Porky's films and the Israeli Lemon Popsicle films, not to mention countless other one-off coming-of-age films.

First of all, let's get the film title out of the way. At no time in the film do we see panties with holes in them. The title is ridiculous. The film itself is naively innocent, so why was such a crude title necessary? Is it to fool customers into thinking that it's a pornographic film? I hate false advertising, but in this case I wouldn't have fallen for it anyway. It stars Ai Shinozaki, the world's most beautiful actress, and it's inconceivable that she would appear nude, or in a film with other nude actresses.

Hiroshi, Takuro and Ryota are three schoolboys. It's the summer holidays, and they've decided to lose their virginity before the holidays are over. They try to chat up the girls in their class, but the girls treat them like they're stupid. Actually, the girls are right, the boys really are stupid.

At the beach the boys meet Narumi, played by Ai Shinozaki. Hiroshi falls in love with her immediately. Can you blame him? He isn't even put off when she tells him that she only likes virgins and makes him recite poems on the merits of virginity. It isn't just a matter of saving yourself until marriage, Narumi is recommending absolute celibacy. She teases Hiroshi with her skimpy clothing to see if he is capable of remaining chaste. Look but don't touch!

In a way, I wish I were still a virgin. I know that's a strange thing to say, but I can still remember my teenage years as a virgin. Sex held a certain mystery for me, a mystery it lost after the first time and will never have again. It's difficult to explain what I mean. If I were young again I would try to remain a virgin for as long as possible.

Monday, 9 March 2015

Unfinished Business (3 Stars)

This film has left me with mixed feelings. Some parts of it I loved, some parts I hated, some parts left me indifferent.

Dan Trunkman (Vince Vaughn) is stuck between a rock and a hard place. His wife is pressuring him to send their teenage son to an expensive private school to protect him from bullying. But at work he's told that he will be given a 5% pay cut. He walks out, saying he'll found his own company. He calls on his colleagues to walk out with him, but the only ones who follow him are Tim (Tom Wilkinson), who has just been fired because he was too old, and Mike (Dave Franco), who was just turned down at a job interview. A year later they're still a three-man company selling swarf. Do you know what swarf is? It's so rare that my spell checker doesn't recognise the word. It's metal shavings, the waste product after cutting metal.

To close a big deal the three men have to fly to Berlin. What a city! It's the best place on Earth to party. It's taken a long time, but Berlin has finally regained its pre-war decadence. It's home to every conceivable vice and lust.

For me the film started slowly. Way too slowly. The introductory scene in which Dan leaves his job was supposed to be funny, but it wasn't. I was glad when it was over. The scenes with Dan's family relationships might have been funny if they weren't so tragic. Fat boys get bullied at school. It's an unfortunate fact of life. A lot of the humour was centred around Tim being a horny old man and Mike being a simple-minded idiot. It was funny at first, but the more the jokes continued the less sympathy I had with them. The only parts of the film that I really loved were the Berlin scenes. Beautiful! It's the Berlin that I know and love. And of course, the scenes with Dan's business partner Bill (Nick Frost) are good, because Nick Frost is amazing in whatever he does. It's just a shame we didn't see more of him.

According to the initial figures, "Unfinished Business" is heading towards being a box office flop, not even earning back it's budget. That doesn't surprise me. The fault is probably in the script. It could have been a lot better if it had been streamlined, eliminating minor details and concentrating on the parts that were genuinely funny.

P.S. Even though I speak fluent German, the expression "Flügel schlagen" makes no sense to me. Literally it translates as "flap your wings", but why would a GPS say something like that?

Sunday, 8 March 2015

Ace High (3 Stars)

Netflix likes to mess around with its customers. I had some trouble understanding what was happening in the first half hour of this film. Were Terence Hill and Bud Spencer the good guys or the bad guys? I paused the film to check The Infallible Wikipedia, and I discovered that "Ace High" is the second film in a trilogy, and the second film begins by referencing the final events of the first film, "God forgives, I don't". Ah ha! So I decided to put off watching the rest of "Ace High" and watch the first film first. Tough luck. Netflix doesn't offer "God forgives, I don't", just the sequel. Stupid. So I had to make do with reading a plot summary of "God forgives, I don't" before continuing with "Ace High".

That's enough anti-Netflix ranting for today. Now where was I? Oh yes, Terence and Bud are bad guys. Sort of. They play the bandits Cat and Hutch, who robbed a train in the first film. They may be bandits, but they spend the whole film fighting other bandits, so they're the lesser evil. It's a very lawless film. We never see a sheriff in town. In fact, in one of the first scenes Cat asks where the sheriff is, to which the reply is "He's gone fishing". After that he's never mentioned again, and he never comes back.

The film begins with Cat and Hutch retrieving their loot from the train robbery. It's been deposited in a bank, but the crooked bank manager is trying to hold on to it, and he needs some gentle persuasion to let them make a withdrawal. While crossing the desert Cat and Hutch are robbed by a bandit called Cacopoulos. They pursue him across the border into Mexico, and they're surprised to find he's been giving the money away. When they catch him he says that he's not interested in money for its own sake, he just wants to get revenge on his three partners who betrayed him and let him spend 15 years in jail. He agrees to give Cat and Hutch back the remainder of their money, which he's hidden in a safe place, if they help him get his revenge. That's a good deal, and Cacopoulos seems like an honest guy, but they haven't reckoned with his gambling addiction. Before handing the money over to Cat and Hutch he goes into a gambling house for a few small bets, and he ends up losing all the cash. So Cat and Hutch team up with Cacopoulos not just to get revenge, but also to get back the money that he's lost.

Even though he only appears in the second film, Eli Wallach steals the main headline on the film posters as the honest but totally unreliable bandit Cacopoulos. He was a famous actor in America in the 1960's, while Terence and Bud were at the beginning of their careers.

Saturday, 7 March 2015

Bikini Avengers (3½ Stars)

Dean McKendrick, who wrote and directed this film, certainly doesn't have an attention to detail. His mistakes begin with the name of the film. Bikini Avengers? No, that's not the name of a super-hero group. The film features two super-heroes, Bikini Avenger and Thong Girl. Why didn't he pick that as the film's name? "Bikini Avenger" alone would have been acceptable, because Thong Girl is only the junior sidekick. But what about the costumes? As stylish as the costumes may be, Bikini Avenger (in gold) doesn't wear a bikini, and Thong Girl (in red) doesn't wear a thong.

Apart from these details it's a mildly enjoyable film. Dean borrows elements from "Batman" (the TV series), "Spider-Man" (the 1960's comics) and James Bond ("Goldfinger" and "Diamonds are forever"). The two girls have to save the world from the Jade Empress, who has stolen diamonds to power a nuclear satellite. It's not one of Dean's best films, but Erika Jordan and Jacqui Holland are two of the sexiest super-heroes you'll see in any film. No man is strong enough to fight against them.

Friday, 6 March 2015

Psycho Gothic Lolita (4 Stars)

Yuki is at home celebrating her birthday with her loving parents. They give her a beautiful white dress. Then a gang break into the house and murder Yuki's mother, crucifying her before her eyes. The effects on Yuki and her father are profound. Yuki's father becomes a Catholic priest, while Yuki decides to never wear white again. She wears black clothes and carries an umbrella in the sunlight to keep her skin pale. She dedicates her life to getting revenge for her mother's death, while trying to find out the reason she was executed. But some secrets are better not being known.

The film is an obvious parody of "Kill Bill". It's a half-way entity between the serious Japanese films of Sion Sono and the trashy films of Noboru Iguchi, alternating between serious fight scenes and ridiculously unrealistic special effects. We also see that even if you're in the middle of a life and death fight you still have to answer your phone.

I've never understood why they like to let the blood splash against the camera in Japanese films. Is it supposed to look more realistic?