Spitting Image is the legendary satire-with-puppets show that helped define an era (the ’80s-90s Conservative governments) and which was internationally syndicated and remade in dozens of countries. It has gone down in TV legend, so much so that there have been several tries at rebooting it or copying it. But October 2020 is when the show was finally rebooted, exclusive for the BBC-ITV joint delusion venture to rival Netflix: BritBox. But can reality ever live up to the memory of this now fabled show?
Episode one was surprisingly on point in terms of style and gags; you would never have thought the show had been off air for around 25 years. However, just like the good old days, many of the gags fell flat. And just like the good old days, many other gags had an inspired insanity about them (I’m thinking an extra-terrestrial, insectoid, baby-eating Dominic Cummings… if that doesn’t get you interested, I don’t know what will).
There was some lampooning of the right, as you would expect, but thankfully the left wasn’t immune, either, Lewis Hamilton and Greta “Magical Autist” Thunberg coming in for fire.
One bizarre weak point left me scratching my head. The guy doing Boris Johnson just wasn’t that good. He was weirdly restrained. Boris Johnson himself makes a better parody of Boris Johnson than this Boris Johnson parody did. Quite odd, and a bit of a flat note.
All in all, this wasn’t the sharpest satire I’ve ever seen. However, it was much better than the knock-off Newzoids (2015-2016). Many jokes landed. It seems to be taking swipes at all. And the trademark mix of heady satire and toilet humour has continued. Worth watching, although I’m not sure if it’ll be good enough to help make BritBox a success.
Spurred on by the popstar’s recent demise, this is a hastily cobbled together “tribute” to the classic David Bowie flick. With none of the charm and wonder of the original, this film will shit all over your childhood memories. Possibly starring a female as David Bowie, and ever-young Elijah Wood (now 40 years old) playing 16 year old Sam (formerly Sarah, portrayed by Jennifer Connelly).
Using sophisticated NASA-style algorithms (read: guesswork)
It used to be that to qualify for a reboot or remake, a film had to satisfy two criteria:
the original had to be a “classic”,
a generation had to have passed since the original: Cape Fear (1962, 1991), The Hills Have Eyes (1977, 2006), Superman (1976, 2006).
Not so anymore. The appearance of Cabin Fever, a 2016 remake of a middling 2002 film, means all bets are off. And it’s not the only one:
Hulk (2003, 2008) Fantastic Four (2005, 2015) Death at a Funeral (2007, 2010) Planet of the Apes (1968, 2001… 2011)
Using sophisticated NASA-style algorithms (read: guesswork) powered by the next generation software and hardware (read: coffee, boredom in my job), I have managed to foretell a 100% accurate schedule* of film and TV reboots for the next few years.
So put these dates in your daybook, because these films are coming to a cinema near you!
*At time of going to press: all changes to schedule are the result of a mishap with a DeLorean.
Does she have a crushing Faberge Egg habit to support that only a senior manager’s salary could enable? No.
Things couldn’t be better for Derek (Idris Elba). He’s got a beautiful, adoring wife Sharon (Beyoncé), a healthy, happy toddler, and has just received a massive promotion which has sent him stratospheric. However, his world comes under threat when femme fatale temp Lisa (Ali Larter) goes a-hunting in her new office and decides to put Derek between the crosshairs.
Obsessed is a very standard psycho-stalker thriller. It draws obvious comparisons with Fatal Attraction (1987). But where Fatal Attraction would still have been daring and bold in 2009, Obsessed would have been staid and trite for 1987. Obsessed was not only paint-by-number, it was rather restrained: Derek never allows temptation to spiral his life out of control. But that itself could have been an interesting angle. Elba, Beyoncé, and Larter all give convincing, characterful performances. Sadly for Larter, the script makes no attempt whatsoever to explain Lisa’s obsession nor her crazy behaviour. Not a hint. Nothing. She’s clearly attracted to him, he is friendly but doesn’t lead her on, she randomly tries to bang him in the toilet. And she doesn’t let up. The lack of any kind of motivation is bizarre. Did Derek lead her on? No. Was she bullied by Sharon at school and now wants to ruin her life? No. Does she have a crushing Faberge Egg habit to support that only a senior manager’s salary could enable? No.
Larter and co make the best of finding a throughline. And I must say that the final show-down was genuinely exciting and enjoyable. Sadly, the script is the big problem with this film, and that is a big problem with a film, indeed.
Please ignore the 5.0 IMDb and 14% Rotten Tomatoes scores.
A man wakes up in a hospital bed, bandaged from head to toe, and with no memory or who he is. But when our nameless protagonist (Jonathan Rhys Meyers) learns that he is a wanted serial killer, something just doesn’t sit right, and he won’t stop until he finds out who he really is and what happened to him.
Awake is a tense, fast-paced crime mystery with twists. Rookie writer Elana Zeltser makes a solid if not ground-breaking screenplay debut. The script, whilst not as clever as Memento (1999) or as taut as Taken (2008), is well-written with believable plotting and dialogue. Our leads, Meyers and Francesca Eastwood, also really sell the film, although the acting from Malik Yoba (detective Frank Ward) had a tendency to veer off into TV movie territory.
Please ignore the 5.0 IMDb and 14% Rotten Tomatoes scores. This film is much better than that. Riveting, fast-paced, not overly obvious albeit not earth-shakingly original, this is a lovely little movie to spend 92 minutes with.
See the review for the first film in the trilogy here
seemed like an overlong episode of any … TV police show.
The Legacy of the Bones is the second in the Baztan trilogy based on the successful book series by Delores Redondo. This instalment sees our lead, Inspector Amaia Salazar (Marta Etura), return to her childhood home and try to solve a case that, once again, is inextricably linked to her own past. The evil seems intent on coming for her and her family.
The second film of a trilogy often sags. The reason is that it doesn’t really have a beginning or an end, it merely serves as a bridge for the first and last parts. However, the Baztan trilogy is more a serial than a series, each episode’s story connected to previous ones but a fresh story. Sorry, did I say “episode”? Whereas the first film, The Invisible Guardian, felt filmic in a good way, this seemed like an overlong episode of any good TV police show. Is that a bad thing? No. But it wasn’t a movie. The plot wasn’t substantial enough. I felt like I was watching a TV series. Which brings me back to the point: this trilogy is a serial of three separate stories, so the sag is not really understandable.
Good performances all round, great photography, good costume design, and the plot was well-rendered, although the lurch deeper into hocus pocus was silly. It’s hard to see how this is a movie. A big step down from the first film.
When the Devil’s near … Toast falls jelly-side down
Devil is a murder-mystery concept piece set mainly in the confines of a lift. Five strangers enter said lift together only to get stuck between floors. Bad enough, you might think. But when one of the five is murdered during a momentary blackout, all Hell breaks loose. Meanwhile outside, our intrepid damaged-goods Policeman tries to solve the unfolding lift-based mystery whilst keeping his shit together.
Devil could have made a good episode of The Twilight Zone (albeit, without the scenes outside the lift). As it was, Devil made for a tense and entertaining horror-mystery. Coming from the mind of M. Knight Shyamalan, there is of course a twist ending, which is reasonably effective, although not totally unforeseeable. And being an M. Knight movie, we can play some Shyamalan Bingo™:
there was some flabby and ridiculous dialogue (“When he’s [the Devil] near, everything goes wrong. Toast falls jelly-side down, children hit tables, and people get hurt.”),
a somewhat awkwardly shoehorned religious aspect (handled clumsily with the gibbering Mexican Catholic expositor),
cheesiness (the awkward mattress salesman and his banter),
and a damaged protagonist suffering from a traumatic loss.
Despite this, the story was lean and tightly plotted. The characters were fairly believable. The performances were all decent. The movie had a kind of Eli Roth vibe to it, which is good or bad depending on your viewpoint, and a TV serial feel. Perhaps the film benefited from M. Knight sharing the writing duties.
Very enjoyable, albeit not Oscar-worthy. A middling Shyamalan movie: no Sixth Sense, but thankfully no The Happening, either.
Check out my other social media accounts which mainly echo (that’s clever-speak for “copy”) the content from this website, although there may be some “original” content on those sites (“original” used in a very loose sense). Check back in on this page every, say, seven years or so, as I will hopefully be augmenting my social media presence (read: wasting yet more time and avoiding yet more chores) by adding more accounts.
imagine a Scary Movie where the wonderful Anna Faris and Regina Hall actually thought they were giving solid dramatic turns.
A baby-sitter finds herself trapped in a house playing cat and mouse with a masked serial killer. Sound familiar? A Stranger Outside is standard ’90s Scream-style shlock, albeit without the self-awareness. But it wins points for some interesting plot ideas. For example, the baby-sitter is really a nurse who has taken the gig as a way of getting some easy cash after suffering a career and confidence crisis due to the death of a vulnerable child in her care.
The first half of the movie was trite, and the acting was a little over-the-top, although our lead Brittany Underwood was giving a decent turn. The less said of the performances by her co-stars Mark Grossman (boyfriend Jeremy), Michael Chandler (incompetent Dr Mixer), Jet Jurgensmeyer (baby-sittee Toby), or best friend Kaci (Shanica “No Relation” Knowles), the better. Things really fall apart in comedy style when the killer starts a-killing. The Scary Movie-like knife thrusts, slicing through pieces of paper, cowering beside counters, and hysterical screaming were beyond absurd; imagine a Scary Movie where the wonderful Anna Faris and Regina Hall actually thought they were giving solid dramatic turns.
This film is also oddly disjointed. The first half, a 90s throwback cliché, albeit mildly entertaining. The second half, a spoof movie not realising it’s a spoof movie. Indescribably awful, but in its awfulness, thoroughly enjoyable nonsense. A jumble of decent scenes and terrible scenes, passable acting and insanely awful acting, make for a diverting 90 minutes.
A female inspector, Amaia (Marta Etura), battles both her own demons and against a religiously-inspired serial killer whose lust for murder shows no sign up letting up.
Set in the haunting, rain-sodden countryside of the Basque Country, nature itself almost seems a character in its own right as embodied by the mythological “Invisible Guardian” of the forest. But Pan’s Labyrinth fantasy this is not; The Invisible Guardian is gritty, and gut-punchingly real.
The beautiful cinematography brings alive the unique culture and atmosphere of the Basque Country. The acting is first rate. The story was tightly plotted and interesting with shades of the Wallander books. This is the first of three films based on Delores Redondo’s books. Crime fiction fans should give it a go, it might be mildly entertaining for the general viewer.