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This month I have mostly been…

…watching films and TV programs on my laptop. When I’ve not been working, downloading pr0n and sliding down snowy mountains on an expensive plank of wood.

To make you read all of this, I’ve put a shit-hot link at the bottom. But you’re only allowed to click on it if you read everything else. So there.

It’s been ages since I waxed on about films on this blog so I think it’s time for a rundown of some of the ones I’ve watched recently. The local cinema is arse for English-language films so I’ve had to resort to downloading them. Yes, I’m an evil film pirate. My options otherwise boil down to ordering DVDs from home… and then throwing them away as I have nowhere to put them and won’t have room in my luggage to take them back with me. Besides, I’m on an income of near-zero once I buy all my food, so I’d barely be able to afford one or two a month anyway.

Sob story over.

What have I watched recently?

First up – I Am Legend with Will Smith. Entertaining enough, though no classic. After I watched it, I read the book. What can I say? The film definitely falls into the "inspired by" category, not the "based on" one. As far as the characters and storyline goes, they bear virtually no similarity to the novel whatsoever. The book has a much better story, a much better ending, much better characters and an actual plot. The film… Actually, I enjoyed it more before I read the book.

American Pie: Band Camp was a straight-to-DVD follow-up to the popular trilogy. It features two of the original cast (possibly three – not sure if one character has changed actors) and centres around Stifler’s younger brother. And you know what? It’s not bad if you’re in the right frame of mind. A little less shocking than the first ones, but there have been so many lookalikes, that’s not surprising. Still, worth a watch if you want a giggle.

Superbad on the other hand, tries to be American Pie and doesn’t quite make it. Slow to start with, it perks up a bit with the police cruiser subplot, and then ends all twee as you just know it’s going to. Again, entertaining enough but not up there with genre classics like Road Trip.

Need more be said about Jackass 2 than that I’ll be buying Jackass 2.5 once I settle down somewhere? This is ideal for the "beer and a movie" combo. So many years on from the likes of Chaplin, Laurel, Hardy, Keaton… and still the funniest thing on camera is someone getting hurt. Or drinking beer through their arse.

Shao Lin Soccer didn’t live up to the rave reviews, but then neither did Kung Fu Hustle which I watched not long before I left the UK. Still, it’s funny, imaginative and does have some classic moments – though the ending is very predictable. Make sure you get the subtitled version, not the dubbed on.

Children of Men has to be one of the best films I’ve seen in ages, with the exception of the very end which is the cinematic equivalent of a damp squib. A crying shame as the rest is just superb – especially the prolonged single-shot urban warfare scene. It’s not until you’ve been watching for maybe ten minutes that you realise there have been no camera cuts. It’s one, long, fluid scene. Beautiful and harrowing at the same time.

There’s always one film you wish you’d not bothered with and in this case it’s the absolutely mediocre Miami Vice. Barely enough plot for half an episode of the original series bloated out to over two hours with hardly an action sequence worth the title. I gave up halfway through and let it play on while I read I Am Legend. Awful. Just fucking awful.

On to Mindhunters which turned out to be a more than half-decent thriller with some good twists but a mildly formulaic ending. A neat premise, some lovely grisly death scenes, a puzzle you could figure out (no random things that the audience wouldn’t ever guess) and a convincing cast. Everyone I know who’d seen it before me liked it and I can see why.

Next, on the other hand, was liked by some and loathed by others. I fall into the &quo;liked" category. Based on a short story / novel by Philip K. Dick (has anything he wrote not been ripped off for cinema yet?), it’s an interesting premise very well filmed. The effects and action sequences are very well directed, Cage is good in a role he’s suited to (confused, unwilling hero) and plays it well (unlike in Ghost Rider which was fucking awful). And the twist at the end makes you go "aaaahhh!" at something that just seemed artistic when you saw it earlier in the movie.

I enjoyed Ocean’s Thirteen a little more than I should have for what’s amounting to a series of vanity projects. It was certainly better than Twelve, I think partly as it didn’t have Julia Roberts in. I just didn’t like her in the last one.

And that’s it, really. I might just pop more up as and when I watch them now. May take a week or two as I work through seasons five to seven of West Wing

As for that link I mentioned at the top, I assume most of you know that Stallone’s at it again, dredging up another character from his past and continuing a series. Yes, folks… Rambo is back! And this time it actually looks like a fucking good film. If you like bullets, explosions, corpses and lots and lots of blood.

Ooh yeah.

Check out all three trailers at IGN.com. The most recent "Never Give Up" one is just 90 seconds of guts ‘n’ blood. Wonderful.

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