The Incredible Film Fest 2001

It’s 7.50 am on a Sunday morning. A group of tired, dazed, bleary-eye people wearing pyjamas are standing outside the Civic theatre. Some wander off to a nearby Burger King for some breakfast, other start the long walk up Queen Street. All have just spent the last eight hours inside the Civic watching a bunch of B-grade movies.

But wait, let’s stop and go back four weeks to where I find myself grabbing five copies of the program to the Incredible Film Festival.

At home reading one of the five copies of the festival program, I concluded that all the films were lame and I didn’t want to see any. For the first week of the fest I ignored it, hoping that it would go away.

Then a friend of mine said “I saw “Sex: The Annabel Chong Story” last night. It’s really interesting.” So I bought a ticket. To recall that is like a junkie recalling their first hit of heroin.

I saw “Sex”, and had another look at the program. Some titles appealed to me. I figured I’d go and see a few films. Then I considered buying the festival pass, which would let me see all the films for only $88. I reckoned there were at least eight films that were interesting enough, so I plonked down $88 and the ticket lady gave me a huge pile of tickets – one for each film.

It was like a challenge. “Go on,” the tickets were saying. “I dare you to go and see every film in the festival.” I took up the challenge. It took up my life.

I alienated friends, family and flatmates. My life revolved around the films. I had to remember to eat first, or rush out between films and grab something quick. I found myself relying on coffee to stay alert during some of the days where I saw three films in a night.

At first it was hard seeing two films in a night. It was almost physically exhausting. But by the third day when I saw three films in a row, I had adjusted and could cope.

I figured out where the best place to sit was, how viewing a film with subtitles is better with no one sitting in the seat directly in front. The music played before and after the films became familiar. The guy who ripped the tickets, the dude who made coffee, they were all part of my cinematic whanau. I even saw the same faces in the audience – other people like me who’d come to see all the films.

On the final night, I saw the four remaining films. The movie marathon was at midnight. I was originally not going to see it because it seemed too difficult – eight hours of movies straight. Then I considered seeing the first film and calling it a night. But after the first I realised I could manage a second. Then, after sucking down cans of V, eating chocolate bars and a mince ‘n’ cheese pie, I realised that the junk food fuel would keep me in the elevated state required to make it to the end.

My legs ached, I was tired, whenever someone in a movie said something about needing sleep I knew exactly how they felt. On screen sex and violence provided no thrills, but I would have gladly sat through a film with people going to sleep in it. I sat there through five B-grade movies, two of which were pretty terrible. I did it and I burst out onto the street and took in the early morning sun and made my way home.

I don’t think it’s possible to devote two weeks of your life, including eighteen hours in one day, to seeing truckloads of films if you hate movies. The sort of person who sees seven films a year, or whatever the national average is, doesn’t do bad-arse festival stuff like that.

It’s about love of movies, and the joy a good film brings and it is completely accurate to be called the Incredible Film Fest, because it was an incredible two weeks.

The Incredible Film Fest 2001 – My Reviews

Anatomie
A German thriller about some bad behaviour going on at an elite med school. Starring Franke Potente, a.k.a That Chick From “Run Lola Run”. There were a bunch of Germans sitting in the row in front who laughed harder and longer at the humour. Also, while lame stand-up comedians might say that German is not a sexy language, “Anatomie” proves that wrong.

Audition (Odishon)
I loved “Audition”! It started out so nice. A widower seeking a new wife sets up a fake audition to meet chicks. The one he picks turns out to be really messed up – bad touching in her past made her a crazy lady. The horrible finale of the film was so gruesome (but a lot of it was never shown, just implied) that about six people walked out rather than face it. But the bit I loved was when after being savaged by his dream girl, who in turn is pushed down the stair by the widower’s son, the widower turns to her and says something like, “One day you will realise that life is wonderful.”

Butterfly and Sword (Xin Liu Xing Hu Die Jian)
Part of the “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” tribute, and also starring Michelle Yeoh, but less serious and more fun and funnier than “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon”. The sub-titles were sometimes badly translated, but that added to the charm. Plenty of crazy martial arts. I’m not a huge martial arts fan, but “Butterfly and Sword” was fun and entertaining. A couple of days later I heard a girl describe it as “so bad it’s good”, but she’s a deluded fool if she thinks that.

Criminal Lovers (Les Amants Criminels)
I got really excited because “Criminal Lovers” was the sole French film in the festival. I like French films. The trashier, the better. “Criminal Lovers” was kind of like Hansel and Gretel meets “Deliverance”. Y’know, young lovers on the run get lost in the woods and are taken hostage by a crazy woodsman who has a thing for the young man. In a parallel universe, it would be an excellent date movie.

The Curious Dr. Humpp (La Venganza Del Sexo)
So there’s Dr Humpp and he needs to capture the sexual essence of attractive young men and women in order to stop decaying. He has a monster who he sends out on errands. One time he was operating on the monster, inserting a smoking thing into the monsters brain, and suddenly smoke started to come out of the monsters eyes and nose. Such are the production values of this Argentinean exploitation classic. A soft-core porno film (which means naked people feeling each others bums) that features a brain in a jar can’t be a bad thing.

The Devil At Your Heels
Crazy Canadian stuntman Ken Carter wants to do a jump one mile from Canada across the St Lawrence seaway to the USA. It takes him five years, he builds a big-arse ramp. Near the end of the film, building up to the actual jump, it was so suspenseful. My palms were all sweaty and I was almost sitting on the edge of my seat. It almost had the sort of feeling that those “In Search Of…” TV shows did. In search of a crazy guy.

Divine Trash
At one point in “Divine Trash” John Waters is talking about how he and his friends used to take speed and go and see all-night movie screenings. I had to rely on energy drinks. “Divine Trash” is a documentary that looks at the making of “Pink Flamingos”. It was pretty entertaining, but might have been more interesting if I’d seen “Pink Flamingos”. I think, though, that it shows that making a good film is not reliant on technical genius, wonderful actors and money. Or perhaps it is?

Faster Pussycat Kill! Kill!
I think to appreciate this film you have to think of it in its historical context. (Oh wow, I just wrote that sentence). Basically, in these post-Xena days, seeing women kicking arse on screen is nothing special, but back in 1966 it was, so there. But the film isn’t just about large-bosomed racer chicks. It’s beautifully shot, and the acting isn’t too bad either. Leaving the film I overheard a bunch of lesbians discussing the film. One of them said “It was great – lots of crotch shots”. Does that make lesbians the new pervy old men?

The Girl Next Door
A woman lies on an operating table. Her nipple has been cut out, leaving a hole in the centre of her breast. A surgeon pulls out a bag of gel through the hole. Half the audience giggles, the other half sucks in their breath. And the best part – it’s real. The breast belongs to porn star Stacy Valentine, and “The Girl Next Door” is a documentary on her life. She escaped an abusive marriage and became a porn star. We get a behinds-the-scenes look at fakes orgasms, porn awards, and the mundane stuff that goes on.

Green Snake (Ching Se)
“Green Snake” is a really beautiful film, filled with rich colours. Everything looks good. It’s about two snake sisters who take human form, and a monk who is on the lookout for animals trying to pass themselves off as human. I think when I first saw it, it annoyed me, but thinking back, I really liked it. It’s like watching visual contentment.

In China They Eat Dogs (I Kina Spiser De Hunde)
Funny! Sexy! Violent! Immoral! Danish! “In China They Eat Dogs” is typical of the new kind of films that the Incredible Film Festival plays. If this film was American, it would probably get a cinema release and be really popular. But as its in Danish, we have to settle for occasional festival screenings. It’s not high art, it’s just fun, the story of a mild mannered (i.e. boring) man pushed to the limit and turns to a life of crime!

The Loved One
One of the two good, old films in the festival that attracted old people to come and see it. Old people laugh differently to younger people. It’s a more restrained, polite laughter. They say the film is about the young British man and his adventures in the Californian funeral industry. But really, it’s about the dead body make-up lady, Miss Thanatogunos. It’s about her and the two men vying for her affections. A classic love triangle story.

Legend Of The Wolf Woman (La Lupa Mannara)
Like Dr Humpp, it’s an exploitation classic dubbed into English. There’s a girl who experienced some bad touching and now she thinks she’s a werewolf (or maybe she really is…!). There’s a flashback where an ancestor of the girl frolicks naked in the moonlight, then turns into a werewolf, and oh my golly gosh, her were-nipples are more frightening than Stacy Valentines’.

Nowhere To Hide (Injong Sajong Polkot Opta)
There was a woman in the audience who laughed too much during this film. She would laugh at stuff that wasn’t funny (e.g., a title card reading “Day 17” HAHAHAHA! Not funny.) And in one scene a cop was taking a piss and she said “Oh, come on!” Yeah, wees are yucky. But apart from her, I managed to like the film. The basic plot: a group of cops go after a criminal. But what makes it cool was how the film was so stylish. It was like a cartoon with real people, yet didn’t feel cartoony.

Open Your Eyes (Abre Los Ojos)
Y’know, this film is being remade in English with Tom Cruise and directed by Cameron Crowe. Crowe makes really good romantic films. “Open Your Eyes” is not, however, a romantic film. See the original! It’s about a man (played by Eduardo Noriega who is a spunk) who is horribly disfigured in a car accident. His life is crap, then things start going well for him, almost too well. Is he crazy or is the world crazy? And, as I scribbled on a piece of paper, are we supposed to feel sympathy for Nuria? Who knows!

Peeping Tom
It’s a horror film, and it does it without cheesy fake spurting blood. The horror, dear viewer, is in the mind. A man, whose scientist father constantly filmed film growing up, as a film fetish of his own. He films women, and kills them being filmed. But the horrible thing about “Peeping Tom” is we see what he sees through his lens. Watching this film makes you an active participant in the goings-on. It’s an absolute classic and it was such a thrill to see it in the wonderful Civic theatre, up there on the big screen.

Paradise Lost 2: Revelations
Three teenagers were arrested for the murder of three boys. One was sentenced to death, the other two imprisoned for life. But did they do it? Perhaps not. Mark Byers, the bizarre step-father of one of the dead boys seems suspicious. Damien Echols, the one on death row, is like poster boy for the West Memphis Three. At one point in the doco, his mother is talking about how she goes and visits him and he puts his hand up on the glass, and how she likes Metallica’s “Nothing Else Matters” because he’s the only thing that really matters. The song starts to play, then as it builds to a climax, the film cuts to Damien in jail, behind the visitor’s room glass, with his hand up on the glass, staring soulfully with his beautiful brown eyes. Free the West Memphis Three!

Sex: The Annabel Chong Story
Waiting for the movie to start, I heard a guy say to a friend of his, “hey man, we should have brought a protective screen for the, uh, splashes”. But anyone expecting a pornographic film would be sadly disappointed. Grace Quek was gang raped in London. A few years later in Los Angeles she became Annabel Chong, pornstar, and engaged in a 251-man gang bang. Like Stacy Valentine she also wants to give up the porn industry, but she goes back to it. Watching the film, especially the part where her mother finds out what her daughter does, is harrowing. It’s about as erotic as a car crash.

Son Of That’s Exploitation
A collection of classic exploitation film trailers. It started with Oliva de Havilland introducing her new motion picture, “Lady In A Cage”, about a woman who gets trapped in a private elevator (“Help! I’m trapped in a private elevator!”) and a bunch of loonies invade her home. A taste of 1968 hippy culture film “Psych-Out” was a favourite. The collection ended with the trailer for the 1994 film of “The Fantastic Four” that was never released. It was a little sad to see that trailer end with “Coming soon to a theatre near you”.

Spike & Mike’s Sick & Twisted Festival Of Animation
A mixed bag of animations. In “Coco The Junkie Pimp 2”, one puppet hit another puppet and that cliche movie hitting noise was heard. An audience member drew his breath in sharply in empathy. Yeah, ow, that must have really hurt the puppet. There was some really vile, offensive stuff near the end. Just because you can make animated poo coming out of an animated bum, doesn’t mean you should.


Starwoids

Another doco, this time about hard core Star Wars fans. It focusses on two groups of fans who are living on the streets outside two movie theatres so they can be first in line for the opening night screening of “The Phantom Menace”. The highlight of the film is some guys who wrote “Star Wars: The Musical”, which is a bunch of songs from other shows with lyrics changed to be about Star Wars. Tears of laughter. Another cool bit was the leader of one of the groups queuing was this 17 year old fat-arse, then in the epilogue a year later, he’d lost a whole lot of weight, and there were gasps of astonishment from the audience.

Tell Me Something
Plastic rubbish bags filled with body parts and a whole lot of blood turn up and the hunt for a serial killer begins. There’s a twist at the end. At the time it was a shock, but when I think about it, it was a fairly standard film noir ending. I guess it seemed unexpected because I wasn’t used to a Korean femme fatale. Another film where a woman is subjected to bad touching as a child and turns into a psycho when she’s an adult.

The Tex Avery Cartoon Collection
The cool thing about these cartoons is they don’t rely on dialogue to tell a story. Much fun is had with the limits of cartoons. There were lots of kids at this screening, and there was one group of about six children and the dad in charge would walk along the front of the row with a bag of popcorn and they’d all take some. He was also wearing a bum-bag under his beer belly. Fortunately the cartoons started and he sat down.

The Toy Box
There’s a young couple called Donna and Ralph. In the beginning there are lots of scenes where Ralph is talking but we never see his lips move. Donna is all hot ‘n’ bothered and wants Ralph real bad, but he says, “I’ll let you know when I’m ready for your slobbery mouth!” Then our young lovers go to the house of Uncle, a horny corpse, and hang out with a bunch of free-lovin’ hippies who take turns in performing for Uncle. In one scene a woman is lying in bed and the sheets start feeling her up. Then a voice says, “Your body and my sheets are one!” It’s like a surreal soft-core porno, with a slight “Rocky Horror Picture Show” feel to it, only with Janet being Frank-n-furter. Don’t look for sense. There is none.

Wonderwall
I didn’t see “Wonderwall”. It was only on during the first week of the festival, when I was ignoring it. Damn.

B-Movie Marathon

The Undertaker and His Pals
So there’s this undertaker and he and his two pals who run a greasy spoon diner (“The Greasy Spoon Diner”) go around on their motorbikes and kill people. The pals get to keep a limb, while the undertaker gets the business generated from the funeral. The victims have names like Miss Lamb, so the pals get to have “leg of lamb” as today’s special. Then in the end all the dead people came back to life and everyone was happy.

Bigfoot
The festival organiser dude, wearing pyjamas, described this as a “piece of shit” and he wasn’t wrong. Big Foot abducts some guy’s girlfriend and he goes looking for her. Only he takes along a really large group of people and they spend most of the time walking from one side of the screen to the other.

Dead Kids
An early ’80s horror film about some groovy teens who kill other groovy teens because an evil scientist is controlling their minds. The cool thing is, the film was set in Nebraska, but was filmed in Auckland. In one scene a car drove through the entrance gate to the school, and everyone laughed because it was a gate at One Tree Hill. Then one of the teens was hanging outside a school building and crossed the road and there was the Auckland University clocktower building. It brought the house down.

Pieces
Another groovy horror film. A killer with a chainsaw is terrorising a university. A studly young fellow (who even walked around naked for a bit, oo-er) helps an attractive lady cop investigate. Meanwhile the killer, who as a child killed his crazy, domineering mother, assembles a blood-stained nudie jigsaw puzzle. The killer has trouble doing this because he is wearing thick leather gloves. But I guess if he took them off it would reveal his identity. There’s screaming and titties and tons of that fake blood around the place.

Girl from Starship Venus
An alien comes to earth and takes the form of a naked lady. She wanders the streets of London investigating human life. All the places she visits are in the dodgy, seedy areas. She goes into a porno theatre, a massage parlour, and a strip club where she drinks alcohol and turns green and grows an afro. Then a man tries to have his way with her, but the force-field that has been activated in her nether-regions means he’s not gonna get any hot alien lovin’. I don’t really have an opinion on this film. It was on at around 6-7.00 am, and my mind was fuzzy.

I learned this:

  • If the film is fiction, abuse in a person’s past turns them into a psychotic killer.
  • If the film is a documentary, abuse in a person’s past turns them into a porn star.
  • Movie marathons are better with comfortable clothes, good food and lots of leg room.
  • Seeing naked ladies in ’60s sexploitation films is weird because they have non-surgically enhanced boobs.
  • Audiences get really quiet during soft-core sex scenes.
  • It’s going to take a while before people get used to the idea that the Incredible Film Festival is not “the best of the worst”.
  • No matter what film you see, there will always be someone in the audience who thinks it’s the most bizarre film they’ve ever seen.

And I’d do it again!

Kevin Smith

Kevin Smith made one good film. For argument’s sake, we shall call this film “ClerksMallRatsChasingAmyDogma” (CMRCAD). All his other films, namely “Clerks”, “Mall Rats”, “Chasing Amy” and “Dogma” are just rehashes of CMRCAD.

Kev’s first film, “Clerks”, took the CMRCAD formula and applied it to the generation X slacker comedy genre. Following in the footsteps of Richard Linklater’s “Slacker” (1991), “Clerks” was a look at the dissatisfaction of menial McJobs. It also featured Jay and Silent Bob and a guy with a goatee.

The next film in Smith’s oevre is Mall Rats (1995). This time the CMRCAD formula was transplanted to the traditional teen comedy. With plenty of lewd humour, “accidental” boobie shots and pop culture references, it received little critical acclaim, but that’s typical of its genre. It also featured Jay and Silent Bob and a guy with a goatee.

1997’s “Chasing Amy” was the CMRCAD formula used in a bittersweet romantic comedy. It told the tale of a man torn between a woman who was allegedly a lesbian but didn’t act like one, and his best friend. Critics liked it even though Ben Affleck furrowing his brow and being sensitive is no match for any John Cusack film. It also featured Jay and Silent Bob and a guy with a goatee.

Then, in 1999, came Dogma a film that applied the CMRCAD formula to a religious-themed comedy. For the first time in a Smith film, the main character was female. Dogma also featured the most violence in a film, making it slightly reminiscent of Scorcese and Coppola’s works merging violence and Catholic imagery. Alanis was God. It also featured Jay and Silent Bob and a guy with a goatee.

Then there’s a film in the works, “Jay And Silent Bob Strike Back” and from what I’ve read of it, it seems like one last giant purge of the whole Jay and Silent Bob thing. No doubt there’ll be a whole bunch of characters who are related to characters in previous films, references to “Star Wars” and other movies, a few hilarious catchphrases (“I’m not even supposed to be in this movie!”) and lots of comics, too. There will also be a guy with a goatee.

Some film makers stick to a genre and explore within that type, making lots of different films with different plots, characters, etc. Kevin Smith does it the other way around. He experiments with genres, but uses the same plot and same characters. Nothing ever changes, but often that’s what endears him to his fans, many of whom are guys with goatees.

Horror

I can handle most film genres. Even westerns (High Noon is the funky shit). But I have to draw the line at horror films. I just don’t like them.

I’ve seen Friday The 13th, and the Evil Dead trilogy, and caught a few snippets of other horror films on TV, but there’s no way I’d see a horror film by choice.

I guess the thing I don’t like is all the tension. Build-up and release, build-up and release. But it’s not even good. Not even Scream appeals to me. I don’t think I’d get the in-jokes because I wasn’t there the first time around.

For me, horror films are not horrifying. But I’ll tell you what is.

It’s a film called Sex. It was made in 1978 and stars a geriatric Mae West (she was 85 years old) playing a newlywed. Her husband is played by 32 year old Timothy Dalton. That in itself is pretty terrifying, but it’s only the surface.

The basic story is, Mae West’s character, a multiple divorcee has recently married. She’s at a hotel on their honeymoon, which is also hosting a political conference. Some ambassador type person is a former husband of hers, and she’s asked to seduce him into agreeing to something. She doesn’t want to, but in the end she gives in.

It gets worse. It’s a musical.

None of the music is original. In one scene, Dom DeLuise dances atop a grand piano while singing The Beatles’ “Honey Pie.” Why? God knows.

The show stopper is the, er, tender moment where Timothy Dalton sings “Love will keep us together” (originally by Captain and Tenille) to Mae while she contributes “No, stop” in appropriate moments.

Now about Miss West. When she was younger she was great. She was funny and sexy and had men wrapped around her little finger. In this film she’s 85. She wears slinky gowns. She has long blonde hair which has got to be a wig. She’s old and wrinkled and and saggy and looks like Dr Phibes (now that was actually a pretty good horror movie).

The movie ends with her resolving all issues with her previous lovers. Timothy, who is an English lord, has mistakenly thought she’s not interested in him and has gone off to his boat to sulk. He starts quietly singing “Love will keep us together” to himself. Suddenly he hears “No, stop” coming from the bedroom. He investigates and there is his new bride in bed wearing a lacy nightie waiting for her husband. He kisses her… on the cheek.

Then something wonderful happens. The film ends. Yes, thankfully and mercifully we are spared the site of Mae and Timothy gettin’ it on. The closing credits roll over their boat a-chuggin’ down the Thames.

To watch this is a test of human endurance. When I saw it I had glandular fever and just didn’t have the physical strength to walk away or even change channels.

Normal, healthy people attempting to watch this movie should ask themselves, “should I be watching this sober?” The answer is no.

I am warning you. This film is a nightmare.

Audience Behaviour

There are those stories of when motion pictures first started out. When the local town hall would show a silent film accompanied by Gladys, the church’s organ player improvising a piano soundtrack. There’d be a shot of a train coming towards the camera and terrified first-time viewers would run screaming from the room convinced that the train was coming straight for them.

Oh, we can laugh and think now naive movie-viewing audiences were back then, but things haven’t totally changed all that much.

I found myself at a midnight screening of “Ever After”, a retelling of the Cinderella story. A young man, sitting near me appeared to be extremely involved in the film.

At first it appeared that he couldn’t handle the basic essence of a fairy tale, in that it’s told in an over-the-top melodramatic fashion. The good are very good, and the bad are very bad.

As a result of this, he made little comments to his friend whenever things got emotional on the screen. The comments were also made whenever Drew Barrymore’s cleavage was seen.

I told him to be quiet, and thankfully he was. But it didn’t stop.

He think became hyper-involved with the film. In one scene, the wicked stepsister make a nasty remark about Cinderella’s mother, Cinderella punched her, and overcome with emotion, this fellow burst into spontaneous applause.

Another time the wicked stepmother said to the other stepsister that it didn’t matter what she wore to the ball because “You’re only there for the food.” To this the guy went, “Oooooh!”

It took all the self-control I could muster not to dish out some punishment.

I once read that audience behaviour changed after the advent of home video viewing. In the comfort of your own home, it’s quite all right to make hilarious comments about the film you’re watching, to hide under the couch when things get scary, or to start a “USA! USA!” chant when Bruce Willis blows some shit up.

But when you’re in a public movie theatre, it can sometimes be hard for some people to remember that there may be other people who are here for hot movie action, not for your comments, gasps, jokes, and certainly can figure things out on their own and do not require you to make statements such as “Oh, he was in on it right from the beginning!” or “Ahhh… she’s going to kill him now!”

Just sit back, relax, watch the film, and realise that it is a work of fiction. Otherwise don’t act too surprised if someone in the row behind you dumps the ice from her coke down the back your shirt.

Star Wars

Unlike practically everyone else in the entire universe, I had not, until recently, ever seen any of the Star Wars trilogy.

I was 2 years old when Star Wars was released and apparently I wasn’t really into movies at that age. In 1980, the year the Empire Strikes Back was released, I saw “Can’t Stop the Music”, starring the Village People.

I have no memory of those two films existing at the time, but I do remember Return of the Jedi. My brother saw it, and I remember him telling me about the unmasking of Darth Vader. We were on holiday in Paraparaumu in the summer of 1983-1984. There was some promotion that was giving away masks of various Star Wars characters. My brother and I put Darth Vader masks on the windows of the tent (I think I saw it as a means of scaring away mean people), but all I remember happening is some kids stopped and looked at it and thought it was Darth Vader’s tent or something. I also remember going to a department store in Wellington that had a thing that you could listen to and hear Darth Vader’s breathing. Wooooo.

I never saw any of the Star Wars films, but I knew what they were all about. I remember when I was about 5 years old there being a big debate amongst my friends at school about how long Princess Leia’s hair was when it was loose. Someone said it went down to her feet, but someone else reckoned it was only down to her shoulders.

On the great ’80s tv show “That’s Incredible” there was a kid who had written a book of questions about Star Wars that was so detailed that practically no one could answer it all. Which means that I’d probably get one question right.

My cousins, who I imagine have probably seen the trilogy about a million times, had a good selection of Star Wars figurines and various craft. I was intrigued by what appeared to be Chewbacca’s flares. I used to make Leia kiss Han and turned Vader into a high fashion model.

I went through life being a Star Wars virgin. When I was studying film production at tech I there were a couple of guys in my class who were hard-core Star Wars fans. They were pretty shocked when I revealed that I’d never seen the trilogy. I didn’t get invited to the Star Wars video evening they had.

Then the special editions got released and I thought, oh why the hell not. Playing just down the road from me in digital stereo was the Star Wars trilogy, so I saw it.

Star Wars

When Luke comes to rescue Leia from the imperial forces she looks more like someone who’s getting ready to see Darth Vader’s shiny black helmet up close than someone who’s scared. Luke seems really dumb in Star Wars, little bimbo boy. Chewbacca is like some retarded guy on a community work integration scheme. Han rules. Darth Vader is evil. And Obi Wan is mystical yeah, cool. Plus all the storm troopers on the Death Star are worthy of respect.

The Empire Strikes Back

Well hello goddam, if this ain’t one of the best movies in the entire universe. It’s dark, evil and it feels good. The Empire strikes back and keeps striking back and the Rebel forces only just manage to keep a little bit ahead. I thoroughly enjoy the noise that R2-D2 makes when he gets thrown out of the swamp. The thing I like best about the film is how there’ll be a bit with Luke and Yoda in the swamp doing that force thing, then it cuts to the Empire dudes and to announce it the evil empire theme thing gets played. That is such cool theme music. I really like the torture device that Han gets tortured with (not that I want to try it, or anything) and when he can be heard screaming in the background, it is so very special. There aren’t as many imperial storm troopers, but when they do appear it is mighty. The thing I like about the storm troopers is how they are dressed mainly in white, but there’s the black underneath. That black is evil. So much bad stuff happens, Luke discovers that Vader is his father and gets his hand cut off, Han gets frozen in carbon, and C-3PO gets blown up (by a storm trooper) and the film ends with the bad guys more or less winning.

Return of the Jedi

Lots of storm troopers, so that was pleasing. It seemed like the movie was mostly full of cute fluffy Ewoks and storm troopers crashing into trees. Leia and Han find true love, happy happy. But the bit that really annoys me is that Darth Vader ends up being good. No! This is wrong. Everyone knows that Darth Vader is meant to be mean and evil. He is not susceptible to goodness. Life’s like that, full of people who appear to be and say they are mean and evil but end up being really nice. I could kick Vader’s arse.

I think I’m on my way to becoming a fully-fledged Star Wars bitch. I’ve been thinking of seeing the original version on video. I was in Real Groovy Records and almost dairy-whipped myself when I saw a giant cardboard cut-out out of Darth Vader and an armed Storm Trooper. I walked between the new releases and hip-hop sections several times just to check them out. I was tempted.

But I can’t see myself doing something really dorky like buying a Star Wars t-shirt, or over-analysing the film like a character in a Kevin Smith movie. I saw the Star Wars trilogy and I enjoyed it. Now all I need is my own personal storm trooper.

Shirley and Juliet

I saw Baz Luhrmann’s interpretation of Romeo and Juliet and goodness me, I really liked it. It was full of fun, excitement, action and good old fashioned mad, passionate love.

But there was one thing that I didn’t like. It was the song by Garbage on the soundtrack. What sticks in my mind is Shirley Manson sultrily singing “I would die for you”. I guess the connection is “Romeo and Juliet died for each other, the song says ‘I would die for you’, so that’s the connection”.

However, I don’t like the connection. Manson’s musings of “I would die for you” remind me not of the love of Romeo and Juliet’s love, but some rock chicks in a Bon Jovi video holding up a banner that says “We’d die for you Jon”.

That inspires the following scene in my mind. In a darkened room a Mr-Blond-from-Reservoir-Dogs type gangster person paces back and forth. In one corner of the room is Jon Bon Jovi, rock star, circa 1987, complete with mascara and permed hair. He is gagged, bound and tied to a chair. In the other corner is the rock chick, complete with mascara and permed hair. She is also gagged and bound. Mr Blond has already been torturing the two. He walks over to the chick and says, “So little missy, who’s it gonna be. You…or the rock star?” He removes her gag for her to answer and she screams out “Kill the fucking rock star!”.

But I digress. I get the feeling that Shirley Manson would not die for her man. She’d probably be screaming the same as the rock chick. But Juliet did die for her man. She took a weapon (gun or knife, depending on how modern you want to be) and killer herself.

Shirley talked the talk, but Juliet walked the walk.