Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Suburban Shootout

Suburban Shootout:
Its Like If The Godfather And Desperate Housewives
Had A Child, And That Child Took Alot Of Acid

Its always been assumed that every country in the world brings something different to comedy, its own distinct style and way of doing things; Americans have lowbrow cheap comedy down to a science, in Australia deadpan and sarcastic barbs are a way of life, Canada has a way of finding the outright hilarious in every day life, Japan and most of the Asian countries have wacky and absurd everywhere you go, The Latin countries have guys in bumblebee suits getting pies tossed in their faces while secretly pining for the love of men named Stu who can't let Disco go, and ofcourse the United Kingdom has the thinking man's comedy, the comedy thats played off as serious and the quick and dry wit thats as sharp as a sword made of 440 Ginsu steel. And its in the grand tradition of The United Kingdom's ability to make a comedy out of just about anything at all, no matter how insane of an idea, and make it seem like the greatest idea of all time, I give you a somewhat forgotten gem of british comedy, the hilariously dark Suburban Shootout.

On the surface, and by surface I mean the beginning of the first episode, Suburban Shootout seems like the story of a middle aged couple; Joyce and Jeremy Hazeldine, and later in season one, their son Ben who returns from mission work in Africa, who move from the busy fast paced insanity of downtown London to a small out of the way hamlet called Little Stempington where they settle into their new roles, Joyce as a housewife and Jeremy as the head of the local police force. But life in this small out of the way town where there seems to be no crime, no youthful unrest, nothing happens in Little Stempington, there is never so much as a speeding car in this little town, infact Jeremy is told by his secondary officer, that no one's had to use the police siren in over two years, and the closest thing to a police matter they've had to deal with was the accident that killed Jeremy's predecessor, and that was quickly discovered to be mechanical failure. But as you can guess, nothing is ever what it seems in small out of the way towns where nothing happens, however its not Jeremy that discovers this, his wife Joyce, who is, by no fault of her own, forced into discovering the secret of what keeps Little Stempington running so smoothly, the answer? As anyone would have guessed by now, two rival gangs of housewives, who are, for lack of a better explanation, in the middle of a very violent turf war. Yes, you read that correctly.

Joyce unintentionally gets tossed right in the middle of this war, by means of members of both groups visiting and attempting to befriend her, and is reluctantly forced into the middle of this, for lack of a better term, gang war, by a woman named Camilla Diamond, who tricks Joyce into getting her fingerprints on a detonator used to blow up a local wicker store, and thus using this to blackmail Joyce into working for her. As the show goes on we meet Barbra Du Prez and learn the story of how things came to be as they are in Little Stempington, how it all started afew years prior with Camilla Diamond and Barbra, and how they were the best of friends, and one day happened across burglar in Camilla's home, and instead of running scared or calling the police, they bravely took the man on together, accidentally killing him in the process, and how as they bury the body far outside of town, they make a vow to never allow the criminal element to grow and fester with in their little town ever again. Barbra also tells of how things game to be as they are now, after recruiting their friends into their small organization, eventually a rift formed among the group and Camilla and two others; Hilary Davenport and Gillian Gordon-Moore, split off and became the very criminal element that they had originally fought to keep out of their small town, the other group consisting of Barbra as well as two others; Pam Draper and Margret Littlefair, who still believe in the ideals Camilla and Barbra swore too uphold, while still battling the now seemingly massive criminal element controlled by Camilla.

As the series goes, you learn just how deep this whole gang war goes, and just how many people are involved, and it makes you start to wonder just how many small towns something like this could happen in, or if there are any that its happening in right now. Its abit of a mindfuck in that respect, but as far as mindfucks go, this one's actually pretty damn fun. As it goes on, you see that Barbra and her group, though admittedly claiming to be the good guys, are just as insane as Camilla and her group, at one point Barbra is seen planting land mines where a planned low income housing estate was set to be built, claiming "low income housing is how it starts..", implying that poor people who live in estates are some how the criminal element, and later on going about trying to rid the town of teenagers wearing hoodies because they're a symbol of criminal activity, things like that, the whole time you're left wondering if there really is a good and bad side to this whole thing, or if one side just just slightly less evil then the other, but like any good gangster film, thats what you're supposed to think.

The plot and characters are pretty well flushed out and believable able overall, and though you don't really get much of a look into the lives of anyone other then Camilla, Barbra and Joyce, you don't really find yourself lacking though, they use the concept of just enough to make you laugh, but not enough to over stay their welcome, which is what an extended cast should be, and its main cast work so well together and toss such incredibly sharp barbs at each other constantly that its hilarious, you could almost have a drinking game with the insults, which ofcourse to most is the meat of the show. So if you're interested in an offbeat, dark comedy thats probably the most brilliant all be it obscure series in recent years, then give it a try. Shame though I couldn't find the pilot for the HBO created american remake, but then, that might actually take away some of the magic you know? So give this a shot if you really are up for something completely out there and different, and alot more funny then you'd ever expect.



Sunday, May 8, 2011


No Matter How Hard You Try You Will Never
Pronounce "Mjolnir" Correctly.

I've always had a sort of love/hate thing with the marvel comics version of Thor, sure he's the best version of the character, and sure he's got that awesome old worldly way of talking, and he's got the magical uru hammer Mjolnir, and thats all fine and good, but you can't really do all that much with the character, he's a god or Norse mythology and he controls thunder, other then him being the powerhouse of The Avengers, there really isn't alot you can do with him, his only real villains are other gods or cosmically powered beings, simply because you can't really have an ordinary human beating a god, they wouldn't really be a god if that were the case. So you're basically stuck. Oh sure you can use Thor in other settings as a main or secondary character, but if you're going to tell a Thor story, you really have no real choice but to have him fight another god or a god powered creature. Its kind of like how with Iron Man, in the sense that you have to always write him to be a drunken douchebag because the only villains of his they seem not hold overs from the somewhat racist villains of the 1960s or a giant mystical dragon, aren't really good enough to stand on their own as the main threat of a film.

With all of that said, Thor does a rather good job of not only bringing you into the world of Thor, sure its all high end overly theatrical gods talking in norsespeak to other gods, but this is a Kenneth Branagh film, you expect the highest end of the overly theatrical end of the acting spectrum, the lavish costumes, the sets that look like we've traveled back in time, the attention to every detail no matter how small, just to make us feel we're really looking at a window into this world, but you know, not in that whole Fringe way cuz there are no Zeppelins.

Thor plays out like a norse mythological tale, the film starts with a battle between the gods of Asgard and their eternal enemies the Frost Giants, this is where you meet Odin The AllFather, as he and his Asgardians battle gloriously, and eventually triumph, bringing home to Asgard the spoils of righteous victory, you then fast forward to today, Odin has become the ruler of Asgard and his oldest son Thor, the god of thunder is ready to take the thrown, when an unexpected attack by The Frost Giants sends Asgard into an uproar, Thor, his young and jealous brother Loki, and their childhood friends Sif and The Warriors Three decide to confront the leader of The Frost Giants for the attack, against the orders of Odin The AllFather, this leads to a furious battle that Odin must step in personally and end for the better of all involved. In retaliation for going against his orders, Odin blames Thor and decides to humble the Thunder God by stripping him of his powers and banishing him to midgard, or "Earth" to us from here, he, long with his uru hammer Mjolnir, fall to earth, but Mjolnir has a spell on it now, meaning only those worthy of its power may pick it up and control its powers, The film from there follows the story of Thor learning humility and becoming worthy of the power he so easily tossed about before, the whole time thwarting his evil and jealous brother Loki's attempts to kill him so he can take the thrown of Asgard.

The film is pretty good over all, it was a smart choice to include The Destroyer, and they make Asgard really look like its a real place, and they those who live there truly look and act as you'd expect a pantheon of gods who live for battle to act, my only real issue with the film is they toned down the way the Asgardians speak, they did include it, but they felt it best to "tone it down for those that aren't use to Thor's speak", and though I understand why thats done, it still makes me a tad on the sad side, I never like when something key to a character's personally gets shucked to the wayside for the sake of bringing in a "broader audience" then just the fans of the character or general comic book fans, you shouldn't have to compromise just for the sake of sales, thats not really respectful to the source material. But overall the good outweighs the bad on this film and makes it does its job of forwarding the whole shared Marvel Comics Movie Universe toward both the Captain America and The Avengers upcoming films, as happens with every marvel film these days, which is always good, but still makes me sad how many characters are still in the hands of Sony and Fox, but as all, I hold out hope.

So the big question, is this film worth watching? I'd say if you're a fan of comic books, then ofcourse its worth going to see, as well as if you're a fan of majestic period like pieces, for the pageantry of them, then sure you'd love that as well. But if you're just looking for an action film with just stuff exploding and dudes punching other dudes and and swinging hammers, then you might be abit let down. As I said at the start of this, Thor is always a pretty idea, but is never really easy to write, and though they success in making the film enjoyable and worth watching, you can tell there were stumbling block moments where you could tell they were struggling really hard to make stuff work. But again, I stress, overall, it was an a great film and I did enjoy it, would would like to see it again. So take that as you will.

Here is the trailer...