March the 10th, 2012: National Film Overload Day

Today may seem to be a day much like any other — unless you’re getting married today, or you’re having your first baby, in which case your motives for reading this blog on what is supposed to be the happiest day of your life, or the most painful but happiest, are questionable, if you don’t mind me saying — but it most definitely isn’t. In fact, today is National Film Overload Day.

Haven’t heard of it? That’s because I just made it up, and for good reason.

Cast your eyes down today’s film listings guide and you will notice just why I have taken it upon myself to give today’s date such an accolade. For today, my friends, is one of those rare occasions when doing anything else other than watching TV all evening could be considered almost criminal. Not convinced? Allow me to demonstrate the crazy state of affairs that today coincidentally is (or not. With every taste and variety of film being played today bar-none, it’s not unreasonable to think that dark — or light — forces are at work, conspiring to keep us inside while aliens skavenge about England, cutting the tops of peoples’ skulls off and replacing the insides with some kind of special covert-listening equipment, right?).

The madness began — if I can be so bold as to put a precise time to it — several hours ago at 4.50pm on ITV 2 with Batteries Not Included.

A film which is about slightly kinder aliens than I mentioned above; actually a lot kinder. It then takes a savage comedic twist, as child-freak McCauley Culkin — probably the wrong spelling — takes to the screen at 7pm on ITV 2 to be both somehow simultaneously witty and annoying (but aren;t all child actors? I dare you to name one who isn’t). And immediately you’ll have already found yourself running into a problem of some gravity, because also starting at 4.55pm on ITV 1 + 1 was Evan Almighty! The film all about God and Noah’s ark which manages to be mildly amusing in places — a feat which would have been impossible to achieve had Steve Carell (probably wrong spelling) not been cast as the lead.

On any normal day, all this film action would have been stretched over the whole night, more or less. But not on National Film Overload day, because at the hour of 7.40pm on 5* + 1, Hitch makes an appearance, with Will Smith playing the spectacularly irritating role of a man who is supposedly good at matching people up as life partners, but shocking when it comes to managing the same for himself.

But wait! There’s a problem! If you’re a man with a teenage girl inside him, just waiting to get out, you’ll notice that on Film 4 at 5.25pm was Freaky Friday — the quite ridiculous and silly, generic formula-fest which involves all kinds of daftness (none of which I have any first-hand knowledge of, but I do know it involves a woman becoming a girl and a girl becoming a woman, or something. And I mean instantly, of course. Everyone knows that girls become women — that’s common knowledge).

You’d think that it might all start to slow down after that, but alas, that is not the case! Straight after that sillyness is over, on we go with yet more straight-up, timeless, class A stupidity, this time in the form of Dumb and Dumberer: When Harry Met Lloyd.

Then things just get turbo-boosted: Sylvester Stallone bursts onto Film 4 at 9pm, swiftly followed by The Black Windmill at 11.40pm (never heard of it but it looks not half bad). By this point, any usually mild-mannered and capable crap-to-average film lover might just be holding themselves together by the weakest of strands, until the horrific truth is learned: The Matrix Reloaded also starts at 9pm on Sky 1, and at 10.10pm Deep Impact only bloody well starts on BBC 3, at the same time as highly addictive thriller-let-down Daylight begins its mission to by turns please and disappoint us on ITV 2 (what is it with ITV 2? Do they own National Film Overload Day or something?!).

By this point, you’ll probably be in a right state. But things take a sinister twist when you notice that at 11.15pm, The Fast and The Furious: Tokyo Drift is on ITV 1 plus 1…which wouldn’t be so bad…if you hadn’t also just noticed that bizarre thriller Orphan began at 10.30pm on Channel 4 and it’s actually quite good…

When 10pm has been and gone, you’ll be cursing yourself about a number of things. One will be your pathetic attempt to plan the evening, and the second will probably be how you never read all the way down the film guide, which inevitably screws you over completely just when you thought you were safe. Why? Because The Big Lebowski started at 9pm on Dave, and The Wedding date also started at 9pm on E4. Add to this the lunacy that was Reservoir Dogs starting at 10pm on 5USA — not to mention Robert Redford winner Indecent Proposal also starting at 10.05pm on More — and the colossal crushing embarassment is complete.

At least you thought it was…until it hits you right between the eyes: you’ve done the unthinkable! You’ve both forgotten to record or watch Big Fat Gypsy Weddings on Channel 4 + 1 at 9pm!

By the time you’ve picked yourself up of the floor, you won’t even care anymore that you missed Battle of Los Angeles on Syfy at 8pm, or that Dawn of the Dead (the original and still the best) followed it at 10pm. And when you notice that you’ve missed (500) Days of Summer at 9pm on Film 4, which was also followed by Carriers at 10.50pm, you really won’t give a shit anymore.

But still, if you can somehow survive all that then you might appreciate that Stepford Wives is on BBC 2 at midnight, or that Spider follows it at 1am…or that The Jacket is on ITV 2 (?????) at 12.50am…or that…

The horror of people who can’t be bothered to shake hands

If you meet someone like this, you’re probably best off giving shaking hands a miss

I’m not sure who sat back one day and said to him or herself “Say, I know what a great way of greeting people would be…I’ll take their hand in mine and move it up and down firmly when we first meet!” but it certainly did the trick (and I for one am glad that they weren’t inebriated or high at the time, otherwise we might have been doing things like politely cupping each others testicles for the rest of all-time – not something you’d ever want to do. Especially if you’re meeting someone who’s just run The London Marathon…anyway, let us swiftly move on). Ever since that fateful day in whenever-the-hell-it-was, arms and hands have been moving up and down across the world, and people have felt a particular satisfaction with meeting one another, which surely must have made greeting dastardly mother-in-laws much easier than it otherwise might have been. It may be one of the less interesting greeting gestures around – I think you’ll agree it’s not a patch on the dramatic greetings of the Wolof, from the Gambia Senegal, who love nothing more than to spit in each others faces with sheer exquisite glee – but it’s definitely a lot safer than catching AIDS. And that’s not a joke. Thanks to many lesser-known ethnic groups both greeting with spitting and also rubbing saliva into manky old wounds, AIDS has been known — according to my limited research — to spread like wild-fire, along with a number of other nasty diseases such as Tonsilitis, Swine Flu and many more than I have time to name-check here. Again, that’s not a vicious rumour, or me singling anyone out for the sake of it — the sad fact is that ancient customs have been known to kill people.

(Note: Those who are feeling even more adventurous may wish to hire an elderly woman to spit in the face of an infant once it is born, as is also a particularly loved past-time for the Wolof of West Africa. But Cpink wouldn’t advise it, and if you do decide to hire her, make sure that that she’s fit enough she can run away at speed. Preferably without shattering her hip.)

And shaking hands really isn’t hard. In the western world, and providing you don’t wander into some odd part of say, Hull or Bedford, you meet someone, put your hand out, and instinct and natural conditioning takes care of the rest (hopefully without one of you being either limp-wristed or overly aggressive). It’s simple, no fuss, easy-to-do greeting stuff which even the thickest of people have managed to learn to perfection. You’d really think It can’t go wrong.

But then again, don’t forget this is human beings we are talking about…we’re ingenious at taking something brilliant like the world and completely screwing it up.

Why, then, do some people deliberately, or so it would seem, opt out of what is really a non-opt-outable part of every-day culture? And nobody email me to say that not shaking hands is the right of an individual. If you feel like that, why don’t you dig a hole in the ground or start wearing a sign on your chest which says I DON’T AGREE WITH SHAKING HANDS, SORRY? That would at least make it fair, so that everyone knows where they stand.

There are exceptions, of course. Some of which are as follows:

1) You have just done a massive great slimy poo. Oh, it’s hideous. It’s come out of some slippery sixth dimension and is not fit for this world. And you have not washed your hands, you filthy muck-hound you! Whether that’s because the taps weren’t working or you did such a big poo that it quite literally made you forget your good senses, it’s irrelevant: shaking someone’s hand in this scenario is not a good idea, and if you do it you should be ashamed! The only problem with that being that muck-hounds aren’t generally ashamed. Really, they ought to be locked up.

2) For whatever reason, you really hate the person you are meeting (they had an affair with your girlfriend or they once broke your pelvis in five places when they drove a shopping trolley into you at the supermarket, the worst part being that it wasn’t even half full, for example). What better way to demonstrate this hatred with perfect clarity than to make them feel exceedingly awkward by not shaking hands? Excellent.

3) You don’t own a right hand, or right arm. As in they are not attached to your body, rather than you forgot to buy one last time you went to The Arm & Hand Shop. In this case, only the cruellest other person would put their right hand out and you would be absolutely within your rights to punch them in the face if they did so.

Otherwise, shake the damn hand, please. It’s really not that hard. Let’s try and keep it simple!

Blue Valentine (the movie): what’s your opinion?

You don’t have to go very far to see how different people’s opinions on domestic abuse are. They range just as wildly as anything. After I’d watched Blue Valentine — the Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams (from Dawson’s Creek) film which caused such a stir when it came out in 2010 — I found myself on IMDB wanting to see what other people made of the film. Considering what I’d just taken in, parts of which horrified me no small amount, I was mildly surprised by what I found: a few people wondering what all the fuss was / is about, as if domestic abuse is something which always comes delivered in a fist and nothing else.

I don’t want to spoil the film for those people who haven’t seen it yet, but I think I can get away with saying this: Blue Valentine has a certain impact which, irrelevant of your opinion, is unmistakable. While there is no blood and very little actual violence, what does resonate powerfully is the contrast between the two time-lines which run parallel to one another throughout the entire film. As you follow the couple’s relationship in its earliest days, pre-marriage, and at the same time see the effect of certain events years later, you can’t help but experience a wave of emotions. Or at least I couldn’t. Because of this, Blue Valentine is both beautiful and nightmarish and in places wonderfully tender. In short, you really do feel as though the relatively small number of moments we the viewers get to witness provide a formula which will stay with you. After I’d turned the film off, I found that the seed began to grow, the formula expanding, allowing me to see everything in-between that the movie had alluded to.

Also impressive is Gosling and Williams’s on-screen relationship. Even in its dullest moments they are scintillatingly believable together, and the performances all-round match-up just as well.

Inhabiting a genre which is unlikely to be crowded for a long time to come — in fact, thinking in terms of genre, I struggle to think of more than 5 other films which fit neatly in — Blue Valentine could have easily been forgettable and all-too-easily brutal. Instead, and thanks to probably one of the best dramatic performances in recent years — you’ll know the scene when you see it — I can see people talking about this film in 10 or 20 years to come, and, when they do, the style the film was shot in — as if an invisible documentary maker was following the couple round at all times — will remain weirdly memorable.

What we can ALL learn from Rambo

Don’t push me!

1) You don’t always need a thousand words to make your point. Three will do: “don’t push me!” Having lethal SAS skills also doesn’t hurt (you), but it’s not mandatory, don’t worry.

2) Violence solves everything. Anyone who says otherwise has clearly not seen the latest Rambo film, where the man himself single-handedly machine-guns several hundred evil enemies to pieces in a matter of literally seconds. Could the same have been achieved with mass conversation? Unlikely; you’d have to be pretty vengeful, and I’ve only ever met one person who came close (my maths teacher at primary school. When I was 8 she was seriously about 9 feet tall and the most bitter person you could ever not hope to meet).

3) The mean look is always in.

4) Never go anywhere without your hand-crafted machete. Not even the bathroom. ESPECIALLY the bathroom.

5) You can have a nick-name that sounds a lot like a nick-name for a dog and pull it off. But you have to be pretty ripped (see photo), or otherwise people are going to take the piss, and can you blame them?

6) Long words and intellect are all very well, but are they any good for running around in the woods and being harder than anyone else on earth? No. Rambo proves that there’s a career for everyone, even those who possess a killing instinct and don’t like working inside.

6 things which are more fun than “Thor” the movie


1) Unforgivably over-cooked pasta (it’s far cheaper than a cinema ticket).

2) Bumping into someone you really don’t want to bump into, and having to make conversation for 10 tortuous minutes (it’s just 10 minutes, not 2 hours).

3) Watching any other film with Natalie Portman in (I recommend Garden State).

4) Mild back pain (almost as bad as Thor, but not quite).

5) Most nightmares (at least you tend to forget them when you open your eyes).

6) A million other things which are not anything to do with watching “Thor” the movie, including picking up dog muck without a bag, and an unexpected nose-bleed (washing your hands is quicker than trying to erase memories of this film, and your body will easily produce more blood).

In other words, don’t bother watching this film. Despite getting 86% on Rotten Tomatoes, and there being a few odd moments of genuine comedy and Ooh, maybe I didn’t waste my money after all? it is actually mainly outright terrible, and it manages to be terrible while having some of the best special effects I have ever seen — quite an achievement when you think about it. The only people who have any excuse for watching this film are people with an obsession with comics who have also recently come out of a long-term relationship and badly need the guiltiest of guilty pleasures, and people who are concussed and end up watching this film when in fact they wanted to go and see something different entirely.

I am neither, sadly, and so it should come as no surprise that I am ashamed of myself for having wasted 2 hours of my life in the cinema, not to mention £7.55 which would have been much better off in the hands of even the most untrustworthy tramp. (And I pity the poor tramp — untrustworthy or otherwise — who decides to treat him or herself to their first cinema viewing in 20 years and ends up watching Thor…).

But there is something good to be said for Thor. And that good thing is that while you are watching this film, you are at least safe from the dangers of the world, such as cars, air-born diseases, and muzzle-less dogs.

Although I did once smash my bike into a car, and from what I remember, that was more fun than watching Thor too…