That Sugar Film

ThoSugarse of us who are health minded have known for a few years that sugar is the new fat. With That Sugar Film Damon Gameau has created a documentary that is both fun and extremely eye opening and it might be the document that gets people to reconsider sugar or the argument that fatties “just need to stop eating” (you do to some extent though).

That Sugar Film follows the formula of Morgan Spurlock’s Super Size Me (pigging out on McDonalds to gain weight), except here is where Damon Gameau hits hardest: he does it by eating regular supposedly healthy food. Yes healthy food that is pretty much your typical Australian diet. No cakes, no biscuits, no fizzy, no lollies, no ice-cream, no donuts, pretty much nothing fun.

Damon and his pregnant girlfriend are super healthy and his doctors call him crazy for embarking upon this experiment. His doctors monitor his weight, waistline, and he gets blood tests to monitor the effects on his body. He is headed towards type 2 diabetes by the end of the experiment and has a fatty liver, not to mention the weight gain and waistline increase. To give you an idea of what he is eating he is consuming 40 teaspoons of sugar a day and that is typical of the average Australian diet. Yet he is not consuming any more calories than he did with his previous high-fat diet.

This film should be mandatory viewing in NZ. We have a chief executive of the Food and Grocery Council who is also a member of the board of the Health Promotion Agency and she tells us it’s all about moderation but as Damon proves by making health sacrifices to his body that sugar really is incredibly bad for us in the levels that we are getting it. Think a fruit flavoured yoghurt is healthy? Sure it’s low fat but there’s usually at least 4-5 teaspoons in it. What about your favourite pasta sauce? I stopped buying them years ago, full of sugar! It’s easy to throw a canned of tinned tomatoes and herbs together (so it has less sugar) but people pay for convenience and our interests should be looked after by regulations and not big business. We should not have to navigate star rating systems, nutritional panels or have to learn 60 different names for sugar to ensure we are not getting too much of it in products that sugar really has no place being in.

The use of celebrities (Hugh Jackman, Stephen Fry) and funny songs makes it light viewing while at the same time it is hard-hitting especially when Damon goes to Aboriginal villages and sees the damage sugar has done to their communities. So for those of you who take things a bit more seriously, Damon has also released That Sugar Book. While some think this slick “candy-cuteness” (or candy porn) might cheapen the film I think it makes it family friendly and more likely that people will check it out. The information isn’t new, it’s out there but it hasn’t been presented as slickly as this.

An absolute must see for everyone of all ages.

Madman’s release of That Sugar Film comes loaded with extra sweetness in the form of extras.

  • Damon Answers Your FAQS
  • Audio Commentary
  • Stephen Fry’s Sugar Story
  • “That Sugar Song” Karaoke
  • Behind the Scenes
  • Deleted Scenes
  • Featurette on Advertising, Moods, the Brain, Appetite Control, Lowering Your Sugar Intake and more!

Available on DVD and Blu-Ray from Madman Entertainment.

 

Metal Machine Music: NIN & The Industrial Uprising

NinMetal Machine Music: Nine Inch Nails and The Industrial Uprising is a documentary that centres on the career of Nine Inch Nails but also traces the history of industrial music. The first half an hour or so focuses on Throbbing Gristle, Cabaret Voltaire and includes an interview with Mr P-Orridge himself. From the origins of ‘industrial’ the film then ventures into the pop pioneers such as Depeche Mode, Gary Numan and then turns to modern (I guess not so modern now) industrial music: Ministry, Skinny Puppy and NIN. Consisting of interviews with Genesis P. Orridge, Richard Patrick, Chris Vrenna, journalist Tommy Udo, and music video clips from Skinny Puppy, NIN and Ministry as well as live performance clips, this is one informative look at industrial music and although it is rather long its a surprisingly enjoyable watch.

For an unauthorized film there is still a lot of footage of Reznor and we get insight into the band via interviews with a very likeable and informative Chris Vrenna (former NIN drummer) and the ever so cocky and self obsessed Richard Patrick. The majority of rock critics know their stuff and are not just talking about their opinions. I found Ned Raggett (journalist) to be a very intriguing interviewee as I too tend to dissect music and go back to the roots of movements and he offers good criticism of NIN without being a total fan boy.

Metal Machine Music: Nine Inch Nails and The Industrial Uprising is a thorough look at NIN / Trent Reznor’s career and unlike most unofficial documentaries is very informative, not tacky/low-budget and is an all round good quality documentary. Each album is documented very well and examines the music more so than the man’s private life. I am sure there will be fans who are disappointed that it doesn’t pry into Reznor’s personal life, but if you dig the music this documentary offers an up to date fountain of knowledge regarding NIN. Personally I don’t feel as if this documentary would have been any better had there been interview footage with Trent, if you care about the music this documentary is enough.

In regards to extras there’s extended interviews and an awesome featurette ‘The Genesis of Industrial’ which is about a half hour interview with the every so lovely and charismatic Genesis P-Orridge. Extras aside, this is still an excellent release and simply a must have for NIN fans.

Extras:

  • Digital Contributor Biographies
  • Featurette – ‘The Genesis of Industrial’
  • GPO on his personal ‘roots’
  • Extended interviews

Macho Man: The Randy Savage Story

Macho-ManThe 1980’s was a halcyon period for the World Wrestling Federation (WWF). The gaudy glitz of that decade, combined with the increase in American consumerism and the rise of cable television and pay-per-view special events, was just what young WWF owner Vince McMahon needed to push his burgeoning empire to the top, eclipsing all other wrestling promoters, who until this point had usually operated on a regional level, with an understanding that they would never venture into another promoter’s territory. McMahon and his WWF changed all of that, creating a brand of sports entertainment that reached a wider – and global – mainstream audience than the sport had ever previously experienced.

At the upper echelon of the WWF during this period, there was always Hulk Hogan, the golden blonde who wore comic book red and yellow, his oiled skin gleaning as he strode into the ring, ripping his shirt off to the accompaniment of Rick Derringer’s ‘I Am a Real American’. But not far below Hogan was ‘Macho Man’ Randy Savage, who burst onto the national wrestling scene in 1985 with a charisma that helped him became an instant sensation. Dressing himself in gaudy flouro outfits, glitzy capes and new wave sunglasses, Savage’s over-the-top flamboyance, along with his neanderthal-like behaviour and famous catch-cry of “Ooooooh yeahhhhh!” was more than matched by his prowess and often-exhilarating moves in the ring. His professionalism, willingness to take a loss in the name of theatre, and dedication to rehearsing and memorising every planned move in a match, earned him the respect of many of his peers. Having his real-life wife, Elizabeth Ann Hulette, playing his manager and love interest, became a huge part of the WWF soap opera from that period, as the Macho Man and Miss Elizabeth became akin to royalty amongst passionate wrestling fans and mid-western beer drinkers.

Put together by the WWE (formerly the WWF) and released on their own DVD label, Macho Man: The Randy Savage Story documents both the life and legend that is Randy Savage, opening on a poignant note with his younger brother Lanny visiting the scene of his death, before winding the clock back on his life. Born Randy Mario Poffo in Ohio on November 15, 1952, Savage was the son of well-known wrestler Angelo Poffo, who achieved fame as the subject of a Ripley’s Believe It or Not! illustration after he set a world record for consecutive sit-ups in 1945 (6,033 in four hours and ten minutes). Growing up in Downers Grove, Illinois, Savage initially had his eye on a career in major league baseball, but after slugging it out in the minor leagues for several years without getting the big break he hoped for, he ditched ball (and his girlfriend) to follow his father’s footsteps into the wrestling ring (Savage claims he changed his surname from Poffo because he didn’t want to make it as a wrestler on his father’s name).

Initially appearing in a mask and calling himself The Spider (as a way to avoid a clause in his still-active baseball contract which forbade participation in other sports), Savage quickly worked his way through the regional wrestling leagues, before catching the eye of Vince McMahon in 1985. Over the next few years, the Macho Man would rise to the top of the WWF, striding into the ring to the strains of ‘Pomp and Circumstance’, and treating audiences to a string of classic match-ups that would see him claim both the Intercontinental and WWF Championship belts. Savage’s popularity and public profile became even bigger as the spokesperson and national face of Slim Jims, the popular jerky and dried sausage snacks, and the televised SummerSlam 1991 event was climaxed by an on-air wedding between Savage and Miss Elizabeth.

It was a golden time for the sport in general and the Macho Man in particular, and while he never suffered a mighty fall, the final years of his wrestling career saw him relegated mostly to ringside commentary, though he also briefly resumed his fighting career by defecting to World Championship Wrestling (WCW). He also had to suffer through both the public divorce from Elizabeth, and her subsequent death, brought on by a toxic mix of pills and booze, in 2003 (an event which cast a real-life dark cloud over a comic book drama). Though Savage retired from the ring in 2005, he continued to be a popular figure and ambassador for the sport, devoting a lot of his time and resources to charity organisations, particularly those which helped children. He had only recently re-met and married his long-lost high school sweetheart when he was struck down by a sudden heart attack while driving in Florida in 2011, losing control of his jeep and crashing into a tree. The Macho Man was only 58.

Featuring plenty of great archival footage, rare photos and interviews with Hulk Hogan, Lex Luger, Jimmy Hart, Tito Santana, his brother Lanny, his mother and many more, Macho Man works as an affectionate portrait of this much-loved personality, though it unfortunately skips completely over some aspects of his life and career. Savage’s appearance in motion pictures like Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man (2002) and on episodic television shows such as Baywatch, Walker, Texas Ranger and Mad About You are not even mentioned, and the long-running feud which developed between Savage and Vince McMahon is never fully explored (McMahon being a noticeable absentee from the interviewees). The documentary doesn’t completely glorify Savage – we learn of how controlling and insecure he was of Elizabeth, forever fearful that she may be having an affair, and making her part of his act primarily as a way to continually keep her within his sights, a stifling condition which would eventually help drive his wife away. The subject of steroids is never broached (not that I recall ever hearing any rumours about Savage, but when a wrestler or bodybuilder dies at a relatively young age, steroid abuse often seems to be somewhere in the picture. It seemed a bit strange for the documentary not to even bring the topic up, either to discuss it or deny it).

A real treat for fans and for anyone intrigued by the over-the-top zeitgeist of the American 80’s, even if it doesn’t dig as deep as it might have.

Extras:

Unfortunately there are no extras in the way of deleted scenes, extended interviews or audio commentaries, but Shock’s DVD release of Macho Man does certainly pack on the action, with two bonus discs containing 15 full-length classic Randy Savage matches. Clocking in at over five hours’ worth, these matches are culled from the glory years of 1986-1997, and feature the Macho Man going up against some of his biggest contemporaries, including Ricky ‘the Dragon’ Steamboat, Hulk Hogan, The Ultimate Warrior, ‘Rowdy’ Roddy Piper and more.

Macho Man: The Randy Savage Story is also available as a deluxe box-set edition, which also includes the three-disc Macho Madness: The Ultimate Randy Savage Collection, along with a t-shirt, bandana and sunglasses.

Available on R4 DVD and Blu-Ray from Shock Records.

Looking For Johnny : The Legend Of Johnny Thunders

JOHNNYTHUNDERSGuitarist for seminal rock band The New York Dolls, Johnny Thunders is legendary for two things, his distinctive guitar sound and his drug use.  Sadly his drug use tended to overshadow his musicianship.  Director Danny Garcia (The Rise And Fall Of The Clash) at least recognizes that and gives us plenty of the music whilst not shying away from the drug abuse.

From his childhood days through to his tragic death in 1991, Garcia uses the tried and true method of talking heads, snippets of music and quotes from Johnny himself to tell us the story of what is ultimately a waste of talent and a sordid and sad life.  There’s Sylvain Sylvain, Jerry Nolan and Johnny talking about the NY Dolls days, former managers Marty Thau and Malcolm McLaren hovering in the wings then some frustrating silent black and white footage of the original Heartbreakers with Richard Hell before we get to see how Walter Lure has aged remarkably well whilst Billy Rath is a poster child for what drugs can and will do to you. Not a pretty sight at all.

There’s the Heartbreakers in the UK, where interestingly enough one musician blames Thunders for introducing heroin to the UK punk scene, there’s Johnny’s solo career, Gang War with Wayne Kramer, a look at the way that Europe and Japan sustained Johnny’s solo life, there’s moments where he is so fucken good it will break your heart, and moments where he’s so fucked up it will do the same.

Along the way we hear from a long list of luminaries, friends, musicians, fans and comrades in arms.  All with their own little stories to tell, their own take on Johnny.

Ultimately though the feeling you get is one of missed opportunities, wasted talent and a wish that someone could have slapped him back to reality.  Danny Garcia doesn’t shy away from the dangers of drugs, nor the fact that Thunders was his own worst enemy and for that we should be thankful.

This isn’t a fanboy documentary aimed at putting Johnny on a pedestal, instead it’s an attempt to show us what this enigmatic but frustratingly self-destructive musician was really like.  Does it succeed?  That’s for you to decide.  Personally Garcia has made me want to go back and take another look at the career of a musician I always felt was over rated so I guess, yeah it has succeeded in some way.  And anyone who thinks heroin chic is cool should just skip to the interview with Billy Rath.

Extras:

Approx 43 mins worth of extras including video clips: All By Myself, Alone In A Crowd, Looking For Johnny, Rock’n’Roll Relics; deleted scenes; behind-the-scene and a trailer.

Looking for Johnny: The Legend of Johnny Thunders is available on DVD from MVD Visual.

Frank Zappa – Freak Jazz, Movie Madness & Another Mothers 1969 – 1973

Zappa69An extensive and at times exhausting but for the most part entertaining look at Frank Zappa and The Mothers Of Invention Mk II.  Tracking the changes from 1969 when Zappa, after completing his much acclaimed solo album Hot Rats, decided it was time to disband his original band and get musicians who could better cater for his widening musical tastes through the heavy touring days of the early 70s, the overly ambitious and ultimately disappointing 200 Motels project and the demise of Mothers Mk II, this is definitely a film for Frank fanatics.

With the usual cast of sycophantic Zappa biographers, ex members of the band and even 200 Motels director Tony Palmer there is some great insight into what Frank was trying to do during this period even if at times he didn’t quite succeed.  Ex Turtle Mark Volman (he of Flo & Eddie) probably provides the best insights into what Zappa was attempting and with contributions from Mothers – Aynsley Dunbar, Ian Underwood, George Duke and Jeff Simmons you get a real sense of the times and the music. Unfortunately there is also Ben Watson who seems to have a blindspot when it comes to Zappa and who can’t see anything wrong with anything Frankie boy ever did or attempted to do.  When he and fellow biographer Billy James start drooling over 200 Motels you know they’ve lost any objective view!

Zappa and his band managed to cram a lot into a very small time frame but in the end you are left wondering if perhaps he was trying to get too much done and would have been better slowing it down and finishing projects properly.  200 Motels for example was filmed in 6 days and had to be cut, chopped, dropped and rewritten on the run, no wonder it makes no sense.  Then there were the live albums – Live At Fillmore East 71 and Just Another Band From LA (which featured Billy The Mountain, another failed film idea).

The jokes and sexual innuendo were wearing thin by then and with the infamous fire in Montreux, as chronicled by Deep Purple’s Smoke On The Water and then a gig in December 1971 where Zappa was knocked off the stage by an overzealous fan, breaking his ankle, rib and damaging his larynx, the band’s days were numbered.  In fact Flo & Eddie got their own record deal, taking a couple of the Mothers with them and Frank, after being laid low with his injuries, got back to the jazz fusion of Hot Rats, with his albums Waka/Jawaka and Grand Wazoo, kick starting the next phase of his career.

With lots of stock footage, musical snippets and talking heads, this is as I said, definitely a film for Frank fanatics and while the casual fan will probably be overwhelmed there are some gems in this 157 minute documentary but frustratingly the snippets of live footage just tend to leave you wanting more, much more.

Extras:

Contributors biographies and a featurette: On the Road : Mother Memories.

Frank Zappa – Freak Jazz, Movie Madness & Another Mothers is available on DVD from MVD Visual.

Beyond Ultra Violence: Uneasy Listening by Merzbow

Masami Akita aka Merzbow is one of the most prolific “noisicians” in the Harsh Noise genre, with over 300 releases since 1979 that range from 5 cassette sets packaged inside VHS boxes and limited edition CD-R’s to the 50 CD Merzbox and the ULTRA-limited edition of Noise Embryo that comes packaged inside a Mercedes. Merzbow takes his name (and indeed much of his inspiration) from Dada anti-artist Kurt Schwitters and his house-sized installation, Merzbau.

Aside from creating his symphonies of cacophony Masami Akita has also written books and articles on extreme culture and Sadomasochism, lends his services as a freelance writer to a variety of pornography magazines and has directed / acted as consultant on various Harakiri and Kinbaku fetish films. He also scored the film Deadman 2 for the director of this documentary, Ian Kerkhof (aka Aryan Kaganof).

Over the years I have managed to amass a fair amount of Merzbow’s output, but I have never really known much about the man himself, other than the fact that he digs bondage and animal rights. So when I discovered Ian Kerkhof director of the brilliant Tokyo Elegy and Nice to Meet You, Please Don’t Rape Me!, had made a documentary on this Japanese enigma, I had to find and view it immediately.

The opening 20 minutes or so of the film is basically footage of Masami hanging out with some pigeons, walking the streets of Tokyo, puttering around with his electronics, etc. with some dated visual effects superimposed on top of it while a sample of his dissonance throbs on the soundtrack. Then he begins to speak about how he got into the noise scene in the late 70s/early 80s (via an article in underground German zine and tape trading), how as a youth he wanted to make music “so dreadful to listen to that it wouldn’t be considered music”, and his obsession with collecting various everyday sounds and incorporating them into his work.

As the documentary progresses it is clear Mr. Kerkhof is attempting to translate the ideas of Masami and his heroes, the Dadaists to the film medium; the flow is relentlessly interrupted by cuts, splices, inserts, samples and seizure-inducing strobes making it somewhat of a task to endure (or, just fucking inane), which I’m sure is what he had in mind. Although for me the segments where these disruptions are kept to a minimum as Masami enlightens us on his inspirations and fixations were the most intriguing.

Throughout the film’s runtime The Merz waxes philosophical on such subjects as pre and post-WWII pornography, Japan’s uniform fetish, the national significance of Sepukku / Harakiri and the distinction between the two (there’s no decapitation in Harakiri and it’s generally practiced by women), Bataille’s concepts of eroticism, Gothic architecture and much more. We also are treated to some live performances where he rocks his bizarro noise machine-cum-guitar contraption and some excerpts from his Harakiri fetish film Lost Paradise, over which he explains that in certain archaic (Japanese) religious ceremonies, to testify their utter devotion, women would offer up their entrails to the gods.

Around halfway through the duration Masami pronounces my favourite quote of his: “If music was sex, Merzbow would be pornography” – for me, that pretty much sums up his work in a nutshell.

For any dedicated Merzbow fan, Beyond Ultra Violence is a must-have document to add to your Merz-collection. It offers a highly informative look at the man behind the name combined with the appropriate visual fuckery for all you art fag noise lovers out there. Dig it.

20,000 Days on Earth [Blu-Ray]

Nick-CaveAfter watching Autoluminescent (the documentary about former Birthday Party member Rowland S. Howard) I thought it was odd that there hadn’t been any about Nick Cave and hoped I wouldn’t have to wait for him to die to see one.

20,000 Days on Earth is based around a fictional day in the life of Nick Cave. At the start there’s some montage clips presented in fast-forward of Nick’s milestones from birth to The Birthday Party and Bad Seeds, right up to present day. 20,000 Days on Earth is not of the past. Nick discusses events and people from the past but it is not a retrospective documentary about his career. It also focuses a lot on the recording of Push the Sky Away, so those anticipating any coverage/stories about The Birthday Party/Bad Seeds won’t find it here.

Cave also provides voice-over narration that has a literary quality to it, although some of it comes off a tad ostentatious (more so on first viewing), it totally fits Cave’s style and so does the film itself in that it breaks a lot of conventions. In between scenes of Cave going about his (fictionalised) day we see rehearsals, interviews with psychoanalyst Darian Leader, and footage of Cave driving around with Blixa Bargeld, Kylie Minogue and Ray Winstone. I enjoyed the scenes in the car and Warren Ellis the most as the conversations felt really organic and not as boring as the usual talking heads of people answering questions/fawning over the subject of the film/documentary.

Cave has said that  20,000 Days on Earth is fictional but within it there are truths. It’s definitely more of an art film rather than your typical “rock n‘roll” documentary.  It is very stylized and staged and Cave is presented in a very flattering matter (lighting, narration etc) but that’s not to say there’s no meat to the film or that it lacks an intimacy. It’s elegantly shot and despite it being staged, is very affecting and you gain a lot of insight into the myth of the man. I really enjoyed the filmic/meditative take on exploring an artist but having said that I’d still love to see a traditional documentary about The Birthday Party and Bad Seeds. If you’re expecting a more in-depth warts-and-all type of documentary this will disappoint.

It’s a film that has a little bit of something for everyone and can be enjoyed by those who don’t even know the man. Not so much a film about a man and his career but the art of storytelling and the artistic process.

An absolute must own for fans of the man.

Extras:

The Making Of – Runs for 15 minutes and includes interviews with Nick Cave, the directors, producer, director of photography and has some behind-the-scenes footage mostly of the car scenes. Watching the Making Of kinda ruined it a little for me in that it’s not Warren Ellis’ house (he actually lives in France) and someone else cooked the eel. The archive is also fictional. I didn’t think they would have taken it that far but even though a lot of it is set up, the footage that is captured and the discussions are 100% authentic.

The Archives – About 6 minutes of extended/different footage of Nick talking with the archivists about photos and artefacts, a particularly funny anecdote is of an image of a bronze statue Nick wanted to give to his home town – big pineapple, big lobster, big Nick Cave.

Tour Rehearsals – about 10 minutes long, they perform Your Funeral My Trial and Stranger than Kindness.

Interviews –About 9 minutes of interviews that didn’t make it into the film or are extended.

Studio Backing Vocals – About three minutes of clips of Nick, Warrren and co doing backup vocals and Warren playing violin.

Ray Winstone Fish and Chips – a 2 minute clip of Nick and Ray arguing over which country does better fish and chips.

Demo Sessions: 3 minute clip of See that Girl.

Live at Koko Duet with Kylie – Nick and Kylie perform fan favourite “Where the Wild Roses Grow”.

To round out the disc there’s a theatrical trailer and Madman Propaganda.

20,000 Days on Earth is available on Blu-Ray and DVD from Madman Entertainment.

Hugh’s Scandimania – With Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall

ScandimaniadvdI’ve never been a fan of cooking shows but one day my mum made me watch an episode of a Nigella show. She was just so exquisite and had such a warm personality and her show seemed more interesting than the crappy 10 minute morning news show style cooking segments I was used to. I’ve heard my mum rave about River Cottage / Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall and I’m obsessed with just about everything Nordic so that made the DVD even more appealing. At least if was shit I’d get to see some cool scenery and learn a bit about my cultural heritage.

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The Sex Pistols On TV

sex-pistolsThe TV Interviews (Un)cencored screams the cover and yet the one we all want to see is conspicuous in its absence – or at least in full!  There’s snippets of it here and there, hell it even plays in the background at one point during one of the reunion press conferences but the (in)famous Bill Grundy interview is noticeable in its absence.

Still with over two hours of talking heads, flashbacks, young punks, old punks, Mark P (sniffin’ glue zine) grumpy young and old Johnny, Malcolm in all his sartorial eloquence, a splash of Sid, Vivienne Westwood and more, I’m sure you’ll survive.

Considering that the ‘Pistols burnt out pretty damn quick and only ever had one actual album you are probably wondering how Director Mark Sloper ever found over two hours worth of interviews.  Well, it’s simple really.  This documentary starts in 1976 but continues right through to 2007 with the aforementioned Vivienne and Malcolm thrown in, a little sid and nancy drama, some PIL snippets and Johnny mouthing off in 2002 and 2007.  There’s also a great little retrospective from 1996 about the band’s influential gigs at the Lesser Trade Hall in 1976 and the people that were in the audience including Peter Hook, Howard Devoto, Buzzcocks illuminati and more.

For an old fart like me it was interesting to see the transformation from the cheeky young Johnny Rotten to the bitter, cash hungry old Johnny Lydon.  Sure he still had plenty to say and some of it was right on the money BUT…guitar hero???? Give me a fucking break!  By the end of this he just comes across as a bad tempered old git, the sort that sits at the pub and says, “Back in my day…”  Oh wait, that’s me.  I guess old punks don’t die, they just go to the pub and become their dads.

Sloper has done a great job collecting this material, keeping it reasonably relevant and showing us the band in all their glory.  The early footage particularly is a great slice of history, giving a taste of the background and events that helped forge that initial surge of music and fashion.  More of that and less of the grumpy old fart would have been great but I guess back then there was only so many people who wanted to even admit that punk rock existed, let alone was going to change the scene.

Throw it on and reminisce about your youth then go down the pub and say something about the kids of today… I know I did.

Just one extra: Sid Vicious Documentary Preview

The Sex Pistols on TV is available on R1 DVD from MVD Visual.

Kill Team

KillteamThese days, especially when I review things, I go out of my way to avoid reading anything about the film or in this case documentary. This can have its downsides as I was kind of hyped to see this film thinking it would be along the lines of other documentaries that I’ve enjoyed such as Restrepo and Armadillo. I assumed Kill Team would be another embedded journalist in Iraq/Afghanistan and we’d be seeing close-range fighting action and interesting characters in chaotic scenarios. I don’t want to discuss the case at length, so let’s just say it’s not an embedded journalist documentary but an expose/legal case more along the lines of Standard Operating Procedure.

 Kill Team’s focus is on a soldier (Adamn Winfield) who finds himself in a moral dilemma: to be a whistle-blower and stop some bad shit from happening at a cost to his personal safety and also forever be known as a snitch, or to let it go on.  The film challenges the complexity of such moral choices, it is never as simple as you think and every action has a shitty outcome.  Kill Team looks at cultures within the marines but mostly deals with morality and injustice.  It’s a film that should divide its audience but I have a feeling most will side with Winfield’s family and how the whole thing is an injustice. That’s ok, but y’know the Nazi’s were just “following orders” too.

We are told the story after the fact though interviews with those involved, alongside, very mundane footage of their time abroad. There’s some really worrying admissions from some of the soldiers about the culture of being a “bad ass” and killing for fun. Of course I have seen this in movies and TV shows such as Generation Kill‘s Trombley character, but to see and hear it straight from the horse’s mouth was kinda stunning and makes it so real that these are just immature babies doing stupid shit that they’ll have to live with forever.

The blurb on the cover says “one of the best anti-war films I’ve ever seen” but what’s the point in being anti-war? Is it even an anti-war film? I didn’t read that into it, to me it felt more of a “life-is-unfair-during-war-film”. There was certainly no deep or philosophical discussions about the pros and cons of war. To be honest the film is a bit of a whinge-fest and I think Winfield’s decision not to act on the information he had and report crimes was the wrong choice. Spc Justin Stoner blew the whistle on his fellow soldiers (first for smoking drugs), and is thoroughly ashamed of snitching but he is an amazingly strong character who deserves his own documentary. Stoner is a by-the-book kind of guy and it would be awesome if every soldier could be more like him.

War’s an evil we have to live with and I for one appreciate the journalists and documentarians who embed with units and give us insight into that world without telling us whether to be pro or anti-war. Although this was a decent watch I just couldn’t look past the film’s agenda of making Winfield out to be a martyr.

A must see for fans of such fare but in all honesty I think you’d be better checking out Madman’s releases of Restrepo and Armadillo before this if you haven’t seen those films.

Kill Team is available on R4 DVD from Madman Entertainment