CAGE RAGE: Zandalee

Zan1Zandalee looked very much like a promising venture for Cage. Featuring one of the most insane Cage meltdowns and casting the man himself as a manic artist who acts on impulse and is, supposedly, really sexy. What ensued however was one of the worst things I have ever witnessed in my life.

The plot, if you can call it that, follows Zandalee (Erika Anderson) who is having marriage problems with her poet husband, Thierry (Judge Reinhold). Being such an emotional sol Thierry has deemed himself unfit to have sex with Zandalee anymore, this is explained through his ridiculously non-sensical and just plain boring dialogue. It actually beggars belief just how absolutely awful his dialogue is, its as if with every line he’s attempting to speak poetry but none of it sounds good nor has any meaning. After watching this film for ten minutes you learn that it’s actually impossible to pay any attention to any of the dialogue because its such utter drivel. So, anyway, Zandalee and Thierry are having their problems and then Cage turns up and Zandalee falls for him eventually leading to a sexual fling. After a couple encounters between the pair Thierry catches on to what’s going on between them and starts to go about dealing with the issue in a really bizarre way. There are ridiculous scenes in which he talks in his strange anti-poetry and explains that he should be angry with someone for sleeping with his wife but is actually grateful that he’s satisfying her in a way that he can’t. When things draw to a climax the three of them go on a trip away with a speed boat and things kick off in what is possibly the lamest resolution ever written. After this Cage has his meltdown, in which he covers himself in black paint.

As great as the meltdown is this makes up for five minutes of an hour and forty of completely awful shit. This may well be the worst film I’ve ever seen, perhaps, even worse than Stolen and not even a Cage meltdown can save this, its a wonder anyone involved in this movie went on to have a career in the business.

CAGE RAGE RATING – 4/5 (begrudgingly)

Bates Motel – Season 1

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I can’t even remember how I came across Bate’s Motel but somewhere on the web I spotted it and decided to give it a watch. As of yet there’s no date for when the series will air in the UK but I’m sure you’ll find ways to watch it as I did. It takes a rather unusual premise for a tv show as we already know what’s going to happen at the end. It follows mother and son Norma and Norman Bates as they take over a motel. You will know the Bates’ as the murdering duo from Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho and the show tells the story of how they ended up one of the characters we know from the film. Despite it being a prequel it is still set in the modern day, however, which seems an attempt to attract a younger audience to the series.

The first episode of the show grabs you by the throat. It throws it all it has at you straight away with murder, rape and all round psychosis, once you watch that it’s hard not to get drawn into the series. The casting of the show is, perhaps, its greatest triumph Freddie Highmore is perfect for the young Norman Bates with an otherworldly innocence about his face that at once seems as sweet as pie and as nuts as, well, a bag of Nobby’s. He’s persistently on form through the season’s ten episode run and brings sympathy to a character which really shouldn’t have a huge amount. Also good is Olivia Cooke who plays Emma Decody, Norman’s best friend at school and Max Thieriot who plays Dylan, Norman’s brother. It’s Vera Farmiga as Norma, however, who completely steals the show in every episode. She is utterly compelling as the troubled yet completely psychotic mother who is completely over-protective of her son when she struggles greatly to keep herself together. As the series goes on she increasingly becomes the most interesting character and Farmiga has it down to a tee.

When it comes to the writing the show is a lot more simplistic than most of the drama series I’m into from America. It’s got much more of a singular narrative than, say, Game of Thrones, Boardwalk or even Breaking Bad as it focusses solely on the lives of the three central characters. For the most part this works well and makes the show a more relaxing show than many others but at times it does feel as though the story is over stretched. The momentum of the show drops off towards the end of the season and is only really rectified at the very end of episode 10. I also couldn’t get over how clunky the way Dylan comes into the show, it was just completely unbelievable and seemed rushed as a way to throw a bit more drama into the mix. Without him the show would be lacking a lot but they could have put a bit more thought into his reasons for suddenly moving back in with his mother who he hates.

As a whole though, I very much enjoyed the season and despite those few qualms I found myself wanting more. As I said, the momentum is picked back at the end of episode 10 and it certainly does end on a strong point meaning things are looking up for it’s second season. Definitely worth a watch.

An Unusual Murder, part 5

   Official Statement

Mary Winters

 I’ve been Simon’s carer for about five years now. He suffers from DID meaning he has a number of different personalities that pop out from time to time. I’ve been working with people like him since I left school, I just want to make people feel better about themselves. But Simon has always been a challenge, I’ve always got on well with Simon himself, and Charlie most of the time, but the other two don’t take too well to kindness.

There have been some scary times looking after him, it must be said. Badman doesn’t seem to understand who I am and he has tried to hurt me before, he’s never hurt me badly though. The worst time he punched me in the arm, after that they tried to take him away from me. They said I was too weak to control him if he has another outburst but I stood my ground, I don’t want to abandon him, I feel for him.

But this week things have started to get completely out of hand. Badman has somehow convinced Simon and all the other personalities that he’s killed me. They all believe it, they’ve written these statements and they all say the same thing. Sarah wrote one that really hurt me, I knew she didn’t like me but I didn’t know it was to that extent, it was horrible to read. I need to clear things up though. Simon’s statements aren’t particularly trustworthy. Simon, himself, is normally very sensible and down-to-earth but this whole thing seems to have made him lose it a bit too.

That day when we went to Tesco he was fine. We needed some tomatoes to make spaghetti Bolognese for dinner and Charlie came out for the walk. What Charlie wrote is mostly correct. As he often does Charlie started complaining of hearing the others talk in his head, it gets me a bit agitated because he moans incessantly to me so I grabbed his arm and told him, firmly, to stop. He happened to be holding a can of tomatoes which he dropped when I grabbed him. For some reason Charlie thought a woman was screaming in the next aisle, the strange thing was there was no one there. Obviously, this was made even weirder by the fact that Badman recalled a screaming woman too. It’s not unusual for Badman to make things up but for him and Charlie to make up the same thing is very unusual. I don’t  knowwhere Charlie got this idea of being in an interrogation room from, Badman has somehow convinced them all of stuff that hasn’t happened. It’s as if his disillusions have leaked over into Simon’s other alter-egos.

At the moment, sadly, Simon has been taken to a home and his psychiatrist cannot figure out where all this stuff has come from and because it could imply murderous intent he’s deemed unsafe to be out in public. I don’t understand what happened to him that day, all he did was whimper in the shop, I have no recollection of Badman even coming out but they all seem convinced that I’ve been killed. I’m hoping this stuff will all get sorted and I can have my Simon back soon.

Exactly one week after these statements were written for Simon Falmouth’s psychological report Mary Winters was found dead in an aisle in Tesco Express on Elland Road. The CCTV capture no footage of a murderer but her body was found to have stab wounds exactly the same as those reported in Badman’s statement. Simon was locked in his cell at his institution the whole time her death occurred, an investigation is underway.

An Unusual Murder, part 4

The following is filed as classified evidence for the Simon Falmouth case.

Official Statement

Simon Falmouth

     My name is Simon. That’s the name I was born with. Not Badman, not Chris, and not Sarah, my name is Simon. When I was 24 I was diagnosed with DID (Dissociative Identity Disorder) which means I have other people in my head. I can’t choose when they come and when they go but when they do come I’m not here anymore, they take full residence of me. All my other personalities are separate from me but we share the same body. Some of the others damage me and leave me to pick up the pieces.

Sarah likes to self-harm which causes me a lot of pain. Badman has had me in trouble with the police before he thinks he’s a drug dealer so he says stuff about doing hard drugs all the time. Once he did manage to do some cocaine and he got caught straight away. That’s why they assigned Mary to me, so she could stop them doing terrible things but there’s not much she can do really. I like Chris, he’s the one personality that I would like to keep, the other two I’d rather get rid of. Apparently, I created these identities as a way of coping with past trauma, but that doesn’t make sense to me because none of my other personalities deal with problems in a sensible way.

When someone else does something bad and doesn’t admit to it I write in my diary to ask whoever it was to own up. For example, the first time Sarah self-harmed I wrote in the book: ‘Who did this to me? This is not fair, please own up now.’ And then a day or two later Sarah came out and admitted: ‘I did it,’ she wrote, ‘it was to protect you from the memories. If I don’t have an outlet and if you want me to keep harbouring all these memories then you have to let me release the pain.’ Since then things have escalated really, the self-harming hasn’t stopped, Badman’s got more and more dangerous and even Charlie plays up when he’s with Mary.

Now, murder! I can’t believe even Badman would go this far though. And to think that he’s a part of me, I’m unaware of what he’s doing but he’s still a part of me that’s doing it, I can’t come to terms with it. I’ve been writing in the diary trying to make sense of it from what the others have got to say, but it still seems too unbelievable that I’ve done this, that a person of my own creation, a person in my own head is capable of this. Badman has lied about doing things before. He reads these newspaper stories and then will write confessions in the diary owning up to things he’s read about, like robberies and gang crimes. I just let him believe it, it never seemed worth fighting against. If I questioned whether he did those things then he might do something to try and prove that he is the hard man he’s claiming to be.

I’ve been told I’m in denial and now that this has happened I’m considered dangerously insane and I’m probably going to get put in a secure home. Like that’s any kind of life. I’m not insane though, the others might be but I’m not, I don’t have any control over them, I just don’t understand. No one understands this condition.

An Unusual Murder, part 3

The following is filed as classified evidence for the Simon Falmouth case.

Official Statement

Sarah

I’m not a fan of Mary, that bitch thinks she knows what’s best for me. To tell you the truth I fantasised about hurting her in the past. She always tells me though, ‘Violence solves nothing.’ She has no idea. I don’t want to solve anything. She doesn’t understand what I’ve been through. The others live their lives in blissful ignorance, I’m the one who has to take the pain. I just wish every once in a while I could get the pain out. But I can’t. Why don’t they try living with this baggage? Rather than complaining at me for acting out, why don’t they take some responsibility for once? Especially that fucking Mary.

People always tell me off for the scars I leave on my arm. They don’t understand that either. When the pain inside is so great it’s a relief to be able to concentrate on a lesser pain on the outside. I cut an artery once and almost died. That did shake me up a bit and I admitted to some of the stuff I’d been keeping in. I told people some of my memories, the really bad ones, the ones that haunt my dreams. The ones that Chris and the others have managed to forget. Do you want me to tell you those memories? Of course you fucking do everyone wants to know about my tortured past that’d make great reading material wouldn’t it? Well fuck you, fuck everyone. I deal with that by myself, why should it be anyone else’s business? Mary’s always poking that beak-like nose of hers into my business trying to find out what stuff’s happened to me so she can study and fix me. I’m already too far broken.

When I was younger, about fourteen, my brother showed me how to set ants on fire with a magnifying glass. Sometimes I just used to go down to the woods for hours with my magnifying glass and burn as many of them as I could. It used to make me feel calm, I was in control of everything in those moments. Nowadays I wish I had a giant magnifying glass that I could hold over Mary until I see her shrivel into a clump of black ash on the floor. Sometimes I wish someone would do the same to me. I do wish I was there to see Badman stab her though, I want to see the bitch die and I’m glad she’s gone now.

There are lots of people that think they can understand my problems. They are wrong. First of all no one who has a fully functioning mind can possibly cope with the things I’ve been through without ending up as fucked up as me and then they wouldn’t care to have to learn about other people’s issues. Another reason is that if people understood my problems they would know that I can take care of myself without fucking Mary following me around and making sure I’m not making the rest of the world feel uncomfortable. But the biggest thing that gets me is that if people understood my problems they wouldn’t spend their whole pathetic lives trying to get me to tell them stuff because they’d know how painful it all is, that’s why I know that no one understands because all anyone ever wants is to hear my story. They want to know why I’m like this. With Mary gone that’s one less person to poke around in my head.

State of Play (BBC)

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One of the TV series that I finally got round to watch this Easter holidays was State of Play. It’s a six-part miniseries from 2003 that stars some of the finest British acting talent around. It tells the story of an MP, Stephen Collins, (David Morrissey) whose secretary falls in front of a tube station. Shortly after suspicion starts to arise as to whether their relationship was truly just on a business level and it doesn’t take long for him to be forced to admit that they were, in fact, having an affair together. Cal McCaffrey, one of the country’s top journalists is given the task of digging up as much dirt on the story as possible but since he has a personal relationship with Collins he is reluctant to dig as deep as he normally would. Until his colleague, Della Smith (Kelly Macdonald) finds a link between the secretary’s death and the death of a young black male that happened at the same time. As the plot thickens the events around the death are found to reveal a shady story that takes a deep look into the darker sides of politics and journalism. The show also stars Bill Nighy, James McAvoy and Phillip Glenister.

State of Play is something really special. One of the tensest series I’ve ever watched with a mystery so well thought out that the slow unravelling of truth becomes a fast-paced thriller full of dark secrets. As you would expect with such an amazing cast the acting is superb but the standout of the programme as a whole it’s writing. The whole series is written by Paul Abbott who previously wrote Cracker and has since been the creator of Shameless. It’s hard to fathom though how such a multi-faceted series can have come from just one mind and makes the whole thing even more impressive.

It is, without over-exaggerating, one of the best tv shows I’ve ever watched and it makes me wonder why there isn’t more stuff like this about on TV. It’s made all the more relevant with the Leveson inquiry still fresh in the memory as it questions the relationship between the press and the government so if you haven’t seen it before now is a better time than any.