The Fourth Time’s Not The Charm : “Bad Ben : The Mandela Effect”


Trash Film Guru

If writer/director/actor Nigel Bach — the pride of Egg Harbor Township, New Jersey — holds true to form, eventually he’ll see this review, and won’t be able to resist leaving a snarky, self-congratulatory, vaguely passive-aggressive comment on it. How do I know this? Allow me to explain —

When I hacked out a fairly positive write-up of Bach’s first film, Bad Ben, I didn’t hear a peep from the guy — but when I wrote a negative review of his next one, Steelmanville Road : A Bad Ben Prequel, he stopped by and “congratulated” me on my “little blog,” boasted about how well his movies were doing, and implied that I’d never achieve as much with my life as he has with his. Then he “thanked” me for my time and effort, and that was that. Honestly, it was enough to make me not want to like the…

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Film Review: The Snowman (dir by Tomas Alfredson)


So, I finally watched the 2018 thriller, The Snowman, and my main reaction to the film is that it featured a lot of snow.

That’s understandable, of course.  The film takes place in Norway and it’s called The Snowman so, naturally, I wasn’t expecting a lot of sunshine.  Still, after a while, the constant shots of the snow-covered landscape start to feel like almost some sort of an inside joke.  It’s almost as if the film is daring you to try to find one blade of grass in Norway.  Of course, the snow is important because the film’s about a serial killer who builds snowmen at the sites of his crimes.  They’re usually pretty big snowmen as well.  It’s hard not to be a little impressed by the fact that he could apparently make such impressive snowmen without anyone noticing.

Along with the snow, the other thing that I noticed about this movie is that apparently no one knows how to flip a light switch in Norway.  This is one of those films where every scene seems to take place in a dark room.  I found myself worrying about everyone’s eyesight and I was surprised the everyone in the film wasn’t wearing glasses.  I can only imagine how much strain that puts on the eyes when you’re constantly trying to read and look for clues in the dark.

Michael Fassbender plays Harry Hole, a Norwegian police inspector who may be troubled but still gets results!  He’s upset because his ex-girlfriend (Charlotte Gainsbourg) has a new boyfriend (Jonas Karlsson).  He’s also upset because his son (Michael Yates) doesn’t know that Harry is actually his father.  Or, at least, I think that Harry’s upset.  It’s hard to tell because Fassbender gives a performance that’s almost as cold as the snow covering the Norwegian ground.  Of course, he’s always watchable because he’s Fassbender.  But, overall, he doesn’t seem to be particularly invested in either the role or the film.

Harry and his new partner (Rebecca Ferguson) are investigating a missing person’s case, which quickly turns into a multiple murder mystery.  It turns out that the crimes are linked to a bunch of old murders, all of which were investigated by a detective named Gert Rafto (Val Kilmer).  Gert was troubled but he still got results!  Or, at least, Harry thinks that he may have gotten results.  Nine years ago, Rafto died under mysterious circumstances…

Now, I have to admit that when, 30 minutes into the film, the words “9 years earlier” flashed on the screen, I groaned a bit.  I mean, it seemed to me that the movie was already slow enough without tossing in a bunch of flashbacks.  However, I quickly came to look forward to those brief flashbacks, mostly because they featured Val Kilmer in total IDGAF mode.  Kilmer stumbles through the flashbacks, complete with messy hair and a look of genuine snarky bemusement on his face.  Kilmer gives such a weird and self-amused performance that his brief scenes are the highlight of the film.

Before it was released, The Snowman was hyped as a potential Oscar contender.  After the movie came out and got roasted by the critics, director Tomas Alfredson replied that the studio forced him to rush through the production and that 10 to 15% of the script went unfilmed.  Considering Alfredson’s superior work on Let The Right One In and Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy, I’m inclined to give him the benefit of the doubt.  The film’s disjointed style would certainly seem to back up Alfredson’s claim that there was originally meant to be more to the film than actually ended up on the screen.

The Snowman is one of those films that doesn’t seem to be sure what it wants to be.  At times, it aspires to David Lynch-style surrealism while, at other times, it seems to be borrowing from the morally ambiguous crime films of Taylor Sheridan.  Ultimately, it’s a confused film that doesn’t seem to have much reason for existing.  At the same time, I’ve also been told that the Jo Nesbø novel upon which the movie is based is excellent.  The same author also wrote the novel that served as the basis for 2011’s Headhunters, which was pretty damn good.  So, read the book and ignore the film.

Song of the Day: Penthouse Pauper by Creedence Clearwater Revival


CCR

I sure do miss sharing some of my favorite songs and music with y’all.

As part of my return to the site I’d like to share one of my current favorite songs (well, it’s an all-time favorite but have been listening to it a lot of late). It’s a song I first heard as a wee lad of no more than probably 7 or 8. Time becomes quite hazy in my advancing years.

My dad was a huge Creedence Clearwater Revival fan and he would constantly play their albums, especially his favorite tracks, during road trips and just driving around the area. One day it would be CCR the next another band he liked.

“Penthouse Pauper” came back to my radar after it was featured prominently in last year’s Marvels Netflix series The Punisher. The moment the song began to play in the background it brought back good memories and it has since returned to my constant playing and listening of this classic blues-rock song.

Penthouse Pauper

“Now, if I was a bricklayer,
I wouldn’t build just anything;
And if I was a ball player,
I wouldn’t play no second string.
And if I were some jew’lry, baby;
Lord, I’d have to be a diamond ring.
If I were a secret, Lord, I never would be told.
If I were a jug of wine, Lord, my flavor would be old.
I could be most anything,
But it got to be twenty-four karat solid gold, oh.
If I were a gambler, you know I’d never lose,
And if I were a guitar player,
Lord, I’d have to play the blues.
If I was a hacksaw, my blade would be razor sharp.
If I were a politician, I could prove that monkeys talk.
You can find the tallest building,
Lord, I’d have me the house on top.
Oh, let’s go!
All right, keep goin’!
I’m the penthouse pauper;
I got nothin’ to my name.
I’m the penthouse pauper; baby,
I got nothing to my name.
I can be most anything,
‘Cause when you got nothin’ it’s all the same.
Oh, let’s move to this song!
Lord, look at my penthouse.”

One Hit Wonders #19: “Hot Smoke & Sasafrass” by The Bubble Puppy (International Artists Records 1969)


cracked rear viewer

San Antonio, Texas rockers The Bubble Puppy rocketed to #14 on the charts with the psychedelic hard rocking “Hot Smoke & Sasafrass”:

The band pioneered the dual lead guitar sound, with Rod Prince and Todd Potter riffing their way to an appearance on Dick Clark’s AMERICAN BANDSTAND. Soon groups like The Allman Brothers and Thin Lizzy took the concept to new rocking heights, but The Bubble Puppy (also featuring Roy Cox on bass and “Fuzzy” Fore on drums) were there first. The song, which has been covered by MGMT and The Mooche, remains an early example of the heavy metal genre.

Though The Bubble Puppy released only one album (“A Gathering of Promises”) before disbanding in 1970, it’s members all continued working in the music industry. Prince and Fore are currently gigging in the Texas area in a reformed version of The Bubble Puppy with new members Mark Miller (guitar)…

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Music Video of the Day: Don’t Leave Me Alone by David Guetta, featuring Anne-Marie (2018, dir by Hannah Lux Davis)


This video reminds me of … well, almost every recent futuristic dystopia movie that I’ve ever seen.  You’ve got the large but kinda messy apartment.  You’ve got the virtual reality.  And you’ve got the really, really bright sun.

Seriously, have you ever noticed that?  Futuristic dystopias are always either extremely dark and rainy or extremely bright.  It’s like, in the future, people aren’t allowed to close the curtains or pull down the shades on a sunny day.  I don’t know if I’d be able to handle that.  Hopefully, the robots won’t take over anytime soon.

Anyway, enjoy!