Netflix Triple Bill

Like many around the country, over-indulgence at Christmas has left me unable to move far from the couch without breaking out in meat-sweats. Luckily, the TV remote was within reach so I was able to maintain some film-viewing courtesy of Netflix. Here's three of them.

I wasn't intending to review Bandersnatch (David Slade, 2018), but something (or someone?) compelled me to. Part of the problem in reviewing this is that the film I watched might not be the one you do, because this is one of those new-fangled* interactive films where the viewer has some degree of control over the events that occur onscreen. As such, I played a part in determining the story of young programmer Stefan (Fionn Whitehead) who is grappling with turning epic choose-your-own-adventure book Bandersnatch into a computer game. Set during the 1980s, there's some retro nostalgia to be had and it will no doubt strike a chord with those who enjoyed the Fighting Fantasy gamebooks back in the day. Plus it's a Black Mirror production, so writer Charlie Brooker reliably incorporates some thought-provoking ideas and concepts into the plot(s), especially when Stefan begins to suspect someone is controlling his actions. It's clever stuff, but it's a game more than a film, and not one I'd have any major compulsion to play again, unless someone makes me. In fact, I think I'd rather dig out my old copy of Deathtrap Dungeon instead. Here's a handy chart for anyone wishing to see how all the choices play out. Contains spoilers, obviously.

* actually not that new-fangled at all - read a brief history here

Cargo (Yolanda Ramke & Ben Howling, 2018) is an Australian zombie movie, so I could barely wait to rush to my computer to describe it as 'G'day of the Dead, mate!' (pauses for acclaim of crowd). But that's a bit unfairly flippant about a movie that is a quietly tidy little entry in the genre, based on the directors' original short film of the same name. Eschewing gore for the most part, it has a more poignant, character-driven focus as we follow Andy (Martin Freeman) trekking through the outback with his baby daughter in a race against time to find someone to care for her before he succumbs to zombification himself from an infected bite (he even wears a quite literal FitBit to guide us in the countdown). There's also an ecological subtext running throughout and anyone with a passing knowledge of the white man's impact on Aboriginal culture will find plenty of pointed allegory here. However, it's the parent-child axis which lends it a genuine emotional core, helped by Freeman's touching performance, so don't be surprised if this causes tears instead of fears. Worth a nibble on.

By contrast, Apostle (Gareth Evans, 2018) is anything but quiet and gore-free, as we see Thomas Richardson (Dan Stevens) travel to a remote Welsh island in the early 1900s to investigate a strange cult who apparently kidnapped his sister. Although it starts in slow-burn fashion, things escalate into full-on folk-horror, complete with gruesome imagery, violence and an unhinged Michael Sheen, which might make it all sound better than it is. It has a few stylistic flourishes and wince-inducing moments of brutality, as you might expect from the director of The Raid films, but it's just a bit too chaotic and overblown for its own good. Not one to view on a full stomach and I would suggest 'Blood on the Wicker Man's Claw' would have been a superior title. A little folk-horror movie humour there, folks.

Now that's done, I must really get up and do some exercise. (Tries to rise, fails, gives up, slumps back a broken man). Tell you what, I'll start that exercise regime next Monday. Now where's that remote and my bowl of Sugar Puffs? Or should I choose Frosties....?

BlacKkKlansman (Spike Lee, 2018)

What's it about? It's the early 1970s. Determined to make a name for himself, Ron Stallworth (John David Washington), a new detective in the Colorado Springs Police Department, sets out to infiltrate Ku Klux Klan. Just one problem: he's black. Inspired by true events, or as the film puts it; 'dis joint is based upon some fo'real, fo' real shit'.

Is it any good? Lee pulls off a great balancing act here, delivering a film which is both funny and deadly serious. It's a good tactic, drawing in the viewer with the highly entertaining, couldn't-make-it-up story, then slipping in some uncomfortable commentary and truths about racism, politics and the state of America, both then and now. Washington (son of Denzel) makes for a charismatic leading man, supported by an equally good turn from Adam Driver as his Jewish colleague who ends up doing most of the face-to-face interaction with the local klansmen, who aren't the brightest bunch in the world. But Lee is clear to point out that just because the klansmen are idiots, that doesn't mean they aren't dangerous, a point made in sobering fashion towards the end of the film. This is Lee's smartest move, building upon some satirical comments earlier in the film to remind us, if we needed reminding, that for all the fun and funk on display, this isn't just history and it's not just entertainment for entertainment's sake. Yes, it's all absurdly funny, until, sadly, we realise it's actually not funny at all. Just like Trump's America today.

Anything else I should know? Well, a quick scamper for the history books (okay, Google) reveals just how much of the film is astonishingly true, including some of the more outlandish moments in Stallworth's investigation. You can read about it here, or pick up Stallworth's book, on which the film is based. Elsewhere, you can read more about Jesse Washington, the subject of a disturbing monologue delivered in the film by Harry Belafonte. And while you're reading, stick on the film's terrific soundtrack on Spotify. That's some funky listening to dig right there.

What does the Fonz think? Dis joint is fo' real, fo' real right on.

Bird Box (Susanne Bier, 2018)

What's it about? Malorie (Sandra Bullock) and two small children are about to undertake a very dangerous journey down a river. For some reason they must all wear blindfolds and will die if they take them off. What has led to this situation? Cue flashback to five years earlier....

Is it any good? A serviceable post-apocalyptic thriller with a good central performance from Bullock as the socially-detached, reluctant mother who finds a way to survive against the odds. It works its way in satisfactory fashion through the usual tropes of this genre as an assorted band of survivors work together to survive. That said, these supporting characters (played by John Malkovich and Trevante Rhodes among others) are superficially sketched, so there is little emotional impact when they inevitably meet their fate. It also fails to credibly explain how Malorie and the children have survived so long and navigate their surroundings so well, beyond a few brief scenes of echo-location training, which suggests they have dealt with an inability to see remarkably well. As such, it suffers by inevitable comparison with the thematically similar and superior A Quiet Place from last year, although it is worth noting the book upon which this is based predates that film, so perhaps The Day of the Triffids is a better touchstone. Still, this is still a perfectly watchable film which will pass a couple of hours agreeably, so long as you're prepared to suspend your disbelief a fair bit.

Anything else I should know? A big hit for Netflix who trumpeted all through the holiday period about how it had broken all sorts of viewing records for the streaming platform. A few days later, obviously delighted by the extra PR, but under pressure to adopt a concerned parent role, Netflix issued a warning to stop people undertaking the 'Bird Box challenge'.

This is where viewers who aren't the brightest bulb on the tree, presumably fooled by the film into thinking being blind was no big deal, have taken to social media in their droves to show their attempt to remove themselves from the gene pool by undertaking mundane tasks whilst blindfolded, with predictably dangerous results. Not to be outdone, I will attempt to write the rest of this review with my blindfold on

*fixes blindfold on*

fq wo;fhsdknpsoe  aljdaplm;al diheuhp ,dm;  i  ao  d o  i  wek dn;k edndpaksknixenkae,d, mdmpoe dx,mamoamlsm.aaaj da  naliwjdi d adiwdjap aa.,.p...............

*falls off chair, gets head stuck in sofa, stands on rake, falls into wood chipper, dies. Footage posted on social media for the entertainment of others. Except everyone is already bored and has moved onto next challenge*

What does the Fonz think? Worth a peek.

The Festive Film Quiz : The Undiscovered Post

So I’ve been away for a while, walking the Earth, righting wrongs in towns where’er I go, like that fella The Littlest Hobo. But even as I saved cats from trees, rescued kids from fires and liberated women from their underwear, there was a voice kept on calling me. It was time, I realised, to turn around and see to the needs my loyal blog fans, who have no doubt been waiting patiently at the station in the rain and snow for my return. And with Christmas on the horizon, what better place to start than with The Festive Film Quiz. So if you want to join me for a while, just grab your hat, come travel light, that’s The Fast Picture Show style.

"Oh FFS, I thought this guy had finally gone away"
In time-honoured fashion, there are 80 points at stake. Also in time-honoured fashion there are zero prizes. Unless someone wants to donate some??? Thought not.

Disclaimer: The Fast Picture Show accepts no responsibility for any quiz-related arguments that result in name-calling, finger-pointing, hair-pulling, food-fights, fist-fights, sobbing in the toilets, dredging up of old family feuds, revelations of true parentage, or any incidents which result in injury, coma or death.


Round 1: The Christmas Round
Lest we forget, Christmas is about a bloke called Jesus being born. So who played the big man himself in the following films? 
  1. The Passion of the Christ
  2. The Last Temptation of Christ
  3. Jesus of Nazareth
  4. The Greatest Story Ever Told
  5. King of Kings (1961)
  6. Mary Magdalene
  7. Superstar
  8. Jesus Christ Superstar (1977)

Round 2: In Recent Memory
All answers relate to films released in the UK in the last 12 months. So those’ll be easy. Won’t they…?

  1. What film won Best Picture at the Oscars in 2018?
  2. What major film studio did Disney complete the purchase of in 2018?
  3. What was the biggest worldwide box-office hit in 2018?
  4. The latest film in the Fifty Shades franchise was released. It was called…?
  5. Which Stephen King-inspired film featured prominently in a key sequence of Ready Player One?
  6. A Quiet Place marked the directorial debut of which Office star?
  7. How many upper-case ‘K’s were there in the official title of Spike Lee’s latest film?
  8. According to the movie title, where did The Teen Titans go this year?
Round 3: All Aboard!
Time for a trip on the ocean wave. In which films did the following boats appear?

  1. Orca
  2. Andrea Gail
  3. SS Venture
  4. Molly Aida
  5. Pequod
  6. Belafonte
  7. Argo
  8. HMS Surprise
Round 4: First Name Terms
Some characters are best known by their nicknames. But do you know these character's first names?
  1. ‘Baby’ Houseman in Dirty Dancing
  2. ‘Maverick’ Mitchell in Top Gun
  3. ‘Indiana’ Jones in, er, the Indiana Jones movies.
  4. ‘Bluto’ Blutarsky in Animal House
  5. ‘Verbal’ Kint in The Usual Suspects
  6. ‘The Dude’ in The Big Lebowski
  7. ‘Hot Lips’ Houlihan in M*A*S*H
  8. ‘The Bride’ in Kill Bill films

Round 5: Who’s That Girl?
Many women have played women in films about women. Except they are often called girls because Hollywood is sexist and doesn’t like women. But there'll be no sexism here. Which FEMALE played the titular Girl in these films. (*snigger*) Tit-ular 

  1. The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo (Swedish version)
  2. The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo (US version)
  3. The Girl in the Spider’s Web
  4. The Girl with all the Gifts
  5. The Girl Next Door (2004)
  6. The Girl on the Train (2016)
  7. The Girl With a Pearl Earring
  8. The Girl on a Motorcycle

Round 6: Musical round
The following band names were all inspired by certain films. Name the film in each case.
  1. Iron Maiden
  2. McFly
  3. Fine Young Cannibals
  4. The Fratellis
  5. Moloko
  6. Travis
  7. Duran Duran
  8. Wu Tang Clan

Round 7: The Connections Round
The fiendish horned viper once again casts his beady eye of horus upon you. 

  1. What is wrong with these film titles? Girl Interrupted ; Paris Texas ; Love Simon ; Hail Caesar
  2. Why would the films below make you think of Paul Scofield?
  3. Which is the odd one out? Liar ; Tora ; New York ; Jamón
  4. What have the characters below got in common?
  5. What connects the following films? The Vanishing (1988); Funny Games (1997) ; Ju-On: The Grudge (2002) ; Bangkok Dangerous (2000)
  6. What comes next: SC ; GL ; SC ; RM ; TD ; PB ;
  7. Which film is the odd one out below?
  8. Who is musically not quite right in the sequence below?

Round 8: Missing Words
For each of the examples below, insert a word in the brackets which will thus generate the names of two film titles. A clue? Well I’m pretty drunk by now and feeling generous, so I will say there’s a common theme to the missing words…
  1. Iron                  [          ]        Business
  2. War                  [          ]        Feathers
  3. The Black         [          ]        People
  4. Atomic              [          ]        Tale
  5. Big                   [          ]        Tank
  6. Alpha                [          ]        Soldiers
  7. Teen                 [          ]        Creek
  8. Lady                 [          ]        Box
Round 9: A Good Sense of Direction
Each of the following clues refers to a film with a compass-related title. Guess the film from the clue.
  1. Viggo Mortensen in a naked knife fight
  2. Cary Grant attacked by a crop duster
  3. I like to be in America!
  4. Laurel & Hardy sing On the Trail of the Lonesome Pine
  5. Music by Rodgers & Hammerstein
  6. Jack Nicholson escapes the hangman’s noose to mine gold
  7. Won the first Oscar for Outstanding Production
  8. Starring James Dean

Round 10 : The Final Bastard Hard Either-you-know-it-or-you-don’t Round

  1. Only 1 film in the Top 10 Worldwide box-office list for 2018 was not a sequel or a Marvel character film. What was it?
  2. What film won the Palme d’Or at Cannes in 2018?
  3. What day was Humphrey Bogart born on?
  4. The father of which Oscar-nominated actress was Pink Floyd’s road manager?
  5. Which French footballer appeared in a brief role as a doctor in the Stephen Hawking biopic The Theory of Everything?
  6. Which Irish actor had a Top 10 UK hit with ‘MacArthur Park’?
  7. A cocktail made of ginger ale with a splash of grenadine, garnished with a cherry is named after which famous child actress?
  8. The more common name for NaAlSiO is also a dire erotic thriller from 1995. What is it? 


Okay, have you got your 'I actually knew that' reaction ready to go? Here we go....

Round 1: The Christmas Round
  1. Jim Caviezel
  2. Willem Dafoe
  3. Robert Powell
  4. Max von Sydow
  5. Jeremy Hunter
  6. Joaquin Phoenix
  7. Will Ferrell
  8. Ted Neeley

Round 2: In Recent Memory
  1. The Shape of Water
  2. Fox
  3. Avengers : Infinity War ($2,048million)
  4. Fifty Shades Freed
  5. The Shining
  6. Jon Krasinski
  7. Two. BlacKkKlansman is the official title
  8. Teen Titans Go! To the Movies.

Round 3: All Aboard!

1.     Jaws
2.     The Perfect Storm
3.     King Kong (will grudgingly accept Jurassic Park : The Lost World)
4.     Fitzcarraldo
5.     Moby Dick
6.     The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou
7.     Jason & the Argonauts
8.     Master & Commander: The Far Side of the World

Round 4: First Name Terms
  1. Frances
  2. Pete
  3. Henry
  4. John
  5. Roger
  6. Jeffrey
  7. Margaret
  8. Beatrix

Round 5: Who’s That Girl?
  1. Noomi Rapace
  2. Rooney Mara
  3. Claire Foy
  4. Sennia Nanu (a tough one, and incidentally the only actual girl on this list)
  5. Elisha Cuthbert
  6. Emily Blunt
  7. Scarlett Johansson
  8. Marianne Faithful
Round 6: Musical round
  1. The Man in the Iron Mask
  2. Back to the Future
  3. All the Fine Young Cannibals
  4. The Goonies
  5. A Clockwork Orange
  6. Paris, Texas
  7. Barbarella
  8. Shaolin and Wu Tang
Round 7: The Connections Round
  1. They are missing a comma between the two words.
  2. Seasons. Those are stills from Ingmar Bergman films The Virgin Spring, Summer with Monika, Autumn Sonata and Winter Light. Paul Scofield won an Oscar for A Man for All Seasons
  3. Tora, which appeared three times in a film title (Tora! Tora! Tora!), whereas the others only twice (Liar, Liar ;  New York, New York ; Jamón Jamón)
  4. They were the subject of ballads in the films they appeared in (The Ballad of Cable Hogue, The Ballad of Buster Scruggs, Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby, The Ballad of Jack and Rose)
  5. All foreign-language films remade by the same director(s) in English language version
  6. DC for Daniel Craig. The initials of actors who played James Bond in order of appearance in official Bond films.
  7. Boys Don't Cry was a film about a woman disguised as a man. Mrs Doubtfire, Tootsie and Some Like it Hot feature men disguised as women.
  8. Rango was one letter away from being a Beatle, whereas John, Paul, and George were all spelled correctly.
Round 8: Missing Words
  1. Iron            [ Monkey    ]        Business
  2. War            [ Horse       ]        Feathers
  3. The Black  [ Cat           ]        People
  4. Atomic       [ Shark       ]        Tale
  5. Big             [ Fish          ]        Tank
  6. Alpha         [ Dog          ]        Soldiers
  7. Teen           [ Wolf         ]        Creek
  8. Lady           [ Bird          ]        Box
Round 9: A Good Sense of Direction
  1. Eastern Promises
  2. North by Northwest
  3. West Side Story
  4. Way Out West
  5. South Pacific
  6. Goin’ South
  7. All Quiet on the Western Front
  8. East of Eden

Round 10 : The Final Bastard Hard Either-you-know-it-or-you-don’t Round
  1. Bohemian Rhapsody. (For info the top ten according to were: Avengers: Infinity War, Black Panther, Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, Incredibles 2, Venom, Mission: Impossible – Fallout, Deadpool 2, Bohemian Rhapsody, Ant-Man and the Wasp, Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald)        
  2. Shoplifters
  3. Christmas Day (Good guess. Bonus point for knowing the year was 1899)
  4. Naomi Watts’ father Pete was the band’s road manager
  5. Frank Le Boeuf
  6. Richard Harris, reaching No. 4 in 1968
  7. A Shirley Temple
  8. Jade

Well I hope that promoted mental health and well-being in your house.
You are probably finished, but if you are hungry for more, you can view previous instalments of the Festive Film Quiz here.

Meanwhile, I'm off on my Christmas party! Mine's a Shirley Temple!

A Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night! 


Time for a short break folks. Stretch your legs, help yourselves to some sweets from the concession stand and chat among yourselves for a bit.

Fear not, The Fast Picture Show will return soon.