Films You Need To Rewatch: Wayne’s World, Bill & Ted and Trainspotting.

Hearkening back to days of yore may be a foolish past-time in your personal life but it’s a worthy endeavor in the realm of cult films and classics. Time is kind to pop culture when its creator cared to preserve its appeal; idiosyncratic characters, universal stories and well-written comedy are the ideal mix for nostalgic indulgence. Be wise, choose something your conscious mind hasn’t registered in recent years in order to experience key moments as if they’re completely new to you. They won’t be but contentment comes from familiarity and we live in the Matrix anyway. (That one isn’t on this list).

Wayne’s World

My big brother and I adored this in our youth so I was praying for good things. Thankfully, the dumbass duo trope still amuses my adult brain: Garth’s ‘Foxy’ dancing and the Bohemian Rhapsody headbanging scene are still precious. All of the meta jokes in this self-referential comedy will make you chuckle knowingly as you yearn for Mike Myers to break down the fourth wall just one more time. It’s typically clever in having the social commentary exist in undertones that you can feasibly ignore if you’d rather just soak up the obvious stuff, yet we view our two protagonists as anti-heroes for revering self-expression. As such, I newly appreciate Rob Lowe’s nuanced portrayal of the textbook selfish yuppie who tries to capitalise on our protagonists’ romantic dreams. Less exciting is Meatloaf’s brief bouncer cameo as he’s inevitably overshadowed by Alice Cooper rocking up to perform another lyrical shit-show: Feed My Frankenstein to the infamous reception of ‘We are not worthy!’ Humorous ridiculousness.


Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure

I recently made a most excellent life choice to devour this alongside a beastly curry (chicken Jalfrezi). Whimsical japes include masquerading as medieval knights to re-enact the Luke vs. Darth Vader lightsaber duel. Nearly every adventure they have is typically tame 80s high school hedonism and yet you long to escape your mundane reality in favour of their random expedition. When you realise the similarity between a time-travelling phonebox and the Doctor’s Tardis a smirk will appear on your big, nerdy face. Silly and escapist, their characteristic goofiness is still most quotable. Examples include calling Socrates ‘So-cratz’ and miming air guitar to news of the ‘Iron Maiden’ like it’s a stage invite from Bruce Dickinson. It’s also notably unique in portraying metalheads as cool, laid back people who sometimes look like Keanu Reeves. To my surprise, Rufus was played by satirist George Carlin – a fact my child self didn’t know. Alas, I can now congratulate myself on my reformed historical knowledge like my heroes Bill and Ted.


Trainspotting

It’s a rite of passage for every pretentious teen to watch Trainspotting in awe of the brilliant cast, innovative directing and stellar 90s soundtrack. Now you’re older, you may feel like you’ve recovered from your wide-eyed fascination with drug-fueled debauchery and wish not to return to such territory but have faith in its iconic reputation. You will still impulsively rave along with Born Slippy and recoil at the baby scenes in terrible enthusiasm before making a mental note that injecting heroin is clearly just not cricket. Inspiration is a lusted-after feeling and the brazen swagger of Diane is undeniably enviable. Danny Boyle’s low-budget triumph invokes the idea that you could go rogue and successfully film an indie adaptation of a new novel. It just seems likely for you. Besides the sequel, Porno, has a 2016 release date now so if you relive this arguable PSA against compulsively chasing the dragon, you can hype yourself up way ahead of time.


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Life After Beth: Netflix Reviews

I think I enjoyed Life After Beth. It has no discernible genre; it’s an amalgamation of comedy, horror, drama and rom com that misses the mark on each one. A lot of independent films encounter the same identity crisis, but perhaps there’s little need for a definitive label when the plot centres on relationship exploration and the audience came prepared to meander through a slow-paced story. Sometimes we need a break from formulaic blockbusters to indulge in films demanding our patience unites with our stylistic appreciation for a 90 minute spell, and when Aubrey Plaza stars in a film you’re guaranteed deadpan delivery alongside believable characterisation.

We are introduced to Beth as recently deceased, and soon thereafter she’s reacquainted with Zachery; her boyfriend, in apparent zombie form, although she’s forgotten all about the time she clawed her way out of her own grave. When Joss Whedon dealt Buffy the same fate, he acknowledged the emotional trauma of resurrection by having her endure severe depression until an impromptu singalong eased her despondency. No such emotional intensity is reached in Life After Beth as the frequent tone changes interrupt the poignancy of mourning – for example, the poorly executed joke about Zach ‘fucking’ his dead girlfriend’s scarf. While I admire the brief foray into showing the unorthodox behaviour we might exhibit in our solitude, our voyeurism is soon interrupted by Zach’s pedestrian brother, Kyle, in what attempts to be a comedic moment. The trailer advertised a largely comedic tone but sadly a lot of the jokes are too obvious to invoke a reaction. There are a few subtle laughs to be had, but most of the comedy originates from characters such as Beth’s parents: Geenie and Maury Slocum, who are played by actors with vast improv’ experience (Molly Shannon and John C. Reilly). The only conventionally funny line arrives near the climax of the film: a character says ‘goodbye’ before intending harm and the other replies ‘where are you going?’ in a classic case of misunderstanding.

The dialogue is neither fantastic nor terrible, so the high-calibre cast reconcile the banal script. Matthew Gray Gubler is fascinating to watch in the role of gun-obsessed security officer Kyle, due to his earnest demeanour and excessively masculine mannerisms. Mid-way through, Aubrey Plaza’s real-life best friend Anna Kendrick shows up as childhood friend – film code for ‘potential love interest’ – Erica, to add another light-hearted dimension to the slightly tedious dynamic of Beth and Zach’s love affair; the cast get it right.

The script may lack originality, but the concept doesn’t. Plus, it’s a good first attempt from Jeff Beana at writing and directing independently. The film relaxes and hooks you to a certain extent, provided you don’t analyse the absurdity of sudden plot acceleration or watch with friends; it’s definitely a film best enjoyed alone. Hardly high praise, I know, but if you enjoy films that are a little imperfect and require some scouting for the hidden gem within, it could be worth your time. 

Erratically paced and tonally imbalanced, watch Life After Beth if you’re a fan of Aubrey Plaza, study films professionally or need to zone out for an hour or so.

Netflix Recommendation: Jen Kirkman – I’m Gonna Die Alone (And I Feel Fine)

As the flippant title of her stand-up show suggests, Jen Kirkman isn’t afraid to get real with you. She speaks candidly about topics such as sexuality, married life, divorce, age, masturbation etc. with a clear foundation of autobiography. Anecdotes in comedy can border on boring when a comedian doesn’t know which bits to cut, but Kirkman’s delivery is concise and acerbic with frequent pay-offs. Plus, there’s nothing affected about her persona.

I confess to becoming aware of her through this special, possibly because she isn’t as famous in the UK yet. Only some sections of the hour-long set are observational, allowing her cynicism to sidestep any sense of superiority.  While watching, I kept imagining her as a sarcastic work friend whose dry wit spares you from small talk. It’s frequently said of performers that ‘you want to be friends with them’ and this was the likely capacity in which I pictured our interaction. This may be due to her insightful perception of the everyday and her sharp analysis – she’s matter-of-fact without being crass and her viewpoint is especially accessible to deep-thinkers and realists.

An inexplicably flattering shot from this angle, kudos to her cheekbones.

Before we see the main show, there’s a naturalistic short depicting show preparation whereby she sits with a friend. The comedic tone is subtle and the audience experiences the first slice of her ‘show, don’t tell’ style. The same goes for the final 3 minutes of faux ‘behind-the-scenes’ footage, verifying our impression of her comedy as exploratory and nuanced. I also recently discovered her Twitter and Instagram pages are worth following if you want more truth-telling interspersed with silly jokes.

Buffy The Vampire Slayer – Character Signs. Part 4!

Oz: Taurus

Oz was always the Earthy extra in the Scooby gang. Taureans have a calming effect on other people due to their docility and use of passive aggressive sarcasm to avoid confrontation. He was introduced to us as quiet and unassuming, staying in his shell for a long time before the beast within him emerged. After a long while of stewing over past wrongs and arguments, a Taurus will explode in fury to reveal a magnificent temper; werewolf transformations are a means of catharsis for him. Oz is an artistically inclined procrastinator as he plays live music with his buddies while schoolwork goes unnoticed. He is also very tactile in showing his affections. Taureans (arguably) function best in a relationship due to their considerate and sensual nature, as well as their tendency to prioritise other people. A self-assured sign such as Taurus adores their partner, making the end of any relationship even more difficult to process. If there’s one certainty we have regarding Oz, it’s that he’s terrible at goodbye’s. He used his inner strength to leave Willow when he felt ashamed of his infidelity, but he’ll still reminisce about their relationship from time to time.

Dawn: Libra

Libra is a social sign. A person born under this sign actively desires popularity, harmony, and a full love life more than most. Idealism is their default setting, meaning they don’t always know how to obtain the riches they romanticise. Dawn’s ‘damsel in distress’ behaviour is rooted in her preoccupation with outside perception. She deduces that since Buffy is the powerful Slayer, society must view her as the futile little sister, and acts accordingly. This behaviour evolves into a more independent streak later on, but adolescence brings Libra many phases until they decide who they truly are. Libran self-perception will always originate from how they believe other people view them as they want to fit in yet stand out simultaneously, and Dawn clearly yearns to join the Scooby gang in their adventures. Naturally beautiful, a Libra is in high demand when it comes to relationships. It’s something Dawn flirts with when she’s caught in a love spell, yet her attraction turns out to be superficial. A Libra is fickle in matters of the heart, yet disarmingly charming and smart.

Druisilla: Pisces

Cursed with psychic intuition and visions, Druisilla is the ethereal Pisces sign. These people are attuned to their gut instincts more than any other sign, giving them an affinity for occultism. Angel’s malicious character sees vulnerability in her visceral reactions to ordinary events, and her imaginative resources are a factor in his decision to sire her. He also perceived usefulness in her compassionate ability, an endearing girl he reveled in corrupting. Pisces is often beset by passivity and daydreaming, whereby the crude ways of humanity cannot provoke their heightened sensitivity. Despite her considerable cruelty, she relies on the co-dependency she has with both Angel and Spike to comfort and empower her.This reveals the essentially insecure character of a Pisces, whose self-worth is tainted by their acquiescence. Symbolised by two fish, animals are natural companions of this sign as their prominent visual thinking skills engender empathy towards smaller creatures. Druisilla is too preoccupied with assimilating everything around her to dish out puns and throwaway small talk. Unlike every other Sunnydale resident, she’s a mystery in her aloofness.

Buffy character signs Part 1 , Part 2 and Part 3!

Buffy the Vampire Slayer – Character Signs. Part 3

Tara:Virgo

Tara is often cited as a perfect character due to her exceptional maturity and habit of making consistently good decisions. When Willow becomes a ‘magic junkie’ whose actions lose morality, Tara has enough self-respect to leave their increasingly toxic relationship. A Virgo has a nurturing approach to others with their incessant favours and practical advice, but this is only carried out after they’ve tended to their own needs. Virgo’s are notoriously plagued by self-doubt, causing them to evolve into perfectionists. In Tara’s case, her family capitalised on this emotional intelligence by bullying her into believing her fears were real. While she is open-minded enough to believe them in her formative years, a Virgo will not tolerate abuse for long and we soon see her defend herself. The past is not easily forgotten where a Virgo is concerned, and Tara’s scars are shown in the form of a stutter and unassuming manner, despite her considerable wiccan skill and physical beauty.This unassuming character is common in Virgo, as well as her despair at people who ignore the small details in life, “I go online sometimes, but everyone’s spelling is really bad. It’s depressing.” Notably, she provides comfort to people in need – specifically Buffy and Dawn. When a young Dawn loses her mother, Tara assumes her role by ensuring Dawn eats breakfast and distracts her from the pain by treating her to milkshakes and films. Simultaneously, she compartmentalises the other parts of her life into working order while looking effortlessly serene, like a Virgo.

Anya:Sagittarius

Anya is a Sagittarius because she’s blunt and awkward. If you’re a Sagittarian reader, I’m sorry to remind you of this truth but I thought I’d get the obvious out of the way so I can make like a fire sign and be more positive. Like Anya. She’s gone through hell – literally, and yet she’s a vengeance demon who is perpetually upbeat and childlike. She’s aware of the bigger picture and therefore chooses to avenge broken-hearted women particularly, as an act of far-reaching kindness to those most likely to suffer. Those around the Sagittarian woman know of her innocent motives so become adept at dodging the verbal arrows she carelessly slings at them. Some people (and demons) however lack the same good nature, as demonstrated by her husband Olaf’s affair and the manipulation that led to Xander leaving her at a crucial moment. To the oblivious Sagittarius, these acts of betrayal are unexpected and heart-breaking, although they do learn to forgive and we slowly see Anya rebuild her self-esteem towards the end of Series 7. A lover of the luxuries in life, Sagittarius is motivated by money a lot of the time and Anya loves money above all; not in a cynical, scheming way but because it leads to what she desires most: happiness. Her smile resembles the infamous Sagittarian grin and radiates joy, while her ever-changing hair colour reflects Sagittarian spontaneity. Sagittarius is often called a lone wolf; likewise Anya isn’t the most popular member of the gang but she’s happy in her independent experiences.

Angel:Scorpio

Scorpio is often steeped in mystery and Angel has mastered the art of brooding intensity. His words are few and his facial expressions even fewer, thereby epitomising the Scorpio character. Famed for their passionate personality and unyielding love, Scorpio will act obsessively towards the object of their desire. Before Buffy even knew of her fate, Angel lurked in the shadows of her school grounds and pined after her once she arrived in Sunnydale. Unlike other water signs, Scorpio will act upon their vengeful streak when wronged and utilise their Machiavellian tendencies. Given Angel’s notoriously evil past and penchant for taunting the more vulnerable Spike, his love of power play is duly noted. Moreover, his betrayal of Buffy is not easily forgiven by anybody, including himself, where other souls (pun intended) would choose to allude personal responsibility. Scorpio has a special relationship with absolutes: pain and truth. Physically, his imposing figure, deep-set eyes and black attire are the stereotype of a Scorpio man and so accurately match his persona.


Looking for Part 4?

Or you can start from the beginning: Part 1 and Part 2.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer – Star Signs by Character

Buffy Summers: Aries.

Buffy typifies an Aries with her ‘Carpe Diem’ motto and habitually impulsive behaviour. A notoriously strong character, she protects the people who love and support her without question and uses her uses her initiative to see results immediately. Her self-confidence means she makes the effort to sustain friendships and relationships simultaneously and her bouts of self-pity are seldom. That’s because she’s over it already and onto the next project.

An Aries works hard to build their identity and become aggressive when they feel threatened. For example, the arrival of Kendra and Faith. Due to the flippancy of the fun-loving Aries, tempers never last long and she’s soon back at her quipping, ass-kicking best.


Giles: Virgo

Rupert ‘Ripper’ Giles is introduced to us as an intellectual pragmatist who respects procedure and rejects hedonism; many people get the same impression when first meeting a Virgo. It’s clear he’s a perfectionist so when the Scooby gang interfere with his meticulous methods, he delivers the trademark Virgo sarcasm to vent his frustration politely. Virgos are responsible: no other sign would painstakingly devote hours of time to researching a demon on Buffy’s behalf, but then Virgo rightly believes their practices are the most efficient. Led by reason, Giles has no qualms about setting things right when Willow defies the natural order with her witchcraft and Buffy fails to end Glory’s power/Ben’s life.

By exploring his backstory, we discover his reckless past and capability to obey passion, but these are choices he seldom makes. Like a Virgo, he prefers the simple life.


Willow: Pisces

Like the Neptune-ruled Pisces, Willow is introduced to us as an idealist: hopelessly in love with her best friend in a stereotypical case of teenage delusion. Her acquiescent tendencies underscore her place in the Scooby gang as Buffy’s most reliable friend and we see her regret her incessant kindness as they grow into adulthood. Pisces have addictive personalities, as shown in her transformation to Dark Willow. When her penchant for escapism intertwines with the power of grief, nobody can match her passion for vengenance; Pisces often adopts cynicism as an affront to an uncaring world.

Ordinarily her gentleness and obliviously mismatched fashion sense cement her place in Piscean dreamer territory. Arguably, she is the most ethereal of all the humans in Sunnydale and she’s led by her emotions, like a Pisces.


Buffy the Vampire Slayer Character Signs, Part 2: Spike, Xander, Cordelia