The average cinema-goer must be getting stupider by the day. Disbelief is no longer being suspended, it is being hunted down and scalped, rather like the unsuspecting Nazi soldiers sweeping through the back streets of occupied France in Tarantino’s latest, Inglourious Basterds. Their fate? To die at the hand of one of the least believable characters in recent cinematic memory.

The film’s main focus is the titular basterds, a crack Jewish-American army hit squad, led by Pitt’s insufferable Aldo Raine, who hunt down and massacre Nazis, working closely with British and French intelligence and German double agents. As the plot unfolds, it transpires that this elite group’s masterplan for infiltrating a Nazi gathering at a theatre consists of walking through the front door pretending to be Italian cameramen, despite none of them speaking a word of Italian. (more…)

The maximum penalty for carrying a knife is four years in prison and a fine of £5000. Marcus Ball got away with three years and nine months for his antics. Oh yeah, did I mention he STABBED someone five times? So he’s about half as dangerous as canoe dimwit John Darwin then. And slightly less than Jeffrey Archer. Reassuring.

As usual at this time of year, critics and fans are falling over each other to write off Man United’s chances of winning anything this season. In fact it’s impossible not to discuss the matter with anyone without the words ‘You’re just not the same team without Ronaldo‘ waltzing into the conversation.

Well no, we’re not. And I for one am more than happy about that. We now have 11 players contributing to team performance. We have Wayne Rooney, a big game player recently reborn and with something to prove. We have wingers and wingbacks now that we’ve dropped the drab 4-3-3 formation that was stifling our game. Admittedly the jury is still out on Nani and Valencia, but we’ve already seen flashes of what they’re capable of, and not just as extras in the video for ‘Thriller’. (more…)

So they finally nailed Roman Polanski, more than 30 years after a warrant was issued for his arrest, following his admission to having sex with a 13-year-old girl in Los Angeles in 1977. Back then the Polish director promptly did a runner, swapping his freedom fries for the real thing in Paris. He has been holed up there ever since, taking advantage of the lack of an extradition agreement between the two countries.

US marshalls finally saw their opening last week and descended on Polanski as he arrived in Zurich from his French hideaway to collect a lifetime achievement award for his contribution to cinema. This latest sting was the third attempt by US authorities to take down the 76-year-old and get him off the streets and behind bars.

Polanski’s now infamous crime is the ultimate Hollywood allegory – the destruction of innocence by greed and power. (more…)

There’s no denying it. For the last two summers in this country we’ve been shortchanged by the weather and then some. We’ve stumbled into the meteorological kebab shop at quarter past three on a Friday night and handed over a twenty pound note for a chicken donner only to receive £2.50 in change. During July and August for both 2007 and 2008, as Southern Europe was getting Southern fried, in good old Blighty we were donning life jackets and learning how to swim (or not) as record floods swept the country.

This is not acceptable. The reason it’s such a slap in the face is that I’m a staunch defendant of the weather in this country and the constant cheap shots people take at it offend my blind patriotism. (more…)

South Park has two main types of critic. Much of the misguided public clamour which followed the first few episodes twelve years ago focused on the appropriateness of the show for children, as South Park was singled out by the first type of critic – angry PTA groups and prominent conservative figureheads – as symbolic of the decay of modern values and the dumbing down of kids’ culture. This despite the show’s post 10pm screening time, multiple content warnings and adult subject matter.

The show’s other main critic is the casual viewer, who enjoyed many of the early episodes, drawn in by the wave of media controversy and primetime coverage, but whose attention and laughter dissipated along with the sensationalism. (more…)

So how do you define a truly bad film? Most internet ‘bad movie lists’ are populated by low budget B-movies with comedy titles such as “Santa Claus Conquers the Martians”, or my personal favourite, “Ghost and the invisible Bikini”. However, I’d like to turn my attention away from the harmless ‘so bad it’s good’ sub-genre to focus on what I believe are a few of the true stinkers of the past twenty years or so.

I’m a firm believer in judging a film based on (a) whether it accomplishes what it’s setting out to do and (b) whether it’s as good as it thinks it is. For that reason it’s a little unfair to mention films such as “Stop! Or my mum will shoot”, tagline: ‘She did the laundry, washed the windows and scrubbed the floors. Now, she’s gonna clean up the streets.’ (more…)