Tag Archives: movie

Film Club: X-Men Apocalypse (Review) SPOILER ALERT –> it’s terrible!

This is the final episode in this superhero series and simply put, I’m going to talk about the latest X-Men movie. Now, you might not be into the superhero stuff and I totally understand, but let me give you a heads up about this episode. Basically, I didn’t like the film and so I’m more interested in making fun of it than talking about it seriously. So, that might make it more fun to listen to than the other superhero ones I’ve done lately. You can just kick back and enjoy me taking the mickey out of this film.

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Honestly, I really enjoyed recording this. It was more fun than watching the film itself. Sometimes talking about a film is far more enjoyable than actually watching it, especially if the film is a cheesy mess full of cliches, incoherent plot-lines and stereotypical bad guys. So, even if you haven’t seen the film I invite you to listen to this episode, have a bit of a laugh and then move on to the next episode. There are no major plot spoilers in this review. So don’t worry if you haven’t seen it – but my general opinion of the film might have an influence on your enjoyment of it – or maybe not. Perhaps you’ll completely disagree with me.

It’s called X-Men: Apocalypse. It’s actually the 3rd film in the rebooted X-Men franchise and about the 6th film in the X-Men series as a whole, if you don’t include the two Wolverine films and the Deadpool movie. I went to see it the other day, and immediately after coming home I recorded this review.

You know the X-Men, right? … (some improvised stuff about the x-men here)

So, on to the review.

So, imagine me walking home after watching the film, getting into my flat, picking up my microphone and immediately starting to record these comments before I’d even taken off my jacket.

That’s the context, so let’s go, and I’ll speak to you again after my film review.

*Review begins*

So, that’s what I thought of the film. I thought it was a stinker! But I did kind of enjoy watching it. Mainly so I could then make fun of it afterwards.

I was a bit critical of the film. I wonder what you think of it if you’ve seen it. I should also say that it’s far far easier to criticise a film than to make one. Ultimately, it’s really really difficult to make a feature film. I think that most of the films that get made aren’t very good. We only see the ones that get published and given worldwide releases. So, it’s all well and good me talking about how bad it was, but I should give some credit to the filmmakers for actually making the effort in the first place. The audience reaction here though – it paled in comparison to the Captain America movie.

Again, let me know your thoughts in the comment section. I always look forward to reading your comments there.

Some comments from Facebook

Question: Who’s the best superhero?

Francesco: Definitely you Luke! ☺

Hamza: My parents – because they deserve all the respect and the best they give me everything they could, I’ll never forget thier sacrifice <3

Aritz: Hard decision… Batman or Spiderman?? mmmm I’ll go for the latter as we could have now a different debate: should Batman be considered a superhero?

Hien: I always admire soldiers who never betray their country even though they were tortured terribly in war.

Carmen: Deadpool, for sure. He can’t be killed, he’s got a cheeky sense of humour AND he’s aware of his own existence in the books/films he’s in and breaks the 4th wall all the time.

Luciano: Conan, The Barbarian!

Hoang Minh: Dear Luke, please make a podcast about this subject :))

Ricardo: Superman for sure!!

Jean: Super Luke! For sure!

Francesco: Deadpool because he’s a badass.

Тима Салихов: I think is Superman :) Because he is Superman :)

Virginia: Wonderwoman. She’s a Woman!

Gloria: ” El Chapulín Colorado” ( mexican Superhéro ) although he is a coward he manages to overcome his fears . By Chespirito. ❤️

Ricardo: My favorite superhero is Spider-Man because he fights to win his money like me. He is not rich like Batman although Batman kicks ass.

Lê Vũ QC: Iron man because of RDJ’s fantastic potrayal.

Ethan Lee Ok. So the answer is captain america and here’s why: (Roy Wood Jr. Stand-Up 06/12/14)

Anton: Sherlock Holmes without any doubt.

That’s the end of this episode, and also the end of this series on superhero films. The plan now is to turn to more real-world issues because there the UK is due to have its referendum on the EU in less than a month, and there’s plenty to talk about.

OK film fans, that’s it then. Speak to you soon. Bye!


304. Film Club: Back To The Future (Part 1)

Hello listeners, welcome to Luke’s Film Club, this is one of those episodes of Luke’s English podcast in which we focus on a classic moment from the movies. This one is an episode about Back to the Future, which is one of my all time favourite films and I’m not alone because it’s one of the most popular films of the last few decades, all over the world. It’s a really entertaining and fun film, which also contains some sub-texts related to the complexities of time travel as well as a few visions of the future. Also, in the film’s sequel, the main characters Marty McFly and Doc Brown end up travelling into the future – and to what date? October 21, 2015. That’s today (when recording this). So it seems to be the perfect moment to do an episode of Luke’s Film Club, devoted to this modern classic. This is basically international Back to the Future day, and there’s only one! So, this has to be the day on which I record this episode.

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In this episode I’m going to talk about these things:

  1. When I first saw it and what it means to me
  2. The plot of the film (quite a challenge actually)
  3. Themes of the film and lessons we can learn from the story
  4. Some bits of info or things you might not have known about the film
  5. The films predictions of 2015 – how many are correct?
  6. How does the DeLorean time machine work?
  7. Is time travel possible?
  8. What about paradoxes created by the film’s time travelling story?

Ironically, time will definitely be a factor in this episode, because it will be hard to squeeze all of that into an hour. Let’s see what happens. It’s probably going to be another 2 part episode or something. But Back To The Future is a great film isn’t it? Come on, it’s great. It’s really popular all over the world, it’s really fun and interesting. Let’s talk about Back to The Future, however long it takes.

UPDATE: In part 1 of this episode I only talked about points 1 and 2 in the agenda above. The plot of Back To The Future 1-3 is pretty complicated and takes some time to describe! The rest is covered in the next episode.

I’m going to mention some parts of the plot in this film. So, if you haven’t seen it before then I will probably give away some of the surprises in the story. I’m assuming that the vast majority of you have seen this film. It’s one of the most popular films of the last few decades, but I’m sure some of you haven’t seen it. Just be aware that I will probably reveal some fairly big plot details in this episode, so you might want to watch the film before listening to this episode.

Saying that though, I think it’s quite hard to truly spoil the film, just because there are many things about it that make it exciting. I’ve seen it (and the sequels) lots of times, and I enjoy it more and more every time, even though I know exactly what’s going to happen next. It’s so well-directed that it’s always exciting. But anyway – watch out, there are spoilers ahead.

I’ve been trying so hard for ages to find a way to properly cover the subject of this film in a podcast. It’s very hard! There’s so much to say! The storyline of the film is pretty complex, and the themes of time-travel, family, future technologies and controlling your destiny are really big things that deserve a lot of attention. So, I’m not sure I can squeeze it into just 1 hour of chat. This may end up being two episodes – but you don’t mind do you? Why would you mind? This could be a 5 minute video on YouTube, like “The 5 best moments from Back to the Future” but I want to go into more depth, and get sidetracked by themes of technology and time travel, so it will just take as long as it needs. In fact it’s a bit ironic that I’m talking about time limitations when this is a film about time travel, and the complexities which surround it. Essentially, I’m going to focus on the subject first, and if that means it’s a long episode, then so be it. In fact, since this is a podcast you have some control over time and you can skip forwards in the episode, backwards in the episode or simply freeze time completely by pressing the pause button, and then start it again later. You’re in control of time, essentially. I’ll just focus on making the content and you can choose how to listen to it. :)

Also, there are other films/books I could have talked about: HG Wells: The Time Machine, The Terminator, Looper, Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure, Interstellar. But, this one is all about BTTF! So let’s go.

1. When did I first see it and why do I like it?
– As a kid, with my Dad.
– I was 8 years old, my brother 10.
– We saw lots of really great films in the Ealing cinema around this time, including Return of the Jedi, Indiana Jones & The Temple of Doom, Flight of the Navigator, Back to the Future, The Goonies, E.T. and more…
– I actually managed to understand what was going on, and I found it incredibly fun and exciting.
– Cereal box, with the picture. I remember staring at it.
– Since then I’ve seen it on video and on TV countless times, and every time I watched it I understood more of the subtleties and intricacies of the complex plot, and also just enjoyed the pure fun of the franchise.

2. What’s the plot of the film (this could be complicated and long – and SPOILERS!)
Marty is an average yet pretty cool teenager, struggling slightly to make the transition to adulthood. Essentially he cares about his parents, his girlfriend Jennifer, playing guitar in his band, skateboarding, and his friend Doctor Emmet Brown, an eccentric and ambitious physicist. Marty’s parents are sweet, but his Father in particular is a bit of a loser. He has no leadership skills and he still gets picked on by the school bully, who hangs around the house because he still has a crush on Marty’s Mum, Lorraine. Marty’s Dad still gets bullied by Biff, who is a total jerk. Marty hates Biff with a passion but there’s not much he can do about him. Seeing his Dad all weak, even though Marty’s mum obviously loves him, is quite painful for Marty and you get the impression that family life isn’t very happy for Marty. Perhaps this is why he has trouble concentrating at school, and perhaps it’s also why Marty cares more about playing the guitar in a band, or hanging around with his weird scientist friend Doc Brown than he does doing his studies. Marty also has a really awesome girlfriend called Jennifer, and the two of them are very sweet together. Jennifer knows that Marty is a really cool guy with a lot of potential, and I guess this is why she loves him. We know that Marty feels pretty bad about his family situation.

Marty is friends with the local mad scientist, Doctor Emmet Brown, and associating with Doc Brown is going to propel Marty on an incredible adventure through time.
Doc Brown is the classic eccentric scientist. He has bug eyes, crazy Einstein hair, and lots of inventions and madcap ideas.
Marty also has a weak point – being called chicken. He absolutely can’t stand being called chicken (coward) and this will be important later on.
One day, Marty gets a message from Doc Brown to meet him in the car park near the mall. He has something amazing to show him.
Marty turns up on his skateboard and the Doc reveals his latest invention. Inspired by HG Wells, he has created a time machine. The cool thing about it is that it is housed inside a DeLorean sports car. DeLorean was a car manufacturer that is completely stuck in the 80s. They went out of business before the decade was over, but their car is immortalised in this film. One has to admit, it does have a certain UFO futuristic look that suits its use as a time travelling device. The key component in the device is the flux capacitor, which Doc Brown thought of during a dream. I don’t know how it works, but that’s the main thing.
The way the time machine works is that you programme the precise date you’d like to travel to, and the accelerate the car to 88 mph, at which point you’re transported through time. He demonstrates it with his pet dog, Einstein.
Amazing – it actually works!
Doc arranges for Marty to film him presenting the time machine on home video, but at this point some very angry Iranian terrorists turn up in a VW camper van. Apparently Doc Brown stole some nuclear plutonium from them, which he used to power the flux capacitor and they want it back. They seemingly shoot Doc Brown dead in the car park, which is shocking because we’ve grown to like this character very much in the short time he’s been on-screen, and then they go after Marty, who escapes in the DeLorean time machine. There’s a short chase around the car park, during which a date is accidentally added into the machine – 30 years previous. October 26 1955. During Marty’s escape from the terrorists, the DeLorean gets up to 88mph and Marty is whipped away, back to the past of 1955, where he finds himself driving though an open field – this is the location of the mall car park. The mall hasn’t been built yet! Marty crashes into a barn and the drama is over.
What happens next is that Marty explores Hill Valley in 1955, and gets caught up in the lives of his young parents, which interferes with the space time continuum, threatening to change the future, his normal life, forever. He then has to try and make sure his parents fall in love, like before, ensuring that his existence is secured in the future. As well as that, Marty plans to find a way to save the life of his best friend Doc Brown, who was shot to death by terrorists back in 1985.
Essentially, what happens with the parents is that instead of his Mum meeting and falling in love with his Dad, Marty interrupts that meeting, and weirdly his Mum falls for him instead. This is so weird, and yet a very compelling plot device!
In 1955 Marty has to deal with a few challenges.
Everything is different because it’s the past, and he’s a fish out of water.
His Mum has a big crush on him and he has to try and avoid her.
His Mum and Dad haven’t met as they should have, and so he has to engineer their relationship from nothing, against all odds.
He has to try and avoid the town bully – Biff, who is interested in Marty’s Mum too, and is also out to get him.
As well as this he has a couple of run-ins with Mr Strickland, who amusingly is exactly the same as he is in 1985. He doesn’t appear to have aged at all.

Marty, cleverly, manages to track down the only man who can help him – the younger version of Doc Brown. He convinces him that his story is true, and introduces him to the DeLorean and the flux capacitor. One of the cool things about this is that by introducing the Doc to his own invention, Marty ensures that the flux capacitor gets invented in the first place.

The two hatch a plan to get the parents back together to stop Marty from disappearing from existence, and also work out a way to utilise the power of a lightning strike to get the DeLorean up to 88 so Marty can go back to the future. The cool thing here is that Marty knows exactly when lightning will strike the clock tower in Hill Valley Square, because it is a famous event from local history.

We see Marty attempting to get his parents back together, which fails most of the time. The bully Biff gets involved and there’s a dramatic scene in which the cowardly George decides to stand up to him, winning Mary’s affections and securing Marty’s future.

In the process, Marty manages to invent rock and roll music by playing some Chuck Berry during the school prom.

Marty is also desperate to tell Doc that in 1985 he’ll be killed by Libyan terrorists, but Doc refuses to listen, saying that it’s very dangerous to know anything about your own future. He’s worried that the knowledge will haunt him, or that it will create some kind of time paradox. Nevertheless Marty writes him a note warning him of the shooting. Doc cuts it into pieces, refusing to read it. This is alarming because we know that Doc’s going to get shot in the future. It’s not dealt with any further.

There’s yet more drama as Marty and the Doc attempt to hook up a cable to the clock tower, to make sure they harness the electrical power from the lightning strike. At the last moment, the Doc manages to connect the cables, allowing Marty to get the DeLorean to 88, and he goes back to the future!

Back in 1985, things are a little different, in fact they seem to be a lot better. Since things went a little different;y in 1955, and George stood up to Biff – George is a different man. Much more confident and successful, and Biff is now far more subservient to him. The family is richer, the parents’ marriage is better, and Marty looks in the garage to discover his dream car, waiting for him. Jennifer is also there. She’s the same of course, because she was already perfect, and they kiss. At that moment, Doc Brown suddenly turns up in the DeLorean, saying that both Marty and Jennifer have to come with him on a matter of urgency, as it involves their children in the future! They all get into the DeLorean, ready to take it up to 88 and travel into the future. Marty says “Doc, don’t we need more road to get up to 88?” and the Doc says, “Marty, where we’re going, we don’t need roads” and the car takes off into the air! It’s a flying car! They then race off into the sky and disappear into the future!

Wow, what a rip-roaring and exciting ride. For me, it’s an almost perfect film and always keeps me entertained. I love the complexities of the story, the dramatic set pieces, the eccentric and cartoonish performances by all the actors and the fun the film has by playing around with the differences in culture between 1955 and 1985. There are lots of self referential jokes and small details to notice, including little similarities and consequences between the two time periods.

Back to the Future Part 2
This is when things get complicated!

Doc Brown knows that Marty’s son, who looks just like Marty but is a total loser, is going to get caught up in a robbery and will get arrested and thrown in jail. Doc decides to form a plan in which Marty will pretend to be his son, and will prevent his involvement in the robbery, making everything all right. Essentially, they prevent the crime and during this early scene we see Hill Valley in the future. In one of many similar scenes from the previous film, Marty wanders around the town square and we see how different everything is. Cars look futuristic, droids do basic service jobs, there’s a holographic animated advertisement for a Jaws sequel, people have self drying clothes, shoes with automatic laces, and clothes which automatically adjust their size to fit the person they’re wearing. Also, crucially, kids now ride ‘hover boards’ which are like skateboards except that they hover a few inches about the ground, somehow.

Marty manages to replace his son and say no to “Griff” – played by the same actor who plays “Biff” in the previous film. But in the process, Marty gets into a fight with Griff who is the 2015 town bully, complete with physical implants, an advanced hoverboard and a really bad attitude.

Marty gets away from Griff, and gets back to the Doc. We learn that Marty, while in the futuristic version of Hill Valley has picked up a Sports Almanac (a summary of sports results of the last 60 years), which he plans to use as a way to get rich. When Doc Brown discovers this he gets furious with Marty, demanding that Marty throw away the almanac because it’s far too dangerous to mess with the space time continuum. The results could be catastrophic. What they don’t realise is that the old Biff from episode 1 has overheard their conversation, has realised that Doc Brown has invented a time machine. Biff steals the almanac from the bin, and plans to somehow use the time machine to go back to 1955 to give the almanac to the young Biff, so he can make money from gambling.

Meanwhile, the police have picked up the young Jennifer, who had been turned unconscious by Doc to protect her and left in a doorway. They identify her using her fingerprint (which is the same, despite being young) and decide to take her home. Doc realises this could be disastrous – if young Jennifer meets old Jennifer, it could create a paradox in time which could unravel the very fabric of the space time continuum, destroying the whole universe in the process, which is generally a bad thing. The follow the police back to the McFly household in order to prevent young Jennifer meeting her older self.

We see the older McFly household. They’re a bunch of misfits and losers again! The children are stupid and foolish, and something has gone wrong with Marty. It seems that at some point in his later youth, he was involved in a car accident which injured his hand. As a result he wasn’t able to pursue his dream career – that of a rock guitarist. So, he’s ended up in a dead end job which he hates, and which he gets fired from. What a disaster.

The car accident is pretty important – it happens a bit later, after the events of BTTF1. Marty is driving his cool new pickup truck with Jennifer, when he gets challenged to a race by the local bully (a bit like Biff). Marty declines, and the bully says “What’s the matter McFly, chicken?” We know from countless other occasions that Marty can’t stand being called a coward, and he loses his judgement, taking on the drag race challenge, but he crashes, and injures his hand. He’ll never be a guitarist, and he’ll end up in a job he hates, and the future will be unhappy.

Marty realises that he has to avoid the car crash which seems bound to happen sometime later in 1985.

Doc worries that they are having too much impact on the future and that this is going to create a paradox of some kind… The car crash scenario that jeopardises the future is left open at the moment, and is resolved at the end of episode 3 (I think).

Little do they realise that while they’re at Marty’s future house, old Biff has broken into the DeLorean and travelled back in time to give the sports almanac to his younger self. Biff, exhausted by his efforts struggles to get out of the car, breaking his walking stick in the process. A part of the stick is left in the car, which later will show to Doc Brown & Marty that Biff stole the car.

So, Doc Brown delivers Marty back to the past in 1985, but everything is horribly different! It turns out that because of the book, Biff has become the richest and most powerful man in Hill Valley. In fact, his influence extends all the way into Marty’s family life as Biff is now married to Marty’s mother, and Marty is forced to live under Biff’s roof. Biff is a hugely powerful bad guy now. It turns out also, that he may have had Marty’s father killed. This is terrible. Under Biff’s influence, Hill Valley has become a lawless wasteland with crime everywhere.

Marty goes to get Doc Brown’s help, and he explains what has happened.

When Biff went back in time to give the Almanac to young Biff, he created a completely new version of time, in which Biff is rich and influential, and Hill Valley is a hell hole. What Marty needs to do is prevent that from ever happening, in order to ensure that the normal version of the present is created, not this twisted version.

I could go into more detail about different theories of time at this point but it’s a bit too confusing.

In a simple way, I guess there are two versions.
The first version says there’s just one universe with one time narrative. Big events can significantly change the course of history, and when it does, all the other possible versions of history just get erased from existence, with one version of time remaining. For example, when Biff gives the sports almanac to his younger self this causes a whole new branch of time to happen, in which everything is terrible, and I guess the other version of time just gets erased from existence. Or when Marty goes back and changes the past so that his parents grow up happy and successful, that erases the less happy version of events. There’s a paradox here though, which is that if the other version of history disappeared, then surely our version Marty would disappear too. If Biff changed the past, so that the events of BTTF1 never happened, then our Marty would surely cease to exist and in fact BTTF1 would never have happened. But that’s not the case – in the film we have many different versions of history, and Marty & Doc travel from one of those versions across to other versions. There are in fact 3 versions of 1985. The first one (a bit crap – George is a loser, Lorraine is an alcoholic) the second one (everything’s great) the third one (Biff is in charge and it’s absolutely terrible). Marty from version 1 appears in all versions.

So I suppose BTTF proposes some sort of multi-universe theory, which is the idea that whenever anything happens, different versions of history branch off from that moment, creating another parallel universe. For example, when Biff gets the sports almanac, a new parallel universe is created.

But isn’t it possible by that logic that at any moment there are so many possibilities, that there’s a parallel universe being created in which each possible event happened, with all its consequences after it? And that would mean that an infinite number of parallel universes are being created with every passing of time, basically creating infinite possibilities across infinite parallel versions of reality? Why is it that just a big event like a kiss, or a sports almanac coming into your possession changes time? If it’s a small change does time just carry on? Too complex? Probably. Don’t worry if that’s not clear – that’s the point.

Back to the Future goes for the more simplistic version, stating that basically there’s just one or two planes of existence, and big significant events can cause them to happen, influencing the future. Having access to all the sports results is one of these big events. Again, this is the genius of the film – it manages to skate around these big problematic questions while dipping into the science at certain moments to give enough depth to the story while keeping the energy, entertainment up.

So Marty and the Doc go back to 1955 with their flying DeLorean in order to stop Biff getting the almanac.

We see really cool scenes in which Marty runs around in Hill Valley 1955 at the same time (by coincidence) that he was there in BTTF1, trying to save his parents’ marriage. We see scenes from BTTF1 but from different angles. Marty has to save his other self, without them meeting. It’s really brilliant.

There are lots of situation in which history repeats itself.

So, in the end, Marty manages to prevent Biff getting the Sports Almanac, saving the future again. Marty burns the almanac, and Doc Brown turns up again (we’re still in 1955) to collect Marty and deliver him safely in 1985. It’ll be the good version of 1985 because as we saw, Marty in BTTF1 was successful and managed to save his future, and Doc managed to send him back with the lightning strike.

But, as Doc is about to pick him up, the DeLorean gets struck by lightning from the storm and this causes the time machine to malfunction, sending Doc accidentally to an unknown place and time. Wow! Great Scott! Where did he go? Is Marty stuck in 1955?

Immediately, a postman arrives with a letter for Marty. Apparently the letter has been held at the post office since 1885 with strict instructions for it to be delivered to Marty at this precise moment.

It’s a letter from Doc. He’s stuck in 1885, when Hill Valley was a cowboy town.

Marty realises the only person who can help him save the Doc is the Doc himself – the 1955 Doc who just risked life and limb sending Marty back to the future in a lightning powered DeLorean.

Marty runs to find Doc in the town square, and he even sees himself go back to the future. Doc is standing there, exhausted and delighted. Then, our Marty taps him on the shoulder. Doc turns round and promptly passes out “But, I just sent you back to the future? What are you doing here” – unable to comprehend that Marty is now back again and needs his help.

Back to the Future 3
After Doc has woken up and worked out what’s going on, he decides the only thing he can do is to send Marty back to 1885 in order to save him. But where’s the DeLorean? Both versions just disappeared – one to 1985 and the other to 1885. How come there are two DeLoreans? How is this possible? You can multiply things by travelling in time? Anyway…

The fact is, 1885 Doc has left the DeLorean in an abandoned mine, and has given Marty and 1955 Doc instructions on how to find it. They do that, and send Marty back.

To make a long story very slightly less long, Marty goes back to 1885, finds Doc and they attempt to create a plan for how to get them both back. The problem is, the DeLorean is damaged. It’s run out of fuel and there’s no petrol in 1885! They decide they can get a locomotive train to travel at 88mph, so the train is going to push the DeLorean up to 88 and then the DeLorean will travel back to 1985, and the train will crash.

Things get complicated though, because Doc Brown ends up falling head over heels in love with a woman called Delores. She ends up getting tangled in the time travel attempt, and Doc saves her life but stays in the past, as Marty goes back to 1985.

There, the DeLorean is finally destroyed, ironically as it appears on the train tracks that still exist in the same spot in 1985. It’s destroyed by an oncoming train. Boom. End of DeLorean – this happens after the original trip to 1955, so the DeLorean has been erased (I guess for the moment).

Marty finds Jennifer and they’re reunited. Then, finally, Doc dramatically arrives at the end with Delores. This time he’s created a time machine made from a train, using steam technology to power a flux capacitor. It’s not clear how he does this, but with all the knowledge he’s gained, he managed to do it, creating a sort of steam-punk time machine. He and Delores then travel off together, with their two children named Jules and Verne.

It’s a happy ending. But there’s still one loose end. Marty has to make sure that he doesn’t have that car accident. He needs to prevent that unhappy future in which he injures his hand and his dreams of being a guitarist go up in smoke, and he’s forced into a soul destroying job he hates.

Marty and Jennifer drive away in Marty’s cool truck. They stop at a junction. The bully pulls up beside them and challenges Marty to a drag race. Marty declines, and the bully calls him “chicken” but this time Marty has the strength of character to resist the challenge and in fact the bully is the one who crashes.

Marty and Jennifer’s future is secured, and they all lived happily ever after.

End of Part 1 …

260. (Film Club) Kingsman: The Secret Service

In this episode I read out some poems written by listeners, and then it’s time for another episode of LFC (Luke’s Film Club). This time I’m reviewing the film Kingsman: The Secret Service. [Download]
Thank you for your poems in response to episode 258. I read some of them out in this episode. You can find the poems under episode 258.

kingsman_the_secret_service_ver7Kingsman: The Secret Service Film Review
Message from Dongsik (South Korean LEPSTER)
Luke, how are you?
It’s so abrupt but may I ask a favor of you?
Someday in your podcast, could you explain British culture in the film ‘Kingsman : the secret Seervice’? or just tell the audience about your thoughts on the film? If you don’t mind. For example, accent, clothes, social class, colin firth, whatever related to UK in the film. The movie really brings me back to UK. It’s so impressive to me.
I don’t push you, I kindly ask you, so I hope I could listen to those things in your podcast someday.

Kingsman: The Secret Service (Trailer)

-What kind of film is it?
-Who directed it?
-Who is in it?
-What’s the plot?
-What did I think of it?
-Elements of British culture
Certain symbols or icons of Britishness or certainly London life.
Class: The upper class & the lower class.
Posh people & chavs/hooligans

Good Things
It’s fast & furious, it’s never boring, it is visually quite arresting, there are some great actors involved, some gripping moments of action, and some genuinely shocking and stunning moments. It’s pretty funny and entertaining.

Bad Things
It’s a bit too ‘laddish’ for me. It’s too violent (Did I say too violent? Me?) I’m okay with violence in films usually, but this seemed to go over the top, in one scene in particular – and seemed to just enjoy the cartoon violence a little bit too much, like in Kill Bill Vol.1. It has its cake and eats it too – it’s parodying all the clichés of spy films, but at the same time celebrating them, and bringing the genre back to a point before it was post-modern and deconstructed.

It seems to have the same values as an old Bond film from the 1970s. It’s stylish and very British, but also misogynistic and quite right-wing. The ending, for example, is like something from the end of a Roger Moore film, but even more suggestive and explicit. Perhaps I’m being old-fashioned or something, but I found it to be a confirmation of sexist stereotypes. I think it was misjudged and a bit clumsy to end on a moment like that.
*Spoiler alert* I explain the ending here… (no great surprises though)
Posh images: tailors on Saville Row and their suits, umbrellas, pinstripes, wood panelled offices and gentlemen’s clubs in Mayfair, glasses of whiskey, old school ties, the British Army & secret service, privilege, a sense of entitlement, disdain for the lower classes.
Lower class images: Council estates, pubs full of aggressive criminals, cockneys, young criminals & gang members, petty crime, drugs, alcohol, fast cars, domestic violence, an irresponsible Mum who is abused by a violent boyfriend, London grime music such as Dizzee Rascal (although this side of London life is better captured by Attack The Block), London youth dialect.

Culture clash – between working class and upper class.
Much of this iconography belongs to the world of movies, fantasy or simply to the past. Not many people dress like Colin Firth in this film, or indeed act like him.
Other film/culture references: James Bond, The Avengers, Michael Caine films like The Ipcress File, My Fair Lady, The Bourne Identity.

All in all, I think it will do well internationally. The audience in Paris seemed to enjoy it a lot. It will probably be a hit with young blokes around the world who get off on the values of old James Bond movies, and who like comic book violence and a bit of casual sexism too.

Have you seen this film? Would you like to see it?

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255. Taken 3 / Expressions with ‘Take’

My response to the film Taken 3, plus 12 expressions with the word ‘take’. [Download]

The Film
*Spoiler alert* – I might give away some details of the story line, although I think you probably have a good idea what kind of thing you can expect. Someone did something to his family, and Liam Neeson will use his very particular set of skills to find them, he will hunt them down and he will kill them. There will be loads of high-octane action, some very questionable moral actions, and the usual offensive stereotypes of foreign people.

You should know that I’ve talked, at length, about Taken 1 already on this podcast.

Yesterday I went to the cinema and tweeted “I’m on my way to see Taken 3…” Naturally, some people wanted me to talk about it on the podcast, so here it is.

In a nutshell, this film is bad – it’s total pants, it’s piss poor, it’s lame, it’s cheesy, and frankly, it’s dull. It’s like a b-movie, but with Liam Neeson. It retains few of the redeeming qualities of the original, brings nothing new to the table and just looks like everyone involved is just doing it for the money. That’s not to say it was without enjoyment – I did enjoy it a bit, perhaps because I’d lowered my expectations before going into the cinema.

Expressions with Take
There are loads. Here are 12. Listen to the episode to hear full explanations and examples.

1. Take someone for a ride = to rip someone off
2. Take someone to the cleaners = to rip someone off, or to beat someone
3. Take something for granted = to undervalue something which is actually very valuable to you
4. Take it on the chin = to be strong and resilient in the face of criticism or adversity
5. Take it out on someone = to express your anger/frustration by being nasty or aggressive towards someone else
6. Take advantage of something = to make the most of it, to exploit it
7. Take it easy = relax
8. Overtake = to move in front of someone (e.g. in a car)
9. Take over = to take control of something (to acquire)
10. Takes one to know one = In order to know something you have to be that thing too
11. To have what it takes = to have the necessary qualities to do something
12. Give or take = approximately

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225. Film Club: “Taken”

This episode is all about the film “Taken” starring Liam Neeson as an ex-CIA agent who uses his ‘particular set of skills’ to save his daughter who is kidnapped while on a trip to Paris. Right-click here to download.

Small Donate ButtonYou might remember hearing me talking about this film in a recent episode of the podcast with my friend Corneliu. Remember that? Well, I’m a little bit obsessed by this film, and I talk about it in my stand-up shows, so I’ve decided to devote this episode just to this subject: The film Taken, starring Liam Neeson.

For ages on LEP I’ve been talking about doing episodes about films. I’ve done some movie themed episodes before, but this is the first episode in what I hope will become a series devoted to some classic moments from cinema history. (What Luke, another series – how many series have you started now? – accents, slang, British Comedy, Your English Podcast)
I’ve decided to call the series “Luke’s Film Club” or LFC. (Not Liverpool Football Club)
I could easily have called it “Luke’s Classic Movie Moments” but my brother thought that sounded too American, which put me off slightly. I quite like “Luke’s Classic Movie Moments” or LCMM, for short, so that is the other name of this series.
So, welcome to “Luke’s Film Club” or LFC, which is also known as Luke’s Classic Movie Moments, or LCMM.

taken-filmIn each episode in this series we’re going to look at a classic moment from the movies, and in this one I’ve decided to focus on “Taken” (2008) starring Liam Neeson. Director: Pierre Morel
Writers: Luc Besson, Robert Mark Kamen.

Plot synopsis: A retired CIA agent travels across Europe and relies on his old skills to save his estranged daughter, who has been kidnapped while on a trip to Paris.

Score on IMDB: 7.9/10
Score on Rotten Tomatoes: 58%

This is not one of the greatest works of cinema history. It’s certainly not Citizen Kane or The Godfather or anything. To be honest, it’s a slightly trashy exploitation thriller which pushsd emotional buttons in order to keep you engaged throughout. It has revived the career of Liam Neeson, who is a great actor with a lot of screen presence and gravity. I think Liam Neeson is one of the greatest actors of his generation. Perhaps his most famous role is from Schindler’s List, but he’s been in plenty of other movies and has worked with some of Hollywood’s top talent, including George Lucas, Ridley Scott and Christpher Nolan. Since making Taken, Neeson has become somewhat typecast as this kind of brooding, revenge obsessed middle aged man. He’s made several sequels (Taken 3 is coming soon) and a couple of other similar films since this one.

Now, why have I chosen to bang on about Taken for a whole episode. Well, if you’ve seen the film, you’ll probably agree that it was a wild ride – it’s a thrilling film, but when you think about it, it’s quite ridiculous, and has some very questionable ethics and undertones of racism. But for some reason we’re all expected to leave our brains at the door, and not think about that stuff too much. It pushes some rather strong emotional buttons, and that makes you ignore the dodgy politics and subtext of the film.

I expect a lot of you have seen it because it was a big hit around the world, but many of you won’t have seen it. If you haven’t seen it then don’t worry – I’ll explain the plot and other details you need to know. I should say “Spoiler alert” at this moment – which is something you say before you give away the details of the plot before people have seen it. Don’t worry though, because in my opinion it’s impossible for me to spoil this film. Honestly, it can’t be spoiled. If you’ve seen the trailer for the film you’ll know exactly what happens, and it’s still enjoyable. In fact, the title of the film tells you all you need to know: “Taken” – his daughter is taken (kidnapped) and he does everything he can to get her back. That’s it. It’s a ride, with very few surprises along the way. It does exactly what it says on the tin.
“It does exactly what it says on the tin”

So in this episode we’re going to hear a classic moment from this film, and then I’m going to give you my viewpoint on the film as a whole, and then we’ll go back to analyse some of the language in the classic scene.

You might be thinking: Luke, you’re thinking about it too much. Don’t over-analyse it. Well, I find it hard to leave my brain at the door when I see films and I don’t think I should. Why should I stop thinking when I see a film? No, I like to analyse and intellectualise films, and I LOVE to intellectualise trashy movies like this one. One of my favourite things is to sit around with friends and just take the piss out of a film while watching it. I studied films at university and I learned that any film can be analysed as a text and that everyone is free to take their own interpretation of a movie. I also love talking about films and popular culture in my stand-up routines and I find that they’re a great source of comedy.

So let’s deal with Taken.

1. The classic moment: “I will find you, and I will kill you.”

2. Taken: My point of view (it’s a rant really)

3. Intonation & Sentence stress from the classic scene. (plus some versions in different accents)

The Classic Moment -“I will find you, and I will kill you”
Liam Neeson is a retired CIA agent. While his daughter is on holiday in Paris she is kidnapped. He manages to speak to one of them on his mobile phone. This is his only opportunity to speak to the kidnappers and then save his daughter.

The speech

I don’t know who you are. I don’t know what you want. If you are looking for ransom, I can tell you I don’t have money. But what I do have are a very particular set of skills, skills I have acquired over a very long career. Skills that make me a nightmare for people like you. If you let my daughter go now, that’ll be the end of it. I will not look for you, I will not pursue you. But if you don’t, I will look for you, I will find you, and I will kill you.

[after a long pause] Good luck.

Taken Kill Map

Here’s a review of “Taken” from my favourite film review podcast Mark Kermode & Simon Mayo’s Film Review.

60. The King’s Speech / ‘Mouth’ Idioms

Hi! Learn some really useful idioms and listen to an authentic interview with a native speaker in this episode of Luke’s English Podcast.

Right-click here to download.
The King’s Speech / Stammering
This episode is about The King’s Speech – an excellent film which recently won 4 Academy Awards at The Oscars, including the award for Best Actor for Colin Firth. In the film Colin Firth plays the part of King George VI, who had to overcome a difficult stammer and become a strong leader of Great Britain at the beginning of The 2nd World War. A stammer is a speech problem which makes the stammerer (the person who has the stammer) unable to produce words or sentences clearly. For some stammerers, it is almost impossible to speak without long pauses and the inability to produce some words clearly. Basically, it prevents many people from speaking and therefore has a strongly negative affect on their lives. There are millions of people in the world who suffer from a stammer, and their struggle is not often discussed or understood fully. The King’s Speech is a very high profile movie, and has brought the subject of stammering back into the public eye.

This is quite a long episode with lots of detail and content. Here is what to expect from the episode:
A. Some background information to the story of The Kings Speech
B. An interview with a member of the British Stammering Association, which is a charity for people who have a stammer. In the interview he talks about the story of King George VI, the importance of the film for stammerers, and the subject of stammering. I explain what the man says in the interview, and clarify it for you
C. Useful vocabulary: I teach you some commonly used idioms which feature the words ‘mouth’ and ‘tongue’

This is definitely a useful podcast episode! You should listen to all of it several times to really get the benefit of it.

A. Some background Information
The King’s Speech is a true story of King George VI and his struggle with a speech impediment, or ‘stammer’. Here is a definition of ‘stammer’ from the Cambridge Advanced Learner’s Dictionary (which is available free online here http://dictionary.cambridge.org/):

verb /ˈstæm.ər/
to speak or say something with unusual pauses or repeated sounds, either because of speech problems or because of fear and anxiety
[+ speech] “Wh-when can we g-go?” she stammered.
He dialled 999 and stammered (out) his name and address.
Synonym: stutter

noun [C usually singular]
Robert has a bit of a stammer.
(Definition of stammer verb from the Cambridge Advanced Learner’s Dictionary)

In the film, prince George has suffered from a very strong stammer ever since he could speak. His family would correct and punish him when he stammered. As a result, George suffers from a terrible lack of confidence, particularly when speaking in public. He cannot speak in publis as it causes him to stammer uncontrollably, causing total shame and embarrassment to all around. When he addresses the public it is a shocking and disappointing failure on a national level. This happened at a time when people were not sympathetic to someone with speech problems and in a king it would have been a huge sign of weakness. But, George must become the King when his country is about to go to war with Germany, so he has to learn to overcome his speech impediment in order to regularly address the public over the radio.

So, he takes speech therapy from a therapist called Lionel Logue. It is a tremendous struggle but together they manage to develop a relationship (between a king an an ‘ordinary’ man) which helps the king to learn to speak to the public in a confident manner. It’s a fantastic film about human struggle, challenge and bravery.

Here’s the trailer for the film:

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pzI4D6dyp_o&w=640&h=390]

B. The interview with a member of the British Stammering Association
This is an interview with a man who has a stammer. He has obviously overcome his speech problem and you can hear in this interview that he is now a clear speaker of English. Sometimes he has difficulty with individual words, but it does not prevent us from understanding what he says.

Here are the questions I ask you before the interview on the podcast: (you will find the answers further down the page)
1. How many high profile stemmerers have we had in the UK since George VI died in 1952?
2. How many decent films about stammerers have there been?
3. How have stammerers been shown in films?
4. What does The Kings Speech show people who don’t stammer?
5. Is the film historically accurate?
6. What do we know about stammering now?
7. Was the stammer caused by something that happened during his childhood?
8. How did his family and staff deal with George’s stammer?
9. How did this make him feel?
10. With today’s knowledge, what is the best way to help people with stammers?
11. What did George VI’s therapist do that the speaker’s (interviewee’s) therapist didn’t do?
12. What made George VI a difficult client?
13. What will The King’s Speech do for stammerers and non stammerers?
14. What is the danger about the near future?

Here is a video of the interview (it starts after 20 seconds): Answers below
[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UwuJklTw-Yw&w=480&h=390]
Transcript of the Video (Thank you Piotr from Poland)
[16:40 – The King’s Speech movie – a stammerer’s view]
Hello, I have a stammer.

There hasn’t been really high profile stammerer in the UK since king George VI died in 1952, a very long time ago, nor has there been a decent film featuring someone who stammers.

Generally speaking, we have been shown as figures of fun (ha ha). As a result of this and many other inaccuracies very few people know anything much about stammering.

But now at last we have “The King’s speech”, potentially Oscar winning film, which shows people who don’t stammer how life can be if you do. And Colin Firth does an incredibly realistic job of conveying how it is to be stuck in a block with no control over your speech, part of the audience staring at you and part staring at the ground. No film has ever done that before.

So it should be very helpful in terms of creating some greater understanding between stammerers and non-stammerers. But we need to remember that the action takes place about seventy five years ago, so it is history. From what we know, it’s a fairly realistic reenactment what was going on at that time.

Things are different now of course. We know that stammering it’s a symptom of a condition in which the brain’s neural circuits for speech have not wired normally. So the king would have been born with a neural propensity to stammer, it wasn’t caused by some deep rooted psychological problem. His character and behaviour would have been partly affected by this inability to say what he was trying to say, not vice versa.

It’s quite interesting there was a research exercise on at about the same time which is come to be known as the “monster study” in which a group of orphan children were cruelly encouraged to stammer. At the end of the exercise, none of them grew up stammering, but several of them developed psychological problems.

Of course, speech therapy techniques has changed considerably. When he was a child, stammering was thought to be a defect. So, the future king was corrected and even punished by his family and staff which made him very self-conscious and tense about speaking and that surely would just make his stammering even worse. Today where it is available and it’s available everywhere. Early intervention allows the vast majority of those very young children at-risk of persistent stammering to talk fluently for the rest of their lives.

Some adults do find ways to control their speech, but there is still no cure. The King continued to stammer, but as we see in the film, Logue helped him to control his stammering when he was making formal speeches. I must say though that the last time I went to see a speech therapist, she didn’t encourage me to swear. But then… I’m not a king, you understand. And that really is the main point of this film. It was how Lionel Logue found a way to form a relationship with a client, whose upbringing had made him reluctant to discuss anything personal.

As stammerers, we are one ideally equipped to stand up and change so many misconceptions. But we need to try. “The King’s speech” will give stammerers and non-stammerers a kind of a permission to talk to each other. It will be the greatest opportunity, I’ve ever seen, for this often embarrassing subject to be discussed openly and on such a broad scale.

So for all our sakes, please grasp it with both hands, talk about it. But remember that the opportunity will only last for a short while. After that, there is a danger that stammering will slip back into being inaudible and invisible. We don’t want that to happen. So if you feel you’d like to help, please stay tuned. But in the meantime, I just like to say: “Thank you for listening”.

1. How many high profile stammerers have we had in the UK since George VI died in 1952?
2. How many decent films about stammerers have there been? (none)
3. How have stammerers been shown in films? (they have been shown as figures of fun)
4. What does The Kings Speech show people who don’t stammer? (it shows how life can be if you do)
5. Is the film historically accurate? (yes – it’s a fairly realistic reenactment)
6. What do we know about stammering now? (it’s a symptom of a condition in which the brain’s neural circuits for speech have not wired normally)
7. Was the stammer caused by something that happened during his childhood? (no – he was probably born with it)
8. How did his family and staff deal with George’s stammer? (they corrected him and punished him)
9. How did this make him feel? (very self conscious and tense about speaking)
10. With today’s knowledge, what is the best way to help people with stammers? (early intervention)
11. What did George VI’s therapist do that the speaker’s (interviewee’s) therapist didn’t do? (he encouraged him to swear – to say rude words like f*ck and sh*t)
12. What made George VI a difficult client? (his upbringing had made him reluctant to discuss anything personal)
13. What will The King’s Speech do for stammerers and non stammerers? What will The King’s Speech do for stammerers and non-stammerers? (it will give them permission to talk to each other about stammering – “for all our sakes, please grasp it with both hands, talk about it”)
14. What is the danger about the near future? (after a while, stammering will slip back into being inaudible and invisible – “please stay tuned”)

Here is some information about the video interview
n The King’s Speech, Colin Firth did an incredibly realistic job of conveying how it is to be stuck in a block with no control over your speech. No major film had ever done that before, and I’m sure it has been helpful in terms of creating greater awareness of something which is largely inaudible and invisible in our society.

But there is still a great deal of ignorance about why we stammer, and very inaccurate assumptions are made about our characters. We are not ideally equipped to stand up and change these misconceptions, but we need to try. The King’s Speech has given everyone – stammerers and non-stammerers – a kind of ‘permission’ to talk to each other about stammering. It has been the best opportunity, almost in living memory, for this often embarrassing subject to be discussed openly and on such a broad scale. So, for all of our sakes, please keep talking about it!

For an interview with Colin Firth about his role as the King, please go to www.stammering.org/colinfirth.html And for more information on The Monster Study, see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Monster_study

If you want to know more about the National Appeal for Change, or to make a donation, please go to www.stammering.org/change

If you want to talk about helping in some other way, please send a message to Leys Geddes through the speakingout2 channel on YouTube or by emailing chair@stammering.org

If you are in the UK, and want help with your speech, please ring the British Stammering Association helpline on 0845 603 2001 or visit www.stammering.org

The BSA is the national charity and is run by people who stammer, for the benefit of all those whose lives are affected by stammering.

If you live outside the UK, and want advice about stammering/stuttering – or simply want to learn more – you can still go to www.stammering.org or to any of these other leading sites: www.stutterisa.org (International Stuttering Association), www.stutteringhelp.org (USA), www.stutteringhomepage.org (USA) or http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stammering.

If you like to see an adaptation of this video, spoken in Swedish, please go to http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uB9TDLkovm4

C. Useful Vocabulary – Idioms with the words ‘mouth’ and ‘tongue’
I thought it would be appropriate to teach you some commonly used fixed expressions which feature these two parts of the body which are so important for speech. Here are the idioms with examples and definitions. All this for free? You lucky people!

“Me and my big mouth!”
-use this when you have said something you shouldn’t have said, like when you give away a secret by accident. “Oh, me and my big mouth!”

“to be born with a silver spoon in your mouth”
-this means to be born into a rich family. It is often used to complain about people who are born into a rich life.
“Prince William doesn’t know what it is like to work hard like normal people. He was born with a silver spoon in his mouth.”

“don’t look a gift horse in the mouth”
-use this to say that you should accept a gift without checking it for problems first. Don’t look for problems in the gift too much, just accept it. “I didn’t want to accept my uncle’s old car, but he told me not to look a gift horse in the mouth”

“live from hand to mouth’
-this is when someone lives on very little money – they spend the money they earn and can’t save anything. “There’s no way we can go on holiday this year, we are living from hand to mouth”

“melt in your mouth”
-use this to describe delicious food that is so soft and tender that it feels like it is melting in your mouth. “The steak here is so delicious, it just melts in your mouth”

“put your money where your mouth is”
-show that you really mean what you say, by doing it rather than just talking about it. “You’re always talking about running a marathon, so come on, put your money where your mouth is. Why don’t you run the London Marathon with me next year?”

“Keep your mouth shut! / Shut your mouth!”
-this means ‘shut up’ or ‘don’t way anything’. It’s a bit rude. “When the police arrive, just keep your mouth shut, all right?!”

“to leave a bad taste in your mouth”
-for food it means that it tastes disgusting and the bad taste stays in your mouth. We can also use it to describe a bad experience, which leaves us feeling bad afterwards. “The argument just left a bad taste in my mouth”

“Watch your mouth!”
-be careful what you say!

“by word of mouth”
-use this to say that information is transferred by people talking to each other. “Publicity for the film spread by word of mouth”

“to put words into someone’s mouth”
-this means to suggest that someone has said something which in fact they haven’t said. “I didn’t say that! You’re putting words into my mouth!”

“to bite your tongue”
-this means that you stop yourself saying something
“When he asked me about the missing biscuits, I just bit my tongue and kept quiet”

“has the cat got your tongue?”
-use this to challenge someone who is unable to say something, keeping quiet
“So, what about the missing biscuits then? Huh? What’s the matter? Cat got your tongue?”

“mother tongue”
-your first language
“English is not his mother tongue”

“on the tip of my tongue”
-this means you can’t quite remember the word – you can nearly remember it
“What’s his name? Errrmmmm…. wait, I can remember… oh! It’s on the tip of my tongue! Oh, no, I can’t remember”

So, that is it for this episode. There’s a lot of content here for you. I recommend you listen to this episode several times. Try to use the idioms and other words you have learned here. Use them in conversation, or just say a few sentences to yourself. Personalise the sentences. Use the idioms to talk about your own life and experience. This will help you learn it.

You could donate some money to me to help me with the podcast, but really I think it would be better to donate money to help people in Japan who are suffering from the terrible tsunami which struck last week. There are many many people who have no food, shelter or electricity. Search on google for your local charity organisation, or give money here http://www.redcross.org.uk/japantsunami/?approachcode=68816_googlePAD10JpTs&gclid=CNqNvd-70acCFdFX4QodMVXiDA .
You could save some lives.

Thanks for listening.