Welcome to Anneka’s Picture House. BYO usherette.
Ah Autumn. Is there any finer time of the year? Yes. Summer. But anyway, let’s celebrate Autumn, not by dressing up and asking strangers for sweets – we can do that any old weekend. Instead, let’s watch my new favourite Jake film, October Sky. Despite what piss I might rip out of it in the near future, it’s ace, see it.
Adverts. If I started a woman’s insurance company called Diamond, it would have taken me a lot less than two years to come up with the slogan ‘Diamond is a girl’s best friend’. Maybe I should work in advertising…Maybe I should get on with the review
Film’s starting. Voice Over informs us that the Russians have launched a satellite into orbit. Good for them. Shots of a depressing looking coal mine like the one I worked in as a child when times were hard and I slept in the piano stool. Shots of grubby miners looking depressed. They should be. Working in a Movie Mine, you are guaranteed an accident. People gather around their radios, hearing about Sputnik, the satellite and also the name of my fake Auntie’s dog. Small world. The barber’s stopped shaving someone’s face. That’s not how you make money son. And now the Commies are spying on you, you wanna work twice as hard before they take your money, divide it amongst everyone and send you to a commune where you’ll be paid in carrots. That’s what Marx wanted, right?
Voice Over tells us Sputnik will be visible at night as it crosses the October Sky. There’s a group of people who go to the cinema and when they hear the name of the film uttered e.g. “Welcome to the Moulin Rouge!”, “You’re the wedding singer” or “Lil shop, lil shop of horrors”, they stand up, applaud, and leave. Bet they were pissed off at having to sit through all three Lord of the Rings films waiting for someone to say “Frodo, truly you are Lord of The Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring can now depart”. We are informed this is based on a true story. October Sky, not Lord of the Rings.
Jake’s friends have come to pick him up in their car. Jake’s sporting a cute Southern accent. I do loves my Southern Gentlemen, sitting on the porch of my plantation, telling me life is like a boxa choclits while Atlanta burns in the distance. Jake’s one friend appears to be called Row-Lee, but I may be having some trouble with Jake’s accent. We are in Coalwood, West Virginia. Somebody certainly used their imaginations when naming the town with the coal mine. Row-Lee’s car is very slow. I see where this is going. They’re going to be inspired by Sputnik to try and get around by rocket power!
Jake is playing football. His brother asks the opposing team to go easy on him. But Jake’s a tough guy. He’ll kick their asses so hard…Nope, Jake’s sprawled on his back. Just how we like him. Evil chuckle. Jake tries to psyche the other team out. “I’m gonna run right over you, you sonofabitch.” The guy on the other team looks scared, not ’cos he’s threatened but because Jake is being weird. Jake predictably gets knocked down. Medic! Medic! The coach sends Homer (Jake) off before he dies. Jake looks disappointed. Has anyone ever known anyone called Homer that wasn’t a cartoon character or a Greek poet?
Cut to Other Friend trying to start the car while Jake and Row-Lee push it. See, now my rocket power transportation idea doesn’t seem so stupid, does it? Jake is moaning about the football players getting scholarships. Now they’re reading about Sputnik. Row-Lee says “Who needs outer space? We got rock and roll.” Beneath the attractive haircut, a brain full of bran. Jake’s Movie Dad appears to be the Nazi Plate Collector from American Beauty, but with more coal dust on his face as we hear him yelling at a character named Jake down the mine. That’s a happy coincidence. Nazi Plate Collector sees a guy whacking a pillar with a sledge hammer. That’s a real clever thing to do down a coalmine, Jensen. Nazi Plate Collector jumps on Jensen and the roof collapses. Ten minutes in and we’ve already got our first coal mine disaster. That could be a record.
Above ground, sirens are going off. Jake and Friends run to the mine, ’cos they’re nosey bitches. Jensen is told that Nazi Plate Collector saved his life. Jake looks so proud, his baby blues sparkling like diamonds in the coal dust as he says, “That’s my Dad.” Then Nazi Plate Collector fires Jensen for bringing the roof down, which is fair play. Would you want to be working in a mine with someone who had a history of doing that? Everyone else seems pissed at Nazi Plate Collector, including Jake who says in a less proud voice, “That’s my Dad.” Nazi Plate Collector then comes to see Jake, asking how football went. Ooooooh, touchy subject NPC, like the Oscar going to Crash. NPC says Jake should shovel coal to build up his muscles. Yeah, and you know where you can stick that shovel NPC. Jake was meant to soar with the A-List, not dig in the dirt. Another miner comes along and makes fun of Jake for his aversion to coal mining. You wait til another roof collapses on you mate, won’t be laughing so hard then. Random miner says coming from Coalwood means you have to be a coal miner. Does that mean people from Liverpool have to have livers? Or pools? Jake looks v. unimpressed.
Coalwood school. Sam Neill’s Bit On The Side From Jurassic Park and Jurassic Park Three Claw Marks is making her class listen to the radio about Sputnik. Most of the class, except American Pie’s The Shermanator, are unimpressed. The Shermanator tells us some statistics while Jake makes eyes at some Susie Highschool bird across the classroom. Mrs Sam Neill shows off her southern accent and when she catches Jake drooling over Susie, says “I got my eye on you boy”. Back off Misses, you’re committed to Sam Neill. From the back of the classroom, a Plainer Jane makes longing eyes at Jake. I know how you feel love. Not about the plainer part. ’Cos I am one foxymoron.
People gather at night to watch the satellite passing by. One Cold War random says it’s taking pictures. Yeah, the Russians really want a picture of you. It’s Jake they’re after and he’s busy on the porch learning how to scam on chicks at movies, which somehow ends with Row-Lee giving Jake a nipple twist. Back off Row-Lee, Jake likes girls in this film as well. Someone shouts they can see it, the satellite not Jake’s nipple, and Jake takes the bait and comes off the porch. All the extras look up and point. A dot of light travels across the starry sky. Jake is suitably impressed and stays looking at it while everyone else pisses off home.
The next morning, Jake’s New Movie Mom is pouring tea – yay! – while NPC and Jake’s brother are chatting about football scouts and how proud NPC is of his oldest boy. In the middle of all this, Jake looks up from his breakfast with a big dopey grin on his face and says in his best Southern accent “I’m gonna build a rocket.” Awww, bless. NPC is unimpressed. New Movie Mom tells him not to blow himself up in the way that a teacher tells a small child not to hurt themselves with the safety scissors.
Jake’s friends come round to see him let off his first rocket. Just as Row-Lee asks if they should get behind something, the rocket explodes, throwing all three of them T over A and sprinkling them with bits of picket fence. New Movie Mom runs out and asks what happened. Jake says my bad. New Movie Mom says “Didn’t I tell you not to blow yourself up?”. Jake looks sheepish. Awww don’t embarrass him in front of Row-Lee and the other one.
Jake Voice Over reading a letter he’s written to some American rocket scientist that sounds like Doctor Van Damme. Doctor Jean-Claude Van Damme. Voice Over Jake sends his condolences as we watch an American rocket attempt explode, destroying all picket fences around it. Jake can’t find any reading material in Coalwood as during the coal shortage of ’49, all books were used as fuel. Jake eyes The Shermanator’s big book with a predatory look on his pretty face.
Jake’s friends try to talk him out of hanging with The Shermanator, it being social suicide. Jake gives Plainer Jane the brush-off and goes to talk to The Shermanator. The cafeteria goes silent. In a German accent, DA SHERMANATOR DOES NOT LET ANYVUN COPY HIS HOMEVORK. Awww, if he was not made of metal, or ginger, I’d hug him. Jake asks him if he knows about rockets. OF COURSE DA SHERMANATOR KNOWS ABOUT RACKETS. Jake wants him to go to the library with him. The Shermanator obviously computes this as some sort of sexual advance and doesn’t want to. Despite being stared at by everyone, Jake sits down. There are gasps among the cool students, like when super-stud Ross Townley sat at my lunch table once…Sorry, I was miles away. DA SHERMANATOR VANTS TO KNOW VAT JAKE VANTS TO KNOW ABOUT RACKETS. Jake gives a slightly evil smile and says everything. The Shermanator starts his computer programme that tells Jake everything about rockets. Jake orders Row-Lee to drive them to his house where they play in the basement, cutting up metal and brooms and mixing dangerous chemicals. They have a rocket-shaped implement but need to weld something onto it. Row-Lee points out that they don’t know how to weld. Well learn boy, learn! What use are you to us otherwise? Jake’ll kick you out of the Basement Gang for sure.
Tune in again soon for Part 2 and then maybe 3 or 4.