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A glimpse into a relationship that shows danger, passion and intrugue
In Saudade, a 21 minute film by Kemal Yildirim, we experience a glimpse into the world of Alice & Tris, who are most definitely in a powerfully passionate, but some might think toxic relationship with each other. Through flashbacks we see what can only be described as aggressively passionate love scenes featuring the two main characters and then flash forward to a solo Alice (brilliantly played by Holly Rose Durham) as she thinks back to the times with Tris (played, although brilliantly by writer/director/actor Kemal Yildirim).
As all of Kema'ls films have been, the visuals are glorious and the cinematoprgraphy is stunning, and it tip toes the fine line of 'art film' perfectly without falling over the edge. For the first few minutes of this 21 minute film, there is no dialogue, but we don't need it. From the body language, and sound effects we can see that Alice is being emotionally torn apart, either through grief, guilt or anger. As to how the story plays out in this short film, well you'll just have to check out Saudade when you can, but I for one, cant shake the characters out of my head and once again Kemal proves that he can hold a great performance on screen with a look, a glance, and the talent of his body language without the need for pages of dialogue for the characters he portrays.. Great work by all
Murder on the Orient Express (2017)
A treat you need to reward yourself with
Kenneth Branagh directs and takes the role (and the moustache) of the self named 'Worlds greatest detective' in this star studded production of one of the worlds most classic novels. With supporting cast including Johnny Depp, Michelle Pfeiffer, Penélope Cruz, Judi Dench. Willem Dafoe, Josh Gad, Daisy Ridley, and Leslie Odom, Jr.. This beautifully stylish, suspense mystery based on the best-selling novel by Agatha Christie, the world's best-selling author is a treat for film fans like myself. With stunning cinematography, costumes, and locations, Murder On The Orient Express has me hooked from the opening scenes in Jerusalem, to the gorgeous train journey through Europe Kenneth Branagh has directed a film that makes you forget that the film for its most, is set in a train carriage and works wonders with the cameras, including some lengthy camera tracking shots that will make film makers smile with admiration. As Hercule Poirot, Kenneth makes him his own, and whilst we all still love David Suchet, I now declare that Kenneth is a Poirot for what I hope is a long series of films to come. Within minutes I was 'yep, he is indeed Hercule' with his insanely unique moustache and OCD 'quirks' making up the slight comedic moments in this tale.
Even though some people may be familiar with the novel or previous screen adaptations of Murder On The Orient Express, there is still a lot to love about this revisiting, and watching the film whilst not recalling the story, but watching it with someone who was very familiar with the story and its plot twists. We both adored this film the same amount. In the world of bang bang action movies, treat yourself to a very cinematic film in your home this March.
There is also the announced 'sequel' to the film, due out in 2019, which if Murder On The Orient Express is anything to go by, will most definitely be a pleasure to watch and experience.
Kaufman's Game (2017)
A great looking film, that stays with you
When Stanley, a man with a passion for boxing has a chance encounter (or maybe not so chance encounter) with a dodgy looking stranger outside the gymnasium we know things arent going to go to well for Stanley. Never talk to strangers we are told as children and if only Stanley had listened. The stranger offers Stanley a specially produced steroid that will keep him sharp and improve his life as we as his boxing., Stanley does what we know he shouldn't and he accepts the offer and soon finds himself drawn into the ever more violent operations of a powerful organization (think the creepy looking people from The X Files, but without the science fiction elements) ,and unwittingly enters into a series of tests designed to prove his mettle. Kaufmans Game is a beautifully filmed story and with sort of European feel to it that throws you off a little but keeps you hooked to find out what is going on and what will happen to poor old Stanley.
There is a creepy shadowy feel to Kaufmans Game and everyone seems to talk in a somewhat slow, deliberate manner which can be a bit unnerving to the viewer (well it was to me)but this is part of the style that I loved about the story Kaufmans Game is the latest film that I watched, and then I couldnt shake off for several days but I love that about movies. Theres nothing worse than a forgettable movie and Kaufmans Game certainly isnt that, plus the addition of yet another wonderful score from one of my favourite musicians, composer Philippe Jakko (Allies) which makes the feel more attractive and watchable, there is a lot to love about Kaufmans Game even if at times, you arent sure what the hell is going on with poor old Stanley (wonderfully played by Jye Frasca)
Writer-Director Helier Bissell-Thomas has put together one of the most unique films Ive seen this year and I thank him (and the crew) for that. Im sure that I will be thinking about Kaufmans Game for a long time to come. Check the film out when you can.
Kickboxer: Retaliation (2018)
Great fun, great action
Set one year after the events of Kickboxer: Vengeance, Kurt Sloan has vowed never to return to Thailand.However things change and whilst he is preparing for an MMA title fight, he is drugged and wakes up in a Thailand prison. His captors give him a choice (if you can call it a choice) they want him to face a colossus named Mongkut and in return, Kurt Sloan will get $2million dollars and win his freedom from the prison hell hole..
If he doesn't fight then his wife will die at the hands of her captors. With no real choice to make Kurt Sloan has no other choice but to undergo his most rigorous training yet, under some very unexpected mentors, in order to take on this dreaded opponent.
Kickboxer:Retaliation is a fantastic addition to the Kickboxer franchise and a great addition to martial art feature films altogether. With great set pieces including a glorious several minute single take that takes place in the prison, the choreography is top notch for this franchise that began life in 1989 with the Jean Claude Van Damme starring hit. With exotic Thailand locations, fiery fight scenes and some stupendous stunt-work, Kickboxer:Retaliation is a no- holds barred-brutal when it needs to be, film featuring some of the mosst athletic and well trained stunt performers since The Raid..
I was a little concerned when the plot was set up that the final 'boss fight' between Mongkut would be a blink and you miss it sort of third act set piece, however I was dead wrong.The finale that will make your eyes water and your muscles ache and whilst I didn't have a clock to check to see how long the fight ran for. It definitely seemed to run for a while but never, even for a second becoming tiring to watch.
I will confess that I haven't seen Kickboxer:Vengeance however this made virtually no difference to my viewing experience when watching Retaliation and aside from a couple of mentions along the line of 'Oh I haven't seen you since....' This film stands alone just as well as Im sure it stands as part of the running saga.
Alain Moussi plays the role of Kurt Sloan wonderfully and is able to show a humanity one moment, and thro someone through a window the next with perfection. Along for the co star list in Kickboxer Retaliation is Mike Tyson as Briggs, who I have to say is fantastic in the role and does get a chance to show that he still has what it takes to put someone lights out super fast. Also joining the films cast is original Kickboxer himself Jean Claude Van Damme (who also appeared in Kickboxer Vengance) however this time, and heres the kicker (no pun intended) He is a blind kickboxer and still a damn fine one at that.
Haunting, but well worth checking out
Its been nearly a week since I first watched this Jack James, written and directed film, and even though its been many days, im still not sure how I feel about it. Whilst on the surface, Malady is a film about love, and bonding and a relationship. Once youve seen the film, it adds a whole new dimension to that description, which has stayed in my mind since the end credits rolled down my viewing screen.To fulfill the last wish of her deceased mother, Holly (played by Roxy Bugler) seeks out to find love and companionship and encounters it in Matthew (played by Kemal Yildirim) and soon relationship becomes all-encompassing and all consuming.. When Holly answers Matthews phone and hears that Matthews Mother is gravely ill, the new couple provide home care in her final days,
'Malady' is such a haunting film, and whilst im still trying to work out what it is that haunts me. I do lean toward the excellent and subtle performances of the two leads and Roxy Bugler is wonderful as Holly, who on one hand you want to take care of, and give her the companionship she craves but who also on the flip side gives of this darker side which you might not have seen, but you know might be lurking in there somewhere, as well as Kemal Yildirim's performance as Matthew who in a lot of scenes, needs no dialogue but commands the scenes with just a look, or body language. Together Kemal and Roxy rule the screen with the story with talent and to describe the film as 'Raw' would be an understatement. Jack James in his feature film directing debut does a fantastic job and with the writing talent he showed with his previous film 'Rose' and the writing of 'Malady' he is definitely a film maker to keep an eye on.
I have no trouble at all recommending 'Malady to film fans, however this aint no popcorn, feet up on the table, a few drinks and turn up the cinema surround type of film. 'Malady' is a dark character drama that shows of the talent of all involved and well worth checking out if you love great film. It just might take you a little while to process your feelings on the film after youve watched it.'
The Marine 5: Battleground (2017)
Pure fun. Its what it needs to be.
Don't be put off by the '5' in the title. Whilst I am aware of The Marine series of films, this fifth installment is actually the first of the franchise films that I have seen, and whilst Jake Carter (played by Michael "The Miz" Mizanin ) also appears in parts 3 and 4, there is no need to have seen those films in order to get full enjoyment out of this crazy action packed film that could so easily be described as Sons of Anarchy meets The Warriors, with a dashing or five of the Die Hard films, all stirred up and given the slick work over that James Nunn brings to his films of late. I was a huge fan of his previous film Eliminators (starring Scott Adkins) and hoped that this film would be just as much enjoyment as that film, and I wasn't let down. The film is non stop entertainment from start to end.
Even with the fact that most of the film is set in an underground car park not, this doesn't lessen the films enjoyment with some OTT villains, more bullets than a Rambo film (well maybe more more bullets than the 4th Rambo film, but thats a hard one to beat) , some great motorbike action, and some great fight sequences that you will expect from a WWE film. Also on the 'it needs to happen if its a WWE studios film' are some great supporting roles for other wrestling talents, such as Trinity Fatu, Maryse Mizanin,Heath Miller, Joe Hennig, and Taylor Rottunda all chewing the scenery with one thing in mind. Giving the audience the best show possible, and they do that wonderfully.
I've seen some so called reviews that comment about some of aspects of The Marine 5:Battleground being far fetched but that's what I want from a film like this. I want fun, I want snappy dialogue that wouldn't be a stranger in an 80s Schwarzenegger film, I want kick ass women, bullet casings to fly all over the place,great fight scenes, and in the end I want to to be entertained. and Mr James Nunn has done it again with The Marine 5:Battleground. Now can someone please greenlight a new installment of The Purge franchise or a new Fast and Furious entry and let James Nunn work his magic.
Rogue Warrior: Robot Fighter (2017)
Earns its place in my heart for being a wonderfully enjoyable fun trip through the stars
With this being a science fiction film dealing with a battle between good and not so good, a lot of people will have to try and compare the film to something or other.Before having seen the film, people might think oh Star Wars or Star Trek but there is more of a wonderful Mad Max meets Resident Evil (although there are no zombies in Rogue Warrior).with Sienna being such a great character and played so well by Tracey that I actually thought to myself a couple of times 'Move over Alice, Sienna's in town (in a reference to the Resident Evil franchise) Im still not a fan of recommending a film by saying 'it's like this film, or like that film' but that's the way it's done nowadays
The high concept pitch is more often than not, the way to go and it works for Rogue Warrior:Robot Fighter. That's not to brush aside the ton of originality that you'll find in Neil Johnson's film and whilst Tracey Birsdsall's Sienna is a wonderful blend of Furiosa/Mad Max, meets Alice from the Resident Evil films and some Selene from the Underworld franchise, But even with those ingredients. Sienna is definitely Tracey's role and she makes it her own being super watchable and likable as she battles to survive against robots and the harsh landscapes she faces throughout the film (and the fact the scenes were shot on location, makes the landscapes seem even more hostile)
Neil Johnson's direction is brilliant, and if you are inclined, then check out the estimated budget for the film on the IMDb page. Lets just say that for the money spent on this film, you couldn't even film a single episode of Game Of Thrones. I often say that budget doesn't matter to a film fan. A low budget doesn't make a bad film, and a high budget doesn't make a good film But with the low budget (and it is for a scifi film but its still a lot of money) Neil Johnson has made a film that looks like it should have cost ten times the money spent on it. The visual effects are not only fun but also very effective in the film but they always have been in the other films of Neil's I've seen he certainly deserves the 'highly visual filmmaker' and knows what he is doing when it comes to making this type of film.
Rogue Warrior is a ton of fun to watch and with a set of great characters and a universe that just begs to be explored in future films, I for one hope that the film does what it needs to do in order for Neil and crew to venture into further installments of the series. I love that Rogue Warrior:Robot Fighter got me a little nostalgic. As a child I used to love watching science fiction films that became cult classics such as Spacehunter:Adventures in the Forbidden Zone, Krull, Metalstorm, Battle Beyond The Stars to name a few. I can easily see myself rewatching Rogue Warrior over the years as it ends up in my cult collection. Science Fiction films are a treat for me and I love watching new takes on them as well as ones that homage others. But for today. Rogue Warrior:Robot Fighter very much earns its place in my heart for being a wonderfully enjoyable fun trip through the stars.
A wonderful unique film
I didn't know much about 'Broken' before I began watching it and that was a purposeful decision by me. I knew the cast list, I knew some of the crew behind the film and I had seen the above poster art all over the internet as the film was screened at various festivals including Manchesters 'Grimmfest' and Londons 'Frightfest' to glowing reviews I might add, but I stayed away from the reviews in order to preserve any story points accidentally finding their way into my mind. So was it what I expected? Well I wasn't sure what to expect. Whilst I figured the film would have horror elements to it with its appearance at Frightfest and Grimmfest I actually think the film spoke to be as a wonderful character drama and whilst it certainly does have its super grim and horrific ingredients, the film scares me more when I think that all these characters are 100% believable and all the actions that happen are 100% possible and more than likely will have happened (or happen) at some point in the world we live in.
The tone of the film is super dark and to make a film that real life care assistants have stated is 'the most accurate film about the care industry that they have seen' It needs to be this way and show us more than making sandwiches and changing the odd bed pan. 'Broken' isn't a popcorn film though that's'for damn sure but is a fantastic piece of storytelling and filmmaking. Its bleak, its massively affecting long after the end credits roll, its sensitive yet also very hard hitting and the equivalent of a lump hammer to the vital organs in many places. But whilst the film isn't something Ken Loach would make (and I do love Ken Loach films by the way) 'Broken' isn't setting out to be a total social drama, although it does work as that. 'Broken' is a roller-coaster ride, albeit a tense slow burning pressure cooker type film that does keep you wondering for quite a while where the storyline is actually headed.(I love that about it) Its not a film where you can think 'ah yes I know where this is going' but nor is it a film with a 'holy crap, an M Knight Shyamalan twist'
'Broken' is a film about people, living lives that we more than likely have never been a part of and over the running time I learned a lot more about the care industry than I knew before. It also made me think 'Who cares for the carers?. Who looks after them?' The performances by the cast are top notch and Craig Conway shows us why he is one of the best character actors around with his role as Dougie, who to say the least isn't someone id like in my house. (Dougie, not Craig) By far though the film truly belongs to Morjana Alaoui) (Evie) who we care about from the opening minutes as the hard working, frustrated and not well treated by anyone live in carer and also Mel Raido (John) who's portrayal not only got me really disliking the guy on many occasions but who also gave me an understanding from his point of view about just how difficult his life has become since a fall from a roof has left him wheelchair bound.
'Broken' is the feature length debut of Shaun Robert Smith's directing skills and he certainly has the skills. 'Broken' is set in a single location, a house. (Actor Mel Raido's childhood home) And yet the film never tires of using the same location.I remember one shot where Evie is cooking two rashers of bacon in the kitchen on her own. Even in this simplistic scene, the camera glides, and makes it a beautiful moment. Who knew that cooking bacon could look interesting on film. But it did. The direction of 'Broken' is beautiful and Shaun and the crew should be so proud of the achievements,add to the great direction, a haunting score (by Daniel Dolby & Siddhartha Barnhoorn), great cast performances as highly interesting characters and a story from a world I've never seen before.
All these ingredients make up one of my film highlights of the year and I cant recommend 'Broken' enough to all film fans.
Hard Tide (2015)
A spin on the usual formula for UK crime films
If I make a list this year of 'films you should watch' then Hard Tide is going to be on it. I thought I was going to see drug deals, mid level violence and handguns and all three of those are in fact in Hard Tide but what I didn't expect was what I got. Hard Tide isn't just another drug deal, thug movie (and trust me. I watch enough of those) this film has it all. Its beautifully shot and a lot of the time it has this wonderful 'old movie' style to it with sun reflections and lighting tricks making the film look far more impressive than a lot of films I've seen recently. If I say that a lot of the film reminded me 1970's films, then I mean that as a compliment. I love that look of Hard Tide. still-of-mem-ferda-and-nathanael-wiseman-in-hard-tide-(2015)-large- picture
The plot took turns that I didn't know about (and I don't mean in a 'he sees dead people ' manner. I'm not talking about plot twists. I'm talking about plot development. Nathanael Wiseman is great as 'Jake' who is the lead in the film. I only realised when the end credits rolled that Nathanael (along with Robert Osman) wrote and directed the film. 'Jake' shouldn't be a likable character because he deals drugs for a living, but he breaks that stereotypical drug dealer role that so often isn't broken in films. He is a person who has a conscience and who cares for other things in life, not just money. It doesn't take long for the audience to care about Jake, and thats down to the writing of his story and of course the performance by Nathanael. Sequel please!!!!!
The rest of the cast are great. There is a single scene very early on with Ralph Brown which actually was the first moment in the film where I realised how clever the writing was in Hard Tide and that I was in for something different. But it wasn't the last time I realised how smart the writing was.
Newcomer Alexandra Newick is great as 'Jade' and hopefully this will lead to more roles for her. Actually there isn't anything I could fault about Hard Tide. I had tension, it had dark humour, it had charm. Hard Tide was a great way to start my day (I started watching it at 8am).
a breath of fresh air for the indie world
Terry Jones (played by Nick Nevern) has agreed to let Charlie (played by Manuel Atkinson) follow him around as part of a student film project. What we the viewer see is the point of view from the camera as Terry goes about his regular life. 'Terry is such an unusual but really cool idea for a film, I dare say a lot of people will lump this film into the found footage genre, but Terry is more than that. I can honestly say that I cant think of another film in the British film world that has done this before or actually done it since. The storyline is as basic as it needs to be 'man followed by cameraman' but its insanely engaging to watch and most of that is down to the performance of Nick Nevern in the title role. Nick also wrote and directed the film, even though its director credit is titled as Charlie Ruez (the character of the filmmaker)
What a weird and wonderful film Terry is. It took me a couple of years to watch for the first time, but It wont be two years before I watch it again. Definitely check it out if you can.
a great short film from guys who just have to do a feature film soon
Twisted Part 1 was first hatched in 2010 with the script and has finally seen the light of day with a new script by filmmakers Louis Taylor and Daniel Atrill, both UK indie filmmakers and who both should be very proud of the work they have done with Twisted, a twenty two minute short film that the guys have made viewable for free on Youtube.
Twisted is visually stunning, even more so considering the ultra low budget that the crew had to work with. Im not sure what cameras they filmed on but it looks great. Shot in mostly a field and a forest, Im pretty sure there were no lighting rigs or dolly tracks so tons of praise to the camera crew for their work. So how do the characters fair in the story, well some do okay and some don't. Thats hardly a spoiler seeing as this is a horror short called Twisted.
You should sit and watch the film with your friends and place bets on who is smiling at the end and who isn't. I love this sort of film, the classic template of a slasher flick and even though there are a few moments of 'why do they do that', you let them off because this is a fun horror film meant for fans.
A large part of the film is dialogue driven and its done wonderfully in a way that would be totally genuine with five friends sitting around in nature and talking about life. These are friends id like to have and are as follows
Do I have a complaint? Well yes but its only a small one. Will someone give these guys a bigger budget and let them show just how much they could do with a feature length project. Twisted could so easily have worked as a feature film and I can hope that one day we see a remake of it with the same cast and the same premise, but on a far bigger screen.
The Stagg Do (2014)
great fun...just the way films like this should be
The Stagg Do is a film directed by James DeMarco and written by James DeMarco and Martin Paterson and is bonkers. But its bonkers in a fun great way.
I was swapping tweets with some of the crew and a comment that cropped up a couple of times was 'Its not a film for everyone'. I could see where that comment came from and well, most films aren't for everyone but The Stagg Do is a film for most people. A mental comedy film that is about friendship and life. Four friends go on a stag do (the male party before a wedding) in the hope of having one fantastic blow out before Staggy (played by Andrew Stagg) marries his fiancé, Charlotte (played by Therase Neve). Booze, Women and insanity is all lined up by the guys but things turn a little trickier when Charlotte makes sure that her Father, 'The Judge' goes along to keep an eye on everyone. But that doesn't mean the night will be uneventful.
The Stagg Do is a lot of fun to watch with snappy realistic sarcastic dialogue and anyone who has long term friends who love to drink and say what they wish should be able to relate to some of the craziness. I hate labeling films but could this be the 'Geordie' version of The Hangover. It could be Shot on a low budget but it doesn't really show, I bet the shoot was a lot of fun. The guys behind the film have done a fantastic job on The Stagg Do and I can see this film becoming one of those films carried by word of mouth into the type of film that is quoted for years Like the way Four Lions is quoted left right and centre. There are so many one liners in here that already I've seen people on social media using the quote 'fanny f*cking-tastic' when it comes to talking about not only just this film but things in general. Even the DVD menu has 'Play Fillum' and 'Fanny-tastic Features which made me chuckle before the movie had even begun.
The cast also do a wonderful job and its always a pleasure to see Craig Conway (The Descent,The Myth Of Hopelessness) doing comedy. Im a fan of his dramatic work but also a huge fan of his comedic roles (How To Stop Being A Loser) Martin Paterson who co wrote the film does a great job in the role of Pob, the best man, hated by Charlotte but with a heart of gold. This is Martins screen debut but hopefully not his last appearance. I could go on about the cast, but check out the film for yourself and see which characters are your favourites.
I cant wait to check out whats next from the guys and girls behind The Stagg Do. It was such a fun way to spend an hour and ten minutes. Grab yourself some beers, a pizza and put your feet up. Check out The Stagg Do. A film made by people with a sense of humour for people with a sense of humour.
Amar Akbar & Tony (2015)
charm, fun and drama
and 2016 continues to be the year of finding 'gems' in the film world. Keeping my promise to myself and watching more independent films than I have previously watched. Today I spent a wonderful ninety minutes watching a film that to be honest, needs more people to talk about it. I spend a lot of time reading about films, watching films, checking out trailers and going through press release articles to find diamonds among the sea of movies out there.But the only place I had heard about todays film was a solitary Twitter account that I had been following for a little while.
The film is Amar Akbar and Tony,
Written and Directed by Atul Malhotra and is available on iTunes,Amazon,Google Play,Virgin Media,Blinkbox,Talk Talk and Wuaki platforms. So what made the film a gem, but more to the point, what is Amar Akbar and Tony about? Well I am never one to give away plot points for a film, part of the beauty of discovering new films is to learn the story as you go alone with the characters. But to summarize the plot. I will borrow from the Internet Movie Database summary and describe it a realistic, multicultural coming-of age comedy drama following the lives of three childhood friends as they stumble through life from their carefree twenties into adulthood. Set in present-day London but beginning in the eighties. Such a charming film.
Amar Akbar and Tony had be by moment one with its realistic humour rather than scripted humour (although Im sure there was a script), the humour all felt very realistic, and the sort of dialogue and situations that could happen to any of us. We follow lifelong friends Amar (played by Rez Kempton), Akbar (played by Sam Vincenti) and Tony (played by Martin Delaney) who all come off as perfectly likable people straight off the bat. But don't just think that the film is all comedy. Amar Akbar and Tony (the film) is part comedy, but with a huge injection of drama mixed perfectly into a feature length film. It was strange once I reached the end of the film, which although lasted only an hour and a half, has left the characters extremely memorable in the same way, had I watched a 10 hour mini series.
There are no filler scenes in the film, and these are charactersI will think of when someone asks me for my favourite films I've seen. I was asked today what I felt the film reminded me of and I came up with Part East is East, Part Shameless and perhaps even Part This Is England. But Amar Akbar and Tony is such a fresh film and its been a total pleasure to have watched it today.
Cops and Monsters (2014)
A hard working crew, helping create a real indie project
Ill get the fact out of the way that I found myself attached to this project in its recent months, but before that I discovered Cops and Monsters through one of its actors (Sarah Madison) whom Id seen in another film. I then interviewed Cops and Monsters director Fraser Coull and have followed the development of this world ever since. The reason I came on as producer is that I saw how hard the guys and girls were working on it and thought id offer up some more help.....I have a lot of time for the people involved in this and see how hard they are working to raise the funding and thy refuse to give up. Now about to begin their fourth episode, the hard times are about to kick in once again and I wish them the very best of luck. To create the world of Cops and Monsters on a miniscule budget with all but no support from those companies who claim to support indie film, the crew of this project battle on. More power to them.......
House of Manson (2014)
Brutal but really good
Beginning with the October 1969 raid of the Charles Manson ranch in California, and the capture of the infamous cult leader. Manson, written and directed by Brandon Sagle is actually the first film I have seen that gives me backstory into who Charles Manson was and why he did what he did. (I know there are other projects out there, but I just haven't seen them yet)
Titled House of Manson in other countries, but retitled Manson for its UK release. The film is beautifully filmed and has a wonderfully cinematic 1970s feel to it, the sort of feel that I got from Rob Zombies The Devils Rejects and the original Texas Chain Saw Massacre (yes I know that one was actually filmed in the 70s, but you see my point hopefully. The look and feel to the film works wonderfully seeing as this is a period piece taking us back to the beginning so we can learn about the Manson parents, the Manson childhood and of course we the audience just know the dark times to come and Manson shows it all.
Ryan Kiser (Truth or Dare) is the perfect choice to play Charles Manson and he comes off as scary as they can get without going over the top with it.even causing the audience to feel somewhat sorry for him in a few places, but never letting us forget just how insane and dangerous Charles Manson was and is. There is always the feeling when people think about Charles Manson was just a crazed lunatic, but in reality and shown here in Manson is the truth that people found him very charismatic and were hugely supportive of him and won over by his words and personality. That was a powerful tool but sadly added to the fact he is a crazy as they get. Makes for a very dangerous recipe.
Devanny Pinn (The Black Dahlia Haunting) is perfect in the role of Susan Atkins, one of the cult of Manson who is also captured during the 1969 raid following the Sharon Tate killings. Without even mentioning how good Devanny is in the role, I could go on about just how damn creepy her glare is in Manson.. Devanny and Ryan's are the best performances in the film, which isn't meant to take anything away from the other cast, its just that Ryan and Devanny are so damn good There are scenes in Manson that will chill you without a single word, but a single glance and head movement is all that is needed.
So is Manson a horror film? Is it a biopic? Is it a drama? Well yes to all really but horror fans, please be assured that when the violence kicks in. It sure as hell kicks in. When we finally get to the Tate killings, it doesn't hold back, and when thinking this is an actual real life event it just shocks you to the bone. (or at least it did me) The film could be described as a slow burner, but I felt like it was more a pressure cooker, raising its temperature until the lid flies off and hits us in the face.
The moment we see Charles Manson first knock on the door of the Polanski residence, my heart sunk as I have read many books detailing the events Hollywood biographies that mention the fact that people knew of Charles Manson, he was the charismatic hippie kid that hung around the neighborhood. Knowing what was coming next and how far would the film go in showing it, made me 100% nervous. I was right, when the lid flies off this pressure cooker it certainly does fly off and whilst the film 100% doesn't glorify the violence and insanity of that night, it doesn't hold back either and caused me to look away on a few occasions. Brutal, but realistic with it. Which I would hope is what the filmmakers were going for. What I also loved about the film and its not a spoiler, I promise. Is that over the end credits. We are given text updates on what happened to a lot of the main 'names' in this tragedy. Not just a single line but quite a few lines which told me things I didn't know.
All in all Manson (or House of Manson if you are outside the UK) is a tough watch and I still cant work ouit if Id class it as more biopic/drama than horror. It certainly has a lot of horror in it and will make you cringe beyond belief if you have one ounce of humanity in you. Highly recommended to everyone other than anyone who knows anyone involved in the real life events.
A fantastic indie film.
Today I decided to get around to watch Anti-Social, a British film, written and directed by Reg Travvis (Screwed). I had heard of Anti- Social around its release time due to one of its stars being Mr Josh Myers, a very cool guy who has featured in a few films that I watched and talked about. Namely Green Street 3 (Dir by James Nunn), White Collar Hooligan 3 (Dir by Paul Tanter) and Screwed (Dir by Reg Travvis). Josh s career is one that I am following as each role I've seen him in, he always gives his all to the character. Anti-Social is no different in that regard although the film itself is very different from 90% of UK films I have seen lately, and actually 90% different from most films.
I knew nothing of the storyline going into the film (I like to preserve that element in most films I watch) I knew the title, and had seen the front cover and of course knew some of the cast list. Other than those small details, I went into this film cold and it benefited me totally. Whilst the film doesn't have any 'major plot twists' what Anti-Social does brilliantly is let the story unfold over its running time. You watch characters do what they do and the story unfolds without any feeling of 'Oh I can see where this is headed' . I loved that about Anti-Social. It wasn't confusing and yet I had no idea where the storyline was going to go, and where it did go was done to perfection.
So often films are packaged as 'for fans of ' in the hope they can be sold lazily to the viewer. Anti-Social is a serious gritty, adult natured thriller which if I had to do the awful thing if labelling it for an easy sell. Id perhaps say its part Kidulthood, Part Julian Gilbeys Plastic. But more openly I would just tell you that Anti-Social is not just a really engaging story with great performances.(Gregg Sulkin as Dee, and Andrew Shim as Jason, to name two) But Anti-Social is also a damn fine piece of filmmaking.
A must watch documentary
Ill start by mentioning that I was never really a fan of the songs Amy Winehouse released. That's not to say I don't realise just how much of an amazing voice she was blessed with, just that I never listened to her CD's, never watched a concert and would be lucky to name at least two tracks she created.
However I am a fan of film, and this year seemed to watch more documentaries than I have watched in previous years. Maybe that's because I am trying to construct my own documentary film, or perhaps its because now and again I like to take a break from watching fiction films. Who knows. Who cares really.
This evening I watched the latest documentary directed by Asif Kapadia whose previous feature length project 'Senna' really took the world by storm on its release. 'Amy' a two hour plus documentary put together using archival footage of the late singer Amy Winehouse, who tragically died aged 23 after a roller-coaster career in jazz music. To go into the 'plot' of not only Amy's life but also Asif's documentary would do 'Amy' a disservice. This needs to be seen and heard and makes you not only realise how talented the girl was (if you didn't already know), but also how tragic a life in the spotlight can be. Taking you back to the beginning, and taking you through to the tragic end is a wonderful (for the most) journey using audio recordings of her friends, her colleagues, and her family. Building up what perhaps is the best picture possible of someones life. Of course its hard to tell just how accurate 'Amy' is, unless you knew her (I didn't) but it makes her out to be talented, tragic, wonderful and caring.
It also makes you realise just how intrusive some aspects of the media can be with scenes of camera flashbulbs going off like fireworks in November at the site of Amy leaving her house, walking down the street or even just getting in and out of a car. There are also some wonderful behind the scenes footage of her with her real life friends, smiling, laughing and joking around. Reminding you that the Amy Winehouse you think you know, isn't the real Amy Winehouse.
As the month of November draws to a close and the final month of 2015 nears.
'Amy' enters the top 10 films of the year as far as I am concerned.
Soldiers of the Damned (2015)
A film that knows its fun and is fun.....
Right from the opening credits of Soldiers of The Damned, we know what sort of film we are about to view. With opening credits very reminiscent of Army of Darkness,
I cant help but feel that if Sam Raimi made a film featuring Nazi's, then Soldiers of the Damned might well be the result. Taking the often told format of 'men on a mission' Soldiers of The Damned injects the 'genre' with a dash of the type of Germans often seen in the world of Indiana Jones. A fun film, whilst gory in places but its a fun gore and not the emotion draining seriousness of films of recent years. Schindlers List this isn't (not does it try to be), Soldiers of the Damned it is'
Age of Kill (2015)
Venture into the Age Of Kill
Well, I have now seen the film so its time to share my thoughts with you about the film.
I've seen many 'reviews' and quotes that are comparing the film to a movie version of the Kiefer Sutherland series '24' and whilst I can kinda see that being applicable. Age Of Kill is Age Of Kill. yes it does have a military man Sam Blake (played by Martin Kemp) whose daughter (played by Dani Dyer) is snatched to be used as a blackmail tool against Sam Blake. Its not set in real time. Isn't 18 and a half hours long (that's how long 24 was without adverts) and isn't an insane over the top super agent action series. (By the way I'm a huge fan of '24')
Age Of Kill is an hour and a half journey into Sam Blake's life, as well as that of his past and his present. Himself and his family. The action set pieces work well with no issue. Gun battles, explosions and such like do exactly what they need to do and what they promise to do. Martin Kemp is on form as more action star than some roles he has previously done and I can see him with a future in the action genre. Martin Kemp has always been a watchable, charismatic guy from his early days, and even when watching him on television being interviewed, He is always someone you find interesting to listen to. So its with no shock that his scenes in Age Of Kill are of course - watchable and engaging.
For me the highlights of the film though are easily the scenes he shares with some of the other cast. When Martin Kemp and Phil Davis share the screen, they are wonderful and you do want to see more of that. More so with the scenes involving Martin Kemp and Dani Dyer which just has wonderful chemistry to it, and once again, l wanted to see the scenes play out longer and see Dani in more scenes. She has a fantastic future ahead in film and shes definitely an actress to keep an eye on.
But those aren't complaints against the film or the story. I cant fault a film for not including more scenes, that's just a preference. All praise goes to the cast, and of course to writer Simon Cluett for creating this world of Sam Blake, and Director Neil Jones for putting these characters together for us, the viewer. Does Age Of Kill give us anything totally unique that we haven't seen before in film. No, but it doesn't try to.
It gives us an hour and a half of entertainment with a great cast. That's what I need from a film and a story. One that engages me with characters that I enjoy watching. Job well done. There is a plot line involving somewhat radical politicians which did feel like the sort of storyline that I have seen in several other films of late and which did sort of feel a little out of place in Age Of Kill, but putting that small detail aside. I really enjoyed Age Of Kill and look forward to not only the next film that Neil Jones directs, but also other scripts created by Mr Simon Cluett.(Bonded by Blood 2)
We Are Monster (2014)
a sledgehammer of a film
Using a series of flashbacks we learn about how Robert Stewart became a 'monster' but also how his younger years have moulded him into the brutal mentally disturbed racist that he is in his present days. The film is a very hard film to watch and is so uncomfortable as we watch and hear some of the most racist comments seen in films for years, but that is the point. We Are Monster shouldn't be a pleasant entertaining film to watch, it needs to be (and is) an extremely powerful piece of film that gives us a nasty glimpse into the minds of nasty people
Whilst the film itself does sit firmly on the shoulders of the lead actor Leeshon Alexander (playing Robert Stewart), who does an all too convincing job of playing someone I wouldn't want to meet in a well lit alley, never mind a dark alley at night. The supporting cast also does a top notch job in this true story. Familiar faces such as Doug Allen (The Guvnors), Aymen Hamdouchi (My Brother The Devil), and Gethin Anthony (Game of Thrones) all have great roles in 'We Are Monster'.
Without delving into spoilers for the film, the use of silence also works wonders in the film with a section at the start using mood, and scenery and looks to tell us everything we need to know.
Recently the 2013 film 'Starred Up' gathered huge acclaim and 'We Are Soldier' is right up there alongside that film. Its a tough film to watch but its a film that everyone should see for many reasons. Its a story that should be shared, its a film thats brilliant put together, and contains some of the most subtle but powerful performances of recent years.
For those who think the UK film industry is full of cockney-gangster films.
'We Are Monster' will prove you wrong.
Judge it for yourself.
Extinction is shot in the 'found footage' style. Yes the style that people seem to moan about, they moan that its a tired 'genre' and that too many films have been using this style over the recent years. BUT - What Extinction does that many of the 'found footage' films don't do, is uses it properly. It is indeed a 'found footage' and its level of detail is excellent. Right down the cassette glitches now and again, and also the fact that shots don't change at the end of every sentence. Sometimes the shot changes in the middle of a sentence. Having filmed hundreds of hours using a camcorder and then played it back. I loved the fact that glitches have been purposely placed within the film to give it that real feeling. Director Adam Spinks has shot this film brilliantly with the 'found footage' style in mind all the way through production. So don't dismiss this film when you read its a 'found footage' movie. Watch Extinction to see how the style should be used.
I remember watching Eli Roths Hostel for the first time and loved the fact the film had a slow build up, that it just didn't get the beginning credits out of the way and then leap into a 90 minute third act. Extinction is similar. It doesn't feel the need (and works far better for it) to drop us into the middle of chaos and let the chips fly. It allows us to get to know the great mix of characters and actually head into the Amazon rainforest with them. We get to know cameraman James (Daniel Caren) who is fantastic in his comedic role, saying whatever comes into his mind and generally annoying his fellow characters. James had me giggling on many an occasion throughout the film. We also get to meet Michelle (Sarah Mac) who from the offset isn't a huge fan of James and is far more professional than the ultra-personality James. There are more characters in this film of course but rather than list them all, please do discover them yourself. What I will say is that they are all a very realistic mix of people. Not all brave adventurers, not all super scientists, but all realistic people with strange quirks and different roles and personalities for this expedition. Some of them get on well together, some of them don't. Welcome to real life. Where people have different personalities and don't sound like their words all come out of a single scriptwriter. I haven't looked into the writing process of this film, but each character has their own flaws, their own way of speaking and I love that about this script (and of course the performances)
There are lengthy scenes of character building here which are a huge benefit to the film, it would have been so easy for the filmmakers to drop a few personality lacking characters into a pit of hell and then watch them battle for survival, thankfully that option isn't taken and we instead get to know people before (and its not a spoiler as Im sure you know someone is bound to get hurt in Extinction) something happens to hurt them. When someone is hurt we feel their pain and we miss them when they are off screen.
Of course there will be detractors from the film, moaning about it being slow paced, moaning about the found footage style and generally moaning about anything they decide to moan about. But they have their own websites for that. This one is for my own thoughts and I really enjoyed taking the trip into the world of Extinction.
We Still Kill the Old Way (2014)
Brutal, and powerful film.
What made this film for me was the cast that has been put together. Faces that I haven't seen on screen for years such as Ian Ogilvy, Lysette Anthony, Alison Doody and Christopher Ellison stand on screen with newcomers such as Danny Boy Hatchard who plays the most vile of characters. But thats the point. Within seconds of seeing Danny Boy Hatchards character (Aaron) on screen, I wanted to reach through the screen and throttle him. Brilliantly played by Danny Boy Hatchard who Im sure is a very decent guy with a heard of cold, he brilliantly plays one of the most vile humans I have seen on screen for a while. Well played Danny!.
On the flip side of that is the character of Lauren, fantastically played by Dani Dyer in her first big role in a feature film (Dani previously appeared in a small role in Vendetta) Dani does a fantastic job here in We Still Kill The Old Way, standing toe to toe with actors who have been around for decades. In fact some of the best scenes of the film involve Lauren (Dani Dyer) and Richie (Ian Ogilvy) who have a sort of Father/Daughter vibe going on in the film after certain events intertwine their lives. This may be Dani's first major role, but she has a great future ahead if she takes it. Its great to see that Dani is currently filming in the Neil Jones directed film Age of Kill (written by Simon Cluett) which is due out in 2015. Here in We Still Kill The Old Way, we the viewer are genuinely concerned about Laurens safety at several points in the running time. We want to get her out of that scary world, but we cant, so hope and prey that Richie will do it for us.
So is We Still Kill The Old Way worth watching? Well very much so yes. Its brutal, its well written, its well acted and whilst it does share a lot of 'themes' of Vendetta. (taking the law into your own hands), its a theme that worked in Vendetta, and works in this film too. Definitely check it out if you want to be pretty entertained for an hour and a half by a great cast, in a very decent film., especially if you like a bit of the old vigilante style film like Get Carter, or Death Wish.
I was attracted to the film initially because it has Dougie Brimsons name attached. The guy hasn't let me down with his work yet, and also the name Sacha Bennett attached.as director who also hasn't let me down yet (although I have still to track down and watch his film Outside Bet)
They didn't let me down. I totally enjoyed We Still Kill The Old Way and hope you do too
White Settlers (2014)
Watch the film with the lights down, But please. Lock your doors before you watch White Settlers.
Earlier today, I finally got around to sitting down and popping the DVD of White Settlers into the machine.
Wow! That should be my single word review for the film.
White Settlers didn't let me down (I never thought it would) Its every bit as good as I thought it would be and hoped it would be.
So, what is White Settlers about?
Well its about new beginnings in new locations.
Director Simeon Halligan has done a fantastic job on White Settlers. The film is not only beautifully shot but is also wonderfully paced and even scenes that feature nothing more than conversations between Ed and Sarah are still captivating to watch. The casting is wonderful for White Settlers with the chemistry between Lee and Pollyanna working to perfection. Especially a scene involving a blindfold and a forest make you forget that you are watching a thriller for a moment or three. It must have been such a fun shooting schedule.
Whilst watching the film, I pondered my easy sell for others. White Settlers is what I would call a home invasion film and those freak me the hell out. There is nothing in this film that is far fetched, there's it no demonic monsters, no ghosts. There are just really disturbed human beings and we know those exist.
White Settlers is definitely a film I will be recommending to those who love thrillers and who love good films with a totally believable plot.
Great British War Movies are BACK!
In the later half of 1944. A four man team of British Commandos are seconded for a secret snatch 'n' grab mission to recover detailed military maps being held by the Germans. Tagging alongside the team is American Captain Jackson (played by Julian Ovenden).
And that my friends and Allies is all the story I shall deliver at this point. I discovered the storyline firsthand, and I 100% recommend you also do the same.
Allies is Directed by Dominic Burns, a filmmaker whose career I have followed pretty closely for the past few years. One thing I love about the films that Dominic Burns gets involved in is that they are all different. From the horror film 'Cut', to the comedy film 'How To Stop Being A Loser' through the science fiction film 'UFO' (also known as Alien Uprising) , and including the thriller films Airborne ,
Dominic never seems to tackle the same genre twice and I can't help wondering if there is a musical or an animated film on the horizon at some point waiting to appear on his filmography.
Part way through the viewing of the film, I realised that whilst I have always figured Dominic tackles different genres each and every time. I realised that they all had one thing in common. People..If you strip back the covers on all the films Dominic has done to the bare minimum, you'll see that his films are about people, and the relationships they have with each other.
For all the fantastic set pieces (and they are most certainly fantastic) in Allies, the gunbattles, the planes and explosions. For me the heart of Allies is just that. Allies. Its about the comoradery , that band of brothers feeling that a lot of military films convey, But a lot don't. Allies certainly does give you that feeling of one man willing to take a bullet for the man next to him.
So whilst you might think you have seen all that the 'men on a mission' films can offer. You really haven't. Allies is fantastic in so many ways. It is beautiful to look at, Praise needs to be given to both the director and also his camera crew. Its outstanding and epic to watch and hear as the story unfolds from start fo finish. As much as I love the work of Dominic Burns. If you sit down and watch each of his films in the order they were released. You'll see the quality of the films ramp up with each new project. That my friends is a filmmaker who knows what he is doing but still learning more and more with each new film. But more than the learning new things, he is using those new lessons to make his next film better than the last (and I love the last film) and surround himself with the best team out there (such as Jake 'Doghouse' West, James 'Tower Block' Nunn, Poppy Lloyd -the highest regarded casting agent out there) and many more)
It would be so easy to write a review (although is it a review if I am not delving into too many plot details) where I go through a list of the things I loved about it Acting:CHECK, Directing:CHECK, Editing:CHECK and so on. Thats the easy way out.
Kudos do go to all the cast though, what a wonderful mix of actors (and actresses) from very different styles of projects. Whether its Leon Vickers (Doctor Who), Edmund Kingsley (The Borgias, and the up and coming Artificial Horizon), Chris Reilly (Game Of Thrones, Everest) or Matt Willis (McBusted) who make up the core group of the cast as the Allies themselves (Matt Willis is wonderful as sniper Billy) The whole cast are excellent actually. Upon looking at the filmographies of the cast. I was stunned to learn that Chris Reillys first credit was in 2010. The guy has the acting chops that display a lifetime of excellence and I cant wait to follow this guys career from project to project as well as the other cast members, some of whos work I was familiary with before Allies, some I wasn't.
But lets get back to the film. In fact lets get back to the sound. My god, whoever did the sound mix on Allies. Thank you, thank you and thank you. I haven't seen a film with this good a soundmix for a long time. From the ambient noise of forests, to the tank blasting craziness of war accompanied by one of the most beautiful film scores I have heard this year.(the score is composed and conducted by Phillippe Jakko), Allies is the sort of film that makes you want to rush out and get a huge soundbar or a 7.1 surround system or whatever number they are up to now. Allies is the sort of film that begs to be watched on a huge screen with the most perfect sound set up) I aim to get one of those soon and Allies will be a first watch on it.With the fact that I have seen over 250 films this year. One thing is written in stone. Dominic Burns has created yet another film thats blown my socks (and ears) off.
Thank you, thank you oh and thank you to all the cast and crew who put sweat and perhaps tears into this film. For me as a film fan. You hard work has been worth it. Now lets get others watching the film.
See No Evil 2 (2014)
Great fun by people who love movies
Whilst you don't need to have watched the first See No Evil film recently (or at all, actually as the second films gives you a wonderful catch up on the previous instalment) See No Evil 2 works wonderfully as a double bill of horror alongside the first film. So what has changed since 2006?
Well, Glenn 'Kane' Jacobs is back as Jacob Goodnight, the psychotic abuse victim who stands (or lies as the start of See No Evil 2) at 323 lbs and 7ft in height. But he is dead ..or is he? Well, more than likely not. The main change from the first film to this second film (or second half as you can also choose to think of it) is the introduction of Jen and Sylvia Soska into the directing chairs for this installment.
Fresh from films such as The ABCs of Death 2 (where they directed the 'T for Torture Porn' segment) and the wonderful body modification film American Mary, The Soska twins have most definitely put their stamp on See No Evil 2 whilst still managing to avoid making any major changes to the look and feel of this world of Jacob Goodnight.
But they have brought their own immensely talented filmmaking skills and touches to this world and given the film a beautiful look.
The film screams 'Soska', with its cinematography, with its body horror elements and with the unnerving tension in many scenes that in other directors hands, could and would come off as cheesy. More than likely a large percentage of people who watch See No Evil 2 will have seen a whole host of 'slasher thrillers' over the years. As have it, but I found some great 'tweeks' within See No Evil 2 that weren't a retread of days gone by.
Within minutes of the opening, I was left expecting things, that in other horror films would be obvious plot points, yet here and on several occasions I was left second guessing myself as to what I thought might happen. On many (and most) occasions I was wrong which gave me a sense of being unsure about the 'rules' of See No Evil 2. Love it. More films need to do this.
Its Amy's (played by Danielle Harris) birthday and so her supervisor arranges for a bunch of her friends to show up at the hospital and have a party of sorts. This is of course a great reason to have a bunch of slasher fodder all in the same place but hey. This is a horror film after all. The rest of the cast are all varied and work brilliantly together. From the rampant boy and girl Tamara (Katherine Isabelle) & Carter (Lee Majdoub) to the protective brother, Will (played by Greyston Holt) I love it when I see a cast of characters who don't appear to have been written by the same scriptwriter. I genuinely cared about many of the characters in this film which as we all know is a risky and silly thing to do when they are faced with a 7ft tall sword wielding psychopath in a horror flick. But I genuinely worried about the dangers these guys and girls were in.
Some comments I have seen claim the film isn't 'Soska' enough, not creeping up to the gore levels of say American Mary and such like. I say WRONG on that. The film has some terrific moments and some brilliant tense sequences. Plus do remember this is a sequel and a follow on from another film, to change the motives of the killer too much would damage a perfectly good film from 2006. Jen and Sylvia have done a great job continuing the Jacob Goodnight story and added another wonderful addition to a fantastic filmography. I was first introduced to the world of Jen and Sylvia Soska last year when the film American Mary was recommended to me by my podcast co hosts Lauren Rebecca Reid and Stuart Miller on my own horror show. I took their recommendation and within minutes knew that The Soska Twins were a breath of fresh air to the horror genre and had entered that elite list of names who are pretty much guaranteed to deliver a quality, or at least something different to the films we watch. Whilst there filmography is shorter than some, (but longer than others) its a lot of fun working your way back from the debut (Dead Hooker In A Trunk) through to The ABCs of Death 2. Cant wait to see their future.
Bring on Painkiller Jane! and Vendetta, both projects that are highly anticipated by myself, but also from the legions of fans of Jen and Sylvia.
Do check out See No Evil 2, I found the film a lot of fun and so far have seen it twice. I also checked out the special features on the Blu Ray which give you a fun insight into how Jen and Sylvia work, but also glimpses into what it was like on the set of See No Evil 2. Definitely worth a purchase!