THE RIZEN

5.5 out of 10

REVIEW COMING SOON

Release date: 19th June 2017 (DVD premiere)

Director: Matt Mitchell (Rizen 2)
Cast: Laura Swift, Patrick Knowles, Christopher Tajah, Tom Goodman-Hill, Laurence Kennedy and Lee Latchford-Evans with Julian Rhind-Tutt, Sally Phillips, Stephen Marcus, with Bruce Payne and Adrian Edmondson

Writer: Matt Mitchell

Trailer: THE RIZEN

WHAT HAVE I SEEN THAT ACTOR IN BEFORE?

EAT LOCAL

2.5 out of 10

Release date: TBC (UK)

Director: Jason Flemyng

Cast: Billy Cook, Eve Myles, Charlie Cox, Mackenzie Crook, Tony Curran, Freema Agyeman, Robert Portal, Annette Crosbie, Ruth Jones, Johnny Palmiero, Lukaz Leong, Jordan Long, Alistair Petrie, Nicholas Rowe, Nick Moran with Dexter Fletcher and Vincent Regan

Writer: Danny King

Trailer: EAT LOCAL

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Whilst this isn’t the Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels reunion you’d hoped for – two leads behind, and two leads in front of the camera, Eat Local still has a knockabout sense of fun. However, little of the juice translates to the finished product, with virtually all of the decent gags spunking off in the trailer. Actor-turned-have-a-go-director Jason Flemyng (THE CURIOUS CASE OF BENJAMIN BUTTON) turns in this remix of Dog Soldiers (werewolves vs squaddies is swapped for squaddies vs vampires), only he’s ended up with a remake of Lesbian Vampire Killers, the Un-DOA horror-comedy vehicle for James Corden and Matthew Vaughn.

A coven of vampires meet for an AGM in a serial-killer’s cottage (DEXTER FLETCHER –  CARAVAGGIO), only to find out that they are being watched very closely by the British Army led by Robert Portal (STIFF UPPER LIPS) and Mackenzie Crook (PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN). Throw into the mix a pure-breed cockney gangster/gypsy who, unbenownst to him, is being lined up as a new vampire lord. He is about to get turned when the army burst in and the bullets, and stakes begin to fly.

I wish I could say there’s fun to be had for the viewer, but Billy Cook is no Danny Dyer, so casting your mind back to the similar Doghouse, and the  horror Severance, the former just doesn’t cut it in the comedy stakes. Laugh out loud moments are very rare, especially if you’ve seen the trailer, and there are no memorable scenes to make this stand out in any way. Stalwarts like Vincent Regan (LOCK OUT) and Annette Crosbie (MONARCH OF THE GLEN) look like they are having a good time, but like the rest of the variable cast they are wasted.

Eat Local plays like a squandered opportunity.  Competently made, it still gets by on a wing and prayer. Of the four leads from Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, for some the quintessential Brit-gangster caper comedy, Dexter Fletcher is the most visible, in a supporting role as a murderous farmer, Jason Flemyng directs, Nick Moran (LONDON HEIST) is one of the soldiers (for a walk-on) and Jason Statham remains off-screen but did the fight choreography for the one martial arts scene – which is fairly good to be charitable. Oh and fifth cast member Nicholas Rowe (YOUNG SHERLOCK) was also in Lock Stock too. It’s a small bit of trivia thats unlikely to impress that many people.

Eat Local does very little to distinguish itself, except that Flemyng has drew in a super cast, full of British film and TV faves. The trouble is that all that good will has come to nothing and its really sad to have felt my interest in the film on the wain really early on. It’s a good idea and a tight scenario, it’s just a shame that the writers forgot to write any good jokes as this is as funny as Zero Dark Thirty and the Hurt Locker put together.

It’s also part produced by the gruesome twosome of Jonathan Sothcott and Neil Jones – the former is an inconsistent force in low-budget filmmaking in the UK, with a hit rate of 1.5 movies in 5. Neil Jones is a sloppy film director who would be better off directing traffic.  As for Flemyng as director, you’d have thought his BFF, Dexter Fletcher (who also directs), would have given him some tips on how to make a great film.

2.5 out of 10 – A flat movie experience, which was probably a hoot to make. Flemyng has a lot of friends in high places and draws and awesome cast but then forgets to return the favour by gifting them worthwhile roles. Fangs a lot, Jase.

 

WHAT HAVE I SEEN THAT ACTOR IN BEFORE?

 

JAWBONE

9 out of 10

Release date: 12th May 2017

Director: Thomas Napper

Cast: Johnny Harris, Ray Winstone, Michael Smiley, Luke J I Smith, Jackie Clune, Simon Manyonda and Ian McShane

Writer: Johnny Harris

Trailer: JAWBONE

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Remember the Coen Bros film, Barton Fink, when the titular screenwriter is tasked by Hollywood to write a B-movie about a wrestler? “You know, nothing to fruity. It’s a wrestling flick, what do you want, a road map?” Well, Jawbone is about a boxer and pretty much everything you’d expect to see in a boxing flick is present and correct. However, this one has the beating heart of a lion, and boxing scenes quite unlike you’ve seen in anything since Raging Bull. Johnny Harris (FORTITUDE), a good actor who knows his range, plays to his strengths in this self-scripted effort about an alcoholic, Jimmy McCabe, who reconnects with his boxing past when he is made homeless and sees the rocky bottom staring back up at him. He goes back to the gym to find his former trainers Bill (RAY WINSTONE – NIL BY MOUTH) and Eddie (MICHAEL SMILEY – SPACED), where he became an ABA champ at 16. The welcome is frosty but they give him a chance. Elsewhere, he gets himself a make or break fight via promoter and shady old friend, Joe (IAN MCSHANE – THE GOLDEN COMPASS) that could kill him.

On the negative side, it does take a while for this film to shake off the cliches and grab your attention. But in retrospect these scenes do well to build the character of Jimmy, and to show what’s really at stake. We’re aware his demon is the bottle and possibly self-made – there’s no spectres from the past whispering in his ear or goading him ala My Name Is Lenny. The struggle is realistically wrought and played note perfect by Johnny Harris. Elsewhere in the cast, old pros like Ray Winstone and Ian McShane do their thing. Ian McShane is always good and wheels out his ‘flash harry’ schtick. This time the context is right and the one scene that his promoter Joe turns up for is nicely done. He’s essentially the same guy he played in John Wick, or nicer version of his heavy in Sexy Beast. Winstone successfully steals the show, some may say unfairly, with an understated and touching performance.  He’s quite wonderful in one of his best roles in years and years, and it’s his character that raises Jawbone out of the ‘just another boxing movie’ crate.

Michael Smiley brings ample support and is amazing as the salty Belfast trainer, who has a few surprises up his sleeve. Thankfully there’s no obligatory, woman or child character to slow the story down. There’s no ex-wife or kids to make amends with, just old friends to haunt. The boxing scenes are technically terrific and even after seeing 100 sports movies, the climatic fight is gripping. The villainy of the opponent (LUKE J I SMITH – THE BROMLEY BOYS) is well evoked in a wordless role.  The camera work and sound design is superb. Even the montage scenes work well, and although necessary, they don’t fall into the pop video end like a lot seem to do. Remember the ‘Pushing Back’ song from Green Street 3? This is done by bring up the sounds of the gym, dialogue or street sounds to the fore front, rather than making a corny Survivor wannabe song front and centre. Jawbone’s closest comparison is Darren Aronofsky’s The Wrestler. It’s not quite as good as the latter that’s because its more focussed yet slighter, narrative-wise. But it’s still the best sports movie we can hope for from the UK, when so many try and fail horribly – remember the muddled The Man Inside?

Look out for a Paul Weller song at the end called ‘The Ballad of Jimmy McCabe’. I’m glad the makers didn’t use this over a training montage, as it’s as corny as hell and threatens to undo some of the sterling work that’s gone before. A slight wrinkle, then, yet nothing to worry about. Utterly recommended.

9 out of 10 – If you think sports movies are all the same, you’re right. But if you like them then Jawbone is a superb example that puts 90% of others to shame. Pretty much film perfection

WHAT HAVE I SEEN THAT ACTOR IN BEFORE?

THE HATTON GARDEN JOB

3 out of 10

REVIEW COMING SOON

Release date: 14th April 2017

Director: Ronnie Thompson (I Am Soldier / Tower Block)

Cast: Matthew Goode, Phil Daniels, Larry Lamb, David Calder, Clive Russell, Mark Cooper Harris, Jack Doolan, Sam Adewunmi, Warren Brown, John Alford, Kugan Cassius with Stephen Moyer and Joely Richardson

Writer: Ray Bogdanovich & Dean Lines

Trailer: THE HATTON GARDEN JOB

WHAT HAVE I SEEN THAT ACTOR IN BEFORE?

  • Matthew Goode: Birthmarked, Guernsey, The Sense of An Ending, Allied, Self/Less, Pressure, The Imitation Game, Belle, Stoker, Cemetery Junction, Watchmen, A Single Man, Leap Year, Brideshead Revisted, Imagine Me & You, Match Point
  • Phil Daniels: Access All Areas, Vinyl, Eastenders (TV), Freebird, Outlaws (TV), Goodbye Charlie Bright, Nasty Neighbours, Chicken Run (voice), Bad Behaviour, Billy The Kid and Green Baize Vampire, Meantime, Scum, Zulu Dawn, Quadrophenia
  • Larry Lamb: Rise of the Footsoldier 3, Gavin and Stacey (TV), Eastenders (TV), Blood – The Last Vampire, The Bill (TV), Essex Boys, Buster
  • David Calder: Queen of the Desert, The Lost City of Z, The Lady In The Van, Rush (2013), Titanic (TV), The Mummy 3, Mr In-Between, The King Is Alive, James Bond – The World Is Not Enough, Fairytale, Hollow Reed, American Friends, Defence of the Realm, Widows 2 (TV), Widows (TV)
  • Clive Russell: Their Finest, Ripper Street (TV), Game of Thrones (TV), Still, Thor 2, Outpost 2, The Wicker Tree, Sherlock Holmes 2, Sherlock Holmes (2009), Coronation St (TV), The Wolfman (2009), Ladies In Lavender, Festival, Mr In-Between, The 13th Warrior, Oscar & Lucinda, Margaret’s Museum, The Hawk,  Neverwhere (TV), Soft Top – Hard Shoulder
  • Mark Cooper Harris: Once Upon a Time In London, Bonded By Blood 2, The Crypt, The Coven, Abducted, The Hooligan Wars,  GBHOffender, The HoldingOutside Bet
  • Jack Doolan: Bachelor Games, It’s a Lot, Green Street 3The FacilityMay I Kill U?Cockneys Vs. ZombiesDemons Never DieCemetery Junction
  • Warren Brown: Cargo, Genesis, Kicking Off, Captain Webb, Luther (TV), Borrowed Time, Dead Set (TV)
  • John Alford: Mike Bassett – England Manager, London’s Burning (TV), Grange Hill (TV)
  • Stephen Moyer: Detour, True Blood (TV), Devil’s Knot, The Double (2011), Priest (2011), Quills, Prince Valiant, The Grand (TV)
  • Joely Richardson: The Time Of Their Lives, Snowden, The Messenger (2015), Maggie, Endless Love (2014), Vampire Academy, Red Lights, The Girl With a Dragon Tattoo (2011), Anonymous, The Tudors (TV), Nip / Tuck (TV), The Last Mimzy, Shoreditch, The Patriot, Maybe Baby, Return To Me, Event Horizon, 101 Dalmatians (1997), Hollow Reed, Loch Ness, Sister My Sister, I’ll Do Anything, Lady Chatterley (TV), Rebecca’s Daughters, Shining Through, King Ralph, Drowning By Numbers

MY NAME IS LENNY

3.5 out of 10

REVIEW COMING SOON

Release date: 12th June 2017 (DVD premiere)

Director: Ron Scalpello (Pressure / Offender)

Cast: Josh Helman, Chanel Cresswell, Nick Moran, Charley Palmer-Rothwell, Jennifer Brooke, Michael Bisping, George Russo, Frankie Oatway, Nicola Duffett with John Hurt, Martin Askew and Rita Tushingham

Writer: Paul Van Carter & Martin Askew

Trailer: MY NAME IS LENNY

WHAT HAVE I SEEN THAT ACTOR IN BEFORE?

  • Josh Helman: Wayward Pines (TV), X Men 6, Mad Max 4, X Men 5, Jack Reacher, Animal Kingdom, Home and Away (TV)
  • Chanel Cresswell: Trollied (TV), The Aliens (TV), This Is England 90 (TV), Bypass, This Is England 88 (TV), This Is England 86 (TV), This Is England
  • Nick Moran: Accident Man, The Habit of Beauty, Eat Local, Terminal, London Heist, Don’t Knock TwiceAge of Kill, Down Dog, Death (2014)St George’s DayThe Kid (2010) (dir), Goal 3, Harry Potter & The Deathly Hallows Pt 1 & 2, Telstar (dir), The Baby Juice Express, Puritan, The Musketeer, Another Life, Rancid Aluminium, Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels
  • Charley Palmer-Rothwell: iBoy, Legend (2015), The Guvnors, It’s a Lot
  • Jennifer Brooke: Hollyoaks (TV)
  • Michael Bisping: Triple Threat, xXx 3, The Anomaly, Plastic, Hollyoaks Later (TV), Beatdown
  • George Russo: London Heist, Bonded By Blood 2, Top Dog, I Am Soldier, Green Street 3Turnout, Zebra Crossing, Tony
  • Nicola Duffett: Gangsters Gamblers and Geezers, Family Affairs (TV), Shooting Fish, Eastenders (TV), Mad Dogs and Englishmen, Howard’s End
  • John Hurt: That Good Night, Damascus Cover, The Journey, Jackie, ChickLit, Snowpiercer, Hercules (2014), Only Lovers Left Alive, Doctor Who – Day of the Doctor, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy,  Immortals (2011), Brighton Rock (2011),  Harry Potter 1,7 & 8, Melancholia,  New York I Love You, 44 Inch Chest, The Limits Of Control, V For Vendetta, Hellboy 1 & 2, Outlander, Indiana Jones and The Kingdom Of The Crystal Skull, Perfume, The Oxford Murders, The Skeleton Key, Captain Corelli’s Mandolin,  The Proposition, Lost Souls, Contact, Night Train, You’re Dead, All The Little Animals, Love and Death On Long Island, WIld Bill (1995), Dead Man, Rob Roy, Second Best, Even Cowgirls Get The Blues, Monolith, King Ralph, The Field, Scandal, White Mischief, Heaven’s Gate, The Elephant Man, 1984, Watership Down (voice), Midnight Express, Alien, The Naked Civil Servant, 10 Rillington Place, Little Malcolm
  • Martin Askew: Snow In Paradise
  • Rita Tushingham: The Wee Man, Outside Bet, Swing (1999), Under The Skin, The Boy From Mercury, An Awfully Big Adventure, Resurrected, Bread (TV), The Leather Boys

HOUSE OF EVIL

4 out of 10

UK / Italy co-production

REVIEW COMING SOON

Release date: 29th May 2017 (DVD premiere)

Director: Luca Boni & Marco Ristori (Reich of the Dead)

Cast: Lucy Drive, Andrew Harwood-Mills, Desiree Giorgetti and David White

Writer: Raffaele Picchio & Lorenzo Paviano

Trailer: HOUSE OF EVIL

WHAT HAVE I SEEN THAT ACTOR IN BEFORE?

DON’T HANG UP

4 out of 10

Release date: 12th June 2017 (DVD premiere)

Director: Damien Mace & Alexis Wajsbrot

Cast: Gregg Sulkin, Garrett Clayton, Bella Dayne, Philip Desmeules (voice), Jack Brett Anderson, with Parker Sawyers and Sienna Guillory

Writer: Joe Johnson

Trailer: DON’T HANG UP

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Competent thriller which splices Saw and Scream together. Trouble is our heroes are despicable throwaways who pretty much deserve everything that comes there way, depending on how ‘old testament’ your views are.

Gregg Sulkin’s  (FAKING IT) Sam and Garrett Clayton’s (TEEN BEACH) Brady are the ring leaders of a YouTube channel phone pranking gang. Brady is the heartless asshat without a conscience who is quite obviously addicted to the kicks he gets out of phoning and winding up complete strangers. Sam has more of a moral compass, his girlfriend (BELLA DAYNE – HUMANS) is on the verge of dumping him for his involvement, except she’s little better.  One day the chickens come home to roost when they find themselves under siege from a vengeful caller who seems to hold all the cards – who is he/she? And what happens if they disobey his command, “Don’t Hang Up!”

If you’ve never seen this kind of film, you may well be able to predict some of its twists and turns, so derivative of better films is it. However, the tension levels are present and correct and the performance flawless. It’s definitely watchable and a good time passer. The mixture of British and German actors and actresses do well with their American accents, yet you can still tell it’s a British production down to the production values, the set and single locations. Sienna Guillory (FORTITUDE) turns up for a a brief cameo too give the film an ounce of pedigree, in a role as the pranksters first onscreen ‘victim’. Elsewhere the lead duo, do a good job of selling their utterly odious ‘heroes’. It’s quite rare to cheer on the evil villain, who unnerves with a Kevin Spacey-like phone demeanour and a very creepy mask. The lead duo walk into so many traps that you’d think lads like this would have seen in famous films, but no, these guys aren’t the cast of Scream, and there’s no sense of meta. The high-stakes game runs out of steam by the end, and the ending doesn’t quite come off – but in the main this was a diverting 90 minutes designed as a late night throwaway on a film channel.

4 out of 10 – You’ll be rooting for the bad guy in this tidy, yet predictable quickie that borrow large dollops of inspiration from Saw, Scream and When a Stranger Calls. A solid time passer.

WHAT HAVE I SEEN THAT ACTOR IN BEFORE?

  • Gregg Sulkin: Anti-Social, Faking It (TV). Sixty Six
  • Garrett Clayton: Teen Beach 2, Teen Beach
  • Bella Dayne: Humans (TV), Plebs (TV)
  • Jack Brett Anderson: Wolfblood (TV), House of Salem
  • Parker Sawyers: Southside With You, The Calling, Monsters 2
  • Sienna Guillory: Abduct, Fortitude (TV), Lucky Man (TV), High-RiseThe Goob, Luther (TV), Resident Evil 5, Resident Evil 4, Inkheart, Eragon, Resident Evil 3, Love Actually, The Principles of Lust, The Time Machine (2002), Late Night Shopping, Sorted