BEST EXOTIC MARIGOLD HOTEL

8.5 out of 10 

Release Date: 24th February 2012

Director: John Madden: (Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel / The Debt / Shakespeare In Love / Captain Corelli’s Mandolin / Ethan Frome)

Cast: Judi Dench, Bill Nighy, Tom Wilkinson, Maggie Smith, Dev Patel, Celia Imrie, Ronald Pickup, Tena Desae, Diana Hardcastle with Lillete Dubey and Penelope Wilton

Writer: Ol Parker & Deborah Moggach

Trailer: BEST EXOTIC MARIGOLD HOTEL

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The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel is one of those winter released movies that are designed to get the older cinema viewer rounding up in droves. These type of films are sure fire hits and usually run and run at the UK box-office – even playing down to the smallest rural cinemas. Most of them are fairly dry affairs and they feature the usual actors that have been furnishing them for decades. Here is one of the best ones. Whilst The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel may run according to plan, the storylines and the characters are all very engaging and leave most other films like this trailing in its wake.

Based on a best seller by author Deborah Moggach, it tells the story of half a dozen or so ex-pat retirees from Britain who want to spend their last years in the sunny climes of Jaipur in India. They have all found the newly open, barely operational titular hovel run by aimable try-hard business man Sonny (DEV PATEL – SLUMDOG MILLIONNAIRE).

Bankrupt widower, Evelyn (JUDI DENCH – PHILOMENA) has to resort to finding a job in an Indian call-centre, married couple Douglas (BILL NIGHY – UNDERWORLD) and Jean (PENELOPE WILTON – CARRINGTON) cannot afford to live in the UK any longer, racist Muriel (MAGGIE SMITH – SISTER ACT) needs a cheap hip replacement, high court judge, Graham (TOM WILKINSON – RUSH HOUR) has returned to India to lay some ghosts to rest and the other two, Madge (CELIA IMRIE – STAR WARS: THE PHANTOM MENACE) and Norman (RONALD PICKUP – BEST EXOTIC MARIGOLD HOTEL 2) fart about as comic relief.

Originally cast as villain of the piece, Maggie Smith‘s character slowly learns the errors of her ways and grows to accept and love India and probably has the most fun with her initially vile character. But the cast standout has to be Tom Wilkinson whose story arc has the most weight and poignance – it’s a shame he won’t be returning for the sequel. Bill Nighy starts off doing his staple laid back act but begins to show his teeth and mettle when his atrocious wife Jean (PENELOPE WILTON) complains and rejects India as a whole and begins to make his life hell, also endangering his blossoming friendship with Evelyn. Dev Patel bounces back from the truly awful career misstep in The Last Airbender to cement his place as one of the UK’s most promising leading actors. This is how big-budget character pieces should be done. There’s enough meat on the film’s bones but no gristle. It still flows along rapidly with twists and turns and some nice surprises along the way.

8.5 out of 10 – The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel is so well calibrated that I could find nothing  to dislike about it. I’ve seen it three times now and it improves on repeat viewing. It’s an easy pleasurable lazy watch that scores extra points because of my interest in India and my desire to spend time there in the future.  As Tom Wilkinson‘s character says “All Life Is Here!” and as a mainstream grey-blockbuster it delivers and sets the bar for its genre. Until the sequel then!

WHAT HAVE I SEEN THAT ACTOR IN BEFORE?

  • Judi Dench: Tulip Fever, Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, PhilomenaRun For Your WifeJames Bond – Skyfall, J. Edgar, My Week With Marilyn, Jane Eyre (2011), Pirates Of The Caribbean 4, Nine, Notes On A Scandal, James Bond – Golden Eye, James Bond – Tomorrow Never Dies, James Bond – The World Is Not Enough, James Bond – Die Another Day, James Bond – Casino Royale, James Bond – Quantum Of Solace, Mrs Henderson Presents, Pride & Prejudice (2005), Ladies In Lavender, The Chronicles Of Riddick, The Importance Of Being Earnest, The Shipping News, Iris, Chocolat, Tea With Mussolini, Shakespeare In Love, Hamlet (1995), Mrs Brown, Jack & Sarah, Henry V (1989), A Handful Of Dust, 84 Charing Cross Road, A Room With a View
  • Bill Nighy: Dad’s Army, Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, Pride (2014), I Frankenstein, About Time, The World’s End (voice), Jack The Giant Slayer, Total Recall (2012), Wrath Of The Titans, Arthur Christmas (voice), Chalet Girl, Rango (voice), Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows- part 1, Wild Target (2010), Glorious 39, The Boat That Rocked, Underworld 3, Valkyrie, Pirates Of The Caribbean 3, Hot Fuzz, Notes On a Scandal, Flushed Away (voice), Alex Rider- Stormbreaker, Pirates Of The Caribbean 2, Underworld 2, The Constant Gardner, A Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy (2006), The Magic Roundabout (voice), Enduring Love, Shaun Of The Dead, Underworld, Love Actually, State Of Play (TV), I Capture The Castle, Auf Wierdesen Pet! (TV), The Lost Prince, Lucky Break, The Lawless Heart, Blow Dry, Guest House Paradiso, Still Crazy, Alive and Kicking (1996), Being Human, True Blue
  • Tom Wilkinson: Bone In The Throat, Good People, Unfinished Business, Felony, Belle, The Lone Ranger (2013), Mission Impossible 4, Burke & Hare, The Green Hornet, The Debt, The Ghost, 44 Inch Chest, Duplicity, Valkyrie, Rock-N-Rolla, Michael Clayton, Cassandra’s Dream, The Last Kiss, Seperate Lies, The Exorcism Of Emily Rose, Batman Begins, Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind, Girl With a Pearl Earring, Before You Go, The Importance Of Being Earnest (2002),  In The Bedroom, Black Knight, Another Life, Essex Boys, The Patriot, Ride With The Devil,  Shakespeare In Love, Rush Hour, The Governess, Oscar & Lucinda, Wilde, The Full Monty, Smilla’s Feeling For Snow, The Ghost and The Darkness, Sense and Sensibility, Martin Chuzzlewit (TV), Priest (1994),  A Business Affair, Paper Mask
  • Maggie Smith: The Lady In The Van, Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, My Old Lady, Downton Abbey (TV), Quartet, Harry Potter – 1 to 8, Nanny McPhee 2, Keeping Mum, Ladies In Lavender, Gosford Park, Tea With Mussollini, Washington Square, The First Wives’ Club, Richard III (1995), The Secret Garden, Sister Act 1 & 2, Hook, A Room With a View, A Private Function, The Missionary, California Suite, Death On The Nile, The Prime Of Miss Jean Brodie, Othello (1965)
  • Dev Patel: Chappie, Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel,The Newsroom (TV), Slumdog Millionnaire, The Last Airbender, Skins (TV)
  • Celia Imrie: Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, Nativity 3, What We Did On Our Holiday, The Love Punch, St Trinians 2, Nanny McPhee, St Trinians, Imagine Me & You, Wah-Wah, Bridget Jones  2, Wimbledon, Calendar Girls, Heartlands, Thunderpants, Bridget Jones, Lucky Break, Gormenghast (TV), Dinner Ladies (TV), Star Wars – The Phantom Menace, Hilary & Jackie, The Borrowers (1997), In The Bleak Midwinter, Frankenstein (1994)
  • Ronald Pickup: Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, Prince Of Persia, Holby City (TV), Lolita (1997), Bring Me The Head Of Mavis Davis, The Mission, James Bond – Never Say Never Again
  • Tena Desae: Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel
  • Diana Hardcastle: Good People, Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel
  • Lilette Dubey: Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, The Lunchbox, Monsoon Wedding
  • Penelope Wilton: Downton Abbey (TV), Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, Belle, Dr Who (TV), The History Boys, Pride & Prejudice (2005), Match Point, Shaun Of The Dead, Calendar Girls, Iris, Carrington, The Secret Rapture, Blame It On The Bellboy, Ever Decreasing Circles (TV), Cry Freedom, Clockwise, The French Lieutenant’s Woman

NEW REVIEWS! 31/10/12

HI

Me & Joe Pesci II have been watching and reviewing a few films as usual.  I made the mistake of mistaking STITCHES as a British movie, it’s infact Irish. But I enjoyed it so much I’m going to include it on Britpic.  So that shouldn’t offend any Irish men or women in our midst.  It’s not as if I’m appropriating it and saying it’s Made In Britain. So to follow eventually will be a little review for a really enjoyable lo-fi Irish Horror flick.

We’ve also reviewed DANNY DYER‘S stinker PIMP, a Harold Pinter-esque SEAN PERTWEE thriller called FOUR, a superior horror sequel about zombie Nazis called OUTPOST II: BLACK SUN and Joe Pesci’s exceedingly accurate yet funny review of MARK HAMILL‘s movie comeback AIRBORNE.

SKYFALL review by the end of the week. I’ve seen it and I liked the back to basic approach but was less happy about the setting up of the “Scooby Doo gang” for future films….  Swiss Family Bond anyone?

Next time fools,  Brit Pic Dick

Oh yeah – off to see THE SHINING… Hallowe’en is here!

HARD BOILED SWEETS

5 out of 10

Release Date:  9th March 2012

Director:  David L G Hughes

Cast: Paul Freeman, Ty Glaser, Scot Williams, Peter Wight, Adrian Bower, Laura Greenwood, Nathaniel Martello-White, Phillip Barantini, Elizabeth Berrington, Danny Sapani with Ian Hart and Rene Zagger

Writer: David L G Hughes

Trailer:HARD BOILED SWEETS

219608_172978516090335_148589421862578_378530_3108519_o1Hard Boiled Sweets swaggers onto screens like it’s the last coca-cola in the desert.  Like a dog that thinks it’s invented licking its own balls, whilst the all the other dogs discovered the art days ago.  In presenting the UK gangster flick as something fresh and new by replacing a few metaphoric lightbulbs and a giving it a new, shiny coat of paint, the makers have fooled no one.  There is virtually nothing new and nothing fresh about Hard Boiled Sweets.  It’s parade of witty comparisons between gangsters and boiled sweets is arch rather than funny.  And the cod-Guy Ritchies stylistic ticks got up my nose. So, so far so so-so, but are their any good points?

Yes, there are. In presenting the film like it’s the coolest thing you’ll ever see this year, its certainly sets out a persuasive store.  The film is well-cast with a group of actors that are permanently on the verge of becoming household names.  A few of them have been around decades, yet you can’t put your finger on where you’ve seen them. The two older gangsters, Shrewd Eddie (PAUL FREEMAN – A FANTASTIC FEAR OF EVERYTHING) and Jimmy The Gent (PETER WIGHT – CLONE) are brilliantly cast against type.  Both are unusual choices to play merciless hard-men but they pull off their roles with ease.  Elsewhere in the cast The Bill alumnus Rene Zagger, impresses the most as a doomed bent copper on the take.  The labyrinth plot is well written and structured.  It isn’t hard to follow and all of the characters move around the board accordingly, all having enough room to breathe a modicum of life into their compositions.  The cinematography is slick and not too gimmicky. The neon seafront and pier give the setting of Southend On Sea an otherworldly feel and it’s probably no mistake that the brightly light store fronts and slot arcades are evocative of colourful boiled sweets.

Hard Boiled Sweets is a confident debut with a lot of ego.  It could have been better if the outcome weren’t so inevitable and there was a little more room for the characters to expand.  Certain characters like Adrian Bower‘s (TEACHERS) pimp, Gerry get a bit lost in the shuffle. The running time is very slender that doesn’t help matters.  The whole thing feels like it’s setting up to a big pay off and then it’s all over too quickly.  Admittedly it is a hard act to pull off juggling so many warring characters into the same story.  It’s all very well acted but ultimately, it’s all a bit stale. As slick and new as it all looks, any one with a pair of eyes can see that we’re being sold the same dog again and again.  Saying that, it is a fairly rare crime caper that features more than one prominent woman.

5 out of 10 – A confident, ego-tastic, well-told UK gangster story with an unusual but great cast.  Maybe the makers’ second film will be an improvement on this as there’s fundamentally very little wrong with it.  It’s just ordinary beyond words, which is a great shame.

WHAT HAVE I SEEN THAT ACTOR IN BEFORE?

  • Paul Freeman: Death (2014), Getaway, CenturionA Fantastic Fear Of Everything, Hot Fuzz, Powers Rangers – The Movie, Just Like a Woman, Indiana Jones and The Raiders Of The Lost Ark, The Long Good Friday
  • Ty Glaser: Psychosis
  • Scot Williams: K-Shop, Taking Stock, Redirected, Liverpool One (TV), Clubbed,  The Crew, Backbeat
  • Peter Wight: Kon Tiki, Mr Turner, The Look Of LoveCloneGhosted, Best Laid Plans (2012)Another Year, Cass, Hot Fuzz, Babel, Pride & Prejudice (2005), Vera Drake, Shiner, Naked, Meantime
  • Adrian Bower: The Waiting Room, Teachers (TV)
  • Phillip Barantini: Genesis, Cryptic, World War Dead, Ned Kelly (2003), Band of Brothers (TV)
  • Elizabeth Berrington: Stella (TV), Waterloo Rd (TV), Psychoville (TV), Moving Wallpaper(TV), In Bruges, Nanny McPhee, A Cock and Bull Story, The Office (TV),Quills, The Little Vampire, Mad Cows, Onegin, 8.5 Women,  Secrets & Lies, Naked
  • Nathaniel Martello-White: Life Just Is
  • Danny Sapani: Trance, Mercenaries, Ultimate Force (TV), The Bill (TV)
  • Ian Hart: Dough, Boardwalk Empire (TV), A Boy Called Dad, Morris – A Life With Bells On, Breakfast On Pluto, A Cock and Bull Story, Rag Tale, Finding Neverland, Blind Flight, Killing Me Softly, Harry Potter & The Philosopher’s Stone, Strictly Sinatra, Born Romantic, Liam, Best, The Closer You Get, The End Of The Affair, Wonderland (1999), This Year’s Love, Enemy Of The State, B-Monkey, Mojo, The Butcher’s Boy, Michael Collins, The Hollow Reed, Nothing Personal, Clockwork Mice, The Englishman Who Went Up a Hill But Came Down a Mountain, Land and Freedom, Backbeat, The Hour and The Times
  • Rene Zagger: Interview With a Hitman, The Bill (TV)

FOUR

7 out of 10

Release Date: 21st October 2011

Director: John Langridge

Cast: Sean Pertwee, Craig Conway, Martin Compston and Kierston Wareing

Writer: Paul Chronell

Trailer: FOUR

ALSO SEE JOE PESCI II’s aka Matt Usher’s counter-review at the foot of the page***

Four is a taut little thriller that could have just as easily have worked as an effective stage play.  As the title clearly indicates, this is a four-hander.  A detective, a cuckolded-husband, a wife and her lover.  The detective (SEAN PERTWEE – SOLDIER) has been employed by the husband to bring his wife’s lover to an abandoned warehouse for questioning / punishment.  The detective has obliged but also gone one step further by also bringing his employee’s wife along.   With two of the four characters blind-folded and bound to chairs in separate parts of the ruin much of the set up is left to the husband (Craig Conway) and Pertwee. Therefore the dialogue and performances are left to run without a safety net.  No cutaways, no scenes at other locations and no helpful flashbacks. The occasionally unreliable Sean Pertwee shows us that he’s more than up to the task, proving there may be a bit more to his nameless detective than meets the eye. He’s keenly met by Craig Conway (DEVIL’S PLAYGROUND) as the husband, who previously impressed as the lead villain in Doomsday.

The plot is slim but it still grips.  It has some elements of the absurd as well, for instance the husband’s obsessive almost psychotic need for a cigarette or the detective’s confusing yet pointless spiels about his favourite films.  The lover (MARTIN COMPSTON – PIMP) is suitably scared as the everyman caught up in this nightmare situation.  Continuously battered senseless by either of his two captors, he is very convincing.  He wriggles like a worm on a big f*cking hook, trying every angle to get out of the nightmare.  A few red herrings are thrown in for good luck, the family man? But the best is left for last with a fearless, yet utterly theatrical turn from Kierston Wareing (THE HOLDING) as the wife.  The mangle that she puts her captors through is thoroughly entertaining but not completely convincing.  Her ‘wife’ seems to be a complete expert in male manipulation and it’s as if she has been in similar situations before.  It’s this that sets alarm bells ringing down the line.  But as a piece of slick, well acted slab of low budget entertainment, I would recommend this as a great time killer.  Good ending too that makes sure that your journey is worth it.

7 out of 10 – Great acting from the committed cast. Nice to see Sean Pertwee in a big role after all these years. Harold Pinter-lite is no sleight against Four. Think Roald Dahl’s Tales Of The Unexpected for the 21st Century and you’d be closer to the mark.  An improvement on the credibility stretching yet enjoyable Airborne, also written by Paul Chronell.

WHAT HAVE I SEEN THAT ACTOR IN BEFORE?

THE TOURNAMENT

7.5 out of 10

Release Date: 25th July 2010

Director: Scott Mann

Cast: Robert Carlyle, Kelly Hu, Ving Rhames, Liam Cunningham, Ian Somerhalder, Sebastian Foucan, Craig Conway, Andy Nyman, Iddo Goldberg, Nick Rowntree with John Lynch and Scott Adkins

Writer: Nick Rowntree

Trailer: THE TOURNAMENT

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Here’s that high concept American style movie that young turk directors of the 1990s like Paul Anderson, Stephen Norrington and Vadim Jean were promising us.  Only none of them are involved.  Instead they gave us Shopping, Death Machine and Beyond Bedlam. These directors certainly opened the door for the wider range of UK movies we are seeing at the moment.  If blogs like Britpic existed back in 1992, I would be coming on to this site to post a review once every six weeks instead of everyday.  The fact that a slick big budget Hollywood style movie got made on the streets of Middlesborough would have been outlandish but here it is.  It even casts one or two descending / ascending Americans like Ving Rhames (PIRAHNA 3D) and Ian Somerhalder (LOST).  The fact that it pulls off a decent concept with expensive looking stunts and pyrotechnics and that it’s a UK indie is something else.  It has a paltry but decent script, a cracking plot, some amazing action scenes and blinding martial arts from Scott Adkins and Kelly Hu.  I was gutted that this didn’t get a wide cinema release.  But having thought about it, I think The Tournament came along too late.  We’ve had decent UK genre films for years now and finally when the industry delivers on an old promise, we’d all moved on to more sophisticated fare. Dare I say that men’s preferences have shifted towards the hooligan / gangster cycle that dominates.  Teens are catered for by a regular diet of horror.  Rare reviews of this movie have been fairly uncharitable writing it off as being too straightforward DTV material.  They are jaded snobs. There’s so much to recommend and it gets extra points for setting Hard Target in your street.

The plot as it stands has been done a few times, with variations on the theme, but essentially this is Surviving The Game and Hard Target set in Middlesborough. Said town has the largest concentration of CCTV cameras in the world.  So its a perfect location for a top secret tournament run by an all powerful, all seeing kabal.  Every seven years 30 of the world’s top assassins compete by picking each other off down to the last man standing.  The prize is a huge amount of money and the games are financed by high stakes gambling. The townsfolk are oblivious and neither are the police, they become collateral and subsequent deaths are brushed under the carpet.  Matters are complicated when one contestant, Bogart (SEBASTIAN FOUCAN – CASINO ROYALE) puts his tracker into an alcoholic’s Priest’s (ROBERT CARLYLE – RAVENOUS) coffee.  Unharmed and unaware, he becomes hunted by the remaining assassins.  How will he survive? Well that’s predictable too because our heroine, Lai Lai Zhen (KELLY HU – SURF NINJAS) believes his story and takes him under wing, eventhough there can be one survivor of the contest.  Amongst those up against her and the Priest are the reigning champion, Harlow (VING RHAMES), American serial killing psycho, Miles Slade (IAN SOMERHALDER) and Petrov; (SCOTT ADKINS – RE-KILL) as a Russian Kickboxing Mercenary.

The film cracks along at a fair pace and other name actors like Craig Conway (FOUR) and John Lynch (CAL) are sent to the gun club in the sky without a fuss.  The set pieces are creative and exciting. There is very little slow motion or wire work which marrs this  kind of flick, and the casting of genuine physical talents like Foucan, Hu and Adkins give the fight scenes real verve and a compelling reason to cheer our heroine on. The dialogue between the priest and Zhen is economic but who has time to share stories when you have the world’s best killers on your ass.  Their dynamic still works. The spice is added when the Priest is added to the list of contestants when the Games Master (LIAM CUNNINGHAM – HARRY BROWN) realises what’s happened.  The ending has no easy fix but it’s sensibly played and an action climax on a dual carriage involving high speed lorries and a double decker bus is shot perfectly.  It may be small scale compared to spectacles in James Bond or Die Hard but it sure delivers what it can.  The makers have clearly kept the lid on their red markers at script stage and resisted putting a line through the action scenes, writing them off as too expensive.  They’ve had a bash and won.  There’s no time in the plot for anyone to put in career best performances but for what it is The Tournament is great mid-tier action film.  It’s a bit old hat but I’m happy that it arrived. My only grumble is a small one and that’s that the great Scott Adkins part was too small.  I wanted more fight scenes between him and Kelly Hu. Grrr.

7.5 out of 10 – Slight but right.  Simple mid-tier action. Enough originality in the fights and action to cover up for a slender script .  Enjoyable, old school action in the Hard Target mold, only set in Middlesborough, like man.

WHAT HAVE I SEEN THAT ACTOR IN BEFORE?

  • Robert Carlyle: Porno, The Legend of Barney Thompson, 24 (TV), Summer, 28 Weeks Later, Flood, Eragon, The Mighty Celt, Black & White (2002), Once Upon a Time In The Midlands, The 51st State,  There’s Only One Jimmy Grimble, The Beach, Angela’s Ashes. James Bond – The World Is Not Enough, Ravenous, Plunkett & Macleane, Face, The Full Monty, Trainspotting, Go Now, Priest (1995), Riff-Raff, Silent Scream
  • Kelly Hu: Arrow (TV), Warehouse 13 (TV), The Vampire Diaries (TV), X Men 2, Cradle 2 The Grave, The Scorpion King, Surf Ninjas
  • Ving Rhames: Mission Impossible 5, Pirahna 3DD, Pirahna 3D Death Race 3, Mission Impossible 1 to 4, Surrogates, Dawn Of The Dead (2004), Day Of The Dead (2008), I Now Pronounce You Chuck & Larry, Idlewild, Dark Blue, Baby Boy, Bringing Out The Dead, Entrapment, Out Of Sight, Bodycount, Con Air, Rosewood, Dangerous Ground, Striptease, Kiss Of Death, Pulp Fiction, The Saint Of Fort Washington, Dave, Blood In – Blood Out, Stop! Or My Mom Will Shoot, The People Under The Stairs, Homicide, Jacob’s Ladder
  • Liam Cunningham: Pursuit (2016), Noble, Let Us Prey, Game of Thrones (TV), Dr Who (TV),  The Numbers Station, Good VibrationsCenturion, The Mummy 3, Dog Soldiers, Game Of Thrones (TV), Clash Of The Titans (2010), Harry Brown, The Escapist, The Guard, Safe House, War Horse, Blood – The Last Vampire, Hunger, The Wind That Shakes The Barley, The League Of Gentlemen Movie, Jude, A little Princess, The War Of The Buttons
  • Ian Somerhalder: The Anomaly, The Vampire Diaries (TV), Lost (TV), Pulse, The Rules Of Attraction
  • Sebastian Foucan: The Antwerp Dolls, James Bond – Casino Royale
  • Craig Conway: Blood ShotScintillaAirborne,  7Lives Four, Devil’s Playground,  How To Stop Being a Loser, Doomsday,
  • Andy Nyman:  Bone In The Throat, Chuggington (voice)(TV), Automata, ABCs of Death 2, Shaun The Sheep Movie (voice), Peaky Blinders (TV), Chuggington (TV) (voice), Kick Ass 2, Black Death, Dead Set (TV), Death At a Funeral (2007), The Brothers Bloom, Severance
  • Iddo Goldberg: The Last Passenger, Unmade Beds, Secret Diary Of a Call Girl (TV), Defiance
  • John Lynch: ScintillaPrivate Peaceful, The Hot PotatoGhosted, 13HRsBlack Death, Isolation, Sliding Doors, The Secret Of Roan Inish, The Secret Garden (1993), In The Name Of The Father, Angel Baby, Best, This Is The Sea, Some Mother’s Son, Moll Flanders (1996),  Nothing Personal, Princess Caraboo, Edward II, Hardware, Cal
  • Scott Adkins: Undisputed 4, The Eliminators, Criminal (2016), Grimsby, Jarhead 3, Legendary, Re-Kill, Green Street 3, Universal Soldier 4, Zero Dark Thirty, The Expendables 2, Assassination Games, X Men: Wolverine, Undisputed 3, Undisputed 2, The Bourne Ultimatum, Eastenders (TV), Doctors (TV)

COCKNEYS VS. ZOMBIES

4 out of 10

Release Date: 31st August 2012

Director: Matthias Hoene

Cast: Harry Treadaway, Rasmus Hardiker, Michelle Ryan, Ashley Thomas, Jack Doolan, Georgia King, Dudley Sutton, Tony Gardner, Georgina Hale, Tony Selby, Phil Cornwell, Gary Beadle with Richard Briers, Honor Blackman, Dexter Fletcher and Alan Ford

Writer: James Moran & Lucas Roche

Trailer:COCKNEYS vs. ZOMBIES

READ JOE PESCI’S REVIEW AT THE BOTTOM OF THE PAGE TOO!

I’m a bit disappointed with Cockneys Vs. Zombies in that the trailer made it look like so much fun.  Maybe it’s because it’s arrived so late in the Zombie movie cycle and that it suffers by comparison to the king of Zom-Coms, Shaun Of The Dead.  It also has to line up behind Peter Jackson’s Braindead or the American, Zombie Land.  It’s a case of the trailer containing all the best jokes as well.  The trailer is hilarious but there are no funnier gags in the film if any.  The cast are certainly game and the Zombie make up is up to spec but the whole thing feels scrappy and loose. Cockneys Vs. Zombies needed to come along earlier or when Zombies have at last receded from pop-culture for it to stand out.  The title is even borrowed / knicked from last spring’s Strippers Vs. Werewolves, another East End horror comedy that had more ideas than money.  Strippers was certainly scrappier than this but it was heaps funnier and more creative.  The casting of old TV favourites though is very inspired and it’s good to see the likes of Honor Blackman (JAMES BOND – GOLDFINGER) and Dudley Sutton (ORLANDO) tool up and serve zombie ass. Richard Briers (RUN FOR YOUR WIFE) shows up for a bit too and he is just great, cast against type.  He has the best gag of the film involving a zimmer frame (see the TRAILER).

The plot as it stands begins with a black plague tomb being unearthed by property developers led by Phil Cornwell (STELLA STREET).  They get bitten by some zombies and so it goes.  Meanwhile, two brothers (RASMUS HARDIKER – YOUR HIGHNESS) and (HARRY TREDAWAY – CITY OF EMBER) and a group of their friends are in the process of robbing a bank to raise money to save an old peoples’ home from said property barons.  The brothers’ Granddad, a sweary old gangster played by Alan Ford (JACK FALLS) lives there.  The hordes of zombies hamper their progress in forming a rescue for the oldies and so on.

The supporting cast are made up of Michelle Ryan (HUGE) (well cast at last!), Ashley Thomas (SHANK) (reliable), Georgia King (ONE DAY) and Jack Doolan (CEMETERY JUNCTION).  They bring a lot of energy to their slim parts but I guess there’s only so much character development you can expect in a zombie flick. The script is mainly comprised of exchanges that go something like “RARGHH”, “HE’S BEHIND YOU, YOU SILLY C*NT!*, BANG <- a gunshot.  As Alan Ford says in the extras, “it’s not Chekhov“!

4 out of 10 – It’s still fun but just pretend it’s the first zombie film you’ve ever seen and it’ll be amazing.  Like I say, there’s not much wrong with it. More jokes, a scarier lead up (other than Eastenders‘ alumni Gary Beadle (THE COMIC STRIP PRESENTS) getting his face munched to funny effect) and some invention would have set it ahead of the pack.  I think it’s just happy to coast along in the middle though.  If you’re looking for a little horror-com that can, try Stitches!

WHAT HAVE IS SEEN THAT ACTOR IN BEFORE?

STITCHES

7 out of 10

Ireland 

Release Date: 26th October 2012  Director: Conor McMahon

Cast: Ross Noble, Tommy Knight, Gemma-Leah Devereux, Shane Murray Corcoran

Writer: Conor McMahon

Trailer: STITCHES

Is it possible for a film to be so good because of a single idea or character?  If so Stitches proves it.  What could have been a generic stalk and slash horror comedy is made fresh by a wonder performance by first time actor Ross Noble and inventive and very effective special effects.  Between director Conor McMahon and Ross Noble, a memorably grisly and funny horror icon has been created. The titular Stitches is the local clown who has a fatal accident at the hands of a group of spoilt kids six years ago.  Back from the grave, Stitches wreaks revenge on the now teen aged killers that put him six feet under.  For plot, that’s it.  The lead teen is Tommy Knight from Dr Who, who has had a phobia of clowns ever since Stitches demise.  So when Ross Noble‘s murderous ghoul returns from the dead our hero isn’t sure whether he’s having hallucinations.

Our hero’s mother is out of town so a party is going off at his considerable house.  This is an apt canvas to shed blood.  Each victim is despatched in an extremely gory almost jazz-ike variation of the manner in which Stitches act was disrupted six years before.  We see visceral and imaginative uses for intestines, umbrellas, can openers and bicycle pumps.  Almost like Freddy Kreuger in the use of sight gags, Ross Noble’s Stitches makes the dead clown his own by basing him on that ilk of Northern stan up comedians like Jim Bowen, Les Dawson or Bernard Manning.  Wheezing and pausing for breath whilst in pursuit, exclaiming “Bastards!” at any chance he can get.  He even has an amazing catch phrase which will resonate long after you’ve finished watching.  The inclusion of “I Just Died In Your Arms Tonight” by The Cutting Crew is superb. I wish it had been used for a better scene though.  It’s a few inches from being iconic.

So we’ve established that it’s funny but is it scary?  Not really but it is creepy.  So that’s good.  A procession of ghostly clowns at Stitches funeral is memorable and the re-birth is a riff on a famous horror staple.  The first few fleeting glimpses of him around the party are effectively weird too. So kudos to the makers for keeping their eye on important genre trappings.  On the downside the teens are a standard bunch of no-hopers that I struggle to remember beyond their creative deaths.  So a little bit of thought with the characters and some better acting from them may have been in order.  Like I said though, this is a horror and it belongs to the beast.  What a good beast he is too. Ross Noble acts like this is his one chance, but he doesn’t over cook it.  A truly talented natural at acting, not just another stand up that got lucky.

Stitches is included in Britpic even though it’s an Irish Film Production.  My reason for putting it in here is because it was so good. But in spirit this site is dedciated to independent cinema everywhere.  I think the readers of the site would want to now about it too.  So I hope to see even more Irish low-fi flicks like this. Can’t wait for Grabbers! Crappy low budget horror-comedies like Elfie Hopkins take note, it is possible to make a great genre pic with no money.

7 out of 10 – A memorably creepy comedy horror romp. Chiefly victorious because of a commanding performance from Ross Noble in his acting debut and very creative gory effects. If there’s any justice Stitches the clown will stand shoulder to shoulder with Freddy Kreuger, Jason Vorhees, Michael Myers and their friends. Well done all concerned. What’s next?

Another Review below by Matt “what’s a clown?” Usher

WHAT HAVE I SEEN THAT ACTOR IN BEFORE?

  • Ross Noble: The Circle (2015), The Fairy Flag, Ross Noble – Freewheeling (TV), Ross Noble – Mindblender (TV), Ross Noble – Nonsensory Overload (TV), Ross Noble – Fizzy Logic (TV), Ross Noble – Sonic Waffle (TV)
  • Tommy Knight: Waterloo Road (TV), The Sarah Jane Adventures (TV), Dr Who (TV)
  • Gemma-Leah Devereux: Dartmoor Killing, Casualty (TV)