LOVE ME STILL

6 out of 10

Release Date: 4th April 2008

Director: Danny Hiller

Cast: Andrew Howard, Geoff Bell, Alex Reid, Camille Coduri, Brian Croucher and Tom Bell

Writer: Danny Hiller

Trailer: LOVE ME STILL

Love Me Still poster

Love Me Still is a very well acted and written little film for the most part. It’s a big shame that the story gets bogged down two thirds of the way through. But for an indie with virtually no hope of being discovered with limited amounts of appeal, Love Me Still is definitely worth seeking out.

Andrew Howard (REVOLVER) plays a jail bird who wants to surprise his wife by not telling her of his imminent release.  His wife (ALEX REID – THE DESCENT) is being blackmailed into doing illegal drug drop offs for  Howard’s brother (GEOFF BELL – COMEDOWN).  Despite his evil aspirations Bell becomes obsessed with Reid and kidnaps her and her daughter to rural Ireland.  He co-erces her into having constant sex in order to pay off a debt for a botched drop.  Of course, on Howard’s release everything gets considerably more pear shaped. Events set the two brothers on a collision course with only one possible outcome.

Part of the films success is the inevitability of the scenario.  The two warring brothers with a woman at the heart of the matter will lead to heartbreak all round. Comfortably played by the whole cast, Geoff Bell is the standout, adding shade to his normal thug stylings.  Veteran Liverpudlian actor Tom Bell (THE KRAYS) shows up as Howard’s father in his last role.  He is suitably crusty and wise but he adds very little to proceedings and actually looks visibly ill. Camille Coduri (THE FIRM) brings great support as Howard’s caring but brassy sister with a taste for toy boys.  Andrew Howard is a solid leading man and I wonder if we’ll see more of him. I only recall him from Guy Ritchie‘s weird Revolver. Alex Reid is utterly convincing as the wife under siege with no one to turn to for help. She is one of the UK’s most talented actresses in my opinion and I wonder why she doesn’t get more gigs. I first spotted her in The Descent and have an eye out for her ever since.

Love Me Still is a good story with a very good cast and convincing character arcs.  It’s got a committed cast but it’s a shame that this film went nowhere (DVD sales / no cinema release). With UK crime and gangster movies being ten a penny, here’s one that really holds the interest and has an honest crack at portraying real people in bizarre situations.  To be honest, its a hard film to recommend specifically based on the content. Who it’s meant to appeal to is a real mystery and it’s a shame to let it languish in a no man’s land between good films and dry non event movies. I think it may even be hard to find a copy.

6 out of 10 – Way above average but it’s all a bit dry despite the great acting and interesting plot.

Read JOE PESCI II’s fluffy review below…

WHAT HAVE I SEEN THAT ACTOR IN BEFORE?

EVIL ALIENS

1.5 out of 10

Release Date: 10th March 2006

Director: Jake West (ABCs Of Death / Doghouse / Razor Blade Smile)

Cast: Emily Booth, Jamie Honeybourne, Samuel Butler, Dan Palmer, Jodie Shaw, Peter O’Connor, Nick Smithers with Chris Adamson and Norman Lovett

Writer: Jake West

Trailer: EVIL ALIENS

Is it really worth reviewing this? Technically, me and Joe Pesci II could get out of it because the site remit is to review films that have been released since 2010. But as Joe  already beat me to it, here are my thoughts. It’s a porno with no sex. But, it’s still better than Axed, Basement and Keith Lemon (the current bottom graded three films viewed at the time of writing). But that’s not saying much. I was interested in seeing this because I have a soft spot for director Jake West’s Doghouse, but I knew I’d made a mistake within minutes.  Future UK queen of horror Emily Booth (INBRED) has a rare leading role that sees her investigate an alien encounter on a remote Welsh island. She plays a presenter of a paranormal cable TV show and her editor, Norman Lovett (RED DWARF) needs her to bring in the goods or she’s fired.  Enlisting a team of actors (for re-enactments) and UFO experts, the motley crew set off to Wales with no hilarious results.

The inventive use of gore and make-up is a dim reason to recommend the movie but it really is good. The aliens turn out to be the hostile kind and they go about being obliterated, vaporised and splatted along with their Welsh hosts and TV crew members.  The dialogue and plot are terrible. The aliens power their ship from an ancient stone circle, a geek gets de-virginised by a girl alien, alien babies run amok and burst out of human bodies left right and centre.  There’s lots of Welsh subtitles, which does assume the filmmakers have made this for people who can read? I’m thinking that’s a bit of a stretch though.

Any film that presents Norman Lovett in a cameo to bring gravitas and kudos to proceedings definitely needs to worry. Now I love Red Dwarf, don’t get me wrong but, Lovett is no cameo god in the ‘Billy Murray’ sense.  Emily Booth wisely made the move into providing great cameos for low budget horrors after the dubious success of Emily Booth’s Gorezone Magazine Movie Massacre which is very entertaining. As for the rest of the cast, we get a bunch of people that have never shown their faces before or since with the exception of looker Chris Adamson (THE LIGHTHOUSE), who is the Welsh farmer who’s highlight is spunking through a hole in the wall, during a sex scene and grunting a lot.

The action is non-stop but it’s still too tedious for words. What could have been a ten beer and a vindaloo special ends up being as thrilling and as space age as a packet of Space Raider crisps.  Intergalactic my foot. These guys got their alien costumes at a sex fetish shop.  I actually think the cast got roped in thinking they were making a porno. It has all the plot sense and excitement of one, only there’s no sex.

1.5 out of 10 – The wit and production of values of a porno (a gay one – I’ll have to ask Joe Pesci II if he knows) without the sex. Gormless and makes Jonathan Sothcott‘s Dead Cert and Devil’s Playground movies come across like Avengers Assemble.

WHAT HAVE I SEEN THAT PERSON IN BEFORE?

ESSEX BOYS

4 out of 10

Release Date: 14th July 2000

Director: Terry Winsor

Cast: Sean Bean, Charlie Creed-Miles, Alex Kingston, Tom Wilkinson, Terence Rigby, Holly Davidson, Michael McKell, Gary Love with Billy Murray and Larry Lamb

Writer: Terry Winsor

Trailer: ESSEX BOYS

Essex Boys was the first film to tackle the now legendary Rettendon Murders.  It takes a fast and loose largely fictional approach, with the makers only going as far as to say that this film is inspired by the real life events.  It also happens to be the fourth film I’ve seen in a twelve month period based on the same subject.  Sadly, the best by a very long has turned out to be the one with the silliest wigs, Rise Of The Footsoldier. But first is forever.

Essex Boys concentrates on Billy Whizz’s story (based on Darren Nicholls) played by Charlie Creed-Miles (HARRY BROWN) and his association with Sean Bean (THE AGE OF HEROES) (based on Pat Tate), Larry Lamb (BUSTER) (based on Tony Tucker) and Michael McKell (OUTPOST 3) (based on Craig Rolfe) all given fictional names that I can’t be bothered to look up.  This version of Pat Tate has just gotten out of jail to find out that his old co-horts are now swanning around in big cars and living in mansions.  In order to get square he takes over the doors of the local Southend clubs.  A bad batch of drugs leading to a high profile death supplied to them by Tom Wilkinson‘s (RUSH HOUR) Mickey Steele-a-like leads to toys being thrown out of the pram and more death.  Namely ones situated in a particular 4×4.

The main difference in Essex Boys to the other three is that Sean Bean‘s wife, played by Alex Kingston (ER), is a major player and the ambitious brains behind much of the shenanigans.  For a gangster film this was quite unique (with the exception of The Krays) but in recent films such as Animal Kingdom and Down Terrace they have demonstrated that women are largely the backbone and steel in crime families.  Alex Kingston‘s deviousness and eye on the prize does single Essex Boys out from the pack though. It’s a shame the rest of the film is such a trudge. There’s little to fault with the acting, and another great plus is some great cinematography, elevating this above your average Granada TV one off.

Maybe it’s because this is the fourth film about the same subject I’ve sat down to watch in a relatively short period that I feel so jaded and blah-blah.  As a stand alone, it’s a competent if not terribly exciting gangster movie with a committed cast. Measured up to the other three Essex Boys movies this takes the silver medal after the, now,classic Rise Of The Footsoldier. It also has the least silliest wigs.  It’s better scripted but the least factual of the four. Sadly, I came to this one too late so my view point is too skewed to look at this in the plain light of day, much like any new versions based on the same tedious subject. I really really hope that Fall Of The Essex Boys is the last one. It’s certainly the last one I’ll watch.

4 out of 10 – Reasonable but pointlessly free and loose with the facts.

WHAT HAVE I SEEN THAT ACTOR IN BEFORE?

  • Sean Bean: The Martian, Pixels, Jupiter Ascending, Percy Jackson 2, Silent Hill 2, Mirror Mirror, Cleanskin, Game Of Thrones (TV), The Age Of Heroes, Deathrace 2, Black Death, Percy Jackson, Far North, Outlaw, The Hitcher (2007), Silent Hill, Flight Plan, North Country, The Island, The Dark, National Treasure, Troy, Lord Of The Rings- Fellowship Of The Ring, Equilibrium, Don’t Say a Word, Ronin, Anna Karenina (1997), When Saturday Comes, James Bond- Goldeneye, Black Beauty (1994), Shopping, Sharpe (TV), Patriot Games, The Field, War Requiem, Stormy Monday, Caravaggio
  • Charlie Creed-Miles: Peaky Blinders (TV), Wild Bill (2012), Hereafter, Harry Brown, Nil By Mouth, The Fifth Element, The Young Poisoner’s Handbook, Press Gang (TV)
  • Alex Kingston: Dr Who (TV), Like Crazy, Alpha Dog, Moll Flanders (TV), ER (TV)
  • Tom Wilkinson: Bone In The Throat, Good People, Unfinished Business, Felony, Belle, Grand Budapest Hotel, The Lone Ranger (2013), Mission Impossible 4, The Best Exotic Marigold HotelBurke & 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
  • Terence Rigby: Mona Lisa Smile, Simon Magus, Plunkett and Macleane, Elizabeth I, James Bond- Tomorrow Never Dies, Funny Bones, The Young Americans, Scandal, Get Carter (1971)
  • Holly Davidson: Casualty (TV), The Bill (TV), Final Cut, Food Of Love
  • Michael McKell: Outpost 3, Emmerdale (TV), Freight, Doctors (TV)
  • Gary Love: Stoned, Soldier Soldier (TV), The Krays, Grange Hill (TV)
  • Billy Murray:  What’s The Score?, The Disappearance of Lenka Wood, We Still Steal The Old Way, Essex Boys Retribution, One In The Chamber, Rise and Fall Of a White Collar HooliganAirborne (2012)Strippers Vs. WerewolvesStalker (2011),  Freight,  Devil’s Playground,  Dead CertJust For The Record,  DoghouseRise Of The FootsoldierRollin With The Nines,  Hell To Pay, Eastenders (TV), The Bill (TV), McVicar
  • Larry Lamb: Meet Pursuit Delange, Gavin and Stacey (TV), Eastenders (TV), Blood- The Last Vampire, The Bill (TV), Buster

WELCOME TO THE PUNCH

3.5 out of 10

Release Date: 15th March 2013

Director: Eran Creevy (Autobahn / Shifty)

Cast: James McAvoy, Mark Strong, Andrea Riseborough, Peter Mullan, Daniel Mays, Johnny Harris, Natasha Little, Daniel Kuluuya, Ruth Sheen, Elyes Gabel, Jason Maza with Jason Flemyng and David Morrissey

Writer: Eran Creevy

Trailer: WELCOME TO THE PUNCH

Welcome to the Punch Poster

I thought I’d review this film before I forgot everything that I’d seen. Welcome To The Punch is a workman-like, competent but ultimately anonymous Britpic.  Operating with a higher budget it’s been noted in the press material that director Eran Creery‘s main influence was the Hong Kong actioner Infernal Affairs. As mentioned in my review in for The Tournament, it’s good that the UK film industry is finally delivering on a promise to deliver the sleek thriller that  Hollywood produces in its lunch breaks.  Slick, unproblematic, well-cast and breath-taking. So what’s the problem with Welcome To The Punch.

The problems don’t lie with the cast, which is made up of some of the biggest talents at work today, it’s the storyline.  A train journey would be less predictable, Welcome To The Punch never deviates from the standard ‘cops and robbers’ road map. James MacAvoy (TRANCE) plays a cop committed to taking down Mark Strong’s (THE EAGLE) conflicted bank robber. After scuppering an opportunity to bag his quarry years before, McAvoy is now the department by-word for burn out.  When Strong’s son, (ELYES GABEL – EVERYWHERE + NOWHERE) is shot, he returns incognito to London, where McAvoy and an assortment of cops with their own agendas await there chance to put him behind bars.

What ensues is a glossy parade of shoot outs, foot chases, car chases and conversations on top of skyscrapers (much like in Infernal Affairs).  Only once does the film throw us quirkers a bone, when Ruth Sheen (ANOTHER YEAR) shows up as a hitman’s mother who goes onto serve tea and biscuits for Strong and his oppose. One wishes that the makers had bothered to get jazzy a few more times but it never happens.

A lot of fine actors are wasted and lost in the shuffle at the expense of the story template. No one is afforded a back story and there’s about the same amount of character development in your average Paul WS Anderson movie (RESIDENT EVIL, EVENT HORIZON, DEATH RACE etc), so whilst it won’t task the brain cells, it’s a wasted opportunity at giving as a long overdue expose on the Police force. But instead we have a film that even struggles to out style, out interest and out run Nick Love’s recent crack at The Sweeney.  At least that had characters we gave a monkeys about. Eran Creery‘s debut Shifty remains one of the best indies of the last few years, so it’s a shame to see him boil his personal stamp down to little more than a competent wheel house man.

3.5 out of 10 – Disappointing but for all the unpredictable reasons. A real Hollywood-style thriller that is so anonymous and unwilling to play a risky game.  A good cast are utterly squandered.  A completely empty experience. I’d recommend the similar All Things To All Men, which didn’t mind getting it’s hands dirty.

READ JOE PESCI II’s review wayyyyyyyy  below in his hairy dungeon…..

WHAT HAVE I SEEN THAT ACTOR IN BEFORE?

COMEDOWN

2.5 out of 10

Release Date: 15th March 2013 (DVD Premiere)

Director: Menhaj Huda (Everywhere + Nowhere / Kidulthood)

Cast: Jacob Anderson, Jessica Barden, Calum MacNab, Duane Henry, Sophie Stuckey with Adam Deacon and Geoff Bell

Writer: Steve Kendall

Trailer: COMEDOWN

The biggest disappointment in Comedown is Adam Deacon‘s truly terrible performance. After good turns in Anuvahood, Everywhere + Nowhere, Victim and Outside Bet he reverts to the over the top, mouthy dick head characters that established him as one-to-watch in Kidulthood and Adulthood. But those films are old now. And in those films his character was in context. In Comedown he has all the character shading as Bugs Bunny, only uglier and mouthier.

The other main disappointment is that great production values and the sinister look of the movie go to waste on a plot that is as standard and as unthrilling as a thriller can be allowed.  Several kids venture into a derelict high rise housing block to assemble an aerial for a local pirate radio station.  The only problem is they get locked in and picked off gruesomely by a mysterious, faceless creature / man / ghost? Borrrring!  Yes, the film just plods along as each of the disposable yet annoying pricks get murdered in supposedly creative ways.

Among the cast are a few actors who should have known better than to give this project the swerve. We’ve got Jacob Anderson (OFFENDER), who popped up in the equally dopey but slightly better Demons Never Die, as the gang leader. We also have talented newcomer Jessica Barden (IN THE DARK HALF) who has been so good in other movies, wasted here as a tart with an inexplicable Devonshire accent.  Anderson’s heavily pregnant girlfriend (yes it’s her that gets taken hostage!) Sophie Stuckey (THE DARK) just gets to beg for her life and cry hysterically and the group is made of up of plank Callum MacNab (OUTSIDE BET), slow coach, man child Duane Henry and said motormouth douchebag Adam Deacon.

The big bad just gets to stalk around in a rain mac and put the end to most of the above’s pointless lives.  This is done to zero scary of thrilling effect. This is surprising because a lot of money has been spent on making the film “look” and “sound” great. It’s just a shame it’s such a dull and empty experience.  The ending has some original points to make about surviving ordeals like they’ve lived through. I mean how do you explain away the carnage if you’re a good for nothing dirt bag with no future, who’s already known to the police?

2.5 out of 10 – A good feel for place and sound elevates the whole film above the bottom of the pile. But the acting is OK to terrible and the plot is very very boring. Being a slasher flick that’s inexcusable I’m afraid.

READ JOE PESCI II’s REVIEW – Down….Below! 

WHAT HAVE I SEEN THAT ACTOR IN BEFORE?

TRACKER

REVIEW COMING SOON

Release Date: 29th April 2011

Director: Ian Sharp (Who Dares Wins)

Cast: Ray Winstone, Temuera Morrison, Gareth Reeves, Andy Anderson, Mark Mitchinson, Jodie Hillock

Writer: Nicolas Van Pallandt

Trailer: TRACKER

WHAT HAVE I SEEN THAT ACTOR IN BEFORE?

  • Ray Winstone: The Hot PotatoThe Sweeney Movie, Snow White & The Huntsman, Elfie Hopkins, Hugo, London Boulevard, Fathers Of Girls, The Devil’s Tomb, Rango (voice),  Sex & Drugs & Rock-N-Roll44 Inch Chest, Edge Of Darkness,   Indiana Jones & The Kingdom Of The Crystal Skulls, Fool’s Gold, Breaking and Entering, The Departed, Cold Mountain, Chronicles Of Narnia: The Lion The Witch & The Wardrobe (voice),  The Proposition, King Arthur (2004),  Ripley’s Game, The Martins, Last Orders, Sexy Beast, There’s Only One Jimmy Grimble, Nil By Mouth, Love Honour and Obey, Fanny and Elvis,  Final Cut,  Martha – Meet Daniel Luke and Laurence, Face, Ladybird Ladybird, Tank Malling, Quadrophenia, Scum, Robin Of Sherwood (TV)
  • Temuera Morrison: The Green Lantern, Shortland Street (TV), Couples Retreat, Star Wars- Revenge Of The Sith, The Beautiful Country, Star Wars- Attack Of The Clones, Vertical Limit, What Becomes Of The Broken Hearted, Six Days Seven Nights, Speed 2, Broken English, The Island Of Dr. Moreau, Barb Wire, Once Were Warriors

THE INFIDEL

REVIEW COMING SOON

Release Date: 9th April 2010

Director: Josh Appigananesi

cast: Omid Djalili, Richard Schiff, Archie Panjabi, Amit Shah, Yigal Naor, Soraya Radford, Michele Austin, Bhasker Patel, David Schneider, Paul Kaye with Matt Lucas, James Floyd and Miranda Hart

Writer: David Baddiel

Trailer: THE INFIDEL

WHAT HAVE I SEEN THAT ACTOR IN BEFORE?