DANGEROUS PARKING

REVIEW COMING SOON

Release Date: 23rd May 2008

Director: Peter Howitt (Reasonable Doubt / Johnny English / Laws Of Attraction / Anti Trust / Sliding Doors)

Cast: Peter Howitt, Saffron Burrows, Sean Pertwee, Rachael Stirling, Alice Evans, Victor McGuire, Brian Wheeler with Dervla Kirwan and Tom Conti

Writer: Peter Howitt

Trailer: DANGEROUS PARKING

WHAT HAVE I SEEN THAT ACTOR IN BEFORE?

  • Peter Howitt: Reasonable Doubt (dir), Johnny English (dir), Laws of Attraction (dir), Anti-Trust (dir), Sliding Doors (dir), Bread (TV)
  • Saffron Burrows: Small Apartments, The Bank Job, Reign Over Me, Troy, Frida, Hotel, Enigma, Gangster No.1, Timecode 2000, Miss Julie (1999), Deep Blue Sea (1999), The Loss Of Sexual Innocence, One Night Stand, Hotel De Love, Circle Of Friends
  • Sean Pertwee: Alan Partridge – Alpha Papa,  The Seasoning House, Jo (TV), The Magnificent ElevenUFO (2013)St. George’s DayWild Bill (2012)Four4-3-2-1Devil’s PlaygroundJust For The Record, Botched, Wilderness, Doomsday,  Mutant Chronicles, Goal, Goal II, Equilibrium, Dog Soldiers, The 51st State, Soldier,  Love Honour & Obey, Cold Feet (TV), Event Horizon, Blue Juice,  I.D, Shopping, Dirty Weekend, Leon The Pig Farmer
  • Rachael Stirling: Freeze Frame
  • Alice Evans: Blackball, 102 Dalmatians
  • Victor McGuire: The Woman In Black, The Task, Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels,Bread (TV)
  • Brian Wheeler: Stag Night Of The Dead
  • Dervla Kirwan: Entity, Ondine, Ballykissangel (TV)
  • Tom Conti: The Dark Knight Rises, Streetdance 2, The Tempest (2010), Derailed, Shirley Valentine, Merry Christmas Mr Lawrence, The Duellists

TREACLE JR.

REVIEW COMING SOON

Release Date: 15th July 2011

Director: Jamie Thraves (Pickups / The Low Down)

Cast: Tom Fisher, Aiden Gillen, Riann Steele

Writer: Jamie Thraves

Trailer: TREACLE Jr

WHAT HAVE I SEEN THIS ACTOR IN BEFORE?

ZOMBIE DIARIES 2

6.5 out of 10 

Release Date: 24th November 2011 (DVD Premiere)

Director: Michael Barrett and Kevin Gates (Paranormal Diaries 2 / Paranormal Diaries / The Zombie Diaries)

Cast: Philip Brodie, Alix Wilton-Regan, Rob Oldfield, Vicky Araico, Okorie Chukwu, Toby Bowman, Toby Nicholas, Josh Myers, Craig Stovin, Criselda Cabitac, Marshall Griffin, Jonnie Hurn, Amanda Sterkenburg with Hiram Bleetman and Russell Jones

Writer: Michael Barrett and Kevin Gates

Trailer: ZOMBIE DIARIES 2

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TO BE PROOF READ: This tenuously linked sequel is a marked improvement in every department compared to it’s predecessor.  The plot is quite brilliant, the acting (which couldn’t be worse) is much better, and although there is still lots of room for improvement, this is a very impressive little Brit-Zombie movie.  It’s a shame that it’s associated itself with the earlier episode.

Michael Barrett and Kevin Gates return as directors and writers and it seems like they’ve actually put a degree of thought into proceedings.  Part 2 concentrates on the military unit seen at the beginning and ending of Part 1.  After their barracks gets overrun by Zombies after a dopey soldier leaves the main gates open, half a dozen soldiers and a mental survivor make a dash to the coast so that they can maybe make it over to Holland / main land Europe.  The soldiers are identifiable character ciphers – brave, cowardly, tough, mad etc.  Unlike, part one the soldiers are easily to tell apart despite the jerky cameras. Yes, this is another inexplicable ‘found-footage’ horror.  I can see the budgetary reasons for using this device, but when on the run these cameras are the last thing you’d want to be carrying around.  Quite a few lives are lost at the expense of capturing some all crucial footage – and the batteries seem to be everlasting once again. Amazing.

However, despite the moans there are couple of ingenious plot turns (I won’t go as far as saying twists), but the story belies a good knack for story telling. This isn’t just a stalk and munch saga as often is the case with a lot of Zombie flicks. There’s very little in the character dynamics department but you don’t expect anyone to develop beyond types in this kind of thing. It’s the story devices that reveal some interesting layers.  I mean these guys are our heroes in the film, so a revelation that literally pulls the rug from under the viewers feet is especially good.

Elsewhere, Russell Jones and Hiram Bleetman (GNAW) return in their roles as the faces of human survival at its worst.  They get a whole chunk of the movie to demonstrate (again) quite how far, and how quickly society can generate into deadly chaos.  Their acting skill have improved a little bit too and its actually a relief when they’re characters disappear out of the story again. In part 1 they were just tedious, here the makers and actors have got everything just right.

The effects for the zombies are great and they are quite scary on a number of occasions. They maybe slow but in this episode, they have a lot of friends.  It’s also enjoyable to see a zombie film that takes to the road. So many Zombie films focus on characters that have been pinned down to one location that will eventually fall.

6.5 out of 10 – Zombie Diaries 2 is a vast improvement on the first entry in virtually every department. The plot is one of the very best I’ve seen in a Zombie film – ever! The acting, writing, effects, scares, tension and plot make you look forward to other films from these guys.  Everything is better. It’s a shame to associate this with the woeful first entry. Recommended to all fans of low-fidelity horror flicks.  It’s not quite Colin, but it’s almost there – bite for bite.  Don’t let the stupid and tired ‘found-footage’ device put you off – the makers have used this familiarity to its advantage to trip you up big time.  Recommended for horror fans.

WHAT HAVE I SEEN THAT ACTOR IN BEFORE?

THE ZOMBIE DIARIES

2.5 out of 10

Release Date: 27th August 2007 (DVD Premiere)

Director: Michael Bartlett & Kevin Gates (Paranormal Diaries 2 / The Paranormal Diaries / Zombie Diaries 2 )

Cast: Russell Jones, Anna Blades, Craig Stovin, Alison Mollon, Kyle Sparks, James Fisher, Imogen Church, Johnnie Hurn with Hiram Bleetman and Leonard Fenton

Writer: Michael Bartlett & Kevin Gates

Trailer: THE ZOMBIE DIARIES

A terrible script and shitty acting let this reasonably well-plotted zombie flick down.  The Zombie Diaries is yet another found-footage horror flick, except there seems to be about three or four industry standard cameras wandering around in the same bit of countryside (ones with ever lasting battery packs too in this power blighted zombie-verse). Anyway, contrivances aside, a virus has broken out in the Far East. Faux vox pops on the streets of England show that the public at large aren’t worried. Then one day the virus reaches the UK.  So we intially follow a film crew to a farm in rural Hertfordshire, then we encounter three scavengers heading north, and then finally we tie the threads together at a farm where we discover quite how rapidly humanity has descended into brutal monsters every bit as deadly as the walking dead, now the system has collapsed.

It’s not quite as low-fi as Colin (and nowhere near as good either), but the limited resources have been spent to great effect on the zombie effects and make up. These are probably the most impressive aspects of the film. Like I said though, the acting is terrible. Choosing the ‘found footage’ method of storytelling requires a naturalistic, maybe even semi-improvised script and very good actors. In this film we have neither. The dialogue is stilted and repetitive but contrary to what you’d usually expect, cardinal character traits aren’t worn on sleeves. The dialogue is interchangeable between the indistinguishable gang of bright young things. Any character could be saying any line, there’s no differentiating one person from the next. I never thought I’d ever agree with this but all ‘white guys’ do look the same. Well they do in this! The only elderly character in the film is played by Dr. Legg from Eastenders (LEONARD FENTON – MORONS FROM OUTER SPACE) who gives good cameo. Shame he’s only around for 2 minutes.  One of the girls, Imogen Church (I think)  seems to have had acting lessons and she shows the rest of the cast up, but I’m not sure what happened to her character. She just disappeared in the melee at the end. There’s also  scouse psycho on the loose called GOKAY (RUSSELL JONES – ZOMBIE DIARIES 2) who is one of the standouts, not because he could act though. It’s because he’s gets the bad guy role. Plotwise, it improves a great deal towards the end but you have to spend a lot of good will to get past all the ‘Daniel Radcliffe-style’ acting across the board.  For those that don’t know that’s the delayed reaction that consists of a ghoul appearing – beat – jaw drops – beat – line – beat – action… Slow and wooden.  I was amazed to see that some of these guys have been employed before and since, namely in the sequel Zombie Diaries 2 and Umbrage – The First Vampire (which sucked!)

This could have been better considering the ease of writing your average zombie film. It’s on-par with Gangsters Guns and Zombies as opposed to Shaun Of The Dead.  Better actors could have saved this. So close to being competent it hurts.

2.5 out of 10 – Can Zombies write?

WHAT HAVE I SEEN THAT ACTOR IN BEFORE?

THE WORLD’S END

5 out of 10

Release Date: 17th July 2013

Director: Edgar Wright (Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World / Hot Fuzz / Shaun Of The Dead / A Fistful Of Fingers)

Cast: Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, Martin Freeman, Paddy Considine, Eddie Marsan, Rosamund Pike and Pierce Brosnan with David Bradley, Steve Oram, Michael Smiley, Reece Shearsmith, Nicholas Burns, Mark Heap, Alice Lowe, Rafe Spall, Julia Deakin, Mark Kempner and Bill Nighy (voice)

Writer: Simon Pegg, Nick Frost & Edgar Wright

Trailer: THE WORLD’S END

the_worlds_end_posterI was disappointed. But only with the first half. I really do think that Simon Pegg (STAR TREK) should make the full time move to Hollywood now.  I’m sure he’s lost touch with the man on the street, this enabled him, Nick Frost (ATTACK THE BLOCK) and director Edgar Wright to invest a truly human and identifiably English touch to their first two; Shaun Of The Dead and Hot Fuzz.  It’s like bands who come up from the streets and make something vital and raw that speaks and reflects our lives with a classic LP. The second LP is tough but probably has enough of the rejected material from the first LP to scoop up and build something almost as good yet with a bigger budget. The trouble is, then along comes the tours, the solo projects, the wives, the sponsorship deals, the entourages, the millionaire friends. By the time the third LP comes out, said band have almost lost touch with their roots. What do they sing about? They think they know what its like to be a regular bloke and sing about things we can all identify with but it all rings hollow. Millionaires only talk to other millionaires you see. So tricky third LP… What do you do? You turn to what’s in the newspapers to see whats happening back down there at street level and try to find an angle or a way to find your old voice, a way back to your fans.

And that’s where we find The World’s End. All three have been in a Hollywood film at least once, Wright has directed the very shit Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World, and worked with people at the top of the Hollywood food chain. Now, it’s back to finish the Cornetto Trilogy for the baying fans.  Now if I sound like I didn’t enjoy it that would be wrong. I did however truly hate Simon Pegg’s Gary King, and if you can’t stand the main character, you’re in trouble, but at least he has a character. I truly hated the first half too and the set-up. There was no emotion and the film just seemed to go through the motions.  The whole exercise felt a bit dead behind the eyes like ‘The Blanks’ themselves.  Poor Martin Freeman (THE HOBBIT) and Paddy Considine (NOW IS GOOD) aren’t even filled in with any depth. They are just there to fill out the numbers. The set-up just runs along at a dead eyed clip for forty minutes until the arrival of “The Blanks”.  I usually have a lot of patience for talky films but for once when the action kicked in I was relieved and actually began to enjoy myself. That’s about the same time the funny lines were broke out. So, in short The World’s End is very much a film of two halves.

Nick Frost has never been better in a lead role which seems like the role he was born to play, his portrayal of a  pent up ball of anger turned berzerker has long been overdue. Eddie Marsan (HAPPY GO LUCKY) is also very good as the put upon, gentle member of the group. Outside of Frost and Pegg, he’s the only person given some shade and background. Its a nice change to see him play a different kind of role to his rabid gallery of nut jobs. The other lead role goes to Rosamund Pike (AN EDUCATION) as Gary King’s old fling.  She’s OK, but there’s not an awful lot for any of the characters to do except for run and fight.

‘The Blanks’ themselves are an amusing creation. Initially, appearances are misleading because we think they are replacing humans ‘Invasion Of The Body Snatchers‘-style. But they are actually in Letchworth to co-exist with humanity by taking over remote and random towns gradually ruling by stealth, like They Live.  Obviously, Gary King and his five pals try to thwart with this fiendish plan whilst completing a pub crawl that they started years before.  Gary’s desire to complete this run at any cost is the main plot thrust as it was the best day of his life, yet almost forgotten by most of his gang as the night something altogether darker happened. Anytime, deeper emotions began to halt the action, alarm bells began to ring again. Any attempts at realism were mawkish and fake. The action plotting and stunts and SFX are The World’s End‘s main strengths. As with Hot Fuzz and Shaun Of The Dead there’s still fun to had cameo spotting. And outside of Cate Blanchett‘s walk on in Hot Fuzz, Wright and co. have lassoed one of the world’s biggest film stars in for an extended cameo, there’s also room for lots of old friends from Spaced and Ben Wheatley‘s small rep company.

So I’ll have to chalk this us as a miss, because I loved Wright & co. for their effortless take on British life and they’ve lost their touch in that department (beyond a few pokes at identikit High Streets).  They’ve definitely been out of the loop too long.  That’s why I liked Paul, Simon Pegg and Nick Frost‘s American sci-fi action comedy, because it was a good transition and perhaps a more apt trilogy capper than The World’s End which is all flash and no heart. Paul was funnier and had a lot of heart like Shaun Of The Dead and Hot Fuzz.  The boys have come along way since Spaced, but its time to be movie stars boys and also time to stop trying to be down with the kids. You’re not one of us anymore. But big deal, we’ll always have Spaced.

5 out of 10 – Enjoyable action but a woeful and dead-eyed first half which recycles a lot of old jokes that fall flat.  I am looking forward to Nick Frost‘s solo lead Cuban Fury, which may well contain all the good stuff that was awol here.  Disappointing but no tragedy considering that Hot Fuzz, Shaun Of The Dead and even Paul was such a hard act to follow.

WHAT HAVE I SEEN THAT ACTOR IN BEFORE?

FLOOD

REVIEW COMING SOON

Release Date: 24th August 2007 (DVD Premiere)

Director: Tony Mitchell 

Cast: Robert Carlyle, Tom Courtenay, Joanna Whalley, David Suchet, Jessalyn Gilsig, Nigel Planer, Tom Hardy, Angus Barnett, Ralph Brown, John Benfield, David Hayman, Peter Wight, Pip Torrens. Jeremy Crutchley, Susan Wooldridge and Gottfried John

Writer: Justin Bodle & Matthew Cope

Trailer: FLOOD

WHAT HAVE I SPOTTED THAT ACTOR IN BEFORE?

  • Robert Carlyle: The Legend of Barney Thompson (dir), 24 (TV), The Tournament, Summer, 28 Weeks Later, 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
  • Tom Courtenay: Dad’s Army, 45 Years, Night Train To Lisbon, Quartet, Gambit (2012), The Golden Compass, Nicholas Nickleby (2002), Last Orders, Whatever Happened To Harold Smith?, The Boy From Mercury, Let Him Have It,  One Day In The Life Of Dennis Denusovic, Doctor Zhivago, Billy Liar, The Loneliness Of The Long Distance Runner
  • Joanne Whalley: Wolf Hall (TV), The Borgias (TV), 44 Inch Chest, Before You Go, The Man Who Knew Too Little,  Trial By Jury, A Good Man Africa, Mother’s Boy, The Secret Rapture, Storyville, Shattered, The Big Man, Navy Seals, Kill Me Again, Scandal, To Kill a Priest, Willow, The Singing Detective (TV),  No Surrender, Dance With a Stranger
  • David Suchet: Effie Gray, Poirot (TV), The Bank Job, Flushed Away (voice), The In-Laws, A Perfect Murder, Executive Decision, When The Whales Came, To Kill a Priest, Bigfoot and The Hendersons, Iron Eagle, The Falcon and The Snowman, Greystoke- The Legend Of Tarzan, The Missionary
  • Jessalyn Gilsig: Vikings (TV), Glee (TV), The Stepfather (2009), Heroes (TV), CSI-NY (TV), Nip/Tuck (TV), Friday Night Lights (TV), NYPD Blue (TV)
  • Nigel Planer: Burn Burn Burn, Episodes (TV), I Give It a Year, The Comic Strip Presents (TV), The Land Girls, The Wind In The Willows (1996), Clockwork Mice, Carry On Columbus, Filthy Rich and Catflap, The Supergrass, Brazil, The Young Ones (TV),  Yellowbeard
  • Tom Hardy: Legend (2015), London Road, Mad Max 4, Child 44, Locke, Peaky Blinders (TV), The Dark Knight Rises, Lawless, This Means War, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, Warrior (2011), Inception, Deserter, Bronson, Sucker Punch (2008), Rock N’ Rolla, Scenes Of a Sexual Nature, Marie Antoinette, Layer Cake, Star Trek- Nemesis, Black Hawk Down
  • Angus Barnett: The Wedding Video, Pirates Of The Caribbean 3, Pirates Of The Caribbean
  • Ralph Brown: Elevator Gods, My Hero, All Things To All Men, Jack The Giant Slayer, I Anna, Stoker, Tower BlockHuge, Killing Bono, The Boat That Rocked, Straightheads, Exorcist – The Beginning,  Mean Machine, Star Wars – The Phantom Menace, Up N’ Under, Amistad, Wayne’s World 2, Undercover Blues, The Crying Game, Alien 3, Diamond Skulls, Scandal, Buster, Withnail & I
  • John Benfield: Speed Racer, Charlotte Gray, You’re Dead, Cousin Bette, Beautiful Thing, In The Name Of The Father, Prime Suspect 3 (TV), Prime Suspect 2 (TV), Prime Suspect (TV), Hidden Agenda, Buster
  • David Hayman: Castles In The Sky, Jack Ryan – Shadow Recruit, Sawney – Flesh of ManScrewed, Burke and Hare, The Boy In The Striped Pyjamas, Rag Tale, Tailor Of Panama, Vertical Limit, The Match, My Name Is Joe, Smilla’s Feeling For Snow, Regeneration, The Jackal, The Near Room,  Twin Town,  Rob Roy, Venus Peter, Sid & Nancy, Hope and Glory
  • Peter Wight: Kon Tiki, Mr Turner, The Look Of LoveHardboiled SweetsGhosted, Best Laid Plans (2012)CloneAnother Year, Cass, Hot Fuzz, Babel, Pride & Prejudice (2005), Vera Drake, Shiner, Naked, Meantime
  • Pip Torrens: My Week With Marilyn, St Trinians 2, Rogue Trader, The Remains Of The Day
  • Jeremy Crutchley: Death Race 3, Scorpion King 3 , Doomsday, The Mangler, A Good Man In Africa
  • Susan Wooldridge: The Lady, Just Like a Woman, Afraid Of The Dark, Twenty One, Bye Bye Blues, How To Get Ahead In Advertising, Hope and Glory
  • Gottfried John: City of War, Proof Of Life, Asterix & Obelisk Take On Julius Caesar, James Bond- Goldeneye, Wings Of Fame

THE WEE MAN

5 out of 10

Release Date: 15th July 2013 (DVD Premiere)

Director: Ray Burdis (Angel (2015) / Love Honour & Obey / Final Cut / Operation – Good Guys (TV))

Cast: Martin Compston, Patrick Bergin, John Hannah, Stephen McCole, Laura McGonagle, Clare Grogan with Denis Lawson and Rita Tushingham

Writer: Ray Burdis

Trailer: THE WEE MAN

Former actor Ray Burdis (Scum) returns to the director’s chair after 2001’s Love, Honour and Obey with this true life story of Glasgow gangster Paul ‘Wee Man’ Ferris.  Ferris is played by independent film mainstay Martin Compston (PIGGY) who delivers one of his best performances since his debut in Ken Loach’s Sweet Sixteen. It’s heartening to add that The Wee Man is carried by some very strong performances but what seems like a merciless final edit and a clunky script stop this from being a crucial watch.  I surmise that there is a longer more thoughtful cut of The Wee Man sitting around somewhere because the whole film seems too choppy, with the earlier years run through at some speed and the time to establish Ferris whittled down to just minutes.  You can see the effort the actors have put into their performances but it seems like the editor has been really brutal.  As a result, the script has been boiled down to basics. Its not until the later stages of the film do we begin to get any feel for the characters, but by then its too late to care.  There’s also virtually no time chronicling Ferris‘ rise to the top of the gangster pile, he just stabs someone and Patrick Bergin  (HIGHWAY TO HELLgives him a job, bingo!  Surely, real life wasn’t that simple. Now, I’m not familiar with Paul Ferris’ story but I’m sure there was so much more to tell and as for historical accuracy… I’m also wondering how much of it is truth bearing in mind that the real Ferris is leading a crime-free life in the South of England.

Veteran Irish actor Patrick Bergin delivers a towering performance as the king of Glasgow’s gangland. It’s a shame that we don’t see him more often.  He showed much promise in the 1990s in films like Map Of The Human Heart and even Sleeping With The Enemy. Elsewhere Stephen McCole (NEDS) steals the film as Bergin’s unhinged son, The Godfather. His jealousy of Ferris’ good relationship with his father sets him off on a vengeful, double crossing mission of hate.  His is a truly repellent yet excellent piece of acting. It’s refreshing to see a movie with such wonderfully agressive performances. Being shouty doesn’t always mean your good, but these guys deliver good level of fear. Very nice to see veterans Denis Lawson (LOCAL HERO) and Rita Tushingham (DR ZHIVAGO) further down the cast list.

The props and set-production are on point and accurate, depicting the world of 1970s early 80s, dusty and dangerous pubs, old cars and big moustaches. The cinematography by Ali Asad is pure gold and is reminiscent of that of the later Conrad Hall (The Road To Perdition). Its the smaller aspects like this that help this sadly average movie along. I say average because you’ll be pushed to find a single thing you’ve never seen elsewhere before. The Wee Man plays it safe to a very well-established audience.  Gangster movie viewers need to be challenged like any other audience so why are the films so tame and boring? It’s good to see that it doesn’t sit on its laurels though because you can see there has been a great level of care taken by The Wee Man team to deliver something authentic and a cut above.  It doesn’t quite attain greatness and what could have been an epic character study though now comes across as a stunted, over edited story that would have benefitted from a bit more room to breathe. A bit more background and character building would have helped.  The opening scenes in particular are troubled with a bad script and a wobbly young actor playing the young Ferris. Once The Wee Man hits its stride though it’s very good but it takes a while. So its no disaster but a near miss is still a miss.

5 out of 10 – Great performances elevate what turns out to be a pretty average true crime story. Good productions values and really nice cinematography also add further points. It’s let down by a stilted script (in the early stages) and a finished product that feels like it got filleted in the editing suite. Its nice to see an old school UK director like Ray Burdis back in the game too.

WHAT HAVE I SEEN THAT ACTOR IN BEFORE?