GET LUCKY

3.5 out of 10

Release Date: 26th August 2013 (DVD Premiere)

Director: Sacha Bennett (Outside Bet / Bonded By Blood)

Cast: Luke Tredaway, Emily Atack, Craig Fairbrass, Terry Stone, TJ Ramini, Marek Oravec, Richie Campbell, Rebecca Ferdinando, Ali Cook with Jason Maza and James Cosmo

Writer: TJ Ramini & Ali Cook

Trailer: GET LUCKY 

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Just when you thought the UK indie film industry had gotten over making tired gangster capers, along comes this charisma void. Get Lucky is a completely empty vessel that attempts to woo the audience with a set of stale overused plot conceits. The cast is made up of some of my favourites at play at the low-budget end of UK filmmaking but even they cannot breathe life into this vacuum.

Lucky (LUKE TREDAWAY – ATTACK THE BLOCK) is a getaway driver who ends up in debt to two low level hoods, Sebastian (CRAIG FAIRBRASS – RISE OF THE FOOTSOLDIER) and Kramer (TERRY STONE – KUNG FU FLID). Luckily, Lucky’s brother Raphael (TJ RAMINI – THE BILL) is also a criminal who is planning a heist to steal money and bonds from the two hoods’ boss, Mr Zigic (JAMES COSMO – TRAINSPOTTING).  Zigic’s nephew, Niko (MAREK ORAVEC) wants to climb the ranks, but also takes jobs on the side with his pal Eli (JASON MAZA – FISH TANK) who gets them involved in a heist that sees them unwittingly aid Raphael to fleece Zigic. Throw into the mix, Niko’s girlfriend, Bridgett (EMILY ATACK – THE INBETWEENERS) who becomes Lucky’s love interest and you have a giant bowl of plot spaghetti.

Unfortunately, all of that plot adds up to nothing because there is absolutely no room for characterisation. What turns out to be an over complicated tale of revenge, ends up having no satisfying pay off.  Oppressors are given short shrift, the heroes have no quirks beyond paying lip service to an aversion to superstitions.  Luke Tredaway is given very little to do beyond react to events and comes across like a lightweight. However, he is completely lifelike compared to the plummy TJ Ramini, the least convincing criminal since Dexter Fletcher‘s turn in Dead Cert.  It’s a good job he wrote and produced (?) this as he wouldn’t have been cast in such an unsuitable role. He’s just too posh and clean cut. Terry Stone has the closest thing to a character, playing one half of a comedy duo with dependable action plank Craig Fairbrass. His anger management issues throw up some vaguely funny lines but on the whole, the humour only serves to tip the movie into territory it doesn’t belong in.

Personal tragedies that back up the plot are only touched upon and serve as a weak attempt at giving gravitas to the film. It just comes across as corny and it is then wasted when the film draws to it’s very lame and unconvincing conclusion. Sadly, Get Lucky offers nothing new to the UK caper / gangster oeuvre. It’s just a pale wannabe. With a little more thought to characterisation and a less insipid leading actor this could have been something to watch. There’s nothing essentially wrong with the product itself, the cinematography is great and London looks glossier than usual, the car and boat chases are well-staged but are dramatically expendable, the soundtrack is effective if overly dark for something this frothy, essentially it comes unstuck when it comes to the story and a bad dose of miscasting.

3.5 out of 10 – Glossier than the average UK caper movie, this is still pretty anonymous and dare I say it boring. Shame because I always look forward to seeing what messrs. Maza, Stone and Fairbrass had been cooking up recently. In this case it was leftovers.

Review by Joe Pesci II below>>! He thought it was sh*t too!

WHAT HAVE I SEEN THAT ACTOR IN BEFORE?

FLYING BLIND

4.5 out of 10

Release Date: 12th April 2013

Director: Katrzyna Klimkiewicz

Cast: Helen McCrory, Najib Oudghiri, Kenneth Cranham, Tristan Gemmill, Sherif Eltayeb, Philippa Howard, Razane Jammal and Lorcan Cranitch

Writer: Caroline Harrington & Bruce McLeod

Trailer: FLYING BLIND

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TO BE PROOFREAD: Flying Blind is one of those quality bound movies with lofty ambitions and issues to resolve. Disappointingly it falls way short of the mark down to naive plotting and bad research. A Bristol based aviation engineer called Frankie (HELEN MCCRORY – HUGO) has just landed a huge contract to develop military drones for the British military.  As a sideline, she’s a visiting lecturer at Bristol University. One day she is approached and later seduced by a 24 year old Algerian student called Kahil (NAJIB OUDGHIRI – RENDITION) who turns out to be a ‘person of interest’ to MI5. As they get closer, questions arise to Kahil’s true identity and his motives.

I ask you, how dumb is this woman? To begin with you may let your guard down for anybody to get to know them, at first he is just an exotic lover to her and she does all the running. But when alarm bells start to ring, why does our heroine / anti-heroine continue to ignore all the signs. Her character has been brought up solely by her father (KENNETH CRANHAM – TALE OF A VAMPIRE) since childhood, but it still doesn’t convince that this character would let her loins do the thinking like your sterotypical male character would do.  There initial meet-cute is also painfully stilted and forced yet still she continues to walk into the trap.  Is Frankie in love? Or is she just dim and naive?  At face value, with Islamic terror groups constantly in the newspaper, even your uneducated lowest denominator on the street is profiling / stereotyping in there head. Is Frankie a symptom of liberal naivety? No, I think it’s the story mechanics that are to blame. Nobody this educated adn working with the government would leave themselves open quiet so easily. It’s hard to swallow.

So with such an impossible gap to bridge in the reality department, the film suffers. Flying Blind sets out to be a serious erotic drama yet everything is undone because of it’s simplistic and black and white approach to the central matter. I was surprised at how easy everything came to pass by the end. Helen McCrory is excellent in a rare leading role. She thoroughly invests her flawed and unlikely character with a human core, sadly it’s not enough. The cast around her are only so-so, many stymied because English isn’t there first language (an unnecessary concession to authenticity).  Najib Oudghiri cannot match McCrory in the acting stakes so the dramatic scenes tend to capsize, as she’s punching way above his weight. The script is well written too, it’s just the plot and story arc which leaves you gasping at the screen incredulously. Maybe that sounds volumes about the way we stereotype and feel about the so-called hidden threat. But in the end Flying Blind comes across like one of those shrieking headlines in the Daily Mail about immigration; etc.

4.5 out of 10 – A towering performance for Helen McCrory can’t do much to help this tale of unlikely love.  The plot was just too far fetched to be real. But then, stranger things happen in real life every day don’t they?… Don’t they?

WHAT HAVE I SEEN THAT ACTOR IN BEFORE?

  • Helen McCrory: Loving Vincent (voice), A Little Chaos, Bill, Penny Dreadful (TV), Peaky Blinders (TV), The Woman In Black 2,  James Bond- Skyfall, Hugo, Harry Potter – parts 6,7 & 8, We’ll Take Mahattan,  4-3-2-1, The Fantastic Mr Fox (voice),Flashbacks Of a Fool,  Becoming Jane, The Queen, Enduring Love, Charlotte Gray, The Count Of Monte Cristo (2002), Dad Savage, The James Gang
  • Najib Oudghiri: Rendition
  • Kenneth Cranham: Maleficent, The Legend of Hercules, Closed Circuit, Made In Dagenham, Valkyrie, Hot Fuzz, A Good Year, Rome (TV), The Ballad Of Mangal Pandey, Layer Cake, Trauma, Blackball, Shiner, The Most Fertile Man In Ireland, Born Romantic, Gangster No.1, Kevin & Perry Go Large, The Boxer, Bed Of Roses, Tale Of a Vampire, Under Suspicion, Prospero’s Books, Oranges Are Not The Only Fruit, Hellraiser 2, Shine On Harvey Moon (TV), Reilly: Ace of Spies (TV), Oliver!
  • Tristan Gemmill: Casualty (TV), London’s Burning (TV), The Bill (TV)
  • Razane Jammel: Tobe Hooper’s Djinn
  • Lorcan Cranitch: The Food Guide To Love, Love Rosie, Rome (TV), The Bill (TV), Ballykissangel (TV), Dancing At Lughnasa, Night Train, Titanic Town, Food Of Love, Cracker (TV), The Playboys

COMMUNITY

5 out of 10

Release Date: 11th March 2013 (DVD Premiere)

Director: Jason Ford

Cast: Jemma Dallender, Elliott Jordan, Paul McNeilly, Terry Bird, Jo Dyson, Ian Ralph and Jilly Harman

Writer: Jason Ford

Trailer: COMMUNITY

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This competent horror-thriller about a demonic housing estate doesn’t quite scale the heights despite an original idea and good bogeymen.  Jemma Dallender (THE MIRROR) and Elliott Jordan (BENIDORM) play two student documentary makers who travel to the very edge of the city to a notorious housing estate. A part of town where outsiders won’t even go in the day time and taxis and buses won’t risk driving to after dark.  Following the whiff of story to find out the source of some really potent marijuana and also to find out what lies behind the legends and folklore, our pair venture off…on the bus.

What our intrepid pair discover is that there is literally nowhere to hide, nobody to trust and a virtually no chance of returning back to ‘civilisation’ alive.  Much is done to exploit the fear our newspapers have built up over the years of underprivileged and working class Britain. This film is an exploitation flick that exposes our fears of the common working stiff or those living just above the poverty line. The characters in Community are demonic versions of the famous ‘chav’. I’m not saying that the film is wrong to do this, but with no media circus there’d be no films like this.  Wearing it’s influences on it’s sleeves, Community definitely wants to be the next The Hill Have Eyes or Candyman.  The big bad is a transvestite called Auntie (played with aplomb by PAUL MCNEILLY) and the rest of the cast is filled with some great character actors (unknown to me) that look like they must live on the set. Even the child actors, who at first seem quite helpful, are very convincing.

So what’s stopped Community from becoming that all encompassing genre buster? The plot itself, I’m afraid. Once the duo turn up on the estate, the story shows all it’s cards too soon and then there are few too many surprises or mysteries to discover about the estate. It may have been fun to exploit a supernatural angle, but all we have are a gang of ‘hill billies’ who thrive on their reputation and rumour – Candyman style. The locations in Basildon, are well exploited but better cinematography and a darker score could have boosted the horror values. It’s probably the budget that put an end to a lot of these but the low production values do a lot to damage the films atmosphere. With more money and a slightly more inventive plot and back story, Community could have been a very interesting horror.  The lead characters are fairly dull too and do little except scream and beg for mercy, showing little gumption or use of survival instincts.  At least Community isn’t another ‘found-footage’ yarn – despite being about a film crew. Just like any sane person, the camera man throws the contraption away the minute he gets chased I think.

5 out of 10 – Perhaps a Community 2 can build or supply an interesting back-story. More budget for cinematography and a queasy score would be nice. The makers have created a good villain with Auntie, here’s hoping she/he’ll be back. Recommended but flawed.

WHAT HAVE I SEEN THAT ACTOR IN BEFORE?

STAG NIGHT OF THE DEAD

0.5 out of 10

Release Date: 31st October 2010 (DVD Premiere)

Director: Neil Jones (The Age of Kill / Deranged / The Reverend (2012) / Risen)

Cast: Sebastian Street, Sophie Lovell Anderson, Bruce Lawrence, Rez Kempton, James G Fain, Joe Rainbow, Doug Grant,  Jeff Rudom and Brian Wheeler

Writer: Neil Jones

Trailer: STAG NIGHT OF THE DEAD

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Looking for the unfunniest, unscariest and possibly worst zombie film ever to get a commercial release? Then look no further than Stag Night of the Dead. It’s so terrible I don’t even think the makers even understand zombie lore. We have zombies that fall in love and give blow jobs to the living for instance. And even Zombies that talk! Anyway, this is notorious Welsh film director Neil Jones‘ debut feature and he’s gone on to improve his skills moderately with three a further full length feature movies.  He’s still yet to make anything approaching industry standard, but his latest feature on release, Deranged, is a master piece compared to this.

Groom-to-be Sebastian Street (AIRBORNE) gets taken to an army air base by a bunch of stags and a stripper to play a version of paintball where  the targets are zombies. What the idiots don’t realise is that their protectors have been overrun and the undead soon break out and pick off our heroes one by one. Will they be able to contain the mess or will the zombies once again munch the earth.

And so a succession of chases begins – with no signs of lustre or energy. Comedy and wit are the first casualties mainly because of a bad jokeless script and a moronic and unfunny character called DJ Ronnie (JOE RAINBOW) who thinks one of the zombies is ‘well-fit’ , so he chats her up, has his c*ck sucked then eaten, and then gets to lead the zombies after becoming one. For convenience DJ Ronnie even retains the ability to speak – unlike all the other creatures. I suppose I asked for it, selecting a film such as Stag Night of the Dead for my viewing pleasure but I had no idea it would be this shit. It has nothing, absolutely nothing going for it except that possibly just possibly some of the actors are vaguely committed and competent. But that praise is feint. There was one good sight-gag and that’s at the end of the trailer so save yourself 90 minutes.

0.5 out of 10 – The biggest horror-comedy turd in the zombie cycle I’ve found yet. But most people could have told themselves that from the title. At least the director, Neil Jones has moved on to slightly better movies and is learning slowly. Deadly but not in a good way. As tasty as a bowl of putrefying zombie testicles in cold prawn custard – with onion flakes.

WHAT HAVE I SEEN THAT ACTOR IN BEFORE?

ALAN PARTRIDGE – ALPHA PAPA

REVIEW COMING SOON

Release Date: 7th August 2013

Director: Declan Lowney (Little Britain (TV) / Father Ted (TV))

Cast: Steve Coogan, Colm Meaney, Felicity Montagu, Nigel Lindsay, Anna Maxwell-Martin, Tim Key, Monica Dolan, Simon Greenall, Karl Theobald with Sean Pertwee and Phil Cornwell

Writer: Peter Baynham & Steve Coogan

Trailer: ALAN PARTRIDGE – ALPHA PAPA

WHAT HAVE I SEEN THAT ACTOR IN BEFORE?

  • Steve Coogan: Descipable Me 3 (voice), Minions (voice), Happyish (TV), Night At The Museum 3, Northern Soul, Philomena, The Trip 2 (TV), What Maisie Knew, Despicable Me 2 (voice), The Look Of Love, Ruby Sparks, The Trip (TV), The Other Guys, Percy Jackson & The Lightning Thief, Night At The Museum 2, In The Loop, Tropic Thunder, Hamlet 2, Saxondale (TV), Hot Fuzz, Night At The Museum, Marie Antoinette, A Cock And Bull Story, Around The World In 80 Days (2004), Ella Enchanted, Coffee and Cigarettes, I’m Alan Partridge (TV), 24 Hour Party People, The Parole Officer, The Wind In The Willows (1996), Knowing Me Knowing You (TV), Coogan’s Run (TV), The Indian In The Cupboard, The Day Today (TV)
  • Colm Meaney: The Devil’s Hand, A Belfast StoryOne ChanceThe Hot Potato, The Cold Light Of Day, Bel AmiParked, Three and Out, Get Him To The Greek,  The Damned Utd, Intermission, This Is My Father, Claire Dolan, Con Air, The Road To Wellville, War Of The Buttons, The Committments, The Snapper, The Van, Star Trek – Deep Space 9 (TV), Under Siege, Into the West, The Last Of The Mohicans (1992), Far and Away, Die Hard 2
  • Felicity Montagu: I’m Alan Partridge (TV)
  • Nigel Lindsay: Breakfast With Jonny WilkinsonFour Lions, Rogue Trader, The Armando Ianucci Show (TV)
  • Anna Maxwell-Martin: Philomena, Bleak House (TV)
  • Tim Key: The Double (2014),  Mid-Morning Matters with Alan Partridge (TV)
  • Monica Dolan: W1A (TV), The Falling, The Casual Vacancy (TV), Wolf Hall (TV), Pride (2014), Sightseers, The Arbor
  • Simon Greenall: I’m Alan Partridge (TV)
  • Karl Theobald: Mortdecai, Plebs (TV), Get Him To The Greek, Primeval (TV), Green Wing (TV)
  • Sean Pertwee: Howl (2015), Gotham (TV), The Seasoning House,  Jo (TV), The Magnificent ElevenUFO (2013)St. George’s DayWild Bill (2012)Four4-3-2-1Devil’s PlaygroundDangerous Parking,  Just For The Record,  Botched, Doomsday,  Mutant Chronicles, Wilderness, Goal II, Goal, 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
  • Phil Cornwell: Cockneys Vs. Zombies, Made In DagenhamChromophobia, Churchill – The Hollywood Years, Dead Ringers (TV), Stella Street (TV), I’m Alan Partridge (TV), The Comic Strip Presents…(TV)

BOTCHED

REVIEW COMING SOON

Release Date: 18th April 2008 (DVD Premiere)

Director: Kit Ryan (Dementamania)

Cast: Stephen Dorff, Jaime Murray, Jamie Foreman, Geoff Bell, Hugh O’Conor, Bronogh Gallagher, Russell Smith, Edward Baker-Duly and Sean Pertwee

Writer: Eamon & Raymond Friel, Derek Boyle

Trailer: BOTCHED

WHAT HAVE I SEEN THAT ACTOR IN BEFORE?

Review by Joe “Don’t call me Ewok” Pesci II below

SHELL

8.5 out of 10

REVIEW COMING SOON

Release Date: 15th March 2013

Director: Scott Graham (Iona)

Cast: Chloe Pirrie, Joseph Mawle, Iain De Caestecker, Michael Smiley, Paul Thomas Hickey and Kate Dickie

Writer: Scott Graham

Trailer: SHELL

WHAT HAVE I SEEN THAT ACTOR IN BEFORE?