THE NUMBERS STATION

3 out of 10

UK/USA Co-Production

Release Date: 6th February 2014 (DVD Premiere)

Director: Kasper Barfoed

Cast: John Cusack, Malina Akerman, Liam Cunningham, Bryan Dick, Lucy Griffiths, Finbar Lynch, Joey Ansah and Richard Brake

Writer: F Scott Frazier

Trailer: THE NUMBERS STATION

REVIEW COMING SOON

WHAT HAVE I SEEN THAT ACTOR IN BEFORE?

  • John Cusack: Chi-Raq, Cell, Love & Mercy, Map of the Stars, Grand Piano, The Butler, Frozen Ground, The Paperboy, The Raven, Hot Tub Time Machine, 2012, Igor (voice), 1408, Runaway Jury, Must Love Dogs, Identity, Max, Serendipity, America’s Sweethearts, High Fidelity, Being John Malkovich, Cradle Will Rock, Pushing Tin, The Thin Red Line, This Is My Father, Midnight In The Garden of Good and Evil, Con Air, Grosse Pointe Blank, City Hall, The Road To Wellville, Map of the Human Heart, Shadows and Fog, Roadside Prophets, The Grifters, Say Anything, Eight Men Out, Tapeheads, One Crazy Summer, Stand By Me, Better Off Dead, The Sure Thing, Grandview USA, Sixteen Candles
  • Malina Akerman: Stolen, Rock of Ages, The Bang Bang Club, Couples Retreat, The Proposal (2009), Watchmen, 27 Dresses, The Heartbreak Kid (2007), Harold and Kumar 2
  • Liam Cunningham: Childhood of a Leader, Noble, Let Us Prey, Game of Thrones (TV), Dr Who (TV), Good Vibrations, Safe House, War Horse, The Guard, Centurion, Clash Of The Titans (201o), Harry Brown, Perrier’s Bounty, The Tournament, Blood- The Last Vampire, The Mummy 3, Hunger, The Escapist, The Wind That Shakes The Barley, The League Of Gentleman’s Apocalypse, Dog Soldiers, Jude, War Of The Buttons, A Little Princess, First Knight
  • Bryan Dick: Wolf Hall (TV), Day of the Flowers, I Anna, Bleak House (TV)
  • Joey Ansah: Green Street 3I AnnaUFO (2013), Underground (2008), The Bourne Ultimatum
  • Finbar Lynch: Departure, Suffragette
  • Richard Brake: Set Fire To The Stars, Spy (2015), Kingsman – The Secret Service, The Counsellor,  The Incident,  Water For Elephants, Cuckoo, Legacy – Black Ops, Halloween 2 (2009), Outpost, Hannibal Rising, The Black Dahlia,  Doom, Batman Begins, Cold Mountain, Death Machine

SVENGALI

6 out of 10

Release Date: 21st March 2014

Director: John Hardwick

Cast: Jonny Owen, Vicky McClure, Roger Evans, Michael Socha, Dylan Edwards, Joel Fry, Curtis Lee Thompson, Maxine Peake, Brian Hibbard, Sharon Morgan, Ciaran Griffiths, Morwenna Banks, Matt Berry, Alan McGee, Nichola Burley, Natasha O’Keefe, Eddie Webber, Cass Pennant with Michael Smiley and Martin Freeman

Writer: Jonny Owen

Trailer: SVENGALI

REVIEW COMING SOON

WHAT HAVE I SEEN THAT ACTOR IN BEFORE?

EVIL NEVER DIES aka THE HAUNTING OF HARRY PAYNE

1.5 out of 10

Release Date: 13th January 2014 (DVD Premiere)

Director: Martin Pick

Cast: Tony Scannell, Graham Cole, Anouska Mond, Fliss Walton, Katy Manning, Louis Selwyn, John Mangan, Neil Maskell, Earl Ling and PH Moriarty

Writer: John Mangan

Trailer: EVIL NEVER DIES

Unknown-6Evil may never die but at least it only hangs around for 75 minutes in this occasionally entertaining but generally dull supernatural gangster thriller. 75 very long minutes. Also known as THE HAUNTING OF HARRY PAYNE (a much better title), this is a mega-low budget film with some good ideas, a bad script, acting which covers the spectrum from pretty good to abysmal, and which can’t do scenes in supposedly moving cars properly.

Tony Scannell (Roche from THE BILL) stars as Harry Payne, an alcoholic psychic former gangster released from prison after serving ten years for killing a nastier gangster. But he is haunted, and moves to a village pub (it’s OK – his alcoholism keeps his psychic-ness at bay) to be near his wife (KATY MANNING – DR WHO) who went loopy and is kept in a nearby rest home. Unfortunately some maniac is going around chopping people up. And the local policeman (GRAHAM COLE – PC Stamp from THE BILL!) has an old grudge against Harry. The rest of the cast is made up of weirdoes, magic shop owners who may or may not have second sight, and some of the least convincing yobbish youths you will ever encounter. Meanwhile Harry is haunted by flashbacks, and so are we. The film-makers apparently had a bit of a row over these and they add little and take away a lot. We see Harry’s past in which he is depicted as a ruthlessly violent nutcase, which is at odds with the sensitively tortured figure that Scannell plays. We also get to see Neil Maskell (KILL LIST) contribute precisely one line of dialogue which is just idiotic. And then there’s Harry’s gangster pal / nemesis played by PJ Moriarty (THE LONG GOOD FRIDAY) who has all the threatening presence of a Me to You cuddly toy.

So who is the maniac killer? What is the secret of Harry’s haunting? Are the two linked in some way? Why is Katy Manning mad? You won’t be surprised by much of the resolution, but there is something that is so bizarre, so eccentric, that you have to either take your hat off to the film-makers for their brazen daring in going through with such a storyline, or else track them down on Twitter (etc) and troll them to death.

Despite the absence of pace, directorial flair, and a decent script, I did like the film’s attempt to focus on a single character. And although the film-makers have made it difficult for themselves with a nonsensical back-story (rejected by the original screenwriter) they succeeded in getting an actor who could do something with the material (contrast Michael Nardone in the awful but in some ways similar WAYLAND’S SONG). Tony Scannell and Katy Manning as the haunted husband and wife rise effortlessly above the nonsense they are mired in. This would have made for a decent hour of 1970s TV; the sort of play that would have nicely fitted into Armchair Thriller or Hammer House of Horror or Tales of the Unexpected. It even looks very televisiony. As a feature film (even as a no-budget Z movie) it doesn’t work: it just doesn’t know what it wants to be (a problem reflected in its change of title), so a load of ideas get thrown in with apparently little thought.

I suppose the conclusion and explanation make sense (at least in terms of the film’s internal logic) but it just doesn’t feel like they do. It all gets very silly, though an indulgent viewer happening upon this one night in 1977 might well have appreciated the conceit. This one’s probably for Scannell / Manning completists only.

1.5 out of 10

WHAT HAVE I SEEN THAT ACTOR IN BEFORE?

BRADFORD RIOTS

6 out of 10

Release Date: 4th May 2006

Director: Neil Biswas

Cast: Sacha Dhawan, Ace Bhatti, Manjinder Virk, Syed Ahmed, Zaid Munir, John Lloyd Fillingham and Victor Banerjee

Writer: Neil Biswas

Trailer: BRADFORD RIOTS

REVIEW COMING SOON

WHAT HAVE I SEEN THAT ACTOR IN BEFORE?

  • Sacha Dhawan: The Lady In the Van, Chuggington (TV) (voice), Utopia (TV), 24 (TV), Last Tango In Halifax (TV), Splintered, The History Boys
  • Ace Bhatti: Amar Akbar & Tony, It’s a Wonderful AfterlifeEastenders (TV), Cardiac Arrest (TV), Brothers In Trouble
  • Manjinder Virk: The Arbor
  • Syed Ahmed: Yasmin
  • John Lloyd Fillingham: Exam
  • Victor Banerjee: Bitter Moon, Foreign Body, A Passage To India

ABDUCTED

1.5 out of 10

Release Date: 17th March 2014 (DVD Premiere)

Director: Mark Cooper Harris

Cast: Mark Cooper Harris, Anna Nightengale, Honor Kneafsey, Deji LaRay, Preston Douglass, Blaine Gray, Rhea Bailey, Delvon Roe, Lita Lopez, Felix Ryan, Mark Dippolito, Nicole Dionne, Neil Large with Rita Ramnani and Kyle Summercorn

Writer: Mark Cooper Harris & Davie Fairbanks

Trailer: ABDUCTED

MV5BMzY4MjA5MDcxNV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwMzkyNjY2OQ@@._V1_SX640_SY720_In this ludicrous attempt to achieve the same later-life action man status as Liam Neeson did with the Taken trilogy, actor-director Mark Cooper Harris (OUTSIDE BET) finds new ways to show what a low-level ego can achieve when it goes unchecked.  Growing himself a tidy pile of small but effective turns at the low-budget end of the UK filmmaking pond, Mark Cooper Harris must have decided that it was time to step front and centre with this offensive and ill-researched non-thriller. He had already proven that he could act, escpecially in a very impressive supporting turn as Nick Nevern’s (youthful) dad in GBH and before Abducted he’d never had the outlet to show what he was capable of. If ever there was an example of an actor that should stick to small turns its this. He’s clearly overstretched himself here.

Mark Cooper Harris plays loving father and ex-military man, Matt Hollis. He’s become estranged from his wife after the death of his eldest child. He cries his way back into lives of his wife (ANNA NIGHTENGALE – VICTIM) and young daughter at length before convincing them to go on a reconcilliatory holiday to LA with him (or was it Miami, I’ve forgotten).  Little does he know that he’s booked a holiday home from an evil child-snatching syndicate and that they’re going to frame him for the murder and kidnap of his family.  The baddies and police forget to take into account his black-ops past as he quickly gives them all the slip to take revenge and restore his life and family to order.

Sounds solid enough doesn’t it? Well it isn’t. The script and plot is laden with long and preachy scenes of dialogue ripped from the Daily Mail delivered with the same vigour as a dodgy preacher man.  So full of ham and cheese is Harris’ performance that he renders any potential subtleties null and void. His supporting cast don;t get a look in as the sad scenes shuffle into one another. The action is cack-handed and the LA locations squandered so casually it may as well have been shot in aback garden in Dagenham. The American cast clearly know they’ve been duped into appearing in a non-event as they barely show up to offer suitable resistance to our anti-hero. When faced with the evil paedophiles they are subject to paragraphs of dialogue as to how bad they are. Any viewer already knows this, but the prolonged scenes of dialogue continue and so we begin to wonder what Danny Dyer may have been like in the main role.  Abducted contains the worst portrayal of drunkeness I’ve ever scene. There’s a scene in which Harris goes for broke and begins to shout drunkenly at God, whilst drinking vodka. It has to be seen to be believed. if this film was bigger this scene would surely be available to ‘laugh at’ on YouTube as a seperate entity.

Single scenes away from Harris appear to be ripped from a seperate film. One disturbing scene alone gets the message across single-handedly with the rest of the preachy scripts help. A young boy is co-herced gently into having sex with an evil movie exec is effectively upsetting and nails the tone. The rest of the film including a ridiculous shoot-out at a child-supermarket and a kidnap of two English girls getting forced into enslavement by fake Hollywood agents  is a huge waste of everybody’s time.

1.5 out of 10 – Bad acting, bad script and a very dozy plot betray a lack of research and a low-level actor’s ego gone crazy. It falls a long, long way short of it’s lofty ideals and shows what can happen to you if you live on a reading diet of The Sun and The Daily Mail.  Shockingly bad taste. On to bury.

Review by Joe Pesci II below.

WHAT HAVE I SEEN THAT ACTOR IN BEFORE?

THE HOOLIGAN WARS aka THE ICE-CREAM WARS

4 out of 10

Release Date: 11th October 2014 (DVD Premiere)

Director: Paul Tanter (Once Upon a Time at Christmas / Mad World / Kill Ratio / Dystopia (TV) / No Easy Days (TV) / The Disappearance of Lenka Woods / He Who Dares 2 / Meet The Firm – White Collar Hooligan 3 / Shame The Devil / He Who Dares / Essex Boys Retribution / White Collar Hooligan 2 / Fall of the Essex Boys / Rise of the White Collar Hooligan / Jack Falls)

Cast: Nick Nevern, Peter Barrett, Charlotte Lewis, Glen Murphy, Simon Phillips, Glyn Grimstead, Krzysztof Skonieczny, Thomas Thoroe, Pooja Shah, Martin Fisher, Anna Brecon, Nicola Posener, Ewan Ross, Sean Cronin, Johnnie Hurn with Mark Cooper Harris and Lorraine Stanley

Writer: Paul Tanter

Trailer: THE HOOLIGAN FACTORY

Review below by Matt Usher aka Joe Pesci II

WHAT HAVE I SEEN THAT ACTOR IN BEFORE?

IT’S A WONDERFUL AFTERLIFE

4.5 out of 10

Release Date: 21st April 2010

Director: Gurinder Chadha (Viceroy’s House / Angus, Thongs and Perfect Snogging / Paris Je T’Aime / Bride and Prejudice / Bend It Like Beckham / Bhaji On The Beach)

Cast: Shabana Azmi, Goldy Notay, Sendhil Ramamurthy, Sally Hawkins, Sanjeev Bhaskar, Shaheen Khan, Zoe Wanamaker, Adlyn Ross, Ash Varrez, Ray Panthaki, Jack Gordon, Don Warrington, Jamie Sives, Christopher Simpson, Ace Bhatti with Jimi Mistry and Mark Addy

Writer: Gurinder Chada

Trailer:

WHAT HAVE I SEEN THAT ACTOR IN BEFORE?