THE ANOMALY

3.5 out of 10

Release Date: 4th July 2014

Director: Noel Clarke (4-3-2-1 / Adulthood)

Cast: Noel Clarke, Ian Somerhalder, Alexis Knapp, Luke Hemsworth, Ali Cook, Niall Grieg Fulton, Michael Bisping, Art Parkinson, Gordon Alexander and Brian Cox

Writer: Simon Lewis

Trailer: THE ANOMALY

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What a mess. Noel Clarke’s (DOCTOR WHO) second film as sole director shows a significant degree of regression after the lively 4-3-2-1 and the genre definining sequel Adulthood.  The Anomaly is a mid-budget sci-fi in style of The Matrix. However, in just about every department this film shows itself up to be an out-of-date, dimwitted, ego-preening exercise in bad filmmaking. Elsewhere, Noel Clarke has proven himself to be a reliable force for good in the UK film industry – making films that are relevant to young audiences be-it a throw away teen-horror flick like Storage 24 or an Olympic Games PR exercise with Fast Girls. Just recently though he’s begun to believe his own hype by appearing in lazy shit like I Am Soldier or over-stylised ego-wanks like this.

Considering the talent that went into making this film, it’s strange how nobody stopped Clarke to ask him why he was embarking on such a foolish mission. Everything about this movie screams FAIL!  Clarke’s various roles directing, writing, acting, stunting, producing and posturing has probably left nobody on-set to question his decisions. Did he want to have a larger wage packet by doing all the work for his friends? We’ll never know.

Please read my colleague Joe Pesci II‘s review below for a plot overview below because he’s used to watching convoluted crap like Doctor Who and Babylon 5. The majority of this belated Matrix rip-off seemed nonsensical and pointless to me. The main reason I kept on watching it to the ending was to see what Brian Cox (HER) was going to add to the story. I also had Cash and Curry lined up to watch for Britpic and I was dreading it.

Witness the slow-motion fight sequences which had all the comedy and threat of watching four year olds recreate the Transformers films in a sand pit – there are endless scenes of characters yelling ‘rarggggh!’ in slow motion whilst being belted around the head. If there were no slow motion sequences in The Anomaly I could’ve begun watching Cash and Curry half an hour earlier.

The Anomaly is a sad disappointment because it’s a low-budget monument to the folly and ego of Noel Clarke. He’s gotten a sniff of Hollywood fame with his bit-part in Star Trek – Into Darkness and now he’s lost the ability to stay down-to-earth. This unfortunate, unimaginative and badly realised sci-fi clunker should bring him down to earth with a bump. It’s not to late for him to re-assess his career choices and remember why he’s got famous and respected in the first place.

3.5. out of 10 – Exceptionally stupid sci-fi from a floundering megalomaniacal Noel Clarke. Come back to reality, it’s not too late.

Review by Joe Pesci II aka Matt Usher (he thought it was shite as well).

WHAT HAVE I SEEN THAT ACTOR IN BEFORE?

NORTHERN SOUL

7.5 out of 10

Release date: 24th October 2014 (Cinema & DVD)

Director: Elaine Constantine

Cast: Elliot James Langridge, Josh Whitehouse, Antonia Thomas, Jack Gordon, James Lance, Lewis Morris, Lisa Stansfield, Christian McKay, Alex Esmail with  John Thomson, Ricky Tomlinson and Steve Coogan

Writer: Elaine Constantine

Trailer: NORTHERN SOUL

ns_quadNorthern Soul is a fun yet well-researched little film devoted to niche music scene that took the north west of England by storm in the 1970s. Some could argue that the Northern Soul movement saw the birth of nightclubbing as we know it. We can trace back the birth of the superstar DJ to this time. Young people would flock to venues like Wigan Casino to dance all night to uptempo American soul records.  Many of these records were scarce in the UK and the big DJs would hide the identity of these records to steal some thunder from their rivals and stay one step ahead of the hungry crowd. These secret records were called cover ups. The scene, like any, had its own fashion, dances and artificial experience enhancers (drugs) of choice. There’s been one or two previous films that have used the scene as a backdrop, namely Soulboy, which took a more generic approach to the scene but was still fairly enjoyable. Northern Soul takes a darker route than its said rival and comes out on top.

School dork John (ELLIOTT JAMES LANGRIDGE – HOLLYOAKS) saves music addict and wannabe DJ Matt (JOSH WHITEHOUSE – LIVING ON THE EDGE) from getting duffed up at the youth club a friendship is born. He promptly ditches school for a job in a factory where they meet other like minded northern soul ‘heads’ and begin going to gigs. Local girl Angela (ANTONIA THOMAS – SCINTILLA) catches John’s eye so impress her he gets Matt to help him set up a Northern Soul night of his own. They go up against a rival DJ when they discover one of his cover ups at a junk fair. Drugs, as always fuck up the friendship and power dynamics shift. Parents, teachers and police have zero influence in their world so it’s down to these kids to do the right thing and get the most from this vibrant scene which was a real game and life changer.

The film itself is well produced, authentic and involving. The performances are very, very good from a mixture of new faces and familiar ones in smaller roles. The script seems semi-improvised but on the nail. Nothing seems forced as opposed to Soulboy (which seems to be a pretender by comparison). The producers have dug deeper for some really hard to find tunes (that must have taken ages to license), such is the film that it appears to be a real labour of love by the makers and gift to those who were old enough to have gone to these clubs or have grown up hearing the tales from their parents. It’s rare to see a low-budget film that has been put together with such care to get the minuitae just right, yet at the same time being mindful enough to entertain. There’s ample chance for fans of the genre to nerd up. It’s a shame that a similar movie about the rave scene Weekender was so slapdash because had that been given the Northern Soul treatment it would have been less of an embarrasment.

Cameos by Steve Coogan (DESPICABLE ME) and Ricky Tomlinson (BROOKSIDE) are very welcome, the former as a sarcastic school teacher and the latter as the loving grandparent, do much to attract viewers but their roles are on the very peripheries.  The leads are very satisfying and they could well be faces to watch. Everybody involved behind the scenes deserves another chance to make an even better film with a bigger budget because they’ve worked wonders with Northern Soul. A little more originality in the plot would have been welcome BUT that’s a minor quibble as the ending is original and it’s a really memorable, positive yet open ended. A triumph.

7.5 out of 10 – A welcome addition to the small sub-genre about British music scenes. Mostly predictable plotwise but it’s so well made you’ll wish for more just like this.

WHAT HAVE I SEEN THAT ACTOR IN BEFORE?

  • Elliot James Langridge: Hollyoaks (TV)
  • Josh Whitehouse: Living On The Edge (TV)
  • Antonia Thomas: Rearview, Survivor (2015), Hello Carter, Scintilla, Scrotal Recall (TV), 8 Minutes IdleSunshine On LeithSpike Island
  • Jack Gordon: Bachelor Games, The Carrier, A Royal Night Out, The Devil’s BusinessLife Just Is, Truth Or Dare, Panic Button,Heartless, It’s a Wonderful Afterlife
  • James Lance: The Devil Went Down To Islington, Legendary, The Look of LoveBel Ami, City Rats, Bronson, Marie Antoinette, Late Night Shopping
  • Lisa Stansfield: The Edge of Love, Swing
  • Christian McKay: The Theory of Everything, Rush (2013), Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, Mr Nice, Me and Orson Welles
  • John Thomson: The Fast Show (TV), Coronation Street (TV), Inkheart, Wallace & Gromit in The Curse of the Were-Rabbit (voice), Fat Slags, Cold Feet (TV), 24 Hour Party People, Born Romantic, Playing The Field (TV), Up N’Under, The Girl With Brains In Her Feet, The Man Who Knew Too Little, Spitting Image (TV) (voice), The Young Poisoners Handbook,
  • Alex Esmail: Essex Boys RetributionPayback SeasonStrippers Vs. WerewolvesAttack The Block
  • Steve Coogan: Happyish (TV), Minions (voice), Night At The Museum 3, The Trip 2 (TV), Philomena, What Maisie Knew, Alan Partridge – Alpha Papa, 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)
  • Ricky Tomlinson: Mike Bassett – England Manager 2, Flutter, The Royle Family (TV), Nativity, Mike Bassett – Manager (TV), Once Upon a Time In The Midlands, Playing The Field (TV), Formula 51, Mike Bassett – England Manager, Nasty Neighbours, Mojo, Preaching To The Perverted, Cracker (TV), Bob’s Weekend, Butterfly Kiss, Raining Stones, Riff Raff, Brookside (TV)

ISOLATION

Irish Film

6.5 out of 10

REVIEW COMING SOON

Release Date: 22nd April 2006

Director: Billy O’Brien (Scintilla)

Cast: John Lynch, Essie Davis, Marcel Iures, Sean Harris, Ruth Negga and Stanley Townsend

Writer: Billy O’Brien

Trailer: ISOLATION

WHAT HAVE I SEEN THAT ACTOR IN BEFORE?

  • John Lynch: ScintillaPrivate PeacefulThe Hot PotatoGhosted13HRsBlack DeathThe Tournament, Sliding Doors, Best, This Is The Sea, Some Mother’s Son, Moll Flanders (1996),  Nothing Personal, The Secret Of Roan Inish, Angel Baby, The Secret Garden (1993), In The Name Of The Father, Princess Caraboo, Edward II, Hardware, Cal
  • Essie Davis: Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries (TV), The Babadook, The Slap (TV), Cloud Street (TV), Legend of the Guardians – The Owls of Ga’Hoole (voice), Australia, The Matrix 3, Code 46, The Girl With The Pearl Earring, The Matrix 2, The Custodian
  • Marcel Iures: Bunraku, Youth Without Youth, Pirates of the Caribbean 3, Goal, The Cave, Layer Cake, Hart’s War, The Peacemaker, Mission Impossible
  • Sean Harris: Trespass Against Us, Macbeth (2015), Mission Impossible 5, The Goob, ’71, Deliver Us From Evil, Serena, The Borgias (TV), Prometheus, Brighton Rock (2011),  A Lonely Place To Die, Creep, Harry Brown, 24 Hour Party People, Outlaw, Brothers Of The Head, Trauma
  • Ruth Negga: Agents of SHIELD (TV), Jimi – All Is By My Side, Misfits (TV), Breakfast On Pluto
  • Stanley Townsend: The Voices, 24 (TV), One Chance, Killing Bono, Cars 2 (voice), Happy Go Lucky, The Libertine, Suzie Gold, Wondrous Oblivion

GOAL 3

3 out of 10

REVIEW COMING SOON

Release Date: 15th June 2009 (DVD Premiere)

Director: Andy Morahan (Highlander 3)

Cast: JJ Field, Leo Gregory, Kuno Becker, Kasia Smutniak, Anya Lahiri, Nick Moran, Christopher Fairbank, Mike Elliott, Craig Heaney, Jack McBride, Gary Lewis with Margo Stilley and Tamer Hassan

Writer: Piers Ashworth & Mike Jeffries

Trailer: GOAL 3

WHAT HAVE I SEEN THAT ACTOR IN BEFORE?

FORGET ME NOT

5.5 out of 10

REVIEW COMING SOON

Release Date: 6th May 2011

Director: Alexander Holt & Lance Roehrig

Cast: Tobias Menzies, Genevieve O’Reilly and Gemma Jones

Writer: Mark Underwood

Trailer: FORGET ME NOT

WHAT HAVE I SEEN THAT ACTOR IN BEFORE?

  • Tobias Menzies: Black Sea, Game of Thrones (TV), Rome (TV), The Low Down, Casualty (TV)
  • Genevieve O’Reilly: Survivor (2015), Banished (TV), Episodes (TV)
  • Gemma Jones: Radiator, Last Tango In Halifax (TV), Merlin (TV), Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows 2, Hysteria, You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger, Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince, Bridget Jones 2, Shanghai Knights, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Bridget Jones, Captain Jack, The Winslow Boy, The Theory of Flight, Wilde, Sense and Sensibility, Feast of July, On The Black Hill, Paperhouse, The Devils

LOVE’S KITCHEN

1.5 out of 10

Release Date: 24th June 2011

Director: James Hacking

Cast: Dougray Scott, Claire Forlani, Peter Bowles, Lee Boardman, Michelle Ryan, Holly Gibbs, Simon Hepworth, Matthew Clancy, Caroline Langrishe, Celia Henebury, Josh Bowman, Adam Fogerty, Pip Torrens, Katrine De Candole and Cheri Lunghi with Gordon Ramsay and Simon Callow

Writer: James Hacking

Trailer: LOVE’S KITCHEN

Love's_Kitchen_FilmPosterEven the food looks pale in this amateurish rom-com flop which hit newspaper headlines for making a paltry £100 at the UK cinema box office.  Even by sticking to the most formulaic of plots Love’s Kitchen comes across as a half-hearted pilot for a forgotten sit-com of the mild sort that would have congested our TV channels in the early 90s.  What attracted the gaggle of name actors to this flop isn’t apparent in the final product. Most of the blame though for its plain awfulness must land squarely in Dougray Scott’s smug lap. He is clearly embarrassed to be there and he applies a very weak performance to a very inconsistent character. He plays cinema’s worst written and most unconvincing widowed single dad who buys a pub to reclaim his reputation as a top chef and purveyor of good English food (yawn).  The cliches mount up as he clashes, then bonds, then falls for food critic Kate (CLAIRE FORLANI – MEET JOE BLACK) whilst winning back his reputation and the hearts and stomachs of the local villagers led by ex-rocker Peter Bowles (LILTING). The makers obviously think being an arrogant c*nt is the magic key to writing rom-com gold. Well it isn’t.

Love’s Kitchen is flatter than Norfolk. It’s a dead and pale affair only livened up by a ripe Simon Callow (SOFT TOP, HARD SHOULDER) (in a brief supporting role as a TV critic.)  When the film threatens to tie the events up with a last minute romantic dash to the airport I wanted to throw the TV out of the window (except it’s too heavy).  TV super-chef Gordon Ramsay (HELL’S KITCHEN) puts in a sheepish performance as himself and adds to the cringe factor no end. Michelle Ryan (EASTENDERS) is probably fairly sidelined and awkward as a loyal waitress and I’ve forgotten about all the other cardboard cut-outs that show up along the way. A cartoon villain is about as funny as 12 years of  12 Years a Slave – so even Love’s Kitchen‘s attempts at humour are complete abortions. I began to dread watching the actors faces as they’d scoop up some of Dougray Scott‘s food, stop chewing, roll their eyes as if someone’s stick a feather up their arse and exclaim that they were eating the best thing they’d ever tasted. All the food looked pale, undercooked and shit. It’s the least appetising movie about food ever made and the least enticing. Makers of  Chef, Babette’s Feast, The Lunch Box take a long bow!

Shame on the makers for presenting such a pig’s bollock of a rom-com. This has about as much life as a Bradford roller disco. Avoid like a week old milk. It’s that rotten. Dougray Scott as a romantic lead is just creepy. Imagine Ray Liotta as a kindergarten teacher, or Christopher Walken as an Ewok and you’re getting an idea of how mis-cast this Scots bore is.

1.5 out of 10 – A boring shambles and an embarrassment to all who are involved. A pale, offensive, very weak and charmless rom-com. Paying audiences were wise to steer clear. They could probably smell the shit cooking from the street pavement.

WHAT HAVE I SEEN THAT ACTOR IN BEFORE?

  • Dougray Scott: Tiger House, Taken 3, The Last Passenger, Dr Who (TV), Death Race 3, A Thousand Kisses Deep, My Week With Marilyn, Love’s Kitchen, United, New Town Killers, Hitman, Desperate Housewives (TV), Dark Water, One Last Chance, To Kill a King, Ripley’s Game, Enigma, Mission Impossible 2, Gregory’s Girl 2, This Year’s Love, Ever After, Deep Impact, Another 9.5 Weeks, Twin Town, The Crow Road (TV), Soldier Soldier (TV)
  • Claire Forlani: NCIS – Los Angeles (TV), CSI – NY (TV), Flashbacks of a Fool, In the Name of the King, Hallam Foe, Ripley Underground, Green Street, The Medallion, Northfork, Triggermen, Antitrust, Mystery Men, Meet Joe Black, The Last Time I Committed Suicide, Basquiat, Mallrats, The Rock, Police Academy 7
  • Peter Bowles: Lilting, The Bank Job, Freebird, To The Manor Born (TV), The Steal, Rumpole Of The Bailey (TV), Only When I Laugh (TV), Blow Up
  • Lee Boardman: The Interceptor (TV), DaVinci’s Demons (TV), Fated, Rome (TV)
  • Michelle Ryan: Cockneys vs Zombies, Cleanskin, Huge, The Man Inside (2012), 4-3-2-1, Cashback, Wonder Woman (TV), Eastenders (TV)
  • Holly Gibbs: Mob Handed, The Story of Tracey Beaker (TV), Nanny McPhee
  • Caroline Langrishe: Casualty (TV), Lovejoy (TV)
  • Josh Bowman:Level Up, So Undercover, 13HRs, Prowl, Revenge (TV), Holby City (TV),
  • Adam Fogerty: Bait (2015), Plastic, Assault The Darkness, Snatch
  • Pip Torrens: Kids In Love, Poldark (TV), Gemma Bovery, My Week With Marilyn, St Trinians 2, Flood, Rogue Trader, The Remains Of The Day
  • Katrine De Candole: Fated
  • Cheri Lunghi: Secret Diary of a Call Girl (TV), The Brief (TV), Burn Hollywood Burn, Jack & Sarah, Frankenstein (1994), The Manageress (TV), To Kill a Priest, The Mission, Excalibur
  • Gordon Ramsay: Kitchen Nightmares (TV), Hell’s Kitchen (TV), Hotel Hell (TV), Masterchef (TV), The F Word (TV)
  • Simon Callow: Hampstead, Mindhorn, Golden Years, Outlander (TV), Ripley Underground, The Phantom of the Opera (2004), Bright Young Things, Thunderpants, No Man’s Land, Shakespeare In Love, Bedrooms and Hallways, The Scarlet Tunic, James and The Giant Peach (voice), Ace Ventura 2, Jefferson In Paris, Streetfighter, Four Weddings and a Funeral, Soft Top Hard Shoulder, Mr & Mrs Bridge, Postcards From The Edge, Maurice, A Room With a View, Amadeus

SOULBOY

6 out of 10

REVIEW COMING SOON

Release Date: 3rd September 2010 (DVD Premiere)

Director: Shimmy Marcus

Cast: Martin Compston, Felicity Jones, Nichola Burley, Alfie Allen, Craig Parkinson, Pat Shortt, Jo Hartley, Brian McArdie, Mary-Jo Randle, Brennan Reece, Danielle Henry with Bruce Jones and Huey Morgan

Writer: Jeff Williams

Trailer: SOULBOY

WHAT HAVE I SEEN THAT ACTOR IN BEFORE?