LUNA

5 out of 10

Release Date: 4th April 2014 (DVD Premiere)

Director: Dave McKean (The Gospel of Us / Mirrormask)

Cast: Michael Maloney, Dervla Kirwan, Ben Daniels, Stephanie Leonidas and Maurice Roeves

Writer: Dave McKean

Trailer: LUNA


VB14-Luna-poster

Film director, animator, artist, author and famous Neil Gaiman collaborator, Dave McKean needs to delegate when it comes to making films. Luna is the result of an amazing visual mind working at full tilt, much like a more anchored brother to Terry Gilliam, yet it stutters and stumbles because of a clunky script – he should have employed a dialogue writer because he has a ‘tin ear’ for how people speak. The talented actors falter at times too and fall on rocky ground. Where some visuals, or a look would have sufficed we are treated to unlikely monologues.  All the same, it’s a treat to see another Dave McKean film, because as awkward as he is, he still dazzles on a small budget.

Old friends gather at the house of Dean (MICHAEL MALONEY – TRULY MADLY DEEPLY), a McKean-like author whose in a happy marriage with his much younger second wife, Freya (STEPHANIE LEONIDAS – AMERICAN GOTHIC). Visiting couple, Grant (BEN DANIELS – BEAUTIFUL THING) and Christine’s (DERVLA KIRWAN – BALLYKISSANGEL) baby son< Jacob has died and this is their first trip to see Dean since it happened. Old wounds open and instead of bringing comfort all the couples do is fight. Christine and Grant suffer from bold hallucinations of their son at varying ages including very old age.  The visit may bring salvation or damnation.

Out of the four lead actors Stephanie Leonidas seems the most at ease, but then her character has the least to do. Her ‘no self-censorship’ rule when it comes to discussions only seems to apply to the men, as she bonds with Dervla Kirwan’s Christine, who needs to be muted and sad. The anger and action is left to Daniels and Maloney. The fantasy elements struggle to blend in with the very realistic storyline. And that’s the point, its about the collision of the real and the not real. And this will divide the audiences because there’s enough to satisfy fans of both in their films. The animation and special effects are even better than the ones we saw in his film debut Mirrormask (I haven’t seen The Gospel of Us yet) and they bewitch and help weave a mood. When applied to the story however it stutters. These scenes only seem to be here because that’s what Dave McKean does. It’s an auteur laying his style on thickly. And if you like you stylings thick then you’ll be happy. You have to seek this film out and the directors involvement will be the reason most people’s reason to see it. So is it a good Dave McKean film? The answer is a resounding yes. Is it a good film? Well, it’s OK. It’s a very mixed bag. I’ll take the visuals but leave the script behind for some more editing.

5 out of 10 – Visually dynamic, but a clunky script and unsure story make it a lumpy proposition.

WHAT HAVE I SEEN THAT ACTOR IN BEFORE?

BROWN WILLY

7.5 out of 10

Release date: 29th April 2016

Director: Brett Harvey (Weekend Retreat)

Cast: Tim Dyson and Simon Harvey

Writer: Brett Harvey

Trailer: BROWN WILLY

brown-willy-quad-1024x768

Brown Willy is a funny comedy made on a micro-budget set on Bodmin Moor in Cornwall. The titular Brown Willy is the tallest point in the county. Two life-long buddies decide to have celebrate a stag-do in quiet style by walking to Brown Willy. Nothing goes to plan as the groom-to-be is given some really hard drugs resulting in the pair getting hopelessly lost on the moors.

Like a cross between Shaun of the Dead (minus zombies), Withnail & I (minus buildings) and Nuts In May (minus women), it’s an engaging and well assembled comedy that never overstays its welcome. The script and story are basic and the plot is largely simple too. What makes this special is that the comedy (although far from unique) is very funny, the cinematography really gives the film a sense of place, and the soundtrack is perfect. It’s far from a ‘point and shoot affair’ as well, as lot of the shots are considerately framed. There are quite a few scenes with nobody at all in, as the camera gazes across the moors, some others frame the actors in the distance, or on a horizon.The changes between scenes coincide with prompts in the music. The wind sound effects give the film an authentic and atmospheric feel.

My only qualm is that there’s no overlapping dialogue, making the delivery a seem a tiny but wooden at times when the script goes a bit slack.

It’s good to see a comedy that cares about the aesthetics of cinematography. It’s only 80 minutes long but you won’t feel cheated as Brown Willy as it’s a worth while watch. It also contains sad truths about outgrowing your friends, so it has a few valid points to make whilst gently tugging at the heart strings.

7.5 out of 10 – Fun film about male-bonding and getting old disgracefully. Good fun, shame the acting is tiny bit stilted at times. But here’s to their next film, it should be great!

WHAT HAVE I SEEN THAT ACTOR IN BEFORE?

TANK 432 – BELLY OF THE BULLDOG

3 out of 10

Release date: 22nd August 2016 (DVD Premiere)

Director: Jim Gillespie

Cast: Rupert Evans, Deirdre Mullins, Michael Smiley, April Pearson, Steve Garry, Alex March with Tom Meeten and Gordon Kennedy

Writer: Jim Gillespie

Trailer: TANK 432

belly_of_the_bulldogThere are some ideas at play here in Tank 432, except I don’t know what they were, so incomprehensible is its story.  The plot is so convoluted and wilfully confusing it’s doesn’t make for a good 90 minutes of film viewing. And that’s disappointing because all the ingredients are present for an intriguing ‘men on a mission movie’.

Like R-Point and Deathwatch before it, this chooses cryptic over creepy. As a horror, Tank 432 lacks chills, thrills or atmosphere. So therefore its an exercise in flatness. Several soldiers are on a hostage taking mission, they come under fire and take shelter in a Bulldog tank. The leader Sgt. Smith (GORDON KENNEDY – THE BORDERLANDS) knows more than he’s letting on, and as the body count rises the soldiers slowly discover that’s what’s happening to them is no accident. What role will the tank play in their future, can they escape the belly of the bulldog once they become locked in, who are the spectres in insect masks, and what’s the orange powder they encounter going to do to their minds? The above average cast is squandered and they struggle to make sense of the repetitive and clunky script. Kennedy suffers the most with the worst dialogue, and the usually dependable Michael Smiley (KILL LIST) over plays his lunatic. Elsewhere, Rupert Evans (THE MAN IN THE HIGH TOWER) and Deirdre Mullins (MAN DOWN) take the nominal leads. They both do well, expect for a horror there’s but one memorable death. All the other death’s are unforgettable and pretty unshowy.

Boasting Ben Wheatley as producer, and some good cult actors, Tank 432 stalls and refuses to evolve into anything interesting. Even the final reveal is botched, making the ‘twist’ in the tale a nonsensical cherry on the cake. Director Nick Gillespie is Wheatley’s regular cinematographer but it looks like this leg up was a generous move as the director and writer has a long way go to be anywhere near good as him.

 3 out of 10 – Flat action horror that goes nowhere and squanders interesting ideas and good actors. Ultimately, it’s boring and confusing. Stank 432.

Another review below!

WHAT HAVE I SEEN THAT ACTOR IN BEFORE?

 

MOTHER’S MILK

2 out of 10

Release Date: 9th November 2012

Director: Gerald Fox

Cast: Jack Davenport, Adrian Dunbar, Annabel Mullion, Thomas Underhill, Diana Quick, Annette Badland, Flora Montgomery, Robert Portal, Jane How and Margaret Tyzack

Writer: Gerald Fox / Edward St. Aubyn

Trailer: MOTHER’S MILK

mothers+milk

Mother’s Milk is a dreary, amateurish adaptation of Edward St.Aubyn‘s novel about a son (JACK DAVENPORT – THIS LIFE) who is about to be disinherited by his mother (MARGARET TYZACK – 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY). The mother intends to leave her mansion in the south of France to a hippie, health guru (ADRIAN DUNBAR – HEAR MY SONG). The son takes his family along for one last summer holiday in an attempt to reverse his fortunes. His young son (THOMAS UNDERHILL – PAPADOPOULOS & SONS) watches from a far contributing one of two unfunny, miserable and depressing narrations. His father does the other.

The miserable pair fail miserably at having a good time or achieving the mission to get the house back from the new age hippies. The father drinks whiskey and womanises, whilst the son just observes and feels jealous of his baby brother. It’s one sad set-piece after antoher which is so wobbly of tone, you’re not sure if you’re watching a comedy or a tragedy. It’s more the latter, because any attempts at humour are met with a groan. Both leads talk as if they’re confiding in you and that you’re actually in agreement with their schemes, when everybody in sight is a money grabbing toss pot. Actually, the supposed villain of the piece (Dunbar) actually comes across most sympathetic, even though he is a charlatan. At least he’s a nice one.

The pace is funereal and the scenes are shot with a laziness that is indemic throughout the film.  Pity the decent actors who are stymied by upper middle class cliches and a lack of tasty dialogue. I’ve not read the book but I don’t think I’d get much pleasure reading about this group of self-entitled, wimps, pissheads and ingrates.

2 out of 10 – Awful film. Makes you hate people with money. It’s so cack you end up rooting for the baddie!

WHAT HAVE I SEEN THAT ACTOR IN BEFORE?

  • Jack Davenport: The Tank, Kingsman – The Secret Service, Pirates of the Caribbean 3, Pirates of the Caribbean 2, The Wedding Date, The Libertine, Pirates of the Caribbean, The Bunker, The Talented Mr Ripley, The Wisdom of Crocodiles
  • Adrian Dunbar: The Hollow Crown (TV), The Line of Duty (TV), Good Vibrations, Shooters, Wild About Harry, The Wedding Tackle, The General (1998), Richard III (1995), The Near Room, Innocent Lies, Widow’s Peak, The Crying Game, The Playboys, Hear My Song, My Left Foot
  • Annabel Mullion: Me Without You, Carrington
  • Thomas Underhill: Papadopoulos & Sons
  • Diana Quick: Dr Who (voice)(TV), Revenger’s Tragedy, The Affair of the Necklace, Saving Grace, Vigo, The Leading Man, Nostradamus, Wilt, Vroom, Brideshead Revisited (TV), The Big Sleep, The Duellists
  • Annette Badland: Eastenders (TV), Outlander (TV), Legacy – Black Ops, Three and Out, Cutting It (TV), Dr Who (TV), Valiant (voice), Club Le Monde, Honest, Little Voice, 24-7 – Twentyfourseven, Hollow Reed, Angels and Insects, Captives, Beyond Bedlam, Anchoress, Making Out (TV), Bergerac (TV), Jabberwocky
  • Flora Montgomery: Basic Instinct 2, When Brendan Met Trudy
  • Robert Portal: Eat Local, 6 Days, Kids In Love, United We FallMr Turner, In Your Dreams, Stiff Upper Lips, Mrs Dalloway
  • Jane How: Eastenders (TV), Dr Who (TV)
  • Margaret Tyzack: Match Point, Bright Young Things, Mrs Dalloway, The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles (TV), The King’s Whore, Prick Up Your Ears, The Quatermass Conclusion, I Claudius (TV), A Clockwork Orange, Jackanory (TV), 2001 – A Space Odyssey

ESTRANGED

3.5 out of 10

REVIEW COMING SOON

Release Date: 29th August 2015 (DVD Premiere)

Director: Adam Levins

Cast: Amy Manson, James Cosmo, Craig Conway, Eileen Nicholas, Nora Jane Noone, James Lance and Simon Quarterman

Writer: Simon Fantauzzo

Trailer: ESTRANGED

WHAT HAVE I SEEN THAT ACTOR IN BEFORE?

 

IONA

6 out of 10

REVIEW COMING SOON

Release Date: 25th March 2016

Director: Scott Graham (Shell)

Cast: Ruth Negga, Douglas Henshall, Ben Gallagher, Sorcha Groundsell, Michelle Duncan and Tom Brooke

Writer: Scott Graham

Trailer: IONA

WHAT HAVE I SEEN THAT ACTOR IN BEFORE?

  • Ruth Negga: Warcraft, Preacher (TV), Agents of SHIELD (TV), Noble, Jimi, Misfits (TV), Isolation, Breakfast On Pluto
  • Douglas Henshall: Party Pieces, Salvation, Outlander (TV), Shetland (TV), The Eagle, Dorian Gray, Lawless Heart, Primeval (TV), This Year’s Love, Orphans, Fast Food, If Only, Angels & Insects
  • Michelle Duncan: The Broken
  • Tom Brooke: Preacher (TV), Game of Thrones (TV), The Veteran, The Boat That Rocked

THE VIOLATORS

7 out of 10

REVIEW COMING SOON

Release Date: 17th June 2016

Director: Helen Walsh

Cast: Lauren McQueen, Brogan Ellis, Stephen Lord, Liam Ainsworth, Derek Barr, Callum King Chadwick, Jennifer Hennessy with Sean McKee and Roxanne Pallett

Writer: Helen Walsh

Trailer: THE VIOLATORS

WHAT HAVE I SEEN THAT ACTOR IN BEFORE?

  • Lauren McQueen: The Wasting, The Mill (TV)
  • Brogan Ellis: Waterloo Road (TV)
  • Stephen Lord: Penny Dreadful (TV), Shameless (TV), Desperate Measures (2011), Casualty (TV), Until Death, SW 9, Common As Muck (TV), Raining Stones
  • Liam Ainsworth: Genesis, Kajaki
  • Derek Barr: Casualty (TV)
  • Jennifer Hennessy: Dickensian (TV), Psychoville (TV), Coronation Street (TV), The Office (TV)
  • Sean McKee: Dead Mans Cards, Going Off Big Time, Liam, Liverpool 1 (TV), Brookside (TV)
  • Roxanne Pallett: Habit, Devil’s Tower, It’s a Lot, Wrong Turn 6, Lake Placid 3, Emmerdale (TV)