PROWL

4.5 out of 10

UK/USA co-production

REVIEW COMING SOON

Release date: 4th October 2011 (DVD premiere)

Director: Patrik Syversen

Cast: Courtney Hope, Josh Bowman, Ruta Gedmintas, Jamie Blackley, Perdita Weeks, Oliver Hawes, Saxon Trainor and Bruce Payne

Writer: Tim Tori

Trailer: PROWL

WHAT HAVE I SEEN THAT ACTRESS IN BEFORE?

A THOUSAND KISSES DEEP

3 out of 10

REVIEW COMING SOON

Release date: 15th June 2012 (DVD premiere)

Director: Dana Lustig

Cast: Jodie Whittaker, Dougray Scott, Emilia Fox, David Warner, Eloise Barnes, Charlotte Lucas, Julian Rivett, Stuart Martin, with Allan Corduner and Jonathan Slinger

Writer: Alex Kustanovich & Vadim Moldovan

Trailer:

WHAT HAVE I SEEN THAT ACTOR IN BEFORE?

  • Jodie Whittaker: Dr Who (TV), Journeyman, Adult Life Skills, Broadchurch (TV), Get Santa, Hello Carter, Black Sea, Ashes, Spike IslandGood Vibrations, Attack The Block, One Day, The Kid (2010), St. Trinians, Venus
  • Dougray Scott: London Town, The Rezort, Snatch (TV), Fear The Walking Dead (TV), Taken 3, Tiger House, The Last Passenger, Dr Who (TV), Death Race 3, My Week With Marilyn, Love’s Kitchen, United, New Town Killers, Hitman, Desperate Housewives
  • Emilia Fox: Mum’s List, The Carer, Silent Witness (TV), Trap For Cinderella, Suspension of Disbelief, Merlin (TV), Dorian Gray, Flashbacks of a Fool, Cashback, Keeping Mum, Life and Death of Peter Sellers, The Pianist, Randall & Hopkirk Deceased (TV), Pride and Prejudice (TV)
  • David Warner: Mary Poppins Returns, Ripper Street (TV), Wallander (TV), Penny Dreadful, Black Death, Dr Who (TV), The League Of Gentlemen’s Apocalypse, Ladies In Lavender, Planet Of The Apes (2001), Scream 2, Titanic, Money Talks, The Leading Man, In The Mouth Of Madness, Star Trek 6 – The Undiscovered Country, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2, Twin Peaks (TV), Star Trek 5 – The Final Frontier, Tron, The Omen (1976), Time Bandits, Little Malcolm, Straw Dogs (1971)
  • Charlotte Lucas: Broadchurch (TV), Bad Girls (TV), Eastenders (TV)
  • Julian Rivett: Outpost
  • Stuart Martin: Jamestown (TV), Slow West, Babylon (TV)
  • Allan Corduner: Florence Foster Jenkins, Homeland (TV), Woman In Gold, The Sweeney, Burke and Hare, We’ll Take Manhattan, The Waiting Room, Defiance, Me Without You, The Imposters, Topsy Turvy
  • Jonathan Slinger: Bait (2015), Still

MAGIC BEYOND WORDS – THE JK ROWLING STORY

1.5 out of 10

Release date: 18th July 2011 (DVD premiere)

UK/Canada co-production

Director: Paul A Kaufman

Cast: Poppy Montgomery, Emily Holmes, Antonio Cupo, Janet Kidder, Andy Maton, Paul McGilling, Marie West, Lisa Norton

Writer: Jeffrey Berman & Tony Caballero

Trailer: MAGIC BEYOND WORDS

81-ySJ4QffL._SY445_

I do understand the obvious fact that this film wasn’t made with me in mind. It’s still no excuse for palming fans of JK Rowling off with this slapdash, Hallmark Channel, biopic of the world’s most famous children’s author. I’ve never read a Harry Potter book, but I’ve seen the lamentable films, and on that evidence I have to say I could live without JK Rowling’s contributions to the world. However, I did find her life story, about her rise to fame and her dedication to becoming an author a true inspiration. It’s a real-life fairy tale for anybody that has a bit of talent and can work hard enough to win a shot at fame. This film fails to convey much of the struggle or the enormity of her achievement. Magic Beyond Words is in fact a bog standard, ‘births, marriages and death’ sprint through the highlights. You’d probably get more of an insight from reading the short JK biog at the back of her novels than watching this.

Poppy Montgomery (WITHOUT A TRACE) certainly looks the part, as JK Rowling, and battles valiantly with a lazy script. There’s not a single scrap of meat on the plot bone, as it ferries her version of JK from one scenario to another. One single scene, showing JK’s childhood games dressed as a witch some woods portrays her as a fun loving and imaginative child. It’s down hill from there. Her first marriage to a Portuguese gent, Georges (ANTONIO CUPO – AMERICAN MARY) whose story arc goes from handsome dreamboat hunk to abusive dick in less than 5 minutes. There’s no room for development of any of the characters anywhere. During the Edinburgh phase, we’re treated to a very light version of I, Daniel Blake, where JK struggles to make sense of the labyrinth British benefits system. Luckily, she found time to write her books. This is depicted in a few short scenes with a knackered typewriter and a stack of notebooks – total running time equals  exactly 20 seconds in the film – cue montages of flurrying fingers over a keyboard and empty coffee cups. Zzzzz, wake me when the cliches die.

Magic Beyond Words is an unofficial biopic. It’s existence has been ignored by the author herself and for good reason, it’s total shit.

1.5 out of 10 – Utterly lazy rush job adaptation made for undemanding children and idiots. Hardly the inspiring account of an genuinely interesting life most viewers would hope for. Tragic beyond turds. (ed. what are you, a six year old?)

WHAT HAVE I SEEN THAT ACTOR IN BEFORE?

  • Poppy Montgomery: Unforgettable (TV), Without a Trace (TV)
  • Emily Holmes: The Shack, The Man In The High Castle (TV), Diary of a Wimpy Kid 3, Nightwatching, Snakes on a Plane
  • Antonio Cupo: American Mary
  • Janet Kidder: Arrow (TV), Ginger Snaps 2,  Bride of Chucky

AMEN ISLAND aka UNHAPPY BIRTHDAY

3 out of 10

REVIEW COMING SOON

Release date: 21st June 2011 (DVD Premiere)

Director: Mark Harriot & Mike Matthews

Cast: David Paisley, Christina DeVallee, Jonathan Keane, Jill Riddiford and David McGillivray

Writer: Mark Harriot & Mike Matthews

WHAT HAVE I SEEN THAT ACTOR IN BEFORE?

  • David Paisley: River City (TV), Holby City (TV), Casualty (TV)
  • David McGillivray: The House of Whipcord

THE GOSPEL OF US – THE PASSION OF PORT TALBOT

4 out of 10

REVIEW COMING SOON

Release date: 13th April 2012 (DVD Premiere)

Director: Dave McKean (Luna / Mirrormask)

Cast: Michael Sheen, Di Botcher, Matthew Aubrey, John-Paul MacLeod, Boyd Clack, Sharon Morgan, Darren Lawrence and Iwan Rheon

Writer: Owen Sheers

Trailer: THE GOSPEL OF US

WHAT HAVE I SEEN THAT ACTOR IN BEFORE?

 

 

 

WEEKEND RETREAT

3.5 out of 10

Release date: 5th November 2011 (DVD Premiere)

Director: Brett Harvey (Brown Willy)

Cast: Esther Hall, Dominic Coleman, Simon Harvey, Dean Nolan, Daniel Harvey and Dudley Sutton

Writer: Brett Harvey

Trailer: Not available

MV5BMTg1NjQ4MDExMV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwMzAyNTQwMzE@._V1_UX182_CR0,0,182,268_AL_

The Harvey Brothers are probably the closest the Duchy of Cornwall has to auteurs at the time of writing. A merry band of filmmakers who have so far made a clutch or documentaries, shorts and two fictional features. Weekend Retreat was their first, and the much improved follow up was Brown Willy.  Their feature debut shows a lot of promise and some of the quirks and invention they’d apply to the second film, alas, as much as you’d like Weekend Retreat to be a winner, it largely flops due to the same damining factors that trip up so many low-budget filmmakers – a ropey script, weird plotting and uneven acting from a mixture of industry pros and locals.

A warring couple, Esther Hall (BLACK MIRROR) and Dominic Coleman (COLD FEET) turn up at a holiday cottage. Unfortunately, on the same day, two dim-witted brothers, Simon Harvey (BROWN WILLY) and DEAN NOLAN (TIN) turn up at the house to burgle the dreaded ‘second-home’ owner, Dudley Sutton (ORLANDO). A caper ensues that sees switched allegiances wreck everybody’s plans, and the idea of a peaceful break goes out of the window as things get comically out of control.

Weekend Retreat starts with an extended flashback, which anyone who had holidays in Cornwall growing up will love, as it features the desolate children theme park Flambards. Two young brothers go around on several rides before facing the 40ft ‘Wall of Death’ which seems to be the defining moment in the burglars’ lives. This is a wonderfully presented scene and its a shame that rest of the film rarely gains these levels of entertainment again. A scene about halfway through when one of the burglars gives a shoulder to cry on, and unexpected comfort to Esther Hall at the climax of an exhausting chase is the best bit by miles and is possibly the main reason for watching this muddled debut. It’s a film which demonstrates the stories potential, and also the opportunities missed to make this a truly funny break out picture. As it is Weekend Retreat remains a little-known curio which fans of Brown Willy may go and seek out to get more of the same. Unfortunately, these guys were still only learning the trade and had quite a way to go before they got it right. On the plus side, it takes some filmmakers ages to get a good film made, check out Steve M Smith or Steve Lawson, who put out lots of films, all terrible with no sign of improvement on the horizon. The Harvey Brothers well and truly upped their game by scaling back with Brown Willy, coming up with a smaller cast, and concentrating on the craft of presenting a humourous film, with a great soundtrack and some of the best landscape cinematography I’ve seen in a no-budget film.

A good try, but I’m afraid despite the ‘real’ actors on duty, Weekend Retreat is largely a patience tester and could have been much funnier. Here’s to future projects though, because there is evidence of talent on the rise here.

3.5 out of 10 – Clunky, mildly funny marriage farce, tripped up by lethargic plotting and uneven acting. Stick to the Harvey Brothers’ second film Brown Willy. Much funnier, much better.

Review below by Matt Usher

WHAT HAVE I SEEN THAT ACTOR IN BEFORE?

  • Esther Hall: Black Mirror (TV), Mount Pleasant (TV), Doctors (TV), Rome (TV), Waking The Dead (TV), Spooks (TV), Queer As Folk (TV), Land Girls
  • Dominic Coleman: The Devil Went Down To Islington, Cold Feet (TV), Paddington, We Are The Freaks, Sex Lives of the Potato Men
  • Simon Harvey: Brown Willy
  • Dean Nolan: Tin
  • Dudley Sutton: Tin, Fall of An Empire, Cockneys Vs. ZombiesOutside Bet, The Shouting Men, Lovejoy (TV), Dean Spanley, Eastenders (TV), The Football Factory, The Tichborne Claimant, Incognito (1997), Orlando, Edward II, The Rainbow, The Devils, The London Connection, The Pink Panther Strikes Again, The Leather Boys