THE INCIDENT (2016)

10 out of 10

REVIEW COMING SOON

Release date: 25th November 2016 (DVD premiere)

Director: Jane Linfoot

Cast: Ruta Gedmintas, Tom Hughes, Tasha Connor and Noma Dumezweni

Writer: Jane Linfoot

Trailer: THE INCIDENT (2016)

WHAT HAVE I SEEN THAT ACTOR IN BEFORE?

THE LESSON

6 out of 10

Release date: 29th February 2016 (DVD premiere)

Director: Ruth Platt

Cast: Robert Hands, Evan Bendall, Michaela Prchalova, Rory Coltart, Tom Cox, Dolya Gavanski, Joshua Wedge and Charlotte Croft

Writer: Ruth Platt

Trailer:THE LESSON

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This is an interesting film. This gorno isn’t perfect, but it has got ambition and the confidence and an ounce of intelligence to get some rather good points across. In a way The Lesson teaches the viewer a thing or two about going into films like this with low expectations. This potentially rote little splatter flick turned out to be the product of a filmmaker that is committed to squirrelling an effective little allegory in the back way. It’s an allegory but I won’t tell you what for, but its nice that someone has really thought about the job at hand for once, instead of delivering yet another found-footage bore.

Well shot and directed by first timer Ruth Platt, this simple story tells of two brothers – the eldest Jake (TOM COX) who goes to work, whilst Fin (EVAN BENDALL) is still at high school age. Tom’s polish girlfriend Mia (MICHAELA PRCHALOVA) also lives with them in their council estate house.  Fin hangs with bad company at school, and along with his best mate Joel (RORY COLTART) makes their English teacher’s Mr Gale (ROBERT HANDS  – EASTENDERS) life a living hell. After a particularly bad day Gale, takes the two lads hostage and gives them both a lesson they’ll never forget.

The Lesson takes its time establishing the characters well-enough that although Fin is a turd, we know why he acts the way he does at school. It’s strange not to position the teacher as a figure of sympathy, rather its Fin who becomes this. Gale holds all the cards as he tests the two boys on their knowledge of English literature whilst doling out a set of grisly forfeits. Gale is presented as more complex too, he gets picked on, on a particularly bad day, so the fact that he snaps is given some weight. The only innocent in the story is Mia. She clearly prefers the younger brother’s personality, but is beholden to Jake because he has given her sanctuary from her own very real problems. So when Mia goes out to search for the missing Fin and Joel, Jake takes exception. It portrays most of the characters as bottom feeders, who are seen as soft for any act of kindness. Any lightness is crushed. The main characters are given flesh and blood roles, it’s just the supporting characters (who are mercifully few) who haven’t been coloured in.

The story spends time to build a good character dynamic, so it’s actually a shame that this turns into a gory horror spree at all, as it could have been something like The Goob or Dead Man’s Shoes. But even when it does it still works, all though it’s a little bit cartoonish at times. Sadly some of the lead performers are a touch wooden and the unknown cast, who have been gifted a half-decent script slip and slide. Uneven performances render the film unconvincing on occasion and because of this fact, the film suffers and becomes a missed opportunity. Better performers would have made this one to recommend. But as I said, largely it works. Another down point is the unbelievable consequence that takes place that results with Mia tracking down the boys’ whereabouts. Other wise The Lesson had a good ending and a satisfying coda. As downbeat as The Lesson is, is that its a story of greys, no black and whites. The director has a nice ear for a soundtrack, and a good eye for a shot, so hopefully we’ll see something else from her again one day.

6 out of 10 – Thoughtful and impressive gorno, which benefits from a good plot, script and several committed performances give this the extra gusto to make it way above average for this kind of thing.

WHAT HAVE I SEEN THAT ACTOR IN BEFORE?

  • Robert Hands: Eastenders (TV), The House of Eliott (TV), Grange Hill (TV)

LONDON TOWN

3.5 out of 10

REVIEW COMING SOON

Release date: 11th October 2016 (DVD premiere)

Director: Derrick Borte (The Joneses)

Cast: Daniel Huttlestone, Dougray Scott, Nell Williams, Natascha McElhone, Anya McKenna-Bruce, Samuel Robertson, Jack Morris with Tom Hughes and Jonathan Rhys-Meyers

Writer: Matt Boyd & Sonya Gildea

Trailer: LONDON TOWN

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A wishful-thinking fantasy that throws real-life famous people into a fictional brush with the ordinary is what London Town is. We’ve been here with The Committments and Hear My Song.  Anonymous non-famous person has a brush with fame and is star-struck when fame reaches out and pats them on the head. This time it’s Joe Strummer of The Clash (JONATHAN RHYS-MEYERS – MISSION IMPOSSIBLE 3) turn to get the re-imagining. He cameos in a tale of rote derring do, which sees Shay (DANIEL HUTTLESTONE – LES MISERABLES) as 15 year old who has a brush with the late 70s punk-scene when he runs into Vivian (NELL WILLIAMS) and follows her to some gigs and a record shop that stand in for London. Meanwhile he has to look after his 6 year old sister whilst his taxi-driver/piano shop owner father (DOUGRAY SCOTT – MISSION IMPOSSIBLE 2) recovers in hospital after a bad accident. Meanwhile, he becomes obsessed with his errant mother played by Natascha McElhone (SOLARIS) who lives down in London in a squat with a bunch of artists, hippies, and punks. She’s a bad mother who falls from mythical status to reprobate in a few predictable scenes.

And that’s London Town’s problem is it’s lack of authenticity. Beyond a good but empty performance from Jonathan Rhys-Meyers, this coming of age tale doesn’t miss a single cliched beat. The dialogue is too modern, people never spoke like that back in the 1980s, I was there. TV exec demands or lazy writing it still adds to the annoying pile of unimaginative story turns this takes. It lacks charm despite the best efforts of the young lead, Daniel Huttlestone, who was so good as Gavroche in Les Miserables. Nell Williams is rather flat as the punk kid with a secret, so the love affair has no spark. Dougray Scott scraps over whatever’s left but is largely sidelined in a slim role in a film full of wax dummies. The climax where Shay puts on a concert to save his dad’s shop – advertising Strummer as the headliner is dead-eyed and rushed. The scene has no spirit or life, and is over before it starts. I bored the law and bore won.

3.5 out of 10 – It’s an exercise in cookie-cutter filmmaking for people who don’t like originality in their films. A trip down memory lane for those that weren’t there. Punk purists would hate it. I bored the law and bore won.

WHAT HAVE I SEEN THAT ACTOR IN BEFORE?

  • Daniel Huttlestone: The Lost City of Z, Into the Woods, Les Miserables (2013)
  • Dougray Scott: The Rezort, Snatch (TV), Fear The Walking Dead (TV), Taken 3, Tiger House, 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)
  • Natascha McElhone: Mr Church, Believe, The Sea, Californication (TV), Romeo & Juliet (2014), The Kid (2010), Big Nothing, Guy X, Ladies In Lavendar, Solaris (2012), feardotcom, Killing Me Softly, Love’s Labours Lost, Ronin, The Truman Show, Miss Dalloway, The Devil’s Own, Surviving Picasso
  • Samuel Robertson: The Legend of Barney Thompson
  • Tom Hughes: Dare To Be Wild, 8 Minutes Idle, I Am SoldierAbout Time, Cemetery JunctionSex & Drugs & Rock-N-Roll
  • Jonathan Rhys-Meyers: Vikings (TV), Stonewall, The Mortal Instruments, Albert Nobbs, The Tudors (TV), From Paris With Love, August Rush, Mission Impossible 3, Match Point, Alexander, Vanity Fair (2004), I’ll Sleep When I’m Dead, Octane, Bend It Like Beckham, Prozac Nation, Ride With The Devil, Titus, The Loss of Sexual Innocence, The Governess, The Tribe, Velvet Goldmine, The Disappearance of Finbar

 

ONUS

1 out of 10

Release date: 26th December 2016 (DVD Premiere)

Director: George Clarke (Splash Area / The Blood Harvest/ The Last Light)

Cast: Robert Render, Anthony Boyle, Vivian Jamison, Caroline Burns Cooke and Kenneth Thompson

Writer: George Clarke

Trailer: ONUS

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A wonderfully nonsensical and mateurish crack at a twister, George Clark‘s third feature sees him in venture into Saw territory. Two vaguely connected men find themselves chained together deep in the forest. One of them is a school teacher, Andrews (ROBERT RENDER – THE LAST LIGHT) and the other is dim-witted teen, Kieran (ANTHONY BOYLE). They don’t know why they’re there or who is watching their every move.Each of them also has a revolver containing one bullet gaffer taped to their hand. contained in the latter half will only reveal spoilers. And although Onus should have been titled Anus, I won’t be mean and give away the end. I’ll just call it childish names instead.

A lot of ambition is on display here but alas the talent to pull it off doesn’t show up. The good aspects include a tasty soundtrack track and a reasonably good performance from the director’s ‘go-to’ lead, Robert Render. Unfortunately, the editing is sloppy, the sound mix is borderline  terrible with much of the dialogue at the beginning of chapter two drowned out by background noise.

The plot has several gigantic holes (no spoilers from me) but how difficult would a gun gaffer taped in your hand be to remove? One of the points reliable on the success of the villain’s scheme is that nobody would try to escape. But bad plotting aside, much of the film has a plodding pace where it should have been fast moving and exciting. Instead, Onus feels like a chore and an exercise in how to finish a feature despite having no talent or dicernible idea how to make an action-thriller.

1 out of 10 – Slow with a badly-plotted story that tries to be different but just ends up being repetitive, derivative of similar thrillers, all with zero resources to achieve a satisfying end result. It took me four attempts to watch it all the way through. Not good.

WHAT HAVE I SEEN THAT ACTOR IN BEFORE?

THE GIRL WITH ALL THE GIFTS

7.5 out of 10

REVIEW COMING SOON

Release date: 23rd September 2016

Director: Colm McCarthy (Peaky Blinders (TV))

Cast: Gemma Arterton, Paddy Considine, Glenn Close, Sennia Nanua, Anamaria Marinca with Anthony Welsh and Fisayo Akinade

Writer: Mike Carey

Trailer:THE GIRL WITH ALL THE GIFTS

WHAT HAVE I SEEN THAT ACTOR IN BEFORE?

THE LIGHTHOUSE

7.5 out of 10

REVIEW COMING SOON

Release Date: 31st October 2016 (DVD Premiere)

Director: Chris Crow (Viking – The Darkest Day / Panic Button / Devil’s Bridge)

Cast: Michael Jibson, Mark Lewis Jones and Joshua Richards

Writer: Chris Crow

Trailer: THE LIGHTHOUSE

WHAT HAVE I SEEN THAT ACTOR IN BEFORE?

UNDERCOVER HOOLIGAN

3 out of 10

Release Date: 26th December 2016 (DVD Premiere)

Director: Nicholas Winter (Hooligan Legacy)

Cast: Kris Johnson, Simon Cotton, Ali Bastian, Munro Graham, Patrick Connolly, Tim Berrington, Sapphire Elia, Aggy K Adams, Eric Colvin with Ryan Winsley and Chris Simmons

Writer: Nicholas Winter

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I had high hopes for Nicholas Winter’s second film as director after Hooligan Legacy. Seems like a ridiculous statement but in context his debut was a tough little gangster movie with pace, good performances and proved to be a good calling card for the director and it’s leading man, Kris Johnson (WHO NEEDS ENEMIES). Sadly, this time around their latest one,Undercover Hooligan proves to be heavy work. Johnson, usually a confident actor, who’s already proved to be one to watch, falters with a bad script, and this time delivers a less than cocksure performance. The plot and acting from some of his supporters leave much to be desired too.

Undercover Hooligan follows the first underground assignment for ‘Violent Cop of the Terraces’ Michael Clarke, who has to go to jail for six months just to look authentic enough to get in with some people traffickers lead by Patrick Connolly and his children, played by Simon Cotton (RISE OF THE KRAYS) and Sapphire Elia (VENGEANCE). Cotton further solidifies his rep, at Britpic Crescent, as one of low-budget cinemas biggest over-performers. He doesn’t quite ruin the film, that’s a group effort.  Plot holes and character dopiness sabotage a potentially entertaining film but familiarity with this kind of plot arch scuppers Undercover Hooligan in more ways than one. It’s not Kris Johnson‘s only dud, see Essex Vendetta for that – but he’s not the problem in that one.

The violence is a bit sickening and every bit gratuitous, as it was in Hooligan Legacy, but here it seems stitched on to make up for the cardboard acting and tired story. Again it would seem like the word ‘hooligan’ has been wheeled out by the SEO boys to sell a few more units but it’s connection to football or hooliganism is on the thin side, as you’d expect. I look forward to Kris Johnson‘s next appearance, but for Mr Winter the director and writer he’s currently hung at a 1/1 tie-off. Please come back with something better next time.

3 out of 10 – Leaden and drawn out crime non-thriller starring the usually confident and natural Kris Johnson. This time he’s either miscast or unsure about the script as he comes across uncomfortable this once. Simon Cotton overcooks the principle baddy and the rest of the cast set about doing wooden furniture impressions. Underpowered Hooligans.

Trailer: UNDERCOVER HOOLIGAN

WHAT HAVE I SEEN THIS ACTOR IN BEFORE?