INTERLUDE IN PRAGUE

3 out of 10

REVIEW COMING SOON

Release date: 25th May 2017 (DVD premiere)

Director: John Stephenson (The Christmas Candle / 5 Children and It)

Cast: Aneurin Barnard, Morfydd Clark, James Purefoy, Samantha Barks, Edmund Kingsley, Ruby Bentall, Klara Issova, Voitech Sedivy, Ian Bonar, Nickolas Grace, Anna Rust, Jiri Made with Dervla Kirwan and Adrian Edmondson

Writer: Brian Ashby

Trailer: INTERLUDE IN PRAGUE

WHAT HAVE I SEEN THAT ACTOR IN BEFORE?

 

A STREET CAT NAMED BOB

7.5 out of 10

Release date: 3rd November 2016

Director: Roger Spottiswoode (The 6th Day / James Bond – Tomorrow Never Dies / Mesmer / And The Band Played On / Stop! Or My Mom Will Shoot / Air America / Turner & Hooch / Shoot To Kill / The Best of Times / Under Fire / Terror Train)

Cast: Luke Treadaway, Ruta Gedmintas, Joanne Froggatt, Anthony Head, Darren Evans, Beth Goddard, Lorraine Ashbourne, Nina Wadia, Tony Jayawardena, John Henshaw, Akbar Kurtha, Ivana Basic with Ruth Sheen and Caroline Goodall

Writer: Tim John & Maria Nation / James Bowen & Garry Jenkins

Trailer:

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Solid, piece of family entertainment with a bit of an edge, this true story of a recovering drug addict, who becomes an overnight sensation because of his devoted cat, Bob, could have been yet another piss-weak TV-movie. That A Street Cat Named Bob actually has something going for it is a pleasant surprise.

This real-life aspirational story is the very modern kind that it may not have caught the nation’s imagination if it wasn’t for viral social media. James, (LUKE TREADAWAY – FORTITUDE) a Big Issue vendor and busker, gets given a second chance when his case worker Val (JOANNE FROGGATT – DOWNTON ABBEY) and finds him a flat. He is soon befriended by a stray cat, who he calls Bob. Bob is devoted to him and follows him everywhere, even when he goes busking or on his errands. Sitting atop of his shoulders. Life isn’t all rosy for James, as he’s still a few steps from finishing his methodone programme. The temptations to take heroin are all around him, not least when he lives in a very run down area, where dealers lurk on every street, and an old friend from the streets, Baz (DARREN EVANS – HUNKY DORY) shows up expecting help. His father has a new family who really hate him, and he’s an embarrassment to them all, so his support network is social services, Bob, and the most groomed crusty in the history of movies, neighbouring dog walker, Betty (RUDA GEDMINTAS – THE INCIDENT). Eventually he’s happened upon by a local journalist after becoming a YouTube sensation and this leads ot having his life story written and published in a series of books (leading to this film).

Thankfully, we’re not quite in the realms of Richard Curtis’ London but there is still a disconnect with real life with the lack of true-grit, dirt and shit of being a drug addict. It’s still a fairly cheery film that only touches base with many of the issues at its core. One character talks about The Big Issue being a gateway job, you know, like marijuana is a gateway drug. Well, if this thought-piece masquerading as light entertainment gets people staying away from drugs then all is well. As a gritty film in the style of Nil By Mouth is niche with a limited audience. And it’s probably preaching to people in the know already – a film about a man with the cat, could act as a trojan horse and actually raise awareness of very real issues to people of the right age – young adults, as well as grannies, mums and dads.

So a big well done to the makers, and of course to the real life James and Bob for giving the ‘disinterested’ something a bit spiky to chew on.  Luke Treadaway is superb and well-cast. He doesn’t take the easy route and go for cute, he is convincing in every way and it’s a big deal that he wins hearts and minds whilst being upstaged by a cheeky cat. Predictable but never smug, this is the kind of commercial film the British Film Industry should get behind and produce a few more of. True life stories that genuinely inspire.

7.5 out of 10 – A trojan horse of a movie, that smuggles some difficult facts and plot lines into a fcute animal film for families. One of the best mainstream British movies for years.

WHAT HAVE I SEEN THAT ACTOR IN BEFORE?

 

HAMPSTEAD

2.5 out of 10

Release date: 23rd June 2017

Director: Joel Hopkins (The Love Punch / Last Chance Harvey / Jump Tomorrow)

Cast: Diane Keaton, Brendan Gleeson, Lesley Manville, James Norton, Jason Watkins, Adeel Akhtar, Alistair Petrie, Hugh Skinner, Brian Protheroe, Rosalind Ayres, Deborah Findlay, William Smith, Peter Singh with Simon Callow and Phil Davis

Writer: Robert Festinger

Trailer: HAMPSTEAD

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This is one of those films made for people that don’t like films. You know what I mean… Similarly there are bands that make music for people who have no interest in music. The music just plays to the masses to tick a box, to scratch an itch for the disinterested and lazy. Hampstead is such a film. A bland rom-com full of caricatures and blandy pandys running around in an unrealistic depiction of a London neighbourhood? Not that Richard Curtis directed or wrote this, but he has a lot to answer for with his form for presenting the wider film viewing public with a vision of London and England at large, as  apicture postcard, chocolate box world full of rich, people with first world problems, whose money problems are cute. Tramps look like they smell of roses, the sheds were they live look like they are out of a ‘shabby chic’ supplement from the Sunday Times, and there’s racial diversity is crowbarred in to the story as an after thought.  Films like Notting Hill, Love Actually, The Love Punch, Tamara Drewe, and, The Holiday need to be erased from history. It’s lazy filmmaking for upper middle-class prats with no interest in anything other than mediocre entertainment like this.

Queen of ‘rom-coms’ Diane Keaton (MANHATTTAN) plays an American widow living in London. She lives in a pristine looking Hampstead opposite the heath. She spends most of her time avoiding her horrible neighbours, led by the owner, played by Lesley Manville (MALEFICENT). The land opposite is ripe for development, and Lesley Manville’s husband is a property developer involved. One day Diane Keaton spots Brendan Gleeson (LIVE BY NIGHT), a tramp living in a picture perfect shack deep in the woods from her attic window.  She therefore befriends him and helps him fight eviction off the land, and it all nice dovetails into the most puke-inducing love affair since The Holiday.  This Hampstead is full of squeaky clean crustys, and happy yuppies – It’s always sunny and people eat outdoors. There’s a wacky Richard Curtis-style crusty played by Hugh Skinner (POLDARK) and elsewhere there’s a comedy Pakistani door-man (PETER SINGH), a cuddly judge (SIMON CALLOW – A ROOM WITH A VIEW), shocking use of the word ‘wanker’ to provoke titters from the old folk, and eventually a vaguely funny cameo by Phil Davis (DOUGH). But its all for nothing as cliches get wheeled out in the bucket load, major obstacles are overcome with ease and a cheery montage, and most insultingly the film peddles the idea that you can sell a one bedroom flat in Hampstead and buy the Thames boathouse lodge at Cliveden with the proceeds. The ending is just shit and lazy, and I just want to punch everybody involved.

Brendan Gleeson is a fine actor, but here, along with the rest of over-qualified cast he phones it in for a big pay cheque. He looks like a big, troubled teddy bear and would’ve been well-cast if they hadnt have decided to go all-CGI for Paddington. He softly growls and raises a cocked eyebrows at the madness around him to evoke pathos. Whilst Diane Keaton and Lesley Manville’s posse run around like headless chickens. What a mess. So many of the cast are veterans of Mike Leigh‘s films. If I was Mike Leigh, I’d lock this lot out of the actors’ studio because this is a severe blot in everybody’s copy books.

2.5 out of 10 – Sappy, idiotic and lazy romantic comedy for old people and people that don’t really have any interest in films or quality.

WHAT HAVE I SEEN THAT ACTOR IN BEFORE?

  • Diane Keaton: The Young Pope (TV), Finding Dory (voice), The Family Stone, Something’s Gotta Give, Town & Country, Hanging Up, Marvin’s Room, The First Wive’s Club, Father of the Bride 2, Look Who’s Talking 3, Manhattan Murder Mystery, Father of the Bride, The Godfather 3, Baby Boom, Radio Days, Mrs Soffel, Reds Interiors, Manhattan, Annie Hall, Love & Death, The Godfather 2, Sleeper, Play It Again Sam, The Godfather, Love & Other Strangers
  • Brendan Gleeson: Paddington 2, Alone In Berlin, Trespass Against Us, Live By Night, Assassin’s Creed, In the Heart of the Sea, Song of the Sea (voice), Suffragette, Stonehearst Asylum, The Grand Seduction, The Smurfs 2 (voice), Edge of Tomorrow, Calvary, The Pirates! In An Adventure With Scientists (voice), The Raven, Safe House, Albert Nobbs, The Guard, Harry Potter- part 7, Green Zone, In Bruges, Beouwulf (mo-cap), Harry Potter- part 4 & 5, Breakfast On Pluto, Kingdom Of Heaven, The Village, Troy, Cold Mountain, Dark Blue, Gangs Of New York, 28 Days Later, AI- Artificial Intelligence, The Tailor Of Panama, Mission Impossible 2, Lake Placid, This Is My Father, The General (1998), I Went Down, A Further Gesture, The Butcher Boy, Turbulence,  Trojan Eddie, Michael Collins, Braveheart, Into The West
  • Lesley Manville: Molly Moon, Mr Turner, The Christmas Candle, Maleficent, Ashes, Romeo and Juliet (2013), Spike IslandCloneAnother Year,  All Or Nothing, Vera Drake, Topsy Turvy, Secrets and Lies,High Hopes, Sammy & Rosie Get Laid
  • James Norton: Flatliners 2 (2017), Grantchester (TV), War & Peace (TV), Happy Valley (TV), Northmen – a Viking Saga, Bonobo, Belle, Rush, Cheerful Weather for the Wedding
  • Jason Watkins: The Man Who Killed Don Quixote, The Children Act, Watership Down (TV)(voice), Taboo (TV), W1A (TV), Dr Who (TV), Nativity 3, Psychoville (TV), Being Human (TV), Nativity 2, Little Dorrit (2008) (TV), Nativity!, Wild Child (2008), Sixty Six, Confetti, Bridget Jones 2, Circus, Onegin, High Hopes
  • Adeel Akhtar: Swimming with Men, Victoria & Abdul, The Big Sick, The Night Manager (TV), Convenience, Pan, Utopia (TV), Jadoo, The Dictator (2012), Four Lions
  • Alistair Petrie: Silent Hours, Eat Local, Star Wars – Rogue One, Kicking Off, The Night Manager (TV), Victor Frankenstein, The Face Of An AngelA Little Chaos, Vendetta, Rush (2013), AshesDevil’s Playground
  • Hugh Skinner: Poldark (TV), W1A (TV), Day of the Dead (2008)
  • Rosalind Ayres: Beautiful People, Gods & Monsters, Titanic (1997), Black Beauty (1994), The Lovers!, That’ll Be The Day, General Hospital (TV)
  • Deborah Findlay: The Lady In The Van, Truly Madly Deeply
  • Peter Singh: Coronation Street (TV)
  • Simon Callow: Victoria and Abdul, Mindhorn, Viceroy’s House, Golden Years, Outlander (TV), Love’s Kitchen, 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
  • Phil Davis: Pegasus Bridge, We Can Be Heroes, Dough, Poldark (TV), Golden Years, Mr Holmes, Age of KillIn The Blood (2015), Silk (TV), Whitechapel (TV), Being Human (TV), Borrowed Time, Fast GirlsOutside Bet,  Brighton Rock (2011)Another YearDead Man RunningThe Big I AmJust For The Record, Cassandra’s Dream, Notes On a Scandal, The Baby Juice Express, Vera Drake, Rose & Maloney (TV), Nicholas Nickleby (2002), Photographing Fairies, Crimetime, I.D. (dir),  Blue Ice, Alien 3,  High Hopes, The Bounty, Quadrophenia

ANOTHER MOTHER’S SON

3 out of 10

Release date: 24th March 2017

Director: Christopher Menaul (Summer In February / First Night / Feast of July)

cast: Jenny Seagrove, Julian Kostov, John Hannah, Ronan Keating, Amanda Abbington, Felicite Du Jeu, Susan Hampshire, Brenock O’Connor, Joanna David, Gwen Taylor, Izzy Meikle-Small, Andy Gathergood, Sophie Skelton with Peter Wight and Nicholas Farrell

Writer: Jenny Lecoat

Trailer: ANOTHER MOTHER’S SON

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This Bill Kenwright production of the story of one of WW2’s many unsung heroes, Louisa Gould pays perfunctory lip-service to her. This brave woman and a network of trusted friends and family risked their lives and freedom to give shelter to an escaped Russian POW in occupied Jersey, Channel Islands.  The CI was the only part of the British Isles to be occupied by the Germans in the WW2, and was used as a POW camp in part. Russian workgangs were common place and escapes regular.

Louisa Gould (JENNY SEAGROVE – THE GUARDIAN) takes in escapee Fyodor (who she called Bill)(JULIAN KOSTOV – LEATHERFACE) and her network of friends help to hide him from detection for abotu 2 years from the Germans. It’s a shame then that this tale doesn’t get a film to match the material. What we get is an episode of The Royal or Heartbeat with extra Germans. Every line is a tired cliche, every character a cipher, and it doesn’t land a single punch until the very final shot. It’s cosy Sunday afternoon programming for people who like their films undemanding, even the ones with a harrowing subject matter.  This plays to the lowest common denominator and as a story is predictable, sentimental and as hackneyed as they come. Even the performances are largely broad from an over experienced cast. It’s interesting to see veteran, beauty Jenny Seagrove in a rare film lead, and singer Ronan Keating (POSTMAN PAT). The former struggles to inject, but still suceeds in delivering a good, solid performance, yet the script does her no favours and she’s left to look like a phoney actor. Ronan Keating similarly embodies a cardboard cut-out of a role, but he’s purely there as a stunt-casting anomaly. He fails at blending in, and struggles with an accent that’s all over the map.

The production values are good, and the period well-evoked, so it scores some kudos from Britpic Posse for looking the part, its a shame it runs like a lazy made-for-TV special. With a bit more grit, a better script and more naturalistic acting styles this is a sotry worth the telling. Maybe, it will get revisited one day – because Louisa Gould deserved a more fitting memorial than this film.

3 out of 10 – This true story of extraordinary bravery needed a better film than this over-simplified, watered down drama.

WHAT HAVE I SEEN THAT ACTOR IN BEFORE

DUNKIRK

9 out of 10

UK/USA/France/Netherlands co-production

REVIEW COMING SOON

Release date: 21st July 2017

Director: Christopher Nolan (Interstellar / The Dark Knight Rises / Inception / The Dark Knight / The Prestige / Batman Begins / Insomina (2003) / Memento / Following)

Cast: Mark Rylance, Fionn Whitehead, Aneurin Barnard, Harry Styles, Jack Lowden, Tom Glynn-Carney, Barry Keoghan, James D’Arcy, Brian Vernel, Kevin Guthrie, Elliott Tittensor, Matthew Marsh, Bill Milner with Cillian Murphy, Tom Hardy and Kenneth Branagh

Writer: Christopher Nolan

Trailer: DUNKIRK

WHAT HAVE I SEEN THAT ACTOR IN BEFORE?

  • Mark Rylance: Ready Player One, The BFG (mo-cap), Bridge of Spies, Bing (voice)(TV), Wolf Hall (TV), The Gunman, Anonymous, Blitz, The Other Boleyn Girl, Intimacy, Angels & Insects, Prospero’s Books
  • Fionn Whitehead: The Children Act
  • Aneurin Barnard: Dead In a Week, Interlude In Prague, Bitter Harvest, War & Peace (TV), Legend (2015), Cilla (TV), The Adventurer – Curse of the Midas BoxTrap For Cinderella, Citadel, The FacilityElfie Hopkins, Powder (2011), We’ll Take ManhattanHunky Dory, Ironclad
  • Harry Styles: One Direction – This Is Us (doc)
  • Jack Lowden: Calibre, England Is Mine, Tommy’s Honour, Denial (2017), A United Kingdom, War and Peace (TV)
  • Barry Keoghan: Black 47, The Killing of a Sacred Deer, Trespass Against Us, Traders’71, King of the Travellers
  • James D’Arcy: The Snowman (2017), Survivor, Agent Carter (TV), Downton Abbey (TV), Jupiter Ascending, Let’s Be Cops, Cloud Atlas, Hitchcock, The Age Of Heroes, W/E, Screwed (2011), Exorcist – The Beginning, Cloud Atlas, Master & Commander – The Far Side Of The World, An American Haunting, Flashbacks Of a Fool, The Trench
  • Brian Vernel: Star Wars – The Force Awakens, Let Us Prey, The Casual Vacancy (TV), Offender
  • Kevin Guthrie: Whiskey Galore (2017), Sunset Song, The Legend of Barney Thompson, Sunshine On Leith
  • Elliott Tittensor: North V South, Shameless (TV), The Selfish Giant, Spike Island
  • Matthew Marsh: Unlocked, Da Vinci’s Demons (TV), Red Tails, Luther (TV), Spooks (TV), An American Haunting, Quicksand, Bad Company, Miranda, Spy Game, Genghis Cohn, Dirty Weekend, Chancer (TV), Mountains of the Moon, Diamond Skulls, The Fourth Protocol, The Monocled Mutineer (TV)
  • Bill Milner: Lodgers, iBoy, Anthropoid, Locke (voice), Broken (2013), X Men – First Class, Sex & Drugs & Rock-N-Roll, Is Anybody There?, Son Of Rambow
  • Tom Hardy: Taboo (TV), Peaky Blinders (TV), The Revenant, Legend (2015), London Road, Child 44, Mad Max 4, The Drop, Locke, The Dark Knight Rises, Lawless, This Means War, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, Warrior (2011), Inception, DeserterSucker Punch (2008), Bronson, Rock N’ Rolla, Flood, Scenes Of a Sexual Nature, Marie Antoinette, Layer Cake, Star Trek- Nemesis, Black Hawk Down
  • Cillian Murphy: Peaky Blinders (TV), Free Fire Anthropoid, In The Heart of the Sea, Transcendence, Broken (2013), The Dark Knight Rises, Red Lights, In Time, Retreat, Tron 2, Inception, The Dark Knight, Sunshine (2007), The Wind That Shakes The Barley, Breakfast On Pluto, Red Eye, Batman Begins, Cold Mountain, Girl With a Pearl Earring,  Intermission, Cold Mountain, 28 Days Later, Disco Pigs, The Trench
  • Kenneth Branagh: Murder on the Orient Express (dir)(2017), Mindhorn, Cinderella (dir), Jack Ryan, Thor (dir), Wallander (TV), The Boat That Rocked, Valkyrie, As You Like It (2006)(dir), Sleuth (dir), Five Children and It, Rabbit Proof Fence, Shackleton (TV), Love’s Labours Lost, The Theory of Flight, Wild Wild West, Celebrity, The Gingerbread Man, Hamlet (1996), A Midwinter’s Tale (dir), Othello (1995), Frankenstein (1994), Much Ado About Nothing (1993), Swing Kids, Peter’s Friends, Dead Again, Henry V (1989), Thompson (TV), Fortunes of War (TV), A Month In The Country, High Season

 

SPACESHIP

4 out of 10

REVIEW COMING SOON

Release date: 19th May 2017

Director: Alex Taylor

Cast: Alexa Davies, Antti Reini, Lara Peake, Tallulah Haddon, Lucian Charles Collier, Jack Winthrop, Kristof Gerega, Mackenzie Morrison, Geary Barnes, Seb Barnett with Harry Jarvis and Steven Elder

Writer: Alex Taylor

Trailer: SPACESHIP

WHAT HAVE I SEEN THAT ACTOR IN BEFORE?

  • Alexa Davies: X+Y
  • Antti Reini: War of the Dead
  • Lara Peake: Bypass
  • Tallulah Haddon: Modern Life Is Rubbish, Taboo (TV)
  • Harry Jarvis: 2 Hrs
  • Steven Elder: Doctors (TV), Tortoise In Love, Cold and Dark, Coronation Street (TV)

CHURCHILL

6.5 out of 10

REVIEW COMING SOON

Release date: 16th June 2017

Director: Jonathan Teplitzky (The Railway Man / Gettin Square)

Cast: Brian Cox, Miranda Richardson, John Slattery, Ella Purnell, Julian Wadham, Richard Durden, Danny Webb, Jonathan Aris, Steven Cree, George Anton, and James Purefoy

Written: Alex von Tunzelman

Trailer: CHURCHILL

WHAT HAVE I SEEN THAT ACTOR IN BEFORE?

  • Brian Cox: Super Troopers 2, The Autopsy Jane Doe, The Carer, Morgan, Pixels, The Anomaly, Believe (2014), Her (voice), Red 2, Blood (2013), The Campaign, Coriolanus, Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes, The VeteranIronclad, Red, Fantastic Mr Fox (voice), The Escapist, The Water Horse, Zodiac, Shoot On Sight, Red Eye, Match Point, The Bourne Supremacy, Troy, X Men 2, 25th Hour, Adaptation, The Ring, The Bourne Identity, Super Troopers, For The Love Of The Money, The Corruptor, Rushmore, Desperate Measures, The Boxer, Kiss The Girls, The Long Kiss Goodnight, The Glimmer Man, Chain Reaction, Braveheart, Rob Roy, Iron Will, Hidden Agenda, Manhunter
  • Miranda Richardson: The Happy Prince, iBoy, Testament of Youth, Belle, Maleficent, Harry Potter 7, Made In Dagenham, The Young Victoria, Fred Claus, Southland Tales, Paris Je T’Aime, Harry Potter 4, Wah Wah, The Phantom Of The Opera, The Churchill Years, The Prince and Me, The Actors, The Hours, Spider, Get Carter (2000),  Sleepy Hollow, The Evening Star, Swann, Kansas City, Tom & Viv, Century, Damage, The Crying Game, Enchanted April, Empire Of The Sun, Black Adder 2 (TV), Dance With a Stranger
  • John Slattery: Veep (TV), Captain America 3, Spotlight, Ant Man, Ted 2, Mad Men (TV), In Our Nature, The Adjustment Bureau, Iron Man 2, Charlie Wilson’s War, Desperate Housewives (TV), Reservation Road, Flags of our Fathers, Dirty Dancing 2, Mona Lisa Smile, The Station Agent
  • Ella Purnell: Access All Areas, Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children, Maleficent, Kick Ass 2, Intruders, Never Let Me Go
  • Julian Wadham: The Happy Prince, Victoria and Abdul, The 9th Life of Louis Drax, Queen and Country, The Riot Club, Cheerful Weather For The Wedding, Now Is Good,  Outpost 2, Outpost, The English Patient, The Madness Of King George III, The Iron Lady, War Horse, Wah-Wah, Dominion – Prequel To The Exorcist, Exorcist – The Beginning, Keep The Aspidistra Flying, The Secret Agent (1996), Maurice
  • Richard Durden: Dickensian (TV), Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell (TV), Papadopoulos & Sons, From Paris With Love
  • Danny Webb: Crow, City of Tiny Lights, Remainder, Humans (TV),  Criminal (2016), The Contract (2016), A Little Chaos, Locke (voice)Ironclad 2, HummingbirdThe Arbor, Valkyrie, Shiner, Still Crazy, True Blue, Alien 3, Brookside (TV)
  • Jonathan Aris: Lucky Man (TV), Star Wars – Rogue One, Race, The Martian, Humans (TV), Sherlock (TV), Sightseers
  • Steven Cree: The Titan, Brotherhood (2016), Swung, #Legacy, Marvellous, The Knot, Tower Block, Huge
  • George Anton: Calibre, The Loch (TV), Law & Order UK (TV), Two Thousand Acres of Sky (TV), Piece of Cake (TV)
  • James Purefoy: Interlude In Prague, Momentum, High-Rise, Episodes (TV), John Carter, Solomon KaneIronclad, Resident Evil, Maybe Baby, A Knight’s Tale,  The Wedding Tackle, Mansfield Park (1999), Lighthouse,Bedrooms & Hallways