Tag Archives: Thriller

Getting The Reel Deal on British film with #IAmSoldier @thereelfilmshow #supportbritishfilm

17 Mar

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So a certain type of British film gets a bit of flack now and again. Normally its to do with East End gangsters usually has the line “You Mug” in it and it becomes something that those highbrow critics “love to hate.” Each to their own, however these films make huge amounts of money, they’re well made, open gateways to new actors and really portray the passion from their film makers like nothing I’ve ever seen.

So, as part of The Reel Deal, I will be fronting a brand new strand of content, which celebrates this type of film, why? Because I personally love them, and think that even if it doesn’t fit into everyone’s taste, we should be encouraging British cinema in all ways shapes and forms. Throughout this series I’ll be celebrating everything from first time British directors through to those considered some of the most prolific in the industry. I’ll also be looking at the taboo surrounding British cinema and what makes us love and loathe it.

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To start with, I took the team off to the deepest darkest depths of Essex to meet with prison guard, come writer, come director (of films like Tower Block) Ronnie Thompson to talk about his brand new SAS based drama I Am Soldier – which hits cinemas today.

This film shocked me with how good it was. My dad was in the SAS and Paratroopers so it definitely has some personal interest and meaning to me, but I loved everything from the performances, to the story lines and even the grading! Every detail was thought about brilliantly and is a perfect example of why this type of film should be celebrated, so start saluting great cinema, because this is Becks’ Best of British.

 

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What did you watch at the weekend? It really should have been this! #Gravity

11 Nov

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In space no one can hear you scream, or cry or even contact you…worst case scenario right? Well that’s what Sandra Bullock found in the electrifying Gravity which premiered at the London Film Festival and is now on general release. From its outset, the film follows a very simple storyline, however Director Alfonso Cuaron manages to create something truly magical with the use of brand new technology, which took four and a half years to perfect, and shoot, and boy was it worth it!

The story follows Dr. Ryan Stone (Sandra Bullock) who is a brilliant medical engineer on her first shuttle mission, with veteran astronaut Matt Kowalski (George Clooney) in command of his last flight before retiring. On a seemingly routine spacewalk, disaster strikes. The shuttle is destroyed, leaving Stone and Kowalski completely alone – tethered to nothing but each other and spiralling out into the blackness.Screen Shot 2013-11-11 at 10.56.37

From the moment the film starts, as an audience member you feel like you’re out there with them. My advice if you’re planning on catching a showing, is that it would be best to definitely sit as close to the screen as possible, or even better, catch it in IMAX format so you can feel completely absorbed, which makes the cinematic experience even more powerful. The genius element behind Gravity is that every movement feels weightless, and the camera panning is so seamless its like there is a crew out in space with them at all times. Cuaron most definitely has thought of every detail, and although the performances (particularly Sandra Bullock) are brilliant, it’s not the powerful acting that you walk away from feeling captivated by, it’s the thought of…how did they film that? To be honest, if I hadn’t have dug a little detail for clarification, and you told me it was shot in space, judging by the quality I’d be inclined to believe you – yes readers, Gravity is that good!

The 3D element is used in a subtle yet powerful way. The odd bits of debris that come hurtling towards you are not over used, but timed perfectly, as by that point, you’re probably on your second or third anxiety attack! With the 3D element, the depth in which Cuaron demonstrates space is amplified, and helps to make you feel claustrophobic in ironically the most open space in the universe, yet again proving that every element of this film has been plotted and explored extensively.Screen Shot 2013-11-11 at 10.58.43

It’s with little doubt that Sandra Bullock should lead the way at awards season, her performance, or should I say for the majority solo performance, is commanding, compassionate and determined. Her dance skills also came into play with demonstrating weightlessness within the various space capsules she eventually finds herself in, and judging by the way she pulls them off, that would have taken months of preparation and provides beautiful shots. On the other hand, George Clooney plays a brilliant supporting role as a cool and calm mentor to the rookie throughout.

The third element, which helps viewers truly absorb this film, is the sound design. It’s very rare that the audio elements can affect one in a way quite like this, but from the outset Glenn Freemantle’s inventive sound mix. From the opening credits the design is so over powering you feel it rattle in your chest only to then be faced with the vast universe and silence – its mind blowing how deeply this affects you from the outset, but very much sets the scene in a way never really been seen or heard before.Screen Shot 2013-11-11 at 10.59.40

So its not a question of whether or not you should bother to see Gravity or not, its more a question of how best to see it. The film has had the nod of authenticity from Buzz Aldrin and hailed as the greatest space movie ever made by James Cameron, so if you need clarification as to whether or not this is worth spending your hard earned cash on, then those testimonies should hopefully be enough. Undoubtedly there will be some sort of meteor storm around the Oscars and general award season and it will be very hard to find a competitor to pip Cuaron and his team to the awards for Best Picture, Best Director, Cinematography and Sound.

5 Stars.

Halle Berry takes the worst call of her life in #TheCall #film #review #movie

18 Sep

Screen Shot 2013-09-18 at 09.09.47A gripping thrill rollercoaster of a ride, The Call is an interesting insight into the world of the Los Angeles 911 emergency services.

Starring Oscar winner Halle Berry as Jordan Turner a veteran 911 operator, we watch her journey as she takes a life altering call from a teenage girl played by Little Miss Sunshine herself Abigail Breslin. Not only does this call mean Jordan has to try and guide this girl to safety, she also has to confront a killer from her past and overcome her fears.Screen Shot 2013-09-18 at 09.09.37Cut back and forth between the abduction and ‘The Hive’ (the department for 911 emergency assistants who work away like busy bees) the audience are taken on a tense ride and education as to what it really means to be a 911 operator. Making judgments between protocol and human instinct is a fine line in lifesaving situations, as we see through this film. Halle Berry is back to her finest in the majority of this film, as she showcases a mix of emotions that make the audience empathise with the difficult job she is faced with. Just like her character we understand the stress of the job and the natural (probably female) instincts that she has when faced with a child being abducted, and the consequences that lie ahead should Jordan as the operator put a foot wrong.

We also see a fantastic performance from Abigail Breslin as the victim. We follow her day as a normal girl shopping in a mall with her friend, and then once left alone, gets drugged, abducted and thrown in the trunk of a car by her kidnapper. The most tense and exciting part of the film is the interaction between the victim and Jordan. From the trunk she manages to make a 911 call which initially goes through to a rookie who finds herself way out of her depth and then gets passed on to Jordan. From this point on, you as the audience find out some really clever tricks to try and get yourself rescued from a kidnapping, using everything you can find to discover where you are travelling to, what the car looks like and most importantly anything you can do to pop open that trunk and jump out.

Breslin shows here that she has matured from a child to young adult actor seamlessly. Matching Halle Berry’s ranges of emotions, you watch her go from despair to sheer determination to get herself out of this situation alive. It’s this that makes the first three quarters of this film so engaging to watch…Screen Shot 2013-09-18 at 09.10.03

…And then, sadly, in the last fifteen minutes or so, the film takes a tumble, so prepare yourself for this. After an hour and fifteen minutes of an intense, edge of your seat adrenalin filled thrill ride of a film, The Call sadly falls into the depths of B-Movie status and takes a route so completely left field of the original plot its not only difficult to watch, its also totally disappointing. It’s a shame that the film leaves you with such a sour taste at the end, it had so much promise, but there is still the opportunity to remember the immense film you had watched just before this semi-car crash.

Regardless of it’s ending, The Call is still very much worth a watch. For the majority, it’s an intelligent, intense and exciting film with great performances.

The Call hits cinemas on the 20th September 2013.

3 Stars.

 

Eden – Film Review #edenthefilm2013

18 Jun

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Based on a true story, Eden follows a young Korean-American girl, who in 1994 was abducted and forced into prostitution by domestic human traffickers, as time passes she realizes that her only way to survive is to join forces with her captors.

A compelling watch, Eden is the kind of unexpected hit that you find yourself unable to pause and return to – it has to be watched from start to finish in one sitting. The reason, well, you spend the first half of this film trying to work out just what is going on, as you begin to go on this hellish journey with Hyun Jae (Jamie Chung). The fact that this is a true story makes it all the more grisly.

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Cleverly you are sheltered from any graphic detail in terms of what the girls actually do when they’re brought to various parties, nightclubs and pornography film sets. Instead you are a second pair of eyes for Hyun Jae, figuring out as she is, what is going on, why she’s here being held in a 10 x 10 storage unit and what her fateful future holds. What is brilliant about this film is that you really don’t know who to trust, and that there are twists and turns at every opportunity. The film really doesn’t turn out how you expect it to, and you are playing a complicated guessing game at every throughout.

The cast is solid and led by an impressive Jamie Chung who carries the film with ease. She plays both the innocent and later the intelligent influencer very well and provides a stark contrast to not only her capturers but also the other girls kept in confinement with her, some of which have grown accustomed to this way of life and begin to play the game for what it is.Screen Shot 2013-06-18 at 09.32.10

Supporting Chung are Beau Bridges who plays Bob Gault, a ruthless and corrupt Federall Marshal who runs the organization with little mercy; and Matt O’Leary who plays the troubled Vaughan, who’s past and wrong life choices have led him to this destination. All of the characters have their distinct traits which you can identify with and pin point straight away. Bob Gault requests no sympathy from the audience, he runs this operation under the façade of a pillar of the community and underneath it all profits unremorsefully on the actions of the girls.  Vaughan has moments in which he battles with his conscience over what he’s doing and you can immediately spot his vulnerability, as does Hyun Jae, which keeps you gunning for our female lead as she patiently figures out how to get the better of those who keep her.

Full of suspense and intrigue, Eden is a highly watchable film with notable performances and a gripping storyline. A thriller from start to finish and well worth a watch when it comes out in cinemas on the 19th July

 

3.5 stars

The Lords of Salem – Film Review

8 Apr

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The Lords of Salem is the latest offering from Rob Zombie (Halloween, Halloween II). The writer, director, composer and rock music icon brings to screen a “chiller” film which follows the story of Heidi (Sheri Moon Zombie), a radio station DJ, who receives a wooden box containing a record given as “ a gift from the Lords.” Heidi listens to the ‘painful’ music, and eventually plays it on air during her show, which sends both herself and other ladies listening in Salem into a trance like state triggering flashbacks of the towns violent ‘witch riddled’ past.  Something is definitely afoot in this historic town, and as the film develops we find out whether Heidi is going mad, or if the Lords of Salem really are coming back to reek havoc and revenge on Salem.

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The film starts out in quite a compelling way. Expectations aren’t high as horror films in general are very subjective depending on how much you take to the genre, but within the first thirty minutes the film seems relatively accessible to all. We follow the central character Heidi – a recovering drug addict, with a minor level of local celebrity due to her position as a well known DJ as she sets the scene of her everyday life: sleeping, struggling to wake up at a decent hour, living in a managed apartment block and working in quite a cool job covering the late shift with two other DJ’s. There’s a good level of intrigue into how the story is going to progress, and Sheri Moon Zombie holds her first leading lady role quite well. She represents a character who isn’t flawless, but not too damaged at the same time. She doesn’t dwell obviously on her previous past addictions, yet we are aware of it. She lives a relatively solitary life, yet is friendly to those around her and so you believe who she is, and why the story is centering around her.

Rob Zombie also eases the audience in to Salem’s dark history with flashbacks to a group of women (The Lords) practicing demonic rituals back in 1692, and provides the link from history to the modern day story by showing these women ultimately casting a curse over Salem and the descendants of the Judge condemning them to death. These flashbacks appear periodically throughout the film, helping the story move along, however feel more and more surreal as time passes.

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Throughout the film you realize that Heidi herself is directly affected by the history of Salem, and particularly when she hears the music from this record that she cannot help but play again and again. Its interesting to see her natural human inquisitive nature to this strange gift and how the symptoms she experiences force her to question her sanity and well being and puts her own history with drug addiction back in the forefront of both her own mind and that of those around her who care about her. This slow demise keeps the audience engaged and inquisitive enough to keep watching the film, but unfortunately, its at this point that Rob Zombie decides to inject his own movie “rock n roll”, which sadly makes the film much more problematic than it actually needs to be.

One of the great problems, of The Lords of Salem is its spiraling tumble into absolute absurdism. You know it’s never a good sign when the audience burst out laughing during a horror/thriller movie. The two just don’t normally go together, but sadly was the case during the Lords of Salem. As the ‘Lords’ get closer and closer to returning to Salem and completing the curse, the characters that come with them get more and more bizarre. The landlady of Heidi’s apartment block seems initially as a sweet and caring aid, but with the appearance of her “multi-accented” sisters, they almost become a comedic trio, full of stereotypes reading palms, tea leaves and minds….

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The flashbacks also become more absurd and begin using every demonic reference in the book – previous devil spawn incantations, burning witches on pyres, goats, upside-down crosses phallic symbols and references and lots of unnecessary nakedness. The problem here is that although these are obviously referenced in history books or occult resources, they don’t all need to be featured in one film and certainly not for the sake of being featured. Time and time again the audience found themselves looking around at each other as a lot of this didn’t make sense. The grand finale of The Lords of Salem felt very likened to the LSD scene in the musical Hair. It featured lots of oversized characters that just seemed to have been raised from the pits of hell for no real reason other than to provide an eclectic setting to finish the film, which frankly left the majority of the audience baffled.

Overall, if you’re after something surreal then maybe The Lords of Salem is one for you. It doesn’t build tension enough to feel like a true horror/thriller film or provide enough believable reference to make you feel that given the history this film could be based on any sort of fact – or made to look like that. It’s not a hard watch and it certainly will keep you guessing, but whether that is guessing in a good way or bad way remains to be seen.

Brand New The Iceman trailer drops – #film #movie #news #trailer #entertainment

4 Apr

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With an all star cast, The Iceman is looking to become one of those exciting, hard hitting, dvd shelf essentials when it comes out. Hitting cinemas on the 7th June, Michael Shannon will be leading stars such as Winona Ryder, Ray Liotta and Stephen Dorff. Definitely one to look out for but in the meantime, here is its jaw dropping trailer:

A little more about the film:

The Iceman is the story of real-life mob hitman Richard “The Iceman” Kuklinski, who was reportedly responsible for over 200 murders.

Richard Kuklinski (Michael Shannon) and his wife Deborah (Winona Ryder) appear to have a model American life, living with their three children in an idyllic suburban ranch house with a big lawn on a quiet street. But unbeknownst to Deborah and the kids, when Kuklinski goes off to work in the morning — or, on occasion, in the middle of dinner or the middle of the night — he is carrying out executions at the behest of the Gambino crime family, employing a wide variety of deadly methods (guns, knives, explosives, strangling, poisonings) that make it difficult to trace all the fatalities to a single killer. The Iceman shows the development of Kuklinski’s career from the 1950s through the 1980s, chronicling his friendship with Gambino soldato Roy DeMeo (Ray Liotta), his mentorship under assassin Robert “Mister Softee” Pronge (Chris Evans), and his troubled relationship with his brother Joseph (Stephen Dorff), who, like Richard, was plagued by sociopathic tendencies all his life.

From Lionsgate UK and Millennium Films, The Iceman stars Michael Shannon, Winona Ryder, Ray Liotta, Chris Evans and James Franco. The film is directed by Ariel Vromen, from a script by Vroman and Morgan Land and based on the book by Anthony Bruno.

 

 

Olympus has Fallen – Movie Review

1 Apr

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You almost feel a little bit naughty for liking this film. It has every cliché in the book… the patriotic drum rolls when an image of the white house is shown in full glory, the American flag falling solemnly to the ground when the take over is complete, and the words “God Bless America” that are used perhaps more times than a skeptical British audience cares to hear. However, Olympus has Fallen is a very enjoyable film. Even though its made by the director of Training Day, Antoine Fuqua, it is no Training Day (there is no Denzel for starters…) but rom-com hero come face stabber Gerard Butler steps up to the plate as disgraced Presidential Guard Mike Banning pretty well.

The story follows the former Head of Security, eighteen months after he fails to save President Asher’s (Aaron Eckhart) wife from falling to her death Screen Shot 2013-03-31 at 20.57.06following a freak snow accident en route back from Camp David. He is now working a desk job at the State Treasury so to not remind the President of that fateful night. There is unrest in Korea and the South Korean President comes to the White House to find a solution. This is when the take down begins. A full blown storm on the White House occurs and it seems that the FBI, Navy Seals and Homeland security have are facing more danger than they ever could have imagined, so its down to one man to get the President and his son out of the White House alive.

Butler has been known in the last few years to take the easy money route with his career, rom-coms like Playing for Keeps and P.S. I Love You have been a strategic way of keeping the actor Screen Shot 2013-03-31 at 21.04.46both funded and in the forefront of Hollywood’s minds (on screen at least). We can be forgiven for momentarily forgetting that he actually played King Leonidis in the brutal graphic novel 300, but its good to see him back on form here. Apart from a few dodgy accent slips, it’s easy to see him as a high profile security guard who has a charismatic relationship with both the President and his son. He brings an everyman quality to this performance which makes him more accepting in this role, clearly knowing his place as to when to be friend and when to serve. Its easy to follow Butler as the central character here, his action moves are not unexpected, you feel he knows when he’s delivering a cheesy line and you even on occasion get a little glimmer appear in his eyes which tells the audience that although he shouldn’t, he’s definitely laughing at this line with you.

Screen Shot 2013-03-31 at 20.57.29Accompanying him in supporting roles are Angela Bassett (Secret Service Director Lynn Jacobs) and Morgan Freeman (Speaker Trumbull). Having these two in this film I feel balances up the ridiculousness of some of the scenes and forces a sense of credibility into what we’re watching. Although understated, these two actors become an audience within the film, watching action themselves from the Pentagon, and making a few big decisions as and when necessary.

As the villain of the piece, Kang, Rick Yune is perfectly cast. Amidst all the chaos of the epic take over scene, the Screen Shot 2013-03-31 at 21.05.30criminal mastermind is cool, calm and calculated. It’s almost sinister how relaxed he is, and you automatically think back to his Bond villain Zao in Die Another Day. You find yourself intrigued as to what happen will happen next with him, and a key highlight for me was his un-emotive reaction to Butlers proposed game of “Fuck Off.” As an actor, Yune really does play the ‘less is more’ card very well.

Overall, the film is a combination of cheese, violence (in parts verging on ultra-violence) and an almost worrying example of the most protected building in the world being overtaken by terrorists. Despite its terrible title and slight lack of gravitas to make it a classic action flick, its really worth a watch, the fight scenes are exciting, you almost fear for your own safety a little when the take over begins, and apart from a few dodgy lines Olympus has fallen makes for an engaging and solid watch – definitely one for the boys though.