Tuesday, 30 December 2014

In the Heart of the Sea - new trailer

Following on from my November preview of In the Heart of the Sea I am pleased to share with you today the brand new trailer for the film set for a worldwide release on March 13th in cinemas and IMAX.

Directed by Ron Howard and starring Chris Hemsworth who worked together on Rush, the film based on Nathaniel Philbrick’s best-selling book about the dramatic true journey of the Essex.
In the winter of 1820, the New England whaling ship Essex was assaulted by something no one could believe: a whale of mammoth size and will, and an almost human sense of vengeance.  The real-life maritime disaster would inspire Herman Melville’s Moby-Dick.  But that told only half the story.  


In the Heart of the Sea reveals the encounter’s harrowing aftermath, as the ship’s surviving crew is pushed to their limits and forced to do the unthinkable to stay alive.  Braving storms, starvation, panic and despair, the men will call into question their deepest beliefs, from the value of their lives to the morality of their trade, as their captain searches for direction on the open sea and his first mate still seeks to bring the great whale down.

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The Missing

The BBC drama The Missing starring James Nesbitt and Frances O'Connor garners a DVD release on 26th December from RLJ Entertainment.

The show gained a huge following when it aired through October to December 2014 on BBC One, gripping the nation with its tale about the abduction of a young British boy when in France from his parents during an idyllic vacation.

Written by brothers, Harry and Jack Williams and directed by Tom Shankland, the series successfully told the dual narrative as we had two timelines of the initial abduction in 2006 along with the re-opening of the case in the present day. The 2006 storyline shows the beginning of the grip the abduction of Oliver Hughes will have on his father Tom (played superbly by Nesbitt) and the eventual breakdown of the marriage to Emily, with O'Connor playing the desperation and despair to perfection.

While the series is ultimately something to remember for its acting with uniformly brilliant performances across the board, the writing at times does let the show down and the eventual denouement is one of lacklustre and frustration.

This is indicative of series in general, it draws an audience in but then does not know how to credibly render and end the series by giving a narrative a convincing finale without becoming sentimental or hokum.  The sort of story in real life does not usually have a happy ending, but for the characters you wish only a sense of closure and not the sight of Nesbitt marauding through Eastern Europe in constant anguish in attempt to chase away his demons.

This is not to dispel from the overall quality of the production, the differing tones of filming between the light and breezy 2006 and the colder, more sombre present day cinematography as if the past is but a dream for Emily and Tony.

The acting is of a truly superior standard especially from a career-best Nesbitt who never resorts to histrionics in his performance but special praise is reserved for Tcheky Karyo as Julien Baptiste, the French detective of the original case who goes through the biggest metamorphosis physically in the series from a close to retiring detective to a man clearly shaken by all that has happened in the case, now with a limp and greyer in his hair colour the years have not been kind to him.  When Karyo speaks, he speaks wisdom and you hang on every word.

The Missing is one of those rare drama series that had you gripped from the start and but for the less than pleasing ending (when in real life cases there are few happy endings), this is a series that deserves awards come the awards season.

The Missing is out now on DVD from RLJ Entertainment

Friday, 19 December 2014

Foxcatcher - Poster breakdown


Hot off the heels of the three Golden Globe nominations for the film, Entertainment One UK Ltd is pleased to release the new poster for Foxcatcher above that holds that information in regards to the Best Actor and Best Supporting Actor nominations for Steve Carell and Mark Ruffalo respectively.

The film is written and directed by Bennett Miller (Capote, Moneyball) and promises to be one of the best dramatic thrillers of recent years with an array of varied acting talent on display.

../assets/entertainment_one/foxcatcher/images/Foxcatcher UK quad.jpg 

In contrast to the original quad poster, the new poster uses the same three poses of the three leading actors with Carell (the lead nomination) on the right of the poster on his own.  In contrast to the original where Carell's character John Du Pont is firmly entrenched between the two Schultz brothers.  The decision of the placement of the new poster places Du Pont on the right from the Schultz brothers indicating his difference to them and non-relation to the family bond he comes between. And the addition of more colour reminiscent of the Foxcatcher uniforms is better than the drab, greyer original quad where the mood is obviously of more deliberate tone.  The new poster makes you think this film is worth seeing for the acting alone and there might be some colour.

Foxcatcher is released in the UK on January 9th. Watch the trailer below:


Thursday, 11 December 2014



After having reviewed the trailer, it was my pleasure to watch and review this new British film Electricity by director Bryn Higgins, and featuring a star making performance by former super model Agyness Deyn.

Deyn plays Lily, a small town girl who works on the seafront arcade but suffers from epilepsy, which causes her to have severe blackouts. She is a popular girl and friendly with the police constable who takes her home after her most recent episode.  The story moves to London, when Lily gains advice that her absent brother, Mikey, is alive and well in the Big Smoke. The pair were close when younger before they were split up and put into care.As Lily steps off the train at Kings Cross, she is full of that same ambition, and then promptly mugged and beaten up. 

Obviously in this day and age it is easier for Lily to go to London than it was for those angry young men of the kitchen sink, but what she finds is a scary world full of people as afflicted as her due to social constraints (homelessness) or sexual identity, the relationship with a lesbian is delicately portrayed when it could have been titilating.

The reason the tone is so thoughtful is the restrained direction of Higgins who saves his visual flair for Lily's internal attacks when we get the floating and hallucinogenic point of view camerawork; yet the most credit goes to Deyn who gives a performance not only of unexpected surprise but fulfilled potential.

Having quit the runway for the filmic red carpet, Deyn has appeared in several British flicks like Pusher, here the opportunity to bite her teeth into a role of real substance instead of objectified women in roles of lap dancer or prostitute.

Deyn herself is a working class girl from Rossendale, Lancashire who made good, so her connection to Lily is apparent and it is refreshing to see a beautiful woman portray herself and her character in such unflattering positions, such as when Lily has an episode and has urinated herself.  The little trait of always having clean underwear in her bag in case is a credit to her research in preparation for the role.

The film is built around Deyn's performance and it is a shame that the adapted screenplay by Joe Fisher based on the novel by Ray Robinson did not have the belief the performance warranted, not helped by those same characters conflicted by sexual identity, the lesbian who lets her live with her free of charge. This is London right?

Yet go see Deyn in a very convincing performance, one this writer hopes gains award attention in the new year,  and to think Deyn has had no formal acting training. In the words of Noel Gallagher, another Northerner like Deyn, 'She's Electric'

Electricity is out in Friday 12th December on a limited release from Soda Pictures.

Friday, 5 December 2014

Anthony Wilcox Interview

HELLO CARTER is in cinemas 5 December and on DVD & Digital 8 December


In anticipation of the release today of Hello Carter, I was granted the opportunity to interview the director Anthony Wilcox (@wilcoxant) who was more than happy to talk about his debut feature length movie:

 Anthony Wilcox Director Anthony Wilcox attends a screening of "Hello Carter" during the 57th BFI London Film Festival at Odeon West End on October 12, 2013 in London, England.

What was the genesis of Hello Carter, and is Carter based on yourself personally?
It started life as a short film. Although the story of the feature is quite different, the central character and tone remained the same. There probably are elements of me in Carter inadvertently but I never set out to do that. I wanted an unconventional lead character, someone who's aspirations for the end of the story would probably only be the starting point for a more conventional movie 'hero'.

You made quite a leap from short films to a debut feature as both writer and director. Was that always the intention or was the time just right?
I've worked on feature films for a long time as an assistant director so the thought of directing in that form never felt overwhelming. I made three short films as a writer/director before this.

The influence that jumped out to me was Scorsese's 'After Hours', why does that film resonate with you?
I watched After Hours when I was about 16 and remember immediately thinking I'd never seen london depicted in a film that way. How we represented the city was really important from the outset.

 Anthony Wilcox (L-R) Director Anthony Wilcox, Jodie Whittaker and Christian Cooke attends a screening of "Hello Carter" during the 57th BFI London Film Festival at Odeon West End on October 12, 2013 in London, England.

Any other filmic influences to take note of? in my review I say Charlie Cox channels Hugh Grant but this is far removed from the Curtis universe of perfect Britain in 'Notting Hill'?
I looked at British and American films mainly. I was interested in the aesthetic of ‘London' films like Naked and Wonderland but wanted to try a story with a splash of magical realism. More like we're perhaps more used to seeing in American indies like 500 Days of Summer or Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, things like that.

Did you always want to film in London on the streets? How long was the shoot?
We shot for 5 weeks. Yes, I very much wanted this to be a Londoner’s view of London, rather than a movie view of the city. So we tried to keep the journeys and locations as real as possible.

What was Paul Schneider like to have on set? Coming from Hollywood to a British independent debut feature might have been a fish out of water experience?
Paul has such an enthusiasm and passion for filmmaking that he's a gift to have around. He'll know every single person's name on the crew within 24 hours plus he’ll care and be interested in what they contribute to the film. His energy kept us going. I'd worked with him on Bright Star when I was an AD so we knew each other and how British independent crews work was no surprise to him.

How much do you value your relationship with DoP Andrew Dunn?
As highly as it's possible to. He's not only brilliant at understanding how his work can enhance and develop story but he's such a calming influence on set too. For me, as a first time director, to collaborate with someone of his skill and experience was invaluable.

How did Michael Winterbottom get involved?
I first worked for Revolution films on 24 Hour Party People a long, long time ago when I was a 3rd AD. Since then I’ve worked on 8 or 9 films with Michael and his producer Andrew Eaton in various roles. They’re always keen for people they work with to make their own films so were very supportive with this. They were never involved in a hands-on way but I always had them and their wisdom to call on when it was required.

Are you pleased by the general positive response to the film? What is next?
I’m probably someone that will never be pleased by their own work! I’ve learnt a tremendous amount through the experience of Hello Carter and can’t wait to use that experience when shooting the next film. I’ve been writing and developing a script with the BFI which is an ensemble piece - about a group of British people in a European holiday resort for a wedding. We aim to shoot next year.

HELLO CARTER is in cinemas 5 December and on DVD & Digital 8 December

Thursday, 4 December 2014

The Circle (Der Kreis)

The Circle (2014 film), poster.jpg
Der Kreis (The Circle) is a Swiss docu-drama revolves around the life-long romantic partnership of two men, Ernst Ostertag and Robi Rapp, who together published a homosexual publication entitled The Circle during the 1940s and 50s in Zurich, Switzerland and which was scapegoated as the cause of the murders of several gay men in the city during that time.

The film has Matthias Hungerb├╝hler and Sven Schelker portray Ostertag and Rapp respectively in the depiction of 1950s Zurich, whilst the film intersperses documentary interviews with the real life pair in the present day. From the outset we encounter Ostertag, a young English literature teacher in an all-girls school, attempting to teach Albert Camus' The Outsider and the idea getting shot down by his superiors. Rapp is a drag artist who meets Ostertag and so begins their life-long union entwined with the publication of the magazine which in a post-Nazi era still rubs people up the wrong way.

The film is tensely directed by Stefan Haupt who also wrote the dramatic screenplay, which has helped garner the official Switzerland entry for Best Foreign Language Film in the 87th Academy Awards next year. Helped by brave and appealing performances from both leads, whilst the present date documentary footage rightly lets the Ostertag/Rapp elders tell their story themselves today.

The Circle is released from on December 12th and is released by Matchbox Films.

Wednesday, 3 December 2014

Hello Carter


HELLO CARTER is in cinemas 5 December and on DVD & Digital 8 December

Hello Carter, is the debut feature of writer/director Anthony Wilcox, this independent London set production tells the tale of Carter (played by Charlie Cox) who wants to get back in touch with his ex-girlfriend Kelly (Annabelle Wallis), an American who he split up with sometime a year previously.  Carter attempts to get her phone number from various avenues, and as luck would have it he bumps into her brother Aaron (Paul Schneider) on the tube. 

However, a night out with each other leads to all sort of problematic situations involving illegitimate children, possible romantic connections with a receptionist at a job interview Jenny (Jodie Whitaker) and eventual realisation of the life's journey.

Filmed with a crispness and lightness of tone not often seen in London set films (lighness in contrast to the grey drabness of Carter's wardrobe and surroundings) which usually inhabit a gritty urban milieu, the spirit of this film is meant to be one of economic charm. From the genuine nature of Cox's Carter and his belief to get a job, to the winning combination of neat dialogue and the subtle injection of panache with Aaron into the fray - the film does not falter with its conviction of making a passable attempt at doing a one night in London nightmare film.

Influences on the film range from Martin Scorsese's After Hours to A Fish Called Wanda with the idiot American attempting to take centre stage.  Cox channels his best Hugh Grant from Four Weddings and a Funeral, a bumbling leading man who is beguiling and put upon yet comes out of it smiling. He is matched by Whitaker's Jenny, a tireless worker who may just be the person he is looking for.

However, it may well be Schneider who gets the plaudits as Aaron the B-list American actor who is all gruff and the sheer force of nature that forces the nights events to take hold.  Schneider a veteran of David Gordon Green films reminds us here of the talent he clearly has at his disposal, and his casting is a victory for Wilcox and his production team.

Yet for all this tale of impossible love together, the film is also about aspirations of the characters. Aspirations to be better than they are when we meet them; a better job, a better father, a better life in general.  The reason this film may well connect with audiences, in spite of the West London locale, is that like all good comedies before it in the vein of Wilder and Sturges, it shows us characters who have hope above all.  

Executive Produced by Michael Winterbottom, and produced by Julian Bird, the cinematography is by Andrew Dunn (The Perks of Being a Wallflower) whose crispness helps in the condensed running time and decisive nature of the film, in stark contrast to the unsure being of Carter.

Making the leap from short films to this his debut feature, Wilcox promises to be a talent to watch out for. One that has an ear for good dialogue and for the way life appears to his characters, his collaboration with his production crew is worth mentioning as a credit to getting good work out of tight constraints.

Hello Carter is out on limited release this Friday and to download from Monday from Revolution Films, it is a small gem of a movie that will be worth your attention; engaging, direct and proof that there is talent in the British independent film industry.

HELLO CARTER is in cinemas 5 December and on DVD & Digital 8 December