Sunday, 29 July 2012

Film: License To Drive

The late Corey Haim and his on & off screen friend Corey Feldman star in this 1988 comedy which gets a UK DVD release courtesy of Second Sight.

Les (Haim) sees his driving licence as a ticket to freedom so he is devastated when he fails the test. Such is his shame that he can’t admit the failure and soon decides to go a night out driving to impress his friends and the gorgeous Mercedes (Heather Graham).

What could possibly go wrong?

I had fond memories of this one as I was a fan of the two Coreys and despite a shaky start it manages to retain much of its charm.

Haim is great as the underachieving Les and Feldman provides good support along with Richard Masur and Carol Kane as Les’ parents.

For good nostalgic fun and a few laugh out loud moments check it out.

License To Drive is available on DVD in the UK from 30th July 2012.

Ric’s Rating: Good  

Thursday, 26 July 2012

Film: The Lorax

Thneedville is a town with no nature. There are no trees, grass, or soil and fresh air is sold by the bottle.

Living in the town is young Ted (Zac Efron) who admires Audrey (Taylor Swift) from afar until he discovers her love for trees. Ted vows to get a tree for Audrey and so begins a journey in which he will encounter The Lorax (Danny DeVito), The Once-ler (Ed Helms) and many other weird & wonderful characters.

This charming animated film is an absolute delight for young kids but there aren’t any “smart” jokes aimed at bored adults. The joy to be had here is to see your children enthralled by an environmentally motivated tale which features some fine voice performances.

DeVito is excellent as The Lorax but Betty White (The Golden Girls) steals the show as Ted’s snowboarding Gran.

The Lorax is in UK cinemas now.

Ric’s Rating: Highly Recommended (for kids of under 8 and their parents/carers)

Thursday, 19 July 2012

Film: Revenge Of The Electric Car

Who Killed The Electric Car was a 2006 documentary film that explored the fact that thousands of electric cars were recalled and destroyed by the companies that made them. This sequel charts the re-emergence of an idea once thought dead.

It follows the endeavours of four very different individuals as they attempt to bring new electric cars to market. There’s Bob Lutz, the larger than life GM executive, multi-millionaire Elon Musk who starts his own company, Carlos Ghosn the head of Nissan and Gadget Abbott, an independent backyard car designer.

It all starts off interestingly enough with footage of the previous film and contributions from the likes of Danny DeVito and Jon Favreau but this fast becomes a rather depressing story of corporate deals and the global economy.

Gadget Abbot does provide an interesting perspective as he struggles against unforeseen circumstances but despite the engaging premise this one is for car enthusiasts only.

Revenge Of The Electric Car is in selected UK cinemas from 20th July 2012.  

Ric’s Rating: Dodgy.

Tuesday, 17 July 2012

Reviews Interviews: Steve Mosby

Steve Mosby is the author of six previous novels including The 50/50 Killer, Still Bleeding and Black Flowers, which has been short-listed for the Theakstons Old Peculiar Crime Novel Of The Year, after already picking up a CWA Dagger.

Prior to the release of his latest title, Dark Room, he took some time for a chat.

Tell us a bit about Dark Room.

It’s about a detective called Hicks, who has a somewhat matter-of-fact attitude to crime. He doesn’t believe in evil, and relies heavily on logic and statistics to solve murders. To him, they always happen for banal, ordinary reasons: lust and jealousy; anger; greed; etc – so he categorises them as bedroom crimes, or bar room crimes, or boardroom crimes, and so on. But then he has to deal with a murderer who flies against all that, who appears to be killing a lot of people entirely at random, and Hicks has to try to break the pattern.

It’s my attempt at a fairly straightforward police procedural. After Black Flowers, which has a really elaborate structure, I wanted to do something that moved forward in a more traditional way.

All of your previous novels have been stand-alone tales. Is this the case with Dark Room?

Yes, it is. The original plan was to take Hicks into the next book as well, but it didn’t work out that way. The world laughs at my plans.

Black Flowers has been up for (and won) awards recently. How do you enjoy receiving recognition like this and what’s it like competing against other authors?

Well, it’s lovely to be nominated for stuff, and it’s lovely to win too, but I don’t think you can take that kind of stuff too seriously. It’s really good to get a nod, and cool to see my name appearing on shortlists that have such amazing authors on them. Flattering company, to say the least.

I don’t really see myself or my books in competition, exactly. I’m a fan as well as an author, and it’s good to see someone rewarded and getting recognition for writing a brilliant book, even if that someone isn’t me.

Your early novels had a sci-fi element. What made you move away from that into more traditional crime writing?

To be honest, it was an accident. It just turned out that the third book I had in mind – The 50/50 Killer – had no SF elements in it at all. And that’s the way it’s continued since. The thing about crime is that it’s a really broad genre, and I find that whatever idea I start to get interested in, I can work it into a crime narrative. I’ve kept some horror elements, though, and I do like to experiment with structure, which I suppose is a vaguely SF-ish trait. And when I do short stories (which isn’t often), they don’t tend to be straightforward crime either, so there are still outlets if I get an urge to weird things out a bit.

Still Bleeding is a very dark tale of murder and suicide and it’s just about my personal favourite of yours. Do you have a favourite yourself?

I’m pretty fond of Still Bleeding, in terms of what the book does. I was pleased with the ways the separate stories resolved: the endings I could give the characters. So I do like that one too.

Hard to pick an overall favourite though. The 50/50 Killer opened doors for me, and feels like a book where I began to figure out what I was doing, so I’ll always have affection for it. And Black Flowers turned out well, I think, given how inaccessible it could potentially have been. Least favourite is easy: The Cutting Crew. That’s probably the only one I’d go back and change. There are a couple of scenes I’d tone down, and a few themes I’d try to tie together better. But you do the best you can. That’s all you can do.

I remember reading about a possible film version of The 50/50 Killer. Any news on that or any other potential film adaptations?

All still up in the air a bit. There have been a few options, but the way it works is that you just sign things off and only believe it’ll ever happen when you’re watching it with your own eyes. Cry For Help came to nothing. 50/50 is still ongoing in France, and the last I heard they were hoping to start filming this winter. I really hope that happens; I’d be really intrigued to see how they handle it. Black Flowers is in development too, but it’s early doors on that. So essentially, nothing concrete to report.

Good luck with the awards and with Dark Room.

Dark Room by Steve Mosby is published by Orion and will be available from 19th July 2012. For more information visit the author’s website at

Sunday, 15 July 2012

Film: Rampart

When cop Dave Brown (Woody Harrelson) is filmed beating up a suspect his tightly controlled world begins to crumble.

Brown soon finds himself under investigation and past events may re-surface bringing more trouble to his already fragile state of mind.

Desperate to keep his fragmented family together Brown then decides to rob a high stakes poker game but the way it pans out has him questioning who he can trust.   

I was really looking forward to this one but despite a great performance from Harrelson and a stellar cast which includes Sigourney Weaver, Robin Wright, Ned Beatty and Ben Foster, this quickly goes from being an interesting drama to a dull plodding trudge through the life of a morally questionable individual.

The weird combination of great acting but boring story does not make for an entertaining experience.

Ric’s Rating: Poor      

Monday, 9 July 2012

Reviews Interviews: Nick Nevern

New British drama ‘The Rise and Fall of a White Collar Hooligan’ arrives on DVD this week and in a first for Ric’s Reviews the star of the film Nick Nevern stopped by for a quick chat.

Despite the title, ‘The Rise and Fall of a White Collar Hooligan’ isn’t a tale of football hooliganism. What’s your take on your character, Mike Jacobs?

You’re right it’s not. I guess it’s much bigger than a simple tale of football hooliganism. Mike is a humble guy who just gets caught up in the scandalous web of money and deceit. When such opportunities of getting large amounts of money at quick speeds are given to you, it sure as hell takes a strong will to turn a blind eye and not give in to temptation.

The film is based on a true story. Do you know anything about the real-life events?

Working on these sorts of films you do get to meet some, let’s just say, shady people. I actually met the real ‘Mike’ on the set of a different movie. He seemed nice enough you know, but I wouldn’t want to see the dark side of him if you know what I mean!

You directed and starred in ‘Terry’. How comfortable are you taking direction?

Very easy bro as it’s my job you know. It absolutely helps that Paul [Tanter] and I have a great working relationship and so taking direction from Paul is always very trouble-free. I understand that there are challenges many actors face when working with some directors but hopefully I never experience the lows you know.

What’s next for you?

There’s a whole host of new projects in the pipeline but I’m hoping to get back in the Director’s chair very soon. Keep your eyes peeled!

As you know I’m a massive fan of ‘Terry’. Any plans to return to that character?

That’s so kind of you to say so thank you! I love that character so much. He will always have a special place in my heart you know so perhaps we’ll see him again one day. You never know!

Good luck with ‘The Rise and Fall of a White Collar Hooligan’ and your upcoming projects.

 You can follow Nick on twitter @NickNevern and take a look at him in action by clicking the trailer below.

Friday, 6 July 2012

Film: Endurance

Second Sight films have decided to whet everyone’s appetite for this year’s Olympic games with a timely release of this 1999 film.

It tells the story of Haile Gebreselassie, an unassuming boy from an impoverished background in Ethiopia, who went on to become one of the greatest long distance runners in history.

The man himself participates in the film by playing the grown-up Gebreselassie as the story shifts between past and “present”. The twelve mile round trip to school every day provided the opportunity to run and young Haile took it in his stride, the lad seemed to run everywhere but his traditional Father soon encouraged him to find a “proper” job.

Culminating at the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta this beautifully shot film manages to capture the spirit shown by a determined man as he pursues his dream and attempts to make his family and his country proud.

Captivating and stirring this docu-drama perfectly illustrates that no matter what your background, if you want to be the best, and you want to beat the rest….dedication’s what you need!

Endurance is available on DVD in the UK from 9th July 2012.

Ric’s Rating: Highly Recommended. 

Monday, 2 July 2012

Film: The Rise And Fall Of A White Collar Hooligan

Nick Nevern, star of the brilliant Terry , is Mike Jacobs, an unemployed football fan who is determined to earn some money in order to keep his relationship on even ground.

Following a hilarious series of botched job interviews Mike bumps into his old mate Eddie (Simon Phillips) who offers him the opportunity to make a lot of money.

The film’s title, DVD cover and poster had me expecting something along the lines of Green Street and Cass but this isn’t the story of someone getting caught up in football violence. There are brief scenes of hooliganism but this is a true tale of an ordinary guy getting in way over his head.

The crime involved is credit card fraud and Jacobs soon finds himself in some very dangerous situations. Can he escape his predicament and mend the relationship with his partner?

Nick Nevern delivers another charismatic performance and there is excellent support all round, especially from Simon Phillips and Rita Ramnani as the long-suffering Katie.

By concentrating on the characters involved rather than the violence writer / director Paul Tanter has delivered an unexpected gem of a film that’s a must-see for anyone who enjoyed other recent good quality British films like Tony, Shifty and Terry.

The Rise And Fall Of A White Collar Hooligan is available on DVD in the UK now.

Ric’s Rating: Highly Recommended

For reviews of other films mentioned click the British film tab below.   

Book: Dead Tropics by Sue Edge

It’s zombie time again and this time we follow a feisty female nurse as she attempts to protect friends & family from the horde.

Sue Edge’s debut horror story kicks off with a fantastic opening scene. Virus victims arrive in an Australian hospital but the staff fail to take the necessary precautions and all hell breaks loose with many falling prey to the hungry undead.

What follows is a relentless battle for survival and the leading character, Lori, delivers a female action hero performance to rival that of Linda Hamilton and Sigourney Weaver at their best. However, her best efforts may not be enough to protect her group from a threat even bigger than the one posed by the walking corpses.

Amidst the violence and bloodshed there are plenty of emotional scenes. How does Lori react when her daughter is bitten or when she is confronted by the zombie versions of her friend’s parents?

This is all good fun and the author manages to retain the tension throughout but the rapid transition from nurse to killing machine does push the boundaries of one’s imagination and the battles with zombies do become repetitive, with the exception of the river scenes (complete with dead eyes peering through the water) which are something new and exciting. There are also some nice moments of everyday humour amongst the carnage but the blossoming romance felt a tad out of place.

Dead Tropics is available now from Permuted Press.

Ric’s Rating: Good   

Sunday, 1 July 2012

Film: Exit Humanity

Its ten years after the American Civil War and upon his return home from a hunting trip Edward Young (Mark Gibson) finds his wife has become one of the walking dead....and his son is missing.

Young eventually decides to go in search of his son. On his travels he meets a fellow survivor and learns of a ruthless General (Bill Moseley of The Devil’s Rejects) who will stop at nothing to find a cure for the unnatural outbreak. Young must deal with all these issues while also attempting to keep a promise.

The Civil War setting is a cool twist in the zombie genre and the story moves along nicely using pages from Young’s journal to illustrate events and Brian Cox provides a smooth narration.

The trouble is we don’t get enough background on Young to ever really care about him and the action often slows to a near standstill.

Cool but lacks excitement.

Exit Humanity is available on DVD in the UK from 2nd July 2012 courtesy of Metrodome.

Ric's Rating: Dodgy     

Reviews News: Murder In Silence by Gary Kassay

Murder In Silence, the fantastic debut novel by Gary Kassay arrives in USA bookshops on Thursday 5th July 2012 courtesy of Sapphire Star Publishing.

I was lucky enough to read an early copy and you can find my review by clicking the Gary Kassay tab at the foot of this post.

Here is a brief description:

Two police officers have been brutally killed by having their throats ripped out, but the wound appears to have been done with surgical precision. With no witnesses, no forensic evidence, and two bizarre clues to follow, the case falls to Inspector Duke Becker, head of the high profile Special Investigations Unit, Homicide.

Becker and his squad must find the killer before more cops are murdered. The case will lead Becker on a wild chase through the streets of New York City, back over 15 years into the past and to a cover-up that will rock City Hall.

In a first for Ric’s Reviews a quote from my review will appear in the book!

For more information you can check out the author’s website and his blog which you will find in the “visit these places” section on this page. You can also find him on Twitter.