Sunday, 30 September 2012

Film: G.B.H.

A troubled London policeman attempts to sort out his complicated life in the weeks prior to all hell breaking loose in the London riots of 2011.

Nick Nevern (Terry, The Rise & Fall Of A White Collar Hooligan) is Damien, a cop who has more in common with the average criminal than he does with most of his colleagues. As tensions rise Damien must decide which side he is on while also looking out for his rookie partner Louise (Kellie Shirley).

Director Simon Phillips (who also appeared with Nevern in White Collar Hooligan) manages to effectively present a unique viewpoint of London in the latest example of excellent British filmmaking. Real life footage is used well and Damien’s perspective crosses the boundaries brilliantly while the characters actions present a man struggling with his attempts to do the right thing.

Nevern delivers another powerhouse performance and firmly cements his status as the UK’s brightest rising star of urban drama.

GBH is available on DVD in the UK from 1st October 2012.

Ric’s Rating: Highly Recommended.

Click the Nick Nevern tab for reviews of the other films mentioned.

Friday, 28 September 2012

Film: Bereavement

Following the death of her parents a teenage girl moves in with her uncle and his family and while out running she spots a young boy who went missing years earlier.

It turns out that the remaining occupant of a dilapidated family abattoir has been abducting young women (and the one boy) for years and subjecting them to procedures formerly carried out on the animals.

Bereavement is far better than many in this genre, particularly at the straight-to-dvd end. The production is reasonably good and there are some decent performances on display. Michael Biehn (The Terminator) is the most famous cast member and he is perfect as the estranged Uncle but Alexandra Daddario is excellent as the misguided and still grieving Allison.

Be warned though, there are some very uncomfortable moments involving the young boy, Martin. He has a rare condition which makes his brain unable to process pain, meaning that he is subjected to some vicious actions to which the character does not react. This makes for extremely unpleasant viewing but does make the film a pretty intense experience.

This is a superior horror / serial-killer film but many may find the scenes mentioned just too unpleasant to bear.

Bereavement is available on DVD in the UK from 1st October 2012.

Ric’s Rating: Good. 

Sunday, 16 September 2012

Music: Marlon Roudette - New Age

Its been a while since I posted some music so when I heard this brilliant track I just had to share it.

New Age by Marlon Roudette has been a number 1 hit across Europe but hasn't hit the top here in the UK.

Most music here is bought by teenagers obsessed with celebrity culture which explains a lot when you look at the UK charts.

Anyway, check out the video and let me know what you think.

Friday, 14 September 2012

Film: Redbelt

A principled martial-arts instructor is drawn into the world of competition fighting and fight promotion in this 2008 drama from writer / director David Mamet.

Chiwetel Ejiofor (Four Brothers, Salt) is Mike Terry, a former soldier turned jiu-jitsu instructor who has fallen on hard times. As he struggles to pay the rent an accidental shooting at his dojo involving a lawyer (Emily Mortimer) and a policeman sparks a series of events that leads to Terry mixing with movie stars (Tim Allen) and unscrupulous managers.

Against his better judgment and personal beliefs Terry agrees to take part in a mixed martial-arts fighting tournament. Will he triumph while keeping his principles intact?

The growing popularity of MMA has inevitably spawned numerous films. Most of them are straight to DVD efforts that concentrate on action and the biggest success of the genre has undoubtedly been Warrior starring Tom Hardy & Nick Nolte.

While Warrior was a Rocky type story with an MMA backdrop David Mamet (who is himself a jiu-jitsu practitioner) has concentrated on the style of fighting that inspired MMA and the ethics of a man firmly embedded in its teachings.

Ejiofor is superb as the morally conflicted martial artist and brilliant support comes from Mortimer, Allen and Alice Braga as Terry’s wife. Many real-life fighters also appear, including Randy Couture of The Expendables.

This is the thinking man’s MMA movie and is an absolute must-see for fans of jiu-jitsu and MMA. This will also appeal to anyone who enjoys high quality drama and good old-fashioned underdog films.  

Ric’s Rating: Essential.      

Sunday, 9 September 2012

Film: Dredd

Karl Urban attempts to do what Sly Stallone couldn’t, successfully adapt the famous comic book character Judge Dredd to film.

This is a much darker effort than Stallone’s 1995 version. Urban’s Dredd is faced with making his way up 200 levels of a tower block ruled by the ruthless drug-dealer Ma Ma (Lena Headey) while also assessing rookie Judge Anderson.

Having recently seen the Indonesian film The Raid, this struck me as very similar, the big difference being gun battles instead of martial arts in the action scenes.

Urban is competent as the tough-talking Dredd and he even remains true to the character by never removing the helmet. An almost unrecognisable Lena Headey (300) is brilliant as the despicable Ma Ma and Olivia Thirlby is fine support for the main character as the psychic Judge Anderson.

This is ultra-violent and will appeal to fans of hardcore action movies. Dredd’s commands to citizens also reminded me of Robocop, another film which is about to be re-made.

Dredd is in UK cinemas now.

Ric’s Rating: Highly Recommended.      

Saturday, 8 September 2012

Book: Blood Diamonds by Ed Lynskey

Some years ago Jonas Blades was involved in a diamond heist. His accomplice, a femme –fatale by the name of Jacquie Mantooth, was arrested and then imprisoned for her role in the robbery. Jonas got away with the diamonds but instead of cashing them in he has kept them hidden away....and now Jacquie is out.

Blades soon regrets his decision to keep the diamonds as Jacquie is not alone in her pursuit of them. Jonas’ current lover and an old flame of Jacquie’s soon enter the fray and none of them can trust each other as a boys versus girls treasure hunt begins.  

Ed Lynskey’s latest slice of crime-noir feels a lot like a crime-caper. As more characters joined the hunt for the stolen gems I kept waiting for a gag or comedy moment but none were forthcoming.
The author maintains a serious tone throughout and perhaps his eloquent and articulate prose may not lend well towards laughs, but this tale would have benefited from one or two.

Coming it at approximately 156 pages Blood Diamonds is a quick read that contains plenty of twists & turns and despite the rather short format each character’s motive is fully explored.

The climax leaves some unanswered questions but in this case that works, it leaves the reader to ponder events and wonder what happens next.

Blood Diamonds is available as an e-book now and you can click the Ed Lynskey tab to read my reviews of Lake Charles and Ask The Dice.

Ric’s Rating: Good.    

Thursday, 6 September 2012

TV Show: Dallas

The Ewings are back!

Following an amazing gap of 21 years, Patrick Duffy, Linda Grey and Larry Hagman return to their roles as Bobby, Sue –Ellen and J.R respectively.

The world is a different place since Dallas’ previous 13 year stint ended and this is reflected in the show. Bobby is happy breeding cattle on Southfolk and J.R languishes in a nursing home suffering with clinical depression. Meanwhile J.R’s long-suffering ex-wife Sue- Ellen is running for political office.

The oil business wheeling and dealing is now done between the younger generation of Ewings. Bobby’s son Christopher is investing in alternative energy while J.R Jr.  follows in his Father’s footsteps by attempting to locate a new source of oil.

In a TV & movie market saturated with re-makes and re-boots it’s very refreshing to see original characters, played by the same actors, brought into a current setting.

Dallas has enduring appeal, thanks largely to the lack of choice available when it first aired, and the team behind this version have shown guts and guile by employing a strategy aimed at attracting both old and new fans. The series also promises cameo appearances by other original cast members.

This is a must-see for anyone who saw the original show and an interesting alternative US drama for those bored with formulaic detective type series.

Look out for show-stealing 80 year-old Larry Hagman’s name when it’s TV awards time.

Dallas is currently showing on Channel 5 in the UK.

Ric’s Rating: Highly Recommended.           

Tuesday, 4 September 2012

TV DVD: Inspector Montalbano Collection 2

Following the recent success of Scandinavian TV dramas such as The Killing and The Bridge, we now have the Italian entry to the genre.

Based on the books by Andrea Camilleri, Inspector Montalbano is an abrupt, no-nonsense type of Policeman who routinely shouts at his colleagues and often manipulates them to his own end.

This collection contains six feature-length episodes of the first series, two of which were available for review.

The Mediterranean setting is a world away from the gritty feeling created in the other dramas mentioned. Five minutes in and it felt like an episode of Bergerac in a slightly sunnier clime, but don’t be fooled, underneath the Miss Marple type tone there is a serious drama to be found.

Montalbano’s charm also eventually emerges making the character somewhat endearing and often very funny indeed.

The investigations contain the usual mix of murder, deceit, politics and intrigue and despite my initial reaction (and the often ear-bashing Italian dialect) this is actually a compelling and fun series, think Hercule Poirot meets The Shield and your on the right track.

Inspector Montalbano Collection Two is available on DVD in the UK now.

Ric’s Rating: Good.