Sunday, 5 July 2015

BLACK HOLE CLASSICS #3 - Blade Runner - 5.7.15

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Tony Black hosts another Black Hole Classic, this time joined by Matt Latham to discuss his designated classic movie... BLADE RUNNER, the cult 1982 Ridley Scott sci-fi adaptation of Philip K. Dick's novella 'Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?', which divided critics on release - why over three decades later is it considered such a great movie?

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Tuesday, 30 June 2015

EPISODE 31 - Minions, Knock Knock - 1.7.15

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Emma Platt hosts alongside guests Chris Haigh & Chris Byrne, as they chow down on the current UK Box Office as well as... ...digesting the latest NEWS, including sad RIP's to Patrick Macnee & James Horner, plus chatter about the big new SPIDER-MAN casting revelation. Also find out which retro TV star Emma is named after! Chris B then lends his lukewarm thoughts about Eli Roth's twisted thriller KNOCK KNOCK, while Chris H & Emma both reveal how MINIONS disappointed them - seems the critters may need to find a new master! Finally, 'They' arrive as Emma presents DEAD MEAT: THE ALIENS ARE COMING! The second of her educational forays into the horror genre, this time talking about the genesis of the 50's alien invasion picture and its influence on such diverse films as ALIEN, THE THING and ATTACK THE BLOCK...

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Thursday, 25 June 2015

EPISODE 30 - Entourage, Mr. Holmes - 24.6.15

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Dan Taylor hosts and is joined by Matt Latham & Tony Black, to discuss the latest UK Box Office Top Ten, plus: -- This weeks NEWS, including Sony's controversial leaked SPIDER-MAN memo & the US success of Pixar feature INSIDE OUT... Latham has mixed feelings toward the big screen adaptation of TV show ENTOURAGE... Tony gets the game afoot by discussing the classy MR. HOLMES... And finally, in a brand new fun section called OSCAR HALL OF FAME, Dan asks the lads to name their best actors never to have won an Oscar...

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Wednesday, 24 June 2015

Review: Entourage: The Movie

Year: 2015
Director: Doug Ellin
Screenplay: Doug Ellin
Starring: Kevin Connolly, Adrian Grenier, Kevin Dillon, Jerry Ferrara, Jeremy Piven

Synopsis is here

“Do you actually think that way about movies?” The voice queried at the end of the line. I was left stumped. A brief exchange from a friend in Wales had my mind in a particular conflict.

“If I had to think like that about movies” He continued; “My head would just hurt.”

My friend was talking about an article I shared about the strange, extravagant death which featured in Jurassic World. He was quite astonished that someone would place such thought into something which in the grander scheme of things, is so trivial. He claimed that he meant the writer of the article, but the tone clearly included me, the sharer, the cohort.

I smiled, but for a brief second, I was mildly stumped. While I often challenge my own thoughts on the films I watch, the sheer simplicity of how the question was put across to me, along with a long conversation with friends over Jurassic World and Entourage, had my eyebrow well and truly raised To quote Heath’s Joker: “Why so serious?”

Am I Dothery, believing in the hologram, while Toto is there to show me there’s not much behind the curtain? Am I over thinking these blockbusters, which are only out to entertain? Should one just sit there and mindlessly soak in whatever images that you’ve just happened to pay for? Such questions, don’t keep me up at night, but they do catch me every so often while I do my day job. Movies are just movies, see? And despite nearly everything we watch, read and listen to holding a certain amount influence over us, we should just quieten down and just take it in. The real important stuff is in what you do.

This brings me, in a roundabout way to Entourage, a movie in which the four lead characters do very little and are heavily rewarded. So while the nameless audience should work hard and pay good money to sit down, shut up and take in whatever the entertainment says it is, Entourage is more happy to state that these guys, do nothing get rewarded more and fuck you, because dudebros.
That’s actually quite harsh of me. I was actually pretty fond of the antics of Vince and his crew. The TV show, despite some of its baser elements, was an entertaining romp about Hollywood. The boys were juvenile, but they were mostly harmless. What these guys lacked in airs and graces, they made up for in knock around charm and comrade. The Hollywood namechecking and film scheming were slick and glossy enough to make fans feel like they were “in” with the boys. The always sunny, totally money, world view held by these Hollywood homeboys was never one I could fully subscribe to. But I would quite happily spend 22 minutes engaging a cringe worthy Johnny Drama meltdown or a ball busting Ari Gold tirade. Guilty pleasure? No, just an effectively fluffy time waster.  

In the four years that Entourage came off the air, a lot has changed. TV has now entered a new so-called golden age and the audiences’ demands have been raised to match the quality. The (pop culture) world has now become even more aware of and engaged in gender politics. Argument and debate have spread across sword and sandals sex in Game of Thrones through to Gamergate. Whether you were a feminist before the Twitter landscape shifted or a newly pledged member of the mens rights club. It’s safe to say that the conversation has become louder since 2011.

This makes the Entourage movie feel only a tad less prehistoric than the Jurassic World Dino’s in the screen next to it. A barrage of think-pieces and caustic reviews have had the cast fighting back with exclamations of: “It’s not Citizen Kane!” This is true, but in my eyes, lines like that only really suggest that the film in question is pretty rubbish.

Despite some of the shrillness of the think-pieces and twitter attacks from the internet abyss aimed at Entourage. They’re not completely incorrect. While not the sleaziest film I’ve seen, Entourage has some moments that do make you question the thought process and reasoning on why such elements had to be in the film. It’s more gratuitous moments are the most noticeable and senseless. A pivotal moment involving two prostitutes happily pleasuring themselves orally while two characters converse would perhaps fare better in an exploitation film than a mainstream summer movie. Same goes for Johnna Drama (Dillon), whose constant juvenile chatter about “banging” was far less distracting, when A: he had actual story arcs to navigate in the series. B: He gained more comeuppance.

The fact is Entourage is pretty much what one would have expected from the TV show. Which isn’t great considering that this is a movie. We’re now in a world in which the likes of Game of Thrones can be happily screened on cinema screens. With good reason. Entourage, much like the How I Met Your Mother finale, tries too hard to shove a season’s worth of plot into an extended episode of the series. Unfortunately, rather than the scale, the only thing that feels bigger is the obnoxiousness of the characters. Once you realise that the stakes have never been lower with nothing truly at risk the film’s outcome is uninteresting. With no decent story to speak of, the only thing to observe is the indulgent (and fun) cameos and just how the crass these guys actually are.

To make matters worse, the film’s main cast (Piven aside), lack any command on the big screen in comparison to the home monitors they co-opted in the past. The flaccid four’s weak performances (along with the televisual set ups) help demonstrate the differences between films and TV that some of the stronger television shows have been fighting to blur.

As the film’s box office return slowly claws back its budget (marketing budget unknown), it’s pretty clear that Entourage, much like recent TV-movie adaptations, only really attracted its core fans and that the many articles attacking it, will probably get one or two more tickets through the door. To me, the volume of the Kermode rants and articles hint at a slow release week more than anything. Not that many people gave a damn when Entourage finished. The amount of time past and the change of scope have given a forgettable film slightly more prominence. Yet while the film works in short bursts – the odd funny line, an amusing situation or two – Entourage does very little to show that it’s more than it’s worse faculties. Much like The Sex in the City Movies, the film’s focus on the most facile elements, in a far more socially aware environment, has provided a disappointed outcome. That said, the films musical choices, which have always been well picked for the lifestyle that it’s showcasing, still made my head nod.

The friend I mentioned at the beginning of this piece once asked me to pick a film for him as he was taking someone out on a date. I forget what I suggested, but he took my advice. He married the same girl soon after. He’s thanked me for the choice I made and jokingly stated that I helped solidify the relationship. Yes, at times the way I watch films hurts my head. However, the outcome can be stories like how he met his wife. Something I found more enjoyable than Entourage the movie.

Monday, 22 June 2015

DVD Review: The Devil’s Violinist

Year: 2013 (UK DVD release: 2015)
Director: Bernard Rose
Screenplay: Bernard Rose
Starring: David Garrett, Jared Harris

Synopsis is here:

Niccolò Paganini was one of the most celebrated violin virtuosos of his time and considered as one of the pillars of modern violin technique. A man of such stature, has of course been dramatized in cinema before, with his most famous being Klaus Kinski’s Paganini (1989). The ferocious Kinski, who played Paganini, seemed like a perfect fit for a womanising violinist who was allegedly in cahoots with the devil. It must be said however that an update by Bernard Rose (Immortal Beloved), is an attractive prospect.

Rose; whose work has shown interest in self-destructive egos before (Ivans XTC), seems like a good fit for the material on the surface. The addition of German violinist David Garrett as Paganini, ensures handsome looks as well as playing. Much more of a turn on than the bug eyed mania of Kinski.

The problem is that The Devil’s Violinist never strikes the same intensity that someone like Kinski could pull off on even an off day. Quickly glossing over Paganini’s childhood, as well as his mysterious alliance with a Papa Lazarou-like manager named Urbani (Jared Harris), the film quickly settles on the main meat of the story, Paganini’s first concerts in London. Here he takes advantage of far too trusting promoter John Watson (Christian McKay), before setting his sights on Watson’s attractive young daughter Charlotte (Andrea Deck).

With its conservative protests, swooning crowds and indulgent drug taking, Rose takes the approach of comparing Paganini to the likes of a modern rock star. It’s an angle that could bode well for music history teachers looking at fitting parallels of more contemporary artists for students. However, for all the films poetic license (I doubt Paganini had management as sinister as Urbani), it is a little sad that Paganini’s conflicts and demons boil down to uncooked daddy issues. This may have been more effective if David Garrett was a more convincing lead. His long hair and sublime playing show that Garrett looks the part. Yet we never truly get under the skin of Paganini or his relationship with either Urbani or Charlotte.

This doesn’t stop Rose from shooting a rather rich and lavish production on a modest budget. Nor does it prevent enjoyable performances from McKay, Harris or Joely Richardson. All three performers slaver relish over the scenery before chowing down greedily in every scene they crop up in.


Then, of course, there’s the music that features. Garrett revels in showing his talent with some truly wonderful playing, including a small yet gorgeous rendition of God Save the King. One may wish that other aspects of the film were as sweetly portrayed, but there’s still more than enough silver linings to weather the darker clouds.