Posts Tagged ‘british film’

Year Released : 2010

Director : Mark McQueen

Cast : Craig Fairbrass, Myanna Buring, Danny Dyer, Jaime Murray, Shane Taylor, Shane Taylor, Bart Ruspoli, Craig Conway, Lisa McAllister and Colin Salmon

Being English I have a strong affection for many British horror films, including 28 Days Later, The Cottage, Tormented, Severance and Creep, but alternatively there are some awful ones as well, Night of the Living Dead : Resurrection, so whenever I find a horror from my home land then I do get somewhat excited.

After finding “Devil’s Playground” on Netflix I got the feeling that this was trying to achieve the same success that the aforementioned “28 Days Later” did given it’s raw appearing nature, but the cast doesn’t fill me with excitement or optimism.

This will turn out to either be great, or a pile of crap. I get the feeling I know which.

Plot

Cole (Fairbrass) is a problem solver for Peter (Salmon), the CEO of a major medical corporation. The company has tested a new drug on 30,000 volunteers, but it caused major medical issues for the vast majority of them and now Peter is determined to get to the bottom of it so he can avoid being sued, but whilst examining one of the infected he is bitten, as is Cole. Cole manages to obtain the last three vials of anti-virus that will hold off the infection 18 hours at a time.

To find a permanent cure, he knows that he will have to find the only volunteer who reported no side effects, Angela (McAllister). She herself is still trying to get over her husband Joe’s (Dyer) imprisonment for killing a teenager, although he is adamant that he did it in self defence.

Cole does eventually find her, as does Joe after he gets bail, and the trio end up working together with some other survivors in order to escape on a helicopter with limited space in east London, but the other survivors start to team up against them as they get paranoid thoughts about being left behind.

As good as “28 Days Later”, or even remotely unique?

There is not a chance in hell that anyone will watch this and think that it is on a level even close to that brilliant zombie-like (28 Days Later is not a zombie film) movie, or even the slightly less engaging and interesting sequel. The one thing that I will say is that I have never seen a zombie film that features so many of the infected knowing parkour.

Throughout the near 100 minute run tie is zombies running over and jumping over objects that they have purposefully gone towards to jump over, even though it would be considerably easier to simply go around, especially when they’re chasing food.

That isn’t the only oddity about this movie as there is a big plot hole at the beginning of the film. The company that produces the medication that eventually zombifies the population is getting sued by those who took it, but the problem with that is that they are volunteers and would almost certainly have signed paperwork that doesn’t make the company liable in the event of side-effects. I’ll grant you, it’s not a major plot hole, but right from the off it is starting to have a lack of sense.

Unfortunately the problems don’t stop there as most of the characters are horrendously one dimensional and aren’t built even slightly well. It becomes a bit tedious as you don’t feel any semblance of sadness when certain characters start dying. Their lack of intelligence doesn’t help with this either as they know that people who have been bitten will turn, but they keep them around anyway. These people are basically fodder for the zombies, and it is effectively natural selection in all of its glory.

I like to try to come up with at least one favourable comment per review, but unfortunately there isn’t really a lot that is going on here that is that exciting, or even remotely interesting. I was sat there late at night, bored by one dimensional characters and action that is so stop-start that you could easily turn it off and not feel remotely sorry about it.

There are some great British films out there. This isn’t one of them.

Summary

Full of characters that aren’t interesting, several relationships between actors played by people with no chemistry, and an overall boring story, “Devil’s Playground” is one of the least imaginative zombie films I’ve seen. It offers little new to the genre, and it is something that I’ll have completely forgotten about by the time I watch the next zombie film that I’ll review.

I am really struggling to come up with a single positive about it, and based on that I have to say that it is probably best if you miss this.

No, it makes no sense to anyone. That’s why you have to believe it. That’s why you have to have faith. If it made sense, it wouldn’t have to be a religion, would it?

Year Released : 1990Nuns_on_the_run_poster
Director: Jonathan Lynn
Cast : Eric Idle, Robbie Coltrane, Camille Coduri, Janet Suzman and Robert Patterson

A few weeks ago I was cleaning out my room at my parents house. I figured that I moved out of there several years ago so I really should take some of my stuff so they can have more space. So after ploughing through the boxes, I stumbled across a few of my old VHS tapes and amongst them was one of my favourite films from my youth, “Nuns on the Run”.

I can’t recall when I first saw this film, but I was probably seven or so at the time. For those who haven’t read this site before, I am transgender and I think that this was the first example I saw in film of cross-dressing, so for me it is an important film in many ways. That being said, what I’ve learnt a lot in recent years is that stuff I liked when I was a kid isn’t necessarily as good as I remember it.

Now that I am 31 it’s very rare that I watch something from my youth and still enjoy it as much as I did then, and that extends to music as well. For example, also in the box was the album “Hooray for Boobies” by the Bloodhound Gang…….yeah…..I turned that off again after about 3 songs. It’s also disappointing with regards to films as well because just under a year ago I did a few reviews of films from the mid-90s, but virtually none of them got a positive review.

But the point is that because of the low amount of IMDB ratings, I saw this as a good opportunity to not only re-watch a film I used to love, but also review a film that isn’t from the last few years. Most reviews I post are for films only a few years old at most and I want to try to expand to a bit beyond the last few years, especially going into what I consider the golden age of films, the 1980s.

But anyway, here’s my review for “Nuns on the Run”

Plot

Brian (Idle) and Charlie (Coltrane) work for a mob boss called Case (Patterson). One day they start to become disillusioned by life in the mob and plan to leave, however, their plans are called into question when another gang member attempts to leave and ends up dead, but not before having told Case that Brian and Charlie want to leave too. Despite denying it when asked by Case, the boss decides to have Brian and Charlie killed in a job to steal money from a local Triad gang.

Whilst on the mission, Brian is warned by his love interest Faith (Coduri) that it’s a trap, so he and Charlie decide that it’s time to make a run for it with the money from the theft. Whilst running away they get desperate and run into a random door in order to hide. They are confused by their new surroundings until Charlie, a lapsed catholic, realises it’s a convent and that it’s the perfect place to hide.

The pair steal some traditional nuns garments and trick the head of the convent, Sister Superior (Suzman), into believing that they were due to transfer in. She believes them but doesn’t understand why they’re wearing old robes as opposed to the more modern and considerably more feminine clothing. Brian is mortified at having to dress like a nun until it is safe for them to go to the airport with their money, but Charlie talks him into continuing, but with the accident prone Faith entering the hospital and Case’s gang closing in, how long can they hide in the convent before they’re discovered?

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Is it as good as it seemed in my youth?

I’m not going to lie, I sat and watched “Nuns on the Run” with a very different mentality to films that I normally review on this site. Normally I go in hoping that the film will be good but have a generally open mind, however, that wasn’t the case with “Nuns on the Run” due to having previously seen it numerous times. I really wanted to give this a very positive review, but having not seen it for what is at least 15 years, I won’t be in a hurry to watch it again.

It’s definitely not as good as I remember it being and falls very much into that category of things that were highly enjoyable when you’re younger, but not so much anymore.

Let’s start with the positives in the 92 minute run time, and despite feeling a bit rushed, the opening sections of the film do a great job of establishing the various characters. This ranges from Charlie and Brian’s desire to escape Case, whilst quickly showing you just how psychotic he is. You get to meet Faith early on and you get to know that whilst she is a likeable character and very genuine at heart, that to use an English phrase, she is as thick as pig shit. She is remarkably dumb and yes, I understand that she has a problem with her vision, but that doesn’t her to answer questions like an idiot.

For example…..

Faith : “They work for Mr Casey.”

Triad Member : “Mr Who?”

Faith : “No, Mr Casey!”

It’s frustrating in many ways but in many ways is a brilliant way of building the character.

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That could have simply been an attempt to be funny, but when weighed up against other lines in the movie, it doesn’t compare. Coltrane and Idle both do an excellent job with the humour that their respective characters present, and there are genuine laughs throughout. For example;

Sister Superior : “We run a teacher training college for 18-22 year old girls. Do you have experience?”

Charlie : “Of 18 year old girls? Yes, plenty.”

However, even with the excellent parts of the script, the rest comedy does feel forced at times. For example, early on in the film Brian finds out that Faith gets paid to sleep and tell a university about her dreams, but when Charlie walks onto the scene and Brian is purposefully misleading about what she does (he hints that she is a prostitute), it is a chance that Charlie quickly jumps on to suggest that she’s worth five times more an hour than what he thinks she gets paid. However, I’m going to cut it a tiny bit of slack as this film was made 26 years ago, and film-making has changed a lot in that time.

I don’t think anyone outside of the British Isles would actually enjoy a lot of this film because it is very different from many mainstream films, and even for the time it was nothing like Hollywood films. For example, something that I’ve touched on a few times is that when an American film says “we’ve only got xxxxx seconds left”, times that by about three and that’s how long they actually have. “Nuns on the Run” doesn’t do that and it’s doesn’t mess the audience around. There is a bit where Charlie says that a bomb is going to explode in six seconds, and sure enough a bomb explodes.

Like a lot of British films, I think if you’re not British this won’t translate well at all, and films such as The Cottage are generally ignored because the brilliant jokes go over the heads of those that don’t get British humour.

And finally, I have to comment on this as there are unfortunately a LOT of errors that I noticed during the filming. For example, at one point Sister Superior is trying to convince Brian to teach a class about the Holy Trinity (a subject that Brian knows nothing about). He objects for around 20 seconds before a very elderly nun approaches and he questions “Why can’t she do it?” The elderly nun responds like she knows exactly what they’ve just been talking about, even though they’ve shown her to be a character that quite clearly can’t hear properly and she wasn’t even on screen when the conversation starts.

There aren’t any major mistakes in the film, but certainly enough to be noticeable and this, combined with the forced humour, does unfortunately bring you out of it a bit.

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Summary

At the time it was made “Nuns on the Run” was probably a great example of the best that the British had to offer at the time, but the days of it being considered a good comedy are well and truly over. Don’t get me wrong, it’s certainly not a bad film and there are parts that I love, but as I was watching this to view it I found myself wanting to skip out certain sections.

If you’ve not seen it before then it might be worth a watch as there are some genuinely funny moments in there, and it’s also a chance to get to see one of the performances of Robbie Coltrane from before he became a worldwide name. However, if you’re not into British humour then I don’t think there’s much of a chance of you enjoying it as even though I’m British, I found some of it a bit tedious.

The average rating (at the time of writing) is 5.7 out of 10 on IMDB and I can’t really disagree with that.

She told me about the time that you drunk so much Guinness that you shat yourself!

Year Released : 201351cQavt2+DL
Director : MJ Delaney
Cast : Sheridan Smith, Kate Nash, Jaime Winstone, Oona Chaplin and Riann Steele

In England we have these thing called pound shops, going under various guises, such as Pound Land or 99p Stores, you get the idea. Now contained within is a large variety of items, including athletic equipment, food, clothes, make up, gardening tools, pretty much everything you can imagine, and the only real problem with pound shops is that because no item costs over a pound, you know that chances are that the item you’re buying is going to be awful in terms of it’s quality.

Anyway, where I work is about a minute walk away from a pound shop and whilst browsing their DVD section before work on Thursday, I found this and the cover instantly grabbed my attention. It had one of my favourite British comediennes in Sheridan Smith and actually sounded like a reasonable plot. Another good thing about the pounds shops is that if it does turn out to be awful then at least it’s only a pound that you’ve wasted.

So I decided to make the hefty investment of a pound to buy a film that I’ve never heard of. Judging by IMDB I’m not the only person who had never heard of it either, with a dismal 430 ratings in the two years since it’s release. What concerned me even more was the low score of 4.7/10, although I was made slightly more optimistic with a review that said that if you’re British then chances are you’re going to love it.

I, as usual, write this before I watch the film and I’m not sure whether to be optimistic or not.

Plot

Sam (Smith) is going on a rare night out with her friends and whilst there she runs into her old college friends. Sam hasn’t done anything with her life but self-concious about it. She starts lying to them about what she does for a job and that she is in a strong relationship. In reality she split with her boyfriend a year ago and is having difficulty getting over it.

She starts regularly criticising her friends behind their backs and struggles to cope throughout the night.

Meanwhile, several the characters experience the highs and lows of drugs, including Paige (Steele) who is doing it for the first time due to peer-pressure. Other girls are simply trying to have sex or try to emotionally get over that they’ve turned up to a night club in fancy dress when she was actually told to dress fancy.

Yep, that’s pretty much the “plot” of the film.

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So, worth the pound?

Let’s start with the positives…….

Sheridan Smith is by far the most enjoyable to watch in the film and I’m not just saying this because she is from the same county as me (Lincolnshire for the win). I’ve always enjoyed the work of Smith since I first saw her in a long-forgotten and short-lived sitcom “Dark Ages”, her brilliant long term role in “Two Pints of Lager and a Packet of Crisps” and various other TV shows, but this is one of her more refreshing performances as she plays the vulnerable Sam.

The character is trying to please everyone without actually revealing her own personal choices and insecurities, and the development of her character and the rapid change to being happy to tell people her opinions, such as her thoughts on Chanel’s active sex life within the club, is quite interesting to watch. You watch a character who tries the social niceties with the other characters and ends up no giving a shit with a lot of them.

Conversations feel natural and realistic for the most part, such as two characters who don’t know each other going through small talk to try and get past the awkwardness. Infact, the whole film is very realistic on so many levels. I’m not a sociable person so rarely go on nights out, and even when I do, I don’t tend to get to the toilet because being transgendered and still looking like a man, I can’t be bothered with the potential issues and discussions relating to it, but from conversations I’ve had with various female friends, one of whom I was watching the film with, it is a very realistic look into what happens in the female toilets in clubs.

My one reservation with it is that these girls seem to spend more time in the toilets than actually only the night out, and I’m not just talking about the character of Sam, who you can sort of forgive for spending most her time in there just to the confidence issue, but even the confident ones spend seemingly their entire night hanging around in the toilets. It’s not even as if they need to use the toilet on such a regular basis. Some characters are shown on the toilet on such a regular basis that it makes you wonder why they bothered going out in the first place, and it’s far more regular than any sane person would be in there.

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Interesting introductions to the characters as they all appear with their name and a brief description about them in the opening credits, which is a good idea and leads you into the characters before you’ve actually properly met them. I definitely like this and is something that I have never seen before, it actually made me laugh as well with simple things such as “Can’t spell Febuary” (notice the intentional misspelling) and that actually made me chuckle somewhat.

The one issue I do have with it is that because they cover the main character so much, by the end of the opening credits you have any forgotten the names or any of the characteristics of the other characters. It’s not a major thing at all, because obviously you still have 80 or so minutes left, but if you’re going to go via this method, try not to focus too much on one character. Don’t get me wrong though, I did definitely like the technique.

I briefly revealed one of the main problems within that and that is the there are just too many characters and it’s hard to keep track of who is who. The ones that you do learn things about, other than Sam, are barely worth learning about, and the funny thing is that the character that I enjoyed the most was the toilet attendant, who barely actually talked throughout the entire film. Her entire performance is based on her facial reactions or various mannerisms, and it is a remarkable performance from Johnnie Fiori, but again therein lies a problem. When one of the most enjoyable characters is one who barely speaks then there are some issues.

None of the characters, other than Sam, are particularly engaging and there are some very odd character choices and developments. They’ve chosen an actress (Oona Chaplin) to play Jess, a French character, and yet Chaplin keeps dropping the French accent. In some scenes it is thick and very obvious, and in others the actress is just speaking with her normal voice. There’s no consistency. I’m not sure whether it’s because the character might not actually be French, but either way Oona Chaplin was diabolical in her attempts to pull of both a French accent, or even look competent whilst acting.

The film is ultimately a movie about woman, afterall there are only two men in the entire film and neither are on screen for more than a minute, so you can tell that the film-makers are trying to give women a real chance with this movie. It’s a cast dominated by largely unfamiliar women and they could have done a much better job than they did. In reality there are only two that will be familiar names to most in the UK, the aforementioned Smith and Kate Nash. Nash (below with Chaplin) had an unremarkable singing career and is so desperate to stay famous and relevant that she accepted a role in a poor film and portrayed her character with no real warmth, heart or emotion. Her lack of acting ability somehow manages to outshine her inability to maintain a singing career.

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Whilst that is an issue I can forgive, one that I can’t is that the film is pretty directionless. There isn’t really much of a storyline going on. All of these characters are going around and chatting to each other, doing various things, but none of it really contributes to a plot, if indeed there is actually a plot. It just seems to be several much smaller storylines which they try to stitch together in a very feeble manner. There is a scene towards the end where all of the story arcs come together, but it isn’t like in films like Pulp Fiction, in which you find all of the effort and what you’ve been watching finally paying off. The coming together of all of the story-arcs is just not reward enough for all of the time and effort that you’ve put into watching it.

Even the scene when Sam finally sees her ex after all of the pain that she has been feeling because of their break up (what sparks all of the story arcs coming together), it doesn’t feel like a natural conclusion as her friends realise that she’s been lying to them all night. It just feels coincidental rather than done intentionally.

I’m sat writing this part of the review after the film is finished and I feel completely underwhelmed by what I have just seen. I wasn’t expecting miracles, afterall it’s barely known, but I at least expected to be entertained as being British, I knew what we are capable of in terms of comedy. This comedy gave the world Blackadder, Red Dwarf, The Office, The Brittas Empire, Men Behaving Badly, Mr Bean and many, many more brilliant comedies, and it’s such a shame that that talent seems to be untranslatable into film.

No. It’s not worth £1.

Summary

With laughs few and far between, this “comedy” lacking a plot is not made easier with characters that are largely underdeveloped. They create several dull story-arcs that loosely link together to form a much larger story, but it’s done in such a lacklustre and unsatisfying manner that I really couldn’t care less when the arcs merge.

Sheridan Smith and Johnnie Fiori are both enjoyable to watch, but other than that the film is full of lifeless, dull and bland performances from actresses that even I as a Brit had never heard of before, other than Kate Nash, a woman desperately trying to remain relevant after a forgettable career as a pop singer.

Unfortunately having a unique opening credits and one or two minor laughs don’t make up what is otherwise a pretty crap film.