Monthly archives "June 2015"

Big Gold Dream: Scottish Post-Punk and Infiltrating the Mainstream *****

  

UK/ Director Grant McPhee/ 94mins
 
Synopsis: After the Punk explosion of 1976 shockwaves were sent throughout the United Kingdom’s youth. In Scotland, Fast Product and Postcard records would herald in the birth of indie music sounds and fashion and build the template for BritPop. This would all begin from two small tenement flats in opposite coasts of Scotland.

After making an impressive debut with Sarah’s Room, Director Grant McPhee returns with an informative and interesting documentary about the Scottish music scene from 1977-1985.
 
In a tenement flat in Edinburgh Bob Last and Hilary Morrison through their record label FAST Product, would go onto sign the Fire Engines, Scars and Boots For Dancing.
 
They would go on to produce acclaimed DIY releases including The Mekons, Gang of Four, Joy Division and the Dead Kennedys.
 
Fast Product would later expand into publishing and management and eventually be responsible for the 1981 Christmas No.1 ‘Don’t You Want Me’ and parent album ‘Dare’ by The Human League.
 
Meanwhile on the west coast, Glasgow based Postcard Records run by the enigmatic Alan Horne with Edwyn Collins would release Orange Juice singles.
 
With Postcard the music press would travel to see them. While it was claimed that every London based A&R representative was travelling to Scotland to sign anyone with a guitar.
 
Audiences may not be aware of all or any of the bands, but after watching this extensively researched and compelling documentary there senses will be enlightened to this interesting time for Scottish music.
 
Although the film is full of information, at 94 minutes never feels dull or dragged out. The overall structure is completely well balanced with a equal amount of screen time for both sides to convey their recollections of past events.
 
The film is compiled ofinterviews, music videos and stock footage. The interviews range from Fast owner Bob Last to colour characters in the bands to music critics to legends like Joy Division’s Peter Hook. Unfortunately there is no new interview from Orange Juice’s Edwyn Collins, only archived footage. Even the present day footage is given an aged effect look which gives the film an authentic feel.
 
It does not really matter whether audiences are Scottish Indie music fans or not, this fascinating documentary has something for everyone with great music to tap your feet to.

Reviewed by Paul Logan

  


Maggie ****

    

U.S./ Director Henry Hobson/ 95mins

 

Synopsis: A father (Schwarzenegger) decides to look after his daughter (Breslin) after she is infected by a Zombie attack.

 

An alternative take on the overused horror genre that brings a different take to the story.

 

Arnold Schwarzenegger is a loving Midwest farmer who is determined to bring his daughter Maggie (Abigail Breslin) home after she is infected by zombies. As the disease begins to take hold, her father decides to stay by her side, fending other zombies and local law enforcement.

 

Even although this has a narrative revolving around a virus outbreak and zombies, it is strangely not a horror story. There are very little scenes with the walking dead with virtually no scary aspects. It is more about a father and daughter reuniting and bonding before they have to say their last goodbyes, while questioning the humanity of individual souls.

 

Casting the Austrian Oak at first appears to be a really bizarre bit of casting. However Arnie is exceptional and for the first time in his career gives an amazing restrained heartfelt performance of a man trying his best to keep the last aspect in his life safe from harm. Breslin yet again gives a great performance showing emotional pain through the sadness in her eyes.

 

Stunningly shot with a surprising good turn from the Governator, this slow but tender thought provoking piece of melodrama.

Reviewed by Paul Logan

  

Cop Car ****

  

U.S./ Director Jon Watts/ 86mins

 

Synopsis: two 10 year-old boys who are running away from home find an abandoned police cruiser and steal it with the Sheriff (Bacon) in hot pursuit.

 

Director Jon Watts low budget action drama arrives with hype after wowing audiences in Sundance.

 

In Midwest America, Travis (Freedson-Jackson) and Harrison (Wellford) stumble upon an empty cop car in the middle of nowhere. Initially spooked by the vehicle, the two kids eventually drive off. The owner of the said vehicle is a corrupt and murderous cop in the middle of taking care of dirty business.

 

Kevin Bacon has been prone recently to giving over the top performances, however thankfully he has reined in his tendencies for this role. The two boys are incredibly impressive especially in the scenes, where the kids are displaying a nativity and innocence of things they encounter and experience. The kids have to become adults in order to survive in the world.

 

The overall feel of the film seems to have been highly influenced by early 70’s chase movies Vanishing Point and Duel also with a hint of The Hitcher.

 

While the story may not be original it mixes together drama, humour, horror and tension without falling into the usual pitfalls. The characters are given no back stories with the filmmakers leaving the audience to fill in the blanks.

 

The desert palette widescreen shot landscapes bring the sense of loneliness and isolation which encapture the character’s personalities.

 

A slow stylish neo Western B-movie with great performances, to make this a highly entertaining piece of cinema.

 

Reviewed by Paul Logan

 
 

The Legend of Barney Thomson ***

  
UK/ Director Robert Carlyle/ 93mins
Synopsis: When a series of disappearances occur in Glasgow, the police turn their attention to a local barber.

 

The film begins in a barber’s shop near Glasgow Green where Barney Thomson (Robert Carlyle) has been working for the last twenty years. Despite his commitment, Barney lacks personality and is usually the customers’ last choice. When people start disappearing from his local area, Barney quickly attracts the attention of Detective Inspector Holdall (Ray Winstone) and his sidekick MacPherson (Kevin Guthrie).
 

The story appears promising initially but becomes more and more ridiculous as it progresses. While there are moments of good comedy and interesting characters, the basic story is weak and lacks any real structure.
 

While the writers attempt a few twists, these are likely to be anticipated and not come as huge surprises. Their final attempt to shock the audience seems bizarre and unbelievable and doesn’t really work.
 

Despite this, the performances are strong and save the movie from being a complete disaster. Carlyle is enjoyable and comic as the lead character while Emma Thompson is amusing and believable as an older Glasgow woman. Ray Winstone performs well and James Cosmo is a good supporting cast member.
 

The film was pleasant enough to watch, but would likely have been terrible without its gold standard group of cast members. Overall it was disappointing.
 

Reviewed by Lesley Logan

  

Jurassic World ****

images

 

Run Time: 124 mins.        Cert: 12A

 

Synopsis: Twenty two years after the events of the original film took place, “Jurassic World” is a popular holiday resort and theme park based on the island. When two young boys go to visit their aunt for the weekend, they are given a scary and eventful experience.

 

At the beginning of the movie Zach (Nick Robinson) and Gray (Ty Sympkins) set off to spend the weekend with their aunt Claire (Bryce Dallas Howard), who is the operations manager of the Jurassic World theme park. When they arrive, they are left to explore the resort with Claire’s assistant (Katie McGrath) while she meets with her boss and various other people involved in the park’s development. As the day progresses, an unpredictable creature escapes and the fate of the parks and its guests is uncertain.

 

“Jurassic World” could easily have been a reboot, but the story is well structured and entertaining with the plot being more modern and the characters different from those in the original. While there are times when events are a bit all over the place, particularly in the final 30 minutes, there is a good mix of comedy, drama and suspense that will keep the audience interested.

 

The film features some great performances. Chris Pratt is both likeable and comic as dinosaur expert Owen while Bryce Dallas Howard gives a believable performance as the vain and ambitious manager. Ty Sympkins and Nick Robinson also shine in the movie with their realistic portrayal of the relationship between brothers while Irrfan Khan is hilarious as the park’s eccentric owner.

 

The effects in the movie are great, particularly in 3D IMAX. The creatures look real and the scenes in which the characters are on attractions make the viewer feel like they are on the rides with them.

 

While the movie is not completely flawless, it is an enjoyable sequel that will likely appeal to the whole family.

 

Reviewed by Lesley Logan

Spy ****

 Run Time: 120mins Cert: 15

Synopsis: A desk-bound CIA analyst Susan Cooper (McCarthy) volunteers to be a field agent in order to find a nuclear bomb.
 

Melissa McCarthy is a great comedienne but the choices she has made for her film career have been questionable at best. For every Bridesmaids there is The Heat. Thankfully if this James Bond style spoof is anything to go by she is back on track.
 

She reunites with the Director of her previous movies Paul Feig who has also wrote the script. Feig understands that she works better when bouncing off other actors. Here he has hired Jude Law as a suave secret agent, Peter Serafinowicz as a sex obsessed Italian agent, Rose Byrne as a mobster’s daughter and Miranda Hart as her goofy best friend and colleague.
 

It pains to say it but Jason Statham’s exaggerating hot head spy steals the show. His comic timing is surprising and the deadpan delivery makes his character the funniest aspect of the film. After years of doing bland lifeless action pieces, the promise he showed in Guy Ritchie’s Snatch returns with this performance. Just goes to show that he is a better comedian.
 

The look & feel of the film is very much inspired by the camp cult classic, Casino Royale. Like that film, the strongest characters are the ladies, while the men are seen as inefficient and idiotic buffoons.
 

As would be expected of Feig, the direction and timing of the comedy are spot on, mix that with thrilling action scenes and the end result is something that is highly entertaining. Not only that but he has made bland actors Law and Statham more impressive and funny.
 

Feig’s next project with McCarthy is the female reboot of Ghostbusters. If this is anything to go by then this new version has suddenly become a lot more anticipated.
 

Reviewed by Paul Logan

 

Tomorrowland ***

Today

Run Time: 130 mins              Cert: PG

Synopsis: After finding a collectors’ pin, a teenage girl finds herself transported to a futuristic place. 

 

The movie begins in 1964 when a young boy named Frank invents a jetpack which he takes to the New York World’s Fair. After being sent packing by David Nix (Hugh Laurie) he is given a pin by a little girl called Athena (Raffi Cassidy) and finds himself in a futuristic place called Tomorrowland. 50 years later, teenager Casey Newton (Britt Robertson) has a similar sequence of events occur and, along with Athena, seeks out the now middle aged Frank (George Clooney) to find answers.

 

The film is very different from what the trailer suggested. The first part of the story is a bit slow and the audience may feel it takes too long to get to the point. That said, once it gets going the movie is entertaining and has a number of interesting twists. Nothing is as it initially appears and the viewers are kept in suspense.

 

Both the lead actors give great performances, with Clooney being both entertaining and believable as a grumpy disenchanted man. Britt Robertson is slightly over the top but very likeable as the smart and optimistic Casey, while Raffi Cassidy is a joy to watch as Athena. Although Hugh Laurie gives a reasonably good performance, he is under utilised and more could have been done with his character during the movie.

 

The movie is nicely shot with effects that look spectacular on the big screen. While “Tomorrowland” is modern and has aspects aimed at younger viewers, the effects also give it a retro feel that will likely appeal to more mature members of the audience.

 

While “Tomorrowland” is a fun movie with a positive vibe, its slow start and the lack of screen time given to Hugh Laurie are the main things that let it down.

 

Reviewed by Lesley Logan