First-time director Owen Harris boldly attempts a comedy even blacker than American Psycho or Filth with this 1990s Britpop satire, but he never quite gets the tone right. Based on the bestselling novel by John Niven (who also wrote the screenplay), the film lacks a single character the audience can identify with or root for. And since it's impossible to care about the slimy anti-hero, the movie ends up merely feeling mean-spirited.
The slimeball at the centre is Steven (Nicholas Hoult), an A&R man at Unigram Records at the peak of Britpop in 1997. He's had a run of hot new artists, and doesn't let his loathing of pop music slow him down, tormenting his assistant Rebecca (Georgia King), his faithful scout Darren (Craig Roberts) and his matey colleague Roger (James Corden). He's also so determined to get a promotion that he takes things to violent extremes, then becomes even more annoyed when the job goes to his hated rival Antony (Tom Riley). So now all he has left is the search for another vile musician he can turn into the next big thing.
The film has a sleek, snaky energy to it that nicely recreates the cut-throat atmosphere of the period. And Niven has a lot to say about how the music business abuses truly talented artists while promoting inept stars like Steven's aspiring girl band Songbirds. Essentially, this film is a full-on assault on a British society where self-absorbed jerks climb the corporate ladder because they're ambitious, not because they're actually good at anything. The one sense of balance in the story comes from a cop (Edward Hogg), who's investigating a murder but really wants Steven to help him launch his own musical career. In other words, the film is shouting its themes at the top of its voice, rather than letting them hit the target with quiet precision.
Continue reading: Kill Your Friends Review
It's the mid 90's and the music scene in the UK is booming. Excess is the word of the decade and the music industry runs on a steady supply of drugs, booze and huge amounts of money. Steven Stelfox is a young A&R manager at one of London's biggest labels but in reality it's quite by chance that he's made it. It's a dog-eat-dog industry and when your ideas run out there's a good chance you'll be cast aside. Not wishing to be the next for the chopping block, Stelfox takes his career ambitions to a whole new level. How well would you survive when even your friends are your enemies?
Since its release in 2008, John Niven's book 'Kill Your Friends' has become a cult classic. Niven himself had worked at many record labels and inspired some of the themes behind the story. Whilst the story is fiction and no one was actually killed, many people in the industry draw many parallels to what actually happened during those years.
Fans of romantic fiction may enjoy this gimmicky comedy, which cleverly plays around with Jane Austen's fiction but kind of misses its own joke. The screenwriters seem to think they're combining sudsy fantasy with darker realism. But actually everything on screen is plainly ridiculous, only livened up by a couple of the actors.
The story starts in America, where Jane (Russell) is so obsessed with Austen's novels that she's sure Mr Darcy is coming for her any day now. So she spends her savings on a holiday at Austenland in England, where Mrs Wattlesbrook (Seymour) lets her clients live as if they're in a 19th century novel. Jane's only fellow guests are Elizabeth and Amelia (Coolidge and King), both of whom flirt shamelessly with Nobley, Andrews and East (Feild, Callis and Whittle), the actors on hand to play dashing bachelors. But Jane is more interested in sexy stable boy Martin (McKenzie).
As the script strains to layer romance and fantasy into this goofy set-up, there are a few snappy one-liners that get us laughing, thanks mainly to the expert improvisation skills of Coolidge, who can make anything funny. By contrast, Russell is annoyingly naive and sulky, while King tips the opposite way into broad farce. The men are more interesting because we occasionally get to see them as the actors they really are, but none of them are very complex, and we can guess where the story is going from the start.
Continue reading: Austenland Review
Jane Hayes has, what some might say, an unhealthy obsession with Jane Austen's novels and all things from the Regency era. She's infatuated with Mr. Darcy from 'Pride and Prejudice' - of whom she has a cardboard cut-out portrayed by Colin Firth from the 1995 Emmy winning BBC series - and has filled her bedroom with all manner of Austen-themed memorabilia. After discovering an ultimate Austen experience in England, she puts all her life savings into making the trip there, immersing herself completely in the Regency style excursion and finding her Mr. Darcy. However, it soon becomes clear that living without modern amenities is almost unthinkable and the paradise she imagined is far from bliss. Although she starts to contemplate that she may have wasted all her life savings, she does meet a potential love interest, though he may not be what she was looking for.
Continue: Austenland Trailer
The craziness starts when a construction crew opens a 500-year-old plague pit, unleashing flesh-chomping zombies. Oblivious to this, brothers Terry and Andy (Hardiker and Treadaway) are planning to rob a bank to get the cash to save their grandfather's nursing home, which is under threat from a property developer. Their team includes a safecracker (Ryan), a gun nut (Thomas) and a loyal idiot (Doolan), but their badly planned heist is derailed when they run into the undead. Now their goal is to rescue Granddad (Ford) and his pals (including Blackman, Briers and Sutton).
Continue reading: Cockneys Vs Zombies Review
On St Swithin's Day, 15th July, in 1988, Emma (Hathaway) meets Dexter (Sturgess). Both are university students in Edinburgh, and there's a clear spark between them, but circumstances prevent them from becoming a couple. The years pass. Dexter moves from being an annoying TV host to a chef and has a daughter with Sylvie (Garai). Meanwhile, Emma has a career as a teacher and maintains an unsatisfying relationship with Ian (Spall). And they keep running into each other along the way, wondering what might have happened - and may yet happen - if they got together.
Continue reading: One Day Review
As Fernanda enters her final year at Tanner Hall, a rundown boarding school in New England, she is met by some surprising changes within her group of peers. A friend from her childhood joins the school. Victoria, an alluring trouble causer brings a whole new challenge to her school.
Continue: Tanner Hall Trailer
Working as a Chalet girl isn't as easy as some people might think. Kim is a nineteen year old girl who's just been given a big break and offered the chance to work in the Alps as a chalet girl, Cooking, cleaning and basically attending to her employer's families every need are just some of her daily chores.
With absolutely no experience Kim might be out of her depth but stumbles through the first couple of days looking after businessman Richard Masden and his family, however she finally finds her feet. There might be hard work to do but there's also a whole load of fun to be had, suddenly propelled into a world of money and parties Kim quickly becomes accustomed to her new way of life and also finds herself falling for the bosses son Jonny, just two problems stand in her way; his mother and his girlfriend!
Running time: 92 mins
Starring: Felicity Jones, Ed Westwick, Tamsin Egerton, Ken Duken, Sophia Bush, Bill Bailey, Brooke Shields, Bill Nighy, Georgia King, Tom Goodman-Hill, Nicholas Braun and Abbie Dunn
Directed by Phil Traill
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