An unusually intelligent black comedy, this British independent film takes the audience on a road trip that's packed with surprises. Darkly hilarious and deeply moving, the film somehow manages to avoid both cheap jokes and cloying sentimentality to tell a story that's genuinely entertaining and resonant. And as it travels the length and breadth of Great Britain, the film makes terrific use of its eclectic cast.
Grieving over the death of their close friend Dan (Jack Farthing), best pals Seph and Alex (Downton Abbey's Laura Carmichael and War & Peace's Chloe Pirrie) are shocked to get a video message from him instructing them to take an epic drive to scatter his ashes across the country. Seph is looking for a reason to get away from her cloying boyfriend (Joe Dempsie) and annoying boss (Sally Phillips), and Alex is reeling after catching her girlfriend (Eleanor Matsuura) with another woman. So they hit the road, heading first to Glastonbury, then to Cardiff, York and finally to Ben Lomond in Scotland. Along the way, Dan's videos guide them as they have a variety of small adventures.
Writer Charlie Covell and director Chanya Button are cleverly exploring the idea that we all need to confront the secrets we are keeping from each other. Dan never told anyone he was dying of cancer, so he's challenging Seph and Alex to open up in ways he never could, understanding that the truth brings catharsis. Carmichael and Pirrie make a terrific team in this sense, united by years of friendship but divided by their unspoken issues. The actresses bring a striking individuality to these roles that makes the characters both infuriating and loveable. And the key points in their journey are fiendishly clever. For example, Alex makes her big confession while actually hanging on a cross, standing in for an actor playing Jesus.
Continue reading: Burn Burn Burn Review
Luc Besson gleefully combines two of his favourite movie elements - fit women and wildly insane action - in this raucous guilty pleasure. It's almost as if he's trying to make his own version of Inception, but this is one of those films that only pretends to be brainy and existential. It's actually a slick, silly, improbable action romp. And it's a lot of fun.
The title refers both to the very first female and an American student (Scarlett Johansson) living in Taipei whose loser boyfriend (A Hijacking's Pilou Asbaek) ropes her into making a delivery to notoriously vicious crime boss Jang (Oldboy's Choi Min-sik). Grabbed by Jang's goons, she's forced to become a mule, with a kilo of experimental drugs implanted in her abdomen. When it bursts, the drug allows her to access much more than the 10 percent of the brain humans normally use. By the time she hits 20%, she can already control people and objects around her. And the percentage keeps climbing. So she heads to Paris to meet mental capacity expert Norman (Morgan Freeman) and figure out what to do. But Jang and his army of thugs are in hot pursuit, so she enlists a local cop (Syriana's Amr Waked) to help.
Besson doesn't like to hang around, so the film takes off like a shot, only barely pausing for breath in its brisk 89-minute running time. On-screen captions keep us updated on Lucy's brain capacity, and it's great fun seeing every advancement she makes on her way to 100%. This allows Besson to indulge in deliriously enjoyable mind-bending action sequences that play out like he's a kid with a giant set of very cool toys. Outrageous car chases, giant explosions and random epic shootouts fill the screen as Lucy expands her mind, begins to bend reality around her and transcends the limits of numbers and letters.
Continue reading: Lucy Review
If you could picture yourself as future Doctor Who this may just be of interest to you. The BBC have shared the very same script that they're using to audition the new Who!
Ever fancied yourself behind the controls to the TARDIS? This could be your chance: the audition script used by the BBC on the hunt for a new timelord has been published in Doctor Who magazine, giving us a glimpse of life after Matt Smith.
The BBC Are On The Hunt For A Matt Smith Successor.
It could be safe to say that producers aren't on the lookout for a female Doctor Who. Although no indication is given whether the regenerated doctor's gender is the same or not, Jenna Lee Coleman's Clara's lines aren't half as surprised as they would have been had producers planned for the Doc to reappear with boobs and the Doctor doesn't react to a more feminine sounding voice. Sorry Olivia Colman and Helen Mirren; it's probably not going to be you.
Remade from a 1966 romp starring Michael Caine and Shirley MacLaine, this con artist action-comedy is enjoyably silly but never much more than that. Part of the problem is a lack of chemistry between stars Colin Firth and Cameron Diaz, and the film focuses on goofy slapstick instead of a coherent plot. So we may chuckle along the way, but it's hard to be interested in anything that happens.
Firth is at the centre as Harry, a London art expert who has a score to settle with his arrogant billionaire boss Lionel (Rickman). So he sets up an elaborate scam involving a fake Monet painted by his talented pal Wingate (Courtenay). But they need the help of a sassy Texan, PJ (Diaz), to make it work, and she doesn't play along as Harry imagines she will. Soon she's flirting shamelessly with Lionel while Harry sneaks around in the background setting up the con and struggling to pay for her extravagant stay in the Savoy. Meanwhile, Lionel is trying to make a deal with a group of hard-bargaining Japanese businessmen.
While the Coen brothers' script bursts with absurd wit, Hoffman directs the film as a mindless farce, missing every chance for black comedy. From the animated Pink Panther-style titles, the tone is light and frothy, the characters are paper thin and the plot's convolutions never seem to amount to anything. Most of the big set-pieces are irrelevant asides, such as a half-hearted scene involving the lion that's featured far too prominently on the movie poster. Or a long sequence in which Firth cavorts around the Savoy without his trousers. It certainly doesn't help that Firth and Diaz never generate even a spark of attraction between them.
Continue reading: Gambit Review
Even the teen hormones that live in all us guys are squashed by this one. Jolie, trying to play our heroine Lady Lara Croft as sexy and supercool, just looks mildly amused by the goings-on. I half expected her to check her watch while on camera, searching for lunch or a better project. [Never underestimate crafty film editing. -Ed.]
Continue reading: Lara Croft: Tomb Raider Review
What's new in the music world this week?
'Sounds of Silence' was released on this day (January 17th) in 1966.
Listen to Alex Bayly performing 'Animal'.
Two weeks ahead of Independent Venue Week, Dry Cleaning made 'Britain's Best Small Venue 2015' (NME) the second port of call on their 2020 tour.
'Leave Home' was released on this day (January 10th) in 1977.
For their last gig of the year, The Libertines came back to their adopted hometown of Margate to finish off their latest tour.
Celebrating the birthday of David Bowie with his most legendary songs.
An unusually intelligent black comedy, this British independent film takes the audience on a road...
Luc Besson gleefully combines two of his favourite movie elements - fit women and wildly...
Remade from a 1966 romp starring Michael Caine and Shirley MacLaine, this con artist action-comedy...
The now-classic video game Tomb Raider is a geek boy's dream -- a hot heroine...