Category Archives: Brit Flick

The Festival

The Festival (2018)

IMDB Synopsis

After Nick’s girlfriend dumps him, his best mate Shane has the perfect antidote to his break-up blues: three days at an epic music festival.

*Minor spoilers*

When Nick (Joe Thomas) gets dumped at graduation by his university girlfriend Caitlin (Hannah Tointon), he’s devastated. Luckily for him though, a good friend will never let you stay down for long – and Nick has Shane (the amazing Hammed Animashaun).

Shane insists that the pair head to the festival they both have tickets for, even if Caitlin and her posh friends will be there. He’s all about helping his friend over his heartbreak but he also has his own agenda – to see and hopefully meet his hero, DJ Hammerhead.

But things are never as easy as you want them to be and after meeting festival veteran Amy (Claudia O’Doherty) on the train, the trio are forced to make the rest of their journey by foot. Much to Nick’s disdain, Amy is a talker.

The festival poses its own set of challenges, not lease avoiding Nick’s ex and her new love interest. But you don’t think everything’s going to according to plan do ya? What follows is a raucous comedy of errors that lead our new friends on an adventure of a lifetime. Or at least a Summertime.

The Festival won’t change the world but it’s not the worst way to spend a couple of hours. It’s pretty standard Inbetweeners-style fare, maybe not as funny but it does have stand-outs in O’Doherty and Animashaun. Also a cameo from Jemaine Clement as Shane’s over-the-top step father, which doesn’t hurt.

As expected it’s quite fixated on bodily-fluids, awkward sex and bestiality so not the most sophisticated of feature films but I’m guessing nobody has bought a ticket expecting anything more (or less).

This isn’t my most detailed review of all time but there’s not really that much more to say. Will Shane get to meet his hero? With Nick get over his ex and by extension himself? If you can be bothered, you’ll see how it all turns out for yourself.

My Rating

3.5/5.

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society (2018)

Directed by: Mike Newell
Starring: Lily James, Michiel Huisman, Matthew Goode, Katherine Parkinson, Penelope Wilton

IMDB Synopsis

A writer forms an unexpected bond with the residents of Guernsey Island in the aftermath of World War II, when she decides to write a book about their experiences during the war.

Where: Odeon Brighton
When: Monday 30th April
Snacks: Macadamia and white chocolate cookies from Subway (#obsessed)

*Minor spoilers*

My Review

Somewhere, at some point I turned into a little old lady with a penchant for period dramas and particularly, films about books and book clubs. I put off seeing this momentarily because of the title. Honestly, it’s explained in the film but it is terrible and deeply unappealing. Which is a shame because this is a good movie, especially if you love the above things as I do.

It’s 1946 and Juliet Ashton (James) is a fairly successful author on the cusp of an exciting national tour. Her latest book is written under the pen name Izzy Bickerstaff and is a compilation of fun stories about life during WWII. She’s in a relationship with a wealthy American (Glen Powell) and has a dope best friend, her agent Sidney (Matthew Goode). One day she receives a letter from a stranger, Dawsey Adams (Huisman) who happens to have picked up a book Juliet used to own (and has inscribed with her name and previous address).

Somehow the book has found its way to Dawsey by way of his local book club – The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society (or TGLAPPPS). The society was formed on the hop a few years before the correspondence between Juliet and Dawsey begins. Guernsey at this point is/was occupied by the Germans and life is/was truly miserable for everyone on the island.

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The pen pals start to bond (who knew?) and it’s not long before Juliet and Dawsey are exchanging their stories. When Juliet invites herself to Guernsey to meet the group – and potentially write an article about them – she finds herself embroiled in all their lives, for better or worse.

Guernsey (fuck that title) is a soft and pretty period piece with a bite, thankfully. As Juliet unravels the truth about the book club and its members, she learns that things have not been easy as the years have passed by. The war has claimed many loved ones (not to mention Juliet’s own parents) and still has its claws in Elizabeth McKenna (Jessica Brown Findlay), a spirited idealist still being kept in a prisoner of war camp somewhere in Germany.

The film doesn’t shy away from some brutal scenes and this saves it from being too whimsical. Don’t get me wrong, there’s a lot of soft focus and fannying about Guernsey in dynamite frocks, damn you Lily James but it does have a slight edge.

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The romantic element is no surprise but it’s fun and photogenic – and sometimes that’s not a bad thing. As for talent, national treasure Penelope Wilton is ace as the prickly (and who can blame her) Amelia Maugery, the matriarch of the group who has lost almost everything to the war.

Katherine Parkinson’s hippy dippy Isola Pribby is also a delight and she lives in my actual dream home. James is a likeable leading lady too and although she’s incredibly wholesome, this did illustrate just how wasted she was in Baby Driver (a film not exactly celebrated for it’s female characterisation).

So I do recommend this nice film which could have just as easily been a BBC drama shown on a Sunday night (not a bad thing). Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to book a solo jaunt to Guernsey. It looks like actual Heaven.

My Rating

4/5.

Funny Cow

Funny Cow (2018)

Directed by: Adrian Shergold
Starring: Maxine Peake, Stephen Graham, Paddy Considine, Diane Morgan, Lindsey Coulson

IMDB Synopsis

A comedian uses her troubled past as material for her stand-up routine, trying to rise up through the comedy circuit by playing Northern England’s working men’s clubs.

Where: Duke’s @ Komedia
When: Tuesday 24th April, directly after Beast
Snacks: Homemade Victoria sponge cake, Cawston Press Rhubarb

*Minor spoilers*

My Review

Funny Cow isn’t really the comedy you’d expect. Shot through with tragedy and pain, it’s more a clawing to the top of the comedy game by way of a lifetime of disappointment, violence and regret.

Maxine Peake (one of the UK’s greatest treasures) plays the titular Funny Cow, a working class Northern lass dragged up with her brother by a troubled single mother following the passing of her violent father.

Her mother, in ‘present day’ is played by Eastender’s Carol Jackson (Coulson) which frankly feels like genius casting and the role of Funny Cow’s Mum is a poignant one. She’s all at once deeply frustrating and utterly vulnerable – you want to slap and protect her at the same time. And her scenes with Funny Cow are among the best.

As Funny Cow grows up and leaves home to starting building a nest of her own with her future husband, the years pass by in a flash and things are never quite as grand as she’d hoped. Trapped in a violent relationship that echoes that of her parents’, Funny has ideas above her station but little outlet to realise them. Not if her imposing husband Bob (Tony Pitts) has anything to do with it, either.

The years flutter by and Funny suffers punch after slap after kick at the hands of her so-called partner. One day she catches Lenny’s (Alun Armstrong) stand up routine at the local club and this drives her forward on her quest to perform comedy.

Lenny himself is an unlikely mentor, an old-skool blue comedian who tells Funny she’s better off removing her clothing than trying to be funny, because well, women aren’t. This somehow doesn’t put Funny off and the two develop an odd-companionship.

At one point Funny makes it to a talent contest under threat of a broken nose but when faced with an open mic and opportunity, she sadly freezes up. This doesn’t make the ensuing violence at Bob’s hand worth it but does finally give her the push she needs to leave him.

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Pretentious book seller Angus (Considine) is on hand to rescue this damsel in distress and things are better for a while, Funny moves into his grand home and they share a life free of violence and distress. But his apparent need to My Fair Lady her becomes unappealing and Funny finally goes out on her own, free from men and ready to embark on the career she wants.

I really loved this because of the central performances. Paddy Considine never lets me down and Peake is such a talented, nuanced actress. While Funny Cow leads a hard life, she never once presents as a victim. She’s a bit of a shit-stirrer actually, even from childhood and you get a sense at times that she’s trying to see the funny side of all of that turmoil, even enjoying it. There’s a scene where she visits her brother and his family, and simply relishes winding up his wife.

All of Funny Cow’s comedy stems from her own experiences (I guess as with most comedians) and while this film is unlikely to have you laughing out loud, it will cut straight to your heart-strings.

The violence is hard to stomach and some of the jokes told on the circuit come straight from the Bernard Manning school of comedy, so are offensive af and not funny at all but I found the conclusion really heart-warming as Funny Cow is able to offer closure to her mother and find a slice of peace for herself.

I liked.

My Rating

3.5/5.

Beast

Beast (2018)

Directed by: Michael Pearce
Starring: Jessie BuckleyJohnny FlynnGeraldine James

IMDB Synopsis

A troubled woman living in an isolated community finds herself pulled between the control of her oppressive family and the allure of a secretive outsider suspected of a series of brutal murders.

Where: Duke’s @ Komedia
When: Tuesday 24th April
Snacks: Latte, hallumi & pesto toasted sandwich on sourdough

*Minor spoilers*

My Review

Moll (Buckley) lives on a somewhat isolated Jersey island with a controlling and snobbish mother (James). There’s a distinct hint that she has something dark in her past that her family won’t let her forget but when we meet her she just seems lonely and over-shadowed by her perfect sister and her perfect life.

When Moll skips her own birthday party to go dancing in town, she inadvertently kick starts a series of events that will change the course of her life for good. All this to the back drop of a series of murders being committed on the island, which is even harder to stomach when you consider the tiny population. One of their own is raping and murdering girls – and it could be any one of them.

When Moll meets the hot but mysterious Pascal (Flynn), she feels as though all her Christmases have come at once. But their bliss does not last long before vicious rumours come out of the woodwork and she learns that he’s a person of interest in the killings. Could this be simple local hearsay or is there something more to it?

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I think what begs the question here is, what does that bring out in Moll herself? As she comes to her own conclusions about Pascal, she learns an awful lot about herself and her own motivations too. In many ways it’s an absolute joy to watch Moll rebel against the restrictive confines of her life, to witness her pissing off her family and stirring up shit. I caught myself a couple of times reminiscing about unhealthy yet fun flings I’ve had in the past that have been a terrible idea but made me feel alive at the time.

It’s a pretty intense ride and a dilemma I hope none of us ever find ourselves in, however it makes for a compelling movie. I really enjoyed this one, from the way it looked – the lighting is heavenly and the scenery utterly breathtaking – to the intensity of the did he/didn’t he plot as it unraveled.

The performances are great, particularly Jessie Buckley who demands your undivided attention and there’s no doubt that this is all about her. Pascal is a major part of her own self-discovery but the metaphor of the beast lies firmly with her.

Recommend.

My Rating

3.5/5.

 

Ghost Stories

Ghost Stories (2017)

Directed by: Andy NymanJeremy Dyson
Starring: Andy NymanMartin FreemanPaul WhitehouseAlex Lawther

IMDB Synopsis

Arch skeptic Professor Phillip Goodman embarks upon a terror-filled quest when he stumbles across a long-lost file containing details of three cases of inexplicable ‘hauntings’.

*Minor spoilers*

Man, I love me an anthology and this British horror ghost collection is no exception. It’s fucking weird though, which is hardly surprising given the involvement of The League of Gentleman co-writer Jeremy Dyson.

Skeptical Pro Goodman (Nyman) makes his living debunking all manner of supernatural goings on. If there’s a dodgy séance going on in a chilly church hall, he’ll be there to expose it for what it really is: a pile of steaming bull crap. Straight up, the Pro does not believe.

When he receives a mysterious summons from an old inspiration, he’s tasked with uncovering the so-called truth about three so far unexplained ghost sightings. These stories revolve around a night watchman (Whitehouse) in an abandoned asylum (what good could ever come of those words, I ask you?), a beastly haunting in the woods and a pesky poltergeist.

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Will these stories chill Goodman’s blood and turn his head forever – or will he see the strings and disprove them once and for all? Well…

I saw this early as part of Odeon cinema’s Scream Unseen and I was pretty stoked about it. Based on the stage play of the same name, also by Nyman and Dyson, it’s genuinely creepy in places. It’s also bat shit crazy and plays with structure, keeping the traditional format fresh.

Unlike most anthologies, it keeps things tight with no truly weak links. I think my favourite setting is the asylum (which comes down to personal taste) – and Paul Whitehouse blew me away as the rattled former night watchman who has no explanation for what he saw one fateful night.

We also meet Simon Rifkind (Lawther), a young man too scared to sleep after an altercation in the woods with something inhuman. Lawther to me is one of our best new actors, catching my attention in the deeply distressing Shut Up and Dance episode of Black Mirror and most recently in The End of the F***ing World. His Simon is borderline deranged and can you blame him?

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Lastly we spend time with banker (and new dad) Mike Priddle, who lives in a grand old house in the country. He tells the story of his own personal haunting and it’s a dozy, obviously.

Each of the segments display the sense of humour you’d expect from this team and the climax is pretty special. It might not be for everybody but I appreciate it for what it is – a ghost story that plans to stick in the mind, not fade from memory seconds after the credits roll.

I hope people will see this and love it. It’s just so nice to see something on the big screen that’s brings something new to the table. There are so many mediocre American horror films being churned out – sometimes you just need a little injection of something new.

My Rating

3.5/5.

Finding Your Feet

Finding Your Feet (2017)

Directed by: Richard Loncraine
Starring: Imelda Staunton, Celia Imrie, Timothy Spall, Joanna Lumley

IMDB Synopsis

On the eve of retirement a middle class, judgmental snob discovers her husband has been having an affair with her best friend and is forced into exile with her bohemian sister who lives on an impoverished inner-city council estate.

*Minor spoilers*

Some films are like hot baths, cups of cocoa and comfortable pants – they won’t set your world on fire but they will make you feel good. Finding Your Feet is like a hug from one of your mum’s friends, something you didn’t even know you needed at the time.

The day before her pompous politician husband retires, doting wife Sandra (Staunton) learns that he’s not quite as dedicated to their life as she is. This sets her into a tailspin and her only option is to flee to her sister’s home to gather her thoughts for a while.

Sandra is something of a snob though, accustomed to a grand lifestyle while her sister Bif (Imrie) is more bohemian in her attitudes and environment. Chalk and cheese if you will – it could never work! Except… sisterly love is a powerful thing and maybe, just maybe there’s life in the old dog yet.

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As our San reconnects with lovely Bif, she starts to get a glimpse of the woman she used to be and possibly, of the life she could still have. And while it takes a while for the ice to thaw around her broken heart, with the help of her new friends and a rag tag dance class, Sandra starts to regenerate.

It doesn’t hurt that charming Charlie (Spall) is part of her new crew and he’s got an eye for the feisty Sandra. But he has his own life issues – could new love really develop between these elderly love veterans? And what’s going on with free-spirited Bif?

Well, there’s only one way to find out I guess – get thee to the multiplex and treat yourself to a couple of scoops of rum & raisin while you find out for yourself (That is that the flavour silver surfers choose, right?).

While Finding Your Feet does not offer anything that new, it was lovely. I have thoughts about one of the story lines – I think the film could still have concluded with the same empowering message had it never happened. I also felt it was a cheap shot, designed purely to manipulate the heartstrings (yes it worked). Apart from that, the performances were top notch as expected (Joanna Lumley’s grey bob should have been credited at the end, it’s sublime) and it did exactly what I expected it to. Not a bad way to spend the best part of two hours on a Monday night.

Also, Timothy Spall: I would definitely date him.

My Rating

3.5/5.

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