Tag Archives: Comedy

Lies. Betrayal. Murder. Just Another Day In The Music Industry

The latest movie that the wife and I watched here in the shadows was the feature film directorial debut from Owen Harris of the comedy crime thriller from 2015 titled “Kill Your Friends”.

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John Niven - Kill Your Friends
John Niven – Kill Your Friends

The screenplay was penned by Scottish writer John Niven and was based on his debut novel, published in 2008, also titled “Kill Your Friends”. The book was apparently inspired by Niven’s short career in A&R within the music industry, during which it seems that he passed up on the opportunity to sign both Muse and Coldplay to the record label that he worked for.

Nicholas Hoult
Nicholas Hoult

Set in 1997 and based mainly in London -during the Britpop era – Steven Stelfox (Nicholas Hoult – “Equals”, “Dark Places”) works for Unigram Records in the company’s A&R department. He is ambitious for success and eager to become head of department when a vacancy arises.

Georgia King
Georgia King

However, he is generally disinterested in and dismissive of the actual music, fond of throwing demo CDs straight into the bin and throwing records at the wall, he is just interested in what is going to be the next big hit. His secretary Rebecca (Georgia King – “Cockneys Vs Zombies”, “Austenland”) gives him some recommendations but finds that they are routinely ignored.

James Corden
James Corden

Fellow A&R man Roger Waters (James Corden – “Gavin & Stacey”, “The Lady In The Van”) is also in the frame for the vacancy, so Steven decides that he must take extreme measures to ensure that it is he, and not Roger, who lands the job.

Tom Riley
Tom Riley

Things become more challenging for Steven when the head of the label brings in Parker Hall (Tom Riley – “St. Trinian’s 2 : The Legend Of Fritton’s Gold”, “I Want Candy”) from a rival label to head up the A&R team.

Joseph Mawle, Nicholas Hoult & Craig Roberts
Joseph Mawle, Nicholas Hoult & Craig Roberts

Steven and his colleagues, who include James Trellick (Joseph Mawle – “The Hallow”, “The Awakening”) and scout Darren (Craig Roberts – “Submarine”, “22 Jump Street”), spend a huge amount of time getting completely off their faces whilst desperately trying to figure out who to sign – and equally who not to – to get that elusive hit and avoid being fired.

Georgia King & Edward Hogg
Georgia King & Edward Hogg

Having to deal with inquisitive policeman DC Woodham (Edward Hogg – “Jupiter Ascending”, Indian Summers”, who is also a frustrated musician and Rebecca’s own ambitions give Steven even more to try and navigate his way through…

Nicholas Hoult
Nicholas Hoult

To say more would be to give away too much of the plot of the film. Suffice to say that, despite generally poor reviews, we found the movie to be good fun. There is plenty of humour, lots of it rather black, plenty of swearing and bad behaviour too.

Craig Roberts, Georgia King, Nicholas Hoult, Joseph Mawle & Tom Riley
Craig Roberts, Georgia King, Nicholas Hoult, Joseph Mawle & Tom Riley

The soundtrack, which includes the likes of The Prodigy, Radiohead, Blur, The Chemical Brothers and Oasis, is superb and really helps to pin the film down to the era in which it is set – I thought that the scene making use of Radiohead’s “Karma Police” was particularly effective. Hoult was impressive as the main character / narrator, but was ably supported by a decent ensemble cast. Well worth watching!…

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For The Virgins Of Rainmouth, Things Are Going To Get Hairy!

Horror comedy time last night with the 2012 film directed by Andy De Emmony (“West Is West”, “Score”) called “Love Bite”.

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Ed Speleers
Ed Speleers

Jamie (Ed Speleers – “Howl”, “Eragon”) is a teenager living in the seaside town of Rainmouth-on-Sea, working in his alcoholic mother Natalie’s (Kierston Wareing – “Bonded By Blood”, “The Holding”) guest house.

Luke Pasqualino, Ed Speleers
Luke Pasqualino, Daniel Kendrick, Ed Speleers & Robin Morrissey

Jamie and his mates Kev (Luke Pasqualino – “The Musketeers”, “The Apparition”), Spike (Daniel Kendrick – “The Riot Club”, “Party Party”) and Bruno (Robin Morrissey – “Fracture”, “Cloud Atlas”) are mainly interested in trying to get laid, but none of them are exactly a hit with the ladies.

Jessica Szohr
Jessica Szohr

This changes for Jamie when sexy American blog writer Juliana (Jessica Szohr – “Gossip Girl”, “Piranha 3D”) shows up at a party the boys have blagged their way into one night. He is instantly smitten, but is confused when Juliana keeps disappearing suddenly and more so when a mysterious new guest at the hotel, Sid (Timothy Spall – “Wake Wood”, “Vanilla Sky”) warns him off Juliana.

Timothy Spall
Timothy Spall

Making a mess of things with Juliana, fending off the official attentions of police Sgt. Rooney (Robert Pugh – “The Last Legion”, “The Ghost”) and the unwanted advances of the policeman’s daughter Alicia (Rosie Sansom – “Scott & Bailey”, “Doctors”) and a middle-aged woman at the guest house, things take a turn for the strange when young locals including his friend Bruno start to vanish.

Robert Pugh
Robert Pugh

Jamie is told by Sid that there is a werewolf on the prowl every full moon that only targets virgins – which includes Jamie himself. This makes Jamie’s desire to lose his virginity stronger. But that suddenly becomes more difficult than ever!…

Generally this film seems to have received pretty poor reviews, which I think is a shame. A kind of cross between “The Inbetweeners” and “An American Werewolf In London”, there is no gore in this movie but plenty of juvenile humour.

Perhaps it’s the inner teenager in me that found this film funny, I guess you’d have to say the same about my wife who also found it most funny and entertaining. There are much worse ways you could spend 91 minutes, that’s for sure. Definitely worth a watch if the humour of “The Inbetweeners” appeals to you…

Tomorrow’s Men? They Take The “P” Out Of Polls And Politics

Looking at a just-watched but rather old comedy film today. Released at the tail end of 1970, “The Rise And Rise Of Michael Rimmer” was directed by Kevin Billington (“Reflections”, “Voices”) and devised by David Frost (“Futtocks End”, “That Was The Week That Was”).

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Peter Cook
Peter Cook

Michael Rimmer (Peter Cook – “Bedazzled”, “Monte Carlo Or Bust!”) walks into Fairburn Advertising Design Services, a badly performing advertising agency, one day and introduces himself to the manager, Ferret (Arthur Lowe – “Dad’s Army”, The Lady Vanishes”), as being from “co-ordination”.

Arthur Lowe
Arthur Lowe

Ferret clearly has no idea who he is, and is rather more interested in his voluptuous secretary Tanya (Valerie Leon – “Blood From The Mummy’s Tomb”, “The Spy Who Loved Me”) to take much notice anyway.

John Cleese
John Cleese

Ferret and his colleagues, including ballroom dancing enthusiast Pumer (John Cleese – “Monty Python & The Holy Grail”, “Die Another Day”), assume that Rimmer must be conducting a time and motion study and all try desperately to look busy whenever he appears.

Dennis Price
Dennis Price

When Rimmer reports to the company’s owner Fairburn (Dennis Price – “School For Soundrels”, “Tower Of Evil”) – who also seems unsure of who Rimmer is or what he’s doing – he manages to get Ferret demoted and steadily begins to take control of the company.

Denholm Elliott
Denholm Elliott

Enlisting the aid of Peter Niss (Denholm Elliott – “The Vault Of Horror”, “Raiders Of The Lost Ark”) from a rival company, Rimmer turns the business into a wildly successful polling company, and makes numerous TV appearances as a polling expert.

Ronald Fraser
Ronald Fraser

Moving into politics he advises the Tory leader of the opposition, Tom Hutchinson (Ronald Fraser – “The Wild Geese”, “Scandal”) before becoming an MP himself. With the General Election approaching and an eye on the job of Prime Minister, Rimmer sets about marrying showjumper Patricia Cartwright (Vanessa Howard – “Some Girls Do”, “Corruption”), one of the most popular ladies in the country – according to his polls – to cement his position. But just how far is Rimmer prepared to go?…

Vanessa Howard
Vanessa Howard

Written by Cook, Cleese, Billington and Graham Chapman (who also appears in the film as an executive from a humbug manufacturer) the film was ready for release in 1969 but held back until after the 1970 General Election which ironically mirrored the movie in having a surprise victory for the Tory party – how much better would it have been for the film to hit the streets prior to that election?!

Valerie Leon
Valerie Leon

There are some very funny moments in the film, some rather risqué ones (such as Lowe’s opening scene with Leon and Rimmer’s new ad campaign for the humbugs), and some nice in-jokes (a Nazi swastika on a file behind “Dad’s Army” star Lowe and Rimmer’s constituency being called Budleigh Moor, surely a reference to Cook’s long-term comedy partner Dudley Moore).

Peter Cook
Peter Cook

The film could also be viewed as somewhat prophetic too in the way it portrays the cynical nature of modern politics where image and presentation are more important that policy and content.

Lowe is brilliant in his role, particularly funny when drunk, and most of the cast do a decent enough job, though Cook himself seems rather wooden. Nonetheless there’s enough here to keep you entertained for an hour and a half. Overall, I’d say that this is an under appreciated gem…d220aa2c-9727-47e0-a34e-3878463e2e05

He Was A Cold War Spy… Or Was He?

An old British spy comedy was today’s viewing. From director Ralph Thomas (“Deadlier Than The Male”, “The 39 Steps”), the 1964 release is titled “Hot Enough For June”.

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Lionel Davidson - Night Of Wenceslas
Lionel Davidson – Night Of Wenceslas

Loosely based on the 1960 spy novel “The Night Of Wenceslas” by British author Lionel Davidson, the movie was also known as “Agent 8¾” in the US.

The film opens with Roger Allsop (John Le Mesurier – “The Italian Job”, “Dad’s Army”) passing over the belongings of a deceased agent, which are put into a locker marked “007”. Allsop and his boss, Colonel Cunliffe (Robert Morley – “Theatre Of Blood”, “Murder At The Gallop”) then discuss the need to find someone to send behind the Iron Curtain to collect something.

Robert Morley & John Le Mesurier
Robert Morley & John Le Mesurier

Meanwhile an unemployed author, Nicholas Whistler (Dirk Bogarde – “Accident”, “A Bridge Too Far”), is sent by the employment exchange to an interview for what he believes to be a trainee executive role with a glass company with Cunliffe.

Dirk Bogarde
Dirk Bogarde

To his great surprise Whistler is given the job and sent off to Pargue in communist Czechoslovakia where he is to make contact with someone at the glass factory there and return to London with the information that he is given.

Sylva Koscina
Sylva Koscina

Upon arrival Whistler is provided with a driver, Vlasta Simoneva (Sylva Koscina – “Deadlier Than The Male”, “The Last Roman”), who also acts as his guide. Whistler is instantly attracted to Simoneva and does his best to seduce her, little realising that she is a secret police agent.

Sylva Koscina & Dirk Bogarde
Sylva Koscina & Dirk Bogarde

How long will it be before Whistler realises that he is working for the British intelligence services and will he be able to complete his mission even though everyone else seems to know more about what it is than he does?…

Dirk Bogarde & Sylva Koscina
Dirk Bogarde & Sylva Koscina

Although this isn’t a comedy film filled with laughs, it certainly has a light-hearted approach to the spy genre, aided by that introductory tip of the hat to the quintessential British spy James Bond. Bogarde plays his role superbly with a mixture of bemusement and, later on, determination whilst Koscina adds the obligatory glamour.

Not an essential film, but still an entertaining way to while away and hour and a half on a quiet afternoon…hot_enough_for_june

Always Bring Protection

Last night my wife and I were in the mood for a bit of comedy so decided to check out the recent comedy horror film “Scouts Guide To The Zombie Apocalypse” from director Christopher Landon (“Burning Palms”, “Paranormal Activity : Marked Ones”).

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Blake Anderson
Blake Anderson

The janitor at a scientific facility, Ron (Blake Anderson – “Dope”, “Bad Neighbours”), is gradually making his way around the building when, with the scientist out of a room, a mishap with a mysterious patient unleashes an unexpected viral plague.

David Koechner
David Koechner

Meanwhile, in a high school, Dolly Parton mega-fan Scout Leader Rogers (David Koechner – “Cheap Thrills”, “Piranha 3DD”) is giving a presentation to try to recruit new members to his scout troop. With him are scout members Ben Goudy (Tye Sheridan – “Dark Places”, “The Stanford Prison Experiment”), typically sex-obsessed Carter Grant (Logan Miller – “Shadow Walkers”, “The Stanford Prison Experiment”)  and nerdy Augie Foster (newcomer Joey Morgan). As usual they gain precisely no new recruits.

Ben Goudy
Tye Sheridan, Joey Morgan & Logan Miller

Carter and Ben are having doubts about remaining scouts with junior year coming up, worried that they will be unable to attract the opposite sex. The pair are due to camp out overnight, with Augie and Scout Leader Rogers, in order for Augie to receive his Condor Badge and en-route Ben hits a deer with his car.

Halston Sage
Halston Sage

Carter’s sister Kendall (Halston Sage – “Goosebumps”, “Poker Night”) turns up with some friends and he manages to get details of a secret party taking place that night which his crush Chloe (Niki Koss – “Stepdaughter”, “The Appearing”) will be attending. While Ben is talking to Kendall the dead deer mysteriously vanishes from the road.

Reaching the campsite and finding Augie but no Scout Leader Rogers, Carter persuades Ben to sneak away when it’s dark to go to the party.

Logan Miller, Ben Goudy  Elle Evans
Logan Miller, Tye Sheridan & Elle Evans

Stopping off to buy beer they see that the doorman from the strip club opposite is absent and decide to sneak into the club where Ben and Carter watch one of the dancers Amber (Elle Evans – “Muse”, “The Love Witch”) entranced until they suddenly realise that she’s a zombie!

Sarah Dumont
Sarah Dumont

He and Carter make their escape, together with a cocktail waitress from the club, Denise Russo (Sarah Dumont – “Don Jon”, “Oh, You Pretty Things!”), who is handy with a shotgun thanks to a gun-obsessed ex-boyfriend.

Before long this unlikely trio, together with Augie, find themselves fighting marauding zombies appearing from all directions whilst all the while trying to get to the party in time to save Kendall and friends…

Tye Sheridan, Joey Morgan, Logan Miller  Sarah Dumont
Tye Sheridan, Joey Morgan, Logan Miller & Sarah Dumont

I would imagine that the target demographic for this film is mainly teenagers, and probably male ones at that, given the general level of humour and sexual references dotted throughout the movie. That said, both of us found a lot of the film very funny and there were some inventive sight gags – often in the background of a scene – which we felt gave a nice twist on the usual zombie theme.

No, it’s not big or particularly clever, and there do seem to be millions of zombie films around of late, but sometimes you just need to be entertained and have a good laugh – and this film delivers really well on both of those fronts. Recommended…

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She’d Love To Kill Him – And Kill… To Love Him!

Taking it easy this morning I dug out an old Italian sci-fi / action / comedy film. Released in 1965 and originally titled “La Decima Dittima”, the movie was directed by Elio Petri (“Investigation Of A Citizen Above Suspicion”, “The Assassin”) and re-titled “The 10th Victim”.

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Robert Sheckley - The 10th Victim
Robert Sheckley – The 10th Victim

Set in a not-too-distant future, the film is loosely based upon a 1953 short story by American writer Robert Sheckley called “Seventh Victim”. Following the film adaptation the author used the movie as a basis for a revised and expanded version of is story for a film tie-in novelisation.

The film itself opens with a narrated explanation of “The Big Hunt”. This is an officially sanctioned game that has been developed in order to avoid large-scale warfare by giving people with the wish to kill the opportunity to do so by joining the game. Each participant signs up for ten rounds of the hunt. The must be the hunter in five rounds and the hunted in five. In the unlikely event that they get through the ten rounds a surviving competitor would gain $1 million and be able to retire from the game. To complicate matters the hunter is given complete information about the person that they are tasked with hunting, the victim is given no information on who is pursuing them and must try to survive by outwitting and then killing their hunter.

Ursula Andress
Ursula Andress

A man is seen pursuing a dark-haired woman through the streets of New York, shooting at her, eventually following her into a nightclub.

Ursula Andress
Ursula Andress

The woman seems to have disappeared and the man becomes entranced by a blonde dancer wearing an interesting silver outfit and mask. It becomes clear that this is the same woman, Caroline Meredith (Ursula Andress – “Dr. No”, “She”), and she dispatches with bullets shot from her bra (no doubt inspiration for the fembots in the “Austin Powers” movie by Mike Myers. We learn that this was Caroline’s ninth hunt, and that she will be the hunter for her tenth hunt.

Marcello Mastroianni
Marcello Mastroianni

Meanwhile, at an equestrian event Marcello Poletti (Marcello Mastroianni – “La Dolce Vita”, “Marriage Italian Style”) is in the role of hunter, killing his victim by concealing explosives in their riding boots.

Ursula Andress & Marcello Mastroianni
Ursula Andress & Marcello Mastroianni

Naturally, Caroline’s victim on her tenth hunt is to be Marcello. She wastes no time in tracking him down and making herself known to him, posing as a TV reporter wanting to interview him for a live TV show. The hunt is big business in the media, providing entertainment for the masses, and so she has secured sponsorship from Ming Tea for the TV show, which is to be broadcast from the Temple of Venus in Rome. Incidentally Ming Tea was also used as a name for a rock group in “Austin Powers”!

Ursula Andress & Marcello Mastroianni
Ursula Andress & Marcello Mastroianni

Marcello is drawn to Caroline despite feeling that she could be his hunter, and Caroline herself is also attracted to Marcello. Nonetheless, the pair continue their cat and mouse manouvering, each trying to gain the upper hand, all leading to an unexpected climax in front of the TV cameras…

An ahead of its time comment on reality TV and the voyeuristic nature of the media, the film also looks at death being reduced to a commodity to promote various corporations’ products. Whether you take on board the social commentary or just view it as a very cool looking, fairly light-hearted (despite the underlying morality issues) sci-fi tale, I would certainly recommend this film for watching.5157WdEZz2L._SL

Evil Is Coming…

Last night we watched a great independent movie from New Zealand. Written and directed by newcomer Jason Lei Howden, the film is a horror comedy called “Deathgasm”.

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Milo Cawthorne
Milo Cawthorne

Brodie (Milo Cawthorne – “Blood Punch”, “Power Rangers R.P.M.”) is a heavy metal obsessed teenager who has to go and live with his Uncle, Aunt, and cousin when his widowed mother is put into a mental institution.

Colin Moy
Nick Hoskins-Smith, Colin Moy & Jodie Rimmer

Uncle Albert (Colin Moy – “Emperor”, “Orphans & Kingdoms”) and Aunt Mary (Jodie Rimmer – “Everything We Loved”, “Apron Strings”) are fundamentalist Christians and don’t take to well to Brodie’s life style, seeing him as a Satanist. To make matters worse, his cousin David (Nick Hoskins-Smith – “The Brokenwood Mysteries”) torments Brodie at every available opportunity, especially at school.

Sam Berkley
Sam Berkley, Milo Cawthorne & Daniel Cresswell

Brodie does make a couple of friends at school in role-playing geeks Dion (Sam Berkley – “Jake”, “Go Girls”) and Giles (Daniel Cresswell – “3 Mile Limit”), who are also regular targets for David and his buddies.

Milo
James Blake & Milo Cawthorne

Visiting the local record shop to browse through the metal LPs, Brodie meets fellow metalhead Zakk (James Blake – “Hot Rob”), bonding over the albums they like – and their mutual disdain for false metal in the form of Poison!

Deathgasm
Sam Berkley, James Blake, Daniel Cresswell & Milo Cawthorne

Before long the pair have formed a band in Brodie’s Uncle’s garage with Dion and Giles, and come up with the delightful moniker of Deathgasm.

Stephen Ure
Stephen Ure

Zakk takes Brodie sneaking into a seemingly derelict house – which turns out to be the home of reclusive metal star Rikki Daggers (Stephen Ure – “Perfect Creature”, “The Hobbit”), leader of Haxansword, a cult band whose album is very rare and valuable.

The Manuscript
The Manuscript

When a mysterious suited man turns up Rikki gives them his copy of the record and they flee, only to discover when they get home that there is a different record inside the sleeve. They also discover an old handwritten manuscript inscribed in Latin within the album sleeve.

Sam Berkley, James Blake, Daniel Cresswell & Milo Cawthorne
Sam Berkley, James Blake, Daniel Cresswell & Milo Cawthorne

Later Deathgasm don corpse paint and head off into the woods to shoot a video for their song “Intestinal Bungy Jump”, which is one of many really funny scenes in the movie.

Milo Cawthorne Kimberley Crossman
Milo Cawthorne & Kimberley Crossman

Afterwards it becomes clear that David’s girlfriend Medina (Kimberley Crossman – “Shortland Street”, “#TheAssignment”) is taken with Brodie and they spend some time getting to know each other.

The Translation
The Translation

Brodie translates the Latin and realises that the music is a Black Hymn written with the aim of giving whoever plays it ultimate power and fortune. When he is later beaten up by David he persuades the band to play it – little realising that the music will also summon a demon named Aeloth The Blind One and turn the townsfolk into demonic zombies.

DeathgasmIt’s up to Brodie and his friends, together with Medina, to defeat the demon and the zombies before it’s too late!…

I absolutely loved this movie, from the opening credits onwards. There is loads of gore, tons of humour and just as much great heavy metal music on offer. Perfect for the teenage metalhead still stuck inside me somewhere. Some of the visual gags are inspired, such as when “Hail Satan” is written in napalm on the garden lawn, but misspelt as “Hail Satin”. Brilliant!

I could go on and on about this film, but at the end of the day you’d be much better off watching it than reading what I think! A superbly funny and gory film, and a future cult classic, methinks…

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Saving The World Never Goes Out Of Style

The other evening my wife and I caught the adventure comedy spy movie from director / co-writer Guy Ritchie (“Snatch”, “Sherlock Holmes”) recently released – “The Man From U.N.C.L.E.”.

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Henry Cavill
Henry Cavill

In 1963 former thief, now agent working for the CIA, Napoleon Solo (Henry Cavill – “Man Of Steel”, “Blood Creek”) is tasked with extracting the daughter of an alleged ex-Nazi scientist Udo Teller (Christian Berkel – “Anti-Social”, “Inglourious Basterds”) from East Berlin, from right under the noses of the KGB.

Armie Hammer & Alicia Vikander
Armie Hammer & Alicia Vikander

Having got the daughter, Gaby (Alicia Vikander – “Ex Machina”, “Seventh Son”), out Solo is then informed by his superiors that he must now work with Gaby and a KGB agent named Illya Kuryakin (Armie Hammer – “The Lone Ranger”, “The Social Network”) to track down Teller and prevent his employers using his knowledge to build a nuclear weapon.

Elizabeth Debicki & Luca Calvani
Elizabeth Debicki & Luca Calvani

The three head off to Rome, with Gaby and Kuryakin posing as an engaged couple, where they attend a racing event being hosted by Teller’s employers , Alexnader and Victoria Vinciguerra (Luca Calvani – “When In Rome”, “The International” and Elizabeth Debicki – “Macbeth”, “Everest”).

Henry Cavill & Elizabeth Debicki
Henry Cavill & Elizabeth Debicki

Naturally it’s not long before the Vinciguerras have their suspicions about Solo and Kuryakin and when Gaby reveals the pair’s true identities to Alexander and Solo falls into the hands of Victoria it looks like their fates may be sealed…

Hugh Grant
Hugh Grant

Hugh Grant (“Love Actually”, “Cloud Atlas”) pops up later in the film as British agent Alexander Waverly and ex-football legend David Beckham scores a minor role as a projectionist in an early scene.

Guy Ritchie & David Beckham
Guy Ritchie & David Beckham

Critical opinion seems to be split on the merits of this movie. For our part, we found it be great fun.

There are some great action sequences, with lots of humour thrown in to those scenes and to the dialogue. That’s not to say that it’s a spoof in the manner of “Get Smart”, more that it uses humour in a similar way to Roger Moore-era Bond movies – we saw parallels with animated TV series “Archer” too.

Elizabeth Debicki, Alicia Vikander, Henry Cavill, Armie Hammer & Hugh Grant
Elizabeth Debicki, Alicia Vikander, Henry Cavill, Armie Hammer & Hugh Grant

A good pairing, Cavill plays Solo in a calm and restrained manner and Hammer impresses as Kuryakin too. We did think that Debicki, whilst being a very cool customer, was rather too thin, but Vikander was bang-on as Gaby and Grant made the most of his time on-screen.

Armie Hammer, Alicia Vikander & Henry Cavill
Armie Hammer, Alicia Vikander & Henry Cavill

The locations looked good, the jazzy soundtrack fit the mood perfectly and the costume department did a fabulous job. Not as essential as Ritchie’s “Snatch” and “Lock, Stock And Two Smoking Barrels” to be honest, but this is still a very entertaining film. The ending sets it up perfectly for a sequel too…

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Matt Helm Is Back With More Guns, More Girls, More Dynamite!

Some time ago I watched an instalment of the Matt Helm series of films based on the books of Donald Hamilton, “The Wrecking Crew”. Today I caught the second movie in the series, “Murderers’ Row” from 1966.

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Donald Hamilton - Murderers' Row
Donald Hamilton – Murderers’ Row

The film was directed by Henry Levin (“Kiss The Girls And Make Them Die”, “The Ambushers”) and was based, however loosely, on Hamilton’s 1962 novel, also titled “Murderers’ Row”.

Following some suitably groovy titles featuring lots of red and pink and pictures of young women – kind of like a swinging sixties James Bond meets Austin Powers sequence – the action starts as Washington D.C. is destroyed by a heliobeam. Then the camera pulls away to reveal that it was a model being destroyed in a demonstration to show how the criminal organisation Bureau of International Government and Order (“Big O”) intends to harness the power of the sun within a matter of days.

Karl Malden
Karl Malden

With Intelligence Counter Espionage (“ICE”) having been infiltrated, Big O chief Julian Wall (Karl Malden – “A Streetcar Named Desire”, “Where The Sidewalk Ends”) orders that all ICE agents be killed.

Corinne Cole & Dean Martin
Corinne Cole & Dean Martin

After a number of agents are killed in various explosive ways photographer / agent Matt Helm (Dean Martin – “Who Was That Lady?”, “Kiss Me, Stupid”), busy shooting portraits for a calendar meets his fate at the hands of Miss January (Corinne Cole – “The Party”, “The Swinger”) in a bizarre tipping bed / indoor pool incident!

Matt's Wake
Matt’s Wake

After a wake at Matt’s local bar, which is filled with weeping women wearing black trench coats, hats and fishnets (naturally), we see his boss at ICE, MacDonald (James Gregory – “The Manchurian Candidate”, “The Silencers”), meet the not-so-dead-after-all Matt to discuss the inventor of the heliobeam, one Dr. Norman Solaris (Richard Eastham – “There’s No Business Like Show Business”, “That Darn Cat!”, who has disappeared without trace. Matt’s sent to Monte Carlo to begin investigations under the assumed name Jim Peters, where he is to team up with local contact Dominique.

Ann-Margret
Ann-Margret

When he arrives she is already dead and he meets Suzie (Ann-Margret – “Tommy”, “The Pleasure Seekers”), a friend of Dominique, by the swimming pool. Suzie says that Dominique is missing.

Dean Martin & Ann-Margret
Dean Martin & Ann-Margret

Before you know it she and Matt are cutting a rug on a nightclub dance floor. Well, it’s more a case of Suzie dancing while Matt wisecracks but it’s certainly a productive use of Ann-Margret’s visual talents(!).

Camilla Sparv
Camilla Sparv

Julian is also in Monte Carlo, with Coco Duquette (Camilla Sparv – “The Trouble With Angels”, “Downhill Racer”). They spot Matt coming out of Dominique’s apartment and send a killer, Ironhead (Tom Reese – “Vanishing Point”, “The Outfit”) after him. But police arrive at the nightclub to inform Suzie that Dominique has been murdered, all hell breaks loose and Matt is arrested for Dominique’s murder, with Julian, Coco and Suzie as witnesses!

Ann-Margret
Ann-Margret

Despite Julian’s insistence neither Coco or Suzie manage to identify Matt and he is set free. Meeting up later with a babydoll-clad Suzie, Matt discovers that she is Solaris’s daughter and that she is convinced that Coco is responsible for his disappearance.

Tom Reese
Tom Reese

Matt falls into the clutches of Julian and Coco and discovers that they do, indeed, have Dr. Solaris. Mistaking Matt for an American gangster Lash Petroni, Julian decides to use him to kill MacDonald and get rid of Suzie too. Matt manages to overpower Ironhead and make his escape but will he be able to save Suzie and her father, not to mention Washington D.C.?

Ann-Margret
Ann-Margret

Naturally things can’t be that simple, especially with more than half of the film still to go. Matt and Suzie have to survive any number of scenarios involving lots of bluffs and apparent double crosses – and several more costume changes for Ann-Margret – as Julian attempts to see Washington D.C.’s destruction…

Dean Martin
Dean Martin

When I wrote about “The Wrecking Crew” I said that it was “a light-hearted spy caper… full of gentle humour, action, hip and swinging 60s music, gadgets, explosions and hot chicks.” That is equally true of “Murderers’ Row”.

There’s plenty of opportunities for Martin to indulge in wisecracks and innuendo and lots of shots of Ann-Margret strutting her stuff with close-up shots of her anatomy, the filmmakers using her sexuality to full advantage, just as was the case with Sharon Tate in the aforementioned instalment.

Old fashioned, less than convincing visual effects, sexist etc. etc. Yes, the movie is all of these things, but if you enjoy tongue-in-cheek espionage spoofs from an era when practically all women fell for the hero at first sight it’s also great fun…murderers row 320x240

A Story About Boy Meets Bride

Watched a romantic comedy this morning. Released in 2014 and written and directed by Stelana Kliris (“Hope”, “The Fiddler”) the movie is titled “Committed”.

Committedposter

Orestes Sophocleous
Orestes Sophocleous

The film opens with George (Orestes Sophocleous – “The Bletchley Circle”) standing next to his vintage open-top Mercedes whilst having a terse conversation with his girlfriend on his mobile phone.

Cyrpus
Cyprus

George is clearly lost and unsure of his way around Cyprus, where the film is set. The cinematography is beautiful and really makes the best of the scenery and locations.

Orestes Sophocleous
Orestes Sophocleous

During his aimless drive through the countryside George – who we learn is having commitment issues with his aforementioned girlfriend and under pressure to propose – spots a woman walking alongside the road wearing a wedding dress, and offers her a lift.

Melia Kreiling
Melia Kreiling

The woman, we later learn is named Eva (Melia Kreiling – “Guardians Of The Galaxy”, “X Moor”), tells George that she is supposed to be getting married but isn’t sure she wants to go through with it.

The Puppy
The Puppy

So it is that the runaway bride joins George on his road trip and the pair travel around Cyprus exploring ideas of the true nature of love – is it a real emotion or is it a chemical reaction? – whilst encountering some goats and an abandoned puppy.

Melia Kreiling
Orestes Sophocleous & Melia Kreiling

It seemed obvious to me where the story would take us as soon as George met Eva, and I was almost right! There is, in fact, a twist in the tale – which to be fair is hinted at in the film’s title – which made this film less routine than it might otherwise have been.

Orestes Sophocleous
Orestes Sophocleous

For the vast majority of the movie there are just the two characters on screen – with George having various telephone conversations with girlfriend, best mate and mother – and for the most part they keep the viewer’s attention well. Sophocleous does a reasonable job as George, though is a little stilted at times, but Kreiling is far more assured in her role as Eva.

Melia Kreiling
Melia Kreiling

While not the best romantic comedy in the world, “Committed” is nonetheless an entertaining movie made on a small budget with funding raised through crowd-funding website indiegogo.com that makes a decent stab at presenting and exploring ideas of love and madness and, as I said, makes the most of the filming locations. Worth a viewing for sure…qDHcfp