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
It's fairly obvious that the cast and crew began making this film with only the thinnest outline of a plot and characters, because the story feels like it was made up as they went along. The actors do a great job bringing out the absurd humour in their roles, but without a narrative to hold it together, the movie feels aimless.
It's set in rural Wales, where sisters Lisa and Claire (Sightseers' Alice Lowe and Doll & Em's Dolly Wells) steal a car belonging to a pair of poets and assume their identities so they can hide out at a beat poetry retreat. Lisa is desperate to find a man, and she locks onto the sexy Richard (Downton Abbey's Tom Cullen), a nice but very dim guy whose high-maintenance girlfriend Louise (Rosa Robson) arrives a bit later. The organisers Gareth and Stacey (Richard Elis and Laura Patch) take this small gang on a three-day hiking trip, during which their task is to write a poem for a competition. But everyone is more interested in making sure they're the centre of attention.
There are some great gags along the way, and some wonderfully awkward interaction as these people engage in a farcical amount of flirting and jealousy. Most of it rings false (why would the shark-like Louise fall for the dopey Richard?), but at least it gives the audience something to pay attention to as these goofy people roam around the countryside. Although since it's so freeform, it has no sense of momentum. Lowe and Wells are particularly good at creating characters like this on the fly, hinting at their deeper hopes and yearnings. And Cullen is genuinely adorable. But it's difficult to care what happens to any of these people. And the laughs are a bit too sparse to keep the viewers chuckling.
Continue reading: Black Mountain Poets Review
With an artful aesthetic that will please fans of ambitious independent filmmaking, this British drama struggles to match its lush imagery with an oddly simplistic script. Even as it addresses epilepsy with an insider's knowing perspective, the strong, fresh cast never gets to bring out much depth in the characters. Which leaves the movie feeling like little more than an exercise in whizzy camerawork and swirly editing.
It begins in Blackpool, where Lily (Agyness Deyn) is resolutely refusing to update her epilepsy meds, because the new ones make her feel fuzzy. But this means she has frequent seizures. And they only get worse after her mother dies. With help from her boss (Tom Georgeson), she tracks down her big brother Barry (Paul Anderson), who tells her he's planning to sell Mum's house and divide the cash between them. But Lily thinks their black-sheep brother Mikey (Christian Cooke) deserves his share, even though he disappeared four years ago. So she travels to London to find him, having key encounters with a homeless girl (Saffron Coomber), a kindly stranger (Lenora Crichlow) and eventually a sexy young man (Ben Batt) who may know where Mikey is.
The title refers to Lily's seizures, which she describes as an electrical explosion in her brain, and filmmaker Bryn Higgins uses inventive imagery and editing to take the audience right into her perspective. These scenes are harrowing and moving, even if there's no real sense of peril. Not only do we never doubt that Lily will be OK, but we get increasingly annoyed by her nagging naivete in misunderstanding everything and everyone around her. Surely fixing her dosage would help her avoid these devastating seizures. The actors manage to make the most of these oddly underwritten roles as people using whatever is at hand to cope with their miserable lives.
Continue reading: Electricity Review
Ivan Locke could well be the model of a perfect life with his beautiful family, comfortable life and a job that is only continuing to offer more and more. However, everyone's got a past and this man's is coming back to haunt him as an incident regarding his younger self threatens the stability of his idyllic existence. He is forced to leave an important job in the construction profession that would've been of significant value to his career in order to drive to London and settle a matter that has been hanging in the air since he was in his twenties. It's a 90 minute journey that seems to take forever as he attempts to resolve a variety of issues that have arisen both at work and at home over the phone. He also finds himself talking to his dead father as he battles to save his family, his job and his sanity.
Continue: Locke - Teaser Trailer
A range of intelligent blockbusters, inventive foreign films and beautifully crafted storytelling made 2012 a good year at the cinema...
1. Life Of Pi
Ang Lee's clever, thoughtful adaptation of Yann Martel's acclaimed novel is an unexpected work of art. It's also one of the richest, most challenging, most visually spectacular movies we've ever seen.
Starring: Suraj Sharma & Irrfan Khan
Read the review of Life Of Pi Here!
2. Rust & Bone
French filmmaker Jacques Audiard follows up his amazing prison drama A Prophet with this startlingly edgy, tough-minded romance about two deeply wounded people who find each other.
Starring: Marion Cotillard & Matthias Schoenaerts.
Read the review of Rust And Bone Here!
Continue reading: The Ten Best Films Of 2012
Ben Wheatley, the film director whose previous movies Down Terrace and Kill List have established him a key figure in British filmmaking, is back with his latest film, the black comedy Sightseers. Even before its UK release this week, the film has landed seven nominations for the forthcoming British Independent Film Awards.
Sightseers stars Steve Oram and Alice Lowe as an odd couple whose dream caravan holidays takes a very wrong turn. Though predominately a comedy, Sightseers features liberal amounts of extreme violence perhaps more suited to Wheatley's horror flick Kill List. "We were cautious not to make it too malicious or vicious. It's violent - and some of it's red raw - but it doesn't slip too far into the really heavy misery of Kill List. It pulls back before it really upsets the audience. I wanted them to laugh!" Wheatley explained to the BBC. The movie has impressed critics ahead of release, with Mark Adams of the Daily Mirror saying, "A deliriously dark and gloriously bloody crime comedy, Sightseers is a wonderfully eccentric film that delivers twisted humour at some British landmarks." Contactmusic's very own Rich Cline lauded the movie too, writing, "Even by Ben Wheatley's genre-busting standards, this film is a triumph, centring on comedy and romance in a road movie about two violent serial killers. After the terrific Down Terrace and Kill List, we probably should have expected as much." Filmed mainly in scenic spots in northern England, Sightseers also saw Oram and Lowe stay in character during 12-hour shoots (even on testing terrain) Wheatley explained, "I was watching Andrea Arnold's Wuthering Heights the other day and I recognised the same crag that we shot on. I thought, 'Hang on - I know this rock!"
It's likely that Sightseers will win Best Film at the Independent Film Awards on 9 December 2012, though it faces reasonable competition. The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel - starring Bill Nighy and Dame Judi Dench - was a surprise hit stateside, while documentary The Imposter received rave views. Berberian Sound Studio creeped out audiences with its chilling tale, while the Tim Roth-starring Broken is also worth a shout.
Continue reading: Is Ben Wheatley's Sightseers The Best British Movie Of The Year?
Chris is determined to show his girlfriend Tina more of the wonderful counties of England and tear her away from her over-protective mother who she lives with. To kick off the journey he wants to take her to Crich Tramway Museum in Derbyshire before departing to Yorkshire to visit such landmarks as the Ribblehead Viaduct and the Keswick Pencil Museum. They travel the country in his Abbey Oxford Caravan - his second love - which is rather cramped but with just enough room for their needs. Soon things take a dramatic turn when noise, littering, busy caravan sites and repeated calls from Tina's mother begin to grate on Chris who turns violent towards anyone that even slightly irks him, though the couple do their best to not let it ruin their holiday.
'Sightseers' is a British black comedy directed by Ben Wheatley ('Kill List', 'Down Terrace') and written by the movie's stars Alice Lowe (actress in 'Hot Fuzz' and 'This Is Jinsy') and Steve Oram (actor in 'Kill List') with additions from Amy Jump ('Kill List'). It has been executively produced by Edgar Wright popular for his work on 'Shaun of the Dead' and 'Hot Fuzz' and has now been released in the UK in cinemas nationwide.
Director: Ben Wheatley
Continue: Sightseers Trailer
Even by Ben Wheatley's genre-busting standards, this film is a triumph, centring on comedy and romance in a road movie about two violent serial killers. After the terrific Down Terrace and Kill List, we probably should have expected as much, but this film exceeds expectations at every turn, keeping us laughing and cringing all the way to the fiendishly clever conclusion.
Tina (Lowe) defies her disapproving mother to go on a caravan holiday in northern England with her new boyfriend Chris (Oram). As they head through the picturesque Lake District and Yorkshire Dales, Tina is momentarily shocked when Chris runs down an annoying thug with their car. She decides it must be an accident, but as the body count grows she develops a taste for killing. Meanwhile, their relationship is going through the usual ups and downs as they struggle to live together in the confined quarters of their caravan while Tina's mum continues to pester them. So there are other things besides their homicidal urges that strain their romance.
Wheatley gives the film a cheerful tone that catches us off guard. It starts like a typical British black comedy, with sarcastic humour and romantic undercurrents. And the road trip takes in a series of dazzling landscapes, offbeat tourist attractions, picturesque campsites and even an adorable dog. So watching it merrily morph into something brutally murderous is both terrifying and funny. We begin to laugh nervously any time someone puts him or herself into their path, gasping at the possibilities and then staring dumfounded at where things go.
Continue reading: Sightseers Review
An unusually intelligent black comedy, this British independent film takes the audience on a road...
It's fairly obvious that the cast and crew began making this film with only the...
With an artful aesthetic that will please fans of ambitious independent filmmaking, this British drama...
Chris is determined to show his girlfriend Tina more of the wonderful counties of England...