While this is billed as a film about The Smiths' singer-songwriter Morrissey, it's actually an unauthorised biopic about his early years. Which means that it doesn't include a single word or note of Morrissey's music. But while it may not tell us much about the British pop icon, the film is still a very well-made exploration of a young artist trying to discover his voice. The actors are excellent, as is the re-creation of Manchester from the mid-1970s to the early 80s.
It opens in 1976, as Steve Morrissey (Jack Lowden) is struggling against boredom to hold down a job. The thought of living the same dull life as everyone else terrifies him, and he rebels against the pressure from his patient mother (Simone Kirby) and sarcastic sister (Vivienne Bell). Instead, he hangs out with his lively artist friend Linder (Jessica Brown Findlay), going to various concerts and galleries while jotting lyrics in his notebook. Eventually he forms a band with guitarist Billy (Adam Lawrence), but Billy is quickly snapped up by a much bigger group. So Steve goes out looking for another boring job. And it takes awhile for him to meet Johnny Marr (Laurie Kynaston), with whom he will eventually form The Smiths.
There may be a rather obvious hole in this film where Morrissey's music should be, but there's plenty to enjoy along the way. Steve only sings once in the film (a New York Dolls cover), but Lowden plays him with a sparky sense of humour and a wry, somewhat mopey attitude that's surprisingly endearing. Lowden also plays the various relationships beautifully, creating terrific chemistry with Findlay, who lights up the screen with her sparky charisma. Kirby has some strong scenes of her own, as does Peter McDonald as Steve's largely absent father.
Continue reading: England Is Mine Review
It's 1977 and a young Mancunian man named Steven Patrick Morrissey (Jack Lowden) is on the look-out for the perfect musicians to begin his own band; a band that will set itself apart from the popular culture. With his contempt for the local music scene as it was and his reputation for arrogance, he was never particularly popular despite his intelligence. When he meets a young artist named Linder Sterling (Jessica Brown Findlay), she tells him how it is and urges him to be more open-minded in the invention of his new musical vehicle so that he may reach stardom. But he's apprehensive.
While he hates his tax office job, he still doesn't know what kind of a legacy he wants to leave. But then he meets Billy Duffy (Adam Lawrence), with whom he has a lot in common and ultimately leads him to 14-year-old Johnny Marr (Laurie Kynaston) who would become his guitarist and co-songwriter in the formation of indie rock band The Smiths.
'England Is Mine' is a forthcoming account of Morrissey's youth and the beginnings of his musical career. It explores that famously divisive personality of his - his strong opinions on his working class life, his disdain for popular music and his fiery political standpoints - in technicolour, with the help of Jack Lowden who is the star of 'Tommy's Honour', 'A United Kingdom' and the yet to be released World War II epic 'Dunkirk'.
Continue: England Is Mine Trailer
Peter McDonald and Deirdre O'Kane - The cast of SKY 1's Moone Boy turn out for the Season 3 preview at Royal Hospital, Kilmainham, Dublin, Ireland - 17.02.15. - Dublin, Ireland - Tuesday 17th February 2015
From Ireland, this looks like yet another Hangover-style stag-night comedy, but the script has surprising depth to it, and even the sillier characters find some resonance as the events spiral into the requisite chaos. So while the movie's gross-out humour feels utterly contrived, there's meaning behind it. And the relationships between the central characters are remarkably complex.
The groom is theatre designer Fionnan (O'Conor), who is driving his fiancee Ruth (Huberman) crazy by being too-interested in planning the wedding. So she asks his best man Davin (Scott) to plan a stag getaway. They decide to go on a camping trip with Fionnan's brother (Legge) and his partner (Bennett), plus their friend Simon (Gleeson). But they fail in their efforts to avoid inviting Ruth's intense brother The Machine (McDonald). And sure enough, he takes over the weekend, causing abject mayhem at every turn as their casual hike becomes a series of frantic adventures.
The sharp actors create characters who are realistic and, for the most part, likeable. The exception is The Machine, and McDonald plays him mercilessly, chomping madly on the scenery. It's an over-the-top performance that constantly throws us outside the movie until we begin to see the man underneath the crazed bravado. But he causes the other guys to do inexplicable things as well, which sparks a reaction in us and allows for a bit of depth, especially for Scott in the meatiest role.
Continue reading: The Stag Review
Fionnan is the sensitive sort who's filled with excitement about his upcoming nuptials to partner Ruth. He's a nervous perfectionist who wants everything to be just right when the day comes, but makes no secret about his aversion to a traditional stag do of wild antics and drinking. When Ruth insists best man Davin take him on an outdoor adventure up a mountain for their bachelor's weekend, Fionnan is horrified but eventually agrees that he may enjoy a trek in the great outdoors. However, it is soon revealed that Ruth's insane brother nicknamed The Machine will be joining Fionnan and his friends - a fact that even makes Davin consider calling off their adventure. Instead, he attempts to deter him from coming along with a weird voicemail but, alas, he makes his presence known as he repeatedly brings trouble raining down on them on their journey.
Continue: The Stag - Clips
Bafta nominations give another boost to 12 Years a Slave, Johnny Depp is snapped filming Mortdecai, Godzilla promises character-based thrills, and trailers drop for tragic and comedic romances, an Irish adventure and an Imax trip to Madagascar...
The big news this week is the further escalation of awards-season fever. Steve McQueen's drama 12 Years a Slave continues to lead the field as the British Academy Film Awards announced its Bafta nominations this week - just as the movie opens in the UK. Chiwetel Ejiofor is now the odds-on favourite for both Bafta and Oscar best actor awards. Read our 12 Years a Slave Movie Review here or find out more about the film's star Chiwetel Ejiofor.
Meanwhile, Johnny Depp's new film Mortdecai finished shooting in London and moved to Los Angeles, where he was snapped on set surrounded by actresses in bikinis. The action comedy follows Depp's title character on a quest for stolen art and Nazi gold. Costars Gwyneth Paltrow, Ewan McGregor and Paul Bettany, have been joined in California by Aubrey Plaza, Oliver Platt and Jeff Goldblum. Take a look at our 'behind the scenes' photos of Johnny Depp filming Mortdecai.
It seems that the wedding theme for comedies hasn't got old yet.
The trailer has been released for new bachelor comedy The Stag, a movie which sets out to prove that the theme of weddings and stag parties hasn't been outgrown by the comedy genre. Hugh O'Conor plays Fionnan, the groom at the centre of John Butler and Peter McDonald's funny new film.
Andrew Scott Stars As The Best Man In New Comedy 'The Stag.'
In the movie, perfectionist Fionnan is preparing for his wedding to Ruth (Amy Huberman) but the only thing he can focus on is the smooth running of the nuptials. When faced with the prospects of the traditional pre-wedding stag do, Fionnan says he'd much rather go along with Ruth and her friends on the hen do or plan the floral arrangements.
It's usually the bride that enjoys organising every little detail for their wedding, but in Ruth and Fionnan's relationship, planning the nuptials has become the only thing that guarded perfectionist Fionnan thinks about. However, concerned about his increasing seriousness and his hatred of adventure, Ruth enlists his best friend Davin to organise a stag night on a mountain. Fionnan eventually warms to the idea of a wildlife trek. that is until Ruth mentions that her ruthless brother The Machine is coming along too. Coping with The Machine becomes an uphill struggle when he throws away the stag group's compass and gets them lost, sets their tent on fire and insists on a nude streak through the woodland that almost gets them shot. But is he a blessing in disguise for strait-laced Fionnan, who may find this trip more of a milestone than a stag?
Continue: The Stag Trailer
One of the liveliest comedies to come along in a decade, When Brendan Met Trudy is an imported riot that messes with the romantic comedy genre in such a way that it might never recover. And I mean that in a good way.
Continue reading: When Brendan Met Trudy Review
Walken plays Victor Kelly, an ex-con turned auto mechanic struggling to be a responsible man, earning an honest living in the hopes of redeeming himself for the lifetime of trouble he has brought down on his small, fractured family. Add to the mix a young man named Michael (Peter McDonald) who appears at his doorstep, claiming to be a cousin from Ireland. Ironically, Michael has come to America to learn from the man he believes is a successful mobster - as legend back home tells it. What he actually finds in Vic is completely different. Vic is a proud man with some heavy financial headaches. Too bullheaded to accept help from his girlfriend (Cyndi Lauper). Vic soon realizes his skills as a mechanic are not nearly as marketable as his safe-cracking skills, and he reluctantly finds himself risking everything for one last shot to save his business and his family.
Continue reading: The Opportunists Review
"Blow Dry" is a leaden British dramedy about an estranged family of hairdressers reconciling when a big coiffeur competition comes to their small town. Like "The Big Tease" -- a similarly themed English mockumentary that came out last year, delaying the release of this one -- its laughs come mostly from tired flamboyancy stereotypes.
Hairdressers with over-styled, out-of-date dos and David Copperfield-like showmanship bite each other's backs to win what is apparently a prestigious award for clever and speedy hair cutting. Meanwhile a sad-sack local barber (Alan Rickman) enters the competition with his son (Josh Hartnett, "The Virgin Suicides") to face down his former salon partner (Bill Nighy), now the nation's star hairdresser and the dirty-tricking front-runner in the contest.
Besides suffering from the same problems "The Big Tease" had -- basically that it's a cliché-riddled underdog sports movie with a dye job and a limp wrist -- "Blow Dry" is also saddled with a maudlin, comedy-antidote subplot about Rickman's estranged lesbian ex-wife (Natasha Richardson), who is bravely dying of cancer 10 years after leaving him for his hair model (a criminally under-used Rachel Griffiths). Brought together again by the competition, everybody gets busy forgiving.
Continue reading: Blow Dry Review
While this is billed as a film about The Smiths' singer-songwriter Morrissey, it's actually an...
It's 1977 and a young Mancunian man named Steven Patrick Morrissey (Jack Lowden) is on...
From Ireland, this looks like yet another Hangover-style stag-night comedy, but the script has surprising...
Fionnan is the sensitive sort who's filled with excitement about his upcoming nuptials to partner...
It's usually the bride that enjoys organising every little detail for their wedding, but in...
Harry, Sally: You've been replaced.One of the liveliest comedies to come along in a decade,...
Atom Egoyan is no stranger to the top ten lists of filmcritic.com. The Adjuster...
"Blow Dry" is a leaden British dramedy about an estranged family of hairdressers reconciling when...
A cheeky romantic comedy that ardent film buffs will adore, "When Brendan Met Trudy" is...