First-time director Owen Harris boldly attempts a comedy even blacker than American Psycho or Filth with this 1990s Britpop satire, but he never quite gets the tone right. Based on the bestselling novel by John Niven (who also wrote the screenplay), the film lacks a single character the audience can identify with or root for. And since it's impossible to care about the slimy anti-hero, the movie ends up merely feeling mean-spirited.
The slimeball at the centre is Steven (Nicholas Hoult), an A&R man at Unigram Records at the peak of Britpop in 1997. He's had a run of hot new artists, and doesn't let his loathing of pop music slow him down, tormenting his assistant Rebecca (Georgia King), his faithful scout Darren (Craig Roberts) and his matey colleague Roger (James Corden). He's also so determined to get a promotion that he takes things to violent extremes, then becomes even more annoyed when the job goes to his hated rival Antony (Tom Riley). So now all he has left is the search for another vile musician he can turn into the next big thing.
The film has a sleek, snaky energy to it that nicely recreates the cut-throat atmosphere of the period. And Niven has a lot to say about how the music business abuses truly talented artists while promoting inept stars like Steven's aspiring girl band Songbirds. Essentially, this film is a full-on assault on a British society where self-absorbed jerks climb the corporate ladder because they're ambitious, not because they're actually good at anything. The one sense of balance in the story comes from a cop (Edward Hogg), who's investigating a murder but really wants Steven to help him launch his own musical career. In other words, the film is shouting its themes at the top of its voice, rather than letting them hit the target with quiet precision.
Continue reading: Kill Your Friends Review
It's the mid 90's and the music scene in the UK is booming. Excess is the word of the decade and the music industry runs on a steady supply of drugs, booze and huge amounts of money. Steven Stelfox is a young A&R manager at one of London's biggest labels but in reality it's quite by chance that he's made it. It's a dog-eat-dog industry and when your ideas run out there's a good chance you'll be cast aside. Not wishing to be the next for the chopping block, Stelfox takes his career ambitions to a whole new level. How well would you survive when even your friends are your enemies?
Since its release in 2008, John Niven's book 'Kill Your Friends' has become a cult classic. Niven himself had worked at many record labels and inspired some of the themes behind the story. Whilst the story is fiction and no one was actually killed, many people in the industry draw many parallels to what actually happened during those years.
Richard (Efron) is a 17-year-old wannabe in 1937 New York, determined to get into the groundbreaking Mercury Theatre company run by 22-year-old genius Orson Welles (McKay). When he stumbles into a role in their landmark production of Julius Caesar, Richard can't believe his luck. He's working alongside such ascending stars as George Coulouris (Chaplin), John Houseman (Marsan), Muriel Brassler (Reilly), Jopseph Cotton (Tupper) and Norman Lloyd (Bill). And he feels even more fortunate when Orson's hard-to-get assistant Sonja (Danes) agrees to go out with him.
Continue reading: Me And Orson Welles Review
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