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
Lance Armstrong was an athlete the entire world loved to support. Having beaten testicular cancer the cyclist went on to win numerous titles around the world including seven gold consecutive gold medals for the Tour De France, which has become known as the hardest bike rice in the world. He had few doubters, everyone loved the superman that he'd become and wanted to believe in the story surrounding his success.
One of those few doubters was David Walsh, a sports reporter with The Sunday Times newspaper. After digging into Lance and his team mates, Walsh began to build a case with more and more information backing his thoughts on Lance. One such piece of evidence was Armstrong's connection to an Italian doctor named Michele Ferrari. What followed was years of Walsh digging and uncovering the real truth behind Armstrong.
The Program is based on David Walsh's 2012 book 'Seven Deadly Sins: My Pursuit of Lance Armstrong'.
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.
Lance Armstrong is a cycling legend, with seven Tour De France wins under his belt among other accolades, feats that were made all the more impressive following his battle and subsequent recovery from testicular cancer. Despite his illness, he seemed better than ever before on the road on his return and by 2004, he had attracted the attention of reporter David Walsh, who grew suspicious that the athlete was using performance enhancing drugs, along with many of his cyclist friends. Armstrong used a genius combination of loopholes and convincing acting to make people believe otherwise but he was ultimately exposed and shamed for his tactics by a determined journalist.
Continue: The Program - First Look Trailer
Filmmaking siblings Lana and Andy Wachowski never do anything by halves. The Matrix was a genre-changing blockbuster followed by two head-scratching sequels that ramped everything up a bit too much. Speed Racer was simply too much eye-candy for most viewers. And Cloud Atlas' intertwined storylines left audiences both exhausted and exhilarated. Now they've taken on the space action adventure with unfettered gusto, creating an utterly bonkers story that can't help but keep us thoroughly entertained.
So it turns out that Jupiter (Mila Kunis), an immigrant cleaner in Chicago, is actually the recurrence of a powerful matriarch whose empire runs the universe as a big business. Her three children (Eddie Redmayne, Douglas Booth and Tuppence Middleton) are tussling over control, because their mother's re-appearance changes their inheritance rights. Chased by bounty hunters, Jupiter is rescued by Caine (Channing Tatum) and his cohort Stinger (Sean Bean), who help her navigate the complex galactic society to claim her genetic rights. But each of the three children has plans for her. And as she zips back and forth across the universe, Jupiter realises that she's going to need to rise to the occasion if she wants to save herself. And Earth.
The Wachowskis clearly understand that the story is far too complicated to make much sense, so they only provide enough information to hold the audience's interest. Large plot threads and characters pop up and disappear at random, while Jupiter's own journey lurches through a series of contrived set-pieces and tense encounters that feel oddly unresolved. But none of that really matters, because the film is infused with a sardonic sense of humour that makes it enjoyable. Even the bad guys are intriguing; there's not much Redmayne can do with his leather-trousered grump, but at least he goes for it. Kunis has a great time with Jupiter's continual sexy costume changes, while Tatum performs a series of action scenes with his shirt off for no real reason. All of the cast members dive in without hesitation, using sheer charisma to make the characters a lot of fun to watch.
Continue reading: Jupiter Ascending Review
Jupiter Jones has an unfortunate life, barely scraping by with her job cleaning toilets as a janitor. She wouldn't have thought that her life would ever be anything meaningful, but she couldn't be more wrong. One day she is captured and an attempt is made on her life, but she finds herself spectacularly rescued by a charming, if unusual-looking, warrior; a half-man, half-human hybrid who has been genetically modified for the interplanetary military. It's he who leads her to the truth about herself and her destiny. Having been born under a night sky where the stars aligned to form her extraordinary future, Jupiter is the foretold forthcoming Queen of the Universe who has been prophesised to usurp the power of the current King and Queen. Living in fear of their imminent fall from power, the rulers order her to be disposed of as soon as possible. Will Jupiter succeed in her rise to power, or will she be praying to return to her uneventful life on earth?
Continue: Jupiter Ascending Trailer
Jupiter Jones is an impoverished janitor who dreams of a life with much more purpose than she is living. She is convinced that her life will always be one of the many in the world that is simply unimportant, but there are others out there who think differently. Jupiter was born under a night sky whose stars traced a very definite and critical destiny for her. Little does she know that the Earth is a tiny speck in a much larger cosmos ruled over by Queen of the Universe, but also that her genetic make-up makes her the one and only threat to the Queen as she is biologically destined to usurp her title. When an attempt is made on her life, she is rescued by former military hunter Caine; a genetically modified hybrid with human and wolf DNA. Will Jupiter find the strength to fulfil her destiny? Or is it something she could simply do without?
Continue: Jupiter Ascending - Teaser Trailer
There's some interesting material in this dark British drama, but it's so relentlessly grim that we are never able to connect with anyone on-screen. It doesn't help that all of the characters are pretty unlikeable. And the improvised story itself feels oddly bleak and aimless. Honestly, for a movie called The Comedian, you'd think there would be a few laughs.
The title character is Ed (Hogg), an insurance salesman who is trying to get his stand-up career up and running. But his abrasive routines leave audiences cold. Then he discovers that he has at least one fan, Nathan (Stewart-Jarrett), and they begin a slow-burning romance that's complicated by the fact that Ed is also attracted to his flatmate Elisa (Lasowski). Or maybe it's just that he wants everyone to love him. Which isn't likely to happen since he's such a grump. And as his life spirals into darkness, he refuses the help of the few people left who care about him.
Yes, it's pretty difficult to engage with a central character who's such a moody idiot. Even when he's the life of the party, he lashes out with insults and aggressively wallows in self-pity. Hogg has proved before how adept he is at this kind of abrasively internalised performance (see White Lightnin' if you dare), and he skilfully lets us see glimpses of the fragile man inside. By contrast, Stewart-Jarrett is kind and charming, while Lasowski adds an earthy tenderness in the way she reacts to Ed's behaviour.
Continue reading: The Comedian Review
First-time director Owen Harris boldly attempts a comedy even blacker than American Psycho or Filth...
Lance Armstrong was an athlete the entire world loved to support. Having beaten testicular cancer...
It's the mid 90's and the music scene in the UK is booming. Excess is...
Lance Armstrong is a cycling legend, with seven Tour De France wins under his belt...
Filmmaking siblings Lana and Andy Wachowski never do anything by halves. The Matrix was a...
Jupiter Jones has an unfortunate life, barely scraping by with her job cleaning toilets as...
Jupiter Jones is an impoverished janitor who dreams of a life with much more purpose...
There's some interesting material in this dark British drama, but it's so relentlessly grim that...