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By midlandsmovies, Aug 28 2019 10:13AM

Review - Movie catch up blog 2019 - Part 4

In this collection of recent reviews we take a look at ANGEL HAS FALLEN, KILLER'S ANONYMOUS, IN FABRIC and THE STANDOFF AT SPARROW CREEK.

Read on to hear our thoughts on some of these new 2019 cinema and dvd releases.

Angel Has Fallen (2019) Dir. Ric Roman Waugh

A frankly out-of-shape Gerard Butler returns in this third instalment in the Fallen film series following Olympus Has Fallen (the number 10 entry of our worst films of 2013) and London Has Fallen (the number ONE entry in our worst films of 2016) again playing secret service agent Mike Banning. Suffering from a form of PTSD, he protects US President (Morgan Freeman) from a drone attack but is implicated in the crime itself. Cue a tedious game of cat and mouse between an on-the-run Banning and his previous colleagues. He’s also chased by forces “unknown” (it’s so obvious from the outset who the culprits are) who want to get to Banning to finish the job and execute their conspiracy.

What we have then is an unexciting, monotonous and dreary “action” film whose 2-hour runtime feels like 2 weeks. Jada Pinkett as an FBI agent spouts tedious action-film clichés passing itself off as dialogue and its plot has been done numerous times before as seen in the Bourne franchise, Sentinel (2006) and most of M:I series as an operative is framed for a crime he didn’t commit whilst others attempt to bring them to justice.

Positives? Although I’m struggling to find many, when Banning meets his father (Nick Nolte) in his remote wood cabin, the film is given some much-needed pleasure with a tongue-in-cheek tone and some nifty banter. A mid-credits scene has to be seen to be believed too, so if you manage to make it to the end, stick around for that. I also thought the explosions were pretty spectacular with some stuntmen really taking a battering as they are thrown around. But the woeful quick editing on the fights makes them hard to follow and one brawl in a car at night is frankly unwatchable and shouldn’t be in a movie with this budget. In the end it may just be the best of the series, stay with me on this, as the others were beyond terrible and this is simply mostly bad. Action fans may find something in this that I didn’t get out of it, but for general audiences, the franchise should fall into retirement as soon as possible.

Killers Anonymous (2019) Dir. Martin Owen

This American crime thriller film directed by Martin Owen tells the story of a group of assassins being brought together in a secret hideaway situated in a London church after the assassination of an American Senator on UK soil. Opening with an elongated conversation between Gary Oldman and Jessica Alba – filmed strangely, as characters talk to the camera Peep Show-style – the group finally congregates in a small set of rooms as they share their backgrounds and “days since last killing” stories like an AA meeting. The film wastes its talented cast which includes a delicious Tommy Flanagan as Markus, an excellent Rhyon Nicole Brown as Alice, a subtle performance from MyAnna Buring as Joanna and stalwart Tim McInnerny as Calvin who all did their best with some awful dialogue. It could have worked as a more serious chamber piece like 12 Angry Men (1957) or pushed the envelope and gone further into the knowing horror of the more recent Would You Rather (2012) but in the end it sticks to a bland unsatisfying middle-ground. How Oscar-winner Gary Oldman got involved in this is anyone's guess and it most reminded me of the darkly comic Inside No. 9 both in flat TV look and its eclectic soundtrack. In the end though, what could have worked as a one-off ITV drama is not cinematic enough for the ideas it has. And sadly this more than tiresome movie tries to be a big screen blockbuster but is much more of a lacklustre little screen disappointment.


In Fabric (2019) Dir. Peter Strickland

A horror comedy infused with Italian ‘Giallo’ genre stylings, In Fabric is a new movie featuring, bear with me, a killer dress. A ridiculous conceit, the film in fact uses this far-fetched idea to look at consumerism, desires and hypnotising capitalism. It stars Oscar-nominated Marianne Jean-Baptiste as Sheila, whose awful managers and worse dates increase her feeling of loneliness since her recent divorce. She purchases a crimson dress at the enigmatic Dentley and Soper's store from assistant Miss Luckmoore (an incredibly creepy Fatma Mohamed) who appears part of a ritualistic coven. The cursed dress leaves a strange rash on Sheila as the supernatural piece of clothing causes havoc with a washing machine and attempts to murder Sheila’s son’s girlfriend – played by a welcome but all too brief appearance from Gwendoline Christie. A sharp turn in the narrative though is where the film started to lose its way a little. The dress ends up in possession of washing machine repair man Reg Speaks (Leo Bill) whose story of hypnotism is far less interesting and developed than Sheila’s. In Fabric’s tone however seems not only to be hinting at classic Italian horrors but also by very British influences too. I saw hints of the satirical website Scarfolk Council, who is in itself influenced by the panic-filled sensibilities of 1970/80s government health and safety films and iconography. And In Fabric at times seems to be what Matthew Holness was attempting in Possum (2018) which was a snail-paced disappointment. A beautiful looking film of strong colours and lighting and a terrific cast playing bizarre and peculiar characters, In Fabric suffers most with its plotline switch at the halfway point, dismissing almost all of what came before it. Fans of the cinematic influences will lap it up but for me, it’s a slightly missed, but to be fair with a lot to like, opportunity to bring Suspiria to suburbia.


The Standoff of Sparrow Creek (2019) Dir. Henry Dunham

Written and directed by Henry Dunham in his feature debut The Standoff at Sparrow Creek tackles current U.S. obsessions with gun ownership, responsibility, media blame and political and social paranoia. Throwing us straight in, James Badge Dale plays ex-cop Gannon who has joined a local militia and ends up investigating his own group after one of them is suspected of a mass shooting at a police funeral. Information comes in sporadically over the police radio meaning a time limit is set, and in their secluded warehouse base one of their machine guns is suspiciously missing. Creating a sense of dread and hidden motives, the film is set almost solely in this location and using the fantastic conceit, the group is faced into confronting this situation with the audience trapped in this mystery along with them. The cinematography mixes dark shadows and spotlights as the questions fly and these help create the best scenes which involve Gannon interrogating members using his previous experience. A small but powerful indie feature, its 88 minutes gives the movie a swift pace with more depth than most small dramas. But it doesn’t let up either with a multitude of talented performances from the excellent cast playing distrustful characters obsessed with protecting their “freedoms”.


Michael Sales

By midlandsmovies, Jul 5 2016 09:04AM

Reviews - Midlands Movies Film Catch Up 2016

Unfortunately, there’s never enough time to see everything you want to on its release, so here’s a quick round up of a few films I couldn't review at the time and saw after their cinema launch in the UK.

The Green Room (2016) Dir. Jeremy Saulnier

With the recent passing of star Anton Yelchin, it is even more sorrowful to know that the up and coming actor was putting in great performances right until the end. From Star Trek to Terminator: Salvation (yes, I like it) Yelchin was a future superstar-in-the-making and it’s heart-breaking to see a life cut so short. He’s left us with a fantastic movie in this tale of a punk band caught witnessing a murder in a neo-N*zi club located in the back of beyond. With the skinheads at their door post-gig, the band have to make decisions about whether to fight or run against their violent foes. Another Star Trek alumni, Patrick Stewart plays the boss who tries to clear up the mess as it spins out of control. Bloody, nasty and at times gruesome, this is a superb film where characters make suitably realistic decisions and its understated opening of a down-and-out band playing the sh*tty underground music circuit contrasts brilliantly with the subsequent carnage later on. Brutal and uncompromising, ferocious and savage, fans of physical and emotional heaviness will lap up this dark movie from the director of Blue Ruin.


Triple 9 (2016) Dir. John Hillcoat

Never has a great cast delivered so little in this dull thriller from the director of The Road and Lawless. Kate Winslet playing against type as the wife of the head of a crime family is a joy but even she cannot bring much to the proceedings. Leaden performances from the usually unmissable Chiwetel Ejiofor, Anthony Mackie and Casey Affleck aren’t helped by a pacing so tedious I could barely stay awake. Oh, how I wanted to love this movie. I love crime/heist movies and the addition of a corrupt cop was stereotypical but something that I thought may enliven proceedings but I cannot iterate enough how dismal this film was. Lacklustre dialogue, lifeless action scenes and dreary directing simply was not good enough from the filmmakers and actors – all who have much to bring, but delivered so little here. A huge disappointment and a gloomy and boring cop-drama experience all round.


Goodnight Mommy (2016) Dir. Veronika Franz

A foreign horror/thriller about a family in a remote home tells a peculiar story of a mother and her offspring before the two brothers begin to suspect their parent is no longer the same woman. After removing her cosmetic surgery bandages and only conversing with one of the sons, it leads them to think she is not their mother. Their initial suspicions soon take a more sinister turn as they take her hostage in their own home. The film has some brutal scenes of cruelty by the young boys and a suitably European vibe brings a sense of eerie dissonance but the pacing is a little slow. Yet Franz lets the tension build up effectively in most scenes. Efficient directing and good performances from the cast help lift the film but the whole thing is undercut by the most obvious “twist” that can be figured out in the first 5 minutes. Guessing where the film was going so soon meant the finale was unsatisfying and undid much of the good work of the film throughout. This is a shame as it has a lot to say about loss, family and child development – all around a horrific premise – but sadly also around a horrifically bad set up and payoff.


London Has Fallen (2016) Dir. Babak Najafi

Absolute b*llocks. A few half-decent action scenes squeezed in around a “plot” involving Gerard Butler again protecting the US President played by Aaron Eckhart. Any guilty pleasures gained from the first film falls flat here with non-dimensional characters and budget straight from the BBC series Spooks. Not even funny to laugh at, the film will barely bring any joy, even to those who like to watch B-movie brawn-a-thons. This yawn-a-thon is terrible throughout so you’ve been suitably warned of its impending hellishness.


13 Cameras (2016) Dir. Victor Zarcoff

Also known as Slumlord, this dark horror from the indie newcomer Zarcoff has a great premise where a vile and seedy landlord (an incredibly creepy Neville Archambault) installs hidden cameras around a house he is subletting to an innocent couple. The newlyweds are going through their own problems as husband Ryan is cheating on his partner Claire and his misdemeanours catch up with him as his lover becomes the quintessential “bunny boiler”. As the landlord gets his rocks off, he soon takes more chances – even staying in the home itself – to torment and play with his tenants. Fans of the similar stalker/obsessed film Creep (2013) will like the voyeuristic pleasures on show and the film was edited well with sinister security camera angles and a genuinely eerie vibe. With the horror taking a back seat to character development though, the set-up was a b-movie genre flick opportunity that was sadly missed. Personally I though it took itself too seriously which was its fatal flaw and only flashes of gore and action won’t be enough to get die-hard horror fans thrilled. For most, I’d recommend you wait for the home release and enjoy renting it.


Midlands Movies Mike

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