Deliverance is a good film, but not my thing


Four adventurous businessmen intent on seeing the Cahulawassee River before it is turned into a huge lake take a canoe trip into the American backcountry, only for their excursion to take a deadly turn.
Four urban businessmen bound for wilderness take a trip into the country for a weekend canoe trip on the Cahulawassee River. It turns out to be everything they had hoped for – a terrific adventure – but soon enough they run into a couple of rednecks, and the trip takes a turn for the worst. Over the course of a few hours, the men are exposed to the true extent of what man and nature are capable of, putting their lives at risk, and making their little vacation one that none of them shall ever forget, no matter how hard they try.

A film that my dad has been on at me to watch for a while is Deliverance, so this weekend I finally got round to doing that. There were some good performances, and some great cinematography during the rapids sequences, but the film, while being a classic and held in very esteem by many people, isn’t my favourite of all the films that my dad has recommended to me.

As I’ve just mentioned, there were a couple of good performances in this film, and my favourite came from Jon Voight who played Ed. We got to see his character make a real transition from the start of the film right up to the end, and the change that Voight’s performances underwent in accordance with this was brilliant. I always enjoy watching Voight after becoming a fan of his work as Mickey in the series Ray Donovan, so I had no qualms about watching him here, in fact, he was one of the big plus points for me. 

I did like the story, and I think what worked best for it was the fact that it was so simple. It was not guilty of trying too hard, and combined with the performances that lay at the helm of this film, plus the wonderful shots of the more wild landscapes, it was pulled together nicely and made for a good watch. I have also read that Deliverance is considered to be one of the most disturbing films of all time, and I can see where the people who have said that are coming from. What makes this film so impactful is the heightened possibility that something along the lines of what took place here could happen in real life. There was just a very strong sense of realism surrounding the storyline and the events that took place that I think have a tendency to hit audiences hard.

Of course, I did state that this is not my favourite of the films that my dad has recommended to me. However, it’s not for what was wrong with it, I simply think that is was not my thing. I thought it was a good film, and some aspects of it were done very well indeed, but it just wasn’t the type film that was my cup of tea.

All in all, Deliverance was a film that, despite being as unsettling as it was, was also an enjoyable watch. It may not completely float my boat for some reason, but I can still say that this is a film you should consider watching if you haven’t yet seen it. There are some cracking performances and a very believable story that make for more than decent viewing, even if like me, you may not be in a hurry to experience again. 

Green Room gets the green light


After witnessing a murder at a new-nazi skinhead bar, a punk rock band has to fight for survival.

Pat (Anton Yelchin) takes his punk rock band, The Ain’t Rights, to a night club in a bid to take them one step closer to their big break. They aren’t quite as well received as they had hoped, but their little tour takes a much more grisly turn when they walk back into their dressing room to discover a body with a knife sticking out of it’s head. What follows is a major struggle to escape the clutches of the bar’s owner, Darcy Banker (Patrick Stewart) as he seeks to take out the only witnesses to the brutal murder and eliminate all traces of what happened in the club that night.

Last year, Green Room hit cinemas and was greeted by a lot of very good reviews, so when I got the DVD after Christmas I was very eager to see the film. However, it is only now that I have been able to finally watch it. Was it worth the wait? Yes, but that’s not it say that it didn’t have it’s faults.

As one of those survival-type films, there is of course a real opportunity for some great performances to emerge, but also for some very, very bad ones to rear their heads as well. Thankfully, I did enjoy the key performances here, which makes a change for a film with elements of horror. Anton Yelchin was brilliant to watch, and reminded us of a talent that was lost way too soon, however I think my favourite person in this film has to be Imogen Poots as Amber. She and Yelchin worked really well together, and I thought this showed as their characters came together in order to try and get out alive. What was the best thing about Poots here though was the fact that she was able to play a pretty intelligent character, and this was shown at various points throughout the film.

Now, it probably isn’t worth much coming from me as I am notorious for jumping at everything, but there moments dotted throughout Green Room that made me twitch a bit when they happened. It certainly had a few good thrills laced throughout it’s run, although it took a little longer than I’d have liked for these to start happening.

My biggest gripes about the film focus on things that I felt should have been done, but for some reason were not. One of these things was the use of Patrick Stewart, or lack it, shall we say. I just think he should have been on-screen more than he was considering what a wonderful actor he is. My other main issue was the ending. It just happened. Somebody said something, and then the credits started rolling. It just felt a bit sudden, and I thought it let what had been a pretty solid film down quite a bit.

On the whole, Green Room is a film that is well worth watching. More of a thriller than a horror, it had plenty of moments that certainly made my heart beat a bit faster. It has a few issues, but nothing too major, and a couple of great lead performances make this a good watch, and one that I’m very happy to say I’ve seen, even if we have seen films of a similar nature in the past. 

Michael Collins is essential Paddy’s Day viewing for me


The story of the man who led a guerrilla war against the U.K, aided negotiations in the creation of the Irish Free State, and led the National Army in the Irish Civil War.
Following the massive defeat of Irish rebels in the 1916 Easter Rising, Michael Collins (Liam Neeson) decides new strategies are needed in order to gain Irish independence. He first begins to use what is now recognised as guerrilla tactics and the organised killings of Irish informants for the U.K. government, and then later on members of British intelligence. By 1921, the Brits are willing to negotiate a settlement, and Collins is reluctantly sent over for the talks by Sinn Fein president Eamonn DeValera (Alan Rickman), who knows full well that the agreement reached will disappoint some. He condemns Collins when he returns with a Treaty declaring an Irish Free State and not a Republic, and Collins’ longest friend Harry Borland (Aidan Quinn) rejects him following the emergence of his relationship with Kitty Kiernan (Julia Roberts). What unfolds following this landmark settlement is a civil war as Collins struggles against those who want complete and unconditional independence for the whole country.

Yesterday was St. Patrick’s Day, so it seemed only right to take a look back on an Irish film, and what better than to watch a film that focuses on the fight for independence for the country. Now, of course this is a film that is a product of Hollywood, so with regard to historical accuracy there may be some discretions, however this a wonderful study of the man who I guess could be considered the Braveheart of Ireland and is a fine watch for anyone who would maybe like to get more of a feel for what actually went on in the build up to the declaration of the Irish Free State, and the the fall out that came from that.

Liam Neeson did a wonderful job of encapsulating all the different aspects of Collins in this film, however one thing that I feel was most important was the fact that he really managed to show that Collins didn’t want to cause so much violence, but that it was the only way. Collins was a very conflicted man with regards to both the methods he chose to deploy as a leader of the rebels, but he was also torn over the personal relationships he had with those who initially worked with him, but then went their separate ways and began to turn against him. This was something else that I believe to have been portrayed very well by Neeson.

This is quite a star-studded cast, however there is one member of the line-up that I can’t help but feel didn’t quite belong there, as much as I love her work. Julia Roberts really does seem quite out of place as Collins’ love interest, Kitty Kiernan. I also am unsure as to whether she was a real figure in this story, or whether she was introduced purely just for romantic interest. Either way, she just didn’t fit in there, and it pains me to say that about Roberts, but it is kind of true.

Now, I mentioned at the beginning that some of what is shown in the film may need to be taken with a pinch of salt. I can only assume this to be the case due the fact that when I was first shown the film by my parents a few years ago, key moments would often pass by only to be followed with, ‘…and that’s a load a shite,’ or, ‘…that never happened,’ from my dad, as if he was the fact checker for the film. It is common knowledge however that the Hollywood machine can twist things slightly for it’s own benefit, so if you do watch the film, or have watched it, expect only a feel for the period to come from it.

Overall, Michael Collins was a grand addition to my St. Patrick’s Day viewing this year. It is always a good film to watch, whoever watching it yesterday meant it had a greater sense of occasion for me. For anyone who hasn’t seen the film, I would recommend it, and those of you who haven’t viewed it in a while might just fancy revisiting it again after reading this I hope.

Primal Fear wasn’t mind-blowing, but it wasn’t frighteningly bad either


When a priest is murdered, one of his altar boys is accused of doing the deed, however the truth of what really happened is quite deeply buried.Hot-shot defence attorney Martin Vail (Richard Gere) takes on the case of poor altar boy Aaron (Edward Norton) who stands accused of murdering a well-respected priest. He offers to fight Aaron’s corner pro bono, convinced that the boy is not guilty of killing the man of the cloth. As he spends time with him, Martin finds more and more material that could help Aaron’s case in court, the most important being that he appears to suffer from some kind of multiple personality disorder, as agreed by psychologist Dr. Molly Arrington (Frances McDormand). This could prove significant in court, where Martin and his client are up against ambitious young prosecutor Janet Venable (Laura Linney), whose history with the defence means she is determined to win the fight. However, one thing remains uncertain right throughout the trial, and that is, what exactly happened in the priest’s apartment, and who did it?

Another film that I have been waiting a while to see is Primal Fear. I had heard mainly good things about it, and after watching it this weekend I can confirm that it is a solid watch, however I had half-suspected the ending. Oh well, at least I can finally cross it off my list now!

I really liked Richard Gere as Martin Vail. What made him such a good character was the fact that, despite being a big time defence lawyer, he wasn’t a really self-conceited, egotistic type of person, which is often what happens with these types of characters. It is later explained to you in the film why he isn’t a complete idiot as well, and he just feels human when you watch him. I can’t help but feel that Gere is slightly type-cast as a rich man with a successful career however, because he played someone of a similar status in Pretty Woman, which happens to be one of the few other films I have seen him in. Nonetheless, I enjoyed watching him, and will happily sit and watch his work in other films in future.

This is the film that made Edward Norton, and it’s not difficult to see why. Much like James McAvoy in Split – another film involving a multiple personality type disorder – Norton owned the role by making the transitions between his two personalities so clear. There was a look in his eye that defined each persona before he spoke, and the vocal characterisations were very strong, really completing the characters. I can safely say that Norton’s early career, to the best of my knowledge, was dominated by some excellent performances.

Many of the performances in the film are very good, however it still remains only a solid watch in my opinion, not an unforgettable one. This is mainly because I had kind of seen the ending coming, so I really wasn’t that surprised when it happened, and for that reason I doubt the film is going to have much of a lasting impact on me.

Overall, while I would recommend Primal Fear, I would warn people to bare in mind that it doesn’t really break any new ground. Perhaps when it was released 21 years ago, things were different, but the film currently doesn’t have the punch I would have liked it to. That being said, it is still a good watch, and I am happy to say that I have finally seen it after waiting for such a long time.

Just Charlie review for Midlands Movies

This review first appeared on Midlands Movies

A gifted footballer struggles with her identity as she becomes more and more aware that they are a girl trapped inside a boy’s body, while her family and friends also try their best to come to terms with these changes.
When young footballing talent Charlie (Harry Gilby) receives an offer for a trial at his county’s football team it would appear that he quite literally has the world at his feet. If he plays his cards right, his future could be sorted. However, a life of luxury doing what he loves is more daunting to Charlie than one would initially think it would be. Trapped in the body of a boy, Charlie is painfully torn between living up to his father’s expectations and following the life he never could, and shedding his ill-fitting skin. When he unintentionally fronts up to his family, Charlie’s action threatens to tear his family apart forever.

Just Charlie is a Midlands-based project that takes a look at the story of a young boy who is a young girl at heart. It is a wonderfully made film that sensitively deals with an issue that has recently started to have more and more light shed on it.

I really enjoyed a number of the performances here, although I absolutely must start off by saying hat’s off to young Harry Gilby for his portrayal of Charlie here. For a first appearance in a feature length film he did a terrific job. It was a truly brilliant performance that I think showed real maturity on Gilby’s behalf. I think a lot of very experienced actors would have to seriously consider taking on a role such as this because it is a very sensitive issue that has only really become something that has started to be discussed publicly very recently. There is potentially a lot that could go wrong when someone plays a transgender person as there is such a huge number of ways the role could be unknowingly mishandled. For me though, Gilby did a very good job of portraying Charlie, so kudos to him.

Scot Williams played Charlie’s dad, and again, this was another blinding performance. Some of his scenes with Gilby were horrible to watch, but this had such an impact on me as a viewer. I cannot begin to imagine the toll that a situation such as the one presented here in the film must take on a family, but if I were to try to, the results would come pretty close to so many of the scenes that the two actors shared here. As difficult and upsetting as they were to watch at times, they really did the job very well. Williams managed to play Paul in a way that meant you didn’t view him as a heartless idiot, but as a man who was grieving in some way, meaning you were able to empathise with him somewhat.

I have to praise writer Peter Machen on the story he created for the film. He managed to write something that covered just a bout all bases of Charlie’s life – home, school, football, and everything in between. He also managed to do all this without making the film feel as thought it was trying to be much bigger than it actually was. While it may have branched out and touched upon the issue in a variety of settings, the story still felt personal and intimate enough for you to really be drawn into it.

All in all, Just Charlie is a beautiful film that pulls no punches in delivering it’s message, yet still brings everything back round for a happy ending (or should I really say beginning in this case?). The top notch writing covers so many things while the truthful performances do a great job in tying everything together very nicely indeed. This is a touching journey of a film that is definitely worth every moment spent watching it.

Take a trip to Westworld


A futuristic Western-themed amusement park allows high paying guests to live out their wildest fantasies without real world consequences.
Westworld is a theme park with a difference – it enables rich holidaymakers to experience whatever fantasies they possess through artificial consciousness. The park is maintained by robotic ‘hosts’, who aid the fulfilment of the guests desires. However, the many advances in technology that have taken place since the park opened have meant the hosts have become increasingly lifelike over the years. Now, they’ve reached a point where they are growing more and more self-aware and have a stronger grasp on reality, that reality being that they are simply there to carry out a function. After this long, it would appear that the hosts have had enough, and the ultimate rebellion starts to get underway.
I know Westworld was on TV ages ago, but it is only now that I have managed to get round to seeing it. I have to be honest, for the first couple of episodes, I didn’t really know what was going on, but I’m glad I persevered because it built up to a very good finale that ha some very excited for the next season. Maybe I was at a disadvantage because I have never seen the original Westworld film? Who knows… I did eventually end up really enjoying the series, which is all that really matters I think.

A number of things caught my attention when it came to the previews for the show, and one of those things was the cast. Westworld boasts quite a line up. Anthony Hopkins plays Robert Ford, one of the co-founders of the park. I initially loved his character – the fact that Hopkins stuck with his native Welsh accent for the role really worked for me, however he turned out to be a right piece of work in the end, and something about that just didn’t quite sit right. It didn’t have the impact I would have liked it to.

My favourite character had to be Thandie Newton’s brothel madam Maeve. She really reminded me of a character similar to her in Ripper Street, and she was great to watch as she cottoned onto what had been going on for years and years inside the park. I also liked watching the transitions she and the other host actors underwent when the people in charge of the park were running diagnostics and carrying out other technological tasks. The smallest changes made a huge difference in these scenes and it was very easy to differentiate between their personalities and analytical selves.

As I’ve said, to start off I didn’t really have much clue as to what exactly was going on with the storyline, but by the time it got to the third or fourth episode I was fully on board. I think this is partly due to you watching the drama unfold as would be the case from the hosts’ perspectives. It is a non-linear narrative, and the story goes backwards and forwards a lot. Each episode tends to go back to the beginning with a different character, and each time it does this it brings up both old and new details. It kind of felt like what I’d imagine was what the hosts were experiencing as they woke up at the beginning of each storyline. Maybe that’s a bit out there, I don’t really know – that’s just the way I tried and succeeded in making sense of it all.

So, would I recommend Westworld? The answer is yes I would. After having not seen the original film, I didn’t really know what to expect, so I suppose I went into the series with fresh eyes compared to a couple of other people who I had spoken to who had seen the film and perhaps hadn’t quite been convinced by this version of things. It does take a couple of episodes to warm-up, and for that reason Westworld certainly isn’t for everyone. Those of you with patience, however, will hopefully find it to be a rewarding watch with a real Wild West vibe, which was absolutely the case for me! 

No Offence is just as unapologetically brilliant as it returns for season 2


The dream team return for another case, this time dealing with the head of one of Manchester’s biggest crime syndicates.
No Offence is one of those shows that I had never really anticipated being anywhere near as good as it actually turned out to be. Season one blew us all away in 2015, and with the promise of the show making a return, the next season could not come soon enough. After waiting almost two years, the show made a triumphant return. All I can say is season three had better hurry up – I’m missing the show already.

One thing that stood out to everyone when this show first arrived on the scene was it’s use of stonkingly good female characters. God knows that throughout history in both film and TV such things have been a lot harder to come by than they have been for men, but this show straightaway presented us with three wonderful women. This time around, we got four. The crime boss Deering, Dinah and Joy were trying to take down was Nora Attah, played by Rakie Ayala. She was brilliant in the role and was a terrific match for Joanna Scanlan’s Viv Deering.

Of course, there are some men in the show. Paul Ritter plays one of the best characters on TV at the minute in this show if you ask me. He never fails to make me laugh as Miller, who kind of does some of the CSI stuff. He is a prime example of the talents of writer Paul Abbott, who also wrote Shameless, and is always a highlight of every episode he appears in.

No Offence is billed as a comedy, and yes, it is very, very funny. The good thing about the show is that it doesn’t just rely on laughs to keep it’s audience engaged. What left me so impressed with season one was it’s brilliantly devised crime saga. No one had managed to guess the culprit in season one, and I was certainly looking forward to the same in this year’s run. The outline was slightly different, but the sheer quality of the writing was exactly the same, if not marginally better. I know I moaned a lot about the two year wait for the show’s return, but I guess it may not have been as good the second time around if it wasn’t for such a lengthy wait.

Once again, No Offence was an excellent watch, and may very well be one of this year’s best shows. For anyone who hasn’t seen it, I would definitely say to watch it. I don’t know if it is a show that will work for international audiences, but there is only one way to find out. Even if the jokes fall flat for some people, the story itself should be plenty to retain your attention. This is definitely a show I will continue to be excited about, and I think plenty of other people should be too.