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Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (2011)
They conned us!
After a barrage of fawning critics and pre-Oscar buzz on this.. I couldn't resist spending a hard earned tenner. Why haven't I learnt? A lathering-at-the-mouth five star review in the posh papers only means that the critic got a lovely meal at Cannes from the films no-expense-spared PR machine. Beautiful attention to period detail?.. there is; Evocative score?.. there is; Great acting technique?.. there is; Anything that gets the emotional juices going?.. there ain't.
Speak to real people. Preferably the ones that walked out halfway and then get the original TV DVD box-set, which is the story's natural format.
Despite the worthy craft and effort. It's turgid.
Its an Indie Rock n Roll delight.
After reading a couple of harsh reviews in the Sunday papers I was in two minds whether to risk going to see this. But as I really enjoyed Sampson's previous adaptation, AWAYDAYS, I thought it was worth the risk.
I shouldn't have worried. It's a great ride! I don't know what you would call this film, it's not a comedy, a straight drama, nor a musical. It's somewhere in that genre triangle and has got a really unique feel to it.
The story revolves around a Thom Yorke-like singer called Keva who is basically trying to sort his head out to be able to deliver a tune that's been burning him up since the year dot. Stopping him getting this clarity is a manic bunch of music industry types including the amazing Al Weaver as Helmet, who plays Keva's arch rival as an almost pantomime arch villain. There's real dark drama here as Keva faces some demons from his early family life. I certainly did not expect to be choked with emotion from this. I can't remember that in the book! But to be honest the real refreshing thing here is that Keva's band, The Grams and their songs...are brilliant! You absolutely forget that they are not a real band.. It's totally weird seeing the festival footage and reminding yourself that this isn't a rockumentary.
It's as mad as a box of frogs and as moving as the dead mum scene in Bambi. Go figure!
The Firm (2009)
Awaydays 1 The Firm 0
This film has tried to be as evocative as the northern classic AWAYDAYS by trying to repeat the same fashion/music/male relationships package. Except the fashion looks really uncool ( except for the Adidas ), the music is what my little sister liked at the time ( Soul disco!?!) and the male relationships are totally one-dimensional. It was apparently a big budget compared to AWAYDAYS but felt more like an Eastenders episode.I think Nick Love has got some real talent in there as he seems to understand what the average Joe wants to see. But he needs some support from some decent stylists not to make some dumb decisions. Still better than most drab UK indie fare though.
Brilliant UK Indie Film
I'm sure this film isn't everyone's cup o' tea, I went in not expecting much, just hoping the soundtrack would live up to the hype. But I've got to say it is an amazingly good passage-of-rites drama. Vicious and Beautiful, it defies genre and is totally refreshing.
Nicky Bell and Liam Boyle are two real discoveries, Boyle's Elvis character is pitch perfect, a complex and compelling performance that will make him a star, whilst Bell broods convincingly throughout.
It has the best soundtrack ever. No messing around! Makes me wish I was around for that 1979 post punk period.
Awaydays has a purposely ( I assume ) lo-fi look which really helps convey the grim post-thatcher Merseyside setting. All the clothes and general design looks spot on ( and often eerily contemporary ) Best film of the year by far.I pray that Elvis didn't die and ends up in Berlin so there's a sequel.