Review: Jimmy’s Hall (2014)

Jimmy's Hall

Veteran director Ken Loach makes a subdued return to rural Ireland with period drama Jimmy’s Hall. After ten years exiled in America, communist leader Jimmy Gralton (Barry Ward) returns to his homeland to lead a quiet life, but when he’s coaxed into re-opening the community hall by the local community he quickly reignites the displeasure of the church. Continue reading “Review: Jimmy’s Hall (2014)”

The Angels’ Share Wins Big At The Scottish BAFTAs

The Scottish BAFTAs took place at Glasgow’s upmarket Radisson Blu Hotel last night where host Edith Bowman, an assortment of Scottish film and television personalities and five hundred guests were on hand to honour and celebrate the very best of film, TV and games over the past twelve months. After a red carpet that was surprisingly removed of rain, wind and thunder and beefed up considerably by the presence of Scottish acting legend and passionate Scot Brian Continue reading “The Angels’ Share Wins Big At The Scottish BAFTAs”

Interview: Ken Loach And Cast Talk The Angels’ Share

To mark the release of Ken Loach’s Scottish-based dramedy The Angels’ Share, I was invited to Deanston Distillery, located a few miles outside of Stirling where most of the films interiors were set, to meet Loach, writer Paul Laverty and cast members Paul Brannigan, Jasmin Riggins, William Ruane, Siobhan Reilly and Gary Maitland.

The picturesque distillery provided an excellent location to chat to the attendees in three separate sittings: first with Riggins, Ruane, Reilly and Maitland about Continue reading “Interview: Ken Loach And Cast Talk The Angels’ Share”

Review: The Angels’ Share (2012)

Robbie (Paul Brannigan), an untoward young man who, by the skin of his teeth, escapes a prison sentence in favour of a community service ruling. Vowing to do right by – and make a better future for – his girlfriend Leonie (Siobhan Reilly) and their unborn child, Robbie surrenders himself to what could be his last lifeline. With the aid of fatherly-figure and community service supervisor Harry (John Henshaw), he discovers a talent that could bring himself – and fellow Continue reading “Review: The Angels’ Share (2012)”

Review: Tyrannosaur (2011)

Tyrannosaur, actor come filmmaker Paddy Considine’s expansion upon his critically acclaimed yet seldom seen short film Dog Altogether, is no easy watch. Centered on issues of loneliness, domestic abuse and poverty, it’s a distressingly blunt British drama with a level of honesty that’s rarely seen.

Plagued by brutality and an inner turmoil that’s leading him towards self-destruction, Joseph (Peter Mullan) happens upon Christian charity worker Hannah (Olivia Colman), who, at first, seems like the perfect antithesis. As their relationship deepens, dark secrets about their respective personal lives boil to the surface, with potentially devastating consequences.

While Considine has unquestionably asserted himself in the film industry as a brilliant actor through his attentive and honest attitude towards the characters he plays and the stories these inhabit, it’s still surprising to witness him slip so comfortably into his roles as Continue reading “Review: Tyrannosaur (2011)”

Review: Ghosted (2011)

Ghosted, a gritty and brutal prison drama, is the feature length debut from camera-operator and short filmmaker Craig Viveiros. The film centers on Jack (John Lynch), a model prisoner who has kept his head down and is close to completing his time. However, after his wife leaves him for another man, his final lifeline comes in the form a new, naive prisoner, Paul (Martin Compston). When Paul falls under the influence of the psychotic Clay (Craig Parkinson), Jack soon finds he must risk his own life and sanity to help the newcomer survive.

The action opens strongly, with a respectably concise introduction to the central characters. It may be sparse on dialogue, but it sets the film up well, despite the already overbearing cliches. From here, however, when it should be establishing a new take on the prison drama, it settles into a dull pace, full of easy to foretell twists, inmates with perennial problems, battles between characters for prison dominance and an ending that feels all too contrived to make any sort of lasting impact. The running time – clocking it at over 110 minutes – is ridiculous, and doesn’t do the overall product any favours.

Thankfully, then, Viveiros’ direction is something to celebrate, even managing to distract attention from the commonplace plot strands on several welcomed occasions. Apart from the overuse of self-indulgent mirror shots and unnecessary slow-motion, Ghosted is a pleasantly competent and accomplished piece of filmmaking, with some particularly striking and well executed scenes breaking up the strong sense of familiarity that runs throughout – most notably the merciless shower scene, a scene that represents Jack’s problems drowning him, and an incredibly brutal encounter towards the end that will have you flinching in your seat.

The acting is possibly Ghosted most noteworthy distinction. Compston, who’s been on the rise since being plucked from obscurity to star in Ken Loach’s Sweet Sixteen and was dazzling in last years shamefully underrated The Disappearance of Alice Creed, impresses as the emotionally disjointed Paul, while Parkinson delivers a fittingly admirable performance as the volatile Clay. But it’s Lynch as the unhinged Jack, who steals the show, bringing a truly tremendous level of depth and nobility to Jack’s damaged soul, particularly in the absorbing scenes shared with Compston’s Paul.

While acted in a more than satisfactory mannor and technically effective, Ghosted sadly fails to break free of vastly overdone prison drama cliches, instead becoming an overwrought and predestined misfire.