Category Archives: Movies

TV & Movie Crime Log: Safe, Stonehearst & Ultron

Safe HouseChristopher Eccleston plays a man who runs down-at-heel lodgings in a new ITV series. I think you can guess, if its Mr. Eccleston, that it’s not going to be a reimagining of Rising Damp. In Safe House, Chris’s guests are actually going to be people in witness protection, so I can confidently predict that shit is going to go down over the course of four or so episodes.

The blurb likes its eggs fried, thank you:

Former police officer Robert and his wife Katy left city life behind them after Robert was injured, whilst trying to protect a witness in his care. The witness, Susan Reynolds was fatally shot. Robert has been struggling with the guilt he feels over the death of Susan.

In a bid to put the past behind them, Robert and Katy now run a guest house, hidden away in the idyllic Lake District. A surprise visitor turns up, DCI Mark Maxwell, an ex-colleague and old friend. He suggests that the guest house is perfectly positioned to operate as a safe house, Robert is tempted but will Katy agree?

Later, DCI Maxwell finds himself dealing with a family left reeling from an unexplained assault. The father, David, has been hospitalised and an innocent passer-by is in a critical condition. DCI Maxwell needs to work out why this family was targeted and track down the assailant.

Mark calls Robert to see if he and Katy will take David, Ali, Louisa and Joe Blackwell and keep them safe. They agree. Deep down Robert wants to protect this family to prove that he can still do the job – and make sure that this time nothing goes wrong.

Settled into the guest house the Blackwell family adjust to life in a safe house. The man hunting the family is being investigated by Mark who turns to Robert for help and from within the safe house Robert undertakes his own investigation into the family.

The only member of the family not in the safe house and unaccounted for is the eldest son, Sam. He is away at university, but worryingly no-one has seen or heard from him in weeks.

I think I kept up with all that. It all sounds very exciting, and the plan is to make Safe House into a returning series –- with a different family on the run every time –- if it does well. But don’t put it past ITV to sneak some gleaming spires in there somewhere. You can see it tonight at the usual ITV time of crime o’clock.

Shutter Island, Gothika, 12 Monkeys, Shock Corridor, Stoker. Hollywood loves movies set in asylums. Don’t we all? And Victorian insane asylums, with their glinting instruments, sinister corridors, cliffside locations, gibbering loons and lack of decent dentistry, are even better. So along comes Stoneheart Asylum, which is apparently based on a story by our old friend Edgar Allen Poe.

In old photos of Victorian asylums, the inmates are all toothless and bulbous and look — well, insane. In Stonehearst Asylum, however, they look like Kate Beckinsale.

The blurb is secretly slipping its medication beneath its tongue:

There’s another film out this week. I, for one, have never heard of it, It’s called Avengers: Age Of Ultron. I strongly suspect — and I have absolute confidence in my assertion — that it will come and go at your local multiplex without touching the sides.

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TV & Movie Crime Log: Thrones, Child

Game Of ThronesI’m going to make a confession. I love me my genre stuff –- I mean, that’s obvious, right? — but I’ve never really managed to get into Game Of Thrones. Its free-form, sprawling storytelling, with no end in sight, has never gripped. Don’t judge me, I appreciate I am very much in the minority here. It seems to become ever more popular with every passing season.

It’s based, of course, on George R.R. Martin’s A Song Of Ice And Fire books. Mr. Martin has still to complete two volumes of his opus and seems in no hurry to do so, which has put him at odds with the belligerent wing of his reading public.

Look, I know many of you are compelled to ask yourself what would Crime Thriller Fella do? before committing to stuff, but don’t let me put you off watching the fifth season, particularly if you’ve slogged your way through the four previous ones. That would be just silly.

Dragons, lots of nudity, lots of violence, little chaps and big walls. It’s on Sky Atlantic at 9pm tonight, Monday. But you knew that anyway.

Tom Rob Smith’s Child 44 was quite the debut seven years ago. It’s certainly the most-celebrated and successful of the ever-expanding brigade of stoic Soviet detectives tiptoeing their way through a treacherous and dangerous Stalinist state where crime doesn’t officially exist.

The novel was based on the crimes of Andrei Chikatilo, the so-called Rostov Ripper, who was executed for 52 murders in the Soviet Union.

Now comes the inevitable movie version, out this Friday, and it’s got a hell of a cast. Gary ‘Tinker’ Oldman, Tom ‘Mad’ Hardy and Vincent ‘Mesrine’ Cassel among them, none of whom have ever been accused of under-committing to a role, and all of who can be seen energetically clicking out those Russian consonants in the grim trailer.

TV & Movie Crime Log: Code, Daredevil, Tatau, Wick & River

Code Of A KillerThere’s a genuinely fascinating drama on ITV tonight, about the birth of DNA fingerprinting and how it was first used to catch a killer. The introduction of genetic profiling changed murder investigations — and crime-fiction — forever. Code Of A Killer is based on the extraordinary true story of Alec Jeffreys’ discovery of DNA fingerprinting and its first use by Detective Chief Superintendent David Baker in catching a double murderer.

Please open your mouth so the blurb can take a swab:

In 1983, in a small village outside Leicester, 15-year-old Lynda Mann is found by a footpath, raped and strangled to death. A year on, after an exhaustive but fruitless search for the killer, Detective Chief Superintendent David Baker is forced to scale down the investigation.

Meanwhile, just a few miles up the road at the University of Leicester, scientist Dr Alec Jeffreys invents a remarkable technique to read DNA – the unique genetic fingerprint of every individual – something never previously achieved despite decades of research across the globe. His discovery is first put to use in an immigration case, proving the parentage of a young Ghanaian boy and preventing his deportation. The acceptance of Jeffreys’ findings in a court of law opens the door to DNA testing and he and his university laboratory are swamped by paternity and immigration cases.

Summer 1986, and 15-year-old Dawn Ashworth goes missing – last seen just a hundred yards from where Lynda’s body was discovered. Dawn’s body is found two days later, she has been strangled and hidden in undergrowth near a footpath shortcut. DCS Baker is back on the case – convinced the same culprit has struck again. This time the investigation bears fruit when a young man from the area is seen acting suspiciously at the time of Dawn’s murder, confesses to her killing. However, he refuses to admit he had anything to do with the death of Lynda Mann.

Reading about Jeffreys’ work in a local paper, Baker approaches him at the university – perhaps the DNA test can prove the teenagers involvement in Lynda’s death? Jeffreys is hesitant – the DNA sample from the murder scene is nearly three years old, and the technique was not intended or designed for criminal investigation. Furthermore, having only been used in paternity and immigration cases, would the findings be accepted in a criminal court?

But Jeffreys is able to obtain a clear genetic fingerprint of the murderer from a sample and it proves that the teenager did not kill Lynda Mann… could the murders have been committed by two different men, or is he innocent?

Code Of A Killer stars John ‘Master’ Simm, and the hardest-working man in showbusiness, David ‘Titmuss’ Threlfall. The first episode of this two-parter is on at 9pm tonight.

DaredevilMarvel’s ever-expanding cinematic universe comes to Netflix on Friday with its new 10-part Daredevil series. You may – if you’re unlucky — remember a Ben Affleck movie of the same name that crashed-and-burned. But we are promised a more gritty outing this time round.

Daredevil is the blind superhero, the Man Without Fear, who defends the few blocks of Hell’s Kitchen from villains such as Kingpin and Bullseye. A tough job back in 1964, certainly, when Hell’s Kitchen was laced with crime and poverty, but these days it’s all boutiques and macrobiotic restaurants, so I reckon I could make a good fist of the job.

The plan is to roll out other Marvel supers on the network –- Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, Iron Fist –- and then team them all up in The Defenders. The MCU has gone from strength-to-strength in the cinema, but so far Marvel’s TV output — S.H.I.E.L.D. –- has been less than compelling. Let’s hope Daredevil can turn things around.

TatauBBC Three’s new Pacific Island mystery series is called Tatau and starts on Sunday night at 10pm.

The blurb hints at a supernatural vibe:

A pair of 20-something friends from London, Kyle Connor and Paul ‘Budgie’ Griffiths are travelling the world looking for sun, fun and adventure.

Excited about their eventual destination – the Cook Islands – Kyle has designed and had inked on him a Maori-style tattoo. But when they arrive on the beautiful South Pacific island of Manutaki his marking soon provokes unexpected reactions from the locals.

The two throw themselves in to island life, flirting with the ladies and sampling a local hallucinogenic drink. But their fun comes to an abrupt end when, while snorkelling in a lagoon, Kyle finds the body of local girl Aumea tied up underwater – dead. Returning to the lagoon with the police, Kyle finds her corpse has disappeared. But Kyle knows what he saw, despite the protestations of his friends and the locals Mauntaki residents…

Desperate to uncover what has happened, Kyle and Budgie enter a world of Maori myths, symbols, and visions that will change their lives forever.

There are also couple of films you may want to considering seeing at the end of the week.  John Wick has garnered a bit of a cult following for its gun-fu and chop-socky hijinks, and loving homage to many a tough-guy revenge thriller. Keanu Reeves is the titular hero, a man who goes on the rampage when some punks kill his puppy — and, frankly, who can blame him? You simply do not lay a finger on a guy’s dawg.

All the Fellas on the Board have a soft spot for for Keanu, and wish him well. And, hell — gun-fu! What’s not to like?

All you ladies out there seem to have a thing for Ryan Gosling. But his directing debut, Lost River — a fantasy neo-noir — so fucked with the critical faculties of the audience at the Cannes Film Festival that they didn’t know whether to boo or clap — so in a state of heightened confusion they did both.

It’s about a young man who discovers an underwater town, or something, and Matt Smith’s in it playing a bully called bully. It’s brooding and full of meaning, or has no meaning at all — depending on whether you fancy Ryan Gosling, probably.

Lost River opens in ‘key cities.’ Now go finish your eggs.

 

TV & Movie Crime Log: Bloodlines, Gunman

So it’s been over a week now and Frank and Clare are kinda done. Nobody has dumbed any content on Netflix. I don’t care, fella, you say, I don’t have Netflix.

But, wait, look – here comes Bloodlines, the first 13-episodes of which are ready to stream on Friday. Bloodlines stars Kyle Chandler as the patriarch of a family of siblings who harbour dark secrets. Dark secrets – that’s what we want! We like Chandler a lot. We loved his terse presence as Coach, um, Thing on Friday Night Lights when he was married to that lady from Nashville, Mrs, er, Thing.

Bloodlines is bought to you by the people who made Damages, which we liked for a couple of seasons before Glenn Close’s icy machinations started to go on a loop.

Netflix is promising to premiere 13 series a year. Next up is Daredevil in April.

So Sean Penn has looked at what Liam Neeson is doing and thought, I’m going to have some of that. His people talked to Pierre ‘Taken’ Morel’s people and bob’s your uncle. In The Gunman, Penn’s expressive face is used to good effect as an operative named Jim Terrier. That’s a good start –- I’m hoping that all the characters are named after types of dog!

Terrier wants out of the game, he’s done with the constant grooming and vitamins, so he can settle down with his longtime love. The organization he works for has other plans in mind, and he’s forced to go on the run across Europe. He plays a fatal game of cat and mouse – and dog! – with a top class cast of British actors. Idris! Ray! Cromwell!

The film is adapted from the French novel The Prone Gunman by Jean-Patrick Manchette.

Look, it’s the London Eye — and some other places!

TV and Movie Crime Log: Cards, Monkeys, Boy, Focus and Follows

House Of CardsThe good news: Frank Underwood and that piece-of-work wife of his are back. The bad news: you may do a Madonna as you attempt to physically lift yourself off the sofa when you’re done bingeing on the entire third season of House of Cards, which has dropped onto Netflix today.

The original BBC series based on the Michael Dobbs novel, as scripted by Andrew Davies, lasted for three series, so it’ll be interesting — with Frank now President — to see whether the remake follows the same, loose trilogy structure. Will this be the last season we’ll seeing Frank hanging out the window of the Oval Room smoking his nightly cigarette, or will he continue to slip out the White House in a trenchcoat to push people under tube trains?

I would imagine there’s plenty of life in the old dog yet. All the episodes of House of Cards are available on Netflix at the usual subscription rates. The constant buffering comes free.

Binge away, my slovenly chums.

12 MonkeysOf course that will mean you’ll probably miss the premiere of 12 Monkeys. I know what you’re thinking. A television adaptation of a stone-cold Terry Gilliam cult movie classic, inspired by Chris Marker’s 1962 short photo-montage movie La Jetée?

How could they, Fella? How could they do such a thing?!!!

I feel your pain, I share your heartbreak and yet –- be strong, be brave, and lay off the caffeine.

Give it a chance. True, it’s on SyFy – home of Sharknado and Extant – but let’s just all remain calm. Give it the benefit of the doubt.

You could always turn over if it’s not to your taste and watch — I don’t know, Lewis is probably on one of ITV’s portfolio of digital channels. Chances are, it’s probably on all of them. You could watch that. Or write a stern letter. Television execs love receiving letters.

The plot is more or less the same, with time traveller James Cole travelling from 2043 to prevent the release of a deadly virus by an organization known as the Army of the Twelve Minkeys. Sorry — Monkeys.

That, of course, is the plot of 12 Monkeys, not Lewis.

Or you could always go out. Get your coat on and check out the local Odeon. Ever wondered what the hell kind of word is Odeon? Well, it’s an acronym of sorts. It stands for Oscar Deutch Entertains Our Nation. Actually, Odeons were Greek amphitheatres back in the day, until Oscar’s clever marketing people got their hands on the word.

Anyhow.

You could always go to the pictures. You could go and see Focus. That looks good. It stars Will Smith and Margot Robbie as con-persons who specialise in sleight of hand techniques. Focus is getting a saturation release, which means you’ll probably have to see it whether you like it or not.

Or there’s The Boy Next Door. It stars Jennifer Lopez as a woman with big hair who moves into a new house with her unhappy family. There’s this hot guy next door, he’s probably always fixing stuff with his top off, and –- you know how these things happen –- one thing leads to another and… so on. Turns out the guy is a complete mentalist.

Or there’s It Follows. It’s a teen horror movie, but it’s actually got some pretty good reviews. It’s about this girl and she’s, like, being followed.

Okay, that’s it, I’m all out of stuff. Go and enjoy the sunshine, or whatever the weather is like in your little corner of the world.

*taps watch*

We’ll meet back here again at the usual time.

Movie Crime Log: The Interview

So there was this film that was meant to come out, starring two guys who have been in some okay to middling stuff, but then some people took a dislike to said movie and sent some nasty messages and released all kinds of data, and everyone went, whoa, that’s harsh, man.

So the movie was put back on the shelf until the whole thing died down a bit. All this business sent little tremors around Hollywood and beyond — kind of like the shakes you’re gonna get when they start fracking under your bathroom — leading to the resignation this week of Sony head Amy Pascal.

And now they’re finally releasing The Interview, they’re giving it another go. It’s February, who’s going to notice? And whatever the quality of the product – and we’re talking Rogen and Franco here, so I’m not going to let my hopes soar – The Interview will forever more  garner a small little corner of history where cyber-espionage mutated before the public’s very eyes into something quite, quite different and quite, quite terrifying.

I’m thinking you’ve probably seen bits of this trailer on the news, like, a lot:

 

 

 

Movie Crime Log: Gambler, Mortdecai, Violent

It’s the weekend, or it will be, and there will be movies. We can promise you that.

The Gambler is a remake of the James Caan ’70s movie and stars Mark Wahlberg as a gifted English professor – yes, you read that correctly – who owes lots of money to some very nasty types thanks to his gambling habit. The only way out of this predicament, he decides, is to gamble a bit more.

There’s some good talent involved in this film. Wahlberg, John Goodman, Jessica Lange and George ‘Police Squad’ Kennedy. It’s written by William Monahan, who wrote the screenplay for The Departed.

The trailer is channeling The Stones:

Johnny Depp channels Terry Thomas to add another character to his gallery of brushstroke caricatures in Mortdecai, in an adaptation of Kyril Bonfiglioli’s books.

Bonfiglioli’s character was the protagonist of a series of three comic novels in the 70s, and another which was published posthumously. Part Tom Ripley, part Bertie Wooster, Charlie Mortdecai was an amoral art-dealer who, along with his manservant Jock Strapp, got into all kinds of scrapes.

Director David Koepp has had a tremendous career as a writer – Carlito’s Way, Spider-Man and Panic Room are among his scripts – but the word on Mortdecai is not so good.

The trailer is channeling Jones:

After all that pastel frivolity, we sink into the darker shades for the very serious A Most Violent Year.

The year in question is 1981, which was statistically one of the most violent in the history of the city of New York. The film is about a guy who uses the rampant violence and corruption of the city to drag himself to the top of the heap. It stars Oscar Isaac and Jessica Chastain, heaps of camelhair, a lot of beige, and not a ton of laughs.

The trailer looks very Coppola, very Lumet, and it is absolutely channeling Gaye: