REVIEW: 44 INCH CHEST

Starring

Ray Winstone (Black Widow)
Ian McShane (John Wick)
John Hurt (Hellboy)
Tom Wilkinson (Batman Begins)
Stephen Dillane (Zero Dark Thirty)
Joanne Whalley (Before You Go)
Melvil Poupaud (Golden Youth)
Steven Berkoff (North V South)
Edna Doré (Goodbye Charlie Bright)
Derek Lea (Jupiter Ascending)

Joanne Whalley in 44 Inch Chest (2009)Colin Diamond is a successful car salesman who, after discovering his wife Liz is having an affair, has an emotional breakdown. His friends convince him to kidnap his wife’s lover and then encourage him to torture and kill him.Melvil Poupaud and Ray Winstone in 44 Inch Chest (2009)Diamond’s partners in crime are suave homosexual gambler Meredith, crotchety and bigoted Old Man Peanut, the down to earth Archie and the combustible Mal, who by turns encourage Colin’s lust for revenge and sympathise with his situation, and conspire to emotionally and mentally torture Liz’s new boyfriend, Loverboy, a “Frog” waiter, first by locking him in a cupboard and threatening him, and tying him up and subjecting him to humiliating verbal and physical assault.Tom Wilkinson and Ray Winstone in 44 Inch Chest (2009)Parts of the story occur in flashback, with Colin discovering Liz’s infidelity and the after effects of it, which then affect the present, in which he tries to come to terms with the shame and torment that this brings to him. Parts of the story also appear to happen inside Colin’s mind, with him trying to reconcile with himself, using his friends as representations of his own turmoil, and his resolving of the situation.Joanne Whalley and Melvil Poupaud in 44 Inch Chest (2009)It is far from an action film, and if you want simple plot this is not the film for you, but it is a beautifully crafted set piece delivered by a very fine set of actors, performing a fine script and under subtle but powerful direction.

REVIEW: THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO (2011)

CAST

Daniel Craig (Cowboys & Aliens)
Rooney Mara (The Scoial Network)
Christopher Plummer (Star Trek 6)
Stellan Skarsgård (Thor)
Steven Berkoff (A Clockwork Orange)
Robin Wright (Nine Lives)
Joely Richardson (Nip/Tuck)
Goran Višnjić (Elektra)
Geraldine James (Arthur)
Embeth Davidtz (Army of Darkness)
Alan Dale (Lost)
Julian Sands (Gotham)
Joel Kinnaman (Robocop 2014)
Donald Sumpter (Game of Thrones)
Tony Way (Edge of Tomorrow)
Martin Jarvis (Titanic)
Christine Adams (Black Lightning)
Élodie Yung (Daredevil)

In Stockholm, Sweden, journalist Mikael Blomkvist (Daniel Craig), co-owner of Millennium magazine, has lost a libel case brought against him by businessman Hans-Erik Wennerström (Ulf Friberg). Lisbeth Salander (Rooney Mara), a brilliant but troubled investigator and hacker, compiles an extensive background check on Blomkvist for business magnate Henrik Vanger (Christopher Plummer), who has a special task for him. In exchange for the promise of damning information about Wennerström, Blomkvist agrees to investigate the disappearance and assumed murder of Henrik’s grandniece, Harriet, 40 years ago. After moving to the Vanger family’s compound, Blomkvist uncovers a notebook containing a list of names and numbers that no one has been able to decipher.

Salander, who is under state legal guardianship due to diagnosed mental incompetency, is appointed a new guardian, lawyer Nils Bjurman (Yorick van Wageningen), after her previous guardian Holger Palmgren suffers a stroke. Bjurman abuses his authority to extort sexual favors from Salander and violently rapes her, not realizing she has a hidden video camera on her bag. At their next meeting she stuns him with a stun gun, rapes him with a dildo, and marks him as a rapist with a tattoo on his chest and stomach. Threatening to disclose the video recording, she blackmails him into writing a glowing progress report and granting her full control of her money.

Blomkvist’s daughter Pernilla (Josefin Asplund) visits him and notes that the numbers from the notebook are Bible references. Blomkvist tells Vanger’s lawyer, Dirch Frode (Steven Berkoff), that he needs help with his research, and Frode recommends Salander based on the work she did researching Blomkvist himself. Blomkvist hires Salander to investigate the notebook’s content. She uncovers a connection to a series of murders of young women from 1947 through 1967, with the women either being Jewish or having Biblical names; many of the Vangers are known antisemites. During the investigation, Salander and Blomkvist become lovers. Henrik’s openly national socialist brother Harald identifies Martin (Stellan Skarsgård), Harriet’s brother and operational head of the Vanger empire, and Blomkvist marks Martin as a possible suspect. Salander’s research uncovers evidence that Martin and his deceased father, Gottfried, committed the murders.

Blomkvist breaks into Martin’s house to look for more clues, but Martin catches him and prepares to kill him. While torturing Blomkvist, Martin brags of having killed women for decades but denies killing Harriet. Salander arrives, subdues Martin and saves Blomkvist. While Salander tends to Blomkvist, Martin flees. Salander, on her motorcycle, pursues Martin in his SUV. He loses control of his vehicle on an icy road and dies when it catches fire. Salander nurses Blomkvist back to health and tells him that she tried to kill her father when she was 12. Blomkvist deduces that Harriet is still alive and her cousin Anita (Joely Richardson) likely knows where she is. He and Salander monitor Anita, waiting for her to contact Harriet. When nothing happens, Blomkvist confronts her, deducing that the woman posing as Anita is Harriet herself. She explains that her father and brother had sexually abused her for years, and that Martin saw her kill their father in self-defense. Her cousin Anita smuggled her out of the island and let her live under her identity. Finally free of her brother, she returns to Sweden and tearfully reunites with Henrik.

As promised, Henrik gives Blomkvist the information on Wennerström, but it proves worthless. Salander hacks into Wennerström’s computer and presents Blomkvist with evidence of Wennerström’s crimes. Blomkvist publishes an article that ruins Wennerström, who flees the country. Salander hacks into Wennerström’s bank accounts and, travelling to Switzerland in disguise, transfers two billion euros to various accounts. Wennerström is found murdered. Salander reveals to her former guardian Holger Palmgren that she is in love with Blomkvist. On her way to give Blomkvist a Christmas present, Salander sees him with his longtime lover and business partner Erika Berger (Robin Wright). Heartbroken, she discards the gift and rides away.I recommend it whether or not you have seen the original series. I also recommend you do check out the original series. If they do complete the rest of the trilogy, there will be opportunities in those movies to vastly outshine the originals, certainly if they include more detail from the books as they do here.

REVIEW: WE STILL KILL THE OLD WAY

 

 

CAST

Ian Ogilvy (Death Becomes Her)
Alison Doody (A View To A Kill)
Christopher Ellison (The Bill)
Danny-Boy Hatchard (Eastenders)
Lysette Anthony (Krull)
James Cosmo (Game of Thrones)
Steven Berkoff (A Clockwork Orange)
Dani Dyer (Vendetta)

Brothers Ritchie and Charlie Archer (Ian Ogilvy and Steven Berkoff) are the last of the original hard men. The former east end gangsters ran organised crime in the east end in a similar vein to the Krays and have now retired. The world has changed and gone are the days of going into your local for a pint with the lads, only to be replaced with bistros where Charlie regales old friends with stories of the old days while Ritchie is settling into the quiet life in Spain. Charlie is still something of a hothead from his villain days and Ritchie, the more reasonable of the brothers, is trying to adapt to the quiet life of peace and sun whilst practicing safecracking as a hobby by the pool. The quiet life is shattered when just before Charlie is due to visit Ritchie in Spain, commits an act of decency by rescuing a young girl Lauren (Dani Dyer) from being gang raped. Charlie is brutally murdered by the biggest street gang in the area – the vicious E2 gang, who hold the neighbourhood in a chokehold of fear.webANXwestillkilloldwayThe E2 gang, led by Aaron (Danny-Boy Hatchard), have the run of the area and make sure people don’t talk. With youth, numbers and confidence on their side, they represent the threat of the future with uncontrollable urban violence.  Ritchie is contacted by an old friend, Lizzie Davis (Lysette Anthony) after she finds Charlie’s body and the police (led by DI Susan Taylor) don’t’ have enough to go after the E2 gang. Ritchie returns to East London to find so much has changed and the days of the old firms have been replaced by street gangs and teens; weaponising social media to chronicle their violent and destructive activities and to blackmail victims.Ritchie reunites his old firm consisting of Roy (Chris Ellison – The Bill) Arthur (James Cosmo – Game of Thrones) and aptly Butch – named for obvious reasons (Tony Denham of St George’s Day and The Football Factory) to execute a plan of vengeance against the teenage killers. Working against youth, numbers, confidence and social media, the old firm need to ‘box clever’ in order to get justice. London and gang culture have changed so Ritchie and the firm adapt, teaching the new kids that the classic methods of violence are still the best.57591982580355677512Showered final confrontation between Old School Cool and Street is something to watch but viewing these gentleman gangsters execute street justice is, rather than being seen as torturous, makes for strong social commentary about today’s escalating gang culture and civic duty (as unconventional as it may be) in protecting our neighbourhoods from being taken over by a swarms of gangs. We still Kill the Old Way is not your typical British gangster film for all the right reasons, it offers a powerhouse talent circle of British actors, a strong story with well constructed twists, solid, believable action with the right blend of comedic touches which create an enjoyable story for a British public to engage in but also to believe in.

REVIEW: SHADOW OF THE SWORD (AKA The Headsman)

CAST

Nikolaj Coster-Waldau (Game of Thrones)
Steven Berkoff (A Clockwork Orange)
Julie Cox (Dune: The Mini Series)
Peter McDonald  (The Family Man)
Anastasia Griffith (Alfie)
Eddie Marsan (V for Vendetta)
John Shrapnel (The Duchess)
Lee Ingleby (Ever After)
Patrick Godfrey (Les Miserables)

the_headsman_foto_02The Headsman is a much better film than most of the ratings and reviews on IMDB. One problem is that people want to be entertained in a medieval film and having swordplay, gore, special effects, a princess and a hero all help. This film doesn’t have that. One reviewer compared it with The Name of the Rose and it definitely falls into that category.the_headsman16There really isn’t much intrigue, however, and that would have made it a better film. It is more about the honor of Martin (Nikolaj Coaster-Waldau) who has a childhood friendship with Georg (Peter McDonald), marries an outcast (Anna played by Anastasia Griffith) and chooses an untouchable professional as an executioner. It is about human nature: betrayal, love, ambition, greed, honor, and the dilemmas that come when forces beyond one’s control affects one’s life and one is faced with undesirable choices.Forces of good and evil are at battle as mistrust, superstition, crudeness and naivety dominate the Inquisition period. Not everything is within control but Martin lives honorable and his friend Georg does too but at times is torn by his conscience and what the town leaders and Inquisition ask him to do.the_headsman10Unfortunately, Martin is unaware that Georg is willing to help but his hands are tied. Sadly no one questions the despicable, filthy Fabio (Eddie Marsan) about the truth although it certainly would made sense. But perhaps that makes heroes in the film, an outcome not preferred. And in those times, witches and heretics were hanged, executed or burned. Reason wasn’t the norm but fear and superstition ruled. No heroes, things beyond our control, love and suffering. Even being the daughter of the emperor or son of the archbishop doesn’t save anyone. For comparison, the Black Death nor Inquisition spared no one of title.the_headsman2In the historical context, it’s a graphically accurate film. The set and acting were excellent. Cinematography and atmosphere were good, although I would have preferred sharper camera work and use of the landscape. But perhaps being low-budgeted, the filming was limited. Script was reasonable but could be stronger. Since reality isn’t as dramatic as fantasy, this movie won’t excite many unless you like a thoughtful period drama.