Archive for October, 2012

iLL Manors

Friday, October 19th, 2012

Clearly not content with writing, performing and producing hugely successful multimillion-selling records, and adding acting to his CV when he’s not busy, Ben Drew, or Plan B, has chucked in filmmaking for good measure.

As a huge Tarantino fan (who isn’t?), Drew was always going to give linear, fluid storytelling a miss in favour of something more staggered and challenging. It’s a tricky feat; if it goes well then you feast with Pulp Fiction at the table of tasty treats, but if it goes badly then you eat from the bin with John Carpenter’s Ghosts of Mars.

Somewhat predictably, Drew has opted to tell an interweaving story based on the streets of London, specifically Forest Gate, where he grew up. iLL Manors examines the mindsets, morality and actions of several different characters, with plenty of grit and intensity, manifesting in both mental and physical form.

This might already sound a little similar to other Brit efforts such as Bullet Boy, Kidulthood and the sequel Adulthood, which featured Drew as a supporting actor, but there are plenty of issues to tackle and stories to tell on the streets and estates of London.
During the course of iLL Manors, we meet Kirby (Keith Coggins), a middle-aged drug dealer fresh from a prison term, and his former protégé Chris (Lee Allen), who now runs things around town, clearly possessing the intimidating physique to do so. The two are no longer allies, which has more than a little to do with Kirby’s treatment of Chris at a younger age.

Meanwhile, Ed (Ed Skrein), a drug dealer with a spiky temperament, and his friend Aaron (Riz Ahmed) are in search of the former’s phone, which seems to have been stolen by prostitute and crack-fanatic Michelle (Anouska Mond). As they hunt her down, it becomes clear that she will have to find another particularly grim and harrowing way to replace the cost of the phone, which she denies ever stealing in the first place.

On top of this we have Katya (Natalie Press), a new mother on the run from Russian mobsters who have been using her in a sickening sex trafficking scheme, whilst early teen Jake (Ryan De La Cruz) finds himself accepted into a violent gang, led by a criminal looking to test his young recruit’s immediate loyalty with a brutal task.

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Avengers Assemble

Tuesday, October 2nd, 2012

Avenger's AssembleBack in 2008, the release of Iron Man garnered rave reviews from audiences and critics alike.  This opened the door for Marvel to move forward with bringing its epic universe to the big screen.

The grand plan of having Iron Man, Thor, Captain America and Hulk springboard from their own movies into a single all-out action fest, with scope to continue their own stories afterwards, has come to fruition, with the big green guy’s recasting proving the only real continuity blip.

Downey Jr.’s wise-cracking, arrogant but hugely likeable Tony Stark has made for a great Iron Man, even if the second movie was a little weak. Chris Hemsworth has also proved a genius piece of casting for Thor, blending brash with stoic to give viewers a hugely watchable embodiment of the mythological god, and the film was a fast, fun affair.

Chris Evans as Captain America is certainly better than the film itself, as the second half struggles to deliver on a promising start. Evans does a great job of merging the all-American action hero with a man driven purely by his morals, so he looked a smart choice for the role.  It was just a shame that the film came loose.

Edward Norton was entrusted with the role of Bruce Banner. The Incredible Hulk was itself a reboot after the dullard, lifeless effort Hulk from Ang Lee, and whilst Norton’s movie was a stark improvement, Marvel obviously felt he didn’t fit going forward, and recast him with Mark Ruffalo. Rumours suggest it was actually about money, but surely, in Hollywood, the land of charity and low wages, this cannot be true.

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