Better Call Saul – Uno

Better Call Saul HeaderLast night, Saul Goodman – Breaking Bad’s slimy, two-bit ambulance chaser played by Bob Odenkirk  – weaseled his way back onto our screens in AMC’s Better Call Saul. For creators Vince Gilligan and Peter Gould,  spinning off from their monolithic series was a risky move and their fan base – used to the finer things – would be quick to pipe up if their latest serving of Albuquerque pulp fiction was not up to muster. With the first instalment, ‘Uno‘ – dropped onto Netflix yesterday like a briefcase of cash left in a train station – we can rest assured that we are in safe hands as the Gilligan directed episode delivers in dark comedy and a melancholic tone, with a knowing performance from Odenkirk, as well as a few familiar faces on the sidelines.
We begin with a black and white ‘cold open’ – a stylistic technique that was perfected to an art form on Bad – in which a moustachioed Saul is working behind the counter at a greasy Cinnabon, his paranoid eyes fixed on the skinhead hunk of muscle who appears to be staring angrily back at him. It’s a red herring; the man stomps past and greets his smiling family outside with a big hug as Saul breaths a sigh of relief through his unfashionable whiskers. Back home, he pours himself a punchy cocktail and settles down with a video tape of Better Call Saul commercials before we launch into a vibrant, scratchy, technicolor intro that seems to finish as soon as it has started.
Better Call Saul B&WThis masterful sequence, through its style and use of generic tropes, sets an intoxicating tone for the episode and indeed series that will follow. The black and white photography, whilst serving as a time-defining shorthand (these events are taking place after the events of at least this first episode) it also clues us into Gilligan and Gould’s noir sensibilities, referencing the oppressive filmmaking styles of the 40s with deep shadows, stark contrast and low angles.
These noir affiliations ring throughout the episode, particularly in the photography – shot here on 4K digital – but also in its instigation of heavy plotting, sleazeball character types, and – in one alarmingly necrophilic instance – some pretty shocking gallows humour. It’s a delight to see Saul himself, here going by his given name Jimmy McGill, making a start in the business, psyching himself up in the men’s as the milkshake slurping courtroom waits patiently.

Bring on episode two!

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Svengali Review – Filmoria

Svengali

Dixie – Johnny Owen’s plucky Welshman at the centre of this music biz romantic dramedy – is a well observed creation; an endlessly likeable schmo with a passion for music and an insatiable need to make it big managing a band. He moves to London with his girlfriend Shell (the just-as-pluckyVicky McClure) to bring superstardom to a talented but juvenile online discovery, The Premature Congratulations, but his idealistic, naïve temperament soon comes to blows with the ruthlessness of the big city scene…

Read my full review at Filmoria

Wolf of Wall Street Review

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The fifth Scorsese/DiCaprio collaboration is the latest in a slew of vibrant yet disenchanted depictions of American consumerism gone horribly wrong. The story of real-life-Gordon Gekko Jordan Belfort, is an all singing, all dancing, all snorting indictment of the immoral pursuit of money on 1990s Wall Street.

Jonah WolfAlready notorious for its contentious depictions of sex and drugs, the film has the rebellious air of early Scorsese and the New Hollywood, right down to the editing which refuses to play by basic continuity rules whenever anyone is high. Annoyingly, the indulgent script allows for some scenes and comedic sequences to be stretched thin, and there is a yacht-load of filler which could have easily been cut. Nevertheless, with an excellent cast headed by a bug-eyed DiCaprio as the drug-addled, prurient Belfort, and a superlative Jonah Hill, this is a riotous picture whose hefty three hour runtime zips by. That’s maximum ROI.

The Wardrobe of Walter White

Walter White Costime Episode 1Unless you’re one of the seven or eight people in the world who has yet to clear time in their schedule for Vince Gilligan’s zeitgeist defining TV masterpiece, this will be the best thing you see on the internet today. Nathan Peters, a graphic designer from the Big Apple, has – presumably on some kind of methamphetamine high – decided to meticulously illustrate each and every outfit worn by Walter White in Breaking Bad, from ‘tighty-whities’ to Hazmat to that Pork Pie hat.

The series of prints – described on the website as “The story of Breaking Bad’s Walter White, as told through the clothes he wore” – are made up of 521 outfits (an average of 8.4 per episode) and are presented as each individual series and then a behemoth collection covering the entire journey of the character.

Nathan Peters’ staggeringly well observed project is not only a joy to behold, but in depicting each and every outfit worn by Walter White it illustrates the show’s prevalent theme of deception in middle class America. Throughout the series, Walter uses various guises to manipulate the others around him to achieve his own megalomanic ends and these collections chart the success with which he is able to do so.

The Wardrobe of Walter White

Scroobius Pip // Exclusive Rhythm Circus Interview

Interview originally published at Rhythm Circus

Scroobius Pip

Scroobius Pip – the bearded face of the UK’s spoken word scene – is hosting a monthly film night at London’s coolest indie picture-house, The Prince Charles Cinema. Kicking off with Spanish time-travel thriller Time Crimes (click here for tickets), Pip’s mission is to take his London fans on a journey through his cinematic tastes and Rhythm Circus is along for the ride.

Naturally we wanted to know more and Pip, ever the gracious gent, agreed to answer a fistful of our geekiest questions…

The first question has to be about facial hair I’m afraid. Who has the most outstanding beard in cinema? 
Me when I finally make my transition over to film! For now I’d have to give the long term crown to Brian Blessed. Never has a beard looked so good.

Tell us the story behind your night at the Prince Charles? 
Well, I have been a fan of the place for years and, to be honest, I think they got sick of me arguing with them on Twitter about what they should and shouldn’t screen. So they agreed to give me my own monthly night where I can introduce a film of my choice and then host a Q&A or panel of some sort afterwards. I cant wait!

Time CrimesWe hear you are kicking off the series with Nacho Vigalondo’s mindbending Timecrimes, an under-seen Spanish indie rather than an established cult flick. Interesting choice…
Well, when I saw Harvey at the Prince Charles it struck me how amazing it was to see, on the big screen, one of my favourite films that I had only ever watched at home. So when choosing my films for this run I wanted to pick stuff that a) I loved, and b) many people either wont have seen OR simply wont have seen on the big screen.
Timecrimes seems to me to be one of the great overlooked films. Partly, I feel, to the tone of it being completely lost when the title is translated into English! Lets face it, Timecrimes sounds like an Arnie or Van Damme film.
I am currently working on getting a video introduction from Nacho himself and will have a panel afterwards where a physicist will discuss theories of time travel and I, along with film nerd and comedian Rich Sandling, will discuss the subjects of good films with bad names and the general horror of what can be lost in translation.

Let’s talk mainstream: what’s been your favourite cinema going experience of the summer?
Tough question! I LOVE the cinema and try to go four or five times a month. I think Alpha Papa has to take it though. Such a huge Alan Partridge fan, and I was worried about how they would pull it all off, but I absolutely loved it.

As a man with a penchant for the spoken word, you must be particularly attuned to dialogue when you’re watching a film. Do you have a favourite line?
It would either be Elwood P Dowd’s speech towards the end of Harvey (ending with) “….for years I was smart… I recommend pleasant” or Lloyd Dobler in Say Anything “I gave her my heart…she gave me a pen…”

We loved the video to Stunner (see below), your new track with dan le sac. It seemed like the video might have been influenced by the films of Gaspar Noe (Irreversible, Enter the Void). Was this intentional? 
It wasn’t intentional but I do produce and direct my own videos and I’m a MASSIVE fan of Gaspar so it’s lovely to hear that has some how come through. Irreversible is hopefully going to be the third film in my run of monthly nights at the Prince Charles. I remember seeing that on its initial short cinema release and being overwhelmed by the experience.
Similarly when Gaspar came over to do a Q&A and screening of Enter the Void. I think Enter the Void was the first film I saw that made me gutted I couldn’t watch it immediately again on DVD. Some of the shots instantly jumped out as having a hugely different impact on DVD compared to on the big screen. Neither better or worse, but it was something I wanted to check straight away!

Finally, if Scroobius Pip and dan le sac had a Lightsaber duel, who would win?
I am gangley and rangy so I therefore think I would have a slight advantage.

Be sure not to miss Scroobius Pip Presents… Timecrimes at the Prince Charles Cinema this Thursday. We’ll see you there.

For more info, and tickets, visit: PRINCE CHARLES CINEMA

Pain and Gain

Pain and Gain

Director: Michael Bay
Screenwriter: Christopher Markus, Stephen McFeely
Cast:  Mark Whalberg, Dwayne Johnson, Anthonie Mackie
Runtime: 129 mins
Certificate: 15
Release Date: In Cinemas 30 August

PAIN AND GAINMichael Bay detractors will have a field day with Pain and Gain, a true-crime black comedy which shamelessly wallows in fetishised displays of consumerism and the slow-mo flexing of sun-kissed abs. Positioned by Paramount as a debauched romp across the muscular beaches of Miami, it is apt to assume that Bay’s latest outing – and first film since 2005 not brought to you by Hasbro – is a masturbatory love-letter to testosterone fuelled dominance. But is it?

Read my full review at Rhythm Circus

Deranged (1974)

Deranged Review

Director: Jeff Gillen, Alan Ormsby
Screenwriter: Alan Ormsby
Cast:  Roberts Blossom, Cosette Lee, Leslie Carlson
Runtime: 84 mins
Certificate: 18
Release Date: Out now on BR BUY NOW FROM ARROW VIDEO

derangedbedOf the films inspired by Wisconsin body-snatcher Ed Gein, Jeff Gillen and Alan Ormsby’s 1974 oddity Deranged steers closest to the truth, the opening narration informing us that only the names of the characters have been changed: a quick Wikipedia search will prove its accuracy. Our subject, Ezra Cobb, is less of a Movie Monster than Norman Bates or Leatherface and the low key settings route his exploits in a more mundane realm than Bate’s Motel or even Texas Chainsaw’s backstreets.

Read the full review of DERANGED @ RHYTHM CIRCUS