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Made in Britain: High Rise


I like Ben Wheatley films. Hell,  I even gave the nod to Kill List for my film of the year, and I rated Down Terrace quite highly too. Unlike Droid, I even found something to like in Sightseers. However, I found A Field in England to be a risible load of art student toss, and I’ve got nothing good to say about it. Unfortunately, for me, I don’t like J. G. Ballard, believing him to be probably the most overrated author Britain’s produced in the last 100 years. So, it was with somewhat mixed feelings that I sat down to watch Wheatley’s adaptation of Ballard’s famously unfilmable High Rise- a movie that spent the better part of 30 years failing to make it to the screen.

Contains social commentary (groan) and spoilers below Read More…

Made In Britain: Kingsman

Kingsman poster

Well, colour me surprised. After the terminally shit Kick Ass and Kick Ass 2, and the less than wholly whelming (to put it mildly) X: Men prequel, I’d written Matthew Vaughan off as someone that had it once, lost it, and cannae get it back. As such, and given that Kingsman was from a funnybook by Mark Millar, I had the film also written off as another lame Bond spoof along the lines of Jonny English. Except, given Millar’s involvement, probably more unpleasant. Imagine my surprise, when it proved to be quite entertaining and a highly watchable, albeit flawed, film- so much better than I thought it was going to be.

Contains Harry Palmer Gentlemen Spies and spoilers below Read More…

Made in Britain: Paddington (2014)

Paddington poster

I toyed with doing this under the whole Parenting banner, because Paddington is, obviously, a “family” film, but in the end I discarded this idea and housed it in Made in Britain simply because it’s just so quintessentially English.

When this adaptation was first announced, my heart sank as this “property” is a staple (and much-loved) fixture of British childhood, and there was nothing I’d heard since Lucas’s neck fold grew to cover his stupid fat mouth that contained as much potential for Kindertrauma. Based on the character created by Michael Bond, Paddington is a red hat and duffel coat wearing talking bear from deepest darkest Peru with a tendency towards acts of enormous unintentional fuckuppery and a fixation on marmalade sandwiches- how on earth do you get this across on the big screen without it descending into kitsch? Then they cast Nicole Kidman as a ninth rate Cruella De Ville knock off and the last remaining unmolested part of my fond memories curled up in the corner and began to cry. The only question left for me was: how bad is this going to be?

Contains delight and spoilers below.  Read More…

Made in Britain: Under the Skin (2014)


Christ, I’ve been lazy. I’ve got all sorts of entertaining reviews of drivel racked up and ready to go, but I am instead going to review The Guardian’s number 1 film of last year: Under the Skin. This is billed as an erotic sci-fi horror art film, which reads to me like they put a number of movie descriptors into a hat and then drew them out until they got bored. Nevertheless, this is a film I really wanted to see last year, as I like one of the director’s previous efforts (more on this in a moment), the awesome Sexy Beast.

Contains Alien fuckmonsters and spoilers below.
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Made in Britain: Elfie Hopkins (2012)


Where to begin with this one. For a start, it was renamed in the US, probably in a vague attempt to cash in on the mash-up, as Elfie Hopkins: Cannibal Hunter, which is frankly an outrageous spoiler and completely blows the second half of the film. I can kind of see why it was thought to be a good idea to rename it, because “Elfie Hopkins” by itself isn’t exactly a title to get the giblets tingling, suggesting as it does a kind of dreary tween twilight-meets-Mike-Hammer farrago. What is more likely to cause a brief spike in interest is that this little film has a cast that’s far too good for it, and the strapline “who are the neighbours having for dinner” has a kind of playfulness that implies black comedy. I saw the poster on the tube when it was released and put it down in my “watch at some point, probably when it comes on Lovefilm” list. Well, it’s now on Lovefilm, so I’ve watched it.

Contains a creepy, rapey-looking, refugee from Twilight and Spoilers below. Although none of the spoilers are remotely in the same class as the spoil from renaming the damned film. 

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Made in Britain Special: A Field in England (preview)

Tonight sees a new development in the way films are distributed. Ben Wheatley’s new effort, A Field in England is the first film to be simultaneously released on DVD/ Blu, in the Cinema and shown on Television. Albeit on Film4.

I’m actually really excited by this one. There’s a Matthew Hopkins vibe to the poster and Wheatley is so far on a 100% hit rate with me (even if that is a bit wobbly).  Read More…

Made in Britain: Sightseers (2012)


This was one of my most anticipated films of last year, that slipped by me through a variety of shameful cock ups and laziness. Nevertheless, I’d been waiting for Ben Wheatley’s third film since I saw Kill List and he’s currently batting 100% with me as I also really enjoyed Down Terrace, albeit for different reasons than the more visceral follow up. So, the news that he was taking a script written by Darkplace’s Alice Lowe and Steve Oram about a psychotic pair of ramblers had me curious. What would a director such as Wheatley do with a concept that is best described as black as midnight comedy? The answer was last year’s Sightseers.

Contains knitted crotchless panties and spoilers below. Read More…

Made in Britain: Hush (2009)


Hush. What a terrible title. Not only is it utterly unevocative, but furthermore it’s just totally imaginative. If I say “Hush” it instantly conjures up images of parents struggling to keep control of errant and annoying children, or if you’re nerdy enough, a Batman villain. At a stretch it reminds me of a terrible Kula Shaker song from the 90’s. What it does not help me visualise is a taut thriller about a couple on a motorway near Sheffield (God’s Chosen City) being menaced by a nutter.

Contains human trafficking and spoilers below. Read More…

Made in Britain: Kill Keith


I am sure I’ve ranted about this before, but if there’s one genre that we really are atrocious at in the 21st Century, then that’s  comedy. We’re turning out classy horror after classy horror, have a nice line in gritty action and are all over misery porn, but since Shaun of the Dead, I can’t honestly think of a worthwhile comedy. Not one. This is astonishing, because we have a strong legacy with comedy (if you ignore most of the Carry on Films) dating all the way back to Ealing in the 30’s. Yet, something in the 21st Century seems to have gone pear shaped, and every comedy I’ve seen is about as funny as an Aussie DJ’s prank phone call. So, when Kill Keith landed on my doorstep, despite me knowing next to nothing about it, I wasn’t particularly hopeful, in fact, all I wanted was that someone was actually going to kill Keith Chegwin. Preferably messily.

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Made in Britain: The Reeds

Doctors in the NHS have been busted in the past for snide acronyms in patients medical notes. One of the most notorious is “NFN” which stands for “Normal for Norfolk”. Basically, a slight on the massively inbred yokels that inhabit this godforsaken bit of the British Isles. Think damper version of West Virginia. Anyway, aside from inbreeding, Norfolk is home to an area called the Norfolk Broads, which is a desolate swampland of interconnected lagoon/ rivers separated from civilisation by miles and miles of knee high reeds. I’ve been here as a kid on a boating holiday, and can confirm that the Norfolk Broads, with their isolation, fog, and utter sense of desolation is an astonishingly creepy location. So, when I found a film had been made that was primarily set on the Broads, I swore they were on to a winner. Surely, a film called “The Reeds” set out there couldn’t fail?

Contains thematic confusion and a huge spoiler below.  Read More…