Braquo (TV series) (2009-)

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Wow! What an absolute stunning piece of television this. I could literally use every superlative in the English language to lavish praise on this show, and it still wouldn’t be enough. Jean Hugues-Anglade plays Eddy Caplan, the leader of a group of Parisian police officers, who have no qualms about stepping over the line when it is required.

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They spring into action when their colleague Max commits suicide after being mercilessly persecuted by Internal Affairs, which is headed by the slimy and borderline socio-pathicĀ  Roland Vogel (Geoffroy Thiebaut). The team seek to do whatever it takes in clearing Max’s name, even murder. They are a team held together by a strong bond, and clearly have morals of which they never waver. They all have flaws, some which threaten to bring them down on occasion, but it’s their togetherness which carries them through.

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The action is nothing short of breathtaking. It is visceral stuff, and doesn’t skimp on the gore or sex. The acting is top notch from everyone, there is not one character I would say that lets the side down. The story-lines are equally gripping, showing that sometimes the police and criminals are more alike than either would care to admit.

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The creator of the show, Olivier Marchal, is a former police officer, so the attention to detail is second to none. It’s this meticulousness which really gets across the shows quality. I really cannot recommend this series enough. I did start watching it when it was showing on FOX. I am now on season 3 which was graciously provided by the wonderful folks over at http://www.arrowfilms.co.uk. Season 1 and 2 are available to buy now and season 3 is available to pre-order now, due for release on July 21st. It is a show I highly recommend. If you are a fan of The Wire or The Shield, then you will absolutely love Braquo.

5/5

JM

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Severance (2006)

Tim McInnerny, Babou Ceesay, Andy Nyman, Claudie Blakely, Laura Harris and Danny Dyer in SEVERANCE

A group of work colleagues from a weapons company called Palisade Defence, are on a team building exercise in Eastern Europe. After the bus drops them off due to the road being blocked, the group decide to walk the rest of the way to the house they’ll be staying at during their trip. However they go to the old house that was used for the employees, and not the new one that they’re boss is waiting at. When they get there, the house is empty and covered in dust and mold. The group begin to settle in and explore the house.

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Things however begin to take a sinister turn, as the group realises that there is someone else out in the woods that is watching them. As they explore the house, they find that the company they work for were involved in some very dubious experiments many years before. Now the people that were experimented on want their revenge, and will do anything possible to see the whole group decimated.

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I must say I really like this movie. For me it’s Danny Dyer’s best role. Okay I know that’s not saying much but he really gives a good performance and has some hilarious lines. He’s brave when he needs to be and is consistently funny throughout. The supporting cast are great too. Laura Harris plays Maggie, who is great in the role. You also have Tim McInnerny, Toby Stephens, Andy Nyman, who all really get into their roles.

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The action is really well put together, and there is some great gore. There are also some really funny moments, including one where Andy Nyman’s character Gordon, bakes a pie he “found” in a cupboard. I think if there are people out there that haven’t seen this film, then I highly recommend it as it’s well worth watching.

4/5

JM

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A Serbian Film (2010)

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I don’t smoke, well not all the time anyway. However I can tell you that I needed a cigarette after viewing this. I no bloody prude, not by a country mile, but this film was almost a bridge too far for me. It challenged me like no other film I’ve seen before. Hollywood this ain’t. There are scenes here, and bear in mind this is the cut version, that’ll make your fucking head spin. I always thought I could pretty much watch anything that the film world could throw at me, but this was by far one of, if the toughest things I’ve had to endure.

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I’m not bigging this up you understand? Certain films have done that in the past. Both A Clockwork Orange and Last House on the Left have been touted to being very hard to watch. Not for me. Maybe I’ve become desensitised I don’t know, but both the aforementioned movies did little to shock me. A Serbian Film is a different beast.

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The film begins with retired porn star Milos (Srdjan Todorovic) being approached by an old friend with an offer to star in a new porn film. Being touted as ‘art porn’ by it’s director Vukmir (Sergej Trifunovic), the film will require Milos to just do what he does best. He is offered a lot of money but not told what the film is about as Vukmir believes he’ll elicit a more honest performance. Milos is not comfortable with the idea of not knowing what the film is about as he has a wife and small child and doesn’t want anything to jeopardise that. When Milos tells his wife how much money he was offered she encourages him to take the role. The film starts off tame enough, but as it goes on Vukmir gets Milos to commit more depraved acts in the name of art. When Milos tries to back out, it kick starts a series of brutal events which will not end well. Milos becomes a man who realised he lost his soul years ago, and his attempt at redemption only drags him further into despair.

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I don’t think I’ll watch this again. Majority of movies I will always return to in time, but with A Serbian Film I don’t see what benefits repeated viewings would bring. I am not overplaying this, A Serbian Film really is messed up indeed. All of the actors are on top form, acting in what are some very tough scenes. I don’t happen to agree with the director saying that the movie was an allegory on how the government ‘mentally’ rapes its people, but maybe I was just so stunned by what I was seeing that I failed to see any deeper meaning. This copy was graciously provided by the kind folks over at http://www.safecrackerpictures.com. Please stop by and follow them on twitter @SafecrackerP for competitions and film news.

3/5

JM

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Stone Cold (1991)

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Joe Huff (Brian Bosworth) is strong-armed by the FBI to infiltrate a dangerous gang of white supremacist bikers who have been drug running. Huff doesn’t want to do it, but he’s on suspension and the FBI leave him no choice. He travels down to Mississippi using the name John Stone. There he comes face to face with the gang leader called Chains Cooper (Lance Henriksen) and his second in command Ice (William Forsythe).

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Stone has to convince Chains that he’s for real before they let him join the gang. He’s told to kill a man as part of his initiation to prove his worth. He uses his agency contact to help him fake the persons death and his accepted. However Ice has his doubts about Stone and begins to spy on him. The whole thing culminates in blood and bullets.

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I must say I found this to be good fun. It’s a typical weekend evening movie, sitting back with a nice takeaway and relaxing. There is lots to love here. The script is cheesy as hell and the acting is questionable in places. However William Forsythe and Lance Henriksen are on scene stealing form as usual. I find that they are always good value for money. Sam McMurray is also great as Joe Huff/John Stone’s FBI contact Lance. Always looking out of place wherever they meet.

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I’ll hold my hands up now and also say I dug Brian Bosworth’s performance here. Honestly. He gives it a good go and he makes for a convincing action hero. He’s built like a brick shithouse and delivers a solid action performance. There are some great shoot-outs and awesome fights. The final third is brilliant. I’ve seen this a few times now. Brian Bosworth never really made good on this early promise, instead was left languishing in DTV hell. Give it a go though, it entertains, and that’s all that matters isn’t it? The poster below is the best poster I’ve seen for this movie, however I could only find the German version. Why they made it look like a Terminator poster is beyond me.

3/5

JM

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Altered States (1980)

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The mind is a powerful thing. Very powerful. When you step over that threshold of reality to dream, the longer you stay there the harder it is to differentiate the two. In the 1960’s Eddie Jessup (William Hurt) is pushing his mind to it’s limits. He has been experimenting with an isolation chamber/flotation tank, which causes him to have vivid hallucinations, mostly religious. Years later when he becomes a respected doctor at Harvard, he decides to try the isolation tank again, but using hallucinogenic drugs which will heighten his visions.

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As he continues to use the tank, with the help of his colleagues Arthur Rosenberg (Bob Balaban), Mason Parrish (Charles Haid) and his wife Emily Jessup (Blair Brown) who is also a doctor, he finds that his physical and mental state are beginning to regress to almost primitive levels. Fearing for his safety, his wife and colleagues try to put a stop to it, but Eddie has gone too far to stop and wants to now go all the way.

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I have always found Ken Russell, who directed this brilliant movie, to be a bit of an acquired taste. I have never seen The Devils or Women In Love which are two of his well known movies, but I have seen Tommy which I wasn’t crazy about. I had heard a lot about this movie before watching it, but was always apprehensive. I managed to get a copy of it on Blu Ray and I was just stunned. It had an effect on me that was similar to finding god. I don’t say this lightly. I was close to tears by the end. Not that it’s that sort of movie, but just that all of my emotions were at boiling point that I was literally an emotional wreck. I have always rated William Hurt as an actor and he is right on top of his game here. He really is fantastic.

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The supporting cast of Bob Balaban, Charles Haid and Blair Brown are brilliant. There are also one or two other faces that you may recognise too. The visuals are astonishing for a film made at the beginning of the 80’s. Mainly during Eddie’s hallucinations, some being particularly disturbing. I really do recommend this. Get hold of it if you can and prepare to be stunned.

5/5

JM

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Outland (1981)

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Outland is a sci-fi in appearance, but it doesn’t play like a typical sci-fi and is all the better for it. Outland is more of a western in the vein of ‘High Noon’ than any sci-fi released around the same time. It was made in 1980 and released in 1981. Back when practical effects were the norm and the film world was a brighter, more interesting place. The story involves Marshall William T. O’Neil (Sean Connery). Marshall O’Neil has been sent to a shit hole mining colony on the Jupiter moon of Io. He’s been sent there as punishment because nobody will work with him as he’s too headstrong.

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When he first gets to Io he is greeted by the mining boss Sheppard (Peter Boyle). He is told by Sheppard that his boys work hard, so they like to play hard. Essentially asking O’Neil to turn a blind eye to any grief he might come across. O’Neil warns Sheppard that he won’t be intimidated or bossed and will do things his way, despite Sheppard warning O’Neil that he may make enemies if he does. After a miner apparently commits suicide, O’Neil is informed by the colony doctor, Dr. Lazarus (Frances Sternhagen) that the man may have been taking narcotics which led to his death. O’Neil finds out that Sheppard is running a drug ring and that the company don’t mind as it helps drive up the work rate.

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As O’Neil digs deeper and begins to cause trouble for Sheppard and his gang, assassins are hired to kill O’Neil and will arrive in 70hrs. As nobody will help O’Neil defend himself against the assassins, except Dr. Lazarus, O’Neil must do what he can if he intends to survive .

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I love this movie. I love everything about it. The set design is just amazing and evokes memories of Alien, the same too with the costume design. The script is great and Connery is fantastic as O’Neil. My only real gripe is in regards to O’Neil’s family. His son’s voice is dubbed over by another actor for what reason I don’t know. Thankfully his son isn’t in the movie for long, but grates when he is. The film is well worth watching. If you like your sci-fi movies gritty and well acted, then this is for you.

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The film is available on Blu Ray from Warner Bros. Fear not if you don’t have a multi-region Blu Ray player as Warner never region lock their Blu Ray’s. Happy days.

4/5

JM

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John Dies At The End (2012)

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Well here it is people, my JDATE review as promised. This film is a strange beast indeed. It’s directed by the brilliant Don Coscarelli (of Phantasm & Bubba Ho-Tep fame). It starts off in a strange dreamlike fashion and pretty much pulls you every which way but loose for the duration. The cast is brilliant. Paul Giamatti is always a joy to watch, as is Clancy Brown. Doug Jones (Hellboy’s Abe Sapien) is also brilliant in a strange, kooky role. The hero Dave (not John, that’s his pal) is impressive in the starring role, considering the guy hasn’t made many films.
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I won’t even attempt to explain the plot, other than it is all kicked off by a mysterious drug called ‘Soy Sauce’ which does strange, strange things to those that take it. If you like your movies generic and simple then give this a swerve, however if you’re more open minded and like to have your brain fried on occasion then you’ll find lots to love here. There are so many crazy points in the film that I found myself chuckling quite a few times.

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The author of the book that this film is based on has written a second book called ‘This Book is Full of Spiders: Seriously Don’t Touch It’. Now if it’s as good as this movie then I seriously hope Don Coscarelli directs the sequel and brings back Dave and John for another crazy adventure.

4/5
JM
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NARC (2002)

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Henry Oak is a detective. Henry Oak is a very volatile detective. Played by Ray Liotta to perfection Det. Oak is partnered with Nick Tellis who is played by Jason Patric. Det. Tellis is a disgraced undercover cop who has been demoted to a desk for a botched arrest in which a member of the public was seriously injured. They are tasked with investigating the death of Oak’s ex partner Michael Calvess. Secretly though, Tellis has been tasked to investigate Oak’s involvement in Calvess’s death, as the superiors reckon he knows a lot more than he is letting on.

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The story moves along swiftly, with a flashback constantly popping up of what happened the night Calvess died. The flashback get’s longer as the movie progresses, but changes slightly too when Tellis hears different people’s version of events, all before the truth is revealed.

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The acting and dialogue are amazing. Joe Carnahan (The Grey, The A-Team) who directs, also wrote the script, and it just pops. Liotta and Patric deliver their lines with relish, and there’s a multitude of crazy characters that they come into contact with on their journey for the truth. Liotta as Oak is a man possessed. The anger his character exudes is scarily believable. Patric as Tellis is weary and slightly on edge, as being an undercover cop meant he had to push himself further than he’d like.

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The movie just rocks. If anyone has heard of it, but never taken the time to sit down and watch it, then I urge you to rectify that. You will NOT be disappointed, I assure you. This movie left such an impression on me that I grew a goatee just like Liotta’s. True story.

5/5

JM

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