Crucible of the Vampire ~ Film Review

The title itself suggests that there’s a historical genre in store, however it gives little away as to the light erotic LGBT content. It’s a film packed with overt horror, underlying messages, a slightly unstable storyline perhaps yet it’s entertaining and gripping in equal measure. The characters are all purposeful and well-rounded which helps to move the action along in a dark, not entirely vampire-driven film set in Shropshire.

The backstory of the sorcerer’s dark conjuring of the female vampire shows him casting his spell on the owner of a country mansion in the year 1807. At the heart of the story is a character called Isabelle (Katie Goldfinch) – she’s investigating the truth behind the legend of the crucible and is therefore sent to the mansion by her University Professor. Isabelle is your archetypal young woman who’s blissfully unaware of the horrors awaiting her and is easily taken in. She’s a virgin, therefore she’s just the sort of meat the inhabitants of the mansion are looking for.

Karl (Larry Rew) is the owner, he’s almost a caricature of villainy. His wife, Evelyn (Babette Barat) is almost too over the top in her politeness. Their daughter, Scarlet (Florence Cady) is the most openly ‘delighted’ by the visitor. The introductions set the tone for the rest of the movie. There’s also a fairly innocuous gardener whom it’s wise not to take your eye off – played by Neil Morrissey.

Crucible of the Vampire is a hybrid of Hammer Horror and horror comedy Dark Shadows – from my perspective. There are elements that set out to scare and other scenes I can’t quite take seriously. However it’s a compelling watch with a strong cast and Director/Co-Writer Iain Ross-McNamee has certainly embodied an interesting niche.

Crucible of the Vampire is available on Dual Format (DVD & Blu-ray) from Screenbound Pictures. 

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Borg vs. McEnroe – Film Review

The rivalry between tennis greats Björn Borg and John McEnroe was one for the ages and it was no doubt made for theatre. Here were two of the sport’s finest — both immensely talented and massively driven by the pursuit of greatness. But one, McEnroe, was fierce and volcanic; the other, Borg, was suave yet stoic. They were fire and ice, perfect dance partners for the sport of tennis.

That rivalry is the one Borg vs. McEnroe revisits over three decades later. Directed by Danish filmmaker Janus Metz Pedersen, Borg vs. McEnroe is a biographical sports drama that chronicles what is arguably one of the sporting world’s fiercest — and most evenly matched — rivalries. The biopic revisits a compelling clash of titans, and it does so with aplomb (though it is not without its flaws).

Borg vs. McEnroe illuminates the essence of Borg (played by Sverrir Gudnason), whose ice-like demeanour concealed an inner cauldron fuelled by a burning desire to win and a manic obsession for detail. The Guardian notes that Gudnason is remarkable in this biopic, and that is a accurate observation. The Swedish actor recreates in compelling detail everything that made his compatriot a tennis legend, and in doing so nearly steals all the thunder from Shia LaBeouf, his equally talented co-star.

LaBeouf doesn’t disappoint either as McEnroe. The biopic redefines McEnroe’s character, making a case that the American’s gifts were also his curse. McEnroe has been widely reviled for his hot-headed, tantrum-throwing ways, but Borg vs. McEnroe contextualises this volcanic temper. It wasn’t so much that McEnroe was forever full of vitriol; rather, his outbursts were manifestations of his own burning desire to win and his own manic obsession for detail. To this end, Pederson juxtaposes the two icons in a different light far apart from the fire vs. ice comparisons. The film’s message, it seems, is this: Despite their outward differences both players have a lot more in common than meets the eye. Those commonalities, in turn, are what made this Borg vs. McEnroe the rivalry that it was.

If anything, though, LaBeouf, despite his riveting performance, is left underused, and not by his own doing. The Independent’s review of the biopic rues this very same aspect, noting how Ronnie Sandahl’s screenplay hands the lion’s share of screen time to Gudnason. It is not a bad call per se, especially given Gudnason’s own spotlight-stealing greatness; but LaBeouf himself boasts acting pedigree, and he sure could have used more screen time.

Now, for the match point: Borg vs. McEnroe is an ace of a film, with a climax that artfully recreates the epic 1980 Wimbledon finals between the two icons. This biopic is an enthralling look-back at a tête-à-tête that remains the standard bearer for a sport that has had plenty of rivalries. The most recent of these rivalries, in the estimation of tennis great Pete Sampras, is the one between Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal, whom Sampras says “carried the torch for a couple of years” — in much the same fashion that Borg and McEnroe did from 1978 to 1981. Ranked 1 and 3 in Coral’s list of highest earning tennis players, Federer and Nadal have faced off 38 times (16 times more than Borg-McEnroe), with 24 of those showdowns for a championship.

While the Telegraph’s Charlie Eccleshare hails Federer-Nadal as one of the sport’s greatest rivalries, making a strong case that the two “have taken tennis to new heights,” the film thinks otherwise. Borg vs. McEnroe illustrates how the rivalry between Borg and McEnroe was one of a kind, and sheds light on what made it the true greatest rivalry in tennis.

Image Credit: Pinterest

Guest Post from Mary Williams

Entertainment Views Interviews: Creator of TV Series, Romper Stomper… Geoffrey Wright

Romper Stomper arrives on DVD TODAY!


A QUARTER of a century ago, a film about skinhead racists running amok in Australia exploded around the world in an orgy of violence, shocking audiences with its realistic take on neo-Nazi culture and making a star of its young lead, Russell Crowe. Now, with nationalism and racism on the rise around the globe, Romper Stomper is set to return for its sequel, this time as a powerful and daring TV series, with a distinctly modern take.

Generating both critical acclaim and controversy across the globe, Romper Stomper arrives as a compelling six-part series. Following its run on BBC Three, it makes its DVD bow on 18 June 2018 courtesy of Acorn Media International.

Original writer and director Geoffrey Wright has created a new world in and around Melbourne, one inhabited by right-wing extremists, anti-fascist revolutionaries radicals and a group of Muslims caught between them. He has also revived some of the characters from the 1992 feature, played by original cast Dan Wyllie (Love My Way), John Brumpton (The Loved Ones) and Jacqueline McKenzie (The Water Diviner). They are joined by Lachy Hulme (Beaconsfield), Sophie Lowe (The Slap), David Wenham (Top of the Lake), Nicole Chamoun (Last Dance), and rising star Toby Wallace (Boys In The Trees).

Told from multiple points of view, Romper Stomper follows Patriot Blue, a new generation of white supremacists. Into their midst comes Kane, a smart, young 22-year-old with a secret past and a plan to secure his place in the group. His street smarts and winning way with words soon see him rising to the top as his band of hardcore right-wing extremists come into contact with both anti-fascist hardliners and a trio of conflicted Muslims. And as their rivalry intensifies, a wider political thriller emerges…

Series Creator, Geoffrey Wright chatted to Entertainment Views about the television series. 

Thanks for talking to Entertainment Views, Geoffrey. When you first wrote Romper Stomper (the movie) where had your inspiration originated from?

I grew up near a suburb called Pascoe Vale. It was here that a skinhead Nazi crim called Dane Sweetman murdered a man on Hitler’s birthday. It was a shock but then I noticed other skinheads with their swastikas, racist tattoos, and steel capped boots, on the local trains. I realised you didn’t have to go far to find them. Something had to be said about them so I began interviewing and recording kids who had been part of that scene but who were (more or less) out of it.  I couldn’t interview anyone still operating in it because they wouldn’t talk. From those interviews I assembled the script for the movie, compounding many events into a compressed time span.

Why do you feel now is the right time to revisit it?

With the rise of the Alt Right in the USA, the election of Trump, and  the coming of Brexit, it felt like the far right was less shy about making its presence felt. The far right was selling itself as a viable political force, not a fringe dwelling oddity.  It seemed like the moment had come when someone like Hando in the old film would look around and think ‘Mmm, this is more than interesting’.

What can the audience expect from the TV series and how will it compare to the film?

The audience can expect a new generation of extremists trying to ‘top’ or live up to the expectations of the old. They can also expect new players like ‘Antifasc’, our take on ‘Antifa’, who are the far left opponents of the Nazis and at least as physical and combative as them. There’s also some exploration of identity, whether it’s inherited or open to choice.

What are the challenges of bringing this to the small screen?

The challenges are working with sometimes very large numbers of people in very short shooting schedules, not that the film had a long shoot, either.

What do you feel the strengths of the piece are?

I think it tackles difficult material in a medium too given to political correctness. From a technical angle, it’s a well designed show that tends to avoid predictable execution in terms of camera and sound. I think it makes the most of today’s bigger screens and better sound systems. That doesn’t happen enough in TV.

Do you feel that writing and directing have an easy symmetry?

Do you mean writing and directing the same work? They can have a very clean and satisfying symmetry but directing off someone else’s writing is good too. On the series I wrote two episodes but only directed one of those I wrote. The other episode I directed was written by someone else and that can be liberating because you have (literally) fewer preconceptions. However, I do get anxious watching others direct something that I wrote.

What advice of you got for budding writers and directors?

Try and capture some kind of truth about human beings, be memorable in the process. If your work isn’t memorable it’s not worth doing.

Finally, why should we all tune in to the series?

Too much of the western world is worried about causing offence, you won’t get that fear in this show. Besides, we have some great young actors, Toby Wallace, Lily Sullivan, Markella Kavanagh, and Sophie Lowe; and some great established stars in Jacqueline McKenzie, Lachy Hulme and David Wenham.

Huge thanks to Geoffrey for his time and insightful answers – make sure you all look out for Romper Stomper which was released on DVD today. 

Entertainment Views Interviews: Thomas Meadmore Chats about ‘The Outsider’

A STRANGER THAN FICTION FEATURE DOCUMENTARY THAT GIVE OCEANS 11 A RUN FOR ITS MONEY PREMIERES AT EAST END FILM FESTIVAL AND LIMITED THEATRICAL RELEASE

A legendary figure in the industry, could shipping magnate Nobu Su be the one to bring down the banking world? In a stranger than fiction tale that gives Oceans 11 a run for its money, brand new feature documentary The Outsider is a story of a man who didn’t fit in, taking on one of the biggest corporations in the world.

Filled with financial rackets, conspiracy theories and a story of a multi-millionaire businessman and his mighty fall from grace, The Outsider, from Thomas Meadmore, award-winning editor (The Guv’nor) and director (How to Lose Jobs and Alienate Girlfriends), has its world premiere at the East End Film Festival, on 20 April 2018. This will be followed by a limited theatrical release as well as an iTunes and DVD release, full details to follow.

Taiwanese shipping magnate Nobu Su rose through the ranks of his family business and built it into one of the largest shipping companies in the world. Powerful, revered and described as a ‘visionary and revolutionary’,  he was one of the most respected people in the shipping world, the world’s biggest transportation business. It’s an industry that accounts for the movement of some 90 per cent of everything we consume in Western Society, but a business that has very little scrutiny.

When the 2008 financial crash happened, Nobu Su lost everything. And everything for him meant several billion dollars.. He felt cheated, believing that rivals were out to get revenge on perceived business slights, leaving him to sink like the rusting hulk of an old ship. And much more disturbing, he genuinely believes that The Royal Bank of Scotland hijacked his account and swindled him out of billions of pounds.

Since 2008 he has been on a one man crusade to understand what went wrong and who was to blame; himself, the banks, his rival ship owners or the system?

Featuring interviews with the man himself, renowned shipping experts, some of the world’s most respected shipping analysts and those close to Nobu Su, The Outsider gives a tantalising look at how the  little known world of  global shipping operates, told from the point of view of the greatest maverick the shipping world has ever known.

Running time: 100 mins approx.                                            Language: English  

Entertainment Views grabbed an exclusive interview with Thomas Meadmore

Thanks for talking to Entertainment Views, tell me about the Outsider and your inspiration for the film

My pleasure – thanks for your interest in the movie!

The Outsider is a character study of a man on a mission against the biggest institutions during the global financial crisis. Without judging his actions, it illustrates the life and fall out from an obsession to prove oneself. This is all wrapped up in an entertaining ‘oceans eleven on the high seas’ heist story and banking scandal. It’s great fun.

And of course the inspiration came from the man himself, Nobu Su – an incredibly charismatic man who’s passion bowls you over. How could I not want to tell his story!

What elements do you look for when choosing a subject to centre a film around?

There are a few things. Who is the person, what are they like? Will they be good speakers and open up about their lives and go deep into their emotions? Importantly, is their story compelling? It always comes down to story and the ability to tell the story in a dramatic way. With Nobu Su, I was certain that we could do that.

What were the challenges with this film?

Ironically – the biggest challenge was understanding this story!! It’s a complex financial story – so I had to understand it before I could explain it in a film to an audience. This difficulty was compounded by a fundamental secrecy which our main character, Nobu Su, likes to shroud all of his activity within. No one really knows the full story with him – and this was the case from go to woe with me! We got there in the end. The other biggest challenge was just trying to control him. Impossible. One minute we would be ready to film, microphone on and suddenly… he was gone. Run off somewhere for twenty minutes. Hilarious. We just had to roll with it.

What were the highlights of making the film?

Beyond the stress of the above, it created a tremendous excitement – and making the chaos part of the story allowed for a very smooth filming process. It became quite exciting – we didn’t know where we would end up next, who we would be with or what we would be doing. One day we were in Taiwan, the next we were on an enormous ship in Dubai! Also working with the man himself, Nobu, is fun. He has an enthusiastic energy which syncs with mine and as a result we had a terrific rapport.

What can the audience expect from it?

You’re going to enter the world of a billionaire (or a once upon a time billionaire), you’re going to see how he made his money, and you’re going to witness the phenomenal so-called heist/scandal that brought him to his knees. It’s fun, it’s funny, it’s eye opening and it’s a world (the world of shipping & shipping finance) I am sure you have never seen before. With one of the most enigmatic characters right at the centre of the whole she-bang.

Strap in.

What do you hope the audience will take away from it?

I hope the audience will take home insight into the sacrifices people make when they are trying to fire-fight their own problems, to their own detriment… the cost on family life and personal sanity. Is it worth it? And I hope people will get a fresh perspective on the impact of the de-regulation of banks – how one individual can be taken advantage of for the benefit of a bank. Because it’s wrapped in a fun, entertaining character study you, hopefully, won’t glaze over when we start showing you the money (so to speak).

Any advice for budding film makers?

Today the advice would be make sure you get good sound!

The Outsider arrives on iTunes on 4 June and screens at Bertha DocHouse from 25 Mayhttp://dochouse.org/cinema/screenings/outsider

BAFTA Film Awards 2018

For the full list of BAFTA award winners, follow the link: BAFTA Film Awards 2018

What a night, eh? From Joanna Lumley’s take-over as presenter to the display of unity from the female guests who wore black to the criticism of Kate Middleton for failing to wear black – it was all going on at this year’s film BAFTAs.

2017 saw some films of outstanding quality, I’ve been tempted by genres I might not otherwise have engaged with too. Who took home the trophies was of real interest to me and there were some hot contenders in each category.

Fun, games, and gossip aside, it truly was a remarkable evening celebrating some of the best in the film industry and there were many deserving winners. Here are a few of my highlights:

Animated Film

Coco is such a ground-breaking Disney movie, it was thoroughly deserving of the award for Animated Film. I often feel that Disney thinks outside the box with its choice of film subjects and this one definitely conforms to my theory, whilst retaining that Disney magic.

Leading Actress

Frances McDormand fascinates me, every nuance of her performance regardless of role, is measured and beautifully believable. I have yet to see Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri – it’s top of my list to catch up on though. As an actress in every level and for all of her credits, as well as this particular role – McDormand was the obvious winner.

 

Leading Actor

I actually shouted out Gary Oldman as the winner and clapped like a seal when this was announced. Darkest Hour is a moving, stunningly shot film and Gary Oldman enhances it with the most uncanny performance. Oldman is a talent de force, however would he have sprung to mind as ideal casting for Churchill? No! An inspired choice, though. Bravo!

Supporting Actress

I, Tonya is on my list to see at the cinema this weekend, so I’m unable to comment on Allison Janney’s performance, completely. However, from the clips that have caught my attention, I had already got her pegged as the winner in this category. I can’t wait to see the full movie, I have a feeling I will want to give Janney a standing ovation in the auditorium. She’s a marvel!

Adapted Screenplay

Call Me By Your Name – how glorious is this movie? The observational sub-text and exploration of the abstract is captured in cinematography which adds a new dimension to the story. As an adaptation it’s one of the finest screenplays I’ve seen and fully deserved the win.

Films on my hit-list for 2018
  1. I, Tonya 
  2. The Shape of Water
  3. Black Panther
  4. The Incredibles 2
  5. Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom

I’m excited to see Margot Robbie in I, Tonya!

 

Vue Unveils UK’s Scariest Horror Villains

*** PRESS RELEASE ***

LONDON, 27TH OCT: The faces of the nation’s scariest horror villains from the big screen have, quite literally, been unveiled by Vue Entertainment to celebrate Halloween. The UK voted Hannibal Lecter as their most feared villain, followed closely by Nightmare on Elm Street’s Freddie Kruger. In third place was Chucky from Child’s Play, fourth was Texas Chain Saw Massacre’s Leatherface, with the Shining’s Jack Torrence coming in fifth place.

The top five scariest villains identified in the poll have now been turned into realistic 3D Jack-o-Lanterns by artist Jacqui Kelly, as part of a ghoulish evening display at Vue Westfield, Shepherd’s Bush. Jacqui spent more than five days carving each detail into real pumpkins. Each will be on display for five days until the 31st October.

Visitors to Vue Nationwide on Monday the 31st October will be able to take advantage of a special screening of 2016’s Blair Witch, as part of the “Last Chance to See” programme. The programme, which runs every Monday, gives cinema-goers two tickets to a selected film plus two popcorns for just £12. In addition, fans of horror classics, such as the Shining, can create their own screening at Vue cinemas by visiting ourscreen.com.

John Howard, General Manager for Vue Westfield London commented: “We’re delighted to be able to add a touch of terror to Halloween this year for cinema-goers. We are constantly looking for ways to bring our customers a little something extra, and look forward to seeing the public’s reaction to seeing their most revered horror villains brought to life”.

UK’S SCARIEST HORROR VILLAINS
1.      Hannibal Lecter, Hannibal

2.      Freddie Kruger, Nightmare on Elm Street

3.      Chucky, Child’s Play

4.      Leatherface, Texas Chain Saw Massacre

5.      Jack Torrence,  The Shining

 

*Vue Entertainment surveyed 2,000 respondents

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