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Colin Farrell to star alongside Vince Vaughn in True Detective

True Detective promo banner

When HBO’s True Detective hit screens in January, no one could have predicted the unprecedented success that was to follow. Except of course for the show’s creator Nic Pizzolatto, who claims he always knew the show was destined for stardom. The critically acclaimed production went on to become the most watched freshman show in HBO history, culminating in the actual crashing of HBO Go when the final episode streamed live online.

As well as a captivating storyline, the on-screen stars also deserve a standing ovation for bringing the characters to life. Mathew McConaughey wowed viewers with his dark and complex portrayal of Detective Rust Cohle while Woody Harrelson smashed it as the extroverted yet multi-layered Detective Marty Hart. Want to get up to speed on season one?

While fans have said farewell to Marty and Rust, HBO’s True Detective has unveiled the leading cast of season two, starring none other than Collin Farrell and Vince Vaughn. In the lead up to the anticipated network premiere date of summer 2015, we’ve put together a comprehensive guide covering everything you need to know about True Detective season two.

The actors

Colin Farrell

As mentioned above, Collin Farrell and Vince Vaughn are set to star in the latest series. So where have we seen them before? Colin Farrell is one of Ireland’s hottest up and coming stars, both in Europe and internationally. He fits the bill perfectly, with an extensive back catalogue of diverse and dramatic roles. Farrell is well-versed in dark characters and represents the ideal blend of A-list celebrity and underground indie actor. As well as taking on lead roles in blockbuster hits such as In Bruges, Seven Psychopaths, The Imaginarium of Dr Parnassus and Fright Night, the brooding actor has also lent his name to a number of less mainstream productions. As such, we expect the True Detective casting crew is attempting to lure in both genres of audience.

“I’m doing the second series. I’m so excited… It’s been shown time and time again how [channels like] HBO have raised the bar regarding production values and fundamentally the writing that all their shows are based on,” he said in an interview with Sunday World's The Dub.

Vince Vaughn

As for Vince Vaughn… some were surprised at the release of his name while others welcomed it as an opportunity to see Vaughn in something other than a light-hearted comedy. He shot to fame in Wedding Crashers and has kept audiences laughing ever since with films such as The Breakup, Couples Retreat, Delivery Man and The Internship.

The characters

According to Pizzolatto, True Detective season two will feature three brand new lead characters. At the moment, we can confirm that Farrell will portray Detective Ray Velcoro, a character who HBO representatives describe as “a compromised detective whose allegiances are torn between his masters in a corrupt police department, and the mobster who owns him.” Vaughn will take to the screen as Frank Seymon, described by the network as “a career criminal in danger of losing his empire when his move into legitimate enterprise is upended by the murder of a business partner.” Already season two storyline is sounding extremely intriguing! But who is character number three? Brad Pitt’s name has been thrown around although nothing has been confirmed. As far as support goes, Canadian Taylor Kitsch and the ever endearing Rachel McAdams have both confirmed circling roles.

The plot

Very little about True Detective’s latest plot line has been disclosed, however as far as rumours go, it’s based around California’s covert transportation system. Farrell seems to be concealing something big, Vaughn is struggling to juggle two identities and that’s about all anyone knows!

The production crew

As expected, Pizzolatto is back as the show’s head writer. However while Cary Joji Fukunaga directed every episode of season one, season two will see episodes overseen by a range of different directors. Justin Lin has been confirmed as the director for the first two episodes and according to industry rumours, William Friedkin’s name has been thrown around. An educated guess would also include at least one appearance from Fukunaga. Whether the diverse team of directors will add intrigue or compromise flow, is yet to be seen.

Episodes

No titles have yet been released however HBO has confirmed that the series will consist of eight episodes.

With more leaks and rumours released every day, the lead up to True Detective season two continues to gain momentum with fans across the globe!

Sharlto Copley: A Career Retrospective

Sharlto Copley is Wikus van der Merwe in District 9

Sharlto Copley exploded onto the scene out of nowhere in 2009 in his powerful portrayal of Wilkus van der Merwe in District 9. Since then, the South African actor has gone from strength to strength, appearing alongside the likes of Matt Damon, Angelina Jolie, Liam Neeson and Bradley Cooper in emotionally intense, nefarious and hilarious roles. On 13th October Copley leads in the haunting horror chiller Open Grave, available on DVD and digital download courtesy of Signature Entertainment. Here’s how his career panned out...

District 9 (2009)

Sharlto Copley absolutely exploded onto the scene out of nowhere in 2009 in his powerful portrayal of Wilkus van der Merwe in Peter Jackson’s Oscar-nominated science fiction film District 9. Wilkus is an Afrikaner bureaucrat assigned to relocate a race of extraterrestrial creatures unexpectedly stranded on Earth.

In the film, the aliens, popularly and derogatorily referred to as "prawns", must be relocated from District 9, a militarised ghetto slum in Johannesburg, South Africa, to an internment camp outside the city. In this operation, Wikus is exposed to a strange alien chemical and must rely on the help of his only two new 'Prawn' friends. Copley improvised all of his dialogue in this documentary-style film with impressive skill and emotion, setting the bar extremely high on his on-screen debut.

Sharlto Copley as Wikus van der Merwe in District 9

The A-Team (2010)

Copley then starred alongside Liam Neeson, Bradley Cooper and Quinton "Rampage" Jackson in the feature film adaptation of The A-Team which was produced by Ridley Scott and Tony Scott. Copley used a Southern American dialect for his hilarious portrayal of A-Team member H. M. Murdock, and employed other dialects including Scottish, English, Australian, and his native South African as part of the character's rapid-fire style. Dwight Schultz, who played Murdock in the original TV series, praised Copley's performance and said Copley was the only actor he knew of who was "true to his character."

Liam Neeson, Bradley Cooper, Sharlto Copley, Quinton 'Rampage' Jackson in The A-Team

Europa Report (2013)

In 2013, Copley played fictional astronaut James Corrigan in Europa Report, the story of a crew of international astronauts sent on a privately funded mission to search for life on Jupiter's fourth largest moon. In Europa Report Copley once again proved his outstanding range of acting skills, portraying the extremely gripping role with impressive intensity.

Sharlto Copley in Europa Report

Elysium (2013)

Also in 2013, Copley played Agent Kruger, the secondary antagonist in Elysium, a science fiction film written and directed by Neill Blomkamp, starring Matt Damon and Jodie Foster. Starring in a role completely different from anything he had done before – hideously cruel and sadistic beyond measure – Copley shone as the villain in Elysium.

Sharlto Copley as Kruger in Elysium

Oldboy (2013)

Copley returned as the villain in Oldboy, portraying Adrian Pryce in Spike Lee's remake of 2003 South Korean film Oldboy. In Oldboy, Josh Brolin leads as a man obsessed with vengeance, setting out to find out why he was kidnapped and locked into solitary confinement for 20 years without reason. In Oldboy Copley once again showed his capacity to portray a man with a twisted mind and an evil streak.

Sharlto Copley as Adrian in Oldboy

Maleficent (2014)

In 2014, Copley starred as the male lead, King Stefan, opposite Angelina Jolie in the dark fantasy film Maleficent. Starring Angelina Jolie as the eponymous Disney villainess character, the film is a live-action re-imagining of Walt Disney's 1959 animated film Sleeping Beauty, and portrays the story from the perspective of the antagonist, Maleficent. Playing yet another villainous antagonist in Maleficent, Copley has now grown into, perfected and shone in dark and unpleasant roles.

Sharlto Copley as King Stefan in Maleficent

Open Grave (2013)

With a weight of fan anticipation already behind it, Sharlto Copley now stars in Open Grave; a taut chiller that centres around a man who wakes up in a mass grave. Rescued by a group of fellow survivors, he then has to establish if he, or one of his saviours, is responsible for the grave in the first place whilst also dealing with an even more deadly threat.

Sharlto Copley in Open Grave

Open Grave is available on DVD and digital platforms from 13th October, 2014, courtesy of Signature Entertainment, just in time for the scariest night of the year.

Own Open Grave on DVD and Blu-ray from Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk.

Horror Film Review: Open Grave (2013)

Help meeee Open Grave

A man awakes to find himself bound, lying in a pit on a pile of corpses. He has no memory of how he got there and no idea who he is. A woman throws a rope down to him, he picks up a gun and drags himself out of the pit. The woman disappears. The man soon finds a group of people in an old house. They too have no memory of who they are or how they got there but the man knows one thing, one of them is the murderer. As the group struggles to survive in the face of increasing threats to their lives, snippets of their memories come back and it becomes increasingly clear that perhaps the man was in the pit for a very good reason.

Open Grave is a post-apocalyptic thriller with many familiar faces on the cast. Fans of The Vampire Diaries are going to be especially thrilled to see Joseph Morgan who plays Klaus Mikaelson on the show and he is excellent in his role as the slightly vulnerable Nathan. The film also stars Sharlto Copley (District 9), Thomas Kretschmann (King Kong), Josie Ho, Erin Richards (Gotham) and Max Wrottesley (24: Live Another Day). The film is directed by Spanish director Gonzalo López-Gallego.

Joseph Morgan as Nathan in Open Grave

The film is terrifying from the outset. The opening scene in the open grave is especially horrible with graphic, moist sounds to accompany the gruesome images. We can tell that something has gone terribly wrong here but it soon emerges that something even worse is going to happen and team cannot prevent it unless they recover their memories.

Music is used to great effect throughout the film and the score is simply excellent. There is a feeling of loss and extreme tragedy that permeates the film and is conveyed through the music. The score was written and performed by Spanish composer Juan Navazo and some tracks are available on his Soundcloud page. I’d especially recommend “The Dawn of the 18th”. Sadly there are no plans to release the official soundtrack. The track that plays over the closing credits is “Dies Irae (Day of Wrath) by María López-Gallego and is available on her Bandcamp page.

Sharlto Copley and are in Open Grave

Open Grave is filmed in muted tones and saturated tones throughout which adds to the atmosphere of tension and lurking danger. Nothing is given away to viewers until the characters discover it themselves which contributes to the edge-of-seat suspense.

The cast did well to deliver their performances without giving a hint of what was really going on. Sharlto Copley has a great screen presence and is phenomenal in his role as Jonah, while Josie Ho shines as the mute woman at the heart of the film.  Somehow viewers were able to connect with the characters, no mean feat when they had no memories of who they were or how they related to each other.

 Sharlto Copley and in Open Grave

It is difficult to comment too much on the plot without giving the story away and as the strength of this film lies in keeping that a secret up to the final scene, I really don’t want to do that. It is a horror film and it is post-apocalyptic and the idea of corpse scarecrows might just be the most gruesomely brilliant idea I’ve seen in a long time. I really enjoyed the film but the ending made me very sad. I imagine that the haunting score had a lot to do with that lingering sense of loss and pointlessness.

I enjoyed Open Grave and actually watched it twice before reviewing. It will certainly appeal to fans of horror but there is enough in the plot to keep science-fiction and thriller / suspense fans happy too.

I give Open Grave an excellent four out of five stars.

4 Stars

Released by Signature Entertainment, Open Grave is available to purchase on DVD and Blu-ray from Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk.

Check out the short clip from the film "Things to Hide" featuring the lovely Joseph Morgan and Sharlto Copley.


An advance copy of this DVD was provided to me for the purposes of this review and all opinions contain herein are my own. This review contains affiliate links.

Horror Film Review: Reaper (2014)

Reaper (2014)

Moments before his scheduled execution, a convicted death cult congregation leader escapes to continue his murderous rampage. Known only as Reaper, the killer is on a vigilante mission to bring justice and vengeance upon the unholy. Sinners be warned!

Meanwhile a young woman leaves a message for her mother assuring her she is in safe hands before proceeding to hitchhike across the USA. What could possibly go wrong?

Released just in time for Halloween, Reaper is the latest slasher horror from director Philip Shih and writers Mark James and James Jurdi. Taking place mostly at the isolated Last Chance Hotel, the film follows the Reaper’s harrowing exploits as he cuts down some very savoury characters only to meet his match in young Natalie (Shayla Beesley). Reaper stars Danny Trejo, Vinnie Jones and Jake Busey as well as Justin Henry (the kid from Kramer vs. Kramer) as the truly creepy Last Chance desk clerk Caine.

James Jurdi and Shayla Beesley in Reaper

So is it any good? Well, not really, in fact it is pretty bad and not in a so-bad-it’s-good sort of way. It’s not scary, the acting is terrible and the cinematography has the feel of a really bad quality soft porn show that you sometimes catch by accident when flipping channels at 2am. Not that we can expect much more from the slasher genre, but the premise sounded really interesting and if the directors had focused more on the Reaper’s truly sick purpose and less on Natalie’s cleavage, it could have been a better film.

Would I recommend Reaper? It would be okay for a Friday night in and would make for a great drinking game – you could drink every time they show a gratuitous part of Natalie’s anatomy or every time a reasonable actor like Danny Trejo gets to say something truly hackneyed – but no, I wouldn’t recommend it. There are much better films coming out on DVD this month in any case, including the disturbing Open Grave which I’ll review next week.

Vinnie Jones in Reaper

I give Reaper a disappointing two out of five stars. The premise wasn't bad and it could have been a decent film with a bit more focus on the actual killer himself.

2 Stars

Released by Signature Entertainment, Reaper will be out on DVD and Blu-ray on 6 October 2014. It is available for purchase from Amazon.co.uk.


An advance copy of this DVD was provided to me for the purposes of this review and all opinions contain herein are my own. This review contains affiliate links.

Review: Postman Pat: The Movie (2014)

Postman Pat The Movie poster

I have a confession to make; I’ve been a fan of Postman Pat since I was a little girl and never quite grew out of the show. In fact, I was 25 when I rescued a little black and white cat and named her Jess. Sadly, she was neither friendly nor particularly helpful but then again, I’m no Postman Pat. I therefore jumped at the chance to review the latest in the long running Postman Pat franchise: Postman Pat: The Movie.

Stephen Mangan is Postman Pat

In Postman Pat: The Movie our favourite postman Pat Clifton is still doing the rounds in Greendale with his trusty black and white cat Jess. He lives in Forge Cottage with his wife Sara and six-year-old son Julian. Pat has been promising Sara a proper honeymoon for years and is certain that he’ll be able to take her to Italy when he receives his next bonus payment. But on the day when he expects to pick up his bonus, he meets the conniving Mr Carbunkle who announces a series of cost-saving measures at the Special Delivery Service. There certainly won’t be any money for bonus payments he says, never mind toilet paper or teabags for staff! Is this austerity Postman Pat?

When Pat hears about Simon Cowbell’s new talent show You’re The One coming to Greendale, he isn’t too interested until he hears that part of the prize is a trip to Italy. Will he be able to take Sara on her honeymoon after all? And just what plan will Mr Carbunkle come up with to replace Pat while he is busy touring with the show? Hint: it involves robots!

Rupert Grint and David Tennant

Postman Pat: The Movie has a lot of big name stars attached to it and fans of Doctor Who and the Harry Potter franchise will be delighted to hear the voices of David Tennant, Rupert Grint and Jim Broadbent. It’s not often we get to see David Tenant play a character as (in his own words) ‘unscrupulous and desperate’ as Wilf! Ronan Keating provides the singing voice for Pat – look out for his cameo earlier in the film when he gets rejected by Simon Cowbell!

Postman Pat must have been a difficult TV show to bring to the big screen and audiences certainly wouldn’t have enjoyed 88 minutes of watching Pat potter about the countryside rescuing sheep from trees but ultimately I think the film tried to do too much. There were a lot of adult themes such as austerity, rationalisation and job insecurity which, rather than appealing to me as an adult, made me sad that even my favourite childhood show had been tainted by these issues.

There are certainly a lot of funny parts – I especially enjoyed the scene where Carbunkle tested his robot prototypes – but what of the target audience? Postman Pat is aimed at preschool children and has always had a simple, idyllic feel to it. In Postman Pat: The Movie, we see Pat in far more peril and danger than ever before. Far from being helpful and a pillar of the society, he is disappointing to Sara and Julian, to the community and even to Jess!

I give Postman Pat: The Movie three out of five stars. It might appeal to slightly older children, perhaps those who are familiar with the alien invasions of Doctor Who but I think the film might have missed the mark with its target audience and might be just a little bit too scary for them. I wouldn’t give it a miss all together but I’d certainly accompany children on their first viewing.

3 Stars

Postman Pat: The Movie will be out on DVD and Blu-ray on 29 September 2014. It is available for purchase from Amazon.co.uk and Amazon.com.


An advance copy of this DVD was provided to me for the purposes of this review and all opinions contain herein are my own. This review contains affiliate links.

New Music Friday: John Haesemeyer - Three Mirrors

JohnHaesemeyer

It is a rare occasion for sure but every now and again we get a scorching summer in England, so much so that by the time September comes, I’m in the mood for something a little cooler and downtempo. This is exactly how I was feeling when I first heard John Haesemeyer’s new album Three Mirrors. It was a Sunday afternoon with long shadows and the first hint of a winter chill in the air and I simply sat back, relaxed and enjoyed the moment. Don’t worry, I’m sure I’ll be back with something banging next week.

About

John Haesemeyer (pronounced HAZE-mire) is a San Francisco-based performing artist who fuses folk and pop genres, emphasizing intimate vocals, acoustic instruments, and the rhythm section of a rock band.  If you like Ryan Adams, Neil Young, Mumford & Sons, Bruce Springsteen or Dan Wilson, the chances are you’ll enjoy John Haesemeyer. In 2013, Haesemeyer released his debut record Come Along Quickly through Hyde Street Studios and he releases his sophomore album Three Mirrors this week.

The Album

Three Mirrors is written by John Haesemeyer, produced by Nahuel Bronzini and once again recorded and mixed at Hyde Street Studios, Secret Studios and Studio Burgundio in San Francisco. The album features three collaborations with prominent Bay Area musicians including Levi Seacer Jr. (former guitarist for Prince) who arranged the gospel choir section on "Think I’m Going Down"; a duo with Leah Tysse on “Vancouver’s Shore” and Argentinian writer and arranger Nahuel Bronzini who wrote orchestration for “Three Mirrors”.

Stand out tracks include the first single “Two of Me” and the blues anthem “Think I’m Going Down” which you can listen to and download using the Soundcloud widget below.

Listen

Watch

The new video for “Two Of Me” off the new album will be released later this month. In the meantime you can watch the video for “Love, Why So Far Away" featuring rapper Jendor on vocals from John's 2012 album Come Along Quickly. Look out for some fantastic dancing from B-Boys Profo Won, Marty MacFleezy and Dopey Fresh.

Buy

Buy Three Mirrors at Bandcamp (name your price) | iTunes

Links

Website | Facebook | YouTube | Twitter | Soundcloud

Film Review: Sabotage (2014)

Sabotage Blu-ray thumb

It should have been the perfect crime.  John "Breacher" Wharton (Arnold Schwarzenegger) leads his elite team of Special Ops Division DEA Agents on a raid of a cartel warehouse. The aim is to syphon off $10 million of the cartel’s money down the sewer line and blow up the warehouse, thus erasing all trace of their deception. But someone betrays them. Not only is the cartel ready for them, killing one of the team, but when they turn up at the collection point later, the money is gone.

In the months that follow, the team members turn on each other and suspicions run high as to who has their money. Their superiors discover the lost money, suspend the team and subject them to months of surveillance and interrogation. That is not the worst of it though because someone is killing off team members in the most gruesome of manners and it is up to homicide detectives Caroline Brentwood (Olivia Williams) and Darius Jackson (Harold Perrineau) to find out who it is.

Sabotage Poster

Sabotage is one of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s darkest and certainly his most macabre film to date. Written and directed by David Ayer (S.W.A.T.) and co-written by Skip Woods (The A-Team), Sabotage has more of a psychological thriller feel to it than you’d expect from an action film. We’re quite used to a certain level of grisly depiction in films since Silence of the Lambs and Se7en but the writers of Sabotage held nothing back in their pursuit of relentless realism. Let’s just agree that I’ve never seen a more accurate representation of man and Winnebago versus train on film before.

Max Martini in Sabotage

Woven into this shadowy backdrop is a plot that will keep you guessing right until the end. While no one can trust anyone else, no clues are given to the audience as to the identity of the killer or the person who betrayed them. And in the final reveal, you’re left furiously backpedalling as you try to fit this image of a twisted ritual murderer with the individual you’ve come to know.

Sam Worthington, Arnie, Joe Manganiello and Mireille Enos in Sabotage

Sabotage has a fantastic ensemble cast and fans of True Blood, Lost and Terminator Salvation will delight in seeing Joe Manganiello, Josh Holloway and Sam Worthington in the film. I'm personally always happy to see Max Martini make an appearance.

Mireille Enos as Lizzy in Sabotage

Special mention must go to Mireille Enos for her chilling performance as the drug-addicted Lizzy Murray. Enos dominated every scene she was in and gave a powerful performance. Olivia Williams was also superb in her performance as Caroline Brentwood and more than held her own against screen superstar Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Olivia Williams in Sabotage

Sabotage is not going to satisfy audiences looking for some mindless action. It is dark and carries a pretty strong theme of revenge and vindication right throughout the film. It is true that the film is gratuitously graphic and violent in parts but this is buoyed by the realism of the depictions. My only complaint with the film is that the outcome was disappointing but ultimately it had to be something so simple that the team members would have never thought to consider it.

Josh Holloway, Max Martini, Terrence Howard, Mireille Enos and Sam Worthington in Sabotage

Sabotage is released by Lionsgate Entertainment and is available to purchase from Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk.

I I recommend Sabotage for fans of action with a psychological twist and give it Pioneer four out of five stars.

4 Stars

A Man of Many Talents: Terrence Howard's Top 9 Best Films

Terrence Howard is one of those actors that can fit into any role and any genre in a seemingly effortless manner. With far-reaching talent and contagious charisma, he can easily go from portraying a hard-core pill-popping pimp to a loving husband and father of two, convincingly demonstrating his flawless acting skills. Having starred in more than 80 films and TV shows, the Oscar-nominated actor is one of the busiest workers in Hollywood. Howard’s latest on-screen appearance was in director David Ayer’s Sabotage, opposite Arnold Schwarzenegger, as DEA agent Julius ‘Sugar’ Edmonds. A nail-biting action thriller about a special operations team hunted by a ruthless assassin, Sabotage is out on Blu-ray, DVD and digital platforms this week and is released by Lionsgate Home Entertainment.

To celebrate the release, we are taking a look at Terrence Howard’s extensive roster of films and picking out the 10 best movies that have defined his career so far:

Iron Man (2008)

Terrence Howard and Robert Downey Junior in Iron Man

A stranger to no genre, Terrence Howard dipped his feet into the superhero pond when he signed up for the role of Lt. Colonel James “Rhodey” Rhodes alongside Robert Downey Jr. in Iron Man. Howard was director Jon Favreau’s first choice for the role as he felt that the actor would make a great War Machine (Rhodes’ superhero alter ego) in possible sequels.

Unfortunately for Howard fans, in Iron Man 2 and Iron Man 3 he was replaced by Don Cheadle.

The Brave One(2007)

Terrence Howard and Jodie Foster The Brave One

In this Jodie Foster-helmed thriller, Terrence Howard plays the part of Sean Mercer – the detective who is on Foster’s character Erica Bain’s feet as she goes around town avenging her fiancé’s brutal murder. Acclaimed by critics and audiences alike, The Brave One greatly benefited from the perfect on-screen chemistry between Foster and Howard, even though their characters were on the two opposite sides of the law.

August Rush (2007)

Terrence Howard August Rush

Terrence Howard once again demonstrated the many sides of his talent when he signed up for the small but pivotal role of Richard Jeffries in director Kirsten Sheridan’s musical drama August Rush. Sharing the screen with Keri Russell, Jonathan Rhys Meyers and Robin Williams, Howard gave a memorable performance that fit perfectly with the film’s poetic and sentimental undertones.

The Best Man (1999)

Taye Diggs, Terrence Howard and Harold Perrineau in The Best Man

What started out as a little romantic comedy turned into a cult classic with an enormous following amassed over the years. Terrence Howard partners with an all-star cast, featuring Taye Diggs, Nia Long, Morris Chestnut, and Regina Hall creating an unforgettable comedy of errors written and directed by Malcolm D. Lee. The fan demand for a sequel grew so strong that, almost 15 years after its release, The Best Man Holiday hit cinemas around the world, reuniting everyone from the original cast.

Ray (2004)

Terrence Howard in Ray

Ray tells the real-life story of legendary musician Ray Charles, starring Jamie Foxx in the title role, as well as audience-favourites Kerry Washington and Regina King. Terrence Howard portrays Gossie McGee – a friendly guitarist who helps Charles find a place to live. It was a small but important role for Howard as the movie received great recognition from critics, including a nomination for Best Motion Picture at the 2005 Academy Awards.

Crash (2004)

Terrence Howard Crash

Another film with an all-star cast, Crash follows a number of intertwining stories all having to do with the high levels of racial tension that belie life in Los Angeles. Terrence Howard plays the role of Cameron Thayer – an African-American man whose relationship with his wife (played by Thandie Newton) becomes strained following his failure to intervene while she is being molested by a racist cop. Crash is one of the most critically acclaimed movies of the past decade and recipient of Oscars for Best Motion Picture and Best Original Screenplay.

The Butler (2013)

Terrence Howard The Butler

More recently, Terrence Howard appeared in this Lee Daniels-directed biographical picture about Cecil Gaines’ long-lasting tenure as a butler at the White House. While the movie’s leading roles were trusted into the hands of Forest Whitaker and Oprah Winfrey, Howard’s turn as, well, Howard – the neighbour who is interested in pursuing more than just friendship with Gaines’ wife – managed to catch the attention of critics who praised his performance as a highlight of the movie.

Hustle & Flow (2005)

Terrence Howard Hustle & Flow

Arguably Terrence Howard’s most prominent role to-date, Hustle & Flow revolves around a Memphis pimp named DJay (Howard) whose dream is to become a successful hip-hop emcee. What may initially seem like your typical rise-and-fall story certainly manages to grab the viewer’s attention through the cleverly written script, magnificent directing and flawless performance by Howard in the leading role. Following the release of the film, the actor received a string of awards and nominations, including Oscar and Golden Globe nods.

Sabotage (2014)

Josh Holloway, Max Martini, Terrence Howard, Mireille Enos and Sam Worthington in Sabotage

It is definitely not easy sharing the screen with one of the biggest action stars in the history of cinema (Arnold Schwarzenegger) and two of the most attractive guys in Hollywood right now (Joe Manganiello and Josh Holloway). However, Terrence Howard manages to fit just fine within that group and shines as Julius ‘Sugar’ Edmonds in his latest big screen appearance. As a member of the Schwarzenegger-run elite DEA task force gone rogue, Howard finds himself as one of the targets of an unknown murderer on the loose. With so much testosterone and action talent in one place, Sabotage promises a thrilling experience.

Sabotage  is released by Lionsgate Home Entertainment and is out this week on Blu-ray, DVD and digital platforms

Film Review: The Boxtrolls

The Boxtrolls of Cheesebridge

Deep below the cobblestones of the Victorian town of Cheesebridge live the horrible Boxtrolls, cave-dwelling monsters who come out at night to steal what Cheesebridgers hold most dear: their children and their cheese. These foul box-wearing creatures have stooped so low as to steal the young orphan boy Eggs and raise him as one of their own. Of course, if Monsters, Inc. has taught us anything it’s that monsters aren’t always all they’re made out to be and sometimes the most horrible of them all have the biggest hearts.

That means nothing to the town’s elite who employ a dastardly gang of exterminators to rid Cheesebridge of the scourge of Boxtrolls once and for all. Lead by the slimy Archibald Snatcher (voiced by Sir Ben Kingsley), they will stop at nothing until the town is rid of every last Boxtroll. Will Eggs and his privileged young friend Winnie be able to save the day or has the end finally come for the Boxtrolls of Cheesebridge?

Winnie and Eggs - The Boxtrolls

The Boxtrolls is the latest 3D stop motion feature by Laika Entertainment, the makers of Coraline and Paranorman. Based on the children's novel Here Be Monsters! by Alan Snow, the film is produced by Graham Annable and Anthony Stacchi (Antz). The Boxtrolls stars relative newcomer Isaac Hempstead-Wright as Eggs, Elle Fanning as Winnie and together with Sir Ben Kingsley features a host of other stars including Toni Collette, Simon Pegg, Richard Ayoade, Nick Frost, Jared Harris and Tracy Morgan.

As we’ve come to expect from Laika, The Boxtrolls is pretty dark at times and there was one part that was quite scary for some of the youngest children in the audience. I’d certainly recommend parental guidance for younger viewers and perseverance too, there were lots of smiles at the end of the film and children clamouring over each other to be photographed with the Boxtrolls.

Let’s face it though, animated and stop motion films aren’t really for children and The Boxtrolls is definitely a film for adult children. I was looking forward to seeing The Boxtrolls from the very moment I first heard about the project and I am pleased to report that I wasn’t disappointed. The stop motion animation is superb and this is a film that was simply made for 3D. There is a fantastic section at the end of the credits where the fourth wall is broken and we get a glimpse of the gargantuan effort that goes into making a stop motion film.

Lord Portley-Rind - The Boxtrolls

The characters themselves were beautifully designed; Ben Kingsley’s Snatcher was so convincingly greasy that I cringed every time I saw him. At any one time there would be scores of little Boxtrolls on the screen yet every one was unique and identifiable. Boxtrolls Fish and Shoe were definitely the stars of the show but Clocks was my favourite.

Fans of Steampunk and Victoriana will love The Boxtrolls and as a fan of both, I especially liked Eggs’s navigator goggles and homemade, junk-repurposed suit.

Fish of the Boxtrolls

Perhaps the best aspect of The Boxtrolls is its absurdity, specifically the importance of cheese and the notion of a young boy who doesn’t realise he’s not a troll. There was something almost Dr Seuss-like in the premise of the show and I liked that a lot. This is a feel good movie that is perfectly choreographed to a classic rock and roll soundtrack.

The Boxtrolls is out in UK cinemas on 12 September and hits cinemas in the USA on 26 September. I would certainly recommend this film to adults and children alike and foresee a grand future for The Boxtrolls full of merchandising and awards.

I give Boxtrolls five out of five stars.

5 Stars

New Music Friday: Sumia - Until We Shine Again

Sumia

About

Sumia is a band that was a long time in the making. Two of the members have been together since high school but it was only when vocalist Joni joined in 2011 that the current line up was sealed and the band took on their distinctive name. Hailing from the Finnish town of Jyväskylä, Sumia was brought together by a faith in the power of music and a determination to push through the restrictions of being confined to a single genre. This is immediately clear when listening to their debut album – in  the space of a couple of tracks I was reminded of Fuel, Curve, Smashing Pumpkins and Nine Inch Nails.

Sumia are Joni on vocals and guitar, Samuli on guitar, Olli on drums and Jussi on bass.

The Album

Sumia cite a vast range of influences including dark garage, melodic punk, electronic music and hip-hop. Determined to focus on their music and work on combining those influences, the band recorded their debut album over two years and were sure to complete it before hitting the live circuit. They recorded and mixed with Tuomas Kokko at Electric Fox Studios and mastered at Virtalähde.

The result was debut album Until We Shine Again. The lyrics are English but I feel that the Finnish influence is unmistakeable with dark, mysterious swings and slow, melodic beats. The standout tracks are “One Single Look” and “Sunbath”.

Listen

It is worth paying a visit to the band’s Soundcloud page where they’ve uploaded three of the tracks from their new album.

Watch

Buy

You can buy Sumia’s debut album Until We Shine Again at Inverse Records.

Links

SumiaBand.com - Soundcloud - Facebook - YouTube

Photo credit: Lauri Mikonranta

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