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Horror Film Review: Can't Come Out to Play (2013)

Cant Come Out to Play banner

Small town America. A teenager moves in with her grandparents following the death of her parents. She befriends a bedridden boy and together they begin to explore the world outside his room. What's the worst that can happen? Well, something is seriously amiss in the boy's home and it soon becomes clear that his mother is doing something to him.

Can't Come Out to Play (formerly known as The Harvest) is a chilling psychological thriller starring Natasha Calis (The Possession) as Maryann, Charlie Tahan as Andy and Samantha Morton and Michael Shannon as Andy's parents Katherine and Richard Young. The film is directed by John McNaughton and features acclaimed actor Peter Fonda (Easy Rider) as Maryann's grandfather.

Natasha Calis in Can't Come Out to Play

The tension takes place mostly in Andy's house where Maryann and Andy must steal precious moments together to play ball and be normal teenagers while avoiding the critical eye of Katherine who most definitely doesn't want Andy to have any visitors.

As their friendship begins to evolve, Maryann tries to come to terms with why Andy's mother doesn't like her and doesn't want her there. Still reeling from the loss of her parents, she takes it personally until one day when she is trapped in the house and she discovers the Young's terrible secret.

Can't Come Out to Play is an enjoyable film. Perhaps not as scary as one might expect from the film poster but thrilling nonetheless. Natasha Calis gives a strong performance as Maryann and is certainly a young actor to look out for in the future. In her role as Katherine Young, Samantha Morton provides a disturbing insight into the lengths a mother will go to protect her child. Samantha Morton in Can't Come Out to Play

There was something slightly off about the direction in the film though. As an Oscar nominee, Morton is capable of far more than this script provided and rather than letting the tension play out naturally, certain scenes were definitely over-acted.

Michael Shannon did well to deliver his part as the brooding and conflicted Richard but even he could not mask the clumsy delivery of the reveal and resolution. Nevertheless, I definitely did not expect the twist towards the end of the film and had not guessed the true picture at all.

Charlie Tahan and Michael Shannon in Cant Come Out to Play

Can't Come Out to Play would certainly have benefitted from a more subtle delivery and could have been quite a chilling commentary on the depravity of two parents and the depths to which they descend to dehumanise a child in order to achieve their goals.

Check out the trailer below:

I give Can't Come Out to Play an okay three out of five stars and recommend it for Monday night viewing.

3 Stars

Can't Come Out to Play is out on DVD and digital platforms from 22 June 2015, courtesy of Signature Entertainment. You can buy the DVD from Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com.

Blu-ray Review: The Loft (2015)

The Loft

Five married friends and a loft apartment used exclusively for extra-marital affairs - what can possibly go wrong? They think they've been very clever but misogyny comes home to roost in Erik Van Looy's latest thriller The Loft.

Based on Van Looy's own Belgian thriller Loft, the film is set against the backdrop of a gorgeous penthouse apartment and the lives of the rich and very privileged. It features an all-star cast including Karl Urban (Star Trek), James Marsden (X-Men), Wentworth Miller (Prison Break), Eric Stonestreet (Modern Family) and Matthias Schoenaerts who starred in the originally Belgian version.

Karl Urban, Eric Stonestreet and Wentworth Miller in The Loft

When real estate agent Luke Seacord (Wentworth Miller) lets himself into the loft apartment he shares with four of his friends, he discovers a most grisly scene. On the bed in the middle of the posh apartment is the body of a woman, murdered and covered in blood. He wastes no time in calling his friends. There are only five keys to the apartment and it becomes increasingly clear that someone has set them up.

Told through a series of flashbacks and police interviews, a tale emerges of a morally bankrupt group of friends who will stop at nothing to feed their desires and take advantage of women. But who cared enough to frame them and how did they choose the victim?

James Marsden in The Loft

I thoroughly enjoyed The Loft and it wasn’t only because I am particularly fond of Wentworth Miller, James Marsden and Karl Urban. The film is visually beautiful with views of the apartment and surrounding city interspersed with high society parties and events. Erik Van Looy does a great job of weaving the tale together and I was certainly not prepared for the twist at the end.

As ringleader of the misogynistic little gang, Karl Urban was pretty convincing as the nasty womaniser Vincent Stevens but it was James Marsden who stole the show as the conflicted rogue-with-a-conscience Chris Vanowen who goes and falls in love with a professional.

In addition to the male leads, The Loft featured some of my favourite female actresses including Elaine Cassidy (Ghost Squad), Rhona Mitra (Strike Back) and Valerie Cruz (Dexter). It was an impressive cast but I would have liked to see more of these actresses – perhaps we can hope for The Loft 2?

I give The Loft an excellent four out of five stars and with the all-star cast would recommend to fans of just about every film and TV series in the last decade. .

4 Stars

The Loft is out on Blu-ray, DVD and digital platforms from 15 June 2015, courtesy of Signature Entertainment. You can buy the DVD from Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com.

 

 

Blu-ray Review: Kidnapping Freddy Heineken (2014)

Jim Sturgess is Cor van Hout in Kidnapping Freddy Heineken

It was the perfect crime and they very nearly got away with it. On 9 November 1983, billionaire Freddy Heineken and his driver Ab Doderer were kidnapped from outside Heineken's office. By all appearances the kidnappers were experienced professionals with no limit to their resources. So what went wrong and how did the story come to light?

Kidnapping Freddy Heineken is the true story of those fateful three weeks when Heineken played a dangerous game of chess with his captors and basically ordered the payment of his own ransom money. Sir Anthony Hopkins stars as Freddy Heineken, billionaire owner of the brewing empire and Jim Sturgess stars as Cor van Hout, the brains behind the kidnapping. Sam Worthington stars as Willem Holleeder, Cor's ruthless and unstable best friend and True Blood's Ryan Kwanten finishes off the all-star cast in his role as Jan Boellard.

Sir Anthony Hopkins is Freddy Heineken

Based on the novel by Peter R. de Vries, Kidnapping Freddy Heineken was directed by Daniel Alfredson who also directed The Girl Who Played With Fire. The film is set in 1983 and features retro cars, authentic fashions and dodgy hairstyles of the time. Seeing those bomber jackets and highlights in all their glory made me realise that I might not actually be over the onslaught of early 80s fashion from the first time round and I'm not sure I'm ready for a revival. Despite my horror, the filmmakers did a great job of creating the look and feel of the time.

Case in point:

Unforgiveable 80s fashion in Kidnapping Freddy Heineken

The film itself is understated and its strength lies in the dialogue between the characters. Anthony Hopkins excels in his role as Freddy Heineken, a man determined to press his captors for information despite the predicament in which he is placed. The kidnappers go back and forth in their plans, a strong unit at first and then slowly starting to unravel as days go by with no word from Heineken's people.

Sam Worthington is Willem Holleerder in Kidnapping Freddy Heineken

Sam Worthington is utterly convincing  in his role as Willem Holleeder, a man bereft of a moral compass and willing to do whatever it takes to secure his goal. It was great to see Ryan Kwanten in an entirely different role from his turn as Jason Stackhouse. I’d definitely like to see more of him on the big screen in future. Jim Sturgess was the undoubted star of the film, giving a solid performance as ringleader Cor van Hout.

Kidnapping Freddy Heineken is not the deepest movie I've ever seen but then it was always going to be constrained by factual events and I would rather the filmmakers stick to the facts rather than indulging in unnecessary historical embellishments (I'm looking at you The Imitation Game). It is a rather dark and grim look at the cost of greed and the ease of betrayal in a classic illustration of the lack of honour among thieves.

Jim Sturgess and Sam Worthington in Kidnapping Freddy Heineken

 

I quite enjoyed Kidnapping Freddy Heineken and give it an okay three out of five stars.

3 Stars

Kidnapping Freddy Heineken is available on Steelbook Blu-ray and DVD from 8 June 2015 courtesy of Signature Entertainment. The Blu-ray and DVD are available from Amazon.co.uk and are also available in the States from Amazon.com where the film was released as Kidnapping Mr Heineken.

Win A Pair of Tickets to the Ultimate Power Top Gun Event at the Troxy on 26 June

Tom Cruise is Maverick in Top Gun

 

Are you ready for some classic 80s nostalgia? If so, Ultimate Power has got a treat for you. The UK’s original, biggest and best power ballads club night is kicking off the summer season with a special event at the legendary Troxy in London. On 26 June 2015, they will hold a special viewing of the epic Top Gun followed by a night of the Ultimate Power club night at the Troxy.

Secure your seat to the Danger Zone with early bird tickets from just £20 available via the the Ultimate Power Club website and via Ticketmaster.

Ultimate Power Club co-Founder Dave Fawbert said: "For eight years we've been spreading the gospel of the power ballad to the UK and now we're delighted to be announcing our first-ever film and club night event, with one of the greatest films ever made, followed by the greatest songs ever written. This will be the most fun you can possibly imagine. We can't wait to fly with Maverick and Goose, and then rock into the early hours in June".

I bet you’re wondering what you can do to get free tickets for the Ultimate Power Top Gun event at the Troxy? Well, wonder no more. I’m giving away two free tickets to the event. All you have to do is enter using the widget below. Entry is open to UK residents aged 21 and over and entrants must be available to attend the event on 26 June 2015.

Win Tickets to the Ultimate Power Top Gun event at the Troxy on 26 June 2015

Audiobook Review: Love, Sex and Other Foreign Policy Goals by Jesse Armstrong

Love sex and other foreign policy goals

I choose this audio book as I am currently working overseas and I’ve been enjoying reading about other people’s culture clashes. This book is written by Jesse Armstrong (of Peep Show fame) and his voice comes through - a wry self depreciating sense of humour. The voice of the story sets in immediately as the main protagonist (Andrew) is at a party with his upper class girl friend's family ‘so posh they never use the word posh’ where he discovers that to question the distribution of wealth is to be chippy. The relationship between the protagonist and the girl (Penny) is central to the book.

Love Sex and Other Foreign Policy Goals - Jesse ArmstrongAt the start I found this frustrating, it felt like a marginally humorous love story; something that would work as a sketch or short story but was going to be tiring as a novel. Andrew is 19, has not gone to University and does not know what he is doing with his life… searching around for purpose he finds Penny. They decide (with a mismatched bunch of friends and daddy’s credit card) to take a van to Bosnia during the Balkan conflict and deliver a message of peace.  In some ways this seems like its going to be a classic 1970s road story, a bunch of idealistic teenagers travelling across Europe, finding themselves, having sex and taking drugs. The humour comes in part from a failure to find themselves or much in the way of sex.  Even when they meet the intended recipients of the ‘message of peace’ the group of travellers remain focused on themselves.

As they set off across Europe there is a ‘big’ story. The conflict, the idealism of youth, the warmth of communities towards entertaining strangers. Andrew, however, isn’t focused on these big stories but on his little story, his burgeoning but unrequited love, jealousy and his thoughts and feelings. It was written with humour and the bigger stories unfolded despite Andrew’s lack of focus.

This is a good light book and Chris Addison narrates it well, seemingly the perfect voice for Andrew.

An almost impossible book to review, I give Love, Sex and Other Foreign Policy Goals an okay three out of five stars.

3 Stars

You can buy Love, Sex and Other Foreign Policy Goals by Jesse Armstrong on Audible.

About the Author


JadeJade is an international spy currently masquerading as an accountancy lecturer in Bangladesh. She loves books, food and indie pop.

Avengers: Age of Ultron / Stark Industries giveaway

Gillette Stark Industries Frame

To celebrate the partnership between Gillette and Marvel’s Avengers: Age of Ultron we are offering you the chance to win a framed Gillette/ Stark Industries picture signed by comic book creator, Stan Lee.

In what may be the most perfect union of superpowers, Gillette and Stark Industries have joined together with one goal in mind: create one of the best razors in the world. In fact, Gillette has allowed Stark Industries to take over its R&D department at World Shaving Headquarters to deliver an epic shave using Avengers-inspired technology.

 

The prototypes have been modelled after members of the Avengers: Iron Man, The Hulk, Captain America, and Thor.

The Repulsor1 with Exoblade has an Arc Reactor Technology that generates a perpetual energy supply to obliterate face hairs with Uni-beam pulse bolts. The Gillette XL Gamma with stress-triggered sensors and an unstable molecular structure can increase up to 700% in razor mass and brute shaving force.  The Gillette Ultra Strike is rebuilt with Super Soldier Technology and has a rare Vibranium-coated Shield Cartridge that shoots out from the handle to cut targeted hairs. And finally, the Gillette Thunder scorches hairs to the follicle with micro-lightning and an honor based gyro-gravity field to make it borrow-proof.

For a chance to win this unique prize please answer the following question (enter using the widget below):

Which prototype razor from the above video is modelled on Avengers member Iron Man?
A) Gillette Thunder
B) Gillette XL Gamma
C) Repulsor1
D) Gillette Ultra Strike

Marvel’s Avengers: Age of Ultron / Stark Industries picture signed by comic book creator, Stan Lee

Competition rules: the competition is open to residents of the United Kingdom. All entries are verified and cheats will be disqualified!

Marvel’s Avengers: Age of Ultron is in UK cinemas now.

New Music Friday: The Legal Immigrants - Fork in the Road

There's something I've never done before; I've never compared a band favourably to The Doors. In my mind, The Doors were just too unique, too singular to bear comparison of any kind. Yet less than 30 seconds into The Legal Immigrants track "Fork in the Road" I find myself doing exactly that. The track is huge, an attention grabber from the very first chords and suddenly I am listening.

"Fork in the Road" is the first single from the band's debut album Drugs to Roses which is due out on July 3, 2015. I had an exclusive listen of the full album and I predict a bright future for The Legal Immigrants.

The Legal Immigrants - photo Anthony Norkus

About

Based in Grand Rapids, Michigan, The Legal Immigrants are singer/guitarist Joe Bockheim, drummer Tony Lubenow, lead guitarist Trevor Reidsma and bassist Kevin Kitsch. The band formed the day after Michael Jackson’s death in 2009, a fact which isn’t entirely relevant to their sound. Citing Thin Lizzy, Black Sabbath and The White Stripes as their inspiration, The Legal Immigrants stand at the liminal space between the blissed out sounds of late 60s and 70s rock and the edgier, reverb-driven sounds of modern indie rock. Definitely give the single a listen and watch this space for more news on The Legal Immigrants.

Listen

Download

You can download direct from the Soundcloud widget above or using this link: "Fork in the Road" (mp3*)

Links

Facebook | Twitter | Soundcloud | Website | Instagram

Photo credit: Anthony Norkus


* This is a legal download provided by the artist to post and share. If there is any question of an infringement of copyright, please contact me at TheMediaAddict at gmail dot com and I will remove links immediately.

Music Review: This Way To The Egress - Great Balancing Act

This Way To The Egress 

I have a challenge for you but it's going to take a little bit of playing along, so bear with me. Go out, have a pretty crap day and come home feeling tired, frustrated and grumpy. Are you there? Now put on Great Balancing Act, the latest album by gypsy jazz troupe This Way To The Egress.  I predict you'll be bouncing along to the opening track "Let's Not Pretend" and singing along by "Tarantella". There, don't you feel better now?

Hailing from Bethlehem, Pennsylvania  This Way To The Egress are "Tyrant" Taylor Galassi on accordion and vocals; "Saddle" Sarah Shown on piano, fiddle and vocals; "Krispy" Zach Martin on drums and glockenspiel; John "Toobie Doo" Wentz on tuba and vocals; Jaclyn “The Kidd” on electric guitar and six-string banjo; Joe "Bone" Lynch on trombone and backing vocals; and “Easy” Chet Sullivan on trumpet and backing vocals.

The band list Primus, Tom Waits, The Flaming Lips, Gogol Bordello, Madonna, Django Reinhardt, Queen, and Die Antwoord as their influences. Any band that lists South Africa’s most prominent lunatics amongst their influences is okay in my book.  If I had to define it, I’d say that This Way To The Egress sound like a burst of carnivalesque mayhem in an otherwise drab world whereas their debut single “We Won’t Go” was described as an "exuberant drinking song that sounds like a room full of inebriated Russian Gypsies".

This Way To The Egress - Great Balancing Act album coverGreat Balancing Act is the third album from This Way To The Egress and is out on 19 May 2015. The band is fully independent and crowdfunded the album through a successful Kickstarter campaign.  Recorded in 2014, the album was produced by Brooklyn-based producer Roger Greenawalt and all album art was done by the band's own Saddle Sarah.

Great Balancing Act opens with “Let’s Not Pretend”, a foot-stomping, accordion-swinging tale of irreconcilable differences that features a fantastic mid-track polka. The tempo drops a notch with “So It Goes” where Saddle Sarah channels her inner PJ Harvey and promises that “I would sell our souls to the city that had the most. We could meet downtown and I will watch you drown more than your memories into your sauce”.

Picking up the tempo again with “Earworm” and the dramatic vaudevillian “What Do Ya Want”, the album tumbles into my favourite track, “Tarantella”. Like I said in the introduction, if you’re not singing along by this track then I’ve somehow failed in my mission.

Throughout the following tracks “You Never Know” and “This Side of Jordan”, it occurs to me that This Way To The Egress is perfect for the Gogol Bordello fan who has been seeking a little more cynicism in their gypsy jazz tunes. This is only confirmed with “Devil’s Breath”, a tale of stolen souls and card-playing devils where “children stomp and play on your remains, your head is on a pike within their games”.

After “Rogue Trip”, Saddle Sarah takes up lead vocals again in the mournful yet brilliant “Not Around”. Next up is the mutinous first single “We Won’t Go” and I’m definitely getting the inebriated gypsies analogy.

Great Balancing Act polishes off 49 minutes of chaos with "Lucy, a story about your mother", a track that has all the dramatics and moralising of a musical finale on Broadway. It’s a pretty fitting end to the album.

For sheer originality, upliftment and cynicism, I give Great Balancing Act an excellent four out of five stars and would recommend to fans of gypsy jazz and indie folk.

4 Stars

The album is available to purchase at Bandcamp, Amazon.co.uk and Amazon.com.

Keep up with This Way To The Egress on Facebook | Twitter | Website | Soundcloud.


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

Celebrate the Best of British Literature, Film and Music

I know, it doesn't feel like it today with plunging temperatures and driving rain but somewhere deep inside I just know we're going to have a Great British Summer. We just might need to spend the next week or so hidden under a duvet cover first.

The silver lining is that Sainsbury's are showcasing their digital entertainment platform with a celebration of British film, music and literature. Starting today and running until the 28th of May, the 'Best of British' promotion will feature huge savings on over 350 ebooks, films and album downloads.

Film. Available to rent or buy, the Sainsbury's Entertainment site features the best of British film including iconic titles like The King's Speech and this year's darling of the Academy Awards The Theory of Everything.

Music. The Sainsbury's Entertainment site features over six decades of incredible British music from just £4.99 from Electric Light Orchestra and The Kinks, to Kate Bush, The Specials and Paloma Faith.

eBooks. The eBooks by Sainbury's features a collection of 60 of the best of British titles for just £1.99. Titles includes One Day by David Nicholls and David Mitchell's Cloud Atlas.

Audiobook Review: Amok by Sebastian Fitzek

Amok

Have you ever considered what it would take to make a renowned psychologist fly off the handle and run amok, endangering both his own life and that of others? Early one morning, Jan May storms into a Berlin radio station with a bag full of guns and body bags. He takes several people hostage including the station’s most popular presenter and several members of the station’s fan club. Jan has but one demand that he broadcasts to millions of riveted listeners, that somebody bring his fiancée to the station to see him. There is just one problem: May’s fiancée died in a terrible accident several months ago.

Faced with an already impossible situation, Jan May ups the stakes and decides to play a twisted version of the station’s popular contest Cash Call. Under May’s rules, he will shoot a hostage unless listeners answer the phone with the slogan “I listen to 101.5FM, now set a hostage free”.

The Berlin SEK (the special response unit) call in renowned criminal psychologist and negotiator Ira Samin to deal with May. Normally that would be a good idea as Ira is the best in her field but Ira has been in an alcohol-induced state of despair since the suicide of her daughter several months back.

As the day progresses and the situation spirals out of control, it becomes ever more apparent that a massive conspiracy is at play. With the fate of the hostages at stake and millions of Berliners listening in, can Ira save the day?

Amok CoverAmok is a novel by German author Sebastian Fitzek and the second of his novels to be dramatised for the English-speaking market by Audible. Like The Child, which I reviewed last year, Amok is expertly narrated by Robert Glenister (Spooks, Hustle).

Amok stars Adrian Lester as Jan May, Natasha McElhone as Ira Samin, Rafe Spall as Oliver Götz and Brendan Coyle as the evil crime boss Schuwalow.

The production of Amok is superb and listening to the audio dramatisation is as nail-biting as watching a television show. Together with the actors’ lines we hear background noise and a dramatic musical score. The suspense is non-stop and it is difficult to stop listening.

Adrian Lester is Jan May

I want to say something like "Adrian Lester is superb as Jan May" but let’s be honest, is there anything Adrian Lester does that isn’t excellent? He is absolutely menacing in his role as Jan May and there were scenes in the story that simply made my blood run cold.

Likewise, Natasha McElhone and Rafe Spall were excellent as Ira and Oliver and you could feel the rapport between them. The star of the cast would be Brendan Coyle in his role as the key antagonist Schuwalow (at least that’s how I think it is spelled). Brendan has a great voice for audio and I must admit to playing his scenes back more than once just to hear his voice again. If Adrian Lester is convincing as the maniacal but desperate May, Coyle is even better as the morally bereft criminal mastermind.

Natasha McElhone is Ira SaminRafe Spall is Oliver Götz

Spoiled as we were by the production of The Child, I had high expectations for Amok and even these were exceeded. Sebastian Fitzek has an outstanding ability to weave together complex tales of betrayal, depravity and greed. Amok is simply brilliant and I would recommend that everybody rush out and listen to it.

5 Stars

You can buy Amok on Audible. Remember that if you are a new customer, you will receive one free book when you sign up to Audible for a free trial.

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