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Archive for October, 2013|Monthly archive page

Welcome to the Punch (2013)

In Action, Crime, film, new, Recommendation, Review on 30/10/2013 at 6:22 pm

A traditional action flick in almost every sense – except that it’s actually watchable. That’s down to these things: there’s no clichéd love interest with consequential snogging/shagging, it’s well written and acted, the good guy is an unsympathetic shit, and everything isn’t topsy turvy in the end. That said, there’s heaps of guns and chasing around and shooting.

All fans of James McAvoy be warned: he’s Max Lewinsky ie the good guy. An insufferable, stubborn, self-centred cop with a (melodramatic) grudge against a notorious criminal called Jacob Sternwood (Mark Strong). The story’s that the cop gets a final chance to catch the villain he’s after when Sternwood’s son ends up in hospital and he has to return to the UK. A standard plot, but well executed, suspenseful and entertaining. I think this film is probably great if you actually like the guns-a-blazing thing. If you don’t, it’s still a decent film – and it’s quite something to see that even McAvoy can be a complete dick if he wants to.

Peaky Blinders (2013)

In Amazing, BBC, Crime, new, period drama, political, Recommendation, Review, romantic, series, war on 21/10/2013 at 2:00 pm

We’re in Birmingham in the early 1920s, just after the Great War. It’s dirty, it’s poor, the boys have come back from the trenches – the lucky ones, and of course the weather is suitably grim. There’s a violent bunch with razors sewn into their flat caps (used to slash people’s eyes and faces) called the Peaky Blinders who rule the town – in a Mafia kind of way. Other enemies of justice include the IRA and communists.

The Peaky Blinders are led by the captivating Thomas Shelby (Cillian Murphy) – hardened and still tortured by the war, proud, silent, clever, handsome and more things that will make you fall in love with this bad guy hero. The antagonist is the supposed good guy CI Campbell (Sam Neill), a disagreeable Irish policeman; stubborn, rigid, set in his ways and devastatingly lonely in the end. Then there’s a pearl of perfect understatement called Grace (Annabelle Wallis), the Irish girl who makes Shelby/Murphy shine even more. Not  to forget the indestructible aunt Polly (Helen McCrory) who could probably lead an army and nurse a dozen children all at once.

This latest Beeb series is indeed stunning, suspenseful, a bit polished but not careful and absolutely original. As for historical significance – the real Peaky Blinders’ history in a bit vague and convoluted, but the sentiments of the era – about heroism vs cowardice, the role of women, communism, loyalty etc. –  are well represented, which is exactly the role fiction should play.

There’s a couple of cock-ups as well – hey, nothing’s perfect – the casting of Winston Churchill is ridiculous and the accents are a bit sloppy. It also leans on its protagonist quite heavily, but I dare say that’s hardly a bad thing.