I bookmarked this short (Born That Way) from director Tony McNeal some time ago with the intention of posting it and then promptly forgot. Which is a shame because it's really is a very cool and very well put together. Anyway I've remembered now and you really should take a few minutes to check it out.

"When ex-con and hard-as-nails, Jake Green, finally gets a chance to see his daughter after six months, he takes her out for a quick bite only to wind up in the middle of an armoured car heist. The violent incident leaves a lasting impression on his daughter and influences her choice to pursue a dangerous and lucrative career later in life."

Born That Way stars Stars Kevin Gage (Waingro from Michael Mann's "Heat") who fits the role pretty perfectly.

www.unstoppable.tv


Trailer for independant film "The Red Machine" a spy caper set in 1935 in Washington, D.C. and 1928 in Tokyo. The film stars independant film favourite Lee Perkins (Carnies, Edges of Darkness, KatieBird *Certifiable Crazy Person).

Co-directors Stephanie Argy and Alec Boehm won several awards for their 1930's newsreel style short "Gandhi at the Bat".

www.redmachinethemovie.com


First trailer for Guy Ritchie's take on the classic detective created by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. The film simply titled Sherlock Holmes is due for a boxing day release.

This adaption see's the titular hero revamped in a vain similar to the The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. Sadly the film version and not Alan Moore's fantastic comic. The reactions across the net for this trailer have been very positive. I personally don't feel that excited, sure Basil Rathbone style fog and deerstalkers has been done to death and would not fly today. However I'm a bit surprised Richie and the screenwriters have taken it to such safe blockbuster action comedy ground. One would have hoped for a little touch of snatch / Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels infused to give it just a little more edge. After all Sacha Baron Cohen and Will Ferrell are meant to be taking on the roles of Holmes and Watson in a still "Untitled Sherlock Holmes Project", which one imagines will touch the comedic itself. Many feel it has a similar vibe to Pirates of the Caribbean, which was a fun franchise, so its probably going to fairly good popcorn munching fun.

Detective Sherlock Holmes (Robert Downey Jr.) and his stalwart partner Watson (Jude Law) engage in a battle of wits and brawn with a nemesis whose plot is a threat to all of England.

Joining Downey and Law in the cast are Mark Strong, Kelly Reilly, Eddie Marsan, James Fox and Rachel McAdams (sporting a rather fetching corset in the trailer)

You can download an HD version of the trailer from Yahoo! Movies

Via: Yahoo! movies


Humanist

When three childhood friends accidentally cause the death of '‘the greatest cop in the country,' they find themselves being blackmailed by his dodgy partner, but it is their own kidnapping scam which threatens the destruction not only of their friendships, but seemingly all around them too in this deliciously black crime comedy from Korean talent Mu-yeong Lee.

Thanks to the recent Chan-wook Park hit Oldboy, Korea has a firm footing on the cinematic radar right now so if you haven't already there is no better time to acquaint yourself with some choice flicks from this country, and why not start with Humanist. Director Mu-yeong Lee co-wrote this dark crime caper with none other than the currently-popular-in-the-West Park, a duo of proven success which together created Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance, a film which hasn't had the arthouse notoriety of Oldboy but has, nonetheless, enjoyed considerable outings via Blockbusters' across the land. Humanist is certainly a solid introduction to Korean film, particularly as the plot has a familiar Hollywood feel, but fear not, there are still plenty of Korean touches making this 'foreign' enough to keep the follows chatting over their continental beers.

Following the tried and tested formula of the crime caper gone awry, Humanist adds it’s own special influence to this familiar blueprint, bringing dark homour, dubious charm and some lovably despicable characters to freshen up the genre. Though faulted, this is an instantly likeable film following the exploits of three hapless, hopeless crooks that have inadvertently embroiled themselves in a needlessly complex plan. As the pressure mounts it become obvious there is no love lost between the dysfunctional trio and in a nice series of darkly charming flashbacks we can see why this particular group dynamic is rather unstable.

Jae-mo Ahn takes centre stage as Ma Te-o; the spoilt, selfish amoral rich kid whose father is a distant bully with a bizarre sexual fetish. Looking like a young Korean Christopher Walken, Ahn cuts a dapper, if inept, crime figure. ‘Helped’ dutifully by his long-standing chums (one stupid, one angry) his master plan to self-benefit from the situation soon spirals out of control. As the situation worsens (and worsens) family ties, friendships and even love are all put to the test when any semblance of morality rapidly vacates.

Though the final third of the film seems a slight move away from the rest, becoming notably slower, more unpleasant and macabre with less humour, the pace is kept at a nice even keel. The story, action and characterisation are perfectly balanced to keep you entertained and the plot moves on with pleasant speed and ease. The flashbacks are used with effectual style as well as narrative tools and so are other aspects of characterisation. Where these little touches add style they are done so sparingly and without whimsy, giving the effect of competent direction. The humour is in turns black and charming and as free as the occasional play on the heartstrings. The violence is what our friends with the monopoly on the video rentals might describe as 'infrequent, strong' and, whilst sometimes a little shocking in its sudden severity, isn’t nearly as gut-wrenching as a featured dubious home-cure.

On the downside, the ending leaves certain areas unexplained/not as complete as you may wish though there are still far more positives outweighing this. Though more use of some of the more marginal characters would have helped to balance the story out it is still carried well considering its complexity. With its competent direction, black humour, easy charm and a strangely fitting soundtrack, Humanist is a must-see for any veteran of the plot-driven crime drama or any foreign film fan alike.

Impress your friend, or even just yourself, with this quirky black comedy/crime escapade from one of Korea’s most promising new-wave of director’s. Peppered with sylised touches in just the right amount and pleasantly polished, Humanist proves the Korean's have their own stamp to place firmly on a familiar Hollywood genre 7/10

View the trailer

Buy It: amazon.co.uk | amazon.com


Divergence

The lives of three men with troubled lives converge leading to bloodshed, mayhem and maybe some dark answers to questions the past.

Directed by Benny Chan (Fist of Fury: Sworn Revenge, Gen-X Cops, New Police Story) Divergence features and all star cast: Aaron Kwok (Bare Foot Kid, The Storm Riders), Ekin Cheng (The Storm Riders, A Man Called Hero, The Duel) and Daniel Wu (Cop on a Mission, One Night in Mongkok) star as the tree main leads. Joining them in this ensemble cast of Hong Kong stars are Eric Tsang (Cop on a Mission, Infernal Affairs), Angelica Lee (Re-cycle, The Eye, Koma).

Suen (Aaron Kwok) is a cop who used to be in a police reality TV show, these days he's obsessed only with the girlfriend who disappeared mysteriously 10 years earlier. To (Ekin Cheng) is a successful barrister (lawyer) who wins his cases, but feels guilty that his clients are nearly always guilty. Coke (Daniel Wu) is a professional hit man who lives life just that bit too close to the edge.

Although they don't know it at the start of the film the three men’s lives are linked both in the near future and by the distant past. Each holds a key to a peace of the puzzle and each in their own way is a very dangerous man.

Divergence is one of those rare films where even though there are three main characters none are really likable, heroic or even particularly good. Each is psychologically damaged in some one and seemingly each has ended up on a path to self destruction.

Considering the first rate Hong Kong cast and the basic premise you would expect great things. Sadly though Divergence is a mess, a film that does not really know where it's going and that doesn’t have a strong enough plot to take it there. As a long time fan of Hong Kong film, I am used to genre skipping, abrupt mood changes, Random attempts at comedy, multi layered plots and large numbers of main characters. Where a Hollywood film would fall down if it tried many of those rule breakers, the films of Hong Kong thrive on them. How ever Divergence does not thrive, it merely subsists. It’s a case of the finished product actually being lesser than its parts. There are some quality performances, great action set pieces, nice shots, good fights and even some good ideas in the film; the problem is the plot is way to thin to hold them all together. The film just does not gel at all, in fact its many elements seem to separate and curdle when mixed together.

How ever while the film as a whole is a let down, there are still some pretty good elements. Firstly a black gloved Giallo style killer (Everyone likes them), a great contract hit is pulled off at the begging of the movie (Most people like to see that) and, Aaron Kwok fights both Daniel Wu and Ekin Cheng at different points during the movie (Hong Kong action fans will enjoy). The film also has one of the best "on foot" chase sequences you will see as Kwok chases Wu through the streets culminating in one of the films two big fight scenes.

Divergence ends up being a disappointing film. Not because it's terrible, it is OK, but because poor plotting and a fairly lame ending, don't do justice to some of the ideas and set pieces and certainly not to it's cast. Worth checking out sure, but you won't be hurrying to watch it again. 6/10

Divergence_1.jpgDivergence_2.jpgDivergence_3.jpgDivergence_4.jpg

Buy It: amazon.co.uk | amazon.com


Corner Boy

I was looking at my bookshelf and all the books gathering dust. Its funny the way we hoard stuff for the sake of it, as once read I never pick these books up again. I figured I would start re-visiting some of the books I have read over the years. The other night I got my copy of Herbert Simmons Corner Boy down and started to read it.
Corner Boy was Herbert Simmons first novel and won the prestigious 1957 Houghton Mifflen Literary Fellowship. I would imagine a novel that encompassed drugs, poverty, racism and race mixing written by a then only 26 year old black man was a fairly controversial choice for the time. 5 years later Simmons second novel Man Walking on Eggshells was released to critical acclaim. Unfortunately influential people in both the power elite and amongst the black community managed to put pressure on the publisher and “upstart” Simmons found his second novel effectively buried. Aged just 31 and having written two “Great American novels”, Simmons never published another. In the 1960’s he became involved in the Watts writers workshop and in the mid 1990’s he retired from a teaching post at California State University Northridge.

Set in an unknown US city, although I suspect heavily influenced by Simmons experiences growing up in St. Lois Missouri. Corner Boy tells of the rise and fall of Jake Adams. Jake is the former president of notorious teen gang “The Termites” known as the “T’s”, whose rumbles with the “Ratz” a teen gang from across the tracks on the other side of town are the stuff of legend. Now out of the gang and just 18 he finds himself pushing dope for "The Organization". Jake's smart car, fancy clothes and luck with the women make him the envy of his peers and elders alike. As Jake whiles away his time hanging with his hustler friends in the Jazz drenched pool rooms and music halls of the 1940’s life is good. Until one day he is stopped by the local police with a white girl in his car …

I imagine some people will look at the description and think this should be written off as crime glamorising “Ghetto” fiction. Simmons book how ever is much deeper, much more skillful and much more powerful, in its study of what it means to fight for the American dream with one arm tied behind your back. While the characters and setting is almost entirely one of a black American (African American, if you prefer) it’s not such a world away from the experience of living in poverty for any other race including the poor white experience.

Jake (Black): ‘Yeh, but you know what? I bet there ain’t much difference in our worlds. I bet you got corner boys, gash hounds, and everything else, in fact I know you have. Well you got a dividing line that gives you more opportunities, but that’s about all. I mean everybody loves and hates and has babies and pulls creeps …”
Georgia (White):’Creeps?’
Jake: ‘Yeh sneaks in the back door when the ole man goes out the front. And everybody gets bills and go to church and don’t believe in it, and drinks whisky or shoots themselves with the plunger, and everybody lives and dies, don’t they?’
Georgia:’ But don’t you think those opportunities mean a whole lot?’
Jake: ‘Yeah they make a difference, whatever difference there is.’

In fact the world Simmons evokes around his young characters reminded me heavily of the world S.E. Hinton’s novels for young adults, The Outsiders and in particular Rumble Fish portray. Jake Adams could almost be one of the sharp black pool players Rusty James encounters when he and Steve travel across town with the Motor cycle boy. Simmons prose is fantastic the way he infuses the slang, the music, and the feel of the 1940’s almost leaves you able to see, hear and almost even smell the scene. The characters are so three dimensional as he evokes their dreams, their failings, their troubles and their joy’s. His characters internal and external thoughts and turmoil is laid bare before you. For those capable of a thought pattern deeper than just good and bad, wrong and right, black and white you really get to thinking about just how many shades of grey there really are.

Picking up corner boy again after all this time I had forgotten its true content and settled down for a thriller following the rise and fall of a small time gangster. What I found myself immersed in was a thought provoking tale that covers almost the full range of human emotions and experience. Bravado, love, success, failure, Joy, tragedy, Prejudice, snobbery, hatred, belief and many more find themselves wrapped up in a thought provoking package and set to prose that almost matches the rhythm of the Jazz soundtrack Simmons evokes.

Maybe the greatest and at the same time saddest thing about Corner boy, is that it reminded me that no matter how much things seem to change, just how much really stays the same in the human condition.


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