Over the years I have set myself many challenges. Never really sure why, but I guess why not. There was the time I wanted to see how long I could stay awake. I managed to get half way through the third day. There was also the time I wanted to see how long I could go without food (which again saw me get to the third day). But the most fun challenges are the movie related ones. To watch 365 films in a year (which I managed), and to stay up for 24 hours and watch films non stop (I have done that one before and its not easy I can tell you)
Last week I decided on the spur of the moment to try that one again, stay up for 24 hours and watch British Indie films which would not only be fun but also make the pile of films I need to watch, a smaller pile of films I need to watch. Sadly I didnt make the 24 hours, but I did make around 11 hours worth of indie films go from the ‘no seen’ pile to the ‘seen’ pile.
So what did I watch and were the films any good? Well yes, yes, yes, yes and yes. I ended up watching 5 films and they started off with Terry, written, directed and starring Nick Nevern who appears in 18 DVDs that I have in my collection, ranging from The Sweeney to The Hooligan Factory. Terry was one of those films that I put on, I watched, I enjoyed but then when the film had finished. I had the feeling of ‘I really want to rewatch that one again soon’ Shot in a documentary style it follows Charlie who is a filmmaker, who is in turn following Terry (played by Nick Nevern) as he goes about his life. A very clever use of the documentary style camera work and for those who think ‘oh Ive seen that done many times’ You haven’t when it comes to Terry. Shot on what Im sure was a low budget, that doesn’t hurt the film and in fact makes it stronger as the way its shot is a plot within the film itself. Clever work and work it does.
I then shifted into the Kevin McKidd starring film 16 years of alcohol. Written and directed by Richard Jobson and whilst it does have a few trippy dreamy weird sequences in the film is a pretty solid mix of films such as Neds, with a dash of A Clockwork Orange thrown in as a mixer. 16 years of alcohol seemed to divide audiences, some hated it, some liked it and whilst watching the film I moved from one camp to the other and then back again, but by the end credits I realised. Yep I liked that film.
It doesn’t really bring anything new to the screen if you have seen as many UK films as I have, but why does every film have to be groundbreaking? It features a solid plot, great real locations, and a storyline that might make you shrug now and again but will deliver the goods.
After the very serious 16 years of alcohol, I wanted to move onto something a little easier to watch so opted for the film Baseline from 2010, and which turned out to be far better than the cover art indicated it would be. If you look at the cover it looks like a run of the mill crime caper but Baseline is more than that and with a cast featuring Jamie Foreman, Dexter Fletcher, Gary Stretch, and stuntman Gordon Alexander. I was sold and thought I would check the film out.
Set in East London Danny (played by Freddie Connor) is finds himself deep into the criminal underworld and things dont look to healthy for him in those surroundings. The film has such a great mix of characters and a storyline that might seem similar to those you’ve seen but it hasn’t. Baseline is a great multi layered film that is a perfect example of ‘dont judge X by its cover” The other example of that is the film Rollin With The Nines which I watched a few weeks ago and was ten times better than the cover art. Definitely check out Baseline.
I was starting to get a little cocky now, 3 films watched, and 3 really enjoyable experiences. Surely I had to falter at some point. Even more so because I had chosen a pile of films that I had never seen a trailer for, never seen a clip from and didnt know the plot lines at all. I couldnt be this lucky again could I? Well the 4th film in my day was perfectly titled. ‘Four’ and easily and quickly worked its way into that elite list of ‘Best UK films I have seen’ which does have quiet a few films in, but its not easy to get into that ranking. ‘Four’ directed by John Langridge, written by Paul Chronnell and features a cast of four….Craig Conway, Sean Pertwee, Martin Compston and Kierston Wareing (and the voices of a couple of people on the phone) but there are four faces we seen in this thriller and its perfect. Not many films are perfect but for me this one is and was. There are two major things about the film that I loved, 1:-The plot. To see it work its way out on screen before my eyes was a treat, and for that I am not going to start talking about the storyline. I love films where a story unfolds and doesn’t leave me confused or guessing. It just unfolds and entertains. Four is wonderful for that. 2:-The chemistry between the characters worked wonderfully and yes of course a massive part of that is because of the talent the actors have. Looking at the filmographies of the cast, they have worked for a while and have been in fantastic productions. They know what they are doing and do it very well. Scenes involving Craig Conway together with Sean Pertwee were a dream to watch as they talk. Yep dialogue can be exciting folks!!! Same goes for the scenes involving Kierston and Craig, brilliant chemistry and a plot that constantly makes you think ‘where can this go…wherever its going Im in for the duration, theyve got me hooked) I live in hope that all this cast work together at some point. I also think that Four would make an amazing stage play if it hasnt been done already.
For the final film that I watched I knew that going down the thriller route wasnt wise as I couldnt see how a film could live up to my experience of ‘Four’ I opted to check out the Robert Carlysle directed film from 2015, The Legend of Barney Thompson, a beautifully strange film that reminded me somewhat of the classic era of Ealing with The Ladykillers. Robert Carlysle played Barney Thompson who has worked as a Barber for decades and leads a very boring life, day in day out. However sometimes accidents happen and when a serious one does occur. Barneys life takes a very strange turn indeed thus taking him on the journey to being a ‘legend’ The film is a great blend of comedy drama and if Joel and Ethan Coen decided to make a film about a barber whos having a bad time. It might well have turned out similar to the film Robert Carlysle has made. Robert has done a fantastic job in his directorial debut. Watching the film would make you think that whoever directed this one has directed a bunch of films previous, but nope. This is Robert Carlysles feature debut. and I for one cant wait to see what he has lined up next. Emma Thompson and Ray Winstone are also along for the journey in this film and Emma Thompson is barely recognizable as Barneys mother. (In real life, Emma is only 2 years older than Robert) Ray Winstone plays a grump detective who in typical Ray Winstone style. Lights up the screen every time he appears.
That ended my filmathon. Why did I stop? Well out of 5 films, I loved all 5 and there was no way I could keep going with that much luck. The time had reached midnight and I was starting to get tired. The concern was there also, about getting to 3 or 4am and still watching films, whilst being exhausted and missing out on some classics. Each of the five films I watched, I loved in different ways, and I was 100% engrossed in each and every one of them. It would be unfair to only give films a percentage of my attention if I started to nod off. So I decided to cut short my marathon, go to sleep and be happy that I had discovered 5 new films to tell you all about. All of them are available for you to watch now. All of them are very much worth it and a fantastic job by all involved in their production.
Heres the filmmakers. You make my days and nights fun.