The Standoff at Sparrow Creek (2019) – A Quick Capsule Review

The Standoff at Sparrow Creek (2019) – A Quick Capsule Review

Quick Review

Phil’s Quick Capsule Review:
The Standoff at Sparrow Creek throws in elements of Reservoir Dogs & City On Fire in a simple but tense story that expertly holds you from start to finish. An independent film directed by newcomer Henry Dunham, it certainly doesn’t do anything new (it’s twists and turns have been seen numerous times before)  but what it does it does REALLY well and is super tense even when the story spirals out of control a touch.  In short: well worth a watch.

Best Bit: The Ending

Buy, Stream, Avoid: Stream

If You Liked this Try: The Usual Suspects, Reservoir Dogs, City On Fire 

 


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The Kitchen (2019)- A Quick Capsule Review

The Kitchen (2019)- A Quick Capsule Review

Quick Review

Phil’s Quick Capsule Review:
Mob films have always been very ‘male’ focused with women often relegated to the role of wife or Goomah.  Along comes The Kitchen taking the typical mob movie and inverting it as the story of three mob wives who have to take over their husbands criminal empire after they are sent away to prison.  It’s a great idea and it gives usually comic actors Haddish and McCarthy some seriously meaty roles to get their teeth into.  And for the most part it works well. Okay so it’s never THAT believable but the ride is good enough that mostly you don’t care.  Recommended.

Best Bit:McCarthy playing it straight

Buy, Stream, Avoid: Stream

If You Liked this Try: Goodfellas, Shooting the Mafia, Ocean’s Eight

 


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Spenser Confidential (2020) – A Quick Capsule Review

Spenser Confidential (2020) – A Quick Capsule Review

Quick Review

Phil’s Quick Capsule Review:
If ever there was a film didn’t know what it wanted to be then Spenser Confidential is that movie.  Is it a knock around comedy?  A hard bitten private eye thriller? A buddy action movie?  The problem is by trying to be all three it fails to do anything that makes it stand out.  It doesn’t help that with Wahlberg as your lead you already lack that charismatic heart of your film. Wahlberg on a bad day is… well pretty bad.  It’s not terrible – there’s a few nice action scenes – but it just doesn’t do anything new or interesting to grab your attention.  Welcome to the world of Netflix originals then…

Best Bit: Big Rig arrives

Buy, Stream, Avoid: Stream

If You Liked this Try: Payback, Lethal Weapon, The Other Guys

 


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Queen & Slim (2020) – A Quick Capsule Review

Queen & Slim (2020) – A Quick Capsule Review

Quick Review

Phil’s Quick Capsule Review:
Prolific TV and music video director Melina Matsouka makes her feature debut with the impressive Queen & Slim, a film that transcends its lazy “Black Bonnie And Clyde” tag to become something quite unique and beautiful.  With it’s hip-hop, blues, Jazz soundtrack and gorgeous cinematography, this story of two young African Americans on the run for a crime they did , could have been a naive and irresponsible call to power or worse a retreading of similar themes we’ve seen many times before.  Instead focusing on leads Jodie Turner-Smith & Daniel Kaluuya’s blooming closeness as they are thrown together by circumstance and chance allows you to connect and care for the titular characters. Queen & Slim isn’t the paciest film you’ve seen and the trailer does it little justice in that respect but the film you get (rather than maybe the film you want) is far better on reflection.  One of the 2020’s best so far.  

Best Bit: The soundtrack

Cinema, Stream, Avoid: Cinema

If You Liked this Try: Bonnie And Clyde, True Romance, Thelma & Louise

 


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Focus (2015) – A Revisited Quick Capsule Review

Focus (2015) – A Revisited Quick Capsule Review

Quick Review

Phil’s Quick Capsule Review:
So that was a surprise.  Who knew that a pretty throw away con movie, with a lead whose last major film was the uber flop After Earth could be so good?  Focus is fun. Pure and simple.  In fact I smiled all the way through it’s tight sub two hour run time.   Okay It won’t stay with you for years after but watching it you get swept up with the glamour, the glitzy, the snappy dialogue and the sparkling chemistry of it’s leads.  And whilst Smith is certainly back on form, Margot Robbie steals the show proving she’s a lot more than Jordon Belfort’s oft naked wife.  In a world where everything is getting darker and writer, it’s kind nice just to have some fun for a change.  Highly recommended.

Best Bit: The SuperBowl.

Buy, Rent, Stream, Borrow: Buy

If You Liked this Try: Oceans 11, The Sting, The Grifters

 

 


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Villain (2020) – A Quick Capsule Review

Villain (2020) – A Quick Capsule Review

Quick Review

Phil’s Quick Capsule Review:
Villain, for the most part, avoids the usual low-budget British gangster tropes (it doesn’t star Terry Stone or have the word ‘Cunt’ every second for a start) and instead delivers a more measured, mature and interesting take on this very well trodden genre.  Key to this is the central performance of Craig Fairbrass, an actor whose been doing this kinda thing now since the early 90’s. Fairbrass tones it down from his usual in your face persona and manages to be totally believable as a bad guy trying to go good.   In fact it reminds you that away from the direct to video stuff he’s usually involved in, with the right material he can be a very good actor.  Yes Villain is violent. Yes Villain can be sweary. But it’s far better than you expect it to be.

Best Bit: Fairbrass is excellent

Buy, Stream, Avoid: Stream

If You Liked this Try: Rise Of The Footsoldier, Rollin’ with the Nines, The Business

 


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Avengement (2019) – A Quick Capsule Review

Avengement (2019) – A Quick Capsule Review

Quick Review

Phil’s Quick Capsule Review:
UK Action star Scott Adkins gets one of his most layered and in-depth roles to date in Avengement – the British crime/prison/martial arts action drama from seasoned director Jesse V Johnson.  We know Adkins can fight (he’s been a stable of mid & low budget actioners for years) but can he act? Well yes – albeit he may be stretching his range a touch here as a ex-fighter gone bad out for revenge.  But acting and story aside it’s the action most people will rent Avengement to see and, as you’d expect from a season director like Johnson, it’s really good (especially the climatic pub fight).  Well staged, brutal and creative.  Capable support comes from veteran gangster film actors Moran and Fairbrass, add a sprinkling of violence and some nice direction (which makes the film look much bigger than its modest budget) and all in you have a most enjoyable film overall.  One of action fans for sure.

Best Bit: The pub fight

Buy, Stream, Avoid: Stream

If You Liked this Try: Boyka: Undisputed, Ninja: Shadow of a Tear, The Debt Collector

 


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Black and Blue (2019) – A Quick Capsule Review

Black and Blue (2019) – A Quick Capsule Review

Quick Review

Phil’s Quick Capsule Review:
Black and Blue has a great idea at it’s core (rookie on the run from a web of corrupt narcs and beat cops) but it’s so unexciting and baffling at times that you kinda wonder if they set out to make a deeply average film.  It starts with Naomie Harris who is sadly miscast as the ex-small time street criminal, ex-army veteran now rookie cop – as much as she tries (and she really does) you just never buy into her back story.   And when you are up against someone with the intensity of Frank Grillo you are going to struggle.  Beyond that the action is slow, the story makes no sense (just call IA/Your Captain/The Press/ANYONE) and you start to see the challenge.  It’s far from terrible but it’s also far from engaging.

Best Bit: Grillo. Always Grillo

Buy, Stream, Avoid: Stream

If You Liked this Try: Rampart, Training Day, The Departed

 


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The Informer (2019) – A Quick Capsule Review

The Informer (2019) – A Quick Capsule Review

Quick Review

Phil’s Quick Capsule Review:
The Informer has a good central idea but kinda looses it as the film goes on, very much failing to become the sum of its very impressive parts – not least a cast that includes Ana de Armas, Rosamund Pike, Joel Kinnaman & Clive Owen.  It’s not bad – the film is tense, smart, well made and violent when it needs to be, but overall it throws in so many story turns that by the end you’re not quite sure what the film was trying to achieve. So for sure it passes the time well but I get the feeling theirs a far better film to be made here.

Best Bit: Undercover

Buy, Stream, Avoid: Stream

If You Liked this Try: A Simple Plan, The Departed, Edge of Darkness

 


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Uncut Gems (2020) – A Quick Capsule Review

Uncut Gems (2020) – A Quick Capsule Review

Quick Review

Phil’s Quick Capsule Review:
Uncut Gems is not an easy film to watch.  It’s exhausting – a two hour plus film that runs at 100 metre sprint pace… a wall of sound and noise, of shouting and aggression, of violence and people.  But it’s a bloody good one.  Sandler delivers a performance that reminds you that not only can he act (and is far better than the dross Netflix has him starring in) but in fact given the right material he could hold his own with anyone.  in fact, as the story unfolds, Sandler creates a character you oddly sympathise with him even though he is as far from likeable as you can get. It’s pretty criminal that he was snubbed at the Oscars (as was the film and directors the Safdie’s).  Outside Sandler the film is still just as good – from its direction to its support cast and phenomenal score.  Sure Uncut Gems won’t be for everyone but if you want a film that pushes your sense to the limit, that’s unlike anything I’ve seen in years then Uncut Gem is for you.

Best Bit: THAT ending

Cinema, Stream, Avoid: Cinema

If You Liked this Try: The King Of New York, Good Time, Punch Drunk Love

 


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