Category Archives: Film

Take That-The Ultimate Tour

 

Ten years ago millions of teenage girls’ (and, you know, probably a few boys’ too) hearts were broken. Because it was a decade ago that one of the biggest boy bands of all time called it a day. That band? Take That, of course.

 

And now: they’re back. Older? Definitely. Wiser? Who knows?

 

Hailing from Manchester the boys broke onto –and pretty much created, in the UK at least- the boyband scene in 1990. Within six years they had sold a massive 15 million albums and become one of the UK’s most loved and successful band since the Fab Four.  No doubt about it Gary Barlow, Jason Orange, Howard Donald, Robbie Williams and Mark Owen were huge.

 

But it couldn’t last forever; Robbie Williams’ departure in ’95 was the first crack in their glossy veneer. And just one year later, on February the 13th 1996 Take That officially split.  The fallout was the stuff of legends: telephone help-lines were even set up to deal with the predicted teenage outpourings of their devastated fans. 

 

Those fans have now grown up, are  all in their twenties (and thirties, and forties, and…), and should probably know better than to lust after members of an unattainable boy band, but  for them the news of Take That’s reunion will surely have been the shock of a lifetime. Likewise, the news that not only were they were reforming (minus the Robster), but they were also going on tour.

 

‘Take That-The Ulimate Tour’, released on the 23rd October, was filmed in Manchester earlier this year on the UK leg of that tour.  ‘Take That-The Ultimate Tour’ sees Gary, Mark, Howard and Jason strutting their stuff just like in the good ‘ole days. Ok, so they may be a little (sorry boys!) heavier, and on the wrong side of 30, but, whadd’ya know the boys (sorry, men) have still got it. Obviously the hoards of screaming girls in the audience thought so too.

 

 

Naturally, all the old standards are there:  ‘Babe’, ‘A Million Love Songs’, ‘Pray’, ‘It Only Takes a Minute’. It’s their greatest hits album come to life on stage basically. They’ve been jazzed up a little but essentially they’re the still the same tunes that we all know and love (or not, as the case maybe). There’s also a rather commendable Beatles Medley: from one Fab Four to another.  Resplendent in gothic dress coats, red Butlin’s style suits, and various other sartorially questionable outfits they belt out the hits one right after the other. The dance moves might be a little less energetic, sure, but the camaraderie is still very much there.

 

The DVD release also features a wealth of bonus features and a bonus live CD-phew, spoilt, or what? ‘Take That-The Ultimate Tour’ might not be to everyone tastes (hint: if you didn’t like Take That back in the day, chances are, you still won’t like them), but for those who rang into the help-lines ten years ago, chances are this will be the best thing since sliced bread. Buy it for the Take that fan in your life, they’re sure to love you forever. Or until the next tour, at least.

Written for Entertainment Wise

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You, Me and Dupree

A comedy starring the lovable Owen Wilson is destined to be a surefire hit, no? No. Not in the case of his latest vehicle: ‘You, Me and Dupree’.

There were several times during the film that you realized, with the grim realization that you had wasted your hard earned cash to see this, that this was more like a surefire flop. ‘You, Me and Dupree’ lacks, well, comedy. It just isn’t all that funny. And the bits that do successfully manage to raise a smile are so contrived and ‘try-hard’ that you feel guilty at even having found them amusing, let alone dared to laugh at them. In public, no less.

In fact, the entire plot is contrived. It is a poor story, and one finds themselves wondering who on earth gave the green light for this movie to go into production. There is no substance to it- ok, so it’s a comedy, starring Owen Wilson, and to be fair his films and ‘substance’ are rarely found in the same sentence, so this isn’t altogether a great surprise- and the plot is as thin as Victoria Beckham. Fair enough, it’s not a film that’s particularly cerebrally challenging you think, but that’s alright because it’s a piece of schmaltzy Hollywood entertainment: a romantic comedy. It’s not meant to be challenging or thought provoking. But the trouble is it falls short on all those scores. It’s not funny, and it’s not particularly romantic even: Matt Dillon and Kate Hudson seem hideously miscast in their respective roles, there’s a very noticeable absence of chemistry between the two. This isn’t helped by the fact that Matt Dillon looks so much older than the effervescent Ms Hudson. They do not look believable in the slightest, and they definitely don’t act believable either.

So, what about it’s entertainment values? Sorry to report it’s sadly lacking in that department too. As previously mentioned, ‘plot’ is a bit of a misnomer; there is no discernible plot to You, Me and Dupree. It just drags on. And on. And on. To cut a long story short: Dupree moves in with his best friend Carl (Dillon) and Carl’s (new) wife Molly (Hudson). Quelle surprise: this leads to all kinds of havoc. Carl and Molly nearly split up as a result of the ‘chaos’. Dupree then sees the error of his ways, becomes a better (more sane?) person and resolves to patch things up between Carl and Molly. Oh, and there’s a little “sub-plot” involving Carl working for Molly’s father (played somewhat convincingly by Michael Douglas) who is out to undermine him at every given opportunity. And there you have it: the plot of You, Me and Dupree in its entirety. Well, almost- chuck in some of Carl and Dupree’s friends who act as if they’re still eighteen, a clandestine box of Asian porn (don’t ask), and a billion dollar real estate development, and that really is your lot.

You, Me and Dupree is an exercise in puerile tedium that makes you wonder what on earth the cast were thinking when the signed up for it. Sure Matt Dillon’s and Michael Douglas’ careers are pretty much non existent now anyway, so it won’t do them too much harm, but Kate Hudson and Owen Wilson? Kate Hudson appears to have made an uncharacteristic error of judgment on this, and, perhaps, tarnished her unblemished record, but, hey, it’s nothing that a sparkly new girly rom-com won’t be able to fix.

It’s Mr Wilson that is the biggest surprise. After the barnstorming success of Wedding Crashers, You, Me and Dupree is even more of a disappointment. And it’s disappointing enough as it is thank you very much. And there’s the rub. You, Me and Dupree was obviously trying to be (and emulate the success of) one of the plethora of unisex comedies that flourished at the Box Office last year: Dodgeball, Wedding Crashers, Hitch, the list goes on. But that’s the funadmental problem: You, Me and Dupree isn’t unisex. It’s neither sex-there’s not enough in it to keep the men entertained, and there’s not enough in it to keep the women entertained. There’s nothing in it to keep anyone entertained, so, little wonder then that it’s fallen so spectacularly short of its counterparts.

Final Cut

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Every so often a film comes out on DVD that knocks you for six; it transcends the boundaries of entertainment; it makes you question life; hell, it even makes you question yourself.

‘Final Cut’ is one of those films.

Made in 1998, and nominated in 1999 for a Golden Hitchcock award at the Dinard British Film Festival, ‘Final Cut’ is a superb example of British art house film making at its best. Starring the very pretty Jude Law, the infallible Ray Winstone, and doyenne of the defunct ‘Primrose Hill Set’ and underwear designer, Sadie Frost, it is a work of celluloid genius from the minds of Dominic Anciano and Ray Burdis-who not only wrote, produced and directed ‘Final Cut’, also thought it’d be fun to actually act in it too. Talented men, clearly.

It opens with a madcap Jude –the characters are named after the actors who portray them. A stroke of fabulousness on the part of Messrs Anciano and Burdis-clowning about in a home-made video. Suddenly it cuts to a sombre looking bunch of people, all dressed in black, and very obviously not having a good time. Then it becomes clear, they’re at a wake-Jude’s wake to be precise.

And the aforementioned bunch is Jude’s closest friends and relations. Sadie-Jude’s wife- instructs the mourners to sit down, she has something she wants to show them. She sticks in a video tape. Let the fun begin.

Unbeknownst to his nearest and dearest the wily Jude has been secretly filming them for the past two years. Understandably, this comes as something of a shock. Jude’s film is one huge, giant, exposé of their lives inter-cut with his witty commentary; it reveals, scene by excruciating scene, their most depraved behaviour, and over the course of the screening reveals a panoply of misdemeanours: drug dealing, cross dressing, blackmail, infidelity-to name but a few. It’s a veritable smorgasbord of sin.

As the unwitting audience sit there, having their deepest darkest secrets exploded on screen courtesy of their dearly departed “friend”, they are forced to question one another’s motives and actions; relationships they thought were indestructible are crumbling down before their eyes.

Ray Winstone as Ray (natch) steals the show. He’s somewhat typecast here as a thuggish East End wide boy, but there’s a reason for that. He does ‘thuggish East End wide boy’ so very well-his acting, as always, is exemplary. Jude Law is his ever grinning, boyish self, which again, he does very well- no change there. Sadie Frost is the only one whose acting is slightly shaky, slightly less than believable in parts, but she soldiers on and ends up delivering a commendable performance.

The finale of Jude’s film is a deeply disturbing, yet brilliant twist that renders you speechless. ‘Final Cut’ obliges you, like the characters within, to examine your own moral boundaries, your own sense of right and wrong. It’s at once profoundly shocking, yet also darkly comic. You can not help but laugh-albeit rather tentatively, are you seriously allowed to find this amusing?- at the sheer temerity of it all. The gritty, perverse little vignettes that comprise Jude’s tour de force spectacularly blow all preconceived ideas of relationships out of the water. One is left wondering, as indeed the characters are, who we can trust in this world but ourselves?

‘Final Cut’ is released on DVD this September; one wonders why it took so long? It’s long overdue. If there’s any justice in this world it’ll silence those critics who harp on about the impotency of home grown films. Gritty, sordid, uncomfortable, yes, but impotent it most definitely isn’t.

 

Written for Entertainment Wise