I don’t do well in warm weather. If I was a country, my biggest export would be sweat. So this past week, the hottest in the UK so far this year, has been pretty unbearable. Even when sitting still I can secrete enough liquid to hydrate a small village. I’m the only person I know who could sweat in a bath of cold water. As in this is something I have done. Yesterday. So on Sunday, when I was invited to London to attend the screening of a film directed by one of my fellow writers over at Blueprint: Review (more on this later) I was of course honoured and delighted to be a part of the day, but I dreaded the experience of just being in London during a heatwave. Considering I don’t have much of a sense of style, I’d be attending via a 2 hour train journey and carrying numerous bags of shopping requested by my partner, I hardly expected to make anything close to a good impression upon these media professionals at what must have been a momentous occasion in their lives. Vigilante is the first feature film released by Blueprint: Film. It’s the first feature of director Darren Bolton, and also the first for many of the people involved, including my friend and regular Lambcast guest David Brook, who edited the feature. And here I was arriving a little late, dripping in sweat as though I was doing an impression of Lee Evans in a sauna, generally bedraggled and loaded up with a giant crate of Ben’s Cookies for Aisha’s work colleagues. Everyone else was dressed to the nines in decadent evening wear or at the very least something marginally photogenic, whilst I appeared to be debuting this season’s new look, “Post-Beach Hike Formal”. I feel I’m missing the point of the premiere – it was a great evening and an even better film, so instead of me self-indulging my own misplaced vanity, let’s talk about that instead, shall we? Here’s what I watched this week:
Vigilante tells the story of Pep (Simon Cassidy), an idealistic yet loud-mouthed bloke who wants to clean up his town, primarily using his fists. After sorting out a group of young vandals, Pep becomes something of a local hero and is invited to join the Neighbourhood Watch, wherein he is able to become a more proactive figure in terms of keeping the peace. However, once he evolves from protector to pest, Pep uses rumours of a suspected paedophile in town to attempt to reclaim his title of hero by undertaking a one-man manhunt. Shot in the style of a documentary focused on Pep, Vigilante lives or dies on the lead performance and fortunately Cassidy, who is on screen for almost every second of the film, delivers a phenomenal performance. He fully sinks his teeth into Pep’s bulldog tenacity, taking a character who could so easily be seen as a monster and imbuing him with a more humane side that makes some of the latter narrative turns all the more gut-wrenching. Think Sean Bean via Jackie Earle Haley; a working class quality but with a compact, barely contained ferocity simmering underneath. There are a couple of standout scenes involving Pep’s particular brand of justice that deliver unexpected degrees of tension and shock, with a gripping climax shot in an economical yet entirely effective manner that can’t be looked away from. The humour may be a little dark for some, particularly around the paedophilia aspects and Pep’s means of attempted capture of the paedophile (they weren’t too dark for me, but I can see others potentially being turned off) but all in all this is a taut and affecting indie drama. It doesn’t over-use the documentary format which never feels overly staged or implausible, and the supporting performances are also terrific, particularly Millie Reeves as Pep’s pregnant ex-wife and Johnny Vivash as a potential suspect, but this is Cassidy’s chance to shine. If he doesn’t go on to more high profile work after this then there’s no justice in the world.
Lists: 2016 Movies
Choose Film 9/10
Bryan Cranston plays Dalton Trumbo, the infamously eccentric screen writer black-listed for being a member of the Communist party, yet who earned a living writing hugely successful scripts under pseudonyms. Cranston is great, if occasionally more than a little cartoon-like in the central performance, and I learned a great deal about an era of film-making and general American history that I feel I should know more about, but alas the rest of the film is bizarrely dull. I say bizarrely because there’s a slew of incredible actors here whose work I normally adore – Diane Lane as Trumbo’s put-upon wife, Louis C.K. and Alan Tudyk as fellow black-listed writers, John Goodman and Stephen Root as boisterous B-movie producers, Helen Mirren as actress-turned-gossip columnist Hedda Hopper, Michael Stuhlbarg as Edward G. Robinson – but the story doesn’t seem to hold together and the whole thing really drags. At just over 2 hours this felt closer to 3, and I think it’s a mixture of somehow having too much and too little going on simultaneously. Trumbo’s troubles and triumphs are both rattled through at a decent pace and also languished upon to the state of tedium. Also, in terms of recreating the familiar faces involved in the story, it felt very hit and miss as to whether the supposedly recognisable actors involved should be recognisable or not. That’s not very well worded, so I’ll give examples instead. Stuhlbarg plays Edward G. Robinson, whom I only know from Double Indemnity, but I think he’s terrific in that. It felt like Stuhlbarg made very little effort to appear or sound like Robinson. Similarly, a fellow named David James Elliott plays John Wayne, despite looking nothing like the guy and only occasionally sounding like him. Christian Berkel depicts Otto Preminger, but has to continually remind us that he is Otto Preminger over and over again, so we don’t confuse him with some gurning clown. All of this would be fine and written up as a directorial choice were it not for Dean O’Gorman, aka Fili, the slightly less dreamy dwarf after Aidan Turner’s Kili in Peter Jackson’s Hobbit trilogy, who plays a spot-on Kirk Douglas in terms of appearance, voice and mannerisms. It’s perfect, and makes all the others look like relatively poor SNL impressions. This all adds up to a semi-decent piece of educational entertainment, but if you’re already halfway familiar with Trumbo’s career then the only thing worth watching here is Cranston’s performance.
Lists: 2016 Movies
Choose Life 6/10
Posts you may have missed:
Lambcast #331 Whatcha Been Watchin’ Lately: I was joined by Heather Baxendale, DJ Valentine, David Brook, Darren Lucas and newcomer Damien Riley in a hastily re-branded at the last minute show in which we discussed, amongst other things, Hail Caesar, Finding Dory, Swiss Army Man, Green Room, Some Like It Hot and the latest Police Story movie.
Aim: Review 8 or 9 1001 List movies each month
Should be on: 56
On Track: No!
Aim: Review 1 “Bad” movie each month
Should be on: 7
On Track: No!
Aim: Review 1 “Blind Spot” movie each month
Should be on: 7
On Track: No!
Aim: Review 2 “Film-Makers” movies each month
Should be on: 14
On Track: No!
Thanks for the glowing review! I’m glad you liked it so much and thanks again for coming all the way up for the premiere, especially seeing as it was rather far to travel and hellishly hot (including in the cinema).
My pleasure David, I meant every word.
Nice to hear about David’s movie. I heard him talking about it a bit on the LAMBcast I was on. I like the style you wrote the review in, giving the reader enough info to get the flavor without revealing it all. Many thanks!
Thanks Damien, given this is a film pretty much no-one has gotten the chance to see yet I wanted to keep it as spoiler-free as possible.
Makes sense. Hopefully more people get the chance to see it! Like me! 🙂
Thanks for the interest. If you fancy writing a review on your site I’d be happy to provide a screening link.
Hi David. That sounds really great. Email me at email@example.com Thank you.
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