Tag Archives: Season of the Witch

Killing Bono (Not Literally)

What would it have been like growing up living in the shadow of Bono and U2? Well Neil McCormick, author of Killing Bono: I was Bono’s Doppelganger knows exactly what that feels like. And his book turned out to be quite a good movie based on his experiences. With a huge interest in seeing Robert Sheehan in a role other than Misfits, I sat down to check out Killing Bono. In an odd turn of events, this is one of those films of one-upsmanship. I find McCormick’s character to be intriguing and tragic, especially with his circumstances and the adversity he faces. So let’s blast out to some U2… and Shook Up.

In the late 70’s, Paul Hewson, soon to be known as Bono (Martin McCann) and his friend David Evans (The Edge) would form a band that would sweep the world, in a similar fashion to The Beatles. Neil McCormick’s brother Ivan (Robert Sheehan) was recruited at first by Bono, but it was Neil’s (Ben Barnes) decision to keep him from the band. Holding this secret inside, Neil will do anything in his power to beat Bono and his fast rising star. With travels to England, a few

A little bit of Martin McCann as Bono.

relationships, and some fiddling around with record producers, It is up to Neil to prove to his brother and everyone that his mistakes were made for a reason.

And it’s a long journey from the bottom to the top (or as close as it gets). This movie has some twists and turns (on a downward spiral), and leaves you realizing that it doesn’t matter if Neil succeeds, it is up to him to do what he thinks is best for himself, and realize he cannot choose for others. He can only  be as good as he himself can be. Now there’s a bit of some moral wisdom to dish out at the end of a film.

A little taste of the McCormick brothers!

I had only seen Ben Barnes in a few things before he burst onto the scene in this film. Stardust and Prince Caspian in the Narnia series to name the few. But this is one of those out there roles for Barnes. He’s all over the place, he’s ecstatic, he’s cocky and ready to roll at any moment. This is a hard role to pull off if you don’t have the personality for it, but Barnes does a good job of it. I wouldn’t have minded to see Robert Sheehan in the pivotal role, but this was all good all the same.

But my what a young actor Robert Sheehan is turning into in the world of movies. First there’s his strange appearance in Nic Cage’s Season of the Witch, and then followed by this movie? Soon he’ll make a name for himself as a period piece actor in the American film world. And I hope his unforgiving comedy will be able to come across the “big pond” in order to become a mainstay in America. I see big things for this young star, and I wish him the best.

Pete the ridiculous record exec.

It is rather unfortunate that this is Pete Postlethwaite’s last performance before his death. This actor who I will always remember as the whimsical man who gave James the seeds that would send him on his journey in James and the Giant Peach. In this film, he’s a bit of a different character. Pete plays a garishly homosexual landlord with a penchant for large parties. Helping Neil and Ivan along the way in London, it is Pete who brings together Gloria (Krysten Ritter) and Neil as Karl, Gay Landlord Extraordinaire.

That’s some great hair there, Robert.

And you can’t forget Peter Serafinowicz as Hammond, the ridiculous record producer. First he was Pete, the dick roommate in Shaun of the Dead, but he has gone on to do some great T.V. work Look Around You and various other writing and starring in British television. He was the voice of Darth Maul for god sakes! What an accomplishment! This strangely wonderful man is just the kind of quirky actor this film needed.

Oh, and we have to talk about the soundtrack! This movie didn’t directly feature any U2 tracks, this features all original (or did Neil make it?) music for the film, or something or other. And I really enjoyed the music. Ben Barnes had a great musical performance and really captivated what it meant to be a popular band in the 1980’s. Couple this with a combo of darkish humor and drama, and you have a film about triumph and revenge. I’d give this film a watch for any U2 fans. 6.9 out of 10.

Let’s get some dark eyeliner on and hit up this club.

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Misifits: Series 1

I would like to start off with a special thanks to my girlfriend’s sister Dana for making me aware of this wonderful show simply titled Misfits. I know she’s just paying me back for telling her about Foxy Shazam, and so it’s all good now. I would also like to thank Hulu for showing this in the U.S. for free. It is not small wonder this is one of the most watched shows that you have in your archive.

Hailing from the wonderful little island of Britain, Misfits is a series about, well, a group of misfits. Being as vague as I can about the series, I’m not going to tell you what they did or just exactly what happens, but I will tell you one thing. Freak electrical storm. These five Misfits gain bizarre superpowers that get them into some pretty strange situations (and sometimes gets them out of them). With a culture different from our American teenagers, a whole new kind of token characters are created.

A great cast of heroes has been assembled here.

And what a wildly awesome bunch they are. It’s not to say they are completely different from us, but, I swear, if MTV tires to touch this show I will burn their headquarters to the ground. This is a show that, in its context, can only be done amazingly by those who originally did it. Any bastardizing of this show will be seen as blasphemy. Anyways, back to the characters. There’s Simon (Iwan Rheon). He’s the quiet outcast of the group that never really had any friends, and, at first, it appears to be plausible. We gain an emotionally connected insight into his life as the series progresses and, if you don’t like him as much as I think everyone should/does, then you might wanna stop watching. Being one of the key characters, it’s sad to see that he’s leaving after Series 3.

This is why she's hot.

Next is Alisha (Antonia Thomas). This smokin’ hot and fiery young black woman is beautiful and knows it. She uses every man she can for what she wants (usually sex) and then throws them to the gutter. As with almost all the characters, she doesn’t give a shit what people think of her. Typical of a delinquent. After Alisha comes Curtis (Nathan Stewart-Jarrett), the athlete gone bad on that one mistake. With his track days over, Curtis has given up on life and wishes anything to have things back to the way they used to be. It does my heart good to see more than one minority in a “superhero show” like this and Curtis and Alisha are good representations.

You better recognize.

Next is Kelly (Lauren Socha), the spitfire “slag” of the group. Representing the “lower class of Britain” in this show, she jumps on everyone’s case with her unique way of speaking. As one of my favorite characters, I love that she’s always the one dishing out the hits on all the guys. And not flirting. And then we come to Nathan (Robert Sheehan). I recognized him from Cage’s Season of the Witch and was surprised that HE IS ONE OF THE BEST ACTORS IN THIS SHOW. I was constantly laughing and believing that the young choir boy I saw from Cage’s disaster was a completely different person. In looking forward to watching everything this kid ever does, Sheehan does an amazing representation of the smartass class clown.

True. And funny.

So there we have all the characters. In the first episode, you begin to discover just who they are and how their powers relate to their lives. Seen as punishments that accurately fit the crime, these five must deal with a series of horrific events and the consequences of their actions. Set in an imagined suburb of London named Wertham, this is one of the best British shows I’ve ever watched, and I’ve seen all of The Mighty Boosh and Little Britain. (Just roll Nathan into both those shows and he’s just as funny.)

Word.

I can’t reveal too much about the plot because its just too good to discover what happens. The series is fantastic and I really can’t say more than that. I encourage any superhero/anti-superhero, nerdy, British loving, dramatically inclined, film lovers to check out this show on Hulu. At least watch the first series. All the characters develop into these amazing people that you wish were your friends and you care deeply for them and the relationships they form with each other. (And there are some steamy relationships you won’t see coming.) Coming from a guy who’s not that into the gossip/Skins style focus on love and sex, it was a bit over the top for me in this show, but it gave an adult quality to the 20 year olds acting on screen. Focused solely around their time in their community service building, a lot more is going on than meets the eye.

Discover all the mystery. And what's going on here.

I can’t say enough how wonderful this show is. If you watch it/are currently watching it, there will be an update for how good Series 2 is in comparison. (I don’t know about Series 3, Nathan has left…) So keep up on it and discover all you need to know about Misfits. And I’m going to post the show opening song because of how perfectly it fits and how catchy it is. Get some of these Misfits, they’re 10 out of 10.

I also forgot how amazing the score to the show is. Enjoy!

 


Season of the Witch: Get Your Cage On

I'm liking this.

In the same vein as Black Death and watched only a few nights afterwards, I came to the realization as to why this movie didn’t work for me. It’s not Nic Cage or Ron Pearlman. It’s not the lackluster accents put on by the cast. It’s not the Rock ‘n’ Roll ahead approach to the plot. It’s the fact that I didn’t feel that any of these actors were ever meant to or destined to star in period pieces. As in Black Death, Sean Bean was specifically bred and born to play the role of a Medieval knight. In Nic Cage’s case, I’m not at all positive. Sure, Ron Pearlman has wielded a sword in In the Name of a King (come to think of it, even Jason Statham can’t play an English peasant…) but Pearlman’s body size is really only perfect for Hellboy and Blade II.

And, in this manner, I was removed from fully immersing myself and enjoying the plot presented in Season of the Witch. (Original title idea for Scorsese’s

Do you believe this wench to be a witch?

Mean Streets.) I had to watch this though. My goal in life is to watch the entire career of Nicholas Cage in full. All the way from Fast Times at Ridgemont High down to Ghost Rider 5 (I hope…). I’ll take all the good (The Cage Renaissance) all the way down to his money problems (National Treasure and onwards… for now…). Seeing as this Medieval film really fits this quota, let’s dissect it.

Nic Cage and his flowing locks of sultry power.

So Behmen (Nicholas Cage) and Felson (Ron Pearlman) are two ex-crusaders. And to say that, I mean that after many wars, these two decided all the killing wasn’t worth it anymore. And I gotta say, some pretty pimp-ass helmets as well. They look like cauldrons. Whatever floats your boat. So these two ruffians hustle it back to Germany just in time to find that the Black Plague has hit Europe. (Actually accurate that a lot of Crusaders missed that bit in history.) Discovered in some barn area that they are wanted by the Church, these two duel for a quick second and then are whisked off to meet with Cardinal D’Ambroise (Christopher Lee).

Haggard as ever and possessed by the plague, the Cardinal orders these two men to escort a suspected witch to a hidden monk’s shindig house in order to LIFT THE ENTIRE CURSE OF THE BLACK PLAGUE. All because of one girl?

Read, Deballsack!

Unlikely… But that’s beside the point. So the two agree to avoid jail/death, and they assemble their Super Squad. First up we got Debelzeq (Stephen Campbell Moore). This is pronounced De-ball-sack. Unfortunate, but an actual name. One of the more believable period piece actors, Moore brings a bit of the clergy to the screen. There’s Eckhart (Ulrich Thomsen), the soft-spoken man with a heart of gold. He obviously can’t last. And there’s Hagamar the thief (Stephen Graham). He’s really not worth mentioning.

Robert Sheehan, the last bastion of hope in this film.

And then there’s the star of the show. Young altar boy turned knight, Kay von Wollenbarth (Robert Sheehan). This new up and coming actor stars in one of my favorite shows in the U.K., Misfits. This show (which will be reviewed soon) is a wonderful breakout role for Sheehan, and he has proved his mettle since then in Killing Bono and Red Riding. He’s really not given a chance to shine in this film with the limited script, but you’d barely recognize him. If only his Irish accent could flow from those lips in every film.

So, on this whirlwind roller coaster adventure, in every twist and turn, lives are at stake. Is Anna (Claire Foy) truly a witch? Or something more? Will Behmen and Felson survive? Only watching this movie from start to finish in hopefully one sitting will tell…

There’s really not much to say about anything else in this film, so I’ll summarize. The acting is a period piece, without a sense of the period. English accents failed to veil whatever was going on at the time. If those were even accents… I love the Cage, but when you want some Cage action, you expect a bit better from him. This one was toned down and I commend him for that action, but some more terror and mania was necessary. This supernatural film came across as realistic at first, and moved towards the CGI graphics and buffoonery towards the end. It seemed as if the movie was going in two different directions from start to finish. I don’t blame the actors or what was attempted onscreen, I would say the flaws started from the writing/pre-production phase. So, cast and  crew of Season of the Witch, you gave it your all, but you let Nicholas Cage down. And for that, the Cage vehicle of dastardly deeds gets a measly 3.3 out of 10.

This haggardly crew must fight the witch in this touching film of evil.


Black Death: The Medieval Wicker Man

In a movie undeservedly put under the radar, it came as a surprise to me after watching Black Death that it wasn’t a more well liked and well known film. Among a handful of other medival pieces on Netflix (such as Ironclad, and Season of the Witch – review coming soon) this one, I would say, stood out as the #1 spot on the leaderboard. I mean, come on, you got Sean Bean as the lead. He puts his own amazingly remarkable mark on any and all medieval period pieces he does (Lord of the Rings, Game of Thrones). So its time to delve into those boils and see what’s good.

This movie starts (and focuses) around the account of a young monk in training. All around him, Osmund (Eddie Redmayne) sees the pestilence of the plague as a blight from God himself. As the movie begins, we even discover that he himself was being tested to see if he caught the plague. As a devastating disease that just took hold of his Church by the throat, Osmund finds himself in turmoil. His new found love Averill

Ulric and his gang at a witch burning. Monty Python style.

(Kimberley Nixon), something the Church wouldn’t approve of, must leave the confines of the monastery and find safety in a forest village far from the reaches of the plague. She promises to go, but will only wait for Osmund for 7 days.

With this separation between human love and the love of God, Osmund must make a choice to choice (although it would be frowned upon if he left the Church at all). Upon praying to God for some sort of sign on which way to go, Ulric and his band of merry men roll up hard to the Church to find a guide.

There are repenters in every one...

There is talk of a necromancer in a swamp somewhere near where Osmund is familiar with. Double whammy for him? He can meet his wench on the way. Overjoyed at the excuse to peace out (deuces style), he volunteers to lead Ulric. After some minor preparation, they head on out.

Here’s where things get sticky. Some people die, some people may (or may not) have the plague, and this village they find in the swamp, hasn’t been touched by the plague. So Sean Bean and his boys suspect witchcraft. And they’ve brought some deadly torture devices to get some confessions and drag home one witches corpse. Utterly decieved, Osmund has no choice but to go on this miniquest for God and his way of life.

The travelling troupe.

I don’t want to reveal too much about the ending, but think The Wicker Man. it doesn’t matter which version (Cage or no Cage) but watch that first and prepare for the medieval version afterwards. It’s not all that uncommon, I’m sure, for a movie to be inspired by another, and I found this version of a society that’s not what it seems to be quite unnerving. Upon looking into this movie, I got worried they’d introduce some B.S. magical element into the story. And I wasn’t having that from a movie that came from a very real place. (Speaking of real, we’ll have to talk about the realness that is Season of the Witch.)

Sean Bean. Witch hunting.

Luckily, I was spared and the movie satisfied me like a goat-wrapped Snickers. And you wanna know who stole the show? It wasn’t Sean Bean. He gave his great performance as his stock Boromir character. It was good, no doubt, no doubt. The real ingenious lay in the true to life performance from Eddie Redmayne. A relatively young actor I’ve not heard much from (other than the big works he’s done that I haven’t seen yet) has been doing period pieces like its his job. I mean, My Week with Marilyn? Who but the Redmayne is lucky enough to do that? But what I really felt about his acting is that he wasn’t faking. He looks like a normal person (of the time period) and I felt his true anguish and terror. Nothing felt forced. It was a spot on acting job.

But I do give Sean Bean his credit. I know that every time I watch a Sean Bean

The evil wench, Carice van Houten.

film, I’m getting a true to life, Shakespearean performance. He cuts no corners when it comes to true acting. On some other levels I found John Lynch’s role as Wolfstan to be riveting. As the older and wiser 2nd in command, Wolfstan tries to protect all that he can and do so with kindess. That kind of heartfelt performance comes from some attention to detail. A little nod to Andy Nyman, a pretty funny guy who applied some dark comedy to Black Death. This was a big turnaround role for me last seeing him as the portly and spunky friend of a friend in Death at a Funeral (the real one). I mistook Johnny Harris, the big old badass with twinblades for Eddie Marsan, and if you’re familiar, you may understand my mistake. Both bald, both bearded, both decent actors.

Will love find a way in such dark times?

As with most adventure movies like this (not exactly adventure, I guess I mean questing), you get to know all the characters in the travelling party a little bit. But not enough to really care whether some of them live or die. I mean… Griff and the mute guy Ivo in this movie? One had boils and one couldn’t talk. Not much was lost when they were killed. Not to say their characters weren’t important, it’s just with movies like this, you can tell the expendables from the not so. So when it comes down to the last guys, then you feel the heartache.

And with this classic film form in mind, the storyline bloodily zips along to its conclusion. Some twists and turns and some witches who burn, the transformation of Osmund is the final result of this film. Told in an almost brutal, Gerard Butler in Beowulf kind of way, a bit of magic never hurts to mix in. This movie delivers how its supposed to and makes for a fine period piece. I’ll give it an 8.1 out of 10.

Truly symbolic.