DARKMATTERS - The Mind of Matt

You met me at a very strange time in my life...

Read my novel: Complete Darkness

Listen to the PODCAST I co-host: Hosts in the Shell

Monday, September 29, 2008

Darkmatters vs Empire's 500 Greatest Movies of All Time

Darkmatters top 10 of Empire’s top 500…

This month's wonderful Empire magazine has listed their 500 Greatest Movies of All Time, below are my top ten favs from their list - let me know where you're top films ended up on the Empire list...

10. Brick (empire’s 489 / 500)

9. The Crow (empire’s 468 / 500)

8. Unbreakable (empire’s 452 / 500)

7. True Romance (empire’s 157 / 500)

6. The Matrix (empire’s 39 / 500)

5. Aliens (empire’s 30 / 500)

4. Die Hard (empire’s 29 / 500)

3. Star Wars IV: A New Hope (empire’s 22 / 500)

2. The Dark Knight (empire’s 15 / 500)

1. Fight Club (empire’s 10 / 500)

Empire’s number one movie was: http://www.empireonline.com/500/99.asp

Three of my favourite films that are not in empire’s 500 (that should have been!):

Dust Devil (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0104155/)

Pi (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0138704/)

and Static (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0090069/)

"If you've never seen STATIC, you're missing a real treat... try and track it down!"

Film Review - Appaloosa

Appaloosa (15)

Dir. Ed Harris

Reviewed by Matt Adcock

“Feelings get you killed”

Cold hearted Gunslingers are some of my favourite characters in movies, you show me pretty much any movie and tell me it wouldn’t be improved by having a gnarly, righteous sharp shooting character in the mix. E.g. imagine Pride and Prejudice where Mr Darcy is a proud expert gun for hire, or High School Musical where Troy is a mercenary hitman as well as a base balling karaoke merchant – instantly more watchable? No??

Anyway, I’m a sucker for a good Western – I’ve recently enjoyed 3.10 To Yuma, The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada, had more than most for Open Range and even dug The Quick And The Dead which is why I was stoked to check out Appaloosa.

Featuring a hero named Marshal Virgil Cole (Harris) who’s a mean gun fighting lawman who hangs with his devoted deputy Everett (Viggo Mortensen) – also no slouch with a firearm. What we have here is a modern classic Western buddy movie, that explores good manly things like honour, male bonding / rivalry and what to do when your best friend’s wife grabs you and starts to eat your face…

The plot sees Cole and Everett hired to clean up the titular town of Appaloosa which is on its knees due to the unwelcome attentions of evil rancher Randall Bragg (Jeremy Irons). Bragg is a nasty piece of work, whose character is established in the opening scene as he cold bloodedly blows away the previous Marshal of Appaloosa and both his deputies for having the nerve to come on his land and try and arrest two of his farm hands (who just happened to have murdered a visiting VIP and raped and killed his wife).

Then there’s the wild card Mrs French (Renée Zellweger) who comes on like a 1882 version of Bridget Jones. Now I’m not a Zellweger fan but she does an okay job here, I’d have preferred a real babe like Rachel Even Wood but that’s by the bye…( The bye in this term originally meant "a side path," whence the current sense of "off the track" or "of secondary importance – just in case you were wondering)…
French is the hand grenade thrown into the friendship of the two leads and a distraction that might get them both killed. She’s the type of girl who’ll get busy with whatever Alpha Male is closest to hand and is fickle with her affections despite Cole falling head over ass for her. Everett however chooses the comfort of straight talking whore Katie (Ariadna ‘Pan’s Labyrinth’ Gil).

"Ariadna Gil - easier on the eye than Renée Zellweger"

Of course there are the baddie sharp shooters to put in the mix also and these come courtesy of the Shelton Brothers (Lance Henriksen and Adam Nelson), these two might just be the downfall of the heroes and it’s a wonderfully understated scene when they ride into town for the first time.

As well as the sporadic action, the twisty romance and a deep vein of unexpected comedy, there’s also just some fantastic scenes, such as when a mob of Bragg’s men go up against Cole and Everett, Cole steps forward and asks the leader “Are you afraid to die?”

To which he replies “nope”

Cole retorts:
“Good, because you go first...”
"any of you boys seen an aircraft carrier around here?"

DARKMATTERS RATING SYSTEM (all ratings out of maximum 10 but '-' is bad whereas '+' is good):

Endorphin Stimulation: öööööööö (8)
+ Cracks along, with really engaging central performances!

Tasty Action: öööööööö (8)
+ Strong shootouts and just enough action to please

Gratuitous Babeness: ööööööö (7)
+ These marks are all for Ariadna Gil...

Mind Blight / Boredom: ööö (3)
+ Doesn't drag at all

Comedic Value: ööööööö (7)
+ Some great moments of comedy

Arbitrary final rating: öööööööö (8)
Almost a masterpiece and certainly highly recommended

"Ariadna Gil - yep worth one more pic!"
Liable to make you:
"polish your six shooter..."
DM Poster Quote:
"Even in 1882 it was Bro's before Ho's"

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Film Review - Righteous Kill

Righteous Kill (15)

Dir. Jon Avnet

Reviewed by Matt Adcock

“There’s nothing wrong with a little shooting, as long as the right people get shot!?” In this case though it’s the film makers who should be in the firing line…

My name is Turk, I’m a no-nonsense cop who isn’t averse to breaking a few scumbag’s heads in the line of duty.

And my name is Rooster, I’m erm, also a no-nonsense cop who isn’t averse to breaking a few scumbag’s heads in the line of duty…

Turk – well, I’m a real badass, maverick cop and you’re gonna respect me cos I’m played by heavy-weight Oscar winner Robert De Niro!?

Rooster – huh, well, I’m also a real badass, maverick cop and I’m played by heavy-weight Oscar winner Al Pacino so who’s the daddy now?

You get the idea right, Righteous Kill is nothing if not a star vehicle for De Niro and Pacino, each waving their bits playing cop partners caught up in a serial killer case where the killer looks like being a cop. Sounds like a certain smash hit, bringing the two screen legends together in a movie for the first time since their sizzling riposte in Michael Mann’s classic ‘Heat’.

So good cop, bad cop, but is the film any cop? In a word ‘no’, Righteous Kill is a steaming shoddy embarrassment for all concerned, not least the viewer. On the evidence presented here director Avnet deserves to be banned from ever making another film, so criminal is his waste of the talent on offer. It made me want to weep seeing the two acting titans limping about without anything meaningful to do, spouting rubbish dialogue and treading a predictable, risible plot. I’d heard bad things about Righteous Kill but even setting my expectations to ‘low’ could not prepare me for quite how poor this was.

Words like ‘woeful’ and ‘lackluster’ kept popping into my mind while the vigilante killings of various criminals stumbled across the screen. It seems any perp acquitted of murder, drug dealing, child molestation etc on Turk and Rooster’s watch comes to a sticky end from the business end of a police issue weapon. Could one or both of them be responsible or are they being framed? You probably won’t even care after an hour of po-faced plodding and half hearted autopilot acting from all concerned. But however poor the majority of the film is, the supposed climax plunges to previously unexplored depths of pain inducing tedium.

You’ve been warned…

DARKMATTERS RATING SYSTEM (all ratings out of maximum 10 but '-' is bad whereas '+' is good):

Endorphin Stimulation: ö (1)
- Really very poor and un-engaging...

Tasty Action: öööö (4)
+ Some half hearted shootin...

Gratuitous Babeness: ööööööö (7)
+ Carla Gugino is quite foxy...

Mind Blight / Boredom: ööööööööö (9)
- Monkeys might fly out of my butt, but I still almost fell asleep...

Comedic Value: öööööö (6)
+ You might laugh at just how bad it is...

Arbitrary final rating: öö (2)
"Most people respect the badge, everyone respects the gun," but nobody respects a duff movie and that’s what Righteous Kill is.

"This guy's a gonna. Bit like our film careers if we make any more films like this..."

Liable to make you:
"bitterly regret going to see this..."

DM Poster Quote:
"See two old timers laughing all the way to the bank!"

Friday, September 26, 2008

Taken - The 'Who would you take' Darkmatters Competition

TAKEN - Darkmatters Competition

Taken hits the UK today and delivers more than enough adrenaline fuelled vengeance driven thrills to keep you satisfied until Bond pops up in a few weeks...

And in order to promote this violent cinematic thrill-ride the lovely people at FOX have provided some tasty 'TAKEN' competition prizes - including USB data sticks, T Shirts and Caps which you can win if you live in the UK.

All you need to do is tell us who you'd most like to see abducted and why (please note that Darkmatters does not condone or encourage the practice of abduction)!?

And along with your entry, please put the name of the daughter (played by Maggie Grace) who gets abducted in the film.

Email your answers to: cleric@another.com

Closing date is end of October '08.

Maggie Grace from THE FOG

Maggie Grace from TAKEN

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Film Review - Taken

Taken (15)

Dir. Pierre Morel

Reviewed by Matt Adcock

“I don't know who you are. I don't know what you want. If you are looking for ransom, I can tell you I don't have money. But what I do have are a very particular set of skills; skills I have acquired over a very long career in the shadows, skills that make me a nightmare for people like you. If you let my daughter go now, that will be the end of it. I will not look for you, I will not pursue you. But if you don't, I will look for you, I will find you. And I will kill you…”

[after a pause the kidnapper answers] “Good luck”...

Taken is a mean, slick, action flick from Luc ‘Leon’ Besson and Robert Mark Kamen which could well set a new standard for the sheer number of bad guys sent to an early grave… Liam Neeson gets his ‘Bourne’ on as Bryan Mills, an ex-CIA operative who puts his training to effective use when his daughter Kim (Maggie Grace) gets kidnapped the minute she steps outside of the US.

Director Pierre ‘District 13’ Morel delivers on the promise he showed in his early action adventure – this time blessed with a quality leading man who keeps the audience on side even when delivering unspeakable violence. Neeson certainly adds gravitas to the vengeful all shooting, all beating, role of Bryan. Within minutes of the film starting he’s in action saving a hot new singing sensation Diva (Holly Valance) from a would-be attacker, a move which helps indicate that there is much barely repressed violence just beneath the surface of this doting-but-estranged dad.

So when his daughter Kim and her cute pal Amanda (Katie Cassidy) get abducted almost as soon as they arrive in Paris, Bryan uses the next 96 hours (the time frame within which security forces generally recon that a victim has a chance of being rescued) to go ballistic on the East European scumbags responsible.

The plot might be wafer thin but that hardly matters when the action is as crunching and high octane as delivered here. Watching Bryan take down seemingly hundreds of enemies in a stylish but surprisingly brutal series of encounters is this year’s action fan nirvana. With echoes of the effective Man on Fire from a couple of years ago, this man on a mission to save his child odyssey, will have people rooting for the steely eyed bringer of justice – even when the odds seem impossibly against him.

Once the action fuse is lit, the fight scenes, chases and relentless quest of Bryan is a captivating ride, a thriller that actually thrills and doesn’t waste a second of screen time. Probably not a date movie, Taken channels of the spirit of Arnie’s infamous ‘80s’ action heroes mixing in elements of James Bond and Jason Bourne. You’ll be hard pressed to find a more exciting rampage of gun action this autumn – Bryan Mills may well muscle his way into to the all time top ten of gun slinging heroes.

"I will look for you, I will find you, and I will kill you - probably with my gun..."

(all ratings out of maximum 10 but '-' is bad whereas '+' is good):

Endorphin Stimulation: öööööööö (8)
+ Deathwish fulfilment for anxious parents everywhere

Tasty Action: ööööööööö (9)
+ Serious crunching fights and gunplay, exciting stuff!

Gratuitous Babeness: öööööööö (8)
+ Maggie Grace is worth abducting...

Mind Blight / Boredom: öö (2)
+ Fast paced throughout

Comedic Value: öööööö (6)
+ Some nice dark comedy elements

Arbitrary final rating: ööööööööö (9)
Taken is highly recommend stress relief for anyone who wants to see bad people made to pay!!

"keeping your cherry - drives up your value!?"

Liable to make you:

"vow to wipe out half the Eastern Euro underworld"

DM Poster Quote:

"They thought they could take his daughter and get away with it.

they were miss-TAKEN!!"

Monday, September 22, 2008

Battle of the Random Killers - The Strangers vs Funny Games

Let the games begin – because you were home…

Or Matt Adcock’s thoughts on very bad things happening to people in their own homes – for our viewing pleasure.

2008 has seen at least two hard hitting horror films that cover the terrifying territory of unprovoked home invasion, torture and slaying.

Are these valid ‘what if’ scenarios which explore the darkest recesses of human barbarity? Or are we looking at two shameless sadistic horror flicks that do nothing but titillate our repressed senseless blood lust? You decide...

Here are the plots:

Funny Games (18)

Michael Haneke’s shot-by-shot remake of his own 1997 exploration of violence which sees bourgeoisie family, comprised of wife Anna, husband George, and son Georgie, take their summer vacation at their luxurious lake-front house on Long Island. Shortly after settling in, a young man by the name of Peter shows up at the front door and is joined by another young man, Paul. The men seem very polite at first, but soon, their natures are revealed when they take the family hostage and begin to play games that involve physically and mentally torturing them. The games gradually get more life-threatening, and eventually Paul makes a bet with the audience: the family will be dead by 9 am the next morning. The majority of the film focuses on whether the family will survive the night.

The Strangers (15)

"What you are about to see is inspired by true events. According to the F.B.I. there are an estimated 1.4 million violent crimes in United States of America each year. On the night of February 11, 2005 Kristen McKay and James Hoyt went to a friend's wedding reception and then returned to the Hoyt family's summer home. The brutal events that took place there are still not entirely known."

After returning from a wedding reception, a couple staying in an isolated vacation house receive a knock on the door in the mid-hours of the night. What ensues is a violent invasion by three strangers, their faces hidden behind masks. The couple find themselves in a violent struggle, in which they go beyond what either of them thought capable in order to survive.

The overall Darkmatters verdicts:

Funny Games: öööööööö (8 out of 10)
An intelligent, desperate and wilfully grim non-mainstream look into the unthinkable

The Strangers öööööö (6 out of 10)
Effective in places but somewhat lacking overall, walks in the shadow of Funny Games and Ils

Both are effectively nasty in their own way. Funny Games cleverly makes the audience implicit in the events whilst The Strangers maintains a deeper air of mystery until the end.
Neither of these films are going to make you feel any better about us as a species – but sometimes I think it’s important for cinema to challenge, to take an audience to the edge of sanity and immerse them in the darkness – at least as a viewer you have a choice…

Darkmatters poster quote:
“Staying in your own home... can be murder...”

If you likes these types of films – look out for The Poughkeepsie Tapes which looks like delivering another mother-load of unsettling nastiness…

Film reviewing
"an act by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted on a person for such purposes of intimidation or manipulation of the reader…"

Film Review - Tropic Thunder

Tropic Thunder (15)

Dir. Ben Stiller

Reviewed by Matt Adcock

You here that noise? That’s the sound of thunder and it’s coming from your local cinema… Tropic Thunder has hit the UK and it’s going to get messy. Get ready to go down in a hail of hilarious, offensive, quick-fire war movie spoof gunfire. The thunder you’ll experience if you take this tour of duty is that of deep belly laughter.
You’ll marvel at washed up action hero Tugg Speedman (Ben Stiller), a man desperate to re-ignite his box office potential after a string of weak sequels to his one major hit ‘Scorcher.’ Cringe at fat-suit specialist / comedy star Jeff Portnoy (Jack Black) who’s fighting a losing battle against drug addiction and wants to be known for more than just fart jokes. And freak out at the ultimate heavy-duty method actor Kirk Lazarus (Robert Downey Junior) who doesn’t come out of character until he’s finished the DVD commentary track. Finally there’s Alpa Chino (Brandon T Jackson) who’s character is the face of ‘Booty Sweat’ soft drink, and a handy foil to Downey Junior who’s blacking up to play the lead black character walks a knife edge of racism.

This rag tag bunch of actors and their massive egos are inadvertently thrown into a real guerrilla war situation by bumbling Brit director Damian Cockburn (Steve Coogan). Things go pretty insane after that as the actors have to fight for their lives as well as their film careers.
There are big laughs on offer here, starting right from the off with some sublime mock trailers for each of the main character’s previous films. The audience I caught this with were in universal hysterics more than once thanks to some quality rib tickling moments.

Tropic Thunder chronicles the filming of a big budget Vietnam action epic, which gets a month behind schedule five days into the shoot thanks to the actors swanking about like Prima Donnas throwing tantrums at every turn. Faced with having the plug pulled by the studio, Cockburn helicopters his leading men deep into the jungle and the heart of darkness that awaits them.

The crown jewel here and final killer reason that Tropic Thunder is potentially the best comedy of 2008 is a welcome career comic turn from Tom Cruise as the evil studio head Les Grossman. Cruise has never been funnier (even when freaking out on Opera in real life) and Grossman is a character of potential comedy legend…

"Get some…"

(all ratings out of maximum 10 but '-' is bad whereas '+' is good):

Endorphin Stimulation: öööööööö (8)

+ Wrong but very very funny...

Tasty Action: öööööööö (8)

+ Fun and over the top action scenes add to the spectacle

Gratuitous Babeness: ööö (3)

+ Limited in buddy Vietnam situation!?

Mind Blight / Boredom: ööööö (5)
+ Slightly indulgent but forgivable

Comedic Value: ööööööööö (9)
+ Doesn't get much funnier than this - Tom Cruise is excellent!!

Arbitrary final rating: ööööööööö (9)
Bring the noise - this is a tropical storm of laughter

Liable to make you:
"get some"

DM Poster Quote:
“see the dude playin' the dude, disguised as another dude!"

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Film Review - Pineapple Express

Pineapple Express (15)

Dir. David Gordon Green

Reviewed by Matt Adcock

Red: “I'm trying to decide how stoned I am and just how on the verge of death am I right now. Like, am I seeing sh*t because I'm stoned or because I have no blood left in my body?”

Dale: “Well, you've been shot like seven times!”

All aboard the Pineapple Express – a Judd ‘Superbad’ Apatow joint which takes it’s name from a super strong and extremely smooth variety of weed (so I’m told). Here we get a heart warming tale of potheads who have to go on the run after witnessing a murder. It’s a one part stoner comedy, two parts buddy cop movie (without the cops) mixed into a seriously agreeable wacky adventure.

Pineapple Express stars Seth Rogen as Dale, he’s a guy who loves getting high and lives his whole life under the influence of doobies – he may look like a lardy loser but he’s living proof that a being funny can get the girls because his girlfriend is my current favourite leading lady / sexbomb supernova Amber Heard (I’m a big fan)… but you’ll see that if you search this site for her (use the google box top right).

Hey - on the subject of the delectable Miss Heard – anyone out there seen ‘The Beautiful Ordinary’ (possibly now renamed ‘Remember the Daze’) or You Are Here / Spin or Day 73 with Sarah as none of them have yet surfaced over here in the UK? Leave a comment if you know anything or have seen any of those Amber Heard starring movies...

"All the girls love older guys..."

Sorry, where was I? Oh yeah, Pineapple Express, well it’s rude, it’s over the top and it’s quite violent too. It contains copious drug smoking and seems to fly the ‘drugs are cool and not really in any-way bad for you’ message which won’t please everyone (hi mum). Yes this kind of film has been made before but ‘friendships forged in the heat of the battle buddy films’ are rarely as engaging or cool as this one. It has real heart and will make you laugh, cry and hug people around you…

If for nothing else Pineapple Express is worth the price of admission to see the excellent car chase, Angie’s family and their dysfunction bickering as they attempt to flee armed drug dealers and a whacked out shootout climax.

As the pot testing Private Miller says in the opening scene:”I feel like a slice of butter melting all over a big ol’ pile of flapjacks … yeah.”

It’s just that kind of film…

“BFFF man” – that’s going to catch on!!

DARKMATTERS RATING SYSTEM (all ratings out of maximum 10 but '-' is bad whereas '+' is good):

Endorphin Stimulation: ööööööö (7)
+ Wrong in many ways, but funny and slick too

Tasty Action: öööööööö (8)
+ More than you might expect from a comedy, it’s good stuff too

Gratuitous Babeness: ööööööööö (9)
+ Oh Amber… If was like ten years younger and not married I’d be stalking you for sure!

Mind Blight / Boredom: öööö (4)
+ Tight like a tiger, will keep you glued

Comedic Value: öööööööö (8)
+ Some very funny bits here

Arbitrary final rating: öööööööö (8)
A high old time – lots of dubious fun…

Liable to make you:
"get the munchies'"

DM Poster Quote:
“who’ll be standing when the smoke haze clears? and will they remember anything?"

Amber Heard fans... check out his cool foreign poster for Never Back Down:

There are some great photos of Miss Heard over at: Friendly Atheist (hope their friendly enough to accept a humble link from this believer's blog)...

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Film Review - Eden Lake

Eden Lake (18)

Dir. James Watkins

Reviewed by Matt Adcock

If you go down to the woods today, watch out for the chav hoodies from hell (or Eden Lake at least) because these kids don’t play nice. In fact James Watkins’ new gruelling British chiller is enough to promote widespread Paedophobia - the fear of children - because as any Daily Mail reader will tell you, they’re just waiting to pounce if you so much as look at them wrong.
Eden Lake tells the unhappy but culturally savvy tale of a sweet couple on the brink of getting engaged who get more than they could possibly imagine when they confront a group of rowdy teenagers. Jenny (the excellent Kelly Reilly) is a stereotypically lovely primary school teacher who goes away for a romantic weekend with her nice boyfriend Steve (Michael ‘300’ Fassbender). There is an eerie sense of impending doom from the very start, cleverly built up in a style that makes this feel like an English Countryside Chainsaw Massacre – just with knifes instead of chainsaws. An effective feeling of menace is created by the couple’s first encounters with the unfriendly and uncouth locals in the Bed and Breakfast they stay in en route to Eden Lake – a picturesque lakeside beauty spot scheduled for development into new gated community of luxury housing.

"boys will be boys, erm, I mean vicious knife wielding louts..."

What starts out as an unfortunate run in with head boy Brett (Jack O'Connell), his Rottweiler and gang of aggressive, foul-mouthed pals soon becomes a nightmare of unthinkable violence. Before you can say ‘I don’t like the look of those kids’ Steve and Jenny find themselves the prey in a deadly game of cat and mouse. The tension is kept strong and the violence that ensues is a bleakly possible ‘what if’ where decent adults are terrorised by feral youth which include the talented young Thomas ‘This is England’ Turgoose.
There is likely to be a media storm around this hard hitting, turbo charged horror which explores issues such as how the social fabric of Britain has been broken to the point where parents raise children who have absolutely no moral compass. There are images in Eden Lake that will stay with you long after the credits roll including the sight of the gangs’ token female impassively filming the torture of one of the couple on her mobile.
Parent or not, you’ll be urging the heroes on even when they have to resort to deadly violence themselves in order to try and survive. Oh, and if you think the kids are rotters, just wait till you meet the parents!!

"She realised that she wasn't cut out for her new job in the AA"

DARKMATTERS RATING SYSTEM (all ratings out of maximum 10 but '-' is bad whereas '+' is good):

Endorphin Stimulation: ööööööööö (9)
+ Grips like a beartrap to the neck

Tasty 'sick' Action: öööööööö (8)
+ Damn this is hard horror action - not for the nervous

Gratuitous Babeness: öööööööö (8)
+ Kelly Reilly is hot, even covered in mud and blood...

Mind Blight / Boredom: öööö (4)
+ Cracks along, with shocks at every turn, not least the haunting ending

Comedic Value: öööööö (6)
+ The humour at the start runs dry as the horror escalates

Arbitrary final rating: ööööööööö (9)
Thoroughly nasty but highly watchable

Liable to make you:
"beat the next hoodie you meet to a pulp 'just in case'"

DM Poster Quote:
“like father like son... God help us!!"
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Film Review - The Duchess

The Duchess (12a)

Dir. Saul Dibb

Reviewed by Matt Adcock

Two’s company but three is definitely a crowd when it comes to marriage and thus is the case in Saul ‘Bullet Boy’ Dibb’s new film which chronicles of the life and loves of 18th century aristocrat Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire (Keira Knightley).
Married off by her parents as a teenager to Ralph Fiennes’ stuffy and emotionally detached Duke who is only after one thing… a male heir… Georgiana’s life becomes one of both opulence and misery, compounded by her only having female children.
Despite being a stunning beauty and social ‘it girl’ the Duchess is trapped in a tragic loveless marriage which gets worse when her husband who takes a live-in mistress right under her nose. Stop me if this sounds at all familiar… Much has been made of the fact that Princess Diana was a descendent of the Devonshire clan and it seems poignant that one of her ancestors walked a lonely loveless marriage so many years before her.
Knightley looks the part and gives good posh, her pretty frame and wicked pouting smile perfectly fitted to the regal role. But try as she might, nothing can prevent her being blown off screen by Fiennes whose Duke is the monstrous, heartless, scene-stealing villain.
Rejected and marginalized by her hubby, the Duchess looks for love outside her marriage with up-and-coming politician Charles Grey (Dominic ‘Mamma Mia’ Cooper), who my wife said wasn’t quite hunky enough to satisfy. Things end in scandal, tears and heartbreak but curiously despite good acting from all concerned and stylish production values, the end result left me a bit cold. I was hoping for a bit more spice, passion or meaty tugging of the heartstrings but having said that there is still much to admire.
The lovely Hayley Atwell stars as the Duke seducing Bess and is certainly one to look out for in the upcoming Brideshead Revisited, which may well overshadow this in terms of emotional engagement. The Duchess is a fine film, but despite the gorgeous landscapes, impressive architecture and great costumes, there’s something missing here and I suspect that it’s real beating heart.
I can recommend The Duchess to those looking for a sumptuous slice of period drama, but don’t expect to be shaken, stirred or emotionally engaged, – just sit back and let the stunning visuals wash gently over you.

"hats off to a fine looking film"

DARKMATTERS RATING SYSTEM (all ratings out of maximum 10 but '-' is bad whereas '+' is good):

Endorphin Stimulation: öööööö (6)
Tragic story that doesn't go on too long

Tasty Action: ööööö (5)
+ Sumptuous scandal scenes but not action packed

Gratuitous Babeness: öööööööö (8)
+ Knightley is hot, and she even has some girl on girl!?

Mind Blight / Boredom: öö (2)
- Nothing here to make you snooze

Comedic Value: öööööööö (8)
Tons of crackling comic one liners - Ritchie is on form

Arbitrary final rating: öööööööö (6)
Lovely but cold

Liable to make you:
"fall for Keira"

DM Poster Quote:
“the only man not to love the Duchess of Devonshire was her husband!?"
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Film Review - ROCKNROLLA


Dir. Guy Ritchie

Reviewed by Matt Adcock

A ‘RocknRolla’ can be defined as a someone who wants it all – the good life, the money, the girls, the power… It’s the rock and roll lifestyle turned up to the max. So who better is there to bring the compulsive dodgy world of a RocknRolla to the big screen than Guy ‘Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels’ Ritchie?

After the slight misstep of ‘Revolver’ and the chronic failure of ‘Swept Away’ starring his famous Mrs, Ritchie blasts back to the big time with this overload of sex, thugs and rock ‘n roll. RocknRolla is a tall tale of high crime set in modern day London, populated with a sparkling assortment of low lifes. Gerald ‘300’ Butler stars as One Two, a likable but shady fella who wants to tap into the London property market. He gets caught up in a dangerously tangled web of corrupt politicians (an excellent Jimi Mistry), Russian billionaires (Karel ‘Hellboy’ Roden) and old school London Crime Bosses (Tom Wilkinson). It seems that there’s some easy money for One Two and his mates to liberate from the Russian, thanks to the tip off from the double-crossing gorgeous financier Stella played by Thandie Newton. But taking seven millions euros is likely to attract serious attention from a host of wrong-uns and the stakes escalate to the point where nobody is safe. The wild card in the mix is the RocknRolla of the title named Johnny Quid (Toby ‘Wilderness’ Kebbell), presumed dead, but very much alive – Johnny takes a fancy to his mob boss father’s painting, looking to support his drug habit. Only it’s not his dad’s painting, it’s on loan from the Russian billionaire, who is keen to get his ‘lucky’ painting back.

Everything zips along with lightening pace and a supremely stylish visual look that is achingly hip. The dangerous London underworld has probably never looked so good and anyone who enjoyed the dodgy dealings of Snatch or Layer Cake is in for an absolute treat. RocknRolla is potentially the coolest film of the year, the cast are excellent, the script sparkles with humour and is packed with twists and memorable scenes. This is a culture clash of seismic proportions exploring what happens when the hungry new criminal element from the East come face to face with the entrenched London mob. Excitingly for action crime flick fans, the end credits even promise a sequel… Nice one!!

"Newton plays it cool, but then just about everyone does in RockNRolla!"

DARKMATTERS RATING SYSTEM (all ratings out of maximum 10 but '-' is bad whereas '+' is good):

Endorphin Stimulation: ööööööö (7)

+ It's not new, but it is cool

Tasty Action: öööööööö (8)
+ Slick and effective, some great chases and gunfights etc

Gratuitous Babeness: ööööööö (7)
+ Newton is a foxy minx for sure

Mind Blight / Boredom: öööö (4)
+ Nothing here to make you snooze

Comedic Value: öööööööö (8)
+ Tons of crackling comic one liners - Ritchie is on form

Arbitrary final rating: öööööööö (8)
Cracking crime caper - worthy of your attention

Liable to make you:
"want to be a RockNRolla"

DM Poster Quote:
“The next generation of mobster has arrived"
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