Black Sea (2014)

Jude Law heads up this rag tag crew of submariners, that lease an old Russian sub, to go and find some lost World War 2 gold in the Black Sea.  A sort of Kelley’s Heroes but underwater.

Robinson (Law) is an Aberdonian (Aberdeen, Scotland) is a veteran of the merchant seas recently sacked from his firm that he, and his crew, have devoted a significant amount of their careers to.  Without a job, they reluctantly take on a job, from a questionable source, to rescue sunken gold and reverse their fortunes.

Being in the Black Sea, and having to lease a Russian sub, they decide they need a crew half Russian, half British.  Already you can sense we’re being setup for a them and us confrontation at some point.


This movie is laced with cliched characters, each one playing the stereotype personality that rubs up and agonize one another.  But look beyond that, instead embrace that predictability and enjoy the story and the gritty drama that these group find themselves as they retrieve the gold.  In reality this crew would never be this dysfunctional – but that would make for a very dull story.

Jude Law plays the elder seasoned lead extremely well and he feels at ease in this role.  Sadly the movie didn’t do terribly well in the box office, with only a limited run, and was a effectively a straight to video release.   It wasn’t at all publicized so is it any wonder no one really knows about this little gem.

But seek it out and give it an airing.

Hunt for Red October this is not but a good yarn nonetheless.


Viewing Date
Monday, 21st September 2015


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Standby (2014)

This is a no effort-required Irish romantic comedy about a man who, finds himself working with his mother for the Irish tourist board at the information desk at Dublin airport.  A girl from his 8 years past, arrives at the airport stranded for the night, waiting the next flight to the USA (hence the title reference she is on standby).

Naturally this could have been the one that got away, but he didn’t have the courage to go and chase her down.  So this is his second chance.

I did expect a lot more from this outing.  I was excited when it was recommended to me from a few other movies in the same genre.  I had not heard of it before, and while it may not have hit the mainstream, sometimes you discover a real gem that has been locked away waiting to be viewed.

The lead is played by

Brian Gleeson, who I didn’t click at the time, is the son of my favourite Irish actor

Brendan Gleeson (The Guard) and the younger brother of 

Domhnall Gleeson (About Time).   Now I know, I can see the strong family resemblance.   Feel a bit dumb not joining those dots as I am usually quite good at finding the connections.

The female lead, the love interest, is carried by

Jessica Paré of Mad Men fame.  It has to be said, she is not your classic beauty here in this movie, not even eliciting a sexy girl’next’door look.  She was far more sensual as Don Drapers squeeze.

They bump through the usual will-they-or-won’t-they scenario’s of the usual rom-com journey, with the natural outcome that we are rewarded with for sitting through it all.

It isn’t an offensive comedy, it has some funny lines (as Mark Kermode would say, passes the 6 laugh test) and it doesn’t spend too long in any given scene where you would normally be saying get on with it.

It is no Notting Hill so Richard Curtis, the master of the under stated romantic comedy, can rest easy.

If you want to watch something that couldn’t quite gain mainstream popularity then you won’t go too far wrong.  Just lower your expectations and you’ll have an enjoyable evening.

Viewing Date
Wednesday, 9th September 2015


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Whiplash (2014)

This obscure unknown movie made quite the splash at the 2014 Oscars being nominated across the board for a number of awards including Best Picture.  While getting a huge promotion boost with the Oscars (and various other awards) it still only managed to pull in $13M at the box office, which isn’t a huge amount but against a $3M budget, kept the bean counters very happy.

The movie centers around an upcoming drummer, at music school, against a teacher who simply bullies him into playing more and more.  There really is nothing more than that.  

If you look up the word pretentious you discover: “
Claiming or demanding a position of distinction or merit, especially when unjustified”.  Or if you wish to shorten that then just say Whiplash.

J.K. Simmons plays the hard assed music teacher who is hell bent on making everyone’s lives hell.   Preparing for this role must have been fairly straight forward as he has lifted every, now parodied, move from the classic actor   R. Lee Ermey as General Hartman in Full Metal Jacket.  

The difference here is that General Hartman is training men for war.  There is a huge amount of method in his madness.   However, Whiplash, is a jazz song.  A frigging piece of music!  No tune is worth blood pouring from your fingers as you drum too hard or being slapped by your teacher.  Ridiculous.

But it gets worse/better depending on which position you take on whether this is a masterpiece or not.

Miles Teller is the student who is putting up with this nonsense.   He believes this is the only way he can be great and become famous (hasn’t he heard of YouTube?).   Teller, who looks spookily like a young John Cusack, is in a continual dazed state as he moves from scene to scene.

Let us keep this in context.  It’s music.  Period.   No lives are being lost.  No countries are going to fall.   Yet, when Teller is involved in a very nasty car crash that crushes his car, he still gets out and wobbles, bleeding, and still runs to a music competition that he will muscle his way onto the band to play the drums.


He’s leaving the scene of an accident for a start.  He is also covered in blood, in addition to his head streaming blood, and NOT ONE person asks him if he is okay or should go to a hospital.  Really?

There is zero heroism or even admiration in this act.  Completely stupid.  We have to keep going back to the original goal .. to play drums at a competition!  Who cares!

That is the problem for me with this movie.  I have absolutely no sympathy or desire for the student to gain his dream.  I am not invested in his outcome and when I see the lengths he will put himself through, I can’t help but wonder if he is perusing the right dream.  If you are that single minded then refocus that to something may indeed save lives.

J.K. Simmons without a doubt played this role extremely removed from his usual characters he puts on.  You kept waiting for a witty remark or comment, but none came.  He played General Hartman perfectly.

At a 107 minutes, if you watch the first 10 minutes, then come in for the last 10 minutes, then you will have missed nothing but saved 87 minutes of your life.

The original movie started off as a short film shown at the Sundance festival.  It should have stayed short.


Viewing Date
Saturday, 5th September 2015


IMDB YouTubeTrailer

Kill Me Three Times (2014)

This popped up on Netflix and I will confess to not knowing about this Simon Pegg comedy thriller he made last year in Australia.   It isn’t the best of his output and one can’t help but feeling he was lending his name and box office draw to this rather low budget local country movie.

The gist of the movie has Pegg as a hitman that witnesses a couple who is attempting to kill someone off and he gets in on the action, hoping to get the insurance money himself.   Being Australian, we have the usual cameo from their very own veteran dignitary, Bryan Brown of Cocktail fame, who is wheeled out of retirement to give some meat to this rather lame effort.

Sadly it fails to deliver on a number of fronts, no funny lines and no specific scene that has you reaching for the rewind button.  If I didn’t know it was being billed as a comedy, I would have been convinced I was watching a series thriller.

Best to avoid unless your Netflix queue is completely empty.


Viewing Date
Thursday, 20th August 2015