Category Archives: Movies

Sinema: The Movie.

Several years ago, my very clever Kindle suggested I may like a book called ‘Sinema: The Northumberland Massacre‘ by Rod Glenn. The Kindle was correct: I loved the book! I remember thinking that this author had guts – and plenty of them were splattered all over the page! 

Since then, thanks to Twitter and Facebook, I’ve been lucky enough to get to know Rod. He’s from Newcastle, like me and we’ve met at book launches and literary events. Almost two years ago, Rod came to a performance night that I’d arranged for my writing groups and he read an excerpt from ‘Sinema’ which was massively well-received. That evening, some members of my group were signed up to produce an anthology with Wild Wolf Publishing (Rod’s publisher). That anthology was entitled ‘Thrills ‘n’ Chills‘ and has gone on to be very successful. 

Today, I’ve invited Rod onto the blog to talk about his latest project: adapting ‘Sinema’ for the big screen. Yep, you read that right: they’re making a ‘Sinema’ movie! So I’ll hand you over to Rod who can tell you all about it.

Vic x

Sinema

So what’s ‘Sinema’ about?

There’s a newcomer to the small Northumberland village of Haydon… a charming novelist and film buff, researching a crime thriller about a serial killer on a rampage in a remote Northumberland community. The only trouble is, it’s a work in progress and it’s going to be non-fiction.

392 men, women and children stand in his way to achieving a sadistic dream.

As the worst winter in more than a century approaches, can two investigating police officers trapped with the terrorised residents stop this monster?

“This novel was one the most heart racing, jaw-dropping novels that I have ever dared to finish.” ~ The Crack Magazine. 

Out of all my novels, ‘Sinema: The Northumberland Massacre’ has been the biggest commercial success to date.  Since its release, I have been continuously told how it would make a great film, but I never really pursued it to any great extent as I’m a novelist, not a screen writer. Last year though, an author and screen writer friend offered to help with the adaptation.  I have a huge amount of respect for Ricki Thomas and her writing, so was delighted to have her help.

After many drafts and re-drafts, we finally managed to condense the novel into a fast-paced thriller without losing the essence of the book and what made it so popular in the first place.

As an actor I have been involved in film and television projects, both big and small over the years – from Hollywood blockbusters to iconic television series like ‘Inspector George Gently’, ‘Vera’ and ‘Ripper Street’.  Early this year I worked with director, Kev Harte on the short supernatural mystery, ‘The Sceptic‘.  It has gone on to win coveted official selection spots at dozens of film festivals and has also been aired on Eli Roth’s new horror television channel, Crypt TV.  While filming ‘The Sceptic’ we talked about the adaptation and Kev immediately asked to come on board to direct.

 

 

The central character – the infamous Han Whitman – was actually based on me and many fans have repeatedly asked if I would play him in the film.  As Brad Pitt was busy, I thought: ‘what the hell?’ We are currently casting for the rest of the roles and have already had a very strong response from loads of local talent. I am keen to ensure that it is not only filmed exclusively in the North East, but we also utilise home grown talent both in the cast and crew of this production to help boost the North East’s vibrant film industry.

As it is an ambitious project, involving a huge cast, multiple locations and a gripping snowstorm finale, we are currently raising additional funds for the film to help us make it.  We are offering some exciting perks that money can’t buy like VIP tickets to the premiere, lunch with cast and director and even a small part in the film.  Perks start from just £10, click here for more info.

For news and updates you can follow the film on Twitter (https://twitter.com/SinemaTheMovie) and Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/sinemathemovie).
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Whitley Bay Film Festival 2013 starts tomorrow.

Last year, there was a zombie-filled shopping centre, a pianist on the beach and Dorothy – along with Toto – at Spanish City Dome. In years gone by, there’s been a screening of ‘Jaws’ on the beach and ‘King Kong’ at the Spanish City Dome. Whitley Bay Film Festival, and the originality of screenings, has started to win awards; last year’s film festival won the Newcastle Journal Culture Award for Best Tyneside Event. I’d started to wonder if the Film Festival would be able to maintain the high standard set.

I needn’t have worried. Whitley Bay Film Festival is not only undertaking their most adventurous programme yet but the festival is also going international! As well as using the wonderful venues available in Whitley Bay, the film festival has teamed up with DFDS to offer a film and fun-filled mini-cruise to Amsterdam to close the festivities.

WBFF cruise

Pack your passports and get ready for yet another truly original event thanks to Whitley Bay Film Festival. While you’re on-board, you’ll be treated to a “Comprestival” which will include highlights of the festival as well as a second Secret Cinema event and the closing party. Let’s not forget the fact that you’ll get to enjoy a day in beautiful Amsterdam too. Prices start at £74.50 with a range of different cabin types available and the price includes all film festival activities as well as a buffet breakfast and dinner at the Seven Seas Restaurant on the outward trip, what a bargain! If you’d like to get involved in this exciting cruise, call 0871 521 1539 to book your tickets.

The cruise isn’t the only exciting thing happening at the festival this year. Spanish City Dome is going to be turned into a multiplex, showing up to six films a day. There’s a gala opening on Friday followed by screenings of ‘Casablanca’ and ‘O Brother, Where Art Thou?’. There’s Sci-Fi Sunday (18th) which features ‘The Terminator’, ‘Logan’s Run’, ‘Wall-E’ and ‘2001: A Space Odyssey’ as well as ‘Intra-Galactic Travel by Sound and Light’.

I’m most looking forward to Superheroes Day (Fri 23rd) – ‘Megamind’, ‘Kick Ass’, ‘Iron Man’ and, one of my all-time favourites, ‘The Dark Knight’. Come along as your favourite superhero – or supervillain!

There are also screenings at St Mary’s Lighthouse – ‘Vertigo’, ‘White Mane’, ‘Shutter Island’, ‘The Red Balloon’ and a Monster Movie double bill – as well as events at Di Meo’s Delaval Ices, The Avalon, The Rendezvous and Whitley Bay Football Club. Oh, and let’s not forget the Secret Cinema – clues coming soon.

You can read my daily blogs on the film festival’s website.

So get your gladrags on and head down to the Dome at 6pm on Friday for the grand opening. See you there,

Vic x

Review: ‘Skyfall’ ***Contains spoilers***

OK, I know I’m in for a lot of grief here but I’ll admit up until a couple of weeks ago, I had never seen a Bond film all the way through. The only times I’ve seen them is if there’s been one on TV and The Boy Wonder decided to watch it despite it only having 30 minutes left. I suppose it’s a bit of a surprise considering I am a bit of a geek. I adore Batman but Bond has just never figured in my life.
However, after hearing about “the gritty reboot” and seeing trailers that looked pretty good, I thought I’d give ‘Skyfall’ a go.
I thought the cinematography was good. The action sequences were pretty impressive and the product placement was nowhere near as invasive as I was expecting.
BUT…………
Some might say that director Sam Mendes has “paid homage” to ‘Apocalypse Now’, ‘The Dark Knight’, ‘The Dark Knight Rises’ and ‘The Woman in Black’ but as far as I’m concerned, he ripped them off.
The Baddie, Silva, played by Javier Bardem was a cross between Hannibal Lector and Heath Ledger’s Joker. His peroxide hair, his unhinged and inappropriate excitement at the thought of mischief along with his ability to anticipate what his nemeses will do seemed like a take-off of Heath Ledger’s far superior role. It seems like he’s watched ‘The Dark Knight’, seen the excitement Ledger’s performance produced and thought “That’s what I need to do to portray a ‘good villain'”. But his portrayal falls completely short.
One scene which shows Silva locked in a “high security” part of the London Underground which MI6 is using as its temporary home since Silva blew up their usual digs. It looked like an exact replica of the scene where Hannibal Lector is caged in the penthouse suite of a hotel, awaiting transfer. Surprise, surprise, they both managed to escape.
How did Silva escape? By engaging the only man guarding him in conversation and attacking him. Correct me if I’m wrong but The Joker also did that.
Oh, and after’s Silva’s escape, the “goodies” realise it was part of his plan to get caught all along. Just like The Joker in ‘The Dark Knight’. Escaping from a secure place seems to be a common trope of villains in recent blockbusters.
One thing I did like about Silva, though, was the unlikely sexual tension between him and Bond and his undeniable Oedipus Complex regarding M although I still think that idea could have been developed further.
I found it difficult to suspend my disbelief: is this James Bond or Aquaman? Bond managed to survive drowning at least twice.
My main thought throughout this film was: I didn’t know they were bringing out another Batman film so soon.
A manor house set alight, a derailed train, a skyscraper with a set-to, a manic villain whose plan requires him to get caught then break-out. Plus, the villain disguising himself as a policeman. Even Thomas Newman’s soundtrack appeared to have taken “inspiration” from Hans Zimmer; Newman’s music was far more loud and booming than his previous soundtracks.
One issue that I had with both ‘Dark Knight Rises’ and ‘Skyfall’ was the pointless exposition in the dialogue. Why don’t filmmakers believe the old adage “show, don’t tell”. Don’t condescend your audience – they don’t need your constant explanations.
The idea that the story would feature more on M was a great idea but I felt it didn’t go anywhere near deep enough. The characters generally seemed underdeveloped and I felt the actors featured didn’t have their opportunity to really shine. They did the best with the script they were given.
I liked Q although I think Chris Addison or Richard Ayode would have been better suited to the role. I did wonder whether any of the technology used in the film could be used in real life. I can’t even get a signal in open land, never mind on the Tube.
I thought Daniel Craig’s run was rather – unintentionally – funny. It was as though he thought he’d appear faster by lifting his knees to his chest and moving his arms a lot.
The final set piece, set in Scotland, was drawn-out and completely ridiculous. The misty, dark and creepy house had me half expecting to see some evil spirit knocking around a la ‘The Woman in Black’. While M, Bond and the caretaker set traps, I thought ‘Skyfall’ had entered ‘Home Alone’ territory. I thought Harry and Marv were going to pop up and stand on some shattered Christmas decorations.
Questions that popped into my head whilst watching the final set-to in ‘Skyfall’.
Why did he take all tracking devices off his car, refuse help from the MI-6 but lead Silva to his manor home anyway?
Wouldn’t it have been easier to throw Silva off the scent entirely?
Why didn’t Bond shut the door to the secret passage after setting up the bomb?
Why did he stand waiting in the tunnel until the flames approached him?
How did Bond escape any kind of burns?
Why did Silva’s goon look so cocky on the ice, despite knowing Bond had killed most of his co-workers?
Why didn’t the caretaker turn the bloody torch off when they were in the little church? How did Bond not drown again?!
Many Bond fans see this as a tour de force but I felt it could have been a lot better.
Vic x

The curtain falls on Whitley Bay Film Festival 2012.

So, the sun has set on Whitley Bay Film Festival 2012 and I’m already excited for 2013! This post is about Whitley Bay Film Festival  2012 and why it was the highlight of the year for me.

After 14 days, 17 films, 12 indie shorts, 7 community shorts, 2 Arthouse evenings and 1 busker’s night, the festival has come to an end. So why do I think it is the greatest event of the year?

Whitley Bay Film Festival is run purely by volunteers and the wonderful spirit demonstrated by these volunteers during every event was impressive. The smiles on their faces, their genuine interest in whether everyone had enjoyed the film and the great deal of effort, thought and preparation that was taken is like none I’ve never witnessed before. Certain multiplexes (and other retail operations) would benefit greatly by having their staff train with Whitley Bay volunteers.

I’ve seen some classic films and some independent shorts that could be regarded as classics in a few years. Visitors to The Playhouse also got an exclusive peek at the trailer for ‘The Spies of Warsaw’ which is due to be screened on BBC later this year. The films that have screened at the film festival have been broad in range and there’s certainly been something for everyone. Not only did the film festival show films but they hosted animation classes, an art exhibition and music events, it was culture-filled.

Audience members were encouraged to get as involved as they like. Zombies shuffling out into the crowd during a film, glitter cannons exploding at the end of another movie and the costumes donned by the volunteers made the events truly memorable.

By planning surprises like the piano on Whitley Bay beach and arranging special guests like Dorothy & Toto at the beginning of ‘Wizard of Oz’ and an owl during ‘The Birds’, volunteers demonstrated their ability to add another dimension to film viewings.

Whitley Bay Film Festival helped me connect with like-minded people. Whether I attended screenings or alone, there was always someone to chat with who was equally as enthusiastic as I was. In Pantrini’s one evening, when a girl and her mum started enthusing about the film festival. They’d just been to see ‘Wizard of Oz’ and were treating themselves to a fish supper. I’ve chatted with people during the Arthouses exhibition and the Independent Shorts evening. The people I met at St Mary’s Lighthouse allowed me to geek out with total freedom and they made great film companions.

The choice in venues made me remember that Whitley Bay is not just a place for drunk stags and hens but a place of beauty and culture. I’ve learned about the regular busker’s and film nights at the Trojan Rooms which had previously gone unnoticed by me. Thanks to visits to St Mary’s Lighthouse and The Dome (among other places), I have fallen in love with Whitley all over again.

See  you in 2013.

Vic x

To read my Whitley Bay Film Festival blog posts, please visit http://whitleybayfilmfestival.co.uk/.

To watch WBFF’s ‘Dawn of the Dead’ night, click http://vimeo.com/48272172

Whitley Bay Film Festival continues.

So, I’ve been Whitley Bay Film Festival’s official blogger for a week and I am having a great time.

So far, I’ve seen nine classic films, been to a film-themed busker’s night, met some great independent filmmakers and seen lots of indie movies.

To read my reviews so far, check out http://whitleybayfilmfestival.co.uk/2012/

The website will feature regular blog posts and pics from me so keep checking for updates.

Vic x

Review: ‘The Rocky Horror Picture Show’ at Whitley Bay Film Festival

As part of Whitley Bay’s Annual Film Festival, TBW and I chose to go to a midnight screening of ‘The Rocky Horror Picture Show’. Having never seen ‘The Picture Show’ before, I was certainly interested to see what the fuss was about.

Doors opened at 11.30 and, having read the pre-show information, we arrived with cushions and blankets to keep ourselves warm and comfy throughout the screening. Entering the dome, I was amazed to see the effort that had gone into the waiting area. There was a small bar, a few tables and chairs with umbrellas as parasols as well as a projection of stills from the film onto the pillar in the centre. The soundtrack was also piped through the sound system. There was an ice-cream stand from the local (and world-famous) Crescent Cafe in Seaton Delaval, a popcorn stall as well as pick ‘n’ mix. Once inside the dome, there were usherettes selling refreshments.

Also in the waiting area, there was a small film memorabilia stand which featured some an arrows from ‘Star Wars’, ‘Indiana Jones’ and ‘Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves’, a jumper worn by Will Smith in ‘Hancock’, a mask from ‘Hollow Man’. The most impressive piece on show was a scary Dalek.

Although I knew ‘Rocky Horror’ had a cult following, I was astounded to see the amazing costumes that people turned up in. There were a few Frank-N-Furter costumes, Riff Raff, Columbia and even an Eddie (Meatloaf).  Very impressive indeed. Due to the timing of the show, I did wonder whether some people had indulged in a few bevvies beforehand as many of the people gathered seemed highly excitable. Perhaps they needed Dutch courage, I wish I’d been so brave!

Impressively, the film was screened under the dome of Whitley Bay’s Spanish City, which used to be a dance hall in days gone by. What a beautiful setting.

The cinema had deck chairs set up and I have to admit they are more comfortable than usual multiplex seats. The dome seats 100 people and, although it was a late showing, it was impressively busy although not completely full.

The film festival had also sold packs for patrons which contained items for interaction during the show. So, when Brad and Janet’s friends get married at the start of the film, the audience throw rice and when Brad and Janet get caught in a storm, there are water guns squirted and people put paper on their heads like Janet. When Frank-N-Furter proposes a toast, slices of toast are thrown. Other props include toilet roll, playing cards and party poppers. It was quite funny to return home to find rice in various places, and a toast crust stuck to our blanket!

Before the film started, there were old adverts for local businesses from the 1950s which were really interesting.

During the film, there was a lot of audience participation – from throwing props to dancing and shouting out lines.

The film itself was interesting to say the least but I really enjoyed myself. The atmosphere was great and the effort that the organisers had put into the production was really impressive. My only disappointment was the price of the tickets – £10 each – we would have definitely been to see more of the films available if it had cost less. But, the one we did see was totally worth the money.

Vic x

Review: ‘The Inbetweeners Movie’. ***Contains spoilers***

Having been a fan of ‘The Inbetweeners’ since it first appeared in E4 in 2008, I had high hopes for this big screen adaptation. ‘Why?’, I hear you ask. After all, any TV to film swap tends to be disappointing to say the least. Well, the writers and producers of ‘The Inbetweeners’ so far appeared to have dodged the pitfalls associated with cult success and so I hoped their foray into movies would prove successful.

So before I talk about the film, let’s think about what makes ‘The Inbetweeners’ so popular:

  1. Jokes about Will’s Mum and all the others wanting to shag her.
  2. Mr Gilbert, Head of Sixth Form, and his undisguised hatred for his students.
  3. Jokes about Neil’s Dad’s sexuality.
  4. Jay’s lies about how much sexual experience he’s had.
  5. The gross-out humour. Remember that episode with the bollock hanging out of Simon’s pants?
  6. John, the paedophile teacher, who has to be led away from Neil on several occasions.
  7. The boys’ appalling attempts at pulling girls.
  8. Will’s sheer squareness: this is the boy who wanted to celebrate his 18th birthday with a sophisticated dinner party.
  9. Simon’s dad sharing too much, inappropriate information.
  10. Utterly embarrassing moments involving spewing on siblings, Will having an accident in an exam and Will abusing a group of special needs kids at a theme park.
  11. The honesty of the portrayal of teenage life. It’s not PC or pleasant but it sure is fair.
  12. Catchphrases like “Bus wankers” and “ooh, friends”.

So, all in all, what people seem to like about ‘The Inbetweeners’ is its vulgar humour as well as its accurate portrayal of teenage life, the sheer embarrassment of puberty and the utter desperation felt at times.

It was with high hopes that I visited the cinema and with a cloud of disappointment hanging over my head that I left 90 minutes later.

The film starts off promisingly with Will discovering that his father (Anthony Head) didn’t invite him to his second wedding to a girl that is only six years older than Will because he’s “awkward with people”. Simon is snogging girlfriend Carly until she tells him she wants to break up. Meanwhile Jay is busy trying out online porn when he gets some bad news.

The boys decide on their last day of school that what they need is a lad’s holiday and so book up to go to Malia. From there, the usual chaos ensues but throughout the film there were very few laugh-out-loud moments. Sure, there was gross-out humour and bad language but the characters were two-dimensional and the storyline was weak, with the ending being just like a bad rom-com. Fair enough, the first 30 minutes were promising but it declined from there.

DO NOT READ ON IF YOU DON’T WANT TO KNOW WHAT HAPPENS.

After meeting four girls in a nightclub, they meet up with them at their hotel and seemingly every night on the strip. This seems fairly likely in a place like Malia but I think the cast could have been beefed up a bit more, with a few more bit-parts thrown in. Simon spends the whole time mooning over Carly despite being with a girl who is quite clearly interested in him. The boys’ attempts with the girls are quite pathetic but not in a funny way.

Will doesn’t even attempt anything cultural which I found quite unbelievable. Although he’s as desperate as the rest of the group, he still tries to maintain an air of intellect. This is, after all, the child whose own father would not invite to his wedding because he’s so square. It would have been funnier if Will had made the guys go on a bus trip and Mr Gilbert happened to be on the trip.

There were no jokes about Will’s mum or Neil’s dad which is a staple of the show and knowing lads on holidays, those jokes would continue. The small scene featuring Jay’s dad isn’t funny, it’s just depressing – he’s obviously a bully. The scenes with the parents would have been better if it came out that the parents had been watching them throughout the holiday a la BBC3’s ‘Sun, Sea and Suspicious Parents’.

Charlotte doesn’t feature at all although I thought it would have been interesting to see her as a cage dancer or PR girl in the resort.

I thought it would actually have been more funny if Jay’s usually untrue stories of how many girls he’s been with actually turned out to be true on this holiday but the lads refused to believe him.

The storyline didn’t explain why Simon didn’t have to go to live in Swansea, nor did it tell us how he and Carly got together. I would have liked a bit more info!

The ending, where each of the lads ends up with his female equivalent was so unrealistic. The woman playing Will’s “love interest” was way out of his league, not to mention several years older than him.

I felt this script was quite obviously rushed and therefore completely let everyone involved down. It was an easy way to spend 90 minutes but within an hour of leaving the cinema I’d had so many ideas about how it could have been made better, I was wondering how hard it could be.

Vic x