Forsaken – DVD & Blu-Ray Review

Donald Sutherland and Kiefer Sutherland are both fantastic actors. The father and the son, respectively, have carved out two generations of careers that have titillated our lives. Of course, we know them best for their villainous roles (between The Hunger Games and The Lost Boys, they have scared many generations in many different ways,) but they have rich and plentiful movies and television series that have made The Sutherland’s a household name.

And now they’ve teamed up for a brand new Western!

Forsaken revolves around gunslinger John Henry Clayton who has retired from the craft of putting holes into other people and returns to his hometown of Fowler, Wyoming. In an attempt to rekindle his lost relationship with Reverend Clayton, John learns that his town is in turmoil as a business man and his criminal gang are terrorising residents to sell their property. John is the only one who can stop them but his father is staunchly against it. Can the town of Fowler be saved?

The interesting thing about Forsaken is that it hasn’t curtailed to an overlong runtime like other modern Westerns do. In fact, the pacing isn’t this usual drawl that commands your very attention until your eyelids cannot take anymore. The brisk runtime skips merrily along. For many who are so sick of this Tarantino-esque need for no speed and copious amounts of bloodshed, then you’ll be happy that the runtime is exactly an hour and a half including credits. As much as that’s a positive element to the film, it also impacts the story because it feels more like a lengthy episode of Deadwood than a visceral film.

You can do both – extrapolate a period film and all its emotions in a short amount of time but for Jon Cassar’s drama, it feels as though they are squeezing in too much backstory, emotion and action into the film. You will look away for two seconds, and an important character has died and Kiefer Sutherland has uncovered a deep-rooted childhood trauma as you sit there going; “Wait, hold up, I literally just sneezed.” The movie could just use some lingering and some penance before rushing onto the next scene as though this were a teenage truncated version of There Will Be Blood. There is no stillness or pause, just a rolling narrative.

Regardless of this abrupt melodrama piece, Forsaken is lucky to have a collection of fantastic actors at the core of it. If you need a father and son relationship to feel real, then you enlist a father and son to portray it. The Sutherland’s should really do more movies together, having only two others beforehand (and, blimey, they weren’t even related in those films then!) So you can imagine that their scenes together are filled with realistic emotion carving into their relationship and broiling with tension. The pair, despite having to skim over a lot about their relationship, work terrifically together and you can see the familial bonds and talent shining through.

Forsaken shall live up to its name as you roll onto the next under-budgeted Western film. Which is the biggest shame here because it’s such a waste of the pair of Sutherland’s. There’s also Brian Cox waddling along all villain-like which is always such a wonderful pleasure. However, unmemorable and underwhelming, Forsaken speeds by into the realm of the forgettable.

Just. Don’t sneeze.


Crazy About Tiffany’s – Review

Tiffany’s” sings the sultry voiced Marilyn Monroe, clad in pink and diamonds as she sashays across the stage with top hatted men fawning all over her, draping sparkling jewelry across her. A black slim dress hugs the opulent Audrey Hepburn as she emerges from a famous yellow taxi in front of the titular store as she, covered in the glitzy rocks, munches on a pastry. Daisy Buchanan, walking through the billowing curtains of white on a summer’s eve as she dangles her fingers bestowed with an acclaimed ring from the famous brand.

These iconic movie scenes have, of course, been made famous by Tiffany’s & Co. And it’s a name that many people will grow up with as long as they live within the walls of some sort of privilege. If anything, you’d have heard a nineties band somewhat aquatically named (Deep Blue Something) about the Hepburn film during the 1990s and if not, you’ll say that we’ve got nothing in common, no common ground to stand on…

Anyway, all of the aforementioned pieces of popular media make their way to documentary Crazy About Tiffany’s by Matthew Miele. Which is exactly what it says on the tin and I’m not going to delve too deep into the blurb because it’s basically a bunch of people talking about Tiffany’s….and Co.

Crazy About Tiffany’s isn’t exactly ground-breaking cinema based on an important and vital topic of conversation. No one is going to burn with thought and be encumbered by emotion as they watch these rich people, or admirers of rich people. It’s shallow, it’s superficial, and it’s vapid. Think about how much you like to hear about the super-wealthy talking about all the great things they own that you could never, in a million years own, and the people who peddle the brand who talk about all the rich people they’ve dressed or the items they own. If that turns you off, then Crazy For Tiffany’s isn’t for you.

Look, deep breath, I’m going to say it: a lot of documentary’s at the moment focus on the macabre. The destitute and the desolate. The heavy sadness that rolls and turns around this world has been caught by thousands of filmmakers and they are bleak, vital, and important. Crazy about Tiffany’s deals with the fantastical and the opulent. The world we cannot reach as 1% of the country enjoy this lavish lifestyle. People lauding their memories of Tiffany rings and parties dedicated to the brand – it’s almost enough to make you feel sick. Sick I tell ye!

Against the backdrop of serious documentary cinema, Crazy About Tiffany’s is a fun, albeit shallow, documentary about a world that we’ve all desired to have at one point in our lives. It’s only taken me about 27 years to buy a nice dress more than £40 and still my breasts quivered in delight over the possibility of owning a Tiffany necklace or ring, to dance with the devils in the diamond moonlight and feel that wealth all over me. As much as we’d like to convince ourselves that we are selfless through and through, the decadent feeling of richness pulls you into that world.

Crazy About Tiffany’s strokes at this very idea as well as exploring some of the media-heavy history of Tiffany’s as a celebrity company. There is a lot intricacies about designing and marketing the jewellery that can be interesting to watch. You don’t want to enjoy Crazy About Tiffany’s and it is such an easy target for large amounts of rolling eyes and scoffing. But there is a part of you, perhaps in your big toe, that will be wide-eyed at the wonders on display and the history that topples out.


The Five – Who’s Who?

From the pen of international best-selling crime author Harlan Coben, the thrilling ten part series The Five picks up at the reunion of four friends bound together by one dark secret.

Flash back to four 12-year olds, Mark, Pru, Danny and Slade exploring the woods when they are interrupted by Mark’s bothersome five-year-old brother, Jesse.  Unaware of the subsequent consequences of their actions, the older crew tells Jessie to get lost.  Jesse runs away, never to be seen again…

All grown up, Danny – now a detective – learns that Jesse’s DNA has been found at a murder scene. Forcing everyone to ask the question, “is Jesse alive?”  Now Mark, Pru, Danny, and Slade must reunite to uncover a trail of horrifying twists, and turns that they hope will solve the mystery of Jesse’s disappearance.

Available on Blu-ray, DVD & Digital HD now, The Five will keep you guessing right to the very end.  With a cast of characters every bit as complex as their harrowing tale, let’s take a minute to meet the breakout actors that kept audiences on the edge of their seats up until the thrilling series finale.


Tom Cullen – Mark

It is hard to forget hunky Welshman Tom Cullen from his run on Downton Abbey as Mary Crawley’s season 4 man, the charming  Lord Gillingham.  However, don’t be fooled by his dashing good looks, this classically trained son of two former actors offers up much more than just a pretty face.  Splitting time between the U.K and Los Angeles, Cullen has built up an impressive body of work on both sides of the pond.  He recently played the role of Joe Rose in the ITV drama The Trials of Jimmy Rose, and is looking forward to an upcoming part in a new American series, Knightfall produced by blockbuster action star Jeremy Renner.  On The Five, Cullen plays Mark Wells, Jessie’s tortured older brother.  Mark has never quite recovered since his younger brother’s disappearance.  Now a lawyer, he spends his free time helping out with missing person’s cases.  With renewed hope of Jessie’s existence, Mark is hell-bent on discovering the truth about what really happened the day that Jessie disappeared.


 T. Fagbenle – Danny

O.T or Olatunde Olateju Olaolorun Fagbenle is quite the modern century Renaissance man.  Born in London to Nigerian parents, Fagbenle spent some of his childhood in Spain where he first discovered his talent for music.  In his youth, he travelled all over Europe playing the saxophone with various orchestras.  The young talent then expanded his interests to acting, receiving the first serious accolades for his craft on the stage.  Eventually moving to film and TV, Fagbenle recently won a MViSA award for BEST MALE ACTOR for his role in The Interceptor, and appeared in the American HBO series, Looking.  In The Five, Fagbenle plays Danny Kenwood, an often sarcastic but charming detective.  Danny is the first to find Jessie’s DNA at the scene of a crime he is investigating, and he immediately alerts his childhood friends so they can try to solve this mystery together.


Sarah Solemani – Pru

A native Londoner, Sarah Solemani attended Cambridge University where she was an active member of the Footlights Dramatic Club.  Post graduation, Solemani was a resident writer for The Old Vic Theatre, and wrote two plays produced at the Soho theatre.  The multifaceted beauty with a knack for comedy then landed roles on BBC Three comedies Him & Her, and Jack Whitehall’s Bad Education which was subsequently made into a feature film.  Just to keep us guessing, in The Five, Solemani tackles an entirely different kind of role. Her authentic portrayal of Dr. Pru Carew illustrates the actress is equally as capable of dramatic acting as she is comedic.  Unlike her peers, in the time following Jesse’s death, Pru left England to work as a doctor in the states.  She returns to England after two years to help look into Jessie’s disappearance, and possibly confront Mark about feelings from the past.


Lee Ingleby – Slade

While we know Lee Ingleby from his portrayal of Jim McGovern, struggling father to an Autistic son in BBC drama The A Word, and Detective John Bacchus in the BBC’s Detective George Gently, in The Five Ingleby too takes on a much different role.  Ingleby plays Slade, a complicated and solitary figure who takes up the resident mysterious bad boy role of the crew.  He runs a homeless shelter, and despite his close relationship with Mark, there are many things he does not know about Slade’s questionable past.


Geraldine James – Julie

Four time BAFTA TV Award nominee, Geraldine James has had a long and seasoned acting career beginning on the stage where she was nominated for a Tony award for her performance as Portia in The Merchant of Venice opposite American screen legend Dustin Hoffman. She then expanded into television and film later on in her career with roles in The Girl with The Dragon Tattoo, Sherlock Holmes and most recently on the small screen as MI5 Spy Milner on Channel 4’s Utopia. In The Five, Geraldine takes on the challenging role of Julie Wells, mother to Jessie and Mark.  Julie is a mother who, after grieving her son for twenty years, is suddenly given hope again.  Her life is turned upside down, and she is frantic because as perfect as she may seem on the outside, she has a few secrets of her own as well.


The Five: Season 1 – DVD & Blu-Ray Review

There are a lot of television shows out there that deal with missing or murdered children. Because it’s the most shocking part of humanity. The whole world is thrown into rage and disgust when the horrendous acts happen against our young-uns that art choses to explore (or exploit) the revolting dark side of humans and the awful stuff they do to children.

With that in mind, The Five is enlisted to continue the trend of missing and/or dead children in the latest television series from Sky1.

Created by novelist Harlan Corben, The Five revolves around the titular number of friends who have all grown up. Well, only five have grown up. See, about twenty years ago, when they were literally babes in a wood, the youngest of them Jesse went missing and a convicted paedophile confessed to his murder. Decades burdened with guilt, the rest of the group have been separated, living their separate lives and moving on from the tragedy. But if seems that the past doesn’t want to stay dead, and a new crime scene reveals Jesse’s blood. Could the boy be alive and well? Jesse’s older brother Mark (the always superb Tom Cullen) and detective Danny sets out to unravel the mystery.

This is a weird statement to say but in the sea of murdered and missing children that is our television drama, The Five manages to keep its head above water. Corben, famed for his intense clandestine stories, has helped craft an invigorating and compelling episodic series that has plenty of cliff-hangers that send your stomach overboard. The pacing of the enigma as it unravels in front of you is quite genius and handle delicately as you are urged furthermore into the forest of bad people and the awful things that they do. It’s engrossing and as the story twists down the wooded path of deceit and lies, you’ll be on the edge of your seat.

The biggest problem with The Five, however, is that no matter how gripping the story is, how twisting the storylines get, there is just no proper investment in the characters. It’s like a magic trick where you actually kind of want the assistant to be sawn in half because it would make am already interesting show bloody amusing. Comparatively against the likes of Broadchurch which makes you care whole-heartedly about each of the characters that you are immediately absorbed into the pivotal heart of it. The Five doesn’t really have that and no matter how large surprised watery eyes can get, you don’t really care enough about the characters to be fully absorbed.

With that in mind, The Five does bouts of mystery really well. So you aren’t invested in the characters enough to care about their fate but you are pulled along the breadcrumb trail so inventively that the narrative becomes too important. You’ll start and you’ll have this aching need to finish, so much so that it’ll consume you for the whole ten episodes.


House of Cards Season 4 – DVD & Blu-Ray Review

Since its debut in 2013, House of Cards can be viewed as one of the progenitors of the binge-watching phenomenon. It is a series that has built on its existing premise and flourished within the VOD revolution. It may not be absolutely perfect, but it is able to boast a fantastic cast, gripping storylines and a relative freedom from meddling producers to create a tense and watchable drama.

Following on from a somewhat lacklustre Third Season, Season Four sees Frank and Claire Underwood campaigning to remain in the White House as a general election looms on the horizon, whilst also dealing with marriage problems and conspiracy theories bandied about by the press, as well as international conflicts that mirror the current state of affairs in the world today.

The series is populated with a powerhouse of incredible actors, the most obvious being Spacey and Wright as the President and First Lady respectively. It is the chemistry between the two which helps to drive the plot along, and their manipulations of numerous allies and enemies makes for compelling viewing. In addition to the cast of regulars, Season Four also sees Neve Campbell joining as Claire’s Media Relations Adviser. Campbell herself is far and away the breakout character of this season, with a steely-eyed, no-nonsense demeanour that helps to power the Underwoods through some of the tougher aspects of their campaign.

Season Four also ushered in allegories for numerous hot button issues that have been plaguing the media over the past year. The rise of Islamic State is covered through the not-very-subtle introduction of the terrorist group Islamic Caliphate Organisation (ICO), which dominates the final episodes of the show with very clear hints that it will be the driving force for the plot of Season Five. As well as the terrorism aspects of the series, House of Cards also endeavours ed to weigh in on the divisive issue of gun control. Despite getting somewhat forgotten as the story progresses, the topic still remains a controversial matter, and will hopefully return as a secondary or tertiary storyline in the future.

Whilst the story celebrated some fantastic highs, these were balanced out by some very emotional lows. The sudden departure of Nathan Darrow and Sebastian Arcelus (who played Edward Meechum and Lucas Goodwin respectively) is a fantastic scene which will leave you speechless, and the aftermath is played out in a very tender fashion, as well as? changing the political game that the Underwoods have been playing. It is truly a masterpiece of screenwriting.

House of Cards Season Four is a very tensely written, keenly acted drama that has returned to form after the disappointment that was Season Three. It may have been almost too heavy-handed in showing its knowledge of current affairs, but the final words delivered direct to the audience are a powerful acknowledgement that the next season will have a much darker tone and take on the War on Terror as the main story-line. It’s sure to be something to behold.