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Posts Tagged ‘Noel Clarke’

  1. Cornwall, 2010. Possibly a Thursday. 

JIM (James Purefoy) and his crew of fellow lobster fishermen gather by their boat.

JIM: ‘Morning lads. Now, as you know, I am Jim Trevelyan. You probably vaguely recognise my face from various direct-to-DVD thrillers and character parts in prestige TV shows, but in this here film I am the stubborn, unsophisticated, but stalwart and principled patriarch of this fishing village, and I will be making it clear in all my dialogue just how Cornish and authentic I am.’

CORNISH FISHERMEN: ‘Arrrrrr.’

JIM’s daughter ALWYN (Tuppence Middleton) joins them.

ALWYN: ‘Now, I am your daughter, Dad, and you probably know my face from off the telly and various low-budget British movies. I am a feisty single mum, as this allows me to show my grounded, maternal personality while still being available for a trite romance. My job is to talk almost entirely in platitudes and clumsily communicate the message of the film, about the importance of The Important Things in Life.’

JIM: ‘We had best be about our lobster fishing and singing, for we need to establish the tone of this film, while still providing the opportunity for some scenic footage of Cornwall.’

The boat sails about scenically while the FISHERMEN sing heartily.

SINGING CORNISH FISHERMEN: ‘We sing and fish the whole day long, from dawn until it goes dark / We’ve Cornish clichés by the ton, we’ve even more than Poldark.’

 

2. London: a phoney, shallow necropolis of the soul, apparently, although I bet the film producers are happy enough living there.

DANNY (Daniel Mays), a music business type, meets his boss TROY (Noel Clarke) and some other friends of little significance to the plot.

DANNY: ‘Hello lads! I am the go-getting, outwardly jaded city boy just crying out to be put back in touch with The Important Things In Life. You probably know my face from off the telly and various low-budget British films, although I was in the recent stellar conflict movie that everyone agreed was good, too. Shall we all go on a stag weekend in Cornwall?’

TROY: ‘Sounds good to me! I am your cynical, money-grubbing American boss. You probably know my face from off the telly and various low-budget British films, but I was in one of the Star Trek movies, too (although not one of the good ones). In this movie I have a beard and I’m having to do an American accent, and it seems to have destroyed my ability to act. It’s like I’m first-series Mickey Smith again.’

DANNY: ‘I’m sorry to hear that. Shall we go off with the intention of mocking the Cornish yokels, little realising one of us is in for a life-changing experience?’

TROY: ‘Yeah, all right.’

 

3. A harbour in Cornwall.

The FISHERMEN are preparing to give an outdoor concert.

JIM: ‘All right, we’ve established all the main characters in very broad strokes, it’s time for the inciting incident. Let’s get this plot underway.’

SINGING CORNISH FISHERMEN: ‘I love my boat, I love my hat, I love my lobster pot / Let’s sing a bit more in this style, it’ll help to start the plot.’

DANNY and TROY are watching the concert.

TROY: ‘Danny! As a strange and elaborate practical joke, I order you to stay here and go to great lengths to get these singing fishermen to sign a record contract that I have no intention of honouring while I go off back to London with the others.’

DANNY: ‘Okay! Er – why are you doing this to me? I thought we were friends, and I’ve not really done anything to antagonise you.’

TROY: ‘Sorry, man. The plot demands it.’

SINGING CORNISH FISHERMEN: ‘You’re born to be a fisherman, or born to be a farmer / You’ve no choice over what you do, when you’re in a melodrama.’

 

4. A pub in Cornwall.

JIM is talking to his MUM in the bar.

JIM’s MUM: ‘So that there outsider finds himself stuck amongst us, initially against his will, but slowly learning to appreciate the value of our authentic community-centred way of life?’

JIM: ‘Looks that way.’

JIM’s MUM: ‘So it’s basically another knock-off of Local Hero, only with less wit and charm and more folk music?’

JIM: ‘Aye.’

JIM’s MUM: ‘Don’t you just hate it when people hit on a successful formula, and then mindlessly repeat themselves.’

JIM: ‘Don’t you worry, Mum, I’m sure the reviews of new films will go back to normal soon enough.’

Outside the pub, DANNY is talking to ALWYN.

DANNY: ‘So, I was initially here against my will, but now I have decided to stay, either because I am falling in love with you or because your authentic community-centred way of life has shown me what The Important Things in Life are.’

ALWYN: ‘The Important Things in Life are very important, Danny.’

DANNY: ‘Thanks for making that absolutely clear to me.’

ALWYN: ‘Is this not a sudden and not especially well-handled transformation of your essential character, Danny?’

DANNY: ‘Sorry, the plot demands it.’

 

5. JIM and ALWYN’s house in Cornwall.

DANNY is talking to ALWYN.

DANNY: ‘So, now we have fallen in love, and after some rather meandering plot developments I have managed to secure a record deal for your Dad’s band against the wishes of my shallow money-grubbing boss. I have also come to appreciate The Important Things in Life.’

ALWYN: ‘The Important Things in Life are very important, Danny. How long has all this taken?’

DANNY: ‘The internal chronology has become a bit vague, I’m afraid. But everything else seems to be going well.’

JIM and the FISHERMEN enter.

JIM: ‘I’m sorry to say this, but we’re at the end of the second act and it’s time for Danny to have a dark night of the soul which will help him realise all he has learned.’

FISHERMEN: ‘Arrrrrr. And not before time.’

JIM: ‘Danny, you are nothing but another shallow outsider who doesn’t understand our authentic community-centric ways! Plus, someone lovable has died and we’re all very upset. Get out of Cornwall and never return!’

DANNY: ‘All right, I’ll be off then. See you all at the climax for a life-affirming resolution.’ 

SINGING CORNISH FISHERMEN: ‘It’s now the part with pathos so the film will seem less shallow / Just like the bit in Four Weddings, where they kill off Simon Callow.’

 

6. At the pub.

DANNY enters. Everyone else is there waiting.

DANNY: ‘I’m back for the climactic resolution, where I demonstrate my commitment to Alwyn and show just how much I have changed. I now fully understand the importance of your authentic community-centric way of life, and many other Important Things in Life.’

ALWYN: ‘The Important Things in Life are very important, Danny.’

JIM: ‘I will therefore have to grudgingly admit you into our community, although I do note the storyline about a folk group of singing fishermen proving unexpectedly successful has become somewhat eclipsed by a subplot about who owns the pub and its symbolic relevance to the issue of the survival of communities like this one.’

DANNY: ‘Shall we all live happily ever after while the credits show us photos of the real-life folk group?’

JIM: ‘Aye, may as well. I think we’ve time for one last sea shanty, too. Hit it lads!’

SINGING CORNISH FISHERMEN: ‘The final verdict’s on its way, and it’s sure to be nasty / There’s less meat to this bloody film than in a Cornish pasty.’

Fisherman’s Friends (directed by Chris Foggin) is in cinemas now, and is sure to folk you up.

 

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I thought I would launch this time around with a new, most likely extremely irregular feature entitled New Cinema Review, in which I, er, review a new cinema. New to me, of course, not the world at large. The latest venture into the unknown was to the Vue multiplex attached to a vast out-of-town shopping centre near Bristol, which is the closest thing I’ve ever seen, in the UK at least, to the setting of Dawn of the Dead (classic vintage). I don’t usually get to a Vue – the one in Oxford is two bus rides from my garret – but I have to say I was impressed – good sound and projection, a big screen and an impressive rake to the theatre, and comfy seats too. I had to buy my ticket from the concession stand – something that’s becoming a given at most UK cinemas, even on a Saturday evening in summertime – but you can’t have everything. The experience was a bit too slick and corporate for me to absolutely take a shine to the place, but anyway. I should probably stop before I start reviewing my fellow filmgoers, the trailers and the bus ride home: the inevitable conclusion would be my reviewing the review itself, swiftly followed by a gristly cranial plop as one of my lobes imploded (and I can ill afford to lose another one of those). Hey ho.

When Noel Clarke first rose to prominence as an actor ten years ago, surely no-one would have predicted he would end up keeping the British film industry going single-handed. Well, I exaggerate, but not by much – as an actor, writer, producer and director he keeps cranking them out, working in all sorts of genres too: thrillers, social drama, sports films, and genre movies too. He popped up on a chat show a while ago and revealed he had an SF horror movie in the works for which he was having trouble thinking of a good title.

Well, said movie has now turned up, called Storage 24 (which suggests he never did manage to think of a good title), directed by Johannes Roberts. In the movie, which he co-wrote and produced, Clarke plays Charlie, a somewhat self-absorbed everyman struggling to get over being dumped by his girlfriend Shelley (Antonia Campbell-Hughes). He and his best friend Mark (Colin O’Donoghue) decide to visit the enormous self-storage warehouse in Battersea where the couple have been keeping their things, in order to extract his stuff, only to discover Shelley is there too with a pair of her friends. Social awkwardness recedes when it becomes apparent that a plane crash in central London (this happens at the top of the movie, but no-one pays it much attention for plot reasons) has released a monster of unspecified origins, but of gribbly aspect and with face-eating tendencies, and said beastie is also lurking in the warehouse. It’s just really bad luck that the plot also demands that the warehouse security goes into lockdown, trapping them inside with the gooey predator. Can they break out of a place that was built with security in mind?

Storage 24 is another entry in the Brit horror-in-mundania subgenre, following the zombies-down-the-pub japes of Shaun of the Dead and the monsters-on-a-sink-estate oddness of Attack the Block. Unlike those, this one is consistently played straight, which is a brave choice for a movie which is essentially a remake of Alien, set in a self-storage warehouse.

This is a film with all sorts of problems, but the biggest one is that it takes an awfully long time to get to the alien-chasing-people-round-a-self-storage-warehouse stuff. Just manouevering everyone and the monster into the warehouse takes ages, and the director’s fondness for atmospheric arty shots doesn’t help the pace much. Indeed, for most of its first half Storage 24 is just the story of a bunch of unengaging characters wandering around a self-storage warehouse bickering and complaining about their unhappy lovelives, with the odd moment of implied off-screen horror just to keep the monster plot simmering.

Then something very odd happens: a moment of riveting human drama which completely overturns what you think you know about the main characters. Suddenly the drama springs to life, and a strange consequence is that you realise just how interesting the lurking alien plot really and truly isn’t.

Of course, at this point the alien-chasing-people-round-a-self-storage-warehouse stuff kicks off and it all becomes utterly mechanical, not to mention deeply predictable. Characterisations completely and inexplicably change from the first part of the film – this isn’t to say that Clarke and O’Donoghue don’t get to show their ability, while Laura Haddock is also good in the second girl role, but it does feel like a different film, and not really a better one.

The monster itself is neither memorable nor especially original, but the CGI is passable enough I suppose. There is some fairly full-on gore for a 15-rated movie, but once again nothing which really surprises or involves you in the story.

That’s Storage 24 in a nutshell, I fear: there’s barely a moment, an idea, or a character in it that has any vitality or sense of the unexpected about it. Towards the end one gets the sense of various narrative reflexes firing automatically, propelling the story forward in a grisly half-life, but nothing more. The film even attempts the trick of a grandstanding twist-ending widescreen CGI shot, but as this is obviously slotted in solely for this purpose, and is barely supported by the narrative (let alone the budget) even this fails.

I hate to be so negative about an attempt at an honest British genre movie, but Storage 24 never gels to become more than the sum of its numerous inspirations. The concept is a very sound one, but most of the creative decisions made in realising it are questionable at best, and their actual execution frequently cack-handed. For genre obsessives and Clarke fans only.

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