Previous | Pantani Review
By Joe Langham
Omar is directed by HanyAbu-Assad, whose previous directorial credits include films such as Paradise Now and The Courier. It is a brutal story of love and betrayal doubling as a steadily paced thriller, set in Palestine. We see the film open with Omar scaling a giant wall which the purpose of, we discover, is to visit the object of his affection. At first this seems merely metaphorical; a titanic obstacle to overcome in order to win her heart, but its political relevance becomes more prevalent as the film progresses. The wall, which oppresses and imprisons the Palestinians within its boundaries, is seen vividly looming over the characters in many shots, a big reminder to the audience of the cause of many of Omar’s and his friends’ problems and thus the course of action that they take. A series of events lead to his life coming crashing down around him and makes the wall between him and Nadia seem the least of his problems.
Omar is a mere bread maker by day but a freedom fighter at night, who is portrayed by Adam Bakri. He wishes for Palestinian freedom from Israeli oppression along with his friends and fellow freedom fighters. Amjad is Omar’s friend and is played by Samer Bisharat. The trio of main characters is completed by Tarek played by Iyad Hoorani.
Bakri brilliantly plays the interesting and conflicted Omar. The believability of his performance makes it seem like he is acting out personal experiences rather than imagined ones from the script. This may be true however as many of the cast and also the director come from backgrounds that are not too dissimilar to those portrayed in the film. Bakri convincingly and consistently offers an array of emotions throughout the film from joy to anger to poignancy. It is hard to not become involved both intellectually and emotionally when such a powerful story is played out so well. His ability to cover such a spectrum in his performance shows just what a talented and promising actor he is and I look forward to seeing future work from him.
Amjad is a good friend of Omar and a rather quirky character overall. Whilst being a bit slow, I believe he is also described as such in the film, this does not detract from his performance. Often characters that are intended to be humorous have their performances lost in the comedy therefore making it hard to appreciate the more serious side to them; however Samer Bisharat finds a great balance between the two. His Marlon Brando expressions and strange stories offer some humorous relief to a serious and gripping story.
Finally, Leem Lubany plays Nadia who is Omar’s love interest. Nadia is another great character although she is one of the weaker ones overall. When compared to Bakri however, this is no insult. At times she seems rather naive for such a smart girl and it is hard to know whether to feel sorry for her or annoyed at her. Omar and Nadia have a heart-warming, almost childlike romance that is hard not to smile it. At times it seems as if they actually are infatuated with each other which speaks volumes of their performance. Omar’s dedication to Nadia is shown through the fact he regularly risks his life to visit her, and shows that the things you care most about in life are worth fighting for.
Despite the cast having no major acting experience, they offer performances that would be worthily attributed to any award-winning and established actor or actress. This is shown by the fact that the film was nominated for an Oscar in the Best Foreign Language Film category and scooped several other wins including the Special Jury Prize at Cannes. The brilliant Adam Bakri was also nominated for a best actor award. Abu-Assad states his reason for picking people with little to no film experience was to try and get an air of realism and he well and truly succeeded.
Omar is a deep and thought provoking film that is to be admired. Acting and storyline take precedence over spectacle and result in an intriguing and hard hitting film.
Omar is out now in selected cinemas, distributed by Soda Pictures in the UK.
By Dave Bosworth (@boz_worth)
It’s been a long while since I’ve been on the edge of my seat in anticipation at the release of a new movie. This hasn’t actually happened since the final instalment of Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight Trilogy; The Dark Knight Rises. X-Men Days of Future Past had me on edge, primarily because of X-Men First Class(2011). First Class jumped straight to the front of the X-Men Universe queue ahead of the original X-Men(2000). It did this by creating a story arc beyond what we had spent the last 10 years watching(and by the end, hating) through the introduction of a new cast(McAvoy, Fassbender, Hoult and Lawrence) and director(Matthew Vaughn). With the solid performances provided by this new band of X-Men, some people myself included, forgot about the car crash that was X-Men The Last Stand(2006). Believing that maybe there was a way they could revive the tired, worn out “Beast” and breathe new life into this portion of the, bigger, Marvel Universe. I really do applaud Matthew Vaughn for this, he really did restore faith among the visor-wearing, cutlery-between-knuckles donning public. But how was Vaughn’s 2011 Brit-busting prequel going to be built on? What could Fox build atop the foundations?
A Time Travelling Extravaganza, that’s how!
Using The Last Stand as a basic springboard we jump into a fresh(ish) conflict of mutant/humans relations and how it is a PR nightmare. Essentially, they should come with a Warning label like Gizmo(Gremlins) did: “DO NOT HOUSE OR FEED THE MUTANTS” as we see prisons of mutants. and humans alike, being ushered down galleys and walkways. Some scarred, all helpless.
With the reprisal of fan favourites like Ice-Man, Colossus and the more recent Kitty Pryde getting pushed straight into action, it grips you from the beginning. A brief introduction to the Sentinels making them your new worst nightmare and a depleted X-Men faction sets the dark, ominous tone this movie looks to keep you holding on to.
X-Men Days of Future Past director Bryan Singer has learnt from previous lessons in audience understanding and creates a spectacle that traverses 2 timelines centralised around the same subset of characters and manages to make it great to watch! The time travelling timey-wimey mess could easily have died worse than Oberyn in Game Thrones, but he bridged the gap nicely(although don’t expect an explanation to why).
Hats off to Singer also for taking the decision to set the story arc of the movie around the stronger, younger cast. James McAvoy(Filth) particularly delivers a stellar performance of a broken, dejected Charles Xavier. It is a shame that Peter Dinklage(Game of Thrones) isn’t in the forefront more as bitter inventor Bolivar Trask. As he is capable of remarkable storytelling, as seen in hit series Game of Thrones. The lack of strong acting presence and a reluctance to provide a back story to the future war take a little away from the caliber of the movie but not much.
The ending, however, well that is going to be another discussion entirely…..
X-Men Days of Future Past gets a solid 4 out of 5 from me.
Previous | The Patrol Review
By Joe Langham | @J0eLang92
This year marks 10 years since one of the most talented cyclists of recent times, Marco Pantani, tragically passed away. However, he managed to complete some amazing achievements in his short life that have ensured his name is carved into sporting history books for many years to come.
Many cycling fans will have noticed this year’s Giro d’Italia is a little different, what with an especially gruelling climb that has been specially selected for the route this year as well as some symbolic summit finishes. Those who know of Pantani will know that these types of climbs were his forte and so will understand the significance of these locations, which are: Monte Carpegna, Oropa and Montecampione. Monte Carpegna was one of Pantani’s favourite training climb with the latter marking the locations of his two most famous victories.
In 1998 Marco Pantani, the most flamboyant and popular cyclist of his era, won both the Tour de France and Giro d’Italia. This Herculean feat of physical and mental endurance has never since been repeated. During a time when doping scandals threatened to destroy a sport adored by many, Pantani offered hope to millions and was seen as a saviour. However, this heroism was short lived as merely six years later; the young Pantani was found dead in a cheap Italian hotel, apparently from acute cocaine poisoning, at the young age of 34.
Pantani: The Accidental Death of a Cyclist is a unique and compelling story of one man taking on the mountains, an athlete’s battle against addiction, set against the dramatic and beautiful background of the Alps during the Tour de France.
Pantani’s life is retold both personally and professionally predominantly through his mother and Sir Bradley Wiggins. Other contributors include fellow cyclists and competitors such as Greg LeMond and Piotr Ugrumov. The stories told by these people will put you on an emotional rollercoaster, with tales to make you laugh, cry, be amazed and shocked and everything in-between.
These recollections of his life are illustrated with some beautiful scenery which offers a romanticised vision of what life on the road must be like for the athletes during long distance races such as the Tour de France and Giro d’Italia. Some of the landscape shots are utterly stunning, leaving you fighting back the urge to get on your bike and visit some of the locations in which the film was shot.
Pantanti offers a great insight into the life of a legend, from his childhood up until his last months on earth and will intrigue not just cycling fans and enthusiasts but those not interested in the sport too.
Pantani: The Accidental Death of a Cyclist is directed by Emmy-nominated film-maker James Erskine, whose work includes One Night in Turin (2010), From the Ashes (2011) as well as numerous episodes of hit TV dramas including Torchwood, Robin Hood and Waterloo Road.
PANTANI: The Accidental Death of a Cyclist is out now, released in the UK by Soda Pictures. A New Black Films production in association with 4 Rights and Media Squared Films.
written by Adam Darbyshire
DOWNLOAD | Southsiders (Deluxe Version) – Atmosphere
When I heard of another album coming out of Rhymesayers Entertainment I was very keen to see which artist it was from, seeing as they have so many good, yet lesser known, artists on their label. Upon finding out it was Atmosphere bringing out a new tape I couldn’t wait to give it a listen and drop this review.
Atmosphere has been a group I’ve listened to for a good decade now and this album, although showing progress (mainly in the sound quality of the newer albums), it is still the same sound as it was back then. Don’t get me wrong with that, I am extremely happy that another album has come out where the artist has stuck to their roots and continued on the path they have calved out for themselves all those years before.
The instrumentals on this album are something that is also quite incredible, for example Camera Thief (viewable in the Youtube player below) has a mad sound, something like a guitar that has been ran through a synth and then further produced to come up with that sound, a stroke of genius on their part for sure.
I do hope a tour comes from this album and that these guys get more popular outside of America, because they do truly deserve this recognition.
If you like hip hop with abstract yet thought out rhymes , original yet chilled beats, and tracks that you can listen to over and over realising possible meanings you didn’t realise were there before you definitely need to give these guys a listen.
Related | Hercules Trailer
by Joe Langham | @JoeLang92
Written and directed by ex-Army officer Tom Petch, The Patrol takes a piercing look at the conflict in Afghanistan through the eyes of a British Army patrol.
If you are looking for an action-packed and glamorised war film full of explosions, heroism and valiancy then you will not find that in The Patrol. What you will get is an honest portrayal of the war in Afghanistan that leaves you wondering whether there is any point in the war in the first place.
The Patrol has the feel of a documentary and that is not really surprising since the film was created from real accounts of British Army experiences in Afghanistan. The Patrol seems as though the in-film patrol are being followed by a cameraman. This naturalistic feel is most likely down to Petch’s painstaking research that went into the films creation. He researched everything from the tactics used in the specific war, the weaponry and other equipment and even the language used by the soldiers there.
The film is highly political, taking an anti Afghan war standpoint, and particularly puts forward the question of the role of the British soldiers out there. The army patrol is left isolated and out of the loop throughout the film, without support from the US Army. They are left fighting blindly whilst coming under periodical attack from an unseen enemy and even ‘friendly’ troops.
The combination of a short supply of poor equipment and a lack of purpose cause morale to plummet and tempers to fray as the film progresses and the frustrations of the patrol are brilliantly evoked throughout.
The film has a small but talented cast which includes Nav Sidhu (Edge of Heaven) as Smudge, Daniel Fraser (Lab Rats, Scar Tissue) as Lieutenant Jonathan Bradshaw and Nicholas Beveney (Funland) as Sergeant ‘Sol’ Campbell to name but a few. The cast have varied acting experience, yet this is not evident and each character puts in a performance as good as one another. They succeed at playing believable characters with refined performances.
The Patrol is a personal portrayal of war coming from someone who knows it best: a soldier. Tom Petch’s feature film debut is a brave but brilliant one. The films 80 minute run time is more than enough to get its message across and will stick in your mind for much longer.
The Patrol is out now on DVD, RRP £17.99, or currently a £9 bargain online at Amazon.
The HHK team are excited for the release of Brick Mansions, which features the late Paul walker and Wu-Tang Clan member RZA. Based in Detroit, Brick Mansions is a block which has physically been contained by the police due to the violence and crime. Damien Collier (Paul Walker) teams up with Lino (David Belle) to infiltrate the area. Tremaine (RZA) kidnaps Lino’s girlfriend and it all gets messy from there. You can watch the Brick Mansions Official Trailer below.
EXCLUSIVE | Standards of Living – Amateur Hour [S1.Ep1]
The guys over at watchmojo.com have created a “Top 10 Most Anticipated Movies of 2014″ list which is pretty much agree with. The top 10 includes upcoming movies from Marvel and DC, along with some expected sequels and follow-ups which are bound to create excitement throughout the course of their individual promotion campaigns. HHK recently announced that Marvel will be releasing Iron Fist: The Living Weapon which will be an ongoing series also available in physical comic book format. Furthermore, we took a look at Marvel vs DC and which company would prove to be the victor in 2014. You can watch the “Top 10 Most Anticipated Movies of 2014″ on the YouTube player below.
Previously: Illerstate Sneak Preview
Written by Adam Darbyshire (@adarbyshire5)
Its important to start a new year with some new music and I personally recommend checking out ‘Even With The Odds Against Us’ by Manchester hip hop trio Illerstate.
After almost two years taking seemingly a back seat in the local hip hop scene of Manchester Illerstate have exploded back on the scene having dropped an album just before the start of 2014. With features from JSD (Virus Syndicate), Shotty Horroh and Tyler Daly amongst others this CD contains some good hip hop for all listeners. A couple of the tracks could accompany the R&B essence with some ‘radio’ songs but these quickly switch to grime based club tracks, there is literally something for everyone here.
If you managed to hear their original mixtape the growth here is obvious and this hip hop trio are definitely ones to look out for in 2014. Having already featured one of the tracks (Money To Throw) on channel AKA even if you aren’t trawling the internet for a new sound these guys will hopefully appear in your iTunes library somewhere having popped up on your tv or radio.
Some of the metaphors used on the tracks are incredible and the variety of beats range from old school Wu tang esc through to light hearted sounds which are that chilled they have made it onto my snowboarding playlist (to give you an idea its currently filled with Aussie hip hop through to artists like crystal fighters).
The album is available through their bandcamp, big cartel and Itunes, which for a limited time only is an impressive £5 for 18 tracks of that Manchester sound everyone hip hop head loves at one point or another. Check it out for free on the bandcamp or youtube.
by David Bosworth @boz_worth
Previous | The Amazing Spider-Man 2 Trailer
Welcome back film fans to our 1st HHKMovies Amateur Hour Review.
The entire idea behind this title of reviews is to give light to some awesome amateur film makers. To take a look at what they can create on little or no budget. We’ll look at Kickstarter backed films. Short films. Feature films. Every genre.
To kick off Amateur Hour on Boxing Day 2013, we thought we’d review something more sinister, so, make way for the very 1st feature film shot completely on the iPad2!
Peter Sayer is an awful stand up comedian who desperately wants to be funny. One night, after Peter bombs on stage, a mysterious man named Mr. Randall offers him a unique opportunity. Mr. Randall reveals that he has the power to make things disappear, and when he makes them reappear they are “improved.” A bent nail becomes straight, a tarnished coin becomes polished, and an empty saltshaker comes back full of salt. But Mr. Randall wants to make a human disappear…to find out where these objects go, and why they come back improved. Peter volunteers to “disappear” with the hope that he will come back funnier…but the bizarre truth about Mr. Randall’s powers is no laughing matter.
Having watched very few homemade or amateur movies(not any that can be reviewed here anyway) it was awesome to see the quality with which this feature length film was shot and made. Scott Yarborough who plays Peter, our down on his luck terrible comic, does so with complete conviction. The rest of the cast fill roles exceedingly well also, with mention going to Bill Ferris portraying the enigmatic Mr Randall. I actually never got bored during this entire film which was quite a feat, as I recently couldn’t get through 30 minutes of Cloud Atlas!
Genre wise I was never too sure where this movie slotted in, and to be honest, I’m still not sure. After speaking directly to Writer and Director Aaron Mento he told me theat the film just became what people ended up seeing- a mashup of dark comedy and horror.
Here are some stills from the film-
This was truly one of the weirder films I’ve watched and I champion this fact because it has come from the mind of an amateur writer. It kept me engaged until the climactic ending which I almost hurled my lunch over……seriously!
4 out of 5
Special mention given to Aaron Mento in his patience whilst we started Amateur Hour. He never hounded us and was helpful beyond means in chatting about his project.
EXCLUSIVE – Sneak Peek At New Illerstate Album
written by Adam Darbyshire (@adarbyshire5)
Manchester hip hop trio Illerstate (@illerstate) are exploding back onto the scene after 18 months of sitting in the studio and working day after day on their up and coming album ‘Even With The Odds Against Us’. HHKMag have been granted an exclusive preview of the album and for hip hop fans it does not disappoint, the group have dabbled in new areas of the game and the result is something worth a purchase.
Previously featured on Channel AKA and around the underground scene of Manchester this album has the power to put them on the map in a major way. Keep your eyes peeled for when it drops real soon, and keep space on your Christmas list for this 18 track CD featuring appearances from JSD of Virus Syndicate, Tyler Daly and Shotty Horroh amongst others.
A full review will be hitting the site shortly but in the mean time here’s a track list for you all to get excited about.
2- Even With The Odds Against Us
4- Break Out (Feat. JSD of Virus Syndicate)
5- Hustlin’ (Feat. Tyler Daly)
7- Get Up (Feat. T.Bizzle)
8- Cut Above The Rest
9- Can’t Go On (Feat. Connor Ashton)
10- Taking Shots
11- Drowning (Feat. Tyler Daly)
12- I Just… (Feat. Toni Marie)
13- Never Take Me Down
14- Wannabe (Feat. Top Boy Round Here)
15- Change (Feat. Connor Ashton)
17- Money To Throw (Feat. Shotty Horroh)
18- Going Nowhere (Feat. Connor Ashton)
If you haven’t heard of them already check out the below videos, all featured on the new album.