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.
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.
Written by Adam Leivers
Previous | Ultramagnetic MC’s Live in Leeds Review
Mos Def was always a bit of an enigma. From his days in UTD making distinctly ahead-of-its-time hybrids of Gangster leanings & Native Tongue-tinged melody to his Rawkus label-defining debut single ‘Universal Magnetic’. From his debut album’s organic traditional hip-hop with a pinch of soulful harmony to his long awaited follow-up which turned out to veer from straight up rock all the way through to commercial attempts at crossover.
Download | Vinnie Paz – Vinnie Paz – Carry on Tradition
Previous | Vinnie Paz – Is Happiness Just a Word?
Written by Adam Darbyshire
As has become a custom in my calendar Vinnie Paz has graced us with his presence as we enter the winter period, although this year in a different form than his usually tour with either Jedi Mind Tricks, Ill Bill, Demigodz or Army Of The Pharaohs, in 2013 he has treated the world to a solo mixtape ‘Carry On Tradition’ which dropped last night.
As always this mixtape is packed with the gritty beats and rhymes we are used to, it does not disappoint. Alongside the defined style of beats the Heavy Metal King has adopted as his own there is a cold tale to half the songs on this tape which not only hook you from a musical perspective but for the story they tell.
Written by Joe Langham
Previous Review | Pain and Gain
You’re Next has been one of the most anticipated films for fans of the genre since its premiere at the 2011 Toronto International Film Festival. Having spent two years being taken off and put back on distributor’s shelves, it has finally been released. The wait was well worth it and the film was not ruined either by an abundance of advertising and hype that often plagues films that bide their time waiting for release.
The home invasion horror, like many films these days, is a largely overdone and monotonous genre full of remakes and clichés. With terrible remakes of Funny Games, Black Christmas and The Last House on the Left amongst the many home invasion flicks made in recent years, it would be natural to just write You’re Next off into the same list. However, once in a while a gem comes along, much like 2008’s chilling film ‘The Strangers’ and the French predecessor and Strangers influence ‘Them’. You’re Next is one of these gems.
Truth is often said to be stranger than fiction and that sure rings true in Pain and Gain. Based upon the true story of bodybuilder Daniel Lugo (Mark Wahlberg) and his partners in both the gym and crime Adrian Doorbal (Anthony Mackie) and Paul Doyle (Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson) Daniel Lugo is a personal trainer. There is only one problem. He believes he does not have the lifestyle to go with his ripped body, the lifestyle years of hard work deserves. Lugo then plans to kidnap a local businessman and extort him with the help of Doyle and Doorbal. Whilst Doorbal is easily persuaded, Paul Doyle, the ex-criminal turned Christian with the belief that he was sent to earth to protect God’s creatures is a little harder to convince. Once all persuasions are completed, the gang set about their kidnap and after a few farcical attempts, they succeed. Their fool proof plan slowly starts falling into place and they soon begin to reap the rewards of their efforts. Soon though, the money begins to dwindle and as greed begins to get the better of the trio, things begin to turn a little awry.
Written by Adam Leivers (@SniperInTheMist)
Critical Beatdown (Special Edition) | DOWNLOAD
On what was arguably the hottest day of the year in Yorkshire, a group that released what was considered the hottest album in hip-hop 25 years ago emerged on stage in the small Leeds venue to celebrate the enduring spirit of their magnum opus.
It has become ‘en vogue’ for artists of the golden era to tour the world and gain a second wind as an artist through the re-introduction of their respective classic albums, and depending on what type of hip-hop fan you were, the Ultramagnetics have an album in their arsenal that arguably can be considered THE golden album of that so-loved era in the late 80s.
Download “This Is Tne End” | DVD / Blu-Ray
Welcome back film fans to this week’s #HHKMovies Exclusive review for “This is the End” (@thisistheend) and a big thanks to the guys over at Total Film (@totalfilm) and ShowFilmFirst (@showfilmfirst) for the hook up.
Ever wondered what these Hollywood actors get up to when the cameras stop rolling? When the red carpets rolled up and the fans finally leave the street, go home and masturbate over the pictures they’ve took and Photoshopped? Yeah, me too (not the masturbating of course….that’s just weird)!
Well, Seth Rogen’s apocalyptic spoof confirms that they all get hammered, smoke J’s, do coke and smack Rihanna’s ass! Sounds like a party eh? Perfect timing, seeing as Seth Rogen (Knocked Up)’s best friend Jay Baruchel (Tropic Thunder) is in town and he wants his Hollywood buds to bond with his Canadian brother. Queue James Franco (127 Hours) and his huge monstrosity of a house, a slightly feminine Jonah Hill (Superbad), panty-removing obsessed Craig Robinson (Zack & Miri) and party crashing “I’ll eat all your motherf*cking food” douche Danny McBride (Your Highness) being the crowd Jay doesn’t want to be a part of. He might not have a choice though as all hell breaks loose on LA’s streets and people get sucked up (I said up) and the ridiculously impressive cast of party going extras die off! What can they do other than to barricade themselves in with drugs, liquor and porn?!
Plenty of laughs fill up most of this film with Hollywood finally being able to hit the G Spot of the spoof and comedy fans harder than Emma Watson’s axe swinging arms! The best spoof from Hollywood since “Scary Movie”…..and that was 2000.
4 out of 5
Comedy hard hitter
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“This is the End” hits cinemas in the UK 28th June
Written by Dave Bosworth
Set Phasers to Fun…I mean Stun
Welcome back film fans to this weeks HHKMovies Review. This week we look at Star Trek Into Darkness. The second installment in the Sci Fi franchise from J.J. Abrams(Super 8, Star Trek) beaming back the crew of the Enterprise under the questionable leadership of wild and reckless Cpt. Jim Kirk played by Chris Pine(This Means War) and his half-human half-vulcan 2nd in command Mr Spock. This voyage of Star Fleet’s finest ship takes them beyond anything they’ve experienced before. Beyond what they thought they were capable of and beyond the directives of Star Fleet Exploration! With Alice Eve(She’s Out of My League) having made her way onto the crew of the Starship we’re treated to something that the die hard Trekkies will make sure they get use of….but she wasn’t invited on the ship!
Abrams brings us this installment after listening to alot of feedback and critique from fans of the original series and he doesn’t disappoint. Into Darkness is a feast for the eyes and with a strong cast leading from the original, you really engage with key characters and want to be part of their journey. Queue Benedict Cumberbatch(Sherlock) as mystery man “John Harrison” who is more of an anomoly than why Cpt. Kirk hasn’t caught an STD yet. I’ve got to say though that Cumberbatch has to get special mention in this review for his role in portraying the bad guy here. I’m not going to give away any spoilers for those of you who haven’t yet seen the movie. But, yes. If you’re a Trek fan. Yes, it’s him. That’s all I’m saying though!
Into Darkness is the BEST movie of the year so far. With fantastic and rich visuals, layered characters and relationsips that pull you in and make you feel everything they do, Academy Award strong acting, spaceships, boobs, stuff blowing up and Klingons. You can’t get much more closer to perfect than that little checklist of what makes great Sci Fi.
Definitely 5 out of 5.