Shiny Shelf
By Mark Clapham on 10 April 2012 Comments Off

Seeing a vast array of co-production funders at the start of a film suggests, to me at least, one of two things:
Firstly, that this is some serious art piece where filmmakers of real passion have hustled money from all over, inspiring support with their great idea.
… OR …
… it’s some big tax write-off.
‘Shadow [...]

By Mags L Halliday on 23 January 2012 Comments Off

Todd Haynes’ latest love letter to Sirkian Hollywood melodrama, ‘Mildred Pierce’, suggests melodrama should get a restraining order.

By Jonn Elledge on 12 January 2012 Comments Off

Despite what Disney cartoons and breakfast cereals may have taught us, animals cannot talk.

By Manu Ekanayake on 20 December 2011 Comments Off

Nucky Thompson (played by Steve Buscemi) sums up his role in the ‘Boardwalk Empire’ with one line to his protégé Jimmy Darmody (relative newcomer Michael Pitt), ‘You wanna be a gangster in my town, then you’ll pay me for the privilege.’
That’s who Nucky is – he’s Atlantic City’s political boss, not its crime boss. Well, [...]

By Eugene Jones on 08 December 2011 Comments Off

Tsui Hark’s Tang Dynasty detective story is a thrilling adventure, though for western viewers the mystical elements make the mystery a little hard to follow.

By Mark Clapham on 28 November 2011 Comments Off

Ironically, considering its premise is that there’s a separate ‘London Below’ entirely unseen by the denizens of the normal, everyday capital, ‘Neverwhere’ seems to have slipped over from a parallel reality.
Broadcast in the mid 90s on BBC2, during a period when British TV didn’t make really make any fantasy or SF shows, its a real [...]

By Lance Parkin on 30 September 2011 Comments Off

‘The Feathered Serpent’ is the love child of ‘I, Claudius’ and ‘Doctor Who’, and is just as peculiar and rewarding as that sounds.

By Julio Angel Ortiz on 23 June 2011 1 COMMENT

Now this is something different- a legal drama that takes place in England… in the 18th century. A period piece based upon actual cases and drawn from the available records of that time, ‘Garrow’s Law’ is a welcome change of pace from not only the legal shows of today, but television in general.
Andrew Buchan plays [...]

By Jim Smith on 20 June 2011 Comments Off

Rowan Joffe’s ‘Brighton Rock’ is beautifully photographed and extremely well played by all involved, but..

By Julio Angel Ortiz on 13 June 2011 Comments Off

In late summer of 2003, I was laid off from my job. In-between looking for a new job, I had extra time at home to be with the family and watch television, and I got hooked on the American crime show ‘Law and Order’.
This began my interest in a genre of television that I had [...]

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By Jonn Elledge on 10 June 2011 Comments Off

It’s not a great sign when the cast list for a film makes more interesting viewing than the film itself.

By Lance Parkin on 08 June 2011 Comments Off

‘Upstairs Downstairs’ is one of the best known British TV series of the seventies, on both sides of the Atlantic (and has recently been revived). It quickly became a centerpiece of [...]

By Stephen Lavington on 01 June 2011 Comments Off

The Hollywood career of Jason Statham is reminiscent of Jean-Claude Van Damme. Doggedly working the straight-to-DVD schlock martial-arts beat, Statham has laboriously clambered to the top-rank of action stars. Like Van Damme it’s got to the point where no-one even feels the need to hand-wave away his accent – Statham just IS.
Sadly, and also like [...]

By Mark Clapham on 16 May 2011 Comments Off

The first season of ‘Spartacus: Blood and Sand’ starts out as something of a shallow, guilty pleasure, but gains depth and complexity across the thirteen episodes in this season box set.
Based on the first couple of episodes I wrote a review that summed up the initial impact of the show as a cartoonishly violent and [...]

By Mark Clapham on 05 May 2011 Comments Off

Kate Summerscale’s ‘The Suspicions of Mr Whicher’ is a brave choice of book to adapt into an ITV drama.
While the subject matter – the investigation of a nationally notorious child murder in the mid 19th century, at the dawn of the age of detection – is dramatic, the way Summerscale’s book deals with it concentrates [...]

By Mags L Halliday on 03 May 2011 Comments Off

‘Woochi the Demon Slayer’ has a fatal flaw but is otherwise a lively tale of good, evil and personal stylists.
Just as an Archgod is about to banish all the evil goblins from the world with his enchanted pipe, three impatient Taoist gods disrupt the spell. The goblins are freed, the Archgod vanishes and two wizards [...]

By Julio Angel Ortiz on 05 April 2011 Comments Off

An amoral, conniving, manipulative- and possibly murdering- character. The makings of a tepid crime drama, ‘based on a true story’? Nope. We have the main character of a two-part miniseries collected on Region 1 DVD. Dubbed as a black comedy and staring Martin Clunes (of ‘Men Behaving Badly’ fame) as the aforementioned shady character, ‘Dirty [...]

By Mags L Halliday on 21 March 2011 Comments Off

‘71 Into the Fire’ takes a little known incident of the Korean War and gives it well-deserved epic treatment.
There’s a broad trajectory war films take, as the war they depict recedes into history. During the war they are obviously propagandist. Immediately afterwards they are patriotic and heroic. Then comes lighter fare, then films that question [...]

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By Lance Parkin on 11 March 2011 Comments Off

There’s a Darwinian process with art. To generalise wildly, a lot of the more ordinary examples of novels, plays, movies and so on fall away, leaving only the particularly notable. The stuff that isn’t to our taste shuffles aside.

By Mark Clapham on 20 January 2011 Comments Off

Watching ‘Missing’ I was unsure of whether it was a coldly scathing portrayal of male violence against women or a tasteless, and for the most part extremely slow, horror film.

By Jim Smith on 04 January 2011 1 COMMENT

ITV’s ‘Marple’ is, and always has been, a strange hybrid beast and this is perhaps down to what seem to be a large number of contradictory pressures on it.

By Shiny Shelf on 27 December 2010 Comments Off

Like Scrooge, we’re a bit at sea about what the future holds for our favourite kinds of nonsense.

By Mags L Halliday on 08 December 2010 Comments Off

The fundamental story-telling problem with the ‘Star Wars: the Clone Wars’ is that the end is already locked down. It has to end with the characters in place for ‘Revenge of the Sith’.

By Shiny Shelf on 26 November 2010 Comments Off

To take you into the weekend, here’s the trailer for ‘Scott Pilgrim vs the World’, coming to Blu-ray and DVD on 27 December 2010.

By Shiny Shelf on 04 November 2010 Comments Off

The competition is now closed.

By Mark Clapham on 21 October 2010 Comments Off

‘Under the Red Hood’ manages the surprising feat of taking a comic book story mired in sprawling continuity and turning it into a highly enjoyable, accessible action thriller.

By Mags L Halliday on 20 October 2010 Comments Off

‘Suck’ combines vampires with a rock’n’roll movie, and wears its cheapness on its leather sleeve.

By Jim Smith on 14 October 2010 1 COMMENT

‘Dollhouse’ was, in case you are part of the vast majority of the population that it entirely passed by, a short lived US TV show.

By Mark Clapham on 13 October 2010 Comments Off

The formula of Seth MacFarlane’s animated series is straightforward: there’s a family, and the dad also has a set of drinking buddies.

By Matthew Badham on 11 October 2010 Comments Off

‘Our Friends in the North’ isn’t just first-class drama, it’s a stunning piece of fictive social history that charts the lives of four friends and their extended networks from 1964 until 1995.

By Matthew Badham on 04 October 2010 Comments Off

I had high hopes for ‘The Disappearance of Alice Creed’, about which I’d heard good things. I’m afraid, however, that viewing this film was a pretty disappointing and also slightly depressing experience.

By Mags L Halliday on 31 August 2010 3 COMMENTS

I don’t know about you, but I never expect good things from a film with Clive Owen in it.

By Sarah Jane Vespertine on 26 August 2010 3 COMMENTS

Oh, thank you Maverick Films for ‘Army of the Dead’. I have to say, having watched it once, I went straight back to the start and watched it all over again, as much from a sense of disbelief at what I’d witnessed as to enjoy the story.

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By Stephen Lavington on 05 August 2010 Comments Off

As with ‘The Hurt Locker’ it is far from trendy to knock ‘Moon’.

By Jim Smith on 04 August 2010 1 COMMENT

The Beatles’ first movie is 46 years old this month and very cheap on DVD. It’s time for an arbitrary celebration.

By Scott Harrison on 19 July 2010 1 COMMENT

Ask any fan of 1960s spy show ‘The Avengers’ and they’ll all tell you the same thing – series four was the point where it started to go seriously bonkers.

By Mark Clapham on 12 July 2010 Comments Off

‘The Crazies’ is a good example of a modern Hollywood remake of a cult independent movie, in that it’s slicker and more focused than the original, but a lot less interesting.

By Shiny Shelf on 29 June 2010 11 COMMENTS

So, ‘The Big Bang’ went off and there’s no more ‘Doctor Who’ until Christmas. Luckily, we’re here with a recommendation list of ten old ‘Who’ stories (well, not exactly ten, but we’ll get to that later) that are worth watching to help the next six months pass a bit quicker.

By Stephen Lavington on 22 June 2010 Comments Off

‘Sons of Anarchy’ takes a bold step in solving the perennial puzzle of how to create high stakes drama where power-plays can lead to life or death in the heavily regulated and policed, relatively safe setting of contemporary America.
The majority of shows faced with this problem take the obvious approach and choose their characters from [...]

By Jim Smith on 18 June 2010 1 COMMENT

Sherlock Holmes’ fame and appeal began because of, and fundamentally remains sustained by, the popularity and readability of the stories written by his creator, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.

By Mags L Halliday on 01 June 2010 Comments Off

‘The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya’ is one of the best anime series to get an English language release, and the first series has just been re-released as a single Anime Legends box set.

By Stephen Lavington on 20 May 2010 Comments Off

It’s certainly not a brave or controversial critical move to say that ‘The Hurt Locker’ is a great film. Indeed, to come out with such a statement after this year’s Oscar ceremony is conventional thinking at its most pointlessly facile.

By Mags L Halliday on 04 May 2010 1 COMMENT

You know what you’re going to get with Asylum. Their business model is simple: produce the kind of B-movie fun that kept Amicus, Hammer, Roger Corman and others going.

By Scott Harrison on 29 April 2010 1 COMMENT

The remake of The Prisoner hadn’t even transmitted on British television before fans were leaping online to express their opinions on this apparent travesty.

By Julio Angel Ortiz on 23 April 2010 1 COMMENT

With a title like ‘Ninja Assassin’ and a dynamite creative team behind the movie, surely it would be a great action flick?


By Mark Clapham on 22 April 2010 1 COMMENT

The latest animated incarnation of Batman has been running in the States for a while and is, I believe, shown in the UK at an hour in the morning that I refuse to acknowledge the existence of. Thankfully, it’s being very slowly released on DVD, four episodes at a time.
With ‘The Dark Knight’ providing a [...]

By Scott Harrison on 15 April 2010 1 COMMENT

Do you remember when British television used to be good? I mean consistently good?

Good stuff like ‘The Avengers’, not Z-list celeb-reality tat or auditions for Lloyd-Webber’s latest West End ‘hit’. I’m talking G.O.O.D.

By Mags L Halliday on 04 April 2010 1 COMMENT

Bryan Fuller does love his disconnected main characters. Like his other 2003-04 show ‘Dead Like Me‘, ‘Wonderfalls’ has a Gen Y heroine who refuses to engage with the real world around her.
In place of George Lass, who is killed on the way to her first dead-end job and winds up ushering dead souls into the [...]

By Stephen Lavington on 20 January 2010 1 COMMENT

Jackie Brown-shirt or G-rhine-dhouse?

By Stephen Lavington on 05 August 2009 Comments Off

‘Taken’ is perhaps the most insidious, reactionary, vile action film of the last 20 years…