20th Aug2013

The Look of Love – DVD

by timbaros





Paul Raymond was known as the King of Soho. He began his reign by producing saucy shows at the Windmill Theatre and then took over a club and named it after himself – The Raymond Review Bar. He also published a saucy men’s magazine called Men Only. The story of Paul Raymond and his life is expertly captured in the new movie The Look of Love. 

Raymond was famous not only for his production of nude revues but he also bought up huge swaths of Soho at a time when that part of London was very cheap, making him a millionaire many many times over.

The Look of Love focuses on his relationship with the three most important woman in his life: his wife Jean (played by Anna Friel), his lover Fiona (a very beautiful Tamsin Egertoon) and his daughter Debbie (Imogen Potts). Raymond is played by Steve Coogan, in a role perfectly suited for him.

The film begins with Raymond, who was actually born Geoffrey Quinn in Liverpool, in his early days at the Windmill, putting his nude women (which was shocking back then) on stage in various forms of artistic poses – along with a lion, thereby creating entertainment (fear, excitement) for his audiences. He gets wrapped up in an affair with one of his ‘actresses’ Fiona Richmond, while his wife Jean is at home taking care of the children. WIth his very late nights and the affair, his marriage falls apart. Meanwhile, he will do anything to make his daughter happy, and this includes creating a show around her, even though she is not much of a singer or stage actress. Unfortunately, Debbie was addicted to drugs, and her life was cut short of a drug overdose in 1992 at the age of 36. Even though Raymond had several other children, Debbie was his favorite, and when she gave him a granddaughter, Fawn, Raymond treated her as his precious little diamond.

Meanwhile, Raymond continued on with his womanizing ways, bedding several women at the same time and enjoying his bachelor penthouse shag pad with a retractable skylight to look up at the moon and the stars. Raymond was THE playboy of his time, he wore expensive tailored clothes, gold and silver jewellry, had chauffers take him around town, even if it were just down the street, drank expensive champagne and always had a very attractive women or two on his arms. Raymond was also known to have spent lots of his money on cocaine, not just for himself but for his friends and hangers on as well. At the time of his death in 2008, Raymond was worth $650 million and gave it all to his granddaughters, Fawn and India Rose (they now manage his property business).

Director Michael Winterbottom has expertly captured the many eras in Paul Raymond’s life – from the 1960’s when he was married to Jean, to the 1970’s when he was with Fiona, to the 1980’s and beyond as his empire grew, through to the death of his daughter to his extra care and attention paid to his granddaughter. Coogan, as mentioned above, is a perfect choice to play the Soho impressario Paul Raymond who is a character that is not only very interesting but was very colourful, full of life, but also a very shrewd businessman as well.

Tasmin Egerton as Fiona Richmond is especially good (and beautiful to look at) as the much younger girlfriend of Paul Raymond who changed her name from Julia Harrison to write a raunchy column for Raymond’s Men Only magazine. She does not get dragged down in the drug culture that persisted then, and is presented as a smart woman who was no man’s fool. Imogen Poots is excellent in the role as Raymond’s daughter Debbie. It is a very difficult role to play, but Poots pulls it off, allowing the audience to feel sympathy as well as encouragement for her, giving the film its emotional punch.

Credit also goes to the screenwriter Matt Greenhalgh for making this a documentary-like movie, and to the production and costume designers for giving the film its very realistic feel. For those familiar with Soho, The Look of Love was shot in and around the neighborhood, making it feel very familiar for those of us who hang out there.

Raymond was famous for always saying ‘Not bad for a boy who came from Liverpool with five bob in his pocket,” and with that he helped to change the landscape to what Soho would later become.

The Look of Love is now available on DVD.

20th Aug2013

I Want Your Love – DVD

by timbaros

images-15 I Want Your Love, by Travis Mathews (Interior: Leather Bar), started out as a short film in 2010 and has now been turned into a feature film. It opens up in cinemas this week and takes a pornographic look at the relationships of a group of gay men living in San Francisco.

Twenty-something Jesse (Jesse Metzger) is forced to move back to the Midwest (Ohio) as he can no longer afford to live in San Francisco. He wants to remain an artist but at the same time needs to earn a living. I Want Your Love presents the last 36 hours of his time in San Francisco before he moves back to Ohio. It also tells the stories of the relationships of his roommate and their circle of friends. These last 36 hours involve lots of sex between Jesse and various men, Jesse’s roommate with his boyfriend and then both of them later on in a three-way, and another male couple who attend Jesse’s going away party. Jesse decides not to attend the party due to the ambivalence of his move and his not wanting to say goodbye to everyone, and in a fit of emotion and confusion, starts to have sex with a very good friend and mentor, but starts short of completing the act.
The short version of this film was shown at a number of LGBT film Festivals around the world in 2010. This new 71-minute version goes more in depth in dealing with Jesse’s angst about leaving San Francisco and focuses a lot more on his friends and their relationships. These relationships involve lots of sex, graphic sex scenes that the viewer may or may not find necessary. However, the chemistry between the actors in these sex scenes is very palpable, so real, making I Want Your Love look like a documentary where the actors aren’t even aware that there is a camera in the room filming them. Mathews InTheir Room series was all about gay men in their bedrooms. I Want Your Love, which is being released by Nakedsword – one of the largest gay internet pornography companies on the Web, takes this idea one step further and presents a narrative film of gay men, not just in their bedrooms, but in their relationships with other men, emotionally, as friends, and sexually as well. This film was due to be shown at gay film festivals in Australia but was banned by that country’s film commission board. Mathew’s In Their Room Berlin film was also banned the previous year. After having watched the short version of this film, James Franco contacted Mathews in 2012 to collaborate on what would become Interior. Leather Bar – which was shown earlier this year at the London LGBT Film Festival.
Is I Want Your Love a hard or soft gay porn flick? A documentary? Perhaps. But what it isn’t is a bad film. With I Want Your Love, it shows that Mathews (who directed, wrote, shot and edited this film) has grown as a filmmaker and presents to us a highly intimate (and perhaps personal) story and true representation of gay men and their lives and relationships.
Mathews has said that “with my films I have always sought to capture honest and intimate depictions of modern gay life with everyday men.” In this film he has.
I Want Your Love is released by Peccadillo is now out on DVD –  BUY HERE
17th Aug2013

Planes – Film

by timbaros


Dusty Crophopper has dreams of becoming a race plane; however, being a tiny crop duster does not exactly guarantee speed. Dusty does not let his dreams fade, and he does everything he can to become a racer plane in the new Disney animated film Planes.

Dusty (well voiced by American stand-up comedian, Dane Cook) spends his days at his boring job dusting crops, and envies the bigger and faster planes who compete in races. Dusty is very good at aerobatic manuveurs, but needs to work on his speed. His boss, Leadbottom (Cedric the Entertainer) and forklift mechanic friend Dottie (the adorable voice of Terri Hatcher) try to talk him out of entering the upcoming Wings Across the World race, as they feel he will make a fool of himself and come in dead last. However, his fuel truck friend Chug (Brad Garrett) supports him and tells him to go for it. Dusty asks for advice from old Navy war plane Skipper Riley (Stacy Keach), who refuses to waste his time on what appears to be a lost cause. (Dusty eventually wins over Skipper, who shares with him his tale of flying in the war where he lost all of his flying battalion in a battle.)

In the qualifiers to the race, Dusty shows what he is made of, but is too slow to gain entry. However, he makes it into the race when another plane drops out because of performance enhancing jet fuel, and he begins the trek from the US, through Europe, to Mumbai and across the Far East, and across the finish line in New York.

Dusty does not give up hope that he can fly as fast as the rest of the other planes, including three-time winner Ripslinger (Roger Craig Smith). While preparing for the next leg of the race, Dusty meets and falls in love with racer plane Ishani (Priyanka Chopra) who helps Dusty with his fear of heights and guides him while flying through the Himalayas. Unfortunately, Dusty crashes into the ocean, and at this point considers dropping out. But with support from the other planes, including the Mexican race-plane El Chupacabra (Carlos Alazraqui), he makes it to the finish line neck-in-neck with Ripslinger.

Planes, a spin-off from Pixar’s animated film Cars (Disney bought Pixar in 2006), is an enjoyable film with very well-voiced characters, including Cook as Dusty and Hatcher as Dottie. One of the best sequences of Planes is when El Chupacabra tries to woo French-Canadian racer Rochelle (Julia Louis-Dreyfuss), doing whatever he can to win her heart.

Planes will please the little ones in your group, and will also provide a smile or two for the adults.

Review originally appeared on hereisthecity.com – please click this link to view

14th Aug2013

Passion – DVD

by timbaros

passion01Director Brian De Palma has not made a film since 2007’s film Redacted, which received very limited release in the U.S. due to it’s subject of America’s involvement in Iraq. His newest effort, Passion, has just been released on DVD here in the UK.

 Passion is a highly dramatic film in which the assistant of an advertising executive wants to further her career but is held back by her bosses manipulative ways, including taking credit for some of her ideas. Things get more complicated when the assistant has an affair with her bosses husband, making Christine take action against her, which leads to public humiliation, and murder.
Rachel McAdams, who recently starred in Terence Malick’s To The Wonder, plays the advertising executive Christine, while Naomi Rapace, of The Girl with Dragon Tattoo series, plays the assistant Isabelle. Written and directed by Brian De Palma, Passion follows in the same vain as some of his previous thrillers Dressed to Kill, Blow Out, Body Double and 2006’s The Black Dahlia.
Passion can be bought here:
12th Aug2013

The Lone Ranger – Film

by timbaros


It is a mystery to me why The Lone Ranger flopped in America. It had everything a summer movie can ask for: drama, comedy, action, adventure, great performances, stunning scenery, and two classic American characters.

It was even produced and directed by the team that brought us the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise. And it has Johnny Depp!

The Lone Ranger cost Disney $375 million to produce and market. It has so far grossed a paltry $86 million in the U.S. and another $88 million in other countries. It is said that The Lone Ranger would need to gross $800 million worldwide to break even, accounting for revenue splits with theater owners, and it is expected that it will lose $150 million for Disney. The Lone Ranger, no doubt, needs to open big – not just in the U.K., but in other countries – to help Disney recoup the cost of this film.

No matter how much money it is going to lose, The Lone Ranger is a great film and a unique retelling of the fictional story between two great American classic characters, The Lone Ranger and Tonto.

In this film, a boy at a circus show encounters Tonto (Depp as the Native American warrior, and part of an exhibition in the circus) who tells the boy the tale of John Reid (Armie Hammer), who goes from being a man of the law to a crime-fighting hero. He explains to the boy in great detail how he and The Lone Ranger learned to work together to fight the bad guys. What is unique about this version is that it is told from Tonto’s point of view. And this film tells the story of how John Reid becomes the Lone Ranger.

This idea for The Lone Ranger was all Depp’s. He asked a makeup artist and photographer friends of his to create a look for Tonto in the hopes that producer Jerry Bruckheimer (and Disney) would greenlight the film. It worked, and filming began in the American Southwest until the end of September 2012.

No one else could have played Tonto to perfection except for Depp. With his facial expressions, white face, and rigid posture, he is funny when needed but viscious when called for. Depp is also an Executive Producer on this film, showing how much faith he had in this production and getting it made. Hammer, as The Lone Ranger, continues to prove that he can act in any type of film. He played the Winklevoss twins in The Social Network, J. Edgar Hoover’s companion in J. Edgar, and a Prince in Mirror, Mirror. He is one of the most versatile actors in Hollywood today. Rounding out the cast is Tom Wilkinson as corrupt railroad tycoon Latham Cole; the always reliable Helena Bonham Carter as madam Red Harrington, who has more than one trick up her dress; American television and film actor William Fitchner as The Lone Ranger’s archenemy Butch Cavendish; and English actress Ruth Wilson as John Reid’s sister-in-law and later love interest.

All performances in The Lone Ranger are excellent, the production values second to none, and there is not one boring minute. At a running time of 149 minutes, though not short, the film goes by very fast as each scene holds your attention, from the fight scenes to the desert scenes, and especially the amazing runaway train scene. I cannot recommend this film enough. You will thoroughly enjoy it. It will only cost you £11 or so, while it cost Disney lots and lots of money to make it, so it is a bargain for the filmgoer anyway you look at it.

Review originally appeared on hereisthecity.com – please click this link to view

08th Aug2013

Once – Theatre

by timbaros


The film Once was made for a paltry $100,000 in 2007 and grossed over $15 million. The stars were nobodies, non—professional actors who also happened to be singer—songwriters. One song from the film, Falling Slowly, went on to win the Academy Award for Best Original Song.

Once has now been reincarnated in the form of a musical and is currently playing at the Phoenix Theatre in London’s West End.

It’s a very simple story of a romance between two songwriters — Guy (played to perfection by Declan Bennett) and Girl (newcomer Zrinka Cvitesic) — the main characters don’t have names — who meet and slowly fall in love, with circumstances that prevent them from taking it any further.

The Girl, who happens to be Czech, meets the Guy, who happens to be a busker, on a street corner singing his own songs. He is also a Hoover repairman, and she needs her Hoover fixed.

This is the match that is lit that starts the spark between them. And while the Guy feels like he has no career in music, especially after his girlfriend moves to New York, the Girl truly believes in his talent and pushes him to record a demo to send to record companies.

The Girl, you can tell, is slowly falling for him. However, she too has a partner, a husband who is back in their home country. She also has a daughter and they both live with her very stern mother.

The Guy starts making moves on her and there is a feeling in the air that makes their interest in each other real, so real that, by end of the show when are singing Falling Slowly, it is a very emotional as well as a very memorable moment.

The songs, written by the stars of the film, Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova, are memorable and heartfelt. While some of the songs are fine, a few of the others will stay with you for a very long time, especially Falling Slowly.

The set, meanwhile, is very simple. It is a bar. There is no change of the actual set and no heavy machinery to move around. Also, the musicians do double duty and act in the show as well, all doing a fine job and missing neither a beat nor their marks.

Bennett and Cvitesic are very good at acting the roles and also very, very good at singing them as well. Bennett in particular has a raw, raspy, sexy voice, while Cvitesic’s voice is soft and sweet.

I enjoyed Once so much that right after the show finished I wanted to see it again the next night. It’s a show that does not need the razzle dazzle that most other West End productions offer: it is perfect the way it is.

Go and see it, at least once.

06th Aug2013

Wag! The Musical! – Theatre

by timbaros


The website of WAG! The Musical promises “one of the most extraordinary theatrical events of the year”. And sure enough, it is one of the most extraordinary theatricals events of the year – a very bad one at that!

Expecting a story of the Wives and Girlfriends (WAGS) of footballers, with their fake boobs, lavish spending, and bling jewelry, what we get instead is a musical with very bad music, a story with a very bad script, and a show so bad it does not even deserve to be staged.

WAG! The Musical is the story of two girls who work at a cosmetics counter in an unnamed store, and many of their customers happen to be WAGS. Of course, the two girls Jenny (Daisy Wood-Davis) and Sharon (Amy Scott), aspire to be more than just cosmetics girls. One of them (Jenny) wants to run away with a footballer, who unfortunately happens to be married. Sharon finds herself in a volatile relationship with a man whom she thinks she loves, but is told by Jenny to ‘dump him’ because of the way he treats her. She leaves him and finds romance closer to home, with Pete, the store cleaner who also happens to be a musician (a believable Chris Grierson). Olivier Award-winning (1984) American actor Tim Flavin is the store manager (Mr. Frank) in it is a performance that is dreadful. His character is so one-dimensional and predictable, and it is clear that he fancies men, but at the same time, he grovels before his rich, female customers. It is embarrassing.

In WAG! The Musical we are ‘treated’ to a fashion show arranged by Mr. Frank, who has invited all of his WAG customers. They sashay around the stage, with big hair, tight fitting dresses, and pouting lips so large one wonders if they have just eaten lemons.

The selling point of the show (if there is one) is that it casts two real live WAGs: Liz Cundy, ex-wife of former Chelsea defender Jason Cundy, who plays a presenter (and who looks like she has had way too much Botox), and Pippa Fulton, partner of Brentford Striker Clayton Donaldson, who plays a customer spending lots of money, no doubt mirroring her actual life. Both of these woman cannot act, and they definitely cannot sing. They, along with the rest of the cast, don’t have much to work with from a script that is almost invisible, and it is up to comedienne Alyssa Kyria, as a Greek WAG, to sort of save the show. She has the best lines, doing a stand-up routine, but it’s almost as if her act is another show altogether.

It is questionable why the writers (Belvedere Pashum, with music and lyrics by Grant Martin, Thomas Giron-Towers and Tony Bayless) set a show about WAGS at a cosmetics counter in a department store. There are so many different ways they could’ve written a show about WAGS to make it funny and entertaining, but as it is now, it is a laughable production at best. Newspaper critics have declared this the worst show of the year. I would go so far as to say this is the worst show of the decade.

01st Aug2013

Red 2 – Film

by timbaros


If you liked Red, then you will love Red 2, which picks up where Red left off.

Former CIA covert operations agent Frank Moses (Bruce Willis) Retired, Extremely Dangerous (RED), happy in his retirement and peaceful life with his girlfriend Sarah (Mary-Louise Parker), is dragged back into work to search for a new biological weapon called Nightshade.

It went missing from the Cold War during Frank and his partner Marvin’s (John Malkovich) watch, and has since resurfaced, and everyone, the good guys and the bad guys, believes that they know it’s whereabouts. To complicate matters, a hit has been put on them from M16, and agent Victoria (none other than (Helen Mirren) informs them that she has been contracted to shoot and kill them. She even dons a Queen’s crown as one of her disguises.

Meanwhile, a corrupt government official (Neal McDonough) is sending another contract killer, Han (Byung Hun Lee), who has an old score to settle with Frank, to kill them. Then, Frank’s old flame Katja (Catherine Zeta-Jones) shows up to further complicate matters. It is up to certified crazy scientist Edward Bailey (a Hannibal Lechter-like Anthony Hopkins), who knows a thing or two about Nightshade, and possibly knows it whereabouts, to help save the gang, as well as the rest of the world from annihilation.

Red 2 is an action/adventure/thriller as much as a James Bond film is, however, Red 2 (just like Red) has an added element – comedy – seen a few times when Sarah is not able to fire a pistol or drive a car, or the banter between her and Frank when they are caught in sticky situations. Marvin and Frank have their funny moments as well, one of them being when Marvin pretends to die and Frank is tempted to pinch his skin in the coffin to make sure he was really dead. (He wasn’t.)

Much better than the last James Bond film, Skyfall, Red 2 pulls out all the stops and provides the viewer with one hell of a 116-minute ride. Not once does the action, adventure and comedy stop. And with this all star cast of heavyweights – Willis, Mirren, Zeta-Jones, Hopkins, Malkovich, and even Parker, makes Red 2 the perfect summer film.


Review originally appeared on Hereisthecity.com – click this link to view it