The Walking Dead-Count: Part the First (Season 1, Episodes 1 to 6)

I recently had a notion to watch The Walking Dead. I saw season 1 when it first aired in the UK back in early 2011 but it didn’t really grab me – despite my fondness for zombie movies – so I never went back for more. Until a couple of weeks ago.

Long story short (you’re welcome) I watched season 2 in three days, followed immediately by season 3, then season 4 right up to the mid-season 5 finale. And now I’m totally hooked. Since season 5 isn’t back for another few weeks, I needed something to keep me busy so I had a thought. Anyone who has seen the show knows that a lot of things get killed: walkers, people, even squirrels. Hell, even people who haven’t seen the show can probably figure that much out for themselves. My thought was to enquire as to which particular character has the most blood on his or her hands. The only way to satisfy my curiosity was to go right back to the beginning, notebook in hand…

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Andy Finally Watches (and Ryan finally posts)… Harry Potter V

Ladies and Gentlemen, and those reading over your shoulder, it has been a while, but that is due to mine host forgetting he had a website to maintain. Well, now he has finally woken up and general ramblingness can be resumed, so without further ado……


Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

Dark Phoenix? So where’s Wolverine?

Film 5 sees the Ministry of Magic denying that the Dark Lord has returned which means poor Harry is rather unpopular in the magical world. Only his trusty sidekicks and a few elders believe him but after the appointment of a Ministry official as the, yet another, new Defence against the Dark Arts teacher in the form of Dolores Umbridge, Harry starts to gather some believers. This is mainly due to cowbag Umbridge’s refusal to teach practical magic and her somewhat controversial punishment techniques. When she is given more power and starts installing strict and unreasonable rules, this is the final straw and some of the students revolt and form a secret group called Dumbledore’s Army, led by our Harry. But trouble arises when they Slytherin students side with Umbridge to try and reveal the secret gang. And Voldemort has returned to power to seek the prophecy that will reveal why he couldn’t kill Harry all those years ago. Will Umbridge find their secret hidey hole? Will Dumbledore’s Army be strong enough to fight Voldemort and his followers when the time comes? Will someone punch Umbridge for me? And did you know, Mad Eye Moody is played by the same guy who was Hamish, Wallace’s number 2, in Braveheart?

The films title refers to a group of individuals including Harry’s parents and the good prof Dumbledore, who set up a secret group to defend against Voldemort and his followers the first time he came to power. I’m no genius but I reckon that’s where Harry and Co might have got the idea from. Harry has been through the mill a wee bit in his first few years as a wizard and has developed a good arsenal of defensive spells, therefore he can teach even the dunderheid Neville Longbottom to carry out a spell.

TOOTP also sees our Harry have his first kiss, go on son!!! It also sees Harry toil with his connection to Voldemort and ponder whether he is becoming a wee bit dark himself.

Star of the show for me is Evanna Lynch as the wonderfully eccentric Luna Lovegood. She is what one would describe as weird, but her ability to not care about the opinion of others, is a lesson we can all learn from. Other standouts are the appearance of Mrs Tim Burton as the despicable Bellatrix Lestrange. Bellatrix is probably Voldemorts most faithful follower, who has been in Azkaban since his previous demise, but gets free to wreak havoc. And havoc she does indeed wreak.

"He finally got around to publishing Andy's review!"

“He finally got around to publishing Andy’s review!”

Overall TOOTP is a rip roaring belter of a film and signals the start of a dark journey that leads to the final battle in the eighth film. I can assure you there is a few twists and turns along the way, a fine few of which will be in the next film.

If this review seems a bit vague then I’m attributing it to the boxing term of ring rust, I shall try and shake it off and over indulge you all with nonsense next time round.

Till then, peace out.


Posted in 00s, Andy Finally Watches, British Films, Children, Fantasy, Movies | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment


Ryan McNeely:

Faithful readers,
Kindly have a little look-see at my entry into the inaugural festival of shit that is Shitfest 2013. Hosted by the man himself Mr E from Isaacs Picture Conclusions, Shitfest is a celebration (if that’s the right word) of the worst movies to grace this world. My choice, oddly enough, is Sex And The City. Read, enjoy, tell your friends…

Originally posted on Isaacs Picture Conclusions:

shitfest-2013 banner



When people ask me what type of films I like to watch, my usual response is “I’ll watch anything”. It’s a small thing to be boastful of, but I pride myself on being able to sit through and find something to appreciate in just about every film I can get my grubby little hands on. Well, dear readers, today is the day that hubris finally came back to bite me in the ass. Charlie from the office (she of the Kids Film Friday DVD stash in my desk drawer) asked me that question a couple of weeks ago, and got that answer. So she decided to screw with me.

Sex And The City

Shoot me. In the head.

Four entirely pointless human beings swan about doing nothing for TWO AND A HALF FUCKING HOURS! Thoughts of suicide ensue.

Before we get started here, I…

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First Look At Marvel’s Agents Of SHIELD – UPDATED

Update – The actual promo was released online early this morning (UK time) after it’s debut appearance during last night’s episode of Once Upon A Time. It’s got some similar moments—including a clearer look at Whedon’s former Angel star J. August Richards playing someone who may or may not be (but almost certainly is) Luke Cage leaping from an exploding window, not to mention laying down the smack on some poor mook—and some new ones, as the longer running time would suggest. It also seems that the Son of Coul has been rewarded with a sweet new ride. Don’t touch Lola, indeed.

Here it is, for your viewing pleasure:

And so it begins…

Bad. Ass. Mo-fo. And friends.

Bad. Ass. Mo-fo. And friends.

The first footage from the Whedon-helmed pilot of Marvel Studio’s first foray into weekly television has hit t’interwebz earlier today, and it is as exciting as seven seconds of visual effects can be. Well, five seconds of visual effects with a good look at the show’s biggest selling point. For those of you not yet in the know, that would be one Clark Gregg returning from his apparent death in last year’s Avengers. I laid out my own theories behind how Agent “His name is” Phil Coulson could still be up and about after getting stabbed through the heart last year, and we’re still no closer to getting the story. I’ve heard tell that this very mystery could be a major plot point of the series, but of course all could be explained before the first ad break, leaving the show free to delve into the various stories that Marvel and the Whedon family* wish to tell.

This clip doesn’t give away all that much, but it’s effective enough as a first teaser. The show looks impressive, I have to admit. Plenty of action and big kabooms and Coulson giving good scowl. We also get a brief (well, almost subliminal) glance at some of the other cast, including Marvel newcomer Ming-Na as Melinda May.

But anyway, that’s enough jawing from me. Why don’t you take a look for yourselves and chime in below on your first impressions.

*Joss directed the pilot, and his brother Jed and sister-in-law Maurissa Tancharoen will be show-runners going forward.

Posted in Television, Trailers | Tagged , , , , , | 9 Comments

5-Word Meets Katarzyna Klimkiewicz

In Flying Blind, the feature film debut by Polish director Katarzyna Klimkiewicz, Helen McCrory plays Frankie, a woman who has built her life around her career as a designer of military UAVs. That life threatens to come crashing down around her when she falls for a young French-Algerian engineering student whose secrets may extend to more than just his immigration status.

The movie is currently touring the UK for a series of screenings and Q&As, playing tonight (Saturday 27th) at the Filmhouse in Edinburgh and tomorrow at the Glasgow Film Theatre. I had the chance to chat with Katarzyna about the film itself, its distribution, and her plans for the future.

Photo by Nick Wall

Photo by Nick Wall

What was it that actually convinced you to make this film your feature debut as opposed to anything else you might have been working on?

I wanted to portray a strong woman who is independent and very intelligent and bright, and she’s confronted with her emotions and with all the doubts and fears and prejudices, and how she deals with it. And confront the audience with the question “How would you deal with the situation?”. On one hand it’s the fear and on the other hand it’s the prejudice, and we try to be right but it’s very hard. And also there’s the perspective of the illegal immigrant and how does it influence the way you are with other people if you are an illegal immigrant.

How involved were you with the development of the script?

I spent a year, year and a half on development. The whole production took about two and a half years.

How does Flying Blind connect thematically with your previous shorts and documentaries, or is it more of a departure for you?

Yeah it’s a departure in the sense that is a bigger film, it’s my first feature, but in terms of the topics I’m interested in, it’s kind of a development. My short film Hanoi/Warsaw, my first short fiction film, also referenced the situation of someone coming from a different country, trying to communicate and find yourself in a different country. I’ve always been interested in how the situation in which you are born can influence the rest of your life, and how people see you through this. It defines you, and also it defines your chances in life. All of my films have this in some way or another.

In Flying Blind you really take advantage of the setting in Bristol, in the various locations and the architecture of the city and the scenery. Was the story always built around Bristol or was that a decision that came later?

The starting point was Bristol. The whole tradition of engineering is very much connected to Bristol; it has the Filton site and a very long history of engineering. I think everyone in Bristol has some family or some friend who is working in engineering. And also it was developed by iFeatures which was funded by South West Screen and Bristol City Council, so Bristol was at the heart of it from the beginning. But we didn’t try to make it like a tourist brochure! It was more trying to understand the heart of the city and the traditions there; it was very connected to Bristol.

And you shot the film in about 4 weeks?

Yeah it was very tough. There was really no margin for error. We had to shoot very quick. We prepared a lot and I spent at least two months with my friends in Poland. We were just in Warsaw in my flat and just planning out, so when we came on set we basically had it all figured out. There was no room to kind of improvise much, it was all very fast.

So you did a lot of storyboards and a lot of pre-planning?

We did a lot of storyboards, yes. About 80% of the film is exactly how we storyboarded it. Of course there are some moments when you have to change and be flexible but there was not too much margin of security with the time that we had.

IMDb has the budget listed at about £325,000 but it looks like more than that. It’s very visually impressive and large scale but with a small scale story at the centre of it.

We tried to use all the constraints and creative inspiration when we needed it, with the locations, and we tried to be creative about it. And also Alison [Sterling] the producer, she’s a really great producer.

There was one particular sequence, Frankie’s introduction sequence where she’s going into work at the wind tunnel, there is a big crane shot looking down over the site. It’s the kind of shot that you don’t really expect in a low budget film.

What was great is that we shot it at the Filton site and in the beginning they didn’t want to let us in, but since the City Council was supporting the film we had them lean on Filton! The City Council let us film in there for free so that was great. We tried to make use of all the support the city had to make things easy for us. It was very important.

As far as the casting goes, I can’t really picture anyone else other than Helen McCrory in the lead. Was she always your first choice or did she come to you?

She was always our choice and I was glad that she liked the script and she liked me and she wanted to join us and she’s been a great asset. And when we approached her and she said yes, that was like “Okay now we are in business for real”. And she’s great because the part is of a strong independent woman who is very kind of cold and closed and what’s great about her is that she’s so human. She can be very tough and vulnerable in the same shot. It makes it very real and I think people will really identify with her. I was really, really happy when she said yes.

It is the type of role that you don’t really see for women in bigger budget films or in Hollywood pictures these days; an intelligent, single woman who isn’t judged or demonised for having any kind of a sex life .

For her also it was interesting that she could develop a character who is not a supporting character. She’s not playing a love object, not secondary to someone else in the story. She was really a great person to work with, and because of her experience and it was my first picture she was very supportive and great.

Helen McCrory and Kenneth Cranham in Flying Blind (photo: Nick Wall)

Helen McCrory and Kenneth Cranham in Flying Blind (photo: Nick Wall)

Was she involved in developing the character herself much or was it played mostly as written?

No she had some ideas about her character and interpreting the script and we listened to her concepts. She was very clear about it; she liked this person to be very edgy. I think she really liked the line when she talks about her ex-lover, she says “He cried and said “thank you” after sex”. That was one of her favourite lines. That was a quality she really liked about the character and I think it’s great. Frankie is kind of edgy and tough and funny.

And she had a very impressive supporting cast around her too, people like Kenneth Cranham and Lorcan Cranitch.

Ken Cranham joined us because he always wanted to work with Helen, so when he approached him he said “Yes, of course!”. He was a big fan of Helen so that was great.

How did you get involved with this particular distribution model for the film? Taking it on tour like this; how did that come about?

Well because it’s kind of a small film it would be hard to get a big release. I think it’s a great model because of the small budget that we had, to spend the money focusing on finding the audience that would be looking for this type of film. And for me as a first-time director it’s great to go to the Q&As because I can hear people’s reactions and it helps with my development and to see how it works when the film is finished and it goes out on screens. And to meet cinema programmers and meet audiences… I think it’s a great model.

Have you screened the film in Poland yet?

No, the Polish premiere will be 24th May.

Are there plans for a wider UK release after the tour is finished?

No I think NBCQ* will do this release here and then it will probably be on BBC because BBC Films were the co-producers of the film, and then DVD and VOD and those types of channels.

Do you think that’s where the future lies for distributing smaller films, with VOD and tours like this?

I don’t know where the future lies! That’s a really difficult question. When I talk on tour with Flying Blind I talk with cinema programmers and how hard it is to attract audiences to smaller films, but really I don’t know what the answer is for the future of cinema release.

So what’s next for you now? Do you have any other projects that you’re working on at the moment?

Yeah I’m working on a couple of things. I’m in post production of a short film that is a Danish/Chilean/Polish co-production! It’s a film commissioned by a Danish film festival and we directed it with a Chilean director. It’s a kind of experimental project. And I’m developing two films: one in England with the same producer, with Ignition Films and one in Poland. And I’m also directing a TV drama in Poland.

You can find my review of Flying Blind over at The Edinburgh Reporter. After this weekend in Scotland, there are just two tour dates left: Tuesday April 30th at the Manchester Cornerhouse, and Thursday May 2nd at Brighton’s Komedia.

UPDATE: If you’re in Brighton, I’m afraid you’ve missed the show due to a late change, but another screening has been arranged for Saturday May 11th at the Quad in Derby. The Derby and Manchester shows will include a filmmaker Q&A, and there will be screenings only (no Q&A) at these locations:

May 10th to May 13th – Ipswich Film Theatre

May 14th – London, the Soho Curzon

May 15th and 16th – Hebden Bridge Picturehouse

May 31st to June 6th – Plymouth Arts Centre

* The NBCQ (New British Cinema Quarterly) initiative showcases the work of British filmmakers, with distinctive and original films selected to screen at partner cinemas across the UK, accompanied by a Q&A from the director, cast member or technician. The programme has been created to connect audiences with the craft of British filmmaking, in conjunction with exhibition partners including Curzon Cinemas, Picturehouse and the ICO, and with the support of BFI. Since its inception in 2010, NBCQ has toured four British films each year, with past films including Bafta nominee Skeletons, Jamie Thraves’ Treacle Jr., The Gospel Of Us starring Michael Sheen and most recently Michael Winterbottom’s Everyday.

Posted in British Films, Interviews | Tagged , , , , , , | 4 Comments

I’m Not Dead, I’ve Been Bootlegging

Hello Dearest Fans and Admirers,

In case you were wondering (I’ll just assume my absence has been keeping you up nights with concern), I have not entirely given up this writing about films lark. In fact I spent last weekend at the most haunted bar in Edinburgh™, Banshee Labyrinth, diving headfirst into the Bootleg Film Festival. And then writing about it.


For any of you that might not be aware, Bootleg is a travelling festival that was started by Tom Wilton in a Glasgow basement in 2008. Run by filmmakers for filmmakers, Bootleg’s raison d’etre is to celebrate the best low- and no-budget shorts and feature films from all over the world in a relaxed (and beer-filled) atmosphere. None of your fancy-pants tuxedos and red carpets here, oh no.

Fronted by Tom and Creative Director Neil Rolland from Write Shoot Cut, the fest ran here in Edinburgh from March 22nd to 24th, and my round-ups appeared in The Edinburgh Reporter. You can read them here:

Day 1 – Friday

Day 2 – Saturday

Day 3 – Sunday

The next Bootleg Film Festival will be held at the TriBeCa Film Center in NYC this September. If you’re gonna be in the area, you should definitely check it out. Find out more by pointing your pointy arrow thing right here where it says Bootleg, and then clicking that clicky thing. Or tapping it, or whatever.

Release the Kraken!

Posted in Festivals, Movies, Shorts | Tagged , , | 11 Comments