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Film Fanatics - Transcript

Two movie critics appear on a radio program called Film Fanatics.

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David: Good evening. This is David Hopkins with this week's Film Fanatics. Later, we'll be going to Poland to see what's going on at the Warsaw Film and Television Festival. And I'm very happy to have the screenwriter Daniel Atherston with us and he'll be talking to us about his latest work, the old style thriller, "Angel Eyes". But first, we have our weekly chat with the critics Jonathan Reid and Sally Mendez. Jonathan, Sally, welcome back as always. Tell us which movies you have been to see this week.

Jonathan: Good evening everyone first of all. We went to see the new British comedy, "Helter Skelter".

Sally: And good evening from me. Our second film was a thriller called "Time Out".

David: OK, well, we'll start with "Helter Skelter". Jonathan, there have been quite a few successful comedies coming out of the UK in recent years. Will this be another one?

Jonathan: No...well, I don't think so. I found it to be pretty poor to be honest. I mean, I'll just give you a quick synopsis of what the movie is about first. Helter Skelter is about a university student who believes he is hearing Charles Manson's voice in his head.

David: Charles Manson being...?

Jonathan: Right, well for some of our younger listeners, they may not know who he is. Charles Manson was a particularly nasty killer who was responsible for some horrific murders at the end of the sixties. And, by the way, he claimed to have gained inspiration from The Beatles and in particular, their song, "Helter Skelter" which was released in 1968. So, as I was saying, the movie has quite a morbid background, you could say.

David: Sally, tell us some more about this central student character.

Sally: Yes, well, as Jonathan says, you have this university guy who claims to be hearing Charles Manson's voice in his head, but he tells him to do some very oddball things and nothing murderous at all. The comedy comes, or rather is SUPPOSED to come from the terror of those that live and work with Barry, which is the name of the main character. He gets up to a lot of perfectly innocent things but from the outside, it seems as if he's about to set off on some killing spree. And, of course, most of this fear comes from the fact that Barry goes around telling everyone that Charles Manson is talking to him. I don't want to talk too much about what Barry is told to do, or allegedly told to do, by Manson as this would ruin the film somewhat. Suffice it to say, there is some pretty funny physical humor and some crazy situational comedy.

Jonathan: I would agree with Sally that some of the visual gags are hilarious, but I just felt the script was pretty weak. You know, it's a comedy, and it has to make you laugh. I chuckled a few times at some of the slapstick, physical stuff, but I just found the verbal side of things not strong enough and the longer a comedy goes without making you laugh, you just start to feel almost embarrassed that there's something you're not understanding, that you're not "getting" the film.

Sally: Yes, I would certainly go along with that. I think the film has great potential, apart from the poor writing and, as Jonathan said before, a pretty grisly background with the Manson connections and so on.

David: Who's in this movie? Anyone we know?

Sally: Chris Reid gives a pretty convincing performance as Barry Jones, the student at the center of all this craziness. We won't have seen him much before as he's only made a few sitcom performances on UK television. His best buddy in the movie is played by a much older Stan Henson who we saw last year in the wonderful romance, "The Empty Page".

Jonathan: say older. I think too old. It was almost like watching a father-son relationship up on the screen. I don't see it as a plot hole though as he could well have been a mature student but I think Henson is around 40 and it didn't sit well with me having a supposed friend being so much older. I think Barry's mother in the film, Gladys, played by Cynthia Marshall, was absolutely wonderful.

Sally: I couldn't agree more.

Jonathan: She just seemed to breathe life and vigor into every scene she played. How she wasn't given a larger role, I'll never understand. Her last performance was in the American drama, "Bank Drop" about two years ago and, to be honest, her performance in that was a little jaded. But she has come right back on song in this movie.

Sally: Yes, I think she played the role just right and came across as this poor, confused woman whose life has been turned upside down. You could totally feel her pain and her acting was just spot on.

Jonathan: Absolutely!

David: I've heard the cinematography is something pretty special too.

Jonathan: Oh yes, that's true. I wasn't particularly keen on the film in all honesty, but, yes, the scenery was wonderful. I don't know how realistic this is, but apparently, this university is located in a huge area of wonderful, wild natural beauty with waterfalls, moors and gorgeous pine forests all around. It was something to look at, at least!

David: OK, now we move to our second film, the American thriller, "Time Out". What did you think, Sally?

Sally: This made a pleasant change from "Helter Skelter". As Jonathan was saying before, we spent most of that movie waiting to laugh and it never really happened, but this film delivers. It promises to get you hiding behind your couch, or at least your popcorn and it really delivers thrills and scares by the bucketload.

Jonathan: I have to say I really enjoyed this movie. There were plot twists and turns on a regular basis that keep you guessing until the very end and, might I say, even after the credits have rolled.

David: Wow, that sounds like a very positive endorsement from the both of you. What's it about, Sally?

Sally: Aha! Good question. This movie is very hard to summarize, believe me! Basically, it begins with a man traveling home on the bus shortly after having lost his job and he runs into an old friend who he hasn't seen in, like, twenty or more years. And they get talking and find out that neither of them is at all satisfied with their lives, so they resolve to do something about it.

Jonathan: I expected a traditional crime thriller, but this was something far superior. Every time you think you can see how the movie is going to finish, it does an about face and makes you reconsider your options. I like a movie that does that and, speaking frankly, it's getting ever more unusual to see a movie coming out of Hollywood that does that.

Sally: Yeah, I'd like to say at this point that this is a cinematic debut, I mean a Hollywood debut, for the director, Oscar De La Pena who is a renowned Argentinian director. He brings something very raw and fresh to the screen and I just hope that isn't Hollywoodised out of him in his next movies.

Jonathan: De La Pena's direction is something which contributes to the overall feel of this movie but I would also like to mention the screenwriter, Joyce Cook, who adapted this from the best selling novel of the same name - a book which was published some 12 years ago. I understand that De La Pena really pushed for Miami and there is definitely a real, authentic Latin flavor to the film. I think we just get fed up of watching either New York, LA or possibly Chicago on our screens ALL the time.

David: Sally, who's in this one?

Sally: There is only one recognizable name that all our listeners will be familiar with and that is Greg Bailey who plays the long-suffering cop who's put onto the case. I think he was parachuted into the movie to give it at least a little star appeal, but to be honest, the film would have survived perfectly well without him. It's that strong. Greg gives a good, strong performance but I would say the absolute star of the film is little Pedro Martin, the 7-year old victim of the kidnap that becomes the central theme of the movie in the second half.

Jonathan: You know, when I came out of the viewing of this movie, I was talking to Sally about how I had to find out how many films for South American cinema this little Pedro had done because I was convinced we were talking about someone who had at least 5 or 6 other films on his resume. Then the research guys tell me that he's a resident of Miami where the movie was shot and his only previous acting experience was about 20 minutes on a sitcom for Spanish language TV down in Miami.

David: Wow, that's incredible.

Sally: I heard that De La Pena saw this kid on TV and absolutely had to have him in, at least for an audition.

David: OK, we've reached the moment for your final verdicts on these two movies. First of all, "Helter Skelter". What do you think? As always, a one sentence summing up and a score out of ten.

Sally: Hmm, high potential but misses the laughs. 6 out of ten.

David: And, for "Time Out", Jonathan?

Jonathan: Fresh faced movie, delivers what it promises. 8 out of ten.

David: Jonathan Reid and Sally Mendez, thank you both very much for coming in this evening. It's nice to see you both agreeing with each other for once! We look forward to seeing you at the same time next week. Now, my next guest has been involved in cinema for about....

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