Gravytrain

Director: April Mullen. Starring: Tim Doiron, April Mullen, Tim Meadows.

Gravytrain: top-notch throughout

In the quiet town of Gypsy Creek something is amiss – and it’s up to small town cop Charles Gravytrain (Tim Doiron) to get to the bottom of it. With the help of his new assistant, the sassy Uma Booma (April Mullen, director), Gravytrain must uncover the town’s many secrets in order to finally bring down his father’s murderer, the infamous Jimmy Fish Eyes.

The film follows Uma and Charles as they use their (limited) detective skills in the ultimate battle for Truth and Justice.  with the help of crazy but well-meaning barman Full Serve (Tim Meadows), the boss, Sgt. Leroy Fatts (Alan Peterson), and avante-garde filmmaker Hansel Suppledick (Ryan Tilley).

With a flawless cast and hilarious script, this film is set to be a big hit. A refreshing new comedy that remains laugh out loud funny from start to finish, this is Ace Ventura meets Anchorman meets Hot Fuzz. Wonderfully eccentric yet emotionally touching, this film ticks all the boxes for a cult classic comedy. Though the chemistry between Doiron and Mullen is palpable, Tilley and Meadows are the real show-stealers. Tilley manages to bring a completely implausible character to life, whilst Meadows provides the deadpan, slapstick comedy that is rarely seen today.

The humour is obvious yet sharp, and, whilst the plot is somewhat questionable and patchy in places, the overall impression is satisfyingly top-notch throughout. Definitely a highlight of the festival.


Bad Company

Director: Jason J. King Starring: Sonya Sier, Ceri Murphy, Catherine Olding.

The tagline for this movie is “Some people attract the wrong kind of attention”. And that pretty much sums up the film – vulnerable young girl attracts weirdo stalkers (yes, plural), all men are evil, blah blah blah.

I’m actually shocked that this film was directed by a man - it could be the love-child of Beyoncé and Alanis Morissette, with the not-so-hidden message being “I don’t need a man”. Bullied and beaten by her abusive ex-boyfriend, Jane seeks shelter by house-sitting for a friend. But as events start to get creepy, Jane realises that she is not alone in the house. A knife goes missing, there are strange noises coming from the attic and – shock horror – a bar of Cadbury’s Fruit and Nut is posted through the door.

Sinister, huh? It’s possible that this film is meant to be a comedy, but clearly I missed the joke if it is. The plot is pretty much non-existent, and whilst lead actress Sonya Sier doesn’t do a bad job of creating a sympathetic, helpless damsel in distress, there’s really not much more to be said. For a thriller, this film is entirely void of subtlety and/or suspense. A promising premise, but I’d rather have the Fruit and Nut ...

NB: Male viewers may enjoy the multitude of gratuitous underwear scenes.

 

Brilliantlove

Director: Ashley Horner Starring: Liam Brown, Nancy Trotter Landry, Michael Hodgson.

This brave new film from director Ashley Horner has caused quite a stir. And it’s easy to see why. Part poignant love story, part excessively graphic erotica, Brilliantlove follows the passionate relationship between young photographer Manchester (Liam Brown) and his taxidermist girlfriend Noon (Nancy Trotter Landry).

When hip pornographer Franny stumbles across some of Manchester’s (extremely intimate) photos in a pub, he becomes obsessed with making him an artist – yet little does Noon know that she is set to be the star. A surprisingly honest film about love, sex and money, Brilliantlove celebrates the concept of love at its purest level. It is shockingly graphic (the couple next to me left after about 20 minutes) and whilst at times it manages to be emotionally stirring, it’s difficult to find anything left to concentrate on after an hour of incessant bonking and language more appropriate to a sailor on leave.

Horner seems intent upon getting a reaction, and at times he appears to sacrifice the plot in favour of this – the dramatic ‘asphyxiwank’ scene, for example, seems completely unnecessary, as do the frequent shots of both the male and female leads urinating in odd places. This film is unarguably inventive and eye opening, and hats off to both Brown and Landry for some truly unabashed “acting”, but I’m not sure Horner has created the effect he was hoping for.

Doing the ugly: Brilliantlove

Read more from the Cambridge Film Festival here, including an interview with director Jean Becker.

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