Genre – Comedy
Run Time –85 minutes
Certificate – 18
Country – UK
Amazon – £10.99 DVD
Awards – 1 Win & 1 Nomination
= = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =
In order not to be too typecast, Downtown hunks Dan Stevens and Tom Cullen went off and did some movies, one in Hollywood, The Guest (Stevens), and one in the chilly Welsh mountains (Cullen), The Black Mountain Poets, comfortably the silliest and low budget of the two but both good efforts all the same and both worth looking out for on Film 4 or your movie channels.
The Black Mountain Poets, sometimes called projectivist poets, were a group of mid 20th century American avant-garde poets centered on Black Mountain College in North Carolina. As anyone who hates poetry as much as me, the poets are great targets to send up, invariably pretentious and often middle-aged ,middle-class bearded bores and so plenty to send up, Jamie Adams lo-fi comedy debut doing exactly that.
Alice Lowe ... Lisa
Dolly Wells ... Claire
Tom Cullen ... Richard
Rosa Robson ... Louise Cabaye
Richard Elis ... Gareth
Laura Patch ... Stacey
Roger Evans ... David Griffiths
Ben McGregor ... Cliff
Hannah Daniel ... Alys Wilding
Claire Cage ... Terri Wilding
Clare Potter ... Andi (as Claire Potter)
Naomi Everson ... Bethan
‘30something’ Sisters Lisa (Alice Lowe) and Claire (Dolly Wells) are professional con artists (suspend your disbelief for this movie) and, after trying to steal a JCB (like I said), they flee from the cops into the hills. There they ditch the car and steal another one, that of the Wilding Sisters, Alys (Hannah Daniel) and Rerri (Claire Cage), internationally acclaimed beat poets heading to the poets' retreat in the Black Mountains of Wales.
Seeing the accreditations in the car Lisa and Claire are up for a bit of poetry and rock up at the retreat to try and blag it as the Wildings. Armed with acerbic wit and a room full of hipsters, the booze flows and they deliver their brand of the Wilding Sisters acclaimed work as they seek their inner muse. But when the smoldering charms of Richard arrive at the cottage (Tom Cullen from 'Downton Abbey') the weekend begins to unravel as they both fall for him and upset the poets in the process, one or two beginning to doubt their talent, and when the real Wilding sister’s show up they will have lot of explaining to do.
Well, its pretty good fun folks and delightfully acerbic, my kind of humor. It’s one of those low budget films you would not go to a cinema to see or, indeed, rent it on DVD or line it up on your movie package, but simply stumble upon it and felt lucky you did. It’s smart, occasionally bonkers, and brilliantly cast with talented comic actors, the key to its appeal. It reminds me of those classic BBC2 comic dramas of the 1970s and early 1980s when middle-class families go on camping holidays in shorts with nobly knees as the snobbery amongst the odd ball characters break out.
One American critic realty didn’t get the point, observing the film ‘was as vacuous and irritatingly pretentious as its assembled luminaries’. But that’s the point of the joke, sending up those very self righteous people, the types you find camping and rural retreats. This film and director simply don’t want to take anything seriously, the absurd premise that two lower middle-class sisters would be industrial machinery thieves as an example, no great hangups about plot believability going on here.
I chuckled away for most of it and enjoyed the scripting. It's so good-natured, with dialogue that often sounds improvised, but not in that embarrassing actors-not-sure-what-to-do way and it contains some good performances. Writer/director Jamie Adams has done a couple of other small films and some TV but nothing of note until this and a real talent for me. He could deliver the next With Nail and I. The humor is sharper than you expect and, perhaps, more accurate on female behavior than we boys know. Often female comedy can be too self-deprecating and cruel but these girls are on a whole different vibe. Guys this is definitely one to look out for on TV or your film package, especially for Downtown fans as Tom Cullen is quite good to.
Imdb.com – 6.4/10.0 (170votes)
Rottentomatos.com –62 % critic’s approval
Metacritic.com – 57%critic’s approval
Times UK –‘It is, in its own way, quietly brilliant’.
London Evening Standard –‘I can't see many people trekking to the cinema to see this but if you stumbled across it on TV you'd feel really chuffed’.
Guardian –‘Very silly and likable’.
Daily Telegraph –‘Wells has a face you never get tired of looking at, and makes self-pity sincere and rather sweet. Cullen's just so relaxed, never pushing a forced idea of "doing" comedy - he's content mainly to react’
Little White Lies –‘In its blind search for profundity, it's a film which loses sight of what makes it interesting in the first place’.
Cinevue –‘As vacuous and irritatingly pretentious as its assembled luminaries’.
Daily Express –‘Awkward encounters, social embarrassment and shameless flirtations ensue in an uneven mixture of satire and farce’. Flickers –‘A tasty treat of gentle but wise humor, full of as much sympathy but also tough love for its messed-up sisters as they are for each other’.
The Sun –‘Daft, implausible and occasionally meandering but all good fun’.
Time Out –‘An unpolished gem’.
Movie House Cinemas
I have always been a fan of the big screen and would try to go and see a movie roughly about once a month if not more. Northern Ireland used to have a very limited supply of cinemas but over the past 10-15 years the situation has changed dramatically. Of the top of my head I can think of five cinemas in Belfast alone. One of the cinemas I frequent pretty regularity the Movie House cinema at York gate (now called city side shopping centre).
Who are movie house?
Movie House are a chain of cinemas in Northern Ireland. The first movie I seen in a movie house was speed and that was in a new cinema at the time so they must have been established in and around the early 1990's.
Movie House York Gate
This is the movie house cinema that I frequent the most. It's on the edge of Belfast City Centre and very close to the harbour and York Gate Train station. The cinema is located in what was once a large cigarette factory. Other occupiers of the centre include Tesco, Boots, Asda Home, pound stretchers and a few others. There is large free parking area shared amongst all shops and it's generally pretty busy but I have always managed to get a space.
I believe that York gate has around 15 screens which vary in quality and size. Currently they are showing 21 movies which offers great selection however some movies may be shown only once a day. Movie house operate an online booking facility and current ticket prices are at £5.50. Students can get in for £4.25 and OAP for £4.00. I think the discounted prices might stop in the evenings though with a flat rate being applied. Im not definite about this but I do know from my student days that this used to be their policy.
I have seen lots of movies in York Gate movie house cinema and on the whole I have been very impressed. The cinema is always clean and the service is generally very good. The cinema entrance is located on the first floor of the shopping centre. Once tickets are bought you then have 2 very steep flights of stairs to ascend. I assumed there is a lift somewhere for less mobile people.
The concessions are one area where this cinema lets itself down. I have always been a fan on the nachos with the dip and chillies. This cinema used to sell them no problem but for some reason they decided not to offer the chillies anymore. I remember ordering the product one afternoon only to discover that they didn't do the chillies. I always ask for nachos with chillies and dip. The lady proceeded to serve the product. When I noticed the absence of the chillies I brought it to the attention of the lady who said they stopped selling them. I told her I didn't want the product as the chillies were my favourite part and she got very worked up and rude. In fact I would go as far as saying it was one of my worst experiences of bad customer service I have ever had. The pop corn in this cinema is also awful. Its not fresh and its not warm either so should be avoided.
On the other hand I went to see Blood Diamond in this cinema and the movie cut out (at what I know is the very end) before the credits. All of a sudden the lights just came on. I really enjoyed the movie but wasn't sure if I had seen the whole thing so was a bit disappointed but wasn't going to sit through it all again. Following my experience of the bad service I wasn't going to make a scene so I decided to just write a letter and was pleased to receive an apology letter and two complementary tickets in the post.
All in all this is a good cinema. It has free parking and offers a wide movie selection. Some of the smaller cinemas are very cramped and claustrophobic and in some areas the age of the cinema is starting to show. The newer cinemas in Belfast charge a bit more and I think York Gate may have some work to do in order to keep up.
On Tuesdays all movie houses operate a crazy Tuesday where tickets to any show are £3. This was a great deal back in the student's days. I would buy my drink/snacks in Woolworths and then go see a show during the day with the cinema pretty much to myself. Nowadays its still good during the day but far to busy to go on a Tuesday evening. Id rather pay the extra to have a less busy cinema. Overall a decent cinema in need of some modernisation.