Star – Da Hood
Genre – Drama
Run Time – 114 minutes
Certificate – 18
Country – U.K.
Awards – 9 Wins & 16 Nominations
Amazon – £4.00 DVD £6.00 Blue Ray
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Some of you may have noticed the BBC has been under the diversity thumbscrews of late in their schedules as they try to be more representative of its audience, the BBC Trust demanding more Black, Asian, Gay and Lesbian talent, characters and presenters to be on their channels - even Transgender ones. They are terrified of losing their Charter and a chunk of their funding if they don’t show willing. Doctor Who now has a black lesbian assistant called ‘Bill’, whilst new Top Gear also has a token ethnic presenter or two, poor old Rory Reid increasingly elbowed to the end of the sofa every Sunday night by the extremely cheesy Matt le Blanc, as has poor Mrs Lampard on the dreadful One Show. Even Country File has not escaped the paranoia. All the new detective dramas are casting senior cop’s roles with black actors (which makes a change from black villains the stock job for a young black actor back in the day) and it’s all becoming rather obvious and forced. I have nothing against that but make it proportional to the particular shows audience. I just can’t imagine a huge black and Asian audience watching Country File. The way it’s going the next Doctor Who will be in a wheelchair wearing a turban scooting a mobility ramp on the TARDIS. But in British black urban movies we have not moved on and stereotypes galore, the London gangster flick still 90% of those films made, hardly positive role models in a community desperately in need of them. The Lottery and Film4 were bunging skip loads of cash at directors like Noel Clarke to make urban movies, stuff like 22.214.171.124 and the Kiddulthood trilogy completely reinforcing the stereotype of a young black men all being dangerous drug dealers and absent fathers, and they were shi*t movies to. My Brother the Devil from first time director Sally El Hossani is much better in this hackneyed genre and Noel Clarke would do well to learn from this one. He, of course, also appeared in Dr Who.
James Floyd ... Rashid
Fady Elsayed ... Mo
Anthony Welsh ... Izzi
Amira Ghazalla ... Hanan
Nasser Memarzia ... Abdul-Aziz
Aymen Hamdouchi ... Repo
Arnold Oceng ... Aj
Saïd Taghmaoui ... Sayyid
Shyam Kelly ... Devonte
McKell David ... Demon
Zachary Scipio ... Demon's Younger 1
Ryan Townsend ... Demon's Younger 2
Malachi Kirby ... J-Boy
Kemi Martin ... J-Boy's Girl
Mohammed Mansary ... Faisal
Mo (Fady Elsayed) and Rashid "Rash" (James Floyd) are teenage brothers of Egyptian descent living with their parents in Hackney, East London. Rash is protective of Mo like a big brother should be, and encouraging him to stay in school and study hard. Rash works as a low level drug dealer and uses that street cash to get stuff like cool sneakers and smart TVs to make their lives more comfortable in the Hood. Although their parents are hardworking and honest Mo begins to want to emulate Rash and asks to work for his brother’s crew to sell pot, not telling Rash.
When Mo is robbed by rival gang members of his trainers and stash while trying to do a drop-off for the gang, in retaliation he calls Rash and his friends when he spots the gang members at the corner shop near the block of flats where he lives. The fight between the rival gangs run by Demon (McKell David) quickly gets out of hand and after Demon's angry status dog is stabbed Demon retaliates by killing Izzi, Rash's best friend. Its clear Mo is not gang material as everyone lays low for the next few days.
Rash angrily sources a gun and plans to shoot Demon in retaliation but unable to do it at a tattoo parlor after seeing that Demon's little brother is there, wearing the trainers he lifted from Mo. Maybe he is not the gangster he thought he was.
Rash, an articulate and intelligent guy, begins to dream of getting out of the gang the way Izzi was planning on doing before he was murdered. He befriends an arty brotha called Sayyid (Saïd Taghmaoui), a French photographer who had been helping Izzi to get legal employment. Telling him he wants out, Sayyid offers him a job as a photography assistant working with him.
Mo begins to grow jealous of Rash and Sayyid's increasing closeness and the respect that Rash has for him. When he is offered the opportunity to join Rash's gang full time as a dealer he takes it. We know how this is going to end.
Yes, all the clichés are here. A young black man gets shanked, a status dog snarls pulling at the lead, a good girl falls for a bad boi and a younger wants to be sucked into the criminal world, all this to a pumping rap and grime soundtrack. For all I know that’s the way it is in certain parts of London but not for that many people to be representative. The problem is the moral message of these films that its best to walk away and go straight are ignored and so the violent side of these movies beefed up to pull a crowd only encourages it, the same way rap music is. I think we are finally realizing that’s the preferred lifestyle, to live it or look like it.
For at least part, "My Brother the Devil" brings refreshing changes to a genre badly in need of them.
A story of brothers that are both tough and tender has been done before but there is nothing new here. My brother the Devil appeal is the gentle sensitive side El Hosaini brings to it in look and feel. The director has a good eye and some how adds depth to an area of London that is ugly to the eye and senses in many ways. It’s a woman who knows her streets.
Even those who aren't well-versed in the-'hood-always-wins dramas can see what's coming. But there is an unconventional twist or two, dare I say where Oscar winning Moonlight got its ideas from. The urban gang cliché is there but softened ever so slightly to avoid the Ali G comical caricature as the cast and main lads invite you into their world in a less threatening way this time. I always feel these movies are made for a middle-class white audience to reinforce stereotypes to people who want their bigotry to be confirmed but also cleansed. Here it does at least try to hit all the audience demographics.
I enjoyed it to a point but nothing special. I got to the other end without being disparaging and the best at this genre for a while. I’m sure there are more to come, a bit like So Solid Crew taking turns on the mic with each ones slant on the riff and rap.
I will give these films a go if they get good online reviews and this did, especially by American film media, a film press that did say they struggled with the South London ethnic slang. D’j you get me? For Real.
It’s well acted with a cool soundtrack and James Floyd charismatic and sexy in the lead as the ‘bad boi’ in the Hood looking to use his brains. The director is Egyptian and so the fact her lead characters play mixed Muslim race suggests that was an issue in her head to be sorted in the film. It would have been nicer if the parents were more two dimensional and less cliché and perhaps explore the ethnic gang war that is also raging in London as the Turks go to war with Somalis gangs over drug and postcode turf. Up to 20,000 people in that code have been arrested in London in the last 15 years alone as Europe opens up and flood us with a new breed of criminals. 65% of London’s murderers in the last ten years were not born here. Now that would be a movie I would love to see.
Imdb.com – 6.6/10.0 (2,546votes)
Rottentomatos.com – 89% critic’s approval
Metacritic.com – 71% critic’s approval
Quite a few
Lot of laughs behind the scenes.
Globe & Mail –‘It's an impressive debut by a director blessed with a strong voice and a knack for bringing a specific cultural milieu to vibrant life, defying convention even while working within its strict limits’.
New York Times –‘Nuances of faith, politics and sexual identity enrich what initially presents as a classic good son-bad son tale, and although the film's melting-pot patois is occasionally too dense to decipher, we get the gist’.
National Post –‘The attention El Hosaini gives to the physical structures in this neighborhood is a poignant reminder of the lack of focus there generally is on the people who live inside them’.
The Impendent –‘El Hosaini fights the conventions of the brotherly gangster melodrama, but the conventions win’.
The Mail –‘Sally El Hosaini shows a deft hand in her story telling and direction belying her inexperience behind the camera’.
Slant Magazine –‘With My Brother the Devil, writer-director Sally El Hosaini tells a story both operatic in its implications and quotidian in its sensory, day-to-day details’
Vue is a nationwide cinema chain. My views are in respect of our local Vue cinema in Hamilton, South Lanarkshire.
This particular cinema is in a prime location within Palace Grounds. There is parking outside (free for four hours but it does get busy) and most of the Hamilton buses service a bus stop just a few minutes walk from the cinema. There is a large Asda nearby and also Chiquitos and Frankie and Benny's restaurants on the doorstep. Access to the cinema is on the ground floor and there is both stairs and a disabled friendly lift to take you to the first floor.
This cinema has 9 screens and can hold a maximum of 1478 people. It is wheelchair friendly throughout including bays for wheelchair users at the front of the rows of seats. The cinema also offers Autism friendly showings for some films so they do cater for all. Screen one is a 3D screen with a large 437 capacity seating allowance. There is free wi-fi available in the cinema. This cinema makes use of Sony 4K digital images and Dolby 'profound sound'.
Ticket prices vary depending on when you visit the cinema. Off peak prices apply to showings midweek before 5pm. Peak prices apply after 5pm, at the weekend and on bank holidays. All prices can be found on www.myvue.com.
You can also purchase family tickets. Add ons include VIP seating (£1.25), 3D (from £1.50) and over 18 screenings (£1.05). Vue also offer kids screenings on a Saturday and Sunday morning (£1.75) and participate in Orange Wednesdays.
Vue in Hamilton offer several film showings through the day and you can view a week ahead on the website. Some films start around 10.30am but no earlier and the later showings are often shown as late as midnight so the cinema is opened late. Thankfully it is well lit outside. Vue normally has all the latest releases and it is recommended to book ahead to avoid disappointment. We turned up to watch Taken 2 a few days after it was released and it was sold out. At the moment, there are several daily showings of 'We're The Millers' and 'Elysium'. You also have the opportunity to watch 'Kick Ass 2' and 'The Smurfs 2'. Soon to be released films include the new One Direction film and 'You're Next'. Lots to choose from and something to appeal to all.
The cinema has undergone some recent renovations. Previously, they had a bar with comfortable seating area but this seems to have been blocked off now. The ticket machines are located on the ground floor but you can also buy tickets at the main counters. Personally, I wish they had a seperate counter for ticket sales as the queues can be quite long if you just want to get popcorn or vice versa.
Once you approach the first floor, you will discover a lot of rather expensive food and drink on offer. There is a massive pic n mix display, ice cream counter and several boards detailing the prices and combo deals that they offer. This cinema offers the usual cinema treats - hot dogs, nachos, popcorn, packets of sweets and various drinks. To give a rough idea of prices, they retail a bag of sweets (buttons for example) at over £4.00 but you can purchase them at a reduced price of £2.00 when you purchase a combo deal. The combos do offer a little extra saving but are still expensive for what you get!
There are quite a few toilets within the cinema including disabled toilets. The ladies toilets are clean and well stocked. I have never seen cause for concern regarding the cleanliness of the cinema and it is quite an attractive looking cinema - very state of the art but not to the same degree as the multi storey cinema in Glasgow (Cineworld). I have never experienced any issues with the heating or air conditioning. The staff are efficient and friendly but quite strict (and rightly so) regarding age limits.
I love going to the cinema and as this is our local cinema, we generally go here to see films. The only exception to this is if my fiance and I are in the city as we then choose Cineworld. My son loves watching films too and we have taken him to this cinema a few times now. As far as I can remember, this cinema has been open since I was a teenager as I remember going as part of a group. It is worth noting that the staff can and will tell groups to pipe down if they become rowdy (as we experienced a few years ago).
Our most recent visit to this cinema was a few days ago. We took our five year old to see Thomas and Friends 'King of the Railway' which was a 10.30am showing on a Sunday morning (should be outlawed to be out that early on a Sunday except when going to church!). I booked our tickets online which was a simple task but we were charged a £2.25 booking fee. I paid by card and simply inserted my card into the machine for my tickets to be printed. We paid £4.50 each for this showing but after looking online, I am quite annoyed that this showing didn't qualify as a Kids AM showing - we really should have got it much cheaper in my opinion.
We normally arrive a little earlier anytime we go but we were quite disappointed to see that the seating area was no longer there. Thankfully it wasn't overly busy when we arrived so we didn't have a long wait to get our snacks. I'm sure a lot of people do it and I'm not ashamed to admit that I bought a bag of Cadbury buttons to take in with me - I wasn't paying over four quid for something I could get from Asda for £1.00. I think they are okay about you taking your own stuff providing you aren't taking big bags in to the cinema. We did buy a combo of a large drink and a hot dog (£7.50 ish) and also a Kids AM deal of small sweet popcorn and a Fruit Shoot. I believe the total came to £9.50. The diet Coke was very weak flavoured and the popcorn had very little sweet flavour to. There is a good selection of food on offer but you don't get much for your money. The hot dog was nice enough.
We chose our own seats when we booked. On this visit, we were in Screen 2 which is quite near the main foyer so not far for little legs to walk. The cinema offers tiered seating and we chose row D which wasn't quite half way up. We got a perfect view of the screen from here but in general, I haven't really ever had a bad view from anywhere in the room. I found the seats to be comfortable and the aisles/rows to be spacious. There was no issues with any heads blocking the way and despite this being a kids showing, everyone was very well behaved. The sound was as loud as it needed to be but not deafening and the actual film was bright in colour and no issues with the screen at all. My son really enjoyed the film and at 1.5hours, it was just the right length for him. We have been to another Kids showing before (Postman Pat) and there was major issues at the start with the film cutting out. They didn't handle it very well as the children were impatient and we got no information. Thankfully, the issue was resolved eventually.
I have experience of most of the screens in this cinema. I have previously made use of the VIP seats which are leather and very spacious. They are worth paying that little extra for especially if your film is lengthy. I have been to see many films over the past few years including The Wolfman, The Unborn, Pirates of the Caribbean and many more. The picture and sound quality is excellent and you get really in to the film. If a film is over a certain length of time, they do offer a break part of the way through which is excellent and ideal for nipping to the toilet. Aside from the Postman Pat incident, any visits to the cinema have been smooth and hassle free.
Films generally have a few trailers and adverts at the beginning. I was a little confused as to why they had a trailer for a car on a Kids showing but I suppose it is to attract the parents. On the most part, the trailers do relate to the type of film that is coming on and are designed to appeal to the intended audience. I enjoy watching the trailers as I always discover a future release that I may wish to come and see.
A trip to the cinema certainly isn't cheap now. We like to go as an occasional treat but if you are paying for tickets and then snacks, it quickly mounts up. Whilst I much prefer the Cineworld complex in Glasgow (more screens and more regular showings), this Vue cinema is a worthy addition to Hamilton in my opinion. It is expensive but worthy of a visit. I like to go here on a date night with my fiance after a meal and make a night of it.
Thanks for reading :)