Friday, 27 May 2022

Arts & Life

THE BANK JOB (Rated R)


Though inspired by the true story of an infamous 1971 bank robbery that took place on London’s Baker Street, “The Bank Job” is a highly-charged heist thriller that is not hobbled, at least creatively, by a surfeit of public knowledge of the real crimes.


In the matter of the real bank job, frenzied press reporting quickly came to an end when the British government issued a news blackout. Then as now, speculation is entirely appropriate, given the swirl of corruption, murder and sex scandals that potentially engulfed a large number of players. The intrigue is ripe and fascinating, because the concealed truth is plausibly explosive.


The story offers a field day for inventive writers, and Dick Clement and Ian La Frenais, a top British writing team, are little known for their big screen scripts on the American continent, with the exception of “Flushed Away” and “Across the Universe.”


However, their flair for naturalistic dialogue reveals itself in “The Bank Job,” considering that the plot revolves around a rather motley crew of petty criminals who are cleverly seduced into staging a daring robbery than far exceeds the group’s normal ambitions. The ringleader of the so-called “walkie-talkie robbery” gang is used car dealer and part-time hustler Terry Leather (Jason Statham), who at the film’s opening is neck-deep in trouble with some nasty loan sharks.


Wisely having avoided the big league scams, Terry nonetheless falls for the ostensible foolproof offer from old flame Martine (Saffron Burrows), a beautiful model from the old neighborhood who ran into serious trouble when returning to England with a suitcase full of blow.


Martine convinces Terry that the opportunity of a lifetime resides in the underground vault of a Lloyds Bank in central London, where a roomful of safe deposit boxes is certain to yield millions in cash and jewelry. But what Terry and his hapless crew don’t realize is that the boxes also contain a treasure trove of dirty secrets.


Owing her liberty to an MI5 operative, Martine is doing the bidding of agent Tim Everett (Richard Lintern), who is after the contents of one safe deposit box owned by West Indies black power militant Michael X (Peter De Jersey), a vicious slumlord and drug trafficker immune to government prosecution as long as he retains possession of incriminating photos of a member of the royal family.


Once in control of the blackmail goods, the government would be able to shut down the brutal firebrand’s sleazy operation. Terry’s crew, which includes aspiring photographer Kevin (Stephen Campbell Moore) and part-time porn actor Dave Shilling (Daniel Mays), proves to be almost as competent as they are intrepid in carrying out a mission of tunneling under a Chinese take-out joint to reach the bank’s vault.


With a lookout posted on a roof overlooking the bank, the robbers communicate by walkie-talkies, and soon their chatter, often humorous and suggesting marginal ineptitude, is overheard by a ham radio operator who alerts the police.


An element of suspense is introduced by the frantic efforts of the police to locate the crime scene. And though the robbers are successful in their efforts, there’s a palpable feeling they might have been better off if they had been apprehended. As it turns out, some very nasty people become compromised by the loot that includes incriminating documents and diaries.


Soho porn king Lew Vogel (David Suchet) is extremely agitated at the discovery that his ledger of payoffs to corrupt police and government officials is among the stolen items. Assisted by crooked cops on his payroll, Vogel proves far more adept than the authorities at tracking down the criminals.


This turns out to be a painfully ugly scene, as Vogel mercilessly tortures one of the crew in a very disturbing, extremely violent fashion. Since the highest echelons of the British government are touched by the robbery, the stakes become increasingly complicated, with Terry desperate to find the way out, if only because he doesn’t want to lose his wife Wendy (Keeley Hawes) and his two young daughters.


“The Bank Job” is full of subplots, though they are mostly centered on sleaze, corruption, scandal, duplicity, double-dealing, murder and even mayhem. Exciting and suspenseful, this caper fits in nicely with other classic British heist films.


That Jason Statham got his start with director Guy Ritchie in notable British crime stories “Snatch” and “Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels” is good enough reason that he’s the mastermind in “The Bank Job.”


For those who enjoy this type of crime story, “The Bank Job” does a bang-up job of delivering a ton of thrills.


DVD RELEASE UPDATE


Since the movie of the week features London, it’s only fitting to pick the DVD release of “Outlaw,” starring Sean Bean as a former paratrooper who returns from a tour of duty in Iraq to the present day lawless streets of London.


The hero is appalled by what he sees in his homeland, and therefore assembles a group of like-minded souls who settle upon a form of vigilante justice.


“Hitman” is also being released for home entertainment. Timothy Olyphant is a soulless assassin known only as Agent 47. So devoid of emotion, he makes no move on Olga Kurylenko.


It makes no sense at all, because the pretty Olga is set to be a Bond Girl in the next James Bond adventure coming our way in November. Most likely, Olga is showing more flesh here than she ever will as 007’s plaything.


The “Hitman” DVD has an alternate ending, but I doubt it involves Agent 47 and the mysterious Russian girl settling for domesticity.


Tim Riley writes film and television reviews for Lake County News.


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MIDDLETOWN – On Friday, March 7 and Saturday, March 8 at 7:30 p.m., the Coyote Film Festival will screen the wonderful film “Beyond the Call” at the Calpine Geothermal Visitors Center and host special guest Director Adrian Belic for an audience question-and-answer session after the screening.


From the brothers behind the Academy Award-nominated feature documentary “Genghis Blues” comes the next great journey.


In an Indiana Jones-meets-Mother Teresa adventure, three middle-aged men, former soldiers and modern-day knights, travel the world delivering life-saving humanitarian aid directly into the hands of civilians and doctors in some of the most dangerous yet beautiful places on Earth, the front lines of war.


Ed Artis, Jim Laws and Walt Ratterman are self-styled Knights of Malta, and in 1995, they formed Knightsbridge International, a unique humanitarian aid organization, whose motto is "High Adventure and Service to Humanity."


Artis explains: "We're not there to change anybody's politics, we're not in the God business and we pay our own way."


Their specialty is going where death from land-mines, bullets or bombs is as frequent as death from hunger, disease or the elements.


As Laws tells it simply, "We do what we can, when we can, because we can."


Their personal convictions and courage drive them to places such as Afghanistan, Albania, Chechnya, Cambodia, Burma, Thailand, Rwanda and the southern Philippines, often when few if any other humanitarian aid organizations are around. The camera follows Artis, Laws and Ratterman as they take us on a journey into the heart of humanity and the soul of courage.


“We are thrilled to bring such a great feature film to Lake County,” said Karen Turcotte director of the event.


“This event is made more special by the addition of our amazing guest director, Adrian Belic,” continued Turcotte, “and to have the Calpine Geothermal Visitors Center to show this film is a wonderful partnership for us and South Lake County. I know our audience will enjoy meeting Adrian and finding out how he manages to travel in exotic and dangerous places while making a film.”


Coyote Film Festival shows awardwinning independent short films during the summer months at Langtry Estate and Vineyards.


“This particular event will give more people an opportunity to see what Coyote is all about. We pride ourselves in bringing amazing guest filmmakers who come away with admiration of Lake County and the wonderfully dedicated audience who enjoy independent film.”


Doors open at 7:30 p.m. and the film will begin at 7:45 p.m. Coyote opens each festival with animation and this time it is “Duct Tape and Cover” which has been winning awards in the independent film festival circuit throughout this past year.


The total program runs for approximately 90 minutes. Admission is $10 for adults and $5 for children.


There will be concessions available including the fresh made Coyote Popcorn that has become a sought after staple to the events.


Coyote Film Festival is the fundraising arm of EcoArts of Lake County and supports not only the Film Festival but also the EcoArts: Lake County Sculpture Walk at the Middletown County Trailside Park.


EcoArts is a nonprofit arts organization dedicated to bringing arts opportunities to the residents and visitors of Lake County.


For more information visit www.ecoartsoflakecounty.org.


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SEMI-PRO (Rated R)


Funnyman Will Ferrell has developed a comedic persona that elevates him barely above the lazy, irresponsible man-child who is contradictorily both lovable and arrogant. This is an act he has perfected as Ron Burgundy, the TV anchorman with an inflated ego, as well as in a succession of various sports figures. He’s done his part to decimate figure skating, soccer, and NASCAR racing. A one-man wrecking crew, Ferrell has cultivated a legion of fans who may even cheer his more mediocre work.


Arguably, “Semi-Pro” is not in the major league status of “Talladega Nights,” where his race car driver Ricky Bobby was the obnoxiously funny showoff in competition with “Borat’s” Sacha Baron Cohen. This time, Ferrell’s Jackie Moon is a one-man conglomerate in the last year of the American Basketball Association’s existence. He’s the owner, coach and power forward for the fictional Flint (Michigan) Tropics, a team defined by its outlaw flair and sensational showmanship. Sporting an afro hairdo and the gaudy clothes of the 1970s, Jackie Moon is coasting on the residuals of his big one-hit song “Love Me Sexy.”


The film opens with Jackie Moon crooning his salacious hit song, which serves the purpose of establishing his character as the kind of outrageously brash self-promoter whose unpredictable behavior is certain to keep everyone on edge.


As the basketball season gets under way during America’s bicentennial year, Jackie soon learns that the ABA is going to be disbanded, and that only four teams will be absorbed into the more profitable and dominant NBA. A woeful team lacking any real talent, the Flint Tropics are not destined to be one of the teams merged into the NBA. But that won’t stop Jackie from pulling every stunt in the book.


The Tropics have one star player, the flamboyant Clarence “Downtown” Withers (Andre Benjamin), who changes his name with frequency, finally settling on Coffee Black as his moniker. He may be good, but he can’t carry a team full of league rejects.


To change his fortunes, Jackie trades the team’s washing machine for former NBA benchwarmer Ed Monix (Woody Harrelson), a troubled player with real talent if he can overcome constant knee trouble and an unhealthy attraction to his old flame Lynn (Maura Tierney) who’s now with someone else.


Jackie, who seems modeled upon legendary baseball showman Bill Veeck and daredevil Evel Knievel, is constantly thinking of marketing ploys, some of which are manifestly stupid or dangerous.


To get fans in the seats, he offers free corn dogs to all ticket holders if the team scores 125 points, and then does his best to sabotage his teammates. Another stunt is offering an oversized $10,000 check to a spectator who makes a basket at a distance greater than half-court. When a homeless stoner (Jackie Earle Haley) sinks the ball, Jackie cooks up little tricks to avoid the payoff. Unwisely, Jackie also wrestles a bear in another stunt that goes horribly wrong.


“Semi-Pro” is full of caricatures of athletes, but not all of them come across as pure comedic figures. To be sure, Jackie Moon is all over the map as a buffoon, flailing wildly at the impossible task of putting together a championship caliber team. On the other hand, Monix and Coffee Black become the underdog heroes who are destined to succeed in a feel-good sports story, because after all that’s what you have to expect from teammates on the verge of reaching the comeback status.


The funniest characters are not even on the basketball court, turning up instead in the broadcast booth. Will Arnett’s Lou Redwood, a former player, is the color commentator with a colorful, and often profane, manner. His partner is Dick Pepperfield (Andrew Daly), more mild-mannered but equally adept at tossing sarcastic dialogue. When announcing the game, these two hurl insults at each other, but more often they snipe at the team and its fans. These guys are so funny that you get the sense they could easily be adlibbing their dialogue.


Feeling often like an improvised script, “Semi-Pro” may not be the best Will Ferrell comedic vehicle, but it certainly beats films like “Kicking and Screaming” and “A Night at the Roxbury.” Though not consistently shooting three-pointers, Ferrell hits the mark often enough with his silliness to make this film fun for anyone enjoying this type of comedy. Indeed, there are plenty of laughs.


DVD RELEASE UPDATE


Horror films take on a life of their own when going into DVD release. “Automaton Transfusion” is a shockingly grisly zombie horror flick that follows three teens brazen enough to fight back a town full of swarming zombies.


Maybe you caught this film at Screamfest 2006, but if not, now’s your chance to load up on extremes of gore and bloodshed. “Awake” allows one to experience the pain and terror of “anesthetic awareness,” which happens when a man remains conscious but paralyzed throughout an operation and is forced to endure excruciating pain.


Tim Riley writes film and television reviews for Lake County News.


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Guitarists Chuck and Sam made their first appearance at the open mic last Saturday. Photo by Joanne Bateni.

 


LAKEPORT – The camera crew from Channel 8, our public access TV station, were hard at work setting up cameras and filming the March 1 open mic. When we find out the airing date it will be noted in the LakeCoNews.


Café Victoria has a balcony, which has recently been opened for those overflow crowds that come to the girst Saturday open mic and other entertainment activities.


Slam poets Dante DeAmicis recited and acted out his anti-war poem about a military recruiter and Lorna Sue Sides recited her poem about war, “For the Soldiers,” both which were very dramatic and convincing. Lorna also did her famous “Modesto in July” poem.


A new poet, Leslie Anderson, recited two of her original poems and one that a friend had written for her.


Then the musicians ruled, with newcomers Chuck and Sam playing classical acoustic guitar instrumentals. They brought their fans with them so there was lots of well-deserved applause.


Talented and prolific songwriter Donavan played and sang six of his latest songs including one he had written that day.


Don Coffin, a well-known Lake County musician who has his own band, performed some public domain folksongs.


Dennis Crisp, who also plays in local bands, sang some of his originals including “Those Eagles Fly But They Don’t Fly Far” and “If You Cut Cards with the Devil.”


Don Flowers sang his parents favorite song with no musical accompaniment and told a story about being a dancing teenager in Charleston, N.C. many years ago.


Dennis Crisp and Don Coffin got together to play a few of Crisp’s songs on the small stage as things wound down.


Then host Phil Mathewson performed his song “Wine Tasting” to close out the evening.


The next open mic is April 5 so come by and enjoy our local talent or perform something yourself. Café Victoria is located at 301 N. Main St., Lakeport.


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CLEARLAKE – The open mic at the Java Express will be returning to Clearlake on March 14.

 

As reported last year, ASCAP (the same nice folks who threatened to sue the Girl Scouts over songs in their Campfire Book) shut down the popular venue unless they paid $388 per year for a license. There is no charge to attend and no alcohol sold at this event. 

 

After reading about the demise of this community gathering spot, two DJ’s from KFOG radio in the Bay Area contacted Java Express’ owner and offered to pay the license fee for two years. A regular customer reestablished contact with ASCAP and did the paperwork.

 

All that is left to do is pass the word that this second Friday of the month tradition continues.


The show starts at 7 p.m. on 14624 Lakeshore Drive.

 

Open mic welcomes lightly amplified musicians, poets, standup comedians, card tricks ... Animal acts or kickboxing demos are discouraged. Karaoke singers will be beaten with guitar cases.

 

Sign up early or call 995-1065 to be on the program.


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LAKEPORT – The publication of Steve Bartholomew's latest novel, "Chapel Perilous" will be celebrated on Friday, March 7 at Watershed Books in Lakeport.


Writing of his life's journey, Bartholomew states, "Experience as a social worker taught me that there is no such thing as an ordinary human being."


He is the author of "The Terrorist Plot at Gopherville," which he says is "sure to get him into trouble."


"Chapel Perilous," he said, is an exploration of dangerous states of mind.


Bartholomew will answer questions about his creative and publishing process beginning at 3:30 p.m.


Watershed Books is located at 305 N. Main St.


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Upcoming Calendar

28May
28May
05.28.2022 9:00 am - 5:00 pm
Cobb Estate Sale
28May
05.28.2022 9:00 am - 5:00 pm
12 Tribe yard sale and fundraiser
28May
05.28.2022 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Farmers' Market at Steele
28May
05.28.2022 10:00 am - 2:00 pm
Rodman Preserve public hours
28May
05.28.2022 10:00 am - 12:00 pm
Morning cemetery tour
28May
05.28.2022 11:00 am - 1:00 pm
Weekly writing workshop
29May
05.29.2022 9:00 am - 5:00 pm
Cobb Estate Sale
30May
05.30.2022
Memorial Day

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