Review: ‘BARNEY THOMSOM’ makes murder relatively complicated.

Gravitas Ventures Logobarney thomson posterDirected by and starring Robert Carlyle (The Full Monty, Trainspotting, 28 Weeks Later) in his directorial debut the film features Emma Thompson (Sense & Sensibility, Saving Mr. Banks), Ray Winstone (The Departed) and Tom Courtenay (Quartet).

Barney Thomson, awkward, diffident, Glasgow barber, lives a life of desperate mediocrity and his uninteresting life is about to go from 0 to 60 in five seconds, as he enters the grotesque and comically absurd world of the serial killer.

barney thomson robert carlyleRobert Carlyle is a real winner in his directorial debut. His portrayal of Barney is a wonderful mixture of neurotic, depressed, and pathetic Mama’s boy. A far cry from his Once Upon A Time role as Mr Gold. His skill as a director is plain to see. Barney Thomson has an upbeat and fun vibe. If you combined Baz Lurhmann‘s Strictly Ballroom, Richard Shepard’s Dom Hemingway, with a twist of Tarantino, you’ve got the eclectic style of Barney Thomson. Casting Emma Thompson as his mother, Cemolina, was pure genius. Their chemistry is unmatched. Wait until you see the prosthetics on Emma. The slightly overdone (and orange) nature of the makeup, creates the perfect backdrop for this larger than life character.

robert and emma thompson barney thomsonThe dialogue from Richard Cowan and Colin McLaren is quippy and hilarious. Utilizing the a beautifully absurd storyline combined with rapid fire Scottish rhetoric makes for the perfect combination in style and comedy. The soundtrack is incredible and Fabian Wagner‘s cinematography is stunning. It’s clear that Carlyle knows his stuff and I, for one,  look forward to any future endeavors. Barney Thomson is a hit.

BARNEY THOMSON On Demand February 2nd, 2016  and in theaters March 11th, 2016.


Directed By:                   Robert Carlyle (directorial debut)

Written By:                     Richard Cowan and Colin McLaren based on the novel by Douglas Lindsay

Produced By:                 John G. Lenic, Kaleena Kiff, Holly Brydson, Brian Coffey, Holly Brydson and Richard Cowan

Starring:                           Emma Thompson (Sense & Sensibility, Saving Mr. Banks), Robert Carlyle (The Full Monty, Trainspotting, 28 Weeks Later), Ray Winstone (The Departed), Tom Courtenay (Quartet)

Distributed by:             Gravitas Ventures

Running Time:              96 Minutes

Rating:                               NR

Santa Claus, King Moonracer and Most of the Other Reindeer Are Giant A-holes – A Reflection on Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer at 50


For fifty years now, families have gathered together to sit and watch the children’s classic movie Rudolph, the Red Nosed Reindeer. As I have again started to watch this with my own children, I’ve always been struck by one thing – Santa the slave-driving fascist, King Moonracer of the Island of Misfit Toys and the bulk of the other reindeer surrounding Rudolph, including his father Donner, are just outright assholes.

From the day of Rudolph’s birth, Santa is on his ass about his nose. When Santa visits to see the new buck and Rudolph’s nose starts to glow (as the ubiquitous song points out), Santa says, “Great bouncing icebergs! Let’s hope [it stops] if he wants to make the sleigh team some day.” As if having a red nose somehow prohibits his ability to fly a damn sleigh. And his bastard of a father shows what backbone he’s got (none) by agreeing with Santa. So what does he do? He first covers Rudolph’s nose with mud and when that doesn’t work, he puts on a cap making him sound like a kid with an allergy to cats who gets locked in an animal shelter. Not exactly setting him up for success, are they?


Despite this auspicious beginning, Rudolph goes to try out for the sleigh team on the day of the Reindeer Games. There he meets Fireball and despite his ridiculous sounding voice (courtesy of the stupid nose cap), he and Fireball hit it off. When they see a couple of does nearby, the mack is on. Fireball prods Rudolph into talking to one exceptionally cute doe named Clarice. After throwing out his smooth lines and getting her to agree to walk home with him, Clarice tells him she thinks he’s cute. This literally sends him into orbit and he jumps into the sky and flies better than all of the other mean ass reindeer at the games.

rudolph - r and clarice

But when he and Fireball engage in a little reindeer fun, his nose cap comes off. And that’s when the shit hits the fan. Fireball immediately yells at Rudolph to get away from him and that’s when the other lemming reindeer come in and start the insults. Instead of stopping the nonsense, Santa scolds his father. “Donner, you should be ashamed of yourself. What a pity.” And to add insult to the injury, Comet the coach, dick that he is, announces to all of the other bucks as they head back to practice, “Oh no, not you. You better go home with your folks. From now on gang, we won’t let Rudolph join in any Reindeer Games, right?” Clarice is the only stand up deer in the bunch as she is still interested in Rudolph despite his “malady”. Of course, her assfaced father comes and busts them up because he doesn’t want any doe of his with a red-nosed reindeer.


When Rudolph meets Hermey the Dentist Elf, he at least finds a kindred spirit. Hermey, like Rudolph, was run out of Christmastown because he didn’t want to be like every other single-minded toy slave that the other elves were. He probably didn’t dig Santa bagging on the elves for their singing either. They pal up and along their way, they pick up Yukon Cornelius, a precious metals prospector and loner himself. The triumvirate, in escaping the terrible Abominable Snow Monster, Bumble, end up on the Island of Misfits Toys where they, misfits in their own right, hope to stay. Of course, King Moonracer isn’t having any of it stating that the island is only for toys, stating, “Unlike playthings, a living creature cannot hide himself on an island.” I guess he missed the part where he is a living damn creature. After denying them asylum, Moonracer has the balls to ask them a favor! This guy. He asks them when they return to Christmastown, would they ask Santa to come pick up all of the misfit toys and get them to children? Uhhh, Moonracer – Santa basically consented to Rudolph being run out of town, much in the same way you did. Why would they ever go back let alone do you a favor?


The last turn of assholishness occurs at the end of the movie when Santa declares Christmas is canceled because of some storm. Now, did it not occur to Santa that Christmas could be delayed? That he would rather just ruin the lives of every child on earth who celebrate the holiday rather than reschedule is insane to me. Talk about tunnel vision. Perhaps the most insulting thing he does the entire movie is when he literally sees the light (of Rudolph’s nose to be exact). Only when he figures out that Rudolph can be of any use to him in this exact moment does he embrace him. “That nose. That beautiful, wonderful nose of yours!” Wait a minute – you told his father he should be ashamed of him because of that nose, now it’s beautiful and wonderful? Fuck that. And Donner in true fashion says, “I knew that nose would be useful someday. I knew it all along!” No you didn’t. You were as much of a dick to him as Santa was, Donner, you sycophantic ass, so cut the shit. You see a chance to capitalize on your son’s new status, no different than Honey Boo-Boo‘s mom.

rudolph - santa throwing shade

It’s no wonder kids who grow up watching this turn into assholes, too. This is the blueprint on how to be racist, afraid of “others” (poor Bumble), tyrannical, indifferent and cruel. Get ’em while they’re young, I guess. I don’t know what their intentions were, but maybe the writers and director were using the film as a mirror for American society to look at itself as a way to change these behaviors. I seriously doubt that, though.

My kids love this movie and I remember it with fondness from my childhood as well. That doesn’t mean there isn’t some bad shit in there, though. It’s a wonder kids love Santa at all after watching this. His dickheadedness is hardly subtle. The only thing he doesn’t seem to do is punch his wife or kick a dog. Maybe Tarantino will direct a grindhouse version of it and we’ll get those two elements taken care of. Fifty years on, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer is still a staple in American households. My questions is, should it be?

Liz’s Review: ‘BAD TURN WORSE’ is a love letter to Jim Thompson.


When I was little, I was a fan a Nancy Drew books. My brother had a bookshelf filled with The Hardy Boys collection. I was jealous of that collection. As an adult, I am obsessed with Investigation Discover channel. I’ll straight up have that on in the background all day when I have a day off. I want to know who did it, why, and how. As of late I am a huge fan of NPR‘s new podcast “Serial” (Go do yourself a favor and subscribe now), so when this film came my way, I was more than intrigued.

Bad Turn Worse, a directed by Simon and Zeke Hawkins, grabbed me from the opening scene. Quippy, Tarantino-esque dialogue from the mouths of Texas teens (also reminiscent of Dawson’s Creek… wow, I’m really dating myself now…) made me sit up a little straighter at attention. The plot is not too far fetched. Three friends; two leaving for college in a few weeks, while the third we all know is destined to become a townie in this arid cotton mill town. BJ is a bitter, big fish in a little pond, whose aggressive charm and good looks have gotten him the smart girl next door Sue. Bobby is the best friend to both but his sheep demeanor gets him into some trouble when BJ steals $20K from his sociopath boss. When the shit hits the fan and the three are roped into a heist that is doomed from the start, everything gets turned in it’s head in this noir thriller.


Writer, Dutch Southern, deserves praise with his love letter to crime novelist Jim Thompson.

Jim Thompson — ‘There are thirty-two ways to write a story, and I’ve used every one, but there is only one plot – things are not as they seem.’

Sue makes mention of this in more than a few ways throughout the script. Little does the audience know that they are being led down a twisted plot line that is secretly spoon fed to them from the get go. But, seriously, you sort of miss it until the very end. When is the last time a movie played out in a surprising fashion? In true noir style, just when you think you’ve figured out what going on, nope, left turn.


The acting is fantastic. Mackenzie Davis, who I had previously been introduced to in Breathe In, is so wonderful. Fully fleshed out girl who is smart as a whip but vulnerable enough to fall for the town “badboy” but still have affection for the shy best friend. She gives the perfect balance of naive and cunning. Logan Huffman, who has one of those, ‘Why do I know him? Yeah, he is hot,” kind of demeanors, nails the role of BJ. That jockish, underachiever bitterness is rife for the taking. Jeremy Allen White is entrancing as Bobby. His endearing fragility draws you in. You genuinely feel sorry that he has such a crap best friend. And then, there is our ultimate baddie; Mark Pelligrino, my mysterious Jacob from LOST. His startling crazy is borderline comical but totally works. Money makes people do bad things, and the character of Giff is no exception.

The music is awesome and the cinematography is beautiful. I say catch this film this weekend. It will keep you on the edge of your nerve from beginning to end. Bad Turn Worse comes out today, November 14th in theaters and on VOD.