‘Nobody Move’ by Philip Elliott

If you like… (takes deep breath) Heat, Reservoir Dogs, Jackie Brown, Pulp Fiction, The Godfather, Baby DriverNo Country for Old Men, Get Shorty, Kill Bill Vols 1 & 2, The Getaway, Silence of the Lambs, Out of Sight and Point Break, then this may just be the book for you.

Nobody Move by Toronto-based debutant Philip Elliott is a love letter to the crime thriller movies of the 90s and is packed with enough sleazy motels, 80s punk rock and characters making questionable life choices to make you want to ask, “Whose chopper iz dis?’

Philip Elliott author photo

Philip Elliott, debutant author of crime thriller, Nobody Move, out in September 2019

Clearly, the man knows his Tarantino, his Elmore Leonard and his Jim Thomson.

However, although this may sound like pastiche, it is so cleverly done, the novel ripping along in 315 pages, and Elliott managing to make you enjoy spending time with these monstrous characters, that you don’t feel oppressed by the references. The fact that the characters are self referentially referring to them acting like they’re in a movie, only adds to the fun.

Nobody Move opens with the character of Eddie, a small time hoodlum beginning to tire of the life, making a catastrophic mistake which only escalates as variously his pretentious, restaurant owning mobster boss, Saul Benedict, and his men (and Eddie’s ex-partners), Floyd and Sawyer, all enter the fray hunting the want-away Eddie. Fate twists further as the beautiful Dakota, a Native American woman fresh in the City of Angels searching for her missing friend and psychotic, Texan assassin Rufus, seeking vengeance for his murdered brother, takes up his beloved daggers one final time and begins the long drive to L.A. Meanwhile, put-upon vegetarian LAPD detective Alison Lockley’s hunts for the killers becomes increasingly urgent as the bodies pile up.

The novel, published by small press Into the Void, has rather too many uses of “the N word” for my liking and appears to have an unfortunate relationship to violence against women – but persevere for all is not what it seems.

This is to be the first of a series of novels, known as the Angel City series. I’m looking forward to reading the next instalment.

Nobody Move (Angel City #1) is out from Into the Void press on September 10th.

ISBN: 978-1-7753813-5-8

Revisiting… Goldeneye

Last week I wrote about my introduction to the cinema through the unexpected medium of the Care Bears. A decade or so later, I was granted an introduction to a cinematic icon in the James Bond reboot, Goldeneye.


The iconic poster for Goldeneye (1995)

I had six when Timothy Dalton’s debut, The Living Daylights had been released but my folks weren’t quite up to a cinema visit for that sort of film, so I mainly remember having to make do with cards from the Trio chocolate promotional packs stuffed into the pocket of my Parka. Then came Dalton’s second outing Licence to Kill; and, let’s face it, that movie is no place for children.

So, 1995 was my chance to watch Bond on the big screen. The movie debuted on 21st November and the way we watched it speaks volumes about how movie going had changed over the 10 years which had elapsed.

My parents took me – both of them this time as disabled access was now available. We were no longer in the charmingly crafted but dilapidated flea pit Picturedrome, Bognor Regis, but in the plush surroundings of Hampshire’s Port Solent, an area of reclaimed landfill and marshlands re-purposed in the late 80s to become a marina and expensive housing development. Tickets prices to see films had of course increased by, on average, 104%.

But what of the movie?

We open on a plane flying over a gigantic dam. We’ve had the opening gun barrel walk but all incidental music ceases as the light aircraft sweeps over this vista in spectral silence.

Then, we see a man run and bungee down this impressive 750 metre edifice, which saw stuntman Wayne Michaels set a world record for a tethered jump. By the way, this location is the Contra Dam in Switzerland, and because of this – still impressive – stunt, voted the greatest of all time in a 2002 Sky Movies poll. Incidentally, and this blog in no way endorses this course of action, the stunt inspired a company to begin offering you the opportunity to bungee jump off it yourself if you’re in that frame of mind. Details here: https://www.getyourguide.com/ticino-l80/golden-eye-bungee-jumping-from-the-verzasca-dam-t3225

bond16 dam jump

Pierce Brosnan’s Bond (stuntman Wayne Michaels) dives off the 750m Contra Dam

And, I gotta tell you – Pierce Brosnan never looked better. Especially in the early part of the movie, that man is channeling both Dalton, Roger Moore and Sean Connery. There’s a best of feel to his performance which, if he’d had better scripts throughout the rest of his tenure would have put him significantly up the pecking order of greatest Bonds. Man could wear a tuxedo, too…

Tom Cruise and his rhyming slang character, Ethan Hunt, would’t debut for another six months, but Brosnan’s toilet entrance now looks like a fun twist on the famous vault access from Mission Impossible.

Alongside Brosnan, Sean Bean, an actor who ordinarily I find as sympathetic as a serial killer and as appealing as an aggressive cavity search, is never better than as Alex Trevelyan. His performance is cleaner, more nuanced and significantly more subtle than I remembered. His “execution” is harsh – even today.

Martin Campbell is clearly the man for reinvigorating the franchise as, nine years later, it would be him in the hot seat to replenish the steaming, coiled wreckage visited on the series in the superlative Casino Royale.

Here, he settles for the charmingly nostalgic return of the Aston Martin DB5, which is an excellent touch, as is the race with Famke Janssen- a driving sequence arguably not bettered until Quantum of Solace.

Dutch actress Janssen plays Xenia Onatopp, famed for her unique way of dispatching villains. Memorable for sure, but she somewhat overshadows Bean’s performance with her cartoonishly psychotic antics, which is a shame.

Famke Janssen

Other downsides? The body count is troublesome. I know this came before advent of introspective heroes, but jeso, do people get mown down with video game abandon in this movie.

Also, the incidental music is more 80s than a superhero team up featuring Vanilla Ice and MC Hammer. Which is odd because it couldn’t really be more mid-90s but this the consistent pounding on the synthesizer is hard going on the ear. It’s a rough listen today: heavy handed and distracting.

And, finally the theme tune. Tina Turner does belt out a tune but the only Edge that should be invoked here is the one which U2 should have been shoved off. The lyrics read like they were constructed during a Madlibs game fuelled by LSD.

Some of my favourites include:

See reflections on the water/ more than darkness in the depths/ see him surface in every shadow/ on the wind I feel his breath

Goldeneye I found his weakness/ Goldeneye he’ll do what I please/ Goldeneye no time for sweetness/ but a bitter kiss will bring him to his knees…

Goldeneye not lace or leather/ Golden chains take him to the spot/ Goldeneye I’ll show him forever/ it’ll take forever to see…

It’s a gold and honey trap/I’ve got for you tonight…

with a goldeneye, goldeneye.

To which I can only say: gibberish.


Brosnan and 006 Alex Trevelyn (Sean Bean) in happier times

There’s more to say about this movie and, especially, the spin off video game which is a peak in the history of that medium so high it couldn’t be bettered by a pair of Italian plumbers, but I’ll leave it there for now. A high in the career of Pierce Brosnan as Bond, this is classic well worth #revisiting.

With a golden, goldeneye…


A Film Education

It started with the Care Bears, (said nobody ever.)

But, for me, it really did start with Care Bears: The Movie. I was 4 and this was 1985 and my parents took me, along with some friends from play school, to the local cinema for the first time. img_1502

I remember nothing. One of the friends may have been celebrating a birthday. She may have had a sister. I’m guessing that may explain the choice of movie.

Subsequently, I’ve done some research. Cinematic golden age problem child Mickey Rooney was in it. The writer, Peter Sauder, had written on such top notch fare as Inspector Gadget, Star Wars: Droids (that’s the cartoon which Disney are still trying to resolve the issue of its place in the cannon 30 years later) and went on to the glories of Barbar, Rupert and the Beetlejuice cartoon.

Mickey. Rooney: cinematic legend – Care Bear extraordinaire

But I knew none of this. What I remember is my mum tapping me on the shoulder – was it a minute? An hour? A day into the movie? I had no idea. I had disappeared. She learnt across and said, “Were you in the film?”

When I finally came to, I had to just nod and grin. All I knew was that I was in the screen. There was a ringing in my ears. I’d forgotten where I was. I’d forgotten that there was a here I’d forgotten about. Far as I knew, there was only Care Bears world now.

Total immersion is tough to describe. Bognor Regis’ Picturedrome dates back to the 1880s and, these days, appears to have been rejuvenated. In the 80s, when the average cost of a cinema ticket I’m reliably informed was a whole £1.70 for an adult, it was known unaffectionately as the “flea pit”. Salubrious it was not. I loved it.

The Bognor Picturedrome: previously known as “the Fleapit”. Quite nice now.

My next love was TV and Granada classic, The Professionals. I mean, due to a speech impediment, I couldn’t actually say that. So, in fact, my next love was The Procesionals, much to my parents’ delight and amusement but for me there was nothing like two U.K. Starsky and Hutch rip offs sliding across the bonnet of a pair of Ford Capris under the disapproving eye of that bloke from Upstairs Downstairs to excite my pre-school heart.

The addiction grew. But the world was very different then, even though it’s not that long ago* (*It may, in fact, now be quite a long time ago). My parents couldn’t afford a video recorder so we didn’t get one till at least 1989.

By the time I went way to boarding school in the early 90s, I was sat in the phone booth whilst my poor father had to go to the shop on a Thursday to get both the Radio Times (BBC1&2) and the TV Times (ITV/Channel 4) and then my mother had to spend her telephone bill reading out to me which movies were on that week so she knew which ones to VHS for me to watch when I got home at the end of term. No parents are perfect, but the fact they didn’t excommunicate me or leave at boarding school does speak very highly of this particular pairs’ good humour and tolerance.

I watched Barry Norman and Film Insert-Whichever-Year-Here like other people went to church. I was easy to buy for at Christmas – the latest Halliwells Film Guide would keep me occupied for hours. In fact, I’d read them so thoroughly that kids used to test me by asking me to the name the year, main actors and synopsis of any film in the book. I usually did ok too.

Last week, I began work on a script with a guy I’ve known forever and who is a successful film maker of many years’ standing. He’s thrown me an invite because he’s very kind and because… I don’t know, he took pity on me? Who knows. All I know is ill forever be grateful for the opportunity.

I hope the script gets finished.

I hope it’s good.

I hope we can get it made.

But mainly, I hope that it has the power and emotional resonance of Care Bears: The Movie.

Revisiting… Mallrats (1995)

With Kevin Smith have recently taken to Twitter to confirm a sequel to this slacker comedy of the mid-90s, currently titled MallBrats, now seemed like an excellent opportunity to revisit the original for the second in a series of posts Revisiting works worthy of reconsideration.

Mallrats - Returning to the Mall at a cinema near you.

Mallrats – Returning to the Mall at a cinema near you.

The story follows a day in the life of two listless buddies in an unnamed American suburb, Brodie (played by Jason Lee in his first starring role after a career as a skate boarder) and TS – Jeremy London (before the legal difficulties).

The movie opens with these two “heroes” being dumped by their respective partners – Renee (Shannon Doherty in spikey form throwing off the Beverly Hills 90210 shackles) ditching Brodie for his total lack of drive or ambition and addiction to Sega ice hockey games (retro!) and Brandi (the picturesque Claire Forlani) ditching TS because his sage wisdom has lead to a girl dying in a freak swimming pool accident. The loveable idiots retreat to the mall where they indulge in sulking, introspection, discussion of the practicalities of comic book character sex and retail therapy.

Full disclosure: I’m a Kevin Smith fan. There are not many people I can actually write that about and I’m not blind to his faults – as a filmmaker or in any other area of his public life, but truth be told, I’ve drunk the Kevin Smith Kool Aid.

I am embarrassed to admit how many hours I have spent listening to him and Scott Mosier on Smodcast, or Smith and Ralph Garman on Hollywood Babble On, or Smith with guests on the Fat Man on Batman podcast or… You get the idea. I sincerely believe, that there is an argument to be made that Smith is, in fact, one of the most creative and important directors working today, for, for example, having shifted the expectation of how much ‘inside baseball’ you share with the audience, but that’s another article for another time.

But, one of the reasons for my fan-dom is that I have a penchant for art that tells stories and creates universes out of multiple parts. Knowing that the Rick Darris who Rene cheated on TS with is the same Darris who tells the ‘Finger Cuffs’ story in Chasing Amy is an ‘Easter Egg’ for the viewer which pleases. This is true in the Parlabane-era work of Christopher Brookmyre too, in writing, and I think is a gift for the careful audience member.

Either way, what is undeniable is that the movie was panned on release – Smith has spoken about this too in other sources. However, he has also said that he has lost count of the amount of people who say that Mallrats was their introduction to his work – the gateway drug to his other work like Chasing Amy or the other View Askew titles and this was certainly true for me. Like a great many people, I was introduced to this flick by friends (friends who bore a striking resemblance to Jay and Silent Bob (or maybe Cheech and Chong) truth be told) on home video and fell in love.

Rewatching it now, Mallrats definitely has the feel of an updated teen comedy like Porky’s for the Gen X’ers. Smith has written about this at some length (you can read the thoughts of the man himself here: http://viewaskew.com/mallrats/kevmall.html and, on this level, the film really starts to make a lot of sense. In the credits, Smith thanks the two Johns – Landis and Hughes for inspiring and entertaining him as a teenager and it is clear that Mallrats was his attempt to make that kind of a film. But, you can see why it might not have connected with an audience that was – in that year alone – enjoying Get Shorty, and released in the year of Empire Records, Dangerous Minds and The Usual Suspects – the tone just didn’t fit for the times.

However, it has now found its niche and these days, is – I think – regarded with affection. I’m fairly certain that American Pie, the whole of Judd Apatow’s career and, even The Inbetweeners would not exist without Mallrats. Now, there’s a claim to juggle with.

It has some jokes that are still pretty solid within the genre – the carpet store in the mall called Rug Munchers, the intertextual references to The Godfather, Batman (Michael Keaton, not Christian ‘The Gruffalo’ Bale) and Jaws, as well as Smith’s usual litany of fast paced, whip smart characters all pondering at pace like dime store Sartres. The stink palm and the chocolate covered pretzels scarred a generation. There is also a great turn from Ben Affleck as the sleazy store manager. Affleck plays the unsympathetic role with a strutting insouciance and you realise what a big man he is when he goes toe-to-toe with Lee.

Interestingly, Affleck is also key to one of the scenes that does jar the viewer 20 years on. The scene where he attacks Lee in a corridor and explains his nefarious plan for Doherty has a gritty realism which actually makes the punches stark and aggressive. It really takes the audience aback, especially as mere moments before there have been comedic punches and kicks to the groin galore. It’s a shift which is uncomfortable.

There are other gripes, Jason Mewes is not as comfortable an actor here as he would go on to be, and some of the scenes have strange moments and pauses which I can’t help but think an editor as accomplished as Smith would now remove, but these are minor quibbles.

Smith has confirmed via Twitter, Instagram and the like, that the bulk of the cast have agreed to return, which is a huge boost. He’s also spoken about including the man of, like, 7 voices, Ralph Garman in the movie which is a massive boost for those of us who have marvelled at his dynamic performances and fury fuelled diatribes as point man on the tremendous Hollywood Babble On. The man will be a huge addition to the ensemble.

Mallrats shines on as movie which, if you have seen it, lives with you. I don’t know if it’s the simplistic tale of lovers spurned and returned or because no movie with a three-nippled fortune teller can be all bad, but it has a sweetness which resonates and which means that 20 years on, I think we’d all like to see what happened to Brodie, TS et al.

But, before you see the sequel, go back to mall – it’s worth it.