Die Hard

I’m a film buff.

That’s a fact.

From arthouse to zombie horror to rom-com – I’ve seen a lot.

But, when someone asks me about my favourite there’s only one title that comes to mind. Which, as you’ve probably guessed by the title of this post, is Die Hard.

I’ve seen it more times than any other film. VHS, TV, DVD, Blu-Ray, Netflix, Now TV etc…

The other night however, I saw it in a new light. I managed to acquire some tickets to watch it at a pop-up cinema.

And there, in the darkness and with no distractions, I found that I enjoyed it a whole lot more. As did the friends I was with.

The jokes were funnier. The action was more thrilling. Characters more defined. I could go on.

It taught me a lesson about being more in the moment and how, even your favourite thing, can be better if you give it your full attention.

Perhaps the only way I could enjoy it more would be if I wiped my memory of Die Hard (like ‘Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind’) and watched it like it was the first time.

I’ve also found that conversations with people I like are even better when you give them your full attention. It seems obvious, but it’s so easy to find your eye drawn to flashing phone notifications.


Danny Boyle, the tube and suspenseful endings.

I watched a film called ‘Fallen’ last night.

I don’t know if you’ve heard of it, before?

I hadn’t. It seems to have slipped a bit under the radar. It’s a 1998 horror film starring Denzel Washington – as I like horror and Denzel, and had never seen the two together before, I felt compelled to give it a go.

In short, it’s a good film – I recommend you check it out. Although, be warned, I’m about to give a spoiler…


Okay, so it had one of those ‘shock’ endings that you often see in horror or thriller films. You know the one…where you think the bad guy is dead…and then suddenly – BOOM – something happens to make you think otherwise.

Like those Jason or Michael Myers films where you see a shot of the killer at the end and realise that there’s going to be a sequel.


It got me thinking about endings and how important they are. Although for those of us who ‘didn’t write today’ beginnings are harder than endings…!

The whole ‘shock’ ending started out as being a bit rebellious…something a bit different. Hollywood audiences were so used to things working out happily that a ‘surprise’ ending really used to work back in the day. Audiences didn’t know what to expect.

Their humdrum idea that ‘everything will be okay in the end’ was suddenly well and truly shaken.

However, nowadays, I wonder if it’s something that’s rather overused. Almost predictable. I’d say that 60 – 70% of the horror films that I’ve seen recently have relied on it. Which brings me to a point where I’d be more surprised if things ended up happily ever after.

One thing I think that does work is an ambiguous, open ending. The kind of thing that gets people talking long after the end credits have rolled.

A good example of this is in the film Shallow Grave, which came out in 1994. If you’ve not seen it I highly recommend it – it was the director Danny Boyle’s cinematic debut.

The film has caused a lot of debate online (and offline too) due to its ending. As the film ends one of the characters is badly injured, and as the emergency services arrive you can’t quite work out whether he’s dead or not.

After watching it I remember searching online to see what others thought, but no one seemed to be sure.

Fast forward several months and I’m on the tube heading from Camden to East London. I look over to my right…and who do I see in front of me? None other than Danny Boyle.

Back in these days I was an aspiring actor, so I opened up a conversation with him. He was a lovely guy and really chatty. It was during the chat that I suddenly realised that I’d been presented with a rare opportunity.

I could actually ask about the ending of Shallow Grave and have an answer from none other than the director himself.

And so I did. And he told me that the character was definitely alive at the end of the film.

He also told me how surprised he was whenever he heard that people thought the ending was ambiguous. When they filmed it they’d assumed that everyone would know that he was alive.

How about that!? A surprise ending wasn’t even meant to be quite so surprising at all.

(Oh and of course I asked him to cast me in one of his films. They were currently filming for Trainspotting 2. He gave me the name of his casting director – I emailed her, and alas, never heard back. Maybe next time)

While we’re on the subject of endings, there’s one film that steals it for me for every time.


If you haven’t seen John Carpenter’s ‘The Thing’ you need to. Incredible slice of cinema.



Why I didn’t write today @ the movies: The Limehouse Golem

It’s been a long time since I’ve been involved in the theatre. But I can still remember it well. The tension, the glimpses of the crowd behind the curtains before things kick off and then the feeling of getting a line wrong…only to realise the crowd don’t even have the script to berate you about it, let alone notice.

‘The Limehouse Golem’ takes us back to the musical theatre scene in Victorian London. A time before the cinema, when everyone who was anyone would pay a premium for entertainment.

The Limehouse Golem is certainly not a musical though, far from it. The theatre serves as a backdrop for a series of grisly murders. At the start of the film a minor playwright is found dead, it could be suicide…but the Victorian authorities are keen to pin it on his wife, Lizzie (Olivia Cooke) – who is one of the biggest names in the theatre at the time.

As Lizzie awaits trial we’re introduced to the sassy, ageing Inspector Kildare (Bill Nighy) of Scotland Yard. He’s never handled a murder case before, and then all of a sudden the case of Lizzie’s husband falls into his lap.

As the investigation moves on, it becomes more and more apparent that it could be connected to a serial killer dubbed ‘the Limehouse Golem’. I believe this story (based on Peter Ackroyd’s 1994 novel ‘Dan Leno and the Limehouse Golem’, was set just before ‘Jack the Ripper’ came to prominence – but there’s certainly a Ripper feel here.

(how creepy is this poster? Source: bloody-disgusting)

The director Juan Carlos Medina dubs this as a ‘horror-thriller’, but I’m not so sure. Watching it, in a darkened cinema, it felt more like an atmospheric mismatch of genres – mostly melodrama (a genre all too forgotten now) with parts of police procedural, killer thriller and a touch of musical thrown in for good measure.

A lot of the tale is told in flashback – mostly about Lizzie’s life as a young woman in Victorian England. And how she rose up against an awful lot of adversity to become successful. The flashback narrative works well for the majority of the piece, although it does lead to it being a little disjointed from time to time…but perhaps that adds to the effect of the unhinged killer who stalks the East End throughout.

Daniel Mays gives a great supporting performance as Kildare’s police partner, and Douglas Booth takes a great turn as Dan Leno – a drag queen who works closely with Lizzie. While Olivia Cooke displays a tour-de-force or emotions as the bold Lizzie, Bill Nighy steals this for me in terms of his performance – it’s great to see him still looking so well, and able to command the lead as the pained Inspector Kildare.

All in all this is a 4/5 for me and I’d recommend it to you. It’s grim, it’s grisly but it’s without moments of humour. However, the mishmash of genres lets it down at times and I couldn’t quite get over the feeling that it didn’t know what it wanted to be when it grew up…so, it depends really on whether or not you appreciate an artistic narrative over a more straightlaced yarn.

by Ashley Brown

The Box

I watched a film today called ‘The Box’.

It wasn’t a great movie, in fact it was probably below average – but it did make me think.

Basically, a financially troubled couple wake up one morning to find a mysterious box on their doorstep. Inside the box they find nothing but a button. A mysterious old man turns up and tells them that they have twenty-four hours to make a decision.


If they press the button before the twenty-four hours is up he’ll give them one million dollars (tax-free), but if they don’t press it they won’t get the money.

Sounds like an easy choice doesn’t it? 

Who doesn’t want a million?

Of course, as with any too-good-to-be-true deal, there’s a catch. By pushing the button to receive the million dollars, one person somewhere in the world will die as a result.

So it’s a classic conundrum and a classic question. Do you do it? Do you press that button? And, if you do press it, could you live with the guilt? Whether it be your neighbour dying, or someone in a faraway city that you’ve never even heard of.

After I finished the film, I happened to look at my Instagram feed and I was instantly swept away in a stream of ‘motivational’ posts. Quotes, gym snaps, holiday photos and ‘tough day at the office’ pics.

Many of us are chasing success and we’ll go at great lengths to post about it on social media, but how many of us are actually doing everything that we can to guarantee that we get it?

Sure pressing a button and condemning someone to death is a pretty extreme way to get what you want, and thankfully it’s not what any of us need to do – but, in your own way, are you doing everything you can to get to where you want to be?