Saturday, 31 March 2012

FILM REVIEW: The Kid with a Bike - guest blogger Hazel Scott


Hazel Scott reviews The Kid with a Bike (Le Gamin Au Velo) currently on limited release.

My poor little heart is still bruised, bashed and squeezed from all the emotion it was put through watching Dardenne brothers’ The Kid with a Bike. One minute it was stuck in my throat, the next it plunged to the pit of my stomach, before skipping a beat or two as I closed my eyes, unable to deal with the implied menace of what might happen next. 
Co-director, Luc Dardenne said that he and his brother Jean-Pierre had for some time worked on the idea of a film about, "… a woman who helps a boy emerge from the violence that holds him prisoner."
It’s a simple story, told so that we're with our protagonist, 11 year-old Cyril, in just about every scene. It's an emotional journey throughout with the age-old themes of trust and betrayal caged in abandonment, risk, and finding someone who gives a damn.
When we’re introduced to Cyril, he's trying to track down his father and the bike (symbolic of their relationship) he believes his father is keeping for him. He spends much of his time running and cycling from what he perceives as his incarceration in a care home, as he searches desperately and pathetically for the father who has abandoned him. 
Film newbie, Thomas Doret, playing Cyril, reminded me very much of the 14-year-old Thomas Turgoose in This Is England. He's completely believable, not a scrap of stage-school brat about him and he manages to infuriate you and make you want to scoop him up and tell him everything will be ok all at the same time.
His search for his father/bike in the first portion of the film is frustrating and moving, as he is determined not to give up until the father admits to his face that he won't be seeing him again.
The middle section focuses on Cyril's settling in with his foster mother (Samantha the hairdresser) at weekends, and the effect their lives have on each other. Cecile de France plays Samantha convincingly as someone who means well but occasionally is out of her depth, yet we never find out much about her, or why she's made this almost random gesture of kindness to have Cyril with her. Nor do we find out anything about Cyril's real mother, or have some insight into his behaviour when he did live with his father.
As he starts to find his feet with Samantha, the trust that starts to build is shattered by the looming figure of local thug, Wes, who seems to be grooming Cyril for something. These scenes are portrayed in such a dark fashion that whenever they go into the woods, it's a Brothers Grimm moment. We're shown just enough to understand why he's lured…  but still feel let down by his behaviour and just hope he doesn't jeopardise his relationship with Samantha.
The Kid with a Bike is a beautifully observed film, never more than its resolution with the simplest of images. It's rewarding, what we've hoped for, finally a moment in the sun.

Hazel Scott can frequently be found adding a touch of 1940s retro glamour to Sheffield's Showroom Cinema bar. Ms Scott studied MA film studies and scriptwriting at Sheffield Hallam University. NT

Thursday, 29 March 2012

EVENT: Crime in the Library - Triplow & Quantrill



On April 12th, Mr Nick Quantrill and myself are high-tailing it down the A180 for a crime-writing evening in the badlands of Cleethorpes (Library).

We'll be reading - Mr Quantrill from his rock n' roll crime tome The Late Greats featuring former Hull KR stalwart turned private tec, Joe Geraghty; I'll be opening up the dark and dirty underworld of Frank Neaves in Frank's Wild Years. We'll also be talking about crime fiction, the writing process and the heritage of crime writing across the Humber. In short, it promises to be a Q&A that's as broad as its long with a sweet Humber sunset as the backdrop.

It's a free event - but worth booking in advance - kicking off at 7pm. There'll be a chance to buy signed copies of every book it has been our pleasure to have written. 

Call Cleethorpes Library on 01472 323650 and see you there.


Friday, 23 March 2012

Interview with Burnsy, BBC Radio Humberside, 23 March 2012

The man they call 'Burnsy'

Another day, another chance to crap on about the merits of Humberside crime fiction, the late great John Peel and of course tout Frank's Wild Years like an East Lane shmutter merchant. The interview kicks in at around 2hrs 36minutes. Click HERE for the link.

I'll be signing books at Waterstones in Grimsby tomorrow for around 11am. More than likely, I'll be the one with a bloody huge banner and a slightly self-conscious grin.

And for the record, I was a tad disappointed to find that the man they call 'Burnsy' is none of these ...



or...




not even ...




...but he did turn out to be an all round decent bloke who was genuinely interested in the book, its links to the area and the story behind it. And if that sounds like I'm making the case for local radio, too right.


Sunday, 18 March 2012

Book News: Frank's Wild Years - Launch Week Update




'An urban masterpiece; riveting from first to last...'

Get Carter Director, Mike Hodges


'The big new name in crimewriting...'

Yorkshire Post












March 19th sees the long-awaited publication of Frank's Wild Years.  For its first five days out in the big bad world, publisher Caffeine Nights will be offering the novel as a free e-book on Amazon - a not to be repeated offer. In book form, Frank's Wild Years is available from Amazon from the 19th. It can also be ordered from Waterstones Online as well as at selected Waterstones stores as part of the spring/summer book tour.

Here's the line-up for launch week:

Monday 19th March - Publication day.

Wednesday 21st March - Launch event at Waterstones, Sheffield - 6.30-7.30pm. I'll be reading from the book, answering questions, signing copies, and dishing out free booze. All welcome.

Friday 23rd March - Interview with Burnsy on Radio Humberside around 11.30am.

Saturday 24th March - Signing at Waterstones, Grimsby - 11.00am -12.00am.

For a full rundown of events, there's a full list elsewhere on the blog.

This has been a long time coming - happy reading!


Tuesday, 13 March 2012

NEW MUSIC: Plan B - ILL MANORS


In a recent online conversation, the discussion turned to the paucity of political music, subtext: where are The Clash for our times? Whilst the fringes have always been the place to test the mood and bands like The King Blues make a point of making a point, the mainstream has appeared - with the possible exception of Mr Springsteen's new album and its stateside perspective - to have skated over our own 'local difficulties'.

Now here's Mr Drew, AKA Plan B - the closest to a mainstream act - well he made it onto Jools Holland's Later a season or two ago - who has got something to say. Holding tight to hip hop roots, Ill Manors is about as straight ahead anti-Tory, anti-government, anti-everything as you'll find. Added to that, the man is about to co-star as George Carter alongside Ray Winstone's Jack Regan in the long-awaited screen update of The Sweeney. In other words, this bloke is destined to be big box office and he's telling it, no frills.

Click the pic.


Thursday, 8 March 2012

NEW MUSIC: The Skints

The Skints - Rudies Come Home

Here we go, for all those who get a buzz from hearing a young band take hold of the sounds you loved and love from your youth and plug them back into the musical motherlode, meet The Skints. Authentic reggae/ska/punk in the Two-Tone mould brought fearlessly into the 21st Century. They've been around a while - their first album Live. Breathe. Build. Believe. was released in 2009. Their second Part & Parcel is due for release ...er next week!

So if you're looking for an alternative olympic-summer soundtrack to a re-hashed Blur or an Elbow 'epic', stick your quid on The Skints. They're playing support slots live - they've supported, amongst others, The King Blues and Gogol Bordello -  through the summer, then out on their own in the autumn.

Ratatat The first single from Part & Parcel was released last week.




Friday, 2 March 2012

Book News: Yorkshire Post



For those who haven't already seen it, I recently gave an interview to the Yorkshire Post on the publication of Frank's Wild Years and its inspiration back in South London. The interview is online and available to read HERE.

Thanks to Sarah Freeman for asking all the right questions and Loz Harvey for setting it up.