FILM REVIEW: All This Mayhem

The world of skateboarding is alien to me. I don’t know the first thing about it and have never wanted to, so it’s thanks to the occasional member freeview screening at Greenwich Picture House cinema that I get to see films like this; and on this occasion, I’m certainly glad I did.

Essentially, All This Mayhem is a true story documentary about the rise and fall of Tas and Ben, the Pappas brothers, two kids from a rough and ready background in Melbourne, Australia, that rose to the top of the competitive ‘Vert’ skateboarding world, briefly toppling an all time great Tony Hawk in the process. It’s also a real old school tale of ‘the higher they fly, the further they have to fall’ – no pun intended.

It’s hard to ignore the fact that the Pappas brothers were at times, by their own admission overly cocky and arrogant and ruffled more than a few feathers, so much so at times that you’d be forgiven for having little or no sympathy for the pair of them, yet, interestingly, such was their heartfelt passion and balls-out approach to life, you can’t help but side with them and feel their pain as their story unfolds and life deals them often shattering, self-inflicted hammer blows. Indeed, the brothers pressed the self-destruct button on life with such regularity, it’s a wonder the sky didn’t cave in on their world a lot sooner than ultimately it did; and how it did, in a maelstrom of drug abuse and reckless, over indulgence and disastrous decision making.

As with all good film documentaries, All This Mayhem lays on the thrills, spills and jubilation along with the  pain and anguish and does so in the most absorbing and at times hard-to-watch manner. It’s emotional, edge-of-the-seat stuff that had me well and truly sucked in.

A really well paced and put together effort that deserves a larger audience than I suspect it will ultimately receive.

Very highly recommended.




I really do want to say nice things about ‘Chef.’ It’s certainly a film with its heart in the right place and there are definitely good things to be had from this warm-hearted and at times rather amusing tale.
It was written by the always excellent Jon Favreau, who plays the film’s lead, Carl Casper, a divorced, frustrated chef, trying  to bring creative fulfillment to his career whilst simultaneously being the perfect father to his son Percy, played by Emjay Anthony in a sweet yet limited role.
The casting is a strange one. On the plus side, characters like Martin, Carl’s right hand man (played by John Leguizamo) lend some much needed, enthusiastic savvy to proceedings, yet a series of short cameos by Scarlett Johanssen, Dustin Hoffman and most bizarrely, a slightly megalomaniacal Robert Downey-Junior, are rather baffling; almost like token gestures in the grand scheme of this film; a heavyweight favour to the director perhaps or maybe an insistence from the film’s sponsors? Who knows.
The premise of the film is that Chef Casper’s ‘touch paper’ is lit when a renowned food critic drags his name through the mud, professionally slaughtering his menu in the process (the menu Casper had wanted to scrap but was duty-bound to serve) and the whole situation is exacerbated when Casper’s social media inadequacies lead him to inadvertently start an ever escalating, public slanging match on Twitter.
Everything comes to a head when Casper loses his marbles in front of the critic, somebody films it and the video goes viral. Needless to say, Casper’s career hits the buffers over night.
‘Chef’ should really kick-on from here and become the clever little film about work / life balance and the perils of social media in the hands of the uninitiated, that it promises to be, but it’s here in fact that it seriously loses its way.
It’s not the fact that the storyline is necessarily weak, the problem is simply that all of the good ideas in this film seem somewhat swamped beneath a rather clumsy, schmaltzy and at times contrived script and screen play which do none of the characters, no matter how well played, any favours at all. Indeed, from here on, it’s a predictable sequence of clichéd events, set pieces and scenarios with the mother of all toe-curling endings; not to mention the whole thing is basically an on going advertisement for Twitter.
The feel good film of the year?
Not for me. Feel good films whilst admittedly generally being  schmaltzy, predictable affairs, rely heavily therefore on the viewer buying whole-heartedly into the characters to such an extent in fact that whatever unlikely twists and turns a plot may take along the way, it doesn’t really matter; we celebrate the unlikely or the  down right ludicrous because quite frankly, we’re in for the ride!
Sadly, Chef combines predictable schmaltz with half-baked, rather forced characterisation and for all its eagerness to please, that’s just never going to work.
It’s all a bit of a shame really because there’s definitely a nice little film buried in there somewhere.
All of that said, it still has its moments and it remains worth a watch.



Some years back, I watched a young Ethan Hawke babbling some pseudo-psychological lines that he was using to impress Julie Delpy in Paris. It was grating. I wanted to turn it off. I didn’t and I’m mercifully thankful for that. Indeed, some years on I can honestly confess that ‘Before Sunrise’ is one of my favourite films of all time; more importantly, it introduced me to the work of Director Richard Linklater who completed his ‘Before’ trilogy with the also incredible ‘Sunset’ and more recently ‘Midnight’. The resolution? of this trilogy left me and I’m sure countless others, hanging, in need of a serious Linklater fix. 

It’s 2014 and enter Linklater’s latest offering ‘Boyhood’ – an unrelated film, but arguably, if we’re judging his total film-making output, it’s the best of the lot.

Much has and will be said of the undoubted logistical headache that Boyhood must have been to accomplish, filming the same key characters over a twelve year period between 2002 and 2014, tracking young Mason Jr and his family’s development over time. Heaven only knows how many constellations needed to align to make this film possible. It’s a gargantuan feat but there’s never any sense of anything being forced or contrived in Boyhood, instead the film flows effortlessly over this time period and whisks us up in its warmth, its sense of humanity and wonder taking us along on an incredible ride.

Ethan Hawke, so briefly, I’m ashamed to admit, a toe curling annoyance to me, is as fantastic as ever, superbly playing Mason’s divorced, largely absent, fun loving but ultimately genuine-of-heart father, whilst Patricia Arquette is equally impressive as Mason’s mother; her personal life a struggle, yet a stable and loving parent to her two children amidst the family’s trials and tribulations.

Boyhood is an astonishing, beautiful effort, resonating on a deep and at times profound level. A truly unique ‘slice of life’ masterpiece.

The one problem I have with Boyhood, is that it ended and I’m now in that familiar old position of having to figure out how I’m going to cope with this latest, Linklater-shaped film void in my life.

Absolutely (what I sincerely hope won’t be) a once in a lifetime, joyous cinematic event.