BOOK REVIEW: MARTIN SIXSMITH – AYESHA’S GIFT

ayesha

 

Ayesha’s Gift is a book that could also be called “Ayesha’s Curse” because it is brimming with sorrow. It’s the fictionalised account of the real-life events that saw Philomena author and former BBC foreign correspondent, Martin Sixsmith assist in investigating the death of a British-Pakistani man. The book is ultimately a rather multi-faceted detective tale where a murder is solved, cultures collide and a kind of quiet respect, empathy and trust is forged between two unlikely main characters.

To read the rest of this review please visit the following website: http://magazine.100percentrock.com/reviews/book-reviews/201702/224417

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DVD REVIEW: TAKE DOWN

Take Down - Behind The Scenes

 

Take Down (aka Billionaire Ransom) is what you would get if you made cardboard cut-outs characters and put them in a world that was like Brat Camp-meets-The Hunger Games. The film is a thriller that is short on character development and suspense. It means that what ensues feels rather slow, tedious and contrived.

The story stars a bunch of annoying and spoilt little, rich kids. The king of these privileged brats is Kyle Hartmann (Jeremy Sumpter), a rather callous young man. He is a hedonistic lad that enjoys getting drunk and high. The problem is that he decides to do this before getting behind the wheel of a car. An accident follows and he leaves a woman for dead. Charming.

Hartmann’s father (Sebastian Koch) feels that the only way to straighten his son out is to send the boy to a survivalist-type camp on a remote island off the coast of Scotland. It’s here that the teens (including our very own, Pheobe Tonkin) have to learn how to survive on this rough and rather beautiful terrain. But things take a dangerous turn when the camp is infiltrated by a group of opportunistic kidnappers (who are led by Gossip Girl’s Ed Westwick). These misfits are hoping to extort the rich parents of the little monsters for $1 billion. The story becomes a different kind of survival tale to say the least.

This film is written by Alexander Ignon (Ransom) and directed by Jim Gillespie (I Know What You Did Last Summer). This film has some action but it is not in the same realm as those aforementioned films. Take Down is severely lacking in suspense and violence and feels too aimless at times (a fact that isn’t helped by some choppy pacing as well). When all of these rotten ingredients are combined with a load of under-developed characters (and some spoiled teens who aren’t even remotely likeable) it becomes such a pointless drama that it’s not so much a case of fight to survive as it is asking ourselves, “Who gives a feck?” In short, it’s completely disappointing.

 

Originally published on 4 January 2017 at the following website: http://iris.theaureview.com/dvd-review-take-down-usauk-2016-is-a-contrived-thriller-that-tries-too-hard-to-be-brat-camp-meets-hunger-games/

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KIDNAPPING MR. HEINEKEN

m_KidnappingOfFreddyHeineken

 

In 1983, Alfred ‘Freddy’ Heineken was kidnapped. The abduction of this prominent billionaire, the grandson of Gerard Adriaan Heineken (the founder of the Heineken beer company), resulted in the paying of the largest ever ransom at the time (35 million Dutch guilders, or about US$50 million today).

 

Kidnapping Mr. Heineken is based on the true crime book by journalist Peter R. de Vries.Both the book and film go into explicit detail about the abduction of the billionaire and his chauffeur, Ab Doderer (David Dencik).

 

The film is directed by Daniel Alfredson (The Girl Who Played With Fire)and is the second retelling of these events after the Dutch-language film, De Heineken Ontvoering. In Kidnapping Mr. Henieken, Anthony Hopkins stars as Heineken, shining while playing masterful power games (sound familiar?) with the five amateur kidnappers.

 

The criminals include the group’s mastermind, Cor van Hout(Across The Universe’s Jim Sturgess) and his underlings (Sam Worthington, Ryan Kwanten, Thomas Cocquerel and Mark van Eeuwen). The actors each put in decent enough performances (if you can forgive Australian accents being spoken by Dutch crooks).

 

But it is the execution of the film that ultimately lets it down. Shades of grey and subtle hues are frequently used, and when combined with long, dialogue-heavy scenes that mostly take place indoors, this takes a lot of the suspense out of the thriller. Events that could have been tense and gripping feel rather slow and flat.

 

Kidnapping Mr. Heineken is based on an interesting true story: the 21 days the beer mogul was held captive. It also shows the aftermath, in which some of the criminals were on the run from the law. But ultimately it depicts a perfect crime that isn’t so perfect, and is at best a bland drama.

 

Originally published on 11 March 2015 at the following website: http://thebrag.com/arts/kidnapping-mr-heineken

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