Film Review: Pickups

Jamie Thraves’ Pickups is an inventive comedy drama. Some elements work better than others, but the film is an enjoyable watch overall.

Actor Aiden Gillen is suffering from back ache and insomnia, and has just got a role as a serial killer. Whilst he concentrates on his new role, he also tries to reconnect with his teenage son. However, Aiden is concerned that someone is stalking him…

Written by Jamie Thraves and Aiden Gillen, and directed by Thraves, Pickups is an interesting concept. The film focuses on an actor, presumably modelled on Gillen but hopefully not entirely, and his latest role and how this blends into his private life. The film is meta without a hint of pretension; it is an accessible film which offers something a little different.

Pickups functions on a number of levels. On the one hand, it is about an actor balancing his professional and personal lives. Aiden  is having something of a mid-life crisis, which is conveyed through his relationship with his son and his level of comfort with himself. On the other hand, there is the role of the serial killer. Thraves blends the ‘real life’ scenes with ones from this fictional movie. As the opening sequence demonstrates, it is not entirely clear initially what the audience is watching. As the film progresses, this becomes more disturbing.

A third strand is the stalker premise. This works well to illustrate the protagonist’s mindset, even if it is not always captivating. One of the things that makes the film appealing is its blend of humour and darkness. The voiceover works really well, and provides a number of laughs. Gillen is amiable in the central role, but also convincing in playing the darker elements of the character.

At seventy-four minutes, Pickups is short and sweet. An interesting concept which is well executed for the most part.

Pickups is being screened at the BFI London Film Festival in October 2017.

Previews: 10 Cloverfield Lane Trailer, Sing Street and more!

Plenty of film previews this week, including the 10 Cloverfield Lane trailer, Sing Street, The Secret Life of Pets and more…

10 Cloverfield Lane Trailer

This is a bit of a surprise. From the 10 Cloverfield Lane trailer, it is unclear whether the film is a sequel, prequel or sidequel to Cloverfield. Produced by J.J. Abrams, the film features Mary Elizabeth Winstead and John Goodman seemingly as survivalists living in a basement. I’m sure more will be revealed soon. 10 Cloverfield Lane hits UK screens on 8th April 2016.

Sing Street Trailer

Set in 1980s Dublin, Sing Street is about a boy who is forced to transfer from a private school to a inner-city state school. Starring Ferdia Walsh-Peelo and Aiden Gillen, the film is set to have its world premiere at the Sundance Film Festival. Sing Street will be released in UK cinemas on 22nd April 2016.

The Secret Life of Pets Trailer

This trailer exhibits why no one should ever have a pet snake. The Secret Life of Pets is about what domesticated animals get up to whilst their humans are at work. The film features the voices of Kevin Hart, Louis C.K. and Eric Stonestreet. I think it will be one of my favourite animated films of the year, if filmmakers get things right. The Secret Life of Pets is out on 24th June 2016 in the UK.

Money Monster Trailer

Julia Roberts and George Clooney team up again for real-time thriller Money Monster. Julia Roberts is the producer of host George Clooney’s financial show when they are taken hostage live on air. Directed by Jodie Foster, Monster Money is set for release in May 2016.

Hail, Cesar! Trailer

The more I see of the Coen brothers’ new comedy Hail, Cesar!, the more I am looking forward to it. The film stellar cast is enough of a draw, yet the film also looks as if it will be hilarious. Moreover, I have just noticed that Dolph Lundgren stars in this. Give the film all the Oscars next year! Hail, Cesar! sweeps onto UK screens on 4th March 2016.