Friday, April 1, 2016

Owen Harris' KILL YOUR FRIENDS visits the blotto music industry (circa the 1990s)

What The Player did for Hollywood and Exit Through the Gift Shop did for the art world, a new movie called KILL YOUR FRIENDS attempts to do for the music industry -- unfortunately in a mostly been-there/done-that manner. Part of the problem is that the movie must be necessarily set in the past, as there no longer exists a music industry anything like the one pictured here. (Music post-Napster is something else entirely.) With a screenplay by John Niven (who also co-wrote one of the most enjoyable underseen films of modern times, Cat Run), based upon his own novel, and directed by Owen Harris (below), the film features one of those would-be memorable anti-heroes who murders his way to the top.

As played well, if a tad too heavy-handedly, by the increasingly gorgeous Nicholas Hoult (from About a BoyJack the Giant Slayer, Warm Bodies and the latest Mad Max overkill, and who is shown below and further below), our main character, Steven, is a talentless, lazy, entitled no-account, whose main abilities seems to be looking good and murdering his peers. Now, we don't have to like the guy, but we ought to at least be interested in how he works his way up the ladder. Slack pacing and wobbly, paint-by-numbers plotting make this difficult, despite a very good supporting cast.

This would include an under-used Joseph Mawle (below, left), a smart and grossly used James Corden, and helpful stand-bys like Tom Riley (in the penultimate photo, below), Craig Roberts (below, right), Jim Piddock (two photos below) and Georgia King (the blond at left, shown three photos below).

If murder, blackmail and accessing your boss' computer were as easy it it all seems here, what a field day villains could have.  However, if you're willing to suspend (and then stomp on) your disbelief, you might have a better time than did I.

Edward Hogg (of another underseen gem, Bunny and the Bull) makes several appearances as a would-be song-writing policeman whose misplaced ambitions play into Steven's unbelievable rise.

Two small supporting performances may grab you unexpectedly: Moritz Bleibtreu, as a German music biz idiot named Rudi, and Rosanna Arquette, as an outspoken feminist at a luncheon Steven attends. Both are better than the material that surrounds them.

Finally not funny enough to be called a comedy, or sharp enough for real satire, Kill Your Friends exists as a glossy, semi-entertaining account of a know-nothing's rise and--were the film to enter the ensuing decade--fall.

From Well Go Entertainment, the movie opens today in New York City at the AMC Empire 25, in Los Angeles at the Arena Cinema, and all across the country at various cities. Click here to see all 15 currently scheduled playdates. Simultaneously with today's limited theatrical release, the film will hit Digital HD via, I am guessing, the usual venues.

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