A while ago now, it was decided to launch local TV channels in various cities across the country. They were designed to offer a mix of news, documentaries, and so on. It was really obvious though that this wasn’t going to last that long, and there was little surprise when these channels asked the regulator if they could reduce the amount of original programming that they had to produce, and now the hours are filled with old films and sitcoms.
This is definitely not what these channels were set up for. I did notice that London Live often shows films rather late at night that are British-made, but are rather low budget, and probably took about £12 at the box office. When channel hopping, I came across a few films that fit into this category that were fairly interesting, and this is one of them. I was attracted to watching Brakes because among the cast were Noel Fielding and Julian Barratt.
Because I am a fan of The Mighty Boosh, I have tried to follow their careers since that sitcom ended, but I was rather surprised because I had never heard of this film, it had totally passed me by, so I had to have a look. It turns out that Brakes is a film by up-and-coming young director Mercedes Grower. This could be classed as a dark romantic-comedy, although it is rather difficult to put into a genre.
One critic said that this was “the worst film I have ever seen”, which isn’t very promising. It seems that this was put together over a few years, some acting friends offered their services for free to take part, it was recorded in several London locations, and the dialogue was mostly improvised. The idea could be described as “the anti-Love Actually“. If that film showed how various couples happily got together, this one would show how they fell apart, sometimes very bitterly.
Beyond Fielding and Barratt, there were a few more familiar names in the cast. These include Julia Davis (Nighty Night), Paul McGann (the eighth Doctor), Roland Gift (Fine Young Cannibals), and Kerry Fox (who I think was also in Rocky Star that I enjoyed a while back?). Also featuring was Martin Hancock, who was Geoffrey “Spider” Nugent in Coronation Street for a few years, although his accent could be more suited to EastEnders. Now my mum thinks that she saw him walking along the street once, although why it would be him I wouldn’t know.
We also saw how these couples originally got together. It was interesting to see the Boosh guys doing something a little different to their usual surreal style, even though this mostly consisted of arguing with people. There was also a problem with most of the pictures being in the wrong ratio, not very good lighting, and the microphones were seemingly in a different room. And well, the couple talking to each other on Skype, it could be anything.
This was clearly something that was rather low budget and experimental, maybe someone got their dusty old camcorder out of a cupboard and decided to use that. Some people seemed to think though that Brakes was a waste of a clearly talented cast, and a 1am slot on London Live was about as much exposure as it deserved. The DVD extras consist of a few deleted and extended scenes, along with some outtakes.