The Nice Guys

No sooner had 101’s movie reviewer Andy Oliver submitted his review of Warcraft: The Beginning then his was straight back to the town’s Odeon cinema to watch The Nice Guys for you.

The Nice Guys

Nobody does action, character and snappy, laugh out loud dialogue quite like writer/director Shane Black. His scripts are sharp, cynical, often brutal, often prone to misanthropy, always quotable and always hugely enjoyable. His characters are damaged, fast-talking and, more often than not, absolute scumbags. Black made his name as writer of the classic Mel Gibson action vehicle, Lethal Weapon and, along with all three sequels went on to script The Last Boy Scout, The Long Kiss Goodnight and The Monster Squad before graduating onto the rather excellent Kiss Kiss Bang Bang and Iron Man 3 as writer/director. The Nice Guys might not be a revolutionary departure from Black’s previous work, or bring anything sparklingly inventive or new to the screen, but it’s difficult to care when you’re presented with something this damned enjoyable.

Set in an asphyxiated 1970’s Los Angeles and revolving around a labyrinthine plot that wouldn’t seem out of place in an Elmore Leonard or Carl Hiaasen novel, The Nice Guys is a call-back to a time we still had buddy movies, a time before Hollywood invented “Bromance”. Private investigator Holland March (Ryan Gosling) is a terrible person, he swindles old ladies and drinks so much that he has to have his 12-year old daughter drive him around town. When he accepts a case to find a missing girl it brings him into contact with Jackson Healy (Russell Crowe), a big hearted barrel of a man who makes his point with his fists and breaks limbs the way most of us break sweat: with little conscious effort. The problem is that Healy is in the business of helping the girl stay missing.

The Nice Guys

But when Healy decides that the girl shouldn’t remain hidden he teams up with March and his daughter, Holly (Angourie Rice) to discover why a porno film made by high-school environmentalists is so important to Detroit car manufacturers, and why so many bodies are dropping around them and bullets flying in their general direction.

Gosling and Crowe work amazingly well together and – this is going to sound a little weird, I admit – there’s more than a touch of Abbott and Costello about their double act: Crowe in charge and constantly exasperated, Gosling as the fall guy who’s never quite sure what’s going on. I can honestly say that I have never enjoyed the two of them as much I did here, Crowe’s earnest, lumbering resoluteness is stripped away and he’s (almost) likeable as Healy and Gosling delivers a whole truckload of goofy, manic charm in lieu of his usual brooding seriousness. Healy and March are riffs on the classic pulp noir anti-heroes of post-war “Men’s” novels, damaged individuals who might just stumble upon redemption even though they were never looking for it; amoral idiots who get a taste of doing the right thing and it doesn’t taste as bad as they thought it would.

The Nice Guys

So it is left to Angourie Rice as 12-year old world-weary Holly to be the moral centre of the movie. Like a Nancy Drew who grew up too fast, Holly sneaks into porn parties and confronts hitmen, she is the hero her father probably once dreamt he would be and the character Healy knows he possibly could be if he wanted to. Rice is great. No, not great, Rice is really, really great. Gosling and Crowe are bringing their A-game to The Nice Guys, Rice is absolutely knocking it out of the park.

Crowe’s LA Confidential co-star Kim Basinger turns up as the missing girl’s mother and Matt Bomer plays the big bad in typical Shane Black style (think Gary Busey in Lethal Weapon), full of barely restrained megalomania and psychopathy. They’re both great but, let’s be honest, they’re most definitely not the reason you’re watching this movie.

There’s a couple of scenes that hang around a touch too long and a dream sequence featuring a talking bee that could easily have been trimmed out, but on the whole it does exactly what it sets out to do and that is to entertain. It’s sleazy, amoral, hilarious and moves at such a cracking pace that you really don’t care that the plot seems to make little sense or even work. The Nice Guys is a great night out at the cinema and a movie that I’ll enjoy returning to again and again, you probably will as well.

Andy Oliver







Andy Oliver

Colchester Classics – Classical Music Picks for June



BBC Music Day

BBC Music Day is a UK-wide celebration of everything we love about music with the aim of bringing people together from different generations and communities. On Friday 3 June, Colchester celebrates this event with the Colne Valley Youth Orchestra,  students from Academy East Music School, Tendring Music School and pupils from local schools including Philip Morant, Thurstable and Colchester Royal Grammar School perform some of the BBC 10 pieces which are being promoted by Essex Music Education Hub through workshops and lessons.  Friday 3 June at 7pm, St Botolph’s Church, Colchester.

Admission is free with a retiring collect.

Frinton Festival & Family Concert

The opening concert in the annual Frinton Festival is on Thursday 2 June with music by Saint-Saens, Hugo Wolf and Beethoven.

This concert and also the Family Concert on Saturday 4 June have a limited number of free tickets for those aged 8 – 25. (01255 319141)

The Sixteen

The Sixteen, comprising both choir and period-instrument orchestra, are recognised as one of the world’s greatest ensembles. Saturday 4 June the sixteenth choral pilgrimage of The Sixteen under Harry Christophers comes to Chelmsford. The concert celebrates the work of William Byrd and Arvo Pärt, composers from very different eras, both considered masters of sacred music despite having faced considerable persecution for their work.  Chelmsford Cathedral, Saturday 4 June at 7.30pm.

Tickets from £15 (0333 666 3366)

Dulcis Venti & Francis Knights

Discovering that there was no existing repertoire for recorder quartet with harpsichord, Colchester New Music challenged composers around the world to rectify the situation. Saturday 4 June,  Dulcis Venti and harpsichordist Francis Knights present the first ever performances of works for this mysteriously neglected ensemble. Dulcis Venti is a newly formed recorder quartet, based in East Anglia and directed by Stephen Watkins. Francis Knights is Director of Studies in Music at Fitzwilliam College, Cambridge and trained as a harpsichordist under Robert Woolley. Saturday 4 June at 7.30pm. Headgate Theatre, Colchester.

Tickets: £8 (01206 366000 or email

Nicholas McCarthy

Born without his right hand, award-winning British pianist Nicholas McCarthy is a champion of the left-hand repertoire. On Tuesday 31 May, his Summer UK Piano Tour begins and on June 5, Nicholas returns to his hometown of Colchester for a concert at St Botolph’s Church at 3pm before completing his UK tour on 16 June. Nicholas is one of the rare musicians who captivates the audience with his musicianship and informs and entertains with his remarkable repertoire knowledge.

Nicholas performs music especially written for the left-hand only, transcriptions and arrangements, including his own, and recent commissions.  Tickets: £10 (0800 411 8881). At his Colchester concert Nicholas will pick the winner for a signed copy of his debut album, Solo. To enter the competition ring 0800 999 4994 or by email  Sunday June 5 at 3pm in St Botolph’s Church.

Tickets: £10 (0800 411 8881

Beth Spendlove & Nigel Clayton

At 2.45pm on Sunday 5 June Beth Spendlove and Nigel Clayton perform music for violin and piano by Handel, Mozart and Szymanowski in Lion Walk Church, Colchester. Tickets: £12 on the door.   Beth and Nigel present a recital on Thursday June 9 as part of the 22nd season of Summer Concerts, St Mary’s Church, Frinton.

Free admission with retiring collection.

Witham Choral Society – Her Majesty the Queen’s 90th birthday

On 11 June at 7.30 pm at Witham United Reformed Church, Newland Street, Witham Choral Society will be celebrating Her Majesty the Queen’s 90th birthday by performing some of the music played at her Coronation back in 1953. Accompanied by the Colchester Bach Ensemble the concert will feature Handel Coronation Anthems (including Zadok the Priest), Greensleeves and Purcell’s Trumpet Tune. The choir will also sing Vivaldi’s Gloria and music by Haydn and Mozart.

Tickets are £10 and £5 for those in full-time education.

Purcell’s The Fairy Queen

Shakespeare has inspired countless composers throughout the ages. Purcell’s The Fairy Queen is a magical version of A Midsummer Night’s Dream and it inaugurates both the Maldon Festival and its commemoration of the Bard’s 400th Anniversary. The City Lit Opera with Pegasus Baroque Orchestra perform at the Amphitheatre, Promenade Park, Maldon on Saturday June 25 at 6pm. Tickets: £15 (01621 856503). On the same evening, the Colchester Choral Society performs Purcell’s The Fairy Queen in the version devised by Benjamin Britten and Imogen Holst, and first performed at the Aldeburgh Festival in 1967.

Further information

Harwich Festival

Tickets are now available for the Harwich Festival 2016 (24 June – 3 July) with discounted season tickets on offer for its Classical Music concerts with performances by the Amphion Consort, the European Union Chamber Orchestra, the London Piano Trio and many more.

Tickets: 07425 1450222 or

If you have a forthcoming concert of classical music, you would like previewed, contact Liz Leatherdale on 0800 999 6994.

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Liz Leatherdale






Liz Leatherdale