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By midlandsmovies, May 21 2017 09:05AM



Derby Film Festival 2017


By Guy Russell


A little under two weeks ago I had the pleasure of attending the 4th annual Derby Film Festival. Hosted by QUAD the festival kicked off on the 28th April followed by ten days’ worth of screenings, talks, short films and competitions.


Each year the festival has a different theme and the films listed in the programme reflect that theme in some way. Last year’s festival had the theme of “Journey”, this year’s however was “Habitat” and as the festival organisers describe it, “the environment that films take place in can vary hugely and create a massive impact on the narrative and the characters”.





Mindhorn (2017)

On the opening night of the festival the audience was treated to a preview of the upcoming comedy Mindhorn starring Julian Barratt of The Mighty Boosh fame. Directed by Sean Foley and written by Barratt and Boosh collaborator Simon Farnaby this plays a lot differently than what we’re used to seeing Barratt do.


Instead of eccentric and odd humour however we’re treated to the sad, self-deprecating comedy which Will Ferrell and Steve Coogan have excelled at for years. Barratt plays it just as brilliantly as Richard Thorncroft, a former 80s television detective who longs for a comeback on the screen but instead finds himself being asked to assist the police in apprehending a real life murderer.


Mindhorn will draw obvious comparisons to Steve Coogan’s Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa that was released in 2013 as Partridge found himself thrust into real action as a hostage negotiator. Coogan actually stars in Mindhorn also as Thorncroft’s former co-star Pete Eastman who is now a star in his own right. Accomplished actors Kenneth Branaugh and Andrea Riseborough also feature.


It was a pleasure to know the film was shot on location in the Isle of Mann, the sleepy location played a part in the film and looked glorious on the screen. I really enjoyed Mindhorn and I am fairly confident the rest of the audience did too as the screening was filled with laughter. This British comedy delivers plenty of laughs wgich is sadly something that isn’t too common in British cinemas right now. It was also refreshing that the film is completely original and not only commissioned because of its ties to an already established television show (Alan Partridge, The Inbetweeners). I hope to see more Mindhorn films from Barratt in the future.


You can still catch Mindhorn showing at the QUAD in May.



David Lynch: The Art Life (2017)

This documentary about David Lynch’s life and work as a filmmaker was an advance preview as part of the Fantastiq element of the festival.


Directed by Jon Nguyen and Rick Barnes this intimate look inside Lynch’s youth, his persona and his “art life” couldn’t come at a more relevant time. Twin Peaks, arguably Lynch’s most recognisable title in his resume is weeks away from being revived, so an expose into the mind of one of the most enigmatic directors around today is satisfying to watch. Narrated by Lynch through a vintage microphone speaker he guides the audience through his awkward life affirming adolescence right through into his adulthood giving the viewer an idea about how his mind works and why he is such a vivid and eccentric director.


Last year’s Derby Film Festival screened Wild at Heart (1990) and whilst I wasn’t the biggest fan of the film I understood why Lynch has a massive legion of fans. I wasn’t expecting to enjoy this documentary as much as I did but with a sleek running time of only 90 minutes I found myself wanting to hear Lynch talk more about any subject! Nguyen and Barnes do a great job in keeping the films pace light and swift, never letting the film sag or outstay its welcome.


Whilst I’m a firm believer of “less is more” when it comes to knowing a film or filmmakers secrets I am guilty of seeing filmmakers quizzed on their films or their career, making sense of the subtleties they have placed in their films. This documentary is a must see for any David Lynch fan or film fan.


Whilst this was an advance preview as part of the Derby Film Festival, viewers can catch this documentary when it hits cinemas in July 2017.



Ace in the Hole (1951)

Directed by legendary filmmaker Billy Wilder, this long unappreciated noir film was a new watch for me and was screened during the festival and fitting perfectly with the theme of habitat.


Ace in the Hole stars Kirk Douglas as Chuck Tatum, a cynical, libellous, cruel adulterer who has been caught on previous occasions creating fake news to further his career as a reporter. We find out early on that Tatum has been fired from every newspaper from New York to Chicago and has now found his way in Albuquerque, New Mexico offering his services to small town paper The Albuquerque Sun-Bulletin.


Tatum is a classic noir protagonist, a flawed, greedy individual who only looks out for himself, a familiar trait in a lot of people in the modern world today. Frustrated at the lack of “big news” in his small town, Tatum is sent to a nearby rattlesnake hunt to report on when he stumbles upon local man Leo Minosa (Richard Benedict) who has been tragically caved in whilst scavenging in an old Indian cave. Tatum virtually rubs his hands as he sees the tragedy as a way to write “big news” again, instead of getting Minosa out as quickly as possible Tatum slyly delays the rescue effort so his story can grow.


What follows is a massive media circus surrounding the cave, tourists from different states camp out, hot dog vendors at every turn, carnival rides and even a band performing and selling a song they have written for Leo. Tatum, along with Leo’s estranged wife make a huge windfall whilst Minosa is trapped.


Wilder through the characters and brilliant cinematography by Charles Lang, scathingly attacks the American people’s obsession over tragedy, no surprise then when Ace in the Hole flopped at the box office only finding its appreciation in the last two decades. Wilder famously spoke of the poor box office performance saying “Americans expected a cocktail and felt I was giving them a shot of vinegar instead”.


Ace in the Hole fits ideally within the theme of habitat as the location creates a massive impact on its central characters. Without the Indian cave trapping Leo there would be no circus, no story. As I mentioned earlier this was a first watch for myself, and I enjoyed it thoroughly, I can see this becoming a favourite on my shelf for years to come.


To find that it didn’t find an audience when first released is disappointing, the film was definitely before its time and I would gladly recommend this film to anyone!



The Truman Show (1998)

Moving on from Ace in the Holes attack of the public’s desire for tragedy is The Truman Show, a film attacking the publics obsession for drama. Directed by Peter Weir, The Truman Show stars Jim Carrey as Truman Burbank who since birth has been the subject of a reality television show about his life. Adopted by Christof (Ed Harris) who serves as the show’s creator and executive producer Truman is unaware that his whole life has been scripted, materialized just for ratings.


Unlike Ace in the Hole, The Truman Show was a huge commercial and critical success even though both films criticise human natures worst aspects. Originally The Truman Show was written as a thriller set in New York City however when Weir approached the project the film was developed as a comedy, attaching the world’s biggest comedy star Jim Carrey as the lead. I believe this is one the reasons the audience accepted a filmmaker’s critique of them as Weir masks his attack with comedy.


Truman’s entire life has taken place inside a giant production dome in Hollywood, designed to create the image of the beautiful, fictional Seahaven Island. When films stay in our mind long after the film has finished sometimes it’s not the plot or the characters that makes our minds revisit the movie but because visually we can’t get the films “look” out of our head.


The matching cottages, porches and white picket fences seem too perfect to be real, some of the shots by cinematographer Peter Biziou almost resemble some fantasy films like Brazil (1985). Similar to Mindhorn, The Truman Show was shot on location in the aptly named Seaside, Florida, a fact not many people can believe, many believing the look was achieved on a soundstage in Hollywood.


I’m sure most people had already seen The Truman Show when it was screened on the penultimate day of the festival, however like myself I’m sure they enjoyed seeing it on the big screen with an audience laughing with them. If you’ve not already seen Truman, then I would highly recommend this film!


Guy Russell


A big thank you to Kathy Frain at Derby QUAD

By midlandsmovies, May 21 2017 08:34AM



The House of Screaming Death (2017) Pat the Bull Films & Lightbeam Productions

Directed by: Troy Dennison, Rebecca Harris-Smith, David Hastings, Alex Bourne


A collaborative group of fright-filmmakers have pulled together and created a new Midlands made horror anthology – The House of Screaming Death – and, in a Midlands Movies first, we review this local horror feature with two (!) of our writers in conversation.


Taking a slightly longer format than before, Editor Mike Sales speaks to site feature writer Marek Zacharkiw about these multiple tales of terror in a collaborative format akin to the film itself.


To set the scene, The House of Screaming Death utilises the horror staple of an anthology film set around the same location, in this case it’s another recognisable feature of the genre – that of a spooky location – which is a great concept (not to mention realistic in terms of scope and budget for an indie production - Marek). Here it allows this group of filmmakers to display their individual talents while linking the tales together using themes of time, personal journeys and tackling the ‘ghosts’ of the past. Each of the 5 directors (4 tales plus the director of the wraparound sequence) brings their horror-tinged stories to screen using new occupants as well as both the familiar and the unknown.


The film opens with a suitably gothic red ghoulish font reminiscent of classic Hammer Horror and we are then introduced to Ian McNeice (Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls) as the Architect. He’s the perfect foil to deliver an eerie performance as he introduces each segment. There’s also a great score from Matthew Calvert which mixes a dash of the recent Stranger Things with urgent strings to create a pumping tension at the beginning. And with that, Marek and I got stuck into the film…


MAREK: I have to say the idea of the film really appeals to me and I think this is in part because the film makers have presented it in a way reminiscent of the older Amicus and Hammer horror anthologies which I am a fan of. The opening and casting of Ian McNiece as The Architect, also lends the film a certain air of gravitas in regards to the professionalism of the picture, by which I mean you do not often get such recognisable faces in these smaller productions. Although the actual story introductions were somewhat lacking I felt.

MIKE: Absolutely. Without putting a downer on so early in the proceedings, the first story was “The Lady in Grey” from Troy Dennison but it was hard to work out any of the story names as McNeice doesn’t give the audience the titles. There’s only a date – in this case 1943 – so I thought a name card could help.

MAREK: I fully agree here simply because it primes us as a viewer and to be honest I feel it helps audiences get into the mindset or world of the unfolding story. “The Lady in Grey” to me came across almost as an attempt to visualise an Edgar Allen Poe story but unfortunately fell short for me as the script and pacing just did not have enough to hold my attention throughout. However I did feel that the concept fit perfectly into the location and credit must be applied for how the crew brought that time period to life.

MIKE: Yeah, the tale had great costumes and the rooms of the house had great set/prop design with suitably old fashioned sets for the varying time periods.

MAREK: As we see across all genres, the choice of an interesting location, and particularly in this case its incorporation into the story, can really help the filmmaker make the most of limited production budgets but in this opening segment I feel that it was a missed opportunity. .

MIKE: Agreed. The story is straightforward and the lighting was good. I was a bit unsure of starting the film with a monologue sequence and tension was only created by the music and not particularly the pacing or editing.

MAREK: I think that explains the issues perfectly, it was difficult to get into as a starting point (for the whole anthology) due to the narrative choice which relied too much on a script that while functional was not simply not engaging enough to hold my sole attention.

MIKE: Multiple speeds of pacing keep interest up but the one-note speed in this segment didn’t reflect the drama being described.


MIKE: The second tale was Rebecca Harris-Smith’s ‘The Witch in the Mirror’ set in 1934 and then 1974. As I mentioned, it was now 18 minutes before any dialogue had been delivered which made me think the order of tales could be reversed.

MAREK: After quite an intriguing start I found this one a little confusing in terms of tone although the opening aesthetics, in particular the costumes, did grab my attention.

MIKE: I loved the steampunk-esque plague masks of the necromancers. The main couple’s real-life argument in another room heard by the guests was a great parallel twist on hearing ghostly sounds through the walls.

MAREK: Exactly and it is in this manner that I hoped the story and style would develop. Although I felt the pacing was a bit disjointed and while, again, the script was functional that every time it built up momentum it became bogged down in the minutiae of everyday conversation.

MIKE: A well-lit dinner meal used creepy candles as we see a couple spend a night in the inherited house. I enjoyed the nods to ‘typically’ horror set ups, again harking back to their retro influences.

MAREK: See for me this was one of the areas that missed where the real interest of the story lay, rather than uninteresting bickering of some confusing characters, confusing in the sense of motivation, I wanted to discover more about the supernatural.

MIKE: I found the structure a little strange as we flash-forward at the story’s start and then at the table hear a story from the past. I kept wondering, as the film switches time periods anyway, which date are we on now? But the reversal (mirrored, if you will) ending nicely linked up the two time periods which clarified the crossover.



MIKE: So we move on to the third story titled ‘The Vampyre’ from Dave Hastings set in 1888.

MAREK: For me this was the highlight of the anthology, a strong concept that was well delivered and engaging throughout.

MIKE: This segment had my favourite characters for me. The vicar delivered a good performance and enjoyed the stereotypically burly locals nonplussed by the city outsider and the central villain of the segment as well.

MAREK: I fully agree, it knew what it wanted to achieve and set the characters out to deliver that with a few nods to the past.

MIKE: A pub scene was notably quiet with no background “hum” and also no score. It was like the audio was missing rather than a stylistic choice. The silence was unnatural but not in a supernatural way.

MAREK: Sadly this appears to have been a theme that frequently reoccurred, to a greater or lesser extent, throughout and did make a difference taking you out of the created world although thankfully this segment was strong enough for me to manage to survive.

MIKE: There were a few scenes in the forest that were really dark and possibly under-lit but it certainly kept it realistic for the time period it was set in.

MAREK: Now I think that final part you mentioned is key but we also need to remember that this story utilised the outdoors a lot more as well as shadows to perhaps hold the mystery a little longer in regards to our villain and I felt this was handled very well in what must have been some difficult shooting conditions regarding lighting.


MAREK: For the final, we are whisked to 2017 (by way of 2015) for the ‘The Diabolique’ by Alex Bourne.

MIKE: Here, we have a lady investigating the disappearance of her brother which leads her to the house.

MAREK: Like the previous segment I thought this was a strong, engaging concept and serves the additional purpose to bring us back to present day.

MIKE: Again, classic horror tropes like a ‘haunted’ doll and cult like images help cement the anthology’s love of the past and this tale wears it’s influences on its sleeve which will attract the fans of the that genre to it all the more.

MAREK: Although everyone deserves credit, perhaps this segment is the best acted out of them all and it helps bring it together.

MIKE: Agreed. It had the best pacing of the sequences for me too and the set of shorts ended on a high note as the tempo had really sped up by now.


MIKE: So in conclusion, what were your favourite parts of the film and which did you think needed improving?

MAREK: I felt the final two stories were undoubtedly the strongest, with ‘The Vampyre’ being my favourite. However I have to say that I do worry that the overall story order is wrong and certain viewers will not stick with it.

MIKE: For me, and I think I’ve mentioned it in so many reviews now that both independents and mainstream blockbusters have a current trend to make everything 2 hours plus, no matter what the content.

MAREK: Exactly and while this film at around two hours might seem like it would break down into four 30 minute episodes it does not play out that way in terms of an even split, and perhaps was overly ambitious based on the resources.

MIKE: Yeah, I sadly feel it’s also magnified by a lower budget. If resources like locations, money and some technical aspects are limited then it makes sense to me that these limitations could be extended to the length. A short, punchy, tightly-edited film often has more impact. In comparison, the recent mainstream release XX had 4 stories coming in at 80 minutes.

MAREK: Sometimes less is more but perhaps with a little tighter editing and post-production many of these qualms can be answered and all of a sudden it becomes a much more enjoyable film.

MIKE: Maybe a re-ordering of the tales would have helped so as to draw the viewer into the exciting beginning of tale 2 before the more mournful reflective narration of Story 1.

MAREK: Exactly, and I think this is perhaps where I am doing a disservice to the opening story but to me it does not set the anthology off on an engaging note and its sparse, bleak tone then permeates to the viewer making for a dry and unfortunately slow start.

MIKE: There’s definitely much more to recommend it than the few areas of improvement we’ve discussed and the anthology format works well for tales of camp-fire horror.

MAREK: Certainly and I think it is just a few minor tweaks required which will perhaps even come as the experienced directors continue their edits. There are of course plenty of positives to take from this and enjoyment to be had, particularly from the last two stories.


So ultimately House of Screaming Death is a retro-infused horror collection that it is more Inside No.9 than Amicus/Hammer but there is a lot of promise and clear genre knowledge behind the camera. One area which anthology films often get wrong but was perfect in this, was the wraparound story which worked exceptionally well and deserves credit. And with 4 exciting directors honing their craft both of us are looking forward to the next terrific tell-tale terrors they have to offer.


Midlands Movies Mike & Marek


Find out more about the film and its release at the Official Website: http://onabeamoflight.wixsite.com/screamingdeath/the-stories





By midlandsmovies, May 18 2017 08:37PM



Colossal (2017) Dir. Nacho Vigalondo


A (very) original concept for a film, Colossal stars Anne Hathaway and Jason Sudeikis as childhood friends who reconnect when Hathaway’s ‘Gloria’ returns to her small hometown only for much larger events to take place halfway across the world. Her arrival is spawned when Dan Stevens’ Tim breaks off their city relationship owing to her boozy going-nowhere lifestyle and once back, she runs into Sudeikis’ Oscar who gives her a job at a local bar. Offering support in her time of need, the job however doesn’t help with the current woes she is suffering from.


And from here it gets much weirder. After Gloria enters a local playground she soon discovers that at the very same time, a giant Godzilla-like monster materialises in South Korea (Asia, where else?) and we learn that it’s a manifestation of herself. The ginormous lizard even acts out the same sad movements including her bad dancing and head scratching.


But here’s the rub. I thoroughly enjoyed the movie but anyone expecting the crazy laugh out loud style antics they are attempting to sell in the trailer will be very disappointed or at least confused. I don’t think I laughed once which doesn’t mean there weren’t a few light-hearted comedic moments just that there were no jokes as such.


The few amusing situations we do get very quickly turn to a much more morose tone as I began to pity Gloria quite early on. Hathaway is a likeable actress, although a bit too clean cut for me, but she gives a more ‘Girl on the Train’-style performance here as her own demons are pushed to the forefront. I’ve never warmed to Sudeikis at all but I did enjoy him in Race (2016) and here he stretches his range further by starting out as a helpful pal trying to get Hathaway back on her feet before switching to a much crueller character later on. And he too materialises in the Far East but this time his brutality is symbolised as a giant armour-plated robot.


Clearly an allegory for domestic violence – both mentally and physically – the film shows how that can manifest itself as a giant issue to be tackled head on. The huge subject matter literally becomes a huge monster. A bit on the nose? Maybe. But it’s done very well indeed by the director as the movie develops into fiery fist fights – ones that are fantastical in Korea yet explosively violent in the small town.


I would say the tone is most similar to Gondry’s Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind which delivered surreal storytelling and images around what was essentially a love story. Here, a ‘sobering’ return to childhood (and adult) issues is the driving force, with the strangeness and uniqueness coming from the role of the metaphorical monsters.


A very original premise is to be praised in this monstrous franchise era, and the well thought-out topic is something I felt was an interesting subject to hang the film on. I do still feel the trailer does it a disservice however. It’s a much more serious film with serious themes rather than the Pacific Rim/Rom-com product it’s been advertised as. If you ignore that though, you’ll find a very rewarding film which delves into the mammoth repercussions of intense emotions by showing the fierce fighting between fantasy and the factual.


8/10


Midlands Movies Mike

By midlandsmovies, May 18 2017 08:15AM



In May 2017 with the release of Ridley Scott's latest entry into his sci-fi franchise, Alien: Covenant, Midlands Movies held a brand new competition for our readers.


To celebrate the release, we offered one lucky reader the chance to win a BluRay box set of 5 of the Alien films including Scott's original and its prequel Prometheus.


We had over 400 entrants and we have randomly picked one lucky person out of the "egg" and the winner is....


Twitter user >>>> https://twitter.com/_mia_mills_


Congratulations! Please get in touch via direct message to claim your prize.


Thanks for everyone who took part and please keep following on Twitter for more great giveaways


Midlands Movies Mike


By midlandsmovies, May 17 2017 01:21PM



STILL

Directed by. Carl Timms

Dark Matter Films


“What the fuck made me do this for a living?”


Written, produced and directed by Midlander Carl Timms, his debut short entitled STILL is a zombie-infused story filmed entirely in Birmingham and comes with a unique premise that tackles the often ‘chase-based’ nature of this horror genre.


Starting with a voiceover questioning the main character’s motivation for wanting to perform in the first place, the film begins with a human statue standing in a town centre. Panning around we see the chaos and disaster caused by a horde of zombies who are shown attacking the public in the background.


The human statue conceit may be a nod to Edgar Wright’s Hot Fuzz (and ergo Shaun of the Dead) but it is a uniquely good idea as it focuses on a protagonist frozen in time when his instincts are to run. Especially since the camera rotates around the static man (painted head to toe in gold no less) and it is revealed he is face-to-face with an infected blood-lusting zombie.


As cramp, heavy breathing and nose itching start to become a concern, the short uses this inactivity to create high tension as the minutiae of human feeling is brought to the forefront as he stares down the closely positioned zombie.


A great score comes from Matthew Steed who uses an alarm-based synthesiser composition to highlight the emergency nature of what is going on, whilst the excellent special make up effects by Stuart Conran (head make-up effects artist on Shaun of the Dead and The Descent) are gleefully gruesome.


The short combines horror and comedy with the living statue soon craving a toilet break at the same time as entrails litter his shoulder and blood and gore splatter his gilded suit.


Still takes time to perfect each beat and as the tension rises, the statue asks who else has possibly survived and we head into another superb sequence. The audience is shown the aftermath of what has happened to a street artist whilst the similar act-copying “wheelbarrow man” is exposed to his own dangers.


The film uses close-ups to great effect as the actor Joe Capella uses all his talents to show his concerned face. This great performance has to display anger, determination and being petrified with very little movement and he delivers a first-rate act.


As a decision is made to leave, an injury is sustained and we get a comedic limping/zombie shuffling chase – possibly the slowest seen since Will Ferrell’s ice-skates-on-land chase in Blades of Glory. Again, another great idea in a film already full to the brim with them.


But is the celebratory escape short lived? Well, you’ll just have to watch it as we’re not giving up any spoilers here.


An outstanding concept, fully realised and delivered with a great cast, huge laughs and some superbly shocking terror, STILL is a great entry into zombie folk-lore, despite the fact the genre has a tendency to easily become stilted. You’ll find no such slowness here in the most fast (and fantastic) short about a statue you’ll ever see.


Midlands Movies Mike


Follow the film at https://twitter.com/zomshortstill & view at www.vimeo.com/ondemand/zomshortstill


By midlandsmovies, May 16 2017 09:00AM



Alien: Covenant (2017) Dir. Ridley Scott


After offering some universe building themes in the much maligned Prometheus – a film I coincidently enjoyed against the tide of criticism – Ridley Scott returns to his Alien ‘franchise’ in this new sci-fi horror exploration. Whilst not mine, the general consensus was that Prometheus’ lofty subject matter of creators and deities overshadowed the crowd-pleasing terror of the earlier Alien films. Well, Covenant has sadly gone even further with his quasi-religious side-stories rather than rein them in and even I am losing patience with Scott’s obsessions.


In an absolute carbon copy beginning, and one that removes any sense of tension, we are introduced to a set of poorly-fleshed out stock characters as the crew of a colonist ship follows a signal to a mysterious planet. They send a party down to a mountain-filled landscape only to discover an extraterrestrial ship which they enter. Sound familiar at all?


Well, this dullness last for almost 40 long minutes and plays out EXACTLY as Prometheus did which was, and even I have to concede this, not the most interesting original opening in the first place. Rather than drama and dread, the film is as dull as dishwater then delivers the inevitable alien infection/quarantine scene – again, a duplication of things we’ve seen so often before.


And so we come to a point where it finally follows up on Prometheus as we find that film’s android, Michael Fassbender’s ‘David’, sneaking around the planet. Wearing Skywalker-esque robes he goes on to explain some fishy goings-on about the alien goo from the first film. He seems to know the score, both physically and metaphorically. By this, I do mean the actual musical score. The film jumps the shark as he teaches the crew’s own synthetic life form (Fassbender again as ‘Walter’) to play Prometheus’ orchestral main theme on a flute. Scott’s presenting a character playing the film’s theme tune?! That’s like Indiana Jones humming John Williams in the middle of an adventure!


With two robots now introduced, Scott spends an extraordinary amount of time on them and their ‘profound’ (think The Matrix’s ‘Architect’) discussions and interactions. Yet neither one contains the humanity needed to care about their actions. And when they begin fighting, I cared even less.


That aside, the film has further niggles with over-use of poor CGI to recreate the Xenomorph, and its genetic spin-off animals, and much of the film plays out in harsh daylight. Some JCB product placement made me question if the film is now set in “our” future. Which would be like an Apple logo suddenly appearing on a lightsaber. These flaws add up and by the second act, had me gritting my teeth in frustration.


[SPOILER PARAGRAPH] The film also pulls an ‘Alien 3’ by killing off the main character we engaged with from the previous movie. Noomi Rapace’s feisty Elizabeth Shaw is shown only as a corpse experimented on yet she is strangely replaced by a carbon-copy character played by Katherine Waterston. She is now the female in the tight crop top yet the film is consistently unsure who the main character should be anyways. And the mildly-interesting space-jockey engineers? Oh, they’re wiped off the face of the planet in a sequence lasting just seconds. [END OF SPOILERS]


The disappointment of the summer so far, Alien: Covenant is an absolute mess. I would go as far to say that Scott’s 1979 original is one of my top 10 films of all time. Cameron’s superb war action film not far behind too. Yet Scott is intent on focusing this new set of films on a bottomless pit of exposition and thesis based around an android’s god-like goals and dreams. And without Alien’s terror and Aliens’ excitement, Covenant falls into the worst place possible – it’s simply dull and elicits very little emotion at all and is as underwhelming as any film I’ve seen recently. Scott must do better if he’s to continue otherwise he may blow this franchise out of the airlock forever.


5/10


Midlands Movies Mike



By midlandsmovies, May 16 2017 08:47AM



New Midlands Film Festival Hopes to Leave you Feeling Good


Midlands Movies Mike introduces a brand new film festival for the region that is looking for submissions from talented filmmakers for their first ever event.


West Midlands-based Sutton Coldfield Movie Makers are about to launch their first ever ‘Film Fest’ and are encouraging filmmakers from the area to get involved.


They are hoping the region’s talent will submit films (no longer than five minutes) on the theme of ‘Feel Good’. Films will be screened at a special event at Highbury Theatre Centre on the big screen, at 2pm on Sunday 16th July.


Seeing the event as a celebration of local film, it will also be an opportunity for people to meet other filmmakers informally, as well as allowing film makers to invite friends and family to see their films in a cinema setting.


Committee member Debbie Daniels explains, “We originally had the idea as Sutton Coldfield Movie Makers make films mainly for competitions and we wanted an event that was celebratory in nature”.


“We will have films from our club, and hopefully other clubs, but we are very keen to involve any lone filmmakers out there, or young people who are making films, for example”, Debbie adds.


Tickets will be available to the general public for just £2 and with their film theme of ‘Feel Good’, Debbie and her team are aiming for their audiences to leave very much ‘feeling good’.


For details check out the organisation at www.suttoncoldfieldmoviemakers.org.uk where there is also a link to more information about Film Fest.


In their first year they are hoping to share this event out to a wider audience of movie makers and it complements the already exciting calendar of film festivals in the Midlands.


By midlandsmovies, May 13 2017 09:51AM



Father Phantom Studio’s special effect on Birmingham’s film scene.


When you enter the Father Phantom Studio, the first thing you notice isn’t the 8 foot tall Predator that towers over you; it isn’t the eerily realistic yet bald bust of Heath Ledger’s Joker; it’s the passion of founders Ben Fallaize and Laura Viale Durand. They’re the kind of people you could listen to for hours.


From the hair-raising details of how wigs often originate from humans (before it’s painstakingly and individually hand-threaded over 40 hours) to tales of blood work special effects that literally blows the mind, they’re a whole other level of film aficionado. But it’s not all about gore and guts. Ben and Laura’s acute attention to detail and backstory creates characters rather than monsters and this approach has seen them work on the long-running Thriller musical as well as a string of films, including docu-horror Cain Hill and Director John Adams’ upcoming Aux





In addition to their film and theatre work, Father Phantom Studio’s line of collectibles is the embodiment of their obsessive eye for subtleties. Creating bespoke collectibles to order, each item’s uniqueness is ensured, with the cast thrown away once completed. As self-proclaimed perfectionists, their most popular sculptures are often taken from the actor’s death mask itself or from the original Hollywood mould which include original imperfections. To see for yourself, Father Phantom Studio will be exhibiting at Birmingham Horror Con on the weekend of the 28th and 29th of October.


Taking inspiration for the studio name from Father Death and the Phantom of the Opera, Ben and Laura recognised Birmingham as a city on the up for film production and as a result, relocated to the Jewellery Quarter. They are actively looking to engage with makers of both independent and mainstream films and can be contacted via the link below. We at Midlands Movies can’t wait to see what they do next.


Do you have a passion for props, special effects an make up? Have you finished studying & have experience in film/theatre hair or make up? If so, Father Phantom Studio are looking to expand their team and can be contacted directly through their website here


Robb Sheppard

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