icons-02 icons-01 MM Logo Instagram

blog

Movie news, reviews, features and more thoughts coming soon...

By midlandsmovies, Feb 24 2020 05:36PM



Midlands Review - See You Again


Directed by Jayne Slater


2020


Written and Directed by East Midlands based filmmaker Jayne Slater ‘See You Again is a supernatural drama which depicts the strained relationship between a mother and daughter, due to the commitments and struggles of modern day working life.


The film opens with the mother, Rachel (Jenn Day), driving at night, seemingly distracted. The screen fades to black as oncoming headlights fill her side window. Back at home, Rachel wakes her sleeping daughter Elle (Isobel McNerney), apologetic, after missing the movie night Elle had been looking forward to. She insists they spend some quality time together, almost as if it’s the last time they will have a chance.


The dialogue and chemistry between these two characters is vital for the success of the film and fortunately it wholly pays off. Jenn Day specifically, conveys her emotion in such a subtle, controlled and natural way that it feels realistic. The only gripe I’d have with the casting is that for me, I felt Isobel McNerney seemed slightly too old to be colouring with crayons with her mother. Casting of a younger actor may have also added to the innocence of the character, gaining a more emotional reaction from the audience. However, that in no way discredits McNerney’s performance as she does a commendable job throughout .


The aesthetic of the film is very impressive and showed the feature film experience of Jayne Slater. However, I felt fixed rather than handheld camerawork in certain moments would have worked better in this genre of film as the shakiness at some points distracted me from the drama on screen. Also, some lighting inconsistencies, specifically in the kitchen, took me out of the immersion of what otherwise was a great story. Just to put this into context, when the mother and daughter are in the living room it was obviously night-time however as they moved into the kitchen the high key lighting made it seem as if it was the middle of the day.


In a Midlands Spotlight earlier this month, Director Jayne Slater said “Work-life balance is something a lot of people struggle with, especially in this generation, and so I wanted my film to have message that a lot of people could relate to”. The film is definitely successful in doing this, it is easy to see it resonating with a large audience because of its easily relatable themes. The confined setting of the family home gives it a lot more personable feel and focuses you purely on the relationship between the two leads.


Overall, ‘See You Again’ is an impressively shot, wonderfully performed short film exploring the emotional relationship between a parent and her child. I hope that it has a significant impact on parents watching and makes them think twice about what the most important things in life are. I look forward to seeing what Jayne Slater does next.


Jake Evans

Twitter @Jake_Evans1609


By midlandsmovies, Feb 21 2020 10:45AM



Northampton Film Festival 2020 - Kind of a Big Deal


There’s a new regional festival in town which comes to the Midlands in May. The Northampton Film Festival 2020: Kind of a Big Deal is now and is encouraging local filmmakers to submit their films for free.


The screening events will run across Northampton from 13th May to 20th May and there’s no age limit when it comes to the films entered.


So it doesn't matter if you start making it now (organisers Screen Northants can help budding directors meet potential cast and crew) or if it's a decade old. As long as it's no longer than 30 minutes and has some connection to Northampton or Northamptonshire, you can submit it.


Any genre: from experimental to documentaries to music videos with a bit of a story, if it's a short film they will take it!


There's a number of ways to get involved:


- submit to the short film competition


- if you are a school you can enter the special schools competition for Northamptonshire - make a film on the theme of Mavericks and Misfits (or if you've already made one on any theme you can submit it to the short film competition)


- if you don't fancy a competition but want to share a film they have a “First Films are Sh*t Show them Anyway” night where people who haven't entered a film festival before can just share their work in a non-judgemental arena. Get it out of the way then next year maybe you'll submit!


- Enter their 48hr Film Challenge at the end of this month or in April for a chance to go into their Winners of Winners category at the festival in May! It's free... Read their handy guide here and see the bottom of this email for dates


https://screennorthants.wordpress.com/2019/08/08/48hrguidebook/


- finally, the festival will be doing a load of events in the run up to the festival and at the festival itself so keep your eyes peeled!


Check out the official website and please share - www.northamptonfilmfestival.co.uk



By midlandsmovies, Feb 21 2020 10:31AM



Sonic The Hedgehog (2020) Dir. Jeff Fowler


In his theatrical directorial debut, American filmmaker Jeff Fowler, takes on the challenge of a live-action adaptation of one of the world’s most beloved video game characters, Sonic the Hedgehog.


The film opens with Sonic (Ben Schwartz), our blue hero, needing a quick escape from his home planet. His mentor, Longclaw, has encouraged the young hedgehog to hide his supersonic speed but he hasn’t listened. This has led to him being hunted by a tribe of Echidnas (some form of masked, dreadlocked anteaters). To avoid the tribe Longclaw provides Sonic with a bag of golden rings that allow him to transport to other worlds when in danger. Of course, this ultimately leads to Sonic ending up on Earth, alone.


10 years later and Sonic has managed to keep hidden from the people of Green Hills, Montana, until one day his loneliness gets the better of him and he makes a mistake that reveals him to the world. The U.S government then enlists the help of the evil Dr Robotnik (Jim Carrey) in order to capture him. Tom Wachowski (James Marsden), the town sheriff discovers Sonic hiding out in his shed and agrees to help him escape Earth. To do this they must travel to San Francisco together to retrieve Sonic’s bag of golden rings.


It is very apparent throughout this film that it was made with a lot of affection and care for the character and his story. The film is full of small Easter eggs that will surely please fans of the franchise. After the first look trailer for this film was unveiled, there was outcry online over the, frankly terrifying, more close to real life interpretation of the character. Thankfully, the look of Sonic was altered to a more cartoonish style, much more fitting with the tone of the film. The care for the film is refreshing in a world of video game adaptations with next to no consideration for the original source material (see Super Mario Bros. (1993) for a clear example of this).


However, despite the love of the creators, this film never really gets past the word ‘generic’. Everything about the narrative, the jokes, the character arcs is all completely predictable. I found myself guessing the gags before the dialogue had even been spoken. This doesn’t mean the film isn’t fun to a point but I would have liked to see a more innovative take on a live-action video game adaptation. This lack of innovation presents itself wholly in an action scene in a bar that seems to have taken rather a large influence from the Quicksilver fight sequence in X Men: Days of Future Past (2014).


Another issue I had with the narrative was that I couldn’t get over the fact that Sonic could simply run to San Francisco in a fraction of the time the road trip takes, rather than sit in the passenger seat of a 4x4 with a human slowing him down. Of course, sometimes in films aimed at younger audiences you’re forced to take leaps, so maybe I’ll have to let that one pass.


Despite my gripes with the film, I didn’t hate it. I thought the performances added a lot. Jim Carrey as Robotnik unsurprisingly bought a lot of his animated energy to the role, which suits itself well with this type of film. Another standout was Ben Schwartz as Sonic, he bought the same snarky teen attitude that the character has always possessed in video games over the years. His chemistry with James Marsden also worked well, emphasising the reoccurring theme of friendship and making it all the more believable.


Ultimately, Sonic the Hedgehog doesn’t break the curse of video game big screen adaptations however it ticks all of the generic boxes for an easily watchable family film. It doesn’t stretch for anything beyond mediocrity with it’s run of the mill jokes and narrative. However, I’m sure it’s easily quotable dialogue and colourful storytelling will resonate well with younger audiences.


★★★


Jake Evans


Twitter @Jake_Evans1609


By midlandsmovies, Feb 21 2020 10:30AM

Quite simply, here is our ongoing and updated list of Film Festivals in the Midlands (2020 edition):


• THE SHORT CINEMA http://www.theshortcinema.co.uk info@theshortcinema.co.uk Phoenix, Leicester - August 2020 (TBC)


*CINE-EXCESS INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL - Birmingham School of Media Birmingham City 4th - 7th November 2020


• NOTTINGHAM INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL http://www.nottiff.com/ 13th - 15th November 2020


• INDIE-LINCS - Feb 13th - 15th 2020 Based at Lincoln Performing Arts Centre, and run in partnership with The School of Film and Media at the University of Lincoln http://www.indie-lincs.com


• BRINDLEY PLACE OUTDOOR FEST - http://www.brindleyplace.com/event/brindleyplace-film-festival-2018/ DATES TBC


• BORDERLINES FEST http://www.borderlinesfilmfestival.co.uk UK's largest rural film festival. Herefordshire/Shropshire - 28th February to 15th March 2020


• BIRMINGHAM FILM FEST - 13th - 22nd November 2020 https://filmfreeway.com/festival/Birminghamfilmfestival


• BIFF FEST (Birmingham Black International Film Fest) https://www.biffestival.co.uk 2020 TBC


• SHOCK AND GORE FESTIVAL Electric Cinema in Birmingham https://twitter.com/shockgore 2020 TBC


• DEAFFEST http://www.deaffest.co.uk The UK's International Deaf Film & Arts Festival Wolverhampton. Contact info@light-house.co.uk 2020 date TBC


* BIRMINGHAM INDIAN FILM FESTIVAL http://birminghamindianfilmfestival.co.uk 2020 dates TBC


• THE UK ASIAN FILM FESTIVAL LEICESTER - http://tonguesonfire.com/ 2020 dates TBC


• SHOUT FESTIVAL http://shoutfestival.co.uk Birmingham 2020 dates TBC


• DERBY FILM FESTIVAL http://www.derbyfilmfestival.co.uk 19th - 23rd November 2020


• FANTASTIQ FEST http://fantastiq.co.uk Fantasy/Horror Fest at Quad in Derby (part of Derby Film Fest)


• MAYHEM HORROR Film Fest - Halloween. Contact Broadway cinema in Nottingham http://www.broadway.org.uk/mayhem 15th - 18th October 2020


• FLATPACK FEST - Birmingham, UK. http://www.flatpackfestival.org.uk 5th - 10th May 2020


• BEESTON FILM FESTIVAL - https://twitter.com/BeestonFilm 25th-29th March 2020


• SHROPSHIRE RAINBOW FILM FESTIVAL http://www.rainbowfilmfestival.org.uk/midlands-zone on hiatus for 2019 - TBC 2020 dates


• GRINDHOUSE PLANET - www.grindhouseplanet.com 2020 dates TBC


* BOTTLESMOKE FILM FESTIVAL - https://www.facebook.com/BottleSmokeStoke Stoke on Trent - September 8th 2019


* WIRKSWORTH FILM FEST https://wirksworth3minfilmfest.co.uk Derbyshire 2th - 31st July 2020


* HEART OF ENGLAND FILM FEST - https://www.heartofenglandfilmfest.com Coventry 2020 Dates TBC


* HIGH PEAK INDEPENDENT FILM FESTIVAL Derbyshire https://www.highpeakindie.com 6th - 9th August 2020


* NEXUS FILM FESTIVAL https://twitter.com/NexusEastMids Nottingham 17th - 21st May 2020


* NOTTZ FILM FESTIVAL Hothouse Theatre Nottingham https://twitter.com/NottmFilmFest 2020 Dates TBC


* THE SHORT STACK FILM FESTIVAL Nottingham Bi-monthly screening night at Broadway Cinema https://www.facebook.com/groups/841340665914084 (Various dates)


* 5 LAMPS FILMS - Bi-monthly short-film screenings at Derby Quad (various dates) + annual 24hr film challenge https://twitter.com/fivelampsfilms (Various dates)


* PARACINEMA - Derby https://twitter.com/ParacinemaDerby 7th - 10th May 2020


* THE BLACK COUNTRY HORROR SHORTS FILM FESTIVAL - Stourbridge https://www.weepingbankproductions.co.uk/horror-film-festival Saturday 27th February 2020


* CINEQ - Birmingham Queer Film Festival - https://www.cineqbirmingham.co.uk 26th - 29th March 2020


* LEAMINGTON FILM FESTIVAL - Temperance Bar, Leamington Spa http://www.temperance.bar/film-festival.html 10th - 12th January 2020


* NORTHAMPTON FILM FESTIVAL - various locations across Northampton http://www.northamptonfilmfestival.co.uk/ 13th – 20th May 2020


Other useful Film Festival information can be found at these links:

http://www.festivalfocus.org/festival

http://film.britishcouncil.org/festivals-directory/festivals-map

http://www.thefilmfestivaldoctor.co.uk

By midlandsmovies, Feb 15 2020 07:09PM



1917 (2020) Dir. Sam Mendes


Two young soldiers, Schofield (George MacKay) and Blake (Dean-Charles Chapman) are tasked with delivering a message to the front line so a platoon of fellow soldiers avoid an ambush in Sam Mendes’ new WW1 film 1917. Leaving the trenches and entering enemy territory the pair need to deliver the warning to save 1600 lives, but in the process have to protect their own fragile lives in the war zone of northern France.


Mendes stages his film around a Birdman style “single take” which puts the audience in the action, takes you on a journey and forces the viewer to see through the unblinking eye of a soldier. It opens with apparently endless trenches with the Steadicam shooting reminiscent of Kubrick’s Paths of Glory whilst the eerie musical tones echoing WW2 film Dunkirk help keep everything on a knife edge.


The whole set up is therefore simple but effective as the boys avoid German shells and disused guns whilst dead horses, bodies and wounded recruits litter their experience. Always in danger, we feel it along with them every step of the way and a trip wire scene with a rat is phenomenal in its explosive power.


Both main actors are incredibly relatable as they (and we) bond over personal stories to keep their spirits up. As they venture further from their line, they encounter abandoned buildings as the German’s undertake a tactical retreat. Moments of levity stop 1917 from becoming a moribund hellscape but it doesn’t skimp on the atrocities of The Great War either. Its impressive technical construction sees cameras floating over water, planes crashing and night turning to day seemingly in the same one-take.


The “huge-ness” of their mission is contrasted nicely with more mundane tasks as they work against small problems like a van getting stuck in mud. And the film’s focus on these small moments between soldiers makes a mid-film surprise even more of an emotional trauma for the viewer.


1917 ends up being a fantastic war film taking new risks in a genre that has been covered many times in cinema. The film appears to have the most natural shooting style in the world. But then you stop and think about it and marvel at its complexity, audacity and the one-shot camerawork is as unescapable as the horror of war itself.


★★★★ ½


Michael Sales

By midlandsmovies, Feb 14 2020 08:42AM

Birds of Prey (2020) Dir. Cathy Yan


DC’s eighth instalment in their ever expanding ‘Extended Universe’ is released this week. Birds of Prey, or to give it it’s full mouthful of a title, Birds of Prey (and the fantabulous emancipation of one Harley Quinn), is helmed by director Cathy Yan and stars Margot Robbie in her second outing as the titular character.


After Harley’s split from the Joker leaves her vulnerable to the wrath of all of Gotham’s criminal underworld, she crosses paths with 3 other “dames looking for emancipation” in order to take down the most nefarious villain of them all, Roman Sionis (Ewan Mcgregor). Huntress (Mary Elizabeth Winstead), Black Canary (Jurnee Smollett-Bell) and cliché cop Renee Montoya (Rosie Perez) team up alongside Harley when pre-teen Cassandra Cain (Ella Jay Basco) has a contract placed on her head after pick pocketing Sionis’ prized diamond.


We are told the story in an almost Tarantino-esque non-linear fashion. The chronology of the story imitates Harley’s hyperactive mind, with her unreliable narration taking us back in time to understand the events unfolding on screen. From the get go this film just oozes fun. The colourful sets and costumes really create an atmosphere you want to be a part of, unlike the dingy, suppressed nature of Harley Quinn’s first introduction to us in Suicide Squad.


In terms of performances Margot Robbie and Ewan Mcgregor are the obvious standouts. Robbie embodies the role as if she was born to play it. Again, in comparison with Suicide Squad she has a lot more opportunity within this film to bring a more emotional depth to the character allowing the audience to gain a larger understanding of her as a person. Therefore, cementing herself as one of the most beloved anti-heroes in this generation of superhero franchises.


Ewan Mcgregor seems a world away from the last time audiences saw him in last years Doctor Sleep. Both performances brilliant but in polar opposite ways. In Doctor Sleep Mcgregor a much more serious, reserved and endearing character. Whereas in this film he grabs the over the top villain role with both hands. Sionis teeters on the edge of madness, going from 0 to 100, flamboyant to terrifying in mere seconds.


An honourable mention is deserved for Chris Messina as Victor Zsasz, Sionis’ right hand man. A character in love with violence, constantly provoking his superior to allow him to feed his desperation for it. His mannerisms and even the way he looks at other people sends chills down your spine.


Unfortunately, in terms of acting, for me, Mary Elizabeth Winstead and Ella Jay Basco were the clear weak links. I was surprised by Winstead, I do enjoy her performances in Scott Pilgrim Versus the World and 10 Cloverfield Lane, they prove she can hold her own alongside highly respected actors. Whether it was the script or just how she played it, her appearance as Huntress felt misjudged. The character’s dialogue always seemed forced. Continuous reference is made to the fact her character has not become akin to the tough guy persona just yet which led to quite a bit of overacting and cringe inducing lines.


Similarly with Ella Jay Basco, despite her fantastic physical acting in scenes of her pickpocketing unsuspecting people on the street, her delivery of lines just didn’t feel up to the mark. I understand that she is a young child actor but her performance lacked the spark or magic that others possessed.


Getting back to the positives of the film, the influence of John Wick director Chad Stahelski on some of the action scenes in the film was clear. An excellent choice by Birds of Prey producers to gain the help of the director of this era’s staple action franchise. Wide shots, perfect use of slow motion and practical stunts immerse the audience in each and every action sequence. Each significant character’s unique fighting style is showcased in spectacular fashion. Whether it Harley Quinn’s acrobatic flair or Huntress’ sharpshooter technique, these scenes were the most fun I had whilst watching this film.


DC seem to have finally found their rhythm in their longstanding fight against Marvel and with Joaquin Phoenix’s Oscar win for his performance in Joker and the quality of this film, they may even be one step ahead right now.


★★★★


Jake Evans


Twitter @Jake_Evans1609

By midlandsmovies, Feb 11 2020 11:39AM



O.H.C.A (Out of Hospital Cardiac Arrest)


Directed by Richard Steele


2020


O.H.C.A is a new semi-autobiographical short film written and directed by Midlands filmmaker Richard Steele. The film focuses on Lucas (John Williams) and his journey tackling the psychological hurdles of the trauma and recovery of an out of hospital cardiac arrest.


As the film opens we see footage of a five-a-side football game, a hobby which Lucas refers to taking part in later in the story. He explains he was playing only a week before his cardiac arrest, implementing a theme that is constant throughout the narrative, the future isn’t promised.


Steele utilises the regular breaking of the fourth wall with Lucas’ narration. The film is structured in a way that sees Lucas recounting his experience in a point by point fashion when he is fully recovered. This takes away a lot of possible peril in the story but presents the audience with a reliable narrator throughout the narrative. It gives us a much better understanding of the emotions the character is feeling at each point in the film.


The inclusion of Lucas’ girlfriend, Pippa (Linda Brammer), offers another point of view of these events, giving insight into the mindset of a casualty that is not often talked about in stories of ordeals such as these. Lucas’ dependence on her provides the most touching parts of the film, especially when we see his first solo walk to the bus stop without Pippa there to rely on.


The handheld nature of the camerawork works in a personable way, reinforcing the unrehearsed, realistic feel of the film, also possibly signifying the instability of the character after his trauma.


The film centres around a touchy subject for many people, without pulling on the heart strings too much. If I was to put forward one critique it would be that the emotional side of the story could have been delved into deeper. It would have touched me in a more poignant way if the main character had been more emotive when explaining the way he felt in certain situations.


Overall, Out of Hospital Cardiac Arrest is a gratifying, insightful and personable look into a road to recovery that a large number of people traverse. The fact that the director has created a semi-autobiographical film adds to the authenticity of the story, which I believe could be used by other people in similar situations to help them along their own journey.


Jake Evans



By midlandsmovies, Feb 10 2020 08:47PM




Midlands Spotlight on filmmaker Jayne Slater


Jayne Slater is an award-winning freelance filmmaker based in the East Midlands and Midlands Movies finds out more about this up and coming filmmaker as she releases her new short See You Again.


As well as being a keen director, Jayne Slater has experience as both a scriptwriter and as a producer too. Working across many departments Jayne has undertaken assistant directing and location management within a wide range of projects.


Not stopping there, she has also been a production assistant and like many, started as a runner. Helping her out along the way however was valuable experience gained whilst at University over the last few years.


Graduating with a BA Hons from the University of Derby in 2018 where she studied Film Production, Jayne has recently completed a new short which is currently doing on the festival circuit.

See You Again is her new drama which tells the story of mum Rachel who has to keep putting off spending time with her daughter, Elle, because of overtime. One night she tries to make this right, as it may be her last chance to see Elle.


Jayne explains where her idea originated from: “We live in a world where people increasingly chose work over spending time with their children. For children, they don’t understand the concept of a job and can hold resentment for their parents’ absence”.


“If a parent had a chance to correct this understanding and showed they care, I’d imagine they would take it”, adds Jayne.


She goes on to say, “This was the first short I made after becoming a graduate. I wanted a film that showed my liking towards the supernatural and fairy tale elements without costing a bomb”.


The cast includes Jenn Day as Rachel and Isobel McNerney as Elle. It also features Dylan Knight, Trevor Oram and Craig Micheli in support roles.


Jayne finishes by saying, “Work-life balance is something a lot of people struggle with, especially in this generation, and so I wanted my film to have message that a lot of people could relate to”.


We hope Jayne’s film captures the imagination of its audience as well as resonating with its family themes.


Check out the full trailer above as well as the poster for the film from designer Cong Nyugen.




RSS Feed twitter