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By midlandsmovies, Feb 7 2019 09:02PM



Midlands Review - Suicide Blonde


(2018)


Directed by David L Knight


Suicide Blonde is a short story that follows a young woman who pieces together the events of the night before. The opening scene is actually audio of a sexual act. The first visual scene is her laying on the ground of a park next to her lover, pushing the story on quite quickly.


We're captivated by the woman, played by Kerrie Sirrell, with her strong performance of a self destructive individual. The flashbacks to the evening are well executed and play perfectly alongside the current aftermath. The stark contrast of a colourful and lively nightclub to the cold reality of the morning after is a reminder of how things can get out of control. This scene also deals with the fact that both parties were just as irresponsible as each other.


Suicide Blonde tackles issues that are very real and very relevant to today's society. This short film could almost pass as an educational advert if it were shorter, and maybe a series of stories if it were longer. The target audience is slightly unclear, but the point is there.


90% of the film is pure build up, and the last moments are what really hit the hardest. What would have resonated more is real statistics. The colour tones, pragmatic scenes and gritty feel was all there, but seeing as the messages of hard drug use and sexually transmitted diseases is significant and still socially relevant - some recent data would've reinforced the final point.


The supporting roles from everyone else was complimentary against Sirrell's dramatic performance, which further enhanced her character's destructive personality.


As for the style of the film, I believe it was meant to look as real as possible. David L. Knight's previous films contain hints and traces of homages to the more influential directors of the 20th Century. With Suicide Blonde, everything had a much milder feel. With regards to the music, it was there when needed and the various voice overs filled the rest of the scenes nicely.


From the director, to the actors and editors, plus everyone else involved in the making of this movie, they all displayed skill and dedication to perfect all aspects. This was a strong team making a bold film. I would personally like to see more of these short stories with a stronger sense of reality. This could have a much bigger impact on such important and relevant subjects in today's society.


Sammy S


By midlandsmovies, Feb 5 2019 03:57PM



Velvet Buzzsaw (2019) Dir. Dan Gilroy


In a world of instant gratification and the need to be the first with any news and information about a movie, it’s a shame that new film Velvet Buzzsaw comes with such huge baggage. Humour me if you will, but it used to be the case that to find out the spoiler details of a film you had to dig-deep in some super-fan film forum. Later on you could find a lot of info just by scrolling through social media.


But in the case of drama-horror Velvet Buzzsaw, the film company – Netflix in this instance – has taken those out of the equation to spoil the entirety of the film with their own trailer.


Ironically, given director Dan Gilroy’s previous film Nightcrawler which had a news-hunting sociopath (Jake Gyllenhaal) attempting to be the first with breaking stories he had a hand in, the unbelievable misstep of the film’s promo campaign has unfortunately bled into the movie itself.


Anyways, back to the film. Gilroy’s movie again sees him team up with Jake Gyllenhaal who stars as bisexual art critic Morf Vandewalt - who can make or break an artist’s career with just a few sentences.


Rene Russo plays hard-hitting gallery owner Rhodora Haze, but when her employee Josephina (Zawe Ashton) steals a number of paintings made by a deceased man from her apartment block, the two see an opportunity to profit from the works. But all is not as it seems as the artist’s dark past is infused into the chaotic canvases.


And later on we discover that the works have far more sinister entities captured within them, moving the film beyond its opening (and slightly campy) drama into a more overt horror genre. The film attempts and mostly succeeds in trying to balance some very black humour amongst the frightening set-pieces as the cursed paintings leave a trail of death in their wake.


The cast is largely excellent too – the main trio of Gyllenhaal, Russo and Ashton give quirky turns and are supported by a slightly-underused John Malkovich and a brief appearance by Toni Collette as Gretchen.


And speaking of her brief appearance. A trailer, for me, teases the audience with excitement to come. There’s always been the problem of trailers simply shortening the story, showing the film’s best bits or simply revealing too much. But oh boy, Velvet Buzzsaw's trailer shockingly delivers all three.


[SPOILERS] Maybe I have myself to blame. I chose to watch the trailer after all. That said, how anyone could get enjoyment from the film given the secrets the trailer gives away is a mystery to me. It shows the film’s main secret (the paintings are possessed and can move) and provides the film’s entire story in linear fashion. It also gives away some of the best scenes – paint literally “stalking” one of the protagonists – and finally, and by far the worst of all – it shows a death of one of the main characters.


I was hoping that the film's spoilerific trailer footage would be cleverly repositioned for the movie itself. Nope. Seen the trailer, seen the film. Absolute tension killer. Shame.


Gilroy is an excellent filmmaker and Velvet Buzzsaw has great set pieces and can be seen as an on-the-nose satire of the art world, contrasting elements of superficiality with deep destructive passions of art creators. But ultimately my recommendation has to be that audiences should DEFINITELY go into this one cold and avoid the trailer at all costs. If you don’t you’ll find what’s left behind is an absolute buzzkill.


★★★½


Mike Sales




By midlandsmovies, Feb 4 2019 04:26PM



Midlands Spotlight - Cosmos


Midlands Movies Mike Sales looks to the stars to find out about new Birmingham-made sci-film Cosmos which is coming soon in 2019.


Cosmos is a new local feature from directing brothers Elliot Weaver & Zander Weaver who not only self-produced the project but actually took on all major crew roles throughout production.


With the only exception being the writing of the score, the brothers have made a film that mixes local flavour with a story that looks out to the universe for its inspiration.


Making movies since they were children, the brothers have been concocting and creating shorts films throughout their education including music videos and short documentaries and when they finished school decided to set up an online film school themselves.


"We wanted to share with other young filmmakers some of the tips and tricks we’d already picked up on professional projects and hopefully inspire others to have a go themselves. We managed to establish a small following and continue to enjoy interacting with those who benefit from our content".


But with production on Cosmos now finished, the filmmakers are about to embark on a festival and screening tour for a film which cost less than £5000 to make.


Cosmos itself tells the story of three amateur astronomers who accidentally intercept what they believe is a signal from an alien civilisation. Realising they may have just stumbled across Mankind's greatest discovery, they race to document their finding, prove its authenticity and share it with the world before it is lost forever.


But as the filmmakers say, the truth they uncover is even more incredible than any of them could have imagined. Inspired by Amblin-era adventures and set over just one night against the backdrop of a world-changing discovery, Cosmos is promising to offer spectacle and thrills when its released later in the year.


For more information following the film on Twitter or at the official website: https://ellianderpictures.co.uk/films/cosmos


And you can watch the trailer for the film below:





By midlandsmovies, Feb 3 2019 08:10PM



Midlands Movies Awards 2019 - Nominations


1. Best Feature

James Smith (Do Something Jake)

Kaushy Patel & Philip Huzzey (Out of Gas)


2. Best Short

The Front Door by Andrew Rutter

73 Cows by Alex Lockwood

Scarecrow by Lee Charlish

Troubled Waters by Gemma Norton

Little Boxes by Joshua King

Bang Bang by Zeyn Haider

Bee-Loved by Sarah Wynne Kordas & James Pyle

Shining Tor by Andrew David Barker


3. Actor in a Leading Role

Joshua Barrett in Trentside

Lawrence Walker in Answer

Chris Butler in The Front Door

Harrington Day in Last Call

Ross Cooper in Cappuccino

Dave Inglis in Eviction


4. Actress in a Leading Role

Vivienne Bell in Troubled Waters

Natsumi Kuroda in The Nail that Sticks Out

Amelia Gabbard in Aurora

Kelly McCormack in Two’s Company

Rebekah Hinds in Woman of the Night

Claire Lowrie in Last Call


5. Actor in a Supporting Role

Paul Findlay in Breakdown

Brad Ash in The Front Door

Nisaro Karim in Duality

Jonny Parlett in Enemies

Michael Cotton in Carriages


6. Actress in a Supporting Role

Nathalie Codsi in Answer

Olivia Noyce in Headphones

Laura Peterson in The Nail That Sticks Out

Helen Lewis in Martin Sharp Is Sorry

Rhi Hardman in Return of the Ring


7. Animated Film

Sarah Wynne Kordas & James Pyle for Bee-Loved

Matt Williams for Crawl

Lee Charlish for Return from the Moon

Liam Harris for Perched


8. Costume & Makeup & Hairstyling

Eleanor Frith, Katherine Newbury & Karentino for Aurora

Lee Charlish, Meg Charlish and Jenny McDonald for Scarecrow

Monica Montalvo for Best Friends Forever

Coralie Hudson, Jessica Campbell, Alice Green, Elysia Fisher & Emile Wilson for Deeds not Words.

Chris Morris, Laura Viale Durand, Ben Fallaize, Monica Montalvo & Katarina Horvatic for Make Do or Mend

9. Directing

Gemma Norton for Troubled Waters

Christopher Bevan for Make Do or Mend

Thomas Line for Headphones

Alex Lockwood for 73 Cows

Sophie Black for Songbird

Charlie Delaney for Trentside

Luke J Collins for Cappuccino


10. Documentary

Paul Stringer for Boarders without Borders

Rick Goldsmith for Herefordshire: Life Through A Lens

Daina Anderson for BLACK' The Documentary - 'Strong'

Laura Ray for OCD: Can you hear it too?

Alex Lockwood for 73 Cows


11. Editing

Ashleigh Harley for Judge Me

Simon Dymond for Make Do or Mend

Dave Jones for Cappuccino

Charlie, Eddie and Beth Sutton for Little Boxes

Zeyn Haider for Bang Bang


12. Music (Score or song)

Felix Mercer for Troubled Waters

Janet Devlin for Songbird

Peter Flint for Not Alone

Ashleigh Harley for Judge Me

Savfk (Saverio Blasi) for Gamer


13. Cinematography

David Andrew Smith for Trentside

Richard Staff for Troubled Waters

Connor Goodwin for Aurora

Gary Rogers for The Beauty of It

Oliver Walton for 73 Cows


14. Sound (Editing or Mixing)

Simon Haupt for Headphones

Keith Morrison for Make Do or Mend

Liam Banks for Best Friends Forever

Luke Galloway for Bang Bang

John Roddy for 73 Cows


15. Visual Effects

Sheikh Shahnawaz for Gamer

Hayley Allen, Steve Askey, Matt Burkey, Matt Oakley,

Dom Stables and Nick Willet for Songbird

Mick Walker for Shining Tor

Ashleigh Harley for The Wall of Lyon

Lee Charlish for Return from the Moon


16. Writing (Original/adapted)

Luke Collins for Cappuccino

Tommy Draper & Sascha Zimmermann for Lilli

Adam Palmer for Answer

Andrew Rutter for The Front Door

Daley-James Francis for Martin Sharpe is Sorry

By midlandsmovies, Jan 30 2019 08:22PM



Ghost the Musical at Curve Leicester


Based upon the 1990 American romantic fantasy thriller film Ghost, this new musical version of the massive box office success heads to Curve Leicester as it starts a UK-wide run.


Taking its cue from the movie’s plot, this stage adaptation again centres on a young woman, Molly, who ends up in peril after her partner, Sam, is killed in a supposed mugging gone wrong.


As Sam’s ghost gets stuck between worlds he contacts a psychic who reluctantly agrees to help him to discover the dark secrets surrounding his death and to protect Molly from the dangers she’s facing.


Molly is played by Rebekah Lowlings and Sam by Niall Sheehy, and whilst they are no Demi Moore and Patrick Swayze, their voices more than make up for a little lack of chemistry at times. Note perfect renditions of big stage tunes, group harmonies and sad solos were certainly delivered impeccably.


The film is stolen by Whoopi Goldberg’s Oscar-winning turn as Oda Mae Brown and the same happens here as Jacqui Dubois channels a similar performance but gives it her own twist as the oddball psychic. However, although Goldberg didn’t provide any singing Dubois’ fantastic Aretha Franklin style soul vocals added amazing flavour to the proceedings.


In fact, the show suffers slightly from showtune fatigue where the earnest but slightly bland moody melodies between the lonely protagonists, whilst pitch-perfect, were shown up by the edgier songs interspersed throughout.


In order to help Molly, Sam meets a ghost on a subway train and Lovonne Richards tribal drum rapping was a welcome addition as was Oda Mae’s gospel infused “Are You A Believer?” with excellent support from Jochebel Ohene MacCarthy and Sadie-Jean Shirley.


Also of note was the jazzy “You Gotta Let Go Now” from James Earl Adair and of course, we can’t not mention the legendary tune Unchained Melody. Aspects of the song are littered throughout – from the background score to an impromptu jaunty acoustic version – but the leads did themselves proud late on in the show when they delivered the full rendition.


And at that point the coughing began. A touch of flu in the crowd perhaps? Definitely not. The lumps in the throat were clearly growing and by the show’s poignant goodbye conclusion, there were certainly some sobs from the crowd.


A great rendition of a classic movie, the film’s main beats are recreated using good choreography and Mark Bailey’s superb stage design along with solid performances across the board. Although a few tracks fell flat, stick around to enjoy the quirkier songs and plenty of funny moments during a show which delivers plenty of spirit.


Michael Sales


By midlandsmovies, Jan 30 2019 06:01PM



Review - Crucible of the Vampire


The reign of vampire movies has slowed down in recent years due to a new breed of superhumans on the block. It’s apparent though, that this genre has not been forgotten.


Crucible of the vampire grabbed my attention for three reasons.


The opening scene. To set the tone of the movie, we’re introduced to an elderly gentleman stirring a pot in the woods by a creek. The story quickly develops when a band of witch hunters suspect the gentleman of performing necromancy.


This whole sequence is done in stark black and white. It could have benefitted from a few reflectors on set, as the details in some faces were completely lost. However, one scene, only lasting a second, which struck with me with awe, was when the gentleman was branded with a hot poker. The embers flickered in colour. The excitement of something so visually unexpected in the first three minutes threw me right into the story and I was eager to continue.


Jump to present day and we’re introduced to Isabelle, a museum curator tasked with verifying a piece of cauldron in a remote Stately manor in Shropshire. The family within the house are seemingly inviting, except for Scarlet, the daughter.


In a let’s-break-the-ice kind of evening dinner, the family’s strange dynamic is revealed. The acting was cold and lacked fluidity and I couldn’t help but imagine these guys had only just met behind the camera earlier that day. This was both unsettling and noticeable; there was no real chemistry made between the main actors in the first place.


That’s not to say they didn’t try. Katie Goldfinch, who played Isabelle, completely blew me away in the third act when she’s tied up and held against her will. Therein lays my second reason as to why this film engrossed me.


This particular scene was shot with Isabelle in a frantic, animalistic panic over all that had happened. Not only did the fast paced editing induce hysteria and leave you just as off balance as Isabelle, but also the surreal colours and offset music inspired a quicker heart rate than usual. This was the scene I was waiting for in amongst this slow paced movie.


As for the interior of the house; whether it was made to look this way or it was simply how it originally was, the house gave you chills.


There is nothing warm about the place and even if the house looked clean, you could feel dust everywhere. It was genuinely a perfect place for such a story to flourish, and only later in the film do you see more hidden layers of it.


The characters, however, remained two-dimensional. It could have had something to do with the costumes, or lack thereof. Even though it was set in present day and the need for modern clothing was apparent, the counterpart historical scenes were rich in the outfit department.


I would’ve liked to have seen a more subtle connection to the past. Instead, the only thing that connected them to the history of events was the cauldron and the obviously ominous black robes. The music was unnecessary at times. Some scenes would have benefitted more from pure silence to further enhance the feeling of remoteness. Harsh violins and deep cellos became a distraction at the wrong time.


The film failed to allow the audience’s imagination to ascend and develop, but instead the story was served straight up with no satisfaction of conceptualising anything for ourselves. This was especially apparent when an important character known as the “dark lady” would appear. Full ghoulish makeup, big black wig and scary unblinking eyes. If there was supposed to be shock value, it wasn’t there.


This leads me to my third and final premise on why I advanced deeper into the movie. With the dark lady, there was a genuinely creepy moment. This scene was layered with only hints of light, shot at night of course. It worked because so much was left to the imagination. When the dark lady unnervingly walks down the stairs, your eyes are fixated on Isabelle playing the organ. With an unknown source of light, your eyes suddenly dart to the lady coming from the shadows and then disappear again. The effect of having less really did mean more.


With the film’s genre almost forgotten, it was nice to be reminded that vampires aren’t dead yet. A more minimalistic approach to the sound would’ve matched the visuals well, and a deeper connection between characters could’ve driven the story deeper. The film is worth watching for some excellent stand-alone scenes as they are spread out evenly across the movie.


★★ ½


Sammy

By midlandsmovies, Jan 29 2019 02:58PM



The Chase (2018)


Fight Club production in association with Five Pence Productions.


Directed by Nisaro Karim & Sam Malley. Written by Nisaro Karim


A trio of contract criminals are assigned a case whereby they must steal a Christmas present from an empty household, only the job doesn’t turn out to be quite as straightforward as they had anticipated.


Sometimes I see films and I have to admire the potential they showed, even if they don’t quite hit the mark in terms of their execution. What Sam Malley and Nisaro Karim have created with The Chase is something that is a very solid foundation for what could go on to be a well-developed concept should they continue to invest in it.


What piques my interest most here is the premise and the number of questions it raises for the viewer. First and foremost, we have a story that centres around the bad guys, which is never a bad thing in my eyes. Generally speaking, the dodgier the character, the more intriguing the narrative tends to be. The thing with villains is they’re grafters. They always have to work hard, whereas the heroes - no matter how high the odds may be stacked against them - they always seem to come out on top with little or no hardship.


So the fact that I’m straightaway presented with two not-so-good characters as the front runners here tells me that the filmmakers also acknowledge this in some way, and I can appreciate that. What I think would be beneficial is that, going forward, how these people got to be where they are today gets explored.


To be able to get inside the head of a villain is always a fascinating thing, and would absolutely add layers of depth to what is a promising blueprint. Add to this the fact that little notes are added throughout the story with the intention of capturing attention and suddenly you have something that shows a lot of potential indeed. Some of these are a bit on the nose, for example, a package with content that remains a mystery from start to finish. However when you look at the bigger picture, it’s the slightly less obvious details that raise the bigger questions, which is another thing I was a fan of.


There were some moments that felt like they were supposed to be more comedic that didn’t hit the mark for me. For the most part, the downfall occurred in one of two ways. Either the generations involved in making the jokes didn’t fit, such as when there is the opening exchange between Dima and Daisy regarding Daisy’s Netflix viewing habits, or the responses to certain situations weren’t reactive enough, and were just too straight-laced.


Personally, I don’t think comedic elements are really needed here if I’m perfectly honest. I think out-and-out crime drama is the approach I’d prefer, and which I think would work better as getting the balance just right with lighter moments is hard and can carry some weight when it’s even just slightly off.


Overall, I do feel like there is a lot of potential there with The Chase, but it does need more development. Foundations are strong, but I think before any future projects are built upon them some of the writing could be tightened up a little bit, and it needs to have more confidence with whatever direction it is headed in.


There is a good idea here, and I think with the right amount of love it could grow into something great. It’s a work-in-progress, but definitely one where the bigger picture is worth keeping an eye on.


Kira Comerford


Twitter @FilmAndTV101


By midlandsmovies, Jan 27 2019 09:19AM



Back in My Day


(2018)


Directed by James Foster


A gentle old man opens the door to a policeman who states he is under arrest in a riveting start to new film Back in My Day from local filmmaker James Foster.


In his first non-student directorial debut, James Foster introduces us to our lead – a Father Christmas-bearded senior citizen who does nothing more than hang out his washing to dry and talk about his bridge club games.


However, an ominous plaster on the gentleman’s head hints upon a recent accident in the man’s life and the film lets the audience uncover the details of the mystery in a reverse narrative technique.


Edited akin to Nolan’s Memento (2000), the film plays out in reverse chronological order with each scene being set slightly before the previous one, forcing us to act as investigator to put the pieces of this mysterious puzzle together ourselves.


A time stamp in the bottom left corner of each sequence keeps the viewer informed of the progress of things which also helps clarify the twisting story.


As our elderly protagonist asks if mobile phones can be tracked we are somewhat lulled into a sympathetic position where it is assumed the man may be returning the lost item. However, there is a much more sinister truth to the short as we start to see the scenes unravel.


[SPOILER] What is revealed is that the man is part of a cult who has kidnapped a teen. And whose robes echo the group from Edgar Wright’s Hot Fuzz in fact. Unlike that cloaked cult, this short isn’t played for laughs however. A final (technically first) shot of the old man leading astray his young victim after dropping bread rolls from his shopping – Hansel & Gretel anyone? – is a dark finale to an intriguing short.


The cast and crew of the film are based mostly in and around Lincoln, and the film itself was shot in Lincolnshire in the director’s home town of Scunthorpe keeping it suitably local. The 6-minute short tries to breathe new life into familiar themes, making our sympathies switch from pensioners being terrorised by your typical young hoodie-wearing tearaway to another horrific situation altogether.


Here the hoods are very much worn by the elderly group and the darkness is often just hinted upon in the short – but is an effective way of making your brain fill in the gaps.


An interesting dark puzzle of a film, Back in My Day plays on our notion of elderly victims and young perpetrators. And along with its different structure, delivers an effective story that inverts not just the narrative – but challenges our presumptions of certain groups to fantastic effect.


Michael Sales


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