icons-02 icons-01 MM Logo Instagram FILM FREEWAY LOGO

blog

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

By midlandsmovies, Jan 7 2020 09:36PM



Midlands Spotlight - Movie-related shows at Leicester Comedy Festival 2020


We take a wry look and recommend some of the best film-related shows at the annual and hilarious Leicester Comedy Festival taking place in February 2020 at venues all across the city.


For these and all other shows check out the full programme at the official website https://comedy-festival.co.uk/


Nathan D’Arcy Roberts: Is My Dad Denzel Washington?

Saturday, 08 February 2020 Time: 4:30pm (5:30pm) Doors open: 4:10pm Entry: £5 OR PWYW

Venue: Just the Tonic at The Shed - Vault

Nathan D'Arcy Roberts (BBC Introducing Radio 4 Comedy Award nominee) is bringing his exciting new show to the Leicester Comedy Festival. Raised having never met his father Nathan embarks on a journey to confirm his belief that the identity of his estranged papa is none other than the Oscar-winning actor.

https://comedy-festival.co.uk/event/nathan-darcy-roberts-is-my-dad-denzel-washington


Jokes On Us present MADDIE CAMPION: MAD MONEY WORK IN PROGRESS

Wednesday, 12 February 2020 Time: 7:45pm (8:45pm)Doors open: 7:25pm Entry: FREE

Venue: Manhattan 34 - Downstairs bar

In 2008 Katie Holmes didn't reprise her role as Rachel Dawes in the acclaimed Batman Begins follow up, The Dark Knight. Instead she chose to make the movie "Mad Money", which was both a critical and commercial flop. In this stand-up show Maddie Campion argues that Katie Holmes made the right decision.

https://comedy-festival.co.uk/event/maddie-campion-mad-money-work-in-progress/


COMEDY FILM NIGHT: TRADING PLACES

Friday, 14 February 2020 Time: 8:00pm (9:55pm)Doors open: 7:40pm Entry: £7.00

Venue: Harborough Theatre - Theatre

Upper-crust executive Louis Winthorpe III (Dan Aykroyd) and down-and-out hustler Billy Ray Valentine (Eddie Murphy) are the subjects of a bet by brokers Mortimer and Randolph Duke. An employee of the Dukes, Winthorpe is framed by the brothers for a crime he didn't commit, with the siblings then installing the street-smart Valentine in his position. When Winthorpe and Valentine uncover the scheme, they set out to turn the tables on the Dukes.

https://comedy-festival.co.uk/event/comedy-film-night-trading-places/


COMEDY FILM NIGHT: FOUR LIONS

Friday, 14 February 2020 Time: 6:00pm (7:35pm)Doors open: 5:40pm Entry: £7.00

Venue: Harborough Theatre - Theatre

Four Lions tells the story of a group of British jihadists who push their abstract dreams of glory to the breaking point. As the wheels fly off, and their competing ideologies clash, what emerges is an emotionally engaging (and entirely plausible) farce. In a storm of razor-sharp verbal jousting and large-scale set pieces, Four Lions is a comic tour de force; it shows that while terrorism is about ideology, it can also be about idiots.

https://comedy-festival.co.uk/event/comedy-film-night-four-lions/


MCUSICAL: THE UNOFFICIAL MARVEL PARODY MUSICAL WORK IN PROGRESS

Sunday, 16 February 2020 Time: 2:30pm (3:30pm) Doors open: 2:10pm Entry: FREE OR PWYW

Venue: Grays@LCB Depot - Lightbox

MCUsical: The Unofficial Parody Musical retells the last 10 years of your favourite superhero cinematic films through an hour of your favourite Broadway songs! You'll love it 3000! (Please note that this show is a Work-in-Progress showing)

https://comedy-festival.co.uk/event/mcusical-the-unofficial-marvel-parody-musical-work-in-progress/


Dad’s Army Radio Show

Monday, 17 February 2020 Time: 7:30pm (9:30pm) Doors open: 7:10pm Entry: £12.00 - £15.00

Venue: Harborough Market Hall

Watch as your favourite, classic BBC sitcom (and film!) comes to life with just two actors, two microphones and plenty of sound effects! Be transported back to Walmington as David Benson and Jack Lane work from original radio scripts, vintage music and all of Perry and Croft's beloved characters and catch phrases.

https://comedy-festival.co.uk/event/dads-army-radio-show-harborough-market-hall/


Hats Off To Laurel and Hardy

Saturday, 22 February 2020 Time: 8:00pm (10:00pm) Doors open: 7:40pm Entry: £10.00

Venue: The Guildhall - The Great Hall

The award-winning Lucky Dog bring their internationally renowned biopic about the best-loved comedy duo of all-time back to Leicester Guildhall. Widely regarded as being the most accurate show ever written about The Boys, it is the closest thing you can get to seeing the original pair in action.

https://comedy-festival.co.uk/event/hats-off-to-laurel-and-hardy/


Notflix: The Improvised Musical

Saturday, 22 February 2020 Time: 8:00pm (9:00pm) Doors open: 7:40pm Entry: £12.00

Venue: Curve - Studio - Curve - Studio

Five-star, total sell out show Edinburgh Fringe 2016-2018 and Vaults Festival 2017-2019. Did we mention the cast are making it up as they go along? Did we mention it's a musical? Featuring a live band and original, improvised songs.

https://comedy-festival.co.uk/event/notflix-the-improvised-musical/



By midlandsmovies, Jan 7 2020 05:35PM

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


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, Jan 5 2020 05:03PM



Midlands Review - Reminiscence


Directed by Tomek Zontek


2020


Cinectar Studios


Three young friends leave college and enjoy the beginnings of Summer as we open on new Midlands film Reminiscence from Tomek Zontek.


After discussing their respective end-of-year concerts, the trio - Liane, Nigel and Chris - celebrate by playing alcoholic drinking game “red or black”. Unfortunately Nigel gets frustrated and after Lianne leaves, he explains his feelings for her to Chris (Sam Forrest) in his now drunken state.


With more flavour than your average short film, Nigel (played excellently by Josh Radcliffe) and Liane (Alice Orlik) then chat about jazz music and pentatonic scales as they walk the library and the short draws you quickly into their world of academia and musical passions.


A gentle piano score contrasts nicely against the darker elements that lurk under the surface of the film as Nigel torments Lianne in a scene brooding with an undercurrent of obsession.


The filmmaker’s attention on music – both in its creation and as a basis for sound-tracking life – is clear on screen. From mixing desks to recording studios the film wears its aural influences on its sleeve and keeps the narrative at a high tempo.


As we progress though, the friendship fractures as Nigel witnesses his two friends happily dancing and he responds by angrily walking away. Faking illness and then discreetly following the pair in public, he becomes scarily preoccupied with his friends’ intentions.


With an interesting concept and a dash of Whiplash (2014) for added measure, the three leads deliver great performances all round. And as the story unfolds, the harmonious ensemble see their minor hang-ups becoming major problems for them all and are superbly edited into the film.


Thoroughly enjoyable, the short focuses of self-serving egoism as one of its central themes as Nigel eventually takes to the stage in a “memorable” solo. The threesome’s crumbling relationship creates drama and the constant presence of a music is a recurring motif I thought worked extremely well.


Sharp and well-written, Reminiscence comes highly recommended as it builds to a dramatic crescendo. And director Tomek Zontek should be applauded for conducting his short with great skill and intensity leaving the audience with much to think about at its downbeat conclusion.


Michael Sales



By midlandsmovies, Jan 4 2020 08:56AM



Jojo Rabbit (2020) Dir. Taika Waititi


Based on Caging Skies by Christine Leunens, Taika Waititi follows up family-friendly Thor: Ragnarok with the decidedly un-family friendly Jojo Rabbit. Set during World War II, Jojo (Roman Griffin Davis) is a small boy who is part of the Hitler youth and is given the nickname ‘Jojo Rabbit’ after failing to kill a bunny as part of the group’s activities.


Later, his discovers that his mother (Scarlett Johansson) has hidden a Jewish girl Elsa (Thomasin McKenzie) in their home. Alongside them are the well-established funny folk Sam Rockwell and Rebel Wilson as Nazi officers buffooning their way through their authoritarian roles.


Yet director Taika Waititi saves the worst for himself though. He plays a “comically” inept take on Hitler himself, as a projection by young Jojo. But it’s an infantile performance plucked from a pantomime – no doubt intentional as the boy's conscious – but resulting in zero laughs. I seriously mean, not one.


And the script sadly doesn't quite nail the balance between the satire, pratfalls and serious scenes. Shocking scenes of Jews hanging from the gallows in a town square should sit cleverly and uncomfortably with the lighthearted moments but seem wildly out of place given the failing humour here.


It’s not that its offensive either. Hell, from my favourite Four Lions (suicide bombers) to Team America (US imperialism) via Life of Brian (religion) and the most relevant of all, Chaplin’s The Great Dictator, incredibly serious subject matter can be made funny and thoughtful given the appropriate angle.


And Jewish comedians Sacha Baron Cohen (Borat, The Dictator) and Mel Brooks – whose 1967 satire The Producers is this film’s most obvious parallel with this film – have taken so much more successful stabs at similar social criticism and the historical abuses of our shared past.


In addition, the excellent Scarlett Johansson delivers a rather fantastic dramatic performance that has been sadly dropped in from another movie altogether. And Stephen Merchant's Gestapo cameo is pure Herr Otto Flick from British TV sitcom 'Allo 'Allo!


Style wise, there’s elements of Wes Anderson’s Moonrise Kingdom with a parallel between the young scouts and the Hitler youth as well as that director’s dry editing and primary colour palette.


The black comedy opening mixing The Beatles’ German-language and upbeat hit “Komm gib mir deine Hand” with actual archive footage of screaming young Nazis at rallies, is a small diamond in the rough. The Seig Heil hand gesture not going amiss here either but it’s all downhill from this beginning. So rather than continuing clever sideswipes like this, the clown-ish, and again, juvenile take on the Nazis and specifically the Führer himself is truly a joke vacuum.


The film does attempt to build a relationship between the young Jojo and Elsa as he questions the Jewish stereotypes he’s been told on the way to an enlightenment. These young actors do very well with the more tactful ideas here but once more, the tone of individual scenes don’t coalesce into a more successful whole. And I don't buy the argument that every poorly-drawn character is "seen through the eyes of a child". It's a sad excuse for fair criticism.


It’s a shame then that this possibly deep and meaningful film loses its nuance because the black comedy laughs were simply not there for me. Polarising film critics already, I throw my lot in with the commendable but flawed bunch. Ultimately comedy is one of the most subjective genres there is, but for me Jojo Rabbit is an unsuccessful satire absent of enough laughs to make it anything more than an admirable misfire.


★★


Michael Sales

By midlandsmovies, Dec 22 2019 11:04PM



Midlands Review - On in 15


Directed by Joseph Archer


2019


On in 15 is a new short from filmmaker Joseph Archer and is set backstage at a gig during the hedonistic days of 1990s Cool Britannia.


After a band frontman (Ryland played by Sky Cheeba) falls into a drug-induced blackout 15 minutes before show time, band member Simon (Tobias Cornwell) tries to keep everyone calm whilst manager Martin (Christopher Mulvin) screams his concerns to anyone within earshot about the impending show.


With the background noise of a waiting crowd heard from afar which sets the scene, the true technical achievement is that the entire short is filmed in one take. No digital edits or clever cutting here, the filmmaker keeps the characters in one space but follows them as each one enters into the pre-show problems.


One take shots have been a staple of cinema over the years and can be seen in a variety of genres including Ray Liotta’s entrance to the club in Goodfellas, Park Chan-Wook’s corridor fight in Oldboy and Children of Men, Roma AND Gravity from Alfonso Cuarón.


Although working with a lower budget here, much like those movies this sequence requires a huge degree of planning and complexity which is done more than successfully in this short.


The technique is used to its best when switching between the characters and although the location is just one place – and a rather sparse set – the clever movement of the camera in On in 15 is certainly impressive.


With all the cast given just the one chance to get it right, the “oner” technique is fascinating as the short plays out a bit like a small act of theatre. Although the performances are a little over-the-top at times, given the nature of the piece some exaggerated drama has been creatively used to take the place of camera cuts and edits.


With stage manager Jasmine (Maya Moes) and fellow band-mates Charlie (Ed Newman) and Miche (Phoebe Farrington) joining the melee, the lack of a lead singer starts to raise the stakes as no-one wants to take on the role. But the decision is made to try and get him to vomit up the drugs although that proves problematic, and messy, too.


I have to admit I was slightly confused as to the band’s career level as the crowd overdub sounds more like a stadium but the members have day-jobs and there’s talk of playing weddings. As someone who learnt guitar during the Britpop era and played in bands in the 00s, a bit sharper detail would add to the realism. However, the battle and conflict between a day job and a creative passion is something many people face and is a relevant story arc within the main narrative.


That said, that pet peeve doesn’t impact the short as it is more comedic than a documentary and the quick fire dialogue is blasted back and forth to maintain the film’s pace. Again, this helps to keep interest up in the absence of other shots.


As more shocking revelations occur the short works better as it goes along as the camera moves between the groups of people and their mini-dramas, and the writing stays sharp and witty. The technical aspects are a joy of course and the detailed planning of such a device is impressively delivered. However, that shouldn’t take away from the tight script either.


In the end then, On in 15 is an excellent slice of music fun and just this one shot contains more characters and story beats than many other more conventionally made comedy-dramas.


Michael Sales


By midlandsmovies, Dec 20 2019 10:05PM

Midlands Movies Top 20 Films of 2019





20. A Vigilante Dir. Sarah Dagger-Nickson

What we said: “Great cinematography helps focus the story on a stellar performance from Wilde, who plays both a hard-nosed enactor of violence and, in flashback, a sensitive and emotional victim-turned-avenger. It has a smart and timely premise and is a quality movie tackling the issues surrounding domestic abuse. Olivia Wilde gives a career-best performance as the woman fighting this head on, and this exciting debut is a successful revenge film that delivers more insight into the topic than similar movies”

Click here for full review





19. Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker Dir. JJ Abrams

What we said: "with so many people to please, JJ has stuck safely to familiar beats. And although too familiar at times, The Rise of Skywalker is a fitting tribute to this trilogy and may just bring a bit of hope, and certainly a tear to your eye, knowing we’ve finally left this galaxy far, far behind".

Click here for full review





18. One Cut of the Dead Dir. Shin'ichirô Ueda

What we said: "Made on just $25,000 with a cast of unknowns, this surprising Japanese “horror” is an underground bloodbath success. Clever and knowing with plenty of comedy, One Cut of the Dead is as much about low budget zombie filmmaking as it is a low budget zombie film. A genuine indie gem, the film is in love with other rom-zom-coms but its true romance is with the filmmaking process itself".

Click here for full review








17. Us Dir. Jordan Peele

What we said: “The cast excel in their physical portrayal of their ‘other’ selves. Mixing slasher and home-invasion tropes with a Twilight Zone episode, Us is another frightful look at the current politics and issues facing the United States/U.S./‘Us’. And Peele’s masterful handling of a wide range of deeper meanings, along with a love for horror staples, sees Us continuing his spectacular cinema successes”.

Click here for full review





16. Fighting with My Family Dir. Stephen Merchant

What we said: “The film gets by on so much heart and has funny (and when needed, dramatic) scenes that mean audiences will empathise with the lovable characters from the outset. With crowd-pleasing humour, a tender heart and some affected drama, the film is brought to life with a simple and engaging directorial style from Merchant but the excellently delivered performance from the whole cast is the real contest winner here”.

Click here for full review





15. Brightburn Dir.David Yarovesky

What we said: “The movie's superhero genre-homages are a pleasure to watch as Brightburn has an interesting idea and a surprising amount of gore and horror making it a fantastic what-if fantasy film. With a mother desperate for a child to love, the film gives more depth to what could have been a throwaway fright flick and although firmly in the b-movie genre, I hope it gains enough of a cult following to deliver a sequel to its rather dark finale”.

Click here for full review





14. Can You Ever Forgive Me? Dir. Marielle Heller

What we said: “This career-defining role showcases McCarthy’s dramatic ‘chops’ and Richard E Grant channels some Withnail but is more likeable here – especially when pleading with McCarthy about being her only friend. Unobtrusive directing helps focus on the characters and it really is the McCarthy and Grant show here so can I ever forgive her for those awful comedies? Well, based on this performance, I’d be a fool not to”.

Click here for full review





13. Glass Dir. M Night Shyamalan

What we said: “It is to Shyamalan’s credit he not only got to finish a trilogy started 19 years ago but to do so in such a satisfying manner. Glass surprises by being the kind of dark, tension-filled shattering success that are nowadays shuffled off to Netflix when they should be enjoyed on the big screen as it provides more than satisfying thrills from the beginning until the end”.

Click here for full review





12. Lords of Chaos Dir. Jonas Åkerlund

What we said: “Whilst band members dispute the historical accuracy of some of the events in the film, it is then somewhat ironic the film concerns itself with character dualism, surface personality and the clashing viewpoints of each member. And Lords of Chaos dramatizes a bleak story with a great combination of multi-layered performances and grave scenes of violence. Ghastly but gratifying”.

Click here for full review





11. The Irishman Dir. Martin Scorsese

What we said: “A loving goodbye, age has mellowed them all and the film’s measured pace brought me into a satisfying world of sleaze, bribery and immorality. The Irishman is first-rate as an extraordinary drama of historical importance and covers contemporary themes of authoritarian corruption and violence. But it is also a more than pleasurable and honest love letter to the group’s past creative endeavours together”.

Click here for full review





10. Joker Dir. Todd Phillips

What we said: “And so, throwing in many modern political issues as it does along with a complexity not seen in many graphic novel-inspired films, Joker is not perfect but if you fancy something with a little more depth – think Nolan’s trilogy and then some – then the flick has enough thoughtful ambiguity and an amazing central performance to make it more than worthwhile”.

Click here for full review





9. Her Smell Dir. Alex Ross Perry

What we said: “Moss’ terrific central performance allows us to be drawn into her shocking exploits without condoning what she is doing to those around her. As she poisons herself one event at a time, the interesting dynamics are slowly teased out and revealed as the narrative progresses. From the excellent performances to the grotesque but engaging breakdowns, Her Smell is an intense and satisfying tour down a boulevard of broken dreams”.

Click here for full review





8. Destroyer Dir. Karyn Kusama

What we said: “With a tremendous cast throughout and first-rate scenes exploring the consequences of violence, Destroyer is an exceptional thriller from start to finish. But more importantly, it will destroy all preconceptions you had of Kidman as she delivers a superbly astonishing turn in the type of heroically repellent role I’d love to see more of”.

Click here for full review





7. Apollo 11 Dir. Todd Douglas Miller

What we said: “And as I type this on a laptop that has 1,500 times more processing power than the lunar module, the reality is that this was a dangerous mission with men strapped into a claustrophobic metal box stuck to the world’s biggest firework. Covering both science and patriotic emotions, Apollo 11 is a must-see for space enthusiasts and for the rest, you can bask in the jaw-dropping and immaculate footage which brings the electrifying lunar landing to life”.

Click here for full review





6. Booksmart Dir. Olivia Wilde

What we said: “The movie balances coarseness with an emotional heft that is incredibly satisfying. The two leads, Feldstein and Dever, are simply wonderful and some off-the-wall sequences on a boat, at a murder mystery party and as toy dolls are a giddy joy. A poignant conclusion and some believable drama throughout, the balance of laughs and moving scenes were affecting in this impressive film. Booksmart therefore comes highly recommended as a fun night out for all”.

Click here for full review





5. Once Upon a Time in…Hollywood Dir. Quentin Tarantino

What we said: “The film demonstrates that Tarantino truly is in a class of his own in a period where franchise building has mostly replaced the draw of the big-named actor. But this incredibly satisfying love letter to these fictional pulp princes and real-life silver screen starlets provides a brilliant fantasy romance steeped in the glow of an era long gone. Helter Skelter in a summer swelter indeed”.

Click here for full review





4. Border Dir. Ali Abbasi

What we said: “Abassi uses themes of family and genetics to tackle the problems of being an outsider as he injects realism and history into his tall tale. A cracking drama with added fantasy elements, Border is both compassionate and shocking and comes hugely recommended as it combines amazing performances that go beyond the prosthetics with a host of disturbing images you simply won't forget”.

Click here for full review





3. Thunder Road Dir. Jim Cummings

What we said: “With a startling low micro-budget, Cummings has created a true masterpiece – with his talented self, rightly so, at the centre. Is it a dark comedy drama? Is it a reflection of contemporary American talking-points? Well, it’s all that and more but without doubt it comes hugely recommended as not just one of the best debut films of the year, but one of the best films period”.

Click here for full review





2. Avengers: Endgame Dir. Anthony and Joe Russo

What we said: “At the conclusion, the Russos have delivered exactly what was needed by assembling a perfect narrative, cast and, more difficultly, a rewarding ending to the most epic of stories. With their cinema-changing franchise, everything in Endgame is not just perfect comic-book fare, but the pure pinnacle of movie entertainment and was a gargantuan and gratifying game I never wanted to end”.

Click here for full review





1. The Favourite Dir. Yorgos Lanthimos

What we said: “With its added darkness and the Machiavellian machinations of the three protagonists, the film is full to the brim with incredible performances alongside some eccentricities in its technical aspects, plus we mustn’t forget its terrific quip-filled script. It’s a formidable film from a director who takes weighty themes and provides a theatre for three mighty actresses to deliver some of the best performances of the year and possibly of their career”.

Click here for full review



By midlandsmovies, Dec 20 2019 11:25AM




Midlands Spotlight – New Christmas anthology film Advent


Advent is a new Christmas anthology feature film to be released in December 2020 from Pat The Bull Films and Lightbeam Productions.


Made up of three substantial yet uniquely identifiable Christmas tales, Advent sees various lives all caught up over the course of December 24th 2020.


The opening segment story Ho-Ho-Hostage is a festive comedy that follows a family visiting a local soup kitchen who accidently stumble upon a robbery.


With a diverse cast the production has announced that actor Arthur Bostrom, who is known around the world as Officer Crabtree from Allo' Allo' is now involved.


Arthur filmed scenes in December at The Crossing at St. Pauls in Walsall Town Centre and his character, The Mayor, is switching on the annual Christmas Tree Lights in the shopping centre, in which we also meet the core set of characters who then provide the structure of the stories we follow further.


Continuing with the spirit of the season, Kaushy Patel presents the second segment, Three Ghosts chronicling the Wilkinson family whose continual fighting and arguing tips the balance on Christmas Eve. However, this continual emotional struggle has finally taken its toll on all of them both mentally and physically.


Fearing that all hope is lost, one member decides to proceed with a devastating course of action. Their only hope? Three Christmas ghosts, who are determined to show them all how their consequences will have emotional repercussions.



Concluding this anthology is Dave Hastings’ third segment Dominik which tells the true story of a quiet and gentle stranger, who begins to appear at Midnight Mass every Christmas Eve at a local nearby church.


Written and directed by Charlie Duckerin, Kaushy Patel and Dave Hastings and stars Arthur Bostrom, Kerry Frater, Matt Allen, Leah Solmaz, Kaine Baker, Anthony Webster, Cameron Dean, Chris Davis, Charlie Clarke, Sarah Gain, Andy Chaplin, Elizabeth Wakefield, Elizabeth Burden, Elisha-Rose Rowley, Jonathan Butler and many more.


Dave Hastings adds, “It was a wonderful experience to have Arthur want to come on board and support us independent filmmakers in the Midlands. His performance within the Christmas Tree light switch on scenes are funny, charming and full of festive spirit, and he was in the amazing capable hands of segment director Charlie Duckerin and a stunning cast and crew".


"His performance runs alongside some compelling ones we've already shot, and we have no doubt that will continue on with the next two filming blocks, each with an incredible cast to look forward too”.


Follow the film on its Facebook page here: https://www.facebook.com/AdventMovie/



By midlandsmovies, Dec 19 2019 06:20PM



Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker (2019) Dir. JJ Abrams


Retcon or narrative development? Do you want story risks and surprises or a reprise of the best of SW? Well, The Force Awakens director JJ Abrams returns with a bit of both to helm a sequel to both his first film of the new trilogy plus also Rian Johnson’s controversial (but far superior) second instalment.


Does JJ manage to bridge the gap or jump the shark? In fact, it’s mostly a success – a bit disorderly throughout but filled with a great (force) spirit of adventure with only a few missteps along the way.


The film begins by wasting no time with the narrative and rather than a slow reveal, it’s shown within the first 5 minutes that the Emperor is resurrected. On a secret planet called Exegol he now hopes to create a new Galactic Empire with an armada of Star Destroyers using Kylo as a pawn to rule the galaxy.


Rey still trains as a Jedi and in order to confront Emperor Palpatine, she rejoins the resistance efforts and with Poe, Finn, Chewbacca, BB-8, and C-3PO attempts to search for Sith artefacts that will lead them to the big bad.


The film throws action constantly at the screen, sometimes at the detriment of characters' development and boy are there a lot of them. The group cross with Lando Calrissian (a rather effective cameo from old-timer Billy Dee Williams) but there’s also a host of alien and humans welcomed to the fold, some more interesting than others. Keri Russell is underused as a space criminal yet new droid-mechanic Babu Frik could easily have been annoying but is mostly a fun addition.


As they continue their travels, Rey’s parentage is revealed during a Force-bond fight (projections can now interact with each other – and so much more later) and Abrams simply cannot resist curtailing to some fan’s need for Rey’s lineage being somehow tied into the saga.


It’s the need for a do-over that are the worst parts of this final episode of the nine-part "Skywalker saga". Adapting unused Carrie Fisher footage is hugely impactful though and her story has an amazing emotional resonance. And whilst C3PO is very funny, his goodbye to his “friends” as his memory is wiped hits the heart strings hard and references the audiences’ own goodbye to familiar faces.


Therefore, whilst Johnson’s film was about throwing away the past, JJ’s film is definitely more about goodbyes but there is a lack of finality at times and the death “fake-outs” are an overused trope that undermine the film’s weighty ambitions.


The resurrection of previous threads and the nods to the two previous sagas were somewhat expected but again, more than satisfying in the main. Rey and Kylo’s overblown lightsabre battle on a water-logged Death Star is the aquatic equivalent of the fiery battle between Obi-Wan and Annakin on the volcanic lava trails of Mustafar. And huge chunks of Return of the Jedi (visually and musically) are echoed on a visit to the rubble of the Death Star.


Other standouts include Richard E Grant who is so fantastic as a First Order general that I almost wished for him to have been in this trilogy from the start. But the focus on Kylo and Rey has always been the best part of this series and wisely, the film works best when focused on them. From heated battles and horrific visions to quieter more tender moments, the trilogy has consistently been watchable anytime stars Daisy Ridley and Adam Driver are on screen. Boyega as Finn and Oscar Isaac as Poe are window dressing at times but them taking a back-seat to let the conflicting couple slice and dice wasn’t unwelcome at all.


A bit overstuffed with characters – old, current and new ones get mere minutes at times – The Rise of Skywalker ends with an appropriate space battle alongside a darker duel of differing fates for Kylo, Rey and the Emperor. It’s not the stunning success surprise that was The Last Jedi nor the easy re-tread of a New Hope that was The Force Awakens yet it works as a glorious and worthy, albeit messy, send-off to the saga.


We’ll no doubt get all the YouTube hate reactions, ‘10 things wrong with’ and “fan” criticism over on Reddit in the coming days but with so many people to please, JJ has stuck safely to familiar beats. And although too familiar at times, The Rise of Skywalker is a fitting tribute to this trilogy and may just bring a bit of hope, and certainly a tear to your eye, knowing we’ve finally left this galaxy far, far behind.


★★★★


Michael Sales


RSS Feed twitter