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By midlandsmovies, Mar 23 2020 09:27PM

Lip Flaps

Directed by James Pyle


With two Midlands Movies Awards nominations under his belt, local filmmaker James Pyle heads into 2020 with a brand new regional animation called Lip Flaps.

James is director, writer, producer AND provides some voices in Lip Flaps, which again goes to show how local filmmakers take on many roles with their projects. None more so than the often solitary tasks undertaken in the tough world of low-budget animation.

In this micro-short, we open to the sound of a whirring cinema projector in 1928 with two older gents explaining how the public’s viewing interest is now with the “talkies”.

Unable to deliver on the audience’s demands, one of the men has an idea to present their silent movies in “polly-phonic” sound. Polly, you may ask?

That’s right, Lip Flaps sees a pet bird providing the voices for a black and white film replacing loving dialogue with lines like “Polly wants a cracker” and a variety of noisy squawks.

The animation has more of a somewhat computerised look at times which contrasts against the old-time vibe of the piece but the sound mix, archaic fonts and filters used for the era are spot on. James has again been influenced by classic movie-making which we saw before in his excellent crossover animation Bee-Loved (see review here)

This short is anything but “bird-brained” however, as it is cleverly constructed and at just under 2 minutes could probably have been longer in order to expand on its amusing ideas. That said, Lip Flaps doesn’t overstay its welcome and delivers a witty slice of retro animation and a top selection of bird puns for another fun day in animation parrot-dise.

Michael Sales

By midlandsmovies, Mar 21 2020 11:57AM

Dead Air

Directed by Jordan Dean


Fishbulb Films

“It’s 3:58am, here is some Coldplay”, which is a suitably dark announcement that opens new black comedy Dead Air from Leicester based filmmakers Fishbulb Films.

The film starts with local presenter Lester who hosts a night-time radio slot, which he subsequently fills with pre-recorded phone calls during his mundane show.

Like Groundhog Day, this mind-numbing cycle is repeated daily and we see Lester returning home each night, alone and looking incredibly depressed about his current predicament. Lester is played brilliantly by real-life presenter Simon Parkin (of Children’s BBC broom cupboard fame) and he brings a suitably experienced tone to his voice that is perfect for the role.

Lester’s show however is punctuated with short news snippets about a contagious virus. These somewhat echo Orson Welles’ War of the Worlds broadcast and get more apocalyptic and perilous as the film progresses. They also create a nice air of intrigue about what is happening outside of the studio confines.

Lester is also ignored by fellow presenter Ben (Ed Spence) whose successful arrogance contrasts nicely with Simon’s increasingly dreary show on the airwaves. But one night, Lester receives a call from a distressed caller asking for help as the 999 emergency services number is out of service.

The well-written and acted comedy comes from Lester’s unawareness of the chaos around him. As each emergency phone-call from “outside” comes in, Lester sticks with the banal song-requesting lingo of a clichéd local radio DJ.

As dash of Alan Partridge’s obliviousness is nicely delivered in Parkin’s performance and the little touches really add to the experience as well. From the well-designed fictional radio station logo to the correct broadcast console equipment, those small pieces really bring you into this world.

The sound is excellent as you may have expected. The light-hearted music by Peter Flint keeps everything in the comedic space until it needs to turn darker towards the short’s conclusion. The overall sound recording by Jason Nightall which mixes phone-calls, jingles and dialogue is also of a very high standard.

The film dials up the danger as we head to a final crisis involving colleague Ben, with Lester as possibly the last man standing. And we wonder whether our host really will have the last laugh.

Dead Air therefore ends up being an exceptional short film. The quality of filmmaking and the technical aspects are first-rate. However, it’s the comedy that is strong and Parkin’s performance as the pivotal person in a pandemic is perfect. Without a doubt then, Dead Air will hopefully receive a great reception on the festival circuit and I recommend you tune in to this fantastic Midlands short as soon as you can.

Michael Sales

By midlandsmovies, Mar 18 2020 04:31PM

DJ Dougal’s Dad

Directed by Thomas Line


We open in a music festival dance tent with a DJ attempting to pump up a packed crowd as we begin new documentary DJ Dougal’s Dad by Midlands filmmaker Thomas Line.

As the man shouts over the microphone, he introduces us to our first glimpse of Garry Clarke aka DJ Dougal’s Dad. We then smash cut to Garry leaving his suburban home that couldn’t be further from the euphoric boom of the crowd and sub-woofer of the festival event.

Garry is a photographer and videographer from Northampton whose wife bought him a Yashica 24 camera many moons ago and began his career by taking a few shots of a local guitarist known as Marc Bolan (!)

Later going on to sell his shots to big music magazines like Melody Maker, Garry has since come full circle to photograph local band Howlin’ Owls. But alongside footage of the older Garry working with up and coming artists, he regales the viewer with stories of photographing some of music’s most celebrated artists.

From Santana in the early 80s through to Bob Dylan, Garry shares his passion in an honest and informative documentary. We see his photos and director Thomas Line uses interviews, voiceover and both old and new footage to showcase Garry’s work over his distinguished career.

The passion from Garry and his interest in the subject matter comes across well and being a musician myself – and having done many a band photoshoot – the subject matter was especially interesting to me.

Tom previously made Headphones, a short film drama film we reviewed that was also nominated at our annual movie awards (click here for review). This film shows the director can jump mediums with aplomb and having a narrative background always helps in documentaries to create a story around the subject. It’s all too easy to think your own obsession with the subject matter will see audiences respond the same way but that’s not always the case.

Here though, Garry’s history and personal stories help you relate to his photography and the director has captured a man sharing his love for music and images in a simple but informative way. We briefly move on to his DJ son and rave culture but Garry explains the only drugs he takes are medicinal ones.

Although the documentary uses standard genre techniques, the subject matter was more than up my street and anyone with a passing interest in music, history or creative photography will definitely get something out of the film’s brief 8-minutes. What starts as a mad insight into a life capturing the excesses of rock n roll, actually develops into a more life-affirming self-portrait of an older soul processing the snapshots of his life. Recommended.

Michael Sales

By midlandsmovies, Mar 16 2020 11:37PM

New short film Exhibit by Isobel Richards released online

Isobel Richards is a film production student from the Midlands whose new short film EXHIBIT has been released online.

EXHIBIT tells the story of Peter who follows friends Dan and Alex into a closed museum after a drunken night out. After becoming trapped, the short film asks whether they can find their way out before it's too late.

The full short can be watched on the YouTube link below:

Check out further news, updates and future films at Izzy’s social media channels:



By midlandsmovies, Mar 16 2020 08:57AM

Midlands Movies Awards 2020 winners

Best Costume, Make-up & Hairstyling

Terri Hughes and Louis Brough for The Reunion

Best Editing

Lawrence Fowler for The Jack in the Box

Best Actor in a Leading Role

Damien Molony for Keep Breathing

Best Music (score or song)

Matthew Tucker for Rubber Johnny

Best Actress in a Supporting Role

Jenn Day for Unmade

Best Cinematography

Grant Archer for Night Tide

Best Documentary

Nick Hamer for Outside the City

Best Feature

Lawrence Fowler for The Jack in the Box

Best Actress in a Leading Role

Sophie Wheelans for I Need To Tell You Something

Best Animated Film

Lee Charlish for Waxworks Owner Fumes at Closure

Best Director

Lucy Alder for I Need to Tell You Something

Best Sound (editing or mixing)

Lee Charlish for The Cold Caller

Best Actor in a Supporting Role

James Bryhan for Shame My Name

Best Visual Effects

Lukas Remis for Invasion Planet Earth

Best Writing (original or adapted screenplay)

Tommy Draper, Mark Corden & Emmeline Hartley for Keep Breathing

Best Short

Mark Corden for Keep Breathing

By midlandsmovies, Mar 12 2020 10:08AM

Midlands Review of Bodybuilders and Rule Book from Five Pence Productions


Directed by Nisaro Karim


Five Pence Productions’ latest short film is directed by and starring Midlands Movies Awards 2019 best supporting actor Nisaro Karim. Alongside Karim is Joe Egan, a respected ex-boxer who’s acting experience includes parts in both of Guy Ritchie’s Sherlock Holmes adaptations.

Bodybuilders follows Karim’s character and his intimidating yet encouraging personal trainer, Big Jon (Joe Egan), on their journey to the gym. Big Jon controls the conversation with Karim only mumbling one word responses. It becomes clear why this is later in the short.

Many of the laughs in this short come from Karim’s character’s minimal dialogue, replaced with his amusing visual acting and Big Jon’s obliviousness to the fact that his trainee doesn’t even speak English. The vulgar woman in the classic old lady crossing the road slowly sequence is also a humorous highlight.

I would have appreciated a slightly more distinguished narrative as the short does seem to rely on Joe Egan’s dependable, but typical, tough guy persona, rather than the barely there story. There is unfortunately not enough that actually happens in the film to impress me. However, it is comical to see such a larger than life personality in such a confined and restricting space.

Despite this Bodybuilders is an easy to watch, reasonably entertaining short film. It’s respectable acting and amusing jokes make it a worthy addition to Five Pence Productions and Nisaro Karim’s ever reliable filmography

Rule Book

Directed by Gurjant Singh


Rule Book is directed by Gurjant Singh and is headed by West Midlands based production company Five Pence Productions.

The simple yet effective plot focuses around Nisaro Karim’s character’s inner battle between his culture and his heart. The conflict lies in his finding of what he deems love with a woman older than him, who has a child of her own. His relationship with her would unfortunately be looked down upon by many in his culture.

Karim’s pained monologue to his friend (Debora Rodrigues) comes across as very heartfelt and convincing, inviting you to resonate with his anguish. He speaks about his relationship with this woman, how they match each other perfectly, yet his fear of his families opinion has restricted him from exploring this to any deeper level. She has shown him vulnerability yet he feels he can’t yet reciprocate this.

The intertwining shots of the conversation between friends and of his blossoming relationship are beautifully framed and seamlessly edited. Despite its short runtime, the film does a commendable job of conveying the potential for these two characters to find love with each other. The narrative and characters engrossed me so much that I was left disappointed by the unresolved ending.

Rule Book is a notable and earnest story of forbidden love.

It feels like a very personable story and touches on a conflict that I’m sure many have experienced. The tagline “Not everyone loves in the traditional way” provides a just sentiment that hopefully audiences will carry with them after seeing this thoughtful short film.

Jake Evans

Twitter @Jake_Evans1609

By midlandsmovies, Mar 11 2020 01:12PM

The Invisible Man (2020) Dir. Leigh Whannell

The Invisible Man is a Universal horror film created by Blumhouse. After staging his own suicide, a crazed scientist (Oliver Jackson Cohen) uses his power to become invisible; to stalk and terrorize his ex-girlfriend played by Elisabeth Moss. When the police refuse to believe her story, she decides to take matters into her own hands and fight back.

The film is Written and Directed by Leigh Whannell who rose to prominence as one of the co-creators of the "SAW" franchise. After a failed attempt by Universal to create a shared Universe of Monsters that began with the Mummy in 2017. This second attempt comes to return the stories of iconic horror characters, and it is an unexpected success. The Invisible Man is a genre defining example of making a quality horror film.

Leigh Whanell proves in this film that less is more. Each shot of this movie is teeming with questions, with extensive emphasis on space, ambiguity and inanimate items. Whanell manages to finely prod the viewer with an impending cloud of anxiety and terror, and when the scares hit. They hit hard.

With a central performance that will in my mind propel Elisabeth Moss to a new level, her reactions, the sheer terror and victimisation of her character is apparent throughout. This movie touches on some dark themes that are relevant to popular culture. Whanell managed to tell this story without it being overtly political, but instead prying solely on the innate characteristics we hold as a collective, making this an uncomfortable and at times highly emotional ordeal.

But all in all, I would go as far as saying this is a modern horror masterpiece, Very rarely do horror movies of this calibre come along. We as an audience are bombarded and hindered with mindless, bland jump scares or uninteresting and spurious gore.

The invisible man has No cheap jump scares, no unnecessary gore and no cringe worthy decisions that rattle your head. The plot is so sharp and self-reflective and Elizabeth Moss's performance is so outstanding. The concept, direction, acting, script, complexity, themes and ending all contrive like a grand orchestra, and this movie has some independent scenes that are like an epic orchestras crescendo.

All so masterfully done. Phenomenal

Ben Warrington

Twitter @MrBenWarrington

By midlandsmovies, Mar 8 2020 11:16PM

On Friday 6th March I had the pleasure of being invited to attend the screening of It's Just a Boy, the first short film from Nottingham-based Leap of Faith Films. It's also the first film from writer/director Jane Louise Webb.

There's always something special about attending a screening with the people who made the film. I hid at the back, in a great position to soak up the atmosphere. There's a thrill of energy that runs around the room, seats filled with cast members and crew members and family members (and at least one random roving reviewer). Children run up the aisles as people catch up and reminisce about the shoot, all waiting for the announcement that showtime is upon us.

As this is Webb's first film, it's easy to imagine the nerves that come with seeing your work on the big screen for the first time. It's Just a Boy started its journey with a teaser trailer and crowdfunding campaign in 2018, and now it's screening in a cinema and doing the festival rounds. She needn't have worried though as it's turned out to be a very strong debut indeed!

13 year old Amy (Angel-May Webb) has a secret admirer, a boy she messages but has never met. He desperately wants to meet up so she tries to give her mother Penny (Sarah Eastwood) the runaround. Penny's not easily fooled, though, as she intercepts the messages and confronts her naive daughter. Amy can't see what the fuss is all about - after all, it's just a boy. Isn't it?

The film gets a little uncomfortable to watch at times, seeing poor Amy excited at the prospect of a boy liking her and embarrassed by what she sees as her mum's overprotective behaviour. The story might seem predictable, but if so then it's only because it needs to be to deliver its warning message. As the story cruises to its inevitable end, Amy's refrain of 'it's just a boy' hammers home how sinister the situation is. She's being catfished, gaslight and groomed and she's too young to appreciate the danger she's in. Even her dad doesn't seem overly bothered until it's clear that things aren't on the level.

It's Just A Boy is an excellent film, well-shot with great performances from the two leads and an important message. A statement at the end provides some worrying statistics about the number of kids on social media and the percentage of them that have been contacted by suspicious accounts. It can be hard to protect vulnerable children and teenagers in the digital age, and parents will always worry for their safety. The hope is for the film to be shown in schools to raise awareness of the issue and to help protect as many kids as possible.

The credits roll, the lights come up to a well-earned round of applause and cheers, then it's off to the bar for celebratory drinks as everyone congratulates each other on a job well done.

Jane Louise Webb has delivered a powerful first film, and something tells me this is far from the last we'll see of her and Leap of Faith films!

Sam Kurd

Twitter @Splend

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