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By midlandsmovies, Apr 19 2019 08:09AM



Midlands Review - Troubled Waters


Directed & written by Gemma Norton


A tear runs down the cheek of our protagonist Viv in the opening of this award-winning drama from Midlands director Gemma Norton and the audience too will be moved by this fantastic film, Troubled Waters.


Viv is a mother of two – played by Vivienne Bell who won Best Actress at our 2019 Midlands Movies Awards – and her harrowing yet sensitive portrayal of a mum suffering mental health issues is a huge part of the short’s success.


Troubled Waters shows Viv undertaking a variety of household tasks, but she is concerned there’s something wrong with her baby daughter. Her husband Terry (Terry Sweeney) allays her fears but Viv is adamant she is not exaggerating.


With the baby crying, Viv’s stress levels rise and we see her curled up like a foetus on a bed, struggling to cope with the various demands of parenthood. These strong images are beautifully composed by the director and are shot excellently by the film’s cinematographer Richard Staff.


Bell does a great performance of a woman exhausted by motherhood and the story sees her attributing these anxieties ‘onto’ her children. As the strain begins to take its toll on her own health, Viv shouts at the infants before fainting due to the toll its physically taking.



Filmed in a naturalistic way, the stylistic realism and exploration of parental themes – along with Bell’s own slight resemblance to Jessica Chastain – the film has echoes of Terence Malick’s Tree of Life. Like that film, Troubled Waters concerns itself with hugely important aspects of family existence too.


A trip to the swimming baths shows some brief family fun but reveals Viv’s dependency on medication to deal with her worries. And in addition we see her suspiciously spying her partner and children from behind a curtain, suggesting her trauma is far from resolved.


As we come to the film’s conclusion, the disturbing themes come to a climax and extreme exhaustion overcomes Viv keeping the film’s tension high.


Troubled Waters covers a range of post-natal depression (PND) conditions including fatigue, exhaustion, guilt, shame and feelings of hopelessness but director Norton never pushes the envelope so far that we feel that she couldn’t recover from these frustrations. Despite her lack of ability to think through things clearly, Viv is shown bonding with the baby towards the end leaving viewers on a message, albeit a very small one, of hope.


An intense, emotional and thorough exploration of post-natal psychological stress, Troubled Waters is a brilliant film showcasing top talent and excellent high-quality technical aspects. With stunning images, a focused narrative and an affecting premise, the short is unsettling but hugely satisfying as it deals with the risk factors of such an important disorder in a sensitive way.


Michael Sales


By midlandsmovies, Apr 18 2019 01:59PM



Mary Queen of Scots (2019) Dir. Josie Rourke


Based on John Guy's biography Queen of Scots: The True Life of Mary Stuart, this new historical drama stars Saoirse Ronan as Mary and Margot Robbie as her cousin Queen Elizabeth I.


Covering the 1569 conflict between England and Scotland, the film opens with Mary returning to Scotland from France to take up her throne but she is immediately challenged by her inner circle and cleric John Knox (an incredibly bearded David Tennant) whilst Elizabeth, who is worried about Mary’s claim to her own throne, tries to arrange Mary’s marriage to an Englishman.


With both sides fearing a rebellion from each other and their own internal traitors, Mary’s marriage fails spectacularly and eventually she exiles herself in England. But the two queens’ devotion to their respective countries leads Mary to be sentenced to death.


Covering a tumultuous period, the film is quite timid in its drama but the two central leads are fantastic. The support cast are sadly just passable, and it’s unfortunate that a few admirable progressive themes stick out like a sore thumb in a film that, for the most part, is relatively historically accurate.


Two areas the film does excel in however is the cinematography and the costumes which is understandable given the director’s theatrical past. Glorious Scottish vistas are contrasted brilliantly with dark interiors where castle rooms are either candlelit or have striking streaks of sunlight beaming through thin windows.


At times reminiscent of a Holbein painting (as well as An Experiment on a Bird in the Air Pump by Joseph Wright), these locations are spectacularly filmed and Mary’s amazingly-designed period blood-red and blue dresses add tremendous colour to a film often drenched in Tudor dirt.


An acceptable diversion, Mary Queen of Scots never really steps a foot wrong, but for some reason is as forgettable as it is expertly made. A respectable way to spend a couple of hours, its cinematic charms won’t take your head off but should leave you satisfied as it marries outstanding performances with a scrutinising look at British history.


★★★ ½


Michael Sales


By midlandsmovies, Apr 18 2019 09:32AM



Midlands Spotlight - Paracinema Horror Weekend 2019


Friday 3 - Monday 6 May 2019


Venue: QUAD, Market Place, Cathedral Quarter, Derby, DE1 3AS


Anything goes! This is the motto of Paracinema, a festival dedicated to films and genres outside the mainstream. Expect a steady diet of horror, sci-fi and fantasy but in addition we want to explore other genres and sub-genres that don't get the opportunity to play on the big screen.


Taking place in Derby next month, the horror weekend will be showcasing the local, national and international in all genres of horror.


A Paracinema weekend pass costs £50 and enables entry to all events across all four days of the event.


Alternatively, a Paracinema Day pass costs £20 and allows entry to all events on a single day of the event.


For the full programme please see the film screenings and event list below including gaming, Q & As, a quiz and so much more. Click the links at the bottom for tickets and mroe more information.


Friday 3rd May

Paracinema Shorts 1 & 2 12:00pm


Zeroes 3:30pm (Also screening on: Monday 6th May)


Gaming : Paracinema Arcade 5:00pm (Also screening on: Saturday 4th May, Sunday 5th May, Monday 6th May)


F*** You All – The Uwe Boll Story 6:15pm


Knife + Heart 8:15pm (Also screening on: Sunday 5th May)


Mega Time Squad 10:30pm


Saturday 4 May 2019

Paracinema Shorts 1 10:45am


House Of Blue Shadows 12:30pm


In Conversation: Emily Booth In Conversation with Director Jake West 2:30pm


Inner Ghosts + Director Q+A 4:00pm


The Dead Center 6:05pm


Diamantino 8:00pm


Slasher In A Knife Factory! – A Nightmare On Elm Street 8:30pm


The Next Kill 10:00pm (Also screening on: Monday 6th May)


Sunday 5 May 2019

Paracinema Shorts 2 11:15am


Far From The Apple Tree 1:20pm


Special Event : Drag Me To Hell – Representations of Drag & Transvestism in Horror Film & Television 3:00pm


Bearkittens + Director Q+A 3:30pm


Fornacis + Director Q+A 5:20pm


Luz 7:20pm


Quiz: The Legendary Paracinema Quiz! 8:30pm


Film Screening Shorts Programme

Five Lamps Films 24 Hour Film Challenge – Entrants Screening 8:30pm


Knife + Heart 8:50pm (Also screening on: Friday 3rd May)


Monday 6 May 2019

Ghost Story 12:00pm


Ghost Stories: The Curious Tales Of The Making Of Ghost Story

2:00pm


VIPCO – The Untold Story – Premiere + Director Q+A 4:00pm


Scopophilia 6:30pm


Book Of Monsters 6:45pm


Zeroes 8:30pm (Also screening on: Friday 3rd May)


The Next Kill 8:45pm (Also screening on: Saturday 4th May)


More information:


https://www.derbyquad.co.uk/whats-on/cinema/paracinema-film-festival-weekend-pass


https://www.facebook.com/ParacinemaDerby/


https://twitter.com/ParacinemaDerby



By midlandsmovies, Apr 15 2019 04:03PM



The Wind (2019) Dir. Emma Tammi


Emma Tammi’s directorial debut is a western horror and although the title sounds like a sub-Blumhouse video on demand chiller (or an unwanted Shyamalan The Happening spin-off) the sombre tome makes this a scary trip to the West worth checking out.


Horror westerns are a small sub-genre – from direct-to-video sequels From Dusk Til Dawn 3 and Tremors 4 all the way to S. Craig Zahler’s excellent Bone Tomahawk via the slightly less-excellent Jesse James Meets Frankenstein's Daughter (1966). John Carpenter’s Vampires also mixed the genres but here though, the film ditches any b-movie stylings and feels more in tune with the Coens’ Buster Scruggs.


The film stars Caitlin Gerard as Lizzy, a resourceful woman in a remote cabin on the American plains. She lives with just her husband, Ashley Zukerman as Isaac before being joined by Julia Goldani Telles as Emma Harper and Dylan McTee as Gideon Harper. With just 4 people, the women toil the crops as the men leave them for long stretches hunting and gathering.


Opening on a horrific scene of a pregnancy gone wrong, we know we’re not going to be in for an easy ride. The structure of the film flashes back and forth from the present, where Lizzy is surviving on her own, to the 4 people trying to settle in this harsh environment back in the past. The two intertwining narratives was a fantastic device to create mystery and leave questions unanswered. For some though, the lack of clarity between where we are in time could infuriate. And I have to admit myself, there were times of head-scratching to work out where we were in the story.


As Emma Harper gets pregnant, she begins to have visions and feelings of another presence in the area. Initially dismissive herself, Lizzy takes little notice of these until later when the wind – and whatever forces it is hiding – comes to her own door.


The dialogue is minimal but effective from scriptwriter Teresa Sutherland and Caitlin Gerard is great as the lonely woman battling supernatural entities and possibly her own sanity. The film is also beautifully shot and slowly allows the story to build before we get a shock scare or two.


With intrigue and violence, the film is ambitious yet doesn’t always hit its mark. The slow editing makes its 90 minutes seem longer, but in many ways the film is too short and the ending is a little rushed and offers little in the way of explanation. Although I suspect that was the point.


In conclusion, The Wind is an impressive and sporadically frightening first film which takes the large scale and uncharted American wild West and places its foreign nature into the cabin - and the mind - of a female pioneer. With heady themes of religion, redemption and the unfamiliar, you will be rewarded as you roam into this undiscovered and menacing windy wilderness.


★★★ ½


Michael Sales

By midlandsmovies, Apr 15 2019 03:05PM



Midlands Review - The Duology of Man


Directed by Theo Gee and Ian Bousher


2019


It’s not every day a film like this pops up and remains in your consciousness long after it’s finished. Whether this particular topic is popular or not, it’s certainly never been more relevant. Exploring the nature of human choice.


The opening scene features a businessman waiting for a train. It’s a relatable experience with nothing out of the ordinary at first glance. The businessman appears to be locked in a situation that he can’t control when we realise he’s being hit periodically in the kneecap with a hammer by a kid. Whether he’s too polite to ask for help or he’s genuinely struggling to cope, my interpretation is that this is a representation of mental stability.


The second half shows a heavily pregnant woman frantically running through the woods alone, looking like she’s about to give birth. An elderly lady just passing by after returning from the shops passes by and reluctantly helps this woman, who is convinced she’s not pregnant.


This was one of the reasons why I kept re-watching Duology of Man; it made me empathetic to the main characters regarding their state of mind and their complacency in society. Both parables show some form of decision to hold back during difficult and unruly situations, to which I am sure most of us have encountered before.


These little experiences test our stamina for putting up with many things, such as late trains, troublesome children, motherhood and ultimately society’s pressure on particular age groups and gender.


The beauty of this short film is that the interpretation is down to the viewer, and I saw a high relevance to the mental stresses of our modern day. At what point do you ask someone to stop hitting you with a hammer? Is it just easier for everyone around you if you weren’t pregnant? These are extreme questions for severe circumstances but I feel that nearly all of us never really show our true feelings during challenging times, and at face value, we just get on with it through convenience, whilst our mental health suffers.


Ian Bousher and Theo Gelenter; the co-directors of Duology of Man and their amazing team across the Midlands helped bring this passion project to life. “We wanted to make something that teeters on the edge – odd and usual, but at the same time just accessible enough that you can explore things and pose questions for people that you can’t in the usual way.”


To help illustrate the complexities of human choice, natural light was used to film the scenes to add a sense of realism. It encouraged a more engaging narrative due to the familiarity of it all, preparing itself for an effortless shift in direction to the more bizarre nature of the situations in question.


Originally this film solely focused on the first half of the story, with more characters and longer scenes. It was then stripped down and a complimentary chapter was added, making Duology of Man a superb pairing of analogies.


The cinematography is simplistic yet captivating, nothing is made too complicated or overly expressive and practical effects were used where it was needed. The tones were kept pragmatic, and yet, something remained surrealistic throughout. It could be that it’s set in an unspecified time and the surroundings are undefined – but not without a sense of familiarity. With that respect, I was never left feeling abandoned; you are in fact, swept in by the characters and their choices.


A lot of research went into choosing which pieces of music were going to open and close Duology of Man. The decision for immediate opera fills you with a sense of melancholy and the tone is set even before the first scene hits. As we see the characters towards the end finally break down, this looked like a perfect metaphor for the unveiling of the mask some of us wear for the outside world. The use of opera towards the end really helped emphasise the emotional intensity, and with the music being so universally empowering, this particular piece felt right to use.


All of the actors in this film delivered exceptional performances. They were highly complimentary to each other with no one over exaggerating their lines. Everything was accomplished with such a natural inflection, it made it easier to absorb and accept the story as it unravels.


Stylistically, Theo tells me, Duology of Man takes inspiration from the 2015 dystopian film The Lobster, by Yorgos Lanthimos. I found some similarities to the Norwegian film The Bothersome Man (Den Brysomme Mannen), with its approach to complacency in our society, making Ian and Theo’s short film a deeply relevant piece for today’s culture concerning how we reflect on our own behaviour, thoughts and choices.


It’s exactly what Ian and Theo had in mind whilst making Duology of Man; their message isn’t force fed, but it is left open for you to think and interpret it as you see fit. For me, I saw it as a manifestation of how complacency can affect an individual.


In the last scenes, both of the main characters from each story are stood on a beach with a calm sea, yet they are both depicting pain and suffering. The serene ocean representing society and all that it should be, and the hidden distress of regular people like businessmen and expectant mothers. I loved this film because it is left down to the viewers to interpret its meaning for themselves.


Sammy S

Twitter @IsoElegant


By midlandsmovies, Apr 15 2019 08:40AM



Lords of Chaos (2019) Dir. Jonas Åkerlund


Adapted from the book of the same name, Lords of Chaos is directed by notable Swedish music video filmmaker Jonas Åkerlund and his knowledge of the music industry has turned from Madonna’s upbeat Ray of Light video to a much more sinister story here in this dark musical journey.


The director has made concert films of Beyoncé and Jay Z, Taylor Swift, Roxette and much more recently, and apt, German heavy-metallers Rammstein. In Lords of Chaos we follow Rory Culkin as guitarist Euronymous, the co-founder of real-life Norwegian black metal band Mayhem.


Recruiting a new Swedish vocalist called Dead, the new singer takes their dark persona to extreme measures including self-harm before the band meets a super-fan named Kristian (Emory Cohen) who is dismissed by the group. One day, in a scene of horrific mutilation, Dead cuts his arms and then his throat before killing himself with a shotgun to the head. The gruesome scene is one of many disgusting sequences of body mutilation and nihilistic violence and be aware, Lords of Chaos caters for those with the strongest of stomachs.


Maybe darker than the hideous death itself, Euronymous takes a photo of the scene – which is eventually used as an album cover (!) – before opening a shop that becomes the focus of their underground music scene.


With members becoming known as the "Black Circle", fan Kristian renames himself as Varg Vikernes and his strong anti-Christian views leads him join the band and then burn down churches. Whilst another member, Faust, kills a gay man in a park and their crimes are brought to the attention of the police.


A power struggle between Euronymous and Varg emerges – with each retreating into their own reality where Euronymous reveals his persona to be mostly a bluff whilst Varg’s increasing erratic and extreme behaviour leads him to arm himself for a confrontation.


Rory Culkin as Euronymous is fantastic and although its been said that the film uses a mixture of American accents, with ever-so-slight Scandinavian twangs, the choice merely seems to be one of commercial accessibility. Emory Cohen as Varg Vikernes matches Culkin beat for beat with a menacing and threatening portrayal of an unhinged extremist.


The support cast tackle the dark themes well and the film has a reality to its traumatising images. Shockingly the story has a morbid ending and many of the themes are somewhat contradictory. Culkin seems both sympathetic yet often unappealing at times and the movie explores themes of life-threatening hobbies, the occult and, more simply, the notion of celebrity and authenticity.


In my review of Vox Lux I stated that one problem of that film was the inclusion of music (pop) that I don’t have a large interest in. Here, black metal is not hugely my thing either, but I definitely sway towards the darker aspects of rock and its associated imagery which the film goes to the furthest extremities of.


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 view points of each member. And Lords of Chaos dramatizes a bleak story with a great combination of multi-layered performances and grave scenes of violence. Although not for everyone, Lords of Chaos will satisfy metal and horror fans but goes beyond both is musical and genre origins for a much more intense experience. Ghastly but gratifying.


★★★★


Mike Sales


By midlandsmovies, Apr 14 2019 08:47AM



Sutton Coldfield Movie Makers and local college announce new film The Wand


Sutton Coldfield Movie Makers and Sutton Coldfield College are collaborating to make a new fiction film at the College located on the Lichfield Road, Sutton Coldfield. The initiative to make the film was taken by Emma Buet, lecturer, to give her students work experience.


Filming has just wrapped on “The Wand”, a short fantasy film based on a script written by Julian Austwick who is a member of Sutton Coldfield Movie Makers.


And work is now being done on editing and post production with the finished planned for screening at the British International Amateur Film Festival in Birmingham on 25th April 2019. Further afield, the team hope to enter the Birmingham Film Festival in November as well.


The locations for filming were all on site at Sutton Coldfield College and included using a studio with a blue screen for special effects. Students on the design course made props and costumes and students on the drama course were the cast. The props included a giant toadstool and a wand, whilst make-up and prosthetics included a witch, a lion’s head, a horse’s head, a dreadful rash and webbed hands.


The film crew was drawn from Sutton Coldfield Movie Makers: Julian Austwick, Jill Lampert, Gordon Hunt and Debbie Daniels.


And for the students it was a chance to get valuable experience working for an outside project as well as useful work to add to CVs and personal statements in applications for university.


For Sutton Coldfield Movie Makers this was a great opportunity to engage with enthusiastic and talented young actors, and to have access to the wonderful creations the design team produced.


Debbie Daniels (Member of Sutton Coldfield Movie Makers) added, “For us at Sutton Coldfield Movie Makers, it’s been a joy to have the students’ expertise and creativity, giving us an opportunity to experiment and play, to make a really unique film. It’s one of the most stimulating things we’ve done!”


Student Tilly went on to explain: “I just enjoyed doing the hair and stage make-up because it was very fun and a new experience for me to do make-up for a movie”.


“Plus, I felt really welcomed and felt like my work was really appreciated. I also feel very proud to be part of The Wand because it has helped me socialise more and perfect my prosthetic making skills.”


Finally, lecturer Emma Buet added, “I have been delighted by my students’ engagement with the collaboration and enjoyed seeing their work develop and personal confidence grow. I really hope we can continue to work with Sutton Coldfield Movie Makers on a regular basis and look forward to seeing the finished film.”


Sutton Coldfield Movie Makers meets at Wylde Green Community Centre, Emscote Drive, B73 5NE on the 2nd and 4th Thursday of the month at 7.45pm for an 8pm start. It is a lively, friendly club for people who enjoy making films for fun. Visitors and new members are always welcome.


For more information check their website at www.suttoncoldfieldmoviemakers.org.uk





By midlandsmovies, Apr 14 2019 08:27AM



Sustain movie releases brand new trailer


Award-Winning producers Troy Dennison and Keiran Bowers have unleashed the newest trailer for the Midlands-based crime thriller/drama Sustain, directed by Dave Hastings.


With the film in deep post-production, editor Sam Woodhall has been working closely with Hastings on fine-tuning the now locked visual cut of the film. The next stage sees film grading whilst James Hall will be supervising a new sound mix. And with a composer for the film being announced in the near future, the picture is close to completion for audiences.


However, the second trailer for the film is here to whet audiences’ appetites even more. “And we’re very proud to unleash the new footage from Sustain which we all hope you will find exciting” teases producer Troy Dennison.


Featuring lots of new footage that illustrates the wide-ranging scope of exciting Midlands locations, the filmmakers had help from people Sophia French at Walsall Council and beyond. "The new trailer raises the stakes and gives you an even more thrilling look into the dangerous world that protagonist Kieran Flank (Brett Dewsbury), finds himself slipping into after the brutal murder of his step-brother Toby (Joshua Sewell)”, says director Hastings.


Dewsbury comments that “people should be excited by the film because it was produced locally, made by local talent, cast filled with raw local talent and promotes the Midlands area so very much. It is exciting because it shows what hard work, passion and creativity can achieve when you virtually have a non-existent budget. It’s a beautiful, gritty and very emotional piece that people should be happy to support because it touches on many issues we face in our day to day lives”.


The trailer also features an expanded glimpse at some of the films ensemble of other actors such as Richard Buck as the dangerous Kevin McKenzie as well as Matthew Kinson and Jay Podmore who make up the film’s chilling trio of villains who set off the dramatic chain of events the film follows.


As well as this, are the good guys like Greg Yates as DI Bridge and Laura Evenson as local news reporter Kara Marshdale, who form an uneasy allegiance in an attempt to expose the dark heart of humanity.


All of them in the trailer “shine so very much, giving audiences a new compelling glimpse into a story we’ve been incredibly excited to share with everyone”, comments Dennison.


Sustain is a joint co-production between Lightbeam Productions, 5cm/Sec Films, ICI Films, Faceless Films and Pat The Bull Films. You can follow the film on Facebook and Twitter for more exciting developments.


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