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By midlandsmovies, Oct 18 2015 10:16AM

Midlands Movies Feature - Top 10 Nicolas Cage films

Nicolas Cage. Well, what can you say?

Critics have described the actor as a pantomime or someone who reverts to over-the-top performances to compensate for a lack of quality. Others (such as Roger Ebert, no less) have noted that he has an “operatic” air to his work. In a world of method acting and weight gain/loss, the overdramatic theatrics of Nicolas Cage still dazzles and confuses fans in equal measure.

So, without too much ado, I plan to look back at 10 of my favourite (not necessarily the critics’ best) films the actor has appeared in. Right off the bat, I admit to being a much bigger fan of his action roles than his serious work but Cage has always been one to have taken many risks in his career. Never can anyone say that he’s not a very risky proposition for a film. An unlikely, sometimes odd-looking, leading man, his box office draw appears has subsided somewhat with an increase in straight to DVD “filler” and far less quality (but still very much of quantity).

A glut of poor choices more recently has seen the likes of Drive Angry and Ghost Rider 2 but still in the mix in the last few years are films like Joe (a notable return to form) and a supporting role in Kick *ss showing he still has the cinematic charisma that drew audiences in the first place.

Wikipedia cites 76 (!) films he has appeared in with 42 of those since 2000. Man, the boy Cage is prolific if nothing else so here’s some of my favourites from the huge body of work from a man whose roller-coaster of a career has no sign of letting up (4 Cage-helmed films were released in 2014 alone).

Close but not quite making it was the car-tastic schlock of Gone in 60 Seconds, his greasy-rocker road movie in Lynch’s Wild at Heart, the comedian Cage in the Coen’s Raising Arizona and the more recent bayou drama Joe.

N.B. Big thanks to Nick Staniforth who first published our article over at our good friends at Reel Good

10. Adaptation (2002)

Cage plays two roles in this meta-project from the warped mind of Charlie Kaufman which covers Kaufman’s own struggles in adapting The Orchid Thief for the cinema. Covering depression and writer’s block, Cage’s role as both brothers allows him to experiment with his own duality with his dark and brooding choices conflicting with his blockbuster sensibilities of the brother. An Academy Award nod saw Cage with the best critical reception in years and a testament to his acting ability when given the right material.

9. Lord of War (2005)

Andrew Nichol directs Cage as a Ukrainian-American arms dealer in this drama and dissection of war, conflict and weaponry. Tracing the story over many years across a global backdrop, Cage is great as the morally ambiguous gunrunner and the slightly heavy handed message is neatly wrapped up in a Cage performance that shows both a family man and his criminality and the ultimate if inevitable end game of human destruction.

8. Leaving Las Vegas (1995)

Winning the Academy Award for Best Actor, Cage’s most lauded role is as an alcoholic heading to the big city in order to drink himself to death. Cage embodies the carnage as a trail of broken dreams and his own broken body are the focus of a dark and disturbing film. With great support from Elizabeth Shue who balances the extremes of Cage’s performance, the film is a superb study of the dangers of addiction but you may struggle to sit through multiple viewings given its power and Cage’s haunting embodiment.

7. The Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans (2009)

Werner Herzog re-imagines Abel Ferrara’s 1992 film and Cage challenges the previous incarnation as the craziest copper in town with this police-crime drama. In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, Cage’s Policeman spins out of control in a haze of drugs, corruption and lizard hallucinations. A solid tale of bribery, contraband and conflict, Cage’s experience with substance abusive characters is again showcased in this addictive film set in the Big Easy.

6. Kick Ass (2010)

Very much a supporting role in Matthew Vaughan’s violent take on comic book superheroes, Cage excels as the father to Hit-Girl in this subversive 2010 flick. Channelling every ounce of Adam West’s 1960s Batman (from the obvious bat-suit similarities to the pauses and strange ticks), Cage shows a quirky restraint but also a much needed adult focal point to the adolescent action throughout. With added moustache, Cage breathes eccentric life into an eccentric character helping to balance out the group of have a go heroes.

5. Snake Eyes (1998)

A film many critics and audiences never took to, Brian De Palma’s movie about a policeman (a staple of Cage) trying to solve a murder at a televised boxing match is an underrated gem in my book. From the directorial flourishes of split screen and long tracking shots, De Palma uses Cage’s watchability to ensure the 10-minute opening one-shot focuses on Cage’s character from the start. A series of genre tropes are mixed in with a narrative that plays and then re-plays sequences for the audience – along with Cage – to see things from different angles. Cage himself, portrays the character too from different angles as he transforms from smarmy cop to duped fool in this twisty and taut thriller.

4. National Treasure 1 & 2 (2004 & 2007)

Right, I don’t care what you say, the 2 National Treasure films are a highlight of Cage for me. Where Cage often went for independent strangeness or blockbuster action, this could have been one of his biggest departures ever. Could Cage really carry a family-friendly Disney movie? Well yes. And he even upsets purists by keeping Sean Bean alive by the end of it! Part Indiana Jones and part Da Vinci Code, director John Turtletaub makes a stupidly fun and idiotically entertaining film that those two missteps could only dream of being. A heist adventure with comedy capers thrown in, Cage’s now blockbuster likeability helps him play cat and mouse with previous Bad Lieutenant Harvey Keitel!

3. The Rock (1996)

Michael Bay has made some terrible films of late and his music-video aesthetic, wafer thin characters and sickening gyratory camera shots are now the stuff of parody. Yet, he did direct The Rock. The Rock was made immediately after Leaving Las Vegas and tells how Cage (Stanley Goodspeed) travels to Alcatraz to help release hostages held by National Treasure 2’s Ed Harris with the help of ex-MI5 convict Sean Connery. A surreal set of action beats, car chases, shootouts and punch ups are helped by the buddy-cop back-and-forth between Cage and Connery. Of course it’s silly and OTT but Cage and his fans wouldn’t have it any other way

2. Con Air (1997)

Cage’s hair has been famous throughout his career but never more so in this all-out action prison break-cum-airplane flick. A b-movie premise (escaping prisoners take over a plane) utilises Cage’s balding yet flowing locks as his good con tries to keep hostages alive and the authorities on his side. Comedy, action and a great villain (John Malkovich’s “Cyrus the Virus”) help package this film as a suitable follow up to The Rock but with Cage as the prisoner this time. Further great support from John Cusack and Steve Buscemi seals the deal with Cage demanding the “bunny back in the box” as he fights his way to freedom on a flight full of felons.

1. Face/Off (1997)

You’ve just won an Oscar and you’ve followed that up with 2 of the best action films of the 1990s so what did Cage do next? Well make another one of the best action films. Focusing more on fists and guns, the film is perfect to show one of Cage’s signature skills in playing two sides of character (see all films above). In this movie, he literally plays two characters (he starts as the insane Castor Troy & switches to the good cop Sean Archer for most of the film) and along with Travolta, both actors get to play off not only their character traits but their fellow actor in a riotous role-reversal. The story is silly, Cage is cool, crazy and criminal and the premise is ludicrous but John Woo decides to use the multi-faceted Cage, whose career is made up of using extreme characteristics and polar mannerisms, as the perfect person to tackle duality in this 90s classic.

Midlands Movies Mike

By midlandsmovies, Mar 17 2015 11:55AM

Midlands Movies Mike talks to “This Is England” and “Beverley” star Kieran Hardcastle about his role in the new short film, made and shot in Leicester that is currently receiving rave reviews around the region.

Back in 1997, Kieran successfully auditioned for the BAFTA award-winning Television Workshop in Nottingham, (alumni includes Samantha Morton, Toby Kebbell, Jack O'Connell, Vicky McClure). Much work in children's television during the late nineties propelled Kieran to parts in BBC prime-time drama series and educational programs, before a two-year daily stint in ITV's 2001 daytime soap 'Crossroads'. 2006 saw Kieran as part of the main ensemble in Shane Meadows's 'This is England' and I chatted to him directly after the first cast and crew red-carpet screening of this new Two-Tone short...

Hi Kieran. Congratulations on your performance in "Beverley”. Can you tell our readers a bit about how you found about the short film?

Thank you. Well, I’m from Nottingham and am currently heavily involved in the Television Workshop there. I heard about the auditions for this interesting short film and normally I don’t do that many short films but if truth be told when I heard about Vicky’s involvement (Vicky McClure, also a This Is England alumni), it was that which first attracted me to audition for the project.

What happened next?

Well, then I found out that there were a lot of people involved but more importantly a lot of talent. Plus once we got going it had a real family feel to the production which was great.

Aside from This Is England, had you worked with Vicky before on other film projects?

Well aside from that film, we both train at the same place in The Television Workshop. It’s a very creative environment and helps develop and promote lots of local talent. In addition, as an actor it’s great to have something like this film this locally as the acting jobs can sometimes be centred on Manchester or Central London. Going back to Vicky though, I don’t think she knew i was going to be in it!

You look very different with a shaved head if you don’t mind me saying

Ha ha. I get that a lot funnily enough.

[And on cue as we laugh about this, one of the audience members from the Beverley screening walks by and says, “Oh, I almost didn’t recognise you. You look very different with hair”]

Just like that!

Ha ha! Exactly!

Going back to the film, there’s a heavy television workshop presence in the film overall wasn’t there?

Yes, very much so. As well as myself, there’s Vicky as we mentioned, who by the way is VERY believable as a mum, I have never seen her play that kind of role before. Also, from there was ‘Chucky’ (Tom Cowlin) who plays Dean, the National Front character, who is a very good friend of mine and I am very proud of him in Beverley. Finally, there was also Lewis Bacon. Also, I can’t forget to mention Sennia Nanua (as Jess) who for me stole the show!

What were their feelings on the film?

Well, I reported back to the workshop that we’ve all come off well in this, you know. Our mentor Ian is always casting his eye on the world and asking how his “little babies” are doing and I explained to him that in this one we are doing alright.

What’s up for you next then, Kieran?

I am often down in Leicester and have recently appeared in shows at The Curve Theatre. I’m really keen to keep the connections within the region such as Nottingham, Derby and Leicester. At the moment I am part of a production company (Sheep Soup) who are perorming our hit sell out show called "Mrs Green".

That sounds great

It will be! We’ve had lots of fantastic support from The Curve in terms of establishing ourselves which is great considering I think it’s one of the best theatres outside of London in my opinion. After the theatre work I’m very keen to maintain the relationships with Leicester Phoenix and Nottingham Broadway as well.

Finally, what was your favourite experience working on Beverley?

The night I spent with Cass Pennant!

[Cass walks by: “You got the water bed, didn’t ya?]

Ha ha! In fairness, it was a night where shooting overran and everyone was tired yet even though there was no money involved in this for the actors, everyone bent over backwards to help. With this level of low budget filmmaking people worked so hard to get stuff done. As I said, “Chucky” (as Dean) is one of my best mates and it doesn’t get much better than me and a mate coming down to work on a film as good as this and that’s no bad thing.

Thank you. Find out more about Kieran and his involvement in the NTW as well as his theatre work below.

For more info on the BAFTA Award winning Television Workshop


More info on Mrs Green The Musical is here:


Midlands Movies Mike

By midlandsmovies, Jan 27 2015 09:28PM

An Audience with Sylvester Stallone in Sheffield

With queues around the block when we arrived, it was a cold Sheffield evening on Sunday 25th January when Yorkshire was treated to a bit of Hollywood glitz and glamour as living legend Sylvester Stallone came to town.

The megastar was performing in an “Audience With...” format and there were fans aplenty who wanted to find out more from their Rocky and Rambo hero.

After a short wait outside, the throngs were let in through the large doors of Sheffield’s City Hall venue and then into the main auditorium I went with my girlfriend Lucy, who as the biggest Stallone fan I know, was literally bouncing off the walls with excitement.

The theatre was sold out and I grabbed the complimentary souvenir brochure from the seat (which was a refreshing change to see but was much needed given the high price of tickets) and read about Sly’s life before seeing an Alan Partridge-esque couch and interview chair on stage. The magazine explained Sly was to be interviewed by Mike Read – wasn’t he caught up in the Saville-storm I thought before realising that actually no, he was “merely” caught doing a anti-Europe song in cod-Jamaican patois – who would post the questions. Righty ho!

A strange choice I thought but I guess that they had arranged the format for this thing a while back but before I could “read” any more into this, the lights dimmed and the real Read walked into the spotlight. Our seats in the second tier were a fair distance but gave us a superb central view of the entire stage and he began by introducing a cinematic montage of Sly’s best moments on the big screen. The soundtrack? Obviously the Rocky theme.

After a few minutes of scenes from Rocky, Rambo, Demolition Man, The Expendables, Cliffhanger and many more, the electric-charged atmosphere was unbearable and the man himself was welcomed to the stage. The venue had cameramen strategically placed throughout and the first sight of him was actually on the screen on stage as we could see him walk from his backstage room to the front of house...just like...a boxer heading to the ring.

But this wasn’t to be a hard sweaty slog but more of a champion comeback with Sly entertaining the crowd with his pleasing hooks and jabs about his upbringing, Hollywood, workout regimes and much more which were turned out to be all big hits with the crowd.

Starting from humble beginnings like all good underdog stories, Sly waxed lyrical about all of his accomplishments without ever bragging or going over too-familiar territory. Adoring fans would no doubt be already aware of some of these stories but for the rest of us (including myself); each tale opened another door to the Sly story.

From playing Polo with Prince Charles to family struggles, I was informed by a close friend before I went that there would be more behind the man than the brainless macho action films and he was so right. The shallow persona that we have seen ever since his dumb 80s action starring roles has long followed him around but Sly is much more articulate than many a young actor in the same genre. Early on, his discussions involved talking about art (a creative endeavour he encouraged anyone to take up) whilst his struggles as a penniless actor would make a great film in his own right.

As he grew up he was offered low budget porn skin-flicks which he unashamedly said were easy money for little work. Although Party at Kitty and Stud's was hardly a breakout role, Sly acknowledged that he still needed to pay the bills and when he came up with Rocky (a film that included only a little boxing in it in its first draft) he soon realised he had a winner on his hands.

The now New York based actor was offered a 6-figure sum for his plucky new sports script and despite the vast amounts of money involved, the struggling actor/writer insisted he must play the lead character role himself. This headstrong decision was the first of many big choices Sly threw at the audience, saying we only get a few each lifetime and you have to pick them carefully but playing safe is not always an option. Lucky for him, United Artists took a chance and the rest is cinematic history.

In fact, Sly told us that it has also become sporting history as he (as Rocky) was inducted into the Boxing Hall of Fame making him feel highly embarrassed that his fictional character was placed amongst the other real-life esteemed alumni. Sly told us that Mohammed Ali was an inspiration and that he also admired British boxing legend Henry Cooper. However, when asked about his real heroes he mentioned regular doctors and nurses. Sly went on explaining these everyday heroes were unsung and helped both him and his daughter with their respective heart conditions.

Quickly informing everyone that he was jealous of (“the perfect 6 foot five Adonis with a chemistry degree”) Dolph Lundgren who once hit him so hard, the hospital thought he had been in a vehicle accident, Sly also made the audience laugh as well as think.

Adding to this was a story about how he couldn’t afford to feed both himself and his dog, Butkus (yes, that one from Rocky) so he originally sold him for $50 but the very next day was offered the Rocky contract. Attempting to get the dog back, the new owner wanted $2000 (!) so he paid him and the dog was cast in the film. Another anecdote followed a young man in his 20s that could barely speak English who was outside his mansion one night. The man was doing the splits across his driveway but Sly kindly offered the man a lift and dropped him off nearby. 9 years later and the young foreigner became a huge star in his own action films. The man? None other than Jean Claude Van Damme.

Sly’s thoughts on religion were touched upon – he downplayed the God angle (thank goodness, this isn’t the American Mid-West) and focused more on personal development and using whatever spirituality you have to better yourself by helping others. We also got glimpses of a selfish streak that all good business people have as he explained that you needed a thick skin to deal with criticism and to forget those who don’t believe in you. This reminded me of Arnold Schwarzenegger whose biography I recently read which was less “actor’s studio” and more real-estate weightlifting zealot!

Sly mostly skipped over his mother’s appearance in UK’s Celebrity Big Brother a few years back however he left the audience in hysterics over his embarrassment at her interest in “Rumpology” (a form of psychic butt reading – yes, really) which showed mums can still bring you down a peg or two.

As we neared the end, Sly explained about his new film “Creed” which is to star Michael B Jordan (“Chronicle”) as Apollo Creed’s son and is a spin off from the Rocky franchise. Stallone went to great lengths to explain that it wasn’t a cash in and that he will be taking a very light supporting role in the film. He also explained how he was recently at Everton Football Ground to film crowd scenes for the movie and he was to fly back that very evening to start filming in the USA the next day.

Finally a Q & A from the audience showed the real appreciation that Sly still holds over young and old alike. From fawning ladies who almost got booed such was their length of their sonnets of love to Stallone to the film-geeks, Sly kindly responded to each request like a pro. Mike Read mentioned a Tweet that had been received from an audience member challenging him to an arm wrestle which he gladly accepted and graciously lost to a female fan (echoes of Over The Top). Another lady asked if he could repeat his famous “You’re a disease, I’m the cure” line from Cobra which he did too without batting an eyelid. And to top it all, one lady said her boyfriend would only ask for her hand in marriage if Sly could do the asking. Well, what else could the Italian Stallion do? The couple came to the stage and Sly asked on behalf of the man and boom! A dream was made.

And that was what it was all about. For nearly 40 years, Sly has been making Hollywood dreams and from classic action films to the plucky underdog stories to the recent re-imagined thrills of The Expendables, Sly has always fought against the tide and for film and fight fans, he’s a personal hero to many people and from this knock-out live performance, you can easily see why.

Midlands Movies Mike

By midlandsmovies, Dec 31 2014 10:05AM

Best John Hurt Movies & Performances

A big shout out to Derbyshire actor John Hurt who has become a Knight in the 2014/15 New Year’s honours list and to celebrate here are 10 of the best Hurt performances you should check out below:

1. Alien (1979)

2. The Elephant Man (1980)

3. Midnight Express (1978)

4. Nineteen Eighty-Four (1984)

5. The Naked Civil Servant (1975, TV movie)

6. Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy (2011)

7. Contact (1997)

8. The Harry Potter series (2001-2011)

9. Englishman in New York (2009, TV movie)

10. Hellboy (2004) and Hellboy 2 (2008)

Also catch Hurt in Dogville (Narrator, 2003), V for Vendetta (2005), Snowpiercer (2014), Only Lovers Left Alive (2013), Melancholia (2011) and 44 Inch Chest (2009).

Although known for playing deep, thoughtful and emotional characters Hurt has played some comedic roles too and if that is up your street check his turns in King Ralph (1991) and especially Spaceballs (1987) where he recreates the chest-bursting scene from his infamous turn in Alien.

Big congratulations to Hurt and his awesome body of work over the last 40 years. Arise Sir John!

Midlands Movies Mike

By midlandsmovies, Dec 6 2014 09:58AM

This month Midlands Movies features Hayley Davis, an up and coming actress from Birmingham who has a wide range of talents on her CV. Read more about Hayley below...

Hayley Davis had had a portfolio career where performance and writing make up the bulk of what she does having created work for the stage and the small screen. As a member of Equity, Hayley started her journey by gaining a degree in Performance at the University of Bedfordshire before moving to London where she continued to train in her field.

Developing her trade she spent time undertaking courses at the Central School of Speech and Drama and the Actors Centre, before completing a year at Mountview Academy of Theatre Arts.

Hayley has also frequently collaborated with http://www.fresholdtheatre.co.uk to develop and perform new work which has included the shows The Rebel Dolls, Would Like to Meet and Dusa.

A film in which a girl gets ready for a date was the simple premise of ‘Would Like to meet’ and this will soon be followed by Hayley’s next project which is a short film called ‘Get out Clause’ with production beginning in the Summer of 2014. Hayley describes the new short as a film where “the simplest thing can make you re-evaluate your life. In this case, it’s a close encounter with a delicious chocolate bar!” Edited by Fabrice Millet, Hayley stars with Laurence Saunders who gets to plays Pete who has also been seen in Eastenders and rubbed shoulders with Matt Smith of Doctor Who fame: http://www.laurencesaunders.co.uk

To watch the Get out Clasue please click here http://mshayleydavis.com/screen/get-out-clause/

Going back to Hayley, the last few years has also seen her starring in promotional campaigns for the NHS as well as a national televised advertising campaign. In the past Hayley has also starred in ‘Awkward’, a film she describes as covering those periods “when it feels like your life is going down the pan and nothing is going right and you’re wondering where it all went wrong?” However, there is a twist in the tale as Hayley continues, “...then you bump into someone that you haven’t seen for years who wants an update”. Awkward indeed!

To find more about Hayley and her projects and previous roles at her official website here where you can get in touch about her films, work and future projects http://mshayleydavis.com

By midlandsmovies, Nov 14 2014 07:07PM

Shereen Walker may be a name new to you but The Zone UK are sure you’ll be hearing it and saying a great deal more very soon! Midlands Movies Mike takes a look at the work of this up and coming actress

With a unique cultural mix, blending the exotic excitement of the Caribbean with charisma and allure of Asia, Shereen is already creating a buzz in the acting world. This began after an outstanding and critically acclaimed graduation and Shereen says she is now ready to make a mark in the professional world of dramatic arts.

As a committed and convincing actress she has delivered a wide range of character roles from dark and sinister to soft and humorous and after hard studying has also graduated from The American Academy of Dramatic Arts (LA) on a 2 year programme. Not content with that, Shereen is also engaging with on-going training with Sword Fights Inc (SFI). Undoubtedly the world of acting is one of the toughest, most challenging, demanding and competitive career avenues out there and Shereen is determined to step up to the test.

From playing Cleopatra in a theatrical production of Antony and Cleopatra for the AADA-LA in the USA to more recent short films made right here in the Midlands, Shereen shows the wealth of talent coming from the region.

She most recently played the lead role of Mary/Zelda in locally made short Hotel Detective filmed in the US and edited by The Zone UK. The Zone UK are a film, photography and video production company dedicated to designing projects from the ground up – from the very first script draft to the final sound mix – ensuring a unique film that says exactly what makers want to say.

The Zone UK is the brainchild of Philip Walker, an experienced Director of Photography, Cameraman, and Creative Director who after ten years of freelancing realised he could do things far better than the majority of companies he saw around him.

With Hotel Detective, Phillip and Shereen have created a short film where Mary, a shy girl who has a lot to say but doesn't always know how to say it, takes solace in one of her favourite pastimes – going to the movies. Described as part film noir, part coming-of-age, Hotel Detective takes a look at what it means to be an extra in your own life.

Other feature films Shereen has starred in include Hush (as Amber) made by the University of Stafford and also as Claire in Blind Eye – a further production from the University of Wolverhampton.

For more info on Shereen please see her contact details below and with more films in the pipeline, Shereen is going to be one to look out for in 2015.

Shereen Walker

Email: shereensswalker@gmail.com


Toshi Madhar , Bakers Boot Factory, 20 Cleveland Road, Wolverhampton, WV2 1BH |

Office: +44 (0)1902 871411 | Mobile: +44 (0)7588339180

toshi@leadingroleagency.co.uk | www.leadingroleagency.co.uk

By midlandsmovies, Jul 29 2014 01:08PM

Finding Richard (2014) Dir. Rhys Davies

Father time lord regenerates an interest for the past in this descendant drama

Coming off the back of the discovery of Richard III’s skeleton in a car park in Leicester, Rhys Davies follows up his mockumentary How to Make a Movie for £43 Pounds (review here) with a short film inspired by the finding of the Last Plantagenet. The King of England’s unearthing provides the film with its main plot that sees a young boy, Gull (played by 12 year old local actor David Knight) beginning his own journey with his Granddad.

The role of the granddad is played by the sixth Doctor Who, Colin Baker and together with Gull, they develop a sensitive relationship between generations that allows both of them to dream and following their own path.

In early shots, Gull is laughed at by his school peers before brighter prospects come his way as his Granddad offers him the use of a spade and tells him to get out an investigate the area. And it is this camaraderie that seeps its way into the entire film with friendly and often comical conversations between the two in the garden shed.

Eccentric and eclectic, the short was shot on location in Leicestershire but only uses the infamous remains as a backdrop as it is really about a discovery of another kind. As they dig up artefacts, the audience actually unearths more about the characters and their motivations themselves. The acting is top notch with both the old and young cast showcasing a believable bond to develop Rhys’ themes of generational closeness.

The similar sounding “Looking for Richard” (1996), in which Al Pacino dissects Shakespeare’s historical play, reflects on the past but this concise dramatic film is much more about looking to the future and uses long-standing connections from the past to deal with a more positive issue of hope.

Passing the metaphorical and actual baton (in this case, the spade & metal detector) from granddad to grandson, Gull discovers more about himself by digging in the past and his passionate pet project eventually ends on a happy note as a young girl from the neighbourhood asks him about his hobby and we witness him making another community connection himself.

Davies films the story in a no-nonsense style with the story beats solidly handled and exhumes a set of genuine performances from all involved. Finely tuned to link the local and personal and the past and the future, the film is a perceptive look at the delicate attachments that tie us all together.

Midlands Movies Mike

Read more about the film click here

By midlandsmovies, Jul 9 2014 04:41PM

Midlands Movies Mike takes a look at some of the most memorable, fantastic and important tattoos on the big screen in this Top 20 Tattoos in the Movies List.

Before we get going I’m going to start with the honourable mentions which just missed the cut (or should that be needle) - Tom Hardy as Tommy Conlon in Warrior (2011) – the tattoos are Tom’s own, Rod Steiger as Carl in The Illustrated Man (1969), Matthew McConaughey in Reign of Fire (2002), Jack Sparrow’s sparrow in Pirates of the Caribbean (2003), Robert Mitchum in Night of the Hunter (1955) and Matt Damon in Elysium (2013). So now, let's get on with the show!

20. Ashton Kutcher and Seann William Scott in Dude, Where’s My Car? (2000)

We’ll start with a reason not to get a tattoo – get so stoned/drunk and out of it that you get the word “Dude” inked on your back and your bro gets “Sweet” on his. Cue 5 minutes of brainless dialogue in this brainless film

19. Ed Helms as Stu Price in The Hangover Part 2 (2011)

The filmmakers got sued by Mike Tyson’s lawyers after the sequel covered another night of debauchery gone wrong and Stu ends up copying Iron Mike’s face tattoo. Bad in more ways than one for everyone involved.

18. Russell Crowe as Hando in Romper Stomper (1992)

Neo-Nazi Russell has a religious chest piece and a bone design down the arm for this early 90s violent thriller about racist groups in Melbourne, Australia

17. Justin Timberlake as Frankie "Nuts" Ballenbacher in Alpha Dog (2006)

More gangs in this film as we witness a kidnapping and murder as our musical Justin ditches his pretty boy persona for a combo of words, italics, stylised Chinese characters and stars over the top half of his body.

16. Edward Norton as Derek Vinyard in American History X (1996)

More gangs AND more neo-nazis in what is essentially a small tattoo in comparison to some on this list but its impact is felt every time you think of this film as Norton is captured during his topless arrest with his torso sporting a dark black swastika. A true heart of darkness in this thought provoking film.

15. George Clooney as Seth Gecko in From Dusk Til Dawn (1996)

A bit of an old-style 90s tribal design which actually had to be removed each day when gorgeous George went back to filming ER so the effects department took a neck cast and stencil that fitted directly to his body in order to airbrush it back on as quickly as they could each day. Inspired a load of Ibiza-going Loaded-reading lads tats and maybe Robbie Williams from that period too!

14. Wesley Snipes as Blade in Blade (1998)

Vampire killer Blade had a unique (until The Matrix) comic-book look that incorporated a tattoo into Snipes’ extreme haircut. Designed by tattoo artist Freddy Negrete, the tattoos include Polynesian influences and cover most of his upper chest, arms and shoulders. His partially shaved head reveals more designs that wrap around the back of the head and neck.

13. Brad Pitt as Mickey in Snatch (2000)

Coming off the back of Fight Club, Pitt already had the body for bare-knuckle Irish boxer Mickey O’Neill and director Guy Ritchie supplemented this with old school tattoos, some even look unfinished with a very rough and ready look. See a very cool rendering of the designs at this website: http://blog.creaturealchemy.com/index.php/2013/01/12/mickey-oneill-snatch-fan-art-progress/

12. John Belushi and Dan Aykroyd in The Blues Brothers (1980)

Maybe as a homage to Mitchum’s “Love” & “Hate” finger/knuckle tattoos, the dynamic musical duo have their own names tattooed on their hand (or hands in Elwood’s case given the number of letters) which show that the costume details were not lost in their transition from SNL skit to the big screen.

11. Pete Postlethwaite as Father Lawrence in Romeo + Juliet (1996)

Gone but not forgotten, our Pete has put in some stellar performances over the years but this often forgotten gem has the former RSC actor as a priest who has a Celtic cross (or crucifix) tattooed on his back as he deals drugs and (not that great) advice to the films’ lovers.

Top 10

10. Ada Nicodemou as DuJour (The White Rabbit Girl) in The Matrix (1999)

A brief appearance by a small (and a bit crappy) tattoo but the importance of what it signifies (The Wachowski’s Alice in Wonderland influence, the start of his “unplugging”, the dreams within dreams connotations) is hugely influential. In the real world, you’d avoid such a poor cartoon character on the back of the shoulder but it is discreet yet draws you in like some tattoos should.

9. Ryan Gosling as Luke Glanton in The Place Beyond the Pines (2013)

In a film that didn’t really grip me, one thing that can’t be argued about is the effects work and suitability of Gosling’s character’s tattoos. A mixture of hand-drawn sketches, spider webs, pictograms and finished with a large galleon on his back, this is a cool look for Gosling’s bank robbing criminal, it’s a shame the film didn’t quite have the same finish.

8. Viggo Mortenssen as Nikolai Luzhin in Eastern Promises (2007)

A brutal stark-bollock naked fight scene is the strange highlight of this UK-set crime drama from David Cronenberg and Viggo had his body covered in Russian gangster tattoos to show his allegiances in the movie. According to urban legend, the tattoos were so realistic that diners in a Russian restaurant Mortenssen visited in preparation for the film “fell silent out of fear, until he revealed his identity and admitted the tattoos were for a film”.

7. Noomi Rapace as Lisbeth Salander in The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2009)

My preference definitely sits with the Swedish original and I have chosen the larger and more extreme back piece over the symbolic tattoo from Fincher’s US-remake. The design has the dragon “tearing” through Rapace’s skin – maybe a bit on-the-nose – but the big design gets its righteous reveal to show her true violent nature.

6. Angelina Jolie as Fox in Wanted (2008)

With a love for tattoos including Arabic script, a Buddhist Pali incantation, gothic letters, a Tennessee Williams quote, Roman numerals, geographical coordinates AND a large Bengal tiger in traditional Thai style with a manual needle, Jolie appears to have tried every tattoo variation possible on herself. The best place to see these (plus others added by makeup for the film) is in the bath tub scene in Wanted. Taking both the audience’s and James McAvoy’s breath away, Jolie has the body to match the art too!

5. Robert De Niro as Max Cady in Cape Fear (1991)

Truth and justice crucifix scales on his back and a picture of death and a broken heart on the front amongst many others, De Niro’s vengeful criminal shows just how permanent his lust for revenge is over his perceived wrongful conviction. With The Simpsons Sideshow Bob spin off a delightful homage - “Die Bart, Die” is claimed as a German tattoo for “The Bart, The” and with a Robert Mitchum spoof (right actor, wrong film) we see written LUV and HAT (the A has a line above it) on Bob’s three cartoon fingers – the film shows anger, passion and a dark creative streak from personifying De Niro’s anarchic character and a visual representation of his motivations.

4. Ray Park as Darth Maul in The Phantom Menace (1999)

One of the best things about the ill-fated prequels was the concept for this sci-fi villain and his double-ended lightsaber and awesome body art. According to Star Wars lore his tattoos (which also cover his entire body) are described as the markings of a warrior and although face tattoos, often Maori influenced, can be seen in films such as Ender’s Game and Once Were Warriors – the great practical effects of this extreme space creature design resonated positively with fans no matter how bad the film we actually got was.

3. Johnny Depp as Wade "Cry-Baby" Walker in Cry Baby (1990)

An obscure John Walters 50s nostalgia flick with darkness, campness and a subversion that only that director could provide, this was the first of many films Depp chose to ditch his 80s “pretty boy” tag. After a lightning strike hits a tree we find out electricity killed Cry-Baby’s parents and he rips off his shirt to reveal an electric chair tattoo on his chest. Later he has a single tear tattoo under his eye as well – an extremity a wired Walters would give his film “hero”.

2. Guy Pearce as Leonard Shelby in Memento (2000)

An amazing “backwards” film designed to show us chunks of memory much in the style of the protagonist himself who after a brutal attack on him and his family is unable to create new memories. So how does his recall his past? Well, he simply tattoos the “facts” directly onto his body as a daily reminder. From the large gothic “Find Him and Kill Him” to a licence plate number he picks up during his investigation the film plays with conventions and Pearce’s body becomes a testament to the power of story-telling, memory and the longevity of information as well as a daily reminder for his beliefs. From his “certainties” which become forgetful doubts, this unique vision has to be near the top of the list...

1. Tom Noonan and Ralph Fiennes as Francis Dolarhyde in Manhunter (1986) and Red Dragon (2002)

We have a double winner at the top to show how 2 different designs from the same source material can be done in wonderfully creative ways for the big screen. The Red Dragon novel tells us how serial killer Frances Dolarhyde is nicknamed "The Tooth Fairy" due to his victims' body bites but actually refers to himself as "The Great Red Dragon" after William Blake's painting "The Great Red Dragon and the Woman Clothed with the Sun”. He has a tattoo inspired by the picture and in Michael Mann’s first adaptation, Tom Noonan went through hours of designs and redesigns before Mann decided that he wouldn’t show it on film but the great design was used for promotional purposes. Brett Ratner’s 2002 follow up (a decent if cynical flick to show more Hannibal Lecter) gave Fiennes the opportunity to show off a huge, almost full body, tattoo that took 3 hours to apply each day. Do you see?

By midlandsmovies, Jan 31 2014 11:38PM

Midlands Movies talked with up and coming actor Darren Lynch who began his journey in the region and has fought for on screen success since starting out in his hometown of Derby.

With a tenacious drive to never give up, Darren graduated from the Derby Academy of Acting in 2010 after his AGF in Performing Arts the year before and although Darren says he was a shy teenager, his confidence has grown since landing parts on BBC’s Doctors in 2012 and making his own films under his Lynch Film production company.

Conquering his fear was key and Darren first appeared in a theatrical release with Screwed, a prison drama from 2010 with a role as a prisoner that helped him decide that acting was what he wanted to do full time.

A versatile and ambitious actor, Darren’s reliability and flexibility has seen him in appear in diverse films such as 10 Grams, Hummingbird and even a terrorist in the latest Bond outing in Sam Mendes’ Skyfall.

Branching out from acting Darren has recently turned to directing but adds, “Even though I have started directing my own films I’ll never leave behind the acting”. “I have so many ideas for films and enjoy film making a lot and It also gives me the opportunity to act in my own films”, Darren said of his time behind the camera but also contributed, “This is more than work to me, this is my passion".

Darren’s short film Broken was produced in 2012 and is a short film about a young brothers’ love. As one of them struggles to deal with the loss of his wife, the film is directed by Darren Lynch and stars his brother Conner Lynch who appear together in this sad short film. Watch the short in the YouTube link above.

Along with a Bryan Singer’s Jack the Giant Killer, Darren is not sitting back as his own company Lynch Films have recently announced an Amsterdam-set disease thriller called “Infectious” as their next project which is being filmed after an independent sci-fi horror film called Planet 32, set to be filmed in early 2015.

Find out more about Darren and Lynch Films at his website here - www.darrenlynch.co.nr

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Watch Darren's film Broken on YouTube

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