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By midlandsmovies, Jun 9 2019 07:52AM

Comic Con Leicester 2019

Celebrating its 5th Anniversary, Leicester Comic Con is one of the highlights of Leicester’s cultural quarter and a must-see on the Midlands cosplay calendar. With 4 successful years behind them, the convention once again returned to the art-deco ex-cinema Athena venue which has always given this event a local and quirky flavour.

Although taking place over the first weekend in June at the height of summer, the weather couldn’t have been wetter. Although previous years have seen many people gather at the front of the venue, allowing cosplayers to congregate and take photos, the incessant rain meant that it was a slightly darker beginning than previous years.

What it did mean though was that people being forced inside resulted in a bigger, better – and slightly cramped – atmosphere inside where comic and film fans, artists and those dressed up pushed together to create an amazing buzz.

As you arrive, out the front of the venue were three of the vehicles used for Bumblebee in the cinema iterations of the Transformers. In Michael Bay’s first take on Transformers in 2007, Bumblebee was depicted as a 1976 Camaro and then a fifth-generation 2011 Camaro before returning to his original cartoon Volkswagen Beetle version in Travis Knight’s Bumblebee (2018).

As famous a car as you’re sure to see today, right? Well not quite. Once inside attendees were greeted with the Bat-Signal which was illuminating the Tumbler – the armoured Batmobile used in Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy.

Heading upstairs first of all, there was also a mannequin dressed as Knight of the Old Republic who we took photos next to after resting our bags on the model. However, rather embarrassingly after we left, we noted that to our surprise this “mannequin” started to move. The very static cosplayer had trolled us good!

Upstairs, as with most years, there is a gaming area at the very top of the venue and the artists are situation in stalls on each tier of the balcony. We’ve said before – and we’ll say it again – but this is such a unique venue that it really does have a fantastically original and special feel when compared to other conventions often situated in bland leisure centres or echo-y halls.

Up on this top tier were Nick Gribbon who specialises in cinema, Marvel and zombie illustrations whilst the convention alsowelcomed Leicester post-apocalyptic artist Gustaffo Vargas who brought his Peru-infused ‘drug Guinea Pigs’ to the floor. Sass & Sorcery were there selling their magical art prints and greeting cards, as was game art designer Little Woodlouse, pop culture artist Lee Bradley and anime-inspired artist Emmett Green.

Keith Chan returned as one of the convention’s veteran artists along with David Millgate and his 2000AD artwork and poster prints. And also out for his 5th year in a row was Ryan Button of RB Illustrations. We’re slightly biased as Ryan did our fantastic film night event posters but was great to see one of the designs (for our Die Hard-themed screening night) finally become a limited edition print. As well as more Bumblebee (and Grimlock) related Transformers art too!

Rachel of Nottingham’s EldritchRach Illustration was another return artist whilst another Nottingham artist of handmade crafts & illustrations was Fanatic Pufferfish and next door was Here Be Monsters, the comic from Luke Parker.

A welcome return too for Midlands animator and cartoonist Thomas Crook (who we covered in our early days) and his delightful dairy creation – the Cheesemen – who, as you can guess, are mysterious characters made of cheese. Here, attendees could grab a free build-your-own robot Cheese Man. A great little model can be made from card and a cool idea to link back to their fun website for the instructions.

Along with the artists, the balcony also hosts the body-painting zone where very brave men and women allow themselves to be covered in head to-toe make-up. Given how hot the venue was starting to get, it made strange sense that their little amount of clothing was very much enviable by this time.

We then headed back down the stairs where there was an Indiana Jones and Game of Thrones photo opportunity whilst on the main stage you could share space with Star Wars droids, Yoda, Ewoks and the Emperor’s throne as well.

The main ground floor hosts shops, coin-op machines and a mass of Funko Pop sellers but we recommend checking out local business Arcade Frames run by local Nottingham film-fan and musician Rob Lane who creates retro-fused LEGO mini figure frames.

Finally, we couldn’t not mention one of the organisers of the event itself, Gavin Lee-Pate. With 5 successful years under his belt, Gavin (and his partner in crime Richard Tewkesbury) should be rightly proud of another successful event which gives joy to so many local people from all ages and backgrounds. Gavin is also a successful artist in his own right under Cult Locations Ink. These are small hand drawn prints of famous movie locations from the Overlook Hotel to Florin Castle (from The Princess Bride) – which is actually Derby’s Haddon Hall no less.

So as we finish Saturday, we wish all the best for the hosts, stalls, artists and attendees - and as we write this we mustn’t forget that there’s a whole second day of fun on Sunday!

Please check all the artists and on their links - and Happy ComicCon-ing everybody – you’ll find no better place in the region this Summer!

Michael Sales

By midlandsmovies, Oct 10 2017 09:26AM

Loving Vincent (2017) Dir. Dorota Kobiela & Hugh Welchman

My own love for Vincent stemmed from a project on The Netherlands in primary school all the way to imitating his artwork (and others in the post-impressionist movement) for my A-Levels so I was excited to hear about the development of this unique film.

If you have yet to hear, Loving Vincent is a hybrid animation/real-life film in a similar vein to Richard Linklater’s Waking Life and A Scanner Darkly. Like those films drawings were placed on top of acted out and pre-recorded scenes – its inherent strange rotoscoping perfect for the latter’s Philip K. Dick source material. Here however each frame of the film (around 65,000 of them) is an oil painting. 100 plus artists used Van Gogh-style painting techniques to capture the feel and style of his varied body of work.

The film’s story is a mystery concerning the investigations of Armand Roulin (Douglas Booth), a distant friend of the Van Gogh’s whose father, Chris O'Dowd as Postman Roulin, sets him on a trail to deliver one of Van Gogh’s last letters. Arriving in the village of Auvers-sur-Oise, he speaks to a number of people who interacted with the infamous painter who each describe their relationship with the artist during the last few weeks of his life.

The film flashes back from the colourful brushstrokes of his later portraits and rural landscapes to a more realistic black and white palette during the recollections of past events which is a brilliant nod to his developing styles from one stage of his life to another.

From an introduction at The Night Café (1888) and Portrait of the Postman Joseph Roulin (1841–1903) the film deliberately introduces locations and characters as exact replicas of their painted canvases, before moving to the drama of the scene itself. For Van Gogh lovers it’s very much a case of Spot-the-Painting but doesn’t detract from the artistry or drama for those less familiar.

The drama itself is mostly subtle and understated as the delivery of the letter turns into a noir detective narrative as Roulin begins to uncover some ambiguities regarding Vincent’s alleged suicide. With the few outbursts done in a swirling application of paint it was a delight to see both intimate conversations and volatile fist fights animated in oils. The music by Clint Mansell echoes some of his previous work and the string quartet ratchets up tension when needed and like the visuals, mixes a nice balance of intensity and gentleness across scenes.

Robert Gulaczyk as Vincent van Gogh is really a fleeting player in the story as other characters describe his past, but he does a lot with his body and face rather than a string of dialogue scenes. This keeps the emphasis on his enigmatic legacy and how he was a quiet, yet completely ‘visual’ personality.

Great support comes in the form of Jerome Flynn as Dr. Gachet, Saoirse Ronan as his daughter Marguerite Gachet, Helen McCrory as the feisty Louise Chevalier and John Sessions as Père Tanguy – each one bringing depth and nuance to their roles and further fleshing out this historic world.

It’s great to see the detective story secure a strong driving narrative to what could be seen as simply a gimmick, however the visuals really are the big-top draw here. Unlike anything I’ve seen before, when the drama slows, the cinema felt like your favourite museum with the audience simply ruminating on the almost-static images. Yet when they moved, the glory of the brushwork and talented painters who recreated Van Gogh’s style is clear to see – and a joy to behold.

It’s all too easy to allude to this as a masterpiece but a masterpiece it is nonetheless. In the end, Loving Vincent provides a portrait of a conflicting and unknowable sequence of past events that maintains the celebrated artist’s place in the art world. The story, music, acting and, of course, the unique painted design combine perfectly to create a dazzling canvas to be studied over, and most of all enjoyed, like Vincent’s best works already are.


Midlands Movies Mike

By midlandsmovies, Nov 21 2016 08:26PM

It had been a few years since my last visit to the MCM Comic Con in Birmingham’s NEC arena and after a fantastic time at Leicester’s own independent convention (see here) I decided to see if the event was still as much fun as before.

With new writer Robb Sheppard in tow (@RedBezzle) we met at New Street station where there was already train carriages packed full of the weird and wonderful cosplayers on their way to the event.

As we entered through the snaking queues of people waiting in line for what was sure to be a jam-packed two days, Robb and I dropped off our bags and hit the throngs of comic, film, game and TV fans.

As always, there was an amazing mix of amateur and professionals with stars of film and TV offering a chat and photo and the long lines of eager fans showed that people of all ages couldn’t wait to meet their heroes. One such star was Sam Jones from Flash Gordon who unfortunately had large parts of his voice dubbed for the movie but you could chat to the very much alive Jones in the flesh. Flesh Gordon? No, that’s something entirely different.

Also in the star zone were sci-fi stars and regular convention attendees Chris Barrie (Rimmer) and Danny John Jules (Cat) from Red Dwarf and the sci-fi continued with the amazing Keir Dullea and Gary Lockwood from 2001: A Space Odyssey. Not quite so famous was American motormouth and auctioneer Sean Kelly from TV’s cult Storage Hunters who is also making his debut in February at the Leicester Comedy Fest.

As we left the celebrity area, Robb and I could hear the (royal) rumblings of two wrestlers from Midlands based www.slamwrestling.co.uk who were diving and suplexing in and out of the ring.

Just near the violent pounding of the ring was the glamour modelling tent strictly for over 18s only. The glamour “Mansion” contained a number of erotic models who were happy to speak to their fans. Given the coy shyness of us Brits, it mostly consisted of groups of lads egging each other on to speak to the scantily clad ladies or a few folk who looked like this was their first time speaking to any woman. Either way, people were having fun and we ran into Anastasia Lux who we found out was also a part-time wrestler! Body slam!

After our access all areas trip around the naughtier side of the convention we returned to the standard stalls which had a mixture of shops, market places, comic artists and writers as well as special exhibits and there was a great display of the bizarre and beautiful. One of the first things to get our attention was the out of the world experience delivered by Sent Into Space. They offer people the chance to create your own space mission by sending up everything from family heirlooms to toys into space where they reach the edge of the atmosphere before falling safely back to earth. http://sentintospace.com

Another unique stall were the Animazombs who are a collection of soft animal toys with various zombie related problems. This great crowdfunded group have everything from Wilson the Giraffe whose insides come spilling out to Victor Rabbit who is part zombie and part carrot! One for the dark kids out there but great fun nonetheless! http://www.animazombs.com

Unit 13 Originals specialise in movie inspired products and t-shirts whilst Astutia Amacus produced monogrammed cups and unique hand crafted glass wear including Game of Thrones goblets! https://www.facebook.com/astutiaamacus/

As we continued to wander around, the over abundance of Deadpools and Harley Quinns was really quite astounding but the friendly folk at Crackerjack Cosplay stole the show with their Boba Fett inspired designs. Check these new faces on the block at www.facebook.com/crackerjackcosplay

My love for Burton’s Batman has been explored before on this blog and we came across two of my favourite costumes from the convention with spot-on recreations (and look-a-likes) of Michael Keaton’s Batman and Michelle Pfeiffer’s Catwoman. Miaow! Then Robb came across what I thought was a soldier from 300 but he was unsure if it was actually a Marvin the Martian costume. Is this Sparta? The great outfit was in fact inspired by the original and over-the-top stylised Frank Miller comic design.

Mary Jane’s Originals had Robb drooling at the Daryl Dixon (The Walking Dead) inspired leather waistcoat and the custom clothing company even allows people to design their own bespoke pieces.

Some great individual talent we came across included artist Nathan J Pegler who draws sci-fi landscapes in pastels whilst Kevin Heasman (Dynomo Doodles) focuses on book illustration, storyboards and more. https://kevinheasman.carbonmade.com Gianluca Bonomo was creating his own graphic novel CCTVYLLE which mixed nature with surveillance technology with great artwork. http://www.cctvylle.com/

A new Star Wars line of replica helmets caught our eye (along with the eye-watering prices) as the classic Vader helmet was showcased with the new DeathTrooper helmet from soon-to-be released Rogue One. Sticking with a glaxy far far away, the lovely folk at R S Prop Masters were raising money for mental health charities by raffling off a Stormtrooper helmet. They didn’t need any help from Sean Kelly as we donated a couple of quid for a great cause and the chance to win a shiny helmet (!)

The Empire-sized Star Wars presence continued as attendees were kept on their toes by roaming groups of Stromtroopers from the UK Garrison who were formed in 2000. As one of the foremost Star Wars costuming groups in the UK, they are also part of the constantly growing 501st Legion, itself the largest costuming organisation in the world. Find more info here www.ukgarrison.co.uk

From Leicester’s Comic Con was Jess Taylor and her Disney storyboard-inspired artwork and we picked up some “Peeps” stickers but strangely we were unable to locate (despite the map) our good friend The Retro Draughtsman. The owner Gavin lives in my block of flats in Leicester but despite multiple circuits we swear his stand wasn’t where the brochure listed it. Gone AWOL! From his pictures, he had another terrific stand showcasing his amazing technical drawings of retro toys so we hope you found him.

Continuing the great artists – what these shows are really about – was N T Productions who create 3-D busts of famous superhero and villains and they can even deliver them unpainted for those brave enough to give them their own paint job. www.nt-productions.com Haydn Gardner is a West Midlands artist with ASD who works with relationships with mental health with his superb acrylic collages. https://messymiscreation.com/

Neil Sambrook of Fly Comics showcased his Warr and Peace comic amongst other titles www.flycomics.co.uk and Nathan Webb of WE66 Illustration was drawing a stormtrooper right before out eyes! https://www.facebook.com/nathanwe66

Finally, Darrens Brick Art displayed a great set of LEGO inspired framed dioramas www.darrensbrickart.com whilst Childish Butt Vomit (Sajan Rai) had the best absent sign of the convention: “Artist on heroin break", which gave us many chuckles.

There was so much to see on Day 1 not even 6 full hours seemed to even scratch the surface in the huge auditorium. We saw a great Steampunk Winter Soldier, a Game of Thrones throne, some folk from the Aliens Marine Garrison and a spot-on Ghostbusters Kate McKinnon cosplayer near the giant Stay Puft Marshmallow Man head.

The event was rounded off by a day of reckoning from a very big Bane who was as scary as his movie’s inspiration and the only flaw was the photo which was ruined by the presence of my Sainsbury’s bag for life. Robb and I also handed out our own Midlands Movies flyers and a few special goodies to some of our favourite attendees and we hope those had a fantastic day and enjoyed their prizes.

And with that, we left the NEC having enjoyed the home-made costumes, the professional cosplayers, the stars of old and the upcoming talent from the region showing again the Midlands is the place to be for movie fans in the UK.

Midlands Movies Mike

Click here to see the full album of photos from MCM Comic Con in Birmingham

By midlandsmovies, Feb 7 2016 03:02PM

After my original post about the hugely popular expansion in independent film poster art I have been discovering even more beautiful poster designs from artists from all over the world in 2015/16. From qualified experts to recreational amateurs, I love to see alternate takes on posters which have sadly still not moved far from the hell that is bad PhotoShop.

First 25 Movie Poster blog - http://www.midlandsmovies.com/blog/4558436876/Midlands-Movies-Feature---Top-25-Alternative-Movie-Posters/9794671

Please spare a bit of time checking out these dazzling designs and please investigate the Twitter feeds and websites of all the artists for even more talented artwork on their homepages.

25. Fantastic Mr Fox (by Jayson Weidel https://twitter.com/planet_pulp)

Amazing cartoon style design for Wes Anderson's quirky animation that captures the fun spirit and warm colours from the cast of stop motion animals

24. Jurassic Park (by Francesco Francavilla)

Humungous dinosaurs who terrify a remote island couldn't be summed up better in this simple but effective design.

23. Alien (by Randy Ortiz)

A superb print design showing the alien discovery and the scares about to emerge from the otherworldly egg

22. Inception (by Gabz http://iamgabz.com/Inception)

A mind-entering film of topsy-turvy realities is expressed in this monochrome design

21. Brazil (by Shou Yuan http://www.shou-yuan.com)

A deeply disturbing head controlling design fits perfectly with Gilliam’s dystopian vision of the future

20. Django Unchained (by Harijs Grundmanis)

A sepia tinged historical print style poster captures the time & place of this Western

19. Guardians of the Galaxy (by Paul Shipper)

This Marvel old-school space opera design takes it influences from poster legend Drew Struzan

18. The Iron Giant (by Jeff Granito)

Amazing technicolour art deco retro design showing the 2 sides of the story

17. Batman (by Casey Callender)

My fave Batman film gets a suitably dark design with his batwings extended

16. Who Framed Roger Rabbit (by Dennis Salvatier http://www.salvatierstudios.com)

A 1930s influenced print with bold geometric shapes & glamour

15. Beetlejuice (by Ken Taylor)

Crazy lighting & day-glo colours reflect the insane world of Keaton’s lead

14. The Fly (by Drew Millward)

Don’t be afraid of this stunningly twisted poster that jumps into the plasma pool

13. Birdman (by Orlando Arocena https://www.behance.net/orlandoarocena)

A great colourful one-sheet combining the city, Birdman and Keaton in one amazing image

12. The Goonies (by Tyler Stout http://www.tstout.com)

80s adventure classic gets characters & symbols + the octopus for this crazily coloured map-like poster

11. Godzilla (by http://phantomcitycreative.com)

Asian inspired design as mushroom clouds become Godzilla scales in monster movie moment

10. Wall Street (by http://www.moxycreative.com/dressthepart/)

A poster not for wimps in this cold, clinical and smart design for the 80s financial classic

9. Blade Runner (by Kako and Carlos Bela)

An industrial sci-fi font mixes with a replicant owl in this crimson classic

8. Batman Returns (by Steven Holliday)

Blues & yellows come together for this extremely breath taking poster

7. Chinatown (by Philippe Poirier. http://www.philippepoirier.ca)

Warm browns and neon signs reflect the film’s murky underworld

6. Army of Darkness (by Richey Beckett)

Incredibly intricate & organic design for this raw horror drawing

5. Rocky (by Cesar Moreno)

A unique take on a gold leaf resurrection as religious Rocky enters the ring

4. The Hateful Eight (by Orlando Arocena https://www.behance.net/orlandoarocena)

Another great design capturing the wintery wilderness of QT’s latest epic

3. The Incredibles (by Kevin Wilson http://apemeetsgirl.com)

One of the film’s iconic shots is the source of this incredible design

2. The Force Awakens (by @matttaylordraws)

Inverted colours pop off the page in a dynamic poster

1. The Shining (by http://3ftdeep.com)

Author Jack appears from the page like a great King novel

Thanks to all who followed & retweeted on February 6th & hoped you enjoyed a timeline of cool movie art

Check all the posters using the hastag #MMfilmposter over on Twitter

By midlandsmovies, Dec 28 2015 10:39AM

Top 10 local movie posters of 2015

Midlands Movies Mike picks 10 of the promotional movie posters from films made in the region.

* Night Owls (Nottingham) Film by Sophie Black and art by Dan Lord of @forecastdesign

* Crying Wolf (Derby) Film by MonoStereo

* The Witching Hour (Nottingham) Film by Mr. Stitch Films and art by Anthony Winson

* Derelict (Worcestershrire) Film by Venomous Little Man and art by Jamie Huntley

* Killersaurus (Leicester). Film by Steve Lawson

* The Wrong Floor (Leicester). Film by Marc Hamill/Roasted Films and art by Tom Hodge

* Junction 51 (Nottingham) Film by Superfreak Media

* The House of Screaming Death (West Midlands) Film by Lightbeam Productions & art by Colin Webb

* Athena (Leicester) Film by 305 Productions

* Acquiesce (Lincoln) Film and art by Thomas Cuthbertson

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